Thoughts On Patristic Expositors For Revelation

When compiling excerpts for the Church Fathers commentary on Revelation, I am fortunate enough to have lots of great material to work with. In the commentary series that I am working on I have aimed to provide Patristic commentary only.  But as I work on the book of Revelation I have had to make a decision about what sources to use.  I could use only Patristic material, but I would simply be duplicating the Ancient Christian Commentary series because their volume on the book of Revelation is very wide-ranging and complete because they went all out to provide a wonderful blend of Patristic commentaries from Greek and Latin commentators.  They covered ever angle nicely, and I simply would not be able to provide anything that would make my volume on Revelation unique. So with lots of thought and prayer I decided to broaden the timeline of the sources I used for excerpts, not only gleaning from Patristic sources, but also stepping out to later commentaries from Carolingian to even the Glossa Ordinaria of the 12th century.

The reason I chose to do this is because those sources are extremely rich in Patristic exegesis. The Carolingian exegetes relied heavily upon the Patristic commentators before them, so much so that they quote word for word in large portions, but will often condense the material in order to be more straight to the point and concise, which is very helpful for being used as reference material.  The Glossa Ordinaria of the 12th century is a glossed Bible that is extremely rich in Patristic exegesis, which was the purpose of the compilers for excerpts.

The exegetical traditions of the commentaries that I am using are so rich in Patristic exegesis that it will provide the readers with a comprehensive range of Patristic flavor. For some examples, I provide lots of Alcuin of York, who relied upon Ambrose Autpert (ca. 730 – 784), while Ambrose relied upon Primasius (died around 560), and Primasius relied a lot upon Tyconius (active 370–390 AD).  One can see the flow of exegetical tradition handed down and utilized by later expositors who were also know to blend multiple expositors and develop the exegesis.  Another expositor I am using is Beatus of Liebana (c. 730 – c. 800) and his Commentary on the Apocalypse.  Beatus relied upon multiple sources but especially upon a Spanish commentator named Aprigius of Beja who wrote his commentary between 531 and 548.  Beatus also relied upon Primasius as well.  Since the later commentators are rich in Latin traditions, I have also been adding Greek expositors such as Andrew of Caesarea (563 – 637) and his contemporary Oecumenius.  I am also adding some Arethas of Caesarea (c.850 – 944), though he relies so heavily upon Andrew that much of it is word for word.

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Announcing New Translations!!

We have been blessed over the years to have new translations of Patristic commentaries on the Bible, thanks to those who have worked very hard at something so rewarding, yet can be a tedious and monotonous project. I have been blessed to have been able to be a part of some projects and to see them be published.

There are a few commentaries on the Glossa Ordinaria that are in the works that I am excited to announce. Dr. Lee Williams has translated the Gloss on Galatians, that I am most definitely looking forward to seeing available for the general public!  The Gloss on the book of Judith is in the works right now, being translated by Sean Pilcher.  The Gloss on the Gospel of Matthew, translated by Jacob Wood, will be available early 2018.  http://www.emmausacademic.com/shop/the-great-medieval-commentary-a-translation-and-annotation-of-the-glossa-ordinaria-on-the-gospel-of-matthew

Thanks to Sarah Van Der Pas, who has translated the Gloss on the book of Revelation and the Epistles of St. John; her translations have been available for a while now. Revelation https://www.amazon.com/Consolamini-Commentary-Glossa-Ordinaria-Revelation/dp/069253833X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1497749832&sr=1-1

Epistles of John https://www.amazon.com/Consolamini-Commentary-Ordinaria-Epistles-Translation/dp/151199973X/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1497749832&sr=1-3

 

Sarah Van Der Pas has also translated Alcuin of York’s commentary on Revelation and his Questions and Answers Manual on Revelation https://www.amazon.com/CONSOLAMINI-COMMENTARY-Commentary-Revelation-Questions/dp/1533536511/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1497749832&sr=1-2

 

A translation of Augustine of Hippo’s Questions on the Heptateuch is also being translated into English. The translation is being added to the Early Church Fathers Commentary on the Bible series.  Those Questions can be found in the commentary on Genesis that has been added to this site and is constantly being updated.

I will be on the lookout for any translations in the works or already available. If anyone wants to let me know about new translations then please contact me and I will make them known.  And if anyone is interested in doing a translation project and has questions or wants to collaborate with my own project interests, then please contact me at jlitteral29@gmail.com

 

CATENA APP-The ultimate app for Patristic commentary on the Bible

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I want to make people aware of a wonderful free app call ‘Catena’. The app is found here http://catenabible.com/

The app is designed to be user friendly, allowing the user to click on any book of the Bible and click on any verse, and then almost always have multiple excerpts from commentaries by Patristic writers and commentators. It truly is the ultimate Bible app for commentary on the Bible, loaded with commentary from the early Church Fathers.  I am amazed at the hard work and dedication of those who are involved in creating it and building it into a massive treasure of Patristic exegesis on the Bible.

 

Below is a very helpful video of a review of the Catena app that gives instruction of how to use it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehsceIMQWvk&t=232s

How to study the Bible-Part 1

 

 

 

WHAT IS THE BIBLE

 

The Bible is one book with many books within it, written by different authors within the span of one-thousand and five-hundred years, with the last book written by the Apostle John around 95AD. For Christians, the Bible is believed to be the inspired word of God, and written to teach, instruct, and inform us about the way God has interacted with man since the beginning of time.

Traditionally for Christians, the Bible centers around Jesus Christ. Obviously, the New Testament teaches about his birth, ministry on earth, his death, resurrection, his ascension into Heaven, his coming again at the end of the world, and how to apply his teachings to our life and community.  But the Old Testament also centers around Jesus in a more obscure manner.  There are many prophesies concerning Jesus throughout the Old Testament, as well as types and symbols.  Many theologians of the Middle Ages were experts in finding Jesus in about every nook and cranny of the Old Testament.

 

HOW THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE WERE SELECTED

Scripture has always played an important part in the Christian faith. Before Christ came to earth there were writings from Moses, David, Solomon, many prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, etc.  These writings were usually found written on scrolls in Hebrew and Aramaic, and then later translated into Greek for the Greek speaking Jews.  Prior to the time of Jesus Christ, a collection of these writings took form, and eventually a compilation of these writings was in use as Christianity was established.  The Apostles and the early Christian communities were using a Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint.  Around twenty years after the resurrection of Jesus around 33AD, the apostles and some of their disciples began to write about Him, and those writings circulated around Christian communities and churches that were founded.  Over time those writings (New Testament) became a large part of Christian worship and held in the same regard as the Old Testament Scriptures.  As time passed and the Church grew, lists began to be written up in Church Councils, local church Synods and the Church Fathers concerning which books were to be considered undisputed Scripture or disputed (the Muratorian fragment is the earliest list we know of, written around 235AD).  These lists varied over time and among different geographical locations. There was not an authorized dogmatic list of the books of the Bible made until the Council of Trent by the Catholic Church (1545–63).  Protestant groups followed by writing their own lists, and they eventually adopted the Hebrew Old Testament canon while the Catholic church and Orthodox maintained their influence from the books contained in the Greek Septuagint version.  The Western Christian thought among Catholic and Protestants was more rigid about determining what is canonical (authorized) and what is not as compared to the Eastern Christian way of thinking. There has never been the same sense of urgency in the East for one official dogmatic list because they have always been more wide-ranging.  This even goes back to the 2nd Council of Nicea in 787 when they approved seven different lists.    The East recognizes that there are books that are canonical but there are also some that are not canonical but to be read for edification.  So, there is no clear discrimination here because the East has always been inclusive on this issue.

 

THE PURPOSE OF THE BIBLE

A basic understanding about the history of the development of the Bible is helpful for an accurate perception of it, because I have found that there is a misconception about it that confuses people concerning the purpose of the Bible in the life of the Church. The early Christians did not walk around with Bibles under their arms, nor is Christianity a product or result of the Bible because Christianity came much earlier than the Bible as we now know it.  The confusion is so out of hand that I have seen people assume that Constantine or King James wrote the Bible.  I have joked at times saying that some people think the Bible fell out of the sky from Heaven, or Jesus wrote it when he was writing in the sand!  But the fact of the matter is, that Jesus established the Christian Church 2000 years ago, by choosing his apostles and sending the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost to fill them with the Spirit to lead and cultivate the Church.  That was the first day of the Christian Church.  Christianity was flourishing well before any list was written concerning what books were to be in the Bible.  Correct Christian doctrine was preserved and passed on long before any list of compiled books were made.  Why is this important to know?  Because the same Holy Spirit that gave birth to the Christian Church 2000 years ago is the same Spirit that inspired the pen of the authors of the Bible, which is also the same Spirit that worked through the Church to give us the Bible as we have today.

 

WHEN THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE WERE WRITTEN

As mentioned above, the books of the Bible were written in the span of 1,500 years. The New Testament was written after Jesus ascended into Heaven around 33 AD.  It is believed that the New Testament books began to be written around 50AD by the Apostle Paul and finished by the Apostle John around 90-95AD.  The Old Testament was written from 1400BC to about 100BC.

 

 

HOW TO BEGIN LEARNING THE BIBLE

 

The first step to becoming acquainted with the Bible is obviously to first open the Bible and look through it. For those who are not familiar with it will find that it can be intimidating because it is a very large book.  For the beginner, I highly recommend taking steps to learn how the Bible is laid out and memorize the books of the Bible, because if you take that time it will truly pay off a hundred-fold as you become more advanced.  Building a foundation of understanding how the Bible is laid out will allow you to know how to navigate through the Scriptures in order to find specific passages quickly.  It is a good feeling when you can open your Bible to a specific book chapter and verse without having to wonder through pages scanning the headings or indexes.  Fortunately, early on in my study of the Bible I took the time to memorize the books of the Bible in the order that they are found.  I suggest learning these books in categories.  For me it only took a couple of days before I had them all memorized.  It was time well spent because it lays the foundation that can be built upon as you advance in your studies.

 

 

CATEGORIES

Learning the books of the Bible in categories makes it easier to memorize their location in the Bible as well as learning what style of writing each book is. This is important because the Bible was not arranged in chronological order, but rather by the style of writing, such as Historical, Poetic, Prophetic, etc.

The two major categories that are essential for understanding the Bible is the two Testaments, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. The Old Testament was written before Jesus was born, and the New Testament was written after Jesus’ life on earth.

OLD TESTAMENT

Before Christ

NEW TESTAMENT

After Christ

 

 

 

 

The Old Testament

The Old Testament has more books than the New Testament and will take more memorization. The first category of the Old Testament to memorize is the Pentateuch (also called the Law of Moses), which are the first five books of the Bible.

Pentateuch
Genesis

Exodus

Leviticus

Numbers

Deuteronomy

 

 

 

 

The second category are the Historical books. Depending on whether you are Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant, this category slightly varies in the amount of historical books they contain.  These books cover the history of the people of God, around the time of 1250BC to 150BC.

Historical
Eastern Orthodox Catholic Protestant
Joshua

Judges

Ruth

*1 Samuel

2 Samuel

1 Kings

2 Kings

1 Chronicles

2 Chronicles

1 Ezra

2 Ezra

Nehemiah

Tobit

Judith

Esther

1 Maccabees

2 Maccabees

3 Maccabees

Joshua

Judges

Ruth

*1 Samuel

2 Samuel

1 Kings

2 Kings

1 Chronicles

2 Chronicles

Ezra

Nehemiah

Tobit

Judith

Esther

1 Maccabees

2 Maccabees

Joshua

Judges

Ruth

*1 Samuel

2 Samuel

1 Kings

2 Kings

1 Chronicles

2 Chronicles

Ezra

Nehemiah

Esther

 

 

* Sometimes 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings are all called the books of Kings, and listed as 1-4 Kings.

 

 

The third category is the Poetic books. They are called Poetic because they contain poetry and wisdom of the people of God.

Poetic
Eastern Orthodox Catholic Protestant
Job

Psalms

Proverbs

Ecclesiastes

Song of Songs

Wisdom

Sirach

Job

Psalms

Proverbs

Ecclesiastes

Song of Songs

Wisdom

Sirach

Job

Psalms

Proverbs

Ecclesiastes

Song of Songs

 

 

The fourth category is the four Major Prophets. They are called “Major” because these books are larger in size than the other prophetic books (Minor Prophets).

Major Prophets
Eastern Orthodox Catholic Protestant
Isaiah

Jeremiah

Lamentations

Baruch

Epistle of Jeremiah

Ezekiel

Daniel

(Susanna and Bel and the Dragon)

Isaiah

Jeremiah

Lamentations

Baruch

Ezekiel

Daniel

(Susanna and Bel and the Dragon)

Isaiah

Jeremiah

Lamentations

Baruch

Ezekiel

Daniel

 

 

The fifth category is the twelve Minor Prophets. They are called “Minor” because they are smaller in volume, not of lesser importance.

Minor Prophets
Hosea

Joel

Amos

Obadiah

Jonah

Micah

Nahum

Habakkuk

Zephaniah

Haggai

Zachariah

Malachi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Testament

The first category of the New Testament is the four Gospels. Gospel means Good News, and they reveal the good news of Jesus Christ, his life, death, resurrection, and ascension.

Gospels
Matthew

Mark

Luke

John

 

 

The second category is the Acts of the Apostles, or Acts. This book teaches about what happened from the time of the ascension of Jesus and the workings (Acts) of the apostles in the early Church.

Acts of the Apostles (Acts)

 

 

The third category is the Epistles of St. Paul. These letters were written by the Apostle Paul to churches, individual people, and Hebrew Christians.

The Epistles of St. Paul
Romans

1 Corinthians

2 Corinthians

Galatians

Ephesians

Philippians

Colossians

1 Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians

1 Timothy

2 Timothy

Titus

Philemon

*Hebrews

 

 

 

* Sometimes it is disputed whether St. Paul was the author of the epistle to the Hebrews. Traditionally it has been accepted as being Paul’s.

 

The fourth category is the General Epistles, also called the Catholic Epistles. These letters were written by different apostles to Christians in general.  Unlike Paul’s letters, which are named after those who the letters were written to, the General Epistles are named after the Apostles who wrote them.

General Epistles (Catholic Epistles)
James

1 Peter

2 Peter

1 John

2 John

3 John

Jude

 

 

The fifth and last category is Apocalyptic, and contains only the book of Revelation or the Apocalypse of St. John.

Apocalyptic
Revelation (Apocalypse of St. John)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RESOURCES FOR LEARNING THE BIBLE

 

 

STUDY BIBLES

Reading the Bible is obviously one of the first steps to take, but there are some suggestions I would like to make that will help the beginner get pointed into the right direction. There are many Bibles available on the market and online, and finding one is very simple, but finding one that will optimize your efforts takes discernment, but will pay off overall.  That is why I suggest getting a Study Bible.

When picking out a Bible to study from, it is important that you choose a Study Bible that speaks at the level you are at in your Bible knowledge and choosing one that accommodates your needs. If you are a beginner, then you will want a Study Bible that is designed for your level and not one that is written to only accommodate more advanced Bible students.  There are some good study Bibles that work very well for beginners that are also advanced enough to meet the needs of those people with years of Bible study under their belt.  It’s not to say that a plain Bible with no footnotes or introductions are not of any use, but if you are wanting to maximize your understanding about what you are reading in the Bible then footnotes, introductions, cross-references, maps, and pericopes are very helpful for the reader to understand the meaning and background of the text that they are reading.  Below are some Study Bibles that I recommend for beginners that are user friendly and will provide plenty of years of good Bible study.

Eastern Orthodox Catholic Protestant
The Orthodox Study Bible The Ignatius Study Bible Life Application Study Bible

 

 

These Study Bibles are very helpful because they provide a number of things that I will explain.

  1. Introductions/prefaces: These are important because they give the reader information concerning the authorship of each book of the Bible, who they were written to, the background behind the books, and usually an approximate date of when they were written.

 

  1. Footnotes: These are very helpful because they are provided along with Scripture to give insight, especially for passages of Scripture that are not easy to understand.

 

  1. Cross-references: These are provided with Bible verses and passages that indicate other passages in the Bible that are closely related or direct quotes (such as when the New Testament authors quote from the Old Testament).

 

  1. Maps: Maps are helpful so that the reader can see the location of the places of the areas they are reading about.

 

  1. Pericopes: These are headings in the Scripture passages that give you the overall thought of a particular section. They help direct your attention so that you know what to expect to read about.

 

Below is an image from an old Bible with the study helps mentioned above.  Notice at the top you will see the introduction; the pericope at the beginning of the 13th chapter; and then the footnotes at the very bottom.

1bib

 

The example given above is one of many examples of how Study Bibles lay out their introductions, periscopes, footnotes, and cross-references. Some Bible editors get more creative than others.

STUDY BIBLES AND DIFFERENT SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT

It is worth mentioning that footnotes and introductions in Study Bibles obviously vary among both Protestant Bibles and Catholic Bibles. I am not speaking about different doctrinal positions, but rather varying methods of analyzing and interpreting the Bible among their own theologians and scholars.  The two major schools of thought are the traditional approach and the historical critical method.  Both are significantly different, and the results are very different kinds of footnotes and introductions.

I am not interested now in going into much depth, but rather making the reader aware. Signs of a traditional approach in a Study Bible are introductions to the books of the Bible that suggest the authorship to be an historical person within the Bible (Genesis attributed to Moses); who the book itself says it is written by (Romans, Galatians, etc. claims Pauline authorship); who the book is named after (such as Daniel, Jonah, Matthew, etc.); or what has traditionally been accepted over the course of Christian history all the way back to the 2nd century AD, and Jewish history prior to Christ for the Old Testament.  The historical critical method usually maintains that the books are written later and written by someone else (or multiple authors) than what the books themselves claims to depict, and even suggests some books to be forgeries. Another sign of a traditional approach is understanding the books of the Bible to be historically valuable and the miraculous events to have happened in space, time, and history, whereas the historical critical method tends to see many stories and events to be no more than humorous stories with teaching value.  The traditional approach goes back many centuries and has its roots in oral traditions that trace back to pre-Christian and Apostolic times.  The historical critical method is a new concept that gained popularity within the last couple of hundred years.

 

ONLINE STUDY BIBLES

There are plenty of study Bibles to choose from online, whether digitally on websites, PDF’s, e-books, Kindle, etc. Google Books is an excellent resource to buy e-books and find free Study Bibles to add to your Google library.  Also, you get free limited previews of many Study Bibles to look at the interior of the book and decide whether that is the one you want to buy.  Most of these options provide the same capabilities with smartphones as they do with personal computers, so you can have your Study Bible resources wherever you go.

There are many nice privileges with using online Study Bibles as well as other online Bible resources because hyperlinks are provided with many of them that give you the ability to click and be directed to specific places in the Bible you want to read. There are almost always provided word search capabilities to find specific words or phrases within the book.

There are many websites that provide digital Bibles that have many wonderful capabilities and resources and options that intertwine numerous translations, concordances, word studies, commentary, and so many more things that I could write a whole book about just on those options alone.

 

 

 

BIBLE COMMENTARIES

Commentaries on the Bible have been very important for clergy, Bible students, and theologians for many centuries, going back to the 2nd century AD, most famously with Origen of Alexandria.  Bible commentaries usually give you a verse by verse analysis and are normally more exhaustive in its explanations than Study Bibles.  Where Study Bibles usually add footnotes for those passages that need further explanation, commentaries oftentimes cover at least more than half of the passages of the Scripture text.  You will find that most Bible commentaries are single volumes of specific books of the Bible, but it does vary because they can come in all shapes and sizes.

Bible commentaries are great tools for studying the Bible one Biblical book at a time, and they make great reference material for those times that you run onto a passage of Scripture that you want more information about.

Just as it is important to find a Study Bible that meets you at your level of Biblical knowledge, the same goes for Bible commentaries. A beginner will probably not benefit from a commentary that has been written for high level Bible students.  For Protestants of specific denominations, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians, there is a level of discernment that is necessary in order to find commentaries that one may feel suitable for their studies.  For the beginner, finding a commentary that is concise is usually more fitting than one that is highly exhaustive in explaining the meaning of the Scripture text.  Beginners may benefit more by straight to the point analysis that speaks in literal terms rather than starting off with a commentary that seeks the spiritual and allegorical meaning.  Until a person is more acquainted with the Bible and has an understanding of the senses of interpretation that can be applied to interpreting the Bible, then a commentary that has a lot of allegory will probably be very hard to understand.  Below is a page from the commentary on the Psalms by the Theodoret of Cyrus (423–457AD).

1com

Above in the commentary on Psalms, notice that the Scripture text is in italics. This allows the reader to easily distinguish between the Scripture text and the comments made by the commentator.  Most Bible commentaries use either bold or italics for the Scripture text.

It is not uncommon for Catholics and especially Orthodox Christians to use Bible commentaries by Early Church writers. The writings of the Early Church Fathers are starting to catch on with many Protestant Bible students, and is evident by the popularity of the commentary series called Ancient Christian Commentary on Sacred Scripture by the InterVarsity Press.  There are plenty of contemporary Bible commentaries that are very good, but it is important that you seek out commentaries that are trustworthy and common to your Christian affiliation (if you are determined to stay within your present Christian community’s doctrine).

Here are some early Christian writers that wrote commentaries that are good for a beginner because of conciseness.

As mentioned above, Theodoret of Cyrus (c. 393- c. 460) wrote many commentaries and he is known for his brevity.  St. Jerome (c. 347-c. 420) wrote many commentaries and he is usually fairly concise, however he can be very deep.  St. John Chrysostom is perhaps the most highly respected of the Early Church Fathers, because of his faithfulness to orthodoxy is unquestionable.  But Chrysostom is usually not concise in his famous homilies on Scripture, though his Bible commentaries are concise. His homilies on Scripture are excellent for finding sound interpretations of the Scripture text but they are in the form of an instructive discussion, and the commentary is designed to be a straight to the point explanation of the Scripture text.  There are so many Early Church Fathers that made commentaries on the Bible that are available online and in print, but many of them are perhaps not the best commentaries for beginners. But for advanced Bible students the deeper commentaries are very enlightening and worthwhile to read.

As for modern Bible commentaries for beginners, I have used different ones throughout my Christian journey that I can make an informed opinion about. For Orthodox Christians, I have been very impressed with Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty’s commentaries on the Bible!   For Catholics I find that the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture is an excellent choice for beginners and advanced Catholic students of the Bible.  Bishop John MacEvilly has many Bible commentaries that I highly recommend.  For Protestants of the Calvinist school of thought, J. Vernon McGee and his Thru the Bible commentary series is very good.  Warren Wiersbe has commentaries that are excellent for beginners and advanced.

OTHER RESOURCES THAT AID IN BIBLE STUDY

Bible concordance: These index Bible words in alphabetical order and provide references of all the places in the Bible that the word is used.

Bible encyclopedia: A resource that covers many different Biblical topics with articles and definitions. They are usually organized in alphabetical order.

Bible dictionary: Just like a regular dictionary but focuses on words of the Bible, and gives the definition.

 

 

 

 

ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE

 

 

The subject of English translations of the Bible can be a complex topic, but I intend to make this a simple overview because there are plenty of articles and books that specialize on it, and the variety of opinions are very broad.

Anytime one language is translated into another there is a certain amount of interpretation involved, which makes any Bible translation have a level of the translator’s limitations and prejudices mingled within the text. This is not necessarily bad in all conditions, but it is a reality, and since there is an excessive amount of English translations of the Bible produced by many different groups of agendas, there are not always purely honest quests for the truth in all translations.  Everything from pious alterations to deliberate deception can be found among the vast amount of English translations that have been made of the Bible.  But there are trustworthy translations that you can rely on as faithful transmissions from one language to another.  But translators will tell you that it is impossible to make a perfect translation.  But this should not be an obstacle whatsoever because even though human imperfection limits the precision of the linguistics of a translation, the message within the translation can still be protected and free of error, which is the highest priority.  An imperfect translation can be free of doctrinal error.  Therefore, when a translation has been made that alters a text with enough bias that it manipulates or changes the meaning to say what the translator wants it to say, instead of what the text intended to say, most especially in the case of Christian doctrine, this is where it becomes unacceptable.

 

ANCIENT LANGUAGES OF THE BIBLE

The books of the Bible were originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic, but some of the later books found in the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles were written in Greek.  Most of the New Testament was written in Greek, but it is thought that the Gospel of Matthew could quite possibly have been originally written in Aramaic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Council, Local Synods and Church Fathers

Muratorian Canon- 235AD

Council of Laodicea- 343-381

Rufinus- 345

Synod of Hippo- 393

Athanasius of Alexandria-367

Eusebius of Caesarea- 260-340

Council of Nicaea 2- 787 (approved 7 different lists)

 

In the East it didn’t matter that there were different lists, because the Eastern Church has always been inclusive not exclusive. The East recognizes that there are books that are canonical but there are also some that are not canonical but to be read for edification.  So there is no clear discrimination.

Just because something is not canonical doesn’t mean that it is not inspired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 The Holy Bible: translated from the Latin vulgat, diligently compared with the Hebrew, Greek, and other editions in divers languages ; the Old Testament, first published by the English College at Doway, A.D. 1609 and the New Testament, first published by the English College at Rhemes, A.D. 1582 ; with annotations, and an historical and chronological index; John Thomas Troy (R.C., archbishop of Dublin.)Richard Coyne, 1816 – Bible – 1353 pages

2 Explanation of the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, Publisher: Chrysostom Press (December 15, 2011) ISBN-10: 1889814113; ISBN-13: 978-1889814117

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patristic Commentary on Genesis, my thoughts

The book of Genesis is one of those books that has lots of Patristic commentary and other exegetical sermons, homilies, essays, etc etc etc. When putting together a Patristic commentary on Genesis with excerpts from Patristic writings (like I am doing), one of the time-consuming parts is sifting through the vast amount of resources available on Genesis. Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine, and Ephrem are easy material to find because of the existing translations of their works on Genesis. Other sources are available such as Didymus of Alexandria’s commentary on Genesis, Origen’s homilies on Genesis, and Jerome’s Hebrew Questions on Genesis, Theodoret of Cyrus’ Questions and Answers are available too. In any Patristic work on Genesis that provides excerpts, Chrysostom is an obvious staple for sound orthodox exegesis, but others such as Augustine, Ambrose, Ephrem, etc. provide valuable insights and bring other exegetical traditions that should be consulted.

There are also works that have not been translated into English that are well worth consulting, such as Cyril of Alexandria’s Glaphyra, Augustine’s Questions on Genesis, Ambrosiaster’s Questions on the Old and New Testaments, Procopius of Gaza’s commentary on Genesis, Ishodad of Merv’s commentary on Genesis, and some early Greek catenas. The 12th century Glossa Ordinaria is another helpful resource because it has many Patristic excerpts, especially the 6 volume Venice version of 1603, which has lots of interpolations of not only Latin Fathers but also the Greek Fathers. http://lollardsociety.org/?page_id=409

Another way to consult highly valuable insights from Patristic writers for explanations on Genesis is to sift through collections of the Church Fathers, such as the Fathers of Church series by Catholic University of America Press, and the Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, as well as other similar sources. There are enough insights that can be found in those kinds of sources on Genesis passages to nearly make a full-blown commentary on Genesis without verse-by-verse commentaries. The Fathers make mention of Genesis passages and often give valuable insights on them while writing about other things that don’t specifically analyze the book of Genesis. Indexes in the books or websites are extremely helpful when looking for specific passages quoted or referenced by the writer. Sometimes it’s a simple quote of the verse, but sometimes you will find an explanation of exegetical value. Some websites that have Church Fathers collections, such as New Advent http://www.newadvent.org/ , have search engines that allow you to find keywords within all the material on the site.

I have also found it very helpful to do keyword searches in the Patrologia Latina collection http://mlat.uzh.ch/MLS/index.php?lang=0 Not everyone can read Latin, but if you can or have someone to translate for you, then one can find material that may not have been translated into English before, which is always a delight to have available for English readers.

I also want to throw out there the value of some Christian apocryphal writings on Genesis. One that I have found of some value is the Book of the Cave of Treasures http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/bct/ The Book of Bee http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/bb/ I have found interesting as well. The reason why I find these interesting is because they provide traditions about Genesis that were known by many of the Patristic writers and were believed. It is sometimes hard to distinguish between what is tradition handed down and what is myth and folklore. Many Christian apocryphal writings intertwine sound tradition and folklore.

WRITERS TO CONSULT ON GENESIS

St. John Chrysostom’s 67 homilies on Genesis along with his 8 sermons on Genesis provide a reader with tons of great insights that nobody can go wrong with. Chrysostom is very thorough and it takes concentration to sift through to narrow down his entire thought because he will often retract his explanations on passages later on in a homily, and sometimes in his proceeding homilies. So sometimes in order to get the most out of Chrysostom it takes going the extra mile to not overlook further nuggets of insight in other places in his homilies on previous homilies you have sifted through. Sermons and homilies are a little different from commentaries when it comes to explaining the meaning of Scripture because commentaries are usually explanatory in a more direct concise manner and are specifically in a verse-by-verse order. Chrysostom has a massive amount of writings, and one can find excellent exegetical comments throughout his other writings that are not specifically on Genesis.

St. Ambrose of Milan is also extremely valuable because he has written homilies on the 6 days of Creation, Paradise, Cain and Abel, Noah’s Ark, and Abraham. Ambrose’s homilies challenge the reader to find Ambrose’s complete thoughts on specific passages because those works on Genesis are homilies, and comments on specific passages can be scattered throughout, which means that when Ambrose gives exegesis on a verse or passage he may not give a satisfactory explanation at first, but retract on it later in the same homily or a succeeding homily. I have found that I can locate those scattered comments by using a PDF of his homilies and using the search box. Ambrose wrote lots of things, and one can find plenty of valuable comments on Genesis throughout those writings.

St. Ephrem the Syrian is a Syriac Father who wrote a commentary on Genesis. It is extremely valuable and helpful for understanding the book of Genesis. The commentary differs from the homiletic style of Chrysostom and Ambrose, which means that one can find the full thought of Ephrem on specific passages much less monotonous than in homilies such as Chrysostom’s and Ambrose’s. I highly recommend purchasing his commentary (Selected Prose Works, Commentary on Genesis, Commentary on Exodus, Homily on Our Lord, Letter to Publius The Fathers of the Church, Volume 91). Ephrem brings some unique Syriac pious legends and traditions handed down to him into his commentary, but he stays very doctrinally orthodox.

St. Augustine of Hippo also provides a vast amount of commentary on Genesis, more so than anyone else. For specifically on Genesis he has written, A Refutation of the Manichees, Unfinished Literal Commentary on Genesis, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, and Questions on Genesis. One will find lots of exegetical material by Augustine throughout is vast amount of writings, especially the City of God.
Theodoret of Cyrus wrote a commentary on Genesis in the form of questions and answers, which in my opinion is an excellent resource that I highly recommend. Theodoret is known for his conciseness, and his work on Genesis is straight to the point and very enlightening. The two-volume set is called Questions on the Octateuch.
St. Didymus of Alexandria or also called Didymus the Blind, wrote a commentary on Genesis. Though it is incomplete because it is fragmented, it provides a lot of good exegesis on Genesis and is well worth purchasing and consulting.

St. Cyril of Alexandria wrote on Genesis, referred to as the Glaphyra, meaning Elegant Comments or Polished Explanations. There are lots of things within it that are written in a thesis manner, but one will find great nuggets of exegetical material within it. The very unfortunate part is that it has not been translated into English yet, so that creates a stumbling block for those who cannot read Greek or Latin.

I am now a blogger with a Patristic commentary being developed

Why have I created another website for Patristic Bible commentaries? I have a few websites with lots of Bible commentary from early and late Medieval commentaries on the Bible, and I have published fresh translations and had them published.  Where do I plan to go with a blog and site providing more resources?  I have been doing this kind of stuff now for quite a few years, and I must say that it has been one of those things that gets me out of bed every morning looking forward to researching and finding more Patristic insights that will at some point help people learn the Scriptures more and to help others who have similar interests and passions as me to further develop their own projects.

Let me share with you a little about what I have been doing over the years, that way you may better understand my ministry and perhaps you may recognize some of my footprints in the area of Patristic Bible commentaries. My first website was Litterals Christian Library (wiki site).  This is a site where I first started compiling as many commentaries on the Bible from Patristic writers and commentators as I could because I had recently at the time discovered the richness and value they had for learning the Scriptures in a way that modern commentaries on the Bible failed to do.  The next website I created was the Aquinas Study Bible (Google site).  That site was designed to be strictly a resource for lots of Patristic and later Patristic-minded works, designed to easily navigate through Patristic commentaries and homilies to find explanations of specific Bible passages.  My next endeavor was putting resources in print, so I took on projects and I had early commentaries translated into English that had not been translated into English before.  Among some of those books I had published was the Glossa Ordinaria on Jonah, the Epistles of John and Revelation; Cramer’s Catena on Galatians, Alcuin of York’s commentary on Revelation and his Questions and Answers; A recent catena on Tobit called The Early Church Fathers Commentary on the Bible- Tobit.

Now, let me go back and explain why I have created another site and blog and what the difference is this time. I have always had a vision of creating a verse-by-verse commentary on the Bible with strictly commentary from Patristic sources, one that provides quotes from the Fathers that are carefully selected and condensed and straight to the point.  It almost sounds like another Ancient Christian Commentary on Sacred Scripture (by IVPress) that is on the market and serving a wonderful purpose.  But I can honestly say, when I started discovering the Church Fathers and their commentaries, I quickly found myself with a vision to produce commentary on Scripture in a catena-type of way, that was before I learned what Bible catenas and glossed Bibles were.  At the time I thought I had an original idea and I found out not long after that I was recreating the wheel.  But over the years I have been working in this field and I still have a vision to create a resource that I originally felt compelled to do.

This will be a work in progress that I know will take many years to complete, God willing. I will continually update this site as I progress.  Please feel free to provide suggestions.