«THE RECEPTION HISTORY OF 2 THESSALONIANS WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, HAIMO OF AUXERRE, AND JOHN CALVIN ANDREW RHETT TALBERT, B.A., ...»
Turning his attention to Antichrist’s self-exaltation “above every socalled god and every object of worship” (2 Thess 2:4), Chrysostom takes the opportunity to address a legend circulating in the city at the time. Some people have apparently circulated the idea that Antichrist will arrive “bending [his] knees” as a gesture of submission to God.199 Utilising the verse above, he reveals the contradictory nature of this folklore. Pushing further, he argues that this passage does not exhibit the humility of Antichrist, but rather his arrogance (ἀπόνοια). Because of the clear implementation of Antichrist by Satan for his ends (2:9), Chrysostom establishes a connection of characteristics between the two figures: “For just as the devil fell because of arrogance, so also he who is operated by him is anointed into arrogance.”200 At this juncture, Chrysostom’s exegesis extends into pastoral concern, and is rooted in both 1.) his theological training and 2.) a widespread tendency across the ascetic communities of the East.
i. Contemporary Scholarship The two points are intimately related, but in regards to his theological training, Chrysostom has taken for granted a well-developed tradition in his citation of the fall of Satan. This tradition is largely built on the interpretation of Isa 14:12-17 and Ezek 28 (esp. vv. 11-18), which describe the fall of the Irenaeus (120-202), but potentially earlier. See Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.25 (ANF 1:553Bernard McGinn, Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with Evil (San Francisco: Harper, 1994), 58–60.
“For a weak soul is then most fully assured, not merely when it hears, but when it learns something more particular.” John Chrysostom, 2 Thessalonians 1 (NPNF1 13:378).
Whether this is an illustration fabricated by Chrysostom for didactic purposes or a genuine rumour is unclear. It does not seem likely that the Church Father would concoct such a tale, but we have no evidence of such a view outside of Chrysostom. Chrysostom, In epist. ii ad Thess. 1 (PG 62:470).
rulers of Babylon and Tyre, respectively. The Latin Life of Adam and Eve and its Greek counterpart of the same name, with roots in a supposed source from the first century CE,201 take up these biblical texts (particularly Ezek 28) and incorporate the material into their supplemental stories to Gen 2-3.
Reading these OT texts as a description of Satan’s fall continued in the Fathers with Origen, who saw the “prince of Tyre” (Ezek 28:1) and his relationship to “Eden” (28:13) as a clear indication that this was not a reference to the actual ruler of Tyre, but the “governing angel… set over that kingdom,”202 whom Origen understood as Satan.203 Theodoret reads Ezekiel similarly, recognising Satan as an angel who formerly had authority over Eden before his fall.204 Crucial to these passages that shapes the patristic understanding of Satan’s fall is the emphasis on the role of “pride” (Ezek 28:2 and 16). It is with this history of reading that Chrysostom is able to compress the fall of Satan as due to “arrogance” (ἀπόνοια) or “pride” (ὑπερηφανία).205 As this is the chief characteristic of the Johnson contends that the two texts are based on an original Hebrew document or documents. M. D. Johnson, “Life of Adam and Eve,” in James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (London: Doubleday, 1983), 251. Eldridge argues, however, that one may only go so far as to suggest that the base text for the Apocalypse “had a Semitic
character.” Michael D. Eldridge, Dying Adam with his Multiethnic Family, SVTP (Leiden:
Brill, 2001), 52–56. See also James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament, vol. 54, SNTSMS (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 86–
87. The omission of 2 Enoch is due to the uncertainty of its date. See F. I. Andersen, “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse) of Enoch” in James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1 (London: Doubleday, 1983), 91–97.
Gary A. Anderson, “Ezekiel 28, the Fall of Satan, and the Adam Books,” in Literature on Adam and Eve: Collected Essays, ed. Gary A. Anderson, Michael Stone, and Johannes Tromp (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 135.
Origen, Selecta in Ezechielem, 28 (PG 13:820-21). See also Origen, De Principiis 1.5.4-5 (ANF 4:258-60); Tertullian, Against Marcion 2.10 (ANF 3:306); Richard H. Bell, Deliver Us from Evil: Interpreting the Redemption from the Power of Satan in New Testament Theology (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007), 12–13, 19.
Anderson, “Ezekiel 28,” 138.; Theodoret, In Ezechielis, (PG 81:1093).
Chrysostom unifies and distinguishes these terms. The Antichrist openly exhibits ἀπόνοια, which is the “beginning of sin” in terms of foundation, namely that it sustains sin. At the same time Chrysostom cautions against ὑπερηφανία, which is the “beginning of sin” in terms of first impulse. The latter leads to the former. John Chrysostom, In epist. ii ad Thess. 1 (PG 62:470-71).
devil, Chrysostom easily applies the trait to the one through whom Satan will work as the eschaton approaches (2 Thess 2:9) and who mimics the behaviour described in Isa 14 and Ezek 28.
Admittedly, “pride” is a topic significantly addressed by numerous biblical texts, particularly the Psalms, Proverbs, and 1 Corinthians. The attention to pride certainly grows out of Chrysostom’s observation of Antichrist’s behaviour, yet he is also primed to notice this characteristic.
Similarly, and likely in the same century as Chrysostom, Pseudo-Hippolytus references this particular passage and describes Antichrist as “lifted up in heart” and “haughty.”206 Additionally, numerous Fathers wrote on the vice of pride around the time of Chrysostom. In his ascetic works, Basil of Caesarea describes how the monastic community is to deal with the proud and the idle,207 thus making an implicit connection to 2 Thessalonians. More significant, however, might be the work of the Syrian Pseudo-Macarius, who exemplifies well the theology of Syrian monasticism, in which Chrysostom had trained. In his spiritual homilies, dating to the 380s,208 Pseudo-Macarius comments frequently on pride, at one point observing, “A proud mind is a great humiliation, while humility is a great uplifting of the mind and an honor and a dignity.”209 Like “ὑψοῦται τῇ καρδίᾳ” and “ὑψηλός,” respectively. Pseudo-Hippolytus, Oratio S.
Hippolyti de consummatione mundi, de Antichristo, et secundo adventu Domini hostri Jesu Christi 25 (PG 10:928).
Basil of Caesarea, “Rule XXIX” in The Ascetic Works of Saint Basil, ed. W. K.
Lowther Clarke, Translations of Christian literature (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1925), 195–96. Basil’s connection to Chrysostom should not be underestimated.
This Cappadocian Father studied with Diodore in Athens and maintained contact with his friend. See Basil of Caesarea, The Letters 134; Chase, Chrysostom, 10–11.
George A. Maloney, Pseudo-Macarius, The Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 1992), xii.
Pseudo-Macarius, “Homily 19” in ibid., 149.
Chrysostom, he advances humility in place of pride.210 Elsewhere, PseudoMacarius includes “pride” and “vainglory” in his list of vices,211 and he issues a warning on the danger of pride in causing one to “fall away.”212 Around the same time as Pseudo-Marcarius, Evagrius Ponticus composed his Praktikos in Egypt. Evagrius was raised near Antioch in the region of Pontus and heavily influenced by the Cappadocians, who trained him and encouraged his monastic lifestyle.213 He settled in the Nitrian desert of Egypt, where numerous other monks, including John Cassian, would come under his theological influence.214 The Praktikos significantly formed the foundation for the later developed “seven deadly sins.” In the Praktikos, Evagrius describes the eight passionate logismoi in relation to monasticism.
He concludes with pride as “the cause of the most damaging fall for the soul,” which is quickly followed by a number of other vices and demons.215 Evagrius has a discernable effect on his student, Cassian, who puts together a list of the same eight passionate thoughts (though he switches the order of “sadness” and “anger”), which concludes with “pride” (ὑπερηφανία) as the most serious principle fault.216 Cassian expounds a great deal on pride, even carrying forward the tradition that Lucifer, the archangel, fell by pride John Chrysostom, In epist. ii ad Thess. 1 (PG 62:470-71).
Pseudo-Macarius, “Homily 40,” in Maloney, Pseudo-Macarius, 214.
Pseudo-Macarius, “The Great Letter,” in ibid., 259–60. It is likely, in fact, that PseudoMacarius influenced Gregory of Nyssa, and that De Institutio Christiano is a reworking of The Great Letter, which would have further disseminated his teachings on vices and virtues. See Ibid., 249-52 For an example of Evagrius’ theological relationship to the Cappadocians, see Kevin Corrigan, Evagrius and Basil, Ashgate Studies in Philosophy and Theology in Late Antiquity (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009); A. M. Casiday, Evagrius Ponticus, The Early Church Fathers (London: Routledge, 2006), 6–7.
Evagrius Ponticus, Evagrius Ponticus: Praktikos and Chapters on Prayer, ed. J. E.
Bamberger, Cistercian Studies Series 4 (Spencer, Mass: Spencer Publications, 1970), xxxv– xlviii.
Evagrius Ponticus, Praktikos 14 in Ibid., 20.
“Although it is the latest in our conflict with our faults and stands last on the list, yet in the order of time is the first.” John Cassian, The Twelve Books on the Institutes of Coenobia and the Remedies for the Eight Principle Faults, 12.1 (NPNF2 11:280).
and became Satan.217 Thus, Cassian shares the sentiment that the presence of pride in an individual (in his case, a monk) is identification with the devil. In the case of Cassian, it is likely that primarily Evagrius influenced his understanding of pride, but Chrysostom surely sharpened his views during his time at Constantinople.218 At first it may seem that Chrysostom’s view of pride may have been distilled through Pseudo-Macarius and Evagrius Ponticus. Yet, Chrysostom exhibits incipient thoughts on this topic in his letter to Theodore (368 CE).219 This is not to say that Pseudo-Macarius or Evagrius did not hone his thoughts on the topic, but that the sensitivity to this vice was ubiquitous in ascetic circles in the East during the time of Chrysostom prior to the writings of these Fathers. It is likely that Chrysostom would have come into contact with Evagrius’ work at Constantinople, either through the preserved text or through Cassian. The sharpening of ascetic-moralism, both in terms of recognising the vice of pride and “extirpating”220 it by humility, would then have been mutual in this regard.221 Due to the issues of dating Chrysostom’s homilies, however, we cannot be certain that Cassian had any specific influence on his homilies on 2 Thessalonians.
Assuming Chrysostom’s stance toward pride as a product of his context, the sermon of Severian following Chrysostom’s first exile is decidedly antagonistic. He argues, “[John’s] boastful disposition” (τὸ Ibid., 12.4.
After the Anthropomorphite controversy, Cassian sought refuge under Chrysostom, who eventually ordained Cassian, at Constantinople. Richard J. Goodrich, Contextualizing Cassian: Aristocrats, Asceticism, and Reformation in Fifth Century Gaul (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 3.
John Chrysostom, Ad Theodorum lapsum I (PG 47:277-308).
John Chrysostom, 2 Thessalonians 1 (NPNF1 13:378).
John Cassian, The Twelve Books, 12.8 (NPNF2 11:282).
ἀλιζονικὸν ἦθος αὐτοῦ) alone justified his deposition and followed this with the quote “God opposes the proud (ὑπερηφάνοις)” (James 4:6; 1 Pet 5:5).222 Whether we accept the historicity of Socrates’ account of this sermon or not, the historical context would justify the degree of outrage experienced by the (hypothetical) audience. Severian describes “ἦθος αὐτοῦ” as characterised by the very sin that Chrysostom taught to most deplorable.
In the broader history of reception we see the immediate influence of Chrysostom on Calvin’s reading of the Antichrist’s self-exaltation. Calvin possessed a copy of Chrysostom’s homilies and relied primarily on Chrysostom for exegetical guidance above Augustine.223 When looking at the description of Antichrist as one who exalts himself over every object of worship and god, etc. (2 Thess 2:4), Calvin notes, “the pride and arrogance of Antichrist will be so great that he raises himself above the rank and number of the servants, and mounts the throne of God with intolerable pride.”224 Significantly, Calvin notes both the pride and arrogance of Antichrist— the same terms as Chrysostom in his first homily on the epistle. Calvin’s reading, however, is not grounded in the context of ascetic-moralism of the fourth century, nor does he contrast it with the virtue of humility.
ii. Modern Scholarship Socarates Scholasticus, Historia Ecclesiastica 6.16 (PG 67:714).
John R. Walchenbach, John Calvin as Biblical Commentator: An Investigation into Calvin’s Use of John Chrysostom as an Exegetical Tutor (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2010), 1– 43.
According to the French edition: “l’orguiel et arrogance de l’Antichrist sera si grande.” Jean Calvin, Commentaires de Jehan Calvin sur le Nouveau Testament: Sur les epistres de S. Paul aux Philippiens, Colossiens, Thessaloniciens, à Timothée, Tite, Philémon et aux Hébrieux, et sur les Epistres Canoniques de S. Pierre, S. Jehan, S. Jaques et S. Jude, autrement appelées catholiques (Paris: Libr. de Ch. Meyrueis et Cie., 1855), 164. The Latin edition notes only “pride” (superbia), which is still the same terminology found in the Latin
edition of Chrysostom. Jean Calvin, Iohannis Calvini in omnes Pauli Apostoli epistolas:
Epistolas ad Ephesios, Philippenses, Colossenses, Thessalonicenses, Timotheum, Titum, Philemonem, et Hebraeos Complectens, ed. August Tholuck, vol. 2 (Halis Saxonum: Librariae Gebaueriae, 1831), 210; John Chrysostom, In epist. ii ad Thess. 1 (PG 62:470).