«THE RECEPTION HISTORY OF 2 THESSALONIANS WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, HAIMO OF AUXERRE, AND JOHN CALVIN ANDREW RHETT TALBERT, B.A., ...»
The final two sections look at Haimo’s approach to the apocalyptic material of 2 Thessalonians (i.e. 2:1-12), which has been characterised as “apocalyptic realism.”21
2.1 Receptive Impulses: The Fathers I. Augustine The value of the Fathers to the Carolingians is not without precedent.
The influential scholars of the British Isles who came before them established an exegetical trend in utilising the Fathers that they would follow. For all the ingenuity that Bede, as an example, exhibits in his Historia Ecclesiastica, his commentary on Paul simply listing large blocks of text by Augustine on given passages of Scripture. Not laziness, but respect for Augustine motivates this approach to commenting.
In the case of 2 Thessalonians, Bede comments only on 2:1-12 and 3:14 by way of City of God 20.13 and Augustine’s treatise on Psalm 100.22 The English designation of Bede’s work on the Pauline corpus as “excerpts” rather than as a commentary is more appropriate, as it does not engage Hughes, Constructing Antichrist, 165 and 243.
Bede, Excerpts from the Works of Saint Augustine on the Letters of the Blessed Apostle Paul, trans. David Hurst (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1999), 291–94.
immediately with the epistle, nor does it comment on its entirety.
Nevertheless, Bede serves as a representative of the biblical commentator’s mind in the time leading up to and during much of the Carolingian era.
Haimo’s contemporary, Florus of Lyon (d. 860), demonstrates an incredibly similar approach to Bede. Though he dedicates more attention to the fullness of 2 Thessalonians, his work amounts to an index of Augustine’s works in which particular verses to 2 Thessalonians appear. Though he refers to a wider number of works by Augustine than Bede, he likewise does not comment on the 2 Thessalonians itself.23 In several respects, then, Haimo differs from his predecessors and contemporaries. Like Bede and Florus, Haimo generally relies heavily on Augustine, but he also gives great weight to the interpretations of Gregory the Great, Jerome, and Ambrosiaster.24 The former three were highly significant authorities for the majority of medieval interpreters, yet Ambrosiaster tends to dominate Haimo’s reading of the Pauline epistles.
Additionally, Haimo does not list large blocks of text from the Fathers, but tends to summarise and combine their thoughts in his own words without always citing the source upon which he relies. At times, he frequently combines differing views from amongst the Fathers on a passage without attempting to resolve the conflict, thereby respecting their authority and not Florus of Lyon, In epistolam ii ad Thessalonicenses, (PL 119:397-398); though not available in Migne, Florus compiled similar indices of Jerome and Gregory. See Paul-Irénée Fransen, “Description de la collection Hiéronymienne de Florus de Lyons sur l’Apôtre,” Revue Bénédictine 94 (1984): 195-228; Paul-Irénée Fransen, “Description de la collection Grégorienne de Florus de Lyons sur l’Apôtre,” Revue Bénédictine 98 (1988): 278-317.
Augustine, Gregory, Jerome, and Ambrose were the “four great fathers” of medieval exegesis. Haimo’s primary reliance on Ambrosiaster alongside the former three throughout his Pauline commentary is indicative of the medieval ascription of Ambrosiaster’s commentary to Ambrose. Hughes, Constructing Antichrist, 123; to a lesser extent, Haimo used Origen, Chrysostom, Cassian, Cassiodor, Cyprian of Carthage, Ephraem, and Hilary of Poitiers. Heil, “Haimo’s Commentary,” 109.
going beyond permissible exegetical limits for a Carolingian monk.25 The tradition of citing large portions of patristic authorities on a biblical text continues after the death of Haimo in the Glossa Ordinaria. This contextually distinctive approach to commentary construction resembles a patristic model.
Thus Haimo provokes his horizon by reviving in part a historic form of commentary genre, yet he remains distinct by seamlessly blending his authoritative sources, without necessarily having to cite them. The unanswerable question has to do with whether Haimo wrote in this manner for emulatory purposes, or whether he considered his own position as authoritative (or both).
Thessalonians include Rabanus Maurus, Claude of Turin, and Sedulius Scottus. Rabanus refers to Augustine explicitly once, but cites a number of other Fathers, especially Theodore of Mopsuestia, who provides the structure for his commentary and whom he cites as “Ambrose.”26 These commentaries are all eschatological in tone.
Kevin L. Hughes, “Haimo of Auxerre and the Fruition of Carolingian Hermeneutics,” in Second Thessalonians: Two Early Medieval Apocalyptic Commentaries, ed. E. Ann Matter, Teams (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2001), 15–16; see also John J. Contreni, “Haimo of Auxerre’s Commentary on Ezechiel,” in L’école Carolingienne d’Auxerre: De Murethach à Rémi, 830-908, ed. Dominique Iogna-Prat, Colette Jeudy, and Guy Lobrichon, L’histoire De L’actualité (Paris: Beauchesne, 1991), 231; the limits of interpretation are set well by the Vincentian Canon as that which has been held “everywhere, always, and by all”— thus restricting “new” interpretations without reference to the Fathers. See Joseph W. Goering, “An Introduction to Medieval Christian Biblical Interpretation,” in With Reverence for the Word, ed. Jan McAuliffe, Barry D. Walfish, and Joseph W. Goering (Oxford: Oxford Universtiy Press, 2003), 198.
Kevin L. Hughes, “Augustine and Adversary: Strategies of Synthesis in Early Medieval Exegesis,” in History, Apocalypse, and the Secular Imagination: New Essays on Augustine’s City of God, ed. Mark Vessey, Karla Pollmann, and Allan D. Fitzgerald, Augustinian Studies (Bowling Green: Philosophy Documentation Center, 1999), 228. Rabanus also makes use of Cassian, Jerome, and Gregory the Great. See, Rabanus Maurus, Exposito in epistulam ii ad Thessalonicenses, (PL 112:565-80).
Against the developed tradition of relating Augustine in any way possible to a biblical text,27 Haimo only indirectly incorporates Augustine in his 2 Thessalonians commentary. On 2 Thess 1:4 Haimo cites Prosper, the authorised interpreter of Augustine, to elaborate on the sovereignty of God.
Given the structure of his commentary, Haimo’s work is something of a shock to the horizon of expectations of his first readers. The freedom of format “should” have seen the inclusion of Augustine.
The reason for this omission lies in Haimo’s argumentum for the epistle. The Carolingian recognises the letter as a “thorough summary of the historical events and characters of the end, complete with an analysis of the theological issues that pertain to them.”28 Augustine is hesitant to assert such definitive statements about a text that remains obscure on details like the identity of the Restrainer and the man of lawlessness. Eventually, Augustine settles on a spiritual reading of 2 Thessalonians that sees the text articulating the activity of “Antichrist” at present in the Church and he dismisses overlyeschatological readings of the passage.29 In a context/tradition that has been shaped to read this passage eschatologically, Haimo faces a difficulty with Augustine. Rather than disagree openly with him, however, Haimo pursues a wiser route of “Early Medieval exegetes revered the authority of Augustine, and few if any dared to challenge him directly. So great was Augustine’s authority that the great doctrinal debates of the early Middle Ages— for example, the debate over predestination— were never understood to be for or against Augustine, but rather over those whose interpretation of Augustine was correct.” Hughes, Constructing Antichrist, 115–16.
Hughes, “Augustine and Adversary,” 230.
Hughes, Constructing Antichrist, 194–208, esp. 206–8; Hughes, “Augustine and Adversary,” 223–26.
ommission and garnering patristic support from elsewhere, namely in the perspectives of Jerome, Gregory, and Ambrosiaster on the epistle.30 I return to Augustine later in discussing eschatology. Now we look at the primary patristic resources that Haimo uses for understanding 2 Thessalonians.
II. Ambrosiaster The dominance of Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384)31 in much of Haimo’s commentary on the Pauline epistles can be attributed to his possession of the incomplete commentary on the same by Claude of Turin, who copied Ambrosiaster verbatim.32 Different from Claude, the implied Ambrosiaster pervades Haimo’s commentary on 2 Thessalonians like a whisper.33 Haimo generally adopts a modified Ambrosiasterian view of 2 Thessalonians. For example, Ambrosiaster speaks of the “double meaning” of the Lord’s second advent (1:10), in that “Christ will come to punish the bad and glorify the good,” appearing “brilliant (clarus) and wonderful” to the former.34 Similarly, Haimo summarises the dual natures of the Lord’s appearance in his second advent as “brilliant (clarus) and enticing, but to the reprobate terrible and fierce.”35 This omission is rendered starker by Haimo’s heavy use of Augustine in his commentaries on Romans-2 Corinthians.
D. G. Hunter, “Ambrosiaster,” ed. Donald K. McKim, Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2007), 123.
Riggenbach, Die ältesten lateinischen Kommentare, 78.
As no complete commentary on Paul’s epistles by Claude exists that includes 2 Thesslaonians, we must assume either that Haimo had access to Ambrosiaster’s works more directly, or perhaps, as Riggenbach suggests regarding Hebrews, that Claude’s work on 2 Thessalonians was mistakenly attributed to Atto of Vercelli (d. 960), whose commentary on the epistle is likewise a quotation of Ambrosiaster. Ibid., 78–80; Despite the existence of manuscripts dating to the ninth century, however, there are no extant copies of commentaries on the epistles to the Thessalonians by Claude. It is possible that Haimo possessed a copy of Ambrosiaster’s commentary on 2 Thessalonians in another form. Heil, Kompilation, 224.
Ambrosiaster, Ad Thessalonicenses secunda (CSEL 81:237).
Haimo of Auxerre, “Exposition,” 23.
Hundreds of years later, Peter Lombard (d. 1160) picks up on this double meaning in his commentary on 2 Thessalonians, using Haimo, yet also clarifying that the meaning extends not just to the Lord’s appearance, but also his action. His advent means punishment or glorification for the respective groups. Haimo does not deny this, but Lombard sees the necessity of clarifying the effect of Christ’s appearance.36 Again, the old mediates the new— despite the distillation, Ambrosiaster instigates the qualified readings of Haimo and Lombard, and an 800 year interpretive tradition.
Haimo also summarises the Church Father’s reading of 3:1 and 3:7Additionally, Haimo notes a variant reading of “in… et patientia Christi” (3:5) as “in expectatione Christi” in other manuscripts. It is possible that Haimo had several Vulgate manuscripts with variant readings, as the dissemination of “corrupted” versions of Jerome’s translation was part of Alcuin’s motivation for producing a critical edition of the Vulgate.38 It is more likely, however, that Haimo includes this variant reading because it appears in Ambrosiaster. He provides two readings because they originate in authoritative sources and they bring out two potential meanings of the idea of “patience.” He does not offer a solution, but simply presents historic, exegetical options for understanding the verse. What was definitive for the respective Father has become a non-exclusive suggestion.
“Ipse enim clarus et mirabilis videbitur in credentibus; severus autem apparebit in incredulous, cum eos poenis aeternis coarctabit. Et est horum verborum brevis sensus. Veniet punier malos, et glorificare bonos, quia creditum.” Peter Lombard, In epistolam ii ad Thessalonicenses (PL 192:315).
On 3:1, compare “de cetero orandum hortatur, ut dignetur dues doctrinam suam infatigabili cursu dirigere et transfundere per os apostolic sui in aures audientium…” ibid.,
244. Emphasis added; “… ab ore nostro ad aures vestras, et auribus ad cor…” Haimo of Auxerre, In epistolam ii ad Thessalonicenses, (PL 117:782) This reading appears in the I textual tradition of the Vulgate. Hermann Josef Frede, ed., Epistulae ad Thessalonicenses, Timotheum, Titum, Philemonem, Hebraeos, vol. 25.1, Vitus Latina (Freiburg: Herder, 1975), 357–59.
I have postponed discussion on chapter two of the epistle because, though in general terms Haimo’s reading coheres with Ambrosiaster’s, he tends to make use of Jerome in this chapter, as we will discuss below. These Fathers’ interpretations are similar, but Haimo’s allusions to Jerome are clearer and more abundant than those to Ambrosiaster. The reasons for this preference are unclear.
III. Jerome and Gregory In the argumentum, Haimo ostensibly turns to Jerome for the explanation of Paul’s nebulous description of the fall of the Roman Empire as due to the fear that open discussion of the topic would lead to unnecessary persecution of the Church.39 At the same time, the absence of verbal overlap and the fact that several Fathers40 held this view indicates that this was a common idea circulating during that period. Nevertheless, Jerome’s Epistle 121 seems to be the primary patristic source for Haimo’s reading of 2 Thess 2:1-10, which comprises the bulk of his commentary and what he perceives as the primary material that Paul wanted to communicate in writing the epistle.41 In point eleven of this letter to Algasia, Jerome summarises Paul’s reason for writing 2 Thessalonians in response to misunderstanding(s) of the first epistle. Regarding “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and of our gathering into him,” the Church Father comments on the dual advents of Jerome, Epistle 121 (CSEL 56.3.54); In the notes on his translation of Haimo’s text, Hughes cites Jerome and Ambrosiaster as potential sources, but Ambrosiaster makes a slightly different point in his argumentum, adding that the letter outlines the “tribulation of some of the brothers.” See Ambrosiaster, Ad Thess. sec. (CSEL 81.3.235); Haimo of Auxerre, “Exposition,” 32.
Cf. John Chrysostom, In Epist. ii ad Thess. 4 (FCT 5:472-73).