«THE RECEPTION HISTORY OF 2 THESSALONIANS WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, HAIMO OF AUXERRE, AND JOHN CALVIN ANDREW RHETT TALBERT, B.A., ...»
It is significant to note that, following 2:10, the final verse upon which Jerome comments, Haimo returns to using Ambrosiaster. At 2:14, for example, Haimo describes the acquisition of Lord’s glory as believers working “for the increase of the body of Christ” (augmentum faciatis corpori Christi), Haimo of Auxerre, In epist. ii ad Thess., (PL 117:782);
cf. “adquiruntur ad augmentum gloriae corporis Christi” and “quique enim deserto Diablo… augmentum faciunt deo in corpore Christi” (both on 2:14), Ambrosiaster, Ad Thess. sec.
(CSEL 81:242). Emphasis added.
Christ— the first in humility and the second in glory.42 Haimo includes Jerome’s view at the same verse, but compresses it slightly. He also describes the second-coming of Christ, though in terms of “judgment” rather than “glory.” It seems that this reading makes more sense of the letter’s content than the uninvolved or generic term “glory.” Jerome’s question “What is the focus of the epistle?” and even his answer mediate Haimo’s reading, which hears a different response to the question in light of predominant topics in chapters one and two: the judgment of the wicked and Antichrist.
Shortly thereafter, Haimo quotes part of 2 Thess 2:2 and offers a concrete example of what it means not to “be frightened, as if the day of the Lord approaches… by a word.” Haimo suggests, “If someone says to you that he is an exegete and interpreter of prophecies: ‘I have gathered the meaning of the prophet Isaiah and Daniel and the other prophets, and I foresee that the Day of Judgment is imminent and that Christ is coming to judge’… do not be afraid.”43 Interestingly, this appears to be a loose paraphrase of what Jerome described as the potential situation that gave rise to Paul’s necessity for writing the letter.44 In Haimo’s commentary, though, it functions as both a warning in the mouth of the apostle to the historical congregation and to the present reader of Haimo’s work. This point feeds into our larger discussion of sermon preparation and apocalyptic toward the end of this chapter. It would suffice to add that Haimo may be attempting to quell any apocalyptic “duos autem esse aduentus domini saluatoris et omnia prophetarum docent uolumina et euangeliorum fides, quod primum in humilitate uenerit et postea sit uenturus in gloria…” Jerome, Epistle 121 (CSEL 56.3.51-52).
Haimo of Auxerre, “Exposition,” 24–25.
Cf. “igitur Thessalonicensium animos… uel aliquorum coniectura Esaiae et Danihelis euangeliorum que uerba de antichristo praenuntiantia in illud tempus interpretantium mouerat atque turbauerat, ut in maiestate sua tunc Christum sperant esse uenturum.” Jerome, Epistle 121 (CSEL 56.3.55).
predictions following the coronation of Charlemagne and leading up to the year 1,000.45 Jerome and Haimo both write for pastoral reasons, yet in Haimo’s excitable context, he hears in Paul’s own wording a response to the question, “What if someone predicts ‘The end is nigh?’” Haimo expands Jerome’s reading and provokes his own horizon of expectations.
Regarding whether Christ or his archangel Michael destroys Antichrist (2:8), Haimo comments that it is irrelevant, because his destruction will come about by Christ’s power. This issue does not present itself from the text of 2 Thessalonians, but from the divergent views of the Fathers. Most Fathers, Jerome included,46 hold that Christ will destroy Antichrist. Gregory, however, presents the conundrum that Haimo seeks to resolve by seemingly asserting both positions in different works.47 Because of the Fathers, a new problem has presented itself in the history of 2 Thessalonians. Haimo resolves the difficulty of the divergent readings by subsuming “Christ” and “Michael” under the answer “Christ’s power.” This change is not massive, but it is a shift in the reception of 2 Thessalonians.
The only point at which Haimo opts for a reading from Jerome not found in Epistle 121 is when he takes up his commentary on Daniel in order to name the location of Antichrist’s death: the Mount of Olives.48 The Lord, or Michael by the Lord’s power, will destroy Antichrist (2:8) “on his throne on See Richard Landes, “The Fear of an Apocalyptic Year 1000: Augustinian Historiography, Medieval and Modern,” Speculum 75, no. 1 (2000): esp. 110–45.
Jerome, Epistle 121 (CSEL 56.3.54).
See Gregory the Great, Homiliae in Evangelia 34.9 (CCSL 141:307) for the former;
and his Moralia in Iob 32.15.26-27 (CCSL 143B:1650) for the latter. The difficulty is, in fact, a bit more complex, as Gregory asserts that Michael will destroy Satan (though he remains unnamed) in homily 34 on the Gospels, and that Christ will destroy the Antichrist “non angelorum bello” in his Moralia.
Jerome, Commentariorum in Danielem (CCSL 75A:933-34); Hughes, Constructing Antichrist, 78–79.
the Mount Olivet in Babylon.”49 By locating his death at the place of Christ’s ascension, Haimo carries forward this tradition of Antichrist operating as a reverse-replica of Christ that began with Hippolytus and Tertullian, and which most Fathers carried forward.50 Haimo contributes to the reception history of 2 Thessalonians by reading the destruction of Antichrist according to Jerome’s Daniel commentary.
The final example of Haimo’s employment of Jerome appears at the same verse with which he concludes his letter. Noting that Antichrist comes with “every seduction of iniquity for those who are perishing” (2:10), Haimo observes that this refers to the Jews and Pagans “because they did not welcome the love of truth that they might be saved, that is… the Holy Spirit through whom the love of God is poured forth (infunditur) deep into our hearts.”51 This quote simultaneously summarises and expands Jerome, who says, “[Antichrist deceives] by the permission of God on account of the Jews, who did not want to receive the love of truth, that is Christ, because the love of God is poured forth in (diffusa est in) the hearts of those who believe.”52 Jerome’s reading comes in response to the question he raises about why Antichrist is able to deceive people, even the elect, if that were possible (cf. 2 Thess 2:10; Matt 24:24). He answers this question with the statement above: God allows Antichrist to bring about the full condemnation of the Jews, who have not the love of God in their hearts.
Haimo’s incorporation of Jerome on this point is significant and modified. First of all, he includes Pagans as condemned with the Jews, in Haimo of Auxerre, “Exposition,” 28.
Thiselton, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 214–17.
Haimo of Auxerre, “Exposition,” 29. Haimo of Auxerre, In epist. ii ad Thess. (PL 117:782).
Jerome, Epistle 121 (CSEL 56.3.55).
keeping with his reading of 2 Thess 1:8 and Ambrosiaster’s position.53 Second, though he follows the point that God permits Antichrist to come and deceive the Pagans and Jews,54 he remains unclear as to whether this brings about the complete condemnation of all Jews. In fact, in his commentary on Isaiah, Haimo asserts that a number of Jews must convert to faith in Christ and will better resist Antichrist than Gentile converts.55 Jerome carefully avoids discussing any final conversion of the Jews.56 By paraphrasing Jerome, Haimo is able to incorporate the Father seamlessly into his work, appeal to his authority, and yet has to address a new question generated by the conflict between Jerome and his own reading of Isaiah.
IV. Hippolytus and a Collective Patristic Tone In response to Antichrist setting himself up in the “temple of God, displaying himself as if he were a god” (2:4), Haimo proposes two patristic readings without attempting to resolve their differences. In the first example, he follows Hippolytus in suggesting that Antichrist will come from Babylon and the tribe of Dan, that the Jews57 will regard him as their Messiah, and that he will rebuild the temple in Jerusalem where he will receive worship.58 In the second solution, Haimo points out that “the temple of God” could refer to the Church. Augustine and Jerome both make note of these two options for the “cum coeperit… ad dandum vindictum in paganos… et in Iudaeos.” Ambrosiaster, Ad Thess. sec. (CSEL 81:237); cf. Haimo of Auxerre, In epist. i ad Thess. (PL 117:767).
Haimo of Auxerre, “Exposition,” 30.
Haimo of Auxerre, Commentariorum in Isaiam (PL 116:823-24, 880); It is important to note that Haimo also denied that the (unconverted) Jews would ever be redeemed— a
perspective also against many of the Fathers. Johannes Heil, “Labourers in the Lord’s Quarry:
Carolingian Exegetes, Patristic Authority, and Theological Innovation, a Case Study in the Representation of Jews in the Commentaries on Paul,” in The Study of the Bible in the Carolingian Era, ed. Celia Chazelle and Burton van Name Edwards, Medieval Church Studies (Turnhout: Brepols, 2003), 78.
Elisabeth Mégier, “Jewish Converts in the Early Church and Latin Christian Exegetes of Isaiah, C. 400-1150,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 59, no. 1 (2008): 13–14.
With the above noted exception.
Hippolytus, Christ and Antichrist 6, 14-15 (ANF 5:206-7).
meaning of “temple” and contend that the solution is uncertain.59 Given his reliance on Jerome thus far, it seems likely that he draws the contention from here, though he does not confidently assert that “the Church” is a more probable interpretation as Jerome does.60 Lastly, Chrysostom argues that it refers to both, in the sense that the worship of the Antichrist will extend out from the temple in Jerusalem into “every church.”61 Because his sources of authority are marked by an inconsistency, Haimo simply collects the options together and puts them in a contextual dialogue. Placing texts side-by-side, though helpful in illuminating a difficulty, amounts largely to imitation and a low register of aesthetic value. Nevertheless, Haimo concretises the historic questions by posing them afresh in his horizon and reveals the importance of this tradition of questions.
Haimo’s primary reason for incorporating the Fathers is that he considers them exegetical authorities for reading Scripture appropriately. At the same time, Haimo marshals the Church Fathers who agree with his understanding of the purpose of 2 Thessalonians. Thus he selectively transmits receptions of the epistle. Additionally, the Fathers contribute to the flow of the commentary by providing structural pillars between which Haimo strings his freely-formed points.
i. Contemporary Scholarship Haimo differs rather drastically from his contemporaries, who composed commentaries on 2 Thessalonians. As mentioned, Bede simply copies a large blocks of text from Augustine, but he does not engage with Augustine, De civitate Dei 20.19 (CCSL 48:731); Jerome Epistle 121 (CSEL 56.3.53).
“uel Hierosolymis, ut quidam putant, uel in ecclesia, ut uerius arbitramur.” Ibid.
John Chrysostom, In epist. ii ad Thess. 4 (FCT 5:472-73).
Augustine or the epistle itself.62 In many ways, Bede reflects the general shape of the commentary of his age.
Sedulius Scottus selectively copies Pelagius’ commentary on 2 Thessalonians, with a few extracts in chapters two and three appearing to be original contributions. Nevertheless, the bulk of the work is simply verbatim agreement with Pelagius.63 Rabanus Maurus differs only in that his entire commentary is a patchwork of patristic sources and he proffers no original insights.
These scholars offer catenae of the Fathers on 2 Thessalonians. This summary is not intended to diminish the important work of Bede, Sedulius, and Rabanus. They faithfully sought to preserve the patristic authors for later generations in the way that they saw appropriate. We might colour them as aesthetically “culinary.”64 Haimo’s approach, however, renders the patristic material accessible to later generations, while also asking contextual questions left behind by the assertions of his predecessors, such as “Where is Antichrist, given that Rome has fallen?” His use of patristic material in this dynamic manner and his deployment of a commentary genre reminiscent of the Fathers anticipates the arrival of Scholastic commentators by several centuries.65 ii. Modern Scholarship and the Fathers The general utilisation of patristic material in modern, Protestant commentaries on 2 Thessalonians could hardly be further from Haimo’s approach. Regarded as a separate source and of less authority than Scripture, Bede, Saint Augustine, 291–94.
Unlike the rest of the Christian West, Pelagius’ Pauline commentaries did not circulate anonymously or pseudonymously in Ireland and were, nevertheless, frequently used. Michael W. Herren and Shirley Ann Brown, Christ in Celtic Christianity: Britain and Ireland from the Fifth to the Tenth Century (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2002), 98–101.
Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic, 25.
Contreni, “Abbot of Sasceium,” 304.
we observe at least two trends in the aforementioned commentaries: first, the Fathers feature much less prominently than other ancient sources, such as inter-testamental and pseudepigraphic literature, and modern works written on the topic.