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«THE RECEPTION HISTORY OF 2 THESSALONIANS WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, HAIMO OF AUXERRE, AND JOHN CALVIN ANDREW RHETT TALBERT, B.A., ...»

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Second, the Fathers are frequently set up as a foil to the “correct” interpretation of a given passage or simply relegated to a footnote without any engagement with their thought. Wanamaker, for example, cites the Didache and Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians in his commentary on 2 Thessalonians, but no patristic material after the apostolic fathers.66 His primary interlocutors are modern scholars operating within a historical-critical framework. As Wanamaker largely asks historical questions, perhaps this excludes the Fathers, who are interested in larger, theological, pastoral, and existential questions, in addition to the historical questions regarding Paul’s reason for writing 2 Thessalonians. We observe a similar phenomenon in the commentaries of Fee (who mentions Athanasius and Chrysostom), Morris (who cites Chrysostom, Tertullian, and Theodore), and Witherington (who cites Chrysostom and Theodoret).67 Morris is an excellent example of the second trend as well. He comments that “the perseverance of Christ” (3:5) is a clear encouragement to the Thessalonians to imitate the patience of Christ in their suffering. In a footnote, he observes that Chrysostom proposes three options for understanding this passage: 1.) endure like Christ; 2.) by doing the commandments of God, and; 3.) waiting patiently for Christ. Yet Morris rejects the potential that the passage could refer to waiting patiently for the Wanamaker, Thessalonians, 316.

Fee, Thessalonians, 283, 291; Morris, First and Second Thessalonians, 225, 251, 258;

Witherington III, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 189, 193.

return of Christ, given that “it is an unlikely understanding of the genitive.” 68 What Morris overlooks, however, is the manner in which Chrysostom ties all three together in patience during affliction.69 Morris revives the dialogue in order to silence it and undercuts the authority of the Church Father, while Haimo reveals a fuller picture of the dialogue by placing patristic readings beside one another and by not openly challenging them. He allows the reader to enter the dialogue.70 Despite Morris’ blunt treatment of patristic readings, he nevertheless betrays the continuity of his approach with pre-modern interpretation both through entering the dialogue with 2 Thessalonians and framing his answer with reference to an answer of the past.

We encounter a different approach with Catholic scholars, such as Rigaux and Malherbe. Malherbe tends to utilise the Fathers when they helpfully expound a portion of 2 Thessalonians. He notes that Chrysostom insightfully draws attention to ὑπεραυξάνει as emphasising the growth of the Thessalonians’ faith (1:3). In his comments on the opening thanksgiving, Malherbe draws attention to Theodoret and Chrysostom, who correctly highlight the rhetorical function of the letter to encourage and render the Thessalonians well-disposed to hearing what Paul has to say in the remainder of the letter.71 The key differences between Malherbe and Haimo lay in the structural function of the Fathers in Haimo’s commentary and that Haimo Morris, First and Second Thessalonians, 251, fn. 11.

John Chrysostom, In epist. ii ad Thess. 5 (FCT 5:485).

Thiselton’s commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians similarly displays the historical dialogue and explores the range of meanings in relation to questions posed to the texts.

Thiselton, 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

Malherbe, Thessalonians, 32B:384 and 388.

explores what the text projects in a future Church context, rather than just what lies behind the text.

Similarly, Rigaux considers the historical range of interpretive options for understanding judgment “on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (1:8), before concluding that it refers generally to the enemies of Christians.72 Where the Fathers and others continue this discussion with reference to “those who are perishing” (2:10), however, Rigaux’s engages with a Calvinist tradition of reading, such that he rejects the verse as supporting predestination.73 This reveals how the hermeneutical interests of the interpreter in part condition the nature and continuity of the dialogue with the text, which is not to be taken as negative, but an important part of the text’s history and, therefore, its being.

2.2 Receptive Impulses: Methodology and Murethach In addition to the Fathers, we perceive Murethach as a profound exegetical influence on Haimo’s. Yet it would be inappropriate to assume that he lacked any independence from Murethach in his hermeneutics. Therefore, we proceed on the assumption that Haimo exhibits a high degree of freedom built upon an exegetical foundation nurtured by Murethach.

I. Grammatical Attention and Classical Examples Holtz established the relationship between Murethach and Haimo as master and student by means of Murethach’s reference to Haimo in his grammar.74 Murethach’s only preserved work is a commentary on Donatus’ Rigaux, Thessaloniciens, 629.

Ibid., 677.

Holtz, “Introduction,” xxviii–xxix; Holtz, “Murethach et l’influence,” 150–51; Though Contreni argues for the possibility that Haimo and Murethach were colleagues, rather than master and pupil, in the 830s, it is important to note that he does not deny Haimo’s education under Murethach altogether, though he seems to suggest this. Even were this the case, it does not discount the influence of Murethach’s instruction on Haimo, see Contreni, “By Lions,” 53–54.





Ars maior,75 which should indicate the importance of grammatical attention to a text for this teacher. In general terms, this attention to grammar entails commenting on meaning or sentence construction. In this process, it may become necessary to explicate terms, if necessary by exploring its etymology, and to specify the sentence construction under question with clear and simple terminology. As mentioned in the introduction, Murethach and Haimo, employ the same terminology to introduce an explanatory paraphrase.76

–  –  –

Thessalonians commentary as in Haimo’s other commentaries and the majority he conglomerates at the commentary’s conclusion. Clarifying Paul’s conclusion, Haimo’s reading follows thus: “If some do not obey the word (3:14)— meaning (subaudis) ours or yours, that they not be lazy— by means of the letter (3:14)— meaning (subaudis) yours…”77 Though not included in the prescribed list, we might also include the clarifying phrase “id est” (“that is”) as reflecting the influence of Murethach and one of the aims of Haimo’s commentary. Admittedly, id est is a difficult phrase to single out as reflecting a distinct style, or an educational heritage because of its commonplace nature. When marking the frequency with which it occurs in Haimo’s commentary on 2 Thessalonians (28 times) as compared with the likes of Sedulius Scottus (6 times) and Rabanus Maurus (10 times), and the fact that he always follows this with a synonym for, or a clarification of the previous phrase, however, it becomes apparent that this is a stylistic Holtz, “Murethach et l’influence,” 152. “Donatus” in this chapter refers to Aelius Donatus, the Roman grammarian who trained Jerome, not Donatus Magnus, the historical schismatic of the fourth century.

Holtz, “Introduction,” xxx.

Haimo of Auxerre, In epist. ii ad Thess. (PL 117:783).

feature of Haimo.78 An example of this occurs in his reading of 2 Thess 1:7, in which he clarifies that “in the revelation [of the Lord Jesus]” is another way of saying “in [his] manifestation.”79 The commentary is replete with similar examples.

A glance at contemporary commentaries on 2 Thessalonians initially reveals similar usage of these phrases shared between Haimo and Murethach, excepting id est, as we have already discussed. Looking at Rabanus Maurus’ commentary on the same letter, we see him employ the phrases sequitur and ac si diceret.80 Closer attention to the passage and Rabanus’ sources reveal, however, that these do not originate with the medieval theologian, but are copied from the works of Jerome and Gregory, respectively.

In addition to these stock phrases, Haimo’s attention to grammatical detail demonstrates the influence of Murethach. The first example comes from his reading of “if indeed (si tamen) it is just for God to repay” (1:6). Following many Fathers,81 Haimo recapitulates the question of the difficulty raised by “if,” as though the statement is dubious. Haimo continues the tradition of understanding the phrase to mean “because” along with the Fathers, but expands the horizon of expectation (slightly) by categorising it as a causal conjunction.82 Later in the same chapter, Haimo attempts to clarify the terminologically awkward phrase that “[the wicked] will give eternal punishment (dabunt pœnas solvent) in death” (1:9). Two converging Similarly, in his commentary on 1 Thessalonians, he uses “id est” 58 times.

Haimo of Auxerre, In epist. ii ad Thess. (PL 117:778).

Rabanus Maurus, Exposito in epist. ii ad Thess. (PL 116:571 and 572).

Chrysostom, Theodore, Theodoret, Pelagius, and Severian all observe similarly.

“conjunctio causalis in hoc loco non pro dubitatione ponitur, sed pro affirmatione,” Haimo of Auxerre, In epist. ii ad Thess., (PL 117:778). Emphasis added.

influences come to a head in Haimo’s reading. In the first case, he clarifies the nebulous construction of “giving punishment” as meaning that the wicked “will give punishment to others, but they will also give it to and inflict it upon themselves.”83 He supplements this with an alternative definition of “to give” as meaning “to suffer/endure” through an example from Virgil.84 Resorting to a classical source for an etymological explanation demonstrates the influence of Murethach on Haimo.85 The second influence on Haimo in this reading is his critical engagement with the Vulgate. For example, though Haimo offered the alternative reading of expectatione (2 Thess 3:5; Ambrosiaster) along with patientia (Vg.), he tends to support the Vulgate over a divergent reading in the Fathers even if he attempts to harmonise them. In this example, Ambrosiaster’s text86 reads more easily than the Vulgate, yet Haimo only approaches this reading by using the Latin of the Vulgate and working toward a definition that resembles Ambrosiaster’s through etymological means. This preference occurs similarly when Haimo reads “firstfruits” (primatiae; 2:13) Haimo of Auxerre, “Exposition,” 23.

“And for blood-red locks, Scylla gives punishment.” ibid.; Virgil, Georgics, ed.

Richard F Thomas, vol. 1, Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 405. It appears that Chrysostom likewise alludes to Virgil’s Georgics with his metaphor of drawing out moisture from thorns by means of fire (cf. “Sive illis omne per ignem excoquitur vitium atque exudat inutilis humor.” Georgics 1.87-88). Chrysostom, Homilies on 2 Thessalonians 3 (NPNF1 13:387). Though outside the range of this project, it would be interesting to chart the reception of Virgil by the Church.

Contreni, “Commentary on Ezechiel,” 231. Early in his Pauline commentary, Haimo implicitly clarifies his deployment of such sources as non-scriptural. Haimo of Auxerre, In epistolam ad Romanos (PG 117:366). For additional examples of his use of Virgil, see his In epistolam ii ad Corinthos (PG 117:613 and 643) and In epistolam ad Ephesios (PG 117:725);

for Plato, see In epistolam i ad Corinthos (117:520) and Exposito in Apocalypsin 5.26 (PG 117: 1128).

“qui poenas solvent in interitum aeternum,” Ambrosiaster, Ad Thessalonicenses secunda (CSEL 81:237).

instead of “from the beginning” (a principio) with Ambrosiaster on the same verse, despite Ambrosiaster’s reading being easier to follow.87 Returning to the example above on “to give” (1:9) meaning that the wicked “give” punishment to each other and themselves as it relates to the influence of the Vulgate, Haimo demonstrates how translations lead to new questions in the reception history of a text, as well as the potential dominance of a tradition over a critical reflection on a concept. As the authorised version of the Carolingian Empire, Haimo was not in a position to opt for the drastically different reading of Ambrosiaster against the Vulgate.88 Under similar constraints, Lombard forwards Haimo’s question, attempting to harmonise the idea of “giving” and “suffering” because of the difficulty that the Latin presents. Some of the reprobate will “give” the punishment in eternity, while others will “suffer” the punishment, and the two groups will alternate roles ad infinitum.89 Modern commentators, relying on a relatively stable Greek manuscript tradition, do not face the same difficulty. They generally agree that the phrase should be translated “[the wicked] will pay the penalty (δίκην τίσουσιν) of eternal destruction away from the face of the Lord…” (1:9).90 This idea is certainly within the semantic range of dabunt poenas, but does not fit with its more common usage in the Middle Ages. A shift to the Greek original means that the problem for Haimo and Lombard has received a definitive answer.91 Haimo of Auxerre, In epist. ii ad Thess., (PL 117:782); Ambrosiaster, Ad Thessalonicenses secunda (CSEL 81:242).

The difference here between his consideration of patientia and expectatione (3:5), is that these concepts are synonymous and do not require a reformulation of the sentence, while Ambrosiaster’s reading in 1:9 is quite distinct from the Vulgate.

Lombard, In Epist ii ad Thess. (PL 192:314-15).

For example Fee, Thessalonians, 258; Malherbe, Thessalonians, 32B:401–2; Rigaux, Thessaloniciens, 630–31.

Jauss, Question and Answer, 70.

Modern attention to this phrase has shifted instead to the meaning of “eternal destruction,”92 which was, ironically, rather consistently understood in Medieval period.



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