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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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2.3 Receptive Impulses: Against Heresies93 Heresies, particularly historically distant heresies, feature prominently in Haimo’s works. Riggenbach even goes so far as to contend that defence against heresy is one of Haimo’s primary concerns.94 In his 2 Thessalonians commentary concern over heresy materialises twice. First, Haimo takes a position toward predestination that follows on the controversy between Gottschalk of Orbais (d. 867) and Hincmar of Reims (d. 882). The second example is Haimo’s seemingly innocuous reference to Simon Magus. For clarity’s sake, these discussions blend Haimo’s reading with his contemporary context.

I. Double- or Single-Predestination?

Gottschalk’s career began in the monastery of Fulda under the watchful eye of the abbot, Rabanus Maurus. After coming of age, Gottschalk sought and succeeded in gaining freedom from monasticism at the synod of Mainz (829). His abbot, Rabanus had attempted to constrain his bright pupil by accusing him of heresy with regard to his teaching on doublepredestination, but was unsuccessful. Having travelled and taught extensively, primarily in Orbais and Corbie, Gottschalk found numerous allies to his position, such as Servatus Lupus, in which he maintained that God predestined Witherington does not even comment on the phrase “they will suffer.” He turns immediately to the concept of “eternal destruction.” Witherington III, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 196–97; The reading that many commentators want to deny is an understanding that the “destruction” could mean “annihilation,” though they often do not name a dialogue partner.

See, for example, Malherbe, Thessalonians, 32B:402.

It is important to note that the use of “heresy” is from the view of Haimo.

Riggenbach, Die ältesten lateinischen Kommentare, 69; for the heresies castigated by Haimo, see Contreni, “Abbot of Sasceium,” 309; see also Quadri, “Aimone Di Auxerre.” both the elect to salvation and the reprobate to damnation, expounding this doctrine from the teaching of Augustine.95 Rabanus, who held the orthodox view of single-predestination, marshalled the support of Gottschalk’s primary opponent: Hincmar of Reims.

The debate between the groups lasted for years and led to further doctrinal considerations for generations to come, namely with regard to the topics of atonement and the authority of the Fathers, particularly Augustine.96 The debate circulated around the interrelation of grace, free-will, foreknowledge, and predestination as articulated by Augustine and eventually came out in favour of Hincmar and Rabanus, who had Gottschalk’s position condemned at the council of Quiercy (853), Valence (855), and a synod at Langres (859).97 In this climate, Haimo enters a veritable minefield by commenting on a biblical text that makes frequent reference to the salvation of the saints and the condemnation of the wicked. The debate shapes his reading of 2 Thessalonians and he tows the orthodox line in the tone of Hincmar.

Furthermore, Haimo arrives during a shift in the tradition from a focus on predestination and free-will to whom God predestines.

In his opening comments on the epistle, Haimo observes that the tribulations endured by the Thessalonians are “an example of the just

judgment of God” (1:5). He qualifies this with an observation from Prosper:

nothing happens unless God permits it. Thus God allows the saints to suffer as an indication of the greater degree of judgment that the wicked will endure for Willemien Otten, “Carolingian Theology,” in The Medieval Theologians, ed. G. R.

Evans (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), 77.

For further discussion on the nature and arguments levelled in this debate, see Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: The Growth of Medieval Theology (600-1300), vol. 3 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1978), 80–95.

Ibid., 3:93–94.

inflicting the elect.98 Predestination relates primarily to salvation, but the suffering of the righteous does not preclude his sovereignty.

In the Lord’s arrival in “flaming fire” to judge the reprobate (1:8), Haimo comments that the fire will simultaneously “purify the elect,”99 and sweep the wicked into hell. At the beginning of chapter two, he calls the elect those “gathering” (2:1) to the Lord at his advent.100 Lastly, as the chapter draws to a close, Haimo observes that God’s sending the perishing a “work of error” (2:11) means that God will permit Antichrist to come to them and deceive them. In this way, their condemnation comes about by their free choice to reject “the love of truth” and to follow Antichrist instead.101 Nowhere does Haimo refer to the predestination of the wicked to condemnation, only the certainty that they will suffer, which falls under divine foreknowledge rather than predestination.102 Additionally, Haimo only speaks of the elect as those being preveniently-appointed to an eternal outcome. With relation to the entirety of 2 Thessalonians, Haimo introduces a new aspect to its history from his ecclesial milieu in clarifying the dimensions of predestination and the permissive sovereignty of God.

i. Modern Commentators Witherington picks up on this topic in the same initial verse as Haimo, yet he points to the idea of the Thessalonians being “considered worthy” as due to their endurance in persecution, rather than as the result of a divine fiat.





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

“[flamma] purgabit electos” Ibid., 778-79. The fact that Haimo uses language of “the elect” in this discussion despite its absence from the epistle situates it more firmly in the context of the broader debate on predestination.

Though he follows this with the point “either that crowd which will come with him or which will meet with him for judgment,” this refers to the idea of “gathering” rather than election. He clarifies this by adding “all the elect are in Christ, as members joined to him”- a point he certainly would not make about the reprobate. Haimo of Auxerre, “Exposition,” 24.

Haimo of Auxerre, In Epist. ii ad Thess., (PL 117:782).

Hincmar draws this distinction against the work of Gottschalk. Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, 3:86.

God declares them worthy, but only in their faithful obedience.103 Similarly, Witherington observes that punishment is reserved for the wicked (1:8), and he makes no reference to predestination.104 Though the language of election is absent from his discussion of 2:1, he makes a strikingly similar remark to Haimo at 2:11: “Paul is saying that God allows those who refuse to love the truth to have the consequences of their choice [i.e. deception], confirming them in their obdurancy.”105 The text may permit the reading of “allowal,” but Witherington (in keeping with his Wesleyan heritage) reflects the influence of a tradition incorporated by Haimo that is shaped by the ongoing debate over predestination inaugurated truly with Augstine and Pelagius.

Fee’s interpretation of 2 Thessalonians, however, shows that this shared reading does not necessarily emerge from the text. At these verses specifically and with regard to the epistle in general, Fee does not discuss the topic of election or even deem it necessary to clarify whether God only “allows” Antichrist to deceive the perishing or if his “sending” marks their predestined condemnation.106 This furthers the notion that theological and interpretive interests guide exegesis.

Like Haimo, modern commentators’ readings of 2 Thessalonians reflect their sensitivity to theological currents of the time. More recent discussions of election (e.g. Witherington) are situated primarily in the ongoing debate between Calvinism and Arminianism, as opposed to the double- and single-predestination of Gottschalk and Hincmar. Yet this still indicates the historical continuity of the larger debate over predestination.

Witherington III, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 192.

Ibid., 195–96.

Ibid., 224. Emphasis added.

He simply repeats his translation that God “sends” the “working of delusion.” Fee, Thessalonians, 295.

Unlike Haimo, Fee does not seriously risk excommunication for not making his theological position on divine sovereignty abundantly clear. In the dialogue of question and answer, 2 Thessalonians was primed as a locus for the issue of the predestination of the saints and the wicked during the tenth century. A “new” commentary in Haimo’s format necessitated clarfication on this topic, and thereby forcefully introduced an exegetical tradition into the reception history of 2 Thessalonians. In our present context, reading with Haimo revives his question of how this epistle communicates divine sovereignty and expands the horizons of experience and understanding.

Further to this, his attention to theological ramifications more appropriately directs attention to the subject matter of Scripture.

II. Simon Magus The second, and more specific reference to heresy in Haimo’s commentary is the historically distant Simon Magus. The inclusion of this character from Acts 8:9-24 in the commentary appears to offer little more than an example of how he reflects characteristics similar to the Antichrist by performing lying signs and miracles (2:9). In describing the Antichrist, Haimo remarks, “he will appear to resurrect the dead and do many other signs, but these are lies and foreign to the truth since he will delude men through magical art and illusion, just as Simon Magus deceived the one who, thinking he was killing Simon, beheaded a ram in his place.”107 This reference to Simon’s act of subterfuge by substituting a ram for himself makes clear that Haimo has a more developed, apocryphal understanding of the heretic.

Haimo of Auxerre, “Exposition,” 29. Simon also appears in Haimo’s Philippians commentary in a misquote of Jerome about his claim to be the son of God and the Paraclete (PL 117:740; cf. Jerome Commentarius in Matthaeum 24.5 (PL 26:176)), in his 1 Timothy commentary as an example alongside Hymenaeus and Alexander of one who “fell away” (PL 117:788), and his Apocalypse commentary as a predecessor to the dragon and beast in the way that he performs false miracles (PL 117:1133; cf. Rev 16:14).

In the centuries leading up to Haimo, the heresy of simony (derived from the heretic’s forename), or paying for a clerical position, was rife in the Christian world. At the Council of Chalcedon (451), simony received sole attention in the second canon and was condemned as heretical.108 Gregory the Great went to extensive lengths to reform the Church in this regard, particularly in the areas of the world that seemed just beyond papal reach, such as Austrasia and Burgundy. For this reason, he frequently wrote to the queen of these regions, Brunhild,109 layering flattery with requests that she strive to stamp out simony from her kingdom, though his attempts never matured into the council for which he had hoped.110 In his works, Gregory articulated three types of simony: 1.) payment for a clerical office in money, 2.) payment of the same in esteem/flattery, and 3.) complacency in the perpetuation of simony when one has the power to stop it.111 “If any Bishop should ordain for money, and put to sale a grace which cannot be sold…let him who is convicted of this forfeit his own rank… And if any one should be found negotiating such shameful and unlawful transactions, let him also, if he is a clergyman, be deposed from his rank, and if he is a layman or monk, let him be anathematized.” The XXX Canons of the Holy and Fourth Synods, of Chalcedon, Canon II (NNPF2 14:268-69). A briefer form of this condemnation appears earlier in the apocryphal work The Apostolic Constitutions on the lips of Peter: “If any bishop obtains that dignity by money, or even a presbyter or deacon, let him and the person that ordained him be deprived; and let him be entirely cut off from communion, as Simon Magus was by me Peter.” Constitutions of the Holy Apostles 8.47.30 (ANF 7:501).

F. Homes Dudden, Gregory the Great: His Place in History and Thought (London:

Longmans, Green and Company, 1905), 46–48, 68–69.

R. A. Markus, Gregory the Great and His World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 172–75; In one letter, Gregory comments specifically on the office of bishop, remarking, “We have learnt that their office is handled with such great presumption there that laymen are suddenly consecrated as bishops, and that is extremely serious. But what are those men going to do, what will they provide for their people, who aspire to being made bishops not to benefit the people, but for their own honor?” He goes on to label this as “simoniacal heresy.” Gregory the Great, The Letters of Gregory the Great, trans. John R. C Martyn, vol. 2, Medieval Sources in Translation (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2004), 676–77.

Werner Goez, “Simonie,” ed. Hans Dieter Betz et al., RGG, 4 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004), 1329.

The heresy plagued the Church through the Middle Ages, even spreading its roots into monasticism112 and eventually leading to the Investiture Controversy, which received official address in the Concordat of Worms in the twelfth-century.113 By the thirteenth century, the heresy afflicted even the papal office, with Nicholas III serving as the prime example. For this reason, Dante encounters Nicholas in the eighth circle and third bolgia of hell, “where the Simonists are set.”114 The name Simon Magus immediately brought simony to mind in the ninth century. Haimo’s reference to Simon comes from and feeds into the ongoing repulsion toward simony. This provides the ecumenical context for Haimo’s use of the name Simon Magus. The apocryphal nature of his reference derives from another source.

The allusion to Simon deceiving an executioner by substituting a ram comes from the fourth century work The Acts of Peter and Paul. In this text, Peter, Paul, and Simon find themselves in the presence of Nero, who has pronounced Simon to be a god. Following a number of pseudo-magical feats and claiming messianic titles for himself, Simon flies through the air at a great This manifested particularly in the Benedictine (Haimo’s order) monasteries of France, in that monastic candidate were expected to pay for their entry into the order Joseph H. Lynch, Simoniacal Entry into Religious Life from 1000 to 1260 (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1976), esp. 83–106.

Carter Lindberg, A Brief History of Christianity (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 66–68;



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