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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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alongside clerical marriage, simony was the major catalyst for the papal reforms of the eleventh and twelfth-centuries. John A. F. Thomson, The Western Church in the Middle Ages (London: Arnold, 1998), 82–85.

Dante Alighieri, Inferno: The Divine Comedy, trans. Allen Mandellbaum (New York:

Bantam Dell, 1982), Canto XIX. This brief history on Simony is not intended to neglect the Reformation discussion of simony, but rather to give a writing context for Haimo. Indeed, Luther spoke frequently on the topic of simony and changed the trajectory of the discourse.

He argued that the papacy, bishops, and the like were not guilty of simony when it came to selling offices or accepting payment for the pallium. This crime was bribery, not simony. True simony, in Luther’s vision, is impossible, because it entails the sale of gifts of the Holy Spirit, which no one can accomplish. Those who claim to sell remission of sins or other graces of God, which are spiritual goods, do so falsely. This is simony in Luther’s eyes, even though the entire act is a sham. Therefore, he restricts the broader definition of simony adopted by Haimo and other medieval theologians. Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis 21-25 (LW 4:109-205).

height only to plummet to his death after Peter prays that the demons holding Simon aloft release him. Nero responds by having Peter and Paul executed.

Of note in this story are not only the false signs that Simon performs and which the apostles reveal to be false, but also Simon’s claim to be the Son of God, his receiving circumcision, his “resurrection” after three days, his claim that he will ascend to heaven, and the use and application of the very words of Christ to himself.115 Simon Magus is set up as the reverse replica of Christ such that he typifies the expected Antichrist.

Outside of the NT, Justin Martyr (d. 165) makes the earliest reference to Simon Magus, offering background information, describing his “miracles” as false, and revealing his claims to divinity.116 Irenaeus follows his predecessor in his description of Simon, but adds to this that Simon is the source of a variety of heresies.117 In these sources, Simon reflects exhibits characteristics of “Antichrist” in 2 Thessalonians.

In sources contemporary to The Acts of Peter and Paul, such as Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures and a Pseudo-Hippolytan homily, the conflation of Simon Magus with Antichrist is in full effect.118 Cyril describes the Antichrist as a highly skilled magician,119 while Pseudo-Hippolytus Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (ANF 8:477-85); reference to this apocryphal work appears again in twelfth-century Reims with regard to witchcraft during an event in which a woman a woman flew out of a window, carried “by the ministry of evil spirits who once caught Simon Magus up into the air.” Walter L. Wakefield and Austin P. Evans, eds., Heresies of the High Middle Ages: Selected Sources (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 253.

Justin’s language bears a striking resemblance to Thess 2:3-4, 9, and 11. Justin Martyr, Apologia 1.26 (PG 6:26).

Irenaeus, Adversus Haeresies 1.23.2 (PG 7:671-72).

McGinn, Antichrist, 70–71, 74; Wilhelm Bousset, The Antichrist Legend: A Chapter in Christian and Jewish Folklore, trans. A. H. Keane (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999), 146–47.

This conflation likely follows from Origen, who identified Simon as Antichrist in an immanent sense. Origen, Commentaria in Evangelium secundum Matthaeum (PG 13:1643 and 1659); McGinn, Antichrist, 300 n. 64.

Cyril of Jerusalem, Catacheses 15:11 (PG 33:884).

comments on Antichrist’s ability to fly by means of demonic levitation.120 Thus Haimo accesses a developed tradition of the text history of Acts 8:9-24 and 2 Thess 2.

Considering these ecclesial and apocryphal sources materials, Haimo’s decision to include Simon Magus in this particular section of 2 Thessalonians is striking. Haimo has drawn together two significant strands of thought regarding Simon.121 Not only is simony implicitly condemned, but Haimo also identifies any cleric who pays for their position with Antichrist.

The contention could be taken even further to claim that Haimo perceives these clergy as the “mystery of iniquity” already at work (2:7) in the line of Nero, Diocletian, and Julian the Apostate.122 His commentary on Ezekiel strengthens this argument, for in it he openly describes bishops and priests who pay for their positions as lions and wolves, who consume their poor congregants and drag them into hell by their unauthorised and false administration of their office.123 If these men prefigure Antichrist, then any miracles that occur under their administration, such as the transubstantiation124 of the Eucharist, the crux of the Carolingian orthodox faith, does not Pseudo-Hippolytus, De consummatione mundi 29 (PG 10:933).

Predestination and Simon Magus are brought together in a thirteenth-century work that describes a heretical group that holds to the position that God predestines all good things, while the devil preordains all evil things- a position attributed by their accusers to Simon Magus. Wakefield and Evans, Heresies of the High Middle Ages: Selected Sources, 275; In the Life of Gregory VII (1128), Paul of Bernried reports the accusation that Henry IV was guilty of simony and described him as the “precursor of the Antichrist,” yet this applies primarily to Henry’s attempt to undermine the papacy and establish his own pope. Paul of Bernried, “The Life of Gregory VII,” in The Papal Reform of the Eleventh Century: Lives of Pope Leo IX and Pope Gregory VII, trans. Ian Stuart Robinson (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), 310–14.





Haimo of Auxerre, In Epist. ii ad Thess., (PL 117:781).

We might also add to this his commentaries on Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians. See Contreni, “By Lions,” esp. 38–43.

Admittedly, the term “transubstantiation” is anachronistic, but a belief in the real presence and “metamorphosis” of the elements antedates Haimo. See, for example, John Chrysostom, De proditione Judae 1.6 (PG 49:380), “τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶµά µου, φησί. Τοῦτο τὸ ῥῆµα µεταρρυθµίζει τὰ προκείµενα.” Emphasis added.

genuinely occur. We see precisely such a concern arise over the effects of simony and lay investiture on the Eucharist in the eleventh and twelfthcenturies.125 Therefore, Haimo’s interpretation of 2 Thessalonians with reference to Simon Magus is not merely provocative to his horizon of expectations. The monk has levelled a polemical challenge to the ecclesial realm by access to an interpretive tradition.

i. Contemporary Scholarship In one sense Haimo models his work after Fathers like Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Augustine,126 who wrote extensively against heresies. Despite converging contexts that nurture exegetical attention to heresy, Haimo remains unique for his time period in his inclusion of Simon in his commentary on 2 Thessalonians— this marks the way in which he surpasses his horizon of expectations.

Because of this distinctiveness, Lombard’s reference to the heretic at exactly the same location (2:9) in his commentary on the epistle renders it conspicuous. He even makes use of the same example in which Simon substitutes a ram for himself at his execution. Lombard points primarily to Simon’s claim of divinity as evidence that his works miraculous signs are lies.

Even should they legitimately produce a genuine effect, it is only performed by the permission of God in order to attract the perishing to the larger Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, 3:212–13; Marcia L. Colish, Peter Lombard, vol. 2, Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History (Leiden: Brill, 1994), 575–80.

In The Heresies I and Answer to an Enemy of the Law and the Prophets II.12.40, Augustine regards Simon as the inaugural heretic, in keeping with several other Fathers (e.g.

Eusebius) and following on from Irenaeus. Augustine, Arianism and Other Heresies, ed. John E. Rotelle, trans. Roland J. Teske, vol. 1.18, The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1995), 34 and 440, respectively.

mendacity.127 Haimo, despite Lombard’s rewording of his predecessor on 2 Thessalonians, exerts commanding influence over the latter.128 By Lombard’s day, however, Haimo’s reading has lost its causticness and already requires reading against the grain to restore its tone.

ii. Modern Scholarship Like Haimo (and Paul), Rigaux contrasts the “false wonders (τέρασιν ψεύδους)” of the Antichrist with the “truth,” as a Christian virtue, that the perishing denied (2:10). Furthermore, the Antichrist uses these miracles for the express purpose of deception.129 Fee argues similarly, but stresses that the “falsehood” modifies both “signs” and “wonders” (2:9) and that this term does not indicate that they are counterfeit, but rather that they “are intended to deceive, to lead people astray after Satan.”130 Bornemann remains open on this point, arguing that the genitive ψεύδους can mean that the signs and wonders are false, or that they function as the means of drawing people into “the lie.”131 Haimo, because he recognises Simon as the type for Antichrist, excludes Fee’s perspective and accepts only the first of Bornemann’s considerations. Antichrist accomplishes his works “through magical art and illusion,”132 like Simon. Even in his suggested, alternative reading, that Antichrist’s advent will come about by false signs and wonders in order to lead people to false worship, Haimo still adds that this will be accomplished Lombard, In epist. ii ad Thess. (PL 192:320-21); later in this chapter, we will discuss how Lombard uses Haimo and Ambrosiaster as a foil for the “correct” reading found in Augustine. This rule, however, does not apply to all of Lombard’s use of Haimo on 2 Thessalonians.

Marcia L. Colish, Peter Lombard, vol. 1, Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History (Leiden: Brill, 1994), 205–7.

Rigaux, Thessaloniciens, 675.

Fee, Thessalonians, 294.

Bornemann, Die Thessalonicherbriefe, 372.

Haimo of Auxerre, “Exposition,” 29.

through magical deception.133 Rigaux’s reading resembles this alternative suggestion, because he contends that ψεύδους “refers not only to the source, but also to the goal, the purpose”134 of Antichrist’s manifestation. Yet his mention of “source” points to Satan as the deceptive power (i.e. not God) behind Antichrist, rather than the notion that the signs do not genuinely occur.

This is the general tone of modern scholars on this point,135 completely against the readings of the early Church. It precludes an association between Antichrist and Simon Magus.

Haimo’s ecclesial-literary context brings the correlation of Simon Magus and Antichrist to a head. He has shifted the focus from Simon as a type for Antichrist and abstract discussion of the eschatological enemy of Christ, to simony as present identification with Antichrist. By the time of Lombard, Haimo’s question of the relationship of simony to Anthichrist has already lost its subtext and force, such that it fades from the reception of 2 Thessalonians.

The modern, historicist horizon of expectations for the epistle would benefit from reviving attention to such theological-practical considerations and enable greater integration of theological scholarship by ecclesial communities. It pushes beyond analogy by placing the ongoing practices of the Church under scrutiny.

2.4. Receptive Impulses: Sermon Preparation Though not apparently connected to the previous topic another receptive impulse that shapes Haimo’s work is the aim to provide a Ibid.

Rigaux, Thessaloniciens, 675.

See also Malherbe, Thessalonians, 32B:425; Wanamaker even suggest that Paul’s familiarity with accounts of emperors, such as Gaius Caligula, performing miracles cements in the apostle’s mind that these miracles would be genuine. Wanamaker, Thessalonians, 259–60.

Haimo may view the “signs” as false in the sense that they are accomplished by demonic powers, but it seems more likely that his use of such language as it will “appear” as though Antichrist has accomplished a feat and “illusion” indicates his belief that they are not genuine.

commentary to aid in sermon preparation. This motivating goal materialises specifically in his use of simple language, his exegetical particularities, the way in which the generations immediately following Haimo made use of his material, and his composition of a sermon on 1 John and homilaries.

I. Language In his commentary, Haimo writes in simple Latin, both in terms of syntax and vocabulary. To describe Haimo’s language as “simple” is not to slight him as a scholar. If anything, this demonstrates his brilliance as a theologian, for he was able to compress the immensely complex Latin (and theology) of the Fathers into digestible selections.136 For example, Haimo explicates the syntactically complex verse “If indeed it is just for God to repay” (1:6) with the simple phrase “the evil with evil things, and the good with good things.”137 We can add to this the earlier-noted way in which he introduces an explanation with the simple id est and how he offers synonyms to clarify terms throughout the commentary. Three brief examples will illustrate the latter. He explains “seduction” (2:10) as “deception,” belief “in the truth” (2:12) as in “Christ,” and consent “to iniquity” (2:12) as to “the devil.”138 How his approach to language aids in sermon preparation is not immediately clear and hinges on a construal of the audience of this Benedictine.

II. Audience Following Charlemagne’s reforms of monasticism, Haimo furthers ecclesiastical education by expanding access to both Scripture and the Church Heil describes his writing as “an even, easy, Latin, informing for advanced readers and understandable for beginners as well.” Heil, “Theodulf,” 113.

“malis mala, et bonis bona.” Haimo of Auxerre, In Epist. ii ad Thess., (PL 117:778).

Haimo of Auxerre, “Exposition,” 29 and 30.



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