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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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Fathers in his commentary. His plain language is intelligible to those of a lower level of literacy, yet, overall, the commentary is detailed enough to offer a relatively comprehensive reflection on the epistle. We can certainly say that monks were Haimo’s reading audience,139 particularly because monks like Heiric, Remigius, and Ælfric of Eynsham were the scholars of the following generations who utilised his works. We can also add that at least monks composed part of Haimo’s listening audience. For, though Gregory I strongly discouraged monks from public preaching,140 monastics were often at the head of frontier evangelism and the lack of priests in certain regions meant that residents of those regions had no exposure to biblical instruction. Who better to teach them than those who spent their days studying Scripture? The very fact that the Carolingian reforms sought to curb monastic involvement in pastoral work indicates that monks were actively engaged in public preaching during Haimo’s time.141 Though we cannot contend with any certainty that Haimo delivered his commentary on 2 Thessalonians as a homily in a non-monastic setting, this might account for the relatively sparse notes on chapter three of the epistle.

The invocation to work in both Basil and Benedict’s rules were targeted at the Contreni, “By Lions,” 43–45.

Monks were to dedicate their lives of contemplation in withdrawal from the world.

Additionally, most monastics were laity, not ordained clergy. Dudden, Gregory the Great, 189–94; Markus, Gregory the Great, 70–71.

Thomas L. Amos, “Monks and Pastoral Care in the Early Middle Ages,” in Religion, Culture, and Society in the Early Middle Ages: Studies in Honor of Richard E. Sullivan, ed.

Thomas F. X. Noble and John J. Contreni (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1987), 174–75; The laity tended to prefer monks as spiritual guides over the clergy because of the corruption articulated by Haimo and the latter’s lack of identification with the needs of the average person. Pierre Riché, Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne, trans. Jo Ann McNamara, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988), 202; In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, certain monks insisted that it was their right to preach. See, Caroline Walker Bynum, Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages, Publications of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), 29–32.

monastic community,142 rather than the public at large. This is not to say that Haimo would discourage people from working, but that he saw the command of Paul in this chapter as aimed at those who had taken on the spiritually arduous life, rather than the Christian world at large.143 Put differently, if this commentary was strictly for monks, why did Haimo overlook a section that spoke directly into their communal life, according to their predecessors? Even if he did not preach this commentary as a sermon publicly, the language144 and the veritable omission of chapter three seem to indicate that Haimo had the wider public in mind when he wrote. The commentary helped prepare the parish priest and monk-priests for preaching on 2 Thessalonians to the average listener. Thus, both Haimo’s perceived understanding of Paul’s purpose for writing 2 Thessalonians (the doctrine of chapter two) and his prospective audience shapes his reading of the letter.

III. Sermon and Homilaries Another work of Haimo that contributes to the view that he wrote his 2 Thessalonians commentary as an aid in sermon preparation is a medieval sermon on 1 John 5:4-10 that locates the monk in his later career at Cessy-lesBois. The similarities145 between this sermon and the construction of his 2 For a common contemporary perspective in this regard, Smaragdus’ commentary on the Rule of Saint Benedict also takes up the monastic command to work, as read through the lens of 2 Thess 3. Smaragdus Abbas, Commentaria in regulam Sancti Benedicti (PL 102:884This view resonates with Ortigues perspective that Haimo was a theorist of the “three orders” (clergy, nobility, and the third estate) of Christian society.

Edmond Ortigues, “L’élaboration de la théorie des trois ordres chez Haymon d’Auxerre,” Francia 14 (1986):

29–43.

Simple Latin made for easier translation into the vulgar tongue, which was the expected format of 9th century sermon for the general public. Riché, Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne, 200; this is precisely what Ælfric does when he uses Haimo in his homilies, which he composed in Old English Ælfric of Eynsham, Aelfric’s Catholic Homilies Introduction, Commentary, and Glossary; for more on his use of Haimo, see Cyril L.

Smetana, “Aelfric and the Homilary of Haymo of Halberstadt,” Traditio 17 (1961): 457–69.

The similarities include a lemma-by-lemma exposition of the text, concern with historical heresies (e.g. Manichaism), and introductory explanatory phrases (e.g. hoc est and Thessalonians commentary insinuate that the commentary is an expanded version of a sermon that Haimo originally preached. Heil contends strongly that Haimo’s Pauline commentaries in particular bear the marks of sermons developed into larger, expository works because the gaps in the commentary texts proceed or follow pericope extracts, indicating that Haimo filled in the text later.146 This could offer another explanation for the relatively sparse exegesis of 2 Thess 1 and 3 around the detailed attention of chapter two.147 Along with the sermon on 1 John, Haimo’s composition of several homilaries indicates his desire to provide sermon material for later generations. Though several early manuscripts preserve homilies by Haimo on the epistles of Paul,148 the Migne homily only offers passing references to 2 Thessalonians. Nevetheless, on the Second Sunday of Advent, Haimo offers a sermon that begins with Luke 21:25. Much like Jesus with his disciples, Haimo attempts to assuage the concerns of his audience by describing the events of the eschaton so that they may be prepared when it arrives. He articulates the arrival of the Antichrist, noting that he will oppose and exalt himself above “all that is called God or that is worshipped” (2 Thess 2:4).149 Particularly in an age of erratic apocalyptic upheaval, Haimo’s comments on 2 videlicet). For the sermon text, see Contreni, “Abbot of Sasceium,” 317–20. For further similarities between the sermon and Haimo’s other works, see 308-10.





Heil, Kompilation, 282–88, esp. 282–83. The same is apparent in his commentary on 1 Thessalonians, in which every chapter receives detailed attention with the exception of chapter three, which he summarises in two sentences. Haimo of Auxerre, In epist. i ad Thess. (PL 117:767-68).

In total, three main reasons for Haimo’s attention to 2 Thess 2 have been discussed: 1.) he saw it as the primary purpose for Paul to write; 2.) the latter chapter applied primarily to monks, and was an addendum to the larger doctrinal core of the letter, and; 3.) his original sermon on the topic concentrated on the second chapter. The points are not mutually exclusive, but rather, the latter two flow from the first.

Barré, Les homéliaires Carolingiens de l’école d’Auxerre, see esp. 61–66.

Haimo of Auxerre, Homiliae de Tempore 2 (PL 117:19).

Thess 2 appropriately guide a reader into a balanced and cautious reading of the epistle. This context will receive attention in the following section.

i. Contemporary Scholarship Though Rabanus and Florus likely intended for priests and monks to use their commentaries for sermon preparation, they did so by offering cumbersome and dense theological extracts from the Fathers that their readers would have to distil and translate into the vernacular. Sedulius is something of an exception to this group, and fits closer to Haimo. For example, both quickly clarify that the “man of sin” (2:3) is Antichrist; that the “revelation” (2:6) of which Paul later speaks refers also to Antichrist; the inclusion of Nero as one who “holds” (tenet) authority (2:7); and that “the patience of Christ” (3:5) refers to having patience in affliction (though Haimo also offers an alternative reading).150 Sedulius and Haimo offer a more accessible text to the medieval sermon writer by asking, “What is essential for the edification of the congregation?” ii. Modern Scholarship Though many modern commentaries are certainly useful in sermon preparation, most lack the degree of accessibility found in Haimo. The NIGTC, for which Wanamaker produces his volume, for example, offers a technical evaluation of the Greek of the NT. Rigaux’s commentary is likewise technically detailed. Modern commentaries tend toward this direction of exploring all aspects of the text, rather than attention to a core message. This leaves the responsibility of delineating praxis in the hands of pastors with primarily historical material.

Sedulius Scotus, In epistolam ii ad Thessalonicenses (PL 103:223-24); Haimo of Auxerre, In epist. ii ad Thess. (PL 117:779-81, 783).

In terms of exegesis, we see that Wanamaker agrees with Haimo and his predecessors in taking εἴπερ (si tamen; 1:6) to mean “since” in the causal sense. Haimo bases the judgment of the “evil” and the “good” in the future (1:6) on the grounds of God’s just judgment exemplified in the present endurance of the Christians at Thessalonica (1:5). Yet then Haimo obfuscates the point by describing the example of their present affliction (1:5) as an indication of the severe degree of punishment that the wicked will suffer in the Judgment. This enables Haimo to summarise God’s retribution as “malis mala, et bonis bona.”151 Wanamaker offers a helpful correction to Haimo in contending the sign/example of God’s just judgment is exclusively the suffering of the Thessalonians (1:5), which justifies the reading of 1:6 as repayment for “wickedness” or “goodness” in the present life and the reversal of roles in the Judgment. In this way, Wanamaker also offers a correction of Morris, who proposes a similar, dual-signification of God’s righteous judgment in the endurance and the suffering of the Thessalonians. For, endurance in persecution makes sense of being “counted worthy” (1:4), but it does not follow how endurance functions as a sign of God’s eschatological Judgment, nor that endurance leads to God’s retribution.152 Let us also compare the three, brief explanations of Haimo by way of synonyms (seduction=deception (2:10); the truth=Christ (2:12); the lie=Satan (2:12)) with modern research. Menken proceeds with the reading “deceit of sinfulness” (2:10), and adds to Haimo’s view that this language of deceit situates the passage firmly in apocalyptic eschatology, as numerous apocalyptic works (Dan 8:25, 1 Enoch 91:5-7, Sibylline Oracles 3:64-70, and Ibid., 778.

Wanamaker, Thessalonians, 222–24; Morris, First and Second Thessalonians, 196–98.

Didache 16:4) anticipate such deception in the last days. Menken locates the passage in a theological-literary genre.153 Unable to read cross-canonically in a manner that would allow him to equate the statement of one biblical author with another (e.g. the truth=Christ;

cf. 2 Thess 2:12, John 14:6), Menken omits the connection between “the truth” and “Christ” that Haimo takes as obvious. Menken only goes so far as to say, “‘The truth’… is a very broad concept, but in 2 Thessalonians it has in fact the restricted meaning of the Christian truth, that is, the gospel.”154 Haimo’s context nearly forces him to equate the two, while Menken’s prevents it, because such express relations are not worked out within the epistle. Menken does, however, draw attention to the contrast of belief in the “truth” and taking pleasure in “sinfulness” (2 Thess 2:12) as found also in Rom 1:18 and 2:8.

Haimo likewise explores the contrast, but by substituting “Christ” and “the devil,” respectively. Here he reflects dedicated attention to the entire epistle as well as the effect of apocalyptic eschatology on his reading. Only verses earlier, he read that Antichrist arrives with “lying signs” by the “power of Satan” (2 Thess 2:9). Therefore, the equation of the devil with “sinfulness” and “the lie” (2:12) is based on an understanding of Satan as the source of deceit and sinfulness. It is only natural, then, to contrast “Christ” with “the devil” and “the truth” with “the lie” in keeping with apocalyptic antimonies that characterise Paul’s theology.155 As a (potential) sermon, Haimo’s commentary demonstrates less concern in situating the epistle within a genre to cultivate an understanding of the letter than drawing relationships from within the epistle itself and the larger canon to present a concise reading to his Menken, 2 Thessalonians, 115–16.

Ibid., 117; see also 118. Emphasis original.

Martyn, “Apocalyptic Antimonies,” 417.

audience that operates on a number of theological assumptions. The modern horizon of expectations, shaped by historicist concerns, has the potential to expand if it can incorporate Haimo’s congregationally-directed theological reading, which helpfully remembers the purpose of Scripture as Scripture. At the same time, modern commentators offer critical insights into the Greek language, historical context, apocalyptic genre, and broader non-canonical literature that can prevent naïve assimilation of the text according to one’s theological predilections and they offer the prioritisation of other interests in the consideration of meaning.

We could continue this discussion by comparing modern scholarship’s relationship to the shared readings of Haimo and Sedulius at a number of points. This ventures too far, though, into the discussion of apocalyptic eschatology without providing a clearer picture of Haimo’s relationship to this theological category. We address that topic below. As it absorbs a great deal of Haimo’s attention, we will need to divide the subject matter into two sections: 1.) the general category of apocalyptic realism, and; 2.) Haimo’s specific view of Antichrist.

2.5. Receptive Impulses: Apocalyptic Realism Given the influence of Augustine in the Middle Ages, it is important to first situate Haimo’s apocalyptic reading of 2 Thessalonians in relation to this Church Father.



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