«THE RECEPTION HISTORY OF 2 THESSALONIANS WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, HAIMO OF AUXERRE, AND JOHN CALVIN ANDREW RHETT TALBERT, B.A., ...»
Cambridge University Press, 2002), VIII.xi.19–20. Emphasis original.
Though Isidore misreads Pelagius at this point, Pelagius is the historical root of this tradition nonetheless. Pelagius’ commentary reads “Et revelatus fuerit homo peccati. Diaboli scilicet.” If diaboli is taken as nominative, then it would mean the devil is Antichrist. If, however, one reads it as a genitive (with the case of peccati, which is more likely), it is describing the “revelation of the man of sin, namely [the man] of the devil,” thus equating “sin” with “devil.” This becomes clearer in the line that follows, in which Pelagius describes the devil possessing Antichrist, “as if he was born to him.” Pelagius, “Exposito in ii Thess.”
443. Cf. Bornemann, Die Thessalonicherbriefe, 403–4; Thiselton, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 216;
Hughes, Constructing Antichrist, 69–70.
scilicet.”202 Sedulius clarifies Pelagius’ reading thus: “Homo. Antichristus.
Peccati. Diaboli scilicet;”203 thereby remaining close to Haimo: the Antichrist is of the devil. Yet in suggesting that the “mystery of iniquity” (2:7) is a corporate Antichrist body preceding the arrival of an individual Antichrist, Sedulius fuses the spiritual reading of Augustine with literal reading of Pelagius. Haimo holds these perspectives apart on generic grounds, and sees “the mystery of iniquity at work” as Antichrist working through his members (without labelling them “Antichrist) in the present through the dissemination of false doctrines. In the same way that Christ works through his members presently to proclaim the truth, so too the Antichrist spreads “the lie” in a reflective way.204 In spirit with Haimo, Rabanus proposes that the providence of God “restrains” the Antichrist. This would summarise Haimo’s broader perspective, despite the fact that he sees the “restrainer” (2:7) as the Roman emperor and “that which restrains” (2:6) as the Roman Empire. Because Rabanus selectively copies patristic texts, he has an overlap regarding what restrains Antichrist: God’s providence and the number of members that compose Antichrist’s body. If one sees the former as governing the latter, however, the issue is easily resolved. Furthermore, for Rabanus, the “lying works” (2:9) are primarily doctrinal or theological, and anyone who “denies that Christ is God is an Antichrist.”205 Lastly, in keeping with Augustine and Gregory, Rabanus views the “mystery of iniquity” (2:7) as members of Pelagius, “Exposito in ii Thess,” 443.
Sedulius Scotus, In epist. ii ad Thess. (PL 103:223). I follow Sedulius’ reading of diaboli as a first-person genitive singular of diabolus against Thiselton, who appears to read this as a nominative singular. Thiselton, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 222.
Rabanus Maurus, Exposito in epist. ii ad Thess (PL 116:572); English text from Hughes, Constructing Antichrist, 134.
Antichrist’s body who must reach a certain mass before Antichrist is revealed.
Again, Haimo stands out as an abnormality for his refusal to incorporate the Latin spiritual tradition.
ii. Modern Scholarship As an opening point regarding modern research on 2 Thessalonians, we can note the general scholarly consensus that, by the “man of lawlessness” (2:3), Paul has an individual, rather than a corporate body in mind.206 This reading militates against the Latin spiritual interpretation of Augustine207 in favour of the apocalyptic realist of Jerome, Ambrosiaster, and Haimo.
In a break with the ecclesial tradition, Fee does not use the term “Antichrist” to describe the “man of lawlessness” (2:3), rather he refers to him as the “Rebel,” or the “anti-God” figure.208 This develops from his view that the Rebel’s acts, such as setting himself up in the temple of God as though he is God (2:4), are directed against God, rather than Christ. Fee also reads “son of destruction” (2:3) differently from Haimo, to mean the Rebel is destined for destruction.209 In this way, their collective views are complementary. For Haimo’s reading that “the son of damnation” means “son of the devil… damnation came through him and he himself damned the human race,”210 does not exclude Fee’s interpretation.
Following the critical text, Rigaux reads “the man of lawlessness” (ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἀνοµίας; 2:3) against Haimo’s “man of sin” (homo peccati).
See Malherbe, Thessalonians, 32B:419.
This is not to reject Augustine entirely, for the Church Father expected the arrival of an individual as the Antichrist and recognises the description of this event as part of Paul’s aim in 2 Thessalonians. See Augustine, De civitate Dei 20.19 (CCSL 48:731).
Fee, Thessalonians, 282–83. He does refer to the “anti-Christ” figure on 292, but this appears to be accidental. Rigaux similarly characterises the figure as “anti-Dieu.” Rigaux, Thessaloniciens, 658.
Fee, Thessalonians, 280 and 282.
Haimo of Auxerre, “Exposition,” 25.
Haimo’s explication of the epithet to mean “source”211 compliments Rigaux’s detailed definition of “lawlessness.” Indeed, “lawlessness” can mean one who rebels “against the law or the Law,”212 but as a genitive construct with the nominative “man” (ἄνθρωπος/homo) it can function as an attributive genitive (Rigaux) or a genitive of source (Haimo). Paul’s (intentional?) lack of clarification allows for both readings and the trajectory of 2:4-12 flows in both directions: he leads many astray by his character (vv. 9-12) and exhibits lawlessness/sinfulness (vv. 4-5). Their respective foci concentrate on the Antichrist’s effect on others (Haimo) and his relationship toward God (Rigaux). Nevertheless, modern text-critical research has led to a definitive stance of reading ἀνοµίας instead of ἄνθρωπος, which will have an effect on the future trajectory of the dialogue with 2 Thessalonians. Putting these scholars in a “summit-dialogue”213 displays how Rezeptionsästhetik purposefully brings together historical questions to expand one’s horizon of understanding.
In keeping with Haimo, Best argues that “Anti-Christ” is an appropriate epithet “since he is the eschatological opponent of Christ (not of the historical Jesus).”214 He admits that, though the term does not appear in 2 Thess 2, the passage is “one of the steps in the creation of the Anti-Christ concept” and the fact that “man of lawlessness” appears in the text, rather than Sinfulness and lawlessness both imply rebellion against God. Ibid.
Rigaux, Thessaloniciens, 655; cf. Malherbe, Thessalonians, 32B:419.
This phrase is Parris’ translation of Jauss’ important “Gipfeldialog der Autoren” concept. The “peaks” in this summit-dialogue represent the influential interpreters who inaugurated a tradition. The dialogue occurs in the uptake and expansion of a tradition by an interpreter that leads in a new interpretive trajectory. Importantly, the summit-dialogue preserves the historical playing field in which certain questions and answers were considered valid and it draws our attention to the more influential instances in a text’s reception history, which is crucial to biblical studies, given the overwhelming number of interpretations of any biblical book. Parris, Reception Theory, 216–22; Hans Robert Jauss, “Der Leser als Instanz einer neuen Geschichte der Literatur,” Poetica 7 (1975): 325-44, esp. 336-37.
Best, Thessalonians, 288.
“Antichrist,” indicates the early date of this letter.215 Both Best and Haimo accept at least the early tradition of associating the Antichrist with the man of lawlessness, even if Haimo also allows patristic authorities to shape his interpretation. Bornemann also resonates with the Carolingian monk in noting that the Antichrist is not identical with Satan, but the human tool of the evil one216— a relatively secure stance in modern scholarship. The nearly 2,000year tradition has rendered this equation of Antichrist and the “man of lawlessness” stable. We witness continuity because the scholars continue to pose the same question in changing contexts.
A key difference between modern readings and Haimo is that the latter makes clear his expectation that the Day of the Lord and all of the events that precede it, will come about in the literal fashion of Paul’s description. Many modern scholars avoid taking a definitive stance or deny that the events can unfold as described.217 This reflects the paradigm shift to modernism away from a medieval theological worldview shaped by the Jerome-Ambrosiaster tradition of reading 2 Thessalonians.
3. Conclusion In terms of originality and dissemination, Haimo is the most influential commentator on 2 Thessalonians from the Carolingian era. His interpretation features alongside the Fathers in various Glossae and later scholastics, such as Lombard, rely on him for their own exegesis (even if not always positively).
As we have seen, one of the primary impulses in his interpretation of the epistle is the collective voice of the Church Fathers on 2 Thessalonians.
Surprisingly unique from the Alcuinian camp, Haimo does not perceive the Ibid., 289.
Bornemann, Die Thessalonicherbriefe, 364.
Wanamaker, Thessalonians, 248.
aim of preserving patristic thought as slavish regurgitation of their material.
Instead, he extracts from their complex perspectives the kernel of their interpretation and interweaves it with his own thought in an easy to grasp manner. Haimo makes use of assertions by Jerome and Ambrosiaster regarding the restraining force as the Roman Empire to completely undercut any millenarian perspectives in his own time. In this example of reception history, Haimo demonstrates the “mediation of the new through the old!”218 Furthermore, the Carolingian monk exhibits a bold freedom from the booming voice of Augustine in the Middle Ages by considering first Paul’s purpose in writing 2 Thessalonians and then not to following Augustine.
Murethach provides Haimo with a methodology that results in careful attention to the text. Yet this approach results in Haimo commenting only on what he deems important for understanding 2 Thessalonians. This, along with his audience and his purpose of providing material for sermons, results in the virtual omission of commentary on 2 Thess 3. Likely reserving the chapter for monks, following Basil’s Rules, he thereby leaves open the question of how this chapter continues “to mean” for the Church in the Reformation when certain regions dissolve monasticism.
ramifications over simony and investiture in the medieval Church. In the reception history of this figure, Simon has developed from an obscure character in Acts 8:9-23, to being the first heretic of the Church, to a powerful, demonically-assisted opponent of Paul who prefigures the Antichrist, to being conflated with Antichrist. In Haimo’s work, these concepts converge and, Jauss, “Tradition,” 375.
placed in the context of 2 Thess 2:9, culminate in an implicit and sharp condemnation of clerics who receive their position by means of simony.
Furthermore, Haimo carefully tows the line of single-predestination against the backdrop of the predestination controversy. Knowing that the Church condemned double-predestination as heresy, Haimo strikes a careful balance between the election of the faithful and God allowing the wicked to perish in keeping with their refusal “to welcome the love of the truth that they may be saved.”219 He introduces into the reception history of 2 Thessalonians the question of the permissive and predestining dimensions of God’s sovereignty.
Finally, we see in Haimo caution regarding the eschaton and the events to precede it as shaped by the agnosticism of Scripture and Augustine on this topic, as well as the occasional chiliastic fervour of his age. Nevertheless, Paul’s literal description of events to come provides Haimo the comfort of articulating an apocalyptic timeline within the confines of orthodoxy. By reading 2 Thessalonians in this manner, Haimo falls within the apocalyptic realist camp, but only in regard to this letter. He recognises the spiritual reading of Revelation as valid given the generic differences between the works. Within his apocalyptic realist approach to 2 Thessalonians, Haimo sees the Antichrist as a literal figure, possessed by the devil, who, as the source of sin, will lead many to “believe in the lie” (2:12). He both perpetuates a tradition of interpretation and introduces a new element by questioning how the epistle relates to the millennium. Haimo’s eschatological framework offers
Haimo of Auxerre, “Exposition,” 29.
Chapter 4: John Calvin
1. Background John Calvin was born into a bourgeois family in Noyon, France, in
1509. He eventually moved to Paris1 where he began his studies in the humanist educational rubric of his day. By this time, the Reformation(s) originating in Saxony and Zürich had gained significant momentum and was transitioning from localised annoyance to a legitimate threat to the Roman Church.
After beginning legal studies at the University of Orléans (1527),2 Calvin came decidedly under the influence of humanism. Of particular importance to his later work were humanism’s emphases on studying texts apart from the mediation of commentaries or glosses, rigorous training in grammar and rhetoric,3 and education in classical languages.4 The first of these emphases materialised for Calvin through immediate study of the Corpus iuris civilis from the sixth century, which shaped the contours of civil law in Calvin’s day.5 Because of his associations with Protestantism, Calvin was eventually forced to seek asylum in Basel in 1535. Here he published his first edition of As Cottret point out, whether one accepts the traditional date of 1523 or Parker’s suggested revision of 1521 matters little. Bernard Cottret, Calvin: A Biography, trans. M.
Wallace McDonald (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000), 11; the traditional dating can be traced to Jacques Desmay, “Remarques sur la vie de Jean Calvin, tirées des registres de Noyon, ville de sa Naissance,” in Archives curieuses de l’histoire de France depuis Louis XI Jusqu’à Louis XVIII, vol. 1, 5 vols. (Paris: Bourgogne et Martinet, 1835), 387-98; cf. T. H. L Parker, John Calvin: A Biography (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1975), 156–61.
The dates from this point onward follow Parker’s chronology. See Parker, John Calvin: