from: P. Schaff, Apostolic Constitutions, Book II, Sect. III, para.24 (1918) p.597
Last Updated: Feb 15, 2009
The following short discussion from the Online Catholic Encyclopedia serves as an excellent introduction to the Apostolic Constitutions:
A fourth-century pseudo-Apostolic collection, in eight books, of independent, though closely related, treatises on Christian discipline, worship, and doctrine, intended to serve as a manual of guidance for the clergy, and to some extent for the laity.
Its tone is rather hortatory than preceptive, for, though it was evidently meant to be a code of catechetical instruction and of moral and liturgical law, its injunctions often take the form of little treatises and exhortations, amply supported by scriptural texts and examples. Its elements are loosely combined without great regard for order or unity. It purports to be the work of the Apostles, whose instructions, whether given by them as individuals or as a body, are supposed to be gathered and handed down by the pretended compiler, St. Clement of Rome, the authority of whose name gave fictitious weight to more than one such piece of early Christian literature. The Church seems never to have regarded this work as of undoubted Apostolic authority. The Trullan Council in 692 rejected the work on account of the interpolations of heretics. Only that portion of it to which has been given the name "Apostolic Canons" was received; but even the fifty of these canons which had then been accepted by the Western Church were not regarded as of certain Apostolic origin. Where known, however, the Apostolic Constitutions were held generally in high esteem and served as the basis for much ecclesiastical legislation. They are today of the highest value as an historical document, revealing the moral and religious conditions and the liturgical observances of the third and fourth centuries.
Their text was not known in the Western Church throughout the Middle Ages. In 1546 a Latin version of a text found in Crete was published by Capellus, and in 1563 appeared the complete Greek text of Bovius and that of the Jesuit Father Torres (Turrianus) who, despite the glaring archaisms and incongruities of the collection, contended that it was a genuine work of the Apostles. Four manuscripts of it are now extant, the oldest an early twelfth-century text in St. Petersburg, an allied fourteenth-century text in Vienna, and two kindred sixteenth-century texts, one in Vienna, the other in Paris. In its present form the text represents the gradual growth and evolution of usages of the first three centuries of Christian Church life. The compiler gathered from pre-existing moral, disciplinary, and liturgical codes the elements suited to his purpose, and by adaptation and interpolation framed a system of constitutions which, while suited to contemporary needs, could yet pretend, in an uncritical age, to Apostolic origin. Thanks to recent textual studies in early Christian literature, most of the sources of which the compiler made use are now clearly recognizable. The first six books are based on the "Didascalia of the Apostles", a lost treatise of the third century, of Greek origin, which is known through Syriac versions. The compiler of the Apostolic Constitutions made use of the greater part of this older treatise, but he adapted it to the needs of his day by some modifications and extensive interpolation. Liturgical evolution made necessary a considerable amplification of the formulæ of worship; changes in disciplinary practice called for a softening of some of the older laws; scriptural references and examples, intended to enforce the lessons inculcated by the Apostolic Constitutions, are more frequently used than in the parent Didascalia. The seventh book, which consists of two distinct parts, the first a moral instruction (i-xxxii) and the second liturgical (xxxiii-xlix), depends for the first portion on the early second-century Didache or "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles", which has been amplified by the compiler in much the same manner as the Didascalia was amplified in the framing of the first six books. The rediscovery of the Didache in 1873 revealed with what fidelity the compiler embodied it, almost word for word, in his expansion of its precepts, save for such omissions and changes as were made necessary by the lapse of time. The fact that the Didache was itself a source of the Didascalia will explain the repetition in the seventh book of the Apostolic Constitutions of matters treated in the preceding books. The source of the second portion of the seventh book is still undetermined. In the eighth book are recognized many distinct elements whose very number and diversity render it difficult to determine with certainty the source upon which the compiler drew. The eighth book of the Apostolic Constitutions may be divided into three parts thus: the introductory chapters (i-ii) have for their foundation a treatise entitled "Teaching of the Holy Apostles concerning Gifts", possibly a lost work of Hippolytus. The transitional third chapter is the work of the compiler. The last chapter (xlvii) contains the "Apostolic Canons". It is the second part (iv-xlvi) which presents difficulties the varied solution of which divides scholars as to its sources. Recent studies in early Christian literature have made evident the kinship of several documents dealing with disciplinary and liturgical matters, closely allied with this eighth book. Their interdependence is not so clearly understood. The more important of these documents are: The "Canons of [pseudo?] Hippolytus"; the "Egyptian Church Ordinance"; and the recently discovered Syriac text of "The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ". According to Dr. Hans Achelis, the "Canons of Hippolytus", which he considers to be a third-century document of Roman origin, is the parent of the "Egyptian Church Ordinance", and the contemporary practice of the Church would be the source from which the compiler of the Apostolic Constitutions drew. Dr. F. X. Funk, on the other hand, argues strongly for the priority of the eighth book of the latter, whence, through a parallel text, are derived the other three documents which he considers as fifth-century works, a conclusion not without its difficulties of acceptance, particularly with regard to the place of the "Canons of Hippolytus" in the chronology. If the priority of the Apostolic Constitutions be admitted, it is not easy to identify the sources on which the compiler depended. For the liturgical element (v-xv), which is an evident interpolation, the compiler may have been inspired by the practice of some particular church. The Antiochene "Diaconica" was not without some influence on him, and it may be that he had at hand other, now lost, ceremonial codes. It is not improbable that his Liturgy is even of his own creation and was never used in just the form in which he gives it. (See ANTIOCHENE LITURGY).
A study of the sources of this work suggests the many needs which the compiler endeavoured to meet in gathering together and amplifying these many treatises on doctrine, discipline, and worship extant in his day. The extent and variety of his work may be sugggested by a summary of the contents. The first book deals with the duties of the Christian laity, particularly in view of the dangers resulting from association with those not of the Faith. Vanity in dress, promiscuous bathing, curiosity as to the lives and the books of the wicked are among the things condemned. The second book is concerned principally with the clergy. The qualifications, the prerogatives and duties of bishops, priests, and deacons are set forth in detail, and their dependence and support provided for. This book treats at length of the regulation of penitential practice, of the caution to be observed in regard to accused and accusers, of the disputes of the faithful and the means of adjusting differences. This portion of the Apostolic Constitutions is of special interest, as portraying the penitential discipline and the hierarchical system of the third and fourth centuries. Here are also a number of ceremonial details regarding the Christian assembly for worship which, with the liturgy of the eighth book, are of the greatest importance and interest. The third book treats of widows and of their office in the Church. A consideration of what they should not do leads to a treatise on the duties of deacons and on baptism. The fourth book deals with charitable works, the providing for the poor and orphans, and the spirit in which to receive and dispense the offerings made to the Church. The fifth book treats of those suffering persecution for the sake of Christ and of the duties of Christians towards them. This leads to a consideration of martyrdom and of idolatry. Liturgical details as to feasts and fasts follow. The sixth book deals with the history and doctrines of the early schisms and heresies; and of "The Law", a treatise against Judaistic and heathen superstition and uncleannesses. The seventh book in its first part is chiefly moral, condemning vices and praising Christian virtues and Christian teachers. The second part is composed of liturgical directions and formulæ. The eighth book is largely liturgical. Chapters iii-xxvii treat of the conferring of all orders, and in connection with the consecration of a bishop is given in chapters v-xv the so-called Clementine Liturgy, the most ancient extant complete order of the rites of Holy Mass. Chapters xxviii-xlvi contain a collection of miscellaneous canons, moral and liturgical, attributed to the various Apostles, while chapter xlvii consists of the eighty-five "Apostolic Canons".
The strikingly characteristic style of the many interpolations in the Apostolic Constitutions makes it evident that the compilation, including the "Apostolic Canons", is the work of one individual. Who this Pseudo-Clement was cannot be conjectured; but it is now generally admitted that he is one with the interpolator of the Ignatian Epistles. As early as the middle of the seventeenth century, Archbishop Ussher, recognizing the similarity of the theological thought, the peculiar use of Scripture, and the strongly marked literary characteristics in the Apostolic Constitutions and in both the interpolations of the seven epistles of Ignatius and the six spurious epistles attributed to the Bishop of Antioch, suggested the identification of the Pseudo-Clement with the Pseudo-Ignatius, a view which has won general acceptance, yet not without some hesitancy which may not be dispelled until the problem of the sources of the eighth book is solved. Efforts tending to a further identification of the author of this extensive and truly remarkable literature of interpolations have not been successful. That he was a cleric may be taken for granted, and a cleric not favourably disposed to ascetical practices. That he was not rigidly orthodox—x;for he uses the language of Subordinationalism—x;is also evident; yet he was not an extreme Arian. But whether he was an Apollinarian, as Dr. Funk would infer from his insistence in denying the human soul of Our Lord, or a Semi-Arian, or even a well-meaning Nicæan whose language reflects the unsettled views held by not a few of his misguided contemporaries, cannot be determined. For, whatever his theological views were, he does not seem to be a partisan or the champion of any sect; nor has he any disciplinary hobby which he would foist on his brethren in the name of Apostolic authority. Syria would appear to be the place of origin of this work, and the interest of the compiler in men and things of Antioch would point to that city as the centre of his activities. His interest in the Ignatian Epistles, his citation of the Syro-Macedonian calendar, his use of the so-called Council of Antioch as one of the chief sources of the "Apostolic Canons", and his construction of a liturgy on Antiochene lines confirm the theory of Syrian origin. Its date is likewise difficult to determine with accuracy. The earliest terminus a quo would be the Council of Antioch in 341. But the reference to Christmas in the catalogue of feasts (V, 13; VIII, 33) seems to postulate a date later than 376, when St. Epiphanius, who knew the Didascalia, in the enumeration of feasts found in his work against heresies makes no mention of the December feast, which in fact was not celebrated in Syria until about 378. If the compiler was of Arian tendencies he could not have written much later than the death of Valens (378). The absence of reference to either the Nestorian or the Monophysite heresies precludes the possibility of a date later than the early fifth century. The most probable opinion dates the compilation about the year 380, without excluding the possibility of a date two decades earlier or later.
(from: the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia Online:
The classic edition we quote from (courtesy of CCel's online library, the Christian Classic Ethereal Library) is that one edited with additional notes by James Donaldson D.D.
THE ANTE-NICENE FATHERS
translations of The Writings of the Fathers down to a.d. 325
The Rev. Alexander Roberts, D.D., and James Donaldson, LL.D.,
EDITORS AMERICAN REPRINT OF THE EDINBURGH EDITION
revised and chronologically arranged, with brief prefaces and occasional notes by A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D.
T&T CLARK Edinburgh Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing company Grand Rapids, Michigan
VOLUME VII FATHERS OF THE THIRD AND FOURTH CENTURIES: LACTANTIUS, VENANTIUS, ASTERIUS, VICTORINUS, DIONYSIUS, APOSTOLIC TEACHING AND CONSTITUTIONS, HOMILY, AND LITURGIES.
This entire volume can be downloaded or read online at ccel:
What are the Apostolic Constitutions?
It would be pointless for us to try to supplant the introduction to this work provided by the translators themselves. Three editors, and the scholarly opinions of many contemporaries are carefully considered, as the purpose, circumstances, and probable date of the various sections of this work are discussed:
Introductory Notice to
Constitutions of the Holy Apostles.
Having learned from the erudite Beveridge what I long supposed to be a just view of the Constitutions, I have found in the recent literature of the subject not a little to increase my confidence in the general conclusions to which he was led by all that could be known in his times. The treatise of Krabbe guided me to some results of more modern investigations; and Dr. Bunsen, though not apart from his critics, has enabled me still further to correct some of my impressions. But, in connection with the late discovery of Bryennios, the field of discussion and inquiry has been so much enlarged, that I have felt it due to the readers and students of this republication to invoke the aid of Professor Riddle, who is able to enrich the work with the results of genuine learning and much patient research. Whatever may be my own convictions on some subordinate points, I have been glad to secure the judgment of a critical scholar who, I am persuaded, aims to shed upon the subject the colourless light of scientific investigation. This is all I can desire, anxious only to see facts clearly established and historic truth illustrated, no matter to what results they may seem to point. Where the professor’s decisions coincide with my own impressions, I am naturally gratified by his valued and independent corroboration: where the case is otherwise, I am hardly less gratified to present my indulgent readers with opinions deserving of their highest respect, and by which they will be stimulated, as well as influenced, in forming convictions for themselves.
The Constitutions are so full of material on which it is well for one in my position not to speak very freely in such a work as this, that I rejoice all the more to confide the task of annotation almost exclusively to another and to one from whom American Christians must ever be glad to hear on subjects requiring in an almost equal degree the skill of an expert critic and the candour of a conscientious Christian.
I prefix Professor Riddle’s Preface to the Introductory Notice of the Edinburgh editor, as follows:—
New interest has been awakened in the Apostolic Constitutions by the discovery of an ancient manuscript in Constantinople. 1 While it does not contain the Constitutions, it affords much material for discussion respecting the sources and authorship of this compilation. The so-called Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, found in the Codex at Constantinople, and published by Bryennios in 1883, is recognised as the basis of the seventh book of the Constitutions. The verbal coincidences, the order of topics, and other obvious phenomena, leave little room for reasonable doubt on this point. That the reader may be in possession of the main facts, the corresponding portions have been indicated both in book vii. of the Constitutions and in the version of the Teaching inserted in this volume. This literary connection has some bearing on the discussion as to the age of the Constitutions. If the Teaching is substantially the early work bearing that name, then some of the references by early writers which have been applied to the larger work must now be regarded as pointing to the Teaching; still, this only bears against the theory of a date as early as the third century. The new critical material furnished by the Bryennios manuscript for the Ignatian controversy has a bearing on the question respecting the work before us. The opinion has been strengthened (see below), that the same hand enlarged the Ignatian Epistles and adapted earlier matter (such as the Teaching) for the Apostolic Constitutions.
We may accept as established the following positions:—
1. The Apostolic Constitutions are a compilation, the material being derived from sources differing in age.
2. The first six books are the oldest; the seventh, in its present form, somewhat later, but, from its connection with the Teaching, proven to contain matter of a very ancient date. The eighth book is of latest date.
3. It now seems to be generally admitted that the entire work is not later than the fourth century, although the usual allowance must be made for later textual changes, whether by accident or design.
Dr. Von Drey 2 regards the first six books as of Eastern origin (mainly Syrian), and to be assigned to the second half of the third century. The seventh and eighth were more recent, he thinks, but united with the others before a.d. 325. With this, Schaff (in his Church History, vol. ii, rev. ed., p. 185) substantially agreed; but, in his later work on the Teaching, seems to assign the completion of the compilation to a date somewhat later. This is the view of Harnack, who, “by a critical analysis and comparison, comes to the conclusion 3 that pseudo-Clement, alias pseudo-Ignatius, was a Eusebian, a semi-Arian, and rather worldly-minded anti-ascetic Bishop of Syria, a friend of the Emperor Constantius between 340 and 360; that he enlarged and adapted the Didascalia of the third and the Didache of the second century, as well as the Ignatian Epistles, to his own view of morals, worship, and discipline, and clothed them with Apostolic authority.” 4
This is, at all events, a more reasonable view than that of Krabbe, who assigns the first six books to the end of the third century, and the eighth to the beginning of the fifth. The latter, it is true, he regards a compilation from older sources. The purpose of the whole, in his view, was to confirm the episcopal hierarchy, and to establish the unity of the Catholic Church on the basis of the unity of the priesthood, etc. But it is now generally held that the purpose of the compilation was merely to present a manual of instruction, worship, polity, and usage for both clergy and laity. Had it been designed to further some ecclesiastical tendency, it would be far less valuable, since it would less fairly reproduce the ecclesiastical life of the age or ages in which it originated. Bishop Beveridge at first attributed the Constitutions to Clemens Alexandrinus (end of second century), but afterwards accepted the third century as the more probable date. The views now prevalent do full justice to his opinions, but seem to be better sustained in detail.
The collection of Canons at the close of the Constitutions is undoubtedly a compilation. Some are evidently much more ancient than others, and there is every evidence that various collections or recensions existed. That of Dionysius (about a.d. 500), in Latin, contained fifty canons; that of John (Scholasticus) of Antioch (about a.d. 565) contained eighty-five canons: and “it is undeniable that the Greek copy which Dionysius had before him belonged to a different 389family of collections from that used by John Scholasticus, for they differ frequently, if not essentially, both in text and in the way of numbering the canons. " 5
Bishop Beveridge sought to trace these to the synods of the first two centuries, while Daillé held that the collection was made as late as the fifth century. The latter view is not generally accepted, though the existence of a variety of collections tells against some of the views of Bishop Beveridge. 6 It is impossible to enter into a full discussion here. It seemed better to annotate the Canons from the results of Drey and Hefele, two most candid and scholarly Roman-Catholic investigators. 7 The brief notes indicate the sources according to these authors.
The reader will at once perceive from the views thus suggested, as well as from the contents of the Canons, that, while some canons are presumably quite ancient, a number belong to the fourth century, and that, as a complete collection, they cannot antedate the compilation of the Apostolic Constitutions.
Indeed, Drey, who accepts the latter as Ante-Nicene (see above), thinks five of the canons (30, 67, 74, 81, 83) were derived from the canons of the Fourth Œcumenical Council at Chalcedon, a.d. 451, and quite a number of others he traces to synods and councils of the fourth century. Hefele doubts the positions taken by Drey in regard to most of these. He does not, however, insist that the collection is Ante-Nicene, while he traces the origin of many of the canons to the Apostolic Constitutions.
[The following is Dr. Donaldson’s Introductory Notice:—]
"There has always existed a great diversity of opinion as to the author and date of the Apostolical Constitutions Earlier writers were inclined to assign them to the apostolic age, and to Clement; but much discussion ensued, and the questions to which they give rise are still unsettled.
The most peculiar opinion in regard to them is that of Whiston, who devoted a volume (vol. iii.) of his Primitive Christianity Revived to prove that “they are the most sacred of the canonical books of the New Testament;” for “these sacred Christian laws or constitutions were delivered at Jerusalem, and in Mount Sion, by our Saviour to the eleven apostles there assembled after His resurrection.”
Krabbe, who wrote an elaborate treatise on the origin and contents of the Apostolical Constitutions, tried to show that the first seven books were written “towards the end of the third century.” The eighth book, he thinks, must have been written at the end of the fourth or beginning of the fifth.
Bunsen thinks that, if we expunge a few interpolations of the fourth and fifth centuries, “we find ourselves unmistakeably in the midst of the life of the Church of the second and third centuries.” 8 “I think,” he says, “I have proved in my analysis, more clearly than has been hitherto done, the Ante-Nicene origin of a book, or rather books, called by an early fiction Apostolical Constitutions, and consequently the still higher antiquity of the materials, both ecclesiastical and literary, which they contain. I have shown that the compilers made use of the Epistle of Barnabas, 9 which belongs to the first half of the second century; that the eighth is an extract or transcript of Hippolytus; and that the first six books are so full of phrases found in the second interpolation of the Ignatian Epistles, that their last compiler, the author of the present text, must either have lived soon after that interpolation was made, or vice versa, or the interpolator and compiler must have been one and the same person. 10 This last circumstance renders it probable 390that at least the first six books of the Greek compilation, like the Ignatian forgeries, 11 were the produce of Asia Minor. Two points are self-evident—their Oriental origin, and that they belong neither to Antioch nor to Alexandria. I suppose nobody now will trace them to Palestine.” 12
Modern critics are equally at sea in determining the date of the collections of canons given at the end of the eighth book. Most believe that some of them belong to the apostolic age, while others are of a comparatively late date. The subject is very fully discussed in Krabbe.
Bovius first gave a complete edition of the Constitutions (Venice, 1563), but only in a Latin form. The Greek was first edited by the Jesuit Turrianus (Venice, 1563). It was reprinted several times. Cotelerius gave it in his Apostolical Fathers. In the second edition of this work, as prepared by Clericus (1724), the readings of two Vienna manuscripts were given. These V. mss. and Oxford ms. of book viii. are supposed by Bunsen to be nearer the original than the others, alike in what they give and in what they omit. The Constitutions have been edited by Ültzen (1853), and by Lagarde in Bunsen’s Analecta Ante-Nicœna, vol. ii. (1854). Lagarde has partially introduced readings from the Syriac, Arabic, Æthiopic, and Coptic forms of the Constitutions. Whiston devoted the second volume of his Primitive Christianity to the Constitutions and Canons, giving both the Greek and English. It is his translation which we have republished, with considerable alterations. We have not deemed it necessary to give a tithe of the various readings, but have confined ourselves to those that seem important. We have also given no indication of the Syriac form of the first six books. We shall give this form by itself. The translation of Whiston was reprinted by Irah Chase, D.D., very carefully revised, with a translation of Krabbe’s Essay on the Origin and Contents of the Constitutions, and his Dissertation on the Canons (New York, 1848). 13
1. See the brief account prefixed to the version of the Teaching , p. 372 , supra .
2. Neue Untersuchungen über die Constitut. u. Kanones der Ap., Tübingen, 1832. Hefele ( Conciliengeschichte , i., Freiburg, 1855, 2d ed., 1873, Edinb. trans., 1871, p. 449) speaks of this as the best work on the subject.
3. [Needless to say that this seems to me utterly inconsistent with admitted facts.]
4. Schaff , The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles , New York, 1885, pp. 134, 135. Comp. Harnack on the Teaching in Texte und Untersuchungen, u. s. w. , ii. pp. 246–268, Leipzig, 1884. Bishop [J.B.?] Lightfoot ( Epistles of St. Ignatius , London and Cambridge, 1885), differs from Harnack , who further discusses the topic in the Expositor , January, 1886.
5. Hefele , History of Councils , i. p. 460.
6. The Ethiopic form of these Canons has recently appeared in an English translation ( Journal of Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis , 1885, pp. 63–72). Professor George H. Schodde , Ph D., the translator, has made use of the edition of Winand Fell (Cologne, 1871) with a Latin version. The Canons in this form contain most of the matter given in the Edinburgh version from the Greek, and in the same order. But the number is only fifty-seven, in many cases several Greek canons being combined as one in the Ethiopic. Some modifications are found, but very little that differs materially from the Greek. This collection is not part of the Apostolical Church Order published by Tattam , Lagarde , Harnack , and others. Comp. Schaff , Teaching , pp. 237–247.
7. [However candid, even Hefele , unquestionably learned, has been enslaved to “Infallibility,” and was never a freeman.]
8. Christianity and Mankind , vol. ii. p. 405.
9. [Evidently the Teaching must now be substituted for the Epistle of Barnabas .—R.]
10. [So Harnack , most decidedly; but Bishop Lightfoot opposes this view.—R,]
11. [ Bunsen ’s magisterial views on many subjects are swept away by the recent work of Bishop Lightfoot on the Ignatian lierature.]
12. Christianity and Mankind , vol. ii. p. 418.
13. [A valuable work, apart from many of Dr. Chase ’s personal ideas not generally received by critics.]
This section is part of a larger set of lectures meant to instruct bishops and ecclesiastics in conduct, behaviour and attitude, and so focuses on the question of forgiveness and repentance, and its appropriate administration.
As Schaff and friends mentioned in their introduction, the first few books (this comes from Book II) are the oldest sections of the Apostolic Constitutions. As well, it is worthy to note that the original compiler constantly draws from earlier traditions, mainly Canonical Holy Scripture.
In this section, the writer speaks in the person of the Apostle Matthew. This may have been a later embellishment (see notes below). In any case, the boldness with which the earlier authors and the compiler refer to the Pericope de Adultera (John 8:1-11) strongly indicates that he/they expected their hearers to recognise immediately the authority of these passages as authentic Holy Scripture.
That Christ Jesus Our Lord
Came to Save Sinners by Repentance.
Paragraph XXIV. (pg 596-597)
Take heed, therefore, ye of the laity, lest any one of you fix the reasoning of Amon in his heart, and be suddenly cut off, and perish. In the same manner, let the bishop take all the care he can that those which are yet innocent may not fall into sin; and let him heal and receive those which turn from their sins. 1
But if he is pitiless, and will not receive the repenting sinner, he will sin against the Lord his God, pretending to be more just than God’s justice, 2 and not receiving him whom He has received, through Christ; for whose sake He sent His Son upon earth to men, as a man; for whose sake God was pleased that He, who was the Maker of man and woman, should be born of a woman; 3 for whose sake He did not spare Him from the cross, from death, and burial, but permitted Him to die, 4 who by nature should not suffer, His beloved Son, God the Word, the Angel of His great council, that he might deliver those from death who were repugnant to death.
Its Him that they provoke to anger who do not receive the penitent.
For He was not ashamed of [me,] Matthew, 5 who had been formerly a publican; and admitted of Peter, when he had through fear denied Him three times, but had appeased Him by repentance, and had wept bitterly; nay, He made him a shepherd to His own lambs. Moreover, He ordained Paul, our fellow-apostle, to be of a persecutor an apostle, and declared him a chosen vessel, even when he had heaped many mischiefs upon us before, and had blasphemed His sacred name.
He says also to another, a woman that was a sinner: “Thy sins, which are many, are forgiven, for thou lovest much.” (Luke vii. 47). 6
And when the elders had set yet another (woman) which had sinned before Him, and had left the sentence to Him, and were gone out, our Lord, the Searcher of the hearts, inquiring of her whether the elders had condemned her, and being answered "No", He said unto her: “Go; neither do I condemn thee.” ( John viii. 11). 7
Greek: ( και αλλη τινι αμαρτωλω γυναικι λεγει, Αφεωνται σου αι αμαρτιται αι πολλαι, οτι ηγαπησας πολυ.
Ετεραν δε τινα ημαρτηκυιαν εστησαν οι πρεσβυτεροι εμπροσθεν αυτου, και επ' αυτω θεμενοι την κρισιν εξηλθον. ο δε καρδιογνωστης Κυριος, πυθομενος αυτης, ει κατεκιναν αυτην οι πρεσβυτεροι, και ειπουσης οτι ου. ειπεν προς αυτην, Υπαγε, ουδε εγω σε κατακρινω. )
This Jesus, O ye bishops, our Saviour, our King, and our God, ought to be set before you as your pattern; and Him you ought to imitate, in being meek, quiet, compassionate, merciful, peaceable, without passion [anger], apt to teach, and diligent to convert, willing to receive and to comfort; no strikers, not soon angry, not injurious, not arrogant, not supercilious, not wine-bibbers, not drunkards, not vainly expensive, not lovers of delicacies, not extravagant, 8 using the gifts of God not as another’s, but as their own, as good stewards appointed over them, as those who will be required by God to give an account of the same.
Footnotes courtesy of Nazaroo:
1. Here the writer succinctly formulates exactly the purport of the final verse of Pericope de Adultera (i.e., Jn 8:1-11). This can hardly be coincidental, since he indeed quotes the passage a few paragraphs ahead. It is interesting that he begins his argument with such a strong and clear statement, since this is not expressed elsewhere in the Gospels with this terseness and clarity.
2. Again, a peculiar turn of phrase, probably anticipating the standard complaints and opposition to the passage and its apparent leniency. This attitude was expressed at length by Tertullian (circa 300 A.D.), and here the author makes a preemptive strike against the objection.
3. The author boldy but cleverly raises the question of 'woman' and her association with God, and plainly strikes against the typical misogyny of his age (3rd-4th century A.D.). It is hard to imagine that this writer is not all too familiar with the diatribes of extremists such as Tertullian and the Montanists.
4. The writer here appears to respond directly to a famous vitriolic saying of Tertullian. Addressing all Womankind, Tertullian rants in the following manner, apparently with John 8:1-11 himself in mind, although with a lower, flawed interpretation of it:
"Do you not know that you [Woman] are Eve? The judgment of God upon this gender lives on in this age; therefore, necessarily the guilt should live on also.
You are the gateway of the devil!
You are the one who unseals the curse of that tree,
and you are the first one to turn your back on the divine law;
You are the one who persuaded him whom the devil was not capable of corrupting;
you easily destroyed the image of God, Adam.
Because of what you deserve, that is, death, [sic!]
even the Son of God had to die!"
(De Cultu Feminarum, section I.I, part 2 - trans. C.W. Marx)
5. It looks suspiciously like "me" was added here to create the impression of a 1st-person account. A very small change. But against this are the following phrases, "our fellow apostle" (refering to Paul) and "us" (referring to the persecutions by Saul). Either all three portions were slightly altered to make Matthew the author of this passage, or else they are all original. This has no real bearing on the citation of John 8:1-11, which is embedded throughout the passage. (see notes above).
6. It is remarkable that in close proximity the author mentions the other famous passage of Luke, itself a unique story only found in that Gospel.
Note that our writer carefully distinguishes between the two women as two different people. Modern exegetes have tried to connect the two, but there are difficulties both in the timing (the ideal temporal order would be John 8:1-11 and then Luke's story following, but John's placement in the last Judaean ministry of Jesus makes that harder) and content. It may be that he keeps the two women separate to protect the count of two different cases of forgiveness, for his apparent apologetic (polemical?) purposes.
7. Although the discussion of John 8:1-11 is brief and paraphrastic, the reference is utterly certain. And equally importantly, the author appeals to its authority as well-known Holy Scripture, something that would be impossible if the passage were not already well established in its position in John in the 3rd/4th century.
8. Here the author liberally paraphrases passages from Paul's letters. Again the usage of these references as Holy Scripture having obvious authority is plain. The instructional lecture has been Scripture-based throughout.