Monday, July 27, 2015

ANF VI: Theonas

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Minor Writers: Theonas of Alexandria

If the other "of Alexandria" minor writers are unimpressive, Theonas is a stand out. This may of course be because we have more fragments from him, and so more of his writings pop out. It may be because his writings are later and so the faith is more developed. Or it may be because his writings are the writings of someone else--a better theologian/writer. In any case, his letter to one of the Emperor's chamberlain's is worth reading both as good theology and as an interesting view of how a civil servant can be a good Christian, even under the emperor Diocletian.
Discharge the official duties to which you are severally appointed with the utmost fear of God and affection to your prince, and perfect carefulness. Consider that every command of the emperor which does not offend God has proceeded from God Himself; and execute it in love as well as in fear, and with all cheerfulness. (2) 

Friday, July 24, 2015

ANF VI: Theognostus and Pierius

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Minor Writers: Theognostus of Alexandria and Pierius of Alexandria

These snippets are short and easily read--and the last not only because they are short but because there isn't much there. So read quickly and move one.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

ANF VI: Alexander of Cappadocia

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Minor Writers: Alexander of Cappadocia

These brief fragments are short and unimpressive. Read them because they're quick, but expect little or expect to be disappointed.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

ANF VI: Anatolius

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Minor Writers: Anatolius

As the editors point out, it's probably best to systematize these fragments rather that just presenting them in a shotgun blast of text. I'd add that for the most part, these can be lightly skimmed or skipped all together. The writings of Anatolius is one that can be skipped, although it is mildly (but only mildly) interesting to see what sorts of things the first generation of post-persecution Christians were writing about. Math and the calendar at the end of the day just don't do it for me--but then again I'm pretty non liturgical, so I suppose that makes sense.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

ANF VI: Julius Africanus

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Julius Africanus: Extant Writings

Yet another writer living in the shadow of Origen, albeit one that comes much later than his other students. We see this as superstition and concern for genealogy begin to replace rigorous (if mistaken) philosophical inquiry. Which isn't to say Julius Africanus is without value--again we have a Christian devoutly pursuing the truth with all the tools at his disposal. And for that we should skim his work with appreciation, even as we read with caution.

Monday, July 20, 2015

ANF VI: Dionysius Fragments II

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Dionysius: Exegetical Fragments

These are not so much of value as the fragments of epistles and philosophical writings, which is not terribly surprising. The strength of the early church was in its endurance through persecution and its love for the institution and its ordinances, not in its expositional preaching. So this may be skimmed or even skipped.

Friday, July 17, 2015

ANF VI: Dionysius Fragments

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Dionysius: Extant Fragments

Another student/heir of Origen, the bits and pieces we have of Dionysius are mostly worth wading through, even if their value is pretty uneven as a whole. As with Gregory, Dionysius has a clear appreciation of the value of contemporary (i.e. "Hellenistic") philosophy and it does seem to be a shame that we don't have more of this work. Especially since Dionysius appears to have a good method of taking the ideas and comments of the Hellenistic Philosophers and turning them back on themselves, showing their absurdity when taken in isolation and their truth with illuminated by the light of Christ; their emptiness when lived for themselves and the satisfaction they can bring when put to the service of God.

Overall, this is worth reading, albeit at a quick skimming clip--not necessarily in depth.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

ANF VI: Gregory Thaumaturgus On Matthew

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Gregory Thaumaturgus: Part II: Dubious or Spurious Writings On the Gospel According to Matthew

Weighing in at one paragraph, this shouldn't be skipped! It's really just a restatement of Matthew 6:22-23, and so for that it's fine enough.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

ANF VI: Gregory Thaumaturgus On All the Saints

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Gregory Thaumaturgus: Part II: Dubious or Spurious Writings On All the Saints

This is so short there's no reason not to read it, but don't expect much. This is yet another later piece put in Gregory's mouth without much to recommend it to the reader.

Monday, July 13, 2015

ANF VI: Gregory Thaumaturgus Four Homilies

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Gregory Thaumaturgus: Part II: Dubious or Spurious Writings: Four Homilies

The emphasis in these homilies on the annunciation to Mary of her pregnancy on Mary's person shows that these are much, much later ("after Nicea... probably after Ephesus" as the Elucidation says). And while they're useful enough for showing our Catholic friends that there is absolutely no idea of a perfect Mary, and that even in speaking about Mary the later early church still held Christ alone to be the source of salvation, I don't know that these are necessarily all that useful for spiritual edification. The Fourth Homily is worth skimming, but you can reasonably skip the rest.

Friday, July 10, 2015

ANF VI: Gregory Thaumaturgus On the Subject of the Soul

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Gregory Thaumaturgus: Part II: Dubious or Spurious Writings: On the Subject of the Soul

As the Elucidation points out, this short essay is much more philosophy than theology and more reflective of an Aristotle than a Clement. And while the method is interesting (the soul is incorporeal, if it weren't... because it is... etc), it can be a bit dense here and there. So one to maybe skim, but not skip all together.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

ANF VI: Gregory Thaumaturgus Twelve Topics on the Faith

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Gregory Thaumaturgus: Part II: Dubious or Spurious Writings: Twelve Topics on the Faith

These twelve topics are pretty short and simply and worth a quick read. In brief, each topic is a doctrine of the Christian faith followed by a short explanation of why rejecting that belief (or embracing a heresy contrary to it) ought to result in excommunication. For example:
If anyone affirms that Christ is perfect man and also God the word in the way of separation, and refuses to acknowledge the one Lord Jesus Christ, even as it is written, let him be anathema. 
This, the author tells us, is clearly contrary to the revelation in Scripture that "
God the Word did not give a man for us, but He gave Himself for us, having been made man for our sake. 
Because so much of this is focused on the Incarnation and the nature of Christ, as the Elucidation points out it's pretty obviously a document from a time long after Gregory. Which isn't tosay it isn't excellent, just that it's rightly put in the "spurious" section of writings.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

ANF VI: Gregory Thaumaturgus: On the Trinity

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Gregory Thaumaturgus: Part II: Dubious or Spurious Writings: On the Trinity

This fragment is so short there's really no reason not to read it, even if it's pretty underwhelming.
That is all :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

ANF VI: Gregory Thaumaturgus Sectional Confession

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Gregory Thaumaturgus: Part II: Dubious or Spurious Writings: A Sectional Confession of Faith

This short work is excellent, whoever wrote it. In quick, readable segments this work lays out some key ideas behind our beliefs. For example:
No one, therefore, can know God unless he apprehends the Son.
The author emphasizes the Divinity, humanity, and Triune Unity of the Lord, especially the place of Christ in His entrance into the world and His authoring and Lordship of creation.

Read this, it's short and excellent!

Monday, July 6, 2015

ANF VI: Gregory Thaumaturgus Oration and Panegyric

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume VI

Gregory Thaumaturgus: Part I: Acknowledged Writings: The Oration and Panegyric Addressed to Origen

This is Gregory's gift to Origen out of gratitude for Origen's time teaching and instructing him in the mental arts. Origen was especially helpful in teaching Gregory about the place of philosophy in the Christian life.
For he [Origen] asserted further that there could be no genuine piety towards the Lord of all in the man who despised this gift of philosophy-- a gift which man alone of all the creatures of the earth has been deemed honourable and worthy enough to possess, and one which every man whatsoever, be he wise or be he ignorant, reasonably embraces, who has not utterly lost the power of thought by some mad distraction of mind.
In this work, Gregory follows the standard Hellenistic philosophical method of walking through logic, physics, and ethics individually and in connection with each other. Origen specifically emphasizes how human understanding in each of these fields is simply wrong outside of the grace that comes to the Christian through Christ. Grace, however, enables us to look at the world properly through the filter of God's character as revealed in His Word. Through the lens of Scripture our logic is corrected, our view of physics and the operations of the world fall into its proper place, and our personal ethics begin to mature and grow us into a picture of the Lord.

This work is simply excellent, and well worth reading.