Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Jerome on justification

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So, for this next period I will be focusing on Augustine and his contemporaries. Before I jump right into the big man himself, I thought it would be beneficial to read a little Jerome to get a better idea of where the West was before Augustine struck. I also just so happened to have received Dr. Thomas Sheck’s translation of Jerome’s commentary on Galatians, so I figured it was meant to be.

Before unpacking some of Jerome’s theology, it is essential to note that Jerome was highly influenced by Origen and was known to use Origen’s commentary extensively when writing his own. Jerome admits this in his preface,[1] and will at times quote word for word from Origen’s commentary when exegeting a text.[2] It is also important to understand that Jerome was borrowing much from the other Greek fathers that came before him, which means we are not only getting Jerome’s views in the commentary, but those who came before him as well.

Origen’s influence is evident in Jerome’s views relating to justification. Like Origen[3], he identifies the remission of sins being for only past sins.[4] Jerome also identifies being “in Christ” as being in all the virtues.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shepherd of Hermas: The Tower built on the Rock

Upon finishing the Shepherd of Hermas, I realized that I need about six more months to really do this document justice. Alas, I have only the next thirty minutes to try and make sense of this very fascinating work. Before I get started on the theology in Hermas, some background information is in order.

The Shepherd of Hermas was written sometime during the second century, with most scholars pegging it at around 150. I would initially want to lean towards a date of about 100, only because the Shepherd mentions Clement of Rome (ca. 100) as if he was living during the time. Scholars also assert that the Shepherd was written from Rome. 

The Shepherd of Hermas was the most popular noncanonical work in the early church. Some even considered it Scripture. Even Athanasius, though not considering it canonical, taught that the Shepherd should be used as private reading for new converts. This is very important, because that means the contents of the Shepherd were highly regarded, and will give us quite a glimpse into not just Rome, but the rest of the church.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Shepherd of Hermas: Intro

I now have the opportunity to read the Shepherd of Hermas. It is taking a step back, but I have a little extra time and what I really care about is what the second century thought, so the more I can get of that the better. The Shepherd of Hermas is interesting. It was highly influential in the early church, and many considered it Scripture. The main point of the vision that Hermas is given is to proclaim that for a limited time there exists an opportunity for the forgiveness of post-baptismal sins. Let that sink in for a bit. This is very foreign to our ears, since we would never consider the possibility that God would not forgive us, no matter what we do.

But it makes sense when you consider that the church may be thinking that the original remission of sins applies only to past sins. Now, I don’t think anyone even at that time believed you couldn’t be forgiven for the usual sins. I believe this applied to more of the major sins. However, I don’t exactly know, so I will have to update you once I have actually read through the book.

Anyway, this would very much benefit me in my quest for understanding the church’s historic stance on Justification. We will just have to see what I dig up.

Justification: A month in

Justification Main

I have written my paper on Origen's view but need to edit it a bit. It should be posted shortly.

I have been looking into justification for about a month now. It has been an interesting experience. I first looked into the classic evangelical position, which I vaguely remember. Then, the last three weeks I have dove into Origen’s view, which was quite fascinating. Though many Protestants do try and make him a proponent of Sola Fide, from my reading it does not appear to be so. Origen seemed to teach, supposedly along with the rest of the early church, that the remission of sins given at conversion forgives only the past sins. What was cool though, was that though Origen also highly emphasized works, he also insisted on the fact that one is justified by faith alone. However, justification for Origen does not happen in a moment, but is an ongoing process that sounds a lot like what we might today term as sanctification. One thing is for certain, the lines between justification and sanctification are much more blurred than they are today. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Origen of Justification

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The Origen of Justification

                Origen’s doctrine of justification is not easy to piece together. Though he did write what many consider the first systematic theology (On First Principles), justification was not among the doctrines that he discussed. One of the first places to start then is his massive Commentary on Romans (CRom). Origen penned this commentary[1] around the year 246 AD,[2] making it one of his last and most mature works.[3] Unfortunately, Origen is very erratic, especially when compared to other commentators of the early church.[4]
What complicates things even further is the only complete extant manuscript that we have is Rufinus’ Latin abridgement from year 406/7, which almost exactly abridges Origen’s commentary to half of its original size. What is important about this time period is it is around the same time that Augustine and Pelagius had their infamous debate regarding free will, sin and grace. In fact, Bammel argues that Rufinus may have been inspired to translate Origen’s CRom in order to provide the west with an alternative to Augustine’s extreme views of original sin, free will, etc.[5] While some question the integrity of Rufinus as a translator, Scheck argues that Rufinus’ abridgement is faithful to Origen’s own views; however, this translation issue should be kept in the back of the reader’s mind and should probably be researched further.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Origen and the History of Justification

 Here is  quick snippet of Origen's idea of Justification according to Thomas Scheck in his book, Origen and the History of Justification, page 46. It is something I should have concentrated on in my essay:

Origen illustrates the three stages toward justification from Ps 32.1—2:
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord does not impute iniquity." First,
he says, the soul leaves its evil and obtains pardon. Next by good deeds
it covers its sins. "But when a soul forthwith reaches perfection, so that
every root of evil is completely cut off from it to the point that no trace of
evil can be found in it, at that point the summit of blessedness is promised
to the one to whom the Lord is able to impute no sin.""’

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Chrysostom on the tragedy of those who fall away

 As I am reading Origen for my history of Justification class, I also stumbled upon some John Chrysostom that hits deep. He is talking about those who fall away from the Christian faith. Gives me the chills:

Who then is to be found “the faithful and wise servant”? Who are they that are deemed worthy of such good things? How miserable are those who fail! For if we were forever to weep, should we do aught worthy of the occasion? For were you to make mention of hells innumerable, you would name nothing equal to that pain which the soul sustaineth, when all the world is in confusion, when the trumpets are sounding, when the Angels are rushing forward, the first, then the second, then the third, then ten thousand ranks, are pouring forth upon the earth; then the Cherubim, (and many are these and infinite;) the Seraphim; when He Himself is coming, with His ineffable glory; when those meet Him, who had gone to gather the elect into the midst; when Paul and his companions, and all who in his time had been approved, are crowned, are proclaimed aloud, are honored by the King, before all His heavenly host. For if hell did not exist, how fearful a thing it is, that the one part should be honored, and the other dishonored! Hell, I confess, is intolerable, yea, very intolerable, but more intolerable than it is the loss of the Kingdom.