Thursday, April 29, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
This fasting [specifically, the Wednesday and Friday fasts] ... is very good, provided the commandments of the Lord be observed. Thus, then, shall you observe the fasting which you intend to keep. First of all, be on your guard against every evil word, and every evil desire, and purify your heart from all the vanities of this world. If you guard against these things, your fasting will be perfect. And you will do also as follows. Having fulfilled what is written, in the day on which you fast you will taste nothing but bread and water; and having reckoned up the price of the dishes of that day which you intended to have eaten, you will give it to a widow, or an orphan, or to some person in want, and thus you will exhibit humility of mind, so that he who has received benefit from your humility may fill his own soul, and pray for you to the Lord. If you observe fasting, as I have commanded you, your sacrifice will be acceptable to God, and this fasting will be written down; and the service thus performed is noble, and sacred, and acceptable to the Lord. These things, therefore, shall you thus observe with your children, and all your house, and in observing them you will be blessed; and as many as hear these words and observe them shall be blessed; and whatsoever they ask of the Lord they shall receive.
(Shepherd of Hermas, 3, 5, 3)
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Notes for the primary video:
In this video, we take a look at the Church of the 1st century, from Pentecost in AD 29 to the death of the Apostle John in AD 100.
"Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew" - Bart D. Ehrman
"From Jesus to Christianity: How Four Generations of Visionaries & Storytellers Created the New Testament and Christian Faith" - L. Michael White
"Heretics for Armchair Theologians" - Justo L. González & Catherine Gunsalus González
"Early Christian Writings" - translated by Maxwell Staniforth, edited by Andrew Louth
"The Story of Christianity: An Illustrated History of 2000 Years of the Christian Faith" - David Bentley Hart
"Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol i: Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus" - edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson
"History of the Church" - Eusebius of Caesarea, translated by G.A. Williamson
"From Memory to History: Using Oral Sources in Local Historical Research" - Barbara Allen & Lynwood Montell
"Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations" - Martin Goodman
"The Works of Josephus" - Josephus, translated by William Whiston
"The Holy Bible (New Kings James Version)"
"Early Christian Doctrines" - J.N.D. Kelly
"The Story of Christianity, Volume 1: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation" - Justo L. González
Epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians (also known as 1 Clement)
Epistle of Barnabas
Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians
Against Heresies - St. Irenaeus of Lyons
The New Testament (especially Acts of the Apostles)
The Jewish War - Flavius Josephus
The Histories - Tacitus
Lives of the Caesars - Suetonius
History of the Church - Eusebius
Notes for the supplementary video:
Quotes from ancient writings both from and pertaining to the first century Christian Church.
Quoted in this video:
Acts of the Apostles (in the New Testament) - St. Luke the Evangelist
Homily 20 - St. Cyril of Jerusalem
Life of Nero - Suetonius
The Jewish War - Flavius Josephus
Against Heresies - St. Irenaeus of Lyons
Letter to the Corinthians (1 Clement) - St. Clement of Rome
Other first century writings of interest:
Epistle of Barnabas
Histories of Tacitus
And, of course, the entirety of the New Testament
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin light candles together, saying a prayer for the recently departed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the 95 others, including President Kaczynski's wife and the Orthodox Bishop for the Polish military, Archbishop (Brigadier General) Miron Chodakowski, who were killed in a plane crash near Smolensk, Russia, on April 10.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Jewish organizations here and in Europe view Christians as people whose exaggerated guilt over the Holocaust can be channeled into support for the Israeli government. Prominent Jewish groups...show nothing but indifference or hostility to the continued existence of Christian institutions in what used to be Christian countries.(And, by the way, if you don't believe it just look up the information related to the struggles of the Jerusalem Patriarchate [and, in addition, the struggles of that Patriarchate's Palestinian members to celebrate the Resurrection of their Lord in the Place of that Resurrection without harassment by Jewish authorities] -- and all while the so-called "Christian" nations of the world [especially the United States] remain silent about these humiliations and fork over amazing amounts of money, and military and moral support. As much as I want to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land someday I think that perhaps [Coptic Orthodox] Pope Shenouda's current ban on visitation to the Holy Places within the borders of Israel by members of his flock might be a good idea.)
Monday, April 19, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
"For He who makes the chaff and He who makes the wheat are not different persons, but one and the same, who judges them, that is, separates them. But the wheat and the chaff, being inanimate and irrational, have been made such by nature. But man, being endowed with reason, and in this respect like to God, having been made free in his will, and with power over himself, is himself the cause to himself, that sometimes he becomes wheat, and sometimes chaff. Wherefore also he shall be justly condemned because, having been created a rational being, he lost the true rationality, and living irrationally, opposed the righteousness of God, serving all lusts; as says the prophet, "Man, being in honor, did not understand: he was assimilated to senseless beasts, and made like to them." (St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, book 4, chapter 4, paragraph 3)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Wherefore it is incumbent to obey the priests who are in the Church,—those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, [looking upon them] either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth. And the heretics, indeed, who bring strange fire to the altar of God— namely, strange doctrines—shall be burned up by the fire from heaven, as were Nadab and Abiud. But such as rise up in opposition to the truth, and exhort others against the Church of God, [shall] remain among those in hell, being swallowed up by an earthquake, even as those who were with Chore, Dathan, and Abiron. But those who cleave asunder, and separate the unity of the Church, [shall] receive from God the same punishment as Jeroboam did. (St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, book 4, chapter 26, paragraph 2)
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
In the beginning, therefore, did God form Adam, not as if He stood in need of man, but that He might have [some one] upon whom to confer His benefits. For not alone antecedently to Adam, but also before all creation, the Word glorified His Father, remaining in Him; and was Himself glorified by the Father, as He did Himself declare, “Father, glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” Nor did He stand in need of our service when He ordered us to follow Him; but He thus bestowed salvation upon ourselves. For to follow the Saviour is to be a partaker of salvation, and to follow light is to receive light. But those who are in light do not themselves illumine the light, but are illumined and revealed by it: they do certainly contribute nothing to it, but, receiving the benefit, they are illumined by the light. Thus, also, service [rendered] to God does indeed profit God nothing, nor has God need of human obedience; but He grants to those who follow and serve Him
life and incorruption and eternal glory, bestowing benefit upon those who serve [Him], because they do serve Him, and on His followers, because they do follow Him; but does not receive any benefit from them: for He is rich, perfect, and in need of nothing. But for this reason does God demand service from men, in order that, since He is good and merciful, He may benefit those who continue in His service. For, as much as God is in want of nothing, so much does man stand in need of fellowship with God. For this is the glory of man, to continue and remain permanently in God’s service. Wherefore also did the Lord say to His disciples, “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you;” indicating that they did not glorify Him when they followed Him; but that, in following the Son of God, they were glorified by Him. And again, “I will, that where I am, there they also may be, that they may behold My glory;” not vainly boasting because of this, but desiring that His disciples should share in His glory: of whom Esaias also says, “I will bring thy seed from the east, and will gather thee from the west; and I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth; all, as many as have been called in My name: for in My glory I have prepared, and formed, and made him.” Inasmuch as then, “wheresoever the carcass is, there shall also the
eagles be gathered together,” we do participate in the glory of the Lord, who has both formed us, and prepared us for this, that, when we are with Him, we may partake of His glory. (St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, book 4, chapter 14, paragraph 1)
Sunday, April 11, 2010
And for this purpose did the Father reveal the Son, that through His instrumentality He might be manifested to all, and might receive those righteous ones who believe in Him into incorruption and everlasting enjoyment (now, to believe in Him is to do His will); but He shall righteously shut out into the darkness which they have chosen for themselves, those who do not believe, and who do consequently avoid His light. (St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, book 4, chapter 4, paragraph 3)
Saturday, April 10, 2010
On the heels of health care, a new Harris poll reveals Republican attitudes
about Obama: Two-thirds think he's a socialist, 57 percent a Muslim—and 24
percent say "he may be the Antichrist." (source)
Others then received this reading without examination; some in their simplicity, and upon their own responsibility, making use of this number [666 / 616] expressing one decad; while some, in their inexperience, have ventured to seek out a name which should contain the erroneous and spurious number. Now, as regards those who have done this in simplicity, and without evil intent, we are at liberty to assume that pardon will be granted them by God. But as for those who, for the sake of vainglory, lay it down for certain that names containing the spurious number are to be accepted, and affirm that this name, hit upon by themselves, is that of him who is to come; such persons shall not come forth without loss, because they have led into error both themselves and those who confided in them. Now, in the first place, it is loss to wander from the truth, and to imagine that as being the case which is not; then again, as there shall be no light punishment [inflicted] upon him who either adds or subtracts anything from the Scripture, under that such a person must necessarily fall. Moreover, another danger, by no means trifling, shall overtake those who falsely presume that they know the name of Antichrist. For if these men assume one [number], when this [Antichrist] shall come having another, they will be easily led away by him, as supposing him not to be the expected one, who must be guarded against.And if I may add a little message of my own: how twisted is the state of politics in this country right now -- really? For most, I'm sure, the catcalling back and forth of "socialist!" "baby-killer!" "fascist!" etc. is just rhetoric. Be warned, though, that there are some out there who aren't smart enough to distinguish rhetoric from polemic, and take such statements deadly seriously. Like it or not, your words influence people. I'm not naive enough to ask for a kumbaya and I certainly understand that there a lot of emotional issues being debated right now, but nobody is going to benefit from these discussions when our leaders act like stupid little children and nobody is actually willing to sit down and discuss the issues like grown ups do -- then, again, who is willing to sit down and try to find a compromise with the Anti-Christ? The extremism in our politics which this poll indicates doesn't bode well for our country. Lord, have mercy!
Friday, April 9, 2010
That the Lord then was manifestly coming to His own things, and was sustaining them by means of that creation which is supported by Himself, and was making a recapitulation of that disobedience which had occurred in connection with a tree, through the obedience which was [exhibited by Himself when He hung] upon a tree, [the effects] also of that deception being done away with, by which that virgin Eve, who was already espoused to a man, was unhappily misled,—was happily announced, through means of the truth [spoken] by the angel to the Virgin Mary, who was [also espoused] to a man. For just as the former was led astray by the word of an angel, so that she fled from God when she had transgressed His word; so did the latter, by an angelic communication, receive the glad tidings that she should sustain God, being obedient to His word. And if the former did disobey God, yet the latter was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the patroness of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so is it rescued by a virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience. (St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, book 5, chapter 19, paragraph 1)
Remembering our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God. To you, O Lord!
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
For the controversy [regarding the dating of Pascha] is not merely as regards the day, but also as regards the form itself of the fast. For some consider themselves bound to fast one day, others two days, others still more, while others [do so during] forty: the diurnal and the nocturnal hours they measure out together as their [fasting] days. And this variety amongst the observers [of the fasts] had not its origin in our time, but long before in that of our predecessors, some of whome probably, being not very accurate in their observance of it, handed down to posterity the custom as it had, through simplicity or private fancy, been [introduced among them]. (St. Irenaeus of Lyons, from a lost work quoted in Eusebius of Caesarea's Church History 5.24)I thought this passage from Irenaeus was very interesting, especially given that we've just finished our own Lenten fast for this year. I think it's also interesting that the Church, in a way, seems to have preserved all of the fasting traditions which Irenaeus here recounts for us. We fast in the normal way (cut the number of meals in half, abstain from a variety of foods, wait till later to eat, etc.) for 40 days, beginning on Clean Monday (42 days before Pascha), and then, for the final two days (Holy Friday & Holy Saturday), traditionally, we have a strict fast (no eating at all). So, we have both the fast of 40 days that Irenaeus records some practiced and we have the fast of two days which he records other practiced.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
This passage [Against Heresies, 1, 25, 6] is situated at the end of Irenaeus discussion of the Gnostic sect of the Carpocrates and I will give them their due attention in a moment. But first we need to just look at the text itself and see what it bears.
There is no open and absolute condemnation of representational art here. Irenaeus in condemning the Carpocrates isn’t condemning them for having art work per se of things in heaven, earth or under the earth. He doesn’t invoke biblical language as read to prohibit all image making. Nor is there here an unconditional condemnation of veneration of images. Irenaeus doesn’t say that veneration is evil and therefore what the Carpocrates are doing is evil. Nor does Irenaeus tell us much about what the kind of objectionable veneration is taking place.
There do seem to be three things that have warranted Irenaeus’ condemnation. First, they claim to have an image made by Pontius Pilate of Jesus. They seemingly use this to bolster their claim to apostolic authenticity. Second, that they set up this image of Jesus along with various philosophers-Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle. This implication seems to be that Jesus is one of many men of wisdom.
Here it is important to understand what a man of wisdom was thought to be in the ancient world of the Mediterranean. Socrates is the prime example. A man of wisdom is commissioned by the gods or divine powers, sometimes without even knowing it. He is a “seer” of sorts who interprets signs from the gods. Signs from the gods were ambiguous and deliberately so to instill respect and humility. Someone suffering from hubris would misinterpret the signs, usually to their own downfall. And of course language was a system of signs that Socrates or any other man of wisdom could interpret to find the truth, customarily in such a way as to humiliate the arrogant and ignorant since those two defects often ran together.
Third, that they have other modes of honoring these images on top of the aforementioned practice of crowning them and that these ways of expressing honor are essentially the same as those found among the pagans for honoring their gods. What these exact modes are, Irenaeus doesn’t tell us.
Just looking at the text then, there seems to be no good reason to think that Irenaeus is expressing belief in iconoclasm or even iconophobia. Even the most ardent defenders of iconodulism would find the claims and practices of the Carpocrates objectionable. An iconodule can reject all of the practices mentioned here without any inconsistency. The text then offers no support to the thesis that the early church at the time of Irenaeus was iconoclastic.