Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Τί καινὸν εἰσήνεγκε Χριστὸς εἰς τὸν κόσμον

What Christ brought new into the world

The title of a lost treatise by "Alexander, bishop of Hierapolis, and martyr [(Ἀλέξανδρος, Ἱεραπόλεως ἐπίσκοπος, καὶ μάρτυς)]" (Suda A 1125 = Svidae Lexicon, ed. Adler, vol. 1, p. 104; cf. the Suda On Line (, at Later works of reference conflate this Alexander of Hierapolis with the fifth-century Nestorian (Franz Overbeck's Kirchenlexicon; The new Schaff-Herzog encyclopedia of religious knowledge; etc.; cf. Alfons Fürst, "Der Einfluss des Christentums auf die Entwicklung der kulturellen Identität Europas in der Spätantike," Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 43 (2000): 6 and 6n5), but Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology (1867) distinguishes that Alexander of Hierapolis from a third-century bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, and attributes this treatise to the latter ( Also, some entries on the fifth-century Nestorian (DTC, BBKL, the fifth volume of the "Quasten" patrology, etc.)--who died in exile, and, so, could, I suppose, have been considered a martyr--don't mention it. Adler, in the critical edition mentioned above, cross references Photius' Bibliotheca, but is otherwise of no help. The Adler reference is to Photii Bibliotheca, ed. Immanuel Bekker (Berlin: G. Reimer, 1824-1825), vol. 1 (1824), p. 291, l. 25-28 (near the end of the section on codex 232, the Miscellany of Stephen Gobar): Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Ἱεραπόλεως ἐπίσκοπος καὶ μάρτυς. Cf. this emendation: "And Alexander, Bishop of the Holy Towns [i.e. Jerusalem], and martyr [(Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Ἱεραπόλεων ἐπίσκοπος καὶ μάρτυς)], writing to the same Origen, treats him in the same manner", i.e. favorably (, following the Belles Lettres edition ed. René Henry; cf., which I've checked against the original in the Harvard theological review). In the substitution of Ἱεραπόλεων for Ἱεραπόλεως, and therefore the translation "des Villes Saintes", "C'est-à-dire de Jerusalem", Henry follows the David Hoeschel edition of 1601: "It was Fr. H. Crouzel who first drew my attention to this reading of Hoeschel and to the reasons for it: the mention by Eusebius, H. E., VI, 14, 8-9, of a letter from Origen to this Alexander and the mention by Eusebius, H. E., VI, 39, 2-3, of the martyrdom of the person of rank under Decius. Fr. Crouzel, whom I thank for this generous intervention, thinks that these notes of Eusebius could very well be Gobar's source of information" (Photius, Bibliothèque, ed. René Henry, vol. 5 (Paris: Société d'Édition 'Les Belles Lettres', 1967), pp. 79-80 (French), n. 3).

Interesting title, nonetheless.

An important book on the concept may be Wolfram Kinzig's Novitas Christiana: die Idee des Fortschrifts in den alten Kirche bis Eusebius (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1994). But I found there no reference to this treatise by Alexander.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fürst on two contributions of Christianity to Western civilization too often opposed

"Christianity recognizes, besides the practice of the love of neighbor, an additional important criterion of the authenticity of Church and Christian existence: truth. Orthopraxy and orthodoxy belong together. Unlike the ancient religions and cults, then, Christianity created a theology in which it reflected the faith and formulated what was to be believed and testified to in confessions and doctrines, 'dogmas'. Beside the ethic of the love of neighbor, the claim to truth is the second characteristic that distinguishes Christianity from ancient religiosity. The term 'dogma' arose characteristically out of the language of philosophy and politics, not the religious nomenclature of antiquity. The reason for this difference lies in this, that in Christianity, it is a question not of a ritually correct maintenance of the relation to God, but of the intellectual and existential truth of faith in God and of a way of life aligned therewith."

Alfons Fürst, "Der Einfluss des Christentums auf die Entwicklung der kulturellen Identität Europas in der Spätantike," Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 43 (2000): 15 (5-24). Fürst's opening pages on the novelty of the love of neighbor are bolder still, and become the check in the light of which Christian intolerance (a corollary of this new commitment to "a single truth for all men" (16), but characteristic of the polythesists as well (18; cf. Hart's Atheist delusions)) is or should be tempered.  Cf.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Scholten on the supposed Hellenization of early Christianity

"in reality, deep, fundamental divides [(in ihren Grundanschauungen tiefe Gräben)] separate Christianity and late-antique Platonism. Platonism, a complex of philosophical formation, way of life, and piety, is the spiritual [and intellectual (geistige)] counter-world to the Christian religion. Christianity never accepted [any of] the doctrines central to Platonism. Faith in a personal God, in grace, incarnation, world-judgment or the bodily [(fleischliche)] resurrection is irreconcilable with Platonic convictions about an abstract divine [(Göttliche)], a non-augmentable Ur-revelation [(Uroffenbarung)], the iron law of the world-ruling Logos, and the transmigration of souls."

Clemens Scholten, "Verändert sich Gott, wenn er die Welt erschafft?," Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 43 (2000): 25 (25-43). By now something of a commonplace, but Scholten goes on (this is just an opening).