4. Teaching the Creed

We have seen the rich variety of official positions in the church and considered the construction of a hierarchy as a way to create stakeholders within the Christian community. The higher clergy, especially the bishops, put considerable effort into maintaining their position in matters both secular and religious. However, they exercised that power in part by collecting substantial numbers of lower clergy and non-clerical actors who received official positions within the church. This inclination toward incorporation and the creation of stakeholders extended as well to proselytism and the initiation of new Christians. Through what must have been a range of mechanisms, people encountered Christian ideas, communities, and sources of religious power, such as holy men and healing shrines. These experiences led to the formation of communal ties and relationships. Full initiation into the church, however, went beyond mere participation in community. We have already seen that a key component of the relationship between converts and baptismal sponsors centered on the adoption of Christian moral norms. This acceptance of ethical ideals began the process of forming Christian habits and ways of understanding one’s place in church and society. Now we turn to the most overtly didactic aspects of the process of incorporating new Christians. Following the registration of sponsor and catechumen with the proper authorities of the church, catechesis proper began. As we consider the teaching component of Christian initiation, we must keep the communal backdrop in mind. Sponsors and catechumens came to the church regularly, at least every other day, for the purpose of listening to the teaching of a priest or bishop. Preachers addressed both directly in their sermons and expected the sponsors to assist the catechumens as they learned the creed and struggled with the theology contained in it.
Theodore’s formal preaching of the catechetical homilies began with his teaching on the creed. He devoted ten sermons to his commentary on the creed, which he worked his way through in a straightforward fashion. Homily 1 begins with an introduction to catechesis and the types of things that his catechumens would be exposed to in this teaching. Towards the conclusion of this first sermon, Theodore moves on to discuss God the Father. He continues his teaching on the Father in Homilies 2 and 3. Fully half of the sermons on the creed, numbers 4 through 8, focus on the Son. Homily 9 focuses on the Holy Spirit, while the final sermon on the creed continues Theodore’s presentation of the doctrine of the Spirit and also discusses his theology of the church. These sermons display a method of interpretation and commentary very reminiscent of Theodore’s commentaries on the Bible. Theodore’s commentaries demonstrate a close reading of his source with the intent of isolating the divine message as expressed in the historical narratives contained in the text. [1] Similarly, Theodore’s catechesis moves methodically through the text of the creed. He focuses on a clear presentation of his interpretation of the creed with only minimal embellishments to stress logical connections or provide illustrative examples. As with his commentaries, his catechesis takes particular interest in emphasizing the biblical history behind the teaching of the creed as an argument for its validity.
Given the logical progression of the creed from Father to Son to Holy Spirit to the church, it might appear that Theodore’s straightforward presentation sought merely to orient the catechumens to the distinctive theological features of Nicene Christianity. [2] In one sense, this is precisely what his sermons aimed to do. However, a careful reading of these sermons, one that takes into consideration the pedagogical concerns of the sermons and the place of catechesis within the community, reveals a pedagogical method more concerned with incorporating catechumens into the believing community than with the creation of people thoroughly versed in the intricacies of a philosophically demanding theological system. Theodore clearly held education as a critical task but he also consistently situated his theological lessons within the context of communal participation and the liturgical expression of theology in the recitation of the creed. While the procedure for enrolling catechumens aimed to produce converts in pursuit of the moral norms of the community, the teaching of the creed sought to encourage converts to adopt the outlook of the community. We turn at this point to consider Theodore’s teaching on the creed and his pedagogical approach to this education.

The Theology of the Catechetical Homilies

Theodore’s teaching on the creed begins where the creed does, with a discussion of God the Father. His text reads, “I believe in one God, Father Almighty,” and Theodore used this text as a starting point for emphasizing the unity of God. [3] The concern addressed by this teaching was twofold. Theodore wanted to remove what he saw as the errors of polytheism and Arianism. Indeed, Theodore saw these two errors as related in a significant way. Polytheism was a simple enough error to address. While the Hebrew Bible inherited by Christians had stressed the oneness of God, the Greco-Roman tradition generally considered the divine to be manifest in a variety of divine persons. Even pagan monotheists whose philosophical conception of divinity stressed a supreme divine unity still accepted notions of worshipping the divine that acknowledged diversity of manifestation. [4] We hear so much about Christian monotheism that it is important to note the persistent need Christians had to reaffirm a connection to Jewish monotheism. The Christian world of Late Antiquity was full of angels and demons, not to mention holy men and the deceased, but ever-present, saints of the church. [5] A preacher at the end of the fourth century could not take it for granted that his audience held acceptable views on such matters. When uninitiated catechumens comprised the audience, the situation would have been more acute still.
The most immediate threat to the unity of God that Theodore sought to combat, however, was the error of the so-called Arians. Recall that these sermons were delivered around 392, shortly after Nicene theology emerged victorious at the Council of Constantinople but while Antioch remained a city divided between theological camps. This ecumenical meeting came together in the year 381 in hopes of bringing to an end a bitter theological controversy that had persisted throughout most of the fourth century. As we discussed in chapter one, the issues debated pertained to the divinity of the Son. What was the nature of Christ’s divinity? What was the nature of his submission to the will of the Father? Was his divinity somehow derivative in a way that placed him in a category subordinate to the Father? Eventually the ecumenical decision at Constantinople, a slightly modified version of the Nicene formula, would hold sway throughout the majority of Christian communities, but this took some time and, as Theodore preached these sermons, the rifts caused by the theological battles of the fourth century persisted.
While the nature of the Son was the most pressing issue debated, it was impossible to do this without relating the Son to the nature of divinity. The Nicenes were convinced that the non-Nicene position, which they successfully branded as “Arian,” contained deep theological errors. [6] They often talked in terms of the non-Nicenes diminishing Christ, of the way that they separated him from God by declaring him to be a lesser divinity. The Nicenes simply refused to believe that any created being could possess a divinity worthy of God’s Son. As non-Nicene notions of Sonship entailed a coming into being, it was impossible for Nicenes to accept their repeated claims that they did indeed believe Christ to be divine. The main differences focused on the nature of divinity. [7] When the Nicenes did take at face value the claim that non-Nicenes accepted Christ’s divinity, they usually took the occasion to deride them for dividing God. [8] If Father and Son were as ontologically distinct as the non-Nicenes claimed, and they were both divine, then from the Nicene perspective this required a concept of God that was incompatible with Christian monotheism. Theodore adopted this tradition as he stressed the unity of God against the opponents he labels as Arian and Eunomian. [9] Large numbers of the inhabitants of Antioch in the early 390s would have at some point been a part of a community opposed to the Nicene theology espoused at the Council of Constantinople. Theodore sought to ensure that the candidates for baptism knew the proper definition of the faith.
Following the structure of the creed, Theodore turned to the doctrine of the Son for a full five sermons. He stressed throughout these sermons that Christ had two clearly distinct natures (Syriac kyānā; Greek physis), one divine and one human, dwelling in a single person (Syriac parṣupā; Greek prosōpon). [10] The fact that this language would get Theodore into trouble later as Christological language developed is not particularly relevant for our purposes here. Rather, we must note Theodore’s attempt to articulate for the baptismal candidates an understanding of full humanity and full divinity existing in one Christ. In doing this, Theodore offered Christological themes developed over the preceding decades to counter non-Nicene theology. For example, he insisted that the Fatherhood and Sonship discussed in the New Testament denote eternal relationships and not the normal procreation of humans. [11] Theodore also sought to thwart what he saw as attacks upon the person of Christ by the theology of Apollinaris, who argued that Christ was a man with a divine mind or intellect (nous). [12] Against this, the catechesis focuses strongly on the humanity of Christ. While the creed mentioned only the birth from Mary and the crucifixion under Pontius Pilate, Theodore spoke to the candidates at length about the childhood, life, teaching, and miracles of Christ. [13] For Theodore, if Christ was not fully human, then there was no point in the incarnation. If redemption could be accomplished by the divine mind (nous), then there was no need for God to join himself to human nature at all. [14] Theodore taught the candidates in no uncertain terms that Christology was a matter of soteriology. The baptism, obedience, death, and resurrection of Christ’s humanity made humanity redeemable. [15] If Christ was not fully human, then the incarnation was for naught. [16]
Theodore reserved less time in his catechetical curriculum for the discussion of the Holy Spirit and the Church. The theological issues raised at the Council of Nicaea had focused on the relationship between the Father and the Son. However, the subsequent disagreements over the wording and theology of the creed also took up the issue of the status of the Holy Spirit. Theodore’s arguments here are rather weak. He states plainly that the participants in the council simply added the name of the Holy Spirit because the real disagreement was about Christ. Theodore argued that by mentioning the Holy Spirit along with the Father and the Son, the intent was clearly to apply all the discussion of the Son’s divinity to the Holy Spirit as well. [17] Theodore strengthened this assertion by connecting this piece of theology to Christian baptism. Citing Matthew 28.19, he appealed to the Trinitarian nature of baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as securing the full divinity of the Spirit. [18] Furthermore, if the Spirit were not fully divine, he would not be able to play his role as the one who secures the benefits of baptism. [19]
This baptismal focus ties in directly with Theodore’s rather brief teaching on the church. Following the creed, Theodore linked the church and baptism, essentially defining the church for the candidates as a baptizing community. [20] He stressed in this context that the members of that community should be as closely knit together into one body as the two natures of Christ were in his one person. [21] This body, united in right worship of God, constituted the church of the creed as Theodore presented it to his baptismal students. [22]
This summary outlines the basic theological material Theodore presented from the creed. A number of studies have used these homilies for the purpose of addressing questions related specifically to the subsequent Christological debates with which Theodore and his legacy became entangled during the course of the fifth and sixth centuries. [23] With the canonically questionable nature of the Fifth Council as a backdrop, several scholars have attempted to address the question of whether or not Theodore actually held the views he was accused of holding. [24] Not only is such an inquiry of questionable historical value for an inquiry into Theodore’s catechesis, it also suggests a misleading approach to Theodore’s catechetical curriculum.
This does not mean that a study of the fifth- and sixth-century Christological debates is unwarranted. Indeed, much work remains to be done on these developments and particularly on how they played out within and between the various religious communities and confessions involved. Rather, I refer here to the fact that most inquiries of this sort address theological rather than historical concerns. At the root is a concern over whether Theodore was rightly condemned at the Fifth Council. His condemnation, coming as it did well after his death and therefore based on charges he could not answer, was certainly not canonical. Thus the aim here is not to analyze Theodore’s theology in order to determine whether or not he held erroneous views. This theological question has been addressed by other scholars and does not concern us directly here. Instead, this study sets out to analyze Theodore as a catechist. How Theodore structured his catechesis and the rhetorical devices he used to explain the Christian religion to those entering the community will command the focus in what follows.

Theodore’s Pedagogy

An interest in the pedagogy of these homilies does not come from some alien source but rather from the sermons themselves. Throughout the catechesis, Theodore demonstrates a deep concern for the role he assumed as teacher of converts to Christianity. He repeatedly discusses the nature of his instruction and how he has structured his catechesis for maximal impact. He took his charge as catechist seriously; he cared about the effect of his teaching and the lessons that his students would hear and, he hoped, internalize through catechesis. [25]
Theodore labored to explain in simple language theological concepts that were often quite abstruse and he did so in a context where the stakes could be very high. Well-educated and deeply learned theologians had wrestled with the concepts and terminology surrounding the relationship between the Father and the Son for most of the fourth century. The catechist found himself in the position of needing to present these same ideas to a lay audience, many of whom would not have had the philosophical background or knowledge of Christian scriptures available to the more highly educated among the clerical elites. In a context where the consequences of error were great, a priest like Theodore assumed a tremendous burden as he catechized these converts. The fourth-century debates had consistently been heated. As opinions shifted, imperial and popular support likewise vacillated. Bishops taking a number of different positions found themselves alternately exiled from their sees and reinstated. Furthermore, this was not a simple intellectual exchange. Accusations of false belief and heresy hung over these debates. People genuinely believed that their party rightly understood the issues and that those opposed to their approach were anathema, fit only to be condemned as heretics and purged from the Christian community along with their errors. The stakes were high, and clergy worked diligently to produce Christians loyal to them and to their notions of proper theology.
Recent work on Arianism makes this point very well. A careful look at the debates of the fourth century clearly shows a wide range of opinion on the proper understanding of the relationship between the Father and the Son. [26] However, Athanasius and a handful of likeminded theologians launched an active campaign to link together those who failed to accept the Nicene term homoousios. Anything less than acceptance of this notion of an identity between the Father and the Son was equated with the teaching of Arius. In this way, Athanasius and others constructed an Arian theology where one did not actually exist. In reality, however, theologians struggled with the implications of homoousios for myriad reasons, not necessarily because they accepted the theology of Arius.
This work has been invaluable for our understanding of many of the theological and political developments that took place between the first and second ecumenical councils. It would be misleading, however, to see in this only the fluidity of theological positions and categories that existed on the ground in the fourth century. We must also duly note the tremendous power of theological branding. A relatively small group was able to corral disparate positions together, effectively label them as heresy, and ultimately anathematize their adherents. Theology mattered in this context. Even if we were to set a greater interpretative stress on power politics than on a detached pursuit of theological understanding, we must still recognize that the consequences of theological belief remained profound. The personal, communal, and political ramifications of one’s beliefs could be considerable. Theodore’s understanding of the weight of these matters pervades his catechesis. He tailored his instruction so that his pupils would come into the church with the proper understanding of the contentious matters of the creed. How he approached this task will occupy the remainder of this chapter.

Theodore’s language of education

Given the acerbic atmosphere that could surround theological allegiances, it should hardly surprise that concerns about sound pedagogy would occupy the mind of a catechist. His sermons, in conjunction with the rest of the initiatory process, would constitute the foundation for the converts’ understanding of the beliefs central to the community they were joining. Not only do Theodore’s sermons bear the marks of someone who thought carefully about these matters, they also contain a surprising number of references to teaching and pedagogical strategy. A favorite biblical text of Theodore was Matthew 28.19–20, the command of Jesus to the disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Theodore’s understanding of catechesis as a period of instruction culminating in baptism fits very well with the themes of this text. He quotes it directly over a half dozen times throughout his sermons on the creed.
The Syriac text of Theodore’s catechesis contains a range of terms dealing with teaching and the passing on of information. [27] Prominent among these are words deriving from the roots ylp (ܝܠܦ‎), lmd (ܠܡܕ‎), šlm (ܫܠܡ‎), yd (ܝܕ‎), and ydʿ (ܝܕܥ‎). The root ylp means “to know; to perceive, to be able.” The form employed most often in the catechesis means “to teach, inform, or train” and likely translates Greek didaskō (διδάκσω). [28] Nominal forms derived from ylp, yulpānā (ܝܘܠܦܢܐ‎) and malpānuṭā (ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ‎), recur as well. They share a similar semantic range including teaching and doctrine. They regularly translate related Greek terms didakē (διδακή) and didaskalia (διδασκάλια). These terms denote the basic material conveyed in the course of the catechetical lectures or some other source, such as a particular biblical text. They can also refer to “doctrine” in a more technical theological sense. In this case, they refer to a systematic statement on a particular theological point, such as the oneness of God or the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Alongside the various forms of ylp, the root ydʿ also occurs. In the form employed, this verb bears the meaning “to make known, show, point out, tell, inform, instruct.” [29] The root often translates Greek gignōskō (γιγνώσκω), “to know,” with the form occurring in the catechesis generally representing gnōrizō (γνωρίζω) and expressing the idea of producing knowledge or causing it to come about in the subject of instruction.
The translator of Theodore’s catechesis often employed forms of the root lmd, meaning “to put together, compile.” However, the verbal form most often employed bears the meaning “to make a disciple, teach the Christian faith, convert” and represents Greek mathēteuō (μαθητεύω). [30] Two nouns deriving from this form also appear often in Theodore’s catechesis. The text regularly employs talmidā (ܬܠܡܝܕܐ‎), the normal Syriac term for a disciple of Jesus, mathētēs (μαθητής). These were the students of Jesus but also his followers in a more intimate sense than the teacher-student relationship might suggest. The catechesis uses this term for both the original twelve disciples and the catechumens who are in the process of converting. Another noun frequently in use also comes from this same root. Talmiduṭā (ܬܠܡܝܕܘܬܐ‎) bears a range of meanings, all of which are relevant to the theme of education and teaching in these sermons. Mingana alternately translates it as “initiation,” “teaching,” or “discipleship.” He prefers these terms, while also noting that it sometimes has the sense of “the ‘catechumenate’ or the state of being a ‘catechumen.’” [31] The semantic range of this term makes it difficult to pinpoint the Greek equivalent. Mathēma (μάθημα) would offer a cognate of mathētēs, but didakē provides an alternative that is just as likely. Regardless, the repeated use of the root lmd nicely highlights the emphasis placed on the educational aspect of catechesis.
The frequent use of two additional terms further develops our understanding of Theodore’s conscious concern for education. The root šlm appears in two forms. The basic meaning of the verb is “to come to an end, be finished, concluded.” The verb appears regularly in a form that has the connotation of committing a lesson or idea to the hearer. [32] Greek paradidōmi (παραδίδωμι) probably lies behind the Syriac here, and the term is best translated with “to commit” or “to hand over.” [33] Another form in which the root šlm occurs is the nominal form mšlmānuṭā (ܡܫܠܡܢܘܬܐ‎). Often rendered by Mingana as “teaching,” mšlmānuṭā has a connotation of tradition. It likely translates paradosis (παράδοσις) and refers to something handed down from Christian forbearers or even from Christ himself. [34] The final critical term to appear in this context is tawdiṭā (ܬܘܕܝܬܐ‎). Given the creedal context of these sermons, this should be expected. The basic meaning of the term is “confession” or “profession,” and it could translate either homologia (ὁμολογία) or eucharistia (εὐχαριστία). Τawdiṭā occasionally means confession or profession in the catechesis, but it also refers by extension to the substance of that profession, the doctrine that makes up the confession. [35]
The text heightens its effect by the proliferation of this pedagogical terminology, often within a single paragraph. Allow one example to suffice where many could be offered:
After the words concerning God, they proceeded to the teaching [malpānuṭā] of the persons, which is the true teaching [tawdiṭā] of the Christian faith and the true knowledge [idaʿṭā] for those who become disciples [meṭtalmədin] of Christ. Because the sentence denotes Divine nature, it refers to the three persons, but as the teaching [malpānuṭā] concerning the persons could not be considered as referring to one of them only, they rightly spoke to us of what is due to each person separately. At the beginning of their sentence they placed the Father from whom are the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father is truly the one who is a Father alone, but we hold each one of the three persons to be God, because Christ included this true doctrine [yulpānā] in His teaching [tawdiṭā] concerning these three persons. [36]
This layered application of pedagogical language recurs throughout Theodore’s sermons on the creed and testifies to his emphasis on catechesis as an educational system.
Theodore did not limit his discussion of pedagogy to the act of catechesis. Rather, he applied the language of education to many different subjects. He presents Christ, [37] the disciples, [38] scripture, [39] and natural law [40] as teachers at various points in the catechesis. For example, in the previous quotation, “The words concerning God” mentioned at the beginning, refer back to the first line of the creed, “I believe in one God.” The subject “they” mentioned throughout the passage refers to the bishops who composed the creed, in Theodore’s language, “the blessed Fathers.” [41] Thus the creed preserves and disseminates the teachings of this group whose esteem Theodore appeals to in the course of his own teaching.

Memory and repetition

As the organizing principle of the first ten catechetical sermons, the creed and its authors have a firm presence in Theodore’s catechesis. Theodore, in the course of teaching the candidates the Christian faith, enters into a sort of dialog with the Fathers who wrote it. Keen to present them as teachers of the Christian faith, Theodore emphasizes the tight phrasing and summary nature of their creed. They did this intentionally so that the creed could be easily understood and committed to memory. In his fifth sermon he asserts:
Our Fathers, however, took trouble to say all these things in short terms so that the hearers might learn them with ease, and so that we might also learn thoroughly every one of them from the Sacred Books. They wrote and arranged the Creed in short terms, and this is the reason why they said: Who was born of the Virgin Mary and was crucified in the days of Pontius Pilate . They only said the beginning and the end of the Economy that took place on our behalf, as the beginning of all grace is His birth of Mary, and its end is crucifixion. [42]
Theodore thus exhorted his audience to learn from the creed by committing it to memory. However, he also used the sparse wording of the creed as an opportunity to fill in much of the life of Jesus, demonstrating his particular interest in historical context and the historicity of the incarnation. He mentions the infancy of Jesus, as well as his baptism. [43] Throughout this presentation of Jesus’ life, Theodore adds numerous references to his divinity and sinless life, drawing heavily on the Pauline corpus in doing so. [44] In this way, Theodore used the teaching of the Fathers as a mnemonic device. He preached a fuller version of Jesus’ life and a theological interpretation of it based on a simple phrase in the creed.
Theodore’s use of the creed as another mnemonic device is only one of the pedagogical strategies he used. In the course of presenting his lessons, Theodore employed a number of techniques to help his students retain the information he presented. He intentionally repeated things for the benefit of the catechumens. In particular, he often began a homily with a summary of the preceding one. Homily 2 begins, “Yesterday we spoke to your love sufficiently, and in the measure granted to us by the grace of God, of faith which is the foundation of the principle of religion. We approached the words of our profession of faith and showed how through faith in one God all the error of the polytheism of the Gentiles vanishes completely.” [45] The first homily had explicated the beginning of the creed, “I believe in one God the Father.” Theodore’s lesson focused on the oneness of God as a refutation of pagan polytheism. This single point summarized that sermon. Theodore began the fourth homily in a similar fashion, saying, “Yesterday we endeavored to interpret to your love, according to our ability and in a succinct manner, the things said by our blessed Fathers concerning the Divinity of the Only Begotten, while we kept the remainder of them for another day.” [46] In this instance as well, Theodore called to mind the subject of his teaching from the prior day while also emphasizing the main point he wanted his listeners to take to heart. This constant repetition of main themes appears throughout Theodore’s catechesis as a mnemonic device.
Theodore often repeated his main points and themes within a single sermon. He sought to simplify the often very intricate implications theologians drew from the creed by fostering this mode of presentation. This habit has not always endeared Theodore to his readers, however. Mingana agrees with Harnack in his introduction to the catechesis that Theodore is “too prosaic and monotonous.” [47] This opinion concurs with that of Photius, whose ninth-century Bibliotheka includes a discussion of several theological works by Theodore. Photius did not know the catechesis, but he criticized the style of several other works by Theodore for their lack of a certain graceful artistry. He writes of Theodore, “There is much use of the oblique cases and participles, with frequent and ill-arranged repetition of the same idea; on returning to a concept one finds it more fully and circumstantially expounded than in the main account, which is utterly unmethodical.” [48]
However one assesses the stylistic merits of Theodore’s language, due effort ought to be expended upon understanding Theodore’s own conception of what he is doing in his homilies. As he addressed his audience, Theodore reflected on the structure of his presentation and included a discussion of his aims. He carefully crafted his use of repetition as an aid for his students’ comprehension. [49] This stated pedagogical aim speaks directly to Theodore’s understanding of the catechesis and the deep pastoral concern he had to instruct the catechumens in their new faith. Throughout his presentation of the creed, Theodore combines repetition with an emphasis on a simplicity that is itself essential to his pedagogical method.

The Rhetoric of Simplicity

Theodore’s rhetoric of simplicity demonstrates a genuine empathy for his students as they wrestled with the finer points of the theology he taught them. Several times during these homilies, the Syriac translates Theodore with qlil qlil (ܩܠܝܠ ܩܠܝܠ‎), “little by little.” [50] Theodore used this phrase to emphasize that he packaged his teaching into small, hopefully digestible portions. In beginning his seventh sermon, he asserted, “This is the third day I am discoursing on this subject to your love, as I am anxious that you should learn it little by little [qlil qlil] and keep my words in your memory.” [51] Homily 7 contains the third of five sermons on the topic of the Son. This material presents some of Theodore’s most technically demanding of the whole catechesis. Here he reminded the catechumens, some of whom may indeed have struggled to follow along, that he had put considerable effort into breaking down the phrases of the creed and presenting them in manageable portions. He hoped that these smaller portions, repeated often, would stick in the memories of his students.
The most common way for Theodore to employ this qlil qlil was at the end of a sermon. He regularly begged the indulgence of his audience for the difficulty of the subject matter as he brought the homily to a close. [52] In concluding Homily 3, he said:
We should be in need of many words if we intended to comment fully upon all things said by our blessed Fathers concerning the Divinity of the Only Begotten. In order, however, to lighten to you the burden of the many things that are said to you we shall utter them little by little [qlil qlil] so that you may better be able to hear and to learn them. With your permission, therefore, we shall put an end here to the things that were said to-day, and keep the things that follow (in the credo) to another day, and for all of them let us praise the Father, the Only Begotten Son and the Holy Spirit, now, always, and for ever and ever. Amen. [53]
Recognizing the potential burden presented by these difficult topics, Theodore reminded the catechumens of his efforts to compartmentalize his presentation and to give them manageable amounts to internalize during the course of a single sermon. In doing so, he also articulated his expectation that they would indeed learn and retain what he taught them.
Theodore often emphasized the mnemonic motivation behind his simplification. At the conclusion of his first homily, he said, “It is necessary that we should offer you an oral teaching about everything, little by little [qlil qlil], in order that you may be able to remember the things that are spoken to you, as these are indispensable to those who adhere to what has preceded.” [54] Theodore expected his sermons to reach the catechumens and to have a lasting impact. The rhetoric of simplicity helped package his message into manageable lessons but also reinforced his expectations regarding their retention. At times, he voiced these expectations in the form of an admonition: “In the last days we coherently and sufficiently articulated to your love lessons on the doctrine concerning Christ according to the teaching of our blessed Fathers. Now it is up to you to remember the things spoken to you with such great diligence.” [55] Theodore expected results from the efforts he put into his sermons and did not hesitate to communicate this to the catechumens.
Theodore was particularly sensitive to the idea that he might appear to overstep the bounds of what his hearers could bear. At times he almost apologizes, as in Homily 6, where he says, “I believe, however, that my speech has exceeded the limits as the words (which express) the Economy of the grace of Christ have only been delivered to us (in short terms) as given above.” [56] He feared that he had needlessly complicated things by using so many more words than did the authors of the creed. Then he continued, “In order, therefore, that you may not receive a teaching which is not perfect and that we may not trouble you with many words, let us, by the permission of God, leave off here the things which will follow what has been said, and be satisfied with what has already been spoken to-day …” [57] Theodore developed this theme of simplicity as an aid to the catechumens’ learning.
This pedagogical aspect of simplicity in Theodore also finds a complement in a different rhetoric of simplicity with a long pedigree in Christian thought. This notion of simplicity, which appears in several of the epistles of the Pauline corpus, suggests a distrust of overly sophisticated thought, especially when that sophistication leaned in the direction of philosophical speculation. In Romans 1, Paul acknowledges his debt to Greek wisdom but also argues that the same Greek learning has essentially missed the forest for the trees: “So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.” [58] Thus the wisdom of the Greeks was not effective; it did not bear fruit where it should have. In other words, sophisticated wisdom could not be valued unequivocally.
Paul gives this theme fuller treatment in his first letter to the church in Corinth. He wrote 1 Corinthians when he heard that the church there was plagued with factions. In seeking to remedy this situation, he encouraged the church to simplicity and humility by offering a sustained discussion of the foolishness of the cross of Christ. He insisted that “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” [59] But Paul’s notion of foolishness did not only apply to the cross. He insisted that the form and content of the message were alike foolish:
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. [60]
Behind Paul’s declaration of his own simplicity lies the idea that it would have been potentially deceptive if he had used clever speech or sought to woo his audience with sophistication. Humility and simplicity were preferable. Indeed they offered a proof of the truth of Paul’s message.
Later Christians picked up on these themes and developed them within a variety of different contexts. Similar ideas appear repeatedly within the writings of the so-called Apostolic Fathers, written toward the end of the first century and the beginning of the second. These texts often denounce the arrogance and speculation of doubting or deceptive Christians. A favorite term for critiquing such ideas is dipsychia (διψυχία), double-mindedness. The term occurs several times in 1 and 2 Clement as well as the Didache. In the Shepherd of Hermas it appears over fifty times and constitutes one of the most important themes in the work: “Trust in the Lord, you who are double-minded, because he can do all things; he both turns away from you his wrath, and sends out plagues upon you who are double-minded. Woe to those who hear these words and disobey them; it would have been better for them not to have been born.” [61] Dipsychia can simply refer to one’s lack of faith or a weakness of mind producing a failure to adhere to Christian moral principles. Alongside this, however, the author refers to a double-mindedness that manifests itself in an arrogant sense that one’s will and ideas are superior to God’s. Relying on their own wisdom, the double-minded falter: “Thinking that they can find a better way, they go astray and wander about in misery, trudging through the wastelands.” [62] The Epistle of Barnabas elaborates on this idea even more explicitly in urging that people not “be intimately associated with the lofty, but live with the humble and righteous. Accept as good the things that happen to you, knowing that nothing transpires apart from God. Do not be double-minded or double-tongued.” [63] Simplicity emerges in these texts as a prominent Christian virtue. Properly maintained it should preserve the believer from numerous errors.
These first- and second-century pleas for Christian simplicity resonated with later generations as well. However intellectually rigorous Christian theology became or however well educated the practitioners of the art were, many Christians retained a robust suspicion of the excessively intellectual, especially when it could be characterized as prying into things that had not been revealed. [64] Denunciation of heresy was a prominent theme in Theodore’s catechesis, and he often spoke to the candidates about the deceitful and erroneous theologizing of various heretics. [65] Heretics were often attacked for having overstepped the bounds of divinely ordained thought or worship. The fourth-century attacks on non-Nicene theology that culminated in the Council of Constantinople did just that.
An excellent example of the critique of insistence on theological precision can be found in the case of Eunomius. A fierce opponent of the term homoousios and its theological implications, Eunomius turned his considerable intellectual skills to the refutation of the Nicene doctrine. At times he saw considerable success, but ultimately his theology failed to satisfy even sympathetic non-Nicenes. [66] Eunomius insisted on precision of theological language above all else. [67] His confidence in the ability of humans to know God and in the ability of human language to describe God drove his approach to theological questions. [68] His insistence upon precision (akribeia) would ultimately be the source of his failure. To his opponents, his akribeia suggested an arrogant self-confidence. They found this approach all the more troubling since they believed that Eunomius’ theology diminished Christ’s divinity. [69] Thus Eunomius’ theological method arguably diminished the Son while appearing to elevate Eunomius himself. This gave his critics considerable ammunition to use against him. But even his allies, who were in the process of trying to find an alternative to the formula of Nicaea, found that his relentless drive for akribeia lacked the flexibility necessary for the task. [70] The Cappadocians would ultimately respond to this type of theological argument with a strong insistence that the ontological distance between God and human beings meant that God was essentially unknowable outside his self-revelation. Gregory of Nyssa offers a statement representative of this conviction:
The simplicity of the True Faith assumes God to be that which he is, viz., incapable of being grasped by any term, or any idea, or any other device of our apprehension, remaining beyond the reach not only of the human but of the angelic and of all supramundane intelligence, unthinkable, unutterable, above all expression in words … [71]
In short, for the Cappadocians, God was not susceptible to human attempts at akribeia. [72] Ephrem the Syrian would take a different approach to the “Arian” theology he confronted. He derided Arian speculation as a grave theological concern. [73] In its place he offered a relentless stream of biblical imagery carefully directed toward upholding Nicene theology. [74] He took the route of poetical image over logical argument and, in doing so, left his unique stamp on the Syriac literary tradition. In the theological battle for hearts and minds, the ostensibly arrogant self-confidence and tireless pursuit of precision that characterized Eunomius’ theology would ultimately fail to capture people’s imagination. This kind of theologian could effectively be labeled a technician (technologos), one with a deft ability for argument but lacking the true Christian spirit necessary for theological understanding. [75]
In the Nicene examples discussed here, the authors engaged their audiences with the idea of simplicity and human shortcoming as one means of offering their preferred position as the correct position. None of these authors could be described as a simpleton, however. Indeed, the polemic against non-Nicenes was anything but anti-intellectual. The theological debates of the fourth century contained sophisticated and erudite argumentation on all sides of the issues. While the ideas and arguments were not at all simple, the rhetoric of simplicity tapped into a common expectation that the truth was straightforward. A complicated position, on the other hand, could bear the taint of deception or outright hubris. Speculative thought and prying into mysteries suggested tricks designed to lead astray the pure of heart, who would otherwise naturally find the simple truth satisfactory.
This description of the rhetoric of simplicity, however, raises questions. Is the idea merely rhetorical, actually hiding a reality that remains rather different? In other words, is simplicity really the deceptive position that masks its lie behind a false humility and a veneer of self-evident truth? On the one hand, these questions must receive an answer in the affirmative. This “simplicity” is not at all simple. On the other hand, in a certain qualified sense, those employing the rhetoric of simplicity were espousing self-evident truths. At least they were able to articulate an effective rhetoric of common sense, simplicity being a key component of this rhetorical presentation. In the case of Theodore’s catechetical sermons, the rhetoric of simplicity joined other themes to construct what he presented as self-evident truth.

Sharing the Mind of the Community

We have seen Theodore’s appeals to scripture and church tradition as means of legitimating his message. It remains to discuss another way in which Theodore argued for the self-evident nature of his teaching. In conjunction with his appeals to texts, individuals, and traditions that had authority within his Christian community, Theodore consistently asserted that the content of his sermons was true as a matter of necessity. Scores of times throughout his teaching on the creed, terms suggesting the necessary or essential nature of the point Theodore asserts recur. The majority of these terms derive from the roots wlā (ܘܠܐ‎), zdq (ܙܕܩ‎), and špr (ܫܦܪ‎). [76]
The root wlā pertains to what is right or what ought to be the case. [77] The most common form of the term used in the catechesis is the abstract noun wāliṭā (ܘܠܝܬܐ‎). [78] It usually introduces a phrase whose meaning is assumed or which is presented as being necessarily true. The root zdq is used similarly. This root means “it is right, it ought, it is due.” [79] The form appearing in the catechesis means “to justify” or “to declare righteous.” This verb generally occurs in this forensic sense for the purpose of describing one aspect of Christian salvation. [80] The catechesis uses the root in this forensic sense only on occasion. It appears most often to present an assertion as simply right or correct, true as a matter of necessity. Forms of špr also appear. The basic root meaning, “to be beautiful, pleasing,” is rarely the intended one. [81] Rather, the sense it often conveys is that something is right or appropriate. While we do not have the original Greek text of Theodore’s sermons, we can compare similar constructions in extant Greek texts by Theodore. Theodore’s commentaries on the Psalms and Minor Prophets regularly use the Greek terms anagkaiōs (ἀναγκαίως), anagkē (ἀνάγκη), dei (δεῖ), kalos (καλός), dikaios (δίκαιος), dikaiōs (δικαίως), prepon (πρέπον), and eikotōs (εἰκότως) in a similar fashion. We can safely assume that similar constructions lie behind the Syriac we have.
In the context of discussing baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Theodore asserts that, “It was necessary [zaḍeq] for those who had rejected false gods and learned that Divine nature was one, eternal and the cause of everything, which is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to receive through these names the gift of baptism which is bestowed for the sake of a wonderful happiness and is the earnest of the future and ineffable benefits.” [82] Theodore cannot actually provide a proof here. Rather, the necessity is something he simply asserts, expecting his students to adopt the position he puts forward. Similarly, he declares that “He is rightly [bwāliṭā] called the first-born of all the creatures, because He was first renewed, and then He renewed the creatures, while He is higher in honor than all of them.” [83]
As we saw with his pedagogical language, the expressions concerning things that Theodore wants to present as obviously true also pile up upon one another. He declares:
Since they took pains to teach us concerning His humanity, it is with justice [bwāliṭā] that before everything they set forth the reason for which Divine nature humbled itself to the extent of taking upon itself the form of a servant for us and of its caring for our salvation. It is with justice [bwāliṭā], therefore, that our Fathers, in beginning their teaching concerning the Economy of His humanity, formed the starting-point of their discourse from this purpose: For us children of men and for our salvation. It was also fitting [špir] on their part to place the words “for our salvation” after the words “for us children of men,” in order that they might show the aim of His coming. [84]
With this kind of repetition, Theodore sought to leave the impression that the doctrine of the creed simply flowed naturally from one point to the next.
Theodore presented the teaching in his catechetical sermons as having many sources of authority. He repeatedly emphasized that scripture, tradition, and creedal statements coalesced to substantiate his preaching. He also made sure to present his lessons with the clarity and simplicity required of true wisdom. In case these more nuanced approaches failed to convince, Theodore resorted to attacking anyone who held a position at odds with his teaching. He attacked the adherents of contrary positions by insisting that they had depraved minds. In the context of explaining why the creed uses some language not found in scripture, Theodore declares:
To those who have goodwill in religion the words written in the sacred Books would have been sufficient; these have been written also in the teaching of our blessed Fathers, who, however, because there are no adequate words easily to convince an evil mind, added of necessity to their teaching a statement which they chose in order to warn the children of the faith and refute the error of the heretics. [85]
This statement is designed to remove the charge of tampering with biblical teaching. Nevertheless, the implication for the hearers was clear. If they failed to agree, theirs were the evil minds. The simplicity of scripture’s teaching and the careful guidance of the creed should be enough to satisfy the catechumens. Elsewhere, Theodore explicitly connected this theme with his emphasis on Christian teaching being simple when he said,
but the measure of what we said was considered by us to be sufficient to all those who possess goodwill in religion, because to those who have an unwilling mind, even a long discourse will be of no avail, while to those who possess a good will a short discourse will suffice for the demonstration of the truth, when (this discourse) is drawn from the testimony of holy scripture. [86]
Theodore often urged his catechumens to be of good will in religion. [87] He emphasized that simplicity sufficed for the true and willing believer, while the double-minded person, the one who insisted on speculation and prying into mysteries, would never be satisfied. Of course, this was a common tactic in fourth-century theological polemic. In this situation where theological opponents shared a biblical text, they often spoke past one another in interpreting that text. They simply failed to grasp the theological vision that drove the interpretive method of their opponents. Such cases left a palpable sense that those on the other side of the theological divide were under a sinister, demonic influence. Their problem was an evil mind (kakonoia, κακονοία) as opposed to a good mind or will (eunoia, εὐνοία). [88] Eunomius used language very similar to Theodore’s when he responded to the allegations of Basil of Caesarea, exclaiming “But these people really ought to give up! They have neither perceived the difference in the beings with wholesome eyes nor have they shown themselves right-minded judges of the actual objects—Judgment has hidden the truth from them on account of their ill-will.” [89] Theodore introduces this commonplace of theological polemic into his catechetical classroom in order to preempt any abhorrent views from gaining traction among the candidates. This rhetoric was designed to leave the strong perception that those outside the community into which these candidates were about to be baptized were wholly other, not simply Christians of differing opinions but brazen heretics whose minds had been adversely affected by evil.
Theodore’s entire approach to teaching the creed can be understood as an attempt to teach the baptismal candidates how to have this good kind of mind. We have seen how Theodore gave great attention to pedagogical method and placed considerable emphasis on teaching in these sermons, not only his own teaching but also the teaching of Christ, the Fathers, and their creed. He tried to parse the teaching of the creed in a way his students would find manageable. For many his instruction would have been very intellectually abstract material. Even his approach of teaching it “little by little” may well have rendered those not given to abstract reasoning a difficult time, and this in spite of Theodore’s frequent repetition of key themes and language. Nevertheless, these sermons bear every mark of being delivered to a broad cross-section of society, not simply to an educated elite. Theodore does not engage in the heady intellectual discussion that forms the basis of Gregory of Nyssa’s so-called Great Catechism. [90] These sermons were very carefully constructed to avoid extraneous philosophical discussion and tedious use of technical terminology, which would have meant little to the majority of his audience. [91] Instead, we see an attempt to reach the full range of students Augustine had in mind when he wrote to the deacon Deogratias. [92] Theodore sought to produce likeminded members of a Christian community properly orientated toward God. This aim could not be served by the application of rigorous philosophical categories. Rather it called for a simple creed carefully explained.
As we saw in the introduction to the arrangement of Theodore’s teaching on the creed, he concluded his teaching with a communal and liturgical focus. [93] The teaching of the creed led directly to the recitation of the creed preceding baptism. These combined acts would initiate the candidates into full membership in the Christian community. The context of Theodore’s teaching was communal, with baptismal sponsors joining the candidates for these sermons. Theodore sometimes directed his preaching toward the sponsors, whom he hoped would join him in teaching the candidates by helping them to understand and memorize the creed. [94] Theodore thus employed the social ties involved in the process of catechesis to further engage the candidates and draw them more fully into the Christian community. These sponsors would continue to play a role in the process of initiation as the candidates approached baptism and the eucharist. The next chapter will take up Theodore’s teaching on these rites and consider the role they played in making heavenly citizens out of baptismal candidates.


[ back ] 1. On Theodore’s hermeneutical method, see chapter one.
[ back ] 2. On the theology of Theodore’s preaching on the creed, see Gerber 2000.
[ back ] 3. WS 5.24.
[ back ] 4. Frede 1999:55.
[ back ] 5. On attempts by Augustine and Shenoute to Christianize the late antique concept of spiritual beings, see Brown 1992a:94–95. For an interesting discussion of the ways in which Christians were susceptible to many of the attacks they made against pagans for worshipping lesser divine beings, see Frede 1999:60–68. Regarding saints and holy men, see Frank 2000; Rapp 1999:63–82.
[ back ] 6. On the application of the label “Arian” in ancient and modern treatments of non-Nicene theologians, see R. Williams 1987:1–22; and Lyman 1993.
[ back ] 7. Vaggione 2000.
[ back ] 8. Gregory of Nyssa Against Eunomius 1.176.
[ back ] 9. WS 5.55.
[ back ] 10. WS 5.63–64.
[ back ] 11. WS 5.29–30.
[ back ] 12. Against Apollinaris, PG 66:995.
[ back ] 13. WS 5.62–63.
[ back ] 14. WS 5.56. On the soteriological motivation of Theodore’s Christology, see Greer 1961:66–85.
[ back ] 15. WS 5.76–77.
[ back ] 16. WS 5.51.
[ back ] 17. WS 5.92.
[ back ] 18. WS 5.94–95.
[ back ] 19. WS 5.108. Of course, the non-Nicenes, employing a different notion of divinity, interpreted the mention of three names as distinguishing between three different essences and three different activities; see 2000:137.
[ back ] 20. WS 5.111–112.
[ back ] 21. WS 5.113–114.
[ back ] 22. WS 5.112.
[ back ] 23. For a more detailed treatment of Theodore’s teaching on the creed, which focuses on the question of whether or not Theodore was rightly condemned at Constantinople 553, see Gerber 2000.
[ back ] 24. Among the many works from varying perspectives, see Jugie 1935; Richard 1943; Devreesse 1948; and Sullivan 1951.
[ back ] 25. On the related notion of divine paideia in Theodore, see Becker 2006:112–125.
[ back ] 26. Hanson 1988; Gwynn 2007; R. Williams 1987; and Vaggione 2000.
[ back ] 27. Becker 2006:115.
[ back ] 28. Payne Smith 1879, 1:1599–1600; see the Peshitta of Matthew 28.20.
[ back ] 29. Payne Smith 1879, 1:1554–1558. The verb used in the catechesis takes the causative Aphel form.
[ back ] 30. Payne Smith 1879, 2:1954; see the Peshitta of Matthew 28.19.
[ back ] 31. WS 5.104n2.
[ back ] 32. Payne Smith 1879, 2:4183–4188. Again the Aphel recurs in the catechesis.
[ back ] 33. Mingana prefers “to hand down,” but often uses “to teach” as well.
[ back ] 34. Payne Smith 1879, 2:4193.
[ back ] 35. Payne Smith 1879, 2:1552.
[ back ] 36. WS 5.29; Homélies Catéchétiques 2.10r:
ܡܢ ܒܬܪ ܡ̈ܠܐ ܕܥܠ ܐܠܗܐ ܫܢܝܘ̣ ܠܘܬ ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܩܢ̈ܘܡܐ ܕܐܝܼܬܝܗ̇ ܬܘܕܝܼܬܐ ܫܪܝܪܬܐ ܕܗܝܡܢܘܬܐ ܕܟܪ̈ܣܛܝܵܢܹܐ ܘܝܕܥܬܐ ܫܪܝܪܬܐ ܕܐܝܠܝܢ ܕܠܡܫܝܚܵܐ ܡܬܬܠܡܕܝܼܢ. ܡܛܠ ܓܝܪ ܕܡܸܠܬܐ ܕܥܠ ܟܝܢܐ ܐܠܗܝܵܐ ܡܹܬܐܡܪܐ ܥܠ ܬܠܬܝܗܘܢ ܩܢܘ̈ܡܐ ܡܹܫܬܩܠܐ܇ ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܝܢ ܕܥܠ ܩܢܘܡ̈ܐ ܠܐ ܡܫܟܚܵܐ ܗܘ̣ܬ ܟܐܝܟ ܚܕ ܬܸܬܐܡܲܪ܆ ܒܘܠܝܬܐ ܥܠ ܚܕ ܚܕ ܡ̣ܢ ܩܢܘ̈ܡܹܐ ܐܝܠܝܢ ܕܙܕ̈ܩܢ ܦܪܫܘ ܘܡܠܠܘ ܥܡܢ. ܘܒܫܘܪܝܐ ܕܡܠܬܗܘܢ ܠܐܒܐ ܣܡܘ ܕܡܢܗ ܒܪܐ ܘܪܘܚܐ ܕܩܘ[ܕܫܐ]. ܐܒܐ ܓܝܪ ܡܫܪܪܐ ܗܢܐ ܐܝܬܘܗܝ̣ ܗܘ̇ ܕܒܠܚܘܕܘܗܝ ܐܝܬܘܗܝ ܐܒܐ. ܥܠ ܟܠ ܚܕ ܚܕ ܡܢ ܩܢܘ̈ܡܐ ܕܝܢ ܕܐܠܗܐܐܝܬܘܗܝ ܡܣܬܟܠܝܢܢ. ܡܛܠ ܕܝܘܠܦܢܐ ܗܢܐ ܫܪܝܼܪܐ ܒܬܘܕܝܼܬܐ ܕܗܢܘܢ ܩܢܘ̈ܡܐ ܐܫܠܹܡ ܡܫܝܚܐ.
[ back ] 37. WS 5.27.
[ back ] 38. WS 5.94.
[ back ] 39. WS 5.28.
[ back ] 40. WS 5.44.
[ back ] 41. WS 5.29.
[ back ] 42. WS 5.63; Homélies Catéchétiques 6.34r:
ܐܠܐ ܚܦܝܛܘܬܐ ܗܘܸܬ ܠܐܒܗ̈ܝܢ ܕܠܟܠܗܝܢ ܒܦܣ̈ܝܼܩܬܐ ܢܐܡܪܘܢ܆ ܕܗܘ̈ܝ ܦܫ̈ܝܼܩܢ ܠܝܘܠܦܢܐ ܕܫ̈ܡܘܥܐ ܘܓܡܝܪܐܝܬ ܚܕܐ ܚܕܐ ܡܢܗܝܢ. ܡ̣ܢ ܟܬܒ̈ܐ ܩܕܝܼܫ̈ܐ ܢ̣ܐܠܦ. ܗܢܘܢ ܕܝܢ ܒܡ̈ܠܐ ܙܥܘܪ̈ܝܬܐ ܠܗܝܡܢܘܬܐ ܐܟܬܸܒܘ ܘܠܚܡܘ. ܡܛܠ ܗܕܐ ܐܡ̣ܪܘ ܗ̇ܘ ܕܐܬܝܠܸܕ ܡ̣ܢ ܡܪܝܡ ܒܬܘܠܬܐ ܘܐܙܕܩܦ ܒܝܘܡ̈ܝ ܦܢܛܝܘܣ ܦܝܠܛܘܣ. ܐܡ̣ܪܘ ܪܫܐ ܘܫܘܠܡܐ ܕܡܕܒܪܢܘܬܐ ܕܚܠܦܝܢ. ܫܘܪܝܐ ܓܝܪ ܕܟܠܗ ܛܝܒܘܬܐ ܐܝܬܘܗܝ̣ ܝܠܕܗ ܕܡ̣ܢ ܡܪܝܡ. ܘܫܘܠܡܐ ܙܩܝܼܦܘܬܐ.
[ back ] 43. WS 5.62, 67.
[ back ] 44. WS 5.68–71.
[ back ] 45. WS 5.27; Homélies Catéchétiques 2.8v:
ܥܠ ܗܝܡܵܢܘܬܐ ܕܐܝܬܝܗ̇ ܫܬܐܣܬܐ ܕܪܫܐ ܕܬܘܕܝܼܬܐ ܕܕܚܠܸܬ ܐܠܗܐ ܠܘܬ ܚܘܒܟܘܢ ܐܝܟ ܕܝܗܒܸܬ ܠܢ ܛܝܒܘܬܐ ܘܠܝܐܝܬ ܐܬܡܠܝ̣ ܡܲܠܠܢܢ. ܘܐܬܩܪܒܢ ܠܘܬ ܡ̈ܠܸܐ ܕܝܘܠܦܢܐ ܕܗܝܡܢܘܬܢ ܘܚܘܝܢܢ. ܕܐܝܟܢܵܐ ܒܗܝܡܢܘܬܐ ܕܚܕ ܐܠܗܐ ܟܠܗ̇ ܛܘܥܝܝ ܕܣܓܝܐܘܬ ܐܠܗ̈ܐ ܕܥܡ̈ܡܐ ܓܡܝܪܐܝܬ ܡܹܬܛܠܩܐ.
[ back ] 46. WS 5.43; Homélies Catéchétiques 4.20r:
ܠܘܬ ܐܝܠܝܢ ܕܐܡܝܪ̈ܢ ܠܐܒ̈ܗܝܢ ܛܘܒ̈ܢܐ ܥܠ ܐܠܗܘܬܗ ܕܝܚܝܕܝܐ. ܐܬܡܠܝ ܐܝܟ ܚܝܠܢ ܐܬܩܪܹܒܢ. ܘܦܫܩܢ ܐܢ̈ܝܢ ܠܚܘܒܟܘܢ ܐܝܟ ܕܡܫܟܚܐ ܒܦܣ̈ܝܼܩܬܐ. ܟܕ ܢܛܲܪܢܢ ܠܝܘܡܐ ܐܚܪܢܐ ܫܪܟܢܗܝܢ.
[ back ] 47. WS 5.17.
[ back ] 48. Photius Bibliotheca 177.123a.
[ back ] 49. Mingana makes a fleeting remark about student comprehension in his introduction, WS 5.17.
[ back ] 50. One of two Greek phrases likely lies behind the Syriac qlil qlil: διὰ βραχέων and κατὰ μικρόν, both express a similar idea of something given out in small, manageable portions.
[ back ] 51. WS 5.72; Homélies Catéchétiques 7.40v–41r:
ܗܐ ܓܝܪ ܬܠܬܐ ܝܘܡܝܢ ܕܥܠ ܗܢܐ ܫܪܒܐ ܥܡ ܚܘܒܟܘܢ ܡܡܠܠ ܐܢܐ ܡܛܠ ܕܚܦܝܛܘܬܐ ܐܝܬ ܠܢ ܕܒܩܠܝܠ ܩܠܝܠ ܬܐܠܦܘܢ ܕܗܘ̣ܝܬܘܢ ܥܗܕܝܼܢ ܗ̇ܢ̈ܝ ܕܥܡܟܘܢ ܡܹܬܡ̈ܠܠܢ.
[ back ] 52. See the end of Homilies 1, 3, 5, 7, and 8.
[ back ] 53. WS 5.42–43; Homélies Catéchétiques 3.19v–20r:
ܐܠܐ ܥܠ ܡ̈ܠܐ ܣ̈ܓܝܐܬܐ ܡܣܬܢܩܝܢܢ ܐܢ ܟܠܗܝܢ ܗ̇ܢ̈ܝܢ ܕܥܠ ܐܠܗܘܬܗ ܕܝܚܝܕܝܐ ܠܐܒܗ̈ܝܢ ܛܘܒ̈ܢܐ ܐܡܝܪܢ ܕܢܦܫܩ ܓܡܝܪܐܝܬ ܢܨܒܐ. ܕܠܐ ܕܝܢ ܗܠܝܢ ܕܡܹܬܐܡܪ̈ܢ ܒܣܓܝܐܬܐ ܢܐܩܪ̈ܢ ܥܠܝܟܘܢ ܩܠܝܠ ܩܠܝܠ ܒܘܠܝܬܐ ܡܲܣܪܚܝܢܢ ܠܟܘܢ܇ ܕܬܫܟܚܘܢ ܬܸܫܡܥܘܢ ܘܬܐܠܦܘܢ ܐܢ̈ܝܢ. ܗܪܟܐ ܗܟܝܠ ܢܥܒܕ ܫܘܠܡܵܐ ܐܢ ܨܒܝܢ ܐܢܬܘܢ ܠܗܠܝܢ ܕܝܘܡܢܐ ܐܬܡܲܠܠ. ܘܐܝܠܝܢ ܕܢܩ̈ܦܢ ܠܗܠܝܢ ܕܐܬܐܡܪ ܢܲܛܪ ܐܢ̈ܝܢ. ܠܝܘܡܐ ܐܚܪܢܐ. ܥܠ ܟܠܗܝܢ ܕܝܢ ܫܘܒܚܐ ܢ̇ܣܩ ܠܐܠܗܐ ܐܒܐ܇ ܘܠܒܪܐ ܝܚܝܕܝܐ܇ ܘܠܪܘܚܐ ܕܩܘܕܫܐ܇ ܗܫܐ ܘܒܟܠܙܒܢ ܘܠܥܠܡ ܥܠܡܝܢ ܐܡܝܢ܀
[ back ] 54. WS 5.26; Homélies Catéchétiques 1.8r:
ܐܠܐ ܡܛܠ ܕܙܕܩ ܕܒܩܠܝܠ ܩܠܝܼܠ ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܟܠ ܡܸܕܡ ܠܡܩܪܒܘ ܠܟܘܢ܆ ܕܬܸܫܟܚܘܢ ܐܦ ܠܡܬܥܗܕܘ ܐܢܝ̈ܢ ܠܐܝܠܝܢ ܕܥܡܟܘܢ ܡܬܡ̈ܠܠܢ܇ ܗܠܝܢ ܓܝܪ ܐܦ ܡܬ݂ܒܵܥܝܵܢ ܠܟܠܗܘܢ ܐܝܠܝܢ ܕܠܡܸܫܬܘܬܦܘ ܩܐܪ̈ܙܐ ܡ̇ܛܝܒܝܢ܆ ܐܝܠܝܢ ܕܢܩܝܦܝܢ ܠܗܠܝܢ ܕܐܹܬܐܡܪ
[ back ] 55. WS 5.82, translation mine; Homélies Catéchétiques 8.47v:
ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܥܠ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܡܪܢ ܢ̣ܩܦܐܝܬ ܐܝܟ ܡܲܫܠܡܢܘܬܐ ܕܐܒܗ̈ܝܢ ܛܘ̈ܒܢܐ܆ ܣܵܦܩܐܝܬ ܒܗܠܝܢ ܝܘܡ̈ܬܐ ܕܥܒ̣ܪܘ ܠܘܬ ܚܘܒܟܘܢ ܡ̇ܠܠܢܢ܆ ܕܝܠܟܘܢ ܗܝ̣ ܡܟܝܠ ܕܗܘܝܸܬܘܢ ܥܵܗܕܝܼܢ ܗܢ̈ܝܢ ܕܥܡܟܘܢ ܒܒܛܝܼܠܘܬܐ ܣܓܝܐܬܐ ܐܹܬܡܲܠܠ.
[ back ] 56. WS 5.72; Homélies Catéchétiques 6.40v:
ܐܠܐ ܣܒܪܢܐ ܕܥܒܪ̈ܢ ܠܡܫܘܚܬܐ ܕܘܵܠܝܼܬܐ ܗܠܝܢ ܕܐܬܡܲܠܠ ܟܕ ܗܢ̈ܝܢ ܡ̈ܠܐ ܕܡܕܒܪܢܘܬܐ ܕܛܝܒܘܬܐ ܕܡܫܝܼܚܵܐ ܒܗܠܝܢ ܠܢ ܐܫܬܠܡ.
[ back ] 57. WS 5.72; Homélies Catéchétiques 6.40v:
ܡܕܝܢ ܕܠܐ ܐܢܬܘܢ ܬܩܒܠܘܢ ܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܠܐ ܓܡܝܪܐ܇ ܘܠܐ ܚܢܢ ܢܘܩܪ ܥܠܝܟܘܢ ܒܣܘܓܵܐܐ ܕܡ̈ܠܐ܆ ܠܝܘܡܐ ܐܚܪܢܐ ܐܢ ܡܲܦܣ ܐܠܗܐ ܢܛܪ ܗ̈ܢܝܢ ܕܢܩ̈ܦܢ ܠܗ̈ܢܝܢ ܕܐܬܐܡܲܪ. ܘܢܫܦܩ ܗܫܐ ܠܗܢ̈ܝܢ ܕܝܘܡܢܐ ܐܬܡܲܠܠ. ܘܢܣܒܩ ܬܫܒܘܚܬܐ ܠܐܒܐ ܘܠܒܪܐ ܘܠܪܘܚܐ ܕܩܘܕܫܵܐ܆ ܗܫܐ ܘܒܟܠܙܒܢ ܘܠܥܠܡ ܥܠܡܝܢ ܐܡܝܢ܀
[ back ] 58. Romans 1.20–23: εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἀναπολογήτους·διότι γνόντες τὸν θεὸν οὐχ ὡς θεὸν ἐδόξασαν ἢ ηὐχαρίστησαν, ἀλλ’ ἐματαιώθησαν ἐν τοῖς διαλογισμοῖς αὐτῶν καὶ ἐσκοτίσθη ἡ ἀσύνετος αὐτῶν καρδία. φάσκοντες εἶναι σοφοὶ ἐμωράνθησαν, καὶ ἤλλαξαν τὴν δόξαν τοῦ ἀφθάρτου θεοῦ ἐν ὁμοιώματι εἰκόνος φθαρτοῦ ἀνθρώπου καὶ πετεινῶν καὶ τετραπόδων καὶ ἑρπετῶν.
[ back ] 59. 1 Corinthians 1.25: ὅτι τὸ μωρὸν τοῦ θεοῦ σοφώτερον τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐστίν, καὶ τὸ ἀσθενὲς τοῦ θεοῦ ἰσχυρότερον τῶν ἀνθρώπων.
[ back ] 60. 1 Corinthians 2.1–5: Κἀγὼ ἐλθὼν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, ἦλθον οὐ καθ’ ὑπεροχὴν λόγου ἢ σοφίας καταγγέλλων ὑμῖν τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ. οὐ γὰρ ἔκρινά τι εἰδέναι ἐν ὑμῖν εἰ μὴ Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν καὶ τοῦτον ἐσταυρωμένον. κἀγὼ ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ καὶ ἐν φόβῳ καὶ ἐν τρόμῳ πολλῷ ἐγενόμην πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ ὁ λόγος μου καὶ τὸ κήρυγμά μου οὐκ ἐν πειθοῖ[ς] σοφίας [λόγοις] ἀλλ’ ἐν ἀποδείξει πνεύματος καὶ δυνάμεως, ἵνα ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν μὴ ᾖ ἐν σοφίᾳ ἀνθρώπων ἀλλ’ ἐν δυνάμει θεοῦ.
[ back ] 61. Shepherd of Hermas 23.6: Πιστεύσατε τῷ κυρίῳ, οἱ δίψυχοι, ὅτι πάντα δύναται καὶ ἀποστρέφει τὴν ὀργὴν αὐτοῦ ἀφ’ ὑμῶν καὶ ἐξαποστέλλει μάστιγας ὑμῖν τοῖς διψύχοις. οὐαὶ τοῖς ἀκούσασιν τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα καὶ παρακούσασιν· αἱρετώτερον ἦν αὐτοῖς τὸ μὴ γεννηθῆναι.
[ back ] 62. Shepherd of Hermas 15.1: δοκοῦντες οὖν βελτίονα ὁδὸν δύνασθαι εὑρεῖν, πλανῶνται καὶ ταλαιπωροῦσιν περιπατοῦντες ἐν ταῖς ἀνοδίαις.
[ back ] 63. Shepherd of Hermas 19.6–7: οὐδὲ κολληθήσῃ ἐκ ψυχῆς σου μετὰ ὑψηλῶν, ἀλλὰ μετὰ δικαίων καὶ ταπεινῶν ἀναστραφήση. Τὰ συμβαίνοντά σοι ἐνεργήματα ὡς ἀγαθὰ προσδέξῃ, εἰδὼς ὅτι ἄνευ θεοῦ οὐδὲν γίνεται. Οὐκ ἔση διγνώμων οὐδὲ δίγλωσσος·παγὶς γὰρ θανάτου ἐστὶν ἡ διγλωσσία.
[ back ] 64. For the range of approaches to simplicity in the lives of saints, see Rubenson 2000.
[ back ] 65. See, for example, WS 5.60, 62.
[ back ] 66. Vaggione 2000:147.
[ back ] 67. Eunomius Liber apologeticus 7.15; Apologia apologiae 2.284–285.
[ back ] 68. Gregory of Nyssa Against Eunomius 1.162.
[ back ] 69. Gregory of Nyssa Against Eunomius 1.186.
[ back ] 70. Vaggione 2000:91.
[ back ] 71. Gregory of Nyssa Against Eunomius 1.638: ἡ γὰρ ἁπλότης τῶν τῆς ἀληθείας δογμά τῶν τὸν θεὸν ὅπερ ἐστὶν ὑποτίθεται, οὔτε ὀνόματι οὔτε διανοήματι οὔτε τινὶ ἄλλῃ καταληπτικῇ ἐπινοίᾳ περιληφθῆναι δυνάμενον, οὐ μόνον ἀνθρωπίνης, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀγγελικῆς καὶ πάσης ὑπερκοσμίου καταλήψεως ὑψηλότερον μένοντα, ἄφραστόν τε καὶ ἀνεκφώνητον καὶ πάσης τῆς διὰ λόγων σημασίας ἀνώτερον …
[ back ] 72. Vaggione 2000:265.
[ back ] 73. Hymns on Faith 15.7: “Whoever makes ‘inquiry’ is a wounded member; may he be healed and not harm the whole body! And because he is poisoned, may the Healer of our pains cut him off and cast him out from the pasture!” Translation from Murray 1975:89.
[ back ] 74. Though nearly forty years old, Murray 1975 remains the classic treatment of the theological symbolism in Aphrahat and Ephrem.
[ back ] 75. Vaggione 2000:93.
[ back ] 76. Other terms with similar meanings also occur, though with much less frequency in the commentary on the creed. See, for example, ܡܬܒܥܐ‎, WS 5.185; ܦܐܝ‎, WS 5.137; ܢܩܝܦܐܝܬ‎, WS 5.228; ܚܫܚ‎, WS 5.196; ܝܐܐ‎, WS 5.152; and ܐܠܨܐܝܬ‎, WS 5.226.
[ back ] 77. Payne Smith 1879, 1:1083–1084.
[ back ] 78. This usually appears in an adverbial sense with a prefixed ܒ. Several times the translator also employed the adverbial form from the same root, ܘܠܝܐܝܬ‎.
[ back ] 79. Payne Smith 1879, 1:1062–1063.
[ back ] 80. For example, see the Peshitta of Romans 4.
[ back ] 81. Payne Smith 1879, 2:4272–4273. Mingana translates it alternatively as ‘’it is right,’’ “is it fitting,” or “it is with justice.”
[ back ] 82. WS 5.111–112; Homélies Catéchétiques 10.67v:
ܙ̇ܕܩ ܗܘ̣ܐ ܓܝܪ ܕܗ̇ܢܘܢ ܕܐܬܪܚܩܘ ܡ̣ܢ ܐܠܗ̈ܐ ܕܕܓܠܘܬܐ܆ ܘܝܠܸܦܘ ܕܚܕ ܗ̣ܘ ܟܝܢܐ ܐܠܗܝܐ ܗ̇ܘ ܕܡ̣ܢ ܡܬܘܡ ܐܝܬܘܗܝ܇ ܘܗܘܹܝܘ ܥܠܬܐ ܕܟܠܡܕܡ. ܕܐܝܬܘܗܝ ܐܒܐ ܘܒܪܐ ܘܪܘܚܐ ܕܩܘܕܫܐ܇ ܒܗ̇ܢܘܢ ܫܡ̈ܗܐ ܠܡܩܟܠܘ̣ ܡܘܗܒܬܐ ܕܡܥܡܘܕܝܼܬܐ ܕܡܬܝܗܒܐ ܠܒܘܣܡܐ ܬܡܝܼܗܐ܇ ܘܠܪܗܒܘܢܐ ܕܛܒ̈ܬܐ ܕܥܬܝ̈ܕܢ ܘܠܐ ܡܹܬܡ̈ܠܠܢ܇
[ back ] 83. WS 5.39; Homélies Catéchétiques 3.17r:
ܒܘܠܝܬܐ ܗܟܝܠ ܒܘܟܪܐ ܕܟܠܗܝܢ ܒܪ̈ܝܬܐ ܡܹܬܩܪܸܐ܆ ܡܛܐ ܕܗ̣ܘ ܩܕܡܝܬ ܐܬܚܲܕܬ ܘܗܝܕܝܢ ܠܒܪܝܬܐ ܚܕܬ. ܟܕ ܡܥܠܝ ܒܐܝܼܩܪܐ ܡ̣ܢ ܟܠܗܝܢ.
[ back ] 84. WS 5.52; Homélies Catéchétiques 5.26v:
ܡܛܠ ܕܝܢ ܕܐܬܚܦܛܘ ܠܡܠܦܘܬܢ ܥܠ ܐܢܫܘܬܗ. ܩܕܡ ܟܠ ܡܕܡ ܒܘܠܝܼܬܐ ܥܠܬܐ ܐܡ̣ܪܘ ܕܡܛܠܬܗ̇ ܗܢܐ ܟܠܗ ܐܬܬܚܬܝ ܟܝܢܐ ܐܠܗܝܐ. ܡܛܠܬܢ ܠܡ ܓܝܪ ܘܡܛܠ ܕܒܛܝܼܠ ܠܗ ܥܠ ܦܘܪܩܢܢ. ܕܡܘܬܐ ܕܥܒ̣ܕܐ ܫܩ̣ܠ. ܒܘܠܝܼܬܐ ܗܟܝܠ ܐܦ ܐܒ̈ܗܝܢ. ܟܕ ܡܫܪܝܢ ܒܡܠܦܢܘܬܐ ܕܥܠ ܡܕܒܪܢܘܬܐ ܕܐܢܫܘܬܗ܇ ܡܢ ܥܠܬܐ ܥܒܕܘ ܫܘܪܝܐ ܠܡܼܠܲܬܗܘܢ. ܗ̇ܘ ܠܡ .ܕܡܛܠܬܢ ܒܢܝܢ̈ܫܐ. ܘܡܛܠ ܦܘܪܩܢܢ. ܘܫܦܝܼܪ ܗܝ ܕܡܛܠ ܦܘܪܩܢܢ ܒܬܪ ܗ̇ܝ ܕܡܛܠܬܢ ܒܢܝܢ̈ܫܐ ܣܝܼܡܵܐ. ܠܐ ܗ̣ܘܐ ܗܕܐ ܕܡܛܠ ܒܢ̈ܝܢܫܐ ܒܠܚܘܕ ܐܠܐ ܐܦ ܢܝܼܫܐ ܕܡܹܐܬܝܬܗ ܢܘܕܥܘܢ.
[ back ] 85. WS 5.104; Homélies Catéchétiques 10.62r–62v:
ܠܐܝܠܝܢ ܗܟܝܠ ܕܨܒܝܢܐ ܛܒܐ ܒܕܚܠܸܬ ܐܠܗܐ ܐܝܼܬ ܠܗܘܢ. ܣ̇ܦܩ̈ܢ ܗܘ̈ܝ ܐܝܠܝܢ ܕܐܡܝܼܪ̈ܢ ܒܟܬܒ̈ܐ ܩܕܝܫ̈ܐ. ܐܬܬܣܝܡ ܕܝܢ ܐܦ ܒܡܫܠܡܵܢܘܬܐ ܕܐܒ̈ܗܝܢ ܛܘ̈ܒܢܐ. ܡܛܠ ܕܝܢ ܕܠܝܬ ܡܠܬܐ ܕܣܵܦܩܐ ܕܠܝܠܐܝܬ ܠܡܲܦܣܘ ܠܬܪܥܝܼܬܐ ܒܝܼܫܬܐ ܐܠܨܵܐܝܬ ܐܘܣܦܘ ܡܕܡ ܕܝܵܕܥܝܼܢ ܗܘ̣ܘ ܠܡܠܦܢܘܬܗܘܢ܇ ܠܙܘܗܪܐ ܕܒܢܝ ܗܝܡܵܢܘܬܐ ܘܠܒܘܛܠܐ ܕܪܘܫܥܐ ܕܗܪ̈ܣܝܘܛܐ܇
[ back ] 86. WS 5.62; Homélies Catéchétiques 5.33v:
ܐܠܐ ܣܦܩܸܬ ܠܢ ܡܫܘܚܬܐ ܕܗ̈ܢܝܢ ܕܐܡܪ̈ܢ ܠܐܝܠܝܢ ܕܨܒܝܢܐ ܛܒܐ ܒܕܚܠܸܬ ܐܠܗܐ ܐܝܼܬ ܠܗܘܢ. ܠܬܪܥܝܼܬܐ ܓܝܪ ܛܠܘܡܬܐ. ܐܦܠܐ ܣܓܝܐܘܬܐ ܕܡ̈ܠܐ ܕܡܬܐܡܪ̈ܢ ܡܘܬܪ̈ܢ ܡܕܡ. ܠܨܒܝܢܐ ܕܝܢ ܛܒܐ ܣܦܘܢ ܐܢܝ̈ܢ ܠܗ̣ ܐܦ ܡ̈ܠܐ ܙܥܘܿܪܝܵܬܐ ܠܬܚܘܝܼܬܐ ܕܫܪܪܐ. ܐܡܬܝ ܕܡ̣ܢ ܣܗܕܘܬܐ ܕܟܬܒ̈ܐ ܩܕ̈ܝܫܐ ܢܬܐܡܪ̈ܢ.
[ back ] 87. This translates the Syriac ܨܒܝܢܐ ܛܒܐ ܒܕܚܠܬ ܐܠܗܐ‎. Often translated as “religion,” ܕܚܠܬ ܐܠܗܐ‎ literally means “fear of God”; see Payne Smith 1879, 1:864. This Syriac phrase often translates Greek theosebeia or eusebeia, meaning “piety or reverence.” Theodore uses the term in a parallel passage extant in Greek (Commentary on the Psalms 45.16): “At any rate, for the one willing there is no difficulty in grasping the respect shown to the leaders of the churches, not only by their own, but also by those opposed to the teaching of the true religion [eusebeias], who think them worthy of well-nigh complete reverence.”
[ back ] 88. Vaggione 2000:90.
[ back ] 89. Liber apologeticus 23.1–4: Ἀλλ’ οὗτοι μὲν μηθ’ ὑγιαίνουσιν ὀφθαλμοῖς τὴν τῶν ὄντων κατανενοηκότες διαφοράν, μήτε δίκαιοι κριταὶ γενόμενοι τῶν πραγμάτων ἀφιέσθωσαν, διὰ κακόνοιαν ἐπικρυπτούσης αὐτοῖς τὴν ἀλήθειαν τῆς δίκης.
[ back ] 90. Although this treatise bears the name “catechism,” it has little resemblance to the lessons intended to introduce Christianity to those in the process of converting and pursuing baptism. Rather this treatise is a philosophical discourse intended for monks studying theology. Lim (1995:164–171) takes this as paradigmatic of catechesis, which is highly misleading.
[ back ] 91. There has been considerable debate on the subject of preaching and the composition of the late antique audience for preaching. For the view that late antique preaching was predominately, if not exclusively, directed towards elites, see MacMullen 1989. For a vigorous and compelling position to the contrary, see Maxwell 2006.
[ back ] 92. See discussion in chapter two.
[ back ] 93. WS 5.111–116.
[ back ] 94. WS 5.21.