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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Jesus Christ and Creation — Apocalypse of John 3:14, part three

b-greek discussion in 2001 includes a post from  James D. Ernest, Ph.D. an early church historian and editor for Baker Academic. J. Ernest give's an on the fly translation of Didymus, Commentarii in Zacchariam 1.153-154. I found his comments quite helpful so I though it would be good to post the text of Didymus along with his provisional translation and comments.

         Καὶ παράδοξον οὐδὲν εἰ
παντοκράτωρ ἐκ παντοκράτορός ἐστιν· καὶ γὰρ Θεὸς ἐκ Θεοῦ
καὶ φῶς ἐκ φωτός ἐστιν. Ὁμοούσιος γὰρ ὢν τῷ γεννήσαντι καὶ
ἓν ὢν πρὸς τὸν γεννήσαντα κατὰ τό· «Ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ἕν
ἐσμεν», πάντα ὅσ̣α ἔχει ὁ Πατὴρ τοῦ Υἱοῦ ἐστιν. Ἔχει δ' ὁ
Πατὴρ τὸ Θεός, τὸ φῶς, τὸ ἅγιος, [τ]ὸ παντοκράτωρ εἶναι. Τοῦ 
Υἱοῦ δ' ἐστὶν ταῦτα. Παντοκράτωρ ἄρα ἐκ παντοκράτορος ὁ Υἱός,
παμβασιλεὺς ἐκ τοῦ πάντων βασιλεύοντος ὑπάρχων. Ἀναντιρ-
ρήτως ἐν Ἰωάννου Ἀποκαλύψει παντοκράτωρ ὁ Σωτὴρ ὁμολο-
γεῖται, αὐτοῦ περὶ ἑαυτοῦ οὕτω λέγοντος· «Τάδε λέγει ὁ μάρτυς
ὁ πιστός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ
ἐρχόμενος, Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ὁ παντοκράτωρ.»
τωρ ὢν ὁ ταῦτα λέγων οὐ κτίσμα τυγχάνει, ἵνα μὴ καὶ ἑαυτοῦ
κρατῇ. Παράλογον γὰρ τοῦτο, τὸν αὐτὸν εἶναι κτίζοντα καὶ κτι-
ζόμενον ὑφ' ἑαυτοῦ, καὶ βασιλεύοντα καὶ κρατούμενον· εἰ καὶ
λέγεται δὲ ἐν τῇ παραλημφθείσῃ φωνῇ «ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ
Θεοῦ» ὁ θεολογούμενος, ὡς βασιλικῶς ἄρχων καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦτο
παντοκράτωρ ὤν, ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεώς ἐστιν, βασιλεία δηλονότι
[ἡ]γεμονοῦσα καὶ ἡγουμένη πάντων κτισμάτων.

Commentary and translation by James D. Ernest:

I don't remember Rev 3:14 coming up in Athanasian texts I've read from the Arian controversy, where Prov 8:22 κύριος ἔκτισέν με ἀρχὴν ὁδῶν αὐτοῦ εἰς ἔργα αὐτοῦ was much belabored because it seems to say quite explicitly that God created Wisdom (the speaker in this verse, identified by Arians and anti-Arians alike with the Word, i.e., the pre-incarnate Christ).

But the Rev text at least had the potential to be so interpreted.  See Didymus, Commentarii in Zacchariam 1.153-154.  I'm not familiar with this commentary and don't have time to dig too much in it now--just popped it up in the TLG search.  But Didymus (a stoutly anti-Arian fourth-century biblical scholar at Alexandria) seems to be tracking the phrase kyrios pantokratwr in Zech 2:13.  He quotes the Rev text and seems to be worried about an Arian construal of it.  He says (pardon the sloppy on-the-fly translation-cum-transliteration):  "And it is not strange (paradoxon) if he is pantokratwr ek pantokratoros; for he is also God from God and light from light.  For being homoousios with the begetter and being one with the begetter (hen wn pros ton gennesanta), according to the [verse that says] I and the father are one, whatever things the father has belong to the son. For it belongs to the father to be light, holy, [and] pantokratwr.  And these things belong to the son.  So then the son is pantokratwr ek pantokratoros, being pambasileus from the one who rules over all things. Without contradiction (anantirrhetws) in the Revelation of John the son is Savior is confessed to be pantokratwr, himself saying about himself, "These things says the faithful witness, the arche of the creation of God, the one who is and was and is to come, the Lord God pantokratwr."  Being pantokratwr, the one who says these things is not created (ou ktisma), lest he rule also over himself.  For that would be strange (paralogon), for the same one to be creating and being created by himself, and reigning and being ruled.  Even if the sacred writer says in the text that has been handed down to us "arche of the creation of God", he is the arche of creation as ruling royally (hws basikikwv archwn), a reign (basileia)that has precedence (hegemonousa kai hegoumene) over all created things."

--The good old days, when the best exegetes could also be counted on to be careful theologians!  But maybe that's still the case, no?

I will probably have more to say about this in a later post.


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