Preface on the Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews
This volume completes the series of St. Chrysostom's Homilies on the New Testament. Translated a quarter of a century ago by the Rev. T. Keble, Vicar of Bisley, and revised with great labor in the use of the then existing editions by his brother, the Vicar of Hursley, it was thought best to delay the publication until Dr. Field had completed the long-delayed publication of the Greek Text. This appeared in 1862.
The editing of the text of St. Chrysostom's Homilies is attended with peculiar difficulties. Written sermons, 1 if ever preached in those days, were the exception. Those which have been preserved to us have been generally taken down by some hearer. St. Augustine afterwards revised his, when brought to him for the purpose. In the case of St. Chrysostom's Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, as well as of the present volume, there are two distinct text still extant: that originally taken down by the short-hand writer, and another, when this had been polished and made neat at a subsequent time. Dr. Field's great labor then in the Greek Text of the present volume had been to restore the older form of these Homilies. He had ample material, both in Greek mss., in a Catena published not many years ago by our Dr. Cramer, Principal of New Inn Hall, which exhibit the older text (the former half of a second Catena, compiled by Niketas, 2 Archbishop of Heraclea in Thrace in the eleventh century, and published by the same Dr. Cramer, appears to use both); and, of yet more importance, in Latin versions.
Cassiodorus, an Italian, who lived about 150 years after St. Chrysostom, in the earlier part of his treatise, de Institutione Divinarum Litterarum, cap. 8 (opp. t. ii. p. 543, ed. Rotom. 1679) in describing a volume of St. Paul's Epistles, in which 13 of the Epistles had a good commentary, goes on, "But in regard to the Epistle to the Hebrews which St. John Bishop of Constantinople treated of in Greek in 34 homilies, we have caused Mutianus, a most eloquent man, to translate them into Latin, that the order of the Epistles might not be unduly broken off."
To Cassiodorus then we own the Latin version of Mutianus which has come down to us, and which, translated from the older form of text, has been a great assistance in the editing. It is often quoted in the foot-notes. In p. 167 there is also given an extract from the 13th Homily by Facundus, an African Bishop, who lived about the same time with Mutianus, but who apparently translated the passage into Latin for himself.
The short-hand writer, who took down these Homilies and thus preserved them to us, is not unknown to us. It is St. Chrysostom's dearly-loved friend the Priest Constantine or Constantius. 3 For the title is, "Homilies of St. John Chrysostom Archbishop of Constantinople on the Epistle to the Hebrews, published after his decease, from notes by Constantine, Presbyter of Antioch."
At the beginning of St. Chrysostom's exile in 404, when he was in Nicaea, in a Letter which he wrote to Constantius about a mission which he had set on foot at Phoenicia (Ep. 121 t. iii. pp. 721, 722, ed. Montf.), he begs him "not to cease having a care for the Churches of Phoenicia and Arabia and the east, and to write to" St. Chrysostom "quite often, and tell him how many Churches had been built in a year and what holy men had gone into Phoenicia." Soon after, Constantius seems to have asked leave of St. Chrysostom to join him; for in his 13th letter to Olympias on arriving at Cocussus or Cucusus in Cappadocia, now Goksyn, his bitter place of exile, St. Chrysostom says (ib. p. 594), "My Lord, the most pious priest Constantius, would fain have been here long ago, for he wrote to me begging that I would let him come." About this time, perhaps while Constantius was on his actual journey to Cucusus, St. Chrysostom writes to him (Ep. 225, p. 724), grieved at not having heard from him, and speaks of their great love for each other and of Constantius' goodness to the poor, the fatherless and widows: soon after he writes from Cucusus to Elpidius bishop of Laodicea (Ep. 114, p. 656), "the most reverend priests Constantius and Euethius are here with us." There are extant two Letters of Constantius, one of them to his mother, written while he was companion of St. Chrysostom there (pp. 731 and 734). In the course of this banishment St. Chrysostom writes (Ep. 123, pp. 663, 664) about this Phoenician mission to "the priests and monks in Phoenicia, who were instructing the Gentiles there," encouraging them in their work, and saying that he had given orders that all their expenses "in clothing, shoes, and support of the brethren should be bountifully supplied," and adds that they will know about his affairs from Constantius' letter. In a letter to Gerontius (Ep. 54, p. 623) written during this exile about the mission in Phoenicia, St. Chrysostom says that he had intrusted Constantius to give Gerontius all he needed whether "for building or for the needs of the brethren."
To Constantius' piety we owe the preservation of these Homilies. One very special value of them lies in the pious fervent exhortation at the end of each, on Penitence, Almsgiving, or whatever St. Chrysostom had at the time chiefly in mind, breathing forth words from a heart, filled with the love of God and that longed for his flock to partake it.
Hom. 1 on sin and Almsgiving
2 on high thoughts and on poverty and wealth
3 on God's gifts to each
4 on heathen practices at funerals
5 on temptation
6 on Heaven
7 on old age
8 on study of Scriptures
9 on Penitence and confession of our sins
10 on relieving distress
11 on Almsgiving and giving to beggars
12 on free-will and Penitence
13 on not postponing Baptism and on a right life
14 on Thought of God and earnest prayer
15 on sin-enslavement and on untimely laughter
16 on dwelling in Heaven
17 on worthily receiving Holy Communion
18 on the Might of Poverty
19 on the great Gain of loving one's neighbor
20 on slavery to possessions and on Thankfulness
21 on gossip
22 on seeking God, on His protection and enduring Temptation
23 on the loss of God
24 on the acquirement of Virtue
25 on not caring for things of the world nor partaking with the covetous
26 on loyalty to God
27 on the might of Prayer and on minding us that we are sinners
28 value of Affliction and on simplicity of life and adornment of the soul
29 on the Peril of Luxury
30 on helping each other in way of salvation
31 on Penitence and keeping in mind our sins
32 on the Might of mercifulness to others
33 on the value of affliction, trial, poverty, and on Thankfulness
34 on using with intensity of mind and purpose, the Grace of the Spirit.
After the publication of Dr. Field's text (Bibliotheca Patrum Ecclesiae Catholicae Qui ante Orientis et Occidentis schisma floruerunt, tom. vii. Oxonii 1862) the translation was again very carefully revised by that text by the Rev. Dr. Barrow, Principal of St. Edmund Hall: he also wrote heads for the present Preface. The headings were given (as far as could be done) in the ms. and many of them have been retained; others, fitting in less well with the printed page, seemed to need a little modification. For an occasional note enclosed in brackets, the son of the one remaining Editor of the Library is responsible.
P. E. Pusey.
Oxford, May, 1877.
[It has seemed better in this edition to conform the translation of the Scripture texts to some one standard. St. Chrysostom used the current text of his day, which, on the whole, was more like the Textus Receptus, the basis of the A.V., than the more critical text followed by the R.V. It has therefore seemed best to take the A.V. as the standard (except where St. Chrysostom has followed a different text), but note has been made of any variations of the R.V. materially affecting the sense. There remain a number of loose quotations and combinations of different texts, and in these the English translation is retained.
Effort has been made to simplify the language and remove involved constructions in the translation of the Homilies. The English translation was originally made from the Benedictine, and afterwards revised from Field's more accurate text, and the differences between these have sometimes been overlooked. Besides this, it has often been possible to give St. Chrysostom's meaning more accurately,--sometimes even reversing the sense. There are, however, many very felicitous translations in the English edition which have been retained. It is a revision, and not a new translation.
All the notes in the English edition have been scrupulously retained, additions being enclosed in square brackets, with the initials of the reviser. An introduction on the authorship of this Epistle has been inserted.--F.G.]
[Published after his decease.--F.G., jr.]
See an animadversion of St. Cyril Alex. on those who committed to writing other people's sermons and thus preserved what might have been less deliberately uttered as though it had been thoroughly well weighed. De Ador. viii. t. i. 267. See also the constantly occurring expressions in St. Augustine, which belong to the natural extemporaneous delivery, but which would be untrue in the delivery of written sermons. The Preface to the first volume of St. Augustin on St. John, in this Library, written by the Rev. H. Browne, contains interesting details of St. Augustine's preaching. Fleury remarks of Atticus, Archbishop of Constantinople, in the beginning of the fifth century, just after St. Chrysostom's decease, "His sermons were indifferent, so that no one took the trouble to take them down in writing." Fleury, Eccles. Hist. xxii. 9, p. 133, Oxford translation. The extract, however, which St. Cyril has preserved of Atticus (de recta fide ad Arcadiam Marinamque, repeated in his Apol. adv. Episcopos Orientales, cap. 4) is eloquent and pious. ↩
Dr. Cramer had published this from the Paris ms. Cod. Reg. 238, which contains the first half only: but the whole catena is extant in the Library of St. Ambrose at Milan (E. 63 part inf.). ↩
Montfaucon observes that the Manuscripts frequently interchange the name. ↩