The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for September, 2012

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 17

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 30, 2012

A Prayer Of David Himself.

Psa 17:1  The prayer of David. Hear, O Lord, my justice: attend to my supplication. Give ear unto my prayer, which proceedeth not from deceitful lips.
Psa 17:2  Let my judgment come forth from thy countenance: let thy eyes behold the things that are equitable.

The Prayer of David.This prayer must be assigned to the Person of the Lord, with the addition of the Church, which is His body.

From the enlightening of the knowledge of Thee, let Me judge truth. Or at least, let My judgment go forth, not in deceitful lips, from Thy countenance, that is, that I may not in judging utter aught else than I understand in Thee. “Let thy eyes behold the things that are equitable. ” the eyes, of course, of the heart.

Psa 17:3  Thou hast proved my heart, and visited it by night, thou hast tried me by fire: and iniquity hath not been found in me.

Thou hast proved my heart, and visited it by night. For this Mine heart hath been proved by the visitation of tribulation. Thou hast tried Me by fire, and iniquity hath not been found in Me. Now not night only, in that it is wont to disturb, but fire also, in that it burns, is this tribulation to be called; whereby when I was examined I was found righteous.

Psa 17:4  That my mouth may not speak the works of men: for the sake of the words of thy lips, I have kept hard ways.

That My mouth may not speak the works of men. That nothing may proceed out of My mouth, but what relates to Thy glory and praise; not to the works of men, which they do beside Thy will. For the sake of the words of Thy lips (Ps 45:2). Because of the words of Thy peace, or of Thy prophets. I have kept hard ways. I have kept the toilsome ways of human mortality and suffering.

Psa 17:5  Perfect thou my goings in thy paths: that my footsteps be not moved.

To perfect thou My goings in Thy paths. That the love of the Church might be perfected in the strait ways, whereby she arrives at Thy rest. That My footsteps be not moved. That the signs of My way, which, like footsteps, have been imprinted on the Sacraments and Apostolical writings, be not moved, that they may mark them who would follow Me. Or at least, that I may still abide fixedly in eternity, after that I have accomplished the hard ways, and have finished My steps in the straits of Thy paths.

Psa 17:6  I have cried to thee, for thou, O God, hast heard me: O incline thy ear unto me, and hear my words.

I have cried to Thee, for thou, O God hast heard Me. With a free and strong effort have I directed My prayers unto Thee: for that I might have this power, Thou hast heard Me when praying more weakly. “Incline Thy ear unto Me, and hear My words.” Let not Thy hearing forsake My humiliation.

Psa 17:7  Shew forth thy wonderful mercies; thou who savest them that trust in thee.

Shew forth Thy wonderful mercies. Let not Thy mercies be disesteemed, lest they be loved too little.

Psa 17:8  From them that resist thy right hand keep me, as the apple of thy eye. Protect me under the shadow of thy wings.
Psa 17:9  From the face of the wicked who have afflicted me.
(The rest of verse 9 continued below)

From them that resist thy right hand: from such as resist the favour, whereby Thou favourest Me. Keep Me, as the apple of Thine eye: which seems very little and minute: yet by it is the sight of the eye directed, whereby the light is distinguished from the darkness; as by Christ’s humanity, the divinity of the Judgment distinguishing between the righteous and sinners. Protect Me undr the shadow of Thy wings. In the defence of Thy love and mercy protect Me. From the face of the wicked who have afflicted me.

Verse 9 cont. My enemies have surrounded my soul:
Psa 17:10  They have shut up their fat: their mouth hath spoken proudly.

Verse 9 cont. My enemies have surrounded My soul; they have shut up their fat. They have been covered with their own gross joy, after that their desire hath been satiated with wickedness. Their mouth hath spoken proudly. And therefore their mouth spoke pride, in saying, “Hail, King of the Jews,” and other like words (see Matt 27:29).

Psa 17:11  They have cast me forth, and now they have surrounded me: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth.

They have cast Me forth, and now they have surrounded Me. Casting Me forth outside the city, they have now compassed Me about on the Cross. They have set their eyes bowing down to the earth. The bent of their heart they have determined to turn down on these earthly things: deeming Him, who was slain, to endure a mighty evil, and themselves, that slew Him, none.

Psa 17:12  They have taken me, as a lion prepared for the prey; and as a young lion dwelling in secret places.

They have taken Me, as a lion prepared for the prey. They have taken Me, like that adversary who “walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:8). And as a young lion dwelling in secret places. And as his whelp, the people to whom it was said, “Ye are of your father the devil” (Jn 8:44): meditating on the snares, whereby they might circumvent and destroy the just One.

Psa 17:13  Arise, O Lord, disappoint him and supplant him; deliver my soul from the wicked one; thy sword
Psa 17:14  From the enemies of thy hand. O Lord, divide them from the few of the earth in their life: their belly is filled from thy hidden stores. They are full of children
(swine’s flesh in Augustine’s version): and they have left to their little ones the rest of their substance.

Arise, O Lord, disappoint and supplant him. Arise, O Lord, Thou whom they suppose to be asleep, and regardless of men’s iniquities; be they blinded before by their own malice, that vengeance may prevent their deed; and so cast them down.

Deliver My soul from the wicked one. Deliver My soul, by restoring Me after the death, which the ungodly have inflicted on Me.

Thy sword from the enemies of Thy hand. For My soul is Thy weapon, which Thy hand, that is, Thy eternal Power, hath taken to subdue thereby the kingdoms of iniquity, and divide the righteous from the ungodly. This weapon then deliver from the enemies of Thy hand, that is of Thy Power that is from Mine enemies. O Lord, divide them from the few of the earth in their life. O Lord, destroy them from off the earth, which they inhabit, scatter them throughout the world in this life, which only they think their life, who despair of life eternal. Their belly is filled from thy hidden stores. Now not only this visible punishment shall overtake them, but also their memory hath been filled with sins, which as darkness are hidden from the light of Thy truth, that they should forget God. They are full of swine’s flesh. They have been filled with uncleanness, treading under foot the pearls of God’s words. And they have left to their little ones the rest of their substance, crying out, “This sin be upon us and upon our children” (Matt 27:25).

Concerning the translation “swine’s flesh,” Augustine appended the following to the end of his notes: In that verse indeed where it is said, “filled with swine’s flesh,” some copies have, “filled with children:” for from the ambiguity of the Greek a double interpretation has resulted. Now by “children” we understand works; and as by good children, good works, so by evil, evil.

Psa 17:15  But as for me, I will appear before thy sight in justice: I shall be satisfied when thy glory shall appear.

But as for me, I will appear before thy sight in justice. But I, Who have not appeared to them that, with their filthy and darkened heart, cannot see the light of wisdom, I will appear before Thy sight in justice.

I shall be satisfied when Thy glory shall appear. And when they have been satiated with their uncleanness, that they could not know Me, I shall be satiated, when Thy glory shall be manifested, in them that know Me.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, liturgy, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

This Week’s Posts: Sunday, September 30-Sunday, October 7 2012

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 30, 2012

Dominica XVIII Post Pentecosten V. Septembris ~ II. classis

RESOURCES FOR TODAY’S MASS (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).

Father Callan’s Introduction to St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. Beginning October 8th, the first readings at daily Mass will be taken from Galatians. I’ll be posting on that letter in preparation.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Gal 1:1-10. See previous note.

Feria Secunda infra Hebdomadam XVIII post Octavam Pentecostes V. Septembris ~ IV. classis
Commemoratio: S. Remigii Episcopi Confessoris



Ss. Angelorum Custodum ~ III. classis
Tempora: Feria Tertia infra Hebdomadam XVIII post Octavam Pentecostes V. Septembris


  • Pending: St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Ps 88).


S. Theresiae a Jesu Infante Virginis ~ III. classis
Tempora: Feria Quarta infra Hebdomadam XVIII post Octavam Pentecostes V. Septembris


  • Pending: St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Ps 88).


S. Francisci Confessoris ~ III. classis
Tempora: Feria Quinta infra Hebdomadam XVIII post Octavam Pentecostes V. Septembris


  • Pending: Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Ps 27).


Feria Sexta infra Hebdomadam XVIII post Octavam Pentecostes V. Septembris ~ IV. classis
Commemoratio: Ss. Placidi et Sociorum Martyrum



S. Brunonis Confessoris ~ III. classis
Tempora: Sabbato infra Hebdomadam XVIII post Octavam Pentecostes V. Septembris


  • Pending: Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Ps 119:66, 71, 75, 91, 125, 130).



Resources for Sunday Mass (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).

Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 1:11-24. Beginning October 8th, the first readings at daily Mass will be taken from Galatians. I’ll be posting on that letter in preparation.

NEXT WEEK’S POSTS: Sunday, Oct. 7-Sunday, Oct. 14. Will move to the top of the blog sometime Sunday morning.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 88

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 30, 2012

The verse numbering of this psalm follows that employed by the RSV, the the NAB numbering is in square brackets […]. Text in red are my additions.


THE poet, speaking in his own person, or as representing Israel, likens himself to a man at the point of death (Ps 88:3 [88:4]) . In spirit he sees himself already among the dead—wholly forgotten, in the deepest depths of Sheol, cut off from God (Ps 88:4-7 [88:5-8]) . He is avoided by his friends, and excluded from all intercourse with his fellows—as if he were a leper. (Exodus 13:46).

In Ps 88:8 7 [88:8] and Ps 88:14-18 [88:15-19], he makes us to understand how he regards his affliction: he is a victim of God’s anger, given up to God’s terrors. His anguish of heart can only be explained as due to the darkness which has come from the turning away of God’s face. The disease, whether it is the bodily disease of the poet or the condition of the Israelite nation, is, therefore, a proof of God’s anger. Yet the psalmist neither proclaims his innocence (like Job) nor confesses his guilt. He simply asks: “Why hast Thou withdrawn from me Thy favour?” Even though the billows of God’s wrath sweep over him, and his soul is plunged in darkness, he still continues his prayer to Yahweh. Like Job, sorrow binds him all the more closely to the Lord. If he dies and descends to Sheol, that will bring no profit to Yahweh, for neither praise nor homage is given to the Lord by the “Shades.” As long as the psalmist still lives, his prayers and homage will continue, so that Yahweh will gain more from his life than from his death. The conclusion of the poem shows none of that relief and renewed confidence which the utterance of complaint in most of the psalms seems to bring.

With this psalm should be read Ps 38, Ps 6, Ps 142; Isaiah 38:10-20. The whole tone of the poem reminds one constantly of the Book of Job, and the psalm has, apparently, been greatly influenced by the style of Job (See this psalm’s cross-references to Job in the NAB). Its dependence on Job, and other features of the psalm incline one to regard it as a purely individual poem describing the sorrows, bodily and mental, of the psalmist. Yet, as pointed out in the notes, there are indications of a communal reference in the psalm, and the possibility cannot be quite excluded that it gives a picture of Israel’s sorrows and griefs as a nation.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 17

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 30, 2012


THE poem contains three petitions. In the first (Ps 17:1-5) the psalmist begs of God to give him justice and help against his foes. His cause is just: he is free from all guilt; his mind is pure, and his life has been directed by the Law. In a second prayer (Ps 17:6-12) he again begs for help from the Lord, and describes the cruel enemy who is threatening him. The third appeal (Ps 17:13-15) is for the destruction of the enemy. Even though the godless seem to prevail for a while, in the end justice will triumph, and the light of God’s face will shine on those who are now oppressed.

The psalmist’s attitude of complaint, the description of his enemies, his insistence on his own blamelessness, his prayer for a very special divine assistance, point to a time of great peril arising from the menace of powerful foes. The only period of David’s career in which he found himself in such a position, was during the persecution of Saul. The poem is certainly descriptive of an individual, not of a community. The text of the psalm is in a comparatively poor condition, and we thus fail to get as much light from it about its origin as, at first sight, it seems to give. For many modern critics this psalm suggests the social and religious background of the late post-Exilic period. The psalm is, like the preceding, of very great religious value, since it implies, if it does not clearly state, the doctrine of immortality.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 1:1-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 29, 2012

Please note that text in red (if any) are my additions.

The Epistle to the Galatians

A Summary of Galatians 1:1-5~With his accustomed greeting St. Paul opens this letter to the Galatians, but there is noticeable an absence of the usual warmth and praise which characterize the beginnings of most of his Epistles: here it is simply, “Paul, an Apostle, . . . and the brethren … to the churches of Galatia.” At once there is manifested the tension which soon finds its full outlet in the body of the letter; for he begins by proclaiming his Apostolic authority and its divine origin, which the Judaizers had denied. Setting aside all useless and merely pleasing words he plunges immediately into his subject, asserting that he has been sent by no other authority and sanction than that of Jesus Christ and God the Father. If he wishes his readers “grace and peace,” it is because he cannot well dispense with such a formality, and also because he desires to remind the Galatians of the source of this grace and peace, which is only God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, the blessings of whose redemption they have not appreciated as they ought.

Gal 1:1. Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead,

See note on Rom 1:1. Here is what Fr. Callan wrote on that passage:

Paul. The Apostle probably assumed this name for the first time in Cyprus when he converted the Proconsul Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7-12), perhaps, as St. Jerome says (in Philem.), in honor of his victory in making so great a convert. St. Thomas and others, however, think he was called both Paul and Saul from his infancy; the latter being his Jewish, and the former his Latin name. As Tarsus, the Apostle’s birth place, was under the Roman Empire, it seems not improbable that he should have been given a Latin, as well as a Jewish name, from the beginning. It seems unlikely (pace St Jerome) that St Paul would have been so ostentatious as to “honor his victory in making so great a convert” as to adopt the name Paulus from the Proconsul Sergius Paulus Gallio.

An apostle, in the strict sense of the term, equal to the twelve. The purpose of the Apostolate was to bear witness to the Resurrection
of Christ (Acts 1:16-22; Acts 4:33).

Not of men, i.e., human agencies were not the source of his authority.

Neither by man, i.e., he was not authorized by men, as were the deacons (Acts 6:5) or Timothy (1 Tim 4:14), The Apostles all received their commission directly from Christ, whereas their lawful successors have ever since been sent by proper ecclesiastical authority, as priests are consecrated and commissioned by bishops.

But by Jesus Christ, etc. St. Paul here designates the real and only source of his Apostolic authority, which is proximately and immediately Christ, and ultimately God the Father. From man he received only episcopal consecration (Acts 13:2-3).

He says δια ιησου χριστου (by Jesus Christ), because he regards Christ as the divine Mediator between himself and the Father; he omits απο (from) before θεου πατρος (God the Father), so as not to separate Jesus from His Father (Lagrange).

Who raised him, etc. Christ as man was raised from the dead by God the Father; and the Apostles were especially commissioned to preach Jesus and the Resurrection (Acts 17:18).

Gal 1:2. And all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia.

All the brethren, etc., i.e., all his companions at the time of writing this letter. Who these were depends on the date of the Epistle. St. Paul includes his companions in his salutation most likely out of custom, rather than to give weight to his authority (cf. 1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Philip, 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1).

To the churches, etc., i.e., to all the Galatian Churches, without distinction, which shows they were all guilty of the same errors, or inclination to error. The word “church” (ἐκκλησία) literally means “an assembly called out” for some special purpose. The Jews applied it to their religious assemblies (Deut 31:30; Micah 2:5; Acts 7:38). Likewise the Christians used the term sometimes to designate an assembly gathered for worship (1 Cor 14:28, 1 Cor 14:34); sometimes a group of the faithful that met in a particular house (Col 4:15; Philemon 2), or that belonged to one town or district (1 Cor 1:2; 1 Cor 16:1, 1 Cor 16:19; Acts 9:31; etc.); sometimes the whole body of the faithful (Matt 16:18; Col 1:18, Col 1:24).

Whether St. Paul was addressing the northern or southern Galatians is disputed. See Introduction, II.

The coldness of the Apostle’s greetings here are in striking contrast with his usual warmth (cf. Rom 1:17; 1 Cor 1:2; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1).

Gal 1:3. Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace be to you, etc. See on Rom 1:7. According to his custom, and out of his great charity for the erring Galatians the Apostle wishes them the grace and fear of God which they have not prized as they should. Here is what Fr. Callan wrote in his comments on Romans 1:7~

Grace . . . peace, etc. This form of well-wishing, which occurs in nearly all the Epistles of St. Paul, is found nowhere before the Apostle, and therefore seems to have been his own creation (Lagrange). Grace, in its proper sense, is a special gift of God by which one is made holy and agreeable in God’s sight, and is rendered a participant of the divine nature, a brother of Christ, and heir to the glory of the Father in heaven. Peace with God insures interior tranquility of mind and soul, and is one of the most precious effects of grace. St. Paul here speaks of these eminent gifts as coming from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, thus placing the latter on a level with the former, but not identifying the two as persons.

Gal 1:4. Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present wicked world, according to the will of God and our Father:

St. Paul now reminds his readers that their deliverance from sin and from the curse that formerly enslaved them is due, not to the Mosaic Law and its ceremonies, but to Jesus Christ, who gave Himself up to death for them and for all mankind: Christ in obedience to the will of His Father (John 3:16; Philip 2:8), died for our sins that we might live.

This present wicked world. With the Redemption commenced the reign of freedom from the slavery of sin which till then had gripped the entire world. But although the death of Christ broke the dominion of Satan over us, “this present world,” as contrasted with our future immortal existence, will always be “wicked,” (a) because of the sins which men continue freely to commit, in spite of the blessings of Christ’s Redemption; (b) because of the ceaseless war which Satan will ever wage against Christ and His Militant Church (John 15:19; Rom 8:7).

According to the will, etc. This shows that the Redemption was expressly designed and planned by God.

The Vulgate reading, pro peccatis supposes the Greek υπερ των αμαρτιων (for our sins) rather than περι των αμαρτιων (because of our sins), and is perhaps preferable.

Gal 1:5. To whom is glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Is glory. The Greek has the article, η (the), before δοξα (glory), which indicates the glory that is due to God and which the Judaizers have tried to take from Him by minimizing His benefits. This is the only place where a doxology ocurs in the salutation, and St. Paul inserts it here instead of rendering thanks to God for his readers.


A Summary of Galatians 1:6-10~Dispensing with all oratory and circumlocutions St. Paul goes straight to his point. There is only one Gospel of Christ, that, namely, which he himself delivered to the Galatians. To add to or subtract from it, after the manner of the Judaizers, is to destroy it. He pronounces a curse against the enemies of the Gospel, declaring that, as Christ’s servant, he is concerned about pleasing Him only.

Gal 1:6. I wonder that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel.

So soon does not mean that the Galatians fell away shortly after their conversion; it has reference rather to the ease and suddenness with which they yielded to false doctrines when they heard them. To have fallen away soon after conversion would have been more or less excusable; but to have lived and practiced their faith for some time, and then, upon the first temptation, to be willing to give it up was indeed reprehensible.

Removed (μετατιθεσθε) . Better, “On the verge of changing.” The use of the present shows that the Apostle did not consider their change complete.

From him, etc., i.e., from the heavenly Father, to whom St. Paul uniformly attributes the call to the faith (Rom 8:29-30; 1 Cor 1:9; 1 Thess 2:12; etc.).

Into the grace, etc. Better, “In the grace,” etc. (εν χαριτι χριστου), i.e., through the grace of Christ. The call is from the Father, but through the Son (St. Chrys.).

Another gospel. Literally, “A different gospel,” i.e., a pretended gospel, or no gospel at all, because it contained a serious doctrinal error.

Gal 1:7. Which is not another, only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

Which is not another, etc. There is only one true Gospel of Christ, although there were certain preachers of a false gospel among the Galatians.

Would pervert. The purpose of the Judaizers was to change completely the gospel of Christ, i.e., the Gospel preached and delivered by Christ (Zahn), or the Gospel that gives the true conception of Christ (Lagrange).

Gal 1:8. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.

We, i.e., Paul and his companions.

Besides. Better, “Contrary to” (παρ).

That which, etc., refers to the Gospel Paul had preached on his first and second visits to the faithful of Galatia.

Anathema, i.e., accursed, excluded from the Kingdom of God. See on Rom 9:3. This curse of Paul was revocable upon repentance. Here is what Fr. Callan wrote on Rom 9:3~

Anathema from Christ, i.e., to be separated from Christ so as to be deprived of Christianity and of the Messianic benefits. “Anathema” literally means a thing set up to be destroyed; it comes from two Greek words signifying to place apart. To the Jews it meant a person or thing cursed, and therefore fit for destruction (Lev 27:28-29; Deut 7:26; Joshua 6:17). With St. Paul it meant cursed of God (Gal 1:8-9; 1 Cor 12:3; 1 Cor 16:22). According to Cornely, therefore, St. Paul meant to say that, for the sake of his brethren, the Jews, he was willing to be externally separated from Christ forever, and to be condemned to eternal torments, without ceasing, however, to be united to Christ through grace. But as there seems to be nothing in the context to suggest this distinction, and as there is not question of future time, but of the present (ειναι), we think it better to accept for this passage the explanation of Lagrange given above.

Gal 1:9. As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema.

As we said before, etc. St. Paul reminds his readers of the warning he and his companions had given them on a previous occasion, perhaps on his second visit, against possible perils and false teachings which, if not at that time threatening, might disturb them later.

Gal 1:10. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Feeling that his words so far have been harsh St. Paul observes that there is question now of pleasing, not man, but God. The word now (αρτι) does not imply that formerly, before his conversion, he tried to please men; for even when persecuting the Christians he was moved by zeal for God, and not by a desire to please men, albeit his conduct then was agreeable to the Jews. The Judaizers had said that he sought to persuade, only to win favor. The verb πειθω has the sense of the Latin suadeo, and so means to seek the favor of. The Apostle now asks his readers to judge for themselves whose favor he is seeking, whether the favor of God, or that of men. If he were trying to please men, he would be preaching Judaism, and thus would not be what in truth he is, the servant of Christ.

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Aquinas” Catena Aurea on Matthew 18:1-5, 10

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 29, 2012

Ver 1. At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”2. And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,3. And said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.4. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.5. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.6. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Jerome: The disciples seeing one piece of money paid both for Peter and the Lord, conceived from this equality of ransom that Peter was preferred before all the rest of the Apostles.

Chrys.: Thus they suffered a human passion, which the Evangelist denotes by saying, “At the same time came the disciples to Jesus, saying, “Who pray thee, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Ashamed to shew the feeling which was working within, they do not say openly, Why have you honoured Peter above us? but they ask in general, Who is the greatest! When in the transfiguration they saw three distinguished, namely, Peter, James, and John, they had no such feeling, but now that one is singled out for especial honour, then they are grieved. But do yon remember, first, that it was nothing in this world that they sought; and, secondly, that they afterwards laid aside this feeling? Even their failings are above us, whose enquiry is not, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? but, Who is greatest in the kingdom of the world?

Origen: Herein we ought to be imitators of the disciples, that when any question of doubt arises among us, and we find not how to settle it, we should with one consent go to Jesus, Who is able to enlighten the hearts of men to the explication of every perplexity. We shall also consult some of the doctors, who are thought most eminent in the Churches. But in that they asked this question, the disciples knew that there was not an equality among the saints in the kingdom of heaven; what they yet sought to learn was, how they were so, and lived as greater and less. Or, from what the Lord had said above, they knew who was the best and who was great; but out of many great, who was the greatest, this was not clear to them.

Jerome: Jesus seeing their thoughts would heal their ambitious strivings, by arousing an emulation in lowliness; whence it follows, “And Jesus calling a little child, set him in the midst of them.”

Chrys.: He chose, I suppose, quite an infant, devoid of any of the passions.

Jerome: One whose tender age should express to them the innocence which they should have. But truly He set Himself in the midst of them, a little one who had come “not to be ministered unto, but to minister,” [Matt 20:28] that He might be a pattern of holiness.

Others interpret [margin note: see Origen in loc.] the little one of the Holy Spirit whom He set in the hearts of His disciples, to change their pride into humility. “And he said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

He does not enjoin on the Apostles the age, but the innocence of infants, which they have by virtue of their years, but to which these might attain by striving; that they should be children in malice, not in understanding. As though He had said, As this child, whom I set before you as a pattern, is not obstinate in anger, when injured does not bear it in mind, has no emotion at the sight of a fair woman, does not think one thing while he speaks another; so ye, unless ye have the like innocence and purity of mind, shall not be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Hilary: He calls infants all who believe through the hearing of faith; for such follow their father, love their mother, know not to will that which is evil, do not bear hate, or speak lies, trust what is told them, and believe what they hear to be true. But the letter is thus interpreted.

Gloss. interlin.: “Except ye be converted” from this ambition and jealousy in which you are at present, and become all of you as innocent and humble in disposition as you are weak in your years, “ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven;” and since there is none other road to enter in, “whoso shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven;” for by how much a man is humble now, by so much shall he be exalted in the kingdom of heaven.

Remig.: In the understanding of grace, or in ecclesiastical dignity, or at least in everlasting blessedness.

Jerome: Or otherwise; “Whoso shall humble himself as this little child,” that is, whoso shall humble himself after My example, “he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

It follows, “And whoso receiveth one such little one in my name, receiveth me.”

Chrys.: Not only if ye become such yourselves, but also if for My sake you shall pay honour to other such, ye receive reward; and as the return for the honour you pay them, I entail upon you the kingdom. He puts indeed what is far greater, “Receiveth me.”

Jerome: For whoever is such that he imitates Christ’s humility and innocence, Christ is received by him; and by way of caution, that the Apostles should not think, when such are come to them, that it is to themselves that the honour is paid, He adds, that they are to be received not for their own desert, but in honour of their Master.

Chrys.: And to make this word the rather received, He subjoins a penalty in what follows, “Whoso offendeth one of these little ones, &c.” as though He had said, As those who for My sake honour one of these, have their reward, so they who dishonour shall undergo the extreme punishment. And marvel not that He calls an evil word an offence, for many of feeble spirit are offended by only being despised.

Jerome: Observe that he who is offended is a little one, for the greater hearts do not take offences. And though it may be a general declaration against all who scandalize any, yet from the connection of the discourse it may be said specially to the Apostles; for in asking who should be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, they seemed to be contending for preeminence among themselves; and if they had persisted in this fault, they might have scandalized those whom they called to the faith, seeing the Apostles contending among themselves for the preference.

Origen: But how can he who has been converted, and become as a little child, be yet liable to be scandalized? This may be thus explained. Every one who believes on the Son of God, and walks after evangelic acts, is converted and walks as a little child; but he who is not converted that he may become as a child, it is impossible that he should enter into the kingdom of heaven.

But in every congregation of believers, there are some only newly converted that they may become as little children, but not yet made such; these are the little ones in Christ, and these are they that receive offence.

Jerome: When it is said, “It is better for him that a mill-stone be hanged about his neck,” He speaks according to the custom of the province; for among the Jews this was the punishment of the greater criminals, to drown them by a stone tied to them. It is better for him, because it is far better to receive a brief punishment for a fault, than to be reserved for eternal torments.

Chrys.: To correspond with the foregoing, He should have said here, Receiveth not Me, which were bitterer than any punishment; but because they were dull, and the before-named punishment did not move them, by a familiar instance He shews that punishment awaited them; for He therefore says, “it were better for him,” because another more grievous punishment awaits him.

Hilary: Mystically; The work of the mill is a toil of blindness, for the beasts having their eyes closed are driven round in a circle, and under the type of an ass we often find the Gentiles figured, who are held in the ignorance of blind labour; while the Jews have the path of knowledge set before them in the Law, who if they offend Christ’s Apostles it were better for them, that having their necks made fast to a mill-stone, they should be drowned in the sea, that is, kept under labour and in the depths of ignorance, as the Gentiles; for it were better for them that they should have never known Christ, than not to have received the Lord of the Prophets.

Greg., Mor., vi, 37: Otherwise; What is denoted by the sea, but the world, and what by the mill-stone, but earthly action? which, when it binds the neck in the yoke of vain desires, sends it to a dull round of toil. There are some who leave earthly action, and bend themselves to aims of contemplation beyond the reach of intellect, laying aside humility, and so not only throw themselves into error, but also cast many weak ones out of the bosom of truth.

Whoso then offends one of the least of mine, it were better for him that a mill-stone be tied about his neck, and he be cast into the sea, that is, it were better for a perverted heart to be entirely occupied with worldly business, than to be at leisure for contemplative studies to the hurt of many.

Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 24: “Whoso offendeth one of these little ones,” that is so humble as He would have his disciples to be, by not obeying, or by opposing, (as the Apostle says of Alexander, [margin note: 2 Tim 4:15]) “it were better for him that a mill-stone should be hanged about his neck, and he be drowned in the depths of the sea,” that is, it were better for him that desire of the things of the world, to which the blind and foolish are tied down, should sink him by its load to destruction.

Ver 10. “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Jerome: The Lord had said, under the type of hand, foot, and eye, that all kin and connection which could afford scandal must be cut off. The harshness of this declaration He accordingly tempers with the following precept, saying, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones;” i. e. As far as you may avoid despising them, but next to your own salvation seek also to heal them. But if ye see that they hold to their sins, it is better that ye be saved, than that ye perish in much company.

Chrys.: Or otherwise; As to shun the evil, so to honour the good, has great recompense. Above then He had bid them to cut off the friendships of those that gave offence, here He teaches them to shew honour and service to the saints.

Gloss., ap. Anselm: Or otherwise; Because so great evils come of brethren being scandalized, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones.”

Origen: The little ones are those that are but lately born in Christ, or those who abide without advance, as though lately born. But Christ judged it needless to give command concerning not despising the more perfect believers, but concerning the little ones, as He had said above, “If any man shall offend one of these little ones.” A man may perhaps say that a little one here means a perfect Christian, according to that He says elsewhere, “Whoso is least among you, he shall be great.” [Luke 9:48]

Chrys.: Or because the perfect are esteemed of many as little ones, as poor, namely, and despicable.

Origen: But this exposition does not seem to agree with that which was said, “If any one scandalizes one of these little ones;” for the perfect man is not scandalized, nor does he perish. But he who thinks this the true exposition, says, that the mind of a righteous man is variable, and is sometimes offended, but not easily.

Gloss., ap. Anselm: Therefore are they not to be despised for that they are so dear to God, that Angels are deputed to be their guardians; “For I say unto you, that in heaven their Angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”

Origen: Some will have it that an Angel is given as an attendant minister from the time when in the laver of regeneration the infant is born in Christ; for, say they, it is incredible that a holy Angel watches over those who are unbelieving and in error, but in his time of unbelief and sin man is under the Angels of Satan.

Others will have it, that those who are foreknown of God, have straightway from their very birth a guardian Angel.

Jerome: High dignity of souls, that each from its birth has an Angel set in charge over it!

Chrys.: Here He is speaking not of any Angels, but of the higher sort; for when He says, “Behold the face of my Father,” He shews that their presence before God is free and open, and their honour great.

Greg., Hom. in Ev., 34, 12: But Dionysius says, that it is from the ranks of the lesser Angels that these are sent to perform this ministry, either visibly or invisibly, for that those higher ranks have not the employment of an outward ministry.

Greg., Mor., ii, 3: And therefore the Angels always behold the face of the Father, and yet they come to us; for by a spiritual presence they come forth to us, and yet by internal contemplation  keep themselves there whence they come forth; for they come not so forth from the divine vision, as to hinder the joys of inward contemplation.

Hilary: The Angels offer daily to God the prayers of those that are to be saved by Christ; it is therefore perilous to despise him whose desires and requests are conveyed to the eternal and invisible God, by the service and ministry of Angels.

Aug., City of God, book xxii, ch. 29: They are called our Angels who are indeed the Angels of God; they are Gods because they have not forsaken Him; they are ours because they have begun to have us for their fellow citizens. As they now behold God, so shall we also behold Him face to face, of which vision John speaks, “We shall see Him as he is.” [1 John 3:2]

For by the face of God is to be understood the manifestation of Himself, not a member or feature of the body, such as we call by that name.

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St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 17 (16 in Septuagint and Vulgate)

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 29, 2012

The following post appears courtesy of the Aquinas Translation Project and appears here in accordance with their copyright policy. The English translation (right hand column) was done by Stephen Loughlin. Due to a different numbering scheme, Psalm 17 in most modern bibles corresponds with Psalm 16 in the Vulgate and Greek Septuagint.


a. Oratio David. Exaudi Domine iustitiam meam, intende deprecationem meam. Auribus percipe orationem meam, non in labiis dolosis. De vultu tuo iudicium meum prodeat: oculi tui videant aequitatem. Probasti cor meum, et visitasti nocte: igne me examinasti, et non est inventa in me iniquitas. Ut non loquatur os meum opera hominum: propter verba labiorum tuorum ego custodivi vias duras. Perfice gressus meos in semitis tuis, ut non moveantur vestigia mea. The prayer of David. Hear, O Lord, my justice: attend to my supplication. Give ear unto my prayer, (which proceedeth) not from deceitful lips. Let my judgment come forth from thy countenance: let thy eyes behold the things that are equitable. Thou hast proved my heart, and visited it by night, thou hast tried me by fire: and iniquity hath not been found in me. That my mouth may not speak the words of men: for the sake of the words of thy lips, I have kept hard ways. Perfect thou my goings in thy paths: that my footsteps be not moved.
b. Ego clamavi, quoniam exaudisti me Deus; inclina aurem tuam mihi, et exaudi verba mea. I have cried (to thee), for thou, O God, hast heard me: O incline thy ear unto me, and hear my words.
c. Mirifica misericordias tuas, qui salvos facis sperantes in te. A resistentibus dexterae tuae custodi me, ut pupillam oculi. Sub umbra alarum tuarum protege me, a facie impiorum qui me afflixerunt. Shew forth thy wonderful mercies; thou who savest them that trust in thee. From them that resist thy right hand keep me, as the pupil of the eye. Protect me under the shadow of thy wings. From the face of the wicked who have afflicted me.
d. Inimici mei animam meam circumdederunt, adipem suum concluserunt, os eorum locutum est superbiam. Proiicientes me nunc circumderunt me: oculos suos statuerunt declinare in terram. Susceperunt me sicut leo paratus ad praedam; et sicut catulus leonis habitans in abditis. My enemies have surrounded my soul: they have shut up their fat: their mouth hath spoken proudly. They have cast me forth and now they have surrounded me: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth. They have taken me, as a young lion dwelling in secret places.
e. Exurge Domine, praeveni eum, et supplanta eum; eripe animam meam ab impio, frameam tuam ab inimicis manus tuae. Domine a paucis de terra divide oes in vita eorum et de absconditis tuis adimpletus est venter eorum. Saturati sunt filiis, et dimiserunt reliquias suas parvulis suis. Arise, O Lord, disappoint him and supplant him; deliver my soul from the wicked one: thy sword from the enemies of thy hand. O Lord, divide them from the few of the earth in their life: their belly is filled from thy hidden (stores). They are full of children: and they have left to their little ones the rest (of their substance).
f. Ego autem in iustitia apparebo conspectui tuo; satiabor cum apparuerit gloria tua. But as for me, I will appear before thy sight in justice: I shall be satisfied when thy glory shall appear.
a. Supra describit psalmista divinam iustitiam, et ostendit quod eam servabat; hic proponit orationem in qua petit exaudiri, propter iustitiam. Previously, the Psalmist described divine justice and showed that he observed it. In this psalm, he offers a prayer in which he asks to be heard for the sake of justice.
Titulus, oratio David. Et est primus psalmus qui intitulatur ab oratione, quia huiusmodi totaliter est oratio; et ideo ab oratione incipit, quia inter tribulationes singulare refugium est oratio; Psalm. 108: Pro eo ut me diligerent, detrahebant mihi, ego autem orabam. Its title is “The Prayer of David”, and it is the first psalm entitled with (the word) “prayer” (for the whole of it is a prayer). This psalm arises from prayer because in the midst of tribulations, prayer is an unparalled refuge; Psalm 108: “Instead of making me a return of love, they detracted me: but I gave myself to prayer.”
Dividitur ergo psalmus iste in duas partes. In prima orat pro stabilitate propria; in secunda petit liberationem a malo, ibi, ego clamavi. Circa primum duo facit. Primo petit exaudiri; secundo proponit petitionem suam, ibi, de vultu tuo. This psalm, then, is divided into two parts. In the first, he prays for his own endurance. In the second, he asks for deliverance from evil, at I have cried. Concerning the former, he does two things. First, he asks to be heard, and second, sets forth his petition, at From they countenance.
Considerandum est autem, quod in exauditione sit triplex gradus. Primo ille cui fit petitio, audit verba. Secundo attendit sensum. Tertio implet petitum. Now, in hearkening (to another), a three-fold approach must be considered. Frist, he to whom the petition is made hears the words, second, he considers (its) meaning, and third, he fulfills what is prayed for.
Primo ergo petit ut exaudiatur, dicens, exaudi etc.; Dan. 9: Exaudi, Domine Deus, orationem servi tui. Secundo in exauditione ponit meritum petentis; et ideo dicit, iustitiam meam: quasi dicat: in me est meritum ut exaudias. Glossa: Iustitia habet vocem apud Deum, qua penetrat caelum: Iac. ult.: Multum valet deprecatio iusti assidua: Ioan. 9: Peccatores Deus non audit: sed si quis Dei cultor est, hunc Deum exaudit. Accordingly, he asks first that he be heard, saying Hear etc; Daniel 9: “Hear O Lord God the prayer of thy servant”. In his hearkening, he next states the merit of the petitioner. Thus, he says My justice. It is as if he were saying, “There is merit in me so that you may hearken (to me)”. The Gloss states “Justice has a voice before God, by which (voice) it penetrates the heavens”; James 5: “The continual prayer of a just man availeth much”; John 9: “God doth not hear sinners: but if a man be a server of God (and doth His will), him He heareth”.
Secundo petit quod intendat ad sensum orationis, intende deprecationem meam. Glossa dicit: Deprecationem, quae est pro malis amovendis. Alia littera, Intende ad canticos meos, quasi ad spiritualem intellectum: Ps. 129: Fiant aures tuae intendentes in vocem deprecationis meae. (With respect to the) second (step), he asks that he strive after the meaning of his prayer, Attend to my supplication. The Gloss says “Supplication, which is for removing evils.” Another version has “Attend to my songs”, to (my) spiritual understanding, as it were; Psalm 129: “Let thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication”.
Tertio quod audiat verba orantis; et ideo dicit, auribus percipe orationem, quae est, non in labiis dolosis, sed simplicibus: Isa. 53: Dolus non fuit in ore eius. (And as for the ) third (step, he asks) that He listen to the words of (his) praying. And so, he says Give ear unto my prayer which is not from deceitful lips but from sincere ones; Isaiah 53: “There was no deceit in his mouth”.
Sed cum omnia audiat, quare dicitur quaedam audire, et quaedam non? Sap. 1: Spiritus sanctus disciplinae effugiet fictum, et auferet se a cogitationibus quae sunt sine intellectu. But since He hears all things, why does He hear one prayer, but not another? Wisdom 1: “The Holy Spirit of discipline will flee from the deceitful, and will withdraw himself from thoughts that are without understanding.”
Deus non dicitur audire nisi verba vera, et non quae proveniunt ex labiis dolosis: et ideo dicit, non in labiis dolosis. Ps. 11: Labia dolosa in corde etc. Et sic dolosum dupliciter accipitur: scilicet fictio respectu oris, et respectu operis, cum opus non concordat ori. Pharisaeus qui dicebat, Luc. 18: non sum sicut caeteri hominum etc. non fuit exauditus; sed alius qui non in labiis dolosis, sed recte orabat, fuit exauditus, quia descendit iustificatus in domum suam. Glossa: Labia dolosa sunt qui dicunt Domine Domine, et non faciunt voluntatem Patris mei. (In response to this I say that) God is not said to listen except to true words, and not to those which come from deceitful lips; and so he says not with decietful lips. Psalm 11: “(with) deceitful lips (and) with a (double) heart (they have spoken)”. “Deceitful” is thus taken in a two-fold way, namely, as insincerity with respect to mouth and deed when the latter does not agree with the former. The Pharisee who said “I am not as the rest of men” (Luke 18), was not heard, but the other man (the publican) who prayed not with deceitful lips, but uprightly, was heard because “he went down into his house justified” (Luke 18). The Gloss has “Deceitful lips are those which say ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not do the will of my Father”.
De vultu tuo. Iudex non profert sententiam nisi audita petitione et discussa causa. Et ideo hic petitionem ponit: et petit tria. Primo sententiam. Secundo causae examinationem, ibi, Probasti. Tertio sententiae qualitatem, Perfice. Circa primum duo facit. Primo petit iudicium. Secundo temperamentum, ibi, Oculi tui. From they countenance. A judge does not deliver (his) sentence unless he has heard the petition and has considered the affair. For this reason, he makes his petition at this point. He asks for three things. First, a sentence, second, an examination of the affair, at, You have proved, and third, a condition of sentence, at, Perfect. Concerning the first, he does two things. First, he asks for judgment, and second moderation (or “that it be moderate), at, Let thy eyes.
Dicit ergo, De vultu tuo, idest de cognitione tua: Iudicium meum prodeat, idest pro me: Hier. 10: Corripe me Domine, verumtamen in iudicio, non in furore tuo, ne forte ad nihilum redigas me. Sed hic petit iudicium non severitatis: Isa. 64: Omnes iustitiae vestrae quasi pannus menstruatae, sed aequitatis, secundum quod patitur humana natura: et ideo dicit, Oculi tui videant aequitatem, idest iudicent iudicium aequitatum: Isa. 11: Arguet in aequitate pro mansuetis terrae: Iob. 22: Aequitatem proponat contra me, et ad victoriam proveniet iudicium meum; quasi dicat: non peto iudicium, quia causa mea tibi examinata est. Quod causa sua sit examinata coram eo, ostendit cum dicit, Probasti etc. Et primo ponit ordinem examinationis. Secundo quid sit inventum exponit, et non est inventa. Thus he says From the countenance, that is from thy thought, Let my judgment come forth, that is, for my benefit; Jeremiah 10: “Correct me, O Lord, but yet with judgment, and not in thy fury, lest thou bring me to nothing”. But here, he asks for a judgment not of severity (Isaiah 64: “All our justices as the rag of a menstruous woman”), but of equity, in so far as human nature permits. Consequently, he says, Let thy eyes behold the things that are equitable, that is, let (them) decide an equitable judgment; Isaiah 11: “He shall reprove with equity for the meek of the earth”; Job 23: “Let him propose equity against me, and let my judgment come to victory.” It is as if he were saying “I do not ask for judgment, because my cause has been examined by you.” He shows that his cause has been examined in his presence when he says Thou has proved etc. First, he shows the order of examintion, and second, what was discovered, (which latter) he explains at, And iniquity has not been found in me.
Dicit ergo, Probasti cor meum. Differentia est inter probare et examinare: probare quaerit rationem facti, examinare quaerit ipsum factum. Ratio autem facti magis tangit cor, sed factum magis tangit corpus. Dicit ergo, Probasti cor meum, idest probatum ostendisti, quod non est turbatum propter tribulationes quas patior. Consequently, he says, Thou hast proved my heart. There is a difference between proving and examining. Proving (in the sense of testing, inspecting, trying) enquires after the reason for what has been done, while examining enquires after the deed itself. The former pertains more to the heart, but the latter more to the body. Thus, he says, Thou hast proved my heart, that is having proved (my heart), you have seen that it has not been disturbed according to the tribulations which I have suffered.
Deus cum examinat, tria facit. Probat, visitat, et examinat. Probat cum diiudicat an habeat cordis rectitudinem: quia si non habet, non curat examinare; sed quando hoc habet, indiget examinari utrum habeat firmitatem: Hier. 17: Ego Dominus scrutans corda et probans renes, qui do unicuique iuxta viam suam. Sed haec examinatio est dura et fortis, ita quod nullus sustineret nisi adiutus ab eo: Iob 6: Quae fortitudo mea ut subsistam et quis finis meus ut patienter agam? nec fortitudo mea nec caro mea aenea est. Et ideo praemittit visitationem: Psalm. 88: Visitabo in virga, vel adiuvando, vel corrigendo. When God examines, He does three things, namely, he proves, visits, and examines. He proves when he discerns whether an individual has rectitude of heart. For if he does not (have this rectitude), then he does not trouble himself to examine (him). But when (an individual) has this (rectitude), he will need to be examined (to see) whether he has constancy; Jeremiah 17: “I am the Lord who search the heart and prove the reins: who give to every one according to his way”. But this examination is severe and powerful, so much so that no one would withstand it unless helped by Him; Job 6: “For what is my strength that I can hold out? or what is my end that I should keep patience? My strength is not the strength of stones, nor is my flesh of brass (Neither my strength or my flesh is of brass)”. And so, he goes forward in visitation; Psalm 88: “I will visit with a rod”, either helping or correcting.
Visitasti nocte. Sed potest idem intelligi per noctem et ignem, quia turbat animam: Iob 30: Nocte os meum perforatur doloribus: et incendium facit hoc idem. Thou hast visited (my heart) by night. (This visitation) can be understood by “night” and “fire” because (either) disturbs the soul; Job 30: “In the night my bone is pierced with sorrows…and fire does the same”.
Vel nocte, idest defectu spiritualis intelligentiae. Quandoque quis habet rectum cor, et supervenit sibi tentatio et negligentia; et haec est in nocte: et in hac visitat Dominus adiuvando contra tentationes, et negligentiam excutit et confortat: Ps. 49: Cum defecerit virtus mea, ne derelinquas me. By night (can also be understood as) “in the absence of spiritual understanding”. At times, one has an upright heart when temptation and negligence falls upon one and one’s heart is in the night. The Lord visits in one’s heart by helping (one) against temptations, driving away negligence, and comforting (one); Psalm 49: “When my power fails, do not abandon me”.
Vel nocte, idest quiete et silentio, et tunc visitat per consolationes: Matth. 25: Media nocte clamor factus est, ecce sponsus venit. By night (can also be understood as) “in quiet and silence”, and (in this situation) he visits through consolations; Matthew 25: “And at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh”.
Examinasti igne, idest tribulatione; quia tunc apparet si est bonus amicus, et non recedit: Eccl. 6: Est amicus secundum tempus suum, et non permanebit in die tribulationis. Invenitur autem per istam examinationem innocentia et perfectio, quia examinat si in eo inveniatur innocentia. Hoc autem in isto invenitur. Et primo ponit eius innocentiam. Secundo perfectionem, ibi, Non est inventa in me iniquitas. Thou hast tried me by fire, that is, by tribulation, because it is then apparent if he is a good friend and does not withdraw; Ecclesiasticus 6: “There is a friend for his own occasion, and he will…abide in the day of thy trouble”. Innocence and perfection are discovered by this very examination since it examines if innocence is to be found in him, and indeed it is found in him. He first sets out his innocence, and second, his perfection, at, And iniquity hath not been found in me.
Sed contra. 1 Ioan. 1: Si dixerimus quia peccatum non habemus, nosipsos seducimus, et veritas in nobis non est: Et Prov. 20: Quis potest dicere, mundum est cor meum? Eccl. 7: Non est homo iustus in terra qui faciat bonum et non peccet. Glossa, nec infans unius diei. But on the contrary there is 1 John 1: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”, and Proverbs 20: “Who can say: My heart is clean (I am pure from sin?”, and Ecclesiastes 7: “(For) there is no just man upon earth that doth good and sinneth not”. The Gloss adds “Nor an infant of one day”.
Dicendum, quod loquitur de iniquitate peccati per quam in tribulatione recedit a Deo. Perfectio innocentiae invenitur in eo, intantum quod non loquitur Opera hominum, idest peccatum; quasi dicat: non solum in corde, sed nec in ore eius est iniquitas: Iob. 6: Non invenietis in lingua mea iniquitatem, nec in faucibus meis iniquitas personabit: Eph. 4: Omnis sermo malus de ore vestro non procedat. (I respond) by saying that he speaks concerning the iniquity of sin through which one withdraws from God in tribulation. The perfection of innocence is found in him in so far as he does not speak The works of men, that is, sin. It is as if he were saying “Iniquity is not only not in his heart, but also not in his mouth”; Job 6: “You shall not find iniquity on my tongue, neither shall folly sound in my mouth”; Ephesians 4: “Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth”.
Vel sic: Non est inventa in me iniquitas, ut non loquatur os meum, cum post sequitur, opera hominum etc.: quasi dicat, tu vidisti quod in me non est iniquitas: et hoc, quia non decet me loqui, tu tamen vidisti hoc. Prov. 27: Laudet te alienus, et non os tuum: extraneus, et non labia tua. Or (it could be interpreted) in this way: …and iniquity hath not been found in me. That my mouth may not speak, when after follows The works of men, as if to say “You yourself have seen that there is no iniquity in me; and this is so because it is not proper for me to speak (of such); but you yourself have seen this”; Proverbs 27: “Let another praise thee, and not thy own mouth: a stranger, and not thy own lips”.
Hieronymus habet sic: probasti cor meum, visitasti nocte; conflasti me, et non invenisti cogitationes meas ascendere super os meum; quasi dicat: non intantum turbatio processit, ut veniret a corde ad os per murmura. Jerome has “You have proved and you have not found my thoughts to ascend beyond my mouth”, as if to say, “Confusion does not proceed so far that it comes from the heart to the mouth by murmurings”.
Secundo exponit quo igne fuerit examinatus, cum dicit, Propter verba labiorum tuorum ego custodivi vias duras. Viae durae sunt adversitates; et hoc sustinui, Propter verba labiorum tuorum, idest ut servarem verba, aut annunciarem verba tua: Hier. 20: Factus est sermo domini in opprobrium et in derisum. Next, he sets forth by what fire the examination was made, when he says, For the sake of the words of thy lips, I have kept hard ways. The hard ways are adversities, and I have sustained this for the sake of the words of thy lips, so that I might serve, or announce, your words; Jeremiah 22: “The word of the Lord was done in opprobrium and in derision”.
Hieronymus habet, ut vias latas. Latrones quaerunt diverticula ut lateant: ita David quando persequebatur eum Saul: Ps. 17: Posuit pedes meos quasi cervorum. Spiritualiter dicitur de Christo punito inter latrones ut malefactor: Ioan. 18: Si non esset hic malefactor, non tibi tradidissemus eum. Jerome has “(…I have kept) as hidden ways”. Thieves seek out-of-the-way places that they may hide, as David did when Saul was pursuing him; Psalm 17: “Who hath made my feet like the feet of harts”. Spiritually, it is said of Christ punished among theives as an evildoer; John 18: “If he were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered him up to thee”.
Si incipias versum ibi, Propter opera hominum custodivi vias duras, dicas vias duras quae sunt opera hominum: Prov. 4: Viam sapientiae monstrabo tibi, ducam te per semitas aequitatis, quas dum ingressus fueris etc. If you begin the verse at For the sake of…the works of men…I have kept hard ways, you assert hard ways which are the works of men; Proverbs 4: “I will shew thee the way of wisdom, I will lead thee by the paths of equity, which when thou shalt have entered” etc.
Consequenter determinat quid petit: Perfice gressus meos in semitis tuis, scilicet iustitiae: Iob 4: Ubi est fortitudo tua, patientia, et perfectio viarum? Et hoc ut Vestigia, idest affectus meus, Non moveantur a mandatis tuis. Next, he determines what he seeks, Perfect thou my goings in thy paths, namely of justice; Job 4: “Where is…thy fortitude, thy patience, and the perfection of thy ways?” And this, so that the Feet, which is to say, my desire, may not be moved from your commands.
Vel petit Christus pro ecclesia ut gressus eius perficiantur, et Vestigia, idest sacramenta, Non moveantur. Or (one could say that) he seeks Christ on behalf of the Church so that his ways may be perfected, and that his Feet (or footsteps), which is to say, the sacraments, may not be moved.
Item, cum ex actibus generentur habitus, actus vestigia relinquuntur in voluntate. Again, since habits are generated from actions, (one could say that) actual vestiges (or footsteps so to speak) are left in the will.
Vel ad litteram petit David, quod non praecipitetur de praeruptis per quae transibat fugiens Saul: 1 Reg. 24: Sequebatur eum Saul per praeruptissimas petras. Or literally, he seeks David, that he may not be hurled down from the craggy rocks through which he passed, fleeing Saul; 1 Kings 24: “Saul…went out to seek after (David)…upon the most craggy rocks”.
Alia littera habet, sustenta gressus meos in calcibus meis, et non labentur vestigia mea. Another version has “Sustain my steps in my ways, and let not my footsteps fail”.
Vel quod Christus secundum quod homo perficiatur in sempiternum gloria divinitatis: Ioan. 17: Clarifica me, Pater, apud temetipsum, claritate quam habui priusquam mundus fieret. Or, (it could be said) that Christ, as man, is perfected in the eternal glory of divinity; John 17: “Glorify thou me, O Father, with thyself, with the glory which I had before the world was”.
b. Ego. Supra petit psalmista ut stabiliatur in bono; hic autem petit ut liberetur a malo: et circa hoc tria facit. Primo petit exaudiri in sua petitione. Secundo ponit eam, ibi, Mirifica misericordias tuas. Tertio exauditionem suae petitionis manifestat, ibi, Ego autem. Circa primum duo facit. Primo proponit spem conceptam de Deo. Secundo ex hac petit se exaudiri, ibi, Inclina aurem. I have cried. Previously, the Psalmist set forth that he be made steadfast in goodness. But here, he asks that he be liberated from evil. Concerning this he does three things. First, he asks to be heard in his petition. Second, he sets it (his petition) forth, at, Shew forth thy wonderful mercies. Third, he shows the granting of his petition, at, But as for me. Concerning the first he does two things. First, he demonstrates his hope received from God. Second, from this received hope he asks that he be heard, at, O incline thy ear.
Dicit ergo, Ego clamavi. Videtur ordo praeposterus: quia convenientius videtur dici, quoniam clamavi, exaudisti me. Et ideo tripliciter exponitur. Uno modo secundum Glossam. Ego clamavi. In clamore validior intentio mentis est, et libera. Tunc ergo clamant qui cum magna devotione orant, et libertate cordis. Et unde hoc? Quoniam exaudisti, dando scilicet libertatem. And so, he says I have cried. It would seem that the order is inverted. It would be more suitable to have said, “Because I have cried, you have heard me.” This is explained thus in a three-fold way. First, according to the Gloss, I have cried. In a cry, the intent of the mind is more powerful, and (is) unrestrained. Therefore, at that moment, they cry who pray with great devotion and freedom of heart. And on account of what? For thou has heard, namely by giving freedom.
Gregorius: neminem exaudit Deus nisi quem ut precetur inspirat, animam scilicet per aliquam devotionem: Psalm. 118: Concupivit anima mea desiderare etc. Gregory states “God hears no one except he whom He inspires to entreat.” And he inspires the soul namely through some devotion; Psalm 118: “He desired my soul to desire” etc.
Alio modo, secundum Augustinum 10 de civit. Dei, quod ly quoniam non designat causam, sed signum; quasi dicat: hoc est signum quod clamavi, quia exaudisti me. The second way is according to Augustine’s City of God, Book 10. (There, he says) that the (word) “since” does not designate a cause, but a sign, as if to say, “This is a sign that I have cried, for you have heard me.”
Tertio modo, quia cum quis exauditur semel, iterum fiducialius petit. Et ideo dicit, quoniam exaudisti ego clamavi. The third way (of explaining this is) that when someone is heard, he asks time and again more confidently. And so, he says “Since you have heard, I have cried.”
Hieronymus habet, plane quoniam exaudisti. Semper haec duo coniungit, clamorem, et exauditionem, quia qui sic clamat exauditur: Ionae 2: Clamavi de tribulatione mea ad Dominum, et exaudivit me: Psalm. 141: Clamavi ad te, dixi tu es etc. Jerome has, “(I have cried) since you have heard (me) completely.” He always joins these two (words), cry and hearkening, because he who cries thus is heard; Jonah 2: “I cried out of my affliction to the Lord, and He heard me”; Psalm 141: “I cried to thee (O Lord): I said, Thou art (my hope)” etc.
Consequenter petit exaudiri. Et qui exaudit primo audit; ideo dicit, Inclina, nisi Dominus sit in alto loco, oportet quod inclinet aurem ad audiendum illum qui est in imo. Dominus sedet in maiestate sua; et si vellet nostra agere secundum altitudinem suae iustitiae, non salvaremur, quia Isa. 64: Quasi pannus menstruatae omnes iustitiae nostrae. Et ideo oportet quod inclinet, et tunc exaudiat: Dan. 9: Inclina domine aurem tuam, et audi. Following this, he asks to be heard. And he who hearkens first hears. Thus he says O incline. Unless the Lord were in a high place, it would be appropriate that he incline his ear so as to hear he who is in the least (place). The Lord sits in his majesty, and if he wanted us to treat our affairs according to the height of his justice, we would not be saved, because (according to) Isaiah 64: “(We are all become as one unclean, and) all our justice as the rag of a menstruous woman.” Thus, it is appropriate that he incline and then hear: Daniel 9: “Incline, O my God, thy ear, and hear.”
c. Mirifica. Hic ponitur petitio: et est duplex. Prima de sui liberatione. Secunda de inimicorum deiectione, Exurge Domine, praeveni eum. Circa primum duo facit. Primo petit liberationem. Secundo subdit necessitatem liberationis, ibi, Inimici mei. Circa primum tria facit. Primo petit misericordiam. Secundo salutem, ibi, Qui salvos facit. Tertio liberationis modum, ibi, Custodi me ut pupillam oculi. Shew forth thy wonderful mercies. Here, he makes his petition which is two-fold. First, concerning his liberation, and second, concerning the defeat of his enemies, at, Arise, O Lord, disappoint him. Concerning the first, he does two things. First, he asks for liberation, and second, adds the necessity of liberation, at, My enemies. Concerning the first, he does three things. First, he asks for mercy, second for safety, at Thou who savest them, and third, the mode of liberation, at, Keep me, as the pupil of thy eye.
Dicit ergo, Mirifica. Quod quis liberetur a parvo hoste, non est mirum: sed cum quis liberatur a maximo malo, vel hoste, hoc est mirum; et hoc petit, Mirifica, idest mirabiliter libera me. Et hoc non secundum iudicium hominis, sed secundum misericordiam tuam: Eccl. 36: Innova signa et immuta mirabilia, glorifica manum et brachium dextrum, excita furorem et effunde iram, extolle adversarium, et afflige inimicum. Et huius ratio est, quia tuum est et proprium. Thus, he says, Make wonderful. It is not wonderful when one is liberated from an insignificant enemy. But when one is liberated from a great evil, or enemy, this is wonderful. And this he asks, Make wonderful, that is wonderously liberate me, not according to the judgment of man, but according to Thy mercy; Ecclesiasticus 36: “Renew thy signs, and work new wonders. Glorify thy hand, and the right hand. Raise up indignation, and pour out wrath. Take away the adversary, and crush the enemy.” And the reason for this is that it is yours and appropriate (to do this).
Qui salvos facis sperantes in te: Eccl. 2: Nullus speravit in Domino, et confusus est. Et salvas, A resistentibus dexterae tuae. Dextera Dei sive virtus est operativa spiritualiter in bonis: Prov. 3: Longitudo dierum in dextera eius, et in sinistra illius divitiae et gloria. Dicuntur resistere dexterae Dei daemones sive peccatores qui impediunt spiritualia. Vel dextera Dei dicitur Christus: Psal. 117: Dextera Dei fecit virtutem. Cui resistunt Iudaei contradicendo eius doctrinae: Io. 7: Quomodo hic litteras scit, cum non didicerit? et detrahendo illius operationi: Io. 9: Non est hic homo a Deo qui sabbatum non custodit: Luc. 11: In Beelzebub principe daemoniorum eiicit daemonia. Thou who savest them that trust in thee; Ecclesiasticus 2: “No one hath hoped in the Lord, and hath been confounded.” And saved From them that resist thy right hand. The right hand of God is (his) power working spiritually in the good; Proverbs 3: “Length of days is in her right hand and her left hand riches and glory.” Demons and sinners who impede spiritual matters are said to resist the right hand of God. The right hand of God is also said of Christ; Psalm 117: “The right hand of God wrought strength”, whom the Jews resist by contradicting his teachings (John 7: “How doth this man know letters having never learned?”), and by disparaging his activities; John 9: “This man is not of God who keepeth not the Sabath”; Luke 11: “He casteth out devils by Baelzebub, the prince of devils.”
Sed est quaestio contra psalmum (ps. 75): Tu terribilis es, et quis resistet tibi? Nullus ergo suae voluntati potest contradicere: Iob 9: Deus cuius irae nullus potest resistere. But is the question “You are terrible, and who will resist you?” contrary to (this) Psalm? No one therefore can contradict His will; Job 9: “God, whose wrath no man can resist.”
Et dicendum, quod nullus efficaciter potest resistere ei, sed potest habere voluntatem sive propositum resistendi. (In response) it must be said that no one effectively is able to resist Him, but can have the will or intention of resisting (Him).
Consequenter ponit modum liberationis, quia diligenter et tute: ideo dicit Custodi me ut pupillam oculi. Pupilla oculi cum diligentia custoditur, quia nihil quod laedere possit permittitur appropinquare; sic et facit Deus in custodia servi sui: Deut. 32: Circumduxit eum, et docuit et custodivit quasi pupillam oculi sui: Zach. 2: Qui vos tetigerit, tangit pupillam oculi mei. Next, he sets down the mode of liberation, that (He do this) diligently and safely. And so, he says, Keep me as the pupil of the eye. The pupil of the eye is kept with diligence because nothing which can wound (it) is permitted to draw near. And in this way, God takes his servant into (His) protection; Deuteronomy 32: “He led him about, and taught him: and he kept him as the pupil of his eye”; Zacharias 2: “For he that toucheth you, toucheth the pupil of my eye.”
Vel secundum Glossam, pupilla oculi dicitur Christus dirigens: Eccl. 3: Virtus visiva est in pupilla qua discernimus bonum a malo, et Christus discernit fideles ab infidelibus, et a bonis malos, ad hanc diligentem custodiam manifestandam utitur duplici metaphora: scilicet umbrae et alarum. Umbra enim refrigerat ab aestu, sic et tutela Dei refrigerat dans securitatem. Item alis gallina pullos contra milvum custodit; sic et Deus suis alis, quae sunt charitas et misericordia, iustos defendit a rapacitate daemonum. Matth. 23: Quoties volui congregare vos, quemadmodum gallina congregat pullos sub alas, et noluistis? His ergo alis Deus nos elevat ad superna: Ps. 88: Misericordia et veritas praecedent faciem tuam, beatus populus etc.; Hier. 31: In charitate perpetua dilexi te, ideo attraxi te miserans. Or, according to the Gloss, “The pupil of the eye is said of Christ directing”; Eccl. 3: “The power of sight is in the pupil of the eye whereby we discern good from evil”, and Christ discerns the faithful from the unfaithful, and the bad from the good. To show clearly this diligent protection, a two fold metaphor is employed, namely of shadow, and of wings. Now shade refreshes (one) from heat, just as God’s care refreshes (one) with safety. Again, a hen protects her chicks in her wings against a bird of prey, just as God defends the just from the rapacity of the demons in His Wings, which are charity and mercy; Matthew 23: “How often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldest not?” Therefore, in (his) wings, God raises up to the heavens; Psalm 88: “Mercy and truth shall go before thy face: blessed is the people (that knoweth jubiliation); Jeremiah 31: “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore have I drawn thee, taking pity on thee.”
Vel Pupilla oculi dicitur anima; quia sicut pupilla quae est in medio oculi, circumdatur multis pellibus ad defensionem, et homo apponit manum, et fere omne quod habet, ne laedatur; sic debet homo facere pro anima: Iob 2: Pellem pro pelle etc.: quia, ut dicitur Marc. 8, Quid prodest homini si mundum universum lucretur et animae etc. The pupil of the eye (could also be) said of the soul, for as the puil, which is in the middle of the eye, is encompassed by much skin for its protection (and as a person hold out his hand and almost everything that he has so that it may not be injured), so too should a person do (this) for his soul; Job 2: “Skin for skin (and all that a man hath he will give for his life”) for, as it is said at Mark 16: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?”
Vel Custodi me, ut pupillam oculi, idest ut Christum, Sub umbra alarum tuarum protege me, idest sub custodia angelorum: Ps. 90: Angelis suis mandavit de te etc. Or, Keep me as the pupil of the eye, that is, as Christ, Protect me under the shadow of they wings, that is, under the protection of the angels; Psalm 90: “For he hath given his angels charge over thee” etc.
Vel duae alae sunt duo brachia Christi extenta in cruce: Deut. 32: Expandit alas suas, et assumpsit eos atque portavit in humeris suis. Or, the two wings are the two arms of Christ extended on the cross; Deuteronomy 32: “He spread his wings, and hath taken them and carried them on his shoulders.”
Consequenter ostendit a quibus competit liberari, quia A facie impiorum qui me afflixerunt; idest a potestate et praesentia daemonum, vel falsorum fratrum: 2 Cor. 11: Periculis in falsis fratribus. Qui me afflixerunt, tentationibus et persecutionibus: Exod. 1: Oderant filios Israel Aegyptii, et affligebant illudentes eis. Sic nos debemus petere liberari a peccato: Eccl. 21: Quasi a facie colubri fuge peccatum. Next, he shows from which (things) it is suitable to be freed, namely From the face of the wicked who have afflicted me, that is from the power and presence of the demons, or of false brothers; 2 Corinthians 11: “In perils from false brethren.” Who have afflicted me with temptations and persecutions; Exodus 1: “The Egyptians hated the children of Israel and afflicted them and mocked them.” In this way we ought to seek to be freed from sin; Ecclesiasticus 21: “Flee from sins as from the face of a serpent.”
d. Inimici. Hic ponit necessitatem liberationis: et circa hoc duo facit. Primo proponit afflictionem quam patitur. Secundo afflictionis similitudinem, ibi, Susceperunt me. Circa primum duo facit. Primo praemittit afflictionem. Secundo afflictionis modum, ibi, Adipem etc. My enemies. Here he sets down the necessity of (his) freedom. Concerning this, he does two things. First, he sets forth the affliction which he suffers, and second, an image of (this) affliction, at, They have taken me. Concerning the first, he does two things. First, he presents the affliction, and second, the mode of the affliction, at, Fat etc.
Dicit ergo, Inimici, daemones, sive peccata ita affligunt me, quod, Circumdederunt animam meam, idest sic undique concludunt, quod non inveniam viam liberationis. Et dicit, Animam, quia nihil quaerunt nisi animam. Hostes corporales quaerunt tollere vitam; hostes vero spirituales quaerunt animam. And so, he says Enemies, demons, or sins, afflict me in such a fashion that they Have surrounded my soul, that is, they have enclosed (me) on all sides, such that I will not find freedom’s path. He says Soul because they seek nothing other than (his) soul. Bodily enemies seek to take (one’s) life, while spiritual enemies seek the soul.
Vel potest intelligi de Christo, cuius animam Iudaei suis malitiis circumdabant; Ps. 117: Circumdederunt me sicut apes etc. Item Ps. 21: Circumdederunt me canes multi, concilium malignantium obsedit me. Or, it can be understood of Christ, whose soul the Jews surrounded with their malice; Psalm 117: “They surrounded me like bees” etc.; Psalm 21: Many dogs have surrounded me, the council of evildoers besets me.”
Consequenter ponit modum; unde dicit: Adipem. Adeps in Scriptura quandoque in bono, quandoque in malo accipitur. In bono, secundum quod signat devotionem mentis: Ps. 62: Sicut adipe et pinguedine repleatur anima mea. In malo. Primo secundum quod signat nequitiam cordis. Secundo oris. Tertio operis: et ideo designat detestabilem malitiam: Iob 21: Viscera impii plena sunt adipe, et medullis ossa illius irrigantur. Et hoc est multiplex. Quandoque delectatio de peccato quod faciunt: Prov. 2: Qui laetantur cum male fecerint, et exultant in rebus pessimis. Item superbia et falsitas: Iob 11: Vir vanus in superbiam erigitur, et quasi pullum onagri se liberum natum putat. Item carnalis sensus. Dicit ergo, Adipem suum, idest carnalem sensum, vel superbiam, vel delectationem: Concluserunt, in se, ut non capiant spiritualem sensum. Next, he sets down the mode (of his affliction); thus he says Fat. Fat, in the Scriptures, is understood sometimes in a good, and sometimes in a bad way. (It is understood in the former) in as much as it signifies a devotion of the mind; Psalm 62: “Let my soul be filled as with marrow and fatness.” (It is understood) in a bad way, first as it signifies wickedness of heart, second, of the mouth, and third of (one’s) works: and in this fashion (fat) designates detestable wickedness; Job 21: “His bowels are full of fat, and his bones are moistened with marrow. And this is manifold. Sometimes (there is) pleasure in the sin that they committ; Proverbs 2: “Who are glad when they have done evil, and rejoice in most wicked things.” Also, pride and falseness; Job 11: “A vain man is lifted up into pride, and thinketh himself born free like a wild ass’s colt.” Also, carnal sensuality. Therefore, he says, Their fat, that is, carnal sensuality, either pride or pleasure: They have shut up, in themselves so that they do not take hold of the spiritual meaning.
Hieronymus habet, adipe suo, idest abundantia temporalium et saecularis potestatis, concluserunt me. Jerome has “In their fat, that is, they have shut me up in an abundance of temporal and secular power.”
Secundo, quoad os, quia, Os eorum locutum est superbiam. Et hoc quando Iudaei dicebant contra Christum; Matth. 27: Si es rex Israel etc. Secondly, with respect to their mouth, Their mouth hath spoken proudly. And this when the Jews spoke against Christ; Matthew 27: “If he be the king of Israel (let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him”
Tertio quoad opus. Et primo ostendit quomodo procedit ad opus. Secundo causam huius, ibi, Oculos suos. In operatione autem duo ponit. Primo defectum. Secundo solicitudinem nocendi: et tamen quando quis contemnit, non solicitatur nocere: et ideo dicit, Proiicientes, idest despicientes: Isa. 33: Proiecit civitates, non reputavit homines, et tamen circumdederunt me undique solicite. Et hoc fecerunt Iudaei Christo, quando proiecerunt eum extra civitatem: Luc. 2: Et circumdederunt me, convenientes ad spectaculum ut irriderent, Act. 7. Et huius ratio est, quia non respiciunt ad Deum, sed ad terrena: Ps. 3: Non est salus illi in Deo eius. Thirdly, with respect to their work. And he first shows how (the wicked) proceed to (their) work, and second, its cause, at, Their eyes. In (their) activity, he sets down two things. First, a defect, and second, the solicitude to injure. However, when one despises, one is not solicitous to do harm: and so he says Those who cast (me) forth, that is, those who despise (me); Isaiah 33: “He hath rejected the cities, he hath not regarded the men (and yet they have surrounded me on all sides carefully with solicitude”). And this the Jews did to Christ when they ejected him from the city; cf. Luke 2. And they have surrounded me, those comming to the spectacle so that they might mock (him); cf. Acts 7. The reason for this is that they care not for God, but rather for earthly things; Psalm 3: “There is no salvation for him in his God.”
Statuerunt oculos suos declinare in terram, scilicet peccatores statuerunt intentionem cordis sui declinare in terram, cum deliberatione et mora: Prov. 17: Oculi stultorum, idest peccatorum, in finibus terrae, et ideo non recipiunt lumen gratiae: Eccl. 2: Oculi sapientis in capite eius; stultus, idest peccator, in tenebris idest in peccatis, ambulat. Dan. 13: Declinaverunt oculos suos ut non viderent caelum. Et hoc ad litteram fuit in Iudaeis, cum dicebant, Ioan. 11: Ne forte veniant Romani, et tollant locum nostrum et gentem. They have set their eyes bowing down to the earth, namely sinners have set the intention of their heart bowing down to the earth with deliberation and delay; Proverbs 17: “The eyes of fools”, that is, of sinners, “are in the ends of the earth”, and as such they do not receive the light of grace; Ecclesiastes 2: “The eyes of a wise man are in his head; the fool”, that is, the sinner, “walketh in darkness”, that is, in his sins; Daniel 13: “They have turned away their eyes, that they might not look unto heaven.” And exactly this was done among the Jews when they said at John 11: “(if we let him alone so, all will believe in him); and the Romans will come and take away our place and nation.”
Vel In terram, idest in carnem Christi, cuius infirmitatem tantum considerabant, et non eius divinitatem: quasi dicat: statuerunt oculos suos etc. Or, to the earth (could mean) “at the flesh of Christ”, whose infirmity they regarded so much, but not his divinity, as if to say, “They have set their eyes (upon the flesh of Christ”).
De industria similitudo ponitur quantum ad violentiam, quia, Sicut leo paratus ad praedam susceperunt me, vel a Deo, vel a Pilato milites: quantum ad fraudulentiam, quia, Sicut catulus leonis habitans in abditis. Leo in agro invadit: sed catulus eius in occulto morans, raptam praedam comedit vel invadit: Matth. 26. Osculo enim fuit traditus, de nocte captus, per falsos testes condemnatus, et princeps sacerdotum scidit vestimenta sua. Concerning (their) diligence, a likeness is set down with respect to its violence, As a lion prepared for the prey, they have taken me, either from God, or from Pilate’s soldiers. (A likeness is also set down) with respect to fraud, And as a young lion dwelling in secret places. The lion attacks in open spaces, but her young, remaining hidden, consume or attack the prey once seized; cf. Matthew 26. For he was betrayed by a kiss, taken by night, condemned by false witnesses and the high priest tore his own clothing.
e. Exurge. Hic ponit aliam petitionem, idest deiectionem inimicorum; et ponit tria. Primo petitionem. Secundo expositionem, ibi, Eripe animam meam. Tertio petitionis rationem, ibi, De absconditis. Circa primum duo facit. Primo petit occultationem auxilii. Secundo destructionem adversarii. Arise. Here he sets down another petition, namely for the defeat of his enemies. He sets down three things. First, his petition, second, an explanation, at, Deliver my soul, and third, the reason for his petition, at From (thy) hidden (stores). Concerning the first he does two things. First, he asks for the concealment of (His) help, and second, the destruction of his adversaries.
Dicit ergo: dormire videris dum pateris me affligi, sed, Exurge Domine, praeveni eum, ut citius subvenias quam nocere possit: Et supplanta eum, idest destitue eum quasi astute: Iob 5: Qui apprehendit sapientes in astutia eorum: Prov. 19: Astutia hominis supplantat gressus eius. Supplanta eum, in duobus: scilicet in mei liberatione; et quantum ad hoc dicit, Eripe animam meam ab impio, quia contra iustitiam persequitur me, et ideo impius est: Ps. 42: Ab homine iniquo et doloso eripe me. Et huius ratio est, quia anima mea est Framea, idest gladius acutus ex utraque parte, qua destructus est diabolus. Et hoc proprie dicitur de anima Christi: Isa. 27: In die illa visitabit Dominus super Leviathan in gladio duro et forti. Dicit, Frameam tuam ab inimicis manus tuae, supple, Eripe: Psal. 66: Intende animae meae, et libera eam. Thus, he says, “You seem to sleep when you allow me to be afflicted, but Arise, O Lord, disappoint him” so that you might come to my assistance more quickly than he is able to harm (me): And supplant him, that is, forsake him, as it were, in a shrewd way; Job 5: “Who catcheth the wise in their craftiness”; Proverbs 19: “The folly of a man supplanteth his steps”. Supplant him in a two-fold way, first, in my freedom. And with respect to this, he says, Deliver my soul from the wicked one because he persecutes me contrary to justice, and is thus wicked; Psalm 42: “Deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man.” The reason for this is that my soul is a spear, that is a sword sharpened on both sides by which the devil was destroyed. And this is properly said of Christ’s soul; Isaiah 27: “in that day the Lord with his hard…and strong sword shall visit Leviathan.” He says Thy sword from the enemies of thy hand complete deliver; Psalm 68: “Attend to my soul and deliver it.”
Vel, Eripe frameam tuam ab inimicis, idest aufer gladium et potestatem, quam habent a te: Sap. 6: Data est vobis a Deo potestas. Et voluntatem quam habent a se: Zach. 13: Framea suscitare super pastorem meum. Or, Deliver thy sword from the enemies, that is, take (their) sword and power which they have from you (Wisdom 6: “Power was given to you by God”), and the will which they have from themselves (Zacharias 13: “Awake the sword against my shepherd”).
Vel, Supplanta eos, in eorum frustratione, et Eripe animam meam ab inimicis manus tuae, idest Christi filii tui; nam filius dicitur manus patris: Deut. 32: Tollam in caelum manum meam, idest filium meum. Or, Supplant them, (secondly) in their deception: And deliver my soul from the enemies of thy hand, that is, of Christ your son: for a son is said to be the hand of his father; Deuteronomy 32: “I will lift up my hand to heaven”, that is, my son.
Domine, a paucis de terra divide eos; quia propter hoc persequuntur me, ut regnum suum stabiliant. Haec est duplex littera: in psalmo romano sic, o Domine dispartire eos in vita eorum; quasi dicat, ipsi oculos habent ad terram, et ideo mala faciunt; sed tu exclude eos de terra quam dedisti eis. Sed quomodo? Numquid ut vadant in unum locum? Non, sed dispartire eos per totum mundum. O Lord, divide them from the few of the earth that for this the former persecute me, so that the latter may establish their own kingdom. This passage is two-fold: in the Roman version, it is thus: “O Lord disperse them in their life”, as if to say, “They have their very eyes to the earth, and thus they do evil; but you, exclude them from the earth which you have given to them.” But how? That they may go about in one place? No, but disperse them throughout the world.
Alia littera, Domine a paucis de terra dimitte eos; quasi dicat: divide eos de terra, et a paucis, idest a societate electorum, in vita eorum, idest dum vivunt. In the other version, “O Lord, release them from the few of the earth”, as if to say, “Divide them from the earth and From the few, that is from the society of the elect, In their life, that is while they live.
Vel quia legitur quod imminente destructione sunt admoniti per angelum, quod fideles recederent et irent in regnum Agrippae. Et ideo, divide eos a paucis, idest Christianis, qui sunt reservati. Or, it is written that they were warned by an angel of their immanent destruction and the faithful withdrew and went into the kingdom of Agrippa. And so, Divide them from the few, that is, from Christians who have been preserved.
De absconditis tuis adimpletus est venter eorum, idest de peccatis non confessis: Prov. 28: Qui abscondit scelera sua, non dirigetur: Iob 31: Si abscondi quasi homo peccatum meum, et celavi in sinu meo iniquitatem meam. Their belly is filled from hidden stores, that is, from (their) sins not confessed; Proverbs 28: “He that hideth his sins will not be guided”; Job 31: “If as a man I have hid my sin, and have concealed my iniquity in my bosom.”
Vel hic ponitur ratio petitionis, et huiusmodi ratio est duplex: videlicet quia potest referri ad peccata, vel ad beneficia de quibus sunt ingrati. Si primo modo, sic. Primo ponit abundantiam peccatorum. Si secundo modo, ostendit quomodo beneficia Dei derivabantur ad filios. Or, the reason for (his) petition is set down here. And this reason is two-fold, namely because it can be referred to (their) sins, or to the benefices concerning which they are ungrateful. If in the first way, he thus sets down the abundance of (their) sins. If in the second way, he shows how the benefices of God were distributed to (His) sons.
Dicit ergo quantum ad primum, De absconditis tuis adimpletus est venter eorum, idest de peccatis quae sibi abscondita sunt: non quod non videat, sed quia non vult ea videre: Habac. 1: Mundi sunt oculi tui, Domine, ne videat malum; et ad iniquitatem respicere non possunt. Adimpletus est venter eorum, idest conscientia, vel memoria, vel carnalis concupiscentia, vel sensualitas. He thus says with regard to the first, Their belly is filled from hidden stores, that is, from (their) sins, which were hidden from themselves, not that he does not see, but that he does not want to see them; Habacuc 1: “Thy eyes, O Lord, are too pure to behold evil, and thou canst not look on iniquity.” Their belly, that is, their conscience, or memory, or carnal concupiscence, or sensuality, is filled.
Saturati sunt filiis, idest peccatis, vel malis operibus. Mala opera dicuntur filii malorum, sicut bona opera filii bonorum. They are full of children, that is of sins, or of evil works. The latter are called the children of the evil, just as good works are (referred to as) the children of the good.
Alia littera habet, Saturati sunt porcina, idest immunditia peccatorum; et est expositio eius quod dicit, De absconditis: et diviserunt reliquias suas parvulis suis; quasi dicat, derivantur ad filios, qui imitati sunt peccata eorum: Sap. 4: Ex iniquis omnes filii qui nascentur, testes sunt nequitiae adversus parentes in interrogatione sua. Another version has, They are full of swine’s flesh, that is, with the impurity of sins; and it is his explanation that says (it is) From hidden stores…and they have left the rest to their little ones, as if to say, they are drawn off to (their) children who have imitated their sins; Wisdom 4: “For the children that are born of unlawful beds are witnesses of wickedness against their parents in their trial.”
Vel Saturati sunt filiis, idest ad utilitatem filiorum, Et diviserunt reliquias suas parvulis suis, qui eos ad peccatum, quantum in eis fuit, obligaverunt: Matth. 27: Sanguis eius super nos et filios nostros. Or, They are full of children, that is, of the advantage of (their) children, And they have left the rest to their little ones, who bound them to sin in so far as it was in them; Matthew 27: “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
Vel, Saturati sunt filiis, idest pro filiis: quasi: ita saturati sunt peccatis, quod suffecit eis et filiis suis; idest reliqua peccata quae non fecerunt ipsi, dimiserunt facienda filiis suis. Or, They are full of children, that is, on behalf of (their) children, as if, thus full of sins, which meet both their need and their children’s, the remaining sins, which they themselves have not committed, they have left for their children to be done.
Si secundo modo, sic duo beneficia receperunt. Primo spiritualia, quia legem. Et ideo dicit, De absconditis, sapientiae tuae, adimpletus est venter eorum, idest carnalis sensus: Psal. 147: Non fecit taliter omni nationi. Secundo bona temporalia, quia, Saturati sunt filiis, et quod plus est, reliquerunt ea eis. If (we consider the second reason for his petition), they have thus received two benefices. First, a spiritual benefice, the law. And so he says, From hidden stores, of your wisdom, Their belly is full, that is, their carnal sense; Psalm 147: “He hath not done in like manner to every nation.” Second, (the benefice of) temporal goods, because They are full of children, and because it is more, they leave these to them.
Hieronymi littera habet ab illo loco, eripe animam meam ab impio, quasi scilicet impius sit gladius tuus: Isai. 10: Vae Assur virga furoris, a viris manus tuae, qui sunt mortui in profundo, quorum pars est in vita; quasi dicat, eripe animam meam ab impio, idest a Saule, et a viris manus tuae, qui contradicunt manui tuae, qui sunt mortui in profundo, idest peccato, quorum pars est in vita, scilicet ista, quorum venter adimpletus est etc. At this place (in the text), Jerome’s version has “Deliver my soul from the wicked one”, as if the wicked one were your sword; Isaiah 10: “Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of anger, by the men of your hand, who died in the depths, whose part it is in life”, as if he were saying, “Deliver my soul from the wicked one”, that is, from Saul, “and from the men of your hand” who have contradicted your hand. Those “who died in the depths”, that is, in sin. “Whose part it is in life”, namely those very ones “whose belly is filled” etc.
Saul secundum Glossam significat mortem; et sicut mortuo Saule David regnavit in pace, ita Christus morte devicta post resurrectionem. According to the Gloss, “Saul” signifies “death”, and just as with the death of Saul, David reigned in peace, so too Christ banished death after the resurrection.
f. Ego. Hic ostendit spem suae exauditionis: et ponit duo: scilicet iustitiam quam habet, et visionem Dei. Et consequuntur se: quia per iustitiam pervenitur ad Dei visionem: Ps. 14: Quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo etc.? qui ingreditur sine macula, et operatur iustitiam. But as for me. Here he shows the hope of his having been heard. And he describes two things, namely the justice which he possesses, and the vision of God. And these two follow in order, for through justice one arrives at the vision of God; Psalm 14: “Lord, who shall dwell in thy tabernacle…He that walketh without blemish and worketh justice.”
Alia littera, ego autem in iustitia videbo faciem tuam, et ideo apparebo in conspectu tuo, idest veniam ad videndum te; Another version has “But as for me, I will see your face in justice” and thus “I will appear before thy sight”, that is, I will come to you to be seen.
Et satiabor cum apparuerit gloria tua, idest quando videbo te, replebor omnibus bonis: Psal. 102: Qui replet in bonis desiderium tuum, scilicet gloria tua, in qua omnia bona sunt. Illi satiantur porcina, secundum lxx. And I shall be satisfied when thy glory shall appear, that is, when I see you, I will be filled with every good; Psalm 102: “Who satisfieth thy desire with good things”, namely your glory in which are all good things. The others are filled with swine’s flesh according to the Septuagint.
Nostra littera dicit, in terra sanctorum etc. Isa. 26: Tollatur impius ne videat gloriam Dei. Ego autem satiabor: Hier. 3: Cum apparuerit, similes ei erimus. Our version says In the land of the holy etc.; Isaiah 26: “Destroy the wicked man lest he see the glory of God.” And I shall be satisfied; Jeremiah 3: “When he appears we will be like unto him.”

© Stephen Loughlin

The Aquinas Translation Project

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Mark 9:38-48

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 28, 2012

Text in red are my additions.

Mar 9:38 John answered him, saying: Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, who followeth not us: and we forbade him.

John answered Him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, who followeth not us, and we forbade him. It is as though he said, “Have we done well or ill?” John asks this question not out of envy, as Calvin would have it, but out of love and zeal for the honour of Christ. And it was occasioned by what He had said in the preceding verse, Whosoever shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me. As though he said, If he who receives a little one in Thy name receiveth Thy Father and Thyself, what must we think concerning him who works miracles in Thy name, and yet followeth not us, that is, is not Thy attendant and disciple, as we are? “Because,” says Cyril (in Catena in Luke 11:49), “the Saviour had given power to His Apostles to cast out unclean spirits, they thought that it had been conceded to none others save themselves to enjoy such dignity.” So Theophylact and Victor.

Here observe that those who thus cast out devils in the name of Christ, and yet did not follow Him, were believers, but imperfect ones, forasmuch as they shrank from the rugged poverty and renunciation of their goods, such as was the lot of the Apostles. They shrank from following Christ in His evangelical labours and His persecutions. Still they have some faith in Christ, by virtue of which they cast out devils. So S. Ambrose (in Luke 11:49). And in so doing Christ wrought and co-operated with them, that His power and glory might be the more made manifest, which wrought such great things by means of those who were so imperfect, and, as it were, aliens.

Observe, in the next place, that the Apostles did not forbid such people through hatred, but out of zeal for Christ, as though they were detracting from the glory of Christ and His ordinance, according to Mark 3:15, where Christ gives to His Apostles only the power of casting out devils. But this zeal of theirs was indiscreet, especially because they had rashly, without consulting Christ, forbidden them. And Christ showed them that this was so for a double reason. The first is what He brings forward in the next verse. In a similar manner, when Joshua saw Eldad and Medad prophesying, he wished to forbid them, as if they were detracting from the glory of Moses, in that they had not received the spirit of prophecy from Moses. But Moses checked him by saying, “Enviest thou for my sake? Would that all the people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” (Num 11:29). This is the Spirit of Christ, the spirit of love and of the Holy Ghost, which makes large the heart, and envieth none, but rejoices in all good things, by whomsoever and in what way soever they are wrought (see 1 Cor 13.).

Mar 9:39 But Jesus said: Do not forbid him. For there is no man that doth a miracle in my name and can soon speak ill of me.

But Jesus said, Do not forbid him, for there is no man that doth a miracle in My name, and can soon (Gr.τάχα, i.e., easily) speak ill of Me. Do not hinder him in a good work, and one that honours Me; because even if he does not follow Me, yet he is doing the selfsame thing which you do, that is to say, he is celebrating My name, and he is making it known to men by casting out devils. Wherefore he does nothing that is against My name, but rather propagates and glorifies it.

Mar 9:40 For he that is not against you is for you.

For he that is not against you is for you. This man, therefore, is not your adversary, in that he does the same that you do. He stands on your side. He helps you; he does not oppose you.

Mar 9:41 For whosoever shall give you to drink a cup of water in my name, because you belong to Christ: amen I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.

For whosoever shall give you to drink a cup of water in My name, because you belong to Christ: Amen I say to you, he shall not lose his reward. This is Christ’s further reason to show why the man must not be forbidden to cast out devils. It is as though Christ said, “If he who gives you a drink of water in My name, and for My sake, does well, and shall receive a reward from God, so likewise shall he who drives out devils in My name. For both the one and the other do a good work, and are profitable to their neighbours in regard and respect of Me. But the one confers so much the greater benefit than the other, by as much as the devil whom he drives out is more hurtful than the thirst which the other alleviates by a draught of water.” So Theophylact.

Mar 9:42 And whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me: it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea.

And whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. This is antithetical to the 37th verse. For Christ returns after the question interposed by John to what He had said concerning those who should receive a little child in His name. For as he who receives and cherishes the little ones who believe in Me, receives Myself, and shall be rewarded by Me with eternal glory in heaven; so, on the other hand, whoso shall cause one of these little ones to offend, offendeth Me, and shall be by Me condemned to Gehenna.

Mar 9:43 And if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life, maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire:

And if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off. For a scandal is so pernicious that it harms not only the doer but the sufferer of it. Wherefore, if thou sufferest a scandal from thy hand, cut it off. That is, if any one, relative or friend, as useful and as dear to thee as thy hand, thy foot, thine eye, scandalize thee, that is, draw thee into sin, separate such an one from thy company, lest he drag thee with him into Gehenna.

Mar 9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished.
Mar 9:45  And if thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter lame into life everlasting than having two feet to be cast into the hell of unquenchable fire:

Mar 9:46  Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished.
Mar 9:47  And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee with one eye to enter into the kingdom of God than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire:
Mar 9:48  Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished.

Where their worm dieth not. He quotes Isa 66:24. Christ repeats this saying three times, that He may impress these dreadful worms and these fires upon us, that through horror of them we may avoid every scandal and every sin. One should not, however, become so tangled up with the negatives as to lose sight of the positive, i.e., the overriding value of the Kingdom to which hand, foot, and eye cannot compare.



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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 19

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 28, 2012

Please note that the verse numbering follows that of the RSV. The NAB numbering is included in square brackets […].


THE glory of God, as shown in the heavens, and revealed in the Law, is the theme of this psalm. The first part of the poem (Ps 19:1-6 [19:2-7]) deals with the glory of God which is unceasingly hymned, in words intelligible to all, by the hosts of heaven—the glory which each hour of the day and of the night displays in ever- changing splendour, the glory which is seen most fully in the sun, the greatest of the wondrous beings which God has set in the heavens. From one end of heaven to the other speeds the great sun, penetrating all things with his fiery glow.

The second part of the psalm (Ps 19:7-14 [19:8-15]) deals with that glory of God
which the Law displays. The Law is pure and clean: it brightens the eyes, and quickens the soul; to follow it means rich reward. May the Lord forgive the singer his sins of frailty, save him from the godless, and receive graciously the words of his song!

The two parts of the poem fall naturally enough together. To the brilliant fiery ball of the sun that lights up and vivifies the world, corresponds the Law that gives brilliancy to the eyes and quickening to the soul. The transition from the first part to the second is, however, abrupt, and the two parts differ greatly in metrical structure. Possibly the first part is older than the second. It is possible that an ancient song of God’s glory in nature, and, perhaps, a fragment of a poem on the sun, were taken to form a preface to a poem on the Law. The wondrous glory shown in the starry heavens and the mighty sun would form a fitting counterpoise to the glory of the moral Law.

The author of the psalm is, according to the title, David. If the view, that there are here fragments of ancient poetry used as a prelude to a poem on the Law, is true, David can still be the author of the poem as it stands. It is objected, however, against Davidic authorship, that the attitude of reflection on, and respect for, the Law shown in the second part is far more natural in the post- Exilic, than it would have been in the Davidic period.

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Father Callan’s Introduction to St Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 27, 2012


I. Galatia and the Galatians. The original Galatians were the inhabitants of the country lying between Bithynia on the north, Pontus and Cappadocia on the east, Lycaonia on the south, and Phrygia on the west; this country was called Galatia Proper, or North Galatia. Its principal cities were Ancyra, Pessinus and Tavium.

The Galatians were sprung from Gallic or Celtic tribes that migrated east from the west and north of Europe in the third century B.C. These were called Celtæ by the colonists at Marseilles, Galatæ by the Greeks, and Galli by the Romans (cf. Hayes, Paul and His Epistles, p. 280). Passing over the Alps into Italy they sacked Rome in 390 B.C., crossed the Danube and invaded Macedonia and Greece in 279 B.C., and finally penetrated into Asia Minor, and settled in the mountainous districts which thenceforth bore their name. Here they held undisputed sway for nearly a century. They were divided into three tribes: the Trocmi or Trogmi in the east with Tavium as their centre and capital, the Tectosages in the central part of the country with Ancyra as their capital, and the Tolistobogii or Tolistoboii in the west around Pessinus. They were a warlike people, and so harassed their neighbors that they became the terror of all Asia Minor. After many varying successes they were finally driven back and confined to their own country around 234 B.C. by Attalus I, King of Pergamos. At length in 189 B.C. they were attacked and conquered by the Romans under Manlius Vulso. The Romans, however, permitted them to be governed by their own princes up to about 25 B.C., when they were made a part of the Roman Province of Galatia.

Thus in the time of St. Paul the Roman Province of Galatia included Galatia Proper, a part of Phrygia, Pisidia, Lycaonia, Pontus and Paphlagonia. While Ancyra was the official capital of the Province, Antioch was a secondary and military centre, having a more important and strategic location. The cities which St. Paul visited on his first missionary journey—Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe—were all in the southern part of the Roman Province of Galatia.

The inhabitants of North Galatia or Galatia Proper were a mixed race, composed of the Celtic invaders of the third century B.C. and a large population of Phrygians, interspersed with Greeks and perhaps a few Jews, who had possessed the country before the invasion by the Celts. The people of South Galatia were Greco-Phrygians who had coalesced with large colonies of Romans and Jews.

II. The Galatians of the Epistle. From what has just been said the question is naturally asked,—to whom did St. Paul address his letter, to the people of North or to those of South Galatia? In reply we can only say that the question is so difficult, and the arguments for the two theories advanced are so weighty, that a solution of the problem, with our present available knowledge, must be regarded as impossible. Up to the early part of the nineteenth century it was very generally believed that the Epistle to the Galatians was addressed to the Christians of Galatia Proper; but since that time very able authorities have been convinced that it was written to the converts of South Galatia, whom St. Paul and Barnabas evangelized on their first missionary journey. Among the patrons of this latter, or South Galatian Theory, are Cornely, Le Camus, Lemonnyer, Zahn, Ramsay, Sanday, O. Holtzmann and many other noted authorities. The other, or North Galatian Theory, is the older and traditional view, which was held by all the Fathers and by scholars generally down to the last century. Prof. Steinmann and Fr. Lagrange have adopted this opinion, and among non-Catholics it has been embraced by such illustrious scholars as Lightfoot, Weiss, Lipsius, H. J. Holtzmann, Julicher and many more. Although in our Commentary on The Acts of the Apostles we preferred the South Galatian Theory, we have been induced by further investigation to subjoin here the leading arguments for each theory and leave the student to judge for himself.

Arguments for the South Galatian Theory:

(a) St. Luke, in the book of Acts, gives us a full account of the founding of the Churches in South Galatia, but has not a word to say about any Churches in North Galatia, unless this be implied in the single sentence of Acts 16:6. His silence on this latter point is hard to explain, if the all-important Epistle to the Galatians was addressed to the Christians of Galatia Proper.

(b) Our Epistle is dealing with one of the most momentous questions in the early Church, namely, the relations of the converted Gentiles to the Mosaic observances; and, in the South Galatian Theory, it is addressed to Churches of whose existence and importance we have ample knowledge: whereas in the other Theory we have the same great questions discussed in writing to Churches about which, aside from this Epistle, we know nothing, and whose very existence is seriously questioned.

(c) While the author of Acts calls places by their popular names, St. Paul is accustomed to designate them by their official Roman titles, as, for example, Asia, Macedonia, Achaia, and the like. Since, therefore, Roman Galatia had, for seventy-five years prior to the Apostle’s missionary labors, included the cities of Lycaonia and Pisidia, which he evangelized on his first journey, it would be only in keeping with his custom to call the Churches of these cities Galatian: it would be quite singular if he meant by this term Churches of that northern country which had formerly been independent of Rome.

(d) The Epistle (2:1, 9, 13) makes several references to Barnabas as if he were well known to its readers. Now we know from Acts 13-14 that Barnabas took an active part with St. Paul in founding the Churches of South Galatia. If St. Paul established any Churches in North Galatia at all, it was when accompanied by Silas on his second missionary journey; but Silas is not mentioned in the Epistle.

(e) In Acts 18:23 it is said that St. Paul, after spending some time in Antioch, “went through the country of Galatia and Phrygia, in order, confirming all the disciples.” If this refers to North Galatia only, the Apostle failed to visit and confirm the very important disciples of South Galatia, or else St. Luke has
passed over in silence such an impressive event—suppositions that are difficult to entertain.

(f) In North Galatia the Jews were very few, if there were any at all; but we know from Acts 13:43, Acts 14:1, and from non-Biblical writings and inscriptions that there was a considerable number of Jews in South Galatia. Furthermore, the Judaizers would more easily find their way to South than to the remoter North Galatia. The Epistle shows plainly that there were not a few Jews in the community addressed (Gal 3:27-29), and that many of them were well acquainted with Jewish modes of exposition (Gal 4:22-31).

(g) In Acts 14:10 we read that the Lycaonians said of Paul and Barnabas: “The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.” This is quite in harmony with Gal 4:14: “You . . .received me as an angel of God.”

(h) In Acts 20:4, when St. Paul was setting out for Jerusalem with the collection for the faithful in the Holy City, we find with him various representatives of the different Churches that had contributed to the collection; Timothy and Gaius of Derbe are mentioned as representing South Galatia. Where are the deputies of the North Galatian Churches, if such Churches existed?

Arguments for the North Galatian Theory:

(a) If St. Luke in the book of Acts is silent about the founding of Churches in North Galatia, that proves nothing, in view of his complete silence regarding so many other notable events and experiences in St. Paul’s life. The book of Acts is also silent about the Apostle’s visit to Arabia, mentioned in this Epistle (Gal 1:17); it omits all record of the mission work in Syria and Cilicia (Gal 1:21); it says nothing about the troubles in the Corinthian Churches which drew from the Apostle two letters to the Corinthians; it gives no account of the labors in Illyricum and Dalmatia (Rom 15:19; 2 Tim 4:10), nor of the establishment of the Church at Colossae to which the Apostle addressed an Epistle.

(b) It is admitted that St. Luke, in Acts, uses the popular names for Galatia and other places ; but it is by no means certain that St. Paul did not do the same. For example, Dalmatia (2 Tim 4:10) was not an official name for a province till a.d. 70; Arabia is doubtless only a geographical term in Gal 4:25; Spain and Judea are doubtful.

(c) St. Paul, in the Epistle to the Galatians, speaks as if he were nearly, if not entirely, alone in the founding of their Churches (Gal 1:8-9; Gal 4:11-20). This can hardly be explained if he was writing to the South Galatians, among whom Barnabas had labored so faithfully and equally with the Apostle. If Barnabas is mentioned in this Epistle (2:1, 9, 13), this proves nothing in favor of the South Galatian Theory, for he is also mentioned in the Epistles to the Corinthians and Colossians (1 Cor 9:6; Col 4:10), and we know that he had nothing to do with the founding of those Churches, and was known to them only by reputation.

(d) In Gal 4:13 St. Paul seems to say that his preaching the Gospel to the Galatians was occasioned by some infirmity or illness of body. This physical disability caused the Apostle to stay some time among them, and he made use of the opportunity to preach the Gospel to them. In spite of his illness, which apparently affected his eyes (Gal 4:14-15), the Galatians received him “as an angel of God,” and would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him, had that been possible. All this seems essentially different from the account given in Acts 13-14 of the founding of the Churches of Southern Galatia.

(e) It is not at all certain that Timothy and Gaius, in bringing their contributions to St. Paul for the poor in Jerusalem, were representatives of South Galatia. Timothy, and perhaps also Gaius, had been with the Apostle for some time, and probably had come from Macedonia as delegates from some other Church, like that of Corinth or Philippi. Moreover, it would seem highly improbable that a collection, either from North or South Galatia, would have been sent so far around when it could have been sent much more easily and safely by direct route to Jerusalem. Again, if no delegate is mentioned as representing the North Galatian Churches, we are not to wonder, because the list given by St. Paul does not represent all his Churches. There is no one spoken of as coming from Corinth, Philippi, or Achaia.

(f) St. Luke in Acts 16:6 and Acts 18:23 is speaking of St. Paul’s visits to the country of North Galatia. In the first passage, St. Paul with Silas, on his second missionary journey, had passed through the South Galatian country visited on the first journey, and was intending to enter Asia; but, having been prevented by the Holy Ghost, they turned northward and went through Phrygia and the country of Galatia (την φρυγιαν και την γαλατικην χωραν). This was the occasion of the founding of the Churches in North Galatia. On his third missionary journey the Apostle “went through in order (την γαλατικην χωραν και φρυγιαν)  confirming all the disciples” (Acts 18:23). In both of these passages φρυγιαν (Phrygia) is doubtless a substantive, and so also is γαλατικην (Galatia), since both are defining a common term, χωραν (country, territory).  Moreover, την γαλατικην is evidently a country lying eastward of φρυγιαν.

(g) As said above, the North Galatian Theory was held by all the Fathers, and by exegetes and scholars generally, down to the nineteenth century.

The arguments respectively outlined in favor of the two opposing theories are sufficient, we think, to give the student a clear idea of the controversy, and to show how insoluble, with our present knowledge, the question really is. Great authorities are aligned against each other; but it is consoling to know that the vital problems discussed in the Epistle are quite above the dispute regarding the people addressed.

III. Composition of the Galatian Church. Whether the Epistle to the Galatians was addressed to the inhabitants of North or to those of South Galatia, the question is properly asked whether its readers were Gentiles or Jews, or both; and, if both, in what proportion were each. That Gentiles were addressed is evident from Gal 5:2-3; Gal 6:12-13; Gal 4:8; Gal 3:28-29, where St. Paul is warning the Galatians against circumcision, and reminding them of their former worship of idols, but of their present equality with the Jews and all others before God. It is not circumcision, but faith in Christ that justifies (Gal 5:2); if they be Christ’s, they belong to the true posterity of Abraham and are heirs of the promise made to Abraham (Gal 3:29): this is the whole argument of the Epistle, and it shows that the majority of its readers must have been Gentile Christians. However, there were also Jews and proselytes among those addressed, as appears from Gal 2:15; Gal 3:13, Gal 3:23, Gal 3:25, Gal 3:28; Gal 4:3. This is further manifest from the fact that the doctrinal argument of the Epistle is based on the authority of Scripture, and from the consequent familiarity with the Old Testament which the Apostle supposes in his readers. With the exception of the Epistle to the Romans, this letter has a greater proportion of Old Testament references than any other of St. Paul’s Epistles. While, therefore, the majority of the readers of this letter were of pagan origin, there were also a number of Jews among those addressed.

IV. The Occasion and Purpose of the Epistle. The Epistle to the Galatians was occasioned by the advent among them of Judaizers who were teaching, contrary to the doctrines taught by St. Paul, that for salvation it was necessary to be circumcised and to conform to the Mosaic observances (Gal 3:1-4:31). St. Paul had founded the Galatian Churches himself (Gal 1:8-9), and the faithful there had received him “as an angel of God, even as Jesus Christ,” in spite of the disgusting malady from which he was suffering at the time (Gal 4:13-14); they were willing to pluck out their eyes for him (Gal 4:15). And his ministry among them had borne remarkable fruit: they had received the Holy Spirit (Gal 3:2); miracles had been worked (Gal 3:5); God had sent the Spirit of His Son into their hearts (Gal 4:6); and all had gone well with them (Gal 5:7). But after the Apostle’s second visit to these converts he learned, perhaps by letter or by special delegates sent to him, that the Judaizers were attempting much harm to them and had in part succeeded. Those false teachers had come down from Jerusalem, or Antioch, perhaps, and, pretending to have special sanction from the authorities of the Church in the Holy City, they essayed to subvert the teaching of St. Paul and to introduce another “gospel” (Gal 1:9). Their method was to enforce their doctrine, first by undermining the authority of the Apostle. They told the Galatians that the authority and commission of the twelve was unquestionable, that they had been chosen by Christ, had lived with Christ, had been taught by Him, had received the Holy Ghost at Pentecost—all of which were facts universally known and admitted. But as to Paul, it was doubted whether he was an Apostle at all. If he was, did not his commission come from men (Gal 1:1, Gal 1:12)? Hands had been laid on him at Antioch and he had been sent out to preach (Acts 13:3), but his authorization seemed to be only human and to rest on his own testimony (Gal 2:7-9). Hence it was not strange if his teaching differed widely in many respects from that of Christ and the other Apostles.

Was not the preaching of this Paul subjected to examination at the Council of Jerusalem (Gal 2:1-10)? Did not St. Peter openly disagree with him at Antioch (Gal 2:11-15)? His practice was to please all men for the sake of success; he sought the favor of men, and so taught circumcision or uncircumcision as circumstances demanded (Gal 1:10; Gal 5:11). He disregarded the sacredness of the Mosaic Law and circumcision, although these were an external sign of God’s covenant with man and are necessary, if we wish to enjoy participation in the blessings of the Messianic Kingdom (Gal 4:10; Gal 5:2; Gal 6:12). To deny this was to put in doubt the truth of the divine promises, to open the way to unbridled vice, and consequently to imperil the whole work of Christianity.

The arguments of these Judaizers were very specious, being grounded, as it seemed, on the Old Testament and on the practices of Christ and the older Apostles. Was the gospel of Paul really the true one? was it complete? Even if salvation depended on faith in Christ, were not circumcision and the Mosaic observances necessary conditions? Had the Law an eternal, or only a transitory value, being replaced by the New Covenant of which Christ was the author and initiator? These were the questions that perplexed the Galatians and shook their faith in Paul (Gal 1:6). His preaching had fascinated them, but now their advance had been checked (Gal 5:7); they were on the point of accepting another gospel (Gal 1:6), and there was danger that they who had begun with the works of the spirit, would terminate with those of the flesh (Gal 3:3). Already they were observing “days, and months, and times, and years” (Gal 4:10); and their desire seemed to be to place themselves entirely “under the law” (Gal 4:21).

Such were the difficulties that confronted St. Paul in Galatia, and the problems which called for solution. The situation was serious, but not entirely desperate (Gal 5:10). It does not seem that the faithful had yet yielded to circumcision (Gal 5:2), nor that their entire number had been troubled. Nevertheless, such was the gravity of their condition that St. Paul was stirred with deepest anxiety and would have given much to be with them (Gal 4:20). In the absence of such a possibility he took up his pen and wrote to them this rigorous defense of his person and his doctrine, establishing: (a) the divine origin of his teaching and authority; (b) that justification is not through the Law, but through faith in Jesus Christ crucified and risen again; (c) that consequently the Law had only a transitory office, the termination of which, however, by no means lets down the barriers to sin and vice, since the Christian is guided henceforth by the law of charity.

V. Time and Place of Writing. Just when and where this letter was written is not entirely certain; opinions have been greatly divided from the early centuries. Marcion, according to St. Epiphanius (Haer. xlii. 9), thought Galatians was the first of St. Paul’s Epistles. St. Chrysostom (In Rom. horn. I) believed it to have been written before Romans toward the end of the third missionary journey. Theodoret (Com in Ep. Pauli Praef.), St. Jerome (In Gal. iv. 20; vi. 11), and others are of the opinion that it was composed at Rome during St. Paul’s first captivity there. The MSS. B K L P with some cursives, the two Syriac and the Coptic versions have the subscription “from Rome”. The belief that the Epistle was written from Rome has also been held by some recent scholars, like Koehler and Halmer, on account of the passages Gal 4:20 and Gal 6:17, where there seems to be reference to some restraint imposed upon the Apostle; and also on account of the allusion to Roman law terms in Gal 4:2 and Gal 3:20. It is next to certain, however, that, had St. Paul been a captive at Rome or elsewhere during the writing of this letter, he would have stated it very clearly and definitely, as Zahn rightly remarks (Introd. to The New Test., I. p. 140). Zahn, like Marcion, puts Galatians first of all St. Paul’s Epistles in point of time. Le Camus, Weber and The Westminster Version of Holy Scripture, among Catholics, also take this view. Comely, Hausrath and Pfleiderer place its composition shortly after the Council of Jerusalem. Meyer, Lipsius and Holtzmann say it was written at Ephesus during the third missionary journey. Bleek ana Lightfoot believe it was composed at Corinth after the three years’ sojourn at Ephesus, while Lagrange thinks it was written in the latter city about the year 54. Ramsay and Dr. Weber (Cath.) put its composition at Antioch before the Council of Jerusalem. This opinion is advanced to obviate certain apparent difficulties arising from Gal 2 and Acts 15. The two visits to Galatia are the visit to Derbe and back, in this opinion.

Naturally the time and place of writing assigned to this Epistle depend mainly upon the theory which one adopts regarding its readers. Many understand from Gal 2:1-10 that the letter was written after the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15); and from Gal 1:8-9; Gal 4:13 it appears quite certain that it came after a second visit to the Galatian Churches. Moreover, “so soon” (ταχεως) of Gal 1:6 is cited by some authorities to show that the composition of the Epistle was very soon after the Apostle’s second visit to the Galatians. When, therefore, was this second visit, so soon after which the Galatians became an object of anxiety to the Apostle? For those who hold the South Galatian Theory it was the visit spoken of in Acts xvi. 6, during St. Paul’s second missionary journey, the first visit being recounted in Acts 13-14; and the place of writing was perhaps Troas, or more probably Corinth around 53 a.d. (Cornely, Zahn).

For those critics who hold the North Galatian Theory the first visit to the Galatians is that recorded in Acts 16:6; and the second, that mentioned in Acts 18:23, during the third missionary journey. Because of the close resemblances of ideas and often of language between the Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians and Galatians, the patrons of this latter theory believe that Galatians was written about the same time as those other letters, and therefore at Ephesus between 54 and 57 a.d., or at Corinth in 57-58.

To account for the undeniable similarity between Galatians, Corinthians and Romans—a similarity in ideas, and often also in expressions—it seems altogether natural to believe that they were composed while the Apostle was in more or less of the same frame of mind, although this period could easily, and most likely did, extend over several years. For resemblances between Galatians and Corinthians compare Gal 1:6 with 2 Cor 11:4; Gal 6:15 with 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 3:13 with 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 6:7 with 2 Cor 9:6. For resemblances between Galatians and Romans compare Gal 2:16 with Rom 3:20; Gal 3:6 with Rom 4:3; Gal 3:19 with Rom6; Gal 5:17 with Rom 7:15-23; Gal 4:5-7 with Rom 8:14-17; Gal 5:14 with Rom 13:9, etc., etc. There are at least twenty parallel passages between Galatians and Romans. Of course the situation in the Corinthian Church was much the same as that in the Galatian, as we learn especially from Second Corinthians; there were the same attacks on the Apostle’s authority, and the same adversaries, the Judaizers. This would explain much of the likeness in thought and words between Galatians and Corinthians. But it cannot be said that the situations in Rome and Galatia were the same, and hence it would seem that the resemblance between the Epistles to these two Churches must be accounted for chiefly by the nearness of the years in which they were written, although this period very probably extended over four or five years.

The difference between Romans and Galatians have inclined some critics to believe that there was a development in the Apostle’s doctrine, that he did not have a complete and definite idea of his Gospel until after his controversy with the Judaizers. In Galatians, they say, we have an elementary exposition of his theology, but in Romans a full and profound development of his whole system of doctrine. It is doubtless true that Romans is an elaboration of the teachings of Galatians, but this by no means argues that St. Paul only gradually became aware of the full import of his Gospel. The Epistle to the Galatians was a letter of circumstances, and the Apostle adapted his teaching to the situation before him, replying mainly to the attacks of his enemies. In the Epistle to the Romans he unfolded the main features of his whole Gospel, so that the faithful in the Eternal City might know what he had been teaching to other Gentiles, might recognize the identity of his Gospel with that which they had received already, and might be prepared to welcome his visit. Writing to the Romans St. Paul was in a state of mind far more tranquil than when he wrote to the Galatians. This appears from the entire tone of the two letters. In the latter Epistle the polemic is ardent and personal, in the former the argument, while forceful and overpowering in its logic, is calm and peaceful; the Epistle to the Galatians is a defense of doctrines that are questioned and in danger, the Epistle to the Romans is a quiet but powerful exposition of truths already known and accepted without hesitation; to the Galatians the Apostle’s thesis is mainly negative, that justification is not from the Law and its works, while to the Romans it is positive, namely, that salvation is through faith in Christ independent of the Law.

VI. Authenticity and Canonicity. The authenticity of the Epistle to the Galatians is admitted by all antiquity. In modern times doubt was first cast upon it by an Englishman named Evanson (1792), and in the last century a number of critics, especially of the German rationalistic schools, have questioned its genuineness. But the objections of recent Rationalists are of little weight when compared with the unbroken tradition of the Church from the earliest times.

Although St. Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. iii. 7, 2) is the first to quote the Epistle by name and attribute it to St. Paul, it is certain that the letter was well known and made use of by ecclesiastical writers before Irenaeus. Polycarp and Clement of Rome use passages in their writings that are found only in Galatians, or seem undoubtedly to allude to the Epistle (Compare Polycarp, Ad Philippi. vi with
Gal 6:7 ; ix. 2 with Gal 2:2 ; iii. 2 with Gal 4:26. Compare Clem, of Rome Ep. 1 Cor. ii. 1 with Gal 3:16; 1 Cor. xlix. 6 with Gal 1:4). St. Justin Martyr (Dial, with Trypho XCV) cites the same passages of Deut 27:26, Deut 21:23 which St. Paul has used in Gal 3:10, Gal 3:13; and in his First Apology (c. LIII) he uses Isa 54:1 as St. Paul does in Gal 4:27. The Epistle to the Galatians is found in the Muratorian Canon, and in the Old Latin and Syriac versions. That it was known in the African Church is clear from Tertullian (De Praescrip. vi. 23; Adv. Mar. v. 2, 4), and from Clement of Alex. (Strom, iii. 15). Even the heretics of the second century, like Marcion and Valentine, did not think of questioning the authorship of this Epistle (Cf. Tertull. Adv. Marc. v. 2; Iren. Adv. Haer. i. 3, 5).

Since, therefore, the Epistle to the Galatians was known and recognized by the Apostolic Fathers and early ecclesiastical writers, and since it is found in the Muratorian and other Canons and in the old versions of the Bible, as well as in the best and oldest MSS. we have, there is no reason for doubting in the least its authenticity and canonicity.

These external arguments are enforced by the contents of the Epistle. As said above, there is a very marked similarity between the doctrine and style of this letter and the doctrine and style of Romans and Corinthians, which are universally regarded as having St. Paul as their author. Moreover, the teachings which this Epistle embodies and the circumstances amid which it must have been written seem to point unmistakably to the years that closely followed the discussions at Antioch about the reception of the pagans into the community of Christians, the Council of Jerusalem, where that discussion was settled, and the years that just preceded, or followed, the composition of Second Corinthians. At Antioch the question was raised and bitterly disputed whether the Gentile converts should not first be circumcised and subjected to the Mosaic observances before being admitted on an equal footing with the Jewish Christians (Acts 15:1-2). This discussion Paul and Barnabas carried to Jerusalem where it was definitely decided in favor of the Gentiles by a Council of the Church (Acts 15:2-29). The decision of the Council was promulgated at Antioch, and all seemed well for a time; but it was not very long, as we know from the Epistles to the Corinthians, before certain Judaizers of Pharisaical tendencies were moved with hatred against St. Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles and the champion of the Gentiles’ cause. They began to follow up his work and belittle his Apostolic authority, his character, his teachings, etc., in order that they might again insist on their own views and doctrines. It was a situation like this in Galatia that called forth the present Epistle, and to which the Epistle perfectly corresponds. It would be absurd to suppose a writer subsequent to St. Paul’s time, or other than St. Paul himself, to be discussing in a letter questions that were entirely settled in the Apostle’s life-time, and in which he alone could be the person involved. The whole contents, therefore, of the Epistle to the Galatians correspond to the circumstances and conditions of history and doctrine which are only to be found in St. Paul’s time and in connection with the Apostle himself.

VII. The Importance of the Epistle; its Style. The Epistle to the Galatians is of great importance, as well for the doctrines which it supposes to be thoroughly understood and admitted in the early Church, as for its positive teachings. It implies that the Galatians were entirely familiar with the doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation and Divinity of Christ, the Redemption, Grace, Baptism and the like. The Apostle’s teaching on these fundamental truths seems never to have been questioned; neither do his readers ever appear to require an explanation of them. This shows that these truths were not only well understood and accepted, but also that St. Paul’s teaching regarding them was in perfect conformity with the common teaching of the other Apostles. The positive value of the letter lies in its direct teaching with respect to the fundamental truth of justification through faith in Christ, the abrogation of the Mosaic observances, the consequent liberty of the Gospel and in the biographical data which it furnishes concerning the Apostle, his preparation for the Apostolate, the source of his knowledge of Christianity, his authority, the conformity of his questioned doctrines with those of the other Apostles, and the like.

Unlike the Epistle to the Romans, which is calmly expository in the main, this letter is chiefly apologetical in form and vehement throughout. The style is distinctly Pauline. Being deeply moved by the situation he is combating and filled with righteous indignation the Apostle rushes on, like a mighty torrent, caring not for unfinished phrases, jolting omissions or grammatical mistakes, so long as he is able to give undoubted and unmistakable expression to his feelings. In numerous passages the resemblance to his other Epistles is so marked as to compel a recognition of the identity of the author; and yet the sudden changes and transitions of thought and expression, the unexpected ruptures and unevenness of language, the bursts of anger towards his enemies, often swiftly alternating with tenderest words of sympathy for those that were well disposed,—all features so characteristic of St. Paul, make it impossible that anyone could have forged this letter by imitating any other of the Apostle’s writings.

VIII. Division and Analysis. There are three general divisions in the Epistle to the Galatians : the Introduction, the Body and the Conclusion. The Body of the letter likewise falls into three parts, consisting of two chapters each.

In the Introduction or Prologue (Gal 1:1-10) the Apostle, in his own name and on behalf of those who are with him, salutes the Galatians, announcing his divine vocation, and wishing them peace from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal 1:1-5). Next he expresses his great surprise that the Galatians are so soon seduced (Gal 1:6). Forthwith he utters his denunciation against those who have troubled and upset them (Gal 1:7-9). Finally, the Apostle declares that he speaks as he does because he wishes to please God rather than men (Gal 1:10).

The First Part of the Epistle (Gal 1:11-2:21) is apologetic, containing the Apostle’s defense of himself. To begin with, he gives his readers to understand that his Apostolate is not of human origin, declaring that he has not received his revelation from man but from Jesus Christ (Gal 1:11-12). And this he proves, first from the fact that up to the day when God revealed His Son to him, he was a zealous Pharisee and a persecutor of the Christians (Gal 1:13-16); whereas, straightway upon receiving his divine call, without going up to Jerusalem or taking counsel with anyone, he retired into Arabia, returning later to Damascus (Gal 1:17). A second proof to the same effect is clear from this, that not till after three years did he see any of the other Apostles, and then only Peter and James for a brief visit in the Holy City (Gal 1:18-20), after which he went to Syria and Cicilia, being unknown to the faithful of Judea who, nevertheless, having heard of his conversion, glorified God on his account (Gal 1:21-24).

After proving the divine origin of his Gospel the Apostle goes on (Gal 2:1-21) to show that his teaching is in perfect harmony with that of the other Apostles. This also is evident from two facts, (a) After fourteen years, at the Council of Jerusalem, he explained his whole Gospel to the Apostles and the entire Church, and, in spite of certain false brethren who raised some objections to him, the Apostles that were in highest esteem, seeing that to Paul had been entrusted the Gospel to the uncircumcised, gave him the right hand of fellowship, asking only that he be mindful of his poor brethren in the faith and succor their needs (Gal 2:1-10).  (b) Later on, at Antioch, when Peter, fearing to offend the Jews, failed to regulate his conduct according to the common teaching of the Church, St. Paul rebuked him for his inconsistency, and the Prince of the Apostles recognized the rightfulness and truth of the position taken by his great confrere (Gal 2:11-21).

The Second, or Dogmatic Part of the Epistle (Gal 3:1-5:12) discusses the great doctrine of justification, which, as the Apostle shows, is not from the Law, but from faith in Jesus Christ.

His teaching on this subject he proves (a) by an appeal to the experience of the Galatians themselves. Was it not through faith, rather than by the works of the Law, that they had received the Holy Spirit (Gal 3:1-5)? (b) He invokes the authority of Scripture. Do not the Scriptures prove that justification comes by faith? It was thus that Abraham was justified, and all those who believe as he did are his children and are blessed with their faithful father (Gal 3:6-9). As for the Law, it brought not benediction, but a curse upon all those who endeavored to fulfil its works; whereas the Scriptures attest that “the just man liveth by faith,” and hence all those who will have part in the promised blessings must seek them through faith in Christ Jesus and not through the Law (Gal 3:10-14).

The promise made to Abraham was not annulled by the promulgation of the Law over four hundred years later (Gal 3:15-18). The Law was only a simple guide which was supposed to lead the Jews to Christ (Gal 3:19-24), but which thereupon was to cease (Gal 3:25-29). As long as the Jews were under the Law, they were as children under a tutor, differing nothing from servants; but when Christ came, they were delivered from the slavery of their state and made the adopted sons of God, and, as such, heirs also through God (Gal 4:1-7).

Reminding the Galatians of their privileged condition the Apostle now exhorts them to prize their freedom, and not to be deceived by false teachers into forfeiting all their blessings (Gal 4:8-20). Then by an allegory, based on the two sons of Abraham, he illustrates, on the one hand, the inutility of the Law, and on the other, the glorious state of the children of faith (Gal 4:21-30). Certain practical conditions for the Galatians are then deduced from the principles laid down (Gal 4:31Gal 5:12). (a) The Apostle warns his readers that if they submit to circumcision and put themselves again under the Law, they thereby divest themselves of Christ and His grace and are bound to the observance of the whole Law (Gal 5:1-5). In Christ nothing avails except faith that works by charity (Gal 5:6). (b) A severe judgment is reserved for those seducers who have upset and troubled the otherwise happy Galatians (Gal 5:7-12).

The Third or Moral Part of the Epistle (Gal 5:13Gal 6:10) contains practical recommendations and counsels for the Christian life. In Christianity the Galatians will find complete satisfaction for all their generous religious instincts which are now inclining them towards the observance of the Law. (a) Let those who have been freed from the tyranny of the Law not abuse their liberty, but let them show charity, one towards another (Gal 5:13-15). They should live according to the spirit, avoiding the lusts and works of the flesh (Gal 5:16-25). (b) Let vainglory and pride be shunned (Gal 5:26-6:6), and let charity be practiced toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith (Gal 6:7-10).

The Conclusion (Gal 6:11-18) of this letter is a recapitulation and a summing up of the polemical and doctrinal parts before discussed (Gal 6:11-15), followed by a declaration of peace to the children of faith, a prayer, and a blessing (Gal 6:16-18).


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