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Catena Aurea by St. Thomas Aguinas

THE. Catena on St. Luke differs from those on the three other Gospels, in its more frequent citations from the Greek writers. For besides the Commentaries of S. Ambrose and Bede, and certain Homilies of S. Augustine and Gregory, there seems to have been no other Latin work on St. Luke’s Gospel which St. Thomas could have used. How far he was himself acquainted with Greek, it seems difficult to determine; but from the expression feci transferri, in his Preface to the three later Gospels, it has been supposed, that for this part of his work he employed others to make translations for him from the Greek writers, which he afterwards inserted in his Catena, not always (as he says himself) giving the very words, but frequently only the sense of the passage.

From the ignorance of the Greek language at that time, it was not to be supposed that these translations would be free from error; and when we couple with this the carelessness of transcribers, we cannot be surprised that in course of time the text of the Catena should have become very corrupt, and the sense of whole passages, but particularly the names of their authors, involved in great doubt and obscurity. The mistakes on this latter point Nicolai thinks were chiefly owing to the abbreviated form and character in which the names were written, so that one name was often put for another, from its similarity; as Theophilus for Theophylact; while others were altogether omitted. In Nicolai’s edition, however, (which has been followed in the present volume,) very great corrections were made, for which, as the original works of most of the Greek writers quoted by S. Thomas no longer exist, he was chiefly indebted to the Greek Catenæ. By their assistance not only was the text carefully restored and amended from the original Greek, but the references verified afresh, and many for the first time supplied.

It may here then perhaps be useful to give first some account of the Catenæ used by Nicolai, and others which have been referred to in the following translation; next to mention those Fathers whose names are cited in St. Thomas, but their works from which his extracts are taken are either not to be found at all, or at least only fragments of them, in the published editions; and after them a number of inferior writers whom St. Thomas had included under the general title of Græcus, but whose names have now been furnished from the Greek Catenæ.

(1.) The Catena of most use to Nicolai was one formerly in the Mazarin, now in the Royal Library at Paris, (Montf. MSS. p. 1339.) It is said to be of the 13th century, and is compiled from fifty-six Fathers, whose names are clearly marked. But it embraces only the twelve first chapters of St. Luke. For the twelve latter he employed Corderius; but it is much to be regretted that he had not possessed the remainder of the Mazarin MSS. which seems to be existing in the Vatican from the description Maii gives of a fragment he discovered there; and Montfaucon says of the former part, that not the sixth part of it is contained in Corderius. Besides, Corderius is not at all to be trusted as to the names of authors, as may be seen from Maiia and Lambeciusb.

Maii has published a considerable part of another Catena, in his ninth vol. Vet. Script. Its date is very near the end of the 11th century, and it is entitled, ἀπὸ τῆς ἐκλογῆς τοῦ Νικητοῦ Σεῤῥῶν. He ascribes the first Catena to the same author, and a similar title is prefixed to a MS. in the Coislin Library, (Bibl. Coisl. No. 201.) of a later date, and containing a Catena on St. Luke of sixty-two Fathers. These three Catenæ, though differing in date, yet very similar in the names and number of the authors cited, must all be traced to the same source. Nor does there seem any reason why they should not be successive copies, only increased as time went on, of the original MS. of Nicetas, whose name they bear. Nicetas flourished about 1077. He was at first Deacon at Constantinople, then Bishop of Serræ in Macedonia, afterwards Archbishop of Heraclea in Thrace. He is proved by Wolf (De Catenis) to have been the author of a Catena on Job, generally assigned to Olympiodorus; and Lambecius (v. 63. iii. 81.) describes a Catena of his on the Psalms. That published by Possinus on St. Matthew, from a MS. in the Library of the Elector of Bavaria, contains extracts from thirty Fathers, with a prologue and several expositions under the name of Nicetas. It seems very probable then that Nicetas was the author of a new class of Catenæ, far exceeding in size and completeness those which previously existed. For among a great number of MSS. Catenæ on the Gospels in the Paris, Venice, and Vienna Libraries, which bear date of the 10th or 11th centuries, there are scarcely any which number more than twelve Fathers, none certainly which approach to the extent of those above mentioned.

Of the MSS. Catenæ on St. Luke, of this date, some have the title prefixed to them, “From Chrysostom and other Fathers.” Some again bear the names of Cyril and Origen, but by far the greater number, particularly in the Paris Library, are ascribed to Titus Bostrensis. It is however quite plain, that the Titus Bostrensis, who flourished under Julian in the fourth century, could not have been the author of a Catena containing extracts from the works of Cyril, Chrysostom, and Isidore of Peleusium, who all lived some time later. Combefis (Bibl. Concion. Rec. Auct. p. 49.) thinks that this Titus wrote Commentaries on the Gospels of which only fragments remain, and also the four books ascribed to him against the Manicheans; but that there was a later writer of the same name, perhaps in the 6th century, who was the author of this Catena, and of the Commentary published under the name of Titus in the Bibl. Pat. For he says that there exist, in a MS. Catena on St. Matthew, passages assigned to Titus, which are not in that on St. Luke, and are very far superior to it. And these he conceives to belong to the elder Titus. It seems however most probable, that this Catena on St. Luke which Combefis speaks of, is an abridgment of a larger one, which was compiled from the ancient Titus and other later Fathersa, and by the same anonymous hand which also compiled that on Matthew, for the latter is always referred to by the former whenever St. Luke repeats what has been before related by St. Matthewb.

There is the same reference also in the Commentary on St. Luke above mentioned, which was first published in Greek with a Latin Translation by Peltanus, (Bib. Pat. Gr. Lat. 1548.) which is plainly nothing but an abridgment of the Catena, though in a different form, making no distinction between the separate authors.

Of the extracts given by St. Thomas from Titus, the greater number are accordingly to be found in the two Catenæ on St. Luke and St. Matthew, edited by Dr. Cramer, from Paris and Bodl. MSS. It appears also that these Catenæ are substantially the same as those mentioned by Savile, (vol. viii. p. 218.) of which the one on Matthew was published in a Latin Translation by Chris. Serrarigius at Venice, 1554, and is found also in the Lat. Ed. of Chrysostom, 2 vol. p. 1151. under the title of Libellus Questionum. Paris, 1588.

(2.) The extracts cited by St. Thomas from Chrysostom are chiefly taken from the Homilies on Matthew, but there are some which seem to be gathered from different parts of his works by some writer who was well acquainted with them. Wastell assigns these to John of Jerusalem, whom he thinks he has proved to be the author of the Opus Imperfectum, generally imputed to Chrysostom, as well as of a Commentary on St. Luke, frequently quoted therein, and from which therefore he concludes these passages have been derived. However this may be, they are clearly from their occurrence in the oldest Catenæ to be attributed to some very early imitator or epitomist of Chrysostom.

The greater part of Origen’s Homilies on St. Luke are contained in St. Thomas, which St. Jerome tells us were written by Origen when he was young. Jerome gives a Latin translation of them, to which in the Ben. Ed. are affixed fragments of the Greek collected by Grabe, but they are published more at length both in Greek and Latin by Gallandi, Bibl. Pat. vol. 14. Maii has given some extracts in the Greek (6 vol. Class. Auct.) not in Gallandi. A passage on Luke 8:4. quoted by St. Thomas, is found in Origen on the Proverbs, published in the Bibl. Pat. as above. It may be remarked, that in the MSS. in the Library of St. Mark at Venice, from which Gallandi has published these works, what is ascribed to Titus and Origen, is in the Paris MSS. given to Titus alone.

A Commentary on St. Luke by Cyril is very largely quoted throughout this Catena. Nothing of the kind exists in the published Editions of his works, but Maii has lately given almost the whole of it in his 6th vol. Cl. Auct. A remarkable passage on the Eucharist quoted by St. Thomas, Luke 22:17 is found there, p. 371.

Several quotations from Athanasius, which have not been found in his published works, are supposed to be taken from a Commentary on St. Luke, of which a few fragments only remain, some in the Ben. Ed. and a few more in Montfaucon’s Ed. 1706.

A Commentary of Eusebius on St. Luke, but imperfect, has been published by Maii, (1st vol. Script. Vet.) as well as parts of his three books of Evangelical Questions, which seem to take in much of what is wanting to complete the Commentary on St. Luke. These have been edited from a MS. in the Vatican of the 10th century, and supply several of the quotations given by St. Thomas.

(3.) Of the other Greek writers cited by St. Thomas, and in the earlier editions of the Catena Aurea under no other title than Græcus, almost all have been found in the συναγωγὴ ἐξηγήσεων published by Maii from the second Catena of Nicetas before mentioned. Some of them are but little known, and may therefore require a slight notice.

Alexander, a monk, perhaps a native of Cyprus, who wrote a book De Inventione S. Crucis, edited by Gretser, Gr. Lat. in his Tom. de Cruce, supposed also to be the same Alexander who recited an Oration on the Apostle Barnabas before the Abp. of Cyprus. See Leo Allatius de Symeonum. Sc. p. 99.

Amphilochius Bp. of Iconium in Lycaonia, 370. He was a Cappadocian by birth, and for some time lived a monastic life with S. Basil and Gregory, in 381. Theodosius committed to him the care of the Asiatic Diocese. His principal writings were a work against the Massilian Heretics, which is lost, and several Orations on the events of our Saviour’s Life, published by Combefis, 1644.

Antipater, Bp. of Bostrum in Arabia, 460. He is said to have answered the Apology of Eusebius for Origen. There are certain Sermons of his extant on St. John the Baptist, Zacharias, and the Salutation of the B. Virgin, which are among the works ascribed to Metaphrastes. See Leo Allat. p. 89.

Apollinaris, Bp. of Laodicea, celebrated for his opposition to Heathen books in the Christian schools. Before he promulgated his heretical doctrine, 376, he was the friend of Basil, Greg. Naz., Athanasius, and others. His heresy was condemned at Rome, 378. He wrote Commentaries on most of the books of Scripture; part of his Comm. on Luke is given in Maii, 1 vol. Vet. Script. p. 179.

Asterius, Bp. of Amasea in Pontus, flourished 401, under Julian, and wrote Homilies on the Gospels, some of which are in Mag. Bib. Pat. t. 4. and in Combefis Auctarium 1661; and fragments of others in Photius, Bibl. 271.

Evagrius, a Pontian by birth, studied under Greg. Naz. at Constantinople, and afterwards a disciple of S. Macarius in Egypt, wrote many monastic works, of which some are published among the writings of John Damascene.

Eutychius, Patriarch of Constantinople, 553, formerly a monk of Amasea. He wrote a book denying a sensible resurrection from the dead, concerning which there was a dispute held between him and Gregory the Great, then the Apocrisiary of Pope Vigilius at Constantinople. It was afterwards condemned by Tiberius the Emperor. See Greg. Mor. 1. 14. c. 29. where the retractation of this work is mentioned.

Isaac, a Syrian by birth, Bp. of Nineve 540, afterwards embraced the monastic life. Wrote several ascetic works, 53 Sermons under the title of De contemptu mundi, published Max. Bib. Pat. v. 11. See Lambec. lib. v. p. 73.

Geometer, Combefis places about the 7th century. He is chiefly known for his Hymns, (published Morell 1691,) in honour of the B. Virgin, and some Homilies; see also Allatius, p. 62.

Macarius the elder, flourished 373, a monk of Scetus and disciple of Antony in Egypt, lived 60 years in the desert, and died 391. Wrote 50 Homilies, De integritate quœ decet Christianos, which were published at Paris 1659, and in the works of Greg. Thaumaturgus 1622.

Nilus, Prefect of Constantinople 440. He was a disciple of Chrysostom, and after living for some time a secular life, he entered a monastery at Nitria in Egypt, where he wrote several works chiefly ascetic; these were published by Suares, 1673.

Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, 858. Deposed in Council of Const. 869. For a list of his works, see Fabricius, vol. xi. c. 35. Some fragments of a Commentary on St. Luke are published by Maii, 1 vol. Script. Vet. but many of the extracts from his works in Catenæ on the Gospels are to be found in the Amphilochian Questions, of which some have been edited by Wolf, Schottus, and others; but several lately edited by Maii have never before been published; they are taken from a MS. in the Vatican, containing the whole 313.

Severus, Bp. of Antioch, 513; he was the first of the Monophysites, and was condemned by Justin, 519, for opposing the Council of Chalcedon. See Niceph. Hist. Ecc. 16. c. 35. His Commentary on Luke, which Montfaucon mentions, (Coisl. 54.) Maii gives, (6th vol. Cl. Auct. p. 418.)

Symeon Metaphrastes and Logotheta, born at Constantinople, secretary to the Emperor Leo, began to write his Lives of the Saints, 913. according to Cave and Allatius. Oudinus places him in the 12th century. His life of St. Luke is quoted by St. Thomas, as also a Commentary on that Gospel, which does not however exist except in the Gr. Catenæ.

Symeon, Prefect of the Monastery of S. Maman in Xerocercus at Constantinople, 1050, wrote 33 Orations, De Fide et Moribus tum Christianis tum Monasticis, published in Latin, 1603, at Ingolstadt by Pontanus. See Allat. 167.

Theophanes is generally cited in the Greek Catenæ on St. Luke, together with Eusebius. Corderius doubts whether he was Theophanes Cerameus, Bp. of Tauromenia in Sicily, who wrote annals from Dioclesian to the Emperor Michael, and Homilies In Dominicas et Festa; or Theophanes, Bp. of Nicæa, who wrote against the Jews. Maii thinks the name has been mistaken for the Theophania Eusebii.

Victor, Presbyter of Antioch. See Preface to Catena on St. Mark.

Of the Latin Fathers quoted by St. Thomas, Bede is the only one which requires any mention here. His Commentary on St. Luke, as we learn from his letter to Acca prefixed to it, is chiefly a compilation from the writings of the four Doctors of the Latin Church, but particularly St. Ambrose. Some things however he has added himself “quæ auctor lucis ei aperuit,” and from these St. Thomas has chiefly taken his extracts. The Glosses not to be found in the Glossa ordinaria or interlinearis, are supposed to be St. Thomas’s own.

These introductory remarks have been supplied by the friend, who has translated the portion of St. Thomas’s Commentary to which they relate, and which is contained in the following Volume, THOMAS DUDLEY RYDER. M. A. of Oriel College.

J. H. N.








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