Thursday, October 25, 2007

Is Athanasius your Father?

Noted Patristics Historian Philip Schaff wrote regarding Athanasius:

Moreover, tradition as distinct from Scripture is with Athanasius not a secret unwritten body of teaching handed down orally[FN94], but is to be found in the documents of antiquity and the writings of the Fathers, such as those to whom he appeals in de Decr., &c.

(94 The idea of a mysterious unwritten tradition is a legacy of Gnosticism to the Church. Irenæus, in order to meet the Gnostic appeal to a supposed unwritten Apostolic tradition, confronts it with the consistency of the public and normal teaching of the Churches everywhere, of which the Roman Church is a convenient microcosm or compendium. The idea of a παράδοσις ἄγραφος is adopted by Clement and Origen, and passes from the latter to Eusebius, and to the Cappadocian Fathers (Basil de Sp. S. 27, applies it only to practical details), Epiphanius, and later writers. Details in Harnack ii. 90, note, cf. Salmon, Infallibility, Lect. ix. On the somewhat different subject of the ‘Disciplina Arcani,’ see Herzog-Plitt. s.v. ‘Arkan-Disciplia’)


When you say "it is a tradition" (which obviously is alleged to have been written by John Chrysostom) do you mean "tradition"

a) the way that Athanasius meant it (as per the authority of the noted historian Schaff);
b) the way that Athanasius meant it (as per the authority of your own historical research, please specify what the result of your historical research was);
c) with some meaning other than Athanasius used it?


P.S. Please note that this is not an endorsement of P. Schaff's work, or an assertion that P. Schaff was correct. P. Schaff is quoted because "Orthodox" seems to have indicated that historical investigation is necessary under the Vincentian canon, and it is hard to find any historian more widely respected for scholarly work than P. Schaff, even though he was fallible and made mistakes from time to time.

No comments: