Ascetics and Crafty Priests

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If this is so with the apocalyptic trends in regard to the ascetic movements, this recognition becomes even clearer. Even a superficial comparison reveals a large measure of similarity between the thought in the ascetic streams in Judaism as this appears particularly in newly discovered Hebrew and Aramaic documents and Iranian eosmogonic ideas. We learn to see that this mood in the ascetic streams of thought is an echo of the dualism found in the Gathas, the archaic poems incorporated into the Avesta 3.

In heaven with God there is the prince of light and his army of angels who serve God, guide the battles of God, enlighten the hearts of men and lead them to good. There is also the prince of the underworld, with his army of demons, in revolt against God e 4. We can imagine how effectively the Iranian influence could work here and find receptive ground, for even in Palestine the archaic Semitic ideas about the battle between the Creator and Chaos were not unknown They had not entirely disappeared from the scene.

A look at the hybrid forms generated by the new trends helps to round off this survey. We see how dualisti elements have intruded into the Jewish milieu in such a fashion that they were able to introduce the non Jewish idea of the world of two radically opposed camps. Furthermore, in some quarters these dualistic elements had penetrated so far that they degraded the body by making it a prison of the soul We begin now to see better the strength of these trends in the realm of the relationship between flesh and spirit.

I t is quite understandable that non Jewish elements break through here when we learn that flesh is what Satan uses to pull man down, and that spirit leads him to the battle front. While the spirit guides the believer, flesh is made the spirit's antithesis by being placed in close relationship with evil as close as the last restraint of Judaism would allow. I n this connection it is highly instructive to note the epitheta connected with the term flesh.

The flesh could be spoken of as 'flesh of perversity' 67 , and 'guilty flesh' Human existence is described as the 'assembly of the flesh of perversity' All this speaks for itself. From all this evidence we gather that 'flesh' had become, in these ascetic circles, the sphere of the evil that was hostile to God and was the proper domain for sin This sort of dualism underlies ascetic trends, sometimes taking a form which comes close to late Gnostic specu lations 71 , and appears in all these documents under discussion as a framework for ascetic and mystical ideas that were able to transform the lives of these believers to a battle field.

Thereby we have looked into the heart of the prime factor behind all these various ascetic trends. Thus, viewed from a general historical point of view the Judaism of the last centuries B. Such a condition stimulated new ascetic movements with new ideas and manyfold nuances in practice as well as having revitalized and expanded the older forms known in Judaism. Something of this is indicated also in the Talmudic tract Nazir And according to another tradition there was an increase in the number of those who 6 7 "?

Tio Manual of Discipline, XI, 9. This test presupposes a lifelong Nazirate. I t remains for us to make some observations regarding important coordinates in this ascetic thought world. This would bring us a decisive step closer to the purpose for which this excursion was made.

A concept which is of the greatest importance in the realm of ascetic thought, determining the consciousness of the communities, is the concept of the covenant. Whether the concept appears in a more exact form as 'the new covenant' 74 or simply 'covenant', in either case a new relationship with God is involved. On the basis of a consciousness of such a relationship a new community is formed which as the True Israel is distinct from the rest of the Jews. Of interest is the fact that the word Covenant in these texts has a fairly large breadth of meaning One is of particular concern to us at this point, namely the observation that even their community was designated by the same term.

So, too, were its members called 'men of covenant', i. Still another ray of light falls on their deep consciousness con cerning their calling. This insight comes from their understanding of the functions which the community of 'men of the perfection of holiness' had to carry out. Concerning this fact the Manual of D iscipline has the following' to say : 'and they are for the divine favor grace , to atone for the earth and prepare judgment for wickedness' T i. Thus, this ascetic congregation claimed to possess an expiatory significance for the world outside. While the congregation exemplifies abstinence, privation, devotion in the study of the Torah and prayer along with its cultic practices, it exercised spiritual influence of cosmic amplitude.

Among the more notable aspects in the thought world of these ascetic movements is the new understanding of the nature of life. SM Certain sections from the prose and poetical texts of these movements bring us face to face with a new outlook. This peculiarity deserves a little further amplification.

In the rite of initiation the neophyte was made aware of the life ahead of him that was to be 'tried by the -dominion of Belial'. It is worth taking a closer look at this statement, because it had a par- ticular meaning for them, being a new ethos articulated in their own way. This peculiarity becomes manifest in the realm of meta- phors in which they lived. Here is military terminology which has permeated all the aspects of their thought and life.

The world and life was conceived of as a battle field, and they regarded them- selves as warriors, as an army set up for warfare, in constant vigilance at the front. Several scenes from this imagery are preserved in their literature, and these help us to understand their feelings. One scene describes how the sound of the trumpet calls these warriors together for their gatherings Another depicts the priests holding the trumpets and the highpriest who delivers an exhortation to the warriors before the priests blow their trumpets and the battle begins with the enemy Still another scene describes the heat of the struggle telling of how the arrows fly, spears flash, and, in the vehemence of the fight, cries fire the warriors to do battle The same ethos is reflected also in the organizational forms.

These ascetic movements regarding themselves as an army of God built themselves up as a sacred militia. This regard in its turn contributed to the permeation of their life and thought-world with a battle- atmosphere What we have seen in the preceding excursion brings us face to face with a phenomenon which in its substance reminds us the phenomenon of the primitive Syrian Christianity. All these features show that there is a common fund of thought behind them, and a chain of linked ideas.

This is even more astonishing since besides the religious phenomenological form which both have in common, even TT Bamaskusschrift, XIV, p. Megilloth genuzotb, T, p. The first hymn, ibid. The features of both phenomena, those of the covenanters in the primitive Syrian Christianity and those of the covenanters in the desert of Judah are so similar, indeed, so strikingly similar, that it is hard to resist the temptation to assume that they stand in a causal relation to each other The more so because all the premises we can recover about the beginnings of primitive Syrian Chris- tianity point towards that solution.

We have to reckon seriously with the possibility that the ascetic groups on the periphery of Palestinian Judaism, like the covenanters of Khirbet Qumran, also were influenced by the Christian message and they contributed to the formation of a distinct group in the Palestinian Aramaean Chris- tianity. In this connection, it is profitable for us to take into account observations which, to a certain extent at least, help us in illuminat- ing our acute historical problem.

We begin with some instructive observations which can be made about the group of the first followers of Jesus. They were recruited from different spiritual climates. Thereby the movement at the very beginning shows centrifugal forces which only the person of Jesus could keep together.

Regarding the same characterization see Damas- busschrift, XIV, p. Here the variety of streams and trends in the contemporary Jewish religious milieu mirrors itself quite clearly. If men from all these different trends in Judaism were attracted by the person of Jesus, were those in ascetic movements the only exception? To be sure, the gospels are silent concerning them. Never theless the question remains, and we therefore have to consult other possibilities. I n this further development the Palestinian milieu with its various trends must be taken into account a fact which we have learned slowly.

To be sure the picture as it is painted in the New Testament writings shows only one congregation which gathered in the temple at Jerusalem. This was a congregation which was interested in the heritage of the Old Testament and was at pains to see to it that this heritage played its share in the shaping and perhaps re shaping of the Christian tradition. The tradition laid down in the Gospel of Matthew is the best illustration here. For a Jong time, this picture created an impression of the begin nings of the church which was not factual. And we still would have been under the influence of this impression if there had been no other 85 The early Christian tradition has preserved references that scribes as well as Pharisees, also, joined the Christian movement.

One is reminded here cf the reading in John I , 47 in the D iatessaron : 'behold, indeed, a scribe, an I sraelite'. I n a list of the apostles and evangelists, obviously of Syrian origin, we read : '. Owing to other sources, we now can see the actual conditions of the time somewhat better than formerly, and recognize the group in Jerusalem as only one stream among others in the earliest phase of the movement, namely a stream which according to all signs produced a form of the primitive tradition in the mould of the official Judaism.

To day we realize the impossibility of consulting the Acts of the Apostles for a realistic picture of the whole development. We should not even expect information here as to what happened outside of and parallel to the sphere of interest of the movement which was centered in Jerusalem. The fundamental turning point in the re orientation of our under standing regarding the character of Christian beginnings goes back to the new light which was thrown on the situation by the discovery of the Mandaean documents What stirs us here is the important bearing which these sources have for a deeper understanding of the spiritual milieu in which the Fourth Gospel has wrapped the Christian message.

A calm and cautious use of this material 87 is of extreme importance for the quest of the substratum of the Johannine type of Christianity. Regardless of how other problems might be settled 88 , we have no doubt that in these precious texts we come close to the same native soil of the moving ideas and concepts in that spiritual realm which provided the canvas for the 'spiritual gospel'. The Fourth Gospel clearly reflects the message of Jesus and that about Jesus wrapped in the milieu of a cognate movement which had given its members as the first disciples of Jesus.

This new insight compels us to reckon seriously with the possibility that this type of Christian tradition may be as ancient as the more judaized form of it, and that the later date of the composition of the gospel would have no bearing upon the age of the tradition it embodies. The mater ial, in fact, is a conglomerate, containing texts which bear t he marks cf the influence of Manichaeism. Not only have new sources opened our eyes, but so has fresh research into the sources at our disposal. In this regard we come to Lohmeyer's study which has the merit of opening new and fruitful perspectives S9.

His investigation leads to conclusions -which are of cardinal importance for the understanding of the formation of the tradition laid down in the Gospel of Mark. Its main thesis is that besides Jerusalem there was another important Christian community in Galilee. Moreover, Lohmeyer shows that its spiritual profile was entirely different from the Jerusalem tradition, being able to approach Christology, eschatology and ethics through its own theological outlook Whatever we think of some of the details in his arguments, Lohmeyer's investigation has thrown a new light on the research.

And in this light, we recognize the existence of a new important mould of the primitive Christian tradition. The conclusion is inescapable. There was still another stream in the beginnings of primitive Christianity which drew its spiritual background from still different sources, from a milieu shaped by religious, non- nationalist, transcendental rather than by official theological and political interests. Thus much new light has fallen on the period which gave birth to primitive Christianity, and this new light has gradually unfolded the actual picture of its beginnings.

The thing which a historian learns to appreciate is the fact that the Palestinian religious and spiritual trends and streams played such an important role that they divided the Christian movement into various groups. Each group understood and interpreted the new message in its own way and shaped the oral and written tradition according to its own 89 'Galilaa und Jerusalem aus diesem doppelten tTrsprung ist die alteste Chiistenheit entstanden.

These observations form the necessary preparation in approaching our main question. I t is time to consider the question we touched upon earlier, namely, whether the ascetic stream had its place in this picture of primitive Christianity too? We have already observed the pitfall connected with the argument that the New Testament writings are silent about this question.

The veil over this question is being lifted, to be sure, very slowly but yet steadily. Thus we may cautiously surmise that what we know to day is not yet the full picture. However, according to the signs which have come into view this picture of the beginnings in primitive Christianity must have been still more colorful than the sources and shreds of sources at our disposal now allow us to see.

I n view of all this we have observed, we should expect that the spiritually alert groups in the ascetic movement had their place in the beginnings of Christianity. I n the light of the observations we have made, indeed, we have to reckon seriously with the possibility that the ascetic groups like the Covenanters of Khirbet Qumran also were attracted by the Christian message and that they con tributed to the formation of a distinct group in the Palestinian Aramaean Christianity. I t would be strange, indeed, if a dynamic of such rich religious and spiritual life had no share in the process of the formation.

There is, of course, more than a mere postulation regarding this. I n our sources we come across with vestiges which clearly speak of the existence of a segment in the Palestinian Jewish Christianity, colored by the tenets like those in the community of the Khirbet Qumran. Some of these we have already seen Here it should be mentioned that, also the religious washings estimated by the Covenanters, emerge in the traditions laid down in Epiphanius e2 , in the Pseudo Clementine literature 93 , and in some other sour i See pag.

Here we detect a chain of linked ideas in the Qumran texts and the remembrances regarding the ascetics and baptist factions of the Palestinian Aramaean Christianity, which have managed to escape oblivion. In conclusion, all indications point to the possibility that this distinct group, the ascetically orientated faction in the Palestinian Aramaean Christianity, was destined to play an important role in history.

Ascetical theology - Wikipedia

It seems to have been transplanted into the lands of the Euphrates and Tigris and here constituted the first nuclei in the process of Christian expansion. If so, then the new discoveries in the desert of Judah have begun to lift the curtain of obscurity from the historical origin of Christianity in the Syrian Orient. According to theso texts, the ablutions expel demons which cause not only sickness but also moral aberrations. These purifications, too, fill the heart "with divine thoughts and internal purity.

We do not only find here ritual acts similar to those of the Covenanters, but also a similar theology of purification vchich is regarded as a substitution for the sacrifices. Theso theologumena reveal many linked ideas which deserve to be investigated more closely. As the study of the early period shows, powerful impulses, having a far deeper and more penetrating impact than those from Palestine, have entered 'the scene and taken over the further eovirse of develop- ment into their hands.

These impulses not only enlarged the first nuclei, expanding the Christian movement into dimensions which exceeded the ancient primitive frame, but developed them into a wider movement, covering these countries with a network of Chris- tian congregations. But these impulses deserve our particular attent- ion seen from the aspect in which this study is interested. These impulses introduced or in order to be more careful perhaps revitalized ascetic factors which determined the whole direction and character of Christianity in the Syrian Orient, during the early phase when the Syrians could develop their church according to their own inherent forces and inclinations, far from Christian Hellenistic influence.

Because of the profound influence of certain men of great religious and spiritual force, Christianity was consistently crystallized in the countries of the Euphrates and the Tigris as a movement which to a large extent absorbed rigid and radical asceticism. A student of Christian history finds it very interesting to observe just how those outstanding spirits, who owing to their radicality were not successful in the West, made history in these areas. He was Tatian from 'the land of the Assyrians'', that is, from the land between the Tigris and Media on the west and east, and the Armenian mountains and Ctesiphon on the north and south.

His home was probably in Iladiab. The patristic evidence is unanimous in saying that he was a son of Syriac speaking parents 2. Tatian found no solution for his needs in his home. If he stood in a military position, this did not satisfy him, and he resigned. We read of this in bis own testimony : ' I do not like to rule, I do not wish to be rich, I decline military command'. These auto bi ographical remarks indicate clearly that Tatian was not contented. He had a propensity for spiritual riches, rhetoric, philosophical and historical studies, having been reared in a Hellenistic atmosphere since his youth.

Something 1 drew him to foreign lands, and he turned his face to the west. This plaee was destined to become the scene of a far greater change in his life. We do not know where he went, but certainly the places which attracted him were the places of learning. He satisfied his philosophical needs, achieving a certain degree of reputation by his writings.

He also was interested in different religions, examined their cults and rites and was initiated in their mysteries 4. But he still felt the rule of demons in his life, as he himself says, the power of 'many lords and myriads of tyrants'. Finally he found abroad what he did not find at home. ITe was attracted to the faith that was manifested in the attitude and life of Christians 5 , and he was converted. Harnack' s attempt to see in Tatian a Greek, Vberlieferung, p.

I, rr]v , col. The translation renders the last verb as a strong present tense, although the Greek text has perfect tense. I t is not impossible that this per fect tense is chosen purposely. In this ease it sounds so, that Tatian had actually served in the army. As a result, he gave himself to the cause of Christ entirely and unconditionally. Concerning the chronological questions we are uncertain. Some have suggested that this conversion took place before A. However, we do not know where his conversion took place. Perhaps it was in Rome. Tatian's stay in Rome and his activities there are wrapped in obscurity.

Tradition brings him in contact with Justin Martyr, considering him one of Justin's disciples 0. In fact Tatian refers reverently to him in his apology. Presumably Tatian himself became active as a teacher in Rome. This can naturally be expected of a man of his calibre. A note of Rhodon saying that he was instructed by Tatian. The attempts, however, which have been made to interpret his apology as a sort of an inaugural speech in his school n , cannot be taken seriously as an additional argument.

It also can be assumed that Tatian had relations with the Christians of his own race. The considerable Syrian element which appeared in the western communities existed also in Rome. Literatur, I , p. Apologie, p. However interesting the arguments Grant brings forward, these are not cogent. The hard fact remains that this writing does mot show an open break witli the church. But when Irenaeus wrote the first book of his Adversus haereses around the year , then Tatian was already known as the chief heretic.

The intrinsic evidence militates against the possibility that his Oration was written after the break with the church. One should not overlook the Roman tradition that even the bishop of the Roman church, Anicet ca , who ruled the Roman, congregation while Tatian was in Rome, was a Syrian from Emesa Tatian was dissatisfied with what ho found in the church. I t annoyed him that he did not see enough enthusiasm and vigorism in what he saw as the manifestation of the Christian religion.

According to the tradition Tatian. This information certainly must be interpreted to mean that as long as Justin Martyr lived, great respect towards him kept Tatian under restraint so that he avoided an open conflict with Justin. For his dissatisfaction hardly came overnight. I t had a longer history for even his apology shows that he had things on his heart that stood in opposition to the commonly shared views. According to the Chronicle of Eusebius Tatian's break with the church came in the twelfth year of Marcus Aurelius, i.

J. Barton Scott

The answer which Tatian found to his life's problems was a faith able to overcome all passions and to produce a rigorous life of the most extreme kind. He felt that after his conversion his eyes were opened to see that men who once were free had become slaves i5.

He was guided in his thoughts by the conviction that the soul by itself, being without God, tends downward towards matter 10 , and having lost the heavenly companionship it hankers after communion with things which are inferior Because of this declivity all forms of life, customs and practices are corrupted. Prom this point of view, we can understand Tatian saying that everything in the world is madness On th other hand his experience showed that 12 Anieitus, natione Syrus, ex patre Johanne, de vieo Humisa, scdit aim. I l l , Liber pontificalis, I , p.

This deliv erance is possible only when man becomes a dwelling place for God, when His spirit inhabits human beings But this possibility requires a restoration of lost conditions. For him all this meant that a Christian has only one way open to him. He must take a radical stand against all this which has taken shape in the process of corruption, everything which is common and earthly Christian faith takes on a completely new form of life : 'live to God, repudiating the old nature by apprehending Him' 2 1.

In other words this means : 'die to the world, repudiating the madness that is in it ' 2 2. The way of asceticism is the only form of life congruous with the new nature which rises above sinfulness and the rule of demons. I n another place Tatian says : 'we do not scatter ourselves' What the Christian should be concerned with in order to arrest this scattering, becomes clear in its seriousness when we see how Tatian applied this principle to practical life.

First, abandonment of possessions and an entirely negative attitude towards all earthy goods became imperative. Restraint must also be put on the needs and desires of the human body. Particularly the use of meat was prohibited Also the use of wine was forbidden F ur t h er Tat ian makes a reference to the poison in the nat ur al productions, and to the sinfulness of man which aggr avates t he situation and eaUs for a negative st and. Jovinianum, I , 3, eol. Again Hieronymus may be quoted here, lie cites Tatian's rigid judgment on marriage and the procreation of children. He says that the most rigorous heresiareh of the Encratites used the passus : 'if one seeds on flesh, he will reap perdition, from the flesh' as an argument and interpreted it as meaning that he who seeds in flesh is none else than a person who enters into union with a woman, and that whoever has intercourse with his wife will reap perdition from the flesh This is very plain language.

Anathema is laid on the union of the flesh. Another reference in Trenaeus is in full conformity with this, namely, the remark that carnal intercourse is jtoQveux. As a result of this condemnation, Tatian denied salvation to Adam Concerning Tatian's attitude towards marriage with carnal union several of his arguments appear in Tatian's works 30 , showing how strongly he modified his interpretation in favor of this. But the strongest argument is used and quoted by Clement of Alexandria.

He has preserved an instructive passage which brings us Tatian's exposition on 1 Cor. According to this Tatian said: 'fellow ship in corruption weakens the prayer'. Then he called marriage fornication, relating it to Satan.

Ascetic Practices

His comment runs as follows : ' at any rate, by the permission he i. Paul certainly, though delicately, forbids it; for while he permits them to return to the same on account of Satan and incontinence, he exhibits a man who will attempt to serve two masters, God by the 'consent', but by want of consent, incontinence, fornication and Satan'. Tatian's influence must have been, far reaching. The fact that 28 Qui putativam Cliristi carnem introdueens, omnem eonjunctionem masculi ad feminam immundam arbitrator, Enoratitarum vel accerrimus haeresiarchas, tali adversum nos sub oceasione praesentis testimonii usus est argumento : si quis semmat in came, de came nietet corruptionem; in autem seminat, qui mulieri juiigitur : ergo et qui uxoro utitur, et seminat in carne ejus, de carne motet corruptionem, Commentaria in ep.

The gospel word 'lay not up treasure on earth where moth and rust corrupt it ' , and the prophetic word 'you all shall grow old as a garment, and the moth shall devour you', Tatian applied to the procreation of children. Some remarks need to be made concerning' the first fact. The situation in the west and in the Orient must be taken into con- sideration. To be sure his picture, painted by the church fathers in the west, placarded him as the epitome of heretics.

But the Syrians have preferred to hold their own opinion about him, and this tradition does not include him among the heretics in the company of Mareion, Bardaisan, Mani, Valentinus and others. It knows him only as the disciple of Justin Martyr and the author of the Gospel Harmony. According to the judgment of western standards his Christian outlook, together with his rigorous inter- pretation, was repulsive and abhorrent. But what seemed repulsive to the western mind, seemed normal to the Oriental taste.

Moreover Tatian's radicalism might already have had contacts with the Chris- tian thought and practice prevalent in Christianity in the Syrian Orient through the channels of the Syrian communities in the west. With regard to the second fact it should be pointed out that there are observations which guide us when historiography becomes mute. These observations involve what we know of Tatian's personality and his qualifications. One cannot overlook Tatian's spiritual and intellectual quali- fications. Even before his conversion, he had attained a certain reputation as a thinker and scholar.

These qualities he put in the service of the Christian cause as a teacher and author. Besides these gifts Tatian must have possessed a powerful per- sonality. Even though we have nothing but his apologetic Oratio, we can deduce this. It has been observed that his writing is difficult to understand, but through what he says one can observe a powerful man Along with all this his personality was fused with a passionate character. Literatur, p.

In all his boundless and reckless attacks upon everything Greek, we feel the fire which he had in his soul. These observations constitute strong reasons for thinking that the developing young church could hardly escape the influence of such a vigorous promoter of the Christian cause. As to this place opinions are divided. It has also been thought that this place was the metropolis of Mesopo- tamia, Edessa. Zahn supported this view 3e. Ilarnack also supported this choice ST. But this view that Tatian came to Edessa is merely presupposed by modern scholars. Behind the view is the feeling that such a great spirit should be linked with such a great place as the Mesopotamian metropolis.

The sober fact is that there are no data in support of this argument. Fortunately, however, we are not entirely bereft of some guidance. We have a reliable source of information about conditions in Edessa and particularly about the men who were spiritual leaders there. The Chronicle of Edessa mentions the names of Marcion, Mani, and Bardaisan, as men closely connected with the spiritual past of Christianity in Edessa Tatian is not mentioned at all in this document. This is a sufficient ground for abandoning this conjecture and for looking for the place of Tatian's activity elsewhere.

Kahle proposed the view that Tatian returned to his home country and settled there This is far more probable than any other view that has been presented. And after all, lladiab was also an important center. When Tatian returned to his land kindled by Christian faith, he must have found a considerable number of congregations there. For there were 20 bishoprics which existed 34 Tatians sog.

Wherever it was that Tatian exerted his energy and devotion, his work constituted a major event in the growth and development of Syrian Christianity. The role of the Evangelion da-Mehallete Tatian's significance in the propagation of Encratite views is not limited to his personal influence and activity.

Because Tatian has left his fingermarks on the text of the gospel harmony he composed, this influence reached far beyond the frontiers of the orbit of his activities. Therefore we have to mention also the services of the gospel text arranged by Tatian. The gospel text prepared by Tatian was a harmony which was lost in the stormy history of Syrian Christianity. Tatian took sections out of each gospel and combined them into a more or less chrono- logical whole.

He combined the parallel pericopies, phrases and words in one gospel with those preserved in another.

The Philokalia

This procedure was guided by his meticulous care in including everything possible. Thus, a filigree-work came into existence which is a sort of Life of Jesus in running narrative. The Syrians called it the Evangelion da-Mehallete the gospel of the mixed. Soon after the work left Tatian's hands it started on a way which led it from triumph to triumph Its success among the Syrians was due to a combination of qualities which inhered in this docu- ment The national factor must have also promoted the prompt spreading of it.

For the Syrians the author was their own country- man and most probably the gospel was composed originally in their own tongue. Moreover, it arrived on the scene at a suitable time, and thus it became the gospel of the Syriac-speaking communities. Thus Tatian's work continued to be used for several generations, serving the ecclesiastical and missionary needs of Syrian Christianity.

V0 8 BUS. IN SYE. Today we are much better informed about the extent of the ascetic elements woven into the narrative in his harmonistie work. Because of the fact that this important work was placed in the service of Christianity which gravitated towards the ascetic ideal, we have to examine the respective qualities of this work. This examination also helps us to supplement the pic ture presented in the preceding section. Something of Tatian's views on possessions and property can be learned from his barmonistie work. There is a reading added to Mk.

The normal text affirms the recompensation promised by Jesus for the house, brothers, sisters, mother and father etc. The Persian text of the harmony reads 'all is affliction and anxiety' Here the life of possessions is depicted in its substance as nothing more than 'affliction and anxiety'. The same reading has found its way into the Persian gospel text The same attitude implied in this modification becomes clear when we examine other interpolations inspired by the tendency to delineate more clearly the character of the Christian life. An interesting case has been preserved in the Persian harmony.

Here Mt. XIIr, 52 has a form that is no longer seen in other texts in the stream of harmonistie traditions. I n the normal text Jesus says that every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like ' a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old'. Thus, such a man is compared to a man with property. This statement was too much for the spirit cherished by Tatian.

This interpolation reveals Tatian's concept of the man who is trained for the kingdom of heaven. Christian, a disciple of the gospel, cannot possess anything for the simple reason that he is called on to leave everything. Concerning the practical consequences for Christian life, Tatian introduced formulations which have greater clarity.

This clarity can be seen in a peculiar variant reading of Lk. The reading 'every one who does not abandon his father and his mother' etc. This means that Tatian dis carded Mt. Several corrections reflect Tatian's strict attitude towards the use of wine which he condemned for Christians. Even the word 'wine' had to be stricken from the biblical vocabulary.

We notice that the word in Jn. The same ascetie conviction appears in his handling of another passage. I n the episode of the Last Supper Mt. Again we feel the strength of the ascetic spirit when we notice how this passage annoyed Tatian. He deleted this statement from the text and excluded the idea that Lil ' He said to them : Thus every scribe who has been made a disciple and attracted into the Kingdom of heaven, is like a householder, who brings out from all what he has in his house, old and new', Diatess.

The text of the Diatessaron, as it appears in the Armenian translation of the commentary of Ephrem, runs : 'from now on I shall not drink from this generation of vine until the Kingdom of my father' co. Tatian's text also makes it clear that marriage with its carnal union has no place in the Christian life. This opinion stands out in several omissions and modifications which reveal his care in avoiding reference to Joseph as Mary's husband In Mt. But the clearest demonstration of Tatian's attitude appears in Lk.

The ordinary text here speaks of the normal married life which the prophetess Anna lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. But Tatian corrected the text in the opposite direction and changed the married life mentioned into a state of celibacy : that she remained a virgin in her marriage 5S.

One of the cleverest changes in the interest of the ascetic ideal emerges in a remote witness, in the Liege codex of the Diatessaron. This Dutch version offers the pericope in Mt. Yet the alteration is able to change the whole meaning of the original text. Redrafting of this passage is conspicuous in view of the Synoptic material. Veneto; unde losep vecaado eo, cum ello fosse iusto et bono, Biatess. Also Syr Cur :.

The same reading was known to Ephrem, Srboyn, I I , p. The same change ' i n virginity' has been preserved also in the Dutch harmony in the Stuttgart Ms. But Tatian divided this text into two parts by means of the gloss 'and Adam said' : 'when God had made male and female he joined them together; and Adam said: because of this bond shall a man leave father and mother, and shall remain "with his wife, and the two of them shall be joined in one flesh' This 'Adam said' separates the thought into two sections in such a way that God's will covers only their joining together. Adam becomes responsible for the invention of the carnal link between husband and wife which joins them in one flesh.

Thus this gloss suffices to degrade at one stroke the whole value of the conjugal life. Finally, to take one more example, the answer of Jesus in the pericope in Lk. Tatian used to support his Encratite view. In the original text Jesus' answer refers to the state in eternity where one does not take a wife nor enter into marriage but where all are angels. The pericope takes on a completely dif ferent complexion if it refers to the Christian life in this world, as Tatian interpreted its meaning.

I n Tatian's understanding the people of this world marry, but Christians do not : 'the people of this world take a wife and make marriages; but they who shall be worthy of the life of that other world and of the resurrection of the blessed, will neither take wives nor make wedding feasts' I t is interesting to notice that it did not demand very much of a capable man like Tatian to impart far reaching implications to his gospel text. En hebdi nit glielesen dat in den beghifie doe goet man en. There are other modifications which help us see and understand his concept of Christian life more clearly.

There is one reading which testifies to Tatian's great interest in the Christian life as one of suffering 1. The Christian life finds an adequate expression in the notion of the 'cross'. As this book shows, however, the spectre of the crafty priest was crucial to how the politics of religion were understood at this time. At least as important to British rule as the Orientalist representation of Hinduism and other religious traditions was the effort to reform human subjects by freeing them from external religious influence.

This book traces how the critique of spiritual despotism in colonial India gave rise to ideal of the This book traces how the critique of spiritual despotism in colonial India gave rise to ideal of the self-ruling subject. Even as reformers decried the spiritual power of priests, they promoted new types of religious discipline by mobilizing Hindu and Protestant ascetic practices and extending them to worldly householders. The result was a notion of disciplined self-governance that was crucial to both nineteenth-century reform culture and early twentieth-century anticolonialism.

A work of historicist cultural studies, the argument of Spiritual Despots unfolds through readings of diverse texts from India and Britain. By using a contrapuntal method that criss-crosses colony and metropole, the book shows how South Asian writers intervened in period debates about the nature of the self and thus suggests an alternative genealogy for the liberal ideal of the self-governing individual. Keywords: comparative religion , colonialism , India , Victorian religion , Hinduism , postcolonial theory , asceticism , anticlericalism , Max Weber , Secularism.

Forgot password? Don't have an account? All Rights Reserved. There are other things that are a part of the Faith like regular confession, community, and service, but I think you get the drift. Is it any wonder that the local parish struggles so much? Yet, if all that is important is that you believe, I guess none of the rest matters. I must say that going to the monastery has been one of the great joys of my Orthodox journey.

Folks always comment that when I return from the monastery, I seem happier and more peaceful. It would be hard to say what has the most impact on me when I am there. Certainly, the liturgies are special, talking with the brothers is a blessing, and even doing work there seems to have a special blessing to it.

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But for me, its the stillness, the quiet spirit of prayer that pervades the monastery that affects me the most. Would it better to stay at the monastery? Perhaps, but this is not my lifestyle. I say lifestyle because the monastics and I share a common calling: we are both called to be an ascetics. People often make the mistake of thinking that ascetics must be monastics, and so a life of asceticism is not for those of us who live in the world. This is not right because the Lord said that each and everyone of us must pick up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Him.

There is no better definition of asceticism than this. The difference between myself and the monastic brothers is that I must live my asceticism in the world, among co-workers, family and friends. I once told the brothers at Holy Cross that the Abbot m was a very easy abbot to live with. I had a much stricter and more demanding abbot than they.

They looked surprised and asked what I meant. I told them that my abbot, my wife, was far stricter than their abbot. I mean if you want to live with someone who wants to know all your thoughts, and what you are doing at every moment, etc. They smiled and agreed. Those of you who know my Matushka know that she is a kind and gentle sweetheart. She really makes very few demands. What I meant by my words is that she is my monastery.

It is with her that I must work out my salvation, and she must do the same with me. How does this work within a home and marriage? Years ago, when I did some marital counseling, the couple said that they tried to have Christ in their marriage. I asked what they meant. These are good things, but as I listened to their problems, I would also hear stories of arguments, anger, grudges, resentment, unforgiveness, and so on.

They agreed that this is what the Lord said, and it is what we should do. Then I asked that if we were to do this for our enemies, how much more should we do this for our spouses and children? My home is my monastery. It is here that I must practice forgiveness, patience, stillness, and the crucifixion of my ego and pride. When I experience some supposed offense, I should see this as an opportunity sent from God for the salvation of my soul. Yet, when the offense comes from my wife or children, I think I am free to be angry, sullen, and resentful.

Not so! If she offends me, I must forgive her. Her needs must be more important than my own, and I must consider her as being better than myself. I am her monastery as well. Imagine what marriage would be like if both spouses practiced this kind of asceticism. Marriage would be heaven on earth and there would be little room for the devil to sow seeds of discord. Consider this thought: if I cannot practice my asceticism at home, how will I be able to practice it in the world?

My church is my monastery. Like living in any family, offenses will come from our fellow church members because all of us are sinners and imperfect in holiness. But instead of becoming angry or offended, I should see such offenses as an opportunity sent from God to perfect me and save my soul. Imagine what church would be like if we all practiced this kind of asceticism.


Church would be heaven, the Kingdom of God on earth. Work is my monastery. Offenses will come from my boss and my co-workers. But instead of becoming angry or offended, what if I saw these offenses as an opportunity sent from God to perfect me and save my soul. Imagine then what work would be like.

I will admit that asceticism is uncomfortable. It is the cross that I am called to carry and no cross will be comfortable. I have a male ego, and it does not want to submit to my wife. He stood on the amvon and confessed his unworthiness. He would not be a bishop anymore. The people would not hear of it, for they knew this man, and how he had loved them, served them, and protected them.

In his humility, the bishop said that he would only remain bishop on one condition: Until God told him otherwise, each Sunday at the end of the liturgy, he would lay across the threshold of the Church. The congregation would then leave by stepping over him. They reluctantly agreed, and for a long time the congregation did this and they cried as they stepped over their beloved hierarch. Like all ascetics, I must crucify myself to the world, but even more, the world must be crucified to me. There is no other way to salvation. Let me state what ought to be obvious to us all: in this life, we all struggle.

No one can escape it. I say that this ought to be obvious because we sometimes forget it and it ends up causing us a lot of grief. There are several reasons why we forget. First, there is a longing in our hearts for Paradise, for a place that is free of struggle. We know that there are joys in this life and moments of peace, but we want more of it and less struggle.

So we try to create our own paradise, often only in our minds and fantasies. We become bitter because life never adds up to the fantasy. We make comparisons and so our life seems drab and dull and full of struggle. We see and hear sad stories of death, suicide, drug abuse, mental illness, alcoholism, broken families and divorce. You would think that at least people who have faith would see this reality and never forget that to be alive is to struggle and no one escapes. No one. This is why the Fathers say that we should be kind to everyone that we meet.

All of them are fighting a fierce battle. Depending on the nature of my struggle and how hard it is, I come to think of this as my cross. I came across a statement from the Blessed Augustine that flipped things around in my mind. Yet, this made me question my struggles even more. Now, St.

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  5. Augustine tells me that what is happening is that I am being dragged through life by my struggles. I am not carrying them at all. They are carrying me. I am like a surfer on the waves on my struggles. Is that the last word? There is nothing we can do about it? Actually, though suffering cannot be avoided, it can be both transformed and transforming. I am to embrace my sorrows, pick them up and carry them. Yet, this alone is not enough. In the face of struggle, I have a choice: deal with it my way or do it his way.

    I can think of several examples of this principle. I might apply the wisdom of the Lord and turn the other cheek or walk an extra mile for them. I might feed them and give them something to drink literally or spiritually. Another example: My wife is angry with me and says something mean. admin