A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Saint Augustin: Anti-Pelagian writings

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Publisher
Scribner
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Published on
Dec 31, 1908
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Pages
650
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Language
English
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This volume, containing the equivalent of three volumes of the Edinburgh series of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, will be found a library somewhat complete in itself. The Apostolic Fathers and those associated with them in the third generation, are here placed together in a handbook, which, with the inestimable Scriptures, supplies a succinct autobiography of the Spouse of Christ for the first two centuries. No Christian scholar has ever before possessed, in faithful versions of such compact form, a supplement so essential to the right understanding of the New Testament itself. It is a volume indispensable to all scholars, and to every library, private or public, in this country.

The American Editor has performed the humble task of ushering these works into American use, with scanty contributions of his own. Such was the understanding with the public: they were to be presented with the Edinburgh series, free from appreciable colour or alloy. His duty was to give historic arrangement to the confused mass of the original series; to supply, in continuity, such brief introductory notices as might slightly popularize what was apparently meant for scholars only, in the introductions of the translators; to supply a few deficiencies by short notes and references; to add such references to Scripture, or to authors of general repute, as might lend additional aid to students, without clogging or overlaying the comments of the translators; and to note such corruptions or distortions of Patristic testimony as have been circulated, in the spirit of the forged Decretals, by those who carry on the old imposture by means essentially equivalent. Too long have they been allowed to speak to the popular mind as if the Fathers were their own; while, to every candid reader, it must be evident that, alike, the testimony, the arguments, and the silence of the Ante-Nicene writers confound all attempts to identify the ecclesiastical establishment of "the Holy Roman Empire," with "the Holy Catholic Church" of the ancient creeds.

In performing this task, under the pressure of a virtual obligation to issue the first volume in the first month of the new year, the Editor has relied upon the kindly aid of an able friend, as typographical corrector of the Edinburgh sheets. It is only necessary to add, that he has bracketed all his own notes, so as to assume the responsibility for them; but his introductions are so separated from those of the translators, that, after the first instance, he has not thought it requisite to suffix his initials to these brief contributions. He regrets that the most important volume of the series is necessarily the experimental one, and comes out under disadvantages from which it may be expected that succeeding issues will be free. May the Lord God of our Fathers bless the undertaking to all my fellow-Christians, and make good to them the promise which was once felicitously chosen for the motto of a similar series of publications: "Yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers."

John Chrysostom, called the "golden-mouthed" for his eloquent preaching, continues in this second volume of the sixty-seven Genesis homilies to provide instruction for the moral reformation of the Christians of Antioch. He continues in Homily 18 with Genesis 3 and finishes in Homily 45 with Genesis 20. They seem to have been delivered perhaps as early as 385, half just before and during Lent and the remainder, from Homily 33 onward, after Pentecost.

That Chrysostom favored Antiochene exegesis is clear from his exhortation at the beginning of Homily 20 to "take up the thread of the reading and apply...the teaching from the passage." "You see," he writes, "there is not even a syllable or even one letter contained in Scripture which does not have great treasure concealed in its depth." He artfully interprets the literal spiritual meaning of this treasure for his congregation through inspiring and colorful exegesis.

It was Chrysostom's pastoral responsibility to guide his congregation by means of homiletic exegesis. He urged his listeners to take note of the instruction and to give attention to the correction of their own daily lives so as to "proceed to the enjoyment of salvation." The theme of the good man Noe, who remained unaffected by the universal decline of mankind into wickedness, provides the example for the moral improvement of his listeners in Homilies 23-29, as does the hospitality of Abraham in Homilies 41-45.

The Genesis homilies reveal Chrysostom as commentator, preacher, moralist, and profoundly theological and precise exegete of Scripture, the truth of which he teaches for the betterment of this congregation.

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