The Challenge of Homer: School, Pagan Poets and Early Christianity:

August 1, 2017 | Author: Jesus Caos Huerta Rodriguez | Category: Literacy, New Testament, Early Christianity, Paul The Apostle, Homer
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Editor John M. G. Barclay Editorial Board Loveday Alexander, Troels-Engberg-Pedersen, Bart Ehrman, Joel Marcus, John Riches

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400 formerly the Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement series

Editor Mark Goodacre Editorial Board John M.G. Barclay, Craig Blomberg, R. Alan Culpepper, James D.G. Dunn, Craig A. Evans, Stephen Fowl, Robert Fowler, Simon J. Gathercole, Michael Labahn, John S. Kloppenborg, Robert Wall, Steve Walton, Robert L. Webb, Catrin H. Williams

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School, Pagan Poets and Early Christianity


Copyright # Karl Olav Sandnes, 2009 Published by T&T Clark International A Continuum imprint The Tower Building, 11 York Road, London SE1 7NX 80 Maiden Lane, Suite 704, New York, NY 10038 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Karl Olav Sandnes has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the Author of this work. Excerpts from ‘‘De Doctrina Christiana’’ by St Augustine edited by Green, R.H.P. (1996) and from ‘‘Confessions’’ by St Augustine edited by Chadwick, H. (1991) used by permission of Oxford University Press. Excerpts from ‘‘De idololatria’’ by Waszink, J.H. and J.C.M. van Windin (1987) used by permission of Koninklijke Brill NV. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 10: HB: 0-567-42664-5 ISBN 13: HB: 978-0567-42664-2 Typeset by Data Standards Ltd, Frome, Somerset, UK Printed on acid-free paper in Great Britain by Biddles Ltd, King’s Lynn, Norfolk



1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5

A Young Boy’s Textbook and a Big Challenge Literacy and Education among the Christians Is Greek Education Mentioned in the New Testament? The Aim of this Study Method

x xv xvi 1 3 3 5 8 9 11

2 SCHOOL IN THE GRAECO-ROMAN WORLD 2.1 Introductory Comments 2.2 Sources 2.3 The Marrou Tradition: A Tripartite Educational Pattern 2.3.1 Criticism of Marrou Quintilian 2.4 Teaching Methods and Discipline 2.5 Looking for a Teacher – Starting a Climb to the Top 2.6 Girls Participating as Well?

16 16 18 20 26 28 31 33 36

3 THE PIVOTAL ROLE OF HOMER 3.1 Homer: the Omniscient 3.2 Homer: the Inspired 3.3 Homer: Forming the Identity of a Culture 3.4 Homer: Interpreted and Criticized

40 44 45 47 49

4 KNOWLEDGE AND FORMATION: THE INSUFFICIENCY OF ENCYCLICAL STUDIES 4.1 Teachers as Artisans: An Aristocratic Tradition 4.2 What Does Teaching Do to the Students? Some Illustrations 4.3 Propaideutic

59 61 62 64


Contents 4.4 Penelope and her Maidservants 4.5 Becoming a Good Man (vir bonus)

65 66

5 PHILO OF ALEXANDRIA: A HELLENISTIC JEW ON GREEK EDUCATION 5.1 Sarah and Hagar 5.2 ‘Pre-school’ 5.3 Why Encyclical Studies? 5.4 Real Paideia: The Law of Moses

68 69 71 74 77






7 JUSTIN MARTYR, HIS STUDENT TATIAN AND TWO PS.JUSTINS 7.1 Justin Martyr 7.2 Tatian: A Student of Justin 7.3 Two Ps.Justins

84 84 87 92



9 THE TEACHING OF THE APOSTLES (DIDASKALIA APOSTOLORUM) AND THE SYRIAC TRADITION: ‘AVOID ALL THE BOOKS OF THE GENTILES’ 102 10 TERTULLIAN: LEARNING BUT NOT TEACHING ENCYCLICAL STUDIES 10.1 A Pattern of Insurmountable Contrasts 10.2 On Idolatry 11 CLEMENT AND ORIGEN: CHRISTIAN TEACHERS IN ALEXANDRIA 11.1 Clement of Alexandria: Propaideia Protects Faith 11.1.1 Adversaries 11.1.2 Encyclical Studies are Conducive to Faith 11.1.3 Useful or Faith Alone? 11.1.4 Supportive Evidence 11.1.5 Acting Like Odysseus’ Crew or Like Odysseus Himself 11.2 Origen: The Silver and Gold of the Egyptians 11.2.1 Origen According to Eusebius 11.2.2. A Student Praising his Teacher: Being Trained in Distinctio 11.2.3 Origen to His Student Gregory: Plundering the Egyptians 11.2.4 The Threefold Wisdom of the Greeks Borrowed from Solomon

111 111 114 124 124 125 126 129 132 134 140 140 142 144 147

Contents 11.3 Origen and Celsus: Christian Faith for the Unlearned? 11.3.1 Celsus’ Critique Drawn from Christian New Testament Interpretation 11.3.2 Private and Unskilled 11.4 The Alexandrian ‘Summary’

vii 149 152 157 158

12 FLAVIUS CLAUDIUS JULIANUS – EMPEROR AND APOSTATE: CHRISTIAN TEACHERS ARE IMMORAL 12.1 A Law Concerning Christian Teachers 12.2 Imperial Rhetoric Inspired by Aristotle and the Bible

160 161 169

13 THE CAPPADOCIAN FATHERS 13.1 Basil of Caesarea/Basil the Great: Ad adolescentes 13.1.1 Diakrisis: The Best Way 13.1.2 Preparation 13.1.3 Learning from Pagan Poets: The Sirens and the Bees 13.1.4 Separating Virtue from Vice 13.1.5 Mastering the Desires 13.1.6 Basil Summarizes 13.1.7 An Additional Question 13.2 Gregory of Nazianzus’ Encomium for Basil 13.3 Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Moses

173 173 174 174 177 180 182 183 185 185 188

14 JEROME: AN ASCETIC ADDICTED TO GREEK LEARNING 14.1 Renunciation 14.2 Greek Education and the Wisdom of Christ (1 Cor. 1–2) 14.3 Jerome Ambivalent 14.4 Jerome Defends Paul or Rather Vice Versa: Commentary on Paul’s Letter to Titus 14.5 Encyclical Studies Taught in a Christian Setting – Towards Monastery Schools?

196 196 200 201

15 AUGUSTINE: LIBERAL STUDIES – A WINDOW ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GREEK CULTURE AND CHRISTIAN FAITH 15.1 Liberal Studies and Conversion 15.2 De doctrina Christiana 15.2.1 Uti and Frui 15.2.2 Truth, Wherever Found, Belongs to God: The Gold of the Egyptians 15.2.3 Knowledge Produced or Found 16 SUMMARY OF PART 2 16.1 Common Ground – Talking at Cross-Purposes 16.2 Opposition to Encyclical Studies

205 208

214 214 218 220 222 227 231 231 234



16.3 Encyclical Studies Cannot Be Avoided 16.4 Advocates of Encyclical Studies 16.5 Arguments Employed in the Debate 16.5.1 The Critics 16.5.2 The Advocates 16.5.3 Acting Like Bees 16.5.4 All or Nothing?

234 235 236 237 238 241 242



17 THE NEW TESTAMENT AND ENCYCLICAL STUDIES 17.1 General Observations 17.2 Paul on Encyclical Studies? 17.2.1 Paul’s Greek Education 17.2.2 ’Gymnastics of the Soul’ – a Reversal of Values 17.2.3 Robert S. Dutch 17.2.4. A Propaideutic Logic in Galatians? 17.2.5 PROKOPH and Usus in Philippians? Phil. 4.8-9 17.3 Summarizing Paul on Encyclical Studies

247 247 250 251 255 257 259 263 264 269









Dedicated to my teachers, my late mother and my father in particular


Anchor Bible Anchor Bible Dictionary Anchor Bible Reference Library Ancient Christian Writers Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte Ante-Nicene Fathers Aufstieg und Niedergang der ro¨mischen Welt: Geschichte und Kultur Roms im Spiegel der neueren Forschung American Studies in Papyrology Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Bauer, etc.) Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fu¨r die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft Catholic Biblical Quarterly Compendia rerum iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum Dictionnaire d’archae´ologie chre´tienne et de liturgie Dansk teologisk tidsskrift Fathers of the Church Die griechische christliche Schriftsteller der ersten [drei] Jahrhunderte Handbuch zum neuen Testament Harvard Theological Review Monographs of the Hebrew Union College Hermeneutische Untersuchungen zur Theologie Jahrbuch fu¨r Artike und Christentum Journal of Biblical Literature Journal of Early Christian Studies Journal of Religion Journal for the Study of the New Testament Journal of Theological Studies Loeb Classical Library A Greek-English Lexicon (Liddell, Scott, Jones)



New Testament Commentary on the New Testament New International Greek Testament Commentary Novum Testamentum Supplements to Novum Testamentum Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers New Revised Standard Version New Testament Studies Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Charlesworth) Patrologia Graeca (J.-P. Migne) Patrologia Latina (J.-P. Migne) Patristische Texte und Studien Ro¨mische Quartalschrift fu¨r christliche Altertumskunde und Kirchengeschichte Regensburger Studien zur Theologie Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series Society of Biblical Literature Symposium Series Society of Biblical Literature Writings from the GrecoRoman World Sources chre´tiennes Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series Studia Theologica Transactions of the American Philological Association Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (G. Kittel and G. Friedrich) Texte und Studien zum Antiken Judentum Texte und Untersuchungen Vigiliae Christianae Word Biblical Commentary Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Alten und Neuen Testament Zeitschrift fu¨r Kirchengeschichte

Ancient Sources Aristotle Pol. Rhet.

Politics Rhetoric

Augustine Civ. Conf. Ep. Doctr. Chr. Unic. bapt.

De civitate Dei Confessiones Epistula De doctrina Christiana De unico baptismo



Basil of Caesarea Adol. Ad adolescentes (Address to Young Men on Reading Greek Literature) Cicero De or. Off.

De oratore De officiis

Clement of Alexandria Paed. Paedagogus Protr. Protrepticus Strom. Stromata Clement of Rome 1 Clem. Dio Chrysostom Or. Oratio Epictetus Diatr.

Diatribai (Dissertationes)

Eusebius of Caesarea Chron. Chronikon Hist. eccl. Historia ecclesiastica Gregory of Nazianzus Disc. Discourse Or. Bas. Oratio in laudem Basilii Gregory of Nyssa Mos. De vita Mosis Hesiod Op.

Opera et dies

Hippolytus Trad. Ap.

Traditio apostolica

Homer Il. Od.

Iliad Odyssey

Irenaeus Haer.

Adversus haereses

Isocrates Demon.

Ad demonicum

Jerome Ad Tit. Epist.

Ad Titum (Commentary on the Letter to Titus) Epistula

Abbreviations Ruf.

Adversus Rufinum

John Chrysostom Hom. Homolia(e) Josephus C. Ap.

Contra Apionem

Julian Ep.


Justin 1 Apol. 2 Apol. Dial.

First Apology Second Apology Dialogue with Trypho

Juvenal Sat.


Lactantius Inst. Let. Aris.

The Divine Institutes Letter of Aristeas

(Ps.)Lucian of Samosata Anach. Anacharsis Am. Amores Hermot. Hermotimus Men. Menippus Macrobius Sat.


Minicius Felix Oct. Octavius Origen: Cels. Hom. Num.

Contra Celsum Homiliae in Numeros

Petronius Sat.


Philo Abr. Agr. Cherub. Congr. Deus Ebr. Flacc.

De Abrahamo De agricultura De cherubim De congressu eruditionis gratia Quod Deus sit immutabilis De ebrietate In Flaccum




Fug. Gig. Legat. Mos. Migr. Plant. Prob. QG QE Sacr. Somn. Spec.

De fuga et inventione De gigantibus Legatio ad Gaium De vita Mosis De migratione Abrahami De plantatione Quos omnis probus liber sit Quaestiones et solutiones in Genesis Quaestiones et solutiones in Exodum De sacrificiis Abelis et Caini De somniis De specialibus legibus

Plato Leg. Prot. Resp.

Leges Protagoras Respublica

Pliny Ep.


Plutarch Mor.


Quintilian Inst.

Institutio oratoria

Seneca Ep.

Epistulae morales

Sextus Empiricus Math. Adversus mathematicos Suetonius Gramm.

De grammaticis

Tatian Or.

Oratio ad Graecos

Tertullian Apol. Cor. Idol. Nat. Praescr.

Apologeticus De corona militis De idololatria Ad nationes De praescriptione haereticorum

Xenophon Mem. Symp.

Memorabilia Symposium

NOTE ON SOURCES Greek and Latin terms are given in the nominative or infinitive, not in the grammatical form in which they appear in a given quotation. This makes it easier for a reader to look up these words. This applies primarily to words or phrases, not to citations.

PREFACE This project would not have been possible without the support and help from many. It is my pleasure to express gratitude to those who gave me a helping hand along the way. I owe thanks to the library staff of my school, MF Norwegian School of Theology, for kindly and patiently providing me with the literature I needed. My school granted me money to have my English proofread. This task has been undertaken with patience and diligence by Dr David Pugh. Professor Oskar Skarsaune and Dr Reidar Aasgaard were kind enough to comment upon parts of the study. Assistant Professor Glenn Wehus looked into the Greek of my manuscript. I am especially grateful to Professor John M.G. Barclay, the editor of the series, for recommending my study to T&T Clark/Continuum for publication. His careful reading and comments have contributed considerably to the improvement of the manuscript. This applies to Professor Loveday Alexander as well; she offered constructive criticism of a first draft of the manuscript. I owe thanks to Senior Editor Haaris Naqvi for his help and cooperation in preparing the manuscript for publication. Although I have benefited from the help of many people, any shortcomings or mistakes remain fully my responsibility. I dedicate this book to all my teachers, from my childhood on to present-day colleagues, but especially to my parents who introduced me to the pleasure of learning, and who introduced me to Christ. Oslo, Summer 2008


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Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 A Young Boy’s Textbook and a Big Challenge Among the so-called Papyri Boriant of Egypt there are some pages from the handwritten textbook of a student, apparently a young boy, in the fourth century CE.1 The book gives a glimpse of life in ancient primary schools, no different from other similar findings from antiquity. Here are listed the Homeric gods and their mythology – all taken down in order to facilitate memorization. The names which this schoolboy had to learn by heart appear in similar fragments from students’ exercise books.2 Compared to other textbooks from ancient primary schools, this papyrus is not extraordinary – except for the cross it bears! On the first sheet of the papyrus the boy has drawn this Christian symbol followed by the Greek word qeov", meaning God. This word is followed by the Greek letters egwl-; but unfortunately, the papyrus is damaged, and the complete word therefore remains to be reconstructed. The interpretation of egwl- is far from certain, but egwl- apparently forms the first part of an unfinished word. The appearance of the cross as well as qeov" has led scholars to assume that this textbook once belonged to a Christian schoolboy. The textbook is probably evidence of a schoolboy between 7 and 12 years of age, coming from a Christian home, and seeking some kind of protection against the curriculum he was expected to memorize. This may shed light on the interpretation of egwl-. From Jewish tradition the Christians adopted the practice of saying a beraka, a blessing or a praise when they embarked on various kinds of activities (see e.g. Eph.1.3; 1 Pet. 1.3). Greek texts normally render the Hebrew beraka with qeo;" eujloghtov", meaning ‘Blessed/Praised be God.’ Could the letters egwlbe what is left of a schoolboy’s unsuccessful attempt to write eujloghtov"? 1 This ‘notebook’ is presented by Leclerq 1938: 2901–02; see also Marrou 1956: 325 and Laistner 1950: 51. My presentation is dependent upon their interpretation. 2 Examples from similar notebooks are collected by Ziebarth 1913. Cribiore 1996 is an extensive study of school in Graeco-Roman Egypt based on the evidence found in such material; see e.g. pp. 27–33, 53–55. Photographs of this material are collected at the end of her investigation. The significance of such school texts is emphasized also by Morgan 1998.


The Challenge of Homer

Raffaella Cribiore’s study of similar school exercises gives examples of errors found in this material, which she says are abundant. In fact, the presence of errors in the copying is an indication of the school origin of the text.3 The theory gleaned from this papyrus can hardly be proved, but it looks probable. The textbook can, therefore, be seen as a helpful illustration of the topic of this book: What opinions and attitudes did the Christians of the first four centuries CE hold with regard to primary education? Papyrus Boriant may possibly witness to how a boy solved this challenge. He attended school and memorized what he was told to do, but he sought protection against the Homeric gods in the primary symbol of his faith. Thus this textbook witnesses to a conflict with which many believers were concerned. John Chrysostom voices a question which echoes throughout the history of the Early Church: ‘What is the use [o[felo"] of sending our children to the grammarian [eij" didaskavlou"], where, before learning their texts [oiJ lovgoi], they will acquire wickedness [kakiva], and, in their desire to receive a trifle [to; e[latton], they will lose the most important thing [to; mei'zon], all the vigour and health of their soul [yuchv] (Adversus oppugnatores vitae monasticae 3.11/PG 47.367).4 The text echoes Jesus’ dictum about his follower taking up the cross and forfeiting life (Mk 8.3438 and parallels). This question is raised in a situation where Christian parents in Antioch were involved in a debate with John Chrysostom about monastic training of their sons. It thus comes from a developed stage in the conflict which this book is investigating. But the question echoes the question which many Christian parents, mostly from the elite, must have asked themselves throughout the first centuries CE. The papyrus mentioned above attests to a problem frequently addressed in early Christian writings: Was there a place for a Christian in pagan schools? To what extent was it possible for a Christian ‘to take pleasure in the reading of pagan books and in making of them his favourite mental diet’.5 This question paves the way for much greater questions, all involved with the relationship between the Christian faith and Greek classical tradition and culture. To approach this complex theme from the perspective of education and what children were taught in school will illuminate the cultural conflict, with the challenges and exchange involved as well.

3 Cribiore 1996: 91–96. 4 According to the translation found in Athanassiadi 1992: 1. 5 Ellspermann 1949: 7. According to Herodotus 2.53-54, it was Homer and Hesiod who taught the Greeks about the gods, about their names, forms, descent and doings. Herodotus thus claims a close connection between these poets and Greek piety.



1.2 Literacy and Education among the Christians Estimates of literacy in antiquity vary a lot. Literacy in antiquity has, with reference to the entire population of the Roman society, been estimated at around 10 per cent; in other words, only one in ten people were able to read. This variety is partly due to the scarcity of material from which general conclusions can be deduced, and partly also to how literacy is defined. William S. Harris estimates that fewer than 15 per cent of the population in the Western provinces possessed the skills of reading and writing to a useful extent; i.e. beyond the level of writing their own name and signing documents (semi-literacy).6 The percentage was probably somewhat higher in the Eastern provinces. Generally speaking, literacy was restricted to a privileged minority, the intellectual elite, a fact which is mirrored also in the Christian texts to be studied in the present study. The Christians did not differ substantially from the rest of the population with regard to literacy rates.7 Nonetheless, it is worth pondering the fact that early Christianity was a textual community, and remained so for the five centuries of interest in this study. The New Testament itself demonstrates that teaching, and reading and writing in particular, were matters of much concern to the Christians. A piety based on written documents necessarily promotes literacy in one way or another.8 Here the Christian movement differs from ancient religions, be they public or domestic. Due to the bookish nature of early Christianity, this movement has more in common with contemporary philosophical schools. More significant, however, is the fact that the Christian faith was born in a Jewish setting where reading and writing were crucial to both domestic piety and synagogue worship.9 Due to the role assigned to the Law, its interpretation, scriptural reading and traditions, the Jews valued literacy and education. The nascent Church followed this practice to a large degree; it became a religion heavily dependent upon books and reading. The emphasis on studying the Law of Moses in the synagogues made them appear as a school. The New Testament provides glimpses of this situation. When Jesus debated with the scribes in the Temple (Lk. 2.4650), he is depicted as a teacher among teachers. The Gospels present Jesus as a Jewish teacher surrounded by his students (maqhtaiv).10 Paul was a student in the school of Gamaliel, the Rabbi, in Jerusalem (Acts 22.3).

6 Harris 1989. Hock 2001: 58 gives an estimate of ‘no more than 15 per cent’. 7 Gamble 2004: 29–32. 8 This is pointed out by Harris 1989: 218–21; Millard 2000: 157–58. 9 See Crenshaw 1998; Riesner 1981: 97–245. 10 This fact is a point of departure for some recent works on how the Gospel tradition originated; see Riesner 1981 and Byrskog 1994.


The Challenge of Homer

Paul took an elementary education, probably also including rhetoric, either in Tarsus or Jerusalem.11 In the light of these facts, it seems justified to assume that literacy among Jews and Christians was somewhat higher than the average 10 per cent of Roman society. This is, however, a hasty conclusion. The textual nature of Jewish worship and Christian faith does not necessarily imply a higher literacy rate among ordinary adherents. The bookish nature may well be accounted for by the elite only. Furthermore, by means of public reading and repeated hearing (orality), the illiterate majority was given access to the texts of liturgy and Scripture without themselves being able to read.12 From the very outset of this study we have one fact and one indication guiding the rest of the investigation. The fact is that Christian worship and piety were dependent upon some who were literate. The indication is that this ability was primarily found among elite members; in other words, the Christian discourse on Greek education owed much to social differences among the Christians. Nonetheless, teaching and education among the early Christians took three forms. In the first place, in accordance with Jewish practice, children were given religious training at home.13 Early Christian writers took Eph. 6.4 as a point of departure for emphasizing the importance of teaching children at home:14 ‘And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.’ The author of this text makes use of words at home in texts addressing upbringing and teaching of children in the ancient society. Of prominence is, of course, the appearance of paideiva and nouqesiva which are both associated with ancient practices of how to instruct children.15 In the second place, Jesus’ words according to Mt. 28.18-20 initiated a practice of preparing recent converts and candidates for baptism by teaching them. Some New Testament texts assume teaching of this kind (Rom. 6.17; Heb. 5.11-14), and from about 200 CE this became more organized. Heb. 5 addresses the need for progress in teaching or upbringing. The addressees are blamed for still being like children in need of milk instead of solid food. By now they should have become didavskaloi (teachers), but they are still taught the elementary knowledge (ta; stoicei'a th'" ajrch'") of God’s words. This text abounds with logic as 11 Hellholm 1989. Vegge 2006 has substantiated this; more on this in Ch. 17.2.1. He argues that this happened in Tarsus. Greek education was, however, also available in Jerusalem; see Hezser 2001: 60–109 cf. Scha¨fer 1998: 32–39, 53–57. 12 This is emphasized by Harris 1989: 221; Gamble 2004: 29–32 and Hezser 2001: 496– 504. Hezser argues that the Jewish literacy rate must have been lower than among Romans in the first centuries CE. 13 See Barclay 1997: 68–72; Bakke 2005: 152–201. 14 See e.g. Guroian 2001; Barclay 1997: 75–78. 15 See BAGD s.v.; LSJ s.v.



well as terms which bring to mind traditional Graeco-Roman discourse on education. Although the text refers to Christian teaching intra muros, it draws heavily on ancient pedagogical traditions related to the so-called encyclical training (see below). The concept of a development towards maturity encapsulates a basic idea of Greek education.16 This connection is further strengthened by the metaphor of milk and solid food (see below). Finally, the text also includes the verb gumnavzein, which is closely associated with the raising of children in Greek education, thus demonstrating familiarity with this tradition. In 1947 the Norwegian scholar and bishop Bjarne Skard wrote a novel about the teaching of catechumens in North Africa about 200 CE. The book, Carthaginian Schooldays,17 is based on Tertullian’s texts, and Skard gives a vivid and fascinating picture of what it was like to be a student in this school. Home-teaching as well as schools for catechumens aimed at introducing children and recent converts to the Christian faith and doctrines. Thirdly, some Christians attended the education commonly available (encyclical teaching – see later) in the society – just like the schoolboy in Papyrus Boriant. The Christians took no initiative to organize common teaching of the children outside their homes and churches. The attendance of Christian boys (and presumably some girls) at these pagan schools became a hot issue among the Christians. It is the aim of this book to describe this challenge, and to present the debate and solutions sought throughout the first five centuries CE. It is my conviction that schooling and education will prove particularly helpful in investigating the cultural encounter between Christian faith and Greek culture. This is so because primary education was so intimately connected with values, identity and traditions in ancient society. The schools thus provided the means for passing down key notions of the Hellenistic culture. Was this lastmentioned education a big issue in the Church? Probably not, due to the fact that the vast majority of people, Christians included, were illiterate. But it was still an important issue, not because it necessarily affected most believers, but because it raised fundamental questions on the relationship between Christian faith and pagan tradition. It raised questions of hermeneutical significance far beyond the question of participation in Greek education.

16 See e.g. Lucian of Samosata Hermotimus, where education is seen as climbing towards a top, which was a common way of addressing education; see Ch. 2.5 in this study. 17 The book is only available in Norwegian; Kartagiske skoledager (1947).


The Challenge of Homer

1.3 Is Greek Education Mentioned in the New Testament? There is hardly any direct evidence of how Christians were involved with traditional Greek education in the New Testament. Still, we can safely assume that this was an issue of relevance and high on the agenda, particularly for the well-to-do. Although our topic primarily appears in later sources, we can be confident that the problem, challenge and differing views were there from the beginning. This claim will be more fully substantiated throughout this investigation.18 For the present, it suffices to say that this is suggested by some observations. In Gal. 3.24 Paul writes that ‘the law was our paidagwgov" until Christ came’.19 This Greek word frequently appears in texts about the upbringing and teaching of children. In Paul’s text it does not refer to the teacher, but to the person who took care of the children. The word can be translated in various ways. The paidagwgov" was a slave assigned to take care of the children. This implied taking them to their teachers. At the teacher’s the paedagogues probably listened to the teaching and thus picked up knowledge conveyed there. Accordingly, the paidagwgoiv often appear as persons of some training, and they were expected to behave well, speak well, and to have skills in teaching.20 In this way, many paidagwgoiv played an intermediary role between the parents and the children. Not all homes could afford to have paidagwgoiv; they marked well-to-do families.21 Paul makes use of the paedagogus in a theological argument in which this figure is clearly distinguished from the role of the teacher. Due to Paul’s theological rhetoric, the distinction between the paedagogus and the teacher is often exaggerated. In fact, the roles of the two were sometimes blurred. The role of the paedagogus extended beyond caring for the young children. As Chapter 2 will demonstrate, ‘primary’ education was often given at home, particularly so with students from the elite. Quintilian, for instance, speaks about the instruction given at home (see below). The paedagogus is the most likely candidate for being responsible for this teaching.22 For the present, it is important to notice that Gal. 3.24 nonetheless demonstrates that Paul assumed his readers to be familiar with the figure of the paidagwgov". The way Paul draws on this figure in his argument in Galatians implies familiarity with traditional education, although his readers themselves did not necessarily belong to the strata of the society where these persons were at home. 18 Ch. 17 in this study will return to this issue. 19 NRSV has ‘disciplinarian’. Biblical citations are from NRSV. 20 See e.g. Plato Resp. 467D; Pol. 308D–E; Plutarch Mor. 4A–B; Shelton 1998: 102; Rawson 2003: 165–67; Vegge 2006: 22–29. 21 See e.g. Plato Leg. 808D–E; Cribiore 2001: 45–50. 22 Thus Booth 1979: 3; Cribiore 1996: 16–17.



In 1 Cor. 4.14-17 Paul describes his teaching in a way which echoes ancient pedagogical literature: ‘admonish’, ‘remind you of my ways’, ‘teach’, ‘imitate’, ‘paidagwgoiv’. This text thus confirms how dependent early Christian discourse on teaching and upbringing was on traditional Greek education. In the preceding chapter (1 Cor. 3.1-2), Paul reproached his converts in Corinth for not having passed the level of being nourished on milk (cf. Heb. 5 above). Philo demonstrates that this was a popular metaphor associated with Greek elementary education, the so-called encyclical studies. According to Agr. 9, milk is nourishment for children (nhvpioi); tevleioi (cf. Paul’s pneumatikoiv), however, eat wheaten bread, which is for grown-ups. This refers to encyclical studies which offered milk-like food as opposed to wisdom (frovnhsi", swfrosuvnh, ajrethv) fitting for mature men (cf. Congr. 19–20). In Prob. 160, Philo refines the metaphor. He says that children are given milk to drink. Encyclical studies will later replace the milk (ajnti; gavlakto") and provide soft food only, which is later again replaced by the meat of philosophy. According to Quintilian, teachers should act as nurses ‘careful to provide softer food for the still undeveloped minds and to suffer them to take their fill of the milk of the more attractive studies’ (Inst. 2.4.5).23 These texts mirror different levels in Greek education (see Chapter 2). According to 1 Tim. 4.8, the Christians are urged to train themselves in godliness, for ‘while physical training [gumnasiva] is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way’. This text assumes familiarity not only with the language of education, but also with the physical training associated with Greek education. From these observations we conclude that although school and education are not directly mentioned in the New Testament, they are clearly assumed as something with which Christians were familiar. Greek education formed a significant part of the world the Christians had to make decisions about. It is therefore not anachronistic to assume the presence of a debate among the first Christians, although the issue is made explicit only later. Towards the end of this investigation we will, therefore, return to the question of the New Testament.

1.4 The Aim of this Study Education involved both literacy and numeracy. As we will see, the final goal of education was to promote the quality of the mind: in short, virtue. Literacy was seen as the primary means of achieving this. My main interest in this study is, therefore, literacy, the reading skill which accessed 23 For similar references in Epictetus, where Greek education in general is described in terms of milk and philosophy in terms of solid food, see Dutch 2005: 250–51.


The Challenge of Homer

the cultural canon dominated by Homer’s writings (see Chapter 4). Our topic provides a pathway to understanding how the Christians viewed the Hellenistic culture which developed from the time of Alexander the Great until the first centuries CE. Greek language, mythology, sport, temples, theatres, etc. worked as glue in this culture, thus making it a complex unity. Greek education held a significant role in conveying these traditions and values. Cribiore says that ‘education became a powerful agent for preserving ‘‘Greekness’’ ’.24 Sources from this period demonstrate how Jews as well as Christians struggled to keep their identity and still wanted to be reckoned as citizens or among the members of society; 1 and 2 Maccabees speak of apostasy among the Jews due to the introduction of Greek customs, among which Greek education was prominent (1 Macc. 1.11-15; 2 Macc. 4.10-20). These texts also mention the reaction caused by Greek athletic competitions in the vicinity of the Jerusalem Temple. The gumnavsion was a symbol of Greek identity and education in a way which many Jews found provocative. The strong opposition witnessed in these writings should, however, not distract from the fact that Jews neither thought nor acted unanimously in these questions. Neither did all Christians agree in defining the proper relationship to Hellenistic culture. The New Testament witnesses discussions and arguments on how the Christians should interact with the Roman authorities and the temples.25 Later Christian sources include athletic competitions, theatre and shows in this list of disputed issues.26 These challenges are certainly older than the sources in which they appear as topics under discussion. Such was probably also the situation with the socalled encyclical education. Christian faith was put into practice through scriptural reading, interpretations, prayers and liturgy. All this required that some were able to read and write. Differing views, therefore, emerged among the believers, as well as intense debate on how to deal with the ancient ‘paideiva-system’. The aim of this book is to unfold this debate and the arguments paving the way to different positions and solutions. The ultimate aim is to shed light on a challenge which early Christians faced even at a time before the sources directly address it. This historical topic raises fundamental theological questions on the relationship between faith and pagan culture. The historical material in this study thus serves the purpose of looking into one of the main hermeneutical challenges which faced the Christians: Are they allowed to participate in the reading of pagan texts, and if so, how should they do it? The debate on this issue among the first Christian generations 24 Cribiore 2001: 9. 25 See e.g. Ra¨isinen 1995 who demonstrates the diverse attitudes towards GraecoRoman culture witnessed in the Book of Revelation. 26 See e.g. Guyot and Klein 1994: 98–121.



developed competing viewpoints for how the relationship between Christian faith and pagan texts and traditions might be conceived. In order to understand the Christians of the New Testament period better, I believe it is necessary to listen carefully to how believers in the first centuries CE. addressed questions of Greek education. The question of reading Homer in particular lends itself to a study on the relationship between the nascent Christian faith and the surrounding society. The theatre, athletic competitions, festivals and baths, to mention some areas which were controversial to Christians, were, at least in principle, avoidable. Christian believers could, more or less, do without participating in these institutions. But could they do without reading? This is precisely the implications of the challenge of Homer to the Christians. Thus the question of education forced the Christians to think through their position.

1.5 Method We have pointed out that our topic is not addressed directly in the oldest Christian sources, but they show awareness of a society in which traditional Greek education was at work. This makes it necessary to illuminate the situation of early Christians with the help of later sources. We thus hope to portray a challenge which was relatively constant from the beginning until Augustine in the fourth century CE. Obviously, the situation differed due both to time and place, but the sources nevertheless point out problems and solutions which were typical of the entire period in question. The Christian sources (Part 2) will be presented in chronological order without any claim to depict a historical development. The sources are hardly representative of the time of their composition; rather they are examples of competing attitudes and positions. The next chapter will demonstrate that, in spite of all the diversity of Greek education, a fixed pattern is discernible in ancient education throughout the centuries in question. This supports a method where later sources are used to describe situations typical of Christians in the ancient world. Christian sources can thus also shed light on the first Christian generations without forgetting that later sources represent a development or furthering of what might have been present in nuce earlier. The backbone of the presentation is the involvement with key texts. This is not a book about the Christians and education in antiquity in general, but a presentation of some key texts on this issue. The topic is presented through a collection of some influential and informative texts which are then commented upon. This allows that some themes will appear more than once. This source-oriented approach will prove beneficial for the investigation; it brings the reader closer to the sources


The Challenge of Homer

themselves, and also to an awareness of the context in which our topic is being raised. Education in antiquity generally followed a threefold pattern, elementary or primary, secondary and higher education. The next chapter will substantiate this, and also demonstrate the diversity found in the sources. For our investigation it is important to remember that the Christian sources of relevance usually lump these levels together. The discussion is not always specific on this point. It is therefore difficult to define precisely the level they address. The Christian sources often treat school and education within discussions of how Greek philosophy and Christian faith were to be understood. In practice, however, to most believers, this theological issue involved sending their children to the teacher nearby offering classes in reading Homer and copying the texts of the poets. Nonetheless, this is not a book about Christianity and Greek philosophy or early Christian apologetics in general. The presentation will focus on the question of education, which will, however, work as a window on the question of culture and faith.27 The writings of Homer in particular formed important building-blocks for the sense of a common identity in antiquity. These writings were precisely what many Christians found to be obstacles for their participation in education. Given the pivotal role of Homer in Greek education (see Chapter 3), the study focuses on charting attitudes to Homer in early Christian literature. We have pointed out that in the relationship to Greek culture and customs Jews and Christians very often developed related strategies. Philo, the Alexandrian Jew of the early first century CE, forms an interesting point of comparison. His writings vividly present the situation of a Jewish minority in the Greek metropolis. One of the issues to which he gives special attention is Greek education and how his fellow Jews should respond to this challenge. Philo will, therefore, be discussed in a separate chapter (see Chapter 5), following the presentation of education in antiquity and preceding the Christian sources. Philo is of particular interest because he bridges the historical gap between the later Christian sources and the silence of the New Testament on our topic. He represents the period about which our Christian sources are silent on the question of Greek education. Philo allows us to assume a debate on this also among the Christians. Jewish education, as it appeared in the family and synagogue, is not in view in this investigation. The focus is throughout on classical education in Graeco-Roman society. This is also the perspective on Philo in our presentation. The investigation will be based on sources where questions about school, teachers and education are explicitly raised. An alternative 27 Ellspermann 1949: 1 rightly points out that Christian attitudes to paganism and pagan literature in particular can be fully understood only if the school problem is included.



approach would be to investigate the level of education on the part of Christian authors by looking into their use of texts, traditions and knowledge taught in the schools of their culture. That approach would provide examples of Christians who probably participated in the ancient encyclical curriculum. Furthermore, it would also offer a counterbalance to the problem-oriented focus of the texts on education. However, some such investigations have already been presented. Gu¨nter Glockmann has investigated the influence of Homer on early Christian literature up to Justin Martyr (c. 150 CE), and does not find any Homeric quotation, with the sea narratives in Acts as possible exceptions.28 He takes these findings as indicative of a lack of Greek education among the early Christians.29 Justin, however, demonstrates knowledge of Homer’s writings, thus showing his dependence on Greek education.30 Glockmann rightly assumes that references to Homer’s writings are indicative of familiarity with the cultural canon taught in schools. Dennis R. MacDonald has suggested that Mark’s Gospel and the Book of Acts are thoroughly embedded in Homeric traditions, and are in fact consciously imitating Homeric language, style and narrative technique, aiming at a theological rivalry with Homer.31 He says that ‘one best reads these texts against the backdrop of classical Greek literature and mythology’.32 In short, ‘early Christian authors . . . wrote as they had been taught in school’.33 I consider MacDonald’s view exaggerated, but vis-a`-vis Glockmann 1968, his works are still necessary corrections. Similarly, Marianne Palmer Bonz suggests that Luke–Acts was composed with Virgil’s Aeneid as a structural paradigm.34 Peter Lampe has presented a prosopographic investigation of the Christian community of Rome in the two first centuries, including the level of education some of the key figures went through, tracing both their social and educational background. He concludes that the relationship between education and social status is multi-levelled; this makes it

28 Glockmann 1968: 56: ‘In keiner Schrift des Neuen Testaments begegnet der Name des ‘‘grossen’’, ‘‘besten’’, ‘‘vornehmsten’’ und ‘‘ersten’’ Dichters der Hellenen, wie Homer spa¨ter von christlichen Schriftstellern – freilich zumeist mit einer gewissen ironischen Distanzierung – genannt worden ist.’ (‘No New Testament writing mentions the name of ‘‘the greatest’’, ‘‘most distinguished and the first poet’’ of the Greek, as Homer was called by later Christian authors – although mostly with some ironical distance’: my trans.) Freund 2000 investigates the question of Virgil’s role in early Latin Christianity. The hermeneutical thrust of my study is not focused upon in their books. 29 Glockmann 1968: 59. 30 Glockmann 1968: 193. 31 See his 2000 and 2003. For a critique, see Sandnes 2005. 32 MacDonald 2003: 14–15. 33 MacDonald 2003: 2. 34 Bonz 2000.


The Challenge of Homer

impossible to deduce social status from the level of education.35 Slaves who accompanied children to school, being their paedagogi, acquired through their presence at the instruction familiarity with skills usually connected with participation in education.36 This is, however, not to deny that educational opportunities were generally accessed through higher social origin. Little education may well be combined with wealth, as with a freedman like Trimalchio. In his Cena Trimalchionis, Petronius has Trimalchio summarize Homer’s writings and Greek mythology in a distorted way. This very rich man has no precise knowledge of the basic knowledge required of Roman nobility (Sat. 58). Similarly, Petronius amuses his readers by having one of Trimalchio’s friends, Hermeros, say that he has not learned geometry, literature nor the nonsense (alogia) or wrath (menia) of Achilles. The accusative plural menias is a reference to the opening line of the Iliad where mh'ni" is the very first word. In short, Hermeros had not learnt Homer’s text, but he says ‘I do know my capital letters [lapidariae litterae]37 and I can work out percentages in weights and measures and currency’ (Sat. 58).38 The fee given to the teacher for the knowledge Hermeros scorns is wasted since it does not necessarily give access to loans. Hermeros makes a laughing-stock of Ascyltos who is well educated but unable to make money.39 Trimalchio enjoys Hermeros’ attack on Ascyltos, but calms the situation by having the company listen instead to the actors reciting Homer. The approach applied by Glockmann and Lampe is demanding, and goes beyond the limits of this investigation. Furthermore, their approach will amplify the methodical problem of our topic, namely the fact that the sources mainly speak from the perspective of the intellectual elite. Their approach, therefore, gives limited insight into the debate on Greek education among the Christians, and the tensions caused by it. It must, however, be pointed out that a negative attitude to Greek education does not necessarily imply lack of education. Tertullian (see Chapter 10), for example, sharply criticizes encyclical training, but is still familiar with it. The topic of this book is of interest to a wider public. In the first place, it gives a presentation of the kind of schools children in antiquity attended, and also the contemporary pedagogical debate. The book thus 35 Lampe 1989: 299–300. 36 There is evidence that some masters trained their slaves to read and write, thus making them more useful and also raising their price; see Haines-Eitzen 2000: 58–60. 37 This is probably synonymous with quadrata littera found in inscriptions, such as cave canem, mentioned in Sat. 29. 38 Quoted from Walsh 1996. 39 Philodemus, the Epicurean philosopher, assumes the presence of uneducated members even in the philosophical school. These worked as manual labourers, were uneducated in gravmmata, and hence in need of help from members who had a good Greek training; see Snyder 2000: 57–61.



introduces the historical roots of present-day education. In the second place, the book describes how early Christian interpretation of the Bible partly developed from the reading of Homer in ancient schools. The book thus addresses a hermeneutical question of how authoritative texts are to be interpreted – be they Homeric or biblical. Finally, the debate on education among the first Christian generations encapsulates the question of whether and, if so how, Christian faith interacted with pagan culture. Homer in particular, mirrors their attitude to pagan education and culture in general.

Chapter 2 SCHOOL IN THE GRAECO-ROMAN WORLD 2.1 Introductory Comments In order to understand why and how Christian believers were challenged by issues related to school and education, it is necessary to possess some historical knowledge about ancient schooling. It is the aim of this chapter to provide this. What kind of school did children, mostly boys, attend? What were they taught there? What were the teaching conditions? These are some of the issues which will enable us to read the Christian texts (Part 2) more adequately. Present-day readers tend to think of ‘school’ in antiquity in terms similar to our contemporary world, with a sequential arrangement of programmes and curricula organized so that the first feeds into the next. This chapter will demonstrate that this is misleading. We have to think in terms of flexibility, local variations and circumstantial differences. The Roman Empire was vast, and education was not in any way controlled or supervised by authorities. My investigation also covers a large period of time: the first four centuries CE. All this suggests not uniformity but variation and flexibility. ‘School’ in this investigation is not a reference to buildings or public institutions; in fact it rarely is in antiquity.1 Primarily ‘school’ refers to the activity performed by teachers who taught their students. School was 1 Rawson 2003: 184–87 demonstrates some public interest in education in Rome, Pliny Ep. 4.13 being an interesting example, albeit hardly representative of the situation. In this letter he tells of a visit to his home town Comum. Due to the lack of teachers, children had to leave home and study at other places. Pliny expresses a strong opinion on the importance of keeping the children at home during their studies. As a remedy he suggests teachers hired by collective funding. Pliny will himself contribute to this. The question of teachers should not be left to the parents alone to decide: The children born here should be brought up on their native soil, so that from their earlier years they may learn to love it and choose to stay at home. I hope that you will introduce teachers of repute, so that nearby towns will seek education here, and instead of sending your children elsewhere as you do today, you will soon see other children flocking here to you. Pliny’s text also illustrates the difference between country and city in matters of education.

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more or less identical with the teacher. This means that ‘school’ as a fellowship of teachers, together providing a curriculum of various subjects at different levels, was rarely found in the ancient world. To avoid the misunderstanding that schools were organized in this way, it is probably preferable to speak of ‘going to the teacher’s’. Greek has no regular word for ‘school’ at this early period. The students are said to ‘go to the teacher’s’ (eij" didaskavlou), ‘to the writing-teacher’s’ (eij" grammatistou').2 In full it would be to ‘go to the teacher’s house, place etc.’, but this phrase does not imply a reference to any physical location where a teacher gathered his students. The sources assume that teaching took place in houses, courtrooms, colonnades or under a shady tree, in the palaivstra (wrestling-place) or in the gymnasium.3 In a treatise where Dio Chrysostom speaks favourably of the ability to remain unaffected by conditions (Or. 20.20), he holds the elementary teachers (oiJ tw'n grammavtwn didavskaloi) to be good examples. They practise in the streets, without being distracted by the passing crowd (Or. 20.9-10). In 20.11 he allows an objection concerning his example, namely that the elementary teachers perform an activity which does not affect the mind properly, as does true paideia, which is philosophy requiring both seclusion and retirement.4 When we speak of ‘school’ in this study, this is the flexible situation we have to take into consideration. Nonetheless, Teresa Morgan has argued convincingly that, in spite of all variations, literate education, which was essential for Greek culture, was adopted and adapted by the Romans so profoundly that Hellenistic and Roman literate education are rightly discussed as a single phenomenon. From the time of the Macedonian kings, education created stability, continuity and cultural identity which worked as a glue in the ancient world for more than a thousand years: ‘It is one of the places where it is possible to see how strongly, despite all local variations of politics, bureaucracy, culture and social structure, a sector of the ancient world regarded itself as an entity.’5 It is possible to distinguish between classical Greek and Roman education. However, Roman schooling was, as already pointed out, to a large extent borrowed from the Greek. The similarities are so obvious that Henri-Ire´ne´e Marrou introduces the chapter on school in Rome by saying that the presentation, strictly speaking, is superfluous.6 Quintilian, the famous teacher of rhetoric in Rome in the late first century CE, attests this fundamental similarity in his full account of Roman 2 E.g. Plato, Lysis 208C; see Griffith 2001: 66. 3 Alexander 1994: 73–76; Morgan 1998: 18–19; Cribiore 2001: 21–36. 4 Dio Chrysostom here assumes noisiness as typical of school life; this is confirmed in Martial Epigram 9.68.11 (quoted later). 5 Morgan 1998: 24. 6 Marrou 1956: 265.


The Challenge of Homer

education (Inst. 1) (see below).7 Since Roman education developed from the Greek culture, this study will draw upon both Greek and Latin sources in depicting ancient schools. According to Cicero, knowledge is to be sought from the Greek (De or. 3.137). He thus remembers how his teachers primarily taught him and his friends to speak Greek perfectly (De or. 2.2). I am, therefore, confident that it is justified in this context, and that it will serve our purpose to give a unified presentation of GraecoRoman education. Ancient sources share the idea of mastering a ‘circle of education’; i.e. to be ‘encircled’ with everything necessary to know. This common education started with learning to read and write; it continued with the reading of classical authors, and it included grammar, literary criticism, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music, rhetoric and philosophy. This list of disciplines varies in the sources, but it was commonly called ejgkuvklio" paideiva.8 The corresponding Latin expression is septem artes liberales. The idea was that a man who mastered these deserved the respect of society; he was a cultured male citizen.9 The fullest description of this circle of education is given by Quintilian in his Inst. 1.10.1-6. He includes learning to read and to write, grammar, literature, geometry, astronomy, music and logic. He calls these disciplines orbis doctrinae. Quintilian says that the circle of education represents the necessary instruction before boys are handed over to the teacher of rhetoric: priusquam rhetori traduntur (1.10.1). The ultimate goal is, therefore, rhetoric. As pointed out by Morgan,10 this is possibly the reason that Quintilian left out both rhetoric and philosophy from his definition of encyclical studies. He considered the liberal arts as paving the way for these two types of superior learning.

2.2 Sources The sources for encyclical education are of two kinds: literary and nonliterary. Literary sources are Greek and Roman authors who address questions relating to education. Of special importance among these are Plato, Republic and the Laws; Cicero, De oratore; Ps.Plutarch, On 7 Townsend 1971: 139 aptly remarks: ‘Roman education should be viewed as one aspect of Hellenistic education with Latin added to the curriculum and with less stress on the physical training.’ 8 See e.g. how Philo defines this in his Congr. 11–18, 74–76, 142, 148–50; Morgan 1998: 6–7, 34–39, 42–43. 9 Andersen 1999: 11. Cribiore 2001a: 241 rightly points out that although encyclical usually concerns ‘the totality of the disciplines that encircled a student’, it also refers sometimes to ‘the cyclic revisiting of the same texts’. 10 Morgan 1998: 35.

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Education of Children (Mor. 1A–14C); Quintilian, Institutio oratoria; and Philo of Alexandria, On Mating with the Preliminary Studies (De congressu). These sources are often idealized remarks about education, and they assume the social elite of the society. Hence they witness to ideals rooted in the upper strata of society more than daily practice. The nonliterary evidence includes papyri, ostraca (pieces of clay pottery on which students took their notes), waxed wooden tablets, pieces of parchment with fragments from teachers’ textbooks and students’ notebooks with gnomic maxims. The student’s notebook partly preserved in Papyrus Boriant (see Introduction) is, of course, an example of non-literary sources. The Egyptian desert has preserved numerous pieces of such material, and the studies of Cribiore (1996) and Morgan (1998) draw heavily on this. Cribiore lists the levels or categories of these students’ exercises, which demonstrate the sequence of their learning: Letters of the alphabet Alphabets Syllabaries Lists of words Writing exercises Short passages: maxims, sayings and limited amount of verses Longer passages: copying or dictation Scholia minora Compositions, paraphrases, summaries Grammatical exercises Notebooks.11 The non-literary sources allow access to daily life in ancient schools. Teresa Morgan has argued for the primacy of the non-literary sources over the literary sources. She emphasizes that these sources mirror a social context different from most of the literary sources. Furthermore, they attest how fragmentary and uncompleted was the training. From the literary sources one has the impression that most of Homer was read, and with equal frequency. The non-literary sources, however, correct this picture. Many Homeric texts have survived in the school sources. Thus they testify to the primary importance of Homer in school (more on this later), but his writings appear mostly in smaller units, quotations and clusters mainly from the beginning of the works, and some recurrent scenes which attracted interest: ‘The striking thing about most of the other survivals, however, is that they do not cover the narrative.’12 From this material Morgan concludes that a notion of core and periphery was in use. Most students were taught only a core of skills, texts and authors 11 Cribiore 1996: 31–32, 140. 12 Morgan 1998: 107.


The Challenge of Homer

during their education. Few moved beyond the core and received the education mentioned in the literary sources.13 For the present investigation, however, it is of significance that a fundamental overlapping between the non-literary and literary sources is observable. This allows us to assume an educational ‘system’ in practice: ‘The papyri include all the components of ejgkuvklio" paideiva on which elite sources agree, and the elements which do not appear in papyri are typically characterized in literary sources as extras, alternatives or aims, rather than means of education.’14

2.3 The Marrou Tradition: A Tripartite Educational Pattern In 1948 H.I. Marrou presented his study Histoire de l’education dans l’antiquite´. The book has appeared in several editions, and has been translated into many languages. It is truly a classic on this topic. Yun Lee Too says that ‘Marrou’s work has come to occupy a position as the authoritative history of ancient education.’15 Marrou has popularized the standard tripartite picture of ancient education. Literary instruction was, according to this view, divided into three levels: primary, secondary and ‘higher’ education, each supervised by a different teacher.16 These levels were taught sequentially, and each was supervised by different teachers. The upbringing of children proceeded in corresponding levels; small children up to age 7 (paidei'o"); children (pai'") from 7 to 14, and adolescent (meiravkion) from 14 till age 20. True paideiva started, then, in primary schooling at age 7. Until then the home provided for the needs of children, and their upbringing was spoken of in terms such as ajnastrofhv,17 which means nourishment.18 From this it is deduced that primary education started at about the age of 7, and that secondary education continued when the student had learned his ABC. In primary education, learning to read and write were given most attention. The elementary teacher was called grammatisthv". This points to the main activity, namely to work with ta; gravmmata, the letters, that is how to identify, copy and pronounce the letters of the alphabet as well as how to combine the syllables. In Latin, a teacher at this level was called 13 Morgan 1998: 71–73, 77, 88, 103–4. 14 Morgan 1998: 50. 15 Too 2001a: 1. 16 See how this pattern structures the presentation of Hellenistic schools and education in dictionaries; e.g. Alexander 1992; Townsend 1992. 17 See e.g Aristotle, Pol. 1336B. 18 Cf. trofov", the person, mostly a woman, who cares for the small children. Paul the apostle compared his responsibilities with his recent converts in Thessalonica with those of a trofov" in private homes (1 Thess. 2.8); see Malherbe 1970.

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ludi magister, or simply litterator, which is derived from litterae, letters. Teachers on this level did not enjoy high repute and status. Their occupation was often taken to exemplify an unlucky person or one who had failed. In the dialogue Menippus, Lucian of Samosata has a character saying after a short visit to Hades: ‘But you would have laughed much more heartily, I think, if you had seen our kings and satraps reduced to poverty there, and either selling salt fish on account of their neediness or teaching the alphabet [ta; prw'ta didavskonta" gravmmata], and getting abused and hit over the head by all comers, like the meanest of slaves’ (Men. 17).19 In the first stage, the teaching aimed at enabling the students to read extracts, usually aloud, from classical texts.20 The teachers were seen as conveying to their students the practical skill of reading, very much like an artisan or labourer in reading and writing (see Chapter 4). This contributed to the low status of the grammatistaiv. Learning the alphabet was the most important activity in primary education. Notebooks which have been preserved, such as wooden wax tablets, pieces of broken pots or papyri, show how the alphabet was taught. From this material we know that the students learnt the alphabet forwards and backwards, and that they were taught to read in rhythm, and to memorize and pronounce difficult words or names.21 From the letters they moved to syllables, words and sentences (see above). The notebooks show that teaching was primarily done by means of memorizing. The aim was correct and beautiful writing and correct pronunciation of letters and syllables. This was learned either by following the outlines of letters carved into a wooden tablet, by the teacher guiding the hand of his student, or by copying the teacher’s model between parallel lines.22 Lists of Homeric names were to be memorized. The teachers explained and commented upon the identity and deeds of these names, and thus introduced students to Greek history, culture and identity. Martial, who lived in Rome in the last part of the first century CE, is well known for his epigrams satirizing daily life in the city. Of course, satirists are prone to exaggeration, but their exaggerations usually take typical scenes as the point of departure. This seems to be the case when Martial is describing a teacher working in the vicinity:

19 All citations from LCL unless otherwise indicated. For more evidence that primary teachers were objects of derision, see Booth 1981. 20 See e.g. Acts 8.28-30 and Quintilian Inst. 1.8.1-2, in which reading aloud is assumed. The comparison between reading and singing is also relevant here; cf. Clement Protr. 4/59.1-2. 21 On school exercises, see Cribiore 1996: 27–55. 22 See Cribiore 1996: 122–28.


The Challenge of Homer What have you to do with me, cursed schoolmaster [ludi magister], creature hateful to boys and girls? The crested cocks have not yet broken silence and already you make a din with your savage roaring and your thwacks. The bronze resounds as loudly from smitten anvils, when the smith is fitting a barrister23 to the horse’s middle. The shouting rages less wildly in the great Amphitheater when the winning buckler24 is applauded by its backers. We your neighbors ask for sleep – not all night through; to lie awake is nothing much, but to lie awake all night is a cross. Dismiss your pupils [discipulos dimitte suos]. Will you take as much for holding your tongue as you get for shouting? (Epigram 9.68.11)

The text is instructive, conveying a picture of early-morning loud recital from the school, to the annoyance of the neighbours. Martial seems to assume that even girls attended this school (see later in this chapter). The teaching is accompanied by harsh discipline. His contempt for the ludi magister shines through clearly, for instance in his mention of the payment. The text illustrates what it meant for schools to be ‘public’; instruction took place in ways which could be observed by the community; sometimes to its annoyance. According to this standard view, students advanced to the next stage when they were ready for it. Working on grammar and the exegesis of the poets required skills in both reading and writing. The transition to the second stage, therefore, depended upon these skills. The teachers taught style, language and morals based on these as well as on other texts. The students were given exercises, pieces to memorize and recite, supervised by grammatikov". The secondary curriculum of grammar and literature partly overlapped on the first stage, but it was more complex and sophisticated. The students now passed from words and syllables to literary works, primarily those of Homer. By teaching classical literature, the schoolmasters were gradually forming an identity based on the great traditions of the culture. Most important were Homer’s epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Homer was ‘the poet’ par excellence, and the Iliad was, according to the number of copies found, three times more popular than the Odyssey.25 The literature with which the students had to occupy themselves made frequent mention of the gods, and pagan mythology, as Jews and Christians would call it, was important. The authority assigned to these epics is due to the guiding and intervening role the deities have in these stories. The destiny of people and history are decided on Mount 23 In a note, the LCL edition says that successful lawyers were in the habit of erecting equestrian statues of themselves in their vestibules (cf. Juvenal Sat. 7.125). 24 In a note the LCL edition says that this was carried by Thracian gladiators. They had a reputation for rarely winning. When they won, however, the applause would be all the louder. 25 For the fragmentary nature of this learning, see references above.

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Olympus. These texts are, accordingly, religious poems. It is the awareness of this which made education a much-discussed topic among Christians of the first century CE. The subjects taught at the primary and secondary stages were collectively called encyclical (see above). Students who finished the two first levels had different options. They were to find a teacher in medicine,26 law, rhetoric or philosophy.27 The students continued their study of literature, but were now focusing on how this knowledge would prove helpful for speeches and philosophy. The textbooks, progymnasmata,28 used for the purpose of rhetoric, demonstrate the continuing use of Homer at this advanced level of education. For young Greek boys from well-to-do families this was also the time to start the so-called ‘ephebian’29 education, which could last for two years. The activities of the gumnavsion30 were meant to complete and add to what the youth had so far been taught. Emphasis, however, was laid on physical training and athletics. Traditionally, this training was motivated by the need to prepare for defending the city in time of war.31 Studying at the gymnasia gave the youngsters access to public positions, in politics and administration,32 particularly so in places where Greek culture was highly valued. In his Symposiakon 9 (Mor. 736D–37D), Plutarch tells us how civil servants in Athens attended an ajpovdeixi" where students performed in reading, geometry, rhetoric and music. This Greek term implies some form of evaluation or inspection. Participation in the activities of the gymnasia was reckoned as a criterion of Greekness, and necessary to enjoy full rights as a citizen. This is illustrated in 2 Maccabees 4, a Jewish text describing how Greek and pagan mores were introduced to Jerusalem at the time of Jason the high priest (c. 160 BCE):

26 The writings of Galen give some insight into medical education; see Alexander 1992: 1009–10. 27 See Alexander 1992: 1007–09. In Arrian’s compilation of the discourses of his teacher, namely Epictetus, we see a philosophical teacher at work. See also Culpepper 1975: 135–40. 28 See Vegge 2006: 121–38. 29 This word is derived from the Greek e[fhbov", meaning young adolescent. 30 A gymnasion was a sports ground, very often with a colonnade providing shade to protect against heat or shelter from wind and rain. The word is derived from Greek gumnov" (naked), due to the fact that athletic exercises were performed nude. Ps. Lucian Am. 45 mentions physical training as integral to boys’ education, although this element was declining in the first century CE. Quintilian does not share the Greeks’ enthusiasm for athletics in education (Inst. 1.11.1), but his scepticism is, in fact, testimony that some children in Rome continued to include physical training in their education. 31 See e.g. Lucian, Anach. 10, 14, 20, 24, 30. 32 In the Western parts of the Roman Empire, Augustus encouraged a similar education in collegia juvenum, emphasizing physical training; see Townsend 1971: 151 with further references.


The Challenge of Homer . . . to establish by his authority a gymnasium and a body of youth [gumnavsion kai; ejfhbei"on] for it, and to enrol the people of Jerusalem as citizens of Antioch (9) . . . he took delight in establishing a gymnasium right under the citadel, and he induced the noblest of the young men to wear the Greek hat.33 There was such an extreme of Hellenization and increase in the adoption of foreign ways because of the surpassing wickedness of Jason, who was ungodly and no true high priest, that the priests were no longer intent upon their service at the altar. Despising the sanctuary and neglecting the sacrifices, they hurried to take part in the unlawful proceedings in the wrestling arena34 after the signal for the discus-throwing, disdaining the honours prized by their ancestors and putting the highest value upon Greek forms of prestige35 (vv. 9, 12–15)

Athletics, practised in the Greek way, but also education in general, are here seen as a distinct mark of Greek identity. The implicit accusation against Jews participating in the activities described here is that they have abandoned their Jewish identity for the Greek. Cicero and Quintilian considered rhetoric the peak of education. Both of them, however, acknowledged the need to attend lessons in encyclical studies or artes liberales before embracing the proper education of rhetoric (e.g. Cicero, De or. 1.73-77; 1.137; 2.5-6). Cicero presents these studies as comites ac ministrae oratoris, ‘attendants and handmaids of oratory’ (De or. 1.75). As will appear later in the present investigation, this is a standard way of talking about encyclical education: it provides knowledge which prepares for, paves the way for, or ministers, to real knowledge, available in rhetoric, philosophy or medicine.36 Furthermore, encyclical subjects were usually described in terms of a beautiful maidservant (ministra) or attractive woman as opposed to the legal wife, the symbol of ‘higher education’.37 The Roman philosopher Seneca (see Chapter 4) attended the classes of the philosopher Attalos (Ep. 108). The aim of this education was not to learn how to debate, but how to live; not to collect knowledge but to develop or improve souls (Ep. 108.23). This is, as we will see in Chapter 4, an implicit critique of encyclical studies. Training in philosophy is distinguished from the rest of the curricula taught in the schools in its aim of ennobling the souls of the students. Encyclical teachers teach their 33 Hermes wore a broad-brimmed hat, and he was often associated with athletic competitions. 34 The Septuagint has here ejn palaivstrhæ. 35 The Septuagint has here timaiv and dovxai, which in this context probably refer to the wreath given to the winner of the competitions. 36 The basic structure of this logic was easily applied by Jews as referring to knowledge preparing for Torah, or by Christians for the Christian faith. 37 More on this in Chs 4.4; 5.1. 3 and 14.1. 3.

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students to analyse Virgil’s sentence fugit . . . tempus. The students would be taught the grammar of this sentence, how often these words appear in Virgil’s writings, etc. The philosophy teacher, however, takes this sentence as a point of departure to teach his students how to make right use of time (Ep. 108.24-26). The same sentence from Virgil is thus studied with different purposes, among which only the latter is truly important, according to Seneca. The philosopher’s lessons aim at words becoming acts: ut verba opera sint. The way philosophers taught their students was organized in order to bring about this. In his Ep. 6.56, he addresses his friend Lucilius. In order to convey wisdom (sapientia) to this friend, Seneca sends him some books in which he has marked the passages Lucilius ought to study carefully: Of course, however, the living voice [viva vox] and the intimacy of a common life will help you more than the written word. You must go to the scene of action [res praesens], first, because men put more faith in their eyes than in their ears, and second, because the way is long if one follows precepts [per praecepta], but short and helpful, if one follows patterns [per exempla]. Cleanthes could not have been the express image of Zeno, if he had merely heard his lectures; he shared in his life, saw into his hidden purposes, and watched him to see whether he lived according to his rules [an ex formula sua viveret]. Plato, Aristotle, and the whole throng of sages who were destined to go each his different way, derived more benefit from the character than from the words of Socrates [plus ex moribus quam ex verbis Socratis traxit]. It was not the class-room of Epicurus [schola Epicuri], but living together under the same roof, that made great men of Metrodorus, Hermachus, and Polyaenus.

This is a paedagogy of imitating the teacher by following him closely and thus learning from his mores rather than from his words. Seneca’s text implies a depreciation of encyclical teaching which imparts technical skills only. Encyclical studies are, therefore, valued only as preparatory knowledge for the paideia proper, which is offered by philosophy. Seneca’s explanation of the relationship between encyclical studies and philosophy has a remarkable affinity with how many Christians came to think of the usefulness of encyclical education, and therefore also of Homer. The logic of the preparatory role of encyclical training will be elaborated on in Chapter 4. The presentation given above is organized according to Marrou’s influential pattern. Although a number of texts suggest a progression between elementary and secondary stages,38 Marrou’s tripartite pattern appears rather rigid. Marrou acknowledged that there were examples which differed from his tripartite pattern, but he considered them exceptions. 38 See e.g. Kaster 1983: 325–29.


The Challenge of Homer

2.3.1 Criticism of Marrou Marrou’s tripartite and sequential pattern has been seriously questioned.39 Although Marrou insisted on a coherent and clearly defined educational system, the recent book Education in Greek and Roman Antiquity (2001) edited by Yun Lee Too, shows a world of diversity and complexity.40 In the late 1970s, Alan D. Booth launched an attack on a pattern where students progressed from the elementary to more advanced studies by the age of 11 or 12.41 Marrou and his followers organized the material in a way which owes more to modern concepts of education than what the diversity of ancient society suggests. Booth demonstrates that many sources asume that grammatici also took responsibility for elementary teaching, thus breaking up the neat tripartite sequence. Booth has shown that no universal progress from supervision given by the grammatisteˆs and then by the grammaticus can be assumed.42 We have seen that a common attitude to encyclical studies was that they were considered precursors to real paideia. This will be further demonstrated as this work progresses. Certainly, this attitude did not favour the work of grammatistai: ‘Clearly the thrust was to hurry the child through the elements towards ‘‘real’’ learning, for – so the reasoning seems to run – the more difficult the subject, the greater the time needed.’43 In Petronius’ Satyricon, a teacher of rhetoric provides a good example of Booth’s point. In Sat. 3–5, he blames ambitious parents for hurrying the unripe44 schoolboy into the lawcourts, and to demand eloquence of ‘boys who are about to be born (pueri nascentes).’ The parents do not allow them to proceed stepwise (gradus), and to reach a full splendour of eloquence in due time. The result is that boys make a game out of school (in scholis ludunt), and when they become iuvenes, they become a laughing-stock in foro, in the courts. The practice complained of here speaks against Marrou’s clearly distinguishable tripartite education. Furthermore, elementary teachers faced so much criticism (see above) that it is likely that some parents avoided them, or limited their work. The parents might also have saved some money by having a grammaticus taking care also of the elementary teaching. The salary of the teachers and the parents’ attempt to reduce the costs appear frequently in the sources. Ps.Plutarch tells of a father looking for a cheap teacher for his son

39 It still forms a backbone for presentations of ancient education, see e.g. Hock 2003: 199–208; Vegge 2006: 438–39. 40 Too 2001a: 10–16. 41 Booth 1979; 1979a; 1981. 42 Cribiore 2001: 51 gives examples that grammatisteˆs sometimes designated the grammarian (grammaticos). 43 Booth 1979: 9. 44 The adjective crudus means undigested; see Oxford Latin Dictionary s.v.

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(Mor. 4F).45 He approached Aristippus and asked him how much he charged for a student. The teacher said ‘A thousand drachmas’, to which the father responded: ‘Great Heavens! What an excessive demand! I can buy a slave for a thousand.’ Aristippus then answered: ‘Then you will have two slaves, your son and the one you buy.’ These observations make Marrou’s pattern appear too uniform, too universal and rigid. It is likely that some parents sought one of four options for their children: a) they sent them to the elementary teachers, as assumed by Marrou b) they limited the time the children spent with the elementary teachers c) they had grammatici to take care of the education, including also the elementary levels d) they had them taught at home. Booth argues that grammatisteˆs/ludi magister and the grammaticos did not necessarily form a sequence, but were separate parts of a socially segmented system of two strata. The first was intended for the lower strata, and ‘peddled craft literacy to children, slave and free, to enhace their employability’,46 while the other provided liberal education to upperclass children. The latter received elementary instruction at home or with the grammaticos. Booth thus shows how education and social position were intimately connected. From this it follows that attitudes to Greek education depended upon social position. This insight will be confirmed from Christian sources (see Part 2). Robert A. Kaster has developed Booth’s criticism of the Marrou tradition by emphasizing that the distinction between elementary and secondary teaching was often blurred: On the one hand, the evidence suggests that the distinction between the ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ teacher, in title or function, was far from iron-clad, and that the grammarian was prepared to provide elementary instruction to the youngest pupils among his clientele . . . On the other hand, we see children beginning their formal schooling, as early as their sixth to eight years, with the grammarian as their first teacher . . .47

45 The financial pressure which many school teachers felt is addressed by Juvenal in his Sat. 7.215-243. He says that no grammaticus receives payment as deserved. Furthermore, the amount received is reduced by the pedagogues and accountants who have to be bribed. Shelton 1998: 105 says that this probably refers to attempts to have the pedagogues put in a good word with the students’ parents. Juvenal also mentions that the teachers rarely get their money without a court case. This statement is probably due to the satirical genre, but there is no doubt that Juvenal is here addressing a real problem. Shelton gives a list of food prices in antiquity and compares it with the wages of different occupations. This list is very instructive, and serves to underline how poorly teachers were paid (pp. 130–32). 46 Booth 1979a: 19. 47 Kaster 1983: 336.


The Challenge of Homer

Kaster questions if any pattern at all can be typical or generalized, even that of Booth. The social differentiation implied by Booth appears plausible, but it applies primarily to cities. The two strata system, as presented by Booth, relies on sources closely associated with city life: ‘The social and economic life of such cities (Rome, Antioch, Alexandria) could demand and support a differentiated system of schools: but there would be few cities indeed in which we could expect to find replicated the pattern of schooling that might be found in the great metropolitan centers.’48 Taking into account local schools scattered around the empire, the only typical feature is the diversity in both organization and progression. The picture that emerges is one of great diversity. Quintilian Booth draws heavily on Quintilian (c. 35–100 CE), who gives the fullest account of liberal education in antiquity. He collected ancient rhetorical traditions into the twelve books which make up his Institutio Oratoria. This is not a textbook for the rhetors themselves – as with the so-called progymnasmata – but for the teachers who trained the rhetors. His entire work aims at training public speakers. He says that his first book addresses the education which is preliminary to that of rhetoric (ante officium rhetoris) (Inst. 1.Pr.21). He thus considers education as progressing towards the summit (ad summam praecedere)49 (Inst. 1.Pr.5), which to him is rhetorical eloquence. This does not allow, says Quintilian, neglect of preliminary education (parva studia), which would be like neglecting the foundations of a building. Certainly, the superstructures (fastigia) attract more attention, but fundamenta are still necessary. Quintilian is here polemicizing against those who despise parva studia (1.Pr. 4–5). He speaks in the same vein in Inst. 10.1.4, where he addresses the preparatory role of liberal education. He considers the rhetorical student an athlete participating in a contest, having completed the preparation of the liberal studies. Rhetoric is thus a matter of perveniri ad summa. But to become a speaker to this standard, liberal education is required. Book 1, according to Quintilian himself, presents the basic requirements for young boys who want to proceed to the more important things. He considers his student a future rhetor (futurus orator) (Inst. 1.2.18). The goal of education is to become a perfect speaker; what that means is unfolded in Book 2. In the present investigation, Book 1 is more important since Quintilian here gives his view on the raising of children as well as the common basic education needed. The literary sources on encyclical education demonstrate that the aim was to foster political leaders. Thus this training was not only necessary to form the identity of 48 Kaster 1983: 341, cf. pp. 345–46. Similarly Cribiore 2001: 40–41. 49 For education as climbing towards the summit, see later in this chapter.

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respected citizens, but also for them to acquire power and influence in society. The non-literary sources, however, testify to aspects of school life also for students who remained outside the circles of power. Quintilian is a voice of the powerful, aiming at fostering students destined to be influential in the political arena. For Quintilian, the cradle of education was the home: Let us not therefore waste the earliest years: there is all the less excuse for this, since the elements of literary training are solely a question of memory [memoria], which not only exists even in small children, but is especially retentive at that age. I am not however so blind to differences of age as to think that the very young should be forced on prematurely or given real work to do. Above all things we must take care that the child, who is not yet old enough to love his studies, does not come to hate them and dread the bitterness which he has once tasted, even when the years of infancy are left behind. His studies must be made an amusement: he must be questioned and praised and taught to rejoice when he has done well; sometimes too, when he refuses instruction, it should be given to some other to excite his envy, at times also he must be engaged in competition and should be allowed to believe himself successful more often than not, while he should be encouraged to do his best by such rewards as may appeal to his tender years. (Inst. 1.1.19-20)

He recommends his readers to choose nurses (nutrices) who are of good mores, but who also speak correctly (recte loquire): ‘It is the nurse that the child first hears, and her words that he will first attempt to imitate’ (Inst. 1.1.4).50 Students should meet requirements at an early age, and this includes also the persons with whom they associate in childhood. He is of the opinion that the time before the age of 7 must not be neglected. His advice gives a glimpse of life among the Roman elite. Quintilian devotes an entire chapter to guiding parents in what to do when the child descends from the lap (exire de gremio) to embark upon its studies (Inst. 1.2) This was the time to decide if studying is to be continued in the home or with ‘public teachers’. What is implied in Quintilian’s calling the teachers publici?51 In the first place, the text assumes that

50 The same advice is found in Ps.Plutarch, Mor. 3E; 4A. 51 Schools were rarely public in terms of being run and supported by local authorities. Plato argues in Laws Book 7 that schooling for all citizens, girls included, was the responsibility of the polis (Leg. 805C; 810A–B; 813E). According to Plato, no father should keep his children away from the teachers; rather they should be compelled to be educated, since they are ‘children of the State even more than children of their parents’ (Leg. 804D). To Plato, this responsibility included paying the teacher as well as finding proper teaching facilities, but also the right to exercise control (Leg. 801D; 806C–E). His proposal seems, however, never to have been put into practice in antiquity.


The Challenge of Homer

teaching so far has been conducted at home, by parents, slaves or the paedagogue. Second, the teachers which are in fact mentioned are the grammaticus and the rhetor (Inst. 1.2.13-14). The first teacher the student is expected to meet is thus the grammarian. There is no mention of an elementary teacher in this context. Furthermore, Inst. 1.2.9 clearly shows that by ‘public’ Quintilian means the visibility (lumen) of the teachers’ activities in opposition to the solitude and obscurity of private teaching. Parents about to decide on this question for their children should pay especial attention to two issues which were often taken to support private tuition. It was feared that children would pick up bad habits and immorality from other students, and also that a group of students would cause the teacher to spend less time with each student individually. Quintilian discusses these objections. He admits that schools often have a reputation for handing down bad habits, but says that the home can also be a source of a bad lifestyle, due to the teacher himself or the domestic slaves. His own arguments against continued home tuition can be summarized in the following way: To the first objection he says that living implies fellowship, hence the best way to learn is in company with other children. Students taught alone will easily become self-centred. To the second objection he responds with a longer pedagogical consideration. He says that a teacher ought not to give all his time and attention to one student only. This will weary the student, who will also miss the natural balance between tuition and his own studies. Quintilian’s perspective throughout is that he is speaking to future public speakers, who require the ability to relate to lots of people. Fellow students will introduce the child to their thoughts and views, and thus widen his perspectives. In this way he will receive more of both praise and blame during his days at school. Quintilian considers competing with other students stimulating as well: a weak student will find examples to imitate among his friends at school. The teacher will also be inspired by more students, says Quintilian, and thus give better lessons. The number of the students is thus an indication of a popular and good teacher, although the class must not be too large. Consonant with Quintilian’s goal for instruction, namely the training of rhetors, reading skills are important. This involves pronunciation, voice, breath and modulation. The continuity in all education was marked by the texts with which the students occupied themselves: It is therefore an admirable practice, which now prevails, to begin by reading Homer and Virgil, although the intelligence needs to be further developed for the full appreciation of their merits: but there is plenty of time for that since the boy will read them more than once. In the meantime let his mind be lifted by the sublimity of heroic verse, inspired

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by the greatness of its theme and imbued with the loftiest sentiments. (Quintilian, Inst. 1.8.5)52

Quintilian is separated from Plato by more than 400 years, and yet both attest to the importance of the poets in education: . . . and the children, when they have learnt their letters and are getting to understand the written word as before they did only the spoken, are furnished with works of good poets to read as they sit in class, and are made to learn them off by heart; here they meet with many admonitions, many descriptions and praises and eulogies of good men in times past, that the boy [oJ pai'"] in envy may imitate [mimei'sqai] them and yearn to become even as they (Plato, Prot. 325E–26A)

Quintilian confirms A.D. Booth’s criticism of the Marrou tradition for lack of sensitivity to the difference made by social strata. It is, indeed, a long way from this high-ranking Roman rhetor to local schools scattered around the empire. The unity that Teresa Morgan championed on ancient education (see above) is to be sought primarily in the role given to the poets, and Homer in particular, not to a universal tripartite system. The criticism brought against Marrou is thus twofold. The neat sequences of the stages in education assumed by Marrou cannot be upheld, and his presentation suffers from the lack of attention to different social strata.

2.4 Teaching Methods and Discipline A wall-painting from Pompeii’s forum illustrates both the circumstances in which much teaching took place, and also the discipline practised in school.53 The teacher has gathered his students in a portico. The New Testament tells us that Jesus also taught in the porticos of Jerusalem (Jn 12.23). The place was chosen as a shelter against wind, heat and coldness. Similarly, the porticos of Pompeii were suitable for a teacher to gather his students. The painting shows a boy being punished by lashes. Two fellow students are, unwillingly it seems, assisting the teacher in doing this, while three other students are gazing into their books. We might read too much into this picture; nonetheless it is worth noting that the eyes of all – except the teacher – are turned away from the student who is being beaten. I take this to express shame as well as a concern to keep out of the situation. This 52 Quintilian’s statement implies that Homer and Virgil are read so often that they envelop the student. This is stated explicitly in Heraclitus’ Homeric Problems 1.4-7 to be quoted in Ch. 3.4 in this study. See Cribiore 2001a: 241 where she makes the point that the fact that classical texts are studied continously and repeatedly is included in the term ‘encyclical’ studies. The students are surrounded by the same important texts throughout their education. 53 A drawing of this picture is provided by Bonner 1977: 118.


The Challenge of Homer

picture conveys more than a multitude of texts how discipline worked in the schools. The fact that this picture was displayed in the forum is probably indicative of its aim of disciplining students who met there regularly with their teachers. The message was simple: this is what will happen to disobedient students! Behind the students who are gazing fearfully, but apparently intently, into their books, the picture shows passers-by who, out of interest or curiosity, are listening to the lessons. Thus the picture illustrates ‘public’ teaching, and also the situation depicted by Galen: parents searching for a suitable teacher (see 2.5). Many texts tell us about children’s tears, and their hatred of their teachers. Dio Chrysostom (c. 40/50–110 CE) says that boys do not look happily at people whom they think are paidagwgoiv (Or. 72.10). When students in their maturity look back on their days with the grammatistaiv, they think of the physical punishments.54 Augustine describes these memories in the following way: I was next sent to school [in scholam datus sum] to learn to read and write [ut discerem litteras]. Poor wretch, I did not understand for what such knowledge is useful [in quibus quid utilitatis esset ignorabam miser]. Yet if ever I was indolent in learning, I was beaten. This method was approved by adults, and many people living long before me had constructed the laborious courses which we were compelled to follow by an increase of the toil and sorrow55 of Adam’s children . . . As a boy I began to pray to you, ‘my help and my refuge’,56 and for my prayer to you I broke the bonds of my tongue. Though I was only a small child [parvus], there was great feeling when I pleaded with you that I might not be caned at school. And when you did not hear me, which was so as ‘not to give me to foolishness’,57 adult people, including even my parents, who wished no evil to come upon me, used to laugh at my stripes, which were at that time a great and painful evil to me (14). . . . Is this comparable to the way our parents laughed at the torments which our teachers inflicted on us as boys? We at least were no less scared and prayed no less passionately to escape them. Yet we were at fault in paying less attention than was required of us to writing and reading or using our minds about our books. Not, Lord, that there was a deficiency in memory or intelligence (memoria vel ingenium). It was your will to endow us sufficiently with the level appropriate to our age. 54 See Marrou 1956: 272, who also refers to the Latin expression used for attending the grammar-school, manum ferulae subducere. A verbal translation of this is ‘to be subject to the hand of the rod/stick’; see Oxford Latin Dictionary s.v. For further evidence, see Connolly 2001: 368–69 and Cribiore 2001: 65–73. 55 I here quote from Chadwick 1991. By permission of Oxford University Press. He here makes reference to Gen. 3.16. For the Latin text of Confessiones, see O’Donnell 1992. 56 Ps. 93.22. 57 Ps. 21.3.

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But we loved to play (ludere), and punishments were imposed on us by those who were engaged in adult games. For ‘the amusement of adults is called business’. (15) (Conf. 1.9.14-15)

At the age of 62 the learned philosopher still bitterly remembers the punishments he suffered.58 That these dominated his memories of his early years at school is also seen from a rhetorical question found in his Civ. 21.14: ‘Who would not shiver with dread and choose to die, if he were offered the choice of death or a second infancy?’ This question is raised within a context where the punishments at school are addressed. Cribiore mentions a school exercise clearly demonstrating that instruction was accompanied by whipping: ‘Work hard, boy, lest you be thrashed.’59 Whips were routinely used in ancient schools.60 This fact developed naturally from the way instruction was given and received. The widespread practice of the teacher guiding the hands of the students, found in both literary and non-literary sources, is not only due to the lack of schoolbooks, but mirrors an authoritarian pedagogy. The teaching methods can be summarized in the following words: copying, imitation, memorization, reproduction and repetition. The teaching encouraged not grasping but absorption and imitation.61 This matches how the instructors were prone to conceive of their students (see Chapter 4.1). Quintilian takes a more balanced view on the use of whipping and discipline. He says that students were to be stimulated by the help of competitions (Inst. 1.2.23-25). He also suggests a combination of teaching and play (Inst. 1.3.9-10). He distances himself from beating and whipping. This should be reserved for slaves, and this practice will also make the students more difficult to cope with. In his consideration of physical punishments, Quintilian appears rather modern (Inst. 1.3.13-18); he is aware that he is not representative of contemporary views on this.

2.5 Looking for a Teacher – Starting a Climb to the Top To take lessons in the subjects which made up an encyclical education, most students had to see more teachers. The sources, therefore, often depict students and their parents searching for the best or for the cheapest

58 For a commentary on this text, see Starnes 1990: 11–12. 59 Cribiore 1996: 24–25. 60 The rod became an iconographical motif in vases picturing school scenes, sometimes together with a tree and a chair symbolizing the authority of the teacher; see Cribiore 1996: 17–18; 2001: 30–31. On corporal punishment in ancient schools, see further Rawson 2003: 175–78; Dutch 2005: 261–75. 61 See Morgan 1998: 250–55.


The Challenge of Homer

teacher.62 Galen, a Greek physician (second century CE) whose writings include critique of and polemic against Christian faith and believers,63 is a good example of this practice. Galen tells how he, accompanied by his father, was at the age of 15 looking for teachers in his home-town of Pergamon: After I had completed my fourteenth year, I attended lectures by philosophers from my own city – mostly under a Stoic who was a disciple of Philopator, but for a short time, also, under a Platonist, a disciple of Gaius . . . meanwhile, I studied under another teacher from my home town, a disciple of Aspasius the Peripatetic, on his return from a long sojourn abroad. After him, I had another teacher from Athens, an Epicurean. For my sake, my father made a close investigation of the lives and doctrines of all these men and went along with me to hear them. (On the Passions of the Soul 8)64

Galen’s text gives us a vivid picture of teaching in a public place where those passing by could listen and maybe also interrupt the teacher with questions and comments, thus providing textual support for the wallpainting from Pompeii’s forum. The satirist Lucian of Samosata, who was a contemporary of Galen, pokes fun at teachers who kept students occupied for years, and in his Hermotimus he casts doubt on their purposes; probably they did so for economic reasons. Hurrying on his way to the philosophy teacher, Hermotimus runs into Lycinus, who represents the author’s sarcastic ‘take’ on the teachers and their unceasing struggle to acquire more students and keep them longer, which cost Hermotimus years with teachers, books and notes, and which also left him with a pale face. Lycinus says there is no point in hurrying since he has seen a notice on the door of the teacher’s house: ‘No Philosophy Lecture Today’ (Hermot. 11). This text shows that teaching was also given in the teacher’s own home. Cicero says that he and his brother were taught in the teacher’s home (De or. 2.2). Similar stories about ‘searching for a teacher’ are found also in Josephus65 late in the first century CE and in the Christian philosopher Justin Martyr.66 In Hermotimus, Lucian pokes fun at the students of philosophy who are wasting their life on studies. The dialogue between Hermotimus, a philosophy student, and Lycinus, a Socrates-like sceptic, attacks the arrogance and selfishness of the philosophers. Lycinus succeeds in turning Hermotimus’ mind away from philosophy and towards the life of 62 63 64 65 66

See e.g. Ps.Plutarch Mor. 4F referred to above; Alexander 1994: 68–71. On Galen and the Christians, see Wilken 1984: 68–93. English translation in Harkins and Riese 1963. His autobiography Vita 7–12. His account of his conversion in Dial. Chs 2–7; see Skarsaune 1976.

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ordinary people (Hermot. 52, 63, 67, 86).67 In this dialogue, education is conceived of as climbing a mountain by a steep and rough path: ‘Virtue [ajrethv], says Hesiod68 lives far away, and the path to her is long and steep and rough, with plenty of sweat for travellers’ (Hermot. 2).69 The motif of climbing a peak is repeated throughout this literature. It is depicted as an anabasis to the summit (ejpi; tw'æ a[krwæ/pro;" to; a[kron) where Virtue lives (Hermot. 2–7, 15).70 The teacher of philosophy has completed his anabasis, and is now, i.e. in the lectures, letting down a rope to his students to lift them up to himself and to Virtue (Hermot. 3). This rope is likened to Zeus’ golden rope which, according to Il. 8.19-28, unites heaven and earth. This climb is later compared with the Odyssey, a troublesome journey (Hermot. 59). By likening education to Zeus’ rope, Lucian tacitly describes the difficult nature of education as well. As pointed out by Raffaella Cribiore, the golden rope in Homer is a means by which Zeus also menaces the gods. By means of this rope he may hurl them down to the Underworld.71 The top of this anabasis fraught with danger is, according to Hermotimus, philosophy. Viewing education in terms of climbing a hillside towards virtue brings into the picture various aspects of importance. According to Hermot. 5, the peak cannot be reached in a short time. Many embark upon this journey, but they are only able to travel a varying distance on the road. Meeting difficulties, they give up and turn back. Lucian describes this in terms of bodily hardships: ‘gasping for breath and dripping with sweat; the hardships are too much for them’. This figurative speech is easily transferred into a vivid picture of educational struggles, with victories and defeat. Those who in the end (eij" tevlo") reach the summit enjoy happiness. From their summit they look down on the rest of mankind who, from the peak, appear like crawling ants.72 This is precisely the arrogance which Lucian targets in this satire. In short the metaphor of climbing the peak emphasizes the goal of the climb, its demanding nature as well as the fact that only the few reach the top. Moreover, this metaphor of climbing towards the summit of philosophy necessarily 67 Cf. Lucian Men. 3–4, quoted in Ch. 3.4 of this study. 68 Op. 287–92. Xenophon refers to this text when he introduces the well-known challenge presented to Heracles (Mem. 2.1.20-33). Vice and virtue presented themselves to him disguised as two women; see Sandnes 2002: 44–45. In Op. 290 Hesiod speaks about reaching the top (eij" a[kron i{khtai) on the path to virtue. This is quoted by Xenophon in Mem. 2.1.20. 69 The student here becomes a oJdoipovro" ejpi; tw'æ a[krwæ or pro;" to; a[kron. 70 Cf. Quintilian Inst. 1.Pr.5, mentioned above. 71 Cribiore 2001: 45. 72 Philo speaks in similar terms about people who are fully occupied with their daily businesses, which he considers as a foundation for both ignorance and lack of culture (qemevlio" ajgnoiva" kai; ajmaqiva").


The Challenge of Homer

includes encyclical studies as providing the first steps on this steep and rough path.73 The very beginning of this climb was, of course, searching and finding good teachers. The fact that Lucian makes this a target of his satire, implies, by the very nature of satire, that he is depicting, albeit in exaggerated form, a commonly expressed view of education. Cribiore makes this analogy the point of departure for her presentation of education in the ancient world,74 and this study will argue that the view expressed in this metaphor played a considerable role in how Christians responded to Greek culture and education in particular.

2.6 Girls Participating as Well? Concerning girls’ participation in encyclical education, in one of his letters, Pliny the Younger (61–112 CE), mentions his friend Fundanus who lost his daughter. Pliny says about her: ‘she loved her nurse (nutrices) and her teachers,75 each one for the service given her; she applied herself intelligently to her books and was moderate and restrained in her play’ (Ep. 5.16.3). It is safe to assume that the text does not address public teaching but private tuition at home. Anyway, it is difficult to draw farreaching conclusions concerning girls and encyclical training on the basis of the scattered evidence.76 Cribiore refers to the existence of a few Hellenistic terracotta potsherds showing girls carrying books and tablets,

73 Basilius the Great mentions in his Adol. 5.3-4 the same dictum of Hesiod (see above), saying that it is on everybody’s lips, and gives it a relevance to Greek education in general. Ps.Plutarch De Libris Educandis speaks of education in terms of reaching towards virtue or happiness (Mor. 5C; 11E); hence those who climb to the top become tevleioi (Mor. 8A). Plato Protagoras raises the question whether virtue can be taught or not, or whether ‘becoming good’ is a matter of knowledge. This dialogue therefore confers information of relevance to ancient education. In the midst of the question whether human beings are good, or become so by means of education, reference is made to Hesiod Op. 289 which is paraphrased: ‘for Heaven hath set hard travail on the way to virtue; and when one reacheth the summit thereof, ’tis an easy thing to possess, though hard before’ (Prot. 340D). 74 Cribiore 2001: 1. 75 Pliny here has the word paedagogi (pl.), thus demonstrating the Greek roots of Roman schooling. The text probably testifies to the wider functions in primary instruction performed by this figure. 76 Suetonius Gramm. 16 mentions that Marcus Agrippa’s wife took classes, but that this occasioned charges of misconduct. Bonner 1977: 27–28 gives more examples from the upper strata of Roman society. Quintilian wants mothers to have received as much education as possible; thus they can contribute to the education of their sons. His examples are all taken from the upper strata of the Roman aristocracy (Inst. 1.1.6-7). Cribiore 2001: 4, 74–101 concludes likewise; women from affluent families participated. This material is, however, not quite unanimous; see Cribiore 1996: 17. Haines-Eitzen 2000: 41–52 gives evidence for female scribes in antiquity and in early Christianity. They worked for female owners in private homes.

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obviously on their way to school.77 The Christian writer Lactantius (260– 330 CE), himself one of Constantine the Great’s teachers, suggests caution here. In his Divinae Institutiones, he emphasizes that the Christian message brings equality; his proof-text is Gal. 3.28 (Inst. 5.15-16).78 This passage has some practical consequences, according to Lactantius. The way of the Lord is taught to both sexes, and to all nations on an equal basis. This is, according to Lactantius, in opposition to teachers who otherwise taught only boys and young men (Inst. 6.3). As shown above, there are examples of girls attending school, but it was hardly common. The fact that encyclical education was a starting-point for power, authority and influence implies that education was primarily a masculine affair.79 This made education less accessible for women. Girls who nevertheless attended classes remained outside the public and political arena for which this education was, in fact, preparing the student. Another reason why girls seldom advanced beyond elementary education was that they married. Furthermore, men tended not to be fond of women or wives who were well educated.80 Musonius Rufus, the so-called ‘Roman Socrates’, was a Stoic philosopher living in Rome c. 30–100 CE. He was a teacher of Epictetus. Musonius’ students preserved their notes from their teacher’s lessons, and some of these fragments have been preserved. Musonius addresses the question of girls and education, and he argues that girls should participate. He is, however, something of a lone and exciting voice in antiquity. The philosopher was once asked whether women should study philosophy. Chapter 3 provides some of his supporting arguments. Women as well as men have received from the gods both the gift of reason (lovgo") and senses (aijsqhvsei"). Men and women have a natural inclination (fuvsi") toward virtue (ajrethv), and to perform both good and just acts: ‘If it is true, by what reasoning would it ever be appropriate for men to search out and consider how they may lead good lives, which is exactly the study of philosophy, but inappropriate for women?’ Musonius’ logic is based on his understanding of the nature and aim of philosophy. Philosophy has a practical goal; the students should become good and just, and behave accordingly. As for women, they are thus enabled to take care of their household, to exercise self-control, and to be a great help to their husbands. Musonius is well aware that some women who associated 77 Cribiore 1996: 17. 78 An English translation is available in ANF Vol. 7; for the Greek text see the SC edition of Monat. 79 This is emphasized by Morgan 1998: 48, a viewpoint fundamentally supported by Ps. Lucian Am. 44–45. This is closely connected with the gender-specific roles in antiquity. While power which was accessed through public life was a male arena, women’s life was more or less confined to the domestic; for references and literature see Sandnes 2007. 80 See Shelton 1998: 45, 105, 299.


The Challenge of Homer

with philosophers became arrogant, and that they became involved in the art of rhetoric and dialectic, rather than caring for their home. This might happen when philosophy’s aim is misunderstood and its proper mandate, namely to fit men and women to different tasks, is blurred. In Chapter 4 the philosopher raises the question whether sons and daughters should be given the same paideia. The mention of children in this passage indicates that Musonius is here addressing the initial stage of encyclical studies. Those who prepare dogs and horses for racing make no difference between the sexes, he says. But Musonius still claims that men and women are given different tasks. Boys and girls should therefore be taught individually. Now he becomes very traditional. Women’s tasks are domestic, while men’s arena is the polis. But since virtues remain the same for both sexes, they must be given the same foundational paideia. The upbringing of boys and girls should have as the point of departure that virtues are developed on an equal basis; but boys and girls are still trained for different tasks: Hence I hold it reasonable that the things which have reference to virtue [pro;" ajrethvn] ought to be taught to male and female alike; and furthermore that straight from infancy [ajrxavmeno" ajpo; nhpivwn] they ought to be taught that this is right [ajgaqovn] and that this is wrong [kakovn], and that it is the same for both alike; that this is helpful [wjfevlimon], that is harmful [blaberovn], that one must do this, one must not do that. From this training understanding [frovnhsi"] is developed in those who learn, boys and girls alike, with no difference.81

At the centre of Musonius’ view of what boys and girls ought to be taught equally is the ability to distinguish between good and bad, helpful and harmful. As we will see in full later, this corresponds to an ancient critical tradition on Homer, of which intellectual Christians took advantage in their confrontation with Greek education. This chapter draws a background against which the argument among Christians on participation in ancient education can be considered historically reliable. We have seen that the tripartite literary instruction assumed by educational historians (the Marrou tradition) has yielded to a picture of diversity, with local, social, economic and circumstantial perspectives. Nonetheless, even if the distinctions between primary and secondary education, and between the teachers by whom students were taught, are far from clear, the progress in terms of difficulty and skills must have proceded from learning the letters and alphabet to writing and reading, and continued towards passages from the poets, among whom Homer is the most important. After learning their gravmmata, the students were exposed to the works of the poets; thus says Plato (Prot. 325E). 81 Quoted from Lutz 1947: 46–48.

School in the Graeco-Roman World


Quintilian states that students worked with the writings of the poets at different stages. On all levels he considered it helpful to read their stories, since they inspired the students to imitate the heroes. The non-literary evidence testifies to this as well.82 About three centuries later, and almost 800 years after Plato, Augustine wrote his Confessions. He lived in a society about to be Christianized, but the pagan poets Homer and Virgil were still the core curriculum in school. Both content and teaching methods remained the same throughout the Roman Empire for almost a millennium.83 This formed a continuous unity within ancient schooling – even when society was about to embrace the Christian faith. It is now necessary to look into the role given to Homer in all stages of Greek education. This formed a kind of lowest common denominator in ancient education, and the point of departure for the Christian approach as well. Secondary instruction taught by the grammarian was thus more uniform than what boys were taught in the initial stage of (primary) education.84

82 See Cribiore 1996: 46 for references. 83 Morgan 1998: 3–7. 84 Thus also Cribiore 2001: 53.

Chapter 3 THE PIVOTAL ROLE OF HOMER We have already seen how important Homer and some other classical texts were in ancient teaching, as testified in both literary and documentary sources. It was precisely the importance and authority of these texts which the Christians found so difficult to cope with. It is therefore necessary to give some more attention to the role occupied by Homer in particular. Homer probably lived around 800 BCE.1 According to tradition, he wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey; otherwise next to nothing is known about him. The Iliad is the poem about Ilium (Troy) or the war between the Greeks and the Trojans. This war was caused by Paris, son of King Priam of Troy, who stole Helen, the wife of Menelaus from Sparta. The Iliad presents fifty-one days of the tenth year of this war. A bitter conflict between Achilles, the brave hero of the Greeks, and their commander Agamemnon, caused the siege of Troy to drag on. In the end they succeeded in taking the city by cunning. They pretended to give up, and to set sail for home, but they left behind on the shore a huge wooden horse as a votive gift. The making of the horse was Odysseus’ idea, and in it were hidden soldiers. In spite of being warned not to do so the Trojans took the horse inside the city. During the night the soldiers came out and set Troy on fire. Aeneas was one of the few who escaped. The Odyssey portrays Odysseus’ homeward journey, as well as his homecoming. This lasts for about twenty years, and Odysseus faced a number of dangers, trials and temptations on his way home. At his home at Ithaca, his wife Penelope 1 For the question of history and fiction in Homer’s epics, see Andersen and Dickie 1995. The question of the historical reliability of Homer’s epics was an issue already in antiquity. Dio Chrysostom Or. 11 (The Trojan Discourse) maintains that the Iliad gives a deceptive picture of the events. He tells the true story behind Homer’s poems (e.g. 4, 17–18, 37, 87, 92, 104, 144–50). The Greeks are prone to giving their poets the licence to deceive as long as they entertain (41–43) and serve the cause of the Greeks (147–49). Dio presents a counter-story, representing the actual course of events, in which Helen was not carried away by Paris, but married him out of love. Troy was not destroyed, and Achilles actually died outside Troy. Dio Chrysostom takes the abrupt ending of the Iliad to be indicative of the deceptive nature of this epic: ‘The poet who set out to tell of the Trojan War, omitted the most glorious and important events and did not even give an account of the capture of the city’ (127).

The Pivotal Role of Homer


was awaiting his return. When his return was delayed for years, suitors gathered to marry Penelope. Odysseus’ son Telemachos leaves home to search for his father. In the end, after many exhausting events, Odysseus arrived in Ithaca, disguised as an old traveller. Clothed like a beggar he enters his own house, which has been occupied by the suitors. He competes with them in making use of Odysseus’ bow. He defeats them and kills them all. Telemachos then returns and finds his father united with Penelope, his mother. The Roman poet Virgil (70–19 BCE) equalled Homer’s role among the Romans due to his magnum opus the Aeneid, which is the poem about Aeneas. He was the hero of Troy during the fire that devastated the city. Aeneas left Troy, and in circumstances that bring to mind Odysseus’ journey he arrived in Italy. Aeneas became, according to Virgil’s epic, the ancestor of the Julian emperors, starting with Julius Caesar and Octavian Augustus. In Plato’s Protagoras, the main character says to Socrates: ‘I consider, Socrates, that the greatest part of a man’s education is to be skilled in the matter of verses; that is to be able to apprehend, in the utterances of the poets [ta; uJpo; tw'n poihtw'n legovmena], what has been rightly and what wrongly composed, and to know how to distinguish them and account for them when questioned’ (Prot. 339A). This statement is given a special application to the topic of the dialogue, whether virtue can be taught or not. Protagoras here claims that knowing the writings of the poets leads to virtue. He thus says that virtue is teachable, a position he comes to question later in this dialogue (Prot. 360E–62A). He refers to the poets in general as having this educational role. The present chapter substantiates that Protagoras’ claim has relevance to Homer, the so-called ‘educator of Hellas’ (see below). In fact, Protagoras, having made the claim in 339A then makes a reference to Homer, citing the Iliad (Prot. 340A). For practical as well as pedagogical reasons, students read, as we saw in Chapter 2, only selected texts. They learnt so-called gnomai, citations or maxims – some lines picked from the classical texts, or chreiai, which are concise statements or brief stories about well-known persons, apt for illustrating good or bad morals.2 Standard anthologies were developed, often with scholia attached to them. Scholia are notes or comments of a critical, grammatical, explanatory or organizing nature, written in the text, between the lines or in the margin. Scholia indicate ways of paraphrasing, shortening or interpreting the text. Scholia to Homer’s Iliad demonstrate an enormous amount of interpretation, which is, of course, a sign of its importance to ancient education in general.3 The practice of scholia developed in the schools was later used also with biblical texts and 2 3

Malherbe 1986: 85–120; Kennedy 2003. See e.g. Erbse 1969–88; Ludwick and Erbse 1966.


The Challenge of Homer

the literature of the Church. From minor scholia of less significance there developed a tradition of meta-texts on how a given text should be read and interpreted. The most elementary scholia are the so-called scholia minora, which probably originated in schools.4 In his treatise How the Young Man Should Study Poetry, Plutarch suggests that texts of interest to children should be selected, and also texts which enabled the students to identify in the literature what was useful (to; crhvsimon) and helpful (to; swthvrion) (Mor. 14E–F).5 These terms are informative as to the criteria used to distinguish the beneficial from the useless in the lessons of the grammatici. Plutarch thus mentions the urgent need for a critical perspective and interpretation on the reading of the classical texts. Teresa Morgan draws a distinction between a stable core and a flexible periphery in the curriculum taught: ‘The core includes what most people learned, what they learned first and, in the case of reading, what they went on practising longest.’6 Texts from Homer and Virgil made up this core. This is attested in both kinds of sources presented above, non-literary as well as literary. Other writers studied were Euripides, Menander, Demosthenes, Terence, Cicero and Horace; they belonged to the flexible periphery.7 Lists of recommendations on texts, poets and authors suitable for teaching are many. Dio Chrysostom gives an example in his Or. 18. This speech demonstrates that the study of literature aimed at forming political leaders and public speakers. Dio says that Homer was not only the first author to be read, but also the middle and last (prw'to" kai; mevso" kai; u{stato") (Or. 18.8). By this he meant that Homer was suitable for boys, adults as well as old men. Homer was for every age because his depths were understood only gradually and progressively. In other words, Homer grew with the students; they never left or passed beyond his epics.8 Even in Roman school, Homer was an important text, together with Virgil’s ‘national epic’, the Aeneid, as second.9 The uncontested position of Homer in encyclical education formed the basis for ancient panHellenism, and Homer’s unique position in Greek education contributed considerably to the Greek character of the Roman Empire. The students never finished with or left Homer behind; they could always read more, 4 Cribiore 2001: 206–07. 5 Similar advice is given by Quintilian. According to Inst. 1.1.36 teachers should select passages of high moral standards. Passages selected should also entertain the students. The texts are to be arranged according to a canon of authors, in the manner of the grammatici of old (Inst. 1.4.3). 6 Morgan 1998: 71. 7 Morgan 1998: 313, 316–19 gives lists illustrating the distribution of classical authors in encyclical studies. See also Cribiore 2001: 197–201 and Cancik 2003 and Vardi 2003: 140. 8 See Hock 2001. 9 On Virgil in school, see Freund 2000: 14–19.

The Pivotal Role of Homer


other parts of Homer’s epics, or work more intensively with them. Knowledge of classical literature in general, and Homer’s epics in particular is, therefore, a sign of participation in encyclical education. The Iliad and the Odyssey were used when the boys were taught the letters, how to read and how to write. Homer’s epics introduced children to the history, identity and values of the culture. For Jews as well as Christians, this key role of Homer’s poems was considered a challenge. In their eyes, the classical stories supportive of language, identity and the morals of the culture were above all religious poems. Agamemnon’s deceptive dream is an example of a text which many, pagans and Christians alike, found hard to accept. According to Il. 2, Zeus sent a false dream to Agamemnon, and deceived him. The dream was, according to Homer, sent with an evil purpose; hence the dream is called ou\lo" o[neiro" (Il. 2.6, 8) which means a destructive or baneful10 dream. The message of the dream was: ‘Bid him arm the long-haired Achaeans with all speed, since now he may take the broad-wayed city of the Trojans. For the immortals, that have homes upon Olympus, are no longer divided in counsel, since Hera hath bent the minds of all by her supplication, and over the Trojans hang woes’ (Il. 2.11-15). The divinely approved promise that the destiny of Troy was fixed is repeated with some minor alterations twice in Book 2. The message promises a short siege. As Agamemnon finds himself still at war with Troy nine years after this message, he says that Zeus ensnared him by telling him that Troy was easily taken, but that he is now returning to Argos without glory after having lost many people (Il. 2.111-215). This was the deceitful and evil will (kakh;n ajpavthn bouleuvsato) of the great Zeus (Il. 2.114). Agamemnon’s deceptive dream posed difficulties for Homeric theology.11 Christian writers such as Justin Martyr,12 Tatian13 and Irenaeus14 took this dream as an example of the cruelty of the pagan gods. Books 1–2 in the Iliad appear to be the Homeric texts which attracted the most attention. This can be traced throughout antiquity.15 It is therefore not accidental that an incident from this part of the book appears so often in Christian criticism of Homer. In the words of John T. Townsend: ‘Hellenistic schools as the educational institutions of a pagan society were inseparably associated with pagan religion.’16 This was, of course, not restricted to the poetic texts that were studied, but also to the decorations,

10 11 12 13 14 15 16

The LCL edition translates it as ‘a baneful dream’. See MacDonald 2003: 26–27. 1 Apol. 25. Oratio ad Graecos 21.1. Haer. 1.12. Cribiore 2001: 194–95. Townsend 1971: 149.


The Challenge of Homer

pictures, processions and festivals that were integrated into life at school.17

3.1 Homer: the Omniscient ‘You know, doubtless, that the sage Homer [oJ sofwvtato"] has written about practically everything pertaining to man [peri; pavntwn tw'n ajnqrwpivnwn]’ (Symp. 4.6). Thus Niceratus addresses his fellow guests in Xenophon’s Symposium. He invites them to join him and thus to learn from him, since he himself is familiar with Homer. He thus considers himself a source of knowledge on most topics. If one seeks knowledge on how to conduct one’s house or family, to become a political leader or commander of an army, Homer has provided all this in his presentation of Achilles, Ajax, Nestor and Odysseus. Niceratus’ familiarity with these figures makes him a teacher on all these topics. Furthermore, thanks to Homer, Niceratus is able to teach how to turn a chariot in a horse-race, and how onion adds flavour to the wine. Homer has collected everything which is necessary to know! Niceratus had been compelled by his father to memorize the whole of the Iliad and the Odyssey, whereby he became ajnh;r ajgaqov" (Symp. 3.5).18 Niceratus’ claim here is not supported in the documentary evidence, which suggests a somewhat fragmentary knowledge of Homer. Classical literature, and Homer in particular, were the companions of all children who went to a teacher in antiquity. According to Plato, the stories of Homer were told by nurses and mothers from the beginning of the children’s upbringing (Resp. 377B–C), and in the rhetor school of Quintilian in Rome, Homer was still core curriculum. We have seen how Quintilian wanted Homer and Virgil to be the first texts the children encountered in the elementary teaching, but also how their familiarity with these authors should grow and be deepened with age. The most advanced level of this Homeric orientation was, according to Quintilian, rhetoric. All branches of rhetoric should take Homer as both model and inspiration (Inst. 10.1.46). Folker Siegert sums up the role of Homer in the following way. ‘Homer’s epics had become the basis for Greek culture.

17 See the presentation of Tertullian De idololatria in Ch. 10.2 of this book. 18 Cf. the next chapter on vir bonus. Dio Chrysostom describes Callistratus, a person who was filovmhro", fond of Homer (Or. 36.9-17). This text claims that he knew almost all of the Iliad by heart. The non-literary sources, as preserved by e.g. Cribiore 1996, prove this to be an exaggeration. The text still witnesses to the importance of Homer. He is revered almost as one of the gods, according to Callistratus (14). For the fragmentary nature of Homeric knowledge among average students, see Morgan 1998: 110, 118–19, 252–53, 261 and Cribiore 2001: 194–97.

The Pivotal Role of Homer


Since classical times they were everybody’s schoolbook (to be more or less retained by memory) and companion for life.’19 Homer’s epics were held to be encyclopaedic; with the help of interpretation, everything could be extracted from his writings. How to manage the house, run the polis, wage war, make speeches, cure sickness; laws, good and bad morals, knowledge about the deities – all could be found in Homer’s epics. In his critique of Homer (see below), Plato confirms that, according to popular opinion, ‘these poets know all the arts and all things human pertaining to virtue and vice, and all things divine [pavnta de; ajnqrwvpeia ta; pro;" ajreth;n kai; kakivan, kai; tav ge qei'a]’ (Resp. 598E). The literary setting of this statement about Homer is surely ironical. Socrates, Plato’s mouthpiece, accuses Homer of lack of any real accomplishments.20 Nonetheless, Plato precisely describes how Homer was viewed. His irony mirrors the role commonly given to Homer.

3.2 Homer: the Inspired The picture of Homer as one who knew everything made a deep impression on the students. An anonymous schoolboy has aptly expressed this on his writing board, containing the following text: Qeo;" oujd j a[nqrwpo" {Omhro", meaning ‘Homer is a God, not a human being’.21 This was the impression given to many students of Homer. He held the key to knowledge on all topics; thus he was more than an ordinary human being. This is illustrated in the work On Homer, which has been associated with Plutarch, but was probably written towards the end of the third century 22 CE. This work introduces Homer’s life and poetry, as he was presented in the schools. The importance of this anomymous work is formulated in the following way by J.J. Keaney and R. Lamberton: . . . it seems clear that what we have before us is the work of a grammaticus, and in all probability a grammaticus of the end of the second century, or perhaps sometime in the third. He provides an introduction to the beginner . . . simultaneously praising and making more accessible the language and thought of the poet. This, we may take

19 Siegert 1996: 130–31. Philo speaks of Homer as ‘the poet’ in Abr. 10. He says in Prob. 143 that it is worth listening to the poets (not here emphasizing Homer), ‘since they are our educators [paideutaiv] through all our days, and as parents teach wisdom to their children, so do they in public to their cities’. For further Philo references to Homer as ‘the poet’ par excellence, see Winter 2002: 76. 20 Robb 1994: 228–33. 21 See Ziebarth 1913: 12 (text no. 26), and Cribiore 1996: 220 for detailed information on this text, which in her list appears as no. 200. She also refers to PMich VIII 1100, where the same maxim is found. ‘A god, not a man was Homer’ (p. 222 text no. 209). 22 For the text with an English translation, see Keaney and Lamberton 1996.


The Challenge of Homer it, is Homer as Homer was taught in the schools of the Roman Empire . . . The opportunity to view these matters through the optics of a pedagogue of imperial date is offered by no other surviving text.23

This literature is encyclopaedic, meant to cover all that Homer says on most topics from A to Z. The author summarizes his work by saying that all virtue (ajrethv) can be found in Homer’s writings. This conviction is based on the fact that Homer could be used to understand things of which he himself was not necessarily aware (On Homer 218). In other words, Homer’s text was inspired by the gods. From his epics things which went beyond Homer’s own capacity could be extracted with the aid of interpretation. In On Homer 93, the author claims that Homer was familiar with water as the beginning of all things (cf. Thales), since he mentions ‘water’ frequently. In }96, the author argues that the affair between Zeus and Hera allegorizes how vapour and air bring grass and flowers to life on earth. This demonstrates that the alleged omniscience of Homer was due to the sophisticated techniques of interpretation to which his texts were submitted. The modern reader will ask how this claim to Homer’s omniscience was substantiated. The answer is his divine inspiration. In his Or. 53 Dio Chrysostom collected ancient traditions on Homer, and this discourse is simply called On Homer. Dio emphasizes that Homer was inspired. The rhythm found in his verse can only be understood with reference to their divine inspiration (Or. 53.1, 6, 10). Dio compares Homer to the voice of the prophets of the gods (w{sper oiJ profh'tai tw'n qew'n) who speak ‘from the invisible, from somewhere in the inmost sanctuary’ (Or. 53.10).24 The fact that so little was known about Homer’s life created a mysterious atmosphere that was taken as a sign of the divine origin and inspiration of his poems. Homer himself is like a shadow in his own writings, a fact which, according to Dio, indicates his inspiration (Or. 53.10). The inspiration of Homer appeared in the rhythm of his poems, his mysterious personal history and also the dissemination of his texts in antiquity. Dio claims that everyone has heard about Homer. Everyone reads his texts, which have even been translated into the language spoken in India (Or. 53.5-8). Finally, his inspiration is visible in the wisdom and virtue conveyed by his writings (Or. 53.1,11). Furthermore, efforts to interpret Homer disclose the firm conviction that he was divinely inspired (see below). The narrative voice in Homer’s poems does not make such claims, but as pointed out by Robert Lamberton, the narrative is comprehended with supernatural assistance (e.g. Il. 2.484-92). When the Muses come to his aid, the narrator is able to perform his task of writing. Thanks to this 23 Keaney and Lamberton 1996: 9–10. 24 Cf. the praise of Homer found in Velleius Paterculus, who lived in the Augustan period (History 1.5).

The Pivotal Role of Homer


inspiration the narrative voice is omniscient, knowing both past and future.25

3.3 Homer: Forming the Identity of a Culture The Iliad and the Odyssey were keys to Greek culture and identity. Homer’s stories and the identity of this culture were formed by its pivotal role in all education. Identity was formed and strengthened by the Homeric epics. Homer was called ‘the educator of Hellas’ (th;n JEllavda pepaivdeuken ou|to" oJ poihthv") (Plato, Resp. 606E).26 The situation of the Jews in Alexandria during the reign of Emperor Gaius (Caligula) illustrates the relationship between education and Greek culture. The situation is well described by Philo in his In flaccum and De legatio ad gaium. According to these works, the question of Jewish citizenship was an issue of debate (Flacc. 53; Legat. 157). In 41 CE Emperor Claudius, Gaius’ successor, succeeded in bringing an end to the conflict by issuing a letter or decree.27 This balanced letter demands respect for the Jews due to their history in the city, but at the same time insists that a candidate for citizenship must have been an ephebos, i.e. a student in the traditional Greek gymnasium (see above). Participation in Greek education and the right to citizenship are thus combined in a way that demonstrates how identity was formed by Greek education. The fact that this is an official letter issued by the Roman emperor brings to mind the close relationship between Greek and Roman culture in the question of education, in which Homer held a key position.28 Homer’s writings enjoyed a cultural status that can be compared with that of the Scripture in Christian tradition. Many scholars consider this a relevant analogy for explaining the role of Homer’s function as well as authority in the ancient world: Homer is ‘the Bible of the Greeks’.29 Christopher D. Stanley says that no single text played the determinative role in the Graeco-Roman world that the Bible did for Jews and Christians, but he nevertheless gives six points of similarity which do invite a comparison between the two bodies of literature:30

25 Lamberton 1989: 1–8. 26 Upon these words follow Plato’s expulsion of all poets from the city (Resp. 607B). Plato targets precisely the role occupied by Homer among the Greeks. Resp. 599D mentions Homer and paideia, cf. 600C. 27 For a text edition with a translation and notes, see Tcherikover and Fuks 1960: 36–55. 28 See also 2 Macc. 4.12-15 presented in Ch. 2.3 in this study. 29 Finkelberg 2003: 91. See also Procope´ 1996: 462; Buffiere 1956: 10–12. 30 Stanley 1990: 51–52.

48 . . . . . .

The Challenge of Homer Both were ‘primordial’ texts for their respective societies. Both were regarded as ‘revelations’, and hence only properly understood by insiders. Both were fundamental sources regarding the divine order, the nature of the universe, and proper behaviour. Both were ingrained into the memories and lives of their peoples from earliest childhood. Both were frequently cited as having an authoritative value. Both were established in a relatively standard textual form by the turn of the era, with still some possibility for variation, due to the scattered availability of other manuscripts of earlier textual types.

It was precisely the combined status of the Homeric canon as being both religious poems and the key to Greek identity that made things difficult for Jews as well as Christians. For them Homer promoted idolatry, but was also the true sign of a citizen trained in the intellectual traditions of this culture. Intellectual Christians, in particular, must have found themselves squeezed by this dual status of Homer. Homer’s epics formed a cultural canon, conveying an identity which tied together different geographical regions of the Graeco-Roman culture and kept it united for centuries. It functioned as glue in this variegated culture. Familiarity with Homer was a means of preserving ‘Greekness’, the inculcation of tradition.31 Isocrates wrote the following in 380 BCE: And so far has our city distanced the rest of mankind in thought and speech that her pupils [maqhtaiv] have become the teachers [didavskaloi] of the rest of the world; and she has brought it about that the name ‘Hellenes’ suggests no longer a race [gevno"] but an intelligence [diavnoia], and that the title ‘Hellenes’ is applied rather to those who share our culture than to those who share a common blood [ {Ellhna" kalei'sqai tou;" th'" paideuvsew" th'" hJmetevra" h[ tou;" th'" koinh'" fuvsew" metevconta"]. (Paneg. 50)

Isocrates here expounds on the close connection between education and Greek identity. At the centre of this identity stood, although not mentioned by Isocrates here, Homer’s poems, which created a panHellenistic identity formed by a collective memory of a common past, and which shaped the present considerably. In his praise of Agricola, his father-in-law and Roman governor of Britain, Tacitus (born 56 CE) describes attempts to introduce Roman mores to the conquered (Agr. 21). An uncivilized people was made to erect temples, market-places and houses, and was thus turned from war to peace. Moreover, the attempt to bring humanitas – thus the Romans masked the servitude they enforced 31 See Cribiore 2001: 178–80 who says that the selection of texts, maxims and sayings aimed at providing the students with ‘a minimal cultural package’.

The Pivotal Role of Homer


upon the conquered – culminated in training the sons of the conquered leaders in liberal education (liberalibus artibus erudire). This seduced the conquered into adopting Roman mores. It is worth noticing that Romanitas is here secured by a liberal education that is deeply rooted in Greek culture, although it probably also included Virgil and some other Latin poets.

3.4 Homer: Interpreted and Criticized Many Greeks read Homer in ways which bring to mind rabbinical interpretative efforts to uncover the mysteries of the Torah. The only way to claim that all necessary knowledge was available in Homer was, of course, by invoking advanced techniques of interpretation. Accordingly, Homer was often called ‘the Poet’, bringing to mind Moses, who was called ‘the Prophet’ by the Jews. The study of Homer in the schools developed two kinds of criticism: the philological,32 and moral criticism that emphasized the content of his epics. The latter is of special interest for the present investigation. In his dialogue, Menippus, Lucian of Samosata has Menippus describe his visit to Hades. He paid a visit there in order to learn how he should live. What he learnt there was that the philosophers and the wisdom of Homer and Hesiod offered no help at all. Ordinary people’s lives, however, taught him the art of living: While I was a boy, when I read Homer and Hesiod about wars and quarrels, not only of the demigods but of the gods themselves, and besides about their amours and assaults and abductions and lawsuits and banishing fathers and marrying sisters, I thought that all these things were right, and I felt an uncommon impulsion toward them. But when I came of age, I found that the laws contradicted the poets and forbade adultery, quarrelling, and theft. So, I was plunged into great uncertainty, not knowing how to deal with my own case; for the gods would never have committed adultery and quarrelled with each other, I thought, unless they deemed these actions right, and the lawgivers would not recommend the opposite course unless they supposed it to be advantageous. Since I was in a dilemma, I resolved to go to the men whom they call philosophers and put myself into their hands, begging them to deal with me as they would, and to show me a plain, solid path in life. That was what I had in mind when I went to them, but I was unconsciously struggling out of the smoke, as the proverb goes, right into the fire! For I found in the course of my investigation that among these men in particular the ignorance and the perplexity was greater 32 See Procope´ 1996: 463.


The Challenge of Homer than elsewhere, so that they speedily convinced me that the ordinary man’s way of living [tw'n ijdiwtw'n . . . bivon] is as good as gold. (Men. 3–4)

This text brings to mind the traditional motif of ‘looking for a teacher’, which we have already seen.33 Lucian, however, applies it critically to teachers, probably encyclical teachers, as well as philosophers. In his search for a good teacher, Menippus ends up valuing the life of ordinary men most highly. As for what Homer and Hesiod could teach him, he sums this up as follows: adultery, quarrel, theft. Lucian here raises moral objections to Homer and some of the classical texts.34 The poets tell us about gods who perform things forbidden to human beings by the laws. Menippus’ criticism was later adopted by Christian apologetics. Aristides, living at the time of Hadrian, echoes this moral critique in his Apology 13.35 Lucian’s attitude to Homer represents a longstanding tradition strongly sceptical of the role of Homer in the training of the children. The locus classicus is Plato in his Republic. His criticism can be summarized in two main points. The knowledge conveyed in Homer’s poems is imitation of knowledge, not real and true insight (Resp. 598D–601B). It is one thing to know what a physician does, as with Asclepius the god of medicine; another is to imitate the language and terms applied by a doctor (Resp. 599C), which is what Homer does. The same distinction is to be applied to what Homer says about warfare, administration of cities and homes, and so on. Socrates, Plato’s mouthpiece here, asks rhetorically whether Homer himself is known to have mastered the skills he describes. This is, of course, a denial of the common claim that Homer was omniscient (see above). Plato’s second objection, however, is more fundamental, and addresses a well-known problem, as witnessed by Lucian above: Homer and the poets teach falsely about the gods and morals. Gods who fight one another, lie and cheat, and who speak and act falsely, are not suitable for the raising and teaching of children (Resp. 378B; 381D–382A; 383A). Plato thus directs substantial criticism against the poets and Homer in particular. It is not surprising that later Christian writers made reference to these points of Plato. Augustine does so in Civ. 2.7 with reference to an adolescent rake, Terence, who performed shameful acts and considered himself as imitating Jupiter (se iactat imitari deum). Thus the god became a sponsor (patrocinium) of his disgraceful act. Similarly, the Jewish 33 See Ch. 2.5 of this study. 34 Cf. Dio Chrysostom Or. 11.106, 147. 35 Similarly, Tatian in his Oratio ad Graecos 21, where he ridicules the allegorical interpretation of what Homer says about the gods. Tatian considered this interpretation of the stories as a sign of embarrassment. Allegory was according to him a way to ‘save’ Homer from his own writings.

The Pivotal Role of Homer


historian Josephus in the first century CE refers to Plato’s argument on Homer in the Republic (C. Ap. 2.255-257). This implies that Plato’s criticism grew into a tradition in antiquity. But he was not the first to make this point. The same basic objections are raised by Xenophanes of Colophon (sixth century BCE) in some fragments. In his Fragment 10 he says: ‘Since from the beginning [ejx ajrch'"]36 all have learned according to Homer [kaq j {Omhron]’.37 It is likely that he is here addressing the role of Homer in elementary teaching, and his statement is found in a setting critical of Homer. This is clear from Fragment 11: ‘Homer and Hesiod have attributed to the gods all sorts of things which are matters of reproach and censure among men: theft, adultery, and mutual deceit.’ Similarly, in Fragment 12, where the behaviour of the gods is summarized as evil (ajqemivstia e[rga).38 The point of departure for Xenophanes is that the gods should be both perfect and good,39 and he therefore criticizes Homer’s presentation of them. Plato says that the texts which do not bring the Good must be abandoned (Resp. 377C). He gives many examples of such texts to be rejected (Resp. 377D; 381D; 383B–C; 386A–87B). If the teachers, whom Plato here calls didavskaloi and fuvlake" (Guardians), are to be godfearing and godlike (qeosebei'" kai; qei'oi), one can hardly rely on the texts in the poets which do not bring any good (Resp. 383C). According to this standard, neither Homer nor other poets have any right to complain that their texts are being set aside: . . . in Homer’s verse are things that we must not admit into our city either wrought in allegory [uJpovnoia] or without allegory. For the young are not able to distinguish between what is and what is not allegory, but whatever opinions are taken into the mind at that age are wont to prove indelible and unalterable. For which reason, maybe, we should do our utmost that the first stories that they hear should be so composed as to bring the fairest lessons of virtue [pro;" ajrethvn] to their ears. (Resp. 378D–E)

The text indicates that the teaching of Homer involved attempts to interpret his epics. Plato distances himself from texts which have nothing to contribute to how a state is to be run; this can be done by the laws only (Resp. 606E–7A). Plato therefore wants to issue a law forbidding the poets to write anything opposed to justice, law and the good (Leg. 801C–D). He says that this should apply also when vicious texts are evaded by 36 It is not quite clear whether this refers to the beginning of Greek culture or to the education of the individual; see Lesher 1992: 81–82. 37 Text edition with English translation, see Lesher 1992. 38 These fragments were known to Sextus Empiricus (second century CE) who quotes them in his critical evaluation of teachers; see Math. 1.289. 39 Lesher 1992: 83–84.


The Challenge of Homer

references to their hidden or deeper meaning. Children are, according to Plato, not able to comprehend such advanced interpretations. He is here objecting to the widely employed allegorical interpretation of Homer. Plato’s criticism of the role of classical texts in education is raised in his Leg. 810E–12A as well. With irony he describes how children and youngsters are ‘nourished’ on the poets, and that to be properly educated (ojrqw'" paideuovmenoi) means memorizing the poems. He is aware that some are content with learning extracts (kefavlaia), which are short plot summaries directing the reading. This is considered the right way to become both good (ajgaqov") and wise (sofov"); by learning, one then reaches the level of polumaqiva (i.e. to have much knowledge). According to Plato, the poems combine good and bad. Learning the poems by heart uncritically is, therefore, damaging to children. Implicitly, he here suggests the urgent need for a substantial distinguishing between good and bad in the poets, Homer included. The importance of this solution to Christian believers will be apparent later in this investigation. We have thus introduced a very important question regarding how Homer was taught in the schools, namely that the art of interpretation made him appear both useful and relevant, although Plato himself found the negative effect of many of Homer’s texts might have on children so strong that he wanted to expel Homer from the schools.40 Many ancient writers acknowledge the moral problem associated with Homer’s epics in schools, but he nevertheless remained the authority. One of the reasons was the art of interpretation to which the poems were submitted.41 This can clearly be seen in Ps.Plutarch’s On Homer, which reflects a teacher’s introduction of Homer to his students. The author summarizes this literature in }218, claiming to have found all kinds of knowledge in Homer, but admitting that some will disagree about this by making reference to the evil things (ponhra; pravgmata) mentioned in Homer’s poems. According to this author, it is a question of finding the proper interpretation to solve the problem of Homeric texts conducive to immorality. From the very beginning of elementary teaching, the boys were familiarized with the names of the gods, the heroes, their genealogies, and their actions in the war against Troy. The teachers explained the many references to names, places, events and genealogies involved in the texts. This knowledge was conveyed to the boys in basic teaching which brings to mind the question-and-answer style so typical of later Christian

40 For the art of interpreting Homer in antiquity, see Lamberton and Keanly 1992. 41 Some of the efforts to interpret Homer can be seen as attempts to make common cause against Plato’s substantial criticism. Porphyry, in his Homeric Questions to the Iliad, says that the debate over the meaning of Homer is an ongoing agoˆn; for references see Lamberton 1989: 109.


The Pivotal Role of Homer catechisms.42 The philosopher Epictetus (first century example:


gives an

When asked, ‘Who was the father of Hector?’ he replied ‘Priam.’ ‘Who were his brothers?’ ‘Alexander and Deiphobus.’ ‘And who was their mother?’ ‘Hecuba. This is the account [iJstoriva] that I have received.’ ‘From whom?’ ‘From Homer,’ he said. ‘And Hellanicus also, I believe, writes about these same matters, and possibly others like him.’ (Diatr. 2.19.7-8)43

The text probably reflects a standard used by teachers since the same catechism-like questions are also found on a papyrus from the fifth century CE. The verso of this papyrus is a fragment from a well-known Greek grammar (Dionysios Trax) much used in encyclical education, thus indicating that we have here an example of teaching given at that level.44 The need to interpret the classical texts can, of course, be addressed in various ways: putting together pieces of the poems into anthologies, comments (oral or written) from teachers, and discussing a passage in the light of other passages from the same author or from other classical authors, thus balancing the views. The latter practice assumes a fundamental principle, namely that ‘Homer must be his own interpreter’. Homer clarified his own writings. This principle is witnessed as an old and venerated maxim: ‘Elucidate Homer from Homer [ {Omhron ejx O J mhvrou safhnivzein]’ or ‘Interpret Homer with Homer’s help’.45 The point of departure for this principle is, of course, that Homer was inspired (see above), and that there was an integrity there worthy of being elucidated. The rhythm, style and mysterious life of Homer were regarded as signs of such inspiration. Texts are combined, and shed light on each other due to the inspiration uniting them.46 It is here relevant to recall the basic 42 Cf. the style and form of Philo Questions to Genesis and Exodus; this is pointed out by Snyder 2000: 126–27. 43 Ps.Lucian, Am. 44–45 mentions encyclical studies, implying that they involve daring to answer questions such as ‘What hero was brave?’, ‘Who is cited for his wisdom?’, ‘What men cherished justice or temperance?’ The answers to these questions are found in the books about virtues of the men of old, carried by the paidagogoi of schoolboys. This text gives a glimpse of a schoolboy’s agenda. The text depicts his going to the teacher’s accompanied by paidagwgoiv as a typical male thing. They carry his books, which are called ‘revered instruments of virtue [semna; th'" ajreth'" o[rgana]’. These books preserve the merits of ancient deeds, and they convey the benefits of encyclical studies. 44 See Bonner 1977: 238. 45 Porter 1992: 70–80 argues that this maxim could have originated with Aristarchus (c. 216–144 BCE). See also Siegert 1996: 137; Procope´ 1996: 474–76. 46 Porphyry (234–305 CE) wrote the most complete commentary on Homer to have survived from antiquity, the so-called Homeric Questions; see Lamberton 1989: 108–33. Porphyry’s commentaries have ‘the specific goal of resolving Homeric problems by reference to other Homeric passages’ (109).


The Challenge of Homer

principle of biblical interpretation according to Martin Luther: The Holy Scriptures are their own interpreter (Scriptura sui ipsius interpres). In the history of the Reformed churches this has become an important principle. But the Reformers did not invent it; it was part of their heritage from antiquity, more precisely from the role played by Homer in ancient education. Plutarch How to Study Poetry (Mor. 14E–37B) raises the question of how Homer and the classical texts ought to be read. Plutarch joins those who claim that the poets provide the young with examples of behaviour to be both pursued and avoided: If we then remind our sons that authors write them, not because they commend or approve them, but with the idea of investing mean and unnatural characters and persons with unnatural and mean sentiments, they could only not be harmed by the opinions of poets; nay, on the contrary, the suspicion felt against the person in question discredits both his actions and words, as being mean because spoken by a mean man. Of such sort is the account of Paris in his wife’s arms after his cowardly escape from battle.47 For since the poet represents no other save this licentious and adulterous man as dallying with a woman in the daytime, it is clear that he classes such sensuality as a shame and reproach. (Mor. 18F)

The paragraphs following immediately upon this text present the hermeneutics applied by Plutarch (Mor. 19A–E). His point of departure is practical. His son Soclarus attends classes in literature, and the father is now concerned about what the reading of the poets will do to his son. Plutarch approaches another father who finds himself in the same situation. Their sons should not keep away from the teachers, but ‘let us keep a very close watch over them, in the firm belief that they require oversight in their reading even more than in the streets’ (Mor. 15A). Plutarch argues that the poems might reveal a meta-level signalling how the texts are to be read. Teachers and students ought to take notice of the instructions hinted at by the authors; these should direct the interpretation and are decisive for whether the text presents an example to be followed or avoided. Such instructions are conveyed in prologues, in the introductory remarks to events and in the way characters are presented or described. Homer thus guides the reading of his texts by sophisticated pointers. Plutarch gives as an example Agamemnon’s harsh treatment of the priest in the Iliad 1.24-28: ‘Yet Agamemnon, Atreus’ son, at heart did not like it; harshly he sent him away’ (Mor. 19B–C). Homer has himself pointed to the proper interpretation of this by mentioning that Agamemnon was angry. By drawing attention to this fact, Homer guides the interpreter. 47 Il. 3.369-447.

The Pivotal Role of Homer


Agamemnon’s words are thus not to be imitated. The classical texts abound, according to Plutarch, with such guiding references; it is only a matter of reading closely and paying attention. It is a matter of exploiting the richness of Homer’s texts. Sometimes the poets set up the scene in ways which reveal the moral intention behind their writing. Plutarch mentions Euripides’ Ixion as an example. Through the main character Ixion, Euripides was seen as encouraging both ungodliness and immorality. According to Plutarch, Euripides once responded to his criticism by saying: ‘But I did not remove him from the stage until I had him fastened to the wheel’ (Mor. 19E). Ixion tied to a wheel was intended to convey that what Euripides wrote was not to be imitated. Homer’s epics are full of such references which are ‘helpful [wjfevlimon] in the case of those stories which have been most discredited’ (Mor. 19E).48 Plutarch suggests that Homer himself should thus guide the reading of his poems, but Plutarch is familiar with allegorical reading (Mor. 19F).49 He does not favour allegory; nor does he follow Plato’s abandonment of the morally objectionable texts. Plutarch claims that Homer is the best interpreter of his own texts. Another way to cope with difficult passages (mostly for the sake of morality) was to search for their deep, hidden or intended meaning; in fact, an allegorical interpretation of the classical texts. The Stoic philosopher Heraclitus (first and second century CE)50 wrote a catechism-like commentary on Homer’s epics; i.e. in questions and answers, a style inherited by later Christian catechism tradition, but also adopted by Philo in his Questions on Genesis and Exodus. Commentaries on authoritative texts have become a common genre in church and bible studies. This tradition traces its roots to both Jewish practice and the Homeric schools in which the art of interpretation was developed. To return to Heraclitus’ commentary, which probably served to prepare the teacher in literature (second stage) for his classes: it is entitled Heraclitus’ Homeric Problems, and subtitled: a} peri; qew'n {Omhro" hjllhgovrhsen (Concerning Homer’s allegorical interpretation of the gods). He introduces his comments as follows: It is a weighty and damaging charge that heaven brings against Homer for his disrespect of the divine. If he meant nothing allegorically, he was impious through and through [pavnta ga;r hjsevbhsen], and sacrilegious fables [mu'qoi], loaded with blasphemous folly, run riot through both epics [i.e. the Iliad and Odyssey]. And so, if one were to believe that it 48 Stanley 1990: 71 gives some other examples from Plutarch’s essay. 49 Plutarch calls this uJpovnoia and ajllhgoriva. 50 See Buffiere 1956: 67–70. For the Greek text see Oelmann 1910. Some parts of this work have been translated into English by Russell 1981: 190–92. A new text edition with a full translation has recently appeared in Russell and Konstan 2005.


The Challenge of Homer was all said in obedience to poetical tradition without any philosophical theory or underlying allegorical trope, Homer would be a Salomoneus or a Tantalus ‘with tongue unchastened, a most disgraceful sickness’. (Homeric Problems 1.1-3)51

Heraclitus, often called the Grammarian, compares Homer to Salomoneus and Tantalus. What is implied in that? According to ancient mythology, Salomoneus considered himself equal to Zeus, and claimed the right to the same respect. He imitated Zeus’ thunder, and was punished by the gods for that. Salomoneus was extinguished together with his city Salmone in Elis. Tantalus was reckoned among the great sinners in Greek tradition. He suffered eternal punishment for the sins he committed. The gods condemned him to remain forever in Hades, suffering from eternal inextinguishable hunger and thirst. Homer is thus compared with the worst of sinners available in the tradition, if he did not intend his writings to be taken allegorically. In other words, the allegory saves Homer from the worst of companions. Heraclitus’ commentary continues by saying that small children are ‘fed’ on Homeric epics: Hence I have come to feel amazed that the religious life, whose concern with the gods is stimulated by temples and precincts and annual festivals, should have embraced Homer’s impiety [hJ JOmhrikh; ajsevbeia] so affectionately and learned to chant his abominable stories from memory. From the very first age of life, the foolishness of infants just beginning to learn is nurtured on the teaching given in his school. One might almost say that his poems are our baby clothes, and we nourish our minds by draughts of his milk. He stands at our side as we each grow up and shares our youth as we gradually come to manhood; when we are mature, his presence within us is at its prime; and even in old age, we never weary of him. When we stop, we thirst to begin him again. In a word, the only end of Homer for human beings is the end of life. (Homeric Problems 1.4-7)

This text assumes what we have seen already: namely that the students revisited the most significant authors, Homer in particular, at subsequent levels. Homer’s writings are not left behind or superseded. Progress in education includes his poems at every stage from learning penmanship to composing rhetorical speeches. It is, therefore, unthinkable to Heraclitus that Homer could house anything bad. His poems are innocent and without any pollution (Homeric Problems 2.1). The problem is, however, that some have failed to grasp the philosophical meaning in the epics,

51 The translation is taken from Russell and Konstan 2005. Heraclitus here quotes from Euripides Orestes 10; see also Homeric Problems 78.5.

The Pivotal Role of Homer


which is uncovered by allegorical interpretation.52 In 5.1–6.2, Heraclitus gives an account of allegory as introducing his interpretations of Homer’s poems running throughout this literature. He says that Homer’s wrong notions about the gods are justified (qerapeuvein) by allegorical reading (6.1). Heraclitus, therefore, says that Homer is a ‘hierophant of heaven and the gods, who opened up for human souls the untrodden and closed paths to heaven’ (Homeric Problems 76.1). How can such a man be called impious? Were this vile and unholy verdict spread across the world, no help would come to the band of little children who drink in wisdom first from Homer, as they do their nurses’ milk; nor would boys and younger men or the older generation that has passed its prime any longer have pleasure. Life’s tongue would be ripped out, it would all dwell in dumb silence. (Homeric Problems 76.2-5)

The proper understanding of Homer’s poems is described in a way recalling initation into mysteries. Those who fail to recognize that Homer is in fact divine, ‘have not descended into the secret caverns of his wisdom but instead have risked a hasty judgement of the truth without proper consideration’ (Homeric Problems 3.1-2). This is the case of being ajmaqei'", that is, ignorant of the philosophical sense, in short the allegory, of Homer’s poems. Heraclitus especially denounces Plato, who exiled Homer from his state.53 The fundamental principle of interpretation for Heraclitus was thus allegorical reading. Without this way of reading, Homer appears to promote impiety. In his work On Homer (see above), Dio Chrysostom also describes different approaches to Homer, in terms which today are technical in biblical interpretation, such as ejxhgei'sqai, from which our ‘exegesis’ is derived. Dio starts with Plato’s criticism, quoting from Resp. 378B–E (see above). Others claim, says Dio, that Homer knew more than he conveyed through his texts. When Homer is wrong in any way – for which he is blamed – he is only transmitting the mistakes present in the myths and stories he has received. This implies that Homer sometimes passes on vices which he did not wholly share (Or. 53.3).54 It is probable that Dio here has in mind a kind of allegorical interpretation which urges the making of 52 This makes Heraclitus and Porphyry opponents in the agoˆn on how Homer is rightly understood. 53 See Russell and Konstan 2005: XIX–XXI. Heraclitus’ repugnance for Plato’s attitude to Homer pops up throughout his work. While Homer’s poems have embedded ‘the most righteous principles of human life, Plato’s dialogues, in contrast, are disgraced through and through by pederasty; there is not a passage which does not show the man bursting with desire for a male partner’ (Homeric Problems 76.14-16, cf. 78.1). 54 There is a tension between the praise stated in Or. 53 and the Trojan Discourse (Or. 11), in which he accuses Homer of presenting a history aimed not at truth, but deception.


The Challenge of Homer

distinctions in Homer’s texts. Zeno, the founder of Stoic philosophy, found no mistakes in Homer, because he separated fantasy from reality in the poems (Or. 53.4-5). In Or. 53.11 Dio summarizes the key to a proper reading of Homer in two terms: wjfevlima kai; crhvsima referring to what is useful, profitable or suitable; the present study will prove their significance in later Christian texts on Homer and encyclical education. These terms constituted the heart of a tradition on how to deal with Homer in a responsible way. Distinguishing the useful and profitable from the unprofitable follows, according to Dio, from the fact that Homer wrote about both virtue and vice (peri; ajreth'" kai; kakiva"). Proper interpretation thus meant properly distinguishing between the useful and unprofitable. From the challenge posed by objectionable texts in Homer there developed the art of interpretation and a language describing this activity. These were important to both Hellenistic Jews and Christians dealing with Homer and other classical literature, as well as the interpretation of their own holy Scriptures. The commentaries on Homer gave rise to a debate on how authoritative texts were to be interpreted, and developed a language adequate for this activity.55 The Church’s focus on how to interpret the Scriptures is not only a heritage from Judaism and its extensive traditions of textual interpretation; Christian interpretation also owes much to the encyclical tradition. This dependence suggests that some Christians, particularly among the leaders, attended schools, and thus were familiar with that world. We have seen the complexity in how Homer was interpreted in the schools. In brief, a versatile reading of Homer was available. Some Christians probably found the allegorical interpretation both helpful and liberating, doing away with all offensive texts. When Homer in this way could become a spokesman for good and virtue alone, why could not also Christians read his poems? From this logic it followed that well-to-do Christians could send their sons to encyclical teachers. Within the ancient reception of Homer they found a helpful paradigm for how to cope with his epics, classical literature, and how to come to terms with Greek pagan culture in general. The critical tradition which we have traced in antiquity also provided a pool of arguments upon which later Christian writers relied. Part 2 of this investigation will elaborate on how this potential was realised. 55 Siegert 1996: 138–39 gives a hermeneutic glossary of the most commonly used terms in ancient interpretation. Here are some examples: allegory, etymology, ethical versus literal interpretation, metaphor. This is probably a starting-point for the development of terms and questions which occupy present-day interpreters of texts as well. Siegert also mentions (p. 141) that the typological interpretation, in which Old Testament events and characters are models or paradigms for the fulfilment claimed in New Testament texts (cf. Mt. 12.42; 1 Cor. 10.1-13) finds an analogy in Homer’s role vis-a`-vis Virgil. Virgil made use of Homer’s epics in a way that can be labelled typological; see also Ch. 17.1 in this study.

Chapter 4 KNOWLEDGE AND FORMATION: THE INSUFFICIENCY OF ENCYCLICAL STUDIES We noted in Chapter 2 that education was commonly seen, particularly among the elite, as a hill to be climbed in order to reach the summit. In his Menippus, Lucian describes the pride and patronizing attitude which easily came out of this. From this developed the conviction that encyclical studies, and particularly its first stages, were insufficient and at best preparatory. The aim of this chapter is to explore the critique of Homer in some of the literary sources on education and so refine the picture given in the preceding chapter. Seneca came to Rome early in the first century CE. When Nero, the emperor-to-be, was 12 years old, Seneca became his private tutor. Later he fell into disgrace with the Emperor, and he was ordered to commit suicide. His Moral Letters (Epistulae morales) consist of 124 epistles addressing various topics in moral philosophy. The letters are mostly addressed to his friend Lucilius, but the epistolary genre is probably sometimes a literary convention. His Ep. 88 addresses the so-called studia liberalia or artes liberales, which is what the Romans labelled Greek encyclical education: You have been wishing to know my views with regard to liberal studies [liberalia studia]. My answer is this: I respect no study, and deem no study good, which results in money-making. Such studies are profitbringing occupations, useful [utilia] only in so far as they give the mind a preparation [praeparare] and do not engage it permanently. One should linger upon them only so long as the mind can occupy itself with nothing greater; they are our apprenticeship, not our real work [rudimenta sunt nostra, non opera]. Hence you see why ‘liberal studies’ are so called; it is because they are studies worthy of a free-born gentleman. But there is only one really liberal study – that which gives a man his liberty. It is the study of wisdom [sapientia], and that is lofty, brave, and great-souled. All other studies are puny [pusilla] and puerile [puerilia].1 You surely do not believe that there is good in any of the

1 Seneca uses the Latin puer and its cognates frequently in this letter. The word might refer to a child or children, thus including both sexes. Most often, however, the term refers to boys or young men.


The Challenge of Homer subjects whose teachers are, as you see, men of most ignoble and base stamp [quorum professores turpissimos omnium ac flagitiomissimos cernis]?2 We ought not to be learning such things; we should have done with learning them.3 Certain persons have made up their minds that the point at issue with regard to the liberal studies is whether they make men good [vir bonus]; but they4 do not even profess or aim at a knowledge of this particular subject. Pronouncing syllables, investigating words, memorizing plays, or making rules for the scansion of poetry – what is there in all this that rids one of fear, roots out desire, or bridles the passions? The question is: do such men teach virtue [virtus], or not? If they do not teach it, then neither do they transmit it. If they do teach it, they are philosophers. (88.1-4) Why try to discover whether Penelope was a pattern of purity, or whether she had the laugh on her contemporaries? Or whether she suspected that the man in her presence was Ulysses, before she knew it was he? Teach me rather what purity is, and how great a good we have in it, and whether it is situated in the body or in the soul. (88.8) ‘What then,’ you say, ‘do the liberal studies contribute nothing to our welfare?’ Very much in other respects, but nothing at all as regards virtue. For even these arts of which I have spoken, though admittedly of a low grade – depending as they do upon handiwork [manus] – contribute greatly toward the equipment of life [ad instrumenta vitae], but nevertheless have nothing to do with virtue [virtus]. And if you enquire, ‘Why, then, do we educate our children in the liberal studies?’ it is not because they can bestow virtue, but because they prepare the soul for the reception of virtue [animum ad accipiendam virtutem praeparant]. Just as that ‘primary course’ [prima illa], as the ancients called it, in grammar, which gave boys their elementary training [elementa], does not teach them the liberal arts, but prepares the ground [locum parare] for their early acquisition of these arts, so the liberal arts do not conduct the soul all the way to virtue, but merely set it going in that direction [expedire]. (88.20)

Seneca does not deny the importance of encyclical studies, but his approach is still critical. The teachers are conveying only skills, comparable with workmen or labourers. The best thing to be hoped for by boys attending classes is to be prepared for virtue which is conveyed later by philosophers alone. The preparatory and temporary nature of encyclical training is the viewpoint uniting all of Seneca’s points in this letter. The 2 Seneca here echoes the widely attested prejudice against teachers; they were greedy and immoral. 3 Seneca here considers the liberal studies as something which are left behind; this comes clearly through in the tense of the verbs in this sentence: Non discere debemus ista, sed didicisse. 4 That is, the liberal studies.

Knowledge and Formation: The Insufficiency of Encyclical Studies 61 logic of preparatory and temporary studies paving the way for paideia proper was not introduced by Seneca (see Chapter 3), and he was not a solitary spokesman for this. At the beginning of encyclical studies, the students worked primarily with Homer in order to acquire the necessary skills in reading and writing: ‘Grammar is the art of dealing with the speech of poets and prose writers’ (Math. 1.74),5 of which Sextus Empiricus, living towards the end of the second century CE, mentions the poets Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, Euripides, Menander and some others as well, and also the prose writers Herodotus, Thucydides and Plato (Math. 1.58). Sextus asserts that the teacher’s activities could be seen as simple labour, and thus worthy of less respect and status. Sextus Empiricus wrote a critique of the grammatikoiv (Math. 1.41-132). He says that these teachers exaggerated their significance since they are occupied with technical skills only. The poetic texts they are studying do not teach how to distinguish between what is true and false (Math. 1.292). The teachers in the two first stages, grammatistaiv and grammatikoiv, are able to understand and explain the words, but not the matter they refer to (Math. 1.313). His critique of encyclical teachers illustrates the disrespect they often suffered.6 This tradition critical of encylical studies represented a philosophically based critique7 from which Christians were later to benefit (see Part 2).

4.1 Teachers as Artisans: An Aristocratic Tradition Seneca’s presentation of encyclical studies owes much to an aristocratic – not to say arrogant – tradition of despising artisans.8 Encyclical teachers, especially at the primary stage, were seen as workmen or labourers. They were contrasted with the wise man who enjoyed the opportunity – thanks to his money and property – to concentrate fully on philosophical studies. The criticism of elementary teachers voiced in the sources mirrors how workmen and labourers were viewed in general. Workmen were often slaves or their work was considered servile, due to the fact that many were, in fact, slaves, and because their labour was done for pecuniary gain. Plato’s dialogue Protagoras attests to this view in several places by 5 The LCL edition has ‘composers’ here. 6 Suetonius, Gramm. 9 tells of Lucius Orbilius Pupillus who worked as a grammaticus in Rome towards the end of the first century BCE. He taught ‘with greater fame than profit’. He wrote a book in which he declared himself poor (pauper), living beneath the roof-tiles in Rome. Here he also complains about the disrespect parents often showed to teachers. Suetonius adds, however, that Orbilius was very harsh with his students, and was called by Horace ‘a floggard’ (plagosus). 7 For further examples see Vegge 2006: 241–46. 8 See Hock 1980: 35–36; Shelton 1998: 125–26.


The Challenge of Homer

saying that primary education should be taken with a view to proceeding to true education: ‘for when you took your lessons from each of these,9 it was not in the technical way [oujk ejpi; tevcnhæ], with a view to becoming a professional [dhmiourgov"],10 but for education [ejpi; paideivaæ], as befits a private gentleman [wJ" oJ ijdiwvth" kai; oJ ejleuvqero"]’ (Prot. 312B, cf. 318E– 19A; 324D). A similar attitude to artisans and labour is found in some Jewish sources as well, particularly in the Book of Sirach. This writing belongs to the so-called Old Testament Apocrypha, and demonstrates its affinity with Hellenistic tradition in many ways. It was probably written in Egypt around 150 BCE. The Greek translation attests that it was widely read. Chapters 38–39 contrast workmen and scribes.11 Farmers, artisans, smiths and potters do not have the necessary leisure time to pursue wisdom and knowledge. These are not sought out for the council of the people; they do not understand the decisions of the judges; they are not found among the rulers: ‘But they maintain the fabric of the world, and their concern is for the exercise of their trade. How different the one who devotes himself to the study of the law of the Most High!’ (Sir. 38:34–35). This critical tradition might appear unreasonable to modern readers. The elementary teachers contribute to education, but are still not a genuine part of it. This is due to a distinction between knowledge and personal development. When Sirach mentions the wise, he does not have in mind encyclical teachers, but teachers of wisdom, which to him were the rabbis who taught Torah.12 Encyclical teachers are not, according to ancient thinking, conveying proper wisdom.

4.2 What Does Teaching Do to the Students? Some Illustrations So far we have seen that teaching in the two first stages of education meant memorizing and rote-learning. The classical texts, put together to form anthologies, were learnt by rote because everything worth knowing was somehow present in the texts. But the debate on how the classical authors were properly interpreted takes us to another level. The debate on how to interpret Homer implied searching for the goal of education. Why read Homer at all? Some of the critics looked beyond memorizing his epics to the goal of moulding the students; to make them become good men: in short, personal development. This was seen as the ultimate goal of education by Plutarch, Seneca, Philo and Quintilian. When these literary 9 Grammatisthv" (language-teacher), kiqaristhv" (music-teacher) and paidotrivbh" (physical trainer) are mentioned. 10 This term means ‘skilled workman’ or ‘craftsman’; see LSJ s.v. 11 Cf. also Plutarch (Mor. 137D–E) and Philo (Gig. 29–31) 12 Philo adopts the same logic; real wisdom is to be found in the Torah (see Ch. 5).

Knowledge and Formation: The Insufficiency of Encyclical Studies 63 sources formulate the supreme goal of education, they use illustrations or analogies taken from daily activities in schools. The first illustration is taken from the day-to-day life of any child attending school, namely the wood and wax tablet on which the students took their notes and practised writing.13 Letters and texts were easily formed in the wax covering the tablets. But they were also easily erased and altered. Quintilian says that teaching children was like making an impression on soft wax (Inst. 1.1.36). This illustration draws on the most important tool of teaching, and considers the process as an analogous moulding of students. Accordingly, Plato says that it is important to consider carefully what to present to the children while their tablet is still new, fresh, and unwritten (Resp. 327B). From here he proceeds to his criticism of Homer. Plutarch borrows Plato’s illustration so as to emphasize that teaching must start early. The choice of nurses and servants who care for the children is, in fact, the starting-point of this process, which aims at inculcating the Greek character (h\qo"): For youth is impressionable and plastic, and while such minds are still tender lessons are infused deeply into them; but anything which has become hard is with difficulty softened. For just as seals leave their impression on soft wax, so are lessons impressed upon the minds of children while they are young (Mor. 3E–F)

A second illustration of what teaching does to the students is taken from agriculture. For the earth to bring forth its fruit and crops, several things are necessary: fertile soil, good seed and a farmer who plants and cultivates. In this illustration the teacher is given the role of the farmer or gardener (Ps.Plutarch Mor. 2B–C; Lucian Anach. 20–21). Philo, the Jew who lived in Alexandria in the first part of the first century CE (see Chapter 5) draws heavily on this analogy in his writings De agricultura and De plantatione. Inspired by the gardener who sows, weeds and waters, Philo speaks about soul-gardening (gewrgikh; yuch'"). The soul-gardener provides for the children; babies receive milk and youths bread to eat.14 The metaphorical language is easily decoded. The soul-gardener represents encyclical teachers. Knowledge imparted here leads to wisdom and moderation, traditional virtues in Greek moral philosophy: But seeing that for babes milk is food, but for grown men wheaten bread, there must also be soul-nourishment, such as is milk suited to the time of childhood, in the shape of the preliminary stages of schoollearning [ta; th'" ejgkuklivou mousikh'" propaideuvmata], and such as is adapted to grown men in the shape of instructions leading the way 13 See also Bakke 2005: 15–22. 14 The New Testament speaks of teaching in terms of gardening (e.g. 1 Cor. 3.1-9 where the motifs of milk and gardening are combined; 1 Pet. 2.2); see Kvalbein 1983.


The Challenge of Homer through wisdom and temperance and all virtue [dia; fronhvsew" kai; swfrosuvnh" kai; aJpavsh" ajreth'"]. For these when sown and planted in the mind will produce most beneficial fruits [karpou;" wjfelimwtavtou"], namely fair and praiseworthy conduct (Agr. 9).

The goal for the activities of the soul-gardener is to prepare for a virtuous and happy life (eujdaimoniva) (Agr. 25, cf. Ps.Plutarch Mor. 5C–E). Encyclical studies were primarily seen as preparation for a good and virtuous life. This is conveyed also in the third analogy commonly used to describe teaching. Teaching was presented as a means of taming horses or wild animals, says Plutarch (Mor. 2F; 12B–E). The latter text demonstrates that this analogy is taken from one of the favourite topics of moral philosophers, namely moderation and self-control; in short mastering the desires.15 This comparison illustrates the proper purpose of encyclical training, as well as the roles of the teacher and student. This kind of thinking necessarily led to hard discipline. Students were seen in a passive role, like empty vessels to be filled, or like fields ploughed to receive the seed of life. It is worth noting that the role of students was addressed in a way which had much in common with traditional thinking about women’s passive role in the biological process.16 This view necessarily led to a pedagogy characterized by discipline, learning by rote and the demand for imitation of the teacher. Imitation, repetition, memorization were the methods applied in learning to read first, and then also to write. Most students, therefore, were probably able to parrot knowledge which they hardly understood.17 The pupils were a kind of raw material to be cultivated or tamed by the teacher, or to be shaped as if so by a stonecutter. Within such a pedagogy progress means obedience to the teacher, and knowledge means ability to repeat and reproduce or imitate the teacher.18

4.3 Propaideutic Even if the philosophers viewed education as the beginning of virtue, they still considered that the important knowledge was to be conveyed after the teaching of the two encyclical stages. Ps.Plutarch puts it like this: Now the free-born child should not be allowed to go without some knowledge, but through hearing and observation, of every branch also of what is called general education [ta; ejgkuvklia paideuvmata]; yet these

15 See Sandnes 2002: 35–78; Bakke 2005: 104–09. 16 See Buell 1999: 56–68. 17 See Shelton 1998: 108–10. 18 See Morgan 1998: 244–61 on pedagogy in ancient schools; cf. Cribiore 2001: 132–36 and 1996: 121–28. See Ch. 2 of this study.

Knowledge and Formation: The Insufficiency of Encyclical Studies 65 he should learn only incidentally, just to get a taste of them, as it were (for perfection in everything is impossible), but philosophy he should honour above all else. I can perhaps make my opinion clear by means of a figure: for example, it is a fine thing to voyage about and view many cities, but profitable to dwell only in the best one. (Mor. 7C–D)

This evaluation of encyclical education implies, as we saw with Seneca, its subordinate role. This education is preparatory, and was therefore called propaideutic. This becomes a useful and common term to depict the role of encyclical studies in relation to philosophy or rhetoric. The term conveys the preparatory, temporary and subordinate role assigned to this education, and to its teachers as well, by many philosophers, and it will later be important when Christians are discussing how to cope with pagan Greek culture. Ps.Plutarch says that philosophy is what really matters, due to its ability to form both character and lifestyle. Since encyclical studies contribute only indirectly to this, he also values the teachers accordingly. The philosophers, however, are highly valued since they teach matters of shame and honour, right and wrong, how human beings relate to the deities, to parents, the elderly, the laws, foreigners, authorities, children, friends, women and servants (Mor. 7D–E). In this philosophical agenda, Ps.Plutarch comes close to the so-called household codes in the New Testament.19

4.4 Penelope and her Maidservants Ps.Plutarch substantiates his propaideutic view of encyclical studies through the famous story about Odysseus. Homer tells that while Odysseus was delayed for years, suitors gathered in his house to marry Penelope, his wife. They worked and competed to win her, but she worked even harder to avoid them. She made herself unavailable to the suitors by cheating them. They therefore associated with her maidservants instead. Penelope was their goal, but the maidservants had a preparatory and temporary role to play for the suitors. Ps.Plutarch, who elsewhere is reluctant to accept allegorical interpretation, interprets this story figuratively (Mor. 7D–E). Penelope represents philosophy, and her maidservants encyclical studies, which are not estimated as highly as philosophy, for philosophy is ‘the head and front [kefavlaion] of all education’ (Mor. 7D).20 Philo uses the same allegorical interpretation to explain the role of encyclical studies in Jewish life. But he takes Gen. 16 about Abraham, Hagar and Sarah as his point of departure (see Chapter 5). Without 19 See e.g. Eph. 5.21–6.9; Col. 3.18–4.1; 1 Pet. 2.13–3.7. 20 LCL translates thus, but the Greek text has only one noun.


The Challenge of Homer

mentioning Penelope, Sextus Empiricus says very much the same as does Ps.Plutarch. Grammar (to; grammatikovn) learnt in the elementary schools works as a helper or servant. Sextus has the Greek term uJphrevth", which in Philo is the key term for his interpretation of Gen. 16 (Math. 79). An allegorical interpretation of Homer’s story about Penelope and her maidservants, representing philosophy and encyclical studies respectively, can be traced to the Stoic philosopher Ariston of Chios (third century BCE). Ps.Plutarch’s interpretation of this famous story can be summarized as follows: Encyclical studies teach children elementary reading and writing, thus equipping them with the necessary technical tools. Education proper, however, is imparted after this. The goal of education is personal development and living a moral life. Encyclical studies contribute only a little to this. But they have a role comparable to a helper or servant. Primary and secondary education were thus both subordinate and preparatory.

4.5 Becoming a Good Man (vir bonus) Ps.Plutarch’s explanation of how encyclical studies and paideia proper relate to each other, echoes a venerable and longstanding philosophical tradition about becoming a vir bonus. Seneca passes on this tradition in his Ep. 88, from which we quoted above. The final aim of education was to become a good man. From this position he questions the value of encyclical studies. He refers to many questions which the teaching aims at answering. These questions echo the catechism-like instruction of the poets’ writings. What use is it to know who is the elder, Homer or Hesiod; why Hecuba, who was younger than Helen, looked older; about the ages of Achilles and Patroclus; and so forth? Do you raise the question, ‘Through what regions did Ulysses stray?’ instead of trying to prevent ourselves from going astray at all times? We have no leisure to hear lectures on the question whether he was sea-tost between Italy and Sicily or outside our known world (indeed, so long a wandering could not possibly have taken place within its narrow bounds); we ourselves encounter storms of the spirit, which toss us daily, and our depravity drives us into all the ills which troubled Ulysses . . . Show me rather, by the example of Ulysses, how I am to love my country, my wife, my father, and how, even after suffering shipwreck, I am to sail toward these ends, honourable as they are. (Ep. 88.7)21

21 Seneca’s criticism of encyclical studies is remarkably similar to what Augustine says in his Conf. 1.13-15; see Ch. 15.1 in this study.

Knowledge and Formation: The Insufficiency of Encyclical Studies 67 The ironical question demonstrates that Seneca, although he criticized encyclical studies for teaching technical skills and not virtues, nevertheless criticizes this training for not being sufficiently practical; i.e. teaching the students to become good and to live a good life. At school the pupils learn, according to Seneca, about the storms that Odysseus fought, but on a daily basis their own minds face storms and temptations. These are the things the teachers should address, but preferably taking Homer as point of departure. In mathematics the students are taught how to measure a piece of land, but not how the same piece of land can be shared with others. In fact, the teacher who teaches his students to count on their fingers, promotes greed (Ep. 88.10-11). Seneca’s criticism of encyclical studies thus takes moral philosophy as its point of departure. It is not sufficient to teach children technical skills; they must be taught how to become vires boni. Plato voices a similar view in his Protagoras, in which Socrates and Protagoras discuss whether virtue can be learnt or not. In other words, is it possible to become a good man by learning? The options are debated in full, but in the end Socrates claims that virtue can be taught since it is related to knowledge (ejpisthvmh). Protagoras, however, holds the opposite view; virtue differs from knowledge (Prot. 360E–62A). The question whether virtue can be taught or not (Prot. 361C) launched a philosophically inspired tradition which could easily accommodate criticism of encyclical training. Nonetheless, liberal studies were commonly seen as the first and necessary steps in climbing the summit; i.e. the virtue conveyed by philosophy. In his recent study on Paulus und das antike Schulwesen, Schule und Bildung bei Paulus, Tor Vegge makes a distinction between ‘Ausbildung vs. Bildung’,22 that is between ‘education’ and ‘personal development’, the latter being the goal. This is a terminology that aptly summarizes ancient sources on the topic of education. When education is seen as climbing a hill, or as an agoˆn for reaching virtue, this is a distinction which limits the worth of the technical skills conveyed in encyclical studies. Seen from this philosophical perspective, true education becomes a matter for the few only. Philosophers, not common people, are capable of becoming good.

22 Vegge 2006: 233–329.

Chapter 5 PHILO OF ALEXANDRIA: A HELLENISTIC JEW ON GREEK EDUCATION In the first century CE about one million Jews lived in Egypt, most of them in Alexandria. Among them was Philo (c. 20 BCE–c. 50 CE), whose writings are outstanding sources for how Jews encountered Greek culture in the diaspora. Philo was a Jew with intimate knowledge of Greek traditions, ideals and philosophy. His writings embody his theological project, namely to bring together Greek culture and Jewish faith; they address religious and social issues faced by the Jews in this Greek metropolis of the Roman Empire. One of his tools is the allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament.1 Philo’s use of allegory is based on the conviction that specific decrees issued in the Scriptures are specific expressions of God’s general will for human beings. The specific becomes thus generally applicable with the help of allegory. Thanks to allegorical interpretation, even the unacceptable stories in Homer can be made morally or religiously profitable. Philo says that Od. 17.485 about the deity making himself known in various disguises ‘may not be a true song, but it is still advantageous and profitable [lusitelw'" kai; sumferovntw"]’ (Somn. 1.233). Philo is highly relevant to any investigation of how Christians related to the Graeco-Roman culture, because they found themselves in situations very much like the Jews vis-a`-vis the pagan culture. We have stated that Philo bridges the gap between later Christian sources on Greek education and the silence of the New Testament on the topic. This implies that his writings are considered to be more than the products of solitary reflection. Gregory E. Sterling argues that Philo operated an advanced school of exegesis, either at home or in a privately owned building, having potential leaders of the Jewish community as his students.2 Sterling supports a school setting for Philo’s writings on the grounds of the question-and-answer style found both in his allegorical commentaries and in Questions and Answers on Genesis and Exodus, and in the preservation of Philo’s library. Sterling’s thesis resolves a contradiction found in the sources, namely that Philo might appear as an isolated 1 Philo had Jewish predecessors in his use of allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament; see Lamberton 1989: 47–48. 2 Sterling 2004: 28–31.

Philo of Alexandria: A Hellenistic Jew on Greek Education


individual,3 but that his activity extended beyond this into the synagogues and the wider Jewish milieu of Alexandria. Philo’s thought circulated in other Jewish writings of Egyptian provenance of the Roman period more widely than is often assumed.4 There are, for instance, many similarities between Philo and Ps.Aristeas, and his legend of the LXX tells about men ‘of the highest merit and of excellent education due to the distinction of their parentage; they had not only mastered the Jewish literature, but had made a serious study of that of the Greeks as well. They were therefore well qualified for the embassy’ (Let. Aris. 121–22).5 These men appear very much like Philo himself, an intellectual elite serving the Jewish community. The fact that Philo went on a mission to Rome (Embassy to Gaius) on behalf of the Jewish population in Egypt demonstrates that he was not an isolated figure. This mission proves that he was compelled against his will to enter public life (ejn politeivaæ) in the service of his people (Spec. 3.1-6). Given these observations, I think Philo contributes to a better understanding also of early Christianity, suggesting that the New Testament world extends beyond topics mentioned in the New Testament texts themselves: ‘For New Testament scholars, Philo is a resource of unsurpassed value, especially for developing a sense of what Diaspora Judaism represented.’6 This applies in particular to his discussion of encyclical studies.

5.1 Sarah and Hagar A presentation of how Philo sees encyclical education begins with the Old Testament: Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, and Sarai said to Abram, saying: ‘You see that the Lord has prevented me from bearing children; go in to the slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abraham listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. (Gen. 16.1-4)

This is, according to Philo, the key text which sheds light on how to value encyclical education. His work On the Encyclical Studies (or On Mating with the Preliminary Studies) (De Congressu eruditionis gratiae) is devoted 3 4 5 6

See Snyder 2000: 123–37. Sterling 2004: 31–40. Quoted from OTP 2: 21. Hurtado 2004: 92.


The Challenge of Homer

to this question. The Greek title of this literature brings to mind Abraham and Hagar: Peri; th'" pro;" ta; propaideuvmata sunovdou. The Greek term propaideuvmata means ‘the teaching which comes first’, and we are here reminded of a logic which is remarkably similar to Seneca’s Ep. 88 as well as many other texts from antiquity; i.e. the propaideutic view of liberal studies. What bearing does the biblical text about Abraham, Sarah and Hagar have on the question of encyclical studies? The answer is a double one. In the first place, Philo interprets the text allegorically. The hidden meaning of Gen. 16 is not the characters involved; instead they represent the relationship between philosophy and encyclical training. Furthermore, Philo’s reading of this biblical text is influenced by the allegorical interpretation of Penelope and her maidservants that we saw in the preceding chapter, but that is found in texts of a later date.7 Conley has questioned this comparison on the basis of marked differences between Hagar and Sarah on the one hand and Penelope and her maidservants on the other.8 A fundamental difference is that nowhere in the Odyssey is it suggested that the suitors will take up with the maidservants until the time when Penelope is ready. From the Odyssey we know that Penelope worked hard never to be ready for the suitors. But this difference pointed out by Conley does not really affect the comparison. In the first place, when Ps.Plutarch draws on this story to make his propaideutic point, this proves that the tradition has already overcome this problem. The propaideutic use of this story, in fact, undermines Penelope’s unwillingness to yield to the suitors, but is in accordance with the intention of the suitors. Philo naturally used the tradition in the same way. Those who failed to attain philosophy, prefigured in Penelope or Sarah (thus Philo), confined themselves to encyclical studies, the maidservants or Hagar. Philo describes his own education in the following way: For instance when first I was incited by the goads of philosophy to desire her I consorted in early youth with one of her handmaids, Grammar, and all that I begat by her, writing, reading and study of the writings of the poets, I dedicated to her mistress. And again I kept company with another, namely Geometry, and was charmed with her beauty, for she shewed symmetry and proportion in every part. Yet I took none of her children for my private use, but brought them as a gift to the lawful wife. Again my ardour moved me to keep company with a third; rich in rhythm, harmony and melody was she, and her name was Music, and from her I begat diatonics, chromatics, and enharmonics, conjunct and disjunct melodies, conforming with the consonance of the fourth, fifth or octave intervals. And again of none of these did I make a secret hoard, wishing to see the lawful wife a lady of wealth with a host 7 8

This is pointed out already by Colson 1917: 154. Conley 1975: 6–7.

Philo of Alexandria: A Hellenistic Jew on Greek Education


of servants ministering to her. For each art has its charms, its powers of attraction, and some beguiled by these stay with them and forget their pledges to Philosophy. But he who abides by the covenants he has made provides from every quarter everything he can do to her service [pro;" th;n ajreskeivan aujth'"]. (Congr. 74–78)

In this autobiographical text, Philo depicts himself as migrating from one teacher to another in order to make his encyclical training complete. The text thus serves as illustrating the motif ‘seeking a teacher’, which we have seen already (Ch. 2.5). Thus Philo himself conforms to his own description of a lover of wisdom (oJ sofiva" ejrasthv") who benefits from encyclical training (Somn. 1.205).9 He emphasizes that these studies were servants of the legitimate wife, Sarah, who figuratively represents philosophy, paideia proper. Philo repeatedly returns to this topic, and proves that he has accepted encyclical teaching as a natural part of the lives of well-to-do Jews in Alexandria.10 With reference to Gen. 16.2, Philo discusses Abraham’s intercourse with Hagar in Leg. 3.244-45. The intercourse took place when Abraham was not yet tevleio"; i.e. when he was still preoccupied only with mundane things. Then he had this intercourse with Hagar, who is (toutevsti) encyclical education. Hagar’s name is translated as paroivkhsi", meaning ‘sojourning’. To Philo, this precisely describes encyclical studies, both as a journey towards virtue (cf. the motif of the path leading to the peak) and also as preparation for virtue, which is naturally Sarah: Philo makes much out of Gen. 21.3, in which God urges Abraham to listen to Sarah. When Philo combines this with Gen. 16.2 where the intercourse takes place according to Sarah’s will, a divine sanction is given for participation in encyclical studies, when virtue is not contradicted: ‘Let that which seems good to virtue be law for each one of us; for if we choose to harken to all that virtue recommends, we shall be happy’ (Leg. 3.245).

5.2 ‘Pre-school’ Philo’s position on encyclical studies is voiced in a fundamental way through the Greek prefix pro- in propaideuvmata in the title of his writing about these studies. This prefix brings out that these studies are preparatory, paving the way for real wisdom. Philo substantiates his view with a number of analogies. They all explain the preparatory and

9 This is seen in Philo’s extensive use of literary references to Homer; see Winter 2002: 76. 10 Philo’s social standing can be deduced from what is known about his family. His nephew abandoned his Jewish faith due to his military and political success in the Roman administration; see Schu¨rer 1898: 489–90; Borgen 1984: 108–17; Barclay 1996: 159–60.


The Challenge of Homer

subordinate role of the primary and secondary stages in Greek education; i.e. its propaideutic nature. Encyclical studies are compared with: . . . . . . . . . .

a maidservant (Congr. 23); the outer doors of a house (Congr. 10, cf. Fug. 183) (in the latter text as well as in Fug. 187 this is described as a vestibule or entrance to virtue); the suburbs of a city (Congr. 10); a road (oJdov") leading to the goal which is virtue (Congr. 10); a vassal of a king (Congr. 18); milk (childish nourishment) versus solid food (Congr. 19, cf. Agr. 9); Egypt contrasted with the Promised Land (Congr. 20); sojourners contrasted with residents (Congr. 21–23); mother contrasted with father (Ebr. 33); ornaments contrasted with the structure of a building (Cherub. 104– 05).11

These comparisons leave no doubt about Philo’s position on encyclical studies: that they are important, but still subordinate and pave the way for more important things to come, the goal being virtue. Common to all these analogies is that they emphasize a relationship in which the latter item is considered either a goal or the superior. This hierarchical concept of knowledge corresponds to what we have found with other moral philosophers. Schooling prepares for the real education or the personal development, which to some is rhetoric (thus Quintilian), but mostly philosophy or virtues, in short the life of the good man. The intimacy between virtue and paideia, according to Philo, can be illustrated by his allegorical reading of the incident in Exod 4. The question of the Old Testament text, how Moses could gain credibility vis-a`-vis Pharaoh (v. 1) , Philo turns into a general question: pw'" a[n ti" pisteuvsai qew'æ (Leg. 2.89). According to the Old Testament, Moses is then instructed to throw his rod (rJavbdo") on to the ground, and the rod becomes a serpent. The general or allegorical truth of this is the following: ‘Therefore God asks the wise man [oJ sofov"] what there is in his hand or in the active life of his soul, for the hand represents activity; and he answers, ‘‘Schooling’’, giving it the name of a rod [paideiva, h}n rJavbdon kalei']’ (Leg. 2.89).12 To this Philo also adds Gen. 32.1013 about Jacob, who crossed Jordan with his rod in his hand. Jordan prefigures the impulses from the below, vice and

11 The hierarchical relationship between mothers and fathers is, as Philo sees it, similarly analogous (Ebr. 30–35). Mothers represent encyclical studies, which is secondary to the perfect reason (tevleio" kai; ojrqo;" lovgo"), symbolized by the father. Children are expected to obey both. 12 For the connection between paideia and rod, see Dutch 2005: 261–78. 13 In the Septuagint, Gen. 32.11.

Philo of Alexandria: A Hellenistic Jew on Greek Education


passion, which is crossed by paideia:14 ‘the virtuous man leans on discipline [paideiva] as on a rod, settling and allaying the tumult and tossing of the soul’ (Leg. 2.90). The Hebrew Bible says that the rod became a serpent when cast away, which prefigures the general truth that if paideia is overthrown, one becomes ‘a lover of pleasure’ (filhvdono")15 instead of ‘a lover of virtue’ (filavreto") (Leg. 2.90-91). Mastering the desires thus comes by following the divine instruction to stretch out the hand and seize the serpent by the tail (Exod. 4.4). Then the serpent becomes once again a rod or paideia through which self-mastery (swfrosuvnh) comes to life (Leg. 2.92-93). Philo here embraces a view of education whereby a truly virtuous life by necessity is reserved for the elite. His hierarchical view can be presented as follows: Encyclical studies

Philosophy or wisdom: virtues

Torah (supreme virtue or paideia)

Philo does not set these kinds of knowledge up against each other; he assumes both coherence and development between them; in short a sequential and hierarchical relationship in which education forms a prelude to virtue. This conviction finds support in Moses himself, who, according to Philo, attended encyclical school. When Moses was in Egypt, he saw teachers from many countries, and they conveyed to him encyclical knowledge (Mos. 1.21-24).16 Thus Moses set an example which legitimated Jewish participation in Alexandrian schools. Later we will see that to some influential Christians also, the traditions about Moses in Egypt provided biblical support for participation in encyclical education as well as for reading Homer. Participation in encyclical studies forms the starting-point for mastering desires and pleasures, for living according to virtue, and thus for putting philosophy into practice. Philo seems to consider encyclical training a necessary preparation for virtue: ‘For we are not capable as yet of receiving the impregnation of virtue unless we have first mated with her hand-maiden, and the hand-maiden of wisdom is the culture gained by the primary learning of the school-course [qerapaini;" de; sofiva" hJ dia; tw'n propaideumavtwn ejgkuvklio" mousikhv]’ (Congr. 9). This is Philo’s conclu-

14 Philo is aware that some may find this interpretation less convincing. The Old Testament itself makes a comparison between Jacob’s staff and the two companies he has become; in other words a matter of increase. In Philo’s interpretation, it is seen as a too humble interpretation to take the rod as merely a staff (bakthriva) by which Jacob crossed the river (Leg. 2.89). 15 For this term see Sandnes 2002: 113–17. 16 See e.g. Exod. 2.1-10 where it says that Moses was brought up among Jews as well as Egyptians.


The Challenge of Homer

sion on what the Old Testament means when it says that Sarah did not bear (mh; tivktein th;n Savran). He thus recognizes the importance of encyclical studies. To Philo, however, the summit of philosophy was the life taught by the Law of Moses, which can be achieved only by ‘seeing God’, a Platonic concept. Jacob was given the name Israel (Gen. 32.27-29), and Philo interprets this as IS-RA-EL, which according to his etymology of the Hebrew means ‘a man who sees God’.17 Philo thus brings together Greek philosophy and biblical texts. In Philo Gig. 60–61, a distinction is drawn between being born of earth, being born of heaven or being ‘people of God’. Those who cultivate bodily desires are earthborn.18 Born from heaven are those who work with their mind (oJ nou'"), since this is the divine element in human beings. In this particular context he includes skilled workmen (tecni'tai) and lovers of learning (filomaqei'"), like encyclical students. Philo thus implicitly says that the goal of encyclical studies is to contribute to the mastery of desires, in short to the moral life. He values encyclical knowledge in this way because it paves the way for virtue. ‘The people of God’ (qeou' a[nqrwpoi), however, are those who, thanks to their participation in philosophy, have become like priests or prophets. They are the people who ‘see God’ (cf. Gig. 31 and above), as the Old Testament depicts Moses seeing God at Sinai (Exod. 3). In Gig. 60–61, Philo thus divides human beings into three categories; earthly, heavenly and those who see God. Teachers and workmen belong in the second category. In some other texts, Philo simplifies his categories into two, earthly and heavenly, implying that encyclical studies are mundane.19 In Philo’s interpretation of the biblical tradition of manna, the food from heaven applies to this distinction (see below). The tripartite categories in Gig. 60–61 probably bring out most precisely and adequately Philo’s thinking about encyclical teaching, thus leaving them valuable but at the same time insufficient.

5.3 Why Encyclical Studies? For what purpose should Jews in Alexandria go to encyclical teachers? Philo’s writings suggest the following answer. He never says so directly, but he is clearly of the opinion that it is necessary for Jews to participate 17 See e.g. Ebr. 82–83; Deus 143–44; Fug. 208, cf. Jn 1.43-58. 18 For this anthropology see Sandnes 2002: 108–32 and also Aune 1994. 19 In Gig. 29–31 the vision of God is distracted by marriage, the rearing of children and provision of the necessities of life. Daily business occupying common people causes the flower of wisdom to wither, but worst of all are bodily desires. The burden of flesh makes it impossible to look up to heaven. Cultivating of bodily desires means confinement to the earth.

Philo of Alexandria: A Hellenistic Jew on Greek Education


and to familiarize themselves with this tradition. It was simply a part of living in this Greek city. The synagogues, with their emphasis on reading and studying, likewise motivated Jews to learn these skills, something which was easily available by seeing encyclical teachers. Congr. 15 attests that Philo considered the study of Greek poets as providing a pool of examples for living: ‘For grammar [grammatikhv] teaches us to study literature in the poets and historians, and will thus produce intelligence and wealth of knowledge. It will teach us also to despise the vain delusions of our empty imagination by shewing us the calamities which heroes and demi-gods who are celebrated in such literature are said to have undergone.’ It is, however, worth noticing that Philo is here mentioning examples that should not be imitated but rather avoided. In the light of what he writes elsewhere, it seems likely that this implicitly conveys a critical attitude towards Greek literature.20 The examples to be pursued, Philo takes from the heroes of Jewish tradition. Philo was concerned that encyclical studies could distract one from the most important thing, namely to ‘see God’; i.e. to know the God of Israel. This, according to Philo, was the summit of philosophy. Distractions were possible in various ways. When the achievement of knowledge was considered the ultimate aim, one could easily forget about God. Abraham’s love for Sarah was jeopardized by Hagar, and likewise Penelope’s suitors were distracted from her by the tempting maidservants. In Philo’s metaphor, this is a reference to the danger of apostasy or heresy (Spec. 1.134-36). When this happens, knowledge decays into sophistry (sofisteiva) (Prob. 4), which to Philo was productive not of virtue but of self-love.21 Encyclical studies represent a danger when they are learned in a distorted form, or sought primarily as a means of gaining access to social status and public position (Leg. 3.167-68). To many – Jews included – this was a motivation to undergo such studies, thus reminding us again that Greek education, citizenship, status and position were intimately connected. In the text mentioned above from his Allegorical Interpretation, Philo interprets the manna miracle on the basis of Exod. 16.4: ‘and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day’. The point of departure for his allegory is the word ‘day’: The day is a symbol of light, and the light of the soul is training [paideiva]. Many, then, have acquired the lights in the soul for night and darkness, nor for day and light; all elementary lessons [ta; propaideuvmata pavnta] for example, and what is called school-learning [ta; ejgkuvklia] and philosophy itself when pursued with no motive higher 20 Thus also Mendelson 1982: 6. 21 See Winter 2002: 82–85. The sophist, according to Philo, jeopardized the teaching of the virtues.


The Challenge of Homer than parading their superiority, or from desire of an office under our rulers. But the man of worthy aims sets himself to acquire day for the sake of day, light for the sake of light, the beautiful for the sake of beautiful alone, not for the sake of something else. And this is why he goes on with the words: ‘that I may prove them whether they will walk in My law or no’ [Exod. 16.4]; for this is the divine law, to value excellence for its own sake. The right principle, therefore, tests all aspirants as one does a coin, to see whether they have been debased in that they refer the soul’s good to something external, or whether, as tried and approved men, they distinguish and guard this treasure as belonging to thought and mind alone. Such men have the privilege of being fed not with earthly things but with the heavenly forms of knowledge [mh; toi'" ghivnoi" ajlla; tai'" ejpouranivoi" ejpisthvmai" trevfesqai].

This highly philosophical text addresses the daily challenges related to encyclical studies to the Jewish population in Alexandria. People who participated in encyclical training, aiming at status and financial gain, have abandoned the propaideutic view of their education. The studies no longer have a noble goal, they are more or less their own end. When Philo distances himself from this practice, he joins philosophical traditions common in antiquity. Encyclical studies were necessary, but should not be an end in themselves. To describe the danger such studies might cause, Philo draws on the language of idolatry (Spec. 1.28-29). He mentions the false myths which are passed on by the help of melody and rhythm, thus increasing their capacity for deception. This criticism echoes pedagogical methods used by encyclical teachers as they read aloud from the classical texts.22 Philo’s mind is probably on Homer’s role in promoting traditional Greek religion. Philo considered pictures and ornamental objects associated with the schools as an influential and attractive means of promoting idolatry. Philo’s writings are all, in various ways, an attempt to help Jews in the metropolis to find the limits of their participation in the pagan culture. Abraham’s relationship with both Sarah and Hagar represents Philo’s interpretation of how difficult it was to conduct a Jewish life in Alexandria. They found themselves in-between, just as did Abraham. The availability of encyclical studies in the city, as well as its necessity for participation in civic life, imposed an ambiguous challenge to Jews on a daily basis. Hence Philo emphasizes that Hagar was an Egyptian woman (Abr. 251; Congr. 20–21; QG 3.19), a fact which for Philo was of utmost importance. Firstly, this fact adds to the relevance of Gen. 16 for his fellow Jews in Egyptian Alexandria; there is a geographical link between the two. Furthermore, Hagar’s Egyptian origin represents the danger 22 Cf. Clement Protr. 4/59.1-2, where Homer is said to be sung.

Philo of Alexandria: A Hellenistic Jew on Greek Education


inherent in encyclical studies. Egypt was, according to Philo’s exegesis of the Old Testament, the land from which the Jews had to flee. It was the land of temptation which they left behind.23 Although encyclical studies posed a potential threat,24 Philo did not abandon the pedagogical institutions found in the pagan city. Attending encyclical schools on Sabbath was, however, unacceptable to him. This day was reserved for the synagogue and for scriptural studies there. He conceived of the synagogue as kind of a school, and accordingly, he describes the activity there in pedagogical terms (Legat. 312; Spec. 2.62; Mos. 2.216). In his writings therefore he urges his fellow Jews to consider themselves as participating in two forms of education; they are students in two schools, of which the Sabbath school is the more important.25 He therefore found it unacceptable to attend encyclical classes on Sabbath; nor did he endorse attempts to transform the Sabbath school into encyclical studies.26 The two were different, and they served different ends.

5.4 Real Paideia: The Law of Moses Encyclical studies and the teaching given in the synagogues represented two basically different kinds of paideia.27 In encyclical studies knowledge was conveyed through hard work. By contrast, the synagogues provided wisdom given by the hand of God (Leg. 3.135). In his Mut. 253–63, Philo interprets again the story about manna coming down from heaven (Exod. 16). The interpretation combines the story about Sarah and Hagar with that of the manna. According to Philo, Sarah and manna correspond to each other. The story about God feeding Israel with heavenly food thus becomes a story about how Jews received divine wisdom. It came by itself, automatically, God-given from above. This implies that it was revealed; it was not passed on by any curriculum or teacher. The biblical text about Ishmael, Hagar’s son, and Isaac, Sarah’s son, plays a key role in Philo’s logic:

23 For this symbolic meaning of Egypt, see Sandnes 2002: 112–13. 24 Since acquiring positions in the public administration required liberal education (cf. Kaster 1988: 27–28), it attracted ambitious Jewish young men like Philo’s nephew (see n. 10 in this chapter), who thereby ceased practising Judaism. 25 Providing for the education of the children is an obligation derived from the commandment to honour the parents. Philo treats this as entailing some mutual obligations. Education belonged to the good life that encyclical studies offered and that parents therefore should seek for their children (Spec. 2.229-30). 26 See e.g. Mos. 2.211. More about this in Mendelson 1982: 31–33. 27 See also Borgen 2001.


The Challenge of Homer Therefore he says: ‘I have blessed him, I will increase and multiply him: he shall beget twelve nations (that is, the whole round and train of the early branches of the professional schools), but my covenant will I establish with Isaac [Gen. 17.20-21]. Thus both forms of virtue, one where the teacher is an other, one where teacher and learner are the same, will be open to human kind. And where man is weak he will claim the former, where he is strong the latter which comes ready to his hands. (Mut. 263)

Philo’s comment on ‘the twelve nations’, here rendered in parenthesis, holds the key to his interpretation. This is another way of presenting the propaideutic view of encyclical studies, ta; propaideuvmata, as Philo calls them. Wisdom in its entirety is achieved by combining the knowledge given in schools with that given by God. In practice, the latter was a reference to the teaching given in the synagogues. And certainly, this was the most important knowledge. Philo’s logic rests not only on ancient traditions critical of encyclical traditions, claiming their subordinate and preparatory role, but also on the classical debate about whether virtue can be taught (cf. Plato’s Protagoras). Real virtue is a divine gift imparted by knowing the Torah. Philo wrote primarily with well-to-do Jewish males in mind. He belonged to the cultural elite of Alexandria, and his addressees were of the same social group. This fact does not diminish his significance for our investigation. His writings attest to the presence of pedagogical ‘institutions’ in Graeco-Roman cities in the first century CE, with which the Jews had to come to terms. Finally, he demonstrates the ambivalent attitude most Jews held to Greek education.28 His thoughts on encyclical studies correspond nicely with ancient philosophical traditions, and would become an option for some Christians as well. This material is of particular significance to the present investigation since Philo is so close to the Christian movement emerging in the first century. In time, place and challenge there is a lot of common ground between Philo’s text on Greek education and later Christian debate on this issue. This makes him a relevant point of comparison. Philo’s material reminds us that Christians probably faced the same challenges long before they are addressed directly in Christian sources. We now turn to sources in which this situation is addressed directly. Philo is there as a constant reminder that the Christian texts to be presented in Part 2 depict a challenge as well as solutions present – at least in nuce – already at the birth of the Christian movement.

28 See Lamberton 1989: 49–50. Views on Homer among the Jews differed greatly; see Koskenniemi 2006, with e.g. Josephus taking a more critical stance than did Philo.

Chapter 6 SUMMARY OF PART 1 It is time to present a sketch of our findings so far, since they form the basis on which Part 2 will proceed. Ancient sources provide a complex picture of encyclical studies, but the basic structures of this education nonetheless remained unchanged for almost a millennium. By introducing the students to Homer and other classical literature this education conveyed a cultural canon, shaping the identity and transmitting the values and traditions that formed the ongoing basis of Hellenistic culture. Encyclical studies aimed at introducing children to the canon of the culture. Homer in particular held a key position. His poems were considered encyclopaedic, revealing his omniscience. This was due to his divine inspiration. To uphold these convictions, proper interpretation was required. In the schools an agoˆn developed, a debate over Homer’s texts, ‘to understand Homer’s meaning [diavnoia], that is, what the poet said, and not just his words’, as Plato puts it (Ion 530B–C). Two main principles have been discerned. Allegorical interpretation implied seeking the hidden, philosophical or moral meaning of Homer’s words. The text had to be decoded, so to speak. Others viewed Homer as the best interpreter of his own epics; they claimed that Homer should be elucidated by Homer. They uncovered signals in the writings which themselves promoted a responsible and accepted reading. Both principles are means of saving Homer from the offensive parts of his writings. Within the struggle over the meaning of Homer, we also found a venerable tradition more critical of encyclical studies and Homer. This critical tradition was partly based on the arrogance of the elite towards labour, claiming that the teachers only conveyed technical skills, not knowledge that really mattered. A more philosophical critique has also been discerned. Plato criticized Homer’s writings for teaching immorality. By reading the Iliad and Odyssey, children were inspired to act in ways condemned by the laws. The critical voices were probably more accessible in written sources than in the daily life of those teaching and attending school. The children were not very much affected by the ongoing agoˆn over the meaning of Homer unless they attended classes with different encyclical teachers. We must keep in mind that this agoˆn is primarily


The Challenge of Homer

attested in the literary sources. Nonetheless, most of this critique had the effect of confirming the position of encyclical education by developing ways to legitimate its key texts. In the debate on Homer, the intellectuals made a distinction which later came to influence how some Christians viewed Homer and education. The distinction between technical skills in reading and writing on the one hand, and educational refinement on the other led the critics to consider encyclical training as propaideutic. Knowledge conveyed by encyclical teachers prepared or paved the way for real wisdom such as philosophy, virtue, or ‘to see God in the Law of Moses’. In this way encyclical studies provided knowledge which was useful and profitable, but still only preparatory. It is reasonable to assume that when the Christians debated Greek education among themselves, they would draw upon these critical traditions. The struggle over the meaning of Homer, the traditions critical of his epics, and the propaideutic view all attest an ongoing debate about schooling in antiquity. In one way or another, the Christians had to participate in this debate. This was not only a philosophical debate; it involved the question of sending boys to teachers and the prestige of their own traditions in the eyes of their intellectual Greek neighbours. The combined status of the Homeric canon as religious poems, forming cultural identity and also indicating intellectual socialization, put many Christians, particularly among the elite, in a difficult position. They needed their own agoˆn over the meaning of Homer and his implications for their youngsters. Philo shows that Alexandrian Jews were participating in an agoˆn as early as the beginning of first century CE. The next part of this book will look into the Christian debate on education, and we will see that it drew upon this discourse which had already been going on for some centuries. In his interpretations of biblical texts, Philo of Alexandria was heavily dependent on ancient pedagogical debates. We believe something similar happened among the Christians as well. That remains to be seen.


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The Christian sources to be presented in the following chapters are cited, at least mostly, in chronological order. This causes some questions of importance to be addressed more than once; but this will enhance the significance of some particular aspects of the early Christian discourse on Homer and Greek education. Furthermore, this approach will avoid lumping together authors and thus neglecting their idiosyncrasies.1 The texts are selected according to several criteria. In the first place, I will present texts addressing our topic sufficiently to make sense of them. The focus will be not on individual utterances, but on texts or passages revelatory of the logic and arguments. Secondly, it is necessary to present a sufficient number of texts to ensure that the debate emerges in its full breadth. Thirdly, the sources overall must convey a reliable picture of the Christian agoˆn over encyclical studies in the first four centuries (i.e. including Augustine). Finally, it is important to notice that some sources do in fact witness to differing views on the issue, their own as well as that of opponents or adversaries. In order to trace characteristic patterns in the material, we have to address texts from various authors, of different ages and provenances. A sketch of the available source material gives the impression that only a few held a negative position and abandoned liberal studies. But this is misleading. The situation ‘on the ground’ was very likely more or less the opposite, due to the fact that opponents of encyclical studies did not leave many sources behind. They were simply not so vocal, probably because they did not belong to the literary elite among the Christians. However, their voices can often be heard within the sources of their opponents, sometimes targeted in their polemics. In order to make the picture as reliable as possible, it is therefore important to take notice of these voices and to give them some emphasis. This is the only way of bringing some necessary historical balance into the picture. Furthermore, this procedure will make the diversity of the debate appear more clearly. Among the sources to be presented are Celsus and Julian the Emperor. Neither of them were, of course, Christians. Nonetheless, they still belong in this presentation because they convey information on how pagan critics viewed the Christian agoˆn over Greek education. Both authors were familiar with the way Christians thought. Thus they are not to be neglected as sources for the Christian struggle over Homer and encyclical studies. 1 A cursory presentation of how Christians related to pagan schools is found in Bakke 2005: 201–15.




The familiarity of Justin (fl. 150) with the ancient intellectual traditions implies that he must have received an encyclical training.1 He considered himself wise, and he expected to ‘see God’, which is the end or goal (tevlo") of philosophy according to Plato (Dial. 2.6).2 Justin was a philosopher who had ‘climbed to the top’, to speak in Hermotimus’ terms.3 He once met an Old Man who corrected his philosophy and introduced him to the Hebrew prophets, whom he came to describe as more ancient than all Greek philosophers. The Old Man claimed that the prophets alone saw and declared the truth to mankind. Their writings can only be understood by those to whom God and Christ have imparted wisdom (Dial. 7.1-2). This encounter marked Justin’s conversion, a conversion which brought him to abandon philosophy and to become a Christian, but at the same time brought philosophy with him, thus making Christianity another and a superior philosophy, True Philosophy.4 He calls Christianity ‘philosophy’ (Dial. 8.1); he considers himself a philosopher (Dial. 8.2), and Greek philosophers like Socrates were ‘Christians’ (1 Apol. 46.3). Justin’s writings are replete with references to ancient historians, philosophers and poets, including Homer.5 Justin’s interaction with Greek philosophy is well known. The extent to which he was influenced by philosophy is a common topic in research on his writings.6 Justin claimed that Christianity basically concurred with the 1 See Lampe 1989: 223–30. 2 For Justin’s dependence on Platonic philosophy, and possibly also for his Platonic schooling, see Edwards 1991. 3 See Ch. 2.5 in this study. 4 Skarsaune 1976: 58–59; and also his 1996: 607–08. Justin Martyr’s report about his conversion in Dial. 1–7 assumes a Christian philosophy school. According to Eusebius (Hist. eccl. 4.11, cf. 4.8), Justin taught God’s word in a cloak typical of Greek philosophers. The students’ devotion to philosophy and the philosophy teacher might sometimes be aptly described in terms of embracing a new faith, like a conversion; see the classical study by Nock 1933: 164–68. 5 See Glockmann 1968: 99–195. 6 See Skarsaune 1996: 585–87.

Justin Martyr, his Student Tatian and Two Ps.Justins


best of the Greek philosophers. He made this claim on the basis of the conviction that the Greeks acquired their wisdom from the writings of Moses,7 or through the Stoic-sounding concept of logos spermatikos, in which all men share,8 a concept which concurred with Jewish wisdom theology about creation making a ‘religious koineˆ’.9 All these explanations are relevant to Justin’s evaluation of Greek philosophy, although the precise relationship between these influences is in dispute. The question is whether his attitude to Greek philosophy can also be transferred to Homer and the education in which his writings played such a significant role. The answer to this is by no means evident. How this Christian philosopher thought about encyclical studies remains unclear; he does not address this topic directly. Justin emphasized the antiquity of Moses over the philosophers and poets, and claimed Socrates as a precursor of Christ since he fought the power of demons with ‘true reason’ (lovgo" ajlhqhv") (1 Apol. 5.3-4; 2 Apol. 10.5-8).10 This true reason was manifest in Socrates’ ability to reveal that the many deities were, in fact, demons pretending to be gods. In his capacity as a true philosopher, Socrates thus denounced idolatry.11 This logos remained with the Christians since the Divine lovgo" was found in Christ. Greek lawgivers and philosophers contemplated only some parts of lovgo", and therefore contradicted themselves (cf. 1 Apol. 13.2-4). Accordingly, they often turned against those among themselves who were given more of lovgo", such as Socrates: And Socrates, who was more forcible in this direction than all of them, was accused of the very same crimes as ourselves. For they said that he was introducing new divinities, and did not consider those to be gods whom the state recognized. But he cast out from the state both Homer and the rest of the poets, and taught people to reject the wicked demons [daivmona" fauvlou"] and those who did the things the poets related; and he exhorted them to become acquainted with the God who was to them unknown, by means of investigation of reason . . . (2 Apol. 10.5-6)12

Into this text Justin fuses references both to the stock accusation levelled against Socrates (‘introducing new divinities’) and Paul in Athens, and he also mentions their belief in the unknown god (Acts 17).13 Their 7 Droge 1989: 59–65. 8 Droge 1989: 65–72. 9 Skarsaune 1996: 603–07. 10 See Glockmann 1968: 163–65; Skarsaune 1996: 591–94 on the relationship between poets and demons in Justin’s thinking and the background of his view. 11 Skarsaune 1976: 64–65. 12 Translation is taken from Barnard 1997. 13 Justin here merges Acts 17 and Socrates, which is not without basis in Acts 17 itself; see Sandnes 1993; Skarsaune 1996: 589–91.


The Challenge of Homer

unmasking of idolatry forms the starting-point for saying that Socrates and some other Greek philosophers were ‘Christians before Christ’ (1 Apol. 46.2-4). The uniting feature of all these is that they claimed God to be One, and that they therefore became martyrs. Justin urges a contrast between human and divine reason, the latter being partly imparted to Socrates and philosophers who denounced idolatry. Socrates was one of the few who understood that the idols had to be expelled from the city. The reason for rejecting Homer and the poets is dual; the mythology of their poems and the immorality conducted by the deities and heroes of the stories told there. The poets sponsored wicked divinities and immorality. Justin alludes to Plato’s desire to ban the poets, as stated in The Republic.14 Justin’s rhetoric in 2 Apol. 10 works by a comparison between Christ and those having some part of ‘true reason’. To these belong Socrates and other philosophers, but also artisans and people entirely uneducated (pantelw'" ijdiw'tai), says Justin (2 Apol. 10.8).15 This brings to mind Paul’s logic in 1 Cor. 1–2, although Justin does not mention it. But, given the presence of lovgo" in the Greek culture, Justin acknowledges that both some philosophers and some poets were honourable due to their ethical teaching (2 Apol. 8.1; 13.2-5). This implies an attitude towards Homer which makes it necessary to distinguish between elements that were acceptable and those that were not. In 1 Apol. 20, Justin says that ‘we teach the same things as the poets and philosophers you honour’. He takes Menander, the comic poet, as an example, due to his saying that people ought not to worship the works of their own hands (1. Apol. 20.5); this echoes traditional biblical thinking on idols. In 1 Apol. 18.5, he mentions Od. 11.25, according to which Odysseus digs a pit and pours his libation into it, thus collecting the souls of the dead around him. Justin takes this as evidence for a common belief in life after death. Justin’s familiarity with the ancient intellectual legacy preserved in encyclical education formed a basis for his apologetic thinking. From this one might expect him to hold an ambivalent attitude to encyclical studies. He does leave a mixed impression on the issue. If his student Tatian16 followed in the footsteps of his teacher, and Justin is thus to be evaluated through his student, Justin was rather sceptical of the role played by Homer and also other poets in encyclical training. We observe an ambiguity which characterized the early Christian discourse on encyclical 14 See Books 3 and 10 in particular; e.g. 394D; 398A–B; 568B; 595A; 607A. 15 As we will see later (Ch. 11.3) this thought formed a starting-point for Celsus’ criticism of Christianity. Celsus criticized Christians for being uneducated, and even unwilling to receive education. Celsus’ Aletheˆs Logos was probably meant as a response to Justin; thus Droge 1989: 72–81. 16 For the tradition that Tatian studied with Justin in Rome, see Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 4.16.7, 28, 29; see Droge 1989: 82 and Hunt 2003: 195 for further references.

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studies for centuries. On the one hand he praised Socrates, who represented the best among Greek intellectual traditions, and on the other hand he rejected Homer and the poets. They are the instruments of the demons, as clearly stated in 1 Apol. 54.1-2: But those who deliver the myths invented by the poets [uJpo; tw'n poihtw'n] offer no proof to the youths who learn them – and we proceed to prove that they have been told by the power of the wicked demons to deceive and lead astray the human race. For when they heard it proclaimed through the prophets that the Christ was to come, and that the ungodly among men and women would be punished by fire, they caused many to be called sons of Zeus, thinking that they would be able to cause people to believe that the statements about Christ were marvelous tales, like the assertions of the poets.

Justin clearly has encyclical studies in mind here.17 The myths are made up by the poets; Homer in particular was the agency of the demons, and the myths are now handed down to the children by their teachers. Schooling is thus part of a chain of demonic idolatry. Since Homer is the most important poet, it seems that he in particular was the target of the criticism of the poets being the instruments of the demons.18 Justin seems to evaluate encyclical studies more critically than Greek philosophy generally. This may be due to his not addressing the question directly, but mainly presenting the poets and the instruction in their works from the perspective of idolatry. His student Tatian confirms the somewhat negative picture which we have derived from Justin’s writings. Still, this is not to deny that pagan poems and Christian faith in some instances say more or less the same thing. Justin’s evaluation of the poets is therefore ambiguous.

7.2 Tatian: A Student of Justin My presentation of Tatian of Syria (c. 120–80 CE) will begin with his Oratio ad Graecos which contains the following statement: ‘The origin of your nonsense is the grammarians [ajrch; th'" fluariva" uJmi'n oiJ grammatikoiv]’ (Or. 26.2).19 Tatian came to Rome and embraced the Christian faith there, and also became a student of Justin Martyr.20 His Oratio ad Graecos is usually listed among the apologetic literature, but in comparison with contemporary apologies such as those by Justin, 17 18 19 26.5. 20

Thus also Barnard 1997: 163 with reference to 1 Apol. 21 and 23. Thus also Glockmann 1968: 182–83. The reference is from Whittaker 1982. In Marcovich’s edition (1995) this statement is See also Marcovich 1995: 1–3.


The Challenge of Homer

Quadratus and Athenagoras, there are some significant differences. Tatian addresses himself to a wider audience (a[ndre" {Ellhne") (Or. 1.1), not political authorities or the emperor, as do the other works mentioned above. It is, of course, possible that the exclusive address of other apologies is due more to rhetorical or literary fiction, expressing a wish to be able to address those in power, rather than any objective reality. Oratio ad Graecos belongs to the category of protreptic literature, i.e. texts aiming at recruiting supporters by demonstrating the superiority of one’s own position.21 Tatian’s Oratio fits this genre nicely; his text is polemical and sometimes even arrogant vis-a`-vis Greek culture. His purpose is to demonstrate the superiority of Christian faith, with reference to content, consistency and antiquity. In this task he is the herald of truth (kh'rux th'" ajlhqeiva") (Or. 17.1-3). Tatian emphasizes that Moses is older than Homer (chs 31, 35–41), a viewpoint which was a commonplace in Christian apologetics.22 This conviction justified the use of Hellenistic philosophy since the best thereof, in fact, had been plagiarized from Moses.23 Tatian’s own conversion (Or. 29) is crucial to an understanding of the attitude he takes to Greek education. As pointed out by Emily J. Hunt, Tatian’s conversion to some extent parallels that of Justin, particularly in that the conversion is described in terms of ‘searching for truth’, and that the conversion itself forms the goal of this search.24 She says that these stories therefore belong within a philosophical context. There is much to suggest that. However, the basic structure pointed out by Hunt also brings to mind the characteristic trope of ‘climbing to the top’. It is therefore no accident that Tatian, in his discussion of pagan literature, draws very much on his conversion. It marks the peak of his education, and is decisive for his view of Greek learning. His conversion story is, properly speaking, a story about which literature is to be considered the best. Before his conversion, while occupied with philosophy, Tatian came to read some ‘barbarian writings’ (grafai; barbarikaiv) (Or. 29.1-2), which were, in fact, the Hebrew Scriptures. The quality of these texts changed his life:

21 See Malherbe 1986: 55, 122–24, 141. In his classical study from 1933, Nock demonstrates how different ancient philosophical groups competed for adherents, and that embracing a group was considered a kind of conversion. This is the context in which protreptic literature is supposed to work. Swancutt 2004 emphasizes that protreptic literature aims at bringing a new and different way of life to the addressees. 22 The Jewish historian and apologete Josephus, who lived in the last part of the first century CE, argued likewise in his apologetic writing Contra Apionem; see e.g. 2.154-56, 22031, 279–81. On this logic, see also MacDonald 1994: 20–21. 23 Tatian’s ambivalent attitude to Greek philosophy is well described by Hunt 2003: 98– 108. 24 Hunt 2003: 57–58.

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The outcome was that I was persuaded by these because of the lack of arrogance in the wording, the artlessness of the speakers, the easily intelligible account of the creation of the world, the foreknowledge of the future, the remarkable quality of the precepts and the doctrine of a single ruler of the universe. My soul was taught by God and I understood that some parts had a condemnatory effect, while others freed us from many rulers and countless tyrants, giving us not something we had never received, but what we had received but had been prevented from keeping by our error. (Or. 29.2)

Both chronologically and theologically he found the Christian literature superior to Greek doctrines. The last sentence in the quotation demonstrates that Tatian speaks of Greek philosophy as a corruption of an ancient wisdom common to human beings. This wisdom originated with Moses, was handed down to the barbarians but then corrupted by the Greeks.25 Tatian’s turning away from Greek literature to embrace the Scriptures exemplifies a general Christian experience: ‘We have abandoned your school of wisdom, even though I was myself very distinguished in it’ (Or. 1.3). This conversion owed much to the fact that Tatian discovered the true nature of Greek literature; the poets wrote only to tell about warfare, gods who fell in love, and spiritual corruption, thus his somewhat biased report of Homer’s writings (1.3).26 This was the literature to which he was first introduced. He closes his Oratio in the following way: ‘All this, men of Greece, I have compiled for you – I Tatian, a philosopher among the barbarians, born in the land of the Assyrians, and educated first in your learning [paideuqei;" prw'ton me;n ta; uJmevtera], and secondly in what I profess to teach’ (Or. 42). But now he has embraced true knowledge and paideia (Or. 12.5; 35.1-2). Tatian thus emphasizes that identity and texts belong together; Christian and pagan identities had their respective texts. Naturally, this led to a negative view of sources associated with encyclical studies. The statement from Or. 26, which introduced my presentation of Tatian, claims that the beginning or root (ajrchv) of false wisdom among the Greeks is the instruction given by their grammarians – in other words, the curriculum in the schools where students were introduced to the poets and Homer (cf. Or. 22.3). Tatian’s special target is the part of encyclical 25 See Droge 1989: 84–91. Droge suggests that Tatian’s emphasis on Christianity being older and superior to Greek culture derives from his knowledge of Celsus’ criticism of the Christian faith, which he rebuts on the principles of age and tradition; see pp. 97–101. See Ch. 11.3 in the present study. 26 This echoes Plato’s criticism. Thus also in Minucius Felix’s Octavius 24.1-8, a long passage blaming Homer and the poets for corrupting the minds of the boys (corrumpuntur ingenia puerorum); for the text see the LCL edition.


The Challenge of Homer

studies concerned with the interpretation of poetry. His dictum in Or. 26.2 is found in a context (Chapters 22–26) in which Tatian addresses areas in which Christians conflict with Hellenistic culture, such as theatre, dance, mime and gladiatorial spectacles. This means that the statements on encyclical studies in Or. 26 should be interpreted as conflict with Greek culture and paganism. Tatian thus anticipates Tertullian, who discusses liberal studies in light of the idolatry which he found ancient culture to be full of (see Chapter 10). From this it follows that he approaches Greek learning from a perspective of ‘us versus you’. The grammarians are ‘yours’, and the book stacks are ‘yours’ (uJmw'n tw'n biblivwn aiJ ajnaqevsei"). The books used in the schools are like labyrinths and the readers are like the jars of Danaus’ daughters (Or. 26.1). A labyrinth leads nowhere, and hinders people from escaping from it. Danaus’ daughters killed their husbands with daggers, and were punished by having to draw water in leaking jars in Hades for ever.27 The ‘us versus you’ perspective is summarized in 26.3: ‘we have abandoned you and cut off contact28 with you; we follow God’s word’. Again, Tatian combines texts and identity, thus paving the way for the rejection of Greek learning. He also addresses the pride in their own wisdom found among the Greeks: ‘Why do you claim that wisdom belongs to you alone?’ (26.2). Since this pride includes the teaching of the grammarians, it is misleading. The teachers’ instruction in fact, leads to war and murder. Tatian turns to ironic polemics when he says that the Greeks are being led into a pit by their pride in wisdom: ‘You ask continually who God is, and overlook what is in you; gazing open-mouthed towards heaven you fall into pits’ (Or. 26.1). This looks like an intertextual reference to an anecdote about Thales of Miletus, rendered in Diogenes Laertius, The Lives of the Philosophers 1.33-34.29 According to the anecdote, Thales was looking up at the stars while he fell into a ditch. To his cry for help, a woman bystander replied: ‘How can you expect to know all about the heavens, Thales, when you cannot even see what is just before your feet?’ This anecdote served Tatian’s polemic well.30 This negative attitude to Greek education finds support in Chapter 21, where Tatian says that Christians have replaced the narratives of the Greeks with their own stories. Tatian calls the Greeks’ stories ta; oijkei'a ajpomnhmoneuvmata (your own records) as opposed to ‘ours’ (21.2) – a 27 See March 1998: 125–26. 28 The Greek verb yauvein indicates that the former relationship to a beloved, expressed in touching, has now ceased; see LSJ s.v. 29 Thus also Guyot and Klein 1994: 284 who wrongly give the reference 1.8 here. 30 The context in Diogenes Laertius emphasizes the pride of Thales in being Greek. He was born a human being, not an animal; a man and not a woman; a Greek and not a barbarian (cf. Lk. 18.11-12).

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statement which recalls the presentation of his conversion and the ‘us versus you’ pattern. Tatian does not speak explicitly of the ajpomnhmoneuvmata of the Christians; he rather speaks of the Christian dihghvmata (narratives) as opposed to the mu'qoi (tales) of the Greeks; Homer is mentioned in particular (21.1). The comparison between the two bodies of stories implies that they are somehow working similarly. These stories of the Greeks should not be interpreted allegorically, says Tatian (21.2). The stories must be interpreted in a literal sense, which will then prove their true nature: they are immoral. His rejection of allegorical reading thus serves as an argument to unmask the poets. The fact that Greeks are interpreting their stories in a figurative way is to Tatian a sign of their embarrassment about their own narratives. He mentions a textbook example in antiquity, namely that of Zeus’ baneful dream (Il. 2.3-6),31 which led Agamemnon to wage war against Troy. Zeus deceived him into believing that it would be a swift and victorious campaign. This example of the poetic stories calls for allegorization, but by doing this the Greeks are continually deceived. The appearance of the term ajpomnhmoneuvmata in a text addressing the replacement of Greek stories with those of the Christians, and by a student of Justin, makes a reference to Justin’s 1 Apol. 67.3 relevant. Justin refers to the ajpomnhmoneuvmata of the apostles, which most likely refers to the Gospels. This is made explicit in 1 Apol. 66.3 where ‘the memoirs of the apostles’ are called Gospels (a} kalei'tai eujaggevlia). Labelling the Gospels in this way associates them with Xenophon’s Memoirs of Socrates. Oskar Skarsaune has pointed out that Justin quotes a passage from this work (2 Apol. 11.3-5 and Mem. 2.1.21-33), and makes allusions to it as well. The charge brought against Socrates, mentioned in 1 Apol. 5.3 and 2 Apol. 10.5 (see above), owes more to Xenophon’s presentation than to Plato’s in e.g. Apol. 24B.32 With Skarsaune I hold the ‘memoirs of the apostles’ mentioned by Justin to be the four Gospels, not a gospel harmony. Tatian did compose a gospel harmony, Diatessaron, and it is just possible that by ‘our stories’ (hJmevtera dihghvmata) (21.1), Tatian has a precursor of this gospel harmony in mind. For our purposes it is important to observe that the narratives about Jesus, in whatever form, replace the narratives found in Homer’s writings. In contrast to pagan education, Christian instruction does not take place in public, and it is not earthly or based on human pride (Or. 32.1-3). The reference for this seems to be Christian teaching in the congregations. Tatian emphasizes that Christians teach without payment, and therefore also include people of no means. Instruction in the divine doctrine is given 31 This dream is mentioned repeatedly in Il. 2, and it was considered, even by Greek intellectuals, an example of why Homer’s writings called for a critical interpretation. 32 Skarsaune 2007: 71–73.


The Challenge of Homer

free. Accordingly, says Tatian, all are welcome: women, old and young.33 This is probably a polemic against greedy teachers, a point which Tatian mentions e.g. in Or. 25.1. Encyclical studies were, as we have seen, in practice reserved for people of some means. Tatian contrasts this with the instruction given by the Church in the Scriptures. The impression is that Tatian appears more hostile in his criticism of pagan literature than his teacher Justin.

7.3 Two Ps.Justins Tradition has ascribed to Justin the so-called Oratio ad Graecos34 and Cohortatio ad Graecos.35 Neither of these writings directly addresses encyclical studies, but they have a lot to say about the poets in general and Homer in particular, and this has a bearing on the question of liberal studies. The Greek term paideiva and its cognates appear six times in Oratio, the shortest extant Christian apology. As for the Oratio, Justinian authorship is out of the question; it was probably composed in the first half of the third century.36 The main target of the critique is the immorality found in the worship of the Greeks and their heroes. The compositions of the poets are monuments of madness and intemperance (aujta; ga;r ta; tw'n poihtw'n uJmw'n sunqevmata luvssh" kai; ajkrasiva" ejsti mnhmei'a) (Oratio 1.1). To substantiate this, in Chapter 1 the author mentions a number of stories preserved in various Greek traditions about Homeric heroes. The whole rhapsody, he says, as found in the Iliad and the Odyssey, has its beginning and end (ajrch; kai; tevlo") in a woman. Homer’s two-volume story is framed by reference to two women. This observation leads Ps.Justin to scorn Homer. This story of madness and intemperance was set in motion by the attempt to rescue Helen, and it was brought to an end with Odysseus’ return to his wife Penelope.37 This criticism of Homer is relevant to the question of education. This is further suggested in Chapter 4 where the author mentions children who imitate Zeus’ conduct, and thus defraud their parents: ‘Why do you count him your enemy, and yet worship one that is like him?’ (Oratio 4.4). The Greeks have, according to this author, no reason to be indignant at immorality, fraud and adultery among their children and youngsters, since these are precisely the things about which their poets sing, and which their stories make loudly known. The Oratio ad Graecos, therefore, closes 33 34 35 36 37 faith;

See Ch. 2.6 on girls’ participation in education. Not to be confused with the writing of Tatian by the same name. The translation of Justin’s writings in ANF Vol. 1 attributes these writings to Justin. See Marcovich 1990: 103–06. The Greek text is also available in this book. One is here reminded of Celsus who brought similar accusations against the Christian see Cels. 2.55 where he says that the risen Christ was first met by hysterical women.

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with an appeal to participate in the true paideia. Terms of instruction abound in Chapter 5: ‘Come, be instructed; become as I am, for I too, was as you are’ (Oratio 5.6). The superiority of Christian paideia, which here probably has a somewhat general reference, is its power to bring peace to the soul, to quench the passions. The Christian paideia, which the author simply calls oJ Lovgo", does not make poets, equip philosophers or skilled orators, but it makes mortals immortal and to become like gods (sic!), and brings them from the earth to far beyond Mount Olympus. Ps.Justin of Oratio ad Graecos is likely to have turned his back on encyclical studies, due to the role they assigned to the poets and their stories. From a critical point of view, however, Ps.Justin is not sufficiently precise in his polemic. By consistently describing Christian faith in terms of paideia, he is obliged to consider any other paideia a rival. This concept of Christian faith, which was a commonplace among many Christian writers, leaves little room for an independent evaluation of liberal studies. This might have aggravated the conflict and the opposition against such training on the part of Ps.Justin, and of many other Christians as well. Cohortatio ad Graecos merits some attention here since it demonstrates a more ambivalent attitude, maybe even inconsistency, towards Homer. Eusebius lists the books written by Justin (Hist. eccl. 4.18.4), and Cohortatio is probably to be identified among them, which thus implies that it was composed before 311/12 CE.38 There is general agreement that Justin cannot be the author. Chapter 1 presents this literature as a discourse on true religion (qeosevbeia), examining the teachers of religion, those of the Greeks and the Christians. The discourse first addresses the poets, among whom Homer is reckoned as the most distinguished and the prince (oJ korufaiovtato" par j uJmi'n kai; prw'to" tw'n poihtw'n) (Cohortatio 2.1).39 The author then launches into traditional criticism of Homer. The poet appears ridiculous when his theogony says that the gods were generated from water (Il. 14.302). Emphasis is, however, given to Homeric examples of the immorality of the gods, of which the author gives an extensive list of examples.40 Homer is therefore not fitted to be a teacher in religion; he is either telling true stories about the gods, who are then evil, or else the gods, as known through the poems, do not exist. The philosophers are hardly any better since they are not consistent and contradict each other. There is hardly any agreement between them on matters that pertain to religion (Cohortatio 3–7). Interestingly, his most prominent example of the ignorance of the philosophers is Socrates, of

38 So Markovich 1990: 3–4. Riedweg 1994: 28–49, 167–82 suggests a somewhat later date of composition. 39 The Greek text is taken from Marcovich’s edition. 40 See Marcovich 1990: 13.


The Challenge of Homer

whom it is said: ‘Of all men, Socrates is the wisest’ (Cohortatio 36.1).41 Socrates openly claimed his ignorance, a well-known topos in Socratic dialogues. The author says that this claim was not due to strategy or rhetoric. Socrates was, in fact, ignorant in matters of religion. This is substantiated in Plato’s Apology 42A where Socrates’ final words are: ‘But now it is time to go away, I indeed to die, but you to live. And which of us goes to the better state, is hidden to all but God’ (Cohortatio 36.2). Implicit is, of course, the argument that Socrates was ignorant about death, a topic so important to teachers of religion. How then can his followers claim to comprehend heavenly things? The concluding appeal is, therefore, to listen to the Sibyl and the prophets who have spoken about Christ (Cohortatio 38). This is an argument which in practice must have led to the abandonment of Homer and encyclical studies. The design of this literature is that true knowledge of qeosevbeia can only be revealed by God. This knowledge has been imparted to the prophets only; not even Socrates, the wisest among the Greeks, had a part in it.42 This design brings to mind Paul’s emphasis on revealed wisdom as opposed to the wisdom of Greeks as well as Jews in 1 Cor. 1–2.43 This polemical understanding of knowledge is clearly stated in Cohortatio 8.2. The author here contrasts the knowledge of the prophets, true teachers in qeosevbeia, with Greek poets and prophets. The prophets appeared first; they did not contradict each other, nor did they quarrel. In brief, they did not teach human knowledge: For neither by nature nor by human conception is it possible for men to know things so great and divine, but by the gift which then descended from above upon holy men, who had no need of rhetorical art,44 nor of uttering anything in a contentious or quarrelsome manner, but to present themselves pure to the energy of the Divine Spirit, in order that the divine plectrum itself, descending from heaven, and using righteous men as an instrument like a harp or lyre, might reveal to us the knowledge of things divine and heavenly. (8.2)45

The line of thought in this passage is strongly reminiscent of 1 Cor. 1–2, and Chapter 2 in particular. The inability of humans to understand the divine mysteries adequately, the need for revelation by the Spirit, contempt for rhetoric – all this can be compared with the logic of Paul’s argument in 1 Cor. 2, and can be contrasted with rhetorical skills 41 For references in the Greek literature, see Riedweg 1994: 499–500. 42 This is a clear contrast to Justin’s way of thinking of Socrates; see earlier in the present chapter. 43 This Pauline inspiration for a negative view of Greek intellectual tradition is mentioned by Marcovich 1990: 5 and Riedweg 1994: 275–76, 279 as well. 44 Literally ‘the art of words’ (lovgwn tevcnh). 45 Quoted from ANF.

Justin Martyr, his Student Tatian and Two Ps.Justins


and stories about conflict, both typical of Greek learning. This is a Pauline text to which we will repeatedly return because it seems to have been primary among Christian critics of encyclical studies. However, Cohortatio has some surprises relevant for our topic. Ps.Justin of Cohortatio moderates his criticism in two ways. In the first place, he recognizes that an evaluation of Homer must take into account its genre and the right (ejxousiva)46 of a poet to speak poetically (Cohortatio 17.1, cf. 3.1), which, in fact, marks a sense of the need to apply literary critical methods. The polytheism of Homer is, according to Ps.Justin, due to his emulation47 of Orpheus rather than his own opinion, which in 17.2 (cf. 24.1) appears monotheistic. This implies that one of the most common critical points levelled against Homer among Christians should not be applied without taking into account the poetical nature of Homer. Thanks to sophisticated exegesis of some Homeric passages, the author reaches the conclusion that Homer was, in fact, propagating monotheism. This is proved by reference to two Homeric passages. The first is Il. 9.445 where Homer says qeo;" aujtov", which, according to the author, means God himself; it is a reference to the only God (peri; eJno;" kai; movnou qeou'). The second reference is to Il. 2.204 in which Odysseus speaks against the rule of many: ‘let there be one [ei|"] ruler’. The two examples substantiate the author’s view that the polytheistic introduction of the Iliad is due to the poetic nature of the work. He gives thus an example of the maxim: ‘elucidate Homer from Homer’,48 by taking into account his poetic nature. He draws conclusions from Homeric texts contradicting other passages, not to say the whole Homeric worldview. The Homer here taken as a witness to Christian faith is mainly a product of Christian imagination, but the endeavour itself also demonstrates the urgency for Christians of coping with Homer. It is against attempts such as this that Julian the Emperor turned his anger, and therefore tried to debar Christians from teaching in municipal schools.49 Furthermore, Ps.Justin claims that Homer (like Plato) visited Egypt, familiarizing himself with the Hebrew prophets and Moses (Cohortatio 28; 30,4). Much from the writings of the prophets found its way into Homer’s epics. Ps.Justin proves his case with examples drawn from his sophisticated exegesis: Homer says that the dead body of Hector was dumb clay (kwfh; ghv);50 this proved his familiarity with Gen. 3.19 ‘you are dust’. Moses’ story about the creation of the world was, according to Homer, 46 Riedweg 1994: 347 demonstrates that this term is ‘terminus technicus der antiken Literaturkritik’. 47 The text speaks of emulation in terms of zhlwvsa" and zhlw'sai. For imitation and emulation in ancient writings, see Sandnes 2005: 722–25. 48 See Ch. 3.4 in this study. 49 See Ch. 12.1 in this study. 50 Il. 24.53-54; cf. 22.401-04.


The Challenge of Homer

pictured on Achilles’ shield as it is described in Il. 18.478-88. The garden of Alkinoos (Od. 7.112-32) brought to mind the garden of Eden, and the story about Otus and Ephialtes (Od. 11.305-20) imitated the tower of Babel (Gen. 11).51 These examples demonstrate detailed work on Homer’s text by some anonymous Christian intellectual. Notwithstanding 1 Apol. 18.5 (see above), this type of argument finds little support in Justin Martyr, who considered Homer in particular to be an instrument of demons. Since Ps.Justin does not address the question of encyclical studies directly, we do not know how his somewhat contradictory statements on Homer might bear on this question. But why this concern to prove similarities and dependence between Moses and Homer if Ps.Justin nonetheless aimed to exclude Homer from encyclical studies entirely? The Cohortatio, in fact, encapsulates two opposite approaches to Homer and encyclical studies among the Christians. Ps.Justin of Cohortatio appears to argue both sides at once. This is a reminder of how difficult the issue was for the first Christians.

51 For Homer’s alleged dependence on the Old Testament, see Riedweg 1994: 431–48.

Chapter 8 THE APOSTOLIC TRADITION: PROHIBITED OCCUPATIONS Christian tradition knows of The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, who was one of the elders of the Roman Christians at the beginning of the third century CE. The genesis of this writing is probably much more complex. The Apostolic Tradition belongs to a tradition of church orders whose interrelationship is not easily defined. There are different linguistic versions which have adapted the material due to time and provenance; i.e. Latin, Sahidic, Arabic, Ethiopic, Apostolic Constitutions, the so-called Canons of Hippolytus and Testamentum Domini.1 The Apostolic Tradition was written in Greek, but only fragments in this language have been preserved. This means that any discussion of The Apostolic Tradition necessarily involves a textual history in which the Latin translation has usually been given priority in attempts at reconstructing the older text.2 Some doubt about the reliability of this procedure has been raised by Bradshaw, Johnson and Phillips, who instead speak of The Apostolic Tradition as ‘living literature’ in which it is difficult to draw conclusions about editorial layers.3 It is ‘a composite work, a collection of community rules from quite disparate traditions’.4 The Apostolic Tradition probably contains material ranging from as early as the mid-second century to as late as the mid-fourth century. It does not present the practices of one single church at one given point, although a core might well have originated with Hippolytus.5 A text that instructs how worship is to be performed and how Christian faith is to be practised gives more than ad hoc suggestions. Accordingly, it 1 See Bradshaw, Johnson, Phillips 2002, where translations of these versions are included; for the relationship between the versions see pp. 1–6. 2 See Stewart-Sykes 2001: 45–46. For the Latin text see Geerlings 1991. For the reconstruction of the Latin texts where there is none available, see Geerlings, pp. 157–59. 3 Bradshaw, Johnson, Phillips 2002: 13–15. 4 Bradshaw, Johnson, Phillips 2002: 13. 5 Thus also Geerlings 1991: 146–49; Ekenberg 1994: 10–14. Stewart-Sykes 2001: 11–12, 22–32 attributes the text to a Hippolytean ‘school’ in Rome (pp. 38–45). He suggests that The Apostolic Tradition is not a product of a single person, but that Hippolytus was responsible for the final reworking of the text. In its current form it dates from around 253, the date of Hippolytus’ death, but the traditions antedate this.


The Challenge of Homer

is not a contingent piece of literature. The questions addressed represent topics that appeared regularly and therefore demanded a response based on a particular tradition and a particular consensus. This writing thus represents practices rooted in Christian traditions which take us back to the third century CE. It is not primarily a source for private opinions. This fact adds to the significance of this source for our investigation. One of the topics raised is that of teachers in liberal studies. This implies that the question of education, and particularly that of being a teacher, was among the problems appearing regularly, and therefore needed to be addressed here. It is true that there is only one paragraph which addresses this topic. In order to understand this paragraph adequately, it is necessary to take into account the context in which it is found. In the first place, the very fact that a writing aiming at transmitting tradition and consensus is addressing the problem of encyclical studies proves that the topic was recognized as significant. Furthermore, Chapter 16, in which the paragraph in question is found, is about requirements for participation in the three years of teaching to prepare for baptism. This is the proper context for raising the question about encyclical studies. The title given to this chapter is, according to Geerlings, De operibus et occupationibus.6 The question of prohibited occupations might well take us back to the time of Hippolytus. Tertullian’s De idolatria (c. 211) and De spectaculis (c. 197– 202) express similar concerns. Thus ‘the chapter is consistent with an early-third-century context, at least in North Africa, but some of it may be even older still’.7 Chapters 15–21 present requirements for being accepted into the Church. Before baptismal instruction those who want to participate are tested. The text is probably an admission text for the Church. The requirements are influenced by Old Testament texts defining who can participate in the temple worship: ‘Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?’ (Ps. 24.3), or who can be accepted into the Lord’s fellowship? Such texts are found in the Old Testament (e.g. Deut. 23.1-8) and in Qumran’s entrance requirements as found throughout 1QSa. Chapter 16 is also an attempt to put into practice the so-called list of vices in the New Testament, which mention examples of behaviour unacceptable for Christians: ‘who will inherit the kingdom of God?’ (cf. 1 Cor. 6.9-11; Col. 3.5-8). Worth mentioning is also Lk. 3.10-14 on the Baptist’s preaching to tax-collectors and soldiers. The Apostolic Constitutions 8.32.10 makes reference precisely to this text. The list of occupations or activities not to be tolerated is not meant to be exhaustive. This implies that the crafts and professions are mentioned 6 Chapter 16 is, however, missing in the Latin translation. Geerlings’ Latin text is here based on the Sahidic, Arabic and Ethiopian translations. 7 Bradshaw, Johnson, Phillips 2002: 92.

The Apostolic Tradition: Prohibited Occupations


according to some principles which can be extended and given a wider application. The list fulfils exactly that purpose; it provides examples from which some basic principles can be extracted. Allusion is made to 1 Cor. 7.40, whereby Paul claims to instruct the converts by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. A similar claim is implied in The Apostolic Tradition. Paul made reference to his spiritual authority in a situation where marriage between Corinthian converts and unbelievers was debated. It seems that a debate over occupations and behaviour, consistent or incompatible with the faith, forms the background of The Apostolic Tradition. The text claims to have given sufficient spiritual guidance from which to proceed to other related issues. What, then, is the direction pointed out? The examples given address questions of morality and idolatry, which are obviously the main criteria. The Christians viewed the professions mentioned, such as brothel-keepers, idol-makers, charioteers, gladiators, priests, soldiers, etc., as involved in the fabric of idolatry. This applied also to theatres and spectacles of various kinds. Early Christian writers evaluated these means of entertainment according to their content and morality.8 This means that the question of appropriate occupations is addressed already at the time of joining baptismal instruction, but with a view to what occupations make it possible to put Christian faith into practice. The demands are thus addressing the question not only of participating in the baptismal teaching, but of Christian conduct in general. As regards the paragraph on teachers, the criteria of morality and idolatry become relevant, since they are both firmly rooted in the classical texts taught by the teachers of liberal studies. It is therefore a natural transition for the author to turn from addressing prostitutes, sculptors, painters, actors, mimers, charioteers, gladiators or pagan priests to speak of encyclical teachers. However, none of the criteria are stated in this particular paragraph itself. It is worth noticing that the stereotypical formulation ‘either cease or be rejected’9 repeated throughout the chapter, is rephrased in the paragraph on teachers: ‘A teacher of young children [qui docet pueros] had best [bonum est] desist, but if he has no other occupation, he may be permitted to continue’ (Trad.Ap. 16.8-9).10 A shift appears here compared to the strictures surrounding this statement, implying an uncertainty. The reconstructed bonum est allows for different 8 See Tertullian, De spectaculis and Clement, Paed. 3.11; Tatian, Or. 22–24. John Chrysostom addresses the question of horse-races and theatres (PG 56.263-70). His address clearly gives his perspective on the topics under discussion: To those who have left the congregation and found refuge in the hippodromes and theatres. See also Guyot and Klein 1994: 98–109. 9 In Geerling’s Latin text this appears like a refrain: vel cesset/cessent vel reiciatur/ reiciantur. 10 In Bradshaw, Johnson, Phillips 2002 this is Trad.Ap. 16.5.


The Challenge of Homer

judgements. There is a preferable solution, namely to quit this occupation, but this solution is not forced upon anyone. Teachers are allowed to continue their teaching, and the text does not mention any further reservations. This probably implies that teachers who wanted to participate in baptismal teaching were allowed to continue instructing in liberal arts, in the way and with the texts they had hitherto done. The criterion is the need to make a living. This pragmatic solution is likely due either to the limited resources of the Christians or to a situation where the sheer number of teachers who sought baptismal teaching demanded willingness to compromise.11 Stewart-Sykes points to the relatively relaxed attitude shown here towards the teacher instructing in Homeric myths, and thinks that this is indicative of the scholastic orientation of the Roman community of Hippolytus.12 The paragraph demonstrates a will to find solutions which are practical in daily life. The Apostolic Tradition takes it for granted that the teachers can be classified as labourers or craftsmen, but he does not express the contempt which is often connected with this traditional view. The Sahidic, Arabic and Ethiopic translations are similar enough to demonstrate a common tradition in which the question of the profession of teachers of young children is addressed only briefly. They all tend to be pragmatic on this question. In all these sources, the occupation of teachers is treated more carefully than other professions, with reference to the need for an income. This argument could, of course, be valid also for the other occupations, but it is only applied to the teachers. The abandonment of the other professions is what the texts unanimously suggest. This applies also to Testamentum domini 2.213 which follows a somewhat different structure. The Canons of Hippolytus 12, however, address the occupation of teachers in more detail: A schoolmaster who teaches little children, if he has not a livelihood by which to live except for that, may educate, if he reveals at all times to those he teaches and confesses that what the Gentiles call gods are demons [qui a gentibus dii vocantur, daimones esse], and says that before them every day there is no divinity except the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If he can teach his pupils the excellent word of the poet, and

11 Easton 1934: 87 rightly points out that Hippolytus is here addressing Greek education where much time was spent on Homer’s mythology. However, I disagree with him when he interprets Hippolytus’ willingness to compromise: ‘But the permission given to schoolmasters to continue their calling in case of necessity shows that no one took the Homeric deities very seriously.’ I think both the role of Homer in ancient intellectual tradition and the debate we are presently unearthing among the Christians prove him to be wrong on this point. 12 Stewart-Sykes 2001: 102. 13 Bradshaw, Johnson, Phillips 2002: 89.

The Apostolic Tradition: Prohibited Occupations


better still if he can teach them the faith of the word of truth, for that he shall have a reward.14

This text is more elaborate on the issue, and it seems to reflect a later composition. The teachers are urged to teach their students a Trinitarian faith. This was either impossible in practice, or it assumes a situation where a majority of the children were from Christian homes. The latter seems more likely here. The text does not mention students, which is not surprising since they do not naturally belong in a list of occupations and activities which clearly address adults. It seems justified to assume that The Apostolic Tradition would consider it less difficult to be a student than a teacher in liberal arts. For natural reasons, the teachers were seen as commending what they taught, while this is not necessarily so with the learners. This distinction later led Julian to accuse Christian teachers in liberal studies of immorality and hypocrisy; they did not commend what they taught.15 In Chapter 10 we will see that Tertullian tried his best to find a solution along the lines of a distinction between what the teacher and the students did in liberal studies.

14 Quoted from Bradshaw 1987: 18. The Greek text is lost, an Arabic version of a Coptic translation has survived; see Bradshaw 1987: 5–10. For a Latin reconstruction, certainly conjectural, see Achelis 1891: 80–81. 15 See Ch. 12.1 in this study.

Chapter 9 THE TEACHING OF THE APOSTLES (DIDASCALIA APOSTOLORUM) AND THE SYRIAC TRADITION: ‘AVOID ALL THE BOOKS OF THE GENTILES’ Didascalia apostolorum is a text about life within the Church that has much in common with Hippolytus’ The Apostolic Tradition. Didascalia originated in Syria in the third century CE, a composite text depending on traditions.1 It was originally written in Greek, but only some Greek fragments are still extant. However, it is well preserved in a Syriac translation, and some parts are also available in Latin. This literature is an important source for the praxis of Christian piety and ecclesiology in the ancient Syrian Church. Furthermore, this literature addresses many other questions as well, such as how men and women should associate, and how the Old Testament is rightly interpreted, and how baptismal preparation classes are conducted, etc. A topic of much concern is the education of children. Bishops and congregations are held responsible for orphans. The upbringing and education of children is supposed to take place in the homes and congregation. The Syriac text says that parents should teach their sons an occupation appropriate for believers, mostly some handicraft,2 thus bringing to mind Hippolytus’ discussion about what occupations Christians are allowed to have. The parents are held responsible for their offspring. The boys are expected to pick up a trade from which they can make a living. In this way they will not become burdensome to the Christian fellowship and not be enticed by pleasure.3 The instruction to Christian parents concerning their responsibilities towards the next generation is inspired by Prov. 23.14 and 13.24, which are both cited.4 The two texts are united in mentioning ‘the rod’ as a means of discipline 1 Quasten 1964: 147–52. 2 Didascalia 22/pp. 202–03, cf. 17/pp. 160–61. References are given from Vo¨o¨bus’ (1979) translation of the Syriac text. For other English translations see Gibson 1903; Connolly 1929. The Latin text of Ch. 17 speaks about ars; see Tidner 1963. This word has a wide semantic range, but since Didascalia emphasizes that the boys should learn an occupation appropriate for a believer, it is probably referring to some kind of craft. 3 As for girls, the parents must make sure they are married to a Christian spouse (Didascalia 22/p. 203.17–20, cf. 17/p. 160.21-3). 4 According to Crenshaw 1998: 86–99 these Old Testament texts reflect schooling.

The Teaching of the Apostles and the Syriac Tradition


and rebuke. In an almost rabbinical way, the text proceeds to claim that ‘our rod is the word of God, Jesus Christ’ (Didascalia 22/p. 203.2-3). This is due to the appearance of the key word ‘rod’ also in Jer. 1.11-12, which is taken christologically. The Septuagint has here the term bakthriva which means ‘stick’ or ‘rod’. Against this background the author asks what this text from Proverbs brings to the question of education. He finds his answer in Jer. 1.11, where LXX again has the term bakthriva: ‘I see a branch of an almond tree’, which the author refers to Christ himself or his word. The text urges Christian parents to let their children be instructed in the word of God from an early stage and on a continuous basis. This naturally makes the upbringing of boys a specific Christian task, a view that also promotes a sceptical view of the pagan sources in the training of the next generation. This attitude is expressed in Didascalia 2. Here fathers are instructed to avoid all idleness, since this opens the gate to all kinds of temptation. The text addresses those of some means, those who have no need of a craft for making their living. It envisages a setting where students are spending their time on philosophical studies. Instead, they are urged to associate with fellow believers, meditating upon the word of God. Here, biblical studies replace the traditional role which encyclical studies, and philosophy in particular, played for the well-to-do. If, however, it is difficult to find fellow believers who have the same opportunity for studies, then they are admonished to read the Law, the Book of Kings and the prophets at home: And if not, sit at home and read the Law and the Book of Kings and the prophets and the Gospel (which is) the fulfillment of these. However, avoid all books of the heathens5 because what have you to do with strange sayings or laws or prophesies of falsehood, those which also turn away the young from faith, those who are young? For what is lacking for you in the word of God, that you should cast yourself upon these tales of the heathen? If you wish to read narratives of stories, you have the Book of Kings; but if wise men and philosophers, you have the prophets, in them you will find wisdom and understanding more than that of the wise men and philosophers; because they are the words of the one God, the only wise. And if you desire songs, you have the psalms of David. But if [you wish an account about] the beginning of the world, you have the Genesis of the great Moses; and if laws and commandments, you have the Law, the Book of Exodus of the Lord God.

5 The Apostolic Constitutions 1.6.1 has tw'n ejqnikw'n biblivwn pavntwn ajpevcou; see Metzger 1985: 116. The Apostolic Constitutions is a compilation dating from around 375 CE, and also makes use of Didascalia; see Vo¨o¨bus 1979: 30–32.


The Challenge of Homer Abstain completely therefore from strange [writings] those which are contrary to [these]. (Didascalia 2/pp. 14.18–15.5)6

The Latin version (Tidner) introduces the text as follows: ‘But avoid all the books of the Gentiles. For what do you have in common with foreign words or laws or prophecies, which also easily [facile] pave the way for error for young people? What are you missing in the word of God, that you throw yourself upon these Gentile myths [illae Gentiles fabulae]’?7 The text does not address schooling directly. As we have seen, however, there is every reason to believe that the question about pagan classical literature is embedded in the question of participating in encyclical studies. The view expressed here can hardly imply anything other than a rejection of Christian participation in the schools where these studies were taught. This literature gives the impression that the education of children is thought to be taken care of sufficiently within the home or church. In practice, this implied that instruction in elementary reading and writing must have taken place there also. The text clearly assumes knowledge of reading, which is an indication that the critique raised by many pagan authors, Celsus in particular,8 is exaggerated.9 This emphasis on the home and church as the proper places for instructing children necessarily demanded restrictions also on what texts they were to read. The text cited above speaks from the experience that children and youth who participated in encyclical studies drifted away from the congregation and the faith. The adverb facile in the Latin version is a short expression for this painful experience; they are easily lead astray by the literature of the Gentiles.10 Furthermore, this experience implies that the aim is to persuade the readers not to continue or to embark upon encyclical studies. The text thus assumes that some Christians had not followed the advice expressed in this text. The author is addressing himself to a divided church on this issue. Didascalia claims that it is not necessary to study pagan literature to acquire sufficient knowledge. In fact, the author supports this claim with arguments recalling the way in which Homer was viewed in antiquity: i.e. that he was omniscient. All the knowledge needed was available in his poems. It is likewise with the Bible; it is an encyclopaedia 6 The Latin version is found in Ch. 3 (Tidner 1963: 5.3–6.1). According to Guyot and Klein 1994: 92–93, this is 1.6.1-6 (cf. Metzger’s (1985) edition of The Apostolic Constitutions). The last sentence speaks about the pagan books as both alieni and diabolici. This means that they belong to others, they are extra muros writings, and that they originated with the devil. 7 My own translation. The Apostolic Constitutions 1.6.1 says that all the Gentile books turn oiJ ejlafroiv away from the faith, which is a reference to the shallowness of the young; see LSJ s.v. 8 See Ch. 11.3 in this study. 9 This is pointed out also by Guyot and Klein 1994: 294. 10 This is the case although the overall impression is that Jewish practices attracted the addressees more than the pagan poets.

The Teaching of the Apostles and the Syriac Tradition


of knowledge. History, wisdom, poetry, laws – everything is there in the biblical tradition, and especially in the Old Testament. The author of Didascalia apostolorum emphatically rejects the pagan literature which made up encyclical studies. He does not restrict himself to saying that this literature belongs to the Gentiles. The writings of the Gentiles are not only those of outsiders; properly speaking, they belong to the devil. Encyclical studies are thus an invention of the devil. This perspective echoes the voice of Christians who were not interested in Greek education, but who even feared it. It is the voice of believers whom Clement of Alexandria called simple Christians.11 As a bulwark against these writings of the devil, the author erects the Old Testament, read with the aid of its hermeneutical key about Christ being the fulfilment. In his rejection of the Gentile books he is, structurally speaking, remarkably similar to ancient traditions about Homer: Homer

The Old Testament

Homer as encyclopaedia.

The Old Testament as encyclopaedia. The Old Testament must be critically interpreted. The Old Testament is taught in home and congregation.

Homer must be critically interpreted. Homer is taught in both home and school.

Didascalia shows that many ordinary Christians recognized the necessity of learning reading and writing, but the author urges that this should take place at home and in the church, and with the Bible as textbook. In relation to Greek culture, however, this practice must have led to isolation and restricted social exchange. Didascalia probably reflects the attitude found among simple believers. The way the author addresses this issue indicates, however, that different practices were in vogue in his church. A modern reader might be surprised that the Old Testament is given such a prominent place in the Christian upbringing of children, particularly since the addressees were formerly Jewish believers (e.g. Didascalia 26/p. 223.3-4). There can hardly be any doubt that the stories of the Old Testament were much more suitable for replacing Homer’s stories than those of the New Testament. The narratives and poetry about war, love, hatred and drama of the Old Testament are much closer to the poetic and popular narrative style of Homer than the texts found in the New Testament. The emphasis on the Old Testament, therefore, mirrors the challenge of Homer to Syrian Christians. 11 See Ch. 11.1.1 in this study.


The Challenge of Homer

But it is hardly accidental that the guidance on how to read the Old Testament follows immediately upon the instruction to read these writings instead of pagan books. There is, obviously, a need to lay down some basic principles for how Christians should read the Old Testament books with which the readers are urged to occupy themselves. The Old Testament demanded interpretation, no less than did Homer. The preceding part of Chapter 2 says that there is a danger of being bound by its chains, i.e. by the reading of the Law. The author repeatedly speaks of the chains (Latin: vincula)12 of the Law. The Old Testament has to be read according to the knowledge imparted by Christian faith, namely that God has liberated the believers from these chains. Fundamental to the Old Testament hermeneutics given in Didascalia is the distinction between the first and second legislation13 or the dual law. The first law refers to what God said before the incident with the Golden Calf in the desert; in other words the Ten Commandments and other contemporary judgements. After this incident, God burdened the people with many chains, which is the second law. These are not binding on the Christian: for our Saviour came for no other purpose than to fulfil the Law14 and to loosen us from the bonds of the second legislation.15 For he loosed us from those bonds. And thus He called those who believe in Him and said: ‘Come unto me, all you that toil and are laden with heavy burdens, and I will give you rest [Mt. 11.28]’. (Didascalia 2/p. 15.21-26)

According to Mt. 11.28, Jesus broke the chains of the second legislation. This follows immediately upon the instruction to avoid the literature of the Gentiles, and to read the Old Testament instead. The principle of the two legislations is elaborated upon in Chapter 26. From there it appears that the second legislation concerns sacrifices, purifications, dietary laws, etc. Scriptural proof is added from Old Testament as well as New Testament passages.16 Without these chains of the second law, the Christians can read the Law, the prophets and the historical books in a 12 The Apostolic Constitutions has desmav here; see 1.6.7. 13 The Apostolic Constitutions speaks of hJ deutevrwsi"; see e.g. 1.6.7. 14 The text referred to here in Didascalia is Mt. 5.17-18, cf. Didascalia 26/pp. 224.10– 25.1. 15 The Latin version 4.1-4 (Tidner 1963: 7/1–7) says: Nam salvator noster propter nihil aliud venit, nisi ut legem impleat et vincula secundationis legis infirmaret. Infirmare means to abolish, abrogate or invalidate. The Apostolic Constitutions 1.6.10 says that Christ came to h] pauvshæ h] metaqh'æ the chains of the second legislation. 16 Although Pauline tradition is discernible in this literature, no reference is made to Paul. He is more or less ignored, possibly due to the ambivalent attitude Jewish Christians had to him. It is worth noticing that Jesus, according to Didascalia 26/p. 223.11-12 abrogated the second legislation, and returned to ‘the dispensation which was there from the beginning’. The Latin version of Ch. 48 (Tidner 1963: 78/12–16) claims that Jesus taught lex simplex,

The Teaching of the Apostles and the Syriac Tradition


way which is in accordance with the Gospel, evangelio consonans, as is stated in the Latin version.17 Didascalia thus makes an inner biblical distinction between the first and the second legislation; i.e. the Law as it was before the Golden Calf episode and the secondary laws. The critical interpretation of the Old Testament writings which the audience is urged to undertake is precisely this inner biblical distinction. This distinction within the Old Testament itself brings to mind the maxim of elucidating Homer by Homer. The critical interpretation depends on observations from within the written authorities, be they Homer or the Old Testament. We have seen that Didascalia sees pagan books as belonging to outsiders and to the devil. Properly speaking, they are in opposition to true Christian identity, as understood in this literature. This observation is supported by Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert who says that Didascalia is a solidification of Christian identity.18 This construction of a Christian identity is seen in the point of departure of this text: . . . as we were assembled with one accord in Jerusalem, the city of the great king, and with us our brothers Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, and James, the bishop of the above-mentioned city, have ratified this Didascalia, in which are included the confession and the creed, and we have named all ordinances, as the ordinances of the celestial [orders], and thus again the ordinances of the holy church. (Didascalia prologue/ p. 8.2-7)

As Fonrobert says, Didascalia here sees contemporary conflicts in terms of the earlier conflict mentioned in Acts 15, the so-called Apostolic Conference.19 The construction of identity is also seen in the hermeneutics presented above, the correct way of reading Scripture, the discussion of Sunday contra Sabbath, food matters, and in the numerical value attached to the number ten in the Ten Commandments (as a symbol of Jesus’ name) (Didascalia 26/p. 225.1-5). This construction of identity is very much concerned with authoritative texts and their correct interpretation. The focus is obviously on the Old Testament, but this also sheds light on how pagan books were viewed. The identity that Didascalia is constructing militates against pagan literature. Homer and the pagan poets are at odds with true Christian identity. The so-called Ps.Clementine Recognitiones are also associated with Syria. The writing is only available in Rufinus’ Latin translation from the fourth century CE, but it was probably composed in the third century. The which was there from the beginning: ‘eius dispensationem, quae a principio facta est, scitote, quia dedit legem simplicem’. This brings to mind a distinction made by Jesus between the law of the beginning and that of the hardened hearts (Mk 10.1-8 and parallels). 17 Ch. 4 (Tidner 1963: 7/9–11). 18 Fonrobert 2001: 501–09. 19 Fonrobert 2001: 490.


The Challenge of Homer

apostle Peter is a key figure in this text, and a mouthpiece for the author. The writing takes the same sceptical and negative attitude to encyclical studies as we observed in Didascalia. And what shall we say of the books of the poets? Ought not they, if they have debased the honourable and pious deeds of the gods with base fables, to be forthwith cast away and thrown into the fire, that they may not persuade the still tender age of boys that Jupiter himself, the chief of the gods, was a parricide towards his parents, incestuous towards his sisters and daughters, and even impure towards boys; that Venus and Mars were adulterers, and all those things which have been spoken of above? What do you think of this matter, my lord Peter? (Recognitiones 10.38)20

The arguments are common and traditional; they draw on Christian as well as pagan support. Children are exposed to the poets’ presentation of divine immorality. For this reason these literary works should be rejected and thrown on the fire. This is justified with reference to the young age of the children, thus indicating that the author has in mind the primary level of education. The adjective tener can also mean soft, tender or malleable. At an age when children are easily formed, they are exposed to Greek poetry. This figurative speech plays on the use of wooden wax tablets in school. The author addresses the situation in much the same manner as did Quintilian (Inst. 1.1.36; 3.1). Quintilian urged parents to teach their children the cultural heritage as early as possible, due to the fact that their minds were still soft and easily formed. Recognitiones turns the argument around, due, of course, to the way he viewed this literature. Since children are easily influenced, they must be kept away from pagan poets. Children are commonly compared to these tablets;21 this probably forms the background of the tender age (tener) in the text discussed here. At any rate, this text recommends that the classical canon be not only avoided but extinguished. According to the next chapter (10.39), Peter is expected to say how Christians should come to terms with this challenge presented by pagan literature. He claims that divine providence and care, in short providentia, ensured that pagan literature was both poor and weak. He makes the point that literature that is so shameful hardly has any power to lead astray. It would have been much worse had this literature also embodied pieces of honourable and true knowledge (si enim validior et verisimilior fuisset erroris adsertio). Peter here actually denies the presence of any ambiguity in Homer’s works. Shameful and useful do not coincide in Homer; pagan poetry is shameful throughout. It is precisely this 20 Quoted from ANF 8. The Latin text is available in Rehm 1965. 21 See Ch. 4.2 in this study.

The Teaching of the Apostles and the Syriac Tradition


ambiguity that, according to many other Christians, called for discernment between good and bad, and thus the need for making right use of the Greek poets. We find here an arrogance that in the long run was unable to find a modus vivendi with Greek culture. We have the impression that the author of Recognitiones does not himself entirely believe in the arrogant statement put into Peter’s mouth here. Why should he be so concerned about Christian children studying Homer when he was so poor? Why burn literature which is considered unable to deceive? Here is an apparent tension in the logic. Somewhat further down the road in the dialogue in Book 10, it emerges that Peter’s denial was in need of some clarification. Recognitiones 10.40 accepts that some familiarity with Greek literature will facilitate communication with Gentiles. This implies that the curriculum of encyclical studies formed a cultural common ground. To this Peter responds: But when one has received an entire and firm rule of truth from the Scriptures, it will not be improper if he contributes to the establishment of true doctrine anything from common education and from liberal studies [ex eruditione communi ac liberalibus studiis], which, it may be, he has attached himself to in his boyhood; yet so that, when he has learned the truth, he renounce falsehood and pretence. (Recognitiones 10.42)

Here Peter allows for the use of encyclical knowledge. He emphasizes, though, that this must be guided by familiarity with the Scriptures. This will help believers to discern between truth and falsehood. This comment does not necessarily agree with the notion that God’s providence is demonstrated by the poverty of Homer’s poems. Peter here introduces a thought, which we will later see came to preoccupy many Christians who addressed our topic, namely the necessity of distinguishing between good and bad in Greek literature. In fact, he here states that right use of pagan literature can be made. This calls for discernment, and requires knowledge and familiarity with both the literature of encyclical studies as well as the literature of the Church. A possible way of reconciling this tension in Recognitiones might be that the need to distinguish demands emphasis on instructing the believer in the truth by which Greek literature is to be judged. The tension is then a precise expression of the frustration, struggle and doubt that haunted both individuals and the Christian fellowship. Nevertheless, even in Syria, where the attitude towards encyclical studies seems to have been rather negative, we do observe a more balanced view emerging: the need to distinguish between good and evil in encyclical studies and pagan texts. Whether children could really perform the discernment here called for, however, is another matter. However, Peter’s comment in 10.42 clearly addresses adults who are looking back to the instruction they once received while children. This leaves me in doubt on the position this author would take on the question


The Challenge of Homer

of sending children to encyclical studies. To what extent was the view expressed in 10.42 relevant to children? Could they really do what Peter here expects? A related issue is that this statement does not necessarily address children at all, but rather instructs adults who had formerly received encyclical training on how they should now relate to the knowledge they once acquired. The text hardly permits children to start participating in these studies. It seems uncertain to me if the author of Recognitiones would actually – on the basis of the logic in 10.42 – encourage children of Christian parents to embark upon the full circle of Greek education. I doubt that this is the case. If I am right in this, the tension discerned above is more or less resolved. The text then expresses a negative view throughout, but urges those who have already received instruction in liberal studies to make right use of it; that is, to have the Scriptures as a guiding principle. In Chapter 8 we saw that another Syrian, Tatian, was equally negative with regard to Greek literature taught in encyclical schools. Syria thus seems to have been a bulwark of opposition against Greek education. Tatian, however, was a former student of encyclical classes, and his rejection of these studies draws heavily on his familiarity with this intellectual tradition.

Chapter 10 TERTULLIAN: LEARNING BUT NOT TEACHING ENCYCLICAL STUDIES Tertullian (c. 160–225 CE) was born in Carthage. He was raised in a Gentile family, but during his youth embraced the Christian faith. His many writings clearly reveal his own level of education.1 He eventually joined the Montanist movement,2 a renewal movement that emphasized the guidance of the Spirit through prophecy and visions. The Montanists expected Jesus to return very soon, and they led an ascetic life. Tertullian’s sympathy with this movement probably paved the way for a confrontational attitude to Greek culture in general. Tertullian’s writings show him to be a sharp rhetorician and a polemical thinker. From his writings we may deduce that his nature was committed, strict and wholehearted. His theology was formed by this character and is rather uncompromising. For Tertullian, Christian faith was based on revelation, which was exclusive of other sources of authority. He considered Greek philosophy to be the mother of heresy, and the philosophers themselves its fathers. Tertullian was sceptical of allegorical interpretation of the Bible,3 an approach which had entered the Church via studies of Homer.

10.1 A Pattern of Insurmountable Contrasts In his polemic against the heresies, De praescriptione haereticorum, Chapter 7, Tertullian formulates a classic expression of his abandonment of Greek philosophy and culture. Chapter 7 in this text is inspired by a cluster of Pauline passages, such as ‘the wisdom of this World’ that is

1 Fredouille 1972: 361–442. In a letter which addresses Greek learning, Jerome expresses his admiration for Tertullian’s education: ‘Can anyone be more learned than Tertullian? [quid Tertulliano eruditius?] (Epist. 70.5); on this letter see Ch. 14.3. In his Cor. 7.3, Tertullian speaks about the pagan literature and says that he acquired little of it (quantalus attigi), which he also considers to be enough (credo sufficient). He is probably much too modest here. For the Latin text see Fontaine 1966. 2 Eusebius Hist. eccl. 5.14-19 gives a presentation of this movement, and calls it ‘the Phrygian prophecy’. 3 See Waszink 1979.


The Challenge of Homer

opposed to the ‘folly of the cross’ (1 Cor. 1–3); the criticism of opponents who occupy themselves with myths and genealogies that spread like gangrene in the body (1 Tim. 1.4; Tit. 3.9; 2 Tim. 2.17); and ‘See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits, and not according to Christ’ (Col. 2.8). Tertullian claims that these texts encapsulate what Paul taught talking with the philosophers in the agora at Athens (Acts 17.16-21).4 These texts constitute a bulwark against Greek philosophy: ‘the heresies are themselves instigated by philosophy’ (Praescr. 7.3). The final part of De Praescriptione Chapter 7, presents Christian faith and Greek philosophy as irreconcilable opponents: What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church? Our instruction comes from ‘the porch of Solomon’,5 who had himself taught that ‘the Lord should be sought in simplicity of heart’ [in simplicitate cordis].6 Away with all attempts to produce a mottled Christianity of Stoic, Platonic, and dialectical composition! We want no curious disputation [curiositas] after possessing Christ Jesus, no inquisition after enjoying the gospel! With our faith, we desire no further belief. For this is our palmary7 faith, that there is nothing which we ought to believe besides. (Praescr. 7.9-13)8

In Apol. 46.18 he puts it in much the same way: But then what have philosopher and Christian in common [simile]? The disciple of Greece and the disciple of heaven? The business of the one with reputation [fama] of the other with salvation [vita]? The man of words and the man of deeds? The builder and the destroyer? The friend and the foe of error? The man who corrupts the truth and the man who restores it and proclaims it? The thief of truth and its guardian?9 4 The Pauline inspiration of these antitheses is emphasized by Schleyer 2002: 69–71. 5 Cf. Acts 3.5. 6 Wis. 1.1. 7 According to Collins Dictionary of the English Language (1986) this is a rare word, meaning ‘worthy of praise’, derived from Latin palmarius. Tertullian here reads: hoc enim prius credimus (‘for this we believe above all else’). 8 Quoted from ANF Vol. 3. For the Latin text, see Refoule´ and de Labriolle 1957. 9 Quoted from LCL, where the Latin text is also available. It is hardly necessary to render vita by ‘salvation’, as does LCL here; the straightforward ‘life’ seems better. When Tertullian contrasts fama and vita as well as verba and facta, this brings to mind the critique voiced by Plato against the poets for not having real knowledge of the things they are describing; see Ch. 3.4 in this study.

Tertullian: Learning But Not Teaching Encyclical Studies


These questions are inspired by Paul’s rhetorical questions in 2 Cor. 6.1416.10 Tertullian reasons in terms of contrasts. The gulf between Christian faith and Greek culture is insurmountable, because it is a matter of identity. He claims the sufficiency of faith; after embracing faith in Christ, the need for knowledge and insight is exhausted. Judging from his writings in general, his own uncompromising attitude is inconsistent with his intimate knowledge of Greek and Roman cultures. These texts above are, of course, addressing Greek philosophy in general. Nonetheless, they pave the way for Tertullian’s attitude towards encyclical studies as well. I find it interesting that Tertullian quotes from Wis. 1.1 as supportive evidence. We will observe later that biblical wisdom literature was given a key position by Christian advocates of encyclical studies. Tertullian’s church was involved in a debate about the necessity of Greek education (see below). When Tertullian quotes from Wis. 1.1 he enters the arena of these advocates, and this is probably an attempt to employ one of their main topoi in an ongoing debate. This will be substantiated later, with reference both to his Idol. 10 and to the role assigned to wisdom texts by advocates of Greek education. The present investigation will claim that ordinary Christians would find that Tertullian’s logic presented their own view, albeit in a sophisticated way. His point of departure is that the Christian faith is revealed; it was generated by God alone, and has its only source in the Scriptures. A person who believes in Christ has already received all the insight needed. Although Tertullian is by no means representative of ordinary Christians, he addressed conflicts which were felt by many simple believers. He may therefore be considered a spokesman for popular positions vis-a`-vis the Greek culture. His logic and arguments are probably sophisticated examples of how concerned believers, who feared the exchange with the intellectual tradition of this culture, would argue. Tertullian in his contrastive thinking lends his voice to the many believers who have left no texts behind them.11 Before embarking upon Tertullian’s discussion of our topic in his On Idolatry, it is, however, necessary to point out that Tertullian’s antithesis between Greek philosophy and Christian truth in the two abovementioned texts is somewhat narrow, judged even by his own writings. Tertullian assumes that the philosophers had drunk from the fountain of Old Testament prophets, and thus were familiar with biblical revelation; 10 ‘What do righteousness and lawlessness, light and darkness, Christ and Beliar, a believer and an unbeliever, the temple of God and the idols have in common?’ Fredouille 1972: 317–26 has provided ample evidence that the contrastive style of 2 Cor. 6.14-16 was adopted by Tertullian. 11 We will see in Ch. 11.1.1 that Clement of Alexandria faced opponents who argued according to a contrastive thinking not entirely unlike that of Tertullian.


The Challenge of Homer

but they perverted it due to a curiositas detrimental to Christian faith (Apol. 47.1-5).12 Any curiositas that looks beyond regula fidei is hazardous to faith.13 In Praescr. 8.1-2 he embarks on a discussion about one of the favourite texts for the heretics: ‘search, and you will find’ (Mt. 7.7). Tertullian strongly opposes those who take this as an encouragement to continue looking for truth after having embraced faith. He states that the meaning of the words can be established with reference to logic, which in practice implies a negative attitude to allegorical interpretations. From this he claims that the Christian doctrine is not something to be sought; it is definitive. ‘Seeking’ means to find this definitive doctrine (Praescr. 9.2, 6).14 This implies that Tertullian’s contrastive logic primarily refers to the question of salvation.15 When he denies curiositas post Christum Iesum (‘curiosity after Christ Jesus’) and inquisitio post evangelium (‘inquisition after the Gospel’) (see above), or nihil esse quaerendum ultra quod crediderunt (‘nothing else is to be sought than what is believed’) (Praescr. 9.6), knowledge necessary to salvation is the specific reference. It is, however, hardly surprising that this contrastive thinking paved the way for abandonment of encyclical studies as well, particularly so among uneducated simple believers. Tertullian himself, however, approached the question of liberal arts in a more ambivalent way, as will be shown below.

10.2 On Idolatry In De idololatria, Tertullian addresses the practical impact of encountering Greek culture on a day-to-day basis. This book provides a lengthy discussion of Christian attitudes to paganism. The question of teaching and learning is extensively discussed in Chapter 10 of this text. His main perspective on this issue is given in the title of this writing: On Idolatry. The text is introduced by the claim that idolatry is hidden as well as manifest. Idols are not worshipped only through sacrifices, burning incense, in sacrificial meals or by the ministers of the deities. Idolatry appears in disguised forms as well; it needs no temples to be practised. Unveiling these hidden forms of idolatry is the purpose of his On Idolatry. Tertullian assumes the ubiquity of idolatry; believers meet it everywhere. 12 See Schleyer 2002: 74–75. Apol. 47.12-14 is an example that some truth is found in the writings of philosophers as well. 13 The rule of faith (regula fidei) is to Tertullian a reference to Christian apostolic tradition, the gospel transmitted through trustworthy witnesses; see e.g. Praescr. 13; Marc. 4.4, cf. Irenaeus, Haer. 1.10.1. Tertullian puts it in a paradoxical way in Praescr. 14.5: ‘To know nothing in opposition of the rule [of faith] is to know all things [Adversus regulam nihil scire omina scire est].’ 14 For Tertullian’s discussion on Mt. 7.7, see Schleyer 2002: 88–91. 15 Schleyer 2002: 74 rightly says: ‘denn die Wahrheit ist fu¨r Tertullian Heilswahrheit’ (‘For Tertullian, salvation is the truth of salvation’: my trans.).

Tertullian: Learning But Not Teaching Encyclical Studies


Tertullian’s presentation of the hidden forms of idolatry for which believers must be on their guard, draws on Old Testament warnings16 against worshipping idols (Idol. 4) and on the fact that baptism implies a renunciation of the devil. Idolatry appears in the guise of craftsmen who are making idols, of astrologers and soothsayers worshipping stars, of teachers instructing the children in the myths, of businessmen devoted to the idol ‘greed’,17 and of those who provide the tools needed for the worship of idols. The last part of this text (Chapters 13–23) addresses the question of participation in public and private celebrations, public and military service, swearing by the gods, etc. Tertullian addresses Christians who still work as astrologers. He says that if they were really clairvoyant, they would become true Christians, who understood that they had to give up this profession; otherwise they have no hope for salvation (Idol. 9.8). The passage brings to mind the discussion of professions found in early Christian church orders.18 From this Tertullian then proceeds to address the profession of teachers, and I quote the entire Chapter 10: (1) One should, however, also, inquire about schoolmasters [ludi magistri] and other teachers of literature [ceteri professores litterarum]. Indeed, there can be no doubt that they are bordering on idolatry in its various modes. To begin with, they must proclaim19 the gods of the heathens and make known their names, genealogies,20 fabulous myths and every one of their marks of honour; further they must observe their solemnities and festivals, since it is on these that their incomes will await them. (2) What schoolmaster, if he is without the list of the seven idols, will still celebrate the Quinquatria? The very first fee from a new pupil he dedicates both to the honour and to the name of Minerva, so that, even if it may be said that he is not in so many words dedicated to an idol because of [consuming] a sacrifice to an idol, he ought to be avoided because of idolatry. I ask you, is the latter less a contamination? Are, therefore, earnings dedicated both to the name and to the honour of idols better?

16 The texts appearing are Exod. 20.4 (cf. Deut. 5.8); Isa. 44.8-9 LXX; Ps. 113.16 LXX. 17 Cf. Eph. 5.5; Col. 3.5. The discussion of greed follows immediately (Ch. 11) upon Tertullian’s discussion on the profession of teachers. This topic is then squeezed in between astrologers and the idol ‘greed’. 18 See Ch. 8 in this study. 19 The Latin text has here praedicare, which takes on the sense of praising, see Oxford Latin Dictionary s.v.; this is implied in Idol. 10.5. 20 Genealogies of the gods were important in the divine myths related by Homer and Hesiod. Tertullian was, of course, well aware of this (Apol. 12.1). This explains the significance of the pastoral epistles in Tertullian’s criticism of worldly wisdom; see e.g. 1 Tim. 1.4; Tit. 3.9.


The Challenge of Homer (3) Minervalia belong as much to Minerva as the Saturnalia to Saturn, whom even the humblest slaves have to celebrate at the time of Saturnalia. Also one has to angle for the New Year’s gifts and the Septimontium-present, and all the gifts in honour of Midwinter and the festival of the ‘Dear Kinship’ have to be exacted. For Flora the school must be garlanded. The flaminicae and aediles make a sacrifice when they have been elected: the school is honoured by means of a holiday. (4) The same happens on the birthday of an idol. All the pomp of the devil [omnis diaboli pompa] is participated in. Who will think that these things become a Christian? Only he who will believe that they also befit one who is not a schoolmaster. We know that the following objections could be made [scimus dici posse]: ‘If teaching literature [docere litteras] is not permitted to God’s servants, learning [discere] it will not be allowed either; and how could one nevertheless be instructed in human insight or in whatever understanding or activity, considering that literature [litteratura] constitutes the equipment for every province of life [instrumentum . . . ad omnem vitam]? How could we reject the secular studies [saecularia studia], which the divine studies [studia divina] cannot do without?’ (5) Let us, then, look at the necessity of instruction in literature [necessitas litteratoriae eruditionis], and let us take into account that it is not possible that one partly [ex parte] admits, partly avoids it. Learning literature is allowable for believers rather than teaching it [magis discere quam docere litteras]; for learning and teaching are quite different activities. If a believer teaches literature, then it goes without saying that, with regard to the idols which he proclaims as a part of that instruction, by teaching it he recommends them, by passing on the information he confirms them, by mentioning them he testifies to them. (6) He seals [obsignare] the gods themselves with his name, whereas, as we said before, the Law forbids us to call them gods and to apply this name in vain. Hence the first belief is built up for the devil from the beginnings of the instruction [ab initiis eruditionis]. Consider whether he is not guilty of idolatry who catechizes [cathecizare] about idols! But when a believer is instructed in these things, if he already realizes who he is, he neither accepts nor receives them; if he does not yet realize it or is only beginning to realize it, all the more should he realize first what he has first learnt, that is, about God and the faith. Therefore he will loathe those things and not accept them, and he will be as safe as someone who wittingly accepts poison from a person ignorant of this fact, but does not drink it. (7) The latter may be excused by reason or necessity, because he cannot receive instruction in any other way [quia aliter discere non potest]. Besides, in so far that it is easier for the believing pupil not to attend the public and special solemnities, from which the further contamination of the schools [scholarum . . . inquinamenta] arises, than it is for the

Tertullian: Learning But Not Teaching Encyclical Studies


believing schoolmaster not to frequent them, to this extent it is easier not to teach literature than not to learn it.21

To what level of education is Tertullian addressing himself here? This is also a question of what curriculum he has in mind, triggering his rather negative attitude. It has been argued that Tertullian’s text restricts itself to mentioning the elementary instruction that primarily involved learning how to read and write.22 This implies that docere litteras simply means to teach the letters or the alphabet, a view which finds some support in 10.4. Bayer’s view has been questioned23 with reference to 10.1 where ludimagistri and professores litterarum are juxtaposed, clearly referring to primary and secondary levels of education. In other words, docere litteras implies teaching literature as well. This is substantiated also by the appearance of litteratura and saecularia studia, which possibly include more than learning the alphabet. Furthermore, 10.5, where Tertullian denies the possibility of participating in only some parts of the instruction given by the teachers, suggests that literature is included. Finally, Tertullian’s overall perspective in this text is idolatry; this makes complete sense only if litterae includes literature, rather than merely the alphabet.24 The discussion of the teachers’ profession is from the very beginning linked to the conviction that idolatry is ubiquitous.25 As for schools and teachers, this is not surprising, since they were deeply involved with religious and public festivals throughout the year. In Idol. 10.1 reference is made to three basic facts. The teachers instruct the students in religious issues; as Tertullian sees it, these make up the curriculum of the instruction. Furthermore, festivals and solemnities lay the foundations for the schedules framing the activities in school. Finally, the income of the teachers depends on participation in these religious celebrations. During festivals teachers received tips to supplement their regular income. Although Tertullian does not take the financial situation of teachers to support the moderate position of Hippolytus – Christian teachers are allowed to continue their teaching when necessary to make a living – he 21 Translation from Waszink and van Winden 1987. The Latin text is also found in that edition, with a helpful commentary. 22 Thus Bayer 1983. 23 See Waszink and van Winden 1987: 182–83. 24 Cf. Augustine, who in his Conf. 1.13-15 says that it was the elementary teaching on reading which had proven beneficial to him later, not the literature which he enjoyed as a child. The text is quoted in Ch. 16 of this study. 25 In Nat. 2.1.13 Tertullian says that there is nothing of value in the Greek poets since they are immoral: apud poetas omnia indigna, quia turpia; similarly in Nat. 2.7 where the poets are called liars, because they teach immorality and are ‘calumniators of the gods’ [criminatores deorum] (Nat. 2.7.11, cf. Apol. 14.2-6). Tertullian says this with reference to Plato’s banishing of the poets. For the Latin text see Borleffs 1929. In Idol. 10, however, he concentrates on the question of idolatry not immorality.


The Challenge of Homer

nonetheless witnesses to the fact the teachers’ need to make a living was an important aspect in the debate on encyclical studies. In Idol. 12.1, Tertullian raises the question of whether the need to make a living can serve as an excuse for continuing professions which were otherwise considered dubious for believers. He says that once the seal of baptism (see below) has been received, it is too late to consider the need to make a living from a questionable profession. A wise builder (see below) must consider the costs before embarking upon a project. Tertullian is here inspired by the words of Jesus in Lk. 14.28-30. Jesus says that if one wants to become a disciple, one has to consider the costs first. He illustrates this point with reference to a general and a builder who both have to analyse their power or financial ability before waging war or building a tower. Quinqatria was a festival honouring Minerva. The celebration included a tabula with the names of seven gods; i.e. the seven planets with which the days of the week were associated. This tabula was then closely associated with astrology and astral religion.26 This festival lasted from 19 until 23 March, and was intimately associated with Minerva’s temple on the Aventine in Rome.27 The celebration included craftsmen and teachers in particular. Minerva was the tutelary deity of craftsmen, artists, physicians and teachers. The teachers were expected to give as an offering to Minerva their first payment received from the students; this was called Minervalia.28 Teachers usually resumed their classes in March. Hence Quinqatria and the start of school coincided, and the teachers took the opportunity to recruit students during the festival. Teachers were accordingly involved in the celebration in various ways. Tertullian holds the opinion that teachers in encyclical studies did in fact participate in idolatry even if they did not ‘eat food offered to idols’ (idolothytum). This Greek word which Tertullian here converts into Latin, is taken from New Testament texts addressing the question of eating food offered to idols (1 Cor. 8.1; 10.19-20; Acts 15.29; 21.25). The Greek ei[dwlon means image (of a god), but to Tertullian idolatry is not restricted to worshipping images: ‘idolum is the name for everything that functions as an intermediate entity between human being and demon. This entity is in itself of no special significance. It becomes something evil, because it functions as a medium for worship of demons.’29 This is precisely how Tertullian views artes liberales. According to Idol. 8.1, the main criterion for associating a profession with idolatry is whether it confers authority 26 For Tertullian’s attitude to astrology, see his Idol. 9. 27 See Guyot and Klein 1994: 285. 28 See Hornblower and Spawforth 1998: 467. A reader familiar with the Old Testament might here well think of the Jewish practice of the tithe; see e.g. Deut. 26.1-2. 29 For Tertullian’s use of this Greek loan-word, see van Winden 1982; the quotation is taken from p. 112.

Tertullian: Learning But Not Teaching Encyclical Studies


(conferre auctoritatem) to the gods. This is, in sum, what Tertullian holds of the teachers of liberal arts. Practically speaking, he says, the teachers bring sacrifices to the gods and participate in things set apart for them. Thus they put themselves in danger, just as Paul held of Christians who partook of food offered to idols in 1 Cor. 8 and 10:30 they enjoy fellowship with the idols or with their demons.31 Idol. 10.3 mentions other occasions where teachers received gifts within the context of religious celebrations, such as Saturnalia, the New Year celebration; Septimontium, the festival for the seven hills of Rome held in December; Brumae, celebrated in November; Carae Cognationis, celebrating the bonds of the family with a common meal, which also commemorated the deceased family members; and Ludi Florales to honour the god of flowers, Flora, celebrated in the spring.32 During these festivals the places where students met with their teachers were decorated with flowers, garlands and wreaths, which to Tertullian were signs of idolatry being present.33 These means of decoration were, however, often consecrated to a deity honoured during the festival. In Idol. 15.1, Tertullian says that Christians should abandon all wreaths, and even the arranging of flowers in ways that resembled a wreath.34 Ludi Florales was considered a licentious festival. The most important of these festivals was, however, Saturnalia, celebrated in the middle of December and lasting for a week. This was a festival for the slaves in particular; gifts were exchanged and social roles were inverted for this week, so that the servants were entertained by the masters of the house.35 Tertullian’s text demonstrates that all these festivals provided the schools with holidays and with opportunities to celebrate, and that the schools followed the calendar of traditional religious festivals. The flaminicae, the priestesses,36 and aediles honoured the schools by a holiday on the day of their sacrifice. According to Tertullian, all these occasions involved the schools and the teachers in idolatry. He saw an educational system at work that was deeply compromised by celebrating the pomp of the devil. What Tertullian here points out would hardly apply to Carthage alone. From Idol. 10.4 we learn that Tertullian is involved in a debate about liberal studies with other Christians in Carthage. Scimus dici posse is a 30 See 1 Cor. 10.14 in particular. 31 Idols are in the Old Testament associated with demons; see e.g. Zech. 13.2; Ps. 95.5 LXX: o{ti pavnte" oiJ qeoi; tw'n ejqnw'n daimovnia. 32 For the nature of these celebrations, see Waszink and van Winden 1987: 190–93. 33 For the role of wreaths in antiquity and the New Testament, see e.g. 1 Cor. 9.24-27; 2 Tim. 2.5; Kvalbein 2003. 34 See also his Apol. 42.6 and his De Corona, where this problem is extensively discussed. 35 Lucian of Samosata’s Saturnalia depicts life during this festival, an attempt to visualize a utopia (cf. Lev. 25; Deut. 15). 36 See Guyot and Klein 1994: 286.


The Challenge of Homer

reference to objections raised by Christians holding another view of encyclical studies: ‘we know it can be said’. The objections are of three kinds. The first urges that no distinction can be made between teaching and learning (docere and discere) litterae. The logic procedes from the conviction that docere is generally not permitted (non licet). This implies either a more rigorist attitude than Tertullian, or it is ironic, claiming that it makes no sense to prohibit the teaching of encyclical knowledge. The two following objections suggest the latter interpretation since they indubitably advocate participation by Christians. The second objection is that liberal studies equip (instrumenta) for life in general. The final objection claims that without the knowledge acquired in liberal studies, studia divina37 becomes impossible. Reading and interpreting the Scriptures depends on the skills learnt in liberal studies. I do not believe that these objections are purely fictitious.38 These objections briefly summarize the position of some advocates of liberal studies, found in Carthage, but found throughout the Christian churches, as demonstrated in the present study. The objections invoke the necessity of learning to read and write, which could not be separated from being introduced to classical literature.39 This necessity is substantiated with reference both to mastering life in general and to the study of the Bible. The objections thus show some affinity with the logic of propaideia, which we have seen as a topos following in the wake of ancient discussion of encyclical studies, as for example in Philo and Seneca,40 and which we will see more fully developed by later Christian writers. In Idol. 10.5-7 Tertullian responds to these objections. He is not devoid of understanding of the counter-arguments he has presented. He also speaks of the necessity (necessitas) of knowing reading and writing, and he assumes that the literature of Graeco-Roman culture is crucial for learning these skills.41 In 10.7 this necessity is explained in the following way: quia aliter discere non potest (‘because he cannot receive instruction in any other way’). This implies that access to studia divina is given through pagan learning. It did not appear to Tertullian that there were other ways of acquiring the necessary knowledge of reading and writing. We have seen that Didascalia apostolorum also recognized the importance 37 Studia divina is a reference to studying the Bible; see Scho¨llgen 1985: 143; Waszink and van Winden 1987: 195 with reference also to Apol. 18–21. 38 Pace Fredouille 1972: 419. 39 That pagan literature is included is also assumed by Fredouille 1972: 418–23. 40 See Chs 4.3; 4.4; 5.2; 5.4 in this study. 41 One of the fiercest critics of encyclical studies in antiquity, Sextus Empiricus, admits that, without knowing the alphabet, knowledge cannot be passed on (e.g. Math. 52–53). In Cor. 8.1-2, Tertullian says: ‘Let Mercury have been the first who taught the knowledge of letters [primus litterae]; I will own that they are requisite [necessariae] both for the business and commerce of life, and for performing our devotion to God.’

Tertullian: Learning But Not Teaching Encyclical Studies


of knowing how to read in particular, but that this reading was learnt from the Scriptures alone. Tertullian takes a different view here; he includes knowledge of literature among the necessary skills.42 Judged from his presentation of how schools and idolatry in practice interpenetrated, this is a somewhat surprising position. There is an apparent tension in Tertullian’s logic here, one that his opponents must have pointed out, as appears from the first objection referred to above by Tertullian. This tension is, however, resolved by his emphatic distinction between docere and discere, teaching and learning. A Christian can participate in liberal studies as a student, but not as a teacher. Tertullian knows well that this conclusion might appear confusing, and therefore substantiates it further. He repeats his main point from the first paragraphs in Idol. 10. Teachers are, willingly or unwillingly, conferring authority upon the idols. He emphasizes that the studies must be considered as a ‘package’; it is not possible to participate in some parts and to avoid other parts. Encyclical studies demand full participation or none at all. The only distinction possible to Tertullian is that between teacher and student. Tertullian turns ironical when he sets out to explain this distinction. He says that the teachers are introducing their students to idolatry; he uses the verb catechizare to explain the impossibility of Christian participation. Catechizare usually describes the instruction of candidates for baptism, but teachers in liberal arts participate in a ‘heathen catechumenate’.43 They act as catechists of idolatry. This brings to mind Paul’s irony in 1 Cor. 8.10 where he says that believers who are eating food offered to the idols in the temple are ‘building up’ fellow Christians to be destroyed. Worth noting is that Tertullian in Idol. 10.6 speaks of the ‘building up’ (aedificari) of faith in the devil. Furthermore, Tertullian says that the teachers ‘seal’ the gods themselves. Obsignare is a legal term implying a contract.44 In speaking of ‘seal’ here, it seems that Tertullian envisages a contrast between baptism and the instruction given by teachers in liberal studies.45 Baptism confirmed or validated faith by laying claim to the believer. The instruction given by the teachers seals the deities; i.e. by accepting their claims, or entering into a relationship of obligation to them. From this it appears that the question of participation in liberal studies is, to Tertullian, a matter of identity: to whom does the believer

42 In Nat. 2.7.10, Tertullian says that ‘you’, supposedly the Gentiles, show respect for the myths of the poets, and even consider them to convey necessariae artes, which clearly includes the literature. In Nat. 2 it is not stated clearly that Tertullian approves of this, as he seems to be doing in Idol. 10. 43 Thus Waszink and van Winden 1987: 197. 44 See Waszink and van Winden 1987: 213–14; Oxford Latin Dictionary s.v. 45 For baptism as ‘seal’, see e.g. Lampe 1951.


The Challenge of Homer

rightly owe obligations? This is a long way from the careful pragmatism of Hippolytus. The students’ relationship to liberal studies differs significantly from that of their teachers. They can protect themselves mentally by reminding themselves of the first lesson they were taught about God and the Christian faith. Tertullian seems to address two kinds of Christian students; the first fully realizes who he is: i.e. Christianus (10.6). His firm identity as a Christian will necessarily keep him from receiving or accepting the instruction. He will study but not drink the poison offered him by his teachers (see below). Tertullian is thus rather optimistic on behalf of Christian students. Secondly, Tertullian also envisages students who do not yet have a full understanding of what it means to be a Christian, or are only at the beginning of faith. To this kind of students Tertullian does not say ‘what the pupil will do, but what he ought to do’.46 He reminds them of the instruction they received first. Tertullian thus assumes an instruction which precedes that of the schools. From this it follows that Tertullian has children in mind, and also that he thinks of teaching done primarily in Christian homes. Since this teaching precedes the instruction given in liberal studies, it can serve as a defence against the latter. Teachers, however, cannot give their consent solely to some parts of the curriculum they are presenting to their students. The act of teaching a curriculum entails an endorsement.47 The students are not in the same way obliged to commit themselves to what they learn. From this it follows, according to Tertullian, that there is a great difference between teachers in liberal arts and students in the same. How a Christian student should participate in encyclical studies, Tertullian then explains by an example; the student should receive the instruction as though he was offered poison to drink. The danger inherent in the instruction is thus emphasized. But it is possible to avoid drinking it, and restrict oneself to studying it. According to this figurative speech, the students are urged not to digest the instruction, but to spit it out, and thus remain safe. Tertullian does not develop this analogy very far. He conceives of the students as spectators rather than participants. His example is instructive because it reveals the dilemma he has set out to solve. He seems to be thinking in terms of a formal rather than a digestive participation. Since he clearly assumes that this formal participation transmits knowledge that he labels ‘necessary’, it is difficult to grasp his illustration. The illustration nicely explains the dangers inherent in liberal 46 Waszink and van Winden 1987: 182. 47 Tertullian’s argument here anticipates one of Julian the Apostate’s main arguments, when he criticizes Christian teachers in liberal arts for not being trustworthy, and accordingly for hypocrisy; see Ch. 12 of this study.

Tertullian: Learning But Not Teaching Encyclical Studies


studies, but it scarcely addresses how necessary knowledge and skills can still be acquired. How is it possible to learn the necessary things without even sipping at the poisonous curriculum? One has the impression that Tertullian’s text and advice might work well with Christians who are experienced and firmly rooted in the Christian tradition, but that it must have been difficult for a frustrated student to find much help here.48 When Tertullian addresses the question of liberal arts from the perspective of idolatry, this is not plucked out of thin air. His presentation of how schools were interwoven into the fabric of religion has ample evidence to support it. Tertullian knows life in the pagan city, and he also knows that Christians are disputing matters pertaining to encyclical studies. His logic probably found support among simple and committed Christians who claimed the revelatory and exclusive nature of Christian faith. His presentation draws heavily on 1 Cor. 8–10 about food offered to idols. His position can be summarized as discere sed non docere. This implies that he acknowledges the necessity for Christian students to embark upon an education in the liberal arts. Tertullian does not consider studia divina as a substitute curriculum for studia saecularia, as did Didascalia apostolorum. In view of Tertullian’s argument that being a teacher in the liberal arts is incompatible with being a Christian, his optimistic view concerning the students is open to criticism. He argued that the teachers by necessity were involved in passing on idolatry, that the holidays and celebrations in schools were embedded in religious traditions; in short, that the schools were places where the pomp of the devil was made manifest. As for Christian students, however, Tertullian assumes that they will be protected by their identity as Christians and by remembering their first instruction into Christian faith, received at home. The danger that demanded Christian teachers leave school behind becomes manageable when it comes to students. Tertullian’s distinction between docere and discere makes sense, but everyday life in school makes this distinction complicated. We are left with the impression that Tertullian is caught in a dilemma, and that this dilemma is impossible to avoid.

48 Cf. the situation of the young boy mentioned in Ch. 1.1.

Chapter 11 CLEMENT AND ORIGEN: CHRISTIAN TEACHERS IN ALEXANDRIA In his Hist. eccl. 5.10, Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea early in the fourth century, mentions a school for catechumens in Egyptian Alexandria, founded probably at the end of the second century.1 The school, ‘a school of sacred learning’ (didaskalei'on tw'n iJerw'n lovgwn), was still going in Eusebius’ time. He says that it was Panataenus, the first teacher in this school, who ‘orally and in writing expounded the treasures of the divine doctrine’. The Greek verb uJpomnhmativzesqai, which in Eusebius’ text describes scriptural interpretation, is in other ancient literature often a reference to the art of interpreting Homer’s poems.2 This piece of information links the baptismal school to ancient intellectual traditions, and serves to characterize this school by reference to the heritage of Homer and Philo. It was at this school that Clement (c. 150–215) became a teacher, and was later followed by Origen (185–251). It is not the aim of the present chapter to describe this school as such, but to discuss its two most distinguished teachers, who tried to bridge Christian instruction and Greek education in ways which are highly relevant to our investigation. Clement and Origen hold a prominent position in any presentation of how Christians coped with the Greek intellectual traditions embedded in encyclical studies.

11.1 Clement of Alexandria: Propaideia Protects Faith Clement is one of the Church Fathers who committed himself to working out the relationship between Christian faith and the intellectual tradition preserved in encyclical studies. He wrote at a time when his fellow Christians were suffering persecution. During the reign of Severus Septimus (about 203 CE) he was forced to leave Alexandria and spend the rest of his life in Asia Minor. In his Paedagogus the whole culture or civilization is seen as divine Paideia culminating in the Christian faith as the climax of all education. This is a paradigm that assigns value also to 1 2

See van den Hoek 1997. See LSJ s.v.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


Greek education. This position is, of course, genuinely Christian, but in its form, nature and logic it follows from the criticism voiced by philosophers against the insufficiency of encyclical studies. Clement interprets Christian faith within the framework of the ancient virtue system, thus implying that the peak of the educational ladder is Christian faith. To Clement, therefore, the propaideutic perspective is both a critical and a legitimating argument vis-a`-vis liberal studies. For the present investigation, however, I will restrict myself to a presentation of the main arguments in his Stromateis. 11.1.1 Adversaries From Stromateis one easily observes that his defence of Greek philosophy and encyclical studies was provoked by a polemical situation. Clement faced adversaries who thought ‘that philosophy was introduced into life by force of evil to ruin people’.3 Approaching Clement from the perspective of this polemical setting serves a dual purpose: it serves to lend a voice also to the opposition, which is not very vocal in the available sources, and thus to give a more balanced picture of the Christian debate. The following will demonstrate that Clement’s adversaries held opinions echoed elsewhere in key sources presented in the present investigation. Secondly, presenting Clement against the backdrop of his adversaries will help to bring out the characteristics of his own thought. In Clement’s presentation appear the words ‘some’ or even ‘a majority’ referring to adversaries. We do not know who they were, but through his text we can glean quite a representative picture of their arguments, and their logic reminds us of viewpoints found in Tatian, Didascalia apostolorum, and Tertullian. This implies that the Alexandrian controversy over liberal studies has relevance beyond Egypt, and contributes to our picture of typical positions found scattered among the Christians. As early as the beginning of Stromateis, Clement mentions fellow Christians who think differently about faith, Greek literature and encyclical studies. He prepares his readers for what is to come: he will not shrink from making use of (sugcra'sqai) what is best (ta; kavllista) in philosophy and other preparatory instruction (propaideiva) (Strom. 1.1/ 15.3).4 He adduces biblical support for this procedure, such as 1 Cor. 9.2021, on becoming a Greek for the sake of the Greeks, and Col. 1.28, on becoming perfect in wisdom. The resources of learning resemble the nourishment of athletes; they do not indulge in luxury, but strive after the good (Strom. 1.1/16.1). Searching out the good in Greek literature is thus the ideal of this text. Clement summarizes the position of his adversaries, 3 4

Van den Hoek 1988: 24. As 1.1 proceeds it is clear that this refers to liberal arts.


The Challenge of Homer

and calls them tine;" ajmaqei'" (‘some who are untrained/unlearned’), bringing to mind Celsus’ and Julian’s criticism of the Christians.5 According to Clement, these Christians urged their fellow believers to restrict themselves to questions of relevance to their faith only. Things which did not pertain directly to Christian faith were to be passed over. From this it follows, according to Clement, that believers should not occupy themselves with things which were irrelevant to their salvation. These positions were all targeting Greek philosophy and paideia, which the adversaries considered to be invented by the devil (Strom. 1.1/18.1-4). A similar presentation of the adversaries is found in Strom. 1.2/19.1–21.3). They are not themselves acquainted with Greek literature, but are only talking about what they have heard. They consider philosophy the origin of immorality, and as delusive, dragging the believers away from faith. It is worth noting that Clement quotes from 1 Cor. 1.22, thus confirming the importance of 1 Cor. 1–2 for the Christian discourse on our topic. This summary of the adversaries’ position consists of a mixture of theological and practical arguments. If turned around, it gives access also to the core of Clement’s thinking. On all these points he held the opposite view. To Clement it is a matter of acting like farmers who irrigate and water the land before planting; similarly Greek learning prepares the soil for the spiritual seed (spevrma pneumatikovn) to be cast into it (Strom. 1.1/17.1). 11.1.2 Encyclical Studies are Conducive to Faith Clement’s discussion of the relationship between Greek philosophy and Christian faith contains abundant references to encyclical studies, thus reminding us that this particular question is embedded in the larger topic of philosophy and Christianity. In other words, it is not possible to make a clear distinction between what Clement writes about Greek philosophy in general and what he writes about liberal studies. The two clearly merge in his presentation. Clement emphasizes that all wisdom, whether human or divine, originates with God. To support this claim, in Strom. 1.4 he cites Homer, Hesiod, the Old Testament prophets, biblical wisdom texts and Paul the apostle. This method of quoting from different sources of authority is aptly summarized by the name of this literature, Stromateis (Miscellanies). It has been called a ‘patchwork-quilt’6 in which Clement brings together Hellenistic philosophy and the Christian faith.7 This very method of putting together texts culled from both pagan and Christian sources illustrates Clement’s basic conviction, namely that the two are not necessarily in conflict.

5 6 7

See Chs 11.3 and 12 in this study. Ferguson 1974: 107–08. Cf. Eusebius Hist. eccl. 6.13.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


Wisdom texts abound in Chapter 4, paving the way for Clement’s preliminary conclusion: ‘For God gives wisdom out of his own mouth, and knowledge along with understanding, and treasures up help [bohvqeia] for the righteous’ (Strom. 1.4/27.3). This is an abbreviated citation of Prov. 2.3-7. Clement’s logic proceeds from two facts: his conviction that all wisdom derives from God, and that wisdom represents divine providence to protect and guard his people. The LXX has swthriva and fulavssein here. This is crucial to understanding the proper role of human knowledge in general vis-a`-vis Christian faith. He therefore goes on to say: ‘For those who have been justified by philosophy, the knowledge which leads to piety is laid up as help [bohvqeia]’ (Strom. 1.4/27.3). With reference to wisdom traditions,8 Clement is able to justify biblically his viewpoint that Greek knowledge may serve as a helping hand for piety and faith. To Clement, the Greek term bohvqeia is a wisdom-inspired way of expressing his propaideutic view. This word must be seen as synonymous with the many terms denoting what is useful or beneficial in Greek education. Before the coming of Christ, it was necessary (ajnagkai'a) for Greeks to know righteousness through philosophy. This introductory comment in Chapter 5 elucidates what Clement had in mind when he spoke of ‘being justified by philosophy’. Greek philosophy was the only available access to righteousness – until the coming of Christ. After his arrival, philosophy is no longer necessary. Nonetheless, it is still conducive (crhsivmh) to piety (qeosevbeia). Beneath this whole argument lies the fundamental propaideutic conviction. Clement turns to Paul’s description of Torah in Galatians to make his point. Paul considered the Law a paidagwgov" for the Jews (Gal. 3.24). Likewise, philosophy brings the Greeks to Christ like a paidagwgov" (Strom. 1.5/28.1-3): ‘Perhaps philosophy was to the Greek world what the Law was to the Hebrews, a tutor escorting them to Christ. So philosophy is a preparatory process; it opens the road for the person whom Christ brings to his final goal [proparaskeuavzei toivnun hJ filosofiva proodopoiou'sa]’ (28.3).9 Philosophy is here viewed as paving the way for righteousness, first as a necessary helper, and then, after the coming of Christ, as conducive to faith. Its role is throughout viewed positively, but that role is altered by the coming of Christ. Fundamental to this positive evaluation of Greek philosophy is the conviction that ‘God is responsible for all good things’: pavntwn me;n ga;r ai[tio" tw'n kalw'n oJ qeov" (Strom. 1.5/28.1-2).10 Clement reckoned philosophy, and thus also 8 Sir. 1.1; Prov. 2.3-7; 3.23. 9 Quoted from Ferguson 1991; cf. Strom. 6.8/67.1 where it says that philosophy is diaqhvkh oijkeiva for the Greeks, given as a stepping-stone (uJpobavqra) to philosophy according to Christ. 10 Strom. 6.8/67.1 says that everything necessary and profitable for life (ajnagkai'a kai; lusitelh' tw'æ bivw)æ comes from God.


The Challenge of Homer

encyclical studies, among these good things. This is a development of Sir. 1.1: pa'sa sofiva para; kurivou, where ‘all’ is given force: ‘All wisdom is from the Lord.’ Clement’s account of the relationship between Christian faith and Greek philosophy depends on philosophers who argued that encyclical studies had a preparatory and subordinate role vis-a`-vis virtue and wisdom. He lived in the city where Philo once lived, and Clement argues in ways that are remarkably similar to Philo’s presentation of encyclical studies in his De congressu.11 Encyclical studies serve philosophy whose goal is wisdom (sofiva), the true queen (kuriva). The preparatory element in Greek education is that it contributes to ejgkravteia, self-control or chastity. Philosophy has the power to master the tongue and belly as well as sexual organs (Strom. 1.5/30.2). Describing the role of philosophy in terms of mastering the desires is traditional.12 Philosophy deserves even more respect if cultivated for the sake of knowing God. Clement’s interpretation of Gal. 3.24 is embedded in his major project of defining the relationship between Christian faith and Greek culture. In Strom. 6.8-10 we see how encyclical training, Greek philosophy and culture merge in Clement’s presentation. Propaideiva th'" ajlhqeiva" holds a key position, referring to the things preparing for truth. The knowledge of the Greeks is human, Clement says, but nevertheless given them by God (Strom. 6.8/62.1–64.6). He claims scriptural support, which he finds in Pss 119.25, 66; 147.19-20. Of particular importance to his interpretation is the latter text, where LXX reads: ‘He declares his words to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel. He does not deal thus [ou{tw"] with every nation; He does not make known to them his judgements.’13 Clement argues from ou{tw", which introduces a comparison that thus implies a difference in terms of quantity rather than quality between Israel and the nations. Implicitly, then, these texts admit that the Gentiles have some knowledge from God. The existence of a dim knowledge of God among the Gentiles (h\n a[ra ei[dhsiv" ti" ajmaura; tou' qeou' kai; para; toi'" e[qnesi) (Strom. 6.8/64.6) justifies encyclical studies and knowledge found among pagans as being not only acceptable but even preparatory to Christian faith. Things necessary and useful for human life are divine gifts, according to Clement. God assigned philosophy and knowledge in particular to the Greeks. This is a divine covenant made especially with them (diaqhvkh oijkeiva aujtoi'"). Philosophy is therefore considered as a stepping-stone 11 See Ch. 5 in this study. Van den Hoek 1988 has demonstrated how Clement draws heavily on Philo’s writings. As for the discussion of encyclical studies, see pp. 23–47. See also Runia 1993: 132–56. 12 Sandnes 2002: 35–93. 13 My own translation. In LXX this is Ps. 147.8-9.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


towards Christian knowledge and faith (uJpobavqra ou\sa th'" kata; Cristo;n filosofiva") (Strom. 6.8/67.1). This is the logic into which Clement brings Gal. 3.24 in Strom.1.5/28.3: ejpaidagwvgei ga;r kai; au{th to; JEllhniko;n wJ" oJ novmo" tou;" JEbraivou" eij" Cristovn. proparaskeuavzei toivnun hJ filosofiva proodopoiou'sa to;n uJpo; Cristou' teleiouvmenon: ‘For philosophy was to the Greek world what the Law was to the Hebrews, a tutor escorting them to Christ. So philosophy is a preparatory process; it opens the road for the person whom Christ brings to his final goal.’ Clement here emphasizes the activity of the paidagwgov", namely accompanying the child[ren] to the teacher. This gives to the preposition eij" in Gal. 3.24 a telic sense, thus making Christ a teacher. Furthermore, Clement’s interpretation of eij" is seen in the verbs proparaskeuavzein and proodoipoei'n, both expressing the notion of being guided or led towards a goal, which in this text is to become tevleio". Greek learning thus works as a paidagwgov" leading to Christ as the Law did for the Jews. In order to grasp Clement’s reading of Paul’s text, it is necessary to point out that education was seen as a road towards virtue, and that the paedagogue helped the child[ren] to take the first step on this path of virtue.14 In this way Greek paideia is a stepping-stone to Christ. 11.1.3 Useful or Faith Alone? In Strom. 1.5, Clement reproduces Philo’s allegorical interpretation of Gen. 16 about Abraham, Sarah and Hagar in De congressu. Clement constantly moves between liberal studies and philosophy. Hagar illustrates the preparatory role of encyclical studies. Abraham had intercourse with her first, and afterwards approached Sarah, his true wife, to beget Isaac, the ancestor of Israel. Clement’s interpretation of this biblical narrative is summed up in Strom. 1.5/32.1-3: ‘I embrace secular culture [hJ kosmikh; paideiva] as youthful, and a handmaid [qerapainiv"]; but thy knowledge I honour and reverence as a true wife.’ Unpacking the allegory, this means that Abraham picked what he found to be useful (to; crhvsimon) in the earthly philosophy. Clement thus emphasizes the possibility and the necessity of finding in Greek education what is useful 14 See Plutarch Mor. 439F from the treatise on Can Virtue be Taught? This treatise addresses a question that also appeared in Plato’s Protagoras (see Ch. 4 in this study). We have previously seen that in Lucian’s Hermotimus education is depicted as a rough path towards virtue (see Ch. 2.5 in this study). Philo also witnesses this aim of education, and that the pedagogue is seen among the moral disciplinarians helping the child[ren] on their way to mastering their desires (Migr. 116; Congr. 82, 94). To Philo, Sarah represents ajrethv and Hagar paideiva, where the latter prepares for virtue, but can do no more. In his Ep. 88 Seneca speaks about education in the same vein. His treatment of liberal studies concentrates on the question whether these studies make people good. He denies this, and says that only philosophy paves the way to virtue (ad virtutem viam sternit) (2–3). Encyclical studies prepare the soul for the reception of virtue (animum ad accipiendam virtutem praeparant) (20).


The Challenge of Homer

and helpful. His positive relationship to Greek philosophy is determined by the existence of these beneficial parts. This sheds light on what he is aiming at when he says that philosophy works as a paidagwgov" to Christ. It is misleading to take this as a general statement concerning Greek philosophy and Christian faith; it is a statement with precise reference to the existence of things helpful for the faith in Greek education. The benefits of learning are addressed in Strom. 1.6: But just as we may say that it is possible to have faith without being literate [a[neu grammavtwn], so we assert that it is not possible to understand the statements contained in the faith without study. To assimilate the right affirmations and to reject the rest is not the product of simple faith, but of faith engaged in learning. Ignorance involves a lack of education and learning. It is teaching which implants in us the scientific knowledge of things divine and human. (Strom. 1.6/35.2-3)15

Virtue is attainable without previous training (propaideiva), but knowledge helps speed up this process ‘for those who had their senses exercised’ (Strom. 1.6/35.4).16 Clement then quotes from Prov. 10.12a, 17 about instruction as a means of protection: fulavssei paideiva. He therefore says: ‘we must claim our share in the pattern of refutation in order to repress the false views of the sophists’ (Strom. 1.6/35.6). In the middle of his discussion of the benefits of previous training (progumnasiva),17 Clement cites from Prov. 6.6, 8 about the ant whose wisdom guides it to prepare for the coming winter.18 For Clement, the efforts to prepare for the hard winter are a helpful illustration of how encyclical studies might protect Christian faith. It is worth noting that Clement immediately proceeds to say: ‘ ‘‘Or go to the bee, and learn her diligence.’’ For she feeds over the whole meadow to produce a single honeycomb’ (Strom. 1.6/33.56). The mentioning of the bee draws on the LXX, and is not found in the Hebrew text of Proverbs. The bees collecting from various flowers became a favourite topos among Christian intellectuals for how to make right use of Greek education and culture in general. They inherited, in fact, this topos from Greek philosophy itself.19 How does this topos work in Clement’s case? His point is that the honeycomb is a product of collecting. Along with the collecting goes a process of production, clearly expressed in the Greek term genna'n (‘to 15 Cf. Strom. 1.20/99.1. 16 The Greek ta; aijsqhthvria suggegumnasmevna is taken from Heb. 5.14, a text about instruction. 17 The propaideutic perspective here reminds us that encyclical studies are included. 18 Cf. Strom. 1.29/181.3 quoting from Prov. 6.23, according to which paideiva is the way of life. 19 We will come across this more than once in this study; see Chs 13.1.3 and 16.5.3. This bee topos is well presented by Gnilka 1984.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


produce’).20 Furthermore, this process of production is characterized by making the right distinctions: what must be bestowed, how and how much, what must be laid aside and treasured up, etc. (Strom. 1.6/34.1). Briefly put, the topos of the bees brings out the need both to cull knowledge from available sources, but also to distinguish – a critical sifting process – in order to find what is useful. According to Clement, the Christians are enabled to do this in two ways. In the first place, people do not become physicians and pilots by birth, but by learning. Similarly, people become noble and good through learning. Thus in order to be well equipped for this process of working like bees, one ought to be familiar with Greek intellectual traditions. More important, however, is that this process be guided by spiritual life and prayer.21 In Strom. 1.9 Clement claims that encyclical knowledge is necessary to defend faith and to interpret the Bible. He distances himself from fellow Christians who claim that faith provides all the tools necessary for interpreting the Bible. According to Clement, his adversaries will not even touch (a{ptesqai) philosophy and the arts associated with encyclical studies: ‘All they ask for is simply and solely faith [movnhn de; kai; yilh;n th;n pivstin ajpaitou'sin]. It is as if they expected to gather grapes from the very first without taking any care of the vine’ (Strom. 1.9/43.1). ‘Faith alone’ sounds like a slogan questioning any source of authority besides Scripture, thus bringing to mind our findings in Didascalia apostolorum. In a Jewishbiblical context the Greek verb a{ptesqai is often used about touching things unclean.22 This may shed light on how the adversaries argued. They invoked the principle of ‘faith alone’ in order to avoid the uncleanliness found in the literature used in encyclical studies. This literature originated with the devil and his demons, they say. Greek education is thus viewed from the perspective of the ongoing fight against evil in which Christians participate (Strom. 1.16/80.1-6). There are also some Christians, says Clement in this passage, who accept that Greek philosophy has apprehended truth, accidentally, dimly and partially.23 Clement concurs with this opinion, although he emphasizes the positive judgement involved in this rather than the negative: ‘still it prepares the way [prokataskeuavzein] for the supremely royal teaching’ (Strom. 1.16/80.6). Clement says that Christians who think like his adversaries are acting like a gardener who neglects caring for his trees after their being planted. Growth depends on continual care (Strom. 1.9/43.1-3). This agricultural 20 This is pointed out in Gnilka 1984: 123–25. 21 Clement refers to Mt. 6.6 and Jn 4.23. Gnilka 1984: 124 rightly comments: ‘Die ‘‘eine Wabe’’ kommt folglich dadurch zustande, dass die Speicherung eines religio¨sen Systems vorgenommen wird.’ (‘The ‘‘one honeycomb’’ comes into being by the transformative power of the religious system’: my trans.) 22 See e.g. in Lev. 5.2-3; 11.8, 24; 22.4-6; Lk. 7.39; 2 Cor. 6.17; Col. 2.21. 23 Cf. Strom. 1.20/100.5 talking about ejk mevrou".


The Challenge of Homer

analogy was commonly used to describe the process of learning in antiquity.24 This figurative description of teaching in terms of sowing and learning in terms of growth, will be familiar from New Testament writers as well.25 Clement naturally combines this common motif with the role of trees and fruits in the New Testament. He mentions Jesus who is called figuratively a[mpelo" (Jn 15.1). In biblical as well as Graeco-Roman sources education can be described in terms of husbandry. The cultivating process which is necessary to bring forth fruit includes a pruning-knife and an axe as well. Clement thinks likewise when it comes to Christian faith. Like a fruit tree, faith also needs cultivation. Encyclical training is mentioned explicitly as the reference of these tools of husbandry. Figuratively speaking, these tools help display what is useful (to; crhvsimon) in order to protect faith (fulavssein th;n pivstin) (Strom. 1.9/ 43.3-4).26 Clement speaks ironically of those who restrict themselves to the faith. They consider themselves to be so talented that they do not require the cultivation which every tree needs to bring forth fruit. Invoking ‘faith alone’ implies, according to Clement, giving away all the tools of husbandry: ‘So here I affirm that the expert is the one who brings everything to bear on truth. He culls whatever is useful from mathematics, the fine arts, literary studies, and, of course, philosophy, and protects the faith from all attacks’ (Strom. 1.9/43.4). It is true that prophets as well as apostles were taught by the Spirit. By the Spirit they understood faith. This sounds as if Clement is now conceding his adversaries’ slogan ‘faith alone’, but to him it is not sufficient to point to this fact of spiritually received knowledge. Encyclical arts are indeed helpful in order to understand what the Spirit says through prophets and apostles (Strom. 1.9/45.1-5). The slogan Clement is here addressing is probably supported by a reference to texts such as 1 Cor. 2.6-16 (cf. 2 Pet. 1.20-21) about divinely given knowledge. Clement fully accepts this argument, but he claims that knowledge acquired through education is still useful for a full understanding of God’s revelation. 11.1.4 Supportive Evidence Later in this work Clement repeats that faith is not a product of knowledge; rather, it is a divine gift not imparted by way of instruction (Strom. 1.20/97.1–100.5). Most people who have embraced faith do so ‘without going through the full curriculum of Greek philosophy, sometimes even without literacy’ (a[neu th'" ejgkuklivou kai; filosofiva" 24 Clearly so in Philo Agr. 7–11, 14–15, 17–19, 25. 25 See Mt. 3.10; 1 Cor. 3.5-9 (notice that the context clearly addresses the question of instruction in the faith; 3.2; 4.14-16); Gal. 5.22. 26 This simile is mentioned already in Strom. 1.1/17.4–18.1.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


th'" JEllhnikh'', oi} de; kai; a[neu grammavtwn) (Strom. 1.20/99.1). The Christians have been instructed by God himself; thus they are qeodivdaktoi, instructed in ‘a course which is really holy by God’s Son’ (iJera; o[ntw" gravmmata . . . paideuovmenoi) (Strom. 1.20/98.4).27 God alone imparts the power (duvnami") and wisdom (sofiva) which lead to salvation. Clement here picks up key terms from Paul’s 1 Cor. 1–2. Many observations point to this biblical text as being a key passage for Clement’s fellow Christians in Alexandria: those who were his adversaries in the question of Greek education. They invoked ‘faith alone’ or avoided influences from philosophy and encyclical studies. In this text Paul speaks of God’s wisdom revealed in Christ, and treats it as a contrast to Greek wisdom. Clement’s adversaries here found a passage which substantiated an exclusive concept of Christian faith, claiming God’s revelation in Christ as the only source of insight. This Pauline passage can well be taken to justify an exclusive theology of revelation, abandoning any additional source for the Scriptures and the faith itself. The fact that 1 Cor. 1–2 appears so often in Christian discourse on liberal studies is a reminder that the question of encyclical studies was associated with the issue of revelation: how much of the divine will about human life was revealed in Christ? Were sources additional to the Scriptures necessary, or at least useful? These are questions which bring to mind our presentation of Tertullian.28 He supported his opposition to liberal studies with reference to wisdom texts, probably due to the role these texts were assigned by his adversaries. Now Clement follows a related logic, although he approaches the issue from a different angle. He also attempts to appropriate the key passages of adversaries, which in his case means to address 1 Cor. 1–2. Clement does not contradict the core argument drawn from this text: faith is not a product of Greek education. Nonetheless, he is convinced that insight and knowledge of various kinds may lead to God’s wisdom. Encyclical studies and Greek philosophy are good helpers both in the presentation of truth and in its protection. Faith is a gift from above, but it is defended and presented with the help of the insight conveyed by Greek education. This is precisely the beneficial nature of education, its usefulness; it protects wisdom, ‘rendering it inaccessible to assaults by sophistry’.29 This logic is developed in Strom. 1.20/100.1-4. Clement says that the teaching of the Saviour is sufficient, without any need of additional help. This is so because God’s power and wisdom – clearly a reference to 1 Cor. 27 Ferguson’s translation tends to overlook the contrast implied by Clement, between encyclical studies and Christian doctrine. 28 See Ch. 10 of this study. 29 Van den Hoek 1988: 25.


The Challenge of Homer

1.24 – is available. But encyclical studies and Greek philosophy act as a defensive wall to protect the vineyard, a simile possibly inspired by Isa. 5 and Jn 15, in which the people of God are addressed as his vineyard. This fence reduces the power of any sophistic attack against truth.30 Clement develops this into another comparison. Truth as faith defines it is ajnagkaiva pro;" to; zh'n, while propaideiva is like the ‘savory accompaniment or dessert’, a citation of Pindar (Strom. 1.20/100.2). This Greek poet says very much the same as the Scripture; the proof text is Prov. 21.11 about the innocent who will become wiser by understanding (100.3). The meaning is obviously that preliminary education furthered this process. Wisdom traditions form a bridge to the Greek poets; the two teach the same lesson. This nicely summarizes Clement’s aim throughout his presentation in Stromateis: faith is necessary; encyclical studies are useful. They serve as a protection for God’s revealed wisdom, and they also add to the taste of the meal, to use Clement’s simile. This ideal attitude towards encyclical studies presupposes thorough knowledge of Greek philosophy (100.4). Clement says that it is not right to appropriate ideas from foreign people and to present them as one’s own, or to speak falsely about truth (Jn 10.8). This probably refers to Christians who are not equipped to make right use of liberal studies and Greek philosophy. In their stolen material there is a partial truth which they are unable to access since they lack proper instruction. We are truly far away from the needs of the boy speaking to us through the Papyrus Boriant. 11.1.5 Acting Like Odysseus’ Crew or Like Odysseus Himself Clement holds it against his adversaries, who form a majority, that they are fearful. Their opposition to Greek education stems from anxiety: But the multitude are frightened at the Hellenic philosophy, as children are at masks, being afraid lest it lead them astray. But if the faith (for I cannot call it knowledge) which they possess be such as to be dissolved by plausible speech, let it be by all means dissolved, and let them confess that they will not retain the truth. For truth is immovable; but false opinion dissolves. (Strom. 6.10/80.5–81.1)31

The context leaves no doubt that encyclical studies are the subject here. The quotation shows, of course, primarily Clement’s judgement on his adversaries, not their self-presentation. As for himself, he picks from Greek education everything which contributes to the truth (to; provsforon th'æ ajlhqeivaæ) (6.10/80.1-4). Clement considers that the scepticism of his adversaries is a manifestation of fear. The statement probably reveals 30 The simile of encyclical studies acting as a defence wall is mentioned in 1.5/28.4 as well, inspired by Prov. 4.8-9. 31 Quoted from ANF 2.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


more than Clement’s prejudice against his opponents. This does not imply, however, that they are without arguments and biblical support. We have seen the role played by 1 Cor. 1–2 as well as an exclusive concept of revelation. From Strom. 1.5 it appears that his adversaries also made reference to Proverbs32 – a biblical source from which Clement culled many of his arguments. The adversaries quoted also Prov. 29.6 and 31.1: ‘Be not much with a strange woman.’ Clement says that there is a danger in growing old with encyclical studies; that is, to be ensnared by the handmaidens (Hagar) of true wisdom (Sarah), but that is to miss the nature of these studies as preparatory, which implies that they are not a resting place for a believer. In Strom. 6.11/84.1–95.5, Clement again raises the question of the use of liberal arts, with a view to his adversaries. He faces a majority guided by uncertainty and ignorance: But, as seems, the most of those who are inscribed with the Name [i.e. of Christ], like the companions of Ulysses, handle the word unskilfully [ajgroivkw"], passing by not the Sirens, but the rhythm and the melody, stopping their ears with ignorance [ajmaqivaæ buvsante" ta; w\ta]; since they know that, after lending their ears to Hellenic studies, they will never subsequently be able to retrace their steps. But he who culls what is useful [to; creiw'de"] for the advantage [eij" wjfevleian] of the catechumens, and especially when they are Greeks (and the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof),33 must not abstain from erudition, like irrational animals; but he must collect as many aids [bohqhvmata] as possible for his hearers. But he must by no means linger over these studies, except solely for the advantage accruing from them;34 so that, on grasping and obtaining this, he may be able to take his departure home to the true philosophy, which is a strong cable for the soul, providing security from everything. (Strom. 6.11/89.1-3)

The key to interpreting this passage, which so clearly addresses the division found among the Christians in Alexandria over encyclical studies, is Homer’s story about Odysseus and his shipmates who were tempted by the song of the Sirens (Od. 12.37-73). The Sirens enticed seafarers with their seductive song, but on the meadow from where they sung they laid the dead bones of those who had been seduced and made their final port on that island. Homer tells that Odysseus’ crew, out of fear, stopped their 32 Prov. 5.3-5, 8-9, 11, 20. The last is a key text according to van den Hoek 1988: 25. This passage says: ‘Why should you be intoxicated, my son, by another woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?’ As we observe throughout this study, encyclical studies were commonly addressed as a woman, a fact which easily makes the text relevant to the question of liberal studies. 33 Taken from 1 Cor. 10.26 where Paul quotes from Ps. 24.1. 34 The Greek text here runs: plh;n oujdamw'" touvtoi" ejndiatriptevon ajll j h] eij" movnon to; ajp j aujtw'n crhvsimon.


The Challenge of Homer

ears to keep them from hearing the beautiful but dangerous song of the Sirens. Thus they passed the island safely. Odysseus himself, however, had himself bound to the mast of his ship. This enabled him to enjoy the beautiful song without being seduced. Clement reads the story as an allegory, claiming that it illustrates how fearful Christians cope with the intellectual tradition of Greek culture, and how one ought instead to relate to it. The fearful believers, his adversaries, act like Odysseus’ crew. They passed the island of the Sirens safely, but they missed their beautiful song. Odysseus, however, was able to enjoy their singing while he was safely bound to the mast (cf. Od. 12.155-64).35 According to Protr. 12/ 118.4, the mast is a symbol for the cross; being bound to the cross saves from destruction, even the destruction found in encyclical studies.36 In Strom. 6.11 Clement distinguishes between the action of Odysseus and that of his crew; surely Odysseus chose the right way. In early Christian tradition, the Sirens were associated with demonic powers dangerous to faith.37 Clement’s interpretation appears as daring in the light of what, for instance, Methodius (d. c. 311) says on this Homeric passage. Methodius does not distinguish, as does Clement, between Odysseus and his crew. On the contrary he says that Odysseus was responsible for stopping their ears. He did not take any pleasure in the song of the Sirens; his being fastened to the mast was only to escape death. Methodius comments: But I will not become someone who listens to this song; I do not wish to hear the songs of the Sirens, a tomb for human beings. I wish to enjoy some divine voice, and the more I will hear, I am eager to hear again; not to be conquered by licentious desire for the voice [of the Sirens], but to receive instruction in divine mysteries, thus reaching my goal, which is not death but eternal salvation. (De autexusio 1.1-3)38

Odysseus’ action receives no special attention in Methodius’ comments. The songs of the Sirens have nothing enticing in them; they are only to be avoided. On the contrary, Clement ‘defends the ‘‘attractive danger’’ for the Church’s faith’.39 This Homeric story provided Clement with an

35 Rahner 1984: 281–328 gives a survey of early Christian interpretation of Odysseus and the Sirens. 36 Rahner 1984: 315–28 explains how Christians came to think of the mast as the cross. He demonstrates that this is not without a point of departure in the Greek text of The Odyssey itself. 37 In some instances the LXX renders Hebrew words denoting evil powers with ‘Sirens’; Job 30.29; Isa. 13.21-22; 34.13; Jer. 27.39 (TM 50.39); Mic. 1.8. This LXX tradition was certainly well known to Clement in Alexandria. 38 My own translation based on the Greek text found in Vaillant 1974. 39 My own translation of Rahner 1984: 307, who says that Clement ‘verteidigt also die ‘‘herrliche Gefahr’’ des kirchlichen Glaubens’.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


example illustrating the dangers inherent in liberal studies,40 but also the opportunity to enjoy its advantages. Odysseus enjoying the song of the Sirens while fastened to the mast nicely expresses the ambiguity towards Greek education. Clement does not question the experience of many, namely that faith was jeopardized by encyclical training. On the contrary, he concurs with this. But he argues that this happens because fellow Christians are unable to distinguish between what is useful and what is unprofitable in these studies. Encyclical studies are dangerous to Christians who enjoy the song of the Sirens ignorantly. For the Christians who know how to distinguish, who collect – like bees – what is useful and profitable in these arts, it is a true help for the catechumens,41 particularly if they are Greeks. Encyclical studies offer such students help, but the goal looks beyond these studies, for from them the student gathers what is useful for true philosophy. The notion of help and usefulness are, of course, related. The decisive criterion in distinguishing between useful and unprofitable Clement thus finds in the Christian faith itself, in what conforms to the true philosophy. The profitable is identified in terms of what confirms, prepares or strengthens Christian doctrine. The challenge to distinguish rightly is depicted in the imagery of Odysseus bound to the mast. Encyclical arts are tempting and dangerous. One should act as did Odysseus, having oneself bound before facing the challenge. Thus runs Clement’s logic in this text, implying that Christians should be firmly rooted in the Christian tradition when facing the challenges of Greek education. This works well as an argument, but is less helpful for children, who in practice were those who had to deal with this challenge. Clement adds parenthetically a citation from 1 Cor. 10.26, where Paul quotes from Ps. 24.1: ‘The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it . . .’ From this piece of creation theology, Paul draws the practical consequence that his converts are free to eat the food purchased at the market and the food presented to them. Implied in this argument is that they need not bother themselves with asking from where (i.e. the temples) the food came. Clement suggests a similar attitude towards encyclical studies. He refers to

40 Clement was certainly aware of the dangers inherent in encyclical studies. In Protr. 4/ 59.1-2 he says: ‘Stop, O Homer, the song! It is not beautiful; it teaches adultery, and we are prohibited from polluting our ears with hearing about adultery.’ The Homeric text in Clement’s mind is here Od. 8.266-94 about Venus and Ares who slept together in Hephaestus’ palace. But Clement never, not even in Protrepticus, makes general statements about Homer on the basis of such passages. 41 Scholars have long discussed whether Clement’s teaching represented a school of its own, or was somehow related to the Church; see Neymeyr 1989: 86–87. Clement’s reference to catechumens within a context addressing encyclical studies is a sign that he did not distinguish sharply between school and church; thus also van den Hoek 1997: 71–79.


The Challenge of Homer

the theology of creation, his adversaries to an exclusive concept of revelation. In this chapter (Strom. 6.11), Clement goes on to mention some who object to his position by pointing out that it is of no use knowing the reasons for the movements of the sun and other celestial bodies, geometry, logic and the other encyclical arts (93.1-2). Asking for the use of encyclical studies brings to mind the philosophical critique of these studies.42 Clement and his adversaries are thus participating in a larger discourse, a well-known debate on the use of the technical skills taught by encyclical teachers: to what extent are these skills useful? Some of Clement’s adversaries obviously held that Homer and the classical literature in encyclical studies did not contribute to ta; kaqhvkonta (93.1), i.e. the decent things, in short virtue. The adversaries thus viewed classical literature primarily from the perspective of its dubious passages. They claimed that Greek philosophy was human wisdom and did not teach truth. Although the arguments of Clement’s adversaries to some extent bring to mind the philosophically based criticism of the liberal arts, Clement would surely hold it against them that this is in resemblance only, for the root of their argument is not philosophical at all, but based on fear. Clement, however, took account also of passages that furthered virtue, and considered these among the examples of the propaideutic nature of pagan poets. The latter part of Strom. 6.11 opposes the adversaries’ position that Greek intellectual traditions are merely human wisdom. Clement says that they referred to Wis. 7.16, 28: ‘For both we and our words are in his hands, as are all understanding and skill in crafts . . . For God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.’ Clement does not elaborate on their point, which probably is that divine wisdom is found exclusively in the Christian tradition and its sources. This point is mirrored in Clement’s immediate refutation, which is taken from Wis. 14.1-7. Solomon here describes how God rescues people in distress at sea by letting a piece of wood be their means of salvation. Wisdom was the artisan making a raft; but God steered its course. This text encapsulates much of the theological basis of Clement’s view on encyclical studies: ‘And how irrational, to regard philosophy as inferior to architecture and shipbuilding!’ (94.1-2). Here surfaces the lesson which Clement draws from this text: God wants human beings to make use of their wisdom. They can therefore also be rescued by a raft in stormy weather. Clement argues from the lesser to the greater: would God care less for philosophy than for a raft made out of wood? In his providence God uses rafts made by human wisdom; in his providence he also considers encyclical studies helpful tools. 42 See e.g. Ch. 4 in this study.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


Clement continues to refute his adversaries, now by mentioning the story about Jesus who fed the hungry in the desert (Mk 6.30-44 and parallels). The two fishes and the five loaves are interpreted figuratively in a way which makes the text address encyclical studies directly. The five loaves are the Pentateuch or the Law. The two fishes represent Greek intellectual tradition, as found in encyclical studies and philosophy (94.25). Both the Law of Moses as well as Greek education are preparatory or propaideutic vis-a`-vis the power of the resurrection imparted by God through his word. This allegory seeks the support of Jesus in the controversy over liberal studies, and Clement’s figurative approach makes Jesus address this. Jesus did not abandon encyclical studies; he considered them preparatory, as with the Law of Moses.43 Clement fights his adversaries with a helping hand from the allegorical method that he has taken from the ancient discourse on how to read Homer. An additional argument he once again finds in the Bible; he quotes Jn 1.3 (‘All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being’), which echoes Ps. 24.1; 1 Cor. 10.26 and biblical wisdom traditions. It is, of course, guesswork to assume what the opponents would reply to Clement’s allegory. They might well, however, have said that he is defending encyclical studies with arguments developed by these studies themselves; he draws on the issue which is precisely the point of the debate. Christian critics of allegorical interpretation – such as Tatian and Tertullian – would hardly have been convinced by this reading of the New Testament. His adversaries may have seen Clement’s allegory as supportive evidence for the danger of Homeric approaches applied to biblical texts. Nevertheless, Clement made a strong effort to bring Christian tradition out of an intellectual backwater. Clement’s fundamental view of encyclical studies is thus propaideutic and preparatory.44 These are the perspectives around which his discussion revolves. Tertullian asked, rhetorically, what Athens and Jerusalem had in common; Clement turns this contrast into Jerusalem’s perfection of Athens. The mixture of imperfect and useful, falsehood and truth makes discrimination necessary, finding what is conformable to Christian faith. 43 The logic is here identical with the Law and Greek philosophy as being both paidagwgoiv to Christ; see above. 44 Droge 1989: 140–49 has drawn attention to the fact that Clement’s view of Christian faith as a perfection of the Greek heritage is reconciled with the so-called ‘theft theory’, namely that Greeks derived their philosophy from the barbarians and the Jews. This appears contradictory, but Droge points out that, according to Clement, God permitted the theft since he knew in his providence that it would benefit (wjfevleia, eij" to; sumfevron) mankind (Strom. 1.16/81.5). Clement’s main interest was to prepare the ground for ‘the substantial identity between the doctrines of Greek philosophy and the teaching of Scripture, thereby affirming a common cultural tradition’ (p. 142).


The Challenge of Homer

Clement is standing on the shoulders of philosophical traditions developed in an argument over encyclical studies. Seneca, Plutarch and others considered philosophy as providing real knowledge to which liberal studies could only point. Philo adapted this and claimed Jewish faith to be the perfection of philosophy. Clement is close to Philo; he says that the Law of Moses prepares Jews for true wisdom brought by Christ. For Greeks, however, encyclical studies have a similar preparatory role; first for philosophy and then for its perfection, which is Christian faith.

11.2 Origen: The Silver and Gold of the Egyptians 11.2.1 Origen According to Eusebius With Origen it seems that the school in Alexandria has become more organized, since Eusebius tells more about this school at the time of Origen. However, since Origen in his old age taught in Caesarea, where Eusebius himself lived (Hist. eccl. 6.26-27), this might have given him access to information. Eusebius recounts Origen’s childhood and youth during the persecutions of Severus (193–211 CE) (Hist. eccl. 6.1-2). His father was killed, and the young Origen committed himself to martyrdom, but was hindered by his mother. At the age of 18 he was responsible for teaching catechumens in Alexandria. Eusebius gives the following description of the education of the young Origen: For indeed in the study of faith also he had already laid down a good foundation, having been trained in the divine Scriptures from the time that he was still a boy. Certainly it was no ordinary amount of labour that he bestowed on these, since his father, in addition to the customary curriculum [pro;" th'æ tw'n ejgkuklivwn paideivaæ], took pains that these should be for him no secondary matter. On all occasions, for example, he kept urging him before beginning his secular lessons [ta; ellhnika; J maqhvmatav] to train himself in the sacred studies, exacting from him each day learning by heart and repetition. And this the boy did with no lack of willingness, nay, he worked with even excessive zeal at these studies, so that he was not satisfied with reading the sacred words in a simple and literal manner, but sought something further, and busied himself, even at that age, with deeper speculations, troubling his father by his questions as to what could be the inner meaning [qewriva] of Scripture . . . His father had brought him forward in secular studies [ejn toi'" JEllhvnwn maqhvmasin], and after his death he applied himself wholly with renewed zeal to a literary training, so that he had a tolerable amount of proficiency in letters [paraskeuh; ejpi; ta; grammatikav]; and not long after his father’s perfecting, by dint of application to these studies, he was abundantly supplied, for a person of his years, with the necessaries of life. (Hist. eccl. 6.2.7-9, 15)

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


This is one of the few texts in which one of the Christians who participated in encyclical studies appears by name. The text also shows a father who was ambivalent about his son being trained in the liberal arts, but emphasized rather the priority of studying the Scriptures. Origen, however, was committed to the deeper meaning of the sacred writings, their allegorical interpretation. Although Eusebius does not mention it, it is probably correct to assume that this interest is due to Origen’s Homeric training; i.e. the allegorical method associated with Alexandria and the school of Clement there. Origen’s teaching of catechumens attracted many students, nonChristians included. Some of them embraced the faith (Hist. eccl. 6.3.813). In Eusebius’ presentation it is stated that Origen also taught encyclical studies (6.3.8). It seems that, at least for some time, he was engaged in teaching both Christian doctrine and liberal arts. The latter might have been necessary in order to make a living. From Eusebius’ text it remains unclear how long Origen continued to teach both subjects; unfortunately, his presentation is contradictory at this point. Eusebius claims that Origen ceased teaching Greek literature (oiJ grammatikoi; lovgoi) because he considered it incompatible with divine studies (ta; qei'a paideuvmata). In other words, he found Greek literature not useful (ajnwfelh") for the study of the sacred Scriptures. He therefore sold the writings he had come to love so much (Hist. eccl. 6.3.8-9). This information is surely representative of many Christians, but seems misplaced with Origen: it is not easily reconciled with our knowledge about him culled from his own writings. Eusebius himself appears contradictory on this point. Hist. eccl. 6.18 explicitly says that Origen taught ‘secular philosophy [ta; th'" e[xwqen45 filosofiva"] as well as divine things’. The first was, according to Eusebius, an introduction to geometry and mathematics and other propaideutic subjects (ta[lla propaideuvmata). Origen deemed liberal studies to provide a helpful preparation (paraskeuhv) for the reading of the Holy Scriptures. For himself, he considered these studies necessary (ajnagkaiva). According to Hist. eccl. 6.19.11-14, Origen faced criticism from fellow Christians who found his interest in encyclical studies problematic; these were notably Christians who reasoned like Clement’s adversaries (see above). Eusebius cites a letter in which Origen defends himself against rumours that he was not teaching rightly (Hist. eccl. 6.19.12-4). In this letter, Origen argues that it was necessary to know liberal arts and philosophy to fight heresy, which originated with people who were familiar with these subjects. Origen claims to be following Panataenus, the first teacher at the school in Alexandria, in his practice of fighting heresy with Greek 45 We will later see that this Greek term (‘from the outside’) came to denote encyclical studies among Christians.


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education. He also mentions Heraclas, one of his co-workers, who always wore the philosopher’s cloak and never ceased studying Greek literature (bibliva) as much as possible. The information passed on by Eusebius concerning Origen and encyclical studies leaves a somewhat confused picture. It might seem that Origen’s continuous involvement with liberal arts is more credible in the light of his own writings. The distorted picture given by Eusebius might be due to Origen himself, who accepted the value of Greek studies, but who also suffered under his father’s ambivalent attitude. In Hist. eccl. 6.30, Eusebius says that Origen received students who were trained in Greek and Roman studies, but who, due to his instruction, exchanged them for hJ qeiva a[skhsi" (‘the divine training’). From Eusebius we have the impression that Origen embraced Greek education with some hesitancy, and this ambivalence is mirrored in the somewhat inconsistent picture given in his Ecclesiastical History. 11.2.2 A Student Praising his Teacher: Being Trained in Distinctio Before turning to texts from Origen’s own hand, we will listen to one of his most prominent students, Gregory Thaumaturgus (born c. 210 CE). In a panegyric he presents the principles taught to the students in Origen’s class:46 We were expected to meet and familiarize ourselves with all other literature, and we should not prefer one philosophical school or teaching over others; neither should we abandon anyone, be it Greek or foreign we were to hear everything [ou[te JEllhniko;n ou[te bavrbaron, pavntwn de; ajkouvsa"]; (153) . . . In order to avoid the difficulties which befall most people,47 he did not guide us to one particular philosophy; nor to separate ourselves from any. He guides us to all, and wanted us not to be without knowledge of any Greek teaching [dovgma JEllhnikovn] (170) . . . Anything useful and true in the individual philosophers [o{ ti crhvsimon filosovfwn eJkavstwn] he collected and presented to us. (172) But everything false, he separated [ejkkrivnein], and particularly things related to piety made up by human beings. (173) Concerning these things he advised us not to trust any, not even if someone had a reputation for being especially wise among human beings, but to adhere to God alone and to His prophets. (174)

Gregory remembers how Greek literature and traditions were integrated into the lessons. Origen did not emphasize any particular philosophical 46 For Greek text with German translation, see Guyot and Klein 1994. The English translation is my own. As for the name of this literature, see the discussion in Guyot and Klein: 12–13. 47 Origen here thinks of those who are led astray by philosophy; see 169 which speaks of the labyrinth of philosophy.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


school, but wanted his students to familiarize themselves with any teaching (lovgo"), philosophical or poetic, be it bavrbaro" or Greek, religious or political, divine or human. With an open mind (su;n pavshæ parrhsivaæ) everything was studied in terms of preparation (paraskeuhv) (182). From elsewhere in this text we learn that this is probably eulogistic, since Gregory tells that Origen kept his students away from the writings of the atheists (152), which probably refers to Epicureanism.48 Everything was viewed critically, according to truth and usefulness, implying that Greek literature was measured critically against Christian tradition. In particular, Gregory remembers his teacher refuting passages in the literature which contained human lies about eujsevbeia, which probably refers to the immorality found in Homeric and other classical literature. From this text emerges very clearly the principle of distinctio, distinguishing between the useful and the unprofitable. This process is described in terms of ajnalevgein, parativqesqai and ejkkrivnein (172–73). It is worth noticing that Gregory describes this sifting process in terms of collecting and separating, which is exactly how the work of bees collecting honey is elsewhere described.49 According to Gnilka, Gregory’s text presents ‘a continuous school programme of Christian chreˆsis’.50 In his Commentary on Romans 4.9, a section concerning Rom. 5.3-5,51 Origen explains the distinction implicit in the principle of usus with reference to the Stoic differentiation between good (bona), bad (mala) and in between (or neutral) (indifferentia/media).52 Bona has to do with virtutes animi, the deeds of the Spirit; mala lead to evil and to everything opposed to God’s Law. In between are things which are neither of these, exemplified by wealth, a fine body and strength. Humana sapientia in itself belongs to this category. Human wisdom becomes good when educated (eruditus), because this may facilitate (paratior veniat) understanding and aid the reception of God’s true wisdom (ad illam capacitor fiat). When human wisdom works thus, i.e. profiting from the useful, it serves bona. Being able to distinguish between these things is essential; Origen calls it distinctio, which is identical with making right use of something. Virtutes animi brings to mind ‘the fruits of the Spirit’ in Gal. 5, but, since he clearly considers that the educated mind works as a guide towards faith, animus does not refer exclusively to the Holy Spirit, but to the human spirit as well. In practice, this process of distinctio meant that everything 48 Guyot and Klein 1994: 290 include other philosophers as well. 49 See Clement Strom. 1.6 (above) and also elsewhere in this study. 50 Gnilka 1984: 54: ‘ein zusammenha¨ngende Schulprogrammem christlicher chreˆsis’. 51 For the text, see Heither 1992: 266–79. 52 This is pointed out by Gnilka 1984: 59–63. That the question of education is the deeper meaning of this text comes clearly through in many places, for instance when Origen speaks of the eruditio given by Jesus.


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conformable to faith is bona. This logic assumes that God’s wisdom is found in pagan literature as well. This particular point Origen explores in his commentary on the Balaam text (Num. 22–24) (Hom. Num. 18.3). His point of departure is Num. 24.16, where it says that this pagan prophet ‘hears the words of God . . . knows the knowledge of the Most High, sees the vision of the Almighty’. A pagan prophet receiving insight from God, and speaking divine wisdom! Origen introduces his comment by quoting from Sir. 1.1: Omnis sapientia a Deo est (‘All wisdom is from the Lord’).53 This applies to all knowledge necessary for human life (usui humano necessaria) (Hom. Num. 18.3.2); exempt from this is, of course, knowledge conducive to evil (sapientia malitiae disciplina) (Sir. 19.22). This theological conviction of creation theology paves the way for a critical dialogue with pagan culture. Origen makes explicit reference to Exod. 35.30-35; 36.1, where it says God filled Bezalel, son of Uri son of Hur, with the divine Spirit to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver and bronze, etc. His comment on these biblical texts (Hom. Num. 18.3.3) is that these skills are presented as scientia ab excelso. With a logic from the lesser to the greater, he argues that this must apply to other human knowledge as well, such as architecture, geometry, music and medicine, since no sensible person can deny that omnis sapientia a Deo est. Implicit in this interpretation is an allegorical claim, namely that silver and gold represent knowledge found among Gentiles, particularly in terms of encyclical education. Figuratively, secular knowledge is called ‘the plunder of the Egyptians’. 11.2.3 Origen to His Student Gregory: Plundering the Egyptians Origen wrote a letter to his student Gregory, and this is an important document for the topic of our investigation.54 This letter addresses the usefulness of liberal arts, and gives this a biblical warrant. . . . But I always wanted you to devote your power, according to your capacity, fully to the Christian faith [cristianismov"]. Accordingly, I wanted you to accept inventively [poihtikw'"] also from Greek philosophy that which, so to say, can be encyclical studies or propaideutic knowledge [ejgkuvklia maqhvmata h] propaideuvmata] to Christian faith, and from geometry and astronomy that which will prove useful for interpreting the holy Scriptures [crhvsima . . . eij" th;n tw'n iJerw'n grafw'n dihvghsin].55 Then we may say – like the students [pai'de"] of the philosophers say about geometry and music, grammar, rhetoric and 53 As noticed above, this wisdom text played a role in Clement’s writings as well. 54 The Greek text, with a German translation, is found in Guyot and Klein 1994: 87–93. The English translation is my own. 55 Cf. the formulation eij" ta; crhvsima th'æ latreivaæ tou' qeou' in the next paragraph of the present text.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


astronomy, namely that they are helpers [sunevriqoi] for philosophy – that philosophy itself is likewise to Christian faith. (1) Such is probably the meaning of what is written in Exodus, an encouragement from God Himself, where He says to the children of Israel that they should ask their neighbours and house-fellows for ‘vessels of silver and gold and clothes’;56 so that they, after having ‘plundered’57 the Egyptians, among the things taken should find material for their worship [eij" th;n pro;" qeo;n latreivan]. From the things Israel’s children took from the Egyptians are made the holy things in the Holiest, the ark and its cover, the cherubim, the place of propitiation and the jar of gold in which manna, the bread of the angels, was held. These things were probably made of the best gold of the Egyptians . . . (2) . . . The holy Scriptures know that it was disastrous for many to leave Israel’s land and go down to Egypt, meaning that, to some, living among the Egyptians – that is, in secular wisdom [ejn tou' kovsmou maqhvmasi] – was bad, after being instructed in God’s Law and the concern Israelites have for it. The Idumean Ader58 did not taste Egyptian bread when he was in Israel’s land, and, therefore, he did not set up any idols. But when he fled from the wise Solomon and came down to Egypt, as though he fled from God’s wisdom, he became kindred with Pharaoh, marrying the sister of his wife, and had a son who was raised among Pharaoh’s children. Therefore, when he returned to the land of Israel, he did this to divide God’s people and to make them say about the golden calf: ‘these are your gods, Israel, who led you out of Egypt’.59 But I have learnt from experience, and therefore tell you that few have, while leaving it, brought from Egypt the profitable things [ta; crhvsima] and furnished the worship of God with them. The Idumean Ader, however, has a lot of children. That is those who, on the basis of shortcomings in Greek skills, have produced heretical thoughts, and, so to say, have raised golden calves in Bethel, which means ‘God’s house’60 . . . (3)

Origen is here expressing a propaideutic view of encyclical studies and Greek philosophy. These studies prepare the ground for an adequate reading of biblical texts. Origen states almost directly that this is an adoption of the way Greek philosophy viewed encyclical studies as useful 56 Exod. 11.2; 12.35. 57 Exod. 12.36. 58 Origen is here mixing up persons, or he is lumping together traditions. What is said about Ader corresponds with 1 Kgs 11.14-25 about Hadad and about Jeroboam in 1 Kgs 11.26–12.33. 59 1 Kgs 12.28, cf. Exod. 32.4, 8. 60 In this translation of the Hebrew name, Origen makes a hidden reference to the Temple in Jerusalem.


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helpers. In his own logic, philosophy occupies this preparatory function. Liberal studies and philosophy are evaluated according to their usefulness to the study of Christian theology and writings. The letter provides examples of this usefulness in the form of a number of allegorical interpretations. Origen proceeds from the conviction that liberal arts are required to interpret the Scriptures rightly. Origen evaluates Greek intellectual traditions in a critical light, with a view to what they can bring to true worship. The measure is what serves bona, of which the ultimate good is faith. His critical perspective is thus culled from the Bible and the Christian faith itself, and is defined in terms of compatibility. He finds this view justified in the Bible itself, for example in Exod. 12.35-36: ‘they asked the Egyptians for jewellery of silver and gold, and for clothing . . . And so they plundered the Egyptians.’61 At the centre of Origen’s interpretation is, in the first place, that the silver and gold of the Egyptians figuratively represent encyclical studies, and in the second place, that it was precisely this silver and gold that was used in the building of the Temple and the holy vessels found there (Exod. 25–26). God commanded Israel to bring with them silver and gold from the Egyptians. From this Origen draws the lesson that pagan education is given divine approval, if applied in a critical way.62 Origen’s interpretation aims at demonstrating that Israel’s departure from Egypt, which was commonly taken as urging Israel and the Christians to flee idolatry,63 actually, on a closer look, justified a more integrationist attitude towards pagan culture, including encyclical studies. Origen is well aware that some of the silver and gold taken from the Egyptians was used to make the Golden Calf (Exod. 32), which in biblical tradition is reckoned as a primary sin. From this fact, Origen draws a lesson with reference to liberal studies. To some, encyclical studies brought disaster. He then applies his propaideutic perspective on these arts in a fascinating way; he says that liberal studies may prepare, help, equip and pave the way for serving God. With the help of God’s wisdom, 61 Cf. Exod. 3.21-22: ‘you will not go empty-handed; each woman shall ask her neighbour and any woman living in the neighbour’s house for jewellery of silver and of gold, and clothing, and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters; and so you shall plunder the Egyptians’. For a presentation of this motif, see Allen 2008. 62 This allegorical interpretation is not found in Philo’s writings. In Mos. 1.141-42 he takes these biblical texts quite literally. He denies that these texts prove Israel to be greedy, since the silver and gold they brought with them were payment for many years of service and slavery, to be compared with a war indemnity; see Allen 2008: 96–99. Even Clement refers to the spoil of the Egyptians in a literal way, saying that the Israelites did not take it out of avarice; it rightly belonged to them as kind of compensation (Strom. 1.23/157.2-4). Origen is probably responsible for introducing an allegorical reading of these passages. 63 See e.g. Philo where Egypt symbolizes the place of the pleasures of idolatry and the belly, and the exodus was interpreted accordingly; Paul’s use of these traditions is also apparent in 1 Cor. 10.1-14; see Sandnes 2002:112–13, 199–216.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


the silver and the clothing of the Egyptians can be turned into the tabernacle of God.64 But moving backwards means endangering faith, because that is moving in the wrong direction. It is an opposite exodus, from Israel to Egypt.65 Those who perform a backwards exodus – as did Ader – are tempted to make encyclical studies their gods; this he says with reference to the Golden Calf and also to King Jeroboam who had a golden calf set up in Dan and Bethel (1 Kgs 12). Origen is here reminiscent of Philo who, in the same city, about two centuries earlier, had pointed out the danger that encyclical studies could become dominant in the life of his fellow Jews. The attraction of these studies was strong, and they could therefore displace studies in God’s Law. Origen’s argument implies that familiarity with Christian doctrine and faith is important before embarking upon liberal studies. The argument brings to mind his own childhood, and how his father urged him to give priority to the Holy Scriptures. Origen says that, in fact, there are few who bring the useful knowledge found in encyclical studies to bear upon their life as Christians. This implies that his concept of how Greek education and Christian faith worked hardly met with general approval in Alexandria (cf. Clement’s adversaries). He does not mention adversaries, but says that there are Christians who do participate, but with insufficient knowledge, and still try to make use of the insight acquired in these studies. Too little Greek education is worse than none, he says. Liberal studies are, indeed, preparatory and useful, but a superficial course opens the gate to heresy. Encyclical studies must be undertaken seriously, and with sufficiency; or else they bring disaster. At the same time, interpreting the Holy Scriptures is more important. Familiarity with encyclical studies is not enough to provide the insight which is necessary to make it useful. The impression we derive from reading Clement on this topic is now further strengthened: the teachers in Alexandria proved more helpful to the elite than ordinary Christians. They treated the question of encyclical studies more as a hermeneutical question concerning the relationship between Greek culture and Christian faith than a question about going to pagan teachers. 11.2.4 The Threefold Wisdom of the Greeks Borrowed from Solomon In the Early Church, the tradition about the ‘plunder of the Egyptians’ became a topos, providing biblical support for the use of Greek and pagan traditions, and of liberal arts in particular.66 (We will come across this motif several times.) Origen seems to be the first who made a thorough use of this allegorical interpretation. But he drew on other biblical traditions 64 65 place 66

Allen 2008: 214–20. From this argument it appears that Origen is familiar with the tradition of Egypt as a believers had to leave behind. See Montgomery 1999.


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as well, wisdom-traditions in particular (see above). In his prologue to the Song of Songs (the Canticle) he claims that Solomon, the wise king, had a school programme (generales disciplinae), ‘branches of learning’, corresponding more or less to the threefold learning venerated in Greek tradition.67 In fact, Origen claims that the Greeks borrowed the idea from Solomon. This school programme is displayed in the three books of Solomon, i.e. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs, which together present the threefold wisdom: ethics, physics and enoptics; in other words moral, natural and inspective science, the latter being ‘concerned with the unseen realities behind the seen’.68 Through the maxims found in Proverbs, the moral wisdom inculcates a seemly manner of life (mos vivendi honestus) and virtue (ad virtutem).69 Ecclesiastes teaches natural wisdom, so that nothing in life may be done contrary to nature, but according to the use assigned by the Creator.70 The completion of the course of teaching provided in Solomon’s writings is followed by the contemplation of the unseen and eternal, in short the divine. This is found in the allegories of the Song of Songs. A propaideutic pattern including a hierarchical view of education as well as Platonic epistemology is clearly discernible here. At the centre of both moral and natural knowledge is the ability to distinguish between that which is futile or useless (vana/vanitas) and that which is useful (utiles/utilitas),71 which includes also the discipline of ratio.72 Origen describes this in a way which brings to mind encyclical training, since he defines it in terms of discerning words and the meaning of expressions, and the proper significance of an utterance.73 Furthermore, Origen says that this is a science in which children ought to be instructed.74 Origen thus found two important traditions in the Bible, exodus and wisdom, both of which justified a responsible use of liberal arts.

67 For the Latin text, see Baehrens 1925: 75–77. 68 Lawson 1957: 318. 69 Baehrens 1925: 75. 70 Baehrens 1925: 75. 71 GCS 76.10-12, 26-30. 72 Origen sometimes divides philosophy into three parts, and some other times into four parts; see Lawson 1957: 318. 73 ‘Sed in hoc videtur mihi rationalis disciplinae meminisse, per quam doctrina verborum dictorumque significantiae discernuntur et uniuscuiusque sermonis proprietas certa cum ratione distinguitur’ (Baehrens 1925: 77). 74 ‘In qua praecipue erudiri pueros; hoc enim hortatur, dicit: ‘‘ut det puero iuniori sensum et cogitationem’’ ’ (Baehrens 1925: 77). Origen here quotes from Prov. 1.4.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


11.3 Origen and Celsus: Christian Faith for the Unlearned? Around 175 CE the Greek philosopher Celsus wrote a book against the Christians, Aleˆtheˆs logos.75 This work is lost, but Origen made a detailed response in eight books. He refutes Celsus by first quoting him extensively (Contra Celsum). From these quotations we gain a fairly good picture of Celsus’ lost text. This paragraph considers Celsus primarily as a source for how Christians viewed Greek education, seen from a pagan perspective.76 Celsus demonstrates familiarity with Christian traditions, texts and practices; he is familiar with Christians who were fearful of encyclical studies and Greek philosophy. His picture of the Christians at large, therefore, shows us how Christian opponents of liberal studies reasoned. They thus provided Celsus with an opportunity to launch his attack on Christianity in general. Celsus argues that the Christians are without nomos and logos.77 Being without nomos refers to the Christian withdrawal from the public sphere, and also their lack of tradition and antiquity. As for logos, Celsus repeatedly depicts the Christians as uneducated, naı¨ ve, silly and unlearned. In order to grasp his argument, it might be helpful to give a survey of key terms in his criticism and also the standard against which he measures the Christians. The list is not exhaustive, neither of key words nor of text references, but it is sufficient to be representative and it provides a basis from which to proceed. The references are all taken from Contra Celsum: Ideal

The Christians

oiJ ejn lovgoi" gegumnasmevnoi (‘those trained in rational thinking’) 1.27

ijdiw'tai (vulgar) 1.27 ajgroikovteroi (‘rustic’/ ‘illiterate’) 1.27; 6.1 mhde; ta; prw'ta gravmmata memaqhkovte" (‘who had not even a primary education’) 1.62 ajnovhtoi (‘stupid’) 3.18, 44, 74 ajndrapodwvdei" (‘low-class people’) 3.18 ajmaqei'" (‘ignorant’) 3.44; 6.14

75 For a discussion of the date of this work, see Droge 1989: 74–75; Lona 2005: 54–55. 76 For a more general presentation of Celsus’ criticism, see Wilken 1984: 94–125. Wilken does not, however, emphasize our question in his presentation. For a recent and thorough presentation of Celsus’ criticism, see Cook 2002: 17–102; for our question see in particular pp. 82–88. 77 These terms structure the presentation of Celsus given by Andresen 1955.



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The Christians ajpaivdeutoi (‘uneducated’) 6.12 ajmaqestatoivv (‘very uneducated’) 6.14 mhde; paideuqevnte" ta; JEllhvnwn maqhvmata (‘not trained in the learning of the Greeks’) 6.14

What precisely does this list bring to our study of the Christians’ attitude to liberal studies? Some of the terms are not very specific, but it nonetheless appears quite clearly that Celsus claims that the Christians are short of elementary teaching and knowledge provided by encyclical studies. This is suggested by ta; prw'ta gravmmata, and also by his claim that the Christians, with some exceptions, are unfamiliar with allegorical interpretation (Cels. 1.27; 4.38, 48–51). Both are indicative of familiarity with encyclical studies. When it comes to allegory, Celsus contradicts himself. On the one hand, he blames the Christians for not being familiar with this intellectual approach; on the other hand, he considers Christians who practise figurative interpretation to be ashamed of their own sources (Cels. 4.48-51). Origen naturally takes advantage of his slip of the tongue, and rightly emphasizes that allegorical interpretation was developed in order to cope with the immorality of the gods in Greek literature. Origen’s rhetoric turns the pagans’ accusations back against themselves; if anyone is ashamed of their foundational texts, it must be those who invented figurative interpretation. This argument over allegorical method strengthens the impression that Celsus is here speaking of encyclical studies. In short, Celsus is part of an old polemical tradition, witnessed already in the New Testament, that the disciples were ajgravmmatoi (Acts 4.13).78 78 John Chrysostom, in his view of John’s Gospel, takes advantage of this allegation that the disciples were unlearned men. He says that John’s father was a simple fisherman, and John had no participation in Greek education; he had no paideiva hJ e[xwqen; he was ajgravmmato"; he did not know letters (oJ gravmmata mh; maqwvn) (Homily 2.1.2 on John’s Gospel; PG 59.29-30). John was from a poor village in despised Galilee (cf. Jn 1.46; 7.52). He was a fisherman: ‘But nothing can be poorer, meaner, no, more ignorant than fishermen’ (NPNF 14.4-5). As for paideiva hJ e[xwqen, he has none at all. Luke testifies to his being not only ijdiwvth", but even ajgravmmato" (Acts 4.13). The apostle was in a situation no better than ‘irrational animals’, a label for uneducated people; see Kaster 1988:17. This description of John the Apostle serves Chrysostom’s rhetorical purpose. John, ‘who never learned letters [gravmmata] either before or after he accompanied Christ’, brings doctrines about life and wisdom which do not belong to fishermen, some of which even Plato and Pythagoras enquired into. All this demonstrates that it was God who spoke through this unlearned man to bring forth John’s Gospel, able to refute false teaching. Similar logic is seen in Jerome’s

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


Celsus’ critique should not be seen merely as polemical rhetoric; our findings in Clement and Origen suggest that his accusations are not taken out of thin air. He is probably exaggerating, but is nonetheless not making up his criticism. There were surely some who fitted nicely into his criticism and provided him with living proof. As the following will demonstrate, Celsus affirms the impression gained so far in this study, that Paul’s theology, and 1 Corinthians in particular, was a source of inspiration for Christians who held a negative view of Greek education.79 Celsus holds it against the Christians not only that they are unlearned, but also that they have embraced a doctrine which, according to its nature and its own sources, is opposed to intellectual training. Christian opposition to paideia is, according to Celsus, due to three fundamentals: their recruitment from the lower classes of society; their withdrawal from the ancient traditions transmitted in paideia; and the content of the Christian message itself. Hence it is not by accident that Christian faith attracted the unlearned and kept its members away from education. They are by necessity ignorant. In his discussion with Celsus on the use of allegorical interpretation, Origen urges his opponent to read the narratives about Jesus in the gospels using methods commonly applied to Homer and Greek classical myths in general.80 This marks the opening of Origen’s defence (ajpologiva) (Cels. 1.42). He considers Homer to be largely accurate when he describes the Trojan War. But how is the historicity of a story like Achilles having Thetis, a sea-goddess, as his mother to be proven; he asks?81 Anyone who reads the stories with a fair mind, who wants to keep himself from being deceived by them, will decide what he will accept and what he will interpret allegorically, searching out the meaning of the authors who wrote fictitious stories, and what he will disbelieve as having been written to gratify certain people. We have said this by way of introduction to the whole question of the narrative about Jesus in the Epist. 53 (see later in this book) where the disciples’ being ajgravmmatoi is balanced by their being qeodivdaktoi: enabled by God to convey divine truth. Chrysostom and Jerome here pave the way for ‘holy illiteracy’; see Kaster 1988: 79. The rhetoric of ‘holy illiteracy’ implies an insurmountable difference between Christian education and Greek education. It is the strongest possible way of expressing revelation monism. The way these two Church Fathers refute Celsus’ polemic on the basis of Acts 4.13 points to the logic of 1 Cor. 1–2 where human and divine wisdom are contrasted. From Celsus’ point of view this is hardly convincing since they in fact confirm his view that Christians were unlearned due to the nature of their faith. 79 Thus Lona 2005: 215 is in my view right in pointing to Paul’s 1 Corinthians as a key text in discourses on Greek education. 80 Lamberton 1989: 81 points out that Origen is the only early Christian writer who explicitly does this. 81 Origen argues from the Stoic concept of direct apprehension; see also Cels. 8.53. In 1.42 this clearly refers to the question of whether a narrated event actually happened or not; see Chadwick 1965: 39; Young 2002: 80–81.


The Challenge of Homer gospels, not in order to invite people with intelligence to mere irrational faith [oujk yilh;n pivstin kai; a[logon], but with a desire to show that readers need an open mind and considerable study, and, if I may say so, need to enter into the mind of the writers to find out with what spiritual meaning [poivaæ dianoivaæ] each event was recorded. (Cels. 1.42)82

Origen here urges an open-minded reading of the Gospel stories. He wants the Gospels to be read analogously with Homer’s writings; ‘a rightmindedness that is also an openness to the text and a willingness to acknowledge levels of meaning within it, and at the same time to withdraw belief from that which is entirely unacceptable without rejecting the rest’.83 This generous approach which Origen here calls for corresponds with the principle of critical use (to; crhvsimon or usus)’, developed in Homeric interpretation, and which we have seen throughout this study. 11.3.1 Celsus’ Critique Drawn from Christian New Testament Interpretation What is then Celsus’ basis for claiming that the Christians are unlearned? Celsus certainly knew some Christians and had studied their Scriptures. Some scholars even think that he was a former Christian.84 This is of no relevance to our study; highly relevant, however, is that his texts strongly suggest that he had observed Christians and also knew some of the basic structures and common logic of the movement. He studied, for instance, Justin’s writing with careful attention.85 He describes a fellowship of simple, despised, lower-class people.86 The social composition he claims to find among the Christians is simply putting into practice the Christian message, observable in the people with whom Jesus associated, fishermen and tax-collectors (Cels. 1.62; 2.46). Celsus puts together his own observations and the stories about Jesus, and finds a pattern. The social status of Christians mirrors the life of its founder, and is characterized by simplicity and being countrified.87 His text clearly expresses the contempt for artisans which we have seen elsewhere.88 Among these simpletons without education, Celsus has met an attitude 82 Quoted from Chadwick 1965. 83 Lamberton 1989: 82. 84 See the discussion in Pichler 1980: 43–59. 85 This has been amply demonstrated by Andresen 1955: 345–72. 86 Cook 2000: 84–85. Celsus’ presentation has inspired a lower-class view on the social status of early Christianity; see Deissmann 1923 and the more recent and balanced discussion of this tradition in e.g. Malherbe 1977: 29–59 and Meeks 1983: 51–73. 87 Lucian’s Hermotimus 81 tells of a countrified uncle (a[groiko" a[nqrwpo") who laments that his nephew has advanced in useless knowledge. Being countrified here means to be ijdiwvth" in relation to education. Ignorance was often associated with rustici living in the countryside; see Andresen 1955: 177 and later in this chapter. 88 See Ch. 4.1 in this study.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


which he summarizes in this way: Mh; ejxevtaze (‘do not ask questions or do not examine’) (Cels. 1.12), urging the believers to keep away from everything challenging their blind faith. Some implications of this are mentioned in Cels. 1.9, where Celsus combines ‘do not ask questions’ with ‘just believe’, and quotes the Synoptic phrase ‘your faith has saved you’ (e.g. Lk. 17.19; 18.42). Celsus says that Christians are not even able to give a reason for their faith, but instead lay restrictions on human reason and intellect. Celsus blames these restrictions on the underlying principle: ‘the wisdom in the world is evil, and foolishness a good thing’,89 which is a somewhat tendentious rendering of 1 Cor. 1.21 and 3.18-19.90 Celsus also complains that they are afraid of teachers; because teachers represent a challenge with which they cannot cope. In the light of Clement’s presentation of fearful Christians avoiding Greek intellectual traditions, it appears likely that Celsus hits his target when he makes their anxiety about education a key point in his criticism of the Christians: Since he is so pleased with his abusive objections against us that he also adds more of them let us quote them and see whether it is the Christians or Celsus who are disgraced by what he says. He asserts: In private houses also we see91 wool-workers, cobblers, laundry-workers, and the most illiterate [ajpaideutotavtoi] and bucolic yokels [ajgroikovtatoi],92 who would not dare to say anything at all in front of their elders and more intelligent masters. But whenever they get hold of children in private and some stupid women with them, they let out some astounding statements as, for example, that they must not pay any attention to their father and school-teachers [didavskaloi], but must obey them; they say that these talk nonsense and have no understanding, and that in reality they neither know or are able to do anything good, but are taken up with mere empty chatter. But they alone, they say, know the right way to live, and if the children would believe them, they would become happy [makavrioi] and make their home happy as well. And if just as they are speaking they see one of the school-teachers coming, or some intelligent person, or even the father himself, the more cautious of them flee in all directions; but the more reckless urge the children on to rebel. They whisper to them that in the presence of their father and their schoolmasters they do not feel able to explain anything to the children, since they do not want to have anything to do with the silly and obtuse teachers who are totally corrupted and far gone in wickedness and who inflict punishment on the children. But, if they like, they should leave father and their schoolmasters, and go along with

89 Cf. Cels. 1.13. 90 For accusations of blind faith that works against education, see also Cels. 6.7, 10-11. 91 The Greek oJrw'men indicates that Celsus claims to have observed Christian practice; so also in Cels. 3.50. 92 This refers to the countrified nature of the Christians, which is not a statement that most Christians lived in the countryside, but a smear.


The Challenge of Homer the women and little children who are their playfellows to the wooldresser’s shop, or to the cobbler’s or to the washerwoman’s shop, that they may learn perfection [ i{na to; tevleion lavbwsi]. And by saying this they persuade them. (Cels. 3.55)93

Celsus’ criticism appears as social conservatism; he speaks in favour of the ancestral traditions, which are preserved in teaching and the passing on of traditional knowledge. He argues from a notion of ‘ancient theology’,94 whereby he appeals to antiquity and truth as coinciding: ‘There is an ancient doctrine [ajrcai'o" lovgo"] which existed from the beginning, which has always been maintained by the wisest nations and cities and wise men’ (Cels. 1.14, cf. 3.16). This ancient doctrine is, of course, the content of the Word of Truth, the very title of this writing. This doctrine has been handed down through many nations, among whom Celsus deliberately leaves out the Jews and Moses, probably due to the role assigned to them by Justin, as being superior to Plato and the Greek philosophers. The nature of Celsus’ argument focuses on education, particularly so since Greekness and knowledge of Homer were seen in tandem. Celsus believed that people should revere the ancestral traditions. In his view the Christians neglected these, for example by ignoring education. He therefore viewed them as rebels.95 Horacius E. Lona has demonstrated that this passage is constructed as an upside-down world.96 The text depicts a world where the figures of authority and education, fathers and teachers, are set aside, and where children are brought up by artisans, slaves and women. The authority of the paideia figures is a target of the Christian fellowship. The last two sentences of the text quoted above are clearly ironical. Celsus reasons according to common educational logic in antiquity; the primary goal of education is virtue or perfection. This goes with the commonly used metaphor of education as climbing a peak.97 Among the Christians, Celsus says, the path to perfection is taught by the rabble described in this text. In short, Celsus depicts Christianity as a world without logos; i.e. a

93 Italics indicate where Origen is quoting Celsus’ lost work. Similar statements are found in Cels. 3.49-50, 52, 59, 74; 6.12. 94 See Droge 1989: 78. 95 For further references see Cook 2000: 89–91. 96 Lona 2005: 203: ‘Dieser Szene aus einer verkehrten Welt, in der die ungebildeten Untertanen die geistige Fu¨hrung der Kinder im Hinblick auf das Gute und auf das Glu¨ck fu¨r sie beanspruchen und den gebildeten Herren und Lehrern vorwerfen, dazu unfa¨hig zu sein, haftet etwas Groteskes an.’ ‘This scene from a reversed world, where the uneducated citizens demand the spiritual guidance concerning what is good and brings happiness to their children, and where they accuse the learned as well as teachers of being incompetent to do so, has a ring of being grotesque.’ 97 See Ch. 2.5 in this study.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


threat to social stability and order.98 This clearly shows how intimately logos and nomos are related in Celsus’ thought. His critique proceeds from the conviction that virtue and learning go together; without learning there can be no virtue. Furthermore, lack of learning paves the way for superstition. The passage above is an example of reciprocal polemics. The key point is the lack of education among the Christians. But the text also shows how some Christians reasoned against education and encyclical studies. The text points to small children and youngsters, thus suggesting that liberal studies were among the disputed issues. The Christian reasoning mirrored in this passage echoes ancient criticism of encyclical teachers; they teach children empty talk and evil, they are not concerned with real knowledge. All this echoes the ancient tradition critical of classical literature, due to its immorality, and of encyclical teachers in particular. This tradition was certainly substantiated with more germane Christian logic as well, as the present chapter argues. In Cels. 3.44, Origen quotes from Celsus’ version of Christian preaching. Celsus puts his criticism into the mouth of a fictitious(?) Christian teacher. Origen claims that this account is against the faith presented by Jesus himself. He must, however, admit that there are believers whose preaching fits into Celsus’ presentation, but these have not received any instruction (ajmaqevstatoi); they are unlearned. Here is common ground for Origen and Celsus. While Celsus claims that these Christians are representative both of the movement and of the nature of the Christian doctrine, however, Origen denies both claims. In his response, Origen turns the tables on Celsus by saying that, although he is right, he has missed a very important point, namely that Christianity embraces all kinds of people. He is proud to represent a movement like this. In fact, its power to persuade the multitude is a sign of the truth found in this religion, in contradistinction to philosophers who only persuade learned people like themselves (Cels. 1.62; 6.2). According to Celsus, the Christians preached as follows: ‘Let no one educated [pepaideumevno"], no one wise [sofov"], no one sensible draw near. For these abilities are thought by us to be evils [kaka;]. But as for anyone ignorant [ajmaqhv"], anyone stupid [ajnovhto"], anyone uneducated [ajpaivdeuto"], anyone who is a child [nhvpio"], let him come boldly.’ By the fact that they themselves admit that these people are worthy of their God, they show that they want and are able to convince only the foolish, dishonourable and stupid, and only slaves, women, and little children’. (Cels. 3.44)

98 According to Lona 2005: 204, Celsus depicts ‘eine tiefgehende Vera¨nderung der bestehende Ordnung’. (A thoroughgoing change of the existing order.)


The Challenge of Homer

This presentation is indeed relevant to our question about the basis for Celsus’ claim that the believers were unlearned. The quotation has a style which brings to mind the preaching of Jesus where people were invited ‘to come’ to him. Of particular importance is Mt. 11.25-30. According to this text, God reveals himself to infants, and remains hidden to the wise and intelligent, and extends an invitation to ‘come’.99 In Celsus’ critique, this passage is closely associated with 1 Cor. 1–2 where Paul speaks of God’s wisdom as opposed to the wisdom of the present world.100 Paul substantiates his message about ‘the folly of the cross’ with reference to the social status of the converts in Corinth: not many wise, not many powerful, not many of noble birth; on the contrary what is foolish, weak, low, despised (1 Cor. 1.26-29). This text is quoted by Origen in Cels. 3.48, and according to 3.47 it is probable that Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 1–2 ‘have led some people to imagine that the Gospel does not want wise men’.101 In Cels. 3.75, Celsus quotes a Christian teacher saying that wisdom brings perdition (ajpovllusqai ajpo; sofiva"). Thus Paul plays into the hands of Celsus; the low social status of the Christians is no accident, but follows naturally from the doctrine itself. To some Christians (a majority?), Paul’s text about true wisdom contrasted with wisdom of the Greeks became a cornerstone for Christian opposition to liberal studies. Celsus now is taking advantage of this in his criticism. It becomes quite apparent in Contra Celsum that 1 Cor. 1–2 was crucial for Christians who abandoned Greek education. According to what we have seen so far in this investigation, it is not surprising that this text should be a point of departure for Celsus; it is clearly so in Cels. 1.13; 3.44, 47-48, 75; 6.12-13. Origen admits that some Christians have played into the hands of their critics. The words of the apostle have misled some into thinking that education and faith are opposites, and that people who have received training are obliged to turn their back on the gospel. Origen brings some balance back into the picture by making reference to the pastoral epistles, where the importance of fighting heresy is emphasized (1 Tim. 3.2; Tit. 1.9-11). Origen thus proceeds according to a method well established in ancient Homeric interpretation: reading Homer with the help of Homer himself. Origen is now reading Paul with the help of Paul. Without education it is hardly possible, he claims, to refute opponents (Cels. 3.48).102 He then formulates his own version of the Christian invitation, clearly opposed to that of Celsus: 99 Cf. Cels. 7.18. 100 I find it surprising that these texts are left unmentioned in Cook’s presentation, which aims at finding how pagans interpreted New Testament passages. Lona 2005: 198 mentions them. 101 Cf. Cels. 3.73-75; 6.4; 7.44. 102 I suppose Origen could hardly find any better example of this statement than Celsus’ criticism.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


How then is it reasonable for Celsus to criticize us as though we asserted, Let no one educated, no one wise, no one sensible draw near? On the contrary, let the educated [pepaideumevno"], wise [sofov"] and sensible man [frovnimo"] come if he wishes, and none the less let anyone ignorant [ajmaqhv"], stupid [ajnovhto"], uneducated [ajpaivdeuto"], and childish [nhvpio"], come as well. For the word [oJ lovgo"] promises to heal even such people if they come, and makes all men worthy of God. (Cels. 3.48)

Celsus’ critique and Origen’s defence demonstrate that Jesus’ words in Mt. 11.25-30 and Paul’s text in 1 Cor. 1–2 formed the basis for many Christians’ scepticism of encyclical studies. When we put together the evidence gathered particularly from Clement, Origen and Celsus, these New Testament texts emerge as commonly used arguments against liberal arts. The core of these arguments is the biblical concept of revelation given to some, usually of low status, but still elected (cf. Deut. 7.7); i.e. a claim to have received an exclusive revelation. Mt. 11.25-30 and 1 Cor. 1–2 both speak about divine revelation given to certain individuals, who are contrasted with the wise and intelligent. To what extent are election and revelation relevant to the question of participation in encyclical studies? Celsus demonstrates that many Christians answered this question in a way which shut them out from this training, and thus also prepared the ground for cultural and intellectual isolation. 11.3.2 Private and Unskilled We pointed out above that, according to Celsus, the Christians – being without nomos – had withdrawn from public life. In Cels. 3.55 we noted that Celsus held it against the Christians that they gathered privately, which to him implied that they were people of the country, rustic in both mind and culture. In other words, Celsus’ critique associates public life with Greek education. The Christians attracted women, children and ignorant people, and they shunned public life and persons who represented civic life. Celsus thus joins a tradition of combining public life and instruction.103 According to Minucius Felix’s Octavius, the Christians attract ignorant fools hiding themselves, being fugitives of the light: ‘They are speechless in public, but gabble away in corners (in publicum muta, in angulis garrula) (Oct. 8.4). This statement follows from the observation that the Christian fellowship attracted the more unskilled (imperitiores) and women. Christian faith is a religion of obscurity: they do nothing publico; they never speak in the open (palam), and they never assemble libere, i.e. in the open way which is characteristic of free citizens 103 The juxtaposition of education and power to rule is pointed out by Morgan 1998: 48, 267–70.


The Challenge of Homer

(Oct. 10.1-2). This political view of education is found also in Plutarch Mor. 791C–D and his criticism of the Epicurean life (Mor. 1129B–C).104 The aim of paideia, says Plutarch, is to be a noble example to the public. Virtue and public life are thus intimately connected. Plutarch’s criticism of the life withdrawn from the public sphere has much in common with the accusations levelled against the Christians by Celsus and Minucius Felix. Private life, to which belongs ignorance, prepares the ground for immorality.

11.4 The Alexandrian ‘Summary’ This chapter on Alexandrian theology in fact maps the whole issue adressed in this study. The debate on Homer and Greek paideia, in its different aspects, is summarized in many ways in the present chapter. No other early Christian writer encapsulates the entire discussion in such a condensed form as Clement and Origen. Their engagement with Christian adversaries and pagan critique provides an index to crucial aspects of the debate on the Greek legacy. This debate, which divided the Christians throughout the first centuries CE, is thus summarized in the works of the Alexandrian theologians. In opposition to fellow Christians, unlearned in Greek paidea, claiming the sufficiency of faith, and therefore in no need of any external support, Clement asserts a genuine propaideutic view on the Greek legacy. Greek learning is preparatory; paideia culminates in Christian faith as its climax. In order to defend the Christian faith, Greek learning is also necessary. In Clement there is a constant alternation between Homer, encyclical studies and philosophy. His concept owes more to Greek philosophy than to Greek poetry. He takes examples from Homer’s writings, the most important for our topic being how Odysseus and his crew reacted differently to the song of the Sirens. It appears that his focus on Homer brings more nuance and criticism into Clement’s thinking. Since his main focus is philosophy, this made it easier for him to claim the value of encyclical studies and to develop a theory of a bridge between Greek legacy and Christian faith. Clement found supportive evidence in biblical wisdom traditions and in allegorical interpretation, enabling him to find texts of relevance to the dispute about Homer and encyclical studies. Origen follows in the footsteps of his predecessor. He demonstrates how important allegorical interpretation of Scripture was to the Alexandrian position, thus also giving proof of their dependence on the Homeric legacy. The story about the plundering of the gold and silver of the Egyptians provides Origen with a paradigmatic biblical text from which 104 For further references, see Sandnes 2007.

Clement and Origen: Christian Teachers in Alexandria


he can work out both the utility and the danger of Greek education. From Origen on, this became a stock argument in discourses on Christian faith and pagan culture.105 The pagan opposition presented by Celsus depicted the Christians as vulgar and unlearned. According to Celsus, this was due not to accident, but followed naturally from the Christian doctrine itself, as presented in e.g. Mt. 11.25-30 and 1 Cor. 1–2 about God’s revelation given to the simple. In describing the rabble with which Jesus associated (tax-collectors and fishermen), and presenting the apostles as ajgravmmatoi, the New Testament itself gave witness to this vulgarity. Celsus’ critique thus mirrored the argument put forward by Clement’s adversaries.

105 See Montgomery 1999.

Chapter 12 FLAVIUS CLAUDIUS JULIANUS – EMPEROR AND APOSTATE: CHRISTIAN TEACHERS ARE IMMORAL Julian, Roman emperor from 361–63 CE, occupies the time of transition from paganism to Christianity in the Roman empire. In many ways his life story reflects the political as well as existential turbulence which followed in the wake of this transition.1 His short reign reminds us that questions of pagan culture, Greek education, liberal studies and classical literature were crucial in this period, and Julian himself saw them as crucial. Being a close relative of Constantine, Julian belonged to the dynasty closely associated with the Roman Empire’s political embrace of the Christian faith. He was raised a Christian; in his childhood he was instructed in both Christian doctrine and Greek classical literature. This is interesting since it demonstrates the position which Greek literature had now gained in families who considered themselves Christians, in particular the elite. The pagan authors made a lasting impression on Julian; when he seized power, he announced his conversion to the ancestral traditions and gods and openly participated in sacrificial rites, later on a daily basis (Ep. 58/401B).2 He describes this decision in a letter to his philosophy teacher, Maximus (Ep. 8/415C–D): ‘The gods command me to restore their worship in its utmost purity, and I obey them, yes, and with a good will.’3 The Christian tradition therefore branded him ‘the Apostate’. Julian wanted to revive ancestral traditions in which the heritage of Homer and the gods was substantial. He loved the Greek inheritance, and was convinced that this legacy could only be preserved with the religion embedded in it; Greek culture and the pagan religion could not be separated. His love of Greek intellectual traditions made him fight Christianity; his political and philosophical programme was to revive 1 Julian’s Ep. 58 pictures this situation of transition. Julian pays a visit to Asia Minor and Syria (363 CE). He addressed the senate in Aleppo about qeosevbeia, which here refers to the sacrificing of a bull. He regrets that they applauded his argument, but that few were convinced (399D–400A). 2 On Julian’s conversion, see Smith 1995: 180–88; Cook 2000: 277–84; Hoffmann 2004: 49–51. See also the classical presentation of Julian’s life by Bidez 1930: 82–89. 3 For further references to Julian’s conviction that he was divinely commissioned to restore the ancient pagan culture, see Elm 2003: 499–500.

Flavius Claudius Julianus – Christian Teachers are Immoral


paganism as a means of restoring unity and the golden age of the empire.4 To achieve this he used political as well as literary tools. His work Contra Galilaeos is reckoned as one of the most significant ancient works in this genre.5 He targeted in particular Christian claims on the Greek intellectual traditions as preserved in paideia: who was the true heir of Greekness? By implication this focused on encyclical studies and paideia in general. His criticism depends on his intimacy with Christian literature and interpretation. In Julian the Church faced an opponent who knew from the inside how Christians thought. The Achilles’ heel of the Christian faith was, according to Julian, its relationship to Jewish traditions; the Christians abandoned their ancestral faith, which was the Jewish religion, and Christian theology assumed that Judaism ceased to exist. In order to undermine the Christian claim to have superseded the Jewish faith, Julian supported the Jews in many ways. His efforts to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem primarily target the claim of Christian theology that the fall of the Temple demonstrated the truth of Christianity.6 Christianity was to Julian entirely a novum in the ancient world, disassociated from both Judaism and Hellenism.

12.1 A Law Concerning Christian Teachers In his Against the Galileans, Julian repeatedly holds it against the Christians that they have proven themselves untrue and untrustworthy vis-a`-vis Judaism and the Law of Moses. He quotes Deut. 4.2 in which Moses says: ‘You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it’ and also Deut. 27.26: ‘Cursed be anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by observing them.’ The Christians, however, have diminished, added and transgressed against the words of Moses completely, because they ‘do not look to the truth but to that which will persuade all men’ (Contra Galilaeos 320B–C).7 As we will see, Julian was aware of the persuasive power of Christian preaching. To get to the root of the problem therefore the Christians had to be cut off from school and education, which mediated the rhetorical tools necessary for 4 His political programme is visible in his Ep. 37/376C–D, where he states that he does not want the Galileans to be persecuted although they are overturning the order of the society, to which belonged also worshipping the gods; see Hoffmann 2004: 27–42. In his similar criticism of the pseudo-Cynics, Julian calls upon education; see his To the Uneducated Cynics 181B–203B. See also Kurmann 1988: 50. 5 See Malley 1978: 19–235; Smith 1995: 189–218. 6 See Wilken 1984: 171–96; Malley 1978: 127–77; Bidez 1930: 305–09. 7 Here is a lacuna in the text, but according to Cyril, Julian mentioned Acts 15.28-29 as well as Paul’s living as a Greek among Greeks, and a Jew among Jews (1 Cor. 9.19-23) as an example of Christians having no other principle than that of making recruits; see the LCL edition p. 411 and Hoffmann 2004: 133.


The Challenge of Homer

persuasion. This probably led him to issue a law on teachers,8 known as the decree of 17th June 362, Codex Theodosianus 13.3.5: De professoribus It is proper that teachers of school [magistri studiorum] and professors [doctores] should excel in morals [mores] first and then in eloquence [facundia]. But as I cannot be present in person in each city, I judge that anyone who wills to teach [docere] should not leap suddenly and casually into this employment,9 and that after being approved by the judgement of the order of curials he should obtain a resolution with the unanimous consent of the best ones [optimorum conspirante consensus].10 Then this decree should be submitted to my examination in order that those who enter the school of the cities obtain higher honour because of our judgement.11

This decree is commonly seen in tandem with Julian’s Ep. 36 (or 42) (see below), the latter being an explanatory letter in which an interpretation of the measures in the decree is laid out.12 This implies that the somewhat unclear decree is being clarified by the letter. This approach has been questioned by Thomas M. Banchich, who rightly points out that there is no mention of Christians in the decree. Taken by itself, there is nothing to indicate that it was aimed at Christians: ‘Thus, the little we know of these teachers strengthens the hypothesis that Cod. Theod.13.3.5 and Ep. 42 are discrete elements of Julian’s school legislation, that both targeted holders of public teaching positions, and that the second, but not the first, was aimed against Christian teachers, especially those openly opposed to temple worship.’13 Banchich suggests that the letter refers to legislation promulgated some months later, and that the two have been wrongly combined. I think two school laws passed within the time period of three months are likely to have something in common. Whether contemporary sources wrongly combined two laws is of minor interest relative to the fact 8 Cook 2000: 316–17 also notices the connection between this law and the effective Christian persuasion. 9 Scholia Vaticana (see Bidez and Cumont 1922: 70) says: Doctores quales esse insinuate et non ut statim exeuntes ex auditoriis, thus taking this to mean that teachers should not embark upon teaching immediately after leaving school; cf. Cook 2000: 319. 10 This refers to the consent and agreement of the municipal councils; see Banchich 1993: 9. 11 Quoted from Cook 2000: 319. For the Latin text see Bidez and Cumont 1922: 70 (text no. 61b) and Bidez 1924: 72. A French translation is available there. 12 Klein 1981: 75: ‘Der Schlu¨ssel zum wirklichen Versta¨ndnis des kaiserlichen Gesetzes liegt jedoch in jenen grossen Sendschreiben, das sich in Julians Briefcorpus findet und von ihm als Erga¨nzung und Interpretation an alle jenem gerichtet war, die von diesen Edikt betroffen waren.’ (‘The key to a real understanding of the imperial decree is to be found in the mentioned letter of Julian, which he considered as supplementing and interpreting the decree to all whom it concerned’: my trans.) 13 Banchich 1993.12.

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that they took the legislation in sum as concerning Christians. In 380 CE Jerome expanded Eusebius’ Chronicon from 303, so as to bring this historiographical work up to the events of his own time: ‘Prohaeresius, a sophist from Athens, when the law was given [lege data] that Christians were not to teach liberal studies [Christiani liberalium artium doctores essent], and when Julian allowed him especially as a Christian to teach, voluntarily abandoned school [scholam sponte deseruit].’14 Nonetheless, there is one important link between the decree and the epistle, namely the emphasis on mores. This is precisely the point which comes into play in the epistle as well. The law(s) did not have much time to work before Julian died and the law was abrogated by his successor. It is nevertheless of very much interest to our topic, since it demonstrates that the question of education really was a crucial battleground in the encounter between paganism and Christianity in antiquity. The decree is very brief; the epistle probably interprets its measures. For an adequate reading of the law enacted in 362, it is, therefore, worth quoting Julian’s Ep. 36/422–2415 in full: I hold that a proper education [paideiva ojrqhv] results, not in laboriously acquired symmetry of phrases and language, but in a healthy condition of mind, I mean a mind that has understanding and true opinions about things good and evil, honourable and base. Therefore, when a man thinks one thing and teaches his pupils another, in my opinion he fails to educate exactly in proportion as he fails to be an honest man. And if the divergence between a man’s convictions and his utterances is merely in trivial matters, that can be tolerated somehow, though it is wrong. But if in matters of the greatest importance, a man has certain opinions and teaches the contrary, what is that but the conduct of hucksters, and not honest but thoroughly dissolute men in that they praise most highly the things they believe to be most worthless, thus cheating and enticing by their praises those to whom they desire to transfer their worthless wares. Now all who profess to teach anything whatever ought to be men of upright character, and ought not to harbour in their souls opinions irreconcilable with what they publicly profess; and, above all, I believe it is necessary that those who associate with the young and teach them rhetoric should be of that upright character; for they expound the writings of the ancients, whether they be rhetoricians or grammarians, and still more if they are sophists. For these claim to teach, in addition to other things, not only use of words, but morals also, and they assert that political philosophy is their peculiar field. Let us leave aside, for the moment, the question whether this is true or not. But while I applaud them for aspiring to such high pretensions, I should applaud them still 14 Chron. 33.2 in Helm 1965 (GCS 242.23–43.1). 15 The Greek text with a French translation is available in Bidez 1924: 73–75. According to this edition, it is Ep. 42.


The Challenge of Homer more if they did not utter falsehoods and convict themselves of thinking one thing and teaching their students another. What! Was it not the gods who revealed all their learning [paideiva] to Homer, Hesiod, Demosthenes, Herodotus, Thucydides, Isocrates and Lysias? Did not these men think that they were consecrated, some to Hermes, others to the Muses? I think it is absurd that men who expound the works of these writers should dishonour the gods whom they used to honour. Yet, though I think this absurd, I do not say that they ought to change their opinions and then instruct the young. But I give them this choice; either not to teach what they do not think admirable, or, if they wish to teach, let them first really persuade their pupils that neither Homer nor Hesiod nor any of these writers whom they expound and have declared to be guilty of impiety, folly and error in regard to the gods, is such as they declare. For since they make a livelihood and receive pay from the works of these writers, they thereby confess that they are most shamefully greedy of gain, and that, for the sake of a few drachmae, they would put up with anything. It is true that, until now, there were many excuses for not attending the temples, and the terror that threatened on all sides absolves men for concealing the truest beliefs about the gods.16 But since the gods have granted us liberty, it seems to me absurd that men should teach what they do not believe to be sound. But if they believe those whose interpreters they are and for whom they sit, so to speak, in the seat of the prophets, were wise men, let them be the first to emulate their piety towards the gods. If, however, they think that those writers were in error with respect to the most honoured gods, then let them betake themselves to the churches of the Galileans to expound Matthew and Luke, since you Galileans are obeying them when you ordain that men should refrain from temple worship. For my part, I wish that your ears and your tongues might be ‘born anew’, as you would say, as regards these things17 in which may I ever have part, and all who think and act as is pleasing to me. For religious and secular teachers let there be a general ordinance to this effect: Any youth who wishes to attend these schools is not excluded; nor indeed would it be reasonable to shut out from the best way boys who are still too ignorant to know which way to turn, and to overawe them into being led against their will to the beliefs of their ancestors. Though indeed it might be proper to cure [ija'sqai] these, even against their will, as one cures all the insane [frenitivzonte"], except that we concede indulgence to all for this sort of disease [novso"]. For we ought, I think, to teach, but not punish, the demented [ajnovhtoi].

16 This is a reference to the constraints laid upon traditional worship during the reign of Constantine. 17 The Greek w|n refers to the belief of the poets about the gods; thus LCL also.

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Julian’s decree and his letter proceed from the fact that Christians participated in liberal studies, as students as well as teachers. His main point is that Christian faith and Homer cannot be reconciled without abandoning the ideal that paideiva primarily aimed at forming a true and integrated character, in short a virtuous person. We have seen many times during this investigation that the critical Christian view of Homer and encyclical studies drew upon previous ancient philosophical traditions. From the Greeks they learned the principle of distinguishing between good and bad, useful and unprofitable. This principle was, as we have observed, associated with morals, conduct and idolatry in Homer’s poems. Now Julian takes advantage of the Christians’ adoption of this philosophical tradition. The Christians who claim to be morally trustworthy – in opposition to Homeric texts – are not troubled by instructing children in exactly these texts! Julian claims that this affects the mores of the Christians. The conclusion at hand is that Christian teachers are intent on pecuniary gain only; they thus fall victims to the criticism raised by many Greek philosophers against encyclical teachers. The rhetorical strategy of Julian is to present Christian teachers participating in liberal education as immoral. They bring to mind the critique against greedy teachers who only teach to make a living; Julian thus redirects a commonplace in philosophical critique of liberal teachers against Christians. There is no difference, he claims, between Christian teachers who disagree with the Homeric poems, but who still teach them to their students, and teachers who do so with the aim of making money. Julian fights the Christians in the name of morality, which requires a fundamental correspondence between the curriculum and the teacher’s personal approval and sympathy with the curriculum.18 Julian’s school legislation assumes that some Christians – so many that he considered legislation was justified – were involved in liberal studies, including Homer. From this letter we gain the impression that Christian participation took place due to strategic thinking; they considered it less dangerous since it was only an outward instruction in language and skills. Julian’s contrast between ‘symmetry of phrases and language’ and ‘healthy condition of mind’ as well as between ‘the use of words’ and ‘morals’ addresses a partial strategy on the part of the Christians versus his own comprehensive view. A strategy of partiality is probably a precise rendering of the Christian practice of seeking the profitable and leaving out the useless, in short, it is the result of the critical sifting process which we have uncovered in the present investigation: an attitude for which the analogy with the bees was instructive.19 Julian blames the Christians for a 18 Hippolytus’ somewhat hesitant compromise in Trad. ap. 16: 8–9 (Ch. 8 in this study) would certainly appear as immoral to Julian. 19 See e.g. Chs 11.1.3; 13.1.3 and 16.5.3.


The Challenge of Homer

narrow technical view of Homer. He attacks precisely this strategy of coping with Homer that developed from their ambivalent attitude to the Homeric traditions. Ep. 36 takes the view that Christian students are welcomed into the schools, in analogy with a patient into a hospital. They are to be cured; hence they are welcome.20 Christian contemporary sources, however, give a somewhat more complex picture. Julian considered the gradual acceptance of Homer and liberal arts among Christians by no means desirable; on the contrary, this was precisely the problem: Homer without devotion to traditional religion. A Julian fragment preserved in Theodoret’s (c. 393–c. 460) Historia ecclesiastica 3.8.1-2 says that the emperor forbade children of the Galileans to study the words of the poets, rhetoricians, and philosophers: ‘. . . for as the proverb has it, we are struck by our own arrows. For they arm themselves from our own writings to do battle with us [povlemo"].’21 This means that students from time to time were probably excluded from education. Similarly, Socrates (c. 380–450) 3.12.7 says that Julian issued a law that Christians should be cut off from education (novmwæ ejkevleue Cristianou;" < E J llhnikh'"> paideuvsew" mh; meqevxein), thus preventing them from sharpening their language (ajkonwvmenoi th;n glw'ttan) which is necessary to respond to Greek thoughts (pro;" tou;" dialektikou;" tw'n E J llhvnwn ajpantw'sin). Zonaras (twelfth century) 3.12.21 says that Julian hindered the Christians from participating in Greek learning (kwluvein aujtou;" maqhmavtwn meqevxein JEllhnikw'n).22 All these texts attribute the decree to the emperor’s concern that Christians were arming themselves with Greek liberal studies. Although the legislation attempts to impose restrictions on Christian teachers, students were also its victims. Military terms such as povlemo" and oJplivzesqai set the tone in these texts. These sources thus leave us with a picture more complex than what appears from the decree itself and from Ep. 36. Julian speaks in terms of warfare and knowledge of liberal arts becoming a threatening weapon in the hands of the Galileans. They wage war against Greek culture with the help of Greek poets, rhetoricians and philosophers. By restricting their access to education, Julian hoped to turn

20 Julian seems here to think that proper education will work with Christian students. He firmly believes in the persuasive power of the traditional stories. Correct instruction and compassion will turn Christian students away from their faith. He compares Christian faith to a disease also in Ep. 58/401C; Contra Galilaeos 327B. 21 Quoted from Smith 1995: 199. This imperial dictum is quoted in Greek by Bidez and Cumont 1922: 74 (text nr. 61d). Sozomen’s Church History 5.18 likewise says that Julian forbade children of Christians to attend school and to be instructed in the writings of the Greek poets (see below). 22 For the Greek text of Socrates and Zonaras, see Bidez and Cumont 1922: 74. See also Hansen 1995.

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them away from the intellectual traditions which made the Christians appear as equals in society.23 The struggle for intellectual equality is clearly addressed by Sozomen24 in his Historia ecclesiastica 5.18.1-4:25 [Julian’s] sole motive for excluding the children of Christian parents from instruction in the learning of the Greeks, was because he considered such studies conducive to the acquisition of argumentative and persuasive power . . . Apollinaris, therefore, employed his great learning and ingenuity in the production of a heroic epic on the antiquities of the Hebrews to the reign of Saul, as a substitute for the poem of Homer [ajnti; me;n th'" JOmhvrou poihvsew"]. He divided his work into twenty-four parts, to each of which he appended the name of one of the letters of the Greek alphabet, according to their number and order. He also wrote comedies in imitation of Menander, tragedies resembling those of Euripides, and odes on the model of Pindar. In short, taking themes of the entire circle of knowledge [ta; ejgkuvklia maqhvmata]26 from the scriptures, he produced within a very brief space of time, a set of works which in manner, expression, character and arrangement are well approved as similar to the Greek literatures.27

Sozomen points to argumentative and persuasive power as a focal point of Julian’s law against Christian participation in schools. During the crisis of 362, Apollinaris, father and son, wrote a biblical story to replace Homer, using the poetic style of classical Greek literature.28

23 Hardy 1978: 388 doubts that these Christian sources are right: ‘Julian selbst wies ausdru¨cklich darauf hin, dass Christenkindern der Schulbesuch gestattet sein sollte: ep 36’; ‘Julian himself states explicitly that children of Christian parents should be allowed to attend school’ (my trans.). (p. 401 n. 6). This conclusion is favoured by the law itself and Ep. 36. Julian’s concern about Christian access through Greek learning to the means of rhetorical persuasion, however, suggests a more restrictive attitude. After all, the voice of those concerned is probably worth listening to. The sources leave us in some doubt about the students and the legislation. 24 Sozomen lived early in the fifth century CE. On the model of Eusebius, he wrote a history of the Church covering the period from 323–425 CE. 25 Bidez 1960: 222. 26 Apollinaris is here viewing the Scriptures in a way comparable to Homer in antiquity. From Homer all kind of knowledge was culled; likewise knowledge on all matters was extracted from the Scriptures. 27 Quoted from Young 2002: 71–72. A translation is also available in Hoffmann 2004: 205–06, and in NPNF 2.340. 28 See Young 1997: 71–72. MacDonald 1994: 24–27 mentions more examples like this; see also Ch. 17.1 in this study. The attempt of the two Apollinarises to replace classical Greek literature by a rewritten Bible, inspired also by Homeric style, is mentioned also by Socrates in his Church History 3.18; see NPNF 2: 86–88. This is a good example of imitation and emulation, see Sandnes 2005.


The Challenge of Homer

Julian’s law and position became a target for the criticism of Gregory of Nazianzus, one of the Cappadocian fathers,29 in his Discourse 4, particularly in }4–6.100-109.30 While Julian’s thoughts on school, teachers and education aimed at a religious and political unity, Gregory’s discussion seeks to demonstrate ‘dass E { llhne" lovgoi und JEllhnikh; qrhskeiva nicht identisch sind’;31 i.e. Greek education and literature32 versus Greek piety or cult.33 Gregory criticizes Julian for turning Greek glw'ssa, language, into religion (Disc. 4.5/536A). He blames Julian for claiming for himself, as private property (wJ" ijdivwn aujtou') the Greek lovgoi, which, in fact, belonged as a common good to all persons of reason (Disc. 4.4/536A).34 Gregory fought to demonstrate that Greekness was not identical with paganism: ‘Whoever equated Greekness and Greek learning – that is, philosophy – exclusively with belief in the Greek gods denied the universality of Greekness, itself the perfect mixture of the best of all the peoples within the Roman oikoumene.’35 Gregory thus reasons in a way that differs strongly from Tertullian. To the latter, idolatry was ubiquitous, lurking everywhere in Greek culture. Gregory proceeds from the conviction that Greek culture can be preserved without Greek religion; the differences between the two can be sorted out more easily. Gregory returns to the indictment that Julian is depriving the Christians of lovgoi in 4.101-2. According to Gregory’s citation in 4.102/637A–B, Julian claims that lovgoi and Greekness (to; JEllhnivzein) belong together. The level of education indicated by lovgoi is thus a sign of Greekness, and cannot be separated from Greek piety, to; sevbein qeouv". As for the Christians, however, Julian, reserves only ajlogiva and ajgroikiva, precisely expressed in the imperative Pivsteuson. Thus Julian abbreviates Christian sofiva.36 Gregory opposes this without denying the importance of faith. He makes reference to the first and most important among the principles of the Pythagoreans: Aujto;" e[fa, which expresses the authority of their 29 See next chapter. Elm 2003 demonstrates that Julian’s edict made Gregory embark upon a ‘writing campaign which incorporated Scripture into Greek learning to the most comprehensive degree possible, with fundamental consequences for Byzantine thought’ (p. 504). In Civ. 18.52 Augustine mentions Julian’s legislation as one among many examples of persecution: ‘Did not he persecute the Church who forbade to teach and learn liberal letters?’ In Latin: ‘qui Christianos liberales litteras docere ac discere vetuit?’ Quoted from LCL. Litterae is here a reference to Greek education with emphasis on the reading. Augustine claims that Julian issued a law that concerned both teachers and students. 30 For a commentary on these paragraphs, see Kurmann 1988. 31 Kurmann 1988: 50. 32 Thus Kurmann renders lovgoi. 33 LSJ s.v. renders qrhskeiva as ‘religious worship, cult, ritual’; see also Schmidt 1965. 34 For the Greek text see Bernardi 1983 or PG 35.531-664. 35 Elm 2003: 506 thus summarizes Gregory’s main point in his struggle with Julian. 36 The similarity to Celsus’ criticism of Christian faith is striking; see Cels. 6.1.7, 10-11 and Ch. 11.3 above.

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teacher.37 Gregory says that this exhortation is similar to the Christian Pivsteuson, but has not been likewise ridiculed. The validity of this argument depends upon the Christians growing in self-esteem, seeing themselves as no longer endangered.

12.2 Imperial Rhetoric Inspired by Aristotle and the Bible Julian considered himself and his viewpoints the true heirs of the intellectual heritage of Greece. In his Against the Galileans this conviction is forcefully expressed against the Christians. The literature of the Galileans is childish (39B) and instruction in the Bible is for slaves (230A).38 The Christian writings are wholly inferior to those of the Greeks (229D). The Christians must therefore make a choice between the gospels and Homer: If the reading of your own scriptures is sufficient for you why do you nibble at the learning [maqhvmata] of the Hellenes? And yet it were better to keep men away from that learning than from eating of sacrificial meat. For by that, as even Paul says,39 he who eats thereof is not harmed, but the conscience of the brother who sees him might be offended according to you, O most wise and arrogant men! But this learning of ours has caused every noble being [gennai'o"] that nature has produced among you to abandon impiety [ajqeovth"]. Accordingly everyone who possessed even a small fraction of innate virtue has speedily abandoned your impiety. It were therefore better for you to keep men from learning rather than from sacrificial meats. But you yourselves know, it seems to me, the very different effect on the intelligence [suvnesi"] of your writings as compared with ours; and that from studying yours no man could attain to excellence [gennai'o" ajnhvr] or even to ordinary goodness [ejpieikhv"], whereas from studying ours every man would become better than before, even though he were altogether without natural fitness. But when a man is naturally well endowed, and moreover receives the education of our literature, he becomes actually a gift of the gods to mankind, either by kindling the light of knowledge, or by founding some kind of political constitution, or by routing numbers of his country’s foes, or even by travelling far over the earth and far by sea, and thus proving himself a man of heroic mould [hJrwikov"] . . . Now this would be a clear proof [tekmhvrion]: Choose out children from among you all and train and educate them in your scriptures, and if

37 called 38 39

Bernardi 1983: 251–52 translates: ‘Le Maıˆtre l’a dit’, which brings to mind the somessenger formula in biblical terminology (‘Thus says the Lord’). This brings to mind Celsus’ critique; see Cook 2000: 320–22. 1 Cor. 8.7-13, cf. Acts 15.28-29.


The Challenge of Homer when they come to manhood they prove to have nobler qualities than slaves, then you may believe that I am talking nonsense and suffering from spleen. Yet you are so misguided and foolish that you regard those chronicles of yours as divinely inspired, though by their help no man could ever become wiser or braver or better than he was before; while, on the other hand, writings by whose aid men can acquire courage, wisdom and justice, these you ascribe to Satan and to those who serve Satan [tw'æ satana'æ latreuvousin]! (Contra Galilaeos 229C–30A)

This shows how Julian justified his cause rhetorically. His rhetoric draws on the ancient rhetorical topos of consequence, as described for example by Aristotle in his Ars rhetorica 2.23.14. Aristotle presents this topos in relation to the question of paideiva, which might be viewed negatively because it brings envy, but also positively since it even more brings wisdom.40 The logic of this topos is that an action is to be viewed according to the consequences it brings. Generally speaking, ‘things which produce a greater good are greater’ (Rhet. 1.7.7). Julian’s use of the rhetorical term tekmhvrion41 is a clear indication that he is arguing according to rhetorical commonplaces here.42 His point is that Hellenistic education and literature produce better effects than the Scriptures of the Christians. To prove this he refers to the achievements of Greek education and culture, such as wise people, i.e. philosophers, politicians, soldiers, generals, legislators, craftsmen: ‘But has God granted to you any science or any philosophical study?’ (Contra Galilaeos 178A).43 By such standards Greek culture is certainly better than both Judaism and Christianity. At the centre of Julian’s comparison is, of course, the education which produced these effects: ‘The Greek paideia became a religion and article of faith.’44 But Julian is not content with this ancient rhetoric; his strategy also includes biblical texts, hoping to convince Christians who participate in liberal studies, whether teachers or students, that their own tradition, if taken seriously, does not justify their participation. He employs an argument typical of Christians who hardly participated in these studies: namely that Greek classical literature originated with the devil. This argument is, according to the logic of consequence implied here, at best unreasonable. Similarly, he asks rhetorically, if it is enough for the Christians to read their own Scriptures, why do they still nibble at the learning of the Greeks? But Julian seems to miss his target here, because 40 Plato provides a good example of how the topos of consequence may be used in his dialogue Phaedrus; see especially 238E–45C. 41 See LSJ s.v. 42 Thus also Cook 2000: 317–18. 43 Cf. Contra Galilaeos 184B; 190C; 218B–C; 221E; 222A. 44 Jaeger 1961: 72.

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the Satanic origin of Greek learning as well as the sufficiency of the Scriptures, could only work on Christians who opposed encyclical studies.45 He hardly comes to terms with Christians like Clement, Origen and the Cappadocians. Julian applies Paul’s argument in 1 Cor. 8 as well. Paul issued warnings against the eating of idol food. Now Julian points out that Greek learning is far more damaging to Christian faith than idol food. The eating of food sacrificed to the idols harms only the conscience of fellow Christians, while Greek learning has caused many intelligent Christians to abandon their faith. It is, of course, important for Julian to say that the wisest Christians have left their faith, thus depicting those who still hold to their faith as a rabble of unwise and unintelligent people. His reading of 1 Cor. 8 is in accordance with the topos of consequence or a fortiori reasoning. Paul urged his converts to stay away from idol food. If Greek learning has proved more dangerous than idol food, Paul’s text should then, by implication, militate against liberal arts even more. Julian’s reference to 1 Cor. 8 brings to mind Tertullian’s argument in De Idololatria, but he takes the text of the apostle even further. Tertullian says that 1 Cor. 8 forbade any association with idols.46 Julian says the same, and both of them proceed from 1 Cor. 8 to the question of encyclical studies. Tertullian, however, made a distinction between teacher and learner which to some extent helped him out of his dilemma. It is remarkable how Julian in this text presents arguments typical of worried Christians. Such arguments were naturally not relevant to Christians who reconciled Christ and Homer. He is attacking the Clement-like Christians with arguments of the ‘Tertullian school’. Greek learning was to Julian simultaneously poetic and sacred: ‘Homer and Plato could not possibly be fully appreciated unless they were thought of as saints.’47 When in the present text Julian also mentions the virtues found in Greek literature, many Christians would consider them as true examples of the existence of something profitable even in Homer. Since Julian, in fact, argues along the same lines as the Christian opponents of liberal arts, he does not address this distinction made by many believers. His logic is a continuation of Tertullian, Clement’s adversaries and Didascalia apostolorum: Homer, Hesiod and Christ are in principle incompatible. Greek classical literature cannot be viewed in a technical way only; it speaks about deities who justify religion other than Christianity. Homer’s stories must be taken seriously, even when they speak about gods and worship. 45 46 in the 47

See Ch. 11.1.1 in this study. I suppose he would have found Julian’s interpretation of the idol-food issue too vague light of what Paul actually said in 1 Cor. 8. See Athanassiadi 1992: 122–24 (quotation p. 124).


The Challenge of Homer

Julian’s concern was with Christians who claimed Greek education and cultural heritage as part of the Christian worldview. In his view, these Christians ‘secularized’ pagan literature by replacing Homer with the Bible while still making use of his texts. He feared a potential for conquering Greek culture from within.48 In the midst of his demonstration that Greek culture is superior to biblical heroes, Julian mentions Solomon, ‘the wisest man’ (oJ sofwvtato") (Contra Galilaeos 224C–E). Julian says that even Solomon is inferior to his Greek counterparts, such as Isocrates with his proverbs. More interesting to us now is how he deploys sophisticated rhetoric: he says that Solomon worshipped ‘our gods’: toi'" hJmetevroi" ejlavtreuse qeoi'" (224D), and adds triumphantly that he did so because he was deluded by his wife (1 Kgs 11.4). The way Solomon’s idolatry is here seen as the worship of Greek deities is worth noting. Julian considers it a poor kind of wisdom to be deluded by a woman. But, he says, ‘if you are convinced he was wise, do not believe that he was deluded by a woman, but that, trusting to his own judgement and intelligence and the teaching that he received from the God who had been revealed to him, he served the other gods also.’ Thanks to his suvnesi", the wisdom for which he was praised even by Christians, he worshipped the Homeric deities, concludes Julian triumphantly.49 He uses Solomon to hoist Christian advocates of Greek learning with their own petard, attempting to bring down one of the key figures from the Bible. Solomon’s wisdom was, as we have seen, a commonplace among Christian supporters of Greek learning, wisdom e[xwqen. This very wisdom witnesses against the Christians – Solomon himself worshipped the gods of Homer. Julian now hits his target; precisely this man worshipped the gods of Homer. Thus Julian’s criticism of Christian participation in encyclical studies confirms our findings so far, namely that 1 Cor. 8–10 and Old Testament wisdom traditions were at the heart of the Christian discourse on this question. Robert Lamberton points out that Julian has a mixed attitude to Homer. As a Platonist, he is sceptical of myths and allegorical interpretation, but nevertheless views Homer’s writings as the theological authority. His hostility to Christian interpreters of Homer is coupled with his own muddled interpretation of the same texts. He was trying his best to rescue Homer from the interpretative community of the Christians, ‘but the community with which he would have replaced it had ceased to exist’.50

48 This is pointed out also by Young 2002: 74–75. 49 In his refutation of Julian, Cyril noted this point; see Malley 1978: 338–40. 50 Lamberton 1986: 139.

Chapter 13 THE CAPPADOCIAN FATHERS Basil the Great (c. 330–79), his younger brother Gregory of Nyssa (c. 331– 95) and Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 330–90) were all from Cappadocia in present-day central Turkey.1 They lived approximately at the time of Julian. Although they sharply disagreed with him, these men shared his conviction that the question of Greek education and literature in many ways reflected the relationship between paganism and Christianity. The Cappadocian fathers were significant figures in the Christological debates, and they were opponents of Arius. Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus studied rhetoric and Greek philosophy in Athens, and were deeply impressed by the traditions of Greek knowledge preserved in this venerable city. The Cappadocians continue the logic of Alexandrian theologians, as we have already met it with Clement and Origen in Chapter 11. Gregory Thaumaturgus (see Chapter 11.2.2), a student of Origen, was from Cappadocia, and thus forms a link between Alexandria and this district.2

13.1 Basil of Caesarea/Basil the Great: Ad adolescentes In his well-known Ad adolescentes, Basil tells young men how they might gain help from Greek literature, thus following the example of Ps.Plutarch (On Education of Children) and addressing this topic in the traditional way of parental advice.3 Basil is primarily addressing classical Greek literature, not schools and education per se, but, as we have seen throughout, these are intertwined. It is the aim of the following to present this particular writing with a view to its relevance to the present investigation. It has been suggested that Basil wrote this essay shortly after Julian’s decree banishing Christian teachers from schools and teaching. This, of course, aggravated the situation for those parents who already found themselves in a state of mixed feelings on the issue of Greek education. There is, however, no 1 For a general introduction to the Cappadocian fathers, see Meredith 1995. 2 Helleman 1990: 44. 3 An echo of this literature has been heard in classrooms for centuries, see Svendsen 1980; Lamberz 1979: 75; Klein 1997: 173–76 and especially Schucan 1973.


The Challenge of Homer

reference to this precise occasion – about which we might expect Basil to be vocal on this score – in the treatise.4 13.1.1 Diakrisis: The Best Way Basil introduces his Ad adolescentes by citing the experience he has gained.5 He conveys to his young nephews what he considers to be best, ‘the safest road’ (oJdw'n th;n ajsfalestavthn uJpodeiknuvnai) (Adol. 1.1). His nephews see their teachers on a daily basis (kaq j eJkavsthn hJmevran eij" didaskavlou" foitw'si) (1.4), and when with them, they enter, through the literature studied there, into a dialogue with the famous men of the past, men who have left behind only their written words. This is Basil’s respectful way of introducing the classical literature. The level of the implied teaching is not mentioned, but it clearly includes the literature involved in traditional encyclical training, thereby implying that they were about 16 years old.6 The aim of this work Basil summarizes towards the end of his first chapter. He teaches his students (pai'de") (Adol. 1.1) to accept what is useful (crhvsimon), which also implies disregarding (parora'n) some other things (Adol. 1.5, cf. 2.2).7 The full title of this work has the Greek term wjfelei'n, meaning to derive profit or advantage;8 this term points to Basil’s primary perspective on Greek literature. This aim necessarily means learning how to distinguish between material to be accepted and material to be neglected: tiv crh; kai; paridei'n: ‘What, therefore, these things are, and how we shall distinguish [diakrinou'men] between them, is the lesson which I shall teach you from this point on’ (Adol. 1.5). Basil does not discuss whether his students should read pagan texts or not; he takes it for granted that they do.9 13.1.2 Preparation The basic insight from which Basil proceeds in order to define judicious use of pagan literature, is taken from Greek philosophy, slightly Christianized. He draws upon the major philosophical issue in antiquity,

4 Pace Moffatt 1972. 5 This text is probably written towards the end of his life; see Lamberz 1979: 85–95. 6 Lamberz 1979: 80–81. 7 Cf. Adol. 2.3; 4.1.3. This implies that Basil is not urging a selective reading, but rather selective attention. 8 LSJ s.v. 9 Lamberz 1979: 81: ‘Dass die heidnischen Autoren von denen, die eine ho¨here Bildung erhalten, gelesen werden, ist selbstversta¨ndlich und wird von Basilios vorausgesetzt’; ‘Basil obviously takes it for granted that pagan authors were read by those who received higher education’ (my trans.).

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‘the supreme good’,10 and argues in a way resembling Aristotle’s Rhetoric, presenting the topos of consequence: ‘things which produce a greater good are greater’ (Rhet. 1.6.7), and ‘things that last longer are preferable to those that are of shorter duration’ (Rhet. 1.7.26). This topos is subordinated to the philosophical question of the greater good. Basil argues that nothing is good if it prepares only for this life. He mentions various ways of answering the quest for the highest good, such as ancestry, strength of body, beauty, stature or honours. In contrast to these good things, Basil says that education must be valued according to its ability to prepare for the other life, which is more precious, as the soul is more precious than the body (Adol. 2.5): ‘everything we do is by way of preparation [paraskeuhv] for the other life. Whatever, therefore, contributes to that life, we say must be loved and pursued with all our strength; but what does not conduce to that must be passed over as of no account’ (Adol. 2.2-3). Wisdom ‘from the outside’ can thus function as a preparation for the life to come. By this Basil does not imply that training in Greek literature in any way gives access to salvation. From the immediate context it can be elucidated, however, that this training contributes to a better understanding of the Scriptures, and helps both the presentation and the defence of faith. Basil takes an analogy from athletic competitions. Participants in an agoˆn prepare themselves by making use of everything which may in some way equip them for the combat: Now to that other life the Holy Scriptures lead the way, teaching [ejkpaideuvein] us through mysteries. Yet so long as, by reason of your age, it is impossible for you to understand the depth of the meaning of these, in the meantime, by means of other analogies which are not entirely different, we give, as it were in shadows and reflections, a preliminary training [progumnavzein] to the eye of the soul, imitating those who perform their drills in military tactics, who, after they have gained experience by means of gymnastic exercises for the arms and dance-steps for the feet, enjoy when it comes to the combat the profit derived from what was done in sport. So we also must consider that a contest [ajgwvn], the greatest of all contests, lies before us, for which we must do all things, and, in preparation [paraskeuhv] for it, must strive to the best of our power, and must associate with poets and writers of prose and orators and with all men from where there is benefit [wjfevleia] with reference to the care of our soul. Therefore, just as dyers first prepare [paraskeuavzein] by certain treatments whatever material is to receive the dye, and then apply the colour, whether it be purple or some other hue, so we also in the same manner must first, if the glory of the good is to abide with us indelible for all time, be instructed by these 10 Augustine similarly presents the Christian message with reference to ‘the greater good’ (Paul’s Areopagos Speech in Sermo 150/PL 38.807-814). He blames the philosophers for having confined the discussion of summum bonum to human things; see Sandnes 2002: 253.


The Challenge of Homer outside means [e[xw], and then shall understand the sacred and mystical teachings [paideuvmata]; and like those who have become accustomed to seeing the reflection of the sun in the water, so we shall then direct our eyes to the light itself. (Adol. 2.6-8)

Basil’s phrase ‘care of our soul’ (pro;" th;n th'" yuch'" ejpimevleian wjfevleian) encapsulates the main perspective from which the whole treatise proceeds. Into the image of the athlete or soldier preparing himself for the agoˆn, Basil fuses another illustration, namely the dyer who prepares his material before adding the right colour, thus making the colour abide (paramevnein). Both illustrations emphasize the necessity of propaideutic and preparatory activities. Instruction in Greek literature is thus not only useful, but even necessary, enabling faith to defend itself and thus to survive. Thus Basil continues the logic of both Clement and Origen.11 Due to the age of the nephews, Basil teaches by analogies, illustrations or shadowy examples paving the way for true ‘seeing’. The final aim is to prepare them for beholding the light itself (Adol. 2.8, cf. 10.1).12 Basil calls pagan literature ‘knowledge from the outside’ (quvraqen 3.2; e[xwqen 10.1) as opposed to ours (hJmevteroi logoiv 10.1). This insider– outsider distinction is worth noting since it assumes an ambivalent attitude which can easily be overlooked in Basil’s pragmatic argument. This fits into his mention of bees, which are able to distinguish between poison and honey (Adol. 4.3) (see later), although Basil’s illustration is not to be equated with Tertullian’s poison analogy.13 Nonetheless, knowledge from the outside can be beneficial, due to the affiliation (oijkeiovth") which exists between this legacy and Christian paideiva (Adol. 3.1). Basil argues that Greek literature serves a preparatory end for believers, made possible by this connection. This is suggested by Exod. 3 where it says that Moses sees God (vv. 2– 3). ‘Seeing’ is knowledge in its fullest sense, according to Platonic thinking.14 Moses contemplated God, the one whose being is real: ‘God said to Moses: ‘I am who I am’’ (Exod. 3.14). Before Moses saw God thus, he was trained (ejggumnasavmeno") in the wisdom of the Egyptians. This follows from Acts 7.21-22 where Stephen summarizes Moses’ stay in Egypt in the following way: ‘Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. So Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was powerful in his words and deeds.’ 11 As pointed out by Giet 1941: 217–46, Basil was, however, more sensitive to the dangers inherent in Greek education. 12 As pointed out by Helleman 1990: 38–39, this is indicative of the influence of Platonic motifs in Basil’s treatise. 13 See Ch. 10.2 in this study. 14 See references in Ch. 5.2 in this study.

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Moses thus brings together knowledge about divine things (‘seeing God’) and insight from the outside; i.e. pagan wisdom. This story about Moses thus forms, according to Basil, a principle for how the two kinds of knowledge relate. Supportive evidence includes the story about Daniel, who learnt the wisdom of the Chaldeans before embarking upon divine knowledge (ta; qei'a paideuvmata) (Adol. 3.3-4). This is, of course, drawn from Dan 1.4: ‘versed in every branch of wisdom, endowed with knowledge and insight . . . they were to be taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans’.15 Basil defines the preparatory role of pagan wisdom in terms of protection. This emerges from the analogy he presents in Chapter 3. Ta; qeiva paideuvmata or the divine Scriptures are compared with a tree yielding its fruit. To protect the fruit, a tree has leaves providing shade and beneficial temperatures. Greek literature works likewise vis-a`-vis Christian faith, says Basil. 13.1.3 Learning from Pagan Poets: The Sirens and the Bees The first three chapters of Ad adolescentes lay out Basil’s doctrine about the relative usefulness of pagan knowledge. From Chapter 4 on he addresses more directly the question of how young Christians should take part in this. What is to be learnt from pagan poets? The principle of diavkrisi" is now worked out more practically. The stories told by the poets are to be imitated16 when they describe good men’s lives. Contrariwise, when they describe wicked men and their words and deeds, these are to be shunned. Then one must stop one’s ears, as did Odysseus when he heard the tempting song of the Sirens (Od. 12.37-73). Basil briefly refers to this story, and lumps together Odysseus’ and his crews’ attitude into one simple refusal. We have seen that Clement upheld the difference in Homer’s text between the reactions of Odysseus and his shipmates, and he exhausted this in his allegorical interpretation of the story. In this story, Clement identified both his adversaries and his own opinion. Basil’s reference to this story appears less nuanced; the story is used only to display the danger of Greek learning, not to justify its ambivalence, its being simultaneously dangerous and attractive. From what we have seen so far, it is evident that Basil knew this ambivalence very well, but he does not bring it into his presentation of this famous Homeric story. Basil values Greek literature mainly on the basis of the ethical 15 Septuagint here reads: ejpisthvmona" ejn pavshæ sofivaæ kai; grammatikou;" kai; sunetou;" kai; sofou;" kai; ijscuvonta" w{ste ei\nai ejn tw'æ oi[kwæ tou' basilevw" kai; didavxai aujtou;" gravmmata kai; diavlekton Caldai>kh;n. 16 According to Basil, imitation means to love the good examples and even to outdo (zhlou'n) the paradigms found in the pagan poems. For zhlou'n as synonymous with emulatio, see Sandnes 2005: 722–25.


The Challenge of Homer

paradigms of virtues and vices found there. This comes clearly through when he proceeds to examples of vices mentioned by the poets, which have to be avoided by his readers, such as reviling or mockery, love affairs, drinking and gluttony. When the poets speak about the gods, his readers have the least to learn from them: But least of all shall we give attention to them when they narrate anything about the gods, and especially when they speak of them as being many, and these too not even in accord with one another. For in their poems brother is at feud with brother, and father with children, and the latter in turn are engaged in truceless war with their parents. But the adulteries of gods and their amours and their sexual acts in public, and especially those of Zeus, the chief and highest of all, as they themselves describe him, actions which one would blush to mention of even brute beasts – all these we shall leave to stage-folk. (Adol. 4.4-5)

The need to distinguish rightly is expressed as the analogy of the bees to help the young addressees to understand. From the flowers the bees collect some and leave some behind, and from this they produce honey: It is, therefore, in accordance with the whole similitude of the bees, that we should participate in pagan literature. For these neither approach all flowers equally, nor in truth do they attempt to carry off entire those upon which they alight, but taking only so much of them as suitable for their work, they suffer the rest to go untouched. We ourselves too, if we are wise, having appropriated from this literature what is suitable to us and akin to the truth [o{son oijkei'on hJmi'n suggene;" th'æ ajlhqeivaæ], will pass over [uJperbaivnein] the remainder. And just as in plucking the blooms from a rose-bed we avoid the thorns, so also in garnering from such writings whatever is useful [crhvsimon], let us guard ourselves against what is harmful. (Adol. 4.8-9)

Bees know the difference between poison and honey (Adol. 4.3). Basil describes the work of the bees in a double way, as taking some and leaving some aside or appropriating what is suitable versus passing over the remainder; in short, garnering what is useful and guarding oneself against what is harmful. It is a matter of finding among the many ‘flowers’ akin to truth, oijkei'on hJmi'n or suggene;" th'æ ajlhqeivaæ, thus implying that Basil measures Greek literature according to what is compatible with Christian doctrine.17 The bees provide a helpful illustration for how Christians should relate to Homer and Greek literature used in the training of children and youngsters. The analogy of the bees is, however, taken from Greek philosophical tradition critical of Homer and the classical literature, a tradition which we traced to Plato or his predecessors. The work of the bees was a commonplace, describing the critical sifting 17 Thus also Gnilka 1984: 113–14.

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process vis-a`-vis Greek classical literature.18 The Athenian rhetorician Isocrates, Plato’s contemporary, says that students should: With these examples19 before you, you should aspire to nobility of character, and not only abide by what I have said, but acquaint yourself with the best things [ta; bevltista manqavnein] in the poets as well, and learn from other wise men also any useful lessons [crhvsimon] they have taught. For just as we see the bee settling on all the flowers, and sipping the best [ta; bevltista] from each, so also those who aspire to culture [paideiva] ought not to leave anything untested, but should gather [sullevgein] useful knowledge [ta; crhvsima] from every source [pantacovqen] (Demon. 51–52).

The criterion of crhvsimon brings Isocrates to speak of the bees. In his text on how to study the poets, Ps.Plutarch says that bees find the sweetest honey among thorny flowers. When children have learned to make right use of the poets, they act like bees; they separate what is useful and beneficial (crhvsimon) from what is evil (fau'lon) and out of place (a[topon) (Mor. 32E–F).20 In his critical approach to Homer and Hesiod, Basil depends on this philosophical tradition, and considers a Christian reading of Greek classical literature as following in the wake of this ancient tradition. Judicious use of pagan literature, according to Basil, does not imply an eclectic reading. Basil basically accepts the traditional education passed on through generations. His instructions speak in terms of ignoring (parora'n) and stopping the ears like Odysseus. This way of speaking indicates difference in focus and attention, a selective emphasis, so to 18 Gnilka 1984: 102–09; see Chs. 11.1.3 and 16.5.3 in this study. 19 Good and evil among the immortals are mentioned in the preceding. 20 Plutarch applies this analogy to how a husband from his studies brings to the spouse what is useful and beneficial (to; wjfevlimon, to; crhvsimon) (Mor. 14B). Lucretius in his De rerum natura 3.11-12 praises Epicurus for having sipped the golden honey from the flowers and passed it on to his students. In both instances the analogy of the bees presupposes that a process of critical sifting has preceded the passing on of knowledge. Macrobius wrote similarly in his Saturnalia in the beginning of the fifth century CE. He gathered information from various authors and times. In the preface he presents this literature as composed for the education of his son, thus bringing to mind a traditional wisdom genre. For the education of his son he has compiled from various Greek and Latin sources ‘a literary storehouse’ (quasi de quodam litterarum peno), which appears as a coherent whole, albeit a collection culled from various sources (Sat. 1.1-3). In doing so, Macrobius says that he in this literary activity of emulation imitated the bees; they ‘sip the flowers, then arrange their spoil and distribute among the combs, and transform (mutare) the various juices to a single flavour by in some way mixing with them a property of their own being . . . even if the sources are evident, what we get in the end is still something clearly different from those known sources’ (Sat. 1.5-6). His compilation of sources into a coherent whole, he calls a kind of mental fermentation (quodam fermento). The text is quoted from Davies 1969; for the Latin text see Willis 1963. On Seneca and the bees, see Sandnes 2005: 725–26.


The Challenge of Homer

speak. He guides his students to ‘pay attention to those passages which will be of value to them in a way which far transcends any immediate purpose the teachers may have had in assigning them’.21 13.1.4 Separating Virtue from Vice In Chapter 5 Basil proves by examples that even pagan authors pass on knowledge about useful things; Homer, Hesiod and Prodiclus are mentioned. Since the works of both poets and philosophers are often concerned with virtue (ajrethv), they ought to be read. To familiarize oneself at a tender age with this literature is useful (to; o[felo"), since the mind at this age is receptive to instruction. The minds of children are easily formed by teaching. Basil here uses the well-known illustration of the wooden wax-tablet into which letters are engraved.22 Hesiod encouraged the young to learn ajrethv (Op. 287–92); hence he coined a proverb which, according to Basil, is now on the lips of everyone: The road to virtue is rough and difficult, full of sweat and toil, and above all steep. The road leading to kakiva, however, is close at hand, and many walk it (Adol. 5.3-4).23 Basil here depends on Hesiod’s proverbial analogy, but he might well have referred to Mt. 7.13-4 as well: ‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.’ Basil does not refer to this dictum of Jesus, but the fact that Hesiod’s proverb and Jesus’ dictum are here speaking in the same vein supports his claim that Hesiod and the Christians are striving for the common goal of virtue, and that there is thus an ojkeiovth" between pagan literature and Christian faith (see above). Basil finds supportive evidence in a competent Homer-interpreter – probably Dio Chrysostom in his Or. 43 – for claiming that everything written by Homer praises virtue: ‘all Homer’s poetry is an encomium of virtue, and all he wrote, save what is accessory [pavrergon], bears to this end . . .’ (Adol. 5.6). This term summarizes everything morally questionable in Homer, which triggered the discussion of how to interpret Homer’s writings. The agoˆn about finding the right interpretation of the Iliad and the Odyssey was necessary because of the presence of pavrergon in Homer’s poems. Basil finds himself participating in this agoˆn, which made Homer appear as an encyclopaedic source, giving access to knowledge on all

21 Helleman 1990: 42. 22 Cf. Seneca, Ep. 108.12; Plutarch, Mor. 3E–F; see also Ch. 4.2 in this book. 23 For this analogy, see my presentation of Lucian’s Hermotimus where education is presented in terms of climbing to the top by a rough and steep road; see Ch. 2.5 in this study. Basil also speaks of reaching the summit or climbing to the top in this context (ejpi; to; a[kron ejlqei'n) (Adol. 5.4).

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possible topics. Homer was inexhaustible;24 this concept, of course, invited also Christians to participate in the Homeric agoˆn as well. In Homer’s story about Odysseus visiting the Phaeacians, Basil finds his proof-text for claiming that Homer’s poetry is an encomium of virtue. According to Od. 6.135-209, Odysseus asked the princess of the Phaeacians for help while he was naked. Since the Phaeacians received him well, in spite of his being naked, he must have been considered worthy for some other reason. They looked beyond his nakedness and perceived a man of virtue (ajrethv). This story was much used in antiquity to illustrate that the good man succeeded even when he was naked, in possession of nothing. Towards the end of Chapter 5, Basil mentions Prodicus’ allegorical interpretation of the story about Heracles who met virtue (ajrethv) and vice (kakiva), and had to choose between these two roads (oJdoiv) (Adol. 5.12-14), thus bringing to mind a shared notion of education as a pathway to virtue.25 The text speaks about choosing the right road, but this concept is altered when virtue and vice appear in the disguise of two women. Vice is beautiful, rouged, attractive, voluptuous and tempting.26 Virtue appears without attraction and glamour; but she brings a great prize: Heracles will become divine (qeo;" genevsqai) if he follows her. Heracles did follow this woman, the road of virtue. It is surprising that Basil introduces this piece of ancient mythology to encourage a useful reading of pagan poets. He might have answered that the question of idolatry had been sufficiently addressed already in the treatise. Chapter 6 continues the emphasis of the preceding chapter. All authors who are praised for their wisdom address the question of virtue. Their written presentations of ajrethv must, however, be put into practice. If texts about virtue are not manifested in practice, one becomes like an actor, the paradigm of someone who pretends to be what he is not.27 Chapter 7 mentions a number of examples taken from Greek literature to demonstrate the correspondence between pagan texts and Christian faith. Socrates was hit in the face by Sophronius without hitting back, thus bringing to mind Mt. 5.39: ‘But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.’ Basil says that the attitude encouraged by Mt. 5.28, 34–37, 40–44 finds counterparts in the literature of the Greeks. Examples abound, says Basil, and Christians should accordingly familiarize themselves with this body of literature and urge the youngsters to imitate 24 See especially Ch. 3.1 in this study. 25 Prodicus’ text has been lost, but his story is found in Xenophon, Mem. 2.1.21-34; cf. Cicero, Off. 1.32. This story has played a major role in the history of both education and the art of painting; see Panofsky 1930. For the role of this story in ancient moral philosophy, see Sandnes 2002: 44–45. 26 In ancient sources this becomes a stereotype for the seductive woman; see e.g. 1 Tim. 2.9; 1 Pet. 3.3-4. For more references see Winter 2000. 27 For a similar logic, see e.g. Seneca, Ep. 80.7-8.


The Challenge of Homer

(mimhvsasqai) it (Adol. 7.7). The existence of virtue in both bodies of literature is not accidental (7.10). Basil here recapitulates his statement in 3.1 about the oijkeiovth" between pagan and Christian paideia. 13.1.5 Mastering the Desires From Chapter 8, Ad adolescentes becomes repetitive, but still some nuances appear, significant enough to give a survey of the remaining parts of the text. Basil now returns to the principle stated at the beginning of his text: ‘We ought not to take everything without exception, but only such matter as is useful [crhvsima]’ (Adol. 8.1). There is a danger of becoming like a ship without ballast, drifting around at sea. The point is that Basil’s instruction provides the necessary ballast to avoid this danger. The propaideutic viewpoint is reiterated. Musicians and athletes prepare themselves for the agoˆn in which they are to participate (Adol. 8.6). The propaideutic and preparatory argument forms the backbone of Basil’s concept, which is supported by reference to 1 Cor. 9.24-27 and Phil. 3.14 about the agoˆn which is followed by the prize. The literature of the Greeks has a role to play in this agoˆn mentioned by Paul, namely to prepare for the combat. When Basil addresses the oijkeiovth" between the two bodies of literature, he is primarily thinking of the moral instruction found in pagan texts. This is clear from his mentioning the danger that Sardanapalus may carry off the prize for which all believers are striving. This was a legendary figure whose name was a distortion of Assurbanipal, the king of Assyria. Sardanapalus was well known for his gluttony, drinking and love affairs. He became a stock figure in moral philosophical admonitions on the danger of being overpowered by one’s desires. The inscription found on Sardanapalus’ grave, rendered somewhat differently in ancient sources, encapsulates his dissolute life: ‘I drank, I ate, I loved, for that I knew the time to be short which mortals live.’ He was the prime example in antiquity of a person devoted to his belly.28 The emphasis upon the oijkeiovth" in terms of ethics and lifestyle is further strengthened in Chapter 9. Basil says that ‘purification of the soul’ (kavqarsi" yuch'") is the contrast to Sardanapalus’ dissolute life. This purification means avoiding enslavement to bodily desires (tw'æ swvmati douleutevon) (Adol. 9.2), and making no demands beyond the necessary. Basil’s presentation brings to mind the ancient critique of Epicurus’ philosophy, which was commonly seen as paving the way for bodily desires, depicted in terms of wild beasts which must be brought under control. As a charioteer controls his horse, so must also Christians rule 28 For Sardanapalus’ role in ancient moral philosophy, see Sandnes 2002: 65–68. Sardanapalus is not mentioned in the New Testament, but he is a shadow figure in a number of Pauline passages, such as Phil. 3.19; Rom. 16.18; 1 Cor. 10.7; 15.32. For substantiation, see the relevant chapters in Sandnes 2002.

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their bellies and their sexual organs (Adol. 9.14). Basil thus enters a widely attested moral philosophical tradition associated with opposition to Epicurus’ philosophy.29 Basil makes reference to Plato and Paul in tandem. Paul’s admonition in Rom. 13.14 (‘make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires’) corresponds nicely to Greek philosophy’s emphasis on the mastery of desires. The moral authorities of Greek tradition and of the Christian faith thus speak very much in the same vein; this is precisely why the former were considered moral authorities. They all opposed Sardanapalus’ preoccupation with the body. The key to living a good life, Basil finds in the proper balance between body and soul. Greek philosophy and education, when rightly interpreted, provide help in this task of keeping bodily desires under control (Adol. 9.11-12). The person who is pepaideumevno" is enabled to make distinctions between good and bad, to know what is excess, and to despise what goes beyond the requirements of nature (ta; th'" fuvsew" ajnagkai'a) (Adol. 9.18). Education and virtue are thus closely associated, very much in line with ancient Greek traditions, as expressed in e.g. Plato’s Protagoras.30 Implicit in Basil’s argument is a Christian Platonic perspective on the topic of mastering the desires. Greek learning provides only preliminary knowledge, and conveys therefore only a shadow of true insight. When this logic is framed by Platonic philosophy, Greek education suggests that true knowledge is found beyond the present life. Basil’s Christianized Platonic philosophy thus justifies Greek education, but also emphasizes its preliminary nature. 13.1.6 Basil Summarizes Basil is aware that his lengthy discussion of virtue and bodily desires in Chapters 8–9 may prove difficult for young students, in casu his nephews. In Chapter 10 he therefore summarizes his main message: ‘But although we Christians shall doubtless learn all these things more thoroughly in our own literature, yet for the present,31 at least, let us trace out a kind of shadowy sketch [skiagrafiva], as it were, of what true virtue is according to the teaching of the pagans [ejk tw'n e[xwqen paideumavtwn]’ (Adol. 10.1). This summary proceeds from the conviction of a fundamental oijkeiovth" in terms of virtue. The nephews are urged to collect knowledge about virtue from wherever it is found. Basil quotes Hesiod’s Op. 361–62 about adding little to little, which will then eventually grow great. This wisdom of collecting pieces which will grow great together, Basil supports 29 30 31 young

Sandnes 2002: 61–78. See Ch. 4.5 in this study. The Greek text has tov ge nu'n ei\nai. Wilson 1975: 69 takes this as a reference to the age of Basil’s nephews; cf. Adol. 1.1-2.


The Challenge of Homer

also with reference to Bias of Priene (fl. c. 560 BCE). Bias, reckoned as one of the Seven Wise Men of ancient tradition, was once asked by his son what to bring as he was about to depart for Egypt. Basil here refers to a saying of Bias, which is found in Diogenes Laertius: ‘Make wisdom your provision [to; ejfovdion] for the journey from youth to old age; for it is a more certain support than all other possessions’ (Lives of the Philosophers 1.88). Bias urged his son to acquire ejfovdion for his whole life. This term means travelling supplies, by which Bias meant ajrethv from which his son could benefit (wjfevleia) throughout life (Adol. 10.3). Taken together with Chapter 2 on ‘the other life’ as the more precious, Basil finds that Bias’ parental advice emphasizes a critical perspective on what to bring on the journey, seen as a pilgrimage to the other life. Basil’s presentation of Bias thus makes a flashback to Chapter 2 about the other life. In Ad adolescentes, Basil encourages Christian students to gather supplies for their life pilgrimage. In searching out these supplies, no stone must be left unturned (Adol. 10.3-5). In practice, this means looking beyond Christian literature and tradition, and including pagan school texts in this search, due to the basic oijkeiovth" between the two bodies of literature. Thus what is useful as preparation (paraskeuhv) for the other life (pro;" eJtevrou bivou) (Adol. 2.1), becomes a key concept in this writing; in practice virtue. By consequence this leads to, or derives from, a moralistic concept of Christian life and faith. ‘The other life’ appears as the prize for a virtuous life. He considers this presence of virtue in pagan texts as a preparation for the other life. Quite naturally, these convictions depict Christian life primarily as a virtuous life in ethical terms (cf. Chapters 8– 9). This seems to be a consequence of Basil’s emphasis upon the oijkeiovth" between pagan and Christian literature: ‘So Basil came to view the classics not as an alternative path to growth but as part and parcel of a Christian’s upbringing. The challenge was to achieve a morally fruitful association with poets and writers of prose.’32 The Holy Scriptures and Homer were both instruments of moral formation. However, Basil ‘justifies’ himself by saying that his nephews will later familiarize themselves with the Christian tradition (Adol. 2.3-6). Christian literature demands a maturity which the young students have not yet attained. Studying Homer and Greek literature contributes to the development of this required maturity. The study of Greek literature thus paves the way for proper Christian training. While Tertullian considered familiarity with the Scriptures necessary to prevent the students from being misled by encyclical studies, and while the young Origen, according to Eusebius, has the Scriptures precede Greek education, in this text Basil thinks otherwise; this is most precisely expressed in his illustration of the leaves protecting the fruit of a tree 32 Thus Rousseau 1994: 52.

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(Chapter 3). Scripture was to be embarked upon after a period of moral growth; a process to which both Scripture and Homer contributed. In Ad adolescentes, Greek literature earns more attention, a fact which makes it difficult, on the basis of this particular piece, to judge what the priority of Scripture33 meant in practice to Basil. In comparison with Tertullian in particular, but to some extent also with Origen, Basil seems less bothered about the dangers inherent in reading the Greek poets before the Scriptures. This is a natural inference from his turning the tables in this writing: Greek literature paves the way for Christian writings rather than Christian tradition forming a necessary protection against the former. 13.1.7 An Additional Question After we have worked through Basil’s entire treatise, a puzzling question arises. How are his young nephews expected to recognize in pagan literature the presence of Christian truth and virtue in which they have – due to their age – not yet been instructed? How can they identify virtue and separate it from vice on the basis of a Christian faith which they have still to grasp (Adol. 2.3-6)? Basil’s argument depends throughout on the fact that his students – in spite of his own remarks in Chapter 2 – are about to embark not upon rudimentary Christian education, but some further education in theology. This conclusion makes sense of his argument throughout the treatise.34 Basil might have found a model for this in the Alexandrian school of Clement and Origen. Basil’s students ‘are to make full use of scholarly, literary tools as they prepare themselves for the study of biblical truth’.35 Nonetheless, his asceticism did not apply to the intellectual legacy of antiquity. Here he differs from Jerome who was troubled by his asceticism, and made it applicable also to the question of education. At the end of the day, therefore, Basil’s instruction in this treatise seems not relevant to the schoolboy with whom this investigation started.

13.2 Gregory of Nazianzus’ Encomium for Basil Basil died in 379 CE. Some years later, Gregory, a fellow student from rhetorical and philosophical studies in Athens,36 gave a sermon commemorating his deceased friend: I take it that all intelligent men agree that among human advantages education [paivdeusi"] holds first place. I refer not only to our nobler 33 The summary in Adol. 10.1 clearly assumes such priority. 34 In concluding like this, I concur with Lamberz 1979 and Helleman 1990: 42–44. 35 Helleman 1990: 44. 36 In Or. Bas. 43.14-16, Gregory gives a brief presentation of their friendship while they studied together in Athens; see Børtnes 1994: 381–83, 388–93.


The Challenge of Homer form of it which disdains all the ambitious ornaments of rhetoric and attaches itself only to salvation and the beauty of spiritual contemplation, but also to that external culture [hJ e[xwqen] which many Christians by an error of judgement scorn as treacherous and dangerous and as turning us away from God. The heavens, the earth, the air, and all such things are not to be condemned because some have wrongly interpreted them and venerated the creatures of God in place of God. On the contrary, we select from them what is useful [crhvsimon] both for life and enjoyment and we avoid what is dangerous, not opposing creation to the Creator, as the foolish do, but acknowledging the Maker of the world from His works, and as the holy Apostle says, bringing every mind into captivity to Christ.37 Thus, we know that neither fire nor food nor iron, nor any other element is in itself either very useful or very harmful [crhsimwvtaton . . . h] blaberwvtaton], but that all depends on the will of the user. Even from certain reptiles we have at times compounded salutary medicines [pro;" swthrivan]. So also from the pagans, we have received principles of inquiry and speculation, while we have rejected whatever leads to demons, and error, and the abyss of perdition. And from such material we have drawn profit for piety [pro;" qeosevbeian wjfelhvmeqa], by learning to distinguish the better from the worse, and from its weakness we have made our own doctrine strong. Therefore we must not dishonour education because certain men are pleased to do so. Rather, we should regard such men as ignorant38 and uncultured [ajpaivdeutoi] who would have all others be like themselves, that their own deficiencies might be hidden in the general mass, and their want of culture [ajpaideusiva] escape reproach. With this premise made and acknowledged, contemplate the life of Basil. (Or. Bas. 43.11)39

This extract seems to address the question of education in an unspecified way. However, encyclical studies are certainly included. We noted that Basil also labels Greek education and literature in general as knowledge derived from the outside. Furthermore, in Or. Bas. 43.12, Gregory describes the upbringing and training Basil received at home with his father in the following way: ‘he was trained in general education and exercised piety and, in a word, he was led on from the beginning of his studies to his future perfection’.40 Basil thus embodies the attitude which Gregory has presented in 43.11, since he was trained in Greek education 37 2 Cor. 10.5. 38 The Greek text has the adjective skaiov", meaning left-handed, clumsy or stupid; see LSJ s.v. 39 Quoted from McCauley et al. 1953; for the Greek text see Bernardi 1992 or PG 36.493-606 (especially PG 36.508-9). 40 Greek text: ajlla; th;n ejgkuvklion paivdeusin paideuovmeno" kai; qeosevbeian ejxaskouvmeno" kai;, sunelovnti favnai, pro;" th;n mevllousan teleiovthta dia; tw'n ejx ajrch'" maqhmavtwn ajgovmeno".

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as well as Christian tradition. Furthermore, Gregory describes Basil’s youth according to a propaideutic pattern; Basil proceeded from encyclical studies towards the perfection available only in Christian faith. Basil is thus presented according to the common view of education as a road leading to virtue. Encyclical studies held a prominent place in Basil’s home instruction. Hence it is quite natural to include encyclical studies in Or. Bas. 43.11. From the text we glean that Greek education is still a matter of debate among Christians. Gregory affirms the impression that the view held by believers of encyclical studies followed the lines of social status. Gregory himself represented a Christian aristocracy, and his social pride comes through when he describes his opponents as being ignorant and uncultured. Their opposition to Greek paideia appears to Gregory as an attempt to hide their own lack of education by urging Christians in general to stay away from it. If Gregory’s presentation is not primarily pejorative rhetoric – and I think it is not – one is struck by the intensity with which some Christians still opposed Greek knowledge. They spit on it, and consider it treacherous and dangerous, as paving the way for abandoning faith. From this text we trace not only emotional contempt for Greek education, but a theological issue as well. Questions about the relationship between encyclical studies and idolatry were clearly raised. Rom. 1.25, about honouring the creation instead of the Creator, is indicative of this. Gregory is not denying that Greek knowledge might lead to idolatry, but he claims that the right use should not be abandoned due to misunderstandings by some who misjudge. From the fact that heavenly bodies and the creation are worshipped by some, it does not follow that these things are evil, and to be abandoned.41 Gregory’s thinking is, therefore, informed throughout by the necessity of distinguishing between good and bad. His opponents did not, as he saw them, distinguish between parts and the whole, and were thus misled into taking Greek education in general as conducive to apostasy. As for himself, he claims the principle of usus. Not surprisingly, Gregory exemplifies this attitude according to Or. Bas. 43.13. It says that his wisdom was not even surpassed by the bees which ‘collect what is most useful from every flower [sullegouvsh" ejk panto;" a[nqou" ta; crhsimwvtata]’. Twice he mentions spitting. Some Christians, and among them Gregory’s opponents, spit on knowledge from the outside, while Gregory spits only on those things in Greek education which are demonic, leading astray into perdition. This does not mean, however, that everything that deserves to be spat on is without benefit for believers; 41 Gnilka 1984: 74: ‘Gregory’s Apologie der heidnischen Bildungsgu¨ter ruht auf der U¨berzeugung, dass sie Teil der Scho¨pfung sind’; ‘Gregory’s defence for good things found in pagan education rests upon the conviction that they are part of God’s creation’ (my trans.).


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through evil one can learn some good. Against the background of evil and weakness in Greek education, the Christian teaching appears to be strong and persuasive. The venom of snakes is taken as an analogy; from the venom healing drugs can be produced. Tertullian also mentioned this analogy.42 However, he emphasized venom as being dangerous if ‘digested’, while Gregory points to the fact that even venom may be beneficial.43 The illustration of venom addresses an ambivalent attitude to Greek education. It is simultaneously dangerous and useful, if applied carefully and in the right way. Implicit in Gregory’s text is, therefore, that encyclical studies, if applied correctly, can give faith a helping hand. In his Poemata historica, Gregory therefore says that he sought encyclical knowledge in order to give bastard learning as a helping hand to legitimate wisdom (PG 37.1037).44

13.3 Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Moses We have seen several examples that for many Christians the story of Moses and Israel’s departure from Egypt proved helpful on the issue of Homer and encyclical studies. The ageing Gregory45 wrote a discourse on the life of Moses, in which he presents and interprets his life with a view to many topical questions, including that of the present investigation. Werner Jaeger points out that Gregory may possibly have composed this text as a response to accusations that he had interpolated Greek philosophy into the Scriptures.46 Jaeger makes reference to Gregory’s De instituto Christiano, where Gregory cites some of the accusations. He is said to have abandoned divine knowledge and replaced it with philosophical thoughts e[xwqen.47 The accusations bring to mind the nature of the arguments of Clement’s simple Christians who urged a contrast between knowledge from above and from pagan sources; the two cannot be reconciled. There was a growing criticism of Origen’s attempt to reconcile Christian theology with Greek philosophy, voiced e.g. by Epiphanius, who said that Origen was ‘blinded by Greek paideia’.48 Such accusations by necessity targeted Gregory as well. 42 For Tertullian’s use of this analogy, see Ch. 10.2 in this study. 43 Similar figurative speech about the venom of snakes is found in e.g. Theodoret of Cyrus (c. 393–460 CE) in his text on how to heal the illnesses of the Greeks ( JEllhnikwn qerapeutikh; paqhmavtwn), with the subtitle on knowing the truth of the gospel from the philosophy of the Gentiles (PG 83.824-25); see Gnilka 1984: 75–76. 44 The Greek text has: Dou'nai bohqou;" tou;" novqou" toi'" gnhsivoi". 45 This is a commonly held view; see Geljon 2002: 63. The certainty of this is questioned by Meredith 1999: 99. 46 Jaeger 1961: 81; Jaeger 1954: 50–51. 47 For the Greek text see Jaeger 1952: 43.4–7. 48 Jaeger 1954: 120–21.

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The presentation of Moses’ story is based on the biblical narrative found in Exodus–Deuteronomy. Albert C. Geljon has demonstrated that Gregory is dependent upon Philo’s De Vita Mosis. He finds clear correlations as well as Christian alterations of Philonic themes echoing throughout Gregory’s treatise. The dependence is so strong that Geljon thinks Gregory even studied Philo’s work.49 Gregory calls this narrative outline of events iJstoriva, opposed to qewriva, the spiritual interpretation or relevance of this narrative. Gregory’s main concern in this literature is qewriva; it is due to this perspective that his Life of Moses is made relevant to the question of encyclical studies and Greek philosophy. Gregory uses qewriva as synonymous with ajllhgoriva or diavnoia, guiding the reader to the hidden or deeper meaning of a text.50 The prologue (1–15) receives a subtitle: Peri; ajreth'". Thus Gregory’s text is set within a context in which questions of education naturally belong according to venerated philosophical traditions. To acquire virtue, Moses is an example to follow: Let us put forth Moses as our example [uJpovdeigma] for life in our treatise. First we shall go through in outline his life as we have learned it from the divine Scriptures. Then we shall seek out the spiritual understanding [diavnoia] which corresponds to the history [iJstoriva] in order to obtain suggestions of virtue. Through such understanding we may come to know the perfect life for men. (Mos. 1.15)51

In the part on the history of Moses, Gregory gives us the clue as to how he is going to explain the relationship to encyclical studies: After he had left childhood, and had been educated in pagan learning [hJ e[xwqen] during his royal upbringing, he did not choose the things considered glorious by the pagans [oiJ e[xwqen] nor did he any longer recognize as his mother that wise woman by whom he had been adopted, but he returned to his natural mother and attached himself to his own kinsmen. (Mos. 1.18)52

This text encapsulates the main points in Gregory’s qewriva on Moses’ youth. Moses participated in pagan education. ‘Knowledge from the outside’, or pagan knowledge is, according to Gregory, more or less identical with encyclical studies. Moses received this training but was nonetheless loyal to his own people. According to its allegorical 49 See Geljon 2002: 158–74 for a summary of his findings; similarly in Runia 1993: 256– 61. 50 See Malherbe and Ferguson 1978: 7. According to Hidal 1991: 32 qewriva refers to the symbolic and historical significance found in a given text when read in a Christian salvationhistorical perspective. 51 Quoted from Malherbe and Ferguson 1978. For the Greek text, see Musurillo 1964. This edition has a system of text references which differs from Malherbe and Ferguson’s. According to Musurillo, this text is given as 304M/pp. 6.24–7.4. 52 In Musurillo’s edition this text is 305M/pp. 7.24–8.5.


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interpretation, this means that one has to put one’s trust in the Old Testament as well as in the writings of the Church. In Mos. 2.7, he elaborates on the story about Moses’ parents, who put him into a basket that floated down the river (Exod. 2.3). They did so, says Gregory, in order to save him; the basket saved him from drowning. Thus his parents demonstrated their care for Moses. From this event Gregory extracts his qewriva, which is to care for the children by giving them encyclical training. The basket or the vessel (kibwtov") is the encyclical knowledge that safeguards human beings in the waves of life. Talking about life in terms of a dangerous sea voyage is a commonplace in ancient texts,53 but this figurative speech often includes the threats of passions and pleasures as well. In Mos. 2.122-29, Gregory speaks about the mystery of the water (to; u{dwr musthvrion)54 (the Red Sea), namely that it refers to passion for pleasures. The water is the undisciplined desires.55 The goal is to reach ‘the harbour of virtue’.56 When encyclical studies are seen as a means of protection against the passions on the road or voyage towards virtue,57 this implies that Gregory views Greek education from the traditional perspective of seeking virtue.58 How Gregory valued liberal studies appears clearly in Mos. 2.10-13: Since the daughter of the king, being childless (I think she is rightly perceived as profane philosophy [hJ e[xwqen filosofiva]), arranged to be called his mother by adopting the youngster, Scripture concedes that his relationship with her who was falsely called his mother should not be rejected until he had recognized his own immaturity. But he who has already attained maturity, as we have learned about Moses, will be ashamed to be called the son of one who is barren by nature. (10) For truly barren is profane education [hJ e[xwqen paivdeusi"], which is always in labour but never gives birth . . . (11) Now after living with the princess 53 See Sandnes 2006: 285–89 with references to ancient texts as well as further literature. 54 In Musurillo’s edition 364M/p. 71.1. 55 See also Mos. 1.11 and 13 (303M/p. 5.14 and 304M/p. 6.1). Since according to Gregory’s interpretation Egypt refers to education from the outside, pagan wisdom, he cannot, as Philo does, take Egypt to symbolize the desires; see Sandnes 2002: 112–13 and Geljon 2002: 84, 90. 56 Geljon 2002: 86 mentions Philo’s Sacr. 90 where this term appears as a description of the Promised Land as a place where the passions are replaced by reason. 57 Geljon 2002: 86 argues convincingly that Gregory’s interpretation of the basket as education is taken from Philo; e.g. Plant. 144, where he speaks figuratively of passions as a river from which education saves. 58 Gregory might here be thinking also of 1 Pet. 3.21 where Noah’s ark (kibwtov") saved human beings from the threatening water, and prefigured Christian baptism; cf. our presentation of Clement who in Strom. 6.11 (see Ch. 11.1.5 above) speaks of encyclical education in terms of a raft, inspired by Wis. 14. Gregory elsewhere takes Exod. 2.3 as a baptismal text, see Malherbe and Ferguson 1978: 158. In the present context, however, this seems to be of less significance.

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of the Egyptians for such a long time he seemed to share in their honours, he must return to his natural mother. Indeed he was not separated from her while he was being brought up by the princess but was nursed [trevfesqai] by his mother’s milk, as the history states.59 This teaches, it seems to me, that if we should be involved with profane teachings during our education, we should not separate ourselves from the nourishment of the Church’s milk, which would be her laws and customs. By these the soul is nourished and matured, thus being given the means of ascending the height. (12) It is true that he who looks to both the profane doctrines [ta; e[xwqen dovgmata] and to the doctrines of the fathers will find himself between two antagonists . . . On the other hand, he who is great and noble in soul like Moses slays with his own hand the one who rises in opposition to true religion. (13)60

This narrative outline of Moses’ birth and childhood paves the way for a lesson to be drawn (Mos. 2.10-18). What qewriva can be gleaned from this iJstoriva? The hidden meaning of this story is how Christians should deal with liberal studies, with knowledge from the outside. To state his point, Gregory finds an illustration, which is taken from Moses’ life. Christians’ relationship to encyclical studies can be illustrated with a well with lifegiving water from which evil shepherds must be kept away. The illustration is taken from Exod. 2.16-19 about Moses who chased the evil shepherds away from the well in Midian, thus giving Reuel’s daughters and their flock access to the water. In Gregory’s interpretation the evil shepherds are a hidden reference, not to encyclical studies as such, but to evil teachers who use the education wrongly, whose practice Gregory describes as ponhra; crh'si".61 The principle of usus thus appears again. Gregory is here not critical of those who refuse to participate in encyclical studies, but of those who introduce false doctrines and worship by help of Greek education. Gregory’s interpretation of Moses’ birth and childhood (2.1-18) explains on a scriptural basis the ambivalent attitude which he takes to encyclical studies. For these studies form a parenthesis, an interim, in Moses’ childhood. For some time Moses was nurtured by the Egyptian princess, but he returned later to his mother. This iJstoriva could be taken as encouraging Christian parents to bring their children to encyclical studies before familiarizing themselves with Christian literature. But Moses was nursed by his own mother also while he was under the protection of the Egyptian princess. Since feeding or nursing was a common metaphor for passing on teaching,62 Gregory’s qewriva here is not 59 60 61 62

Exod. 2.7-9. In Musurillo’s edition this text is 329M/pp. 36.7–37.17. In Musurillo’s edition 332M/p. 38.19-20. See references in Malherbe 1970.


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surprising. From this event he draws the lesson that students should never be left without contact with Christian literature and tradition (Mos. 2.12). Pharaoh’s daughter is assigned a key role in Gregory’s interpretation. She is beautiful, but unable to give birth, sterile (a[gono"). For Gregory these two facts encapsulate the ambivalence of encyclical studies. Her barrenness is a symbol of the inability of Greek education to bring ultimate virtue, or Christian faith.63 This echoes Seneca’s criticism of encyclical studies,64 which, however, is sharpened by Gregory. Encyclical training might appear even inimical; as in the story about Moses killing the Egyptian (Exod. 2.11-12). Encyclical studies might pave the way for idolatry and become an enemy of true worship: Eijdwlolatreiva versus qeosevbeia, licentiousness against self-control (swfrosuvnh), injustice against righteousness, arrogance against humility and everything opposed to what is good (Mos. 2.14).65 The believer is thus caught in a struggle concerning encyclical studies, a fact witnessed in Moses’ life. Gregory now refers to Exod. 2.13-14 where Moses separated two Israelites who were fighting. Gregory does not seek to stop this ongoing struggle about Greek education. On the contrary, this fight contributes to a right use of liberal studies and Greek paideia. He thus recognizes the necessity of the critical voices among fellow Christians. If these voices are silenced, encyclical studies will easily open the gate for false teaching and idolatry to enter the Church. From this particular text, then, it appears that the critical voices are depicted not only as opponents, but also as serving a helpful end. Gregory here appears quite eirenic, although he himself is basically in favour of Christian participation in these studies, an attitude he substantiates with the story about Moses who was rescued thanks to the basket that kept him from drowning. Thus encyclical studies safeguard the faith, if applied correctly. In Mos. 2.37, Gregory returns to the metaphor of childlessness as characteristic of encyclical education. He has already pointed this out with reference to the Egyptian princess. Now Moses’ wife Zipporah comes into the picture. As a Gentile woman she becomes, like Hagar in Philo’s De congressu, a symbol of encyclical studies. But she conceives, and gives Moses a son: ‘for there are certain things derived from profane education which should not be rejected when we propose to give birth to virtue’.66 Zipporah was a companion of life to Moses; such a role can also be assigned to encyclical studies in the life of the believers. Gregory’s 63 Philo addresses ignorance or lack of education as barrenness; see e.g. QE 2.19; Geljon 2002: 89–90. 64 See Ch. 4 in this study. 65 In Musurillo’s edition 332M/p. 37.21. 66 In Musurillo’s edition 336M/p. 43.21-22: e[sti gavr ti kai; th'" e[xw paideuvsew" pro;" suzugivan hJmw'n eij" teknopoii>van ajreth'" oujk ajpovblhton.

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allegorical method appears somewhat inconsistent here. He has already made the point that Gentile women, as figures representing liberal studies, are unable to conceive, thus symbolizing the insufficiency of these studies. He knows, however, that Moses’ wife gave birth to a son. The metaphor of Gentile woman is, therefore, slightly altered here; there are certain things in encyclical studies which bring forth virtue (see below). Next to the events of Moses’ birth and childhood, Gregory emphasizes Exod. 12.35-36 about the Israelites taking clothing, silver and gold from the Egyptians before their departure. This is to Gregory a proof text, demonstrating that a right use of pagan tradition is approved of by Scripture. At God’s command, Moses urged the Israelites to do so. Gregory points out that this command is not to be taken literally. If taken at face value, Moses is here inviting theft:67 The loftier meaning is therefore more fitting than the obvious one. It commands those participating through virtue in the free life also to equip themselves with the wealth of pagan learning [to;n e[xwqen th'" paideuvsew" plou'ton paraskeuavzesqai] by which foreigners to the faith beautify themselves. Our guide in virtue commands someone who ‘borrows’ from wealthy Egyptians to receive such things as moral and natural philosophy, geometry, astronomy, dialectic, and whatever else is sought by those outside the Church, since these things will be useful [crh'si"] when in time the divine sanctuary of mystery must be beautified with the riches of reason. (Mos. 2.115)68

Gregory interprets this event allegorically. In pagan culture, encyclical studies preserve knowledge worth making use of.69 By using the Greek term crh'si" here, he adds a critical note. Gregory joins the choir of voices which urges us to seek what is useful in these studies. The notion expressed in the question of usus is a venerated tradition about making critical and selective use of traditions. The critical aspect is not, however, dominant in this passage. Gregory says that encyclical knowledge derived from the pagans is an ornament to faith. This lesson is derived from the story about the tabernacle (Mos. 2.116). The Israelites gave to Moses their gold so he could embellish the sanctuary. Gregory says that likewise present-day believers bring their Greek education to the Church as a gift. He mentions his brother Basil who did so. While young, he acquired the richness of Egypt, but he dedicated it to the Church, to embellish the true tabernacle. In accordance 67 Philo does take this literally; see his Mos. 1.141-42 where he rejects the view that Moses encouraged theft. In Philo’s view, it is a matter of compensation for what the Israelites suffered in Egypt. 68 In Musurillo’s edition 360M/p. 68.8-18. 69 The killing of Egyptian firstborn is to Gregory a reminder that evil, found within pagan wisdom, must not come to maturity (Mos. 2.100-1).


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with the Old Testament story, Gregory here calls the Church a tent (skhnhv) to which each believer dedicates his or her personal contribution. In De instituto Christiano 42.17–43.4, responding to the critics, Gregory says that his argument makes use of the Scriptures, thus proving the truth of Greek learning. This is precisely what he does in De vita Mosis; allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures allows him to commend Greek paideia. Thus his entire argument is subordinated to the Scriptures, and appears to be derived from them. At the centre of his argument, however, is a pattern derived from Greek philosophical discourse on virtue and paideia. This discourse provides him with a hierarchical70 concept of knowledge, an anabasis towards virtue. We saw this concept of climbing a peak at work in Lucian’s Hermotimus.71 This pattern was easily reconciled with Platonic traditions about different kinds of perceptions. There is a knowledge which is superior to that derived from observing material things, i.e. contemplation of God, true reality.72 In the introduction, Gregory speaks of a ‘course of virtue’ (drovmo") in which believers participate (Mos. 1.5-10).73 Gregory considers Paul to be speaking about this race towards perfection in Phil. 3.13. The goal of this race is to ‘see God’, as did Moses. He climbed the highest mountain of perfection (pro;" to;n ajkrovtaton th'" teleiovthto" o{ron ajnabebhkevnai) (Mos. 2.319;74 cf. 2.241). Gregory states this with reference to Exod. 33, where God says ‘I have known you more than all others’ (vv. 12, 17), and where Moses is called God’s friend (v. 11) (cf. Mos. 2.35, 158, 189, 227, 239). In Mos. 2.239, however, Gregory asserts that even a vision of God is deficient: ‘This truly is the vision of God: never to be satisfied in the desire to see him’ (to; ijdei'n to;n qeovn).75 The aim of this literature is to make believers imitate Moses in the way Gregory interprets his life (Mos. 1.15; 2.320). De vita Mosis leaves no doubt that Gregory considered an ascetic life to represent the peak or goal in the race of virtue. According to 1.19, Moses set his mind on a greater philosophy (hJ meivzwn filosofiva) (305M/, p. 8.12), characterized by his separating himself from association with people, and living alone (genovmeno" ijdiavsai) (305M/, p. 8.14).76 The Church is adorned, 70 For the importance of this text for Gregory’s treatise on Moses, see Geljon 2002: 64– 67. 71 See Ch. 2.5 in this study. 72 We have seen that Philo, in his etymological explanation of IS-RA-EL, depends on this; see Ch. 5.2. 73 In Musurillo’s edition this is 300–03M/pp. 3.6–5.4. 74 In Musurillo’s edition, see 429M/p. 144.13-14 75 In Musurillo’s edition 404M/p. 16.17-18. 76 The Greek text speaks of his life povrrw, which indicates separateness and physical distance.

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says Gregory, by the ascetic life,77 which is the mortification of sinful desire. Against the passions, he recommends the life of virginity (hJ ejn parqenivaæ zwhv) (Mos. 2.187).78 Encyclical studies and Greek paideia are, however, assigned a role in the ‘race of virtue’, as demonstrated above: The foreign wife will follow him, for there are certain things derived from profane education which should not be rejected when we propose to give birth to virtue. Indeed moral and natural philosophy may become at certain times a comrade [suvzugo"], friend [fivlh], and companion [koinwnov"] of life to the higher way, provided that the offspring of this union introduce nothing of a foreign defilement [mhde;n ejpavgoito tou' ajllofuvlou miavsmato"] (Mos. 2.37)79

In the following paragraphs }38–41, Gregory brings circumcision into the picture. Greek philosophy is compared to the male organ in need of circumcision. The foreskin, which represents what is fleshly and alien to Christian faith, has to be cut off. ‘Good doctrines are contaminated by profane philosophy’s absurd additions’ (Mos. 2.41).80 Here Gregory echoes the accusations levelled against him, and to which this work is responding. Elsewhere in this text this separation of good from evil is also described in terms of purification (Mos. 2.154). Greek philosophy needs a katharsis before it can be accepted into Christian theology; in other words, only those elements which are compatible with Christian faith are to be received. Gregory succeeds in demonstrating that his view of Greek paideia is Scripture-based. His arguments against his critics are steeped in biblical interpretation. But his approach is entirely dependent upon allegory, which in itself must have been associated with precisely the paideia he is defending. It is therefore questionable as to how convincing critics might have found his argument.

77 Malherbe and Ferguson 1978: 102 translates tracei'a diagwgh; kat j ejgkravteian with ‘the ascetic way of life’ (Musurillo 385M/p. 96.21-22. 78 In Musurillo’s text 388M/p. 97.11. In De instituto Christiano (43.18-25), Gregory uses the concept of climbing the peak to illustrate the ascetic pilgrimage of monastic life; see Jaeger 1954: 50–51. 79 Musurillo 336M/p. 43.20–337M/p. 43.26. 80 ta; kala; tw'n dogmavtwn para; th'æ e[xw filosofivaæ tai'" ajtovpoi" prosqhvkai" katamoluvnetai (337M/p. 44.20-21).

Chapter 14 JEROME: AN ASCETIC ADDICTED TO GREEK LEARNING In Jerome, famous particularly for his translation of the Bible into Latin, and also well known for his commentaries on biblical literature and the many letters he wrote, we have an individual who found himself tormented by the question of the classical pagan legacy. In his ambivalent, sometimes even confusing attitude, we are reminded of Tertullian’s dilemma.

14.1 Renunciation Jerome was a spokesman for an ascetic understanding of the Christian life.1 This perspective also marks some of his texts as relevant to our topic. Asceticism applied to Greek learning as well: ‘What communion hath light with darkness? What concord hath Christ with Belial?’ What has Horace to do with the Psalter, Virgil with the Gospels and Cicero with Paul? Is not a brother made to stumble if he sees you sitting at table in an idol’s temple? Although unto the pure all things are pure and nothing is to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving, still we ought not to drink the cup of Christ and the cup of devils at the same time. I will tell you the story of my own unhappy experience. (Epist. 22.29)2

This citation introduces an autobiographical section in his famous letter on the preservation of virginity. Jerome relates his decision to leave for Jerusalem. He tells how he left behind in Rome family, home, parents, sisters and friends, and even the dainty food he was used to; this was the harder part. I suppose this is a retrospective view of his life rather than something to be taken at face value; his ascetic Christianity dictates his self-presentation. His library (byblotheca), however, he had not left behind. Jerome depicts himself as almost addicted to classical literature. Even after fasting, he went on to read Cicero. After having mourned for 1 See e.g. Rebenich 2002: 18–20; 130–36. 2 Quoted from the LCL edition of select letters of Jerome. For the Latin text of this letter, see also PL 22.394-425.

Jerome: An Ascetic Addicted to Greek Learning


his past sins, he picked up Plautus to read again. Compared with the classical literature, the prophets appeared to him harsh and barbarous in style (Epist. 22.30), and hence he picked up his classical texts even at the very time of fasting. Jerome cites Paul’s 2 Cor. 6.15 about Christ and Belial, faith and unbelief which cannot be united. He also adds a reference to 1 Cor. 8.10, and proceeds to key passages in 1 Cor. 10. His text confirms our findings so far, namely that the Corinthian correspondence, here with emphasis on Chapters 8–10, had become a field from which advocates as well as opponents of classical education drew their arguments. Jerome ends up affirming the exclusive application of these Pauline passages, arguing in a way that brings to mind key arguments from Clement’s opponents. The similarity with Tertullian’s argument about Jerusalem and Athens having nothing in common is also remarkable.3 Jerome finds himself miserable since he is unable to cut himself off from his library of pagan books. He is squeezed between a theology of exclusive claims and his own inability to enforce these claims against his pagan books. The experience mentioned in Epist. 22.29 is a dream, unfolded in 22.30, in which Jerome finds himself in a heavenly judgement scene, being asked about his identity. He replies: Christianus sum. The voice from the throne says: ‘Thou liest; thou art a Ciceronian, not a Christian, ‘‘for where thy treasure is there will thy heart be also’’.’4 Jerome pleads for mercy, and promises never again to read the works of Gentile authors (gentilium litterarum libros aliquando legissem). He makes a vow, that if he ever again possesses a worldly book, that will be tantamount to a practical denial of his Lord: Domine, si umquam habuero codices saeculares, se legero, te negavi. From now on, he says, he reads the books of God with a zeal he had never felt for the Gentile books. He renounced the books named mortalia for those named divina (Epist. 22.30).5 Jerome’s view of classical literature in this epistle is moulded by his ascetic worldview. The Greek legacy, which includes encyclical studies as well, is primarily to be renounced in prayer and fasting. Jerome himself claims to have renounced them. The epistle draws on traditional biblical arguments waged against Greek intellectual traditions, but includes also Jesus’ saying about storing up treasures in heaven rather than here. The concept leaves little room for compromise; it is heavenly versus earthly or even demonic. Jerome seems to be walking down the road where we have previously met Tertullian (see Chapter 10). The present epistle gives, however, a distorted picture if taken to be representative of Jerome’s 3 See Ch. 10.1 in this study. 4 Reference to Mt. 5.19-21. 5 On the historical circumstances of this experience, see Rebenich 1992: 37–41. Adkin 1995: 183–84, 189 argues convincingly that this dream is not fictitious.


The Challenge of Homer

position on Greek education. In his writings are found evidence of both approval and disapproval of Greek learning. The presentation which follows will make this mixture abundantly clear. Moreover, Jerome was accused by his former friend Rufinus of having broken his vow to keep away from pagan literature. He accused Jerome of perjury for having continued to read and to possess such books, even after the dream mentioned in Epist. 22. Jerome defended himself in a way which strengthens the impression that Rufinus is right. Jerome says: ‘somniis non esse credendum’ (Ruf. 1.31/PL 23.423). In short, Jerome says that he is not bound by an oath made in a dream.6 Neil Adkin argues that Jerome scholarship has often given a one-sided picture of this dream: ‘the real importance of Jerome’s dream is not his supposed renunciation of the classics, but rather the assiduous study of the Bible which he undertook from then on’.7 On this occasion Jerome overcame his aversion to the uncouth language of the Old Testament. Adkin demonstrates that a dramatic change occurs in Jerome’s letters before and after this dream. The dream marks a contrast in his practice; from now on he quotes from the Old Testament, and he does so with confidence. It is this that marks the decisive change, not a repudiation of the classics. Adkin’s contribution helps somewhat in unravelling the seemingly ambiguous attitude taken by Jerome on the classical texts. In his Epist. 218 Jerome comments upon Lk. 15.16. ‘He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating’ (13). What do the pods or husks represent here? Jerome makes two suggestions. The first is a traditional ascetic reading according to which the Prodigal Son’s miserable situation implies his giving in to the desires of the belly, such as food, luxury, adultery and all kinds of vices.9 He then proceeds to another reading, more significant for the present investigation. The pods eaten by the pigs might be carmina poetarum, saecularis sapientia or rhetoricorum pompa verborum; i.e. the songs of the poets, secular wisdom and the pompous speeches of rhetoricians. These are all ‘food of the demons’ (daemonum cibus), and they delight in suavitas, a word referring to the elevated style of Greek literature. When it comes to the question of veritas, however, they are empty. Truth is a Christian prerogative; hence Greek learning gives only noisy speech and empty words compared to the veritas 6 For the dispute between Rufinus and Jerome on this question, see Ellspermann 1949: 162–67 who points out that Rufinus’ criticism is not targeting pagan literature as such, but Jerome’s oath. See also Hagendahl 1958: 91–94, 173–83. Hagendahl attempts to trace a development in Jerome, from ascetic renunciation towards the thoroughly positive Epist. 70. He concludes, however, that the inconsistency somehow remained as reflecting the conflict in Jerome’s soul. He felt attracted and repelled at the same time (pp. 327–28). 7 Adkin 1995: 183. 8 PL 22.379-94. 9 Sandnes 2002: 242.

Jerome: An Ascetic Addicted to Greek Learning


of Christian literature. Jerome here makes an antithesis between eloquentia and veritas.10 This negative attitude is, however, balanced in the following. Jerome mentions the beautiful woman of Deut. 21 as a figure of the sapientia he has in mind. It thus becomes quite clear that encyclical studies are at the centre of this epistle, since the beautiful pagan woman is a commonplace for such studies in Philo as well as relevant Christian sources.11 Moreover, the mentioning of this pagan woman introduces the concept of usus, and thus also some balance into the picture. According to Deut. 21.11-13, the pagan woman taken captive must not be taken as wife before her head has been shaved, her nails have been pared, and before she has been stripped of her garb. This easily lends itself to an allegorical interpretation along traditional lines: And thus we are also accustomed to act when we read the philosophers, when there come into our hands the books of secular wisdom [libri sapientiae saecularis]: if we find anything useful [utile] in them we use them in our teaching Christian truth [ad nostrum dogma convertimus], but if we find anything superfluous concerning idols, love, care for worldly possessions, these we shave, these we reduce to baldness, these we pare with a sharp knife as we do when we cut our nails. . .12 We must be on our guard, therefore, not to fall into idolatry if we wish to take the captive woman to wife, or, if we have been most certainly caught by love of her, let us cleanse [mundare] her, and purge [purgere] her of all error, lest a brother, for whom Christ has died, take13 scandal when he would hear her songs, composed in honor of idols, resounding in the mouth of a Christian. (Epist. 21.13)14

Inspired by the biblical text in Deut. 21, Jerome depicts the process of distinguishing between evil and useful in terms of purging and cutting away. This activity brings to mind what is elsewhere described as the collecting and sifting of bees; but Jerome’s point of departure adds a more negative nuance to this activity here; it is purging rather than the pleasant collecting. But Ep. 21 clearly gives a more balanced picture than the ascetic perspective in Ep. 22.

10 See Hagendahl 1958: 108–09. The contrast between his own writings and pompa rhetoricorum appears again in Epist. 22.2., but ‘he deceives his readers deliberately. For the style of Epist. 22 is as refined and rhetorical as ever can be . . . At heart he was and remained a rhetor’ (p. 111). 11 Cf. Penelope and her maidservants, Sarah and Hagar, Pharaoh’s daughter. 12 Jerome here includes a reference to 1 Cor. 8.9. 13 Jerome is clearly applying 1 Cor. 8.11 here. 14 Quoted from Ellspermann 1949: 153–54.


The Challenge of Homer

14.2 Greek Education and the Wisdom of Christ (1 Cor. 1–2) Jerome joins the company of many Christians before him when he takes Paul’s text in 1 Cor. 1–2 on God’s wisdom as opposed to worldly wisdom to be of relevance to the question of Greek education. This is apparent in his Epist. 53.15 He is clearly entering into a debate where some – whether Christians or outsiders we do not know – are making reference to Acts 4.13, saying that Peter and John were unlearned persons (ajgravmmatoi). Jerome claims that they were not mere fishermen, rude and untaught (rustici, piscatores, indocti) (Epist. 53.3-4).16 They were men of litterae, proved already by John’s prologue about the logos. Furthermore, they were ‘taught by God’.17 The plural litterae is a reference to the ability to read, but possibly also beyond that to the status conveyed by the knowledge of Greek literature. Jerome’s text implies that the Holy Spirit conveyed knowledge which was otherwise acquired by daily study and meditation (exercitatio et quotidiana . . . meditatio). He seems to think that even elements of encyclical knowledge can be passed on by the Spirit. This is suggested by his mentioning Jesus who was superior in knowledge to the elders while he was only 12 years old (Lk. 2.41-52). Neither Plato nor Demosthenes knew the wisdom of Christ. This claim is substantiated with reference to 1 Cor. 1.19 which is a rewriting of Isa. 29.14: ‘the wisdom of their wise shall perish’. Jerome also cites Col. 2.3, that all treasures of wisdom are hidden in Christ. He thus depends on texts which, in the preceding Christian tradition, have paved the way for a rather negative view of encyclical studies. The two cannot be united; one is worldly and the other is from above. Jerome may thus be expected to join forces with his many predecessors who urged a conflict between Christian faith and Greek education. However, he does not quite jump to that conclusion, although many observations point in that direction. His Epist. 53 primarily aims at discussing what knowledge is required for understanding the Holy Scriptures. This is the framework of the above-mentioned observations, which seemingly pave the way for a negative conclusion on liberal studies. When the question of encyclical studies is approached from that angle, Jerome becomes exclusive. This forms the proper starting-point for reading this letter. Jerome says that Christians trained in seculares litterae, as he is,18 are no better equipped to understand the word of God; rather, their training might lead them to stumble (Epist. 53.7). Thanks to their 15 An English translation is available in NPNF2, Vol. 6. For the Latin text PL 22.54049. 16 This brings to mind Celsus’ criticism; see Ch. 11.3 in this study. 17 Possibly a reference to qeodivdaktoi in 1 Thess. 4.9. 18 For references to Jerome taking pride in his education, see Ellspermann 1949: 142; Hagendahl 1958: 311–12; Rebenich 1992: 22–28.

Jerome: An Ascetic Addicted to Greek Learning


training in encyclical studies they are easily misled into adapting the teaching of the Scriptures to their own system. Jerome himself has participated in such training beyond the level of most Christians who want to interpret the Scriptures with the help of Homer and Virgil. But ‘we never think of calling Christless Maro19 a Christian’ because he wrote passages in his 4th Eclogue which might be interpreted as predicting the arrival of a king.20 Jerome’s view is here based on a theological conviction, namely that the nature of the Scriptures reveals their divine origin and addressing of the common people. Epist. 53, therefore, admits that the Scriptures might appear rude compared to the classical literature of ancient culture. He urges his addressees to ‘live among these books [the Holy Scriptures], to meditate upon them, to know nothing else, to seek nothing else’ (53.9).21 Christians should not feel offended about ‘the simplicity of Scripture or the poorness of its vocabulary’.22 This is due partly to bad translations, but partly due to divine purpose as well. For this nature of the Scriptures serves a double purpose, the rustici and indocti as well as those educated can find meaning in one and the same statement. It is thus due to divine providence that the Scriptures appear somewhat unlearned in style. God’s revealed word is available to all, not only to the learned. Jerome’s negative statements on liberal studies in Epist. 53 are, therefore, embedded in a theological strategy; the Christian message shall be available to all equally. This does not mean that Jerome is excluding Christian children from encyclical training. In Epist. 53.6 he even says that encyclical knowledge is very useful (utilissima)23 for human beings. He seems here to admit that this scientia can become a guide to progress in the Scriptures. This appears somewhat contradictory to the above-mentioned position. However, Epist. 53.7 serves a limited end, namely to say that this guide can become a temptation when it comes to interpreting the Word of God, making difficult what God wanted to be clear and intelligible for all – whether rustici or docti.

14.3 Jerome Ambivalent From the presentation so far it appears that Jerome was indeed ambivalent towards Greek learning. He is the ascetic who is addicted to the Greek legacy. His own writings comprise key arguments of Christian 19 Virgil’s full name was Publius Vergilius Maro. 20 This work hailed Augustus, but somehow incorporated elements from Jewish and Christian messianic expectations. 21 According to NPNF2 Vol. 6, this is Epist. 53.10. 22 The Latin text has in Scripturis sanctis simplicitate, et quasi vilitate verborum. 23 This is, of course, the Latin equivalent of crhvsimon.


The Challenge of Homer

advocates as well as adversaries of liberal studies. Jerome covers in a way both attitudes found in the three to four centuries of Christian debate on this issue.24 His fellow Christians must have been confused by this, as we noted in Rufinus’ critique. This picture is substantiated in Jerome’s Epist. 70.25 Here he addresses his critics who blame him for quoting and drawing his examples from pagan literature. He is said to ‘defile the whiteness of the church with the foulness of heathenism [ethnicorum sordibus polluamus]’ (Epist. 70.2).26 The critique brings to mind the Christian fear of becoming unclean through Gentile literature.27 Epist. 70 is an apologetic letter aimed at refuting the criticism made against him. His apologia begins by pointing out that passages culled from pagan literature (de Gentilium libris) are cited in the Old Testament. This applies to Moses and the prophets, and particularly to the proverbs of Solomon. He reminds his readers that Proverbs is introduced (Prov. 1.1-6) by encouraging them to familiarize themselves with proverbs, figures and the riddles of the wise. These are, according to Jerome, found in the Greek learning and philosophical traditions. Jerome then proceeds to the Apostle Paul, bringing into the discussion his three well-known citations from pagan literature (Acts 17.28; 1 Cor. 15.33; Tit 1.12). Furthermore, Paul turned the Athenian inscription honouring an unknown pagan deity into proof of the faith (in argumentum fidei) (Acts 17.22) (Epist. 70.2). Paul proceeded, says Jerome, according to the biblical example of David who killed Goliath with his own sword. Stripped of the biblical references, Jerome is here demonstrating a strategic purpose in knowing pagan literature; conquering Greek learning by liberal arts. At the centre of his thought here is not the value of this literature taken on its own, but the necessity to know it in order to fight it. Familiarity with pagan texts thus becomes a means of defence for the faith. Jerome again draws on Deut. 21, about pagan women taken captive, and whom the Israelites were allowed to marry – on certain conditions. Marriage must be preceded by the shaving of her hair and eyebrows, and the cutting of her nails (Deut. 21.10-13). The attractive pagan woman is, as we have seen, a common figure of encyclical studies. Jerome now brings in Gomer as well, the daughter of Diblaim in the Book of Hosea. This figurative speech recognizes beauty and value in Greek learning, but also emphasizes the necessity of critique and selection. The shaved head and eyebrows, and the cut nails vividly illustrate this point: 24 Hagendahl 1958: 309–10 says that Jerome’s attitude towards the cultural legacy was ‘fluctuating like the currents of a tide’. 25 PL 22.664-68. 26 Quoted from NPNF2 Vol. 6. 27 Cf. Ch. 11.1.3 in this study.

Jerome: An Ascetic Addicted to Greek Learning


Is it surprising that I too, admiring the fairness of her form and the grace of her eloquence, desire to make that secular wisdom [sapientia saecularis] which is my captive and my handmaid, a matron of the true Israel? Or that shaving off and cutting away all in her that is dead whether this is idolatry, pleasure, error or lust, I take her to myself clean and pure and beget by her servants for the Lord of Sabaoth? My efforts promote the advantage of Christ’s family, my so-called defilement [stuprum] with an alien increases the number of my fellow-servants. (Epist. 70.2)

The story about Hosea marrying Gomer, a prostitute (Hos. 1–3), leads Jerome to speak of his relationship to Greek literature in terms of adultery. Jerome is probably led to do so by his critics. He was blamed for having defiled the Church with pagan literature. Now he exhausts biblical material about prostitutes who entered God’s providence.28 After all, Hosea’s marriage was according to divine instruction. The questions in the quotation given above are all rhetorical; they have to be answered in the affirmative. Thus liberal arts become, albeit a prostitute, a servant of Israel, which here represents the Church of God’s will. Jerome here follows a widely attested tradition in the Christian debate on the issue of Homer and encyclical studies. His logic follows the allegorical interpretation of Moses’ life in Egypt and the spoil taken from the Egyptians,29 although these biblical texts are not mentioned. Jerome proceeds in Epist. 70 to mention Christian authors who have proven their familiarity with earthly wisdom appearing in classical texts and in the philosophers.30 About these Jerome says that they ‘so frequently interweave in their books the doctrines and maxims of the philosophers that you might easily be at a loss which to admire most, their secular erudition [eruditio saeculi] or their knowledge of the Scriptures [scientia Scripturarum]’ (Epist. 70.4). Jerome’s list of illustrious Christian writers demonstrating familiarity with Greek learning is rounded off with Juvencus, a Spanish elder who in about 330 CE wrote a narrative of Jesus’ life in metric style: ‘Juvencus, a Spaniard of very noble family [nobilissimi generis Hispanus], and a priest, translating into hexameter verse [hexametris versibus] almost word for word the four Gospels, published them in four volumes; also some other works in the same metre regarding the order of rites. He lived in the reign of the emperor Constantine’ (Vir. 28 Epist. 70.2 also mentions Isa. 7.20 and Ezek. 5.1-5, both speaking of shaving, cutting hair and beard. 29 See Chs 11.2.3, 13.3 and 15.2.2. 30 Jerome organizes the list by authors who wrote in Greek and those who wrote in Latin. From the first group he mentions e.g. Quadratus, Aristides, Justin, Melito, Tatian, Irenaeus, Pantaenus, Clement, Origen, Julius Africanus, Gregory Thaumatourgus, Eusebius of Caesarea, and the Cappadocians Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus. Latin writers include Tertullian, Minucius Felix, Arnobius, Lactantius, Victorinus, Cyprian and Hilary.


The Challenge of Homer

ill. 84).31 This gospel harmony32 is based on Matthew’s Gospel, including the childhood stories of Luke and some episodes from the first chapters of John’s Gospel. The work was written in hexameters, inspired by Virgil, thus clearly an attempt to emulate the classical style in the presentation of Jesus’ life. Juvencus’ social status as a nobilissimus provides support for the claim, made throughout this study, that Homeric education and fascination was to a large extent a matter of class. This attempt, as well as some others mentioned earlier in this book,33 demonstrates the ambivalent attitude towards classical learning. Juvencus and the others who emulated the Homeric writings depend on this learning, but are also somehow competing with it. Compared to all those mentioned above, Jerome considers himself ‘a mere tyro in learning [imperitissimus]’ (Epist. 70.3). He barely remembers what he learnt as a boy. This is certainly a rhetorical exaggeration, but confirms that throughout this epistle Jerome has encyclical studies in mind. Towards the end of his letter Jerome turns, directly to his addressee, Magnus of Rome: You must not adopt the false opinion that this (i.e. to appeal to pagan literature) is allowed only against the Gentiles, and that one ought to ignore it in all other discussions; for almost all the books of all these writers – except those who like Epicurus are no scholars [litterae] – are extremely full of erudition [eruditio] and philosophy [doctrina]. (Epist. 70.6)34

In this closing admonition, Jerome discloses that his view of liberal studies is not only a strategy to fight and to win Gentiles. Their writings are valuable in themselves, Epicurus and his followers being the exceptions. To many Christians – and particularly to ascetics such as Jerome – Epicureanism was identical with heresy and pleasure-seeking selfsatisfaction.35 His positive evaluation of the pagan literature joins forces with a venerable Christian tradition, he claims. Learned Christians have always followed this practice: semper a doctis viris usurpatum est. Jerome brings this letter to an end with biting irony. He is convinced that Magnus’ critique is voiced on behalf of some other, probably Rufinus 31 The translation is from Halton 1999; Latin text is from Richardson 1896. Jerome describes Juvencus’ attempt in his Chron. 329 as well; for the text see Helm 1956. Here he says that Juvencus euangelia heroicis versibus explicat. 32 PL 19.9-388. 33 See Ch. 12.1 in this study. 34 My own translation. The translation found in NPNF2 Vol. 6 is not sufficiently precise. The Latin text goes like this: Nec statim prava opinione fallaris, contra Gentes hoc esse licitum, in aliis disputationibus dissimulandum . . . eruditionis doctrinaeque plenissimi sint. 35 See Sandnes 2002: 61–78. Jerome’s polemic against Jovinian demonstrates how Epicurus’ bad reputation is thrown in the face of a Christian opponent who does not comply with Jerome’s ideal of an ascetic lifestyle; Sandnes 2002: 238–41.

Jerome: An Ascetic Addicted to Greek Learning


himself.36 Therefore, he urges Magnus to encourage his toothless friend not to envy those who can eat with their own teeth. This pejorative rhetoric implies that Jerome’s opponents are not able to digest the intellectual tradition of Greek learning.

14.4 Jerome Defends Paul or Rather Vice Versa: Commentary on Paul’s Letter to Titus We have noticed that Jerome assumes that something useful can be found in pagan literature, and that this demands a process of diakrisis. His commentary on Paul’s letter to Titus37 addresses this. His point of departure is veritas, mentioned by Paul in his introductory words in this epistle. Knowledge of ajlhvqeia kat j eujsevbeian becomes crucial in Jerome’s attitude to Greek legacy in this commentary: . . . cognitionem veritatis quae est iuxta pietatem (Ad Tit. 1.1b-4/7.55-56).38 Jerome finds in Jn 8.31-32 a text addressing the need to keep veritas and pietas together, and also to define the kind of truth Paul is addressing in his epistle: ‘you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free’ (Jn 8.31-32). The truth in question is reserved for those who remain in God’s word. Hence, this veritas has the Bible as its only source; it cannot be culled from elsewhere. The truth which brings pietas is, therefore, the teaching of Jesus. From this follows the existence of veritas sine pieta as well: In order to know how to speak well, one can develop a new theory in both grammar and logic. Geometry, mathematics and music all convey knowledge of truth, but it is knowledge without godliness [pietas]. Knowledge of pietas is to know the Law, understand the Prophets, believe in the Gospels and not ignore the Apostles. (Ad Tit. 1.1b-4/8.83-88)39

Truth without pietas is, therefore, found in encyclical studies. Jerome’s distinction between veritas and pietas implies recognition of Greek learning as well as a claim of its insufficiency. The logic has something in common with a propaideutic view, so significant in the debate on Christian faith and the Greek legacy. Jerome’s listing of the Law, prophets, the gospel and the apostles is probably a reference to the emerging Christian canon; for he is here imitating the traditional Jewish division of their normative writings. Jerome returns to the question of Greek learning and encyclical studies

36 Reasons for this are given in NPNF2 Vol. 6, 151. 37 For the Latin text see Bucchi 2003 or PL 26.589-636. 38 PL 26.594. 39 PL 26.593. To my knowledge there is no translation into English available. The translation is therefore my own.


The Challenge of Homer

when he approaches Tit. 1.12 (Ad Tit. 1.12-14/28.603-34, 780).40 From this citation and Paul’s following remarks, Jerome unfolds a Christian attitude towards the pagan legacy embedded in Homer and liberal studies. Paul’s citation is commented upon alongside other passages taken from pagan literature in Paul’s letters (Acts 17.28 and 1 Cor. 15.33). These three texts prove Paul’s familiarity with the Greek legacy, and therefore provide a proper point of departure for the discussion. Tit. 1.12 is taken from the Cretan Epimenides, whom Callimachos draws on in his hymn to Zeus.41 Jerome says that this fact has led some Christians42 to accuse Paul of having lapsed into idolatry. They held Paul to use pagan texts in a way which is both imperite and imprudenter (Ad Tit. 1.12-14/31.685-95), i.e. he uses these texts in a manner which, according to Christian measure, is ignorant or unskilled.43 Paul is accused of idolatry by some of Jerome’s fellow Christians because he cites from a pagan poem. Callimachos wrote a hymn reproaching the Cretans for having lied when they claimed to know where Zeus was buried – he, who was immortal! Hence the Cretans are liars. They testified falsely, claiming that the immortal Zeus had passed away: sequitur Jovem non mortuum esse, sed vivium (Ad Tit. 1.12-14/31.693).44 By calling the Cretans liars, Paul is accused of giving his consent to those who held Zeus to be immortal. Jerome’s defence forms an approach to his attitude towards encyclical studies in general. He claims that Paul, in all his citations of the pagan legacy, considered the situation and time (opportunitas temporis) (Ad Tit. 1.12-14/30.661).45 A key word in Jerome’s treatise is, therefore, usus, corresponding to crhvsimon, and encapsulating the concept that occurs frequently in our investigation. Paul is very careful and considerate in what he is doing, says Jerome. He quotes only parts of pagan texts, and is not, therefore, supportive of this literature in general. Jerome makes an emphatic contrast between: Tota comedia (the whole comedy) Totus liber (the whole book) Totum opus (the whole work) Totum carmen (the whole song/ poem) Universum corpus (the whole writing)

40 41 42 43 44 45

unus versiculus (one tiny verse) libri pars (a part of the book) aliquid boni (something good) aliquid veritatis (something which is true) una tantum poematis pars (so much of the poem) hoc testimonium (this particular testimony)

PL 26.605-10. Gnilka 1984: 135–36; Sandnes 2002: 36. The Latin text has putant quidem, which simply says that ‘some hold this opinion’. PL 26.608. PL 26.608. PL 26.607.

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The critical view raised against Paul reasoned according to a pars pro toto logic: pieces represent the whole. From Paul’s citations, therefore, follow his general consent to the context from which the quotations are taken. This is not Paul’s procedure, according to Jerome. His elective and critical use does not presuppose the wider context of these passages: We, therefore, know that the Apostle used this quotation against the Cretans not by accident or by passing [non fortuito . . . et transitorie] – like some say [ut illi arbitrantur] – but considerately and carefully, securing himself in all possible ways [considerate et circumspecte et ex omni parte se protegente]. This particular testimony is true, he says, not the whole poem [non totum Carmen] from which this testimony is taken, not the entire writing [non universum opus], but only this testimony, this tiny verse [hic versiculus], in which they are called ‘liars’. (Ad. Tit. 1.1214/32.728–33/34)46

In this passage we hear the voice of opponents. Jerome says they hold it against Paul that he used the quotation about the Cretans in a careless way. They tend to excuse Paul for this slip of a tongue, but they hold a reasoning pars pro toto. These opponents of Paul (and Jerome) think in terms of ‘everything or nothing’. This is a trait we noticed with Tertullian, and which was also displayed by Julian in his strategy against the Christians. According to Jerome’s presentation of Paul’s critical reading, the apostle works selectively with pagan literature; he adapts the pagan poets according to his own purposes. Furthermore, he selects texts according to the criteria of bonum and veritas, which to Jerome are those things in the Greek legacy which are compatible with Christian faith, or which do not run counter to it.47 According to Jerome, therefore, Paul reads the pagan texts like bees producing their honey. From various flowers they collect honey and join the elements together (coaptare) to form a comb (Ad Tit. 1.12-14/30.672-75).48 The verb coaptare expresses the process of adaptation.49 With the analogy of the bees, which pagan as well as Christian tradition handed down to him, Jerome summarizes Paul’s approach to the pagan legacy. In fact, Jerome brings this illustration into the discussion 46 PL 26.609. 47 Without making explicit reference to this text, Jerome’s presentation brings to mind 2 Cor. 10.5 (‘we take every thought captive [aijcmalwtivzein] to obey Christ)’. As demonstrated by Gnilka 1984: 128, the principle of usus and crhvsimon is often depicted as aijcmalwtivzein in practice; thus also in Gregory of Nazianzus’ Or. Bas. 43.11 quoted in this book; see Ch.13.2. 48 PL 26.607. 49 According to Gnilka 1984: 129–30 this means ‘Auswahl, Verarbeitung und Einfu¨gung in eine bestehende Ordnung. Die Auswahl erfolgt einmal nach dem Prinzip der Angemessenheit im Hinblick auf das Gegenu¨ber, zum anderen nach dem Prinzip der


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after having mentioned Acts 17.22-23 where Paul in Athens took the inscription Agnwv j stw9 qew'æ as the starting-point for his preaching: ‘this I proclaim to you’. Jerome says that the singular, the One Unknown God, is a result of Paul’s working as a bee in a context where such an inscription must have said: diis Asiae et Europae et Africae, diis ignotis et peregrinis (Ad Tit. 1.12-14/30.667-68).50 Paul thus transformed and adapted the pagan legacy when opportunitas allowed him to do so.51

14.5 Encyclical Studies Taught in a Christian Setting – Towards Monastery Schools? The critical process of sifting good from bad (usus) implies that borrowing and adaptation belong together. In the text quoted above, the things to be shunned are idolatry, pleasure, error and desire. When these are cut away, liberal studies can even bring some good in the service of the Lord. It is not quite clear what Jerome has in mind when he urges that these things be cut away. There are two options: is it placing a ban on certain texts, to silence parts of the classical texts, or is it a Christian adaptation or reinterpretation? Most likely he has in mind a critical reading in the light of Christian tradition and faith. The critical reading and the portion of texts selected for this reading are both guided by Christian faith and scriptures. Jerome and most Christians advocating participation in liberal studies fail, however, to address this at a practical level. Remembering the schoolboy of Papyrus Boriant (see Introduction), one is forced to ask how this is to be practised in a situation where the teacher is a pagan and the student a young and immature Christian. The schoolboy is certainly in for a demanding task! If, however, the teacher were a Christian himself, things would be very different. Jerome himself instructed young boys in his monastery in classical literature.52 Throughout our study we have seen that the frustration of the schoolboy pictured in Papyrus Boriant remains more or less unsolved. In principle, many Christian writers grappled with his problem. But after so much discussion, the boy is left alone with his problem. What practical solution is there if Greek learning is approached

Wahrheit.’ (‘Selection, adaptation and incorporation into a given system. The selection is in accordance with the principle of correspondence with this system, and also according to the principle of truth’: my trans.) 50 PL 26.607. 51 Jerome comments on Tit. 1.15, saying: adventu Christi purgata sunt omnia. This raises the question of whether all God’s creation is good (Ad Tit. 1.15/34.781–36.819; see PL 26.610-11). Jerome does not bring the question of Greek learning into the perspective discussed in his comments on Tit. 1.15. His discussion is primarily guided by 1 Cor. 8.7 and 10.21, thus emphasizing the limits of freedom. 52 See Hagendahl 1958: 325–26.

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with the ambivalence so apparent in Jerome? How can a critical reading take place? Jerome’s Epist. 10753 to Laeta gives some ideas of a solution which gradually appeared among some elite Christians. This letter urges Laeta to give her daughter instruction at home. Laeta had consecrated her longawaited daughter to virginity and to the service of Christ. This promise of her mother is now to be imposed upon Paula by means of a pedagogical programme. Jerome compares Laeta and Paula with the example of Hannah. According to 1 Sam. 1–3, Hannah promised to give her son Samuel to God’s Temple (Epist. 107.3).54 In Paula’s case this implies that she is being prepared to enter a life of virginity.55 Jerome writes that Laeta should provide her daughter with figures of the letters made of wood or ivory. By playing with these, she will gradually pick up reading. She is taught to put the letters together to form words and names. The method is well known from encyclical studies, but the names are not taken from Greek mythology, they are those of prophets and apostles or other famous biblical figures. The genealogies found in Matthew and Luke provide opportunities for good exercises; the learning of letters, reading and instruction in the Bible are here combined; the biblical texts replace the pedagogical role held by Homer in traditional education.56 The merest glance into the documentary sources (see Chapter 2) makes this quite apparent: here are many examples of what Jerome instructs Laeta to do with Paula, but biblical texts have now replaced Homer. Paula shall daily ‘read to her mother a portion of the Scriptures’ (Epist. 107.9). Likewise, Paula is instructed to learn texts by heart in Latin as well as in Greek. He recommends memorization, starting with texts from the Old and New Testament.57 The first part of the Bible with which Paula is to familiarize herself is the Psalms. Probably this priority has a dual reason. Firstly, the Psalms are very easily learned by singing, and thus 53 Latin text available in LCL or PL 22.867-78. 54 Cf. Jerome’s Epist. 107.13. Child oblation later took the story of Hannah and Samuel as its prime model; see De Jong 1996: 156–63. 55 See Bakke 2005: 160–62, 184–88. 56 Similar advice is given also in Jerome’s Epist. 128 (PL 22.1095-99) which also addresses the instruction of a young girl given to God to serve Him as a virgin. The ascetic tradition permeates both letters. An English translation of this text is found in Rebenich 2002: 132–36. Worth noticing in Epist. 128.4 is that Jerome accuses some Christian wives of having deserted their husbands in the name of religion, ‘and like another Helen follow their Alexander (= Paris) without the smallest fear of Menelaus’. Just as Danae¨, the daughter of the king of Argos, was secretly visited by Zeus and conceived Perseus by him, so too these Christian women will be easily contaminated; see Rebenich 2002: 203. This reference to the very plot of the Trojan War in the midst of an ascetic text is revealing of the ambivalence found in Jerome, and also proves that he assumed his ascetic female supporters to be familiar with the Greek legacy encapsulated in encyclical studies. 57 Cf. Epist. 128.4.


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served a pedagogical purpose, a practice which can possibly be traced in Col. 3.16.58 Secondly, this priority must be seen against the advice given in Ep. 107.4: Paula must know no cantica mundi. I hold this somewhat general statement to refer primarily to the songs of Homer: ‘The wrath do thou sing, O goddess’ (Il. 1.1); in other words it parallels carmina poetarum in Ep. 21.13. This is not spelled out, but I think the Homeric atmosphere contributes to this; a young woman spinning wool, surrounded by attendants who keep the boys away, all this creates an atmosphere that facilitates Jerome’s programme for biblical psalms to replace the Homeric poems. At the end of this programme, she will be able to read the Song of Songs as well. This text is only for the mature student, since children will tend to read it in a literal sense (sub carnalibus verbis), and are therefore not able to see its figurative meaning. Jerome’s logic corresponds exactly to how ancient pedagogy urged that Homer be read allegorically. The Song of Songs must be interpreted in a figurative way, or else it is to be abandoned.59 Jerome is concerned about the literature Paula is given to read. She must be kept away from apocryphal texts (caveat omnia apocrypha) (Epist. 107.12). Nonetheless, he does not exclude the possibility that there are pieces of gold hidden in the mud, as he puts it: ‘She may take pleasure in the learned expositions of all such writers as maintain in their books a steady love of the faith. If she reads others let it be as a critic rather than as a disciple’ (Epist. 107.12). Although Jerome is clearly speaking about apocryphal texts, his argument might imply that literature ‘from the outside’ was available in Paula’s home as well; this would include classical Greek and Latin texts.60 It seems then that this is an example of encyclical instruction given in a Christian home. Jerome’s ambivalent attitude to Greek learning finds a modus vivendi in this practical solution. Jerome is clearly addressing himself to a home where the mother – the father is left unmentioned – belongs to the docti, the learned aristocrats.61 The Christian home was from the very beginning a key factor in the growth of the Christian movement.62 Among Christians of some social standing this included also the instruction of the young. Paul’s statement in Eph. 6.4 (‘And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord’)63 must have 58 See Ga¨rtner 1985: 287–93 for further references. 59 This echoes Heraclitus’ Homerica problemata 1, quoted in Ch. 3.4. 60 Hagendahl 1958: 196, 325–28 argues that Paula, since she was a girl, was only given a Christian education, while boys were instructed in traditional Greek learning as well. Nevertheless, it remains a fact that Jerome’s mentioning of finding gold in the mud nicely expresses the principle of usus. 61 For the aristocratic milieu of Jerome and his friends, see Rebenich 1992. 62 See Sandnes 1994: 93–111. 63 The Greek text runs: ejktrevfete aujta; ejn paideivaæ kai; nouqesivaæ kurivou.

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been a reminder of this.64 Clement of Rome (1 Clem. 21.8) says that children are to be instructed th'" ejn Cristw'æ paideiva". We noticed that Origen received at least some of his instruction from his father.65 In his encomiastic speech for Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus says that he was instructed by his father in liberal studies (Or. Bas. 43.12).66 Macrina, Basil’s sister, is worth mentioning here. Her second brother, Gregory of Nyssa, gives her childhood story in his Vita Sanctae Macrinae.67 This work reveals how resourceful Christians cared for the education of the next generation. Macrina is in many ways an analogy to Paula in Jerome’s Epist. 107. Encyclical studies are not mentioned as part of the instruction Macrina received. On the contrary, it says that her mother was eager to teach her child, but not in the profane and common education (hJ e[xwqen . . . kai; ejgkuvklio" paivdeusi") (Macr. 3). Nonetheless, this is hardly an abandonment of Greek learning. The author of this text, Gregory, certainly did not take such a negative view (see above). The scepticism voiced against the Greek legacy is primarily due to the fact that Macrina was a young girl unfitted to face the dangers inherent in studies from the outside.68 A manual for how Christian parents should instruct their children is given in John Chrysostom (c. 347–407 CE).69 His writing De inani gloria et de educandis liberis (On vainglory and the right way for parents to bring up their children) gives a detailed picture of this programme. The classical Greek and Latin literature is being replaced by biblical texts. Chrysostom follows the example of Quintilian, saying that it is important to impress good precepts on the children while they are still young, like waxed tablets, easily formed (}20).70 The manual follows patterns set by classical education. Emphasis is given to stories; they are memorized, and they work paradigmatically. The children are taught biblical texts which exemplify virtue and vice. The selection of texts is according to the moral purpose they will serve. Although biblical texts are of primary significance, and very much so, this does not mean that traditional Greek learning has been entirely replaced.71 Chrysostom recognizes some value in the knowledge passed 64 Cf. Col. 3.21; Heb. 12.7-10; Guroian 2001; see also Lampe 1982. 65 See Ch. 11.2.1 in this study. 66 Bernardi 1992: 141–43 or PG 36.509. 67 For the Greek text see Callahan 1952. 68 This is pointed out also by Hidal 1999: 13. 69 Ha¨llstro¨m 1999 argues that Chrysostom attempted to replace the ancient curriculum with a Christian study programme; he calls it a Christian programme of studies (p. 152). 70 The translation is taken from Laistner 1951. For the Greek text see Malingrey 1972. On Chrysostom’s view of the upbringing of children in general, see Bakke 2005: 78–86, 162– 72, 188–200. 71 See Laistner 1951: 52–53.


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on in pagan education. This recognition appears now and then in this work. This value is stated precisely by him; it is found in the texts which teach classical Greek virtues, such as ejgkravteia and swfrosuvnh; in short, texts addressing the danger of the desires of the belly (}79 and 44). This common way of describing a life without virtues as devotedness to the belly is illustrated with reference to Gen. 25 about Esau who sold his birthright for a meal.72 However, the literature taught in pagan schools is by no means, says Chrysostom, univocally working towards morality; hence one has to be sceptical about sending the children there: Make him a Christian. For it is of all things necessary for laymen to be acquainted with lessons derived from this source;73 but especially for children. For theirs is an age full of folly [a[noia]; and to this folly are superadded the bad examples derived from the heathen tales [ta; para; tw'n e[xwqen lovgwn], where they are made acquainted with those heroes so admired amongst them, slaves of their passions, and cowards with regard to death; as, for example, Achilles, when he relents, when he dies for his concubine, when another gets drunk, and many other things of the sort. He requires therefore the remedies [ta; farmakav] against these things. How is it not absurd to send children out to trades [eij" tevcna"], and to school [eij" didaskalei'on], and to do all you can for these objects, and yet, not ‘to bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord’. (Hom. 21 on Eph. 6.4)74

The immediate context of this passage tells that Christian parents feared Chrysostom’s pedagogical programme because it led their youngsters to embrace the monastic life. Chrysostom denies this aim; he emphasizes that instruction in the Scriptures is urgent for those who do not withdraw from society. Instruction in the Scriptures works as medicine against evil things in pagan literature. But the parents’ fear was hardly taken out of thin air. For Chrysostom the monks represented the authentically Christian life, the end of the road to virtue. In his early writing Adversus oppugnatores vitae monasticae (PG 47.319-86), he suggests that children should be given to the protection of monasteries for instruction before returning to their parents. A lively discussion among Christians and pagan parents in Antioch on education, as well as Chrysostom’s response, is mirrored in this work (3.5-13).75 This probably marks the beginning of the monastic schools and Christians taking over encyclical studies. Chrysostom takes the text of Eph. 6 as an admonition to teach children from their early age the Scriptures: in short to make them Christians. Present-day exegetes 72 For the role of this biblical text in Jewish and Christian adaptation of Greek moral philosophy, see Sandnes 2002: 117–21. 73 The holy Scriptures. 74 Quoted from NPNF1, Vol. 13. For the Greek text see PG 62.150. 75 For an English translation, see Hunter 1988.

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discuss whether the wording of Eph. 6.4b is to be given a narrow or a wider meaning. Chrysostom definitely holds to the latter: ejn paideivaæ kai; nouqesivaæ kurivou simply means inculturation in the Christian faith. We have noted a reluctance to accept encyclical studies without further ado. This must have forced Christian parents to find other ways of giving their young the necessary education. Even opponents of Greek learning admitted the need to know reading and writing. The principle of usus, a critical sifting of Homeric texts, pointed to a practical solution in which homes were crucial.76 Probably Christian parents did their best to instruct their children in basic letters. The material presented in this investigation suggests that this took place particularly among the Christian elite. Jerome’s Epist. 107 and 128 exemplify this practice: a practice inspired by the example of Hannah and Samuel.77 This biblical model pointed towards a monastic life. This certainly goes beyond the present study, but I would tentatively suggest that the search for a practical solution to the problem of the schoolboy in Papyrus Boriant was finally solved in independent Christian schools or even monastic schools. This implied, of course, a practical solution to his problem, but one which led to his seclusion from society. Among some Christians with resources, economic, social and intellectual, encyclical studies were taught at home, or with Christian teachers. In this way Greek learning remained subordinated to Christian doctrine. This approach secured the supreme role of the Scriptures and Christian tradition vis-a`-vis Greek literature. The Christian home provided a safe haven for instruction in the Greek and pagan legacy, and was probably the only way to ensure that Homer, encyclical studies and Greek learning were passed on according to the principle of critical selection. In short, usus, as we have followed this principle throughout the investigation, could only be put into practice in this setting. But this was an option only for a minority, and the Papyrus Boriant schoolboy was hardly among them.

76 Cf. Lampe 1989: 298–99; Osiek and Balch 1997: 156–67. 77 See Laistner 1951: 81–82. Gregory of Nazianzus says that the text about Samuel also inspired his parents in their upbringing of him; see Børtnes 1994: 387–88.

Chapter 15 AUGUSTINE: LIBERAL STUDIES – A WINDOW ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GREEK CULTURE AND CHRISTIAN FAITH We have seen that students in liberal studies were, so to speak, enveloped as Heraclitus put it in Homeric Problems,1 by classical texts and the Homeric poems in particular. They constantly returned to these writings, and studied them repeatedly. According to Quintilian, for instance, education was a journey in Homer and Virgil; the boys read them more than once (Inst. 1.8.5). About three centuries later, and almost 800 years after Plato, the middle-aged Augustine wrote his Confessiones and De doctrina Christiana. He lived in a society about to be Christianized, but the pagan poets still made up the core curriculum in the schools. Teresa Morgan’s survey of Egyptian papyri has demonstrated that both content and teaching methods remained the same throughout the Roman empire for almost a millennium.2 This formed a continuous unity within ancient schooling – even when society was about to embrace Christian traditions. Augustine wrote numerous texts of direct or indirect relevance for our topic,3 but I will confine myself to the two above-mentioned texts.

15.1 Liberal Studies and Conversion In Augustine’s Confessions Books 1–9 we listen to the voice of a student commenting on his encyclical education, albeit written with hindsight in his maturity. Brian Stock has argued that in this part of Confessions, Augustine narrates his own progress from infant speech, to how he learned to speak, and to his acquisition of literate skills. He enjoyed the tale of Troy and Aeneas. This progress culminated, however, in his hearing from the house of a neighbour the words tolle lege, tolle lege (take up and read, take up and read) (Conf. 8.12.29). He took this as God commanding him to open the book and read whatever chapter he first saw. This is to be seen against the background of reading the future by 1 See Ch. 3.4. 2 Morgan 1998: 3–7. 3 A collection of many relevant passages taken from a number of his writings is found in Howie 1969. See also the collection of articles in Paffenroth and Hughes 2000.

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‘drawing lots’, delving into Homer, Virgil or into the Scriptures.4 From the immediate context we learn that he read from a codex which contained Pauline epistles, specifically Rom. 13.13-14 about leaving behind the desires of the flesh and putting on Christ instead. He was thereby led to embrace regula fidei. In Conf. 9.5, Augustine’s conversion is once again attached to what texts to read. He is recommended to read Isaiah since that prophet most clearly announced the gospel beforehand.5 Augustine’s statements on his liberal education in Conf. 1 are thus embedded in this conversion story. These studies represent something from which he has to be weaned: Even now I have not yet discovered the reasons why I hated Greek literature when I was being taught it as a small boy [puerulus].6 Latin I deeply loved, not at the stage of my primary teachers [primi magistri] but at the secondary level taught by the teachers of literature called ‘grammarians’ [grammatici]. The initial elements [illa prima], where one learns the three R’s of reading, writing, and arithmetic, I felt to be no less a burden and an infliction than the entire series of Greek classes . . . Of course, those first elements of the language were better, because more fundamental. On that foundation I came to acquire the faculty which I had and still possess of being able to read whatever I find written, and to write myself whatever I wish. This was better than the poetry I was later forced to learn about the wanderings of some legendary fellow named Aeneas (forgetful of my own wanderings)7 and to weep over the death of a Dido who took her own life from love. In reading this, O God my life, I myself was meanwhile dying by my alienation from you, and my miserable condition in that respect brought no tear to my eyes. (Conf. 1.13.20) For what can be more pitiable than a wretch without pity for himself who weeps over the death of Dido dying for love of Aeneas, but not weeping over himself dying for his lack of love for you, my God, light of my heart . . . I had no love for you and ‘committed fornication against you’;8 . . . Over this I wept not a tear. I wept over Dido who ‘died in pursuing her ultimate end with a sword’.9 I abandoned you to pursue the lowest things of your creation. I was dust going to dust. Had I been forbidden to read this story, I would have been sad that I could not read what made me sad. Such madness is considered a higher and more fruitful education than being taught to read and write. (Conf. 1.13.21) 4 5 6 7 seen 8 9

See Lancel 2002: 97. For this reading see Stock 1996: 21–42, 107–12. For Augustine’s hatred of Greek see also Conf. 1.14.23; on this see Lancel 2002: 15–17. This parenthetical comment echoes Seneca’s criticism of encyclical studies, as we have it in Ch. 4 of this study. Ps. 72.27. Aeneid 6.457.


The Challenge of Homer But now may my God cry out in my soul and may your truth tell me: ‘It is not so, it is not so. The best education [melior] you received was the primary.’ Obviously I much prefer to forget the wanderings of Aeneas and all that stuff than to write and read. It is true, veils hang at the entrances to the schools of literature; but they do not signify the prestige of elite teaching so much as the covering up of error . . . Let there be no abuse of me from people who sell or buy a literary education. If I put the question to them whether the poet’s story is true that Aeneas once came to Carthage, the uneducated will reply that they do not know, while the educated will say it is false. But if I ask with what letters Aeneas’ name is spelled, all who have learnt to read will reply correctly in accordance with the agreement and convention by which human beings have determined the value of signs. Similarly, if I ask which would cause the greater inconvenience to someone’s life, to forget how to read and write or to forget these fabulous poems, who does not see what answer he would give, unless he has totally lost his senses? So it was a sin in me as a boy when I gave pride of place in my affection to those empty fables rather than to more useful studies [cum illa inania istis utilioribus amore praeponebam], or rather when I hated the one and loved the other. But to me it was a hateful chant to recite ‘one and one is two’, and ‘two and two are four’; delightful was the vain spectacle of the wooden horse full of armed soldiers and the burning of Troy and the very ghost of Creusa. (Conf. 1.13.22) You, Lord, are ‘my king and my God’. Turn to your service whatever may be of use [quidquid utile] in what I learnt in boyhood. May I dedicate to your service my power to speak and write and read and count; for when I learnt vanities [vana], you imposed discipline on me and have forgiven me the sin of desiring pleasures from those vanities. For in them I learnt many useful words [multa verba utilia], but these words can also be learnt through things that are not vain, and that is the safe way along which children should walk. (Conf. 1.15.24)

Augustine remembers how he hated the elementary teaching in reading and writing, but loved the heroic stories he read in the famous poems. In other words, he found literature more beneficial than the lessons given with primus magister, which practically means oJ grammatisthv". The experience expressed here is in full accordance with a common view of encyclical education in antiquity. In grammar school the students learned the practical skills of reading and writing, but it was the study of literature which lifted the mind, as Quintilian said (Inst. 1.8.5). When the Christian philosopher looks back at his life, his view has changed entirely. The knowledge which had proven helpful to him was not provided by his instruction by the grammatici. On the contrary, the beneficial part was taught him at the elementary stage, the basic skill of reading and writing – in short, letters. The knowledge passed on to him at this initial stage proved useful for him as a Christian. His lessons in literature and the

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poets now appear in a new light; they were futile and empty. The only good thing about this knowledge is that he picked up many useful words. Throughout this text, Augustine values the skills of reading and writing as most important. These skills could, however, be passed on by reading more valuable texts than those of Homer and Virgil. The teaching given by grammatici was indeed problematic. The poems presented the gods in a way which made them examples of adultery. From this a contradiction appeared to Augustine, since these poems were considered as inspired.10 By consequence, their narratives had a kind of divine authority. This authority was supported by centuries of tradition, masters beating their students, approving parents, and even status and offices in civic life. With reference to Jupiter becoming a model for fornication (exemplum stupri), Augustine says the following: The words actually encourage the more confident committing of a disgraceful action [turpitudo]. I bring no charge against the words which are like exquisite and precious vessels, but the wine of error [vinum erroris] is poured into them for us by drunken teachers [ab ebriis doctoribus]. If we failed to drink, we were caned and could not appeal to any sober judge. Yet, My God, before whose sight I now recall this without the memory disturbing me, I learnt this text with pleasure and took delight in it, wretch that I was. For this reason I was said to be a boy of high promise [bonae spei puer]. (Conf. 1.16.26)

The last sentence is probably a reference to Augustine’s pride, his ambitions and wish for public recognition. Education paved the way for position and offices. Augustine looks back at his youth as a time where he was led by pleasures and carnal lust, which also included pride in being a persuasive speaker. According to Augustine, his parents had also fallen prey to pride in education. In Conf. 4.1, he similarly speaks of the act of learning as well as teaching liberal studies in terms of cupido. It was all aimed at receiving gloria in the public sphere. Augustine paints encyclical studies with the human sins of greed, selfish ambition and higher fees.11 Kevin Hughes therefore rightly says that Augustine’s conversion ‘was precisely a conversion away from the world of the academy’.12 Augustine views the instruction he received as a child in the light of what it contributed to his serving the Lord. In Conf. 1.12.19 he says: Non amabam litteras. He did not love letters or books,13 but through 10 This is pointed out in Conf. 1.16.25; see also Starnes 1990: 17–18. 11 Hughes 2000: 96–97. 12 Hughes 2000: 95. 13 Chadwick 1990 translated litterae as ‘reading books’; similarly the LCL edition has ‘my book’. I think the context wherein Augustine says this suggests an emphasis on letters. He was taught the letters by a primus magister, and they proved to be useful; this suggests that litterae should be rendered ‘letters’ here.


The Challenge of Homer

punishments he was forced to learn them. Those who forced him did so ‘to satiate the insatiable desires of a rich beggary, and a dishonourable glory’, which probably refers to education as an investment in social position and income.14 They did not understand to what end Augustine would apply his litterae. But God turned this situation ad utilitatem meam, which in Conf. 1.15 refers to the serving of God. In this service, reading and writing were necessary skills, while the teaching given by grammatici was not. Augustine makes a distinction according to what is ‘useful’ and ‘beneficial’; in other words, what is conducive to Christian faith and thinking. In the text just quoted, this is identical with the elementary instruction, the learning of letters, while interpreting Homer and Virgil did not meet this requirement. In so doing, Augustine reverses a traditional sequence of thought on encyclical studies. Elementary instruction was commonly seen as preparing the way for more profound studies in literature, and finally for philosophy or rhetoric. In this text, Augustine does not fit this propaideutic pattern, since for him the most valuable part was given by the otherwise despised primus magister. Augustine’s reversed evaluation develops from his Christian position, namely that the classical literature, which once pleased him, in fact, encouraged immorality. Hence this literature was not easily fitted into a sequential propaideutic pattern. The basic discernment, according to Confessions, is to distinguish between the knowledge passed on in two levels of liberal studies. Augustine’s conversion, as related in Conf. 1–9, includes advice on how to read and what texts to read. One would therefore expect him to leave behind some texts and to embrace a new set of texts. To some extent this happens, but there is hardly a ‘Tertullian-like’ antithesis. Ancient education was evaluated according to its ability to serve the ends of interpreting biblical texts: ‘St Augustine insists upon the practical end of knowledge, namely, for the understanding of sacred Scripture.’15 In Conf. 1–9, this discernment was basically a distinction that conformed to the stages of education, in short letters and literature. What he previously valued he came to criticize and what previously bored him had proved the most useful part.

15.2 De doctrina Christiana In his Christian Instruction (De doctrina Christiana), a treatise on Christian education, primarily for young students of the Scriptures, the discernment between useful and not helpful appears more complex than 14 Thus Stock 1996: 27. 15 Ellspermann 1949: 243; thus also Montgomery 1999: 133.

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what we found in the Confessions. He emphasizes the criterion of usefulness, i.e. what contributes to an adequate reading of the Bible. Robert A. Kaster calls Augustine’s Christian Instruction his ‘formal answer to the claims of the traditional literary culture’.16 To this writing we now turn. The prologue starts by asking if there are rules for how to interpret the Scriptures, thus making evident from the very outset the aim of this literature: ‘It is my intention to communicate these rules to those with the will and wit to learn’ (Doctr. Chr. Pref. 1).17 Augustine immediately addresses himself to critics of various kinds, who find his project superfluous, unnecessary or even neglectful of the Holy Spirit’s role in this process. Some of his critics considered the question of rules unnecessary since interpreting the Scriptures was a divinely conferred ability; the Holy Spirit lent the necessary understanding. Augustine does not oppose scriptural interpretation by inspiration, but emphasizes that when interpretation aims at communication, a method and some rules facilitate this aim.18 He gives a preliminary response by pointing out that interpretation always involves using the languages of men, be it Greek, Hebrew or any other language learned in childhood by hearing or from a teacher. Augustine proceeds to ask two rhetorical questions: So should we now (I ask you) warn all our brethren not to teach these things to their small children, on the grounds that the apostles spoke in the languages of all peoples after being inspired in a single moment by the coming of the Holy Spirit?19 Or should we warn those to whom such things do not happen to stop thinking of themselves as Christians and start doubting that they have received the Holy Spirit? (Doctr. Chr. Pref. 10)

Augustine instructs in the regulae necessary for interpreting the Scriptures, like a teacher guiding his students into the litterae (18). The prologue sets the scene for all that follows in this work. The decisive factor is what abilities and kinds of knowledge contribute to reading and understanding the Scriptures; this embraces also his comments on liberal studies. Augustine closes his Christian Instruction by saying that he has given a presentation of doctrina sana, which picks up a key term from Paul’s pastoral epistles.20 The sound doctrine is to know how insights of various kinds may contribute to a better understanding of Scripture.

16 Kaster 1988: 84. 17 Quoted from Green 1995. By permission of Oxford University Press. 18 Stock 1996: 192–94. Augustine returns to the question of inspired and learned interpretation of the Scriptures in Book 4.89-95. 19 Cf. Acts 2.1-4. 20 See e.g. 1 Tim. 1.10; 2 Tim. 4.3; Tit. 1.9; 2.1.


The Challenge of Homer

15.2.1 Uti and Frui In Christian Instruction Book 1, Augustine introduces the terms and notions by which he will present his topic, namely uti and frui, to make use of and to enjoy respectively. When he turns to liberal studies in Book 2, he puts into practice the principle laid out in Book 1. In Book 2 it appears quite clearly that the question of liberal studies and classical learning works as a window on much greater issues, namely to develop a Christian perspective on pagan culture in principle. As amply demonstrated in the present study, encyclical studies easily lent themselves to the purpose of raising the fundamental question of culture and faith, like a window on this issue: There are some things which are to be enjoyed [fruendum est], some which are to be used [utendum est], and some whose function is both to enjoy and use. Those which are to be enjoyed make us happy [beati]; those which are to be used assist us and give us a boost, so to speak, as we press on towards our happiness, so that we may reach and hold fast to the things which make us happy. And we, placed as we are among things of both kinds, both enjoy and use them; but if we choose to enjoy things that are to be used, our advance is impeded and sometimes even diverted, and we are held back, or even put off, from attaining things which are to be enjoyed, because we are hamstrung by our love of lower things. (Doctr. Chr. 1.7)21

Uti and frui are related as means to goal. Uti is everything that contributes to true enjoyment; everything created used in a way which serves a good end. In making the distinction between uti and frui, Augustine draws on the venerable debate in antiquity over the highest good (summum bonum), which in his view was to love the triune God. This is his Christian definition of frui, while uti is all things conducive to enjoying the triune God.22 Augustine has thus formulated a norm against which human culture is to be measured and evaluated. The debate on encyclical studies has now generated a hermeneutical approach to pagan culture in general. To make his point, Augustine provides an analogy: . . . we would need transport by land or sea which we could use to travel to our homeland, the object of our enjoyment. But if we were fascinated by the delights of the journey and the actual travelling, we would be perversely enjoying things that we should be using; and we would be reluctant to finish our journey quickly, being ensnared in the wrong kind of pleasure and estranged from the homeland whose pleasures could make us happy. So in this mortal life we are like travellers away 21 On uti and frui see also Doctr. Chr. 1.73. 22 The question of summum bonum appears as a criterion also in Augustine’s Ep. 118 on liberal studies to Dioscorus (PL 33.431-39); see }13–14 in particular. For an English translation, see Teske 2003: 103–24.

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from the Lord: if we wish to return to the homeland where we can be happy we must use this world, not enjoy it [utendum est hoc mundo, non fruendum] . . . to ascertain what is eternal and spiritual from corporeal and temporal things. The things which are to be enjoyed, then, are the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and the Trinity comprised by them, which is a kind of single, supreme thing, shared by all who enjoy it . . . (Doctr. Chr. 1.8-10)

Greek culture is like a vessel taking the passengers home.23 The voyage may be pleasant, of course, but it is primarily a means of reaching their homes. There is a constant danger of being led astray and being alienated during the journey, by many things which do not bring true enjoyment. The believer makes use of the culture, an injunction which implies both a positive and a critical perspective. Augustine develops a theory which is, in fact, a reaping of centuries of discourse on encyclical studies. The text cited above speaks of uti in terms of preliminary support and help, in short provisional contributions. This brings to mind the discourse on encyclical studies as being propaideutic, helpful, but still only provisional. This discourse can be abbreviated by terms like crhvsimon, wjfevlimon or bohvqeia, or in the concept of propaideia. In other words, this is the Homer-critical tradition which is now being ‘baptized’.24 Augustine is standing on the shoulders of many Greek philosophers as well as Christian theologians when he formulates the principle of uti and frui in his Christian Instruction Book 1. The image of a voyage brings to mind the traditional educational metaphor of reaching a goal in terms of climbing a hill. A propaideutic perspective on education fits nicely into this imagery. However, Augustine is more sceptical of the propaideutic perspective, which includes a concept of sequential wisdom, than appears from his metaphor of the voyage. As pointed out by Kevin L. Hughes, in ‘these mature works, Augustine suggests more sharply that the liberal arts themselves can hinder progress in the ascent to God’.25 Towards the end of Book 2, Augustine mentions pride in liberal arts as an example of how faith can be jeopardized. He does so with frequent reference to 1 Cor. 8.1 and 13.4 where Paul says that knowledge puffs up (Doctr. Chr. 2.46, 148, 152).26 Augustine frequently hints at liberal studies as a temptation to ambitious young Christians, as we have already noticed in his Confessions. This is implied here as well.27 The critique against 23 This brings to mind Gregory of Nyssa who interpreted the basket in which Moses was laid as prefiguring encyclical studies; cf. also Clement who spoke of encyclical studies as a raft; see Ch. 11.1.5 in this study. 24 I have borrowed this formulation from the subtitle of Rist 1994. 25 Hughes 2000: 101. 26 See Marrou 1981: 292. 27 He is constantly on his guard against making liberal studies a goal in themselves; they must always be subordinated to spiritual growth or what they bring to reading the Scriptures.


The Challenge of Homer

liberal education for being prone to causing pride is here given a more philosophical substantiation. He pokes fun at that part of encyclical studies that focuses on right pronunciation rather than the attitude to which the words refer: ‘Whether one says ignoscere28 with a long or short third syllable is of little concern to someone beseeching God to forgive his sins, however he may have managed to utter the word’ (Doctr. Chr. 2.45). He issues warnings against the empty honour which liberal arts might lead to, clearly echoing the criticism of encyclical knowledge voiced by Seneca in his Ep. 88.29 Augustine’s philosophical critique is formulated in accordance with his distinction between res and signum (or verbum).30 Learning should not seek its purpose in aesthetics, thus mixing up tool and goal.31 15.2.2 Truth, Wherever Found, Belongs to God: The Gold of the Egyptians The hermeneutical model developed in Book 1 is put into practice in Book 2, and here encyclical studies are addressed. Augustine discusses what use – for the interpretation of the Bible! – there is in learning the alphabet; i.e. to know Greek, Hebrew and Latin, to know common mores, names, animals, arithmetic, music, geography, nature, history, the movements of the stars, dialectic and rhetoric. This list of topics is an extended version of liberal studies. Augustine’s reasoning goes like this: But whether Varro’s story is true or not, we should not avoid Music because of the associated pagan superstitions if there is a possibility of gleaning from it something of value for understanding Holy Scripture [utile ad intellegendas sanctas scripturas]. Nor, on the other hand, should we be captivated by the vanities of the theatre if we are discussing something to do with lyres or other instruments that may help us appreciate spiritual truths [ad spiritalia capienda valeat]. We were not wrong to learn the alphabet just because they say that the god Mercury was its patron, nor should we avoid justice and virtue just because they dedicated temples to justice and virtue and preferred to honour these values not in their minds, but in the form of stones. A person who is a good and true Christian should realize that truth belongs to his Lord, This is clearly seen in his Ep. 118 where Augustine warns Dioscorus against useless or empty curiosity (inaniter curiosus). On curiositas in Augustine’s writings, see Ellspermann 1949: 193–94. Liberal studies might feed Dioscorus’ vain and deceitful ambitions (}1). According to Augustine, Dioscorus seeks day and night to be praised by men for his learning (}4). This brings to mind Philo who warned his fellow Jews in Alexandria against studying in order to gain access to social status and public positions; see Ch. 5.3. On this letter of Augustine, see Ellspermann 1949: 200–03; for the Latin text PL 33.431-49. 28 Meaning ‘to forgive’. 29 See Ch. 4 in this study. 30 See Rist 1994: 23–40. 31 Marrou 1981: 295–96.

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wherever it is found, gathering and acknowledging [conferens et agnoscens] it even in pagan literature, but rejecting superstitious vanities and deploring and avoiding those who ‘though they knew God did not glorify him as God or give thanks but became enfeebled in their own thoughts and plunged their senseless minds into darkness’. (Doct. Chr. 2.71-72)

In this context, Augustine makes reference to Rom. 1.21-23 on the Gentiles’ failing to distinguish between God and his creation, thus leading them to worship the creation instead of its Master.32 This passage of Augustine can be read as commenting upon Tertullian,33 who attempted to isolate the believers from liberal studies as much as possible, due to the fact that schoolteachers and students were supported by Minerva or in various ways connected with religious festivals.34 Augustine takes another approach to this phenomenon thanks to his criterion of uti and frui, which implies the principle of making right use of something.35 All truth, wherever found, belongs properly speaking to God, a kind of thinking derived from creation theology. This basic conviction Augustine brings also to his Conf. 7.9. There he mentions that he found in the teaching of Plato things which correlated with Christian faith:36 ‘And I had come to you from the Gentiles and fixed my attention on the gold which you willed your people to take from Egypt, since the gold was yours, wherever it was [quoniam tuum erat, ubicumque erat]’ (Conf. 7.9.15). This dictum echoes 1 Cor. 10.26 in which Paul cites from Ps. 24.1 (‘the earth and its fullness are the Lord’s’). Furthermore, this is a slightly altered version of the introductory words in Sir. 1.1: ‘All wisdom is from the Lord.’ In Conf. 7.9.15, Augustine makes explicit reference to Paul’s speech at Athens (Acts 17). The gold of the Egyptians is to him the Athenians’ books. As we have demonstrated in this study, these texts were 32 In Augustine’s Ep. 101.2 where encyclical studies are addressed, the same biblical text appears. For an English translation, see Teske 2003: 17–19. 33 Whether this is in accordance with Augustine’s intention, is another matter. 34 See Ch. 10.2. In Cor. 8.2, however, Tertullian says that although Mercury was the first who taught the knowledge of letters, knowing them is still necessary for business, daily life as well as for Christian devotion. This text thus emphasizes the dilemma we found in his argument in Idol. 10. 35 Augustine’s position is, however, not always so lenient. In a number of texts he sounds very much like Tertullian, as in e.g. his Ep. 101, where he contrasts the liberty promised by the ‘countless and impious stories . . . with which the poems of pagan poets are filled [innumerabiles et impiae fabulae . . . vanorum plena sint carmina poetarum]’ (}2). No libertas is found in them, unless what is consonant with the truth (veritas) of which Jesus spoke (Jn 8.32, 36). Augustine speaks figuratively of learning, as being nutritus. This feeding should consist of dominicus panis rather than the literature of liberal studies (}1). For the Latin text, see the Loeb edition of Augustine’s Select Letters. 36 Obviously there were also things which ran contrary to Christian faith. Augustine mentions in particular the coming of Christ to the world, his death and exaltation.


The Challenge of Homer

building-blocks in the theological ratio of Christian advocates of encyclical studies. Augustine embraces this tradition, which, theologically speaking, is tantamount to the doctrine of the world as created by God.37 With reference to Rom. 1.21-25, Augustine acknowledges that some veritas is found among pagan idolaters, although it is enclosed in their injustice (veritas . . . in iniquitate detenta) (Unic. bapt. 4.5).38 In Conf. 7.9.15 Augustine proceeds to mention Acts 17.23, 28, where Paul cites from a pagan poet, as an example of the presence of veritas among the Athenians. They knew God, but failed to give him due honour, as stated in Rom. 1 (Unic. bapt. 4.6). It is thus confirmed by the apostle that veritas is found among impii et sacrilegi. Augustine labels the procedure of Paul at Athens regula apostolica. Clearly, this refers to a principle underlying his procedure at Athens, namely finding the good in the books of the pagans: testimonia de libris eorum. Finaert and De Veer take regula apostolica as more or less synonymous with regula veritatis, regula fidei or regula ecclesiastica.39 I will not deny that these terms are related, but in the text addressed above emphasis should be given to the principle of discernment, i.e. distinguishing between vera and falsa, that is implied in regula apostolica. As an apostolic principle this appears in for example, 1 Thess. 5.21; 2 Cor. 10.5; Phil. 4.8. Unic. bapt. 5.7 says that this regula has been transmitted by previous generations of believers, and is followed also at present: ‘if we find anything right [recti] among perverse things, the perversity having been corrected, we do not at all make void that which is right’.40 Opponents of encyclical studies appealed to God’s revelation, found exclusively in Christ; thus they paved the way for cultural isolation. In his Christian Instruction, Augustine joins the advocates’ theological ratio based on creation, which, of course, facilitated a dialogue with Greek heritage. This was certainly not an invention of Augustine; he simply joins forces with the wisdom-inspired logic of his many predecessors who had claimed that all true wisdom proceeded from God. This kind of thinking has a potential to ‘conquer’ the Greek heritage; anything good in Greek culture and learning properly belongs to God. The gold of the Egyptians was not taken from them; it was, properly speaking, the property of God’s people. The things in the pagan literature which were consistent with Christian faith (fidei nostrae accomodata), the Christians should consider their own property. These things were wrongly claimed to be pagan (Doctr. Chr. 2.144). In this idea, the Emperor Julian’s nightmare is about to come true.41 37 38 39 40 41

This is emphasized also by Gnilka 1984: 84–85. For the Latin text with a French translation, see Finaert and De Veer 1968. Finaert and De Veer 1968: 832–34, 837–39. Translated thus by Ellspermann 1949: 181. See Ch. 12.

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Augustine’s presentation of uti claims scriptural support. As seen above, this is the notion of God as Creator and of Exod. 3.22; 11.2; 12.35 on the treasures of Egypt. The last part of Book 2 in Christian Instruction (2.144-52) makes reference to the latter tradition. These biblical texts about the clothing, silver and gold of Egypt are to Augustine a metaphor for42 how the believers should relate to the culture and liberal arts in particular. He also cites Acts 7.22 on Moses receiving instruction into Egyptian wisdom: Like the treasures of the ancient Egyptians, who possessed not only idols and heavy burdens which the people of Israel hated and shunned but also vessels and ornaments of silver and gold, and clothes, which on leaving Egypt the people of Israel, in order to make better use of them [ad usum meliorem], surreptitiously claimed for themselves (they did this not on their own authority but at God’s command, and the Egyptians in their ignorance actually gave them the things of which they had made poor use [non bene utebantur]) – similarly all the branches of pagan learning contain not only false and superstitious fantasies and burdensome studies that involve unnecessary effort, which each one of us must loathe and avoid as under Christ’s guidance we abandon the company of pagans, but also studies for liberated minds which are more appropriate to the service of the truth, and some very useful moral instruction, as well as the various truths about monotheism to be found in their writers. These treasures – like the silver and gold, which they did not create but dug, as it were, from the mines of providence, which is everywhere – which were used wickedly and harmfully in the service of demons must be removed by the Christians, as they separate themselves in spirit from the wretched company of pagans, and applied to their true function [ad usum iustum], that of preaching the gospel. As for their clothing – which corresponds to human institutions, but those appropriate to human society, which in this life we cannot do without – this may be accepted and kept for conversion to Christian purposes. (Doctr. Chr. 2.144-45)

The Christians’ relationship to the Greek heritage encapsulated particularly in liberal studies is here being compared with the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. In both instances there is an exodus, a leaving (exire). There is thus a departure from liberal arts. Augustine mentions some learned Christians, e.g. Cyprian, who left Egypt laden with gold, silver and clothing, thus following in the footsteps of Moses (Acts 7.22) (Doctr. Chr. 2.146). He emphasizes, however, that for the Christians this is a spiritual separation: sese animo separare (145) from pagan knowledge. This spiritual exodus depends on the ability to make the necessary Christian 42 Doctr. Chr. 2.147: figuratum est. In Conf. 7.9, Augustine says that he looked for the gold which was taken from the Egyptians, of which Acts 17.28 is an example.


The Challenge of Homer

discernment, in short making right use of pagan knowledge. Here Augustine brings into his presentation Paul’s dictum from 1 Cor. 8.1 ‘knowledge puffs up, but love builds up’; it is a danger to leave Egypt as dives, which here has a metaphorical reference to the perils associated with being well educated. The only way to avoid the danger of Egypt’s wealth is to take upon oneself the yoke of Christ. Augustine makes a connection between the suffering in Egypt under Pharaoh, in terms of laborare, and Jesus’ dictum in Mt. 11.28-30 (venite ad me qui laboratis . . . ). The wealth of Egypt becomes a disastrous burden if it is not subordinated to Christ’s yoke. Augustine sees the words of Jesus as spoken to Christians who were suffering in Egypt under Pharaoh, i.e. who are troubled by the Greek legacy (Doctr. Chr. 2.148). The pagans gave away their gold, silver and clothing to God’s people, not knowing that it would be ‘put back into the service of Christ [in Christi obsequium]’ (147). They gave away treasures which they themselves did not know how to make full use of. The full use takes place in Christ. The wording echoes 2 Cor. 10.5 (Vulgate) about ‘taking every thought captive to obey Christ’. In this perspective the Greek inheritance and encyclical studies in particular are preparatory to the study of the Scriptures, which implies a subordinate role as well. Greek learning was not only subordinate; it was even of less importance (minor est) compared to the amount of wealth Israel attained in Jerusalem, and particularly in the reign of Solomon, which symbolizes the knowledge contained in the divine Scriptures. As Jerusalem was the goal of Israel’s exodus from Egypt, likewise the study of the Scriptures and the preaching of the gospel is the end of the spiritual exodus from pagan literature (151). The mental exodus which in practice is identical with ‘making right use of’, Augustine compares with the cleansing power (vis purgatoria) of hyssop. Hyssop cleanses from the pride that the wealth taken from Egypt may cause. The scriptural reference is here Ps. 51.9-10 (Doctr. Chr. 2.150, cf. 2.61). By bringing together the idea of a spiritual exodus and cleansing, it becomes clear that Augustine has in mind a critical and sifting attitude towards pagan education. Joel S. Allen has, however, recently demonstrated that Augustine, in his allegorical treatment of the relevant biblical passages, is still less hesitant than Origen in making use of Greek learning.43 While Greek paideia to Origen was put to the use of divine worship, Augustine found that Greek philosophical ideas were ‘used to expound on the Christian message so that the educated pagans will take its message seriously and perhaps convert’.44

43 Allen 2008: 247–60. 44 Allen 2008: 259.

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15.2.3 Knowledge Produced or Found Augustine’s argument leads him to speak of different kinds of knowledge in pagan mores. Knowledge introduced by human beings (quae instituerunt homines) is either superstitious or not (Doctr. Chr. 2.73). His Christian Instruction 2.74-95 presents this in accordance with the traditional critiques raised by Christians against Graeco-Roman idolatry and practices of divination; these things are produced by human beings assisted by evil spirits (Doctr. Chr. 2.96). Augustine here draws on biblical traditions found in e.g. Paul’s 1 Cor. 10.19-20. His presentation is certainly no less rigorous than what is often associated with Tertullian in particular. Augustine’s present description is substantiated by Civ. 2.8 in a way that sheds light on our topic. He says that the idolatry and immorality found in Greek culture derive from the fabulae poetarum,45 and are perpetuated by the position these were given in encyclical studies: ‘They are even included in the curriculum of what is termed a select and liberal education [inter studia, quae honesta ac liberalia vocantur],46 and boys are forced by their elders to read and learn them.’47 Augustine thus voices a criticism against Greek learning of the kind we have heard from other Christian opponents. Not all human knowledge is, however, evil; human life depends on many good things invented by men. This applies to all things either necessary or useful (commoda et necessaria) for living and for maintaining an orderly society (Doctr. Chr. 2.96, 100–03). This refers to things like clothing, signs distinguishing between the sexes and social status, means of measuring and weighing, money, signs characterizing states and peoples. The alphabet (litterarum figurae) is given special attention. Augustine emphasizes the necessity of reading, but he also expresses some reservation; superstition might find its way in through reading and become an obstacle to the more important things. Alphabet and notae used by the notarii should therefore not be given too much attention. Reading is still so much associated with the dangers lurking in the classical literature that it poses a potential threat to Christians. Another kind of knowledge is what God has instituted or created, and which human beings can therefore only observe (cf. 2.73). This is the learning or the institutions which are either found or discovered, not established by human beings (Doctr. Chr. 2.104, 136–37). It is implied that this kind of knowledge results from God’s creation. Knowledge of this kind might be found even in Homer, but it belongs properly to God who 45 Thus also in Ep. 101.2. 46 Vocantur marks a difference between the reputed position of these studies, corresponding to ‘the so-called liberal studies’ and Augustine’s view of them. 47 Civ. 2.8. Augustine praises Plato for having banished the poets from his ideal state; Civ. 2.14 and 8.13.


The Challenge of Homer

created it. The gold of the Egyptians is an example. It is surely their gold, but they have dug it from the mines of divine providence (Doctr. Chr. 2.145.). This explains why it can serve truth as well. Augustine’s distinction between knowledge produced and knowledge discovered or found is fundamental to his thought. However, even knowledge discovered may lead astray, all depending on the usus one makes of it, as we have already seen. Augustine gives an example. There is a great difference between suggesting that someone suffering from stomach ache should eat a certain herb, and advising him to hang the same herb around his neck for magical purposes. Thus, usus may turn knowledge found into superstition (Doctr. Chr. 2.110). Augustine’s reasoning on Greek learning and culture implies secularization of knowledge. Encyclical studies are therefore to be evaluated not only as embedded in religious poems, as many Christians saw them, but as independent pieces of knowledge discovered. Augustine never draws the conclusion that Christian boys or girls should shun liberal studies, or be offered an alternative by the Church. On the contrary, his emphasis on the need to make distinctions between good and bad necessarily implies participation. The challenge is to cut away (amputare) and to eradicate (eradicare) everything associated with idolatry (2.96). Seen from the perspective of a young student, Augustine’s project is indeed demanding. The sources do not convey any information on how Christian children in practice exercised the discernment called for. It is, however, likely that Augustine’s view focused on the role of the Christian home in the process of building a critical knowledge, and monastic life made this distinction practically possible. I still believe that the usus which Augustine calls for fits more easily into a systematic presentation than into the daily life of students. Augustine, in fact, advises Christian youth, but he asks a great deal of them: So it seems to me that the following advice is beneficial for young people who are keen and intelligent, who fear God and seek a life of true happiness. Do not venture without due care into any branches of learning which are pursued outside the church of Christ, as if they were a means of attaining the happy life, but discriminate sensibly and carefully between them [sobrie diligenterque diiudicent]. Those that are found to be of human institution – these come in many forms, because of the many different aims of those who instituted them, but offer little certainty, because of the speculative ideals of fallible people which underlie them – should be entirely repudiated and treated with disgust, especially if they involve an alliance with demonic powers established through a sort of contract or agreement to use particular esoteric meanings. Keep away too from the unnecessary and self-indulgent institutions of mankind, but in view of the demands of this present life

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do not neglect the human institutions vital to the cohesion of society. (Doctr. Chr. 2.139)

Augustine here addresses young men, ambitious as he himself once was. His distinction between knowledge produced and found leads him to distinguish between branches of encyclical studies. Practical arts and the sciences of logic and number clearly hold key positions. As a rule of thumb, he adds that the attitude to encyclical studies should be ‘nothing in excess [ne quid nimis]’ (Doctr. Chr. 2.140). Interestingly, this catchword echoes an ancient commonplace, cited in Latin by the comic poet Terence in his Andria 61, but rooted in pagan moral philosophy, as expressed for instance in the famous text written on the entrance hall of Apollo’s temple in Delphi: mhde;n a[gan (Plutarch Mor. 116C; 385D; 408E; 511B). Augustine expresses his Christian reservation against liberal studies in a form that demonstrates his dependence upon the Greek inheritance. Even while voicing his reservation against pagan learning, Augustine was standing on the shoulders of the Greek legacy. Bringing together our findings, we can say that the two works reviewed here entail views of liberal arts that have caused quite opposite views on Augustine and encyclical studies, particularly so with De doctrina Christiana. It is possible to highlight aspects of continuity as well as discontinuity with the Greek legacy passed on through encyclical studies. I am inclined to stress the latter, without denying some necessary relationship to the culture and the education which formed it. In fact, Augustine brings to mind Paul’s value-critical perspective (see below). Both positions – although in quite different forms – consider education and the question of values to be closely related. As for De doctrina Christiana, Marrou formulated the classical argument that Augustine here intended to produce a Christian culture in which Homer and Virgil were replaced by the Bible.48 Scholars following this Marrou tradition argue 48 Marrou 1981.336: Zum ersten Mal wird hier ein Programm fu¨r Hochschulstudien aufgestellt, die zu einer vollsta¨ndigen geistigen Ausbildung fu¨hren sollen . . . So zeichnet er das Idealbild eines Intellektuellen, der wirklich und zutiefst Christ ist und dessen Bildung, wenngleich mit Wissensgut aus der heidnischen Schule gespeist, doch auf einer anderen Zielsetzung aufbaut. So bricht Augustin mit den antiken Tradition und wendet sich der Zukunft zu, indem er die Grundlage fu¨r die spa¨tere mittelalterliche Bildung legt. (‘For the first time one is here presented with a programme for higher studies, which would eventually lead to a complete spiritual education . . . This ideal pictures an intellectual person who is a real and proper Christian, and whose education, although nurtured with knowledge from the pagan school, nevertheless has a different goal. Augustine thus parts ways with ancient tradition, and turns to the future, thereby laying the foundation for the later medieval education’: my trans.)


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that Augustine is here initiating steps towards a Christian paideia.49 This appears to me an appropriate description of what came out of this work in its ‘effective history’, but it is less certain that it was Augustine’s intention. Accordingly, other scholars find Augustine to be less contrary in his relationship to the classical education.50 Both views find support in this work of Augustine. A proper description, bringing out the tension in Augustine’s text, would, in my view, be to say that any treasures found in liberal arts and pagan texts should be cut away from the system, values and culture to which they belong. Instead they are now ‘applied ad hoc to the understanding of Scripture’.51 This is the usus principle, which in Augustine appears as scriptural interpretation (the spoil of the Egyptians), as a piece of creation theology, and finally also as indebted to Paul’s language of aedificare. Thus Brown says that Augustine becomes the great ‘secularizer’ of the pagan past.52 This is exactly the attitude complained about by Julian the Emperor.53

49 50 51 52 53

For references, see Hughes 2000: 98; Rappe 2001: 411–13. For references, see Hughes 2000: 98–99. Hughes 2000: 99. Brown 1969: 266. See Ch. 12 in this study.

Chapter 16 SUMMARY OF PART 2 Our investigation started as an attempt to answer some questions: Did early Christian parents send their children, mostly sons, to teachers who taught the so-called encyclical studies? What discussion did this challenge stimulate among them? The investigation has confirmed that these questions were doorways onto larger questions related to the Christian faith and pagan Graeco-Roman culture. The question of schooling proved particularly helpful in understanding the encounter between faith and culture. The ‘minor question’, namely attendance at encyclical studies, often appeared subordinate to a major question: the relationship to the classical literature of this culture. Education and culture were thus intertwined. By grappling with the literature taught in encyclical studies, the Christians found a way of coping with Greek culture in the Roman empire. The role played by Homer and the classical texts in the education of this culture served as a demonstration of values to be embraced and evils to be avoided in the culture. The question of encyclical training was therefore vital to the Church. It became crucial to its attempt to find its way in the surrounding pagan culture. This summary will first present ‘the minor question’ on participation in encyclical training, and then proceed to the hermeneutical side of this debate.

16.1 Common Ground – Talking at Cross-Purposes We have observed a debate on encyclical studies among the Christians. This debate was sometimes fierce; positions and arguments varied. Still, it seems right to point out that most of the sources reveal a concern shared by both opponents and advocates. Christians should not separate themselves entirely from the liberal arts. This aim seemed to unite many Christians, the reason being that they had no alternative to provide. Not even John Chrysostom, who strongly emphasized the role of the Christian family, thought of replacing encyclical training altogether. Home teaching was usually seen not as replacing the common education, but as providing the necessary protection against what the teachers told the children. Home teaching thus assumed some participation in liberal studies, but aimed at


The Challenge of Homer

giving the children a pedagogical shield. Tertullian and Chrysostom both thought along these lines. Most Christians were also united in considering encyclical education a danger to Christian faith and life. Even the most convinced advocates were aware of this danger. The stories about the gods and the immorality in the Homeric epics and the classical canon posed a threat to the Christians. The patristic sources should not mislead us into thinking that they perfectly mirror the real situation among the Christians. Questions of education often reflect economic and social status, and most sources voice the opinion of the elite whose concerns and views are not necessarily representative. But the sources clearly echo an internal debate on the issue of education among the Christians. Some sources directly or indirectly oppose competing views held by other Christians. Clement of Alexandria even admits that the majority of believers disagreed with him. These opposing voices are often marginal, but in fact they were dominant in terms of sheer numbers. Their arguments were motivated by the fears of the less educated. They were afraid of losing their faith if they became too involved with classical literature. Their anxiety was certainly not groundless, but was based upon experience and the history of former fellow Christians. In this investigation Julian the Apostate, the emperor himself, was a prominent example of what the aesthetic power of the classical canon could lead to. The myths of Homer undermined his Christian upbringing. The mindset of common and simple Christians has not produced independent sources, but it is not difficult to see their importance in the debate itself. Part 2 has demonstrated three main positions on encyclical training: (a) opponents; (b) those who considered it unavoidable; and (c) advocates. It is hardly possible to categorize all the sources according to this threefold pattern since they sometimes contain both negative and affirmative positions. This indicates how complex the question was to the believers. We have noticed that the discussion on encyclical studies and Christian participation therein involved pagan poets as well as Greek philosophy. This has caused our presentation to move somewhat along the road, but this is due to the nature of the discussion. It seems that those who pointed out the dangers inherent in encyclical studies tended to address this issue with a focus on Homer and the poets. On the other hand, it was easier to claim the value of Greek paideia if the subject was philosophy. This suggests that the Christians were sometimes talking at cross-purposes when some said that such studies were good, while others claimed that they were bad. There is a tendency for the former to emphasize philosophy and the latter Homer and his mythology. As pointed out by J.M.G. Barclay, there was a long and clear distinction between theology taught by classical poetry and theology

Summary of Part 2


taught in philosophy, with Plato one of the philosophers extremely critical of Homer.1 A notion of a ‘tripartite theology’, i.e. three ways of talking about the gods,2 is at work in Jewish as well as Christian apologetics, and also in the debate on Homer and encyclical studies. The theological perspective had repercussions for how critical or accepting one became of Greek paideia. In the 40s BCE. Varro formulated in his Antiquitates rerum humanorum et divinarum a ‘tripartite’ theology involving three different ways of talking about the gods. This work is lost, but Augustine engages critically with it, and also quotes from it in his Civ. 4.27, 31; 6.3-7. According to this description, Varro distinguishes between the poetic, the philosophical and the political ways of talking about the gods. As for the first class, Varro considered it rubbish (primum genus nugatorium dicit esse), ‘because the poets invent many disgraceful stories (indigna) about the gods’ (4.27, cf. 6.5). Varro elaborates on this in ways which bring to mind Plato and early Christian apologetics: ‘They represent one god as stealing, another committing adultery and others speaking and acting in every sort of base and absurd fashion’ (4.27). Augustine summarizes Varro’s view on the gods described by the poets: they are daimons (daimones sunt) (4.27). Varro held the opinion that these gods were to be denounced (esse culpandam) (6.5). The philosophical mode of speaking about the gods appealed to the schools only (in schola), not in the public space (in foro) (6.5). According to Augustine, Varro ‘banished this kind of religion [that of the philosophers] from the forum, and locked it up inside the walls of the schools. But he did not banish that first kind of theology [that of the poets] from the cities, though it was utterly false and vile (mendacissumum atque turpissimum)’ (6.5). Common people, those of the market, were unable to understand the philosophical disputes about the gods, but they enjoyed the songs of the poets that were performed by actors on stage (6.7). Implied in Varro’s statements here, therefore, is that the political ways of talking about the gods perpetuate poetic religion, because it is the religion of the masses. Public theology is not a matter of truth but of policy (i.e. how to please the masses). Thus poetic and political theologies are combined into one; it is a matter of pleasing (delectatio) not of utilitas (6.6). This ‘tripartite theology’ is relevant indeed to our topic. It makes sense of our conclusion that the strongest opposition against Homer and encyclical studies was found among common Christians or those who formulated the views of simple Christians. To them Greek religion was accessed mainly through the poets. Christians with some philosophical training looked upon Greek religion and gods in a more nuanced way. 1 Barclay 2007: 307 with reference to C.Ap. 2: 239. 2 Feeney 1998: 14–18, 92–97.


The Challenge of Homer

They aligned themselves with the Greek philosophical tradition, thus linking Christian faith to the philosophical mode of religion. The ‘tripartite theology’ probably also caused the debate with their critics to be muddled.

16.2 Opposition to Encyclical Studies The source that most decisively combats Greek education and the literature characteristic of it is Didascalia apostolorum. This writing, transmitting traditions far older than the fourth century CE, argues that knowledge found outside Christian literature is superfluous and unnecessary to believers. Christians will find a satisfactory expression of their needs in their own writings. The Bible is considered an encyclopaedia in which all the insight needed is available; it is thus presented as the counterpart of Homer. Hence the literary genres found in Homer also appear in the Christian canon, mostly in the Old Testament. Tatian’s logic concurs very much with Didascalia apostolorum. His rejection of an allegorical reading of the classical canon made it impossible for him to overlook the differences between Homer and the Bible. It seems that theologians who did not accept allegorical interpretation were inclined to oppose Homer and the classical canon as well, while those who made use of an allegorical approach were often advocates of Greek education. This is not at all surprising, since the allegorical method was a means of making Homer morally acceptable even to pagans. Tatian and the sceptics said that Christians had replaced the stories of the Greeks with their own. They no longer ‘touch’ these stories. In expressing his refusal of classical education in these terms, Tatian draws on the concept of clean versus unclean. The literature characteristic of encyclical studies is unclean to the Christians; it brings defilement. Strictly speaking, it belongs to the devil.

16.3 Encyclical Studies Cannot Be Avoided This is the category of those who were reluctant, but nonetheless found themselves in a dilemma calling for compromises. Tertullian’s On Idolatry vividly pictures the situation that schoolchildren faced regularly. Nevertheless, Tertullian admits that literacy is necessary for understanding the Bible. Literacy was taught by the teachers in the grammar schools, and necessarily implied the reading of Homer, Virgil and other classical literature. This reading also acquainted the children with the plethora of gods and their immorality. According to Tertullian, Christian children attended school in order to learn to read Christian literature. He compared this with a student who is offered a cup of poison, but who

Summary of Part 2


avoids drinking it, and instead looks at it as an object for study and nothing else. Putting this into practice is not easy, but it probably meant that Christian children were given previous training in the Christian heritage to protect them against the teaching they met in school. Tertullian did not allow Christians to teach encyclical studies. He thus differed from Hippolytus, who said that Christian teachers should be allowed to continue their work if they had no other income. Hippolytus takes a more flexible position than did Tertullian. But not even Tertullian maintained an absolute denial of participation in encyclical studies. He urged a distinction between student and teacher, and advocated different requirements for the two. He accepted Christians as students, but not as teachers. In his Confessions, Augustine’s way of thinking is somewhat related to Tertullian. He claims that it is both legitimate and useful to attend classes with the grammar teacher. This first level of encyclical education taught the students to read and to write, skills necessary or useful in serving God. Teaching in literature, however, is to be avoided. Classes in classical literature have no important knowledge to teach a Christian student. In De doctrina Christiana, Augustine seems to leave this solution of making a distinction between two levels of education behind. De doctrina Christiana provides a profound and fundamental discussion of encyclical studies and Greek literature. Christian students have to practise an ‘exodus of the mind’ with regard to what they were taught by their teachers. In practice, this meant developing a critical attitude, enabling them to discern between good and bad, useful and unprofitable. His acceptance of the principle of usus is substantiated by reference to creation theology and ‘the spoil of the Egyptians’, and to a lesser degree by a propaideutic mindset.

16.4 Advocates of Encyclical Studies In this category are found not only those who accept encyclical studies, but also those who encourage and advocate them. They are by no means blind to the inherent dangers, but nonetheless they claim that such education is both necessary and useful. Encyclical knowledge prepares or paves the way for true Christian knowledge. The Alexandrian theologians, Clement and Origen, as well as the Cappadocians, are prominent examples of this category. They picked up the inheritance of Philo and their logic owed much to the ancient philosophical criticism and evaluation of Homer. According to this tradition, encyclical education was propaideutic, preparing for real wisdom and insight that mattered. This necessarily implied a critical mind able to separate the useful from the unprofitable. Encyclical studies prepared for real education, which to


The Challenge of Homer

them was the Christian faith and way of life. They stood on the shoulders of the philosophical tradition that urged a critical use of Homer. From this tradition they adopted not only the fundamental logic but also the vocabulary, terms and language in which to express a Christian attitude to classical Greek education. This tradition naturally added credibility to their position among the intellectual elite. But what was useful and profitable in Homer was to be judged by Christian faith. The elements that they were able to include in Christian thinking were considered useful. It may safely be said that representatives of this category worked hard for their intellectual survival. In the long run their way of thinking enabled the Christian faith to ‘conquer’ the intellectual heritage of the Hellenistic world. They held it insufficient to distinguish between what a teacher and student could participate in (Tertullian), or between grammar and literature (Augustine). Nor were they concerned with how Christian teachers could continue to make a living (Hippolytus). The discernment that was so urgently required should move beyond these outward questions to what really mattered; the discernment had to be according to what was useful and conformable to Christian faith. Christians who refused any contact with encyclical education must surely have advised fellow believers to act accordingly. They gave clear, simple and explicit advice. But most sources attempt more or less enthusiastically to find a way through a terrain that called for compromises. It was a matter of finding what they labelled ‘the proper use’. In fact, it seems that putting this into practice was left to the parents and the individual student to decide. At the end of the day, they had to find ways to deal with school and Homer. To many, this responsibility was so difficult that they withdrew, with reference to slogans like ‘faith alone’, as Clement of Alexandria ironically puts it. The difficult decisions thus remained with the students themselves. The schoolboy who wrote Papyrus Boriant (see Chapter 1) is a reminder that the fundamental debate among Christian writers was unable to resolve the daily problems at school. The cross drawn by this student is maybe a witness to anxiety and a cry for help and protection from above.

16.5 Arguments Employed in the Debate What were the arguments and strategies employed? The following paragraphs will summarize those arguments that appeared most regularly and emphatically among both critics and advocates of Greek education. Not all proponents of the two opposing views would necessarily subscribe to all arguments representative of their group; at least not all of them will have voiced all the arguments. Both parts were convinced that their logic was inspired by the Bible. They drew their arguments from different parts

Summary of Part 2


of the Bible, but also from different approaches to the Bible. It is natural to let the critics speak first. 16.5.1 The Critics Many Christians held the view that encyclical studies put their faith in jeopardy. They were concerned because they knew too well that fellow Christians had abandoned their faith when they studied the classical canon of the pagan culture. Their perspective on education was to a large extent determined by the mythology of this literature. They turned to Old Testament texts on idolatry, about Israel and the gods of the nations. God’s people had to keep away from the idols in all ways; the idols brought defilement, they seduced and led astray. In short, idols were the work of the devil. These biblical traditions made encyclical education appear as a battlefield between the Christian and the temptation of idolatry. This understanding also evoked New Testament passages about the irreconciliability of faith and disbelief, righteousness and unrighteousness, light and darkness, Christ and Beliar, God’s temple and the idols (e.g. 2 Cor. 6.14-16). The apostle Paul issued warnings against food offered to idols in general (1 Cor. 8–10). This was the primary text from which Tertullian attacked artes liberales, making idolatry the heading of his instruction. He focused on 1 Cor. 8 and 10.19-20, emphasizing that idolatry posed a constant threat to the believers. Idolatry was the home of evil spirits, and lurked in various disguises, among which the Homeric texts were important. As we have seen, 1 Cor. 10 opens up other possible perspectives as well. This was claimed by the advocates of encyclical training (see below). The warnings of The Pastoral Epistles against false teachers concerned with myths, fables and genealogies could easily be associated with some of the literature read in the schools. In The Pastoral Epistles – and also in the polemic against false teachers in Colossians – some Christians found that the apostle himself addressed what children were taught in schools, and what that might lead them into. The most important text for the critics was 1 Cor. 1–2. These chapters unfolded a theology based on God’s exclusive revelation. Knowledge culled from other sources was therefore to be abandoned. This Pauline text contrasted divine and human wisdom, heavenly and mundane. The wisdom desired by the Greeks (1 Cor. 1.22) is replaced by God’s wisdom. True wisdom thus comes through God’s revelation alone; it is not a result of human achievements. In 1 Cor. 1–2, the critics found that divine wisdom was incompatible with human wisdom. They also held that the elect of God included those who were despised and looked down upon by the world. Furthermore, here they read that the apostle did not proclaim the mystery of God ‘in lofty words of wisdom’ (1 Cor. 2.1) or ‘with words of wisdom’ (1 Cor. 2.4). This self-presentation of Paul thus agreed with


The Challenge of Homer

Acts 4.13 about the apostles who were seen to be ajgravmmatoi, unlearned or illiterate. Paul puts it like this: ‘So that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God’ (1 Cor. 2.5). These two chapters from 1 Corinthians became the key texts for Christian critics of encyclical education. Paul spoke about God’s revelation in a way that could be summarized as ‘faith and Christ alone’. When this exclusive revelation was taken as a point of departure in the debate about attending school, there was little room left for compromise. So dominant was 1 Cor. 1–2 in early Christian discourse on knowledge and education that Celsus, the outstanding pagan opponent of the Christian faith, made this text a special target. He presents the Christians as simple-minded people, short on both knowledge and education. Furthermore, they valued texts which in effect excluded them from participation in the best of the culture, the common and basic knowledge. Although 1 Cor. 1–2 nicely fitted Celsus’ critique and aim, there is every reason to believe that the argument was not invented by him, but simply echoed Christian attitudes. The critics applied 1 Cor. 1–2 in a way which was in accordance with significant motifs in biblical tradition. The words of Jesus in Mt. 11.25 were considered to express the exclusive biblical revelation in a way akin to 1 Cor. 1–2: ‘you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants’. Catchwords in the arguments of the critics were biblical terms such as idolatry, revelation, election. Put together, these notions created a bulwark against Greek education and literature, and they favoured the exclusive nature of the Christian faith. It is indeed likely that these arguments paved the way for isolation, intellectually as well as socially. Probably they also prevented many Christians from sliding into apostasy. 16.5.2 The Advocates What arguments were presented by the advocates of encyclical training? The fact that their logic was inspired by other biblical traditions does not imply that they considered the critics’ arguments invalid. Clement, for instance, emphasized that faith comes into being independently of education. Like his opponents, he claimed that faith was a pure gift from God. He says this when addressing the question of how relevant 1 Cor. 1–2 was to the debate on Greek education. According to Clement, the usefulness of encyclical studies is nonetheless evident from the following observations. Encyclical knowledge makes it easier to be understood by the Greeks (i.e. the preaching of the gospel benefits from such knowledge). This training is helpful when faith must defend itself against assault from the outside and false teaching from within. What biblical traditions come into play for those who sympathized with Clement?

Summary of Part 2


Some referred to instances in the New Testament where Paul explicitly refers to Greek literature. Most important were Acts 17.28; 1 Cor. 15.32; Tit. 1.12. These texts do not address the question of education, but they demonstrate that Paul was able to draw upon the classical canon taught in the schools. If 1 Cor. 1–2 dominated the logic of the opponents of encyclical training, the advocates had two other biblical proof locations: wisdom texts and the life of Moses interpreted allegorically. Wisdom literature in the Old Testament and Apocrypha in many ways show affinities with traditions common in antiquity. The wisdom literature demonstrates how knowledge was transmitted from father to son, from teacher to student, from elder to younger. A wise person receives insight, in terms both of common experience and knowledge, such as travelling, i.e. meeting with strangers and their mores (e.g. Sir. 34.9-13; 51.13). Here knowledge is not understood in exclusive terms; on the contrary, its nature is inclusive, making use of knowledge of various kinds. This all-encompassing nature of wisdom is due to the fact that ‘all wisdom is from the Lord’ (Sir. 1.1). This wisdom-oriented way of thinking led them to think of the relationship between faith and Greek culture in terms very different from those of the critics of education. While the latter thought in terms of a battlefield, where the believers were under siege, the advocates reasoned in terms of God having created everything that is good. In accordance with Sir. 1.1 some advocates quote 1 Cor. 10.26 (‘the earth and its fullness are the Lord’s’). Apparently, they were fond of this particular text. Paul’s quotation from Ps. 24.13 appears in his discussion of food offered to idols. In the midst of his arguments against the idols, the apostle demonstrates his knowledge that glimpses of God’s creation are observable even among idolaters. Every thought can be taken captive to obey Christ, as the apostle puts it in 2 Cor. 10.5, thus implying some kind of adaptation or transformation of pagan traditions. The life of Moses was read as addressing Greek education. The advocates quoted Acts 7.21-22 about Moses who ‘was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians’. This piece of information was, together with Dan. 1.4 about Daniel and his friends who ‘were taught the literature and language of the Chaldeans’, taken as an admonition to have children attend encyclical teachers. These texts were seen as legitimating education from the outside, which to the advocates naturally meant encyclical training. The advocates eagerly applied allegorical interpretation of the Bible. As with their view of the propaideutic character of Greek education, they inherited this from the critical reception of Homer in antiquity. Allegorical interpretation helped them to leave the difficult parts of Homer aside. 3

Cf. Ps. 50.12.


The Challenge of Homer

This way of thinking made it possible for Christians to send their children to the teachers. More important, however, is that the allegorical method enabled them to find biblical texts addressing the question of encyclical education. Gen. 16, about Abraham’s relationship with Sarah and Hagar, was crucial to them. Inspired by traditions evoked in Ps.Plutarch’s interpretation of Penelope and her maidservants, and also Philo’s interpretation of Gen. 16, they took this text to legitimate encyclical training as a first step preparing the way for real wisdom, symbolized as Penelope or Sarah. Allegorical interpretation of these stories about Abraham and Moses proved the legitimacy of encyclical education and at the same time made it preparatory and subordinate. It was thus with the help of allegorical interpretation that the life of Moses gained importance in the debate on education in the Early Church. Like Penelope’s maidservants and like Hagar, the princess of Egypt was also a symbol of encyclical studies. Moses was brought up by the princess, and at the same time he was nursed by his mother. From this, the allegorical method deduced that Moses never stopped studying the texts of his own people. Moses became a model to which advocates of Greek education could refer Christian parents. Furthermore, Pharaoh’s daughter was barren. Similarly, encyclical studies were considered incapable of bringing forth life. In Egypt, Moses joined his people and led them out from the land of foreign knowledge. In a similar way, Christians must perform an exodus of the mind from the encyclical education. Like Egypt, liberal arts were not an abiding-place for believers. Before departing from Egypt, however, God instructed his people to take gold, silver and costly clothes from the Egyptians (Exod. 12.35-36, cf. 3.21-22). ‘The gold of Egypt’ became a key notion in the logic of the advocates of encyclical studies. This idea appeared with Origen, but soon it became a common argument in the debate. It rests entirely upon an allegorical reading. And the story of this gold pictures the whole situation, danger and blessing simultaneously. Some of the gold was made into the Golden Calf (Exod. 32), but some became holy vessels in the Jerusalem temple. This story about ‘the gold of Egypt’ thus illustrates that Greek education could lead away from God, but also that it could serve and please him. In other words, it was the way it was used that mattered. Encyclical studies were useful and profitable if they were beneficial to the Christian faith, the communication of this faith, the defence of it and the Christian way of life. Considering encyclical studies as a kind of ‘help’ is synonymous with the propaideutic logic. The preparatory nature of these studies and the criterion of usefulness were thus two sides of the same coin.

Summary of Part 2


16.5.3 Acting Like Bees The principle of ‘right or proper use’ of Greek literature involved discernment between good and bad, useful and unprofitable, God’s creation and idolatry, etc. To explain this process of discernment, some of the advocates made reference to the bees and the honey they produced. From flowers and plants the bees collect pollen. Bees are looking for what is good and sweet in the flowers; they collect it and make honey out of what they collect from various flowers. This illustration was presented as a paradigm for Christian participation in Greek education. The illustration taken from the life of the bees, is, like so much in the arguments of the advocates, adopted from the Greek philosophical critique of Homer and the classical canon. Some philosophers had for generations been using the bees as a helpful illustration to explain the discernment required from students of Homer’s epics. We note once again the close relationship between the critical Homer reception in antiquity and the Christian way of dealing with Homer. Although the illustration of the bees and honey was inspired by Greek philosophers, the advocates could also claim biblical support. They probably turned, once again, to the wisdom literature in the Old Testament. The text about the hard-working ants (Prov. 6.6-8) is of interest here. The busy work of the ant is there mentioned as an example to be followed by the lazy. The bees work hard, preparing and gathering honey. In the Septuagint this verse is longer than in the Hebrew on which modern Bible translations are based. The addition is obviously modelled as an analogy with the words about the ant in v. 6, and goes like this: ‘Go to the bee, and learn what a worker she is; what dignified work she performs. Kings and common people use her work for their health. She is desired and liked by all. Although weak in body, she is advanced in honouring wisdom [sofiva]’ (Prov. 6.8 LXX).4 The addition is probably due to the role played by the bees in a Hellenistic philosophical context. The Septuagint translators, therefore, considered this a suitable addition. The bees are paradigms like the ants, but their wisdom is emphasized. What this means is not stated directly, but it is probably due to their ability to pick from the flowers what was useful for making honey. Their wisdom is thus their skills in making use of the best in the plants. The focus is therefore on the honey made out of pollen from different flowers. Due to this addition in the Septuagint, it was easy to adopt this illustration from Greek philosophers, and still consider it biblical. The advocates wanted to read Homer like bees collecting honey. In his Homily 12 in De statuis ad populum Antiochenum habitae,5 John Chrysostom brings together the ant and the bees with reference to Prov. 6.6, and thus 4 5

My own translation; see Ch. 11.1.3. For the Greek text see PG 49/50.127-36.


The Challenge of Homer

proves that the text of the Septuagint was known and used.6 He says that the bees fly across the field without collecting everything; they take only what is profitable (ta; crhvsima) and leave the rest behind: ‘Do also you like this . . . if something is useful, take it’ (PG 49/50.129-30). We have summarized the view of the opponents of encyclical education by pointing out their exclusive theology of revelation that paved the way for isolation. The advocates, however, argued from the belief that God was the Creator from whom everything good, including knowledge, comes. It is evident that their basic theology implied a different attitude to encyclical studies in particular, and to Greek culture in general. 16.5.4 All or Nothing? We have seen that many, also among the critics, were looking for ways to cope with encyclical studies. Some made distinctions between being a teacher and a student, some argued for the difference between grammar and literature, and some were concerned that teachers who became Christians should not be left without a livelihood. Finally, some urged the need to discriminate on the basis of the content of what was taught in schools. These were all attempts to cope with a dilemma, implying the key question of whether to see encyclical training as a package: is it all or nothing? Or was it possible to think differently about separate elements in this education – to accept some things and to abandon others? The problem for those who answered this question in the affirmative was, of course, that it was indeed difficult for children in school to do this on a daily basis. What consequences should children draw from this? Those who looked upon encyclical studies as an indivisible package were inclined to become critics, since the general impression was often determined by the idolatry associated with them. Jerome, who in many ways takes the position of the critics, has in his comments on Tit. 1.12 argued that the literature taught in encyclical schools should not be seen as a package.7 A general impression of this literature will not do, he claims. The evaluation depends on what part of this literature it is referred to; something was certainly useful. It is interesting to consider the logic of Julian the Apostate in this light. While many Christian critics of Homer and education demonized both, Julian did the opposite; he deified Homer. In accordance with common ancient tradition, he claimed that the rhythm and style of Homer’s epics were signs of divine inspiration. The positions of Christian critics who demonized Homer and of Julian who deified him are, of course, sharply contrasted, but in the light of the question ‘all or nothing?’ the two are, in 6 7

Thus also in Didascalia 13/pp. 139.17–40.8. See Sandnes 2004.

Summary of Part 2


fact, related. Julian was hardly troubled by Christians who argued that Greek literature taught idolatry. These unwittingly acted as his partners, for the result both of his and their efforts was one and the same: to isolate the Christians from the intellectual legacy and literature of the Greeks. Worth fighting, however, were the viewpoints advocated by e.g. the Alexandrian and Cappadocian theologians. They represented a threat not only to the position held by Greek education, but also to Greek culture in general. They refused either to demonize or to deify the literature taught in the schools. This was really a troublesome position for the Emperor, for this position involved in effect a secularization of Homer and education. Homer, as well as Greek education, was about to give a helping hand to a new religion and a new God. Julian probably saw that in the long run their position and logic would embrace and then take over the ancient intellectual traditions. His concern was that the culture was about to be ‘conquered’ by a critical application of Homer that included abandonment of the religious aspects of his epics. Is it possible to trace this debate or the agoˆn we have followed in Part 2 back into the New Testament itself? This is the question to which Part 3 now turns. We have made a rather long diversion to reach the New Testament texts. The history unfolded in Part 2 is in itself a valuable approach to the early Christian encounter with the Greek legacy, but it might also provide some keys that open the door to new insight into New Testament texts, which nowhere directly address our topic.

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Chapter 17 THE NEW TESTAMENT AND ENCYCLICAL STUDIES 17.1 General Observations Having now examined the early Christian discourse on Homer, and thereby also encyclical studies and Greek learning through the first four centuries CE, it is time to return to the beginning of this history and the important question: does the New Testament address the question of encyclical studies? Since this topic seems neglected in the New Testament writings, it has been necessary to approach the matter via the preceding chapters. Keeping this discourse in mind, using effective history (Wirkungsgeschichte) as a lens so to speak, it might now be beneficial to reconsider the question. Before embarking on this task, it is appropriate to clarify some important assumptions. All Christian sources addressed in this study so far are later, sometimes considerably later, than the New Testament. Tatian seems to be the first Christian author dealing directly with the question of education. Without addressing the issue directly, Justin Martyr is aware that children are introduced to Homer’s writings, by which they are led astray by the demonic power lurking in these texts (e.g. 1 Apol. 54).1 From about 200 CE the sources addressing our topic multiply. To what extent are these later sources also representative of the challenges and the solutions of the first-century Christians? This is a matter of tracing a well-documented discourse in younger sources back into older sources where the topic – surprisingly – seems to be of no primary interest. Schooling and curriculum did not change very much from New Testament times until Augustine. As pointed out by Teresa Morgan, literate education developed a system by the mid-third century BCE which was maintained for nearly a thousand years.2 We can therefore safely assume that the challenge which first-century Christians faced in terms of education is rightly understood in the light of later sources. This implies that New Testament texts which later generations found relevant to the question of Greek learning were, in fact, written at a time when this 1 2

See Ch. 7.1. Morgan 1998: 24.


The Challenge of Homer

already was a challenge, at least to some Christians. In brief, it is unlikely that believers in the first century CE were generally unfamiliar with the problems formulated by later generations. Philo of Alexandria’s writings antedate New Testament literature by some decades, and they address Jewish participation in encyclical studies quite extensively. He provides solutions and supportive biblical interpretations that would later appear among many Christians. Philo is certainly a witness primarily to the social elite, but nonetheless serves as a relevant analogy for how some Christians might have approached the matter before the topic is mentioned in Christian sources. Although Philo is representative of a social and intellectual minority among the Jews, his texts clearly demonstrate the presence of our topic among Jews in a Graeco-Roman urban setting not unlike that of Pauline Christianity. Furthermore, the Christian discourse on Greek education presented above is deeply rooted in the Homer-critical tradition in antiquity. It is hard to believe that first-century Christians formed an isolated island when it came to the question of the Greek educational heritage. In short, everything needed for a debate on encyclical studies among Christians in the first century seems to be at hand. It probably took some time of Christian ripening for this problem to become significant, and also for the believers to find ways of coping with this, particularly to provide intellectual reasons for their solutions to the challenge. This was probably a process where the construction of an identity had to precede an active and creative engagement with the powerful legacy of Greek culture. In brief, on this issue, Christians worked more inwardly than outwardly. From a sociological point of view, it is pertinent to ask if a minority or marginalized group such as most Christians in the first century would interact forcefully with the overwhelming and venerated traditions of the past and the present. It takes some strength to do this. I find it reasonable that this came gradually with time and a growing identity. An interaction with the pagan legacy embedded in education required the existence of a social and intellectual elite, which in the infancy of the Church was not significant enough to put the question of schooling on the agenda in such a way that it may be found in the New Testament literature. It was not yet a burning issue, but the problem was there, at least for some believers, and the present investigation has demonstrated that it involved much more than the practical question of whether to send sons to the teachers. Encyclical studies and the reading of Homer were not among the many questions and problems most converts had to cope with on an immediate basis. In the light of the findings in the previous chapters, and the present thoughts, it is worth reconsidering the conclusion of E.A. Judge, who says that schooling is ‘a matter that is not dealt with in the New Testament at all’.3 A 3

Judge 1983: 7.

The New Testament and Encyclical Studies


reconsideration of Judge’s conclusion must assess the veracity of this statement, and if it holds true, make an attempt to answer why it was so. It seems justified to assume that, in particular, the arguments of Alexandrian and Cappadocian theologians, as well as those of Augustine’s De doctrina Christiana represent a developed or advanced level, but still in principle and in nuce not inconceivable in the first century. The simple fact that Paul engages in written communication with his converts, and expects them to read aloud from his letters when coming together (1 Thess. 5.27, cf. Col. 4.16), assumes the presence of literate participants in the Church. In a Graeco-Roman city such as Thessalonica this certainly implied some literary training with an encyclical teacher. The presence of literate members of the congregation further implies some basic familiarity with Homer and the Greek legacy. This simple and evident observation in fact takes us to the question of this chapter: Did Christians of the first century engage in a debate on encyclical studies? On the basis of the above-mentioned observations, the challenge of Homer’s poems and education was very much present. The question is, however, does this challenge surface anywhere in the New Testament? Since familiarity with Homer is a sign of participation in encyclical training, the question of Homeric influence thus becomes relevant to our topic. The overturning of the view that New Testament literature exemplifies ‘Kleinliteratur’ only – i.e. the Overbeck–Deissmann tradition, claiming that Christian literature developed at a distance from the Graeco-Roman world surrounding it – invites a discussion of Homeric influence in the New Testament.4 This brings us to Dennis R. MacDonald’s mimesis criticism, in which he claims that the authors of Mark’s Gospel and the Book of Acts have imitated Homeric narratives and patterns.5 MacDonald requires a basic familiarity with Homeric texts also on the part of the reader; the rhetoric of transforming imitation, claimed by MacDonald, can hardly work if this is not so. By necessity, then, MacDonald’s contributions assume a readership well versed in Homer. MacDonald has reminded New Testament scholarship that Homer was very much in the air, particularly so among the elite. I have addressed MacDonald’s mimesis criticism elsewhere.6 It here suffices to say that his reading of both Mark’s Gospel and Acts assumes a readership with an in-depth as well as extensive familiarity with the Homeric epics. This implies that the curriculum of encyclical studies had penetrated into the Christian movement to an extent which the present study has not confirmed. Ancient education was designed for the upper strata of the population. The limited literacy makes 4 5 6

See e.g. Malherbe 1977: 29–54; Aune 1988. MacDonald 2000; 2003. Sandnes 2005, cf. Mitchell 2003.


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this a fact. MacDonald’s mimesis criticism therefore involves an elitist picture of early Christianity to which he has not given the necessary attention.7 In my search for New Testament evidence of encyclical studies, MacDonald provides hardly more than occasional support. His reading rests almost entirely on the reconstruction of a readership which does not appear sufficiently clear in the texts themselves. MacDonald has succeeded in demonstrating how a given reader well versed in Homer might have read some New Testament passages, and he does so in a fascinating way. Nonetheless, he has, in my view, failed to demonstrate that ‘one best reads these texts against the backdrop of classical Greek literature and mythology’.8 The fact that Christians some generations later than the New Testament made attempts to rewrite both Old Testament and New Testament texts in the Homeric style is a possible reminder that not even those well versed in Homer found that their foundational texts competed with the classical canon.9 The attempts to imitate Homer appear as substitute literature written with the purpose of replacing the Homeric epics.10 What are the motivations behind such compositions? Why did they do this? The most obvious reason is that some intellectuals found deficiencies in the Christian texts when measured against the standards of classical literature, as e.g. Celsus reproaches the illiteracy of the Christians.11 Substitute literature of this kind comes into existence due to the fact that biblical narratives did not really meet the need to compete with the canon of the culture. The metric style, absent in Mark’s Gospel but so characteristic of these attempts, is worth noting.

17.2 Paul on Encyclical Studies? Paul’s letters are topical; they address questions and challenges on the agenda among his converts, for instance questions that caused tensions in the churches and the challenges they faced both within and vis-a`-vis the 7 Cf. Hock 2005: 16, 21 speaking about the aristocratic context in which the Homeric epics were taught. 8 MacDonald 2003: 2. 9 See e.g. Socrates’ Church History 3.16; Sozomen’s Church History 5.18; Jerome’s Epist. 70.5. Young 1997: 72 mentions Nonnus of Panoplis (c. 400 CE) who wrote a metrical Paraphrase of St John’s Gospel in hexameters. See Ch. 12.1 and 14.3 in this study. 10 In his preface to the Story of Jesus’ Life, written according to laws of metre, Juvencus says that his aim is to meet the false tales of the poets with the glory of true faith. The mendacia of the poets are replaced with stories of certa fides. Juvencus calls upon the Holy Spirit to inspire the carmen he is about to tell; the inspiration of the poets is thus replaced with that of the Spirit (see Ch. 14.3 in this study); see Green 2006: 15–16. 11 Criticism of the vulgar style of Christian literature is recurrent in pagan polemic; e.g. Lactantius’ Inst. 5.1.15-16; Jerome’s Ep. 22.30; Augustine’s Conf. 3.5.9.

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surrounding world. In the light of the findings of the present investigation, therefore, it is somewhat surprising that there is hardly any evidence that Paul, in his extant letters, ever addressed liberal studies. Some of his texts were certainly called upon, and even constituted core arguments, among advocates as well as opponents of encyclical studies. Wirkungsgeschichte thus makes it quite natural to approach Paul with the question of liberal studies in mind. Reading Paul through the eyes of his approximate contemporaries thus justifies the following question: does the ancient, preChristian and Christian discourse of encyclical studies anywhere surface in Paul’s letters, or has his theology somewhere been influenced by this discourse? In brief, we are looking for traces of this discourse in his extant letters. The key passages from Paul’s letters that are called upon in the debate are all applied references, i.e. they are given a reference to this debate by the participants. It is doubtful that Paul himself made such a connection, which implies that we have to look beyond these proof-texts and to search elsewhere in his letters. It is indeed relevant to the present investigation to observe that Paul assumes his readership’s familiarity with educational language, metaphors and institutions. This was pointed out in Chapter 1 of this study, and has further been amply demonstrated by the recent study of Robert S. Dutch, The Educated Elite in 1 Corinthians (see below).12 We have seen that advocates of liberal studies conceived of the Christian faith in terms of the pinnacle of paideia or virtue. Did Paul understand it in similar terms, or did his concept of Christian faith work against such a favourable position for liberal studies? The question brings us to two related key concepts in ancient educational discourse, both of which were reiterated by Christians, namely a propaideutic perspective and the principle of usus. With these questions in mind we turn first to some general reflections and then to Galatians and Philippians. The choice of this material will become clear as we proceed. 17.2.1 Paul’s Greek Education The question of Paul’s own education, and particularly his participation in Greek education, has received various answers from the scholars. According to Martin Hengel, the education of Paul was Jewish.13 Similar limitations of Paul’s formal Greek education are presented by many scholars: ‘At no point does Paul prize the Greek paideia which was valued 12 Dutch 2005. 13 Hengel 1991: 238: ‘Er scheint eine gute griechische Elementarschule besucht zu haben, die – da ihm die im u¨blichen Unterricht verwendete Literatur von Homer bis Euripides vo¨llig fremd ist – eine ju¨dische Schule war.’ (‘It appears that he had attended a good Greek primary school, which – due to the fact that the literature from Homer to Euripides commonly taught here is entirely foreign to him – was a Jewish school’: my trans.)


The Challenge of Homer

so highly by Jews like Aristeas and Philo.’14 Others take more or less the opposite view. In the words of Jerome Murphy O’ Connor: ‘If Homer was read in first century Pharisaic circles in Palestine, there can be little doubt that it was on the curriculum of a Diaspora school frequented by the son of a Roman citizen’,15 and according to Ronald F. Hock, Paul’s epistles, ‘given their length, complexity, and power, clearly point to an author who had received sustained training in composition and rhetoric, and it was only during the tertiary curriculum that such instruction was given’.16 The recent investigation of Tor Vegge, Paulus und das antike Schulwesen, Schule und Bildung des Paulus, has subjected the question to an in-depth study.17 In this study, Paul is depicted as a well-educated man.18 Vegge substantiates his claim with reference to Paul’s ‘Textkompetenz’19 or the literary quality of his letters, testified in topics, themes and arguments well known from the so-called progymnasmata.20 A further indication of Paul’s familiarity with Greek education is the appearance of maxims of unknown origin, such as 1 Cor. 6.12; 7.1, 15; 8.1, 4; 10.23, 31; 13.7; 14.33; Gal. 6.7; Rom. 13.7; 14.7. These maxims, marked by their brevity or concision, attracting the hearer’s attention, and conveying a moral content,21 held a prominent place in Graeco-Roman education, from the primary level up to the training of a rhetor.22 Paul’s maxims are culled from various sources; they draw on Graeco-Roman traditions as well as traditions specific to the nascent Christian doctrine,

14 Barclay 1996: 383, cf. Richards 1991: 144–53. 15 O’Connor 1996: 46–51; quotation on p. 48. 16 Hock 2003: 209; similarly Hellholm 1989: 278 which Vegge 2004: 397–98 quotes in agreement. 17 Vegge 2006: 345–424. 18 Vegge 2006: 486: ‘Paulus hat, bevor er im vierten Jahrzehnt seines Lebens Christusglaubender wird und spa¨ter in diesen Sinne zu lehren beginnt, eine fundierte literarisch-rhetorische, philosophische und schliesslich auch pharisa¨ische Bildung erworben’ (‘Before he became a Christ-believer in his forties, and started teaching accordingly, Paul had received a thorough literary-rhetorical, philosophical and finally a Pharisaic education’: my trans.); cf. pp. 494–95. Vegge here even states that Paul ‘einen relativ kontinuierlichen Philosophieunterricht genossen hatte, also wahrscheinlich Mitglied eines festen Schu¨lerkreises war’ (‘had participated in a relatively continuous philosophical instruction, and was probably a member of a fixed group of such students’: my trans.). 19 This has also been pointed out by Stanley, who has drawn attention to Paul’s ability to cite and interpret literary texts (see Stanley 1990 and 1992). 20 See his text interpretations found on pp. 375–424. 21 I am here indebted to Ramsaran 1996 and 2003. Since many of the maxims are embedded in Paul’s text, and may be even constructed by him, there is no agreement on the number of maxims, but the presence of maxims and maxim-making can hardly be disputed. 22 Ramsaran 1996: 5–21.

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and some were constructed by Paul himself, all designed to support his argument.23 However, in the light of the role played by Homer in ancient education, one is struck by the absence of citations from the Iliad and the Odyssey in Paul’s letters. This fact makes the question of Paul’s Greek education ambiguous. Quoting from the cultural canon, in which Homer’s writings held the place of honour, marked a man of some education. Paul’s letters fail to meet this basic criterion of what is to be expected from a literate man who had been instructed in Greek education. Nonetheless, this surprise is somewhat balanced by 1 Cor. 15.33 (‘Bad company ruins good morals’) which is a possible citation of a maxim from Menander or Euripides,24 who belonged within the curriculum of Greek education.25 The picture of Paul citing from pagan poets finds support in Acts 17.2826 and Tit. 1.12.27 These three texts were, as we have seen, taken by many Christians as clear proof that Paul approved of liberal studies and the use of pagan poets in particular. Although the evidence is scanty and scattered in the Pauline tradition, it probably points to a practice which gives a historically reliable picture of Paul. In these texts Paul’s Greek erudition comes to the surface. For our investigation it is important to notice that they reflect a conscious use of material associated with the Greek legacy embedded in encyclical studies.28 These observations clearly suggest that Paul received instruction in the 23 The emphasis given to maxims in the education of the young is witnessed in the socalled progymnasmata, Greek textbooks on exercises, applied in training; see Kennedy 2003: 9–10, 77–78, 99–101, 142–44, 196–97. 24 For a discussion see Renehan 1973: 29–34; Sandnes 2002: 181–85; Hock 2003: 225; Rawson 2003: 175. 25 Hock 2003: 208 says that Euripides and Menander were core authors in Greek education. For Morgan’s model of a core and periphery in education, see Morgan 1998: 71– 72, 313, where she also gives figures indicating the importance of different authors. 26 See Renehan 1973: 37–42. 27 See Renehan 1973: 34–37; Sandnes 2002: 1. 28 Renehan 1973 gives an extensive list of possible quotations from classical Greek literature in the New Testament, ranging from quotations to proverbial commonplaces and mere coincidence. In the end he verifies three classical quotations; i.e. 1 Cor. 15.33; Tit. 1.12; Acts 17.28. His presentation demonstrates, however, that the contact between New Testament literature and Greek classical literature is closer than might appear from the three evident quotations. As for Paul, Renehan (pp. 27–28) observes that 1 Cor. 12.4-11, both in thought and formal structure, is remarkably similar to Homer’s Il. 13.729-734 and Od. 8.167-77. He admits that it is impossible to say anything definite about the relationship between the poet and Paul here, ‘but some ultimate connection at least seems very possible’. This is supported by the fact that Paul in the next verse introduces the analogy of a body with different members, a well-known Greek analogy; see also Sandnes 1991; 1994: 119–30. Finally, Renehan (pp. 24–26) points out that Euripides, next to Homer the most popular Greek poet in education, might have contributed to Paul’s famous section in Rom. 7.14-25. This has been pointed out by many, including myself; see Sandnes 1996: 188–201.


The Challenge of Homer

Greek legacy, including classical texts, philosophy and rhetoric. The conclusion drawn by Vegge from the indirect evidence29 may be exaggerated. Some of the observations mentioned above might be accounted for without the extensive education assumed by Vegge.30 It is difficult indeed to fit Paul into the Hellenistic ‘school system’, due to the flexible nature of education which we pointed out in Chapter 3. Be this as it may, the question of Paul’s education offers little help in understanding his opinion of Greek education and the role given to Homer. He might have been a ‘Tertullian’ (i.e. himself well educated in this legacy, but at the same time an opponent of perpetuating this tradition among his converts). Tertullian serves as a reminder that an author-oriented investigation does not necessarily give access to the opinion held on liberal studies. The two questions must be kept apart.31

29 Vegge 2006: 427–86 discusses the indirect evidence found in Acts, particularly 22.3, cf. 21.39. Taken at face value, the information given by Acts suggest a Jewish rather than a Greek context for Paul’s education. Like many scholars, Vegge points out that Acts has an interest in joining Paul to Jerusalem, and is thus less trustworthy when it states that Paul was instructed in Jerusalem. But Vegge trusts the information given about Tarsus: ‘dass Tarsos mit Bildung assoziert wurde, weshalb die Leser der Apostelgeschichte bereits durch die blosse Nennung von Tarsos als Geburtsstadt in Paulus einen gebildeten sehen konnten’ (‘that Tarsus was associated with education, which meant that the reader of Acts could envision Paul as well educated simply because of the mentioning of Tarsus as his place of birth’: my trans.) (p. 456, cf. 461). From a source-critical point of view it is worth considering that Tarsus may also be due to an apologetic interest of the author. At least, this objection calls for some consideration. Vegge demonstrates that Tarsus was a centre of learning in antiquity, and also that many Jews lived there at Paul’s time. Vegge points out that Paul in Acts 22.3 is presented according to a threefold pattern – born, nurtured, trained – used in Hellenistic texts to describe a learned man. From this Vegge concludes ‘dass Lukas eine allegemeine, ’klassische’ Ausbildung fu¨r Paulus nich ausschliesst’ (‘that Luke does not exclude the possibility that Paul had a common classical education’: my trans.) (p. 439). A balanced conclusion like this seems to me to be exactly what the sources suggest on this question. Vegge overlooks Acts 7.20-22 about Moses’ education, a text structured according to the same tripartite pattern found in 22.3. With Moses, this pattern is intimately connected with receiving a pagan education. This observation might lend some force to the claim that Paul is described in Acts as a man learned in the Greek tradition. 30 Stanley 1990: 49 says: ‘One need not posit a full-scale Greek education for Paul (though this cannot be ruled out in advance) to credit him with familiarity with GraecoRoman citation technique’; similarly 1992: 338. Forbes 2003: 150–51, saying that ‘Paul is not, in Graeco-Roman terms, ‘‘a man of letters’’ (ajnh;r lovgio", aneˆr logios, Acts 18.24). It seems very unlikely that his formal education extended to the upper levels.’ Forbes tends to underestimate Paul’s education. 31 Vegge 2006 has not addressed the question with which the present study is concerned; neither does Hock 2003. The question has received very little attention in scholarly literature, due, of course, to the fact that it does not come to the surface in Paul’s letters.

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17.2.2 ‘Gymnastics of the Soul’ – a Reversal of Values We have seen that the tradition critical of liberal studies, stated for instance in Seneca’s Ep. 88, became a means by which Christian advocates made sense of encyclical education by enrolling it in a sequential process in which Christian faith represented the supreme virtue. This applies particularly to the Alexandrian and Cappadocian theologians, but to some extent also to Jerome and Augustine. They coped with the challenge of pagan poets by referring to their propaideutic nature, thereby assigning to them a subordinate and preparatory role. This perspective paved the way for a critical attitude in terms of distinguishing between good and bad (usus), although the latter is not necessarily connected with the propaideutic perspective. In adopting and adapting this logic from the Homeric critical tradition, they followed in the footsteps of Philo and probably owed much to him. For the purpose of the present chapter it is highly significant that they thereby embraced a value-system deeply rooted in Greek paideia. According to Greek tradition, virtuous and good men became so thanks to their education. Plutarch embraces this tradition in his short treatise Can Virtue be Taught? (Mor. 439A–440C). All kinds of practical knowledge require instruction, says Plutarch. This applies also to virtue; it is not ajdivdakton (Mor. 439B): ‘learning begets virtue (hJ mavqhsi" gevnesi" [sc. th'" ajreth'"]), the prevention of learning destroys it’ (Mor. 439C). Lack of education manifested itself in folly and in evil behaviour. Immorality was rectified by knowledge. Education was thus seen as a stepping-stone to virtue, or as a journey or path leading to virtue. Only the few climbed the peak of philosophy, as Lucian ironically says in Hermotimus.32 The first steps on this road were taken by learning to read and write. Ps.Lucian’s Amores 44–45 is here illuminating. This passage describes the daily life of boys from well-to-do families. The short description pictures schooling as a means of conveying ajrethv to the boys.33 The training formed men able to master their desires, as contrasted with ‘the evils associated with women’. The boys are followed by their paidagwgoiv, who carry ‘the revered instruments of virtue [ta; semna; th'" ajreth'" ejn cersi;n o[rgana kratou'nte"]’, which were the books telling about the ajretaiv of ancient men. Similarly, Plutarch’s treatise Progress in Virtue addresses the question of successive stages with regard to virtue (pro;" ajrethvn). This is summarized in prokophv and its cognates.34 He speaks of this as a road progressing towards virtue, to; 32 See Ch. 2.5. 33 The text might well be ironical, but that does not affect our interest here. 34 Mor. 75C; 76A; 77D; 78A–E; 82F; 84C, E. Hesiod’s Op. 289, a text applied also by Basil, figures prominently (Mor. 77D). It is in the study of philosophy, says Plutarch, that the uphill does not become steep any longer.


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ajgaqo;n kai; tevleion (Mor. 75C; 76D).35 The present study has demonstrated that encyclical studies initiated this march towards virtue, being itself a preparatory stage of that journey. Encyclical studies are, therefore, mentioned also in Plutarch’s treatise. It is not by accident that he takes progress in liberal studies (music and grammar) as a point of departure in Mor. 75B. In his treatise on How to Study Poetry, Plutarch argues that philosophy is the apex of all education, but that encyclical studies belong to the necessary stages of prokophv leading to virtue. This is stated explicitly in Mor. 36D–37B. In this passage the young person comes to philosophy already with a foretaste of it. He is not a[geusto", due to previous instruction received by parents and teachers. Plutarch summarizes his view by saying that youth needs to be instructed in reading ‘to be convoyed [sic] by poetry into the realm of philosophy’ (Mor. 37B).36 This is, according to Mor. 37B, to be propaideuqeiv". When this journey motif, which implies a propaideutic perspective as well, enters a joint venture with Platonic epistemology, as is often the case, it becomes even more evident that the question of liberal studies includes questions of value. When the knowledge gained by the philosopher is addressed in contemplative terms, such as ‘looking upwards’ or ‘having a vision’, encyclical studies become something which are to be fully mastered before one reaches the pinnacle of education.37 Throughout the investigation we have seen that education was often contrasted with the life of artisans, who did not have the leisure time necessary to be educated. We have even seen that encyclical education, and teachers in particular, were sometimes the butt of humour.38 When virtue and status were achieved through paideia, and preferably philosophy or rhetoric, this concept is easily mistaken for arrogance. Raffaella Cribiore entitled her book on Greek education Gymnastics of the Mind, which reflects how commonplace it was to speak about education in terms of mental gymnastics.39 The metaphors of ‘climbing the hill of learning’ and ‘gymnastics of the mind’ are closely related. It is, therefore, no surprise that both Philo and Christian writers, in fact, speak

35 For tevleio" as the goal of education, see the many examples given by Vegge 2006: 305–12. 36 ‘To be convoyed’ renders propevmpein in passive voice. Paul uses this term when he asks his converts for equipment or assistance on his missionary journeys, and also that they escort him on the first part of the journey. In short, this is a term for ‘help on one’s journey’; see BAGD and LSJ s.v. This makes perfect sense within a propaideutic view of encyclical studies. 37 For Platonic epistemology in the education system, see Nightingale 2001: 145–54. 38 Nightingale 2001: 134–36, 141–43. 39 Cribiore 2001: 121–22, 128–29,. For further references to the gymnastics of the soul, see Kaster 1988: 16–17, 78.

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of ‘a gymnastics of the soul’. The joint venture of propaideia and Platonic epistemology can be seen in the following citation from Philo: They [the parents] have benefited the body [of their children] by means of the gymnasium and the training given there, through which it gains muscular vigour and good condition and the power to bear itself and move with an ease marked by gracefulness and elegance. They have done the same for the soul by means of letters [dia; grammavtwn] and arithmetic and geometry and music and philosophy as a whole which lifts on high the mind lodged within the mortal body and escorts it to the very heaven and shews it the blessed and happy beings that dwell therein. (Spec. 2.230)

The value-system inherent in the reasoning looms large in both pagan and Christian education discourses, and is commented upon in the Pauline epistles, and hence is of much relevance to our investigation. In his recent study, Tor Vegge emphasizes the aspect of ‘Bildung als Weg zur Vollkommenheit’ (education as a way of perfection), but he pays no attention to the value-system inherent in this. The reason might be that he limits himself to addressing Paul’s own education. Whether Paul would encourage his converts to send their children to encyclical teachers is quite another matter. This involves the role of values inherent in this educational pattern. The Cappadocian and Alexandrian theologians included learning and pagan Christian faith in a prokophv-pattern where the former led to the latter. Is such a logic really consistent with Paul’s theology? Certainly, Paul speaks of a process whereby children are turned into adults, becoming tevleioi (e.g. 1 Cor. 14.20). This need for progress (prokophv), seen in the light of paideiva, is, however, not a step-by-step cultivation or training, as assumed in ancient education. There is no stepby-step and continuous preparation running through encyclical training towards virtue in Paul’s concept of becoming tevleio".40 The fact that Paul addresses progress in terms drawn from ancient discourse on paideia is not necessarily indicative of his attitude to encyclical studies. 17.2.3 Robert S. Dutch Dutch’s recent reading of 1 Corinthians claims that education and values are very much Paul’s concern. He argues that Paul, in his interaction with the educated elite among his converts, draws heavily on educational language and imagery. Dutch sets out to prove that Paul opposed the ideology of his educated opponents by targeting their values and pride:41

40 Pace Vegge 2006: 243–44, who compares Paul and Philo uncritically here, and Aasgaard 2007: 149–50, who pays no attention to Paul’s value-critical perspective. 41 Greek education was a route to social status; see Barclay 1996: 95.


The Challenge of Homer Paul requires a radical reorientation from the elite who glory in their ephebic education. They cannot transfer the cultural values of paideia learnt in the gymnasium with its intellectual and physical conflict, set within its religious tradition, to their new faith. God’s work through Christ has overthrown the understanding of the educated leaders of this age . . . Ephebic education, with its time-honoured status, as an elite system was in conflict with the ethos of the Pauline ejkklhsiva. Conflict in gymnasium and games, and education as a status-determinant, ran counter to the weakness that the apostle Paul portrays to the elite.42

Dutch’s book suggests a promising perspective on the question of Paul and liberal studies. In the present chapter, I will continue this into Galatians and Philippians. Before turning to that, some critical comments on Dutch’s work are called for. I restrict myself to two objections of importance. In the first place, not all his examples of educational language and imagery are equally convincing. In my view, this applies particularly to his exegesis of 1 Cor. 4.6.43 Paul says that the Corinthians must learn ‘nothing beyond what is written’. According to Dutch’s interpretation here, this refers to the practice of how schoolchildren were taught their letters. This practice is attested by for instance Quintilian, who says that letters are cut into a board, so that the pen of the child is guided along the grooves: ‘for the pen will be confined between the edges of the letters and will be prevented from going astray’ (Inst. 1.1.27).44 The irony implied in Paul’s dictum is that those who boast are urged to act like small children learning their basic ABC. This interpretation is in my view misplaced in the context of Paul’s wider argument.45 The proposed interpretation fails to explain the final i{na-clause in 4.6, namely to avoid pride or boasting. How is 4.6a supposed to work rhetorically within this purpose? If pride is avoided by keeping oneself to the limits cut for the letters, this implies that it caused pride going beyond these models. This is precisely where the stated purpose and figurative interpretation of 4.6 becomes difficult indeed. What children would boast of not following the standards given for the writing? This militates against this interpretation. The interpretation should rather proceed from the fact that in v. 6 Paul is making a reference to Chapters 1 and 3 where he also talked about himself and Apollos. They have acted as trustworthy servants, remaining within the limits of servants. Paul’s Corinthian converts have to act likewise, thus referring to the biblical texts previously cited in the epistle: Isa. 29.14 (1

42 Dutch 2005: 302. 43 For the discussion of this text in recent research, see Dutch 2005: 287–95. 44 This practice is also witnessed in Plato’s Prot. 326D; Seneca’s Ep. 94.51. The importance of these texts for understanding 1 Cor. 4.6 is mentioned also by Tyler 1998. For a broad description of this practice, see Cribiore 1996: 97–128. 45 Thus also Mitchell 1991: 220, n. 183.

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Cor. 1.19), Jer. 9.22-23 (1.31), Job 5.13 (3.19) and Ps. 93.11 LXX (3.20). All these passages address the question of pride, and 1 Cor. 4.6 continues this line of thought. The keyword in Jer. 9.22-23 (boasting) does not appear in 4.7 by accident, but forms a bridge to the previous chapters in this epistle. The second comment is more relevant to the question of values and education. In my view, Dutch has not sufficiently addressed what values Paul opposes in ancient paideia. His presentation is more or less confined to the status-determinant role of education.46 This makes the question of status reversal a primary matter for Dutch. The question of ‘the cultural values of paideia’47 is, however, not sufficiently accounted for. The present investigation is an attempt to unravel more broadly the value-system into which also encyclical studies belonged. I think this picture is necessary to give a reliable picture of Paul’s attitude to Greek learning. Furthermore, the reversal that Dutch claims is not so prominent in Paul’s letters. His examples fail to provide a sufficient basis for his conclusion about the importance of reversal of values. It is not quite clear how Paul is repudiating the values of the sporting imagery in 1 Cor. 9 or the rod (Ch. 4). Paul uses these motifs in a positive manner. The virtues of athletes are not in any way criticized; on the contrary they are paradigmatic, and work as such in Paul’s argument. Similarly, the rod used to discipline children in school or the gymnasium is not repudiated, but refers to the fact that Paul might also discipline his opponents. Together with Dutch’s interpretation of 1 Cor. 4.6, these examples convey the impression that Dutch is not sufficiently sensitive to the literary and rhetorical context into which educational imagery is fitted. But Dutch has rightly pointed to the importance of values in Paul’s appraisal of Greek paideia and encyclical studies. 17.2.4 A Propaideutic Logic in Galatians? We have seen that Clement’s reading of Gal. 3.24 on the role of the pedagogue is embedded in a propaideutic framework in which a Platonic epistemology is also present. Clement’s telic interpretation of the preposition eij" fits naturally into this framework.48 There are indeed some observations in Galatians which might trigger a reading along those lines. The temporary and subordinate role assigned to the pedagogue is worth mentioning. Paul has his own agenda in Gal. 4.21-31, but his allegorical interpretation of Gen. 16 brings to mind Philo’s favourite text 46 Dutch 2005: 194–98, 298–99. 47 Dutch 2005: 302. 48 His reading finds support in the many instances where the task of a pedagogue is to guide a child eij" his teacher, see e.g. Plato’s Lysis 208C; Ps.Lucian Am. 44; cf. Xenophon, Lac. 2.1.


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on the topic of Greek education. This text provided Philo with a biblical warrant for the traditional interpretation of Penelope and her maidservants: encyclical studies were a stepping-stone towards perfection. In this text are found some of the most important building-blocks of ancient discourse on encyclical studies. Clement’s reading of Paul’s text is a reminder that education was seen as a way towards virtue, and that the pedagogue helped the child[ren] to take the first step on this path of virtue, as pointed out above. This can again be illustrated by Plutarch’s Can Virtue be Taught?: Why, then, would you also not say, ‘If men do not become better by teaching, the fee given to their tutors [paidagwgoiv] is wasted’? For these are the first to receive the child when it has been weaned and, just as nurses mould its body with their hands, so tutors by the habits they inculcate train the child’s character to take a first step, as it were, on the path of virtue [eij" i[cno". . .ajreth'"]. (Mor. 439F)49

To Clement, Gal. 3.24 nicely fits into the value-system whereby Christian faith becomes the goal of the path of education. By necessity, Christian faith and Christ himself are then deeply influenced by this educational paradigm. What, then, of Paul? Ancient texts about the role of paidagwgoiv are very diverse, demonstrating an ambivalent attitude to their reputation. Paul draws on this figure in a restricted sense, giving emphasis primarily to the temporary nature of the pedagogue. The following observations affirm a periodic reading of eij" in Gal. 3.24. Temporal terms abound in Gal. 3.19–4.7.50 The coming of faith, mentioned twice (in vv. 23 and 25), makes better sense in a periodic reading of the text. In Gal. 4.1-7, Paul mentions an analogous illustration, the coming of age of an heir, which brings an end to his being under supervisors.51 Finally, Paul speaks from the conceptual field of being released or set free from the pedagogue. This is clear from the fact that Christ brings an end to the enslavement of the Law (4.6); thus the situation of his converts is no longer that of being

49 Philo also witnesses to this aim of education, and that the pedagogue is seen among the moral disciplinarians helping the child[ren] on their way to mastery of the desires (Migr. 116; Congr. 82, 94). To Philo, Sarah represents ajrethv and Hagar paideiva, where the latter prepares for virtue, but can do no more. Seneca speaks in his Ep. 88 on education in the same vein. His treatment of liberal studies is concentrated on the question whether these studies make people good. He denies this, and says that only philosophy paves the way for virtue (ad virtutem viam sternit) (2–3). Encyclical studies prepare the soul for the reception of virtue: animum ad accipiendam virtutem praeparant) (20). 50 These are a[cri" ou| (3.19); prov (3.23); ejf j o{son crovnon (4.1); a[cri (4.2); o{te (4.3, 4), oujkevti (4.7). 51 Gal. 4.2 is structured analogously with the dictum about the Law as a pedagogue.

The New Testament and Encyclical Studies


‘under the Law’, or ‘under the pedagogue’,52 but being ejleuvqeroi or uiJoiv (Gal. 3.23–5.28; 4.5-7). This reflects common usage of the pedagogue metaphor; children were seen as slaves under the protection of this figure, and their coming to maturity was described in terms of manumission.53 Although Paul, particularly in Gal. 4.1-7, speaks of a movement from immaturity to maturity, he puts no emphasis on the growth as such, or on moving from a lower to a higher degree of knowledge; his entire focus is on the change which maturity brings in relation to the pedagogue. There is no didactic focus in Gal. 3, no sign of Paul thinking in terms of ‘climbing to the top’ in terms of knowledge. In the words of Stephen Westerholm, this reading can be summarized thus: ‘Certainly, Galatians 3.24 does not speak of the way the law prepares sinners psychologically for the reception of the gospel, but rather of the temporal limitations placed on the law’s validity.’54 Nevertheless, the motif of ‘education towards virtue’ is not absent from Paul’s letter to the Galatians. He is probably aware that his metaphormaking in Gal. 3 has introduced this concept which was widely known in antiquity. Moral education is, probably, quite consciously, left out of the picture in Gal. 3–4. It does, however, appear in full in Gal. 5.13-24. When in this passage Paul presents the renewed life of his converts in terms of mh; th;n ejleuqerivan eij" ajformh;n th'æ sarkiv (v. 13); ejpiqumivan sarko;" ouj mh; televshte (v. 16); ta; e[rga th'" sarkov" (v. 19), and describes the ‘fruits of the Spirit’ in terms of attitudes (vv. 22–23), this all brings to mind traditional Greek moral philosophy of virtue and the classical Greek virtues.55 The highest level of the road leading to virtue is, according to Plutarch, the purification of the soul (Mor. 75C–D; 76B), or the leaving behind of vices. This is echoed in the Pauline paraenesis. Mastering the desires of the flesh summarizes the Christian life in practice. In Mor. 37C lack of education (ajpaideusiva) is identical with lack of self-control, being chained by ejpiqumiva. Gal. 5.18 has a reference back to 3.24 by repeating oujk ejste; uJpo; novmon and by replacing paidagwgov" with pneuvmati a[gesqe, probably a play on words. The aspect of bridling the passions is thus by no means absent from the epistle, but it is not found in Chapter 3. The threat from the desires of the flesh is adequately dealt with, neither by the Law nor by education, but by the Spirit. In Gal. 6.15 Paul mentions the new creation as the power with which to fight evil. According to Paul, virtue comes neither through the Law nor education; it is inculcated by the Spirit. John M.G. Barclay presents this part of Galatians under the 52 Paul’s uJpo; paidagwgovn echoes similar phrases in ancient educational literature referring to the harsh discipline of the pedagogues; see Lull 1986: 490. 53 Lull 1986: 493–95; Young 1987: 168–69. 54 Westerholm 2004: 428, thus also Gordon 1989: 152. Contra e.g. Fitzmyer 1981: 191. 55 Barclay 1988: 124–25; Engberg-Pedersen 2003: 619–23.


The Challenge of Homer

heading ‘The Sufficiency of the Spirit’.56 Paul is concerned to prove that ‘the Spirit provides sufficient moral direction and protection against ‘the flesh.’’57 The desires of the flesh are not suppressed by sequential education, but by being crucified with Christ (Gal. 5.24). From this develops a way of thinking into which the value-system of liberal studies is not easily fitted. Our reading of Paul’s text has demonstrated that in Galatians he is not thinking in terms of a continuous development from propaideiva to perfection. He departs considerably from the substructure found both in Philo and in Clement. Some building-blocks usually at home in propaideutic logic do appear, but they are arranged into a context which is marked by radically bringing an end to the Law, and claiming that virtue is attainable only through the Spirit. In Clement’s interpretation, Christ becomes the teacher par excellence, but that is not Paul’s point here. The cultural dialogue upon which Clement has embarked, and into which he also brings Gal. 3.24, differs markedly from the situation Paul addresses. His perspective is not a continuous growth of the individual, moving from Greek learning to maturity in Christian faith, but a historical shift from a period in which the Law served as a pedagogue, curbing the desires of the flesh, until a period in which this came to an end. This radical perspective does not allow for a propaideutic view of the Law, and in consequence, Clement’s use of Gal. 3.24 is beyond a historical reading of Paul’s text. In short, propaideutic logic is not discernible in Gal. 3, which also means that Paul’s use of a fundamental metaphor from the field of encyclical studies does not bring very much to our question of how Paul as a Christian viewed these studies. In fact, Galatians seems rather to justify the view taken by Clement’s adversaries. In Gal. 5–6 Paul argues that virtue is achieved not by education, but by the Spirit. Virtue is mediated independently of both Law and education. Paul thus speaks from within the virtue-system, but alters it considerably; virtue is not taught, but inculcated by God. In the ancient virtue-system, virtue was a characteristic of the philosopher, ‘an activity engaged in by the very few who belonged to the leisure classes of society’.58 This is not so with the Spiritgenerated virtues of which Paul speaks; they apply to Jews and Gentiles, male and female, masters and slaves all alike (Gal. 3.28; cf. 1 Cor. 12.13). The question of encyclical studies as a preparation for virtue is not raised in Galatians, but it appears implicitly in Gal. 5–6: Virtue has no human preparation! As pointed out by Troels Engberg-Pedersen, Paul speaks of a 56 Barclay 1988: 106. 57 Barclay 1988: 115. 58 Engberg-Pedersen 2003: 609, for the aristocratic environment in which discourse on education and virtue took place; see Ch. 4.1.

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battle of forces, not of preparing what only Christ and the Spirit can bring about.59 17.2.5 PROKOPH and Usus in Philippians? E.A. Judge60 pointed out that, to Paul, Greek education was a cultural boundary marker. His distinction between Greeks and barbarians, sofoi; kai; ajnovhtoi61 (Rom. 1.14, cf. 1 Cor. 1.22b) mirrors the role played by Homer and encyclical studies as conveyors of Greek identity. But Paul does not really grapple with the problems that Greek learning caused the Christians. However, as pointed out above, his letters witness to confrontation with the values inherent in Greek learning, especially the reigning values of higher education.62 Not surprisingly, opponents of liberal studies found this overturning of the value-system of Greek education massively in 1 Cor. 1–2. My exegesis of Galatians points in the same direction. But Paul also cited from the cultural canon of Greek education, as witnessed in 1 Cor. 15.32 (cf. Tit. 1.12 and Acts 17.28), and thus made use of pagan authors. The appearance of this practice, not only in one of the disputed letters, and in later narrative tradition about Paul, but also in the Corinthian correspondence, makes it altogether likely that these examples provide a reliable picture of Paul. His use of pagan classical texts exposed him to the criticism of some Christians later; in their grappling with the Greek legacy and the idolatry in which it was embedded,63 these citations show a theologically questionable apostle. It is, therefore, worth asking whether Paul ever reflected on his use of pagan authors in terms of how, when and what; in short, does he anywhere come close to the principle of making right use of this legacy? Augustine called the Christian virtue of discerning the pagan legacy rightly an apostolic regula.64 The following suggests that such a regula finds an analogy in Philippians. Paul in this letter is involved in a critical sifting of previously held values. In Phil. 3.12-16, Paul speaks of progress, of moving towards teleiovth", in athletic imagery, thus bringing to mind traditional educational discourse. The importance of progression in cognitive terms in this epistle 59 Engberg-Pedersen 2002: 161–86. Engberg-Pedersen emphasized Paul’s indebtedness to Stoicism in this text. From the observations on educational motifs and themes in Gal. 3, it is equally relevant to read the paraenetic section in Galatians as belonging to the educational discourse; thus also Vegge 2006: 312–25. 60 Judge 1983: 10. 61 In some Pauline texts, this term describes lack of Christian understanding, but here he speaks in full accordance with the cultural role of Homer and education. In our presentation of Celsus, we have seen that this term refers to lack of Greek education. 62 Judge 1983: 11. 63 See Jerome’s comments on Tit. 1.12 in Ch. 14.3 of this study. 64 See Ch. 15.2 of this study.


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has been pointed out by Troels Engberg-Pedersen; this comes most clearly to the surface in 1.5-6, 9-12, 25; 2.12-16; 3.10-16, 20-21. Engberg-Pedersen calls this Stoic language,65 while Tor Vegge rightly argues that the language of progress is also at home in discourse on education in antiquity.66 In my view, the progress addressed in Philippians is set within an apocalyptic frame of reference. It is about the progress of the gospel and in faith, both having ‘the day of Christ’ (1.10, cf. 1.25-26; 2.16; 3.2021) as their goal. This apocalyptic framework distances Paul from Stoicism to a greater degree than admitted by Engberg-Pedersen. This framework brings a set of convictions which are not easily fitted into a Stoic pattern,67 although Paul’s paraenesis in particular does echo Stoic themes. The apocalyptic framework of Paul’s statements on making progress implies a value-critical perspective. Certainly, Paul speaks of a process whereby children are turned into adults, or become tevleioi in faith. This need for progress (prokophv), seen in the light of paideiva, is not a step-by-step and continuous cultivation or training, as assumed in ancient education.68 The critical attitude to former values shows some affinities with the principle of usus that we have found to be a commonplace in early Christian debate on the Greek legacy in general and on Homer in particular. This is where Phil. 4.8-9 comes into play. Phil 4.8-9 I consider that Phil. 4.8-9 forms a unit where v. 9 continues v. 8; the general exhortation in v. 8 finds in v. 9 an exemplum from Paul’s own life among the Philippians and their knowledge about his ways of putting this admonition into practice. Neither does v. 9 modify v. 8 nor act as a corrective.69 The hortatory saying in Phil. 4.8 does not need a corrective; the critical aspect lies at the heart of the logic of this verse, and finds an example in v. 9. Paul urges his addressees to be involved in a critical evaluation of Greek morals, and to learn from his way of doing this. The verb logivzesqai is in Paul’s letters not only a ‘mind thing’; it refers to evaluation and acting upon it.70 65 Engberg-Pedersen 2000: 70–73, 109–19. 66 Vegge 2006: 312–25. This fits with the common imagery of climbing the peak emphasized in the present study. 67 A similar critique is voiced by Esler 2004. 68 Pace Vegge 2006: 243–45, who compares Philo and Paul uncritically, and Aasgaard 2007: 149–50, who ignores Paul’s value-critical perspective on ancient paideia. 69 Some scholars take kaiv adversatively, and hence also the relative pronoun a{ as forming a contrast to tau'ta in the preceding verse; see e.g. Hawthorne 1983: 185–86 interpreting v. 9 as a modification or correction of v. 8. 70 See Rom. 6.11; 8.18; 1 Cor. 4.1; Phil 3.13. This is pointed out also by O’Brien 1991: 507–08.

The New Testament and Encyclical Studies


The text (vv. 8–9) is rhetorically well composed, showing that Paul aims at being in touch with the noble traditions of the Greek legacy: To; loipovn, ajdelfoiv o{sa o{sa o{sa o{sa o{sa o{sa

ejsti;n ajlhq'h', semnav, divkaia, aJgnav, prosfilh', eu[fhma,

ei[ ti" ajreth; kai; ei[ ti" e[paino",71 tau'ta logivzesqe

a} kai; ejmavqete kai; parelavbete kai; hjkouvsate kai; ei[dete ejn ejmoiv, tau'ta pravssete

kai; oJ qeo;" th'" eijrhvnh" e[stai meq j uJmw'nÅ Verse 8 tau'ta logivzesqe, finds its correspondence in v. 9, tau'ta pravssete, and the closing blessing recalls v. 7, which is an echo of 2 Cor. 10.4-5 about taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ; i.e. critically sifting worldly wisdom according to faith in Christ. In short, Christ becomes the means by which to assess Jewish values (Phil. 3) as well as the Greek legacy. The text is a series of loosely connected paraenetic units, and v. 8 in particular leaves much to the reader by being deliberately imprecise and general. ‘The six adjectives and two nouns that make up the sentence are as uncommon in Paul as most of them are common stock to the world of Graeco-Roman moralism.’72 This is not to deny that some of the terms are found in the LXX as well.73 The Greek currency of the language in v. 8 cannot be dismissed;74 references to wisdom traditions found in the Jewish sources cannot do away with this impression. Our investigation into biblical texts which were called upon in the Christian discourse on Greek education demonstrated that Jewish wisdom texts formed a common ground with Greek learning. 71 This line reveals that Paul’s list is by no means exhaustive. The two nouns summarize the nature of adjectives mentioned as well as others that might have been added to the list. 72 Thus Fee 1995: 415; see also Horrell 2005: 153–63. For a more thorough presentation of the individual terms, see O’Brien 1991: 503–07 or Bockmuehl 1997: 250–54. 73 This has been noticed by some scholars who thereby make a false dichotomy between Greek and Jewish wisdom traditions; for references to this misleading exegesis, see O’Brien 1991: 502–03. 74 This was pointed out by Dibelius 1925: 73, and has been a commonplace of Pauline exegesis since.


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Paul A. Holloway has argued that in ancient consolation texts, to which in his view Phil. 4 belongs, an avocatio–revocatio pattern often occurs.75 In times of distress, one is urged to distract the mind from hardships by the contemplation of pleasures, thus turning the mind away from the disturbing things and instead bona cogitare. This consolatory advice is witnessed in many ancient writings; special mention is made of Plutarch Mor. 468F–469D about the tranquillity of the mind. According to Holloway, Phil. 4.8 makes sense as an instance of this pattern. In my view, this background hardly accounts for the critical aspect inherent in Paul’s logic here. In Holloway’s interpretation the hortatory nature of the text is reduced to putting the mind into a state of rest. Paul aims at more than consolation in this passage; he wants also to move his converts to act responsibly vis-a`-vis their milieu. Holloway’s interpretation sounds like modern cognitive therapy; Paul’s guidance aims at certain actions to be pursued. The final imperatives in both v. 8 and v. 9 look beyond calming the mind, towards a life-pattern based on critically sifting between good and bad. Since Paul expresses himself (deliberately it seems) so imprecisely and generally here, it is hardly possible to know what challenges he has in mind. It is probably more than merely coping with the Roman political administration and propaganda.76 The relevance of Paul’s programmatic statement is open, thus also leaving room for including Greek learning. After all, Greek education was commonly seen as the true path to virtue, and Paul is here summarizing his aim as being precisely ajrethv. The critical sifting element of v. 8 is now to be argued further. The logic of v. 8 assumes truth and wisdom to be present in Philippi, outside the fellowship of the believers. Furthermore, since Paul urges his readers to think about these values and to act upon them, this implies by necessity a separation from those things which are not true or virtuous. The two statements introduced by ‘if’ imply that it is necessary to select from their pagan past that which is morally excellent and praiseworthy. Paul urges them to embark upon a critical reflection, leading them to embrace the best of their pagan past. This discernment is performed by pondering Paul’s example (v. 9). To understand the imitation mentioned in v. 9, it is necessary to draw upon the whole epistle,77 most explicitly on 3.17. Paul there urges his converts to become his summimhtaiv, thereby claiming that the apostle and his addressees share a model to be imitated. Imitating Paul thus means to follow the example of Jesus, which is set forth in Phil. 2.6-11 (cf. 1 Cor. 11.1). This text shapes the whole content of the letter and provides the 75 76 77 2000:

Holloway 1998; see also his 2001: 146–55. Thus Popkes 2004. The unity of Philippians is here assumed; see e.g. Garland 1985 and Engberg-Pedersen 316.

The New Testament and Encyclical Studies


master model for imitation,78 thus reminding us of Christ as a critical yardstick by which to judge all values, be they Jewish or Greek. Paul speaks of his own growth in understanding (Phil. 3.10-16) as an example to be imitated by his converts (3.17). Paul has left behind those values which he previously considered most significant (3.4-11). Values that were kevrdh have now – after encountering Christ – become a loss or even skuvbala. Paul no longer ascribes value to his former highly valued Jewish qualities. In Christ he has come to view these values differently. The values mentioned in Phil. 3.4-8 defined Paul’s identity before his Damascus experience. In 3.10-16, however, these values are overturned. Phil. 3.4-16 and 4.8-9 both address the question of values to be held by Paul’s converts, but take quite different views of the Jewish heritage. Taking Phil. 4.8-9 in isolation would be misleading and give a distorted picture of Paul’s identity as it emerges in his letters, suggesting that he abandoned his Jewish values alltogether in favour of Greek values. The values appearing in 3.4-8, however, are identity markers, whereas the values promoted in Phil. 4.8-9 are not. These values sound strikingly Greek, but they appear in Jewish wisdom traditions as well, as noted above. The motif of progress in terms of discernment that runs throughout this epistle thus implies two actions, that of leaving behind and that of preserving the good; i.e. finding that which is conformable with the new identity in Christ. Conforming to Christ is not exclusive of embracing Greek virtues. From the immediate context an example appears, namely Phil. 4.11-13 about Paul being content with whatever life brings to him, be it little or much. He has learned to be aujtavrkh". In Stoic ethics this is the ideal of being self-sufficient; self-contentment was an ideal honoured by Greek philosophers, and has a Stoic ring.79 In Paul’s time the term may have gained a wider currency, but the context in which it appears in Phil. 4 sounds very much like a description of a philosopher.80 Paul interprets self-sufficiency as trusting to God in all circumstances. The Greek concept 78 See Engberg-Pedersen 1994: 274–47; Gorman 2001: 164–69, 253–59, 278–79. 79 See e.g. Sevenster 1961: 113–14; Fee 1995: 431–32 with references. 80 See e.g. Xen. Mem. 1.2.14 on Socrates. Epictetus treats freedom from fear in his Diatr. 4.7, about the wise man who is free because he under no circumstances finds fault with the things that happen to him. Such a man endures everything, be it poverty, holding an office, deprivation of office, troubles, exile or death, due to his judgements that no one can take away. With these he is content (ajrkei' moi), and thus also free (Diatr. 4.7.12-18). See also Epictetus’ famous text about the calling of a philosopher (Diatr. 3.22). The philosopher works with his mind so that neither death nor exile matters to him (}20–23). The verb ajrkei'sqai appears in this passage. The nature of philosophic life is described further in }39– 49. He is free and no slave to bodily needs: ‘Am I not free from pain or fear, am I not free. When has anyone among you seen me failing to get what I desire, or falling into what I would avoid? When have I ever blamed anyone?’ (}45–48). Similarly in Seneca’s Ep. 9.13; 72.7


The Challenge of Homer

of self-contentment is brought into conformity with Paul’s belief in Christ. This belief thus works as a critical principle. Paul adds an ‘in-Christ perspective’ which implies a critical sifting of the values in question.81 This text thus shows an example of Paul’s attitude to a key notion of Greek philosophy: ‘he singles out values held in common with the best of Hellenism. But as v. 9 implies, these must now be understood in light of the cruciform existence that Paul has urged throughout the letter.’82 What was formerly a gain to Paul, he came to regard as a loss because of Christ. After Christ appeared to him outside Damascus, he viewed his life in a new light. Just as his life was now conformed to Christ (Phil. 3.10), so his addressees should likewise evaluate religion and culture in Philippi in the light of what was conformable to Christ. Being conformed to Christ, they are enabled to judge and distinguish between virtue and vice in their pagan environment. According to L. Michael White, ‘commonplaces from the Hellenistic moralist tradition are infused with a grounding in Christ Jesus’. 83 Paul trusted that there were elements of truth in the cultural and religious environment of his converts. These elements were to be distinguished from deceptive elements, and then to be retained in the Christian life. This trusting and thinking involves dialectical and critical work, which explains why Paul’s paraenesis sounds so Greek and Stoic at times. By consequence, traditions incompatible with Christian faith and identity were to be rejected; a similar thought is found in Phil. 1.9-10,84 1 Thess. 5.2185 and 2 Cor. 10.4-5. This looks very much like the principle of usus. These texts address the necessity of discernment, finding the good among things incompatible with Christ. All these passages are brief, and do not lend themselves very much to identifying more precisely what Paul has in mind here. It is, however, worth noticing that Phil. 1.9-10 and 2 Cor. 10.4-5 both speak in cognitive terms.86 The apostle urges his readers not only to think highly of these virtues of their pagan past, but also to take them into account. Since Paul was not ignorant of the fact 81 Similarly, Paul in Phil. 1.27–2.4 describes Christ’s life analogously with ideal friendship in Graeco-Roman sources; see Sandnes 1994: 86–91, 152, 160. Christ’s example thus affirms values inherent in what moral philosophers said about friendship. 82 Fee 1995: 415. 83 White 1990: 207. 84 Kai; tou'to proseuvcomai, i{na hJ ajgavph uJmw'n e[ti ma'llon kai; ma'llon perisseuvhæ ejn ejpignwvsei kai; pavshæ aijsqhvsei eij" to; dokimavzein uJma'" ta; diafevronta, i{na h\te eijlikrinei'" kai; ajprovskopoi eij" hJmevran Cristou'. 85 pavnta de; dokimavzete, to; kalo;n katevcete. In his support of Christians studying the learned works of the Greeks, Socrates makes in his Church History explicit reference to this Pauline passage, and combines it with Col. 2.18 and an agraphon attributed to Jesus about becoming discriminating moneychangers; for references, see NPNF 2: XI n. 53. 86 Notice that Heb. 5.14 speaks in similar terms in a context where educational motifs abound.

The New Testament and Encyclical Studies


that virtues were deeply embedded not only in the pagan culture at hand, but also in traditions perpetuated in Homer’s writings, I think Phil. 4.8 has a bearing on how Paul evaluated Greek learning as well. The reading of Phil. 4.8-9 presented here does not, admittedly, address classical texts or education, but the stated logic has much in common with the principle of usus.

17.3 Summarizing Paul on Encyclical Studies Encyclical studies never come to the surface in Paul’s extant letters. The terminology of education is, however, well attested, but used for other matters.87 Any conclusion must therefore be tentative. Paul’s value confrontation with the virtue-system of the intellectual elite made him express himself in ways that paved the way for abandoning Greek education altogether. Since encyclical studies initiated the climb towards the philosophical virtues,88 many Christians, probably also among Paul’s converts, found him issuing a warning which covered liberal studies as well. The key text for this position became, as we have seen, 1 Cor. 1–2 in particular, a text where Paul contrasts human and divine wisdom. Paul does not in this text speak in terms of a twofold wisdom, acquired by experience or by revelation, as found in Jewish wisdom traditions; rather he implies that the revealed wisdom replaces and overthrows human wisdom, be it Jewish or Greek (1 Cor. 1.22-25). Furthermore, in 1 Cor. 1.20, Paul challenges three types of wisdom-teachers. The three are not easily defined, but the terms used as well as the immediate context, speaking about Jewish and Greek wisdom, suggest that he has in mind philosophers, ‘scribes’ and ‘debaters’ or rhetoricians. The text is therefore of relevance for the question of Greek education. The present study has pointed out that Philo forms a bridge between the reasoning documented in Christian sources later than the New Testament and the New Testament itself, which is silent on the matter of liberal studies. From a historical point of view it is natural to lay great emphasis on this bridge. But Philo includes encyclical studies in a sequential pattern incompatible with Paul. According to Philo, the teacher marks the beginning of prokophv leading ejp j a[kron teleiovthta. The latter is, however, only given by God; it is revealed wisdom (Fug. 172–73, 213). Philo here marks, in an incipient way, an awareness of a potential problem in addressing wisdom in sequential terms. But this never does come to fruition in Philo’s writings; he remains within a propaideutic pattern. Paul 87 Judge 1983: 9. 88 See also Philo’s Congr. 106, 112; Fug. 172, 176, 213.


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turns the whole thing around; the propaideutic argument, with its implied sequential pattern of wisdom progressing towards Christian faith as its peak, is irreconcilable with Paul’s world-view.89 Paul’s attitude seems prima facie to be rather hesitant towards encyclical studies,90 but this criticism of the values inherent in Greek education primarily targets the higher levels of education. He ‘reacted powerfully against the perversion of human relations which he saw inculcated by the ideals of higher education’.91 It is not impossible that Paul balanced his critique according to various levels in ancient education, i.e. between propaideiva and paideiva, as philosophers would term it, thus implying that his criticism primarily targeted the latter. This brings to mind the argument of the later Augustine; he considered his first learning very helful but was critical of what he learned from the grammatici. In Phil. 4.8-9, an analogy to the principle of usus comes to the surface. The text is not about education but it is embedded in a context of making cognitive progress. It implies the principle of usus or finding ta; crhvsima in the pagan legacy, measured according to faith in Christ. This Philippian text is not a lonely ‘island’ in Paul’s letters, but summarizes his frequent injunction to grow in discernment (e.g. 1 Thess. 5.21; 2 Cor. 10.5);92 theologically it follows from Paul’s creation theology, as it appears in 1 Cor. 10.26. The citation in 1 Cor. 15.32 testifies to usus in practice.93 To put it in terms with which an ancient audience would be familiar: Paul urged his converts to work like bees. The principle of usus, albeit not expressed in an educational context, is there ready to be developed as Christians gradually came to terms with the pagan culture, including the challenge of Greek learning. But it probably took some resources, religious, social and intellectual, to observe the logic of usus in Paul’s epistles and to put it into practice. I suppose many everyday Christians were distracted by other Pauline texts designed to mark the believers off from their pagan environment, rather than to deal responsibly with it. The Pauline epistles are more concerned with the reconstruction of identity among the believers than with coming to terms with the outside world. No concern for the danger classical literature represented to children at the introductory levels of education is 89 This brings to mind the classical debate raised by Plato in his Protagoras (Ch. 4 in this study) whether virtue can be learned or not: does a man become good by learning? Seen against this background, we must say that Paul does not answer this question in the affirmative. 90 Thus also Barclay 1996: 390–92. 91 Judge 1983: 14. 92 The logic beneath texts like Rom. 13.1-7 follows a similar lead. 93 Renehan 1973: 42–45 points out that this text, alongside Tit. 1.12 and Acts 17.28, are the only examples mentioned as classical quotations in the early Christian literature. They appear ‘in defence of Christians’ learning th;n JEllhvnwn paideivan’ (p. 43).

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discernible in Paul’s letters. In the light of the findings elsewhere in this study, this is surprising. It may perhaps be due to his awaiting the imminent Parousia (1 Thess. 4.13–5.6; 1 Cor. 7.26, 29), and hence considering questions of the schooling of children to be of minor importance. Paul’s letters confirm Judge’s conclusion that schooling is not a matter dealt with in the New Testament.94 Paul’s letters basically confirm that conclusion. I have, however, attempted to demonstrate that there are statements in Paul which, by implication, have a bearing on our topic: a critical position vis-a`-vis propaideutic reasoning, and possibly a more constructive attitude vis-a`-vis the ancient tradition of usus.

94 Judge 1983: 7.

Chapter 18 CONCLUSION It is time to bring the investigation to an end and to survey our findings. Part 1 emphasized the challenge that Greek education, the classical canon, and Homer in particular, posed to the Christians. Homer was the gateway to education, to the fundamental skills of reading and writing. These skills were necessary for the nascent Christian Church, for whom texts and their interpretation were crucial. Furthermore, these skills were necessary for participation in the intellectual discourse of society, although this only applied to a minority among the believers. Knowledge of Homer was a sign of Greekness, and thus a sign of at-home-ness in the wider society. The skills associated with knowledge of Homer were, however, embedded in texts full of mythology, immorality and idolatry. When Christians raised this criticism they joined an ancient tradition critical of Homer. This challenge, for which Homer was the primary catchword, remained more or less the same throughout antiquity. Part 2 demonstrated how Christians from the second century CE onwards responded to this challenge. The young schoolboy showing his frustration in the Papyrus Boriant served as an example to pinpoint both the challenge and the need for solutions. The opinions varied from rejection of Homer and all pagan literature, considering them works of the devil, to critical involvement with this literature. Advocates as well as opponents of Christian participation in encyclical studies turned to the Bible for their solutions. Biblical texts were fundamental for both positions; it was a matter of which texts to call upon. Opponents referred to traditions and texts about the danger of apostasy lurking in idolatry, the exclusive claim of God and faith as revealed knowledge. Such texts abound in both parts of the Christian Bible, and they paved the way for intellectual and social isolation of individuals as well as the Church at large. The texts to which they referred were designed to construct a new Christian identity vis-a`-vis outsiders. With regard to the challenge facing the schoolboy from Papyrus Boriant, however, this negative attitude would probably tend to safeguard his faith by keeping him out of school altogether. Advocates of liberal studies called upon other biblical texts, primarily wisdom and creation texts. These texts were concerned not primarily with



the construction of identity but rather with how to live in a world created by God, though containing people of many faiths. Advocates of encyclical studies were standing on the shoulders of the ancient discourse on Homer. This discourse emphasized encyclical studies as propaideutic, i.e. as subordinated to and preparatory for real knowledge. The propaideutic nature of liberal studies was seen in their usefulness for achieving virtue proper. Finally, Homer’s writings required interpretation, which also included allegorical methods to deal with the difficulties found in his texts. These elements formed building-blocks in early Christian support of encyclical studies. Alexandrian and Cappadocian theologians were outstanding among these advocates. Clement, to take one example, presents in Strom. 6.10/80.1–83.3 the challenge Greek education poses to believers.1 The chapter is introduced with a list of encyclical subjects. The challenge for the believers is to extract from these subjects anything from which truth benefits (to; provsforon) (80.1). The rest of the chapter is concerned with ‘the right use of’ encyclical studies. Greek terms such as dokimavzein, diakrivnein, diastolhv, all referring to the task of making distinctions, permeate the chapter. The Christian – gnoˆstikos, as Clement calls the believer with an understanding of the topic under discussion – considers encyclical studies as preparation or training (proguvmnasma), enabling the believer to convey and defend truth accurately. The truth found in Greek education is merikhv, that is partial. Finding the hidden truth is the challenge (Strom. 6.10/83.1). In Strom. 6.8-10, Clement presents some criteria helpful in making this distinction. He says that the question of morality is such a criterion, and also whether the literature denies the existence of the Divine. He is obviously targeting Epicurus here. Everything being conducive to justice (Strom. 6.8/64.4-5) is another criterion. This might be taken as a reference to ethics, but the literary context suggests a reference to things paving the way for Christian faith and knowledge. In short, the logic proceeds from the conviction that there is a bridge between Greek learning and Christian faith. The propaideutic perspective allows Clement to consider Greek knowledge a paidagwgov" to Christ, as the Law was for the Jews (Gal. 3.24). This does not mean that Greek education, knowledge or philosophy replace parts of the Scriptures. The preparatory nature of Greek literature is not this literature per se, but precisely and only those things in it which are conformable to the critical sifting just mentioned. These things are


See Ch. 11.1.2.


The Challenge of Homer

preparatory because they were placed there by God himself in creation.2 The main criterion implied in notions such as propaideutic, preparatory, useful, helpful, beneficial, making right use of, etc. is ‘what is conformable to Christ and Christian faith?’ In this way, Homer was Christianized; he prepared the way for Christian faith. In the words of Ernst L. Fortin, he became ‘a figure of their [i.e. the Christians’] pious and immensely fertile imagination. He has little in common with the Homer whom their pagan ancestors had known and revered.’3 With regard to the schoolboy speaking through Papyrus Boriant, this critical process was to be carried out individually, which is indeed demanding. It works only for those familiar with both the Greek legacy and the Christian faith. In other words, the criterion assumes an intellectual capacity which most schoolboys hardly had. Recent converts might, therefore, have found the attitude of the opponents more attractive. This suggestion finds some support in the material investigated in the present study. In many cases the positions taken on encyclical studies show a correspondence with whether they were converts or raised in Christian families. Origen and the Cappadocian fathers may serve as examples of thinkers brought up in a Christian family, while Clement’s background does not lend any support here. Tatian and Tertullian serve as examples of adult converts taking the more ‘hardline’ view of Greek education.4 It appears to me that the problem with which the schoolboy was faced got more or less lost in hermeneutical discussions on the relationship between faith and culture. Even the young students or nephews for whom Basil of Caesarea composed a manual may not have been in a position to act upon the recommendations they were given. The question of encyclical studies was really a window on issues greater than those that troubled young students and their parents, namely faith and culture, faith and Greek philosophy. It was not possible to separate the pedagogic and the hermeneutical questions entirely. The present investigation has consequently oscillated between the two. As we have seen already, Clement was aware of the danger lurking in Greek education. He illustrates his view with the famous picture of Odysseus fastened to the mast of his ship: able to enjoy the songs of the Greek legacy without being endangered by them. In this way, Clement

2 This interpretation I owe to my colleague Skarsaune 1978. With reference to Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria he argues that they shared the view of Christ’s presence in the critique of Greek religion found among philosophers (p. 278). Skarsaune develops his view from the picture given of Socrates in these texts; see also Skarsaune 1996. 3 Fortin 1981: 200. 4 I owe thanks to my friend David Pugh for having pointed this out to me.



stands on the shoulders of pagan schooling and the allegorical interpretation developed there.5 Part 3 attempted to trace the discourse on Homer and education among the Christians back into the New Testament. The topic never came explicitly to the surface, and we therefore have to be content with probabilities. As for Paul, the primary aim of his letters is to affirm the new identity of his converts, a fact paving the way for the domination of exclusive language and motifs. It is therefore not surprising that some of his texts were seen as favouring a denial of participation in any part of Greek and pagan education. This perception, however, needs some qualification. In the first place, Paul made use of quotations from the classical canon, although his letters are by no means rich in examples. The very fact that he did so was later appreciated as a partial acceptance of Greek education, and I believe this is justified. In his Church History 3.16, Socrates gives a lengthy support of Christian participation in Greek learning: Should anyone imagine that in making these assertions we wrest the Scriptures from their legitimate construction, let it be remembered that the Apostle not only does not forbid our being instructed in Greek learning [ouj kwluvei manqavnein JEllhnikh;n paivdeusin], but that he himself seems by no means to have neglected it, inasmuch as he knows of sayings of the Greeks. Whence did he get the saying ‘The Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, slow-bellies’,6 but from a perusal of The Oracles of Epimenides, the Cretan Initiator? Or how would he have known this, ‘For we are also his offspring’,7 had he not been acquainted with The Phenomena of Aratus the astronomer? Again this sentence, ‘Evil communications corrupt good manners’,8 is a sufficient proof that he was conversant with the tragedies of Euripides. But what need is there of enlarging on this point? It is well known that in ancient times the doctors of the church by unhindered usage were accustomed to exercise themselves in the learning of the Greeks, until they had reached an advanced age [oiJ kata; th;n ejkklhsivan didavskaloi deivknuntai a[cri ghvrou" ta; JEllhvnwn ajskouvmenoi]; this they did with a view to improve 5 Clement’s use of Odysseus fastened to the mast of his ship was inspired by both Homer and Christian tradition about Christ on the cross (Protr. 12.118.1-4); see also MacDonald 1994: 257-61. In his treatise on How to Study the Poets, Plutarch writes as a father concerned with what damage his son might sustain from his being instructed in Homer’s writings. Plutarch says that parents are faced with the dilemma of Odysseus and his crew when they were threatened by the Sirens. They can stop their ears, as did his crew, or they can be fastened to the mast like Odysseus himself, and by reason and ability evaluate what they are taught (Mor. 15D.) He says that this is done by being conscious of the deluding and misleading power in the works of the poets (Mor. 16D). 6 Tit. 1.12. 7 Acts 17.28. 8 1 Cor. 15.33.


The Challenge of Homer themselves in eloquence and to strengthen and polish their mind, and at the same time to enable them to refute the errors of the heathen.9

Paul’s quotations from Greek literature are here taken as evidence not only of the education Paul himself received, but also of his approval of Greek learning. However, Paul’s practice of citing from Greek classical texts is not valued per se. Paul is said to have done so for strategic reasons, to improve his rhetorical skills and to be enabled to fight pagan errors. Even as late as the early fifth century this defensive attitude dominates. In Paul’s letters I found contrasting attitudes towards propaideutic logic and the principle of usus. Paul fundamentally opposed a logic implying that Christian faith was the culmination of liberal studies and Greek philosophy in particular. The latter is a prelude neither to Christian faith nor to the ‘fruits of the Spirit’. This fundamental critique paved the way for a distinction between encyclical studies and philosophical training. His opposition to the virtue-system in Greek education primarily targeted the final stage of the educational process. For Paul, faith was not the apex of human culture; here Paul and Philo part company. And Paul also departs from the logic of Philo’s Christian heirs, for whom the highest expression of virtue was faith in God, ‘seeing God’, to express it in Platonic terms. We found some Pauline texts designed not primarily to build a Christian identity vis-a`-vis outsiders, but to instruct the converts in how to relate to the outside world. These texts, especially Phil. 4.8-9, urge the need for making distinctions between good and bad. This brings to mind the principle of usus, and the activity of the bees, although it must be admitted that the context in which Paul makes this point is a general one, not education in particular. From a hermeneutical perspective, early Christianity faced two significant issues: that of coming to terms with the Old Testament in light of the Christian faith, and also with the Greek legacy, in particular as it manifested itself in the training of the young. Early Christianity was involved in coming to terms with these two bodies of literature, both of which were identity-markers for Jewish and Greek culture respectively. The challenge of the Old Testament is evident from almost every piece of writing in the New Testament. The Homeric challenge is hidden beneath the surface, but still present. It seems natural to assume that the Old Testament, being the most important challenge, was also the first of the two. This might well be so, but not necessarily in a Graeco-Roman urban setting. The art of interpreting any text presupposes reading skill. Since this skill was conveyed through encyclical studies, it seems justified to say that the Homeric challenge was not the most important, but nevertheless 9

Quoted from NPNF 2/2: 86–88. Greek text in Hansen 1995.



the first which called for some thinking. And this thinking triggered one of the most fundamental debates in the Christian Church. The Church did not suffer intellectual isolation, but this was thanks to two paradoxes. Both paradoxes secured, each in their own way, a continuous relationship between the Church and the Greek intellectual legacy and texts. In the first place, allegorical approaches made it possible to reinterpret Homeric passages. For this method Christians were indebted to ancient pagan traditions. Such allegorical reading of biblical texts identified biblical support for encyclical studies; the burning issues related to liberal studies had already been addressed in the story of the great ancestors, such as Abraham and Moses. In the second place, a propaideutic perspective, implying that Christian knowledge of God is the peak of the climb towards wisdom, added intellectual credibility to the Christian faith. Both strategies proved helpful and secured the Church intellectual prestige vis-a`-vis ancient society. These strategies, which were then so crucial, appear rather dubious today.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY Tools and Handbooks Bauer, Walter, William, F, Gingrich, F. Wilbur and Danker, Frederick W. 1979 A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press). Cross, F.L. and Livingstone, E.A. 1997 The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Glare, P.G.W. 1982 Oxford Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press). Hatch, Edwin and Redpath, Henry 1897–1906 A Concordance to the Septuagint and Other Greek Versions of the Old Testament (Including the Apocryphal Books) (Oxford: Clarendon Press). Hornblower, Simon and Spawforth, Antony 1998 The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Lampe, G.W.H. 1961 A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press). Liddel, Henry George, Scott, Robert and Jones, Henry Stuart 1996 A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press) (LSJ). March, Jenny 1998 Cassell Dictionary of Classical Mythology (London: Cassell). Quasten, Johannes 1950–60 Patrology 1–3 (Utrecht: Spectrum).

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REFERENCE INDEX BIBLE Genesis 3.19 32, 95 11 96 16 65, 66, 70, 76, 240, 259 16.1-4 69 16.2 71 17.20-21 78 21.3 71 32.10 72 32.11 72 32.27-29 74 Exodus 2.1-10 73 2.3 190 2.7-9 191 2.11-12 192 2.13-14 192 2.16-19 191 3 74, 176 3.2-3 176 3.14 176 3.21-22 146, 240 3.22 225 4 72 4.1 72 4.4 73 11.2 145, 225 12.35 145, 225 12.35-36 146, 193, 240 12.36 145 16 77 16.4 75, 76 20.4 115 25–26 146 32 146, 240 32.4 145 32.8 145 33 194

33.11 194 33.12 194 33.17 194 35.30-35 144 36.1 144 Leviticus 5.2-3 131 11.8 131 11.24 131 22.4-6 131 25 119 Numbers 22–24 144 24.16 144 Deuteronomy 4.2 161 5.8 115 7.7 157 15 119 21 199, 202 21.10-13 202 21.11-13 199 23.1-8 98 26.1-2 118 27.26 161 1 Samuel 1–3 209 1 Kings 11.4 172 11.14-25 145 11.26–12.33 145 12 147 12.28 145 1 Chronicles 1–2 151 Job 3.19 259

5.13 259 30.29 136 Psalms 3.20 259 21.3 32 24.1 135, 137, 139, 223, 239 24.3 98 50.12 239 51.9-10 226 72.27 215 93.11 259 93.22 32 95.5 119 113.16 115 119.25 128 119.66 128 147.8-9 128 147.19-20 128 Proverbs 1.1-6 202 2.3-7 127 3.23 127 4.8-9 134 5.3-5 135 5.8-9 135 5.11 135 5.20 135 6.6 130, 241 6.6-8 241 6.8 130, 241 6.23 130 10.12a 130 10.17 130 13.24 102 14 148 21.11 134 23.14 102 29.6 135 31.1 135


Reference Index Isaiah 5 134 7.20 203 13.21-22 136 29.14 200, 258 34.13 136 44.8-9 115 Jeremiah 1.11 103 1.11-12 103 1.31 259 9.22-23 259 27.39 136 Ezekiel 5.1-5 203 Daniel 1.4 177, 239 Hosea 1–3 203 Micah 1.8 136 Zechariah 13.2 119 Matthew 3.10 132 5.17-18 106 5.19-21 197 5.28 181 5.34-37 181 5.39 181 5.40-44 181 6.6 131 7.7 114 7.13-14 180 11.25 238 11.25-30 156, 157, 159 11.28 106 11.28-30 226 12.42 58 28.18-20 6 Mark 6.30-44 139 8.34-38 4 10.1-8 107 Luke 2.41-52


2.46-50 5 3.10-14 98 7.39 131 14.28-30 118 15.13 198 15.16 198 17.19 153 18.11-12 90 18.42 153 John 1.3 139 1.43-58 74 1.46 150 4.23 131 7.52 150 8.31-32 205 8.32 223 8.36 223 10.8 134 12.23 31 15 134 15.1 132 Acts 2.1-4 219 3.5 112 4.13 150, 151, 200, 238 7.20-22 254 7.21-22 176, 239 7.22 225 8.28-30 21 10 91 15.28-29 161, 169 15.29 118 17 85, 223 17.16-21 112 17.22 202 17.22-23 208 17.28 202, 225, 239, 253, 263, 270, 275 18.24 254 21.25 118 21.39 254 22.3 6, 254 Romans 1.14 263 1.21-23 223 1.21-25 224 1.25 187 5.3-5 143 6.11 264 6.17 6

7.14-25 253 8.18 264 13.1-7 270 13.7 252 13.13-14 215 13.14 183 14.7 252 16.18 182 1 Corinthians 1–2 86, 94, 126, 133, 135, 156, 157, 159, 200, 237–39, 263, 269 1–3 112 1.19 200, 259 1.20 269 1.21 153 1.22 126, 237, 263 1.22-25 269 1.24 134 1.26-29 156 2 94, 95 2.1 237 2.4 237 2.5 238 2.6-16 132 3.1-2 9 3.1-9 63 3.2 132 3.5-9 132 3.18-19 153 4 259 4.1 264 4.6 258, 259 4.7 259 4.14-16 132 4.14-17 9 6.9-11 98 6.12 252 7.1 252 7.15 252 7.26 271 7.29 271 7.40 99 8–10 123, 172, 237 8 119, 171, 237 8.1 118, 221, 226, 252 8.4 252 8.7 208 8.7-13 169 8.9 199 8.10 121 8.11 199 9 259

308 9.19-23 161 9.20-21 125 9.24-27 119, 182 10 119, 197, 237 10.1-13 58 10.1-14 146 10.7 182 10.14 119 10.19-20 118, 227, 237 10.21 208 10.23 252 10.26 135, 137, 139, 223, 239, 270 10.31 252 11.1 266 12.4-11 253 12.13 262 13.4 221 13.7 252 14.20 257 14.33 252 15.32 182, 239, 263, 270 15.33 202, 253, 275 2 Corinthians 6.14-16 113, 237 6.15 197 6.17 131 10.4-5 265, 268 10.5 186, 207, 224, 226, 239, 270 Galatians 3 261–63 3–4 261 3.13 261 3.19 260 3.19–4.7 260, 261 3.22-23 261 3.23 260 3.23–5.28 261 3.24 8, 127–29, 259–62, 273 3.28 37, 262 4.1 260 4.1-7 260, 261 4.2 260 4.3 260 4.4 260 4.5-7 261 4.6 260 4.7 260 4.21-31 259

The Challenge of Homer 5 143 5–6 262 5.13-24 261 5.18 261 5.22 132 5.24 262 6.7 252 6.15 261 Ephesians 1.3 3 5.5 115 5.21–6.9 65 6.4 6, 210, 213 Philippians 1.5-6 264 1.9-10 268 1.9-12 264 1.10 264 1.25 264 1.25-26 264 1.27–2.4 268 2.6-11 266 2.12-16 264 2.16 264 3 265 3.4-8 267 3.4-11 267 3.4-16 267 3.10 268 3.10-16 264, 267 3.12-16 263 3.13 194, 264 3.14 182 3.17 266, 267 3.19 182 3.20-21 264 4 266, 267 4.7 265 4.8 224, 264–66, 269 4.8-9 264, 267, 269, 270, 276 4.9 264–66, 268 4.11-13 267 Colossians 1.28 125 2.3 200 2.8 112 2.18 268 2.21 131 3.5 115 3.5-8 98

3.16 210 3.18–4.1 65 3.21 211 4.16 249 1 Thessalonians 2.8 20 4.9 200 4.13–5.6 271 5.21 224, 268, 270 5.27 249 1 Timothy 1.1-10 219 1.4 112, 115 2.9 181 2.17 112 3.2 156 4.8 9 2 Timothy 2.5 119 4.3 219 Titus 1.9 219 1.9-11 156 1.12 202, 239, 242, 253, 263, 270, 275 1.15 208 2.1 219 3.9 112, 115 Hebrews 5 6, 9 5.11-14 6 5.14 130, 268 12.7-10 211 1 Peter 1.3 3 2.2 63 2.13–3.7 65 3.3-4 181 3.21 190 2 Peter 1.20-21 132 INDEX OF OTHER CITATIONS APOCRYPHA Wisdom of Solomon 1.1 112, 113 7.16 138


Reference Index 7.28 138 14.1-7 138 Sirach 1.1 127, 128, 144, 223, 239 14 190 19.22 144 34.9-13 239 38–39 62 38.34-35 62 51.13 239 1 Maccabees 1.11-15 10 2 Maccabees 4 23 4.9 24 4.10-20 10 4.12-15 24, 47 QUMRAN 1QSa 98 CLASSICAL WRITINGS ARTISTIDES Apology 13 50 ARISTOTLE Politics 1336B 20 Rhetoric 1.6.7 175 1.7.7 170 1.7.26 175 2.23.14 170 CICERO De oratore 1.73-77 24 1.75 24 2.2 18, 34 2.5-6 24 1.137 24 3.137 18 De officiis 1.32 181

DIO CHYRSOSTOM Oratio 4 40 11 40, 57 11.106 50 11.147 50 17–18 40 18.8 42 20.9-10 17 20.11 17 20.20 17 36.9-17 44 37 40 41–43 40 43 180 53 46, 57 53.1 46 53.3 57 53.4-5 58 53.5-8 46 53.10 46 53.11 46, 58 72.10 32 92 40 104 40 127 40 144–50 40 147–49 40 DIOGENES Lives 1.8 90 1.33-34 90 1.88 184 EPICTETUS Diatribai 2.19.7-8 53 3.20-23 267 3.22 267 3.39-49 267 3.45-48 267 4.7 267 4.7.12-8 267 EURIPIDES Orestes 10 56 GALEN Passions 8 34

HERACLITUS Homeric Problems 1.1-3 56 1.4-7 31, 56 2.1 56 3.1-2 57 5.1–6.2 57 6.1 57 76.1 57 76.2-5 57 76.14-16 57 78.1 57 78.5 56 HESIOD Opera et dies 287–92 35, 180 289 36, 255 290 35 361–62 183 HOMER Iliad 1–2 43 1.1 210 1.24-28 54 2 43, 91 2.3-6 91 2.6 43 2.8 432.11-15 43 2.111-215 43 2.114 43 2.204 95 2.484-92 46 3.369-447 54 9.445 95 13.729-734 253 14.302 93 18.478-88 96 22.401-404 95 24.53-54 95 Odyssey 6.135-209 180 7.112-32 96 8.167-77 253 8.266-94 137 11.25 86 11.305-20 96 12.37-73 135, 177 12.155-64 136 17.485 68

310 ISOCRATES Ad demonicum 51–52 178, 179 Panegyricus 50 48 JULIAN Code 13.3.5 162 Contra Galilaeos 39B 169 164B 170 178A 170 190C 170 218B-C 170 221E 170 222A 170 224C-E 172 224D 172 229C-30A 170 229D 169 230A 169 320B-C 161 327B 166 Epistula 8/415C-D 160 36 162, 166, 167 36/422–24 163 37/376C-D 161 42 162, 163 58 160 58/399D-400A 160 58/401B 160 58/401C 166 To the Uneducated Cynics 181B-203B 161 JUVENAL Satires 7.125 22 7.215-243 27 LACTANTIUS The Divine Institutes 5.1.15-16 250

The Challenge of Homer (PS.)LUCIAN OF SAMOSATA Amores 44 259 44–45 53, 255 45 23 Anacharsis 10 23 14 23 20–21 63 20 23 24 23 30 23 Hermotimus 2 35 2–7 35 3 35 5 35 11 34 15 35 52 35 59 35 63 35 67 35 81 152 86 35 Menippus 3–4 35, 50 17 20 LUCRETIUS De rerum natura 3.11-12 179 MACROBIUS Saturnalia 1.1-3 179 1.5-6 179 MARTIAL Epigram 9.68.11 17, 22 PETRONIUS Satyricon 3–5 26 29 14 58 14 PLATO Apology 42A 94

Ion 530B-C


Laws 7 29 Leges 801C-D 51 801D 29 804D 29 805C 29 806C-E 29 808D-E 8 810A-B 29 810E-12A 52 813E 29 Lysis 208C

17, 259

Pol. 308D-E


Protagoras 312B 62 318E-19A 62 324D 62 325E-326A 31 339A 41 340A 41 340D 36 360E-62A 41, 67 361C 67 Respublica 10 86 3 86 327B 63 377B-C 44 377C 51, 277 378B 50 378B-E 57 381D-382A 50 381D 51 383A 50 383B-C 51 383C 51 386A-87B 51 394D 86 398A-B 86 467D 8 568B 86 595A 86 598D-601B 50


Reference Index 598E 45 599C 50 599D 47 600C 47 606E 47 606E-7A 51 607A 86 607B 47 Phaedrus 238E-45C 170 325E 38 326D 258 PLINY Epistula 4.13 16 5.16.3 36 PLUTARCH Moralia 2F 64 3E-F 63, 180 4A-B 8 12B-E 64 14E-F 42 14E-37B 54 15A 54 15D 275 16D 275 18F 54 19A-E 54 19B-C 54 19E 55 19F 55 36D-37B 256 37B 256 37C 261 75B 256 75C 255, 256 75C-D 261 76A 255 76B 261 76D 256 77D 255 78A 255 78E 255 82F 255 84C 255 84E 255 116C 229 137D-E 62 385D 229 408E 229

439A-440C 255 439B 255 439C 255 439F 129, 260 468F-469D 266 511B 229 736D-37D 23 791C-D 158 1129B-C 158 PS.ARISTEAS Letter 121–22 69 PS.PLUTARCH Moralia 1A-14C 19 2B-C 63 3E 29 4A 29 4F 27, 34 5C 36 5C-E 64 7C-D 65 7D 65 7D-E 65 8A 36 11E 36 14B 179 32E-F 179 On Homer 93 46 96 46 218 46, 52 QUINTILIAN Institutio oratoria 1 18 1.1.4 29 1.1.6-7 36 1.1.19-20 29 1.1.27 258 1.1.36 42, 63, 108 1.2 29 1.2.9 30 1.2.13-14 30 1.22.23-25 33 1.3.9-10 33 1.3.13-18 33 1.4.3 42 1.8.1-2 21 1.8.5 31, 214, 216 1.10.1 18

1.10.1-6 18 1.11.1 23 1.12.18 281.Pr.21 28 1.Pr.4–5 28 1.Pr.5 28 2.4.5 9 3.1 108 5.15-16 37 6.3 37 10.1.4 28 10.1.46 44 SENECA Epistulae morales 6.56 25 9.13 267 72.7 267 80.7-8 181 88 59, 66, 70, 129, 255, 260 88.1-4 60 88.2-3 129 88.7 66 88.8 60 88.10-11 67 88.20 60, 129 94.51 258 108 24 108.12 180 108.23 24 108.24-26 25 SEXTUS EMPIRICUS Adversus mathematicos 1.41-132 61 1.58 61 1.74 61 1.289 51 1.292 61 1.313 61 52–53 120 79 66 SOCRATES 3.12.7 166 Church History 3.16 250, 275 SUETONIUS De grammaticis 9 61 16 36

312 TACITUS Agricola 21 48 TERENCE Andria 61 229 VELLEIUS PATERCULUS History 1.5 46 VIRGIL Aneid 6.457 215 XENOPHANES OF COLOPHON 10 51 11 51 12 51 XENOPHON Lac. 2.1 259 Memorabilia 1.2.14 267 2.1.20 35 2.1.20-33 35 2.1.21-34 181 Symposium 3.5 44 4–6 44 ZONARAS 3.12.21 166 EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITINGS APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS 1.6.1 103, 104 1.6.1-6 104 1.6.7 106 1.6.10 106 AUGUSTINE De civitate Dei 2.7 50

The Challenge of Homer 2.8 227 2.14 227 4.27 233 4.31 233 6.3-7 233 6.5 233 6.6 233 6.7 233 8.13 227 18.52 168 21.14 33 De doctrina Christiana 1 210, 220–22 1.7 220 1.8-10 221 1.73 220 2 220–22 2.45 222 2.46 221 2.61 226 2.71-72 223 2.73 227 2.74-95 227 2.96 227, 228 2.100-103 227 2.104 227 2.110 228 2.136-37 227 2.139 229 2.140 229 2.144 224 2.144-45 225 2.144-52 225 2.145 225, 228 2.146 225 2.147 225, 226 2.148 221 2.150 226 2.151 226 2.152 221 4.89-95 219 10 219 18 219 Epistula 88 222 101 223 101.1 223 101.2 223, 227 118 220 118.13-14 220 188 222 188.1 222



Sermon 150 174 De unico baptisma 4.5 224 4.6 224 5.7 224 Confessiones 1 215 1–9 214, 218 1.9.14 32 1.9.14-15 33 1.9.15 331.12.19 217 1.13-15 66, 117 1.13.20 215 1.13.21 215 1.13.22 216 1.15 218 1.15.24 216 1.16.25 217 1.16.26 2174.1 217 3.5.9 250 7.9 223, 225 7.9.15 223, 224 8.12.29 214 9.5 215 10.26 223 BASIL OF CAESAREA Ad adolescentes 1.1 174 1.1-2 183 1.4 174 1.5 174 2 184, 185 2.1 184 2.2 174 2.2-3 175 2.3 174 2.3-6 184, 185 2.5 175 2.6-8 175 2.8 176 3 184 3.1 176, 181 3.2 176 3.3-4 177 4 177 4.1.3 174


Reference Index 4.3 176, 178 4.4-5 178 4.8-9 178 5 180, 181 5.12-14 181 5.3-4 36, 180 5.4 180 5.6 180 6 181 7 181 7.7 181 7.10 181 8–9 183, 184 8 182 8.1 182 8.6 182 9 182 9.2 182 9.11-12 183 9.14 182 9.18 183 10 183 10.1 176, 183, 185 10.3 184 10.3-5 184 1 CLEMENT 21.8 211 CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA Paedagogus 3.11 99 Protrepticus 4/59.1-2 21, 76, 137 12.118.1-4 275 12/118.4 136 Stromata 1.1/15.1 125 1.1/15.3 125 1.1/16.1 125 1.1/17.1 126 1.1/17.4-18.1 132 1.1/18.1-4 126 1.2/19.1-21.3 126 1.4/27.3 127 1.5 129, 135 1.5/28.1-2 127 1.5/28.1-3 127 1.5/28.3 127, 129 1.5/28.4 134 1.5/30.2 128

1.5/32.1-3 129 1.6 130, 1431.6/33.5-6 130 1.6/34.1 131 1.6/35.2-3 130 1.6/35.4 130 1.6/35.6 130 1.9 131 1.9/43.1 131 1.9/43.1-3 131 1.9/43.3-4 132 1.9/43.4 132 1.9/45.1-5 132 1.16/80.1-6 131 1.16/80.6 131 1.16/81.5 139 1.20/100.1-4 133 1.20/100.2 134 1.20/100.3 134 1.20/100.4 134 1.20/100.5 131 1.20/97.1-100.5 132 1.20/98.4 133 1.20/99.1 130, 133 1.23/157.2-4 146 1.29/181.3 130 6.8-10 128, 273 6.8/62.1-64.6 128 6.8/64.4-5 273 6.8/64.6 128 6.8/67.1 127, 129 6.10/80.1 273 6.10/80.1-4 134 6.10/80.1-83.3 273 6.10/80.5-81.1 134 6.10/83.1 273 6.11 136, 138, 190 6.11/84.1-95.5 135 6.11/89.1-3 135 6.11/93.1 138 6.11/93.1-2 138 6.11/94.1-2 138 6.11/94.2-5 139 DIDASCALIA prol. 107 2 103, 104, 106 3 104 4 107 4.1-4 106 12 242 17 102 22 102, 103 26 105–107

48 106 221 102 EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA Chronikon 33.2 163 Historia ecclesiastica 4.8 84 4.11 84 4.16.7 86 4.16.28 86 4.16.29 86 4.18.4 93 5.10 124 5.14-19 111 6.1-2 140 6.2.7-9 140 6.2.15 140 6.3.8-9 141 6.3.8-13 141 6.13 126 6.18 141 6.19.11-14 141 6.19.12-14 141 6.26-27 140 6.30 142 GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS Discourse 4 168 4–6.100-109 168 4.5/536A 168 4.101-102 168 4.102/637A-B 168 Oratio in laudem Basilii 43.11 186, 187, 207 43.12 186, 211 43.13 187 43.14-16 185 GREGORY OF NYSSA De instituto Christiano 42.17–43.4 194 43.18-25 195 De vita Mosis 1–15 189 1.5-10 194 1.11 190

314 1.13 190 1.15 189, 194 1.18 189 1.19 194 1.141-42 193 2.1-18 191 2.7 190 2.10 190 2.10-13 190 2.10-18 191 2.11 190 2.12 191, 192 2.13 191 2.14 192 2.35 194 2.37 192, 195 2.38-41 195 2.41 195 2.100-101 193 2.115 193 2.116 193 2.122-29 190 2.154 195 2.158 194 2.187 195 2.189 194 2.227 194 2.239 194 2.241 194 2.319 194 2.320 194 Vita Sanctae Macrinae 3 211 GREGORY THAUMATURGUS 152 143 153 142 170 142 172 142 172–73 143 173 142 174 142 182 143 HIPPOLYTUS Canons of Hippolytus 12 100 Testamentum domini 2.2 100

The Challenge of Homer Traditio apostolica 8.32.10 98 15–21 98 16 98 16.5 99 16.8-9 99, 165 IRENAEUS Adversus Haereses 1.10.1 114 1.12 43 JEROME Ad Titum 1.1b-4/7.55-56 205 1.1b-4/8.83-88 205 1.12-14/28.603-34 206 1.12-14/28.780 206 1.12-14/30.661 206 1.12-14/30.667-68 208 1.12-14/30.672-75 207 1.12-14/31.685-95 206 1.12-14/31.693 206 1.12-14/32.728-33/ 34 207 1.12-14/34.78136.819 208 Adversus Rufinum 1.31 198 Chron. 329 204 Epistula 21 198, 199 21.13 199, 210 22 198 22.2 199 22.29 196, 197 22.30 197, 250 53 150, 200, 201 53.3-4 200 53.6 201 53.7 200, 201 53.9 201 53.10 201 70 198, 202, 203 70.2 202, 203 70.3 204 70.4 203 70.5 111, 250 70.6 204 107 209, 211, 213

107.3 209 107.4 210 107.9 209 107.12 210 107.13 209 128 209, 213 128.4 209 Vir. ill 84 203, 204 JOHN CHRYSOSTOM Adversus oppugnatores 3.5-13 212 3.11 4 De 20 44 79

inana gloria 211 212 212

Homilia 2.1.2 150 6.4 212 12 241 JUSTIN MARTYR First Apology 13.2-4 85 18.5 86, 96 20 86 20.5 86 21 87 23 87 25 43 46.2-4 86 46.3 84 5.3 91 5.3-4 85 54 247 54.1-2 87 66.3 91 67.3 91 Second Apology 8.1 86 10 86 10.5 91 10.5-6 85 10.5-8 85 10.8 86 11.3-5 91 13.2-5 86


Reference Index Dialogue with Trypho 2–7 34 2.6 84 7.1-2 84 8.1 84 8.2 84 METHODIUS De autexusio 1.1-3 136 MINUCIUS FELIX Octavius 8.4 157 10.1-2 158 24.1-8 89 ORIGEN Contra Celsum 1.9 153 1.12 153 1.13 153, 156 1.14 154 1.27 149, 150 1.42 151, 152 1.62 149, 152, 155 2.46 152 2.55 92 3.16 154 3.18 149 3.44 149, 155, 156 3.47-48 156 3.48 156, 157 3.49-50 154 3.50 153 3.52 154 3.55 154, 157 3.59 154 3.73-75 156 3.74 149, 154 3.75 156 4.38 150 4.48-51 150 6.1 149, 168 6.2 155 6.4 156 6.7 153 6.10-11 153 6.12 150, 154 6.12-13 156 6.14 149, 150 7.18 156 7.44 156 8.53 151

Commentary on Romans 4.9 143 Homiliae in Numeros 18.3 144 18.3.2 144 18.3.3 144

To Gregory 1 145 2 145 145 PS.CLEMENTINE Recognitiones 10 109 10.38 108 10.39 108 10.40 109 10.42 109, 110 PS.JUSTIN Cohortatio 2.1 93 3–7 93 3.1 95 8.2 94 17.1 95 17.2 95 24.1 95 28 95 30.4 95 36.1 94 36.2 94 38 94 Oratio 1 92 1.1 92 2.6 92 4 92 4.4 92 5.6 93 SOZOMEN Church History 5.18 166, 250 5.18.1-4 167 TATIAN OF SYRIA ad Graecos 1.1 88

1.3 89 2.6 92 12.5 89 17.1-3 88 21 50, 90 21.1 43, 91 21.2 90, 91 22–24 99 22–26 90 22.3 89 25.1 92 26 89, 90 26.1 90 26.2 87, 90 26.3 90 29 88 29.1-2 88 29.2 89 31 88 32.1-3 91 35–41 88 35.1-2 89 42 89 TERTULLIAN Apologeticus 12.1 115 14.2-6 117 18–21 120 42.6 119 46.18 112 47.1-5 114 47.12-14 114 De corona militis 7.3 111 8.1-2 120 8.2 223 De idololatria 4 115 8.1 118 9 118 9.8 115 10 113, 115, 117, 121, 223 10.1 115, 117 10.2 115 10.3 116, 119 10.4 116, 117, 119 10.5 115–17 10.5-7 120 10.6 116, 121, 122 10.7 116, 120

316 11 115 12.1 118 13–23 115 15.1 119 Marc. 4.4 114 Ad Nationes 2 121 2.1.13 117 2.7 117 2.7.10 121 2.7.11 117 De praescriptione haereticorum 7 111, 112 7.9-13 112 8.1-2 114 9.2 114 9.6 114 13 114 14.5 114 THEODORET Historia ecclesiastica 3.8.1-2 166 PHILO, JOSEPHUS AND EARLY JEWISH WRITINGS PHILO De Abrahamo 10 45 251 76 De agricultura 7–11 132 9 9, 64, 72 14–15 132 17–19 132 25 64, 132 De cherubim 104–105 72 De congress eruditionis gratia 9 73 10 72

The Challenge of Homer 11–18 18 15 75 18 72 19–20 9 19 72 20–21 76 20 72 21–23 72 23 72 74–76 18 74–78 71 82 129, 260 94 129, 260 106 269 112 269 142 18 148–50 18 Quod Deus sit immutabilis 143–44 74 De ebrietate 30–35 72 33 72 82–83 74 In Flaccum 53 47 De fuga et inventione 172–73 269 172 269 176 269 183 72 187 72 208 74 213 269 De gigantibus 29–31 62, 74 31 74 60–61 74 Legatio ad Gaium 2.89 72, 73 2.90 73 2.90-91 73 2.92-93 73 3.135 77 3.167-68 75 3.244-45 71

3.245 71 157 47 312 77 De migratione Abrahami 116 129, 260 De mutatione nominum 253–63 77 263 78 Quod omnis probus liber sit 4 75 143 45 160 9 De plantatione 144 190 Quaestiones in Exodum 2.19 192 De somniis 1.205 71 1.233 68 De specialibus legibus 1.28-29 76 1.134-36 75 2.62 77 2.229-30 77 2.230 257 3.1-6 69 De vita Mosis 1.21-24 73 1.141-42 146 2.211 77 2.216 77 JOSEPHUS Apion 2.154-56 88 2.220-31 88 2.225-257 51 2.239 233 2.279-81 88 Life 7–12


AUTHOR INDEX Aasgaard, B. 257, 264, 285 Achelis, H. 101, 279 Adkin, N. 197–8, 285 Alexander, L. 17, 20, 23, 34, 285–6, 298 Allen, J.S. 146–7, 226, 286 Andersen, Ø. 18, 40, 286–8, 293, 298 Andre`n, O. 280 Andresen, C. 149, 152, 286 Asheim, I. 295 Athanassiadi, P. 4, 171, 286 Aune, D.E. 74, 249, 286 Baehrens, W.A. 148, 280 Bakke, O.M. 6, 63–4, 83, 209, 211, 286 Balch, D.L. 213, 299, 305 Banchich, T.M.] 162, 286 Barclay, J.M.G. 6, 71, 232–3, 252, 257, 261–2, 270, 286 Barnard, L. 85, 87, 280 Bauer, W. 279 Bayer, C.M.M. 117, 287 Bebawi, C. 280 Benko, S. 304 Bernardi, J. 168–9, 186, 211, 280 Bidez, J. 160–3, 166–7, 280, 287 Blumenthal, H.J. 291 Bockmuehl, M. 265, 287 Bonner, S.F. 31, 36, 53, 287 Bonz, M.P. 13, 287 Booth, A.D. 8, 21, 26–8, 31, 287 Borgen, P. 71, 77, 287 Borleffs, J.G.P. 117, 280 Borret, m. 280 Børtnes, J. 185, 213, 287–8 Bowersock, G.W. 288 Bradshaw, P.F. 97–101, 280, 288 Brant, J.A. 288, 294, 297 Brodie, T.L. 295 Brown, P. 230, 288 Bucchi, F. 205, 280

Buell, D.K. 64, 288 Buffiere, F. 47, 55, 288 Bunge, M.J. 288, 292 Byrskog, S. 5, 288 Callahan, V.W. 211, 280 Campbell, J. 288 Cancik, H. 42, 288 Chadwick, H. 32, 151–2, 217, 280 Christopher, J.P. 281 Clark, A.J. 288 Colson, F.H. 70, 289 Conley, T. 70, 289 Connolly, J. 32, 289 Connolly, R.H. 102, 281 Cook, J.G. 149, 152, 154, 156, 160, 162, 169–70, 289 Crenshaw, J.l. 5, 102, 289 Cribiore, R. 3, 4, 8, 10, 17–19, 21, 26, 28, 31–3, 35–7, 39, 42–5, 48, 64, 256, 258, 289 Culpepper, R.A. 23, 289 Cumont, F. 162, 166, 280 Cushing, E. 284 Danker, F. 279 Davies, P.V. 179, 281 De Jong, M. 209, 289 Deined, R. 294, 303 Deissman, A. 152, 249, 289 Dibelius, M. 265, 289 Dickie, M. 40, 286 Doutreleau, l. 281 Dowd, S. 289 Droge, A.J. 85–6, 89, 139, 149, 154, 290 Dunlop, M. 281 Dunn, J.D.G. 290 Dutch, R.S. 9, 33, 72, 251, 257–9, 290 Easton, B.S. 100, 281 Eck, W. 299


The Challenge of Homer

Edwards, M. 84, 290 Ekenberg, A. 97, 281 Ellspermann, G.L. 4, 12, 198–200, 218, 222, 224, 290 Elm, S. 160, 168, 290 Engberg-Pedersen, T. 261–4, 266–7, 286, 290, 303 Erbse, H. 41, 280–81, 283 Esler, P.F. 264, 290 Fee, G.D. 265, 267–8, 290 Feeney, D. 233, 290 Fergusen, E. 283, 305 Ferguson, J. 126–7, 133, 189–90, 195, 281, 290 Finaert, G. 224, 281 Finkelberg, M. 47, 288, 290–1, 304 Fitzmyer, J.A. 261, 291 Fonrobert, C.e. 107, 291 Fontaine, J. 111, 281 Forbes, C. 254, 291 Fortin. E.L. 274, 291 Foster, P. 302 Fredouille, J.-C. 111, 113, 120, 291 Freund, S. 13, 42, 291, 300 Fuchs, H. 291 Fuks, A. 47, 285 Gamble, H. 5, 6, 291 Garland, D.E. 266, 291 Ga¨rtner, M. 210, 291 Geerlings, W. 97–9, 281 Geljon, A.C. 188–90, 192, 194, 292 Gibson, M.D. 102, 281 Giet, S. 176, 292 Gilbert, G. 292 Gingrich, F. 279 Glare, P.G.W. 279 Glockmann, G. 13–14, 84–5, 87, 292 Gnilka, C. 130–1, 143, 178, 187–8, 206–7, 224, 292 Goodspeed, E.J. 282 Gorman, M.J. 267, 292 Green, R.P.H 219, 250, 292 Griffith, M. 17, 292 Guroian. V. 6, 211, 292 Guyot, P. 10, 90, 99, 104, 118–19, 142–4, 282, 292 Hagendahl, H. 198–200, 202, 208, 210, 293 Haines-Eitzen, K 14, 36, 293 Ha¨llstro¨m, G. 211, 293 Halton, T.P. 204, 282

Hansen, G. 166, 282 Hardy, Carmon 167, 293 Harkins, P.W. 282 Harris, W.V. 5, 6, 293 Hatch, E. 279 Hawthorne, G.F. 264, 293 Heckel, U. 293 Hedrick, C.W. 288, 294, 297 Heither, T. 143, 282 Helleman, W.E. 173, 176, 179, 185, 286, 293 Hellholm, D. 6, 252, 293 Helm, R. 163, 204, 282 Hengel, Martin 251, 293, 302 Hezser, C. 6, 293 Hidal, S. 189, 211, 282 Hock, R.F. 5, 26, 42, 61, 250, 252–4, 294 Hoffmann, R.J. 160–1, 167, 294 Holloway, P.A. 266, 294 Holter, A. 295 Hornblower, S. 118, 279 Horrell, D.G. 265, 294 Horton, C. 291 Howie, G. 214, 282–3 Hughes, K.L. 214, 217, 221, 230, 294, 299 Hunt, E.J. 86, 88, 294 Hunter, D.G. 212, 282 Hurtado, L.W. 69, 294 Jaeger, W 170, 188, 195, 282, 294 Jervell, J. 300 Johann, H-T. 294 Johnson, M.E. 97–100, 288 Judge, E.A. 248–9, 263, 267, 269–71, 294 Kamesar, A. 295 Kaster, R.A. 25, 27–8, 77, 150–1, 219, 256, 283, 295 Keaney, J.J. 45–6, 283, 296, 299 Kennedy, G.A. 41, 253, 283 Kindstrand, F.F. 295 Klein, R. 10, 90, 99, 104, 118–19, 142–4, 162, 173, 282, 291–3, 295, 297 Knauer, G.N. 295 Kofsky, A. 295 Konstan, D. 55–7, 284 Koskenniemi, E. 78, 295 Kru¨ger, G. 283 Kurmann, A. 161, 168, 295 Kvalbein, H. 63, 119, 295


Author Index Labriolle, P. 112, 284 Laistner, M.L.W. 3, 211, 213, 296 Lamberton, R. 45–7, 52–3, 68, 78, 151–2, 172, 283, 296, 299 Lamberz, E. 173–4, 185, 296 Lampe, G.W.H. 121, 296 Lampe, P. 13–14, 84, 121, 211, 213, 279, 296 Lancel, S. 215, 296 Lang, P. 299, 301 Lausberger, H. 296 Lawson, R.P. 148, 283 Leclercq, H. 3, 296 Lehmann, P. 296 Lesher, J.H. 51, 283 Liddell, H.G. 279 Livingstone. E.A. 279 Lona, H.E. 149, 151, 154–6, 296 Longenecker, R.N. 297 Ludwich, A. 280, 283, 285 Lull, D.J 261, 297 Lutz, C.E. 38, 283

O’Brien, P.O. 264–5, 298 O’Connor, J. M. 252, 299 O’Donnell, J.J. 32, 284, 299 Oelmann, F. 55, 284 O’Rourke, J. 304 Osiek, C. 213, 299

MacDonald, D.R. 13, 43, 88, 91, 167, 249–50, 275, 290, 294–5, 297, 301 Malherbe, Abraham J. 20, 41, 88, 152, 189–91, 195, 249, 283, 297, 305 Malingrey, A. 211, 283 Malley, W.J. 161, 172, 297 March, J. 90, 279 Marcovich, M. 87, 92–4, 283 Marrou, H-I 3, 17, 20, 25–7, 31–2, 38, 221–2, 229, 297 Martyn, J.L. 297 McCauley, L.P. 186, 283 Meeks, W.A. 152, 298, 305 Mendelson, A. 75, 77, 298 Meredith, A 173, 188, 298 Metzger, M. 103–4, 284 Millard, A.R 5, 298 Mitchell, M.M. 249, 258, 298 Moffatt, A. 174, 298 Montgomery, H. 147, 159, 218, 298 Morgan, T. 3, 17–20, 31, 33, 37, 39, 42, 44, 64, 157, 214, 247, 253, 298 Moxnes, H. 286 Musurillo, H. 189–95, 284

Rahner, H. 136, 300 Ra¨isa¨nen, H. 10, 300 Ramsaran, R.A. 252, 300 Rappe, S. 230, 300 Rawson, B. 8, 16, 33, 253, 300 Rebenich, S. 196–7, 200, 209–10, 300 Redpath, H. 279–80 Refoule´, R.F. 112, 284 Rehm, B. 108, 284 Renehan, R. 253, 270, 300 Richards 252 Richardson, E.C. 204, 284 Riedweg, C. 93–6, 300 Riese, W. 282 Riesner, R. 5, 300 Rist, J.M. 221–2, 300 Robb, K. 45, 301 Rousseau, P. 184, 301 Runia, D.T. 128, 189, 301 Russell, D.A. 55–7, 284, 301

Neiman, D. 300 Nevill, A. 296 Neymeyer, U. 137, 298 Niebuhr, K-.W. 294, 303 Nightingale, A.w. 256, 298 Nock, A.D. 84, 88, 298

Pack, E. 299 Paffenroth, K. 214, 294, 299 Panofsky, E. 181, 299 Parmentier, L. 284 Parvis, S. 302 Penner, T. 292, 299 Peterson, W.L. 299 Phillips, L.E. 97–100, 288 Pichler, K. 152, 299 Popkes, W. 266, 299 Porter, S.E. 53, 295, 299 Pricoco, S. 299 Procope´, J.F. 47, 49, 53, 299 Quasten, J.

102, 279

Sampley, J.P. 290–1, 294, 300–1 Sandmel, S. 301 Sandnes, K.O. 13, 35, 37, 64, 73–4, 77, 85, 95, 128, 146, 158, 167, 181–3, 190, 204, 253, 301 Scha¨fer, P. 6, 302 Schatkin, M. 300 Schleyer, D. 112, 114, 284 Schmidt, K.L. 168, 302 Scho¨llgen, G. 120, 187, 302


The Challenge of Homer

Schoning, F. 291, 297 Schucan, L. 173, 302 Schu¨rer, E. 71, 302 Scott, B. 281 Scott, R. 279 Sevenster, J.N. 267, 302 Shelton, J. 8, 27, 37, 61, 64, 302 Siegert, F. 44–5, 53, 58, 302 Skard, B. 7, 302 Skarsaune, O. 34, 84–5, 91, 274, 302 Slaatalid, H. 284 Smith, R. 132, 160, 166, 302 Snyder, H.G. 14, 53, 69, 303 Spawforth, A. 118, 279 Sta¨hlin, O. 284 Stanley, C.D. 47, 55, 252, 254, 303 Starnes, C. 33, 217, 303 Starr, J. 303 Sterling, G.E. 68–9, 303 Stewart-Sykes, A. 97, 100, 303 Stock, B. 214–15, 218–19, 303 Strange, W.A. 279 Svendsen, P. 173, 303 Swancutt, D. 88, 303 Tcherikover, V.A. 47, 285 Teske, R. 220, 223, 285 Tidner, E. 102, 104, 106–7, 285 Too see Yun Lee Too Townsend, J.T. 18, 20, 23, 43, 304 Tyler, R.L. 258, 304 Vaillant, A.

136, 285

Van den Hoek, A. 124–5, 128, 133, 135, 137, 304 Van Winden, J.C.M. 117–22, 285, 304 Vander Stichele, C. 292, 299 Vardi, A.D. 42, 304 Vatsend, K. 304 Vegge, T. 6, 8, 23, 26, 61, 67, 252, 254, 256, 263–4, 304 Vittinghoff, F. 299 Vo¨o¨bus, A. 102–3, 285 Walsh, P.G. 14, 285 Waszink, J.H. 111, 117, 119–22, 285, 304 Westerholm, S. 261, 304 White, L.M. 268, 305 Whittaker, M. 87, 285 Wilken, R.L. 34, 149, 161, 305 Willis, J. 179, 285 Wilson, N.G. 183, 285, 305 Winter, B. 45, 71, 75, 181, 305 Winterbottom, M. 301 Witherington, B. 305 Wolfram, L. 296 Young, F. 151, 167, 172, 305 Young, N.H. 261, 305 Yun Lee Too 20, 26, 289, 292, 298, 300, 303–5 Ziebarth, E. 3, 45, 305

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