The foolishness of God
1:17 Non enim misit me Christus baptizare, sed evangelizare: [n. 38] non in sapientia verbi, ut non evacuetur crux Christi. [n. 40]
1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel: [n. 38] not in wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made void. [n. 40]
1:18 Verbum enim crucis pereuntibus quidem stultitia est: iis autem qui salvi fiunt, id est nobis, Dei virtus est. [n. 46]
1:18 For the word of the cross, to them indeed who perish, is foolishness: but to them who are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God. [n. 46]
1:19 Scriptum est enim: perdam sapientiam sapientium, et prudentiam prudentium reprobabo. [n. 48]
1:19 For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise: and the prudence of the prudent I will reject. [n. 48]
1:20 Ubi sapiens? ubi scriba? ubi conquisitor hujus saeculi? Nonne stultam fecit Deus sapientiam hujus mundi? [n. 51]
1:20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? [n. 51]
1:21 Nam quia in Dei sapientia non cognovit mundus per sapientiam Deum: placuit Deo per stultitiam praedicationis salvos facere credentes. [n. 55]
1:21 For, seeing that in the wisdom of God, the world, by wisdom, knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of our preaching, to save them who believe. [n. 55]
1:22 Quoniam et Judaei signa petunt, et Graeci sapientiam quaerunt: [n. 56]
1:22 For the Jews require signs: and the Greeks seek after wisdom. [n. 56]
1:23 nos autem praedicamus Christum crucifixum: Judaeis quidem scandalum, gentibus autem stultitiam, [n. 58]
1:23 But we preach Christ crucified: unto the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and unto the gentiles foolishness: [n. 58]
1:24 ipsis autem vocatis Judaeis, atque Graecis Christum Dei virtutem, et Dei sapientia: [n. 59]
1:24 But unto them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God. [n. 59]
1:25 quia quod stultum est Dei, sapientius est hominibus: et quod infirmum est Dei, fortius est hominibus. [n. 62]
1:25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men: and the weakness of God is stronger than men. [n. 62]
40. Postquam Apostolus improbavit Corinthiorum contentionem, ratione sumpta ex parte baptismi, hic excludit eorum contentionem, ratione sumpta ex parte doctrinae. Quidam enim eorum gloriabantur de doctrina pseudo-Apostolorum, qui ornatis verbis et humanae sapientiae rationibus veritatem fidei corrumpebant. Et ideo Apostolus
40. After condemning their strife with a reason based on baptism, the Apostle disapproves of it again with a reason based on doctrine. For some of the Corinthians gloried in the doctrine of false apostles, who corrupt the truth of the faith with elegant words and reasons born of human wisdom.
primo ostendit hunc modum convenientem non esse doctrinae fidei;
First, therefore, the Apostle says that this method is not suited for teaching the faith;
secundo ostendit hoc modo docendi se usum apud eos non fuisse, II cap., ibi et ego, cum venissem ad et cetera.
second, he shows that he did not employ this method of teaching, when he was among them, at and I, brethren, when I came (1 Cor 2:1).
Circa primum duo facit.
As to the first he does two things.
Primo proponit quod intendit;
First, he states his proposition;
secundo manifestat propositum, ibi ut non evacuetur.
second, he explains it, at lest the cross of Christ.
41. Dicit ergo primo: dixi quod misit me Christus evangelizare, non tamen ita quod ego in sapientia verbi evangelizem, id est, in sapientia mundana, quae verbosos facit, inquantum per eam multis vanis rationibus homines utuntur. Eccle. VI, 11: ubi verba sunt plurima, multam in disputando habentia vanitatem. Prov. XIV, 23: ubi verba sunt plurima, ibi frequenter egestas. Vel sapientiam verbi nominat rhetoricam, quae docet ornate loqui, ex quo alliciuntur interdum homines ad assentiendum erroribus et falsitatibus. Unde Rom. XVI, 18: per dulces sermones seducunt corda innocentium. Et de meretrice dicitur Prov. II, 16, in figura haereticae doctrinae: ut eruaris a muliere aliena et extranea, quae mollit sermones suos.
41. He says, therefore: I have stated that Christ sent me to preach the Gospel, but not to preach it in wisdom of speech, i.e., the worldly wisdom which makes men verbose, inasmuch as it inclines them to employ many vain reasons: the more words, the more vanity (Eccl 6:11); mere talk tends only to want (Prov 14:23). Or by eloquent wisdom he means rhetoric, which teaches elegant speech by which men are sometimes drawn to assent to error and falsity: by fair and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded (Rom 16:18); and under the figure of a harlot, which stands for heretical doctrine, it is said: you will be saved from the adventures with her smooth words (Prov 2:16).
42. Sed contra dicitur Is. XXXIII, 19: populum impudentem non videbis, scilicet in Catholica Ecclesia, et populum alti sermonis, ita ut non possis intelligere disertitudinem linguae eius, in quo nulla est sapientia.
42. But on the other hand it is said: you will see not more the insolent people, namely, in the Catholic Church, the people of an obscure speech which you cannot comprehend (Isa 33:19).
Sed quia in Graeco ponitur logos, quod rationem et sermonem significat, posset convenientius intelligi sapientia verbi, id est humanae rationis, quia illa quae sunt fidei, humanam rationem excedunt, secundum illud Eccli. III, 25: plurima supra sensum hominis ostensa sunt tibi.
But because the Greek version has logos, which signifies reason and speech, it might be more fitting to interpret eloquent wisdom of human reason, because the things of faith transcend human reason: matters too great for human understanding have been shown you (Sir 3:25).
43. Sed contra hoc videtur esse quod multi doctores Ecclesiae in doctrina fidei sapientia et rationibus humanis et ornatu verborum sunt usi.
43. But the fact that many teachers in the Church have used human reason and human wisdom as well as elegant words would seem to be contrary to this.
Dicit enim Hieronymus in epistola ad magnum oratorem urbis Romae, quod omnes doctores fidei in ornatu philosophiae doctrinis atque scientiis suos referserunt libros, ut nescias quid in illis primum admirari debeas, eruditionem saeculi, an scientiam Scripturarum. Et Augustinus dicit in quarto de Doctrina Christiana: sunt viri ecclesiastici qui divina eloquia non solum sapienter, sed etiam suaviter tractaverunt.
For Jerome says in a letter to a great Roman orator, that all the teachers of the faith have crammed their books with an elegant portion of philosophical doctrines and sciences, so that one is at a loss whether to admire their worldly learning more or their knowledge of the Scriptures. And Augustine in the book On Christian Doctrine says: there are churchmen who have treated of divine matters not only with wisdom but with elegance.
Dicendum est ergo quod aliud est docere in sapientia verbi quocumque modo intelligatur, et aliud uti sapientia verbi in docendo. Ille in sapientia verbi docet qui sapientiam verbi accipit pro principali radice suae doctrinae, ita scilicet quod ea solum approbet, quae verbi sapientiam continent: reprobet autem ea quae sapientiam verbi non habent, et hoc fidei est corruptivum. Utitur autem sapientia verbi, qui suppositis verae fidei fundamentis, si qua vera in doctrinis philosophorum inveniat, in obsequium fidei assumit. Unde Augustinus dicit in secundo de Doctrina Christiana, quod si qua philosophi dixerunt fidei nostrae accommoda, non solum formidanda non sunt, sed ab eis tamquam ab iniustis possessoribus in usum nostrum vindicanda. Et in IV de Doctrina Christiana dicit: cum posita sit in medio facultas eloquii, quae ad persuadendum seu prava seu recta valent pluribus, cur non bonorum studio comparetur ut militet veritati, si eam mali in usum iniquitatis et erroris usurpant.
The answer is that it is one thing to teach in eloquent wisdom, however you take it, and another to use it to teach eloquent wisdom in teaching. A person teaches in eloquent wisdom, when he takes the eloquent wisdom, as the main source of his doctrine, so that he admits only those things which contain eloquent wisdom and rejects the others which do not have eloquent wisdom: and this is destructive of the faith. But one uses eloquent wisdom, when he builds on the foundations of the true faith, so that if he finds any truths in the teachings of the philosophers, he employs them in the service of the faith. Hence Augustine says in the book On Christian Doctrine that if philosophers have uttered things suited to our faith, they should not be feared but taken from them as from an unjust possessor for our use. Again, in the same book he says: since the faculty of eloquent speech which has great power to win a person over to what is base or to what is right, why not use it to fight for the truth, if evil men misuse it for sin and error?
44. Deinde, cum dicit ut non evacuetur crux Christi, probat quod dixerat, et
44. Then when he says, lest the cross of Christ should be made void, he proves his statement.
primo quidem ex parte materiae,
First, on the part of the matter;
secundo ex parte ipsorum docentium, ibi videte enim vocationem vestram, et cetera.
second, of those who teach, at for see your vocation (1 Cor 1:26).
Circa primum tria facit.
In regard to the first he does three things.
Primo ostendit modum docendi qui est in sapientia verbi, non esse congruum fidei Christianae;
First, he shows that the method of teaching by eloquent wisdom is not suited to the Christian faith;
secundo probat quod supposuerat, ibi verbum enim crucis;
second, he proves something he had presupposed, at for the word of the cross;
tertio probationem manifestat, ibi quoniam Iudaei signa petunt.
third, he clarifies the proof, at for the Jews require signs.
45. Circa primum considerandum est, quod etiam in philosophicis doctrinis non est idem modus conveniens cuilibet doctrinae. Unde sermones secundum materiam sunt accipiendi, ut dicitur in primo Ethicorum. Tunc autem maxime modus aliquis docendi est materiae incongruus, quando per talem modum destruitur id quod est principale in materia illa, puta si quis in rebus intellectualibus velit metaphoricis demonstrationibus uti, quae non transcendunt res imaginatas, ad quas non oportet intelligentem adduci, ut Boetius ostendit in libro de Trinitate.
45. As to the first point it should be noted that even in philosophical doctrines the same method does not suit every doctrine; hence the forms of speech must fit the material, as it says in Ethics I. Now a particular method of teaching is unsuited to the subject matter, when that method destroys the chief element in the subject matter; for example, in purely intelligible matters to employ metaphorical proofs, which do not go beyond the imagination and leave the hearer stranded in images, as Boethius says in the book On the Trinity.
Principale autem in doctrina fidei Christianae est salus per crucem Christi facta. Unde, cap. II, 2, dicit non iudicavi me scire aliquid inter vos, nisi Iesum Christum et hunc crucifixum. Qui autem principaliter innititur in docendo sapientiam verbi, quantum in se est, evacuat crucem Christi. Ergo docere in sapientia verbi non est modus conveniens fidei Christianae. Hoc est ergo quod dicit ut non evacuetur crux Christi, id est, ne si in sapientia verbi praedicare voluero, tollatur fides de virtute crucis Christi. Gal. V, 11: ergo evacuatum est scandalum crucis. Ps. CXXXVI, v. 7: qui dicunt, exinanite usque ad fundamentum in ea.
But the chief element in the doctrines of the Christian faith is salvation effected by the cross of Christ; hence he says: for I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ: and him crucified (1 Cor 2:2). On the other hand, a person who depends chiefly on eloquent wisdom when he teaches, to that extent makes the cross of Christ void. Therefore, to teach in eloquent wisdom is not suited to the Christian faith. Consequently, he says, lest the cross of Christ should be made void, i.e., lest in trying to preach in eloquent wisdom, faith in the power of Christ’s cross be made void: then is the stumbling block of the cross made void (Gal 5:11); remember how they said: rase it, all the way to its foundation (Ps 137:7).
46. Deinde, cum dicit verbum crucis, etc., probat quod per doctrinam, quae est in sapientia verbi, crux Christi evacuetur.
46. Then when he says, for the word of the cross, he proves that the cross of Christ is made void by the method of teaching which consists in wisdom of speech.
Et circa hoc duo facit
As to the first he does two things.
primo inducit probationem;
First he gives the proof:
secundo assignat causam dictorum, ibi scriptum est enim, et cetera.
second, he gives the reason for his statements, at for it is written.