Catena Aurea in Joannem
Catena Aurea on John
Vidi dominum sedentem super solium excelsum et elevatum; et plena erat domus a maiestate eius; et ea quae sub ipso erant, replebant templum.
I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne; and the house was full of his majesty, and his train filled the temple.
Glossa. Divinae visionis sublimitate illustratus Isaias propheta dixit vidi dominum sedentem et cetera.
Gloss Isaiah, enlightened by the sublimity of the divine vision, said: "I saw the Lord sitting" etc.
Hieronymus, super Isaiam. Quis sit iste dominus qui videtur, in Evangelista Ioanne plenius discimus, qui ait: haec dixit Isaias, quando vidit gloriam Dei, et locutus est de eo: haud dubium quin Christum significet.
Who is that Lord who is seen, we learn fully in the Evangelist John, who said, Thus said Isaiah, when he saw the glory of God, and spoke of him; no doubt he meant Christ.
Glossa. Unde ex verbis istis materia huius Evangelii, quod secundum Ioannem describitur, designatur.
Gloss Thus from those words the matter of this Gospel according to John is designated.
Ex Eccles. Hist. Quia enim nativitatem salvatoris secundum carnem vel Matthaeus, vel Lucas descripserant, reticuit hic Ioannes, et a theologia atque ab ipsa eius divinitate sumit exordium; quae pars sine dubio ipsi velut eximio per spiritum sanctum reservata est.
Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History Because Matthew and Luke described the birth of the Savior according to the flesh, John was silent about that, and begins with theology and from his divinity. That aspect no doubt was reserved for this outstanding man by the Holy Spirit.
Alcuinus. Unde cum omnibus divinae Scripturae paginis Evangelium excellat, quia quod lex et prophetae futurum praedixerunt, hoc completum dicit Evangelium; inter ipsos autem Evangeliorum scriptores Ioannes eminet in divinorum mysteriorum profunditate: qui a tempore dominicae ascensionis per annos sexaginta quinque verbum Dei absque adminiculo scribendi usque ad ultima Domitiani tempora praedicavit; sed post occisionem Domitiani, cum, Nerva permittente, de exilio rediisset Ephesum, compulsus ab episcopis Asiae, de coaeterna patri divinitate Christi scripsit adversus haereticos, qui Christum ante Mariam fuisse negabant. Unde merito in figura quattuor animalium aquilae volanti comparatur, quae volat altius cunctis avibus, et solis radios irreverberatis aspicit luminibus.
Alcuin Since the Gospel is the summit of all Scripture, John excels among the writers of the gospels in treating the depths of the divine mysteries. He preached the word of God without any writing from the time of the Lord's Ascension for 65 years, until the endo of the reign of Domitian. But, after Domitian was killed, with the permission of Nerva, he returned from exile to Ephesus, the bishops of Asia compelled him to write against the heretics about the divinity of Christ which is coeternal with the Father, against the heretics who denied that Christ existed before Mary. Therefore, among the four animals, he is deservedly represented by the flying eagle, which flies higher than all birds, and looks at the sun's rays with unshaken vision.
Augustinus, in Ioannem. Transcendit enim Ioannes omnia cacumina terrarum, transcendit omnes campos aeris, transcendit omnes altitudines siderum, transcendit omnes choros et legiones Angelorum: nisi enim transcenderet ista omnia quae creata sunt, non perveniret ad eum per quem facta sunt omnia.
Augustine, on John John transcends all corners of the earth, all fields of air, all hights of the stars, all choirs and legions of angels. For if he did not transcend all those things which are created, he wold not reach Him through whom all things were made.
Augustinus, de Cons. Evang. Ex quo intelligi datur, si diligenter advertas, tres Evangelistas temporalia facta domini et dicta quae ad informandos mores vitae praesentis maxime valerent, prosecutos, circa activam virtutem fuisse versatos; Ioannem vero facta domini multo pauciora narrantem, dicta vero eius, praesertim quae Trinitatis unitatem et vitae aeternae felicitatem insinuarent, diligentius et uberius conscribentem, in virtute contemplativa commendanda suam intentionem praedicationemque tenuisse. Unde animalia tria, per quae tres alii Evangelistae designantur, sive leo, sive homo, sive vitulus, in terra gradiuntur: quia tres Evangelistae in his maxime occupati sunt quae Christus in carne operatus est, et quae praecepta mortalis vitae exercendae carnem portantibus tradidit; at vero Ioannes supra nubila infirmitatis humanae velut aquila volat, et lucem incommutabilis veritatis acutissimis atque firmissimis oculis cordis intuetur: ipsam enim maxime divinitatem domini, qua patri est aequalis, intendit, eamque praecipue suo Evangelio, quantum inter homines sufficere credidit, commendare curavit.
Augustine, on the Consistency of the Gospels If you carefully observe, you can see that the other three Evangelists concentrated on those temporal deeds and sayings of the Lord which are most important for living the present life well; thus they were concerned with the active life. But John narrated many fewer events of the Lord, but put his energy into writing about his words, especially those that teach about the unity of the Trinity and the happiness of eternal life. Thus the three animals symbolizing the other three Evangelists, i.e., the lion, man, and bull, walk on the earth, because these three Evangelists are most concerned with what Christ did in the flesh, and about the commands which he gave mortal men for right living in this life. John, however, flies like an eagle above the clouds of human weakness, and looks at the light of unchangeable truth with the sharpest and firmest eyes of the heart. For he focused mostly on the divinity of the Lord, in which he is equal to the Father, and in his Gospel he preached that as fully as he thought necessary for people to understand.
Glossa. Potest igitur Evangelista Ioannes cum Isaia propheta dicere vidi dominum sedentem super solium excelsum et elevatum, inquantum acumine visus sui Christum in divinitatis maiestate regnantem inspexit; quae quidem etiam sua natura excelsa est, et super omnia alia elevata. Dicat etiam Evangelista Ioannes et plena erat domus a maiestate eius: quia per ipsum narrat omnia esse facta, et suo lumine omnes homines in hunc mundum venientes illustrari. Dicat etiam quod ea quae sub ipso erant, replebant templum; quia dicit verbum caro factum est; et vidimus gloriam quasi unigeniti a patre, plenum gratiae et veritatis, secundum quod de plenitudine eius nos omnes accepimus. Sic igitur praemissa verba materiam huius Evangelii continent, in quo ipse Ioannes dominum super solium excelsum sedentem insinuat, divinitatem Christi ostendens; et terram ab eius maiestate impleri ostendit, dum omnia per eius virtutem in esse producta ostendit, et propriis perfectionibus repleta; et inferiora eius, idest humanitatis mysteria, templum, idest Ecclesiam, replere docet, dum in sacramentis humanitatis Christi et gratiam et gloriam fidelibus repromittit.
Gloss The Evangelist John can say with Isaiah: "I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne," because by his insight he saw Christ reigning in the majesty of divinity, which is by nature most high and elevated above all else. The Evangelist John also could say: "And the house was full of his majesty", because he tells of Him through whom all things were made, and he says that all men coming into this world are enlightened by his light. He could also say: "His train filled the temple," because he says "The Word became flesh, and we saw his glory as of the onlybegotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, from whose fullness we all received." Thus the preceding words contain the matter of this Gospel. In it John himself points out the Lord sitting on a high throne, when he shows the divintiy of Ghrist. He shows that the earth was filled with his majesty, when he shows that all things were made through his power, and are filled with their own perfections. And he teaches that his train, that is the mysteries of his humanity, fill the temple, that is the Church, when he assures the faithful grace and glory in the sacraments of the humanity of Christ.
Chrysostomus, in Ioannem. Quando igitur barbarus hic et indisciplinatus talia loquitur quae nullus eorum qui in terra sunt hominum novit unquam, si hic solus esset, miraculum magnum esset. Nunc autem cum his et aliud isto maius tribuit argumentum, quod a Deo inspirata sunt ei quae dicuntur hic, scilicet quod omnes audiunt, et suadet omnibus per omne tempus. Quis ergo non admirabitur habitantem in eo virtutem?
Chrysostom, on John If an uneducated barbarian speaks things that no one on earth ever knew, and he alone knows it, that would be a big miracle. But now we have a greater argument than that what is said here is inspired by God, and that is because all hear, and all believe, over all time. Who then would not admire one who has such power.
Origenes. Ioannes interpretatur gratia Dei, sive in quo est gratia, vel cui donatum est. Cui autem theologorum donatum est ita abscondita summi boni penetrare mysteria, et sic humanis mentibus intimare?
Origen John means "grace of God", or one who has or has been given grace. Which theologian has ever been given the ability to penetrate the hidden mysteries of the Supreme Good, and teach them to human minds?
In principio erat Verbum,
In the beginning was the Word,
Chrysostomus in Ioannem. Omnibus aliis Evangelistis ab incarnatione incipientibus, Ioannes transcurrens conceptionem, nativitatem, educationem, augmentationem, mox de aeterna nobis generatione narrat, dicens in principio erat verbum.
CHRYS While all the other Evangelists begin with the Incarnation, John, passing over the Conception, Nativity, education, and growth, speaks immediately of the Eternal Generation, saying, In the beginning was the Word.
Augustinus Lib. 83 quaest. Quod Graece logos dicitur, Latine et rationem et verbum significat; sed hoc melius verbum interpretatur, ut significetur non solum ad patrem respectus, sed ad illa etiam quae per verbum facta sunt operativa potentia. Ratio autem, etsi nihil per eam fiat, recte ratio dicitur.
AUG The Greek word “logos” signifies both Word and Reason. But in this passage it is better to interpret it Word; as referring not only to the Father, but to the creation of things by the operative power of the Word; whereas Reason, though it produce nothing, is still rightly called Reason.
Augustinus in Ioannem. Quotidie autem dicendo verba viluerunt nobis, quia sonando et transeundo viluerunt. Est verbum et in ipso homine quod manet intus: nam sonus procedit ex ore. Est verbum quod vere specialiter dicitur illud quod intelligis de sono, non ipse sonus.
AUG Words by their daily use, sound, and passage out of us, have become common things. But there is a word which remains inward, in the very man himself; distinct from the sound which proceeds out of the mouth. There is a word, which is truly and spiritually that, which you understand by the sound, not being the actual sound.
Augustinus de Trin. Quisquis autem potest intelligere verbum, non solum antequam sonet, verum etiam antequam sonorum eius imagines cogitatione volvantur, iam potest videre per hoc speculum atque in hoc aenigmate aliquam verbi similitudinem, de quo dictum est in principio erat verbum. Necesse est enim cum id quod scimus loquimur, ut ex ipsa scientia quam memoria tenemus, nascatur verbum, quod eiusmodi sit omnino cuiusmodi est illa scientia de qua nascitur. Formata quippe cogitatio ab ea re quam scimus, verbum est, quod in corde dicimus; quod nec Graecum est, nec Latinum, nec linguae alicuius. Sed cum id opus est in eorum quibus loquimur proferre notitiam, aliquod signum quo significetur assumitur. Proinde verbum quod foris sonat, signum est verbi quod intus latet, cui magis verbi competit nomen: nam illud quod profertur carnis ore, vox verbi est, verbumque et ipsum dicitur propter illud a quo ut foris appareat sumptum est.
Now whoever can conceive the notion of word, as existing not only before its sound, but even before the idea of its sound is formed, may see enigmatically, and as it were in a glass, some similitude of that Word of Which it is said, In the beginning was the Word. For when we give expression to something which we know, the word used is necessarily derived from the knowledge thus retained in the memory, and must be of the same quality with that knowledge. For a word is a thought formed from a thing which we know; which word is spoken in the heart, being neither Greek nor Latin, nor of any language, though, when we want to communicate it to others, some sign is assumed by which to express it... Wherefore the word which sounds externally, is a sign of the word which lies hid within, to which the name of word more truly appertains. For that which is uttered by the mouth of our flesh, is the voice of the word; and is in fact called word, with reference to that from which it is taken, when it is developed externally.
Basilius. Hoc autem verbum non est humanum verbum. Quomodo enim erat in principio humanum verbum, ultimo loco accipiente homine generationis principium? Non igitur in principio verbum erat humanum, sed nec Angelorum: omnis enim creatura infra saeculorum terminos est, a creatore essendi sumens principium. Sed audi Evangelium decenter: ipsum enim, unigenitum verbum dixit.
BASIL This Word is not a human word. For how was there a human word in the beginning, when man received his being last of all? There was not then any word of man in the beginning, nor yet of Angels; for every creature is within the limits of time, having its beginning of existence from the Creator. But what says the Gospel? It calls the Only-Begotten Himself the Word.
Chrysostomus in Ioannem. Si autem quis dixerit: cur patrem dimittens, mox nobis de filio loquitur? Quoniam ille quidem manifestus omnibus erat, etsi non ut pater, sed ut Deus, unigenitus autem ignorabatur: ideo decenter eam, quae de isto est, cognitionem confestim initio studuit imponere his qui nesciebant eum; sed neque patrem in his quae de filio sunt sermonibus tacuit. Propter hoc autem et verbum eum vocavit. Quia enim docturus erat quod hoc verbum unigenitus est filius Dei; ut non passibilem aestimet quis generationem, praeveniens verbi nuncupatione, destruit perniciosam suspicionem, esse ex Deo filium impassibiliter ostendens. Secunda vero ratio est, quia ea quae sunt patris nobis annuntiare debebat. Non simpliciter vero eum verbum dixit, sed cum articuli adiectione, a reliquis ipsum separans. Consuetudo enim est Scripturae verba vocare leges Dei et praecepta: hoc autem verbum substantia quaedam est, hypostasis, ens, ex ipso proveniens impassibiliter patre.
CHRYS But why omitting the Father, does he proceed at once to speak of the Son? Because the Father was known to all; though not as the Father, yet as God; whereas the Only-Begotten was not known. As was meet then, he endeavors first of all to inculcate the knowledge of the Son on those who knew Him not; though neither in discoursing on Him, is he altogether silent on the Father. And inasmuch as he was about to teach that the Word was the Only-Begotten Son of God, that no one might think this a possible generation, he makes mention of the Word in the first place, in order to destroy the dangerous suspicion, and show that the Son was from God impassibly. And a second reason is, that He was to declare to us the things of the Father. But he does not speak of the Word simply, but with the addition of the article, in order to distinguish It from other words. For Scripture calls God’s laws and commandments words; but this Word is a certain Substance, or Person, an Essence, coming forth impassibly from the Father Himself.
Basilius. Quare igitur verbum? Quia impassibiliter natum est; quia est generantis imago, totum in seipso generantem demonstrans, nihil inde separans, sed in seipso perfectum existens.
BASIL Wherefore then Word? Because born impassibly, the Image of Him that begat, manifesting all the Father in Himself; abstracting from Him nothing, but existing perfect in Himself.
Augustinus de Trin. Sicut enim scientia nostra illi scientiae Dei, sic nostrum verbum quod nascitur de nostra scientia, dissimile est illi verbo Dei, quod natum est de patris essentia. Tale est autem, ac si dicerem de patris scientia, de patris sapientia; vel, quod est expressius, de patre scientia, de patre sapientia. Verbum ergo Dei patris unigenitus filius, per omnia patri similis et aequalis: hoc enim est omnino quod pater, non tamen pater: quia iste filius, ille pater: ac per hoc novit omnia quae novit pater; sed ei nosse de patre est, sicut esse: nosse enim et esse ibi unum est; et ideo patri, sicut esse non est a filio, ita nec nosse. Proinde, tamquam seipsum dicens, pater genuit verbum sibi aequale per omnia: non enim seipsum integre perfecteque dixisset, si aliquid minus aut amplius esset in eius verbo quam in seipso. Nostrum autem verbum interius, quod invenimus esse utcumque illi simile, quantum sit etiam dissimile, non pigeat intueri. Est enim verbum mentis nostrae quandoque formabile, nondum formatum, quiddam mentis nostrae, quod hac atque hac volubili quadam motione iactamus, cum a nobis nunc id, nunc illud, sicut inventum fuerit vel occurrerit, cogitatur; et tunc fit verum verbum quando illud quod nos diximus volubili motione iactare, ad id quod scimus pervenit, atque inde formatur, eius omnimodam similitudinem capiens; ut quomodo res quaeque scitur, sic etiam cogitetur. Quis non videat quanta sit hic dissimilitudo ab illo Dei verbo, quod in forma Dei sic est ut non ante fuerit formabile, postea formatum, non aliquando possit esse informe, sed sit forma simplex, et simpliciter aequalis ei de quo est? Quapropter ita dicitur illud Dei verbum, ut Dei cogitatio non dicatur; ne aliquid esse quasi volubile dicatur in Deo, quod nunc habeat, nunc accipiat formam ut verbum sit, eamque possit amittere, atque informiter quodammodo volutari.
AUG As our knowledge differs from God’s, so does our word, which arises from our knowledge, differ from that Word of God, which is born of the Father’s essence; we might say, from the Father’s knowledge, the Father’s wisdom, or, more correctly, the Father Who is Knowledge, the Father Who is Wisdom. The Word of God then, the Only-Begotten Son of the Father, is in all things like and equal to the Father; being altogether what the Father is, yet not the Father; because the one is the Son, the other the Father. And thereby He knows all things which the Father knows; yet His knowledge is from the Father, even as is His being: for knowing and being are the same with Him; and so as the Father’s being is not from the Son, so neither is His knowing. Wherefore the Father begat the Word equal to Himself in all things as uttering forth Himself. For had there been more or less in His Word than in Himself, He would not have uttered Himself fully and perfectly. With respect however to our own inner word, which we find, in whatever sense, to be like the Word, let us not object to see how very unlike it is also. A word is a formation of our mind going to take place, but not yet made, and something in our mind which we toss to and fro in a slippery circuitous way, as one thing and another is discovered, or occurs to our thoughts. When this, which we toss to and fro, has reached the subject of our knowledge, and been formed therefrom, when it has assumed the most exact likeness to it, and the conception has quite answered to the thing; then we have a true word. Who may not see how great the difference is here from that Word of God, which exists in the Form of God in such wise, that It could not have been first going to be formed, and afterwards formed, nor can ever have been unformed, being a Form absolute, and absolutely equal to Him from Whom It is. Wherefore; in speaking of the Word of God here nothing is said about thought in God; lest we should think there was any thing revolving in God, which might first receive form in order to be a Word, and afterwards lose it, and be canted round and round again in an unformed state.
Augustinus de Verb. Dom. Est enim verbum Dei forma quaedam non formata, sed forma omnium formarum, forma incommutabilis, sine lapsu, sine defectu, sine tempore, sine loco, superans omnia, existens in omnibus fundamentum quoddam, in quo sunt, et fastigium sub quo sunt.
AUG Now the Word of God is a Form, not a formation, but the Form of all forms, a Form unchangeable, removed form accident, from failure, from time, from space, surpassing all things, and existing in all things as a kind of foundation underneath, and summit above them.
Basilius. Habet autem et verbum nostrum exterius divini verbi similitudinem quamdam: nam nostrum verbum totam declarat mentis conceptionem: quae namque mente concepimus, ea verbo proferimus. Et quidem cor nostrum quasi fons quidam est: verbum vero prolatum quasi quidam rivulus manans ex ipso.
BASIL Yet has our outward word some similarity to the Divine Word. For our word declares the whole conception of the mind; since what we conceive in the mind we bring out in word. Indeed our heart is as it were the source, and the uttered word the stream which flows therefrom.
Chrysostomus in Ioannem. Considera etiam in Evangelista prudentiam spiritualem. Noverat homines id quod antiquius est et quod est ante omnia maxime honorantes et ponentes Deum: propter hoc primum dicit principium: in principio, inquit, erat verbum.
CHRYS Observe the spiritual wisdom of the Evangelist. He knew that men honored most what was as most ancient, and that honoring what is before every thing else, they conceived of it as God. On this account he mentions first the beginning, saving, In the beginning was the Word.
Origenes in Ioannem. Plura autem sunt signata ab hoc nomine principium. Est enim principium, sicut itineris et longitudinis, secundum illud: initium boni itineris iustorum exercitium. Est autem principium et generationis, iuxta illud: hoc est principium creaturae domini. Sed etiam Deum non enormiter asseret aliquis omnium principium. Illud etiam ex quo sicut ex praeiacente materia alia fiunt, principium est penes eos qui credunt illam ingenitam. Est enim principium secundum speciem; sicut Christus principium eorum est qui secundum imaginem Dei formati sunt. Est etiam principium disciplinae, secundum illud: cum deberetis esse magistri propter tempus, rursus indigetis ut doceamini quae sunt elementa exordii sermonum Dei. Duplex enim est documenti principium: hoc quidem natura, hoc vero quoad nos; ut si dicatur, initium sapientiae fore natura quidem Christum, inquantum sapientia et verbum Dei est; quoad nos vero inquantum verbum caro factum est. Tot igitur significatis ad praesens nobis de principio occurrentibus, potest accipi illud ex quo quid est agens. Conditor enim Christus est velut principium, secundum quod sapientia est; ut verbum in principio, quasi in sapientia sit. Plura enim bona de salvatore dicuntur. Velut igitur vita in verbo est, sic verbum in principio, idest in sapientia erat. Considera vero si possibile est secundum hoc significatum accipere nos principium, prout secundum sapientiam, et exempla quae in ea sunt, fiunt omnia; vel quia principium filii pater est, et principium creaturarum, et omnium entium; per illud in principio erat verbum, verbum filium intelligas in principio, idest in patre, dictum fore.
ORIGEN There are many significations of this word beginning. For there is a beginning of a journey, and beginning of a length, according to Proverbs, The beginning of the right path is to do justice. There is a beginning too of a creation, according to Job, He is the beginning of the ways of God. Nor would it be incorrect to say, that God is the Beginning of all things. The preexistent material again, where supposed to be original, out of which any thing is produced, is considered as the beginning. There is a beginning also in respect of form: as where Christ is the beginning of those who are made according to the image of God. And there is a beginning of doctrine, according to Hebrews; When for the time you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God. For there are two kinds of beginning of doctrine: one in itself, the other relative to us; as if we should say that Christ, in that He is the Wisdom and Word of God, was in Himself the beginning of wisdom, but to us, in that He was the Word incarnate. There being so many significations then of the word, we may take it as the Beginning through Whom, i.e. the Maker; for Christ is Creator as The Beginning, in that He is Wisdom; so that the Word is in the beginning, i.e. in Wisdom; the Savior being all these excellences at once. As life then is in the Word, so the Word is in the Beginning, that is to say, in Wisdom. Consider then if it be possible according to this signification to understand the Beginning, as meaning that all things are made according to Wisdom, and the patterns contained therein; or, inasmuch as the Beginning of the Son is the Father, the Beginning of all creatures and existences, to understand by the text, In the beginning was the Word, that the Son, the Word, was in the Beginning, that is, in the Father.
Augustinus de Trin. Aut in principio sic dictum est ac si diceretur: ante omnia.
AUG Or, In the beginning, as if it were said, before all things.
Basilius. Praevidit enim spiritus sanctus futuros quosdam invidentes gloriae unigeniti, qui praeferrent sophismata ad subversionem auditorum: quia si genitus est, non erat; et antequam genitus esset, non erat. Ne igitur talia garrire praesumant, spiritus sanctus ait in principio erat verbum.
BASIL The Holy Ghost foresaw that men would arise, who should envy the glory of the Only-Begotten, subverting their hearers by sophistry; as if because He were begotten, He was not; and before He was begotten, he was not. That none might presume then to babble such things, the Holy Ghost says, In the beginning was the Word.
Hilarius de Trin. Transeunt tempora, transeunt saecula, tolluntur aetates: pone aliquid quod voles tuae opinionis principium: non tenes tempore: erat enim unde tractatur.
HILARY Years, centuries, ages, are passed over, place what beginning you will in your imagining, you grasp it not in time, for He, from Whom it is derived, still was.
Chrysostomus in Ioannem. Sicut autem quis cum stat in navi secus littus, videt civitates et portus, cum vero eum aliquis in medium pelagi duxerit, a prioribus quidem desistere facit, non tamen alicubi defigit ei oculum, ita Evangelista hic super omnem nos ducens creaturam, suspensum dimittit oculum, non dans suspicere aliquem finem ad superiora: hoc enim in principio erat semper et infinite essendi significativum est.
CHRYS As then when our ship is near shore, cities and port pass in survey before us, which on the open sea vanish, and leave nothing whereon to fix; the eye; so the Evangelist here, taking us with him in his flight above the created world, leaves the eye to gaze in vacancy on an illimitable expanse. For the words, was in the beginning, are significative of eternal and infinite essence.
Augustinus de Verb. Dom. Sed dicunt: si filius est, natus est; hoc fatemur. Adiungunt deinde: si natus est patri filius, erat pater antequam ei filius nasceretur; hoc respuit fides. Ergo ait: rationem mihi redde quomodo et filius nasci potuit patri, ut coaevus esset ei a quo natus est. Post patrem enim nascitur filius, utique patri morituro successurus. Similitudines adhibent de creaturis; et nobis laborandum est ut et nos inveniamus similitudines earum rerum quas astruimus. Sed quomodo possumus in creatura invenire coaeternum, quando in creatura nil invenimus aeternum? Sed si possunt inveniri haec duo coaeva, generans et generatum, ibi intelligimus coaeterna. Ipsa quidem sapientia dicta est in Scripturis candor lucis aeternae, dicta est imago patris. Hinc capiamus similitudinem, ut inveniamus coaeva, ex quibus intelligamus coaeterna. Nemo autem dubitat, quod splendor de igne exit. Ponamus ergo ignem patrem illius splendoris: mox quidem ut lucernam accendo, simul cum igne et splendor existit. Da mihi hic ignem sine splendore, et credo tibi patrem sine filio fuisse. Imago existit de speculo, hominis intuentis speculum; existit imago mox ut aspector extiterit: sed ille qui inspicit erat antequam accederet ad speculum. Ponamus ergo aliquid natum super aquam, ut virgultum, aut herbam: nonne cum imagine sua nascitur? Si ergo semper esset virgultum, semper esset et imago de virgulto. Quod autem de alio est, utique natum est. Potest ergo semper esse generans, et semper cum illo quod de eo natum est. Sed dicet aliquis: ecce intellexi aeternum patrem, coaeternum filium; tamen sicut effusum splendorem minus igne lucentem, aut sicut effusam imaginem minus quam virgultum existentem dicimus. Non, sed aequalitas omnimoda est. Non credo, ait, quia non invenisti similitudinem. Fortassis autem invenimus in creatura quomodo intelligamus filium et coaeternum patri, et nequaquam minorem; sed non illud possumus invenire in uno genere similitudinum. Iungamus ergo ambo genera: unum unde ipsi dant similitudines, et alterum unde nos dedimus. Dederunt enim illi similitudinem ex his quae praeceduntur tempore ab his a quibus nascuntur, sicut homo de homine; sed tamen homo et homo sunt eiusdem substantiae. Laudamus ergo in ista nativitate aequalitatem naturae: deest aequalitas temporis. In illo autem genere similitudinum quod nos dedimus de splendore ignis et de imagine virgulti, aequalitatem naturae non invenis, invenis coaevitatem. Totum ergo ibi quod hic ex partibus singulis et rebus singulis invenitur; et non hoc solum quod in creaturis, totum invenio ibi sed tamquam in creatore.
AUG They say, however, if He is the Son, He was born. We allow it. They rejoin: if the Son was born to the Father, the Father was, before the Son was born to Him. This the Faith rejects. Then they say, explain to us how the Son could; be born from the Father, and yet be coeval with Him from whom He is born: for sons are born after their fathers, to succeed them on their death. They adduce analogies from nature; and we must endeavor likewise to do the same for our doctrine. But how can we find in nature a coeternal, when we cannot find an eternal? However, if a thing generating and a thing generated can be found any where coeval, it will be a help to forming a notion of coeternals. Now Wisdom herself is called in the Scriptures, the brightness of Everlasting Light, the image of the Father. Hence then let us take our comparison, an from coevals form a notion of coeternals. Now no one doubts that brightness proceeds from fire: fire then we may consider the father of the brightness. Presently, when I light a candle, at the same instant with the fire, brightness arises. Give me the fire without the brightness, and I will with you believe that the Father was without the Son. An image is produced by a mirror. The image exists as soon as the beholder appears; yet the beholder existed before he came to the mirror. Let us suppose then a twig, or a blade of grass which has grown up by the water side. Is it not born with its image? If there had always been the twig, there would always have been the image proceeding from the twig. And whatever is from another thing, is born. So then that which generates may be coexistent from eternity with that which is generated from it. But some one will say perhaps, Well, I understand now the eternal Father, the coeternal Son: yet the Son is like the emitted brightness, which is less brilliant than the fire, or tile reflected image, which is less real than the twig. Not so: there is complete equality between Father and Son. I do not believe, he says; for you have found nothing whereto to liken it. However, perhaps we can find something in nature by which we may understand that the Son is both coeternal with the Father, and in no respect inferior also: though we cannot find any one material of comparison that will be sufficient singly, and must therefore join together two, one of which has been employed by our adversaries, the other by ourselves. For they have drawn their comparison from things which are preceded in time by the things which they spring from, man, for example, from man. Nevertheless, man is of the same substance with man. We have then in that nativity an equality of nature; an equality of time is wanting. But in the comparison which we have drawn from the brightness of fire, and the reflection of a twig, an equality of nature you cost not find, of time you lost. In the Godhead then there is found as a whole, what here exists in single and separate parts; and that which is in the creation, existing in a manner suitable able to the Creator.
Ex gestis Conc. Ephes. Propterea alicubi quidem filium appellat patris, alicubi autem verbum nominat, alicubi autem splendorem vocat Scriptura divina; singula horum nominum de ipso dicens, ut intelligas ea quae de Christo dicuntur, esse contra blasphemiam: quia enim tuus filius eiusdem tibi naturae fit, volens sermo ostendere unam substantiam patris et filii, dicit filium patris, qui ex eo natus est unigenitus. Deinde quoniam nativitas et filius apud nos ostentationem praebent passionis; ideo hunc filium appellat et verbum, impassibilitatem nativitatis eius nomine isto demonstrans. Sed quoniam pater quispiam factus ut homo, indubitanter senior filio suo demonstratur; ne hoc ipsum etiam de divina natura putares, splendorem vocat unigenitum patris: splendor enim nascitur quidem ex sole, non autem intelligitur sole posterior. Coexistere ergo semper patri filium splendor tibi denuntiet; impassibilitatem nativitatis ostendat verbum; consubstantialitatem filii nomen insinuet.
EX GESTIS CONCILII EPHESINI Wherefore in one place divine Scripture calls Him the Son, in another the Word, in another the Brightness of the Father; names severally meant to guard against blasphemy. For, forasmuch as your son is of the same nature with yourself, the Scripture wishing to show that the Substance of the Father and the Son is one, sets forth the Son of the Father, born of the Father, the Only-Begotten. Next, since the terms birth and son, convey the idea of passibleness, therefore it calls the Son the Word, declaring by that name the impassability of His Nativity. But inasmuch as a father with us is necessarily older shall his son, lest thou should think that this applied to the Divine nature as well, it calls the Only-Begotten the Brightness of the Father; for brightness, though arising from the sun, is not posterior to it. Understand then that Brightness, as revealing the co-eternity of the Son with the Father; Word as proving the impassability of His birth, and Son as conveying His consubstantiality.
Chrysostomus in Ioannem. Sed dicunt illi, quoniam hoc, idest in principio, non aeternitatem ostendit simpliciter: etenim et de caelo istud et de terra dictum. In principio, inquit Genesis, fecit Deus caelum et terram. Sed quid commune habet erat ad fecit? Sicut enim quod est, cum de homine quidem dicitur, tempus praesens significat tantum; cum autem de Deo, id quod est semper et aeternaliter; ita et erat de nostra quidem cum dicitur natura, praeteritum significat tempus; cum autem de Deo, aeternitatem ostendit.
CHRYS But they say that In the beginning does not absolutely express in eternity: for that the same is said of the heaven and the earth: In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. But are not made and was, altogether different For in like manner as the word is, when spoken of man, signifies the present only, but when applied to God, that which always and eternally is; so too was, predicated of our nature, signifies the past, but predicated of God, eternity.