The Title of the Book
1:1 Liber generationis Iesu Christi filii David, filii Abraham.
1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.
Hieronymus. Quia faciem hominis Matthaeus significat, quasi de homine exorsus est scribere, dicens liber generationis.
Jerome, comm. on Matt., prolog. 'The face of a man' (in Ezekiel’s vision) signifies Matthew, who accordingly opens his Gospel with the human genealogy of Christ, saying: The book of the generation.
Rabanus. Quo exordio satis ostendit generationem Christi secundum carnem suscepisse narrandam.
Rabanus. By this exordium he shows that it is the birth of Christ according to the flesh that he has undertaken to narrate.
Chrysostomus super Matth. Iudaeis enim Evangelium scripsit, quibus superfluum erat exponere divinitatis naturam, quam cognoscebant; necessarium autem fuit eis mysterium incarnationis ostendere. Ioannes autem cum gentibus Evangelium scripsit, quae non cognoscebant si Deus filium habet; ideo necessarium fuit primum illis ostendere quia est filius Dei Deus, deinde quia carnem suscepit.
Pseudo-Chrysostom, homil. on Matt., i. Matthew wrote for the Jews, and in Hebrew; to them it was unnecessary to explain the divinity which they recognized; but necessary to unfold the mystery of the Incarnation. John wrote in Greek for the Gentiles who knew nothing of a Son of God. They required therefore to be told first, that the Son of God was God, then that this Deity was incarnate.
Rabanus. Cum autem parvam libri particulam teneat generatio, dixit liber generationis. Consuetudo enim Haebraeorum est ut voluminibus ex eorum principiis imponant nomina, ut est Genesis.
Rabanus. Though the genealogy occupies only a small part of the volume, he yet begins thus, The book of the generation. For it is the manner of the Hebrews to name their books from that with which they open; as Genesis.
Glossa. Planior autem sensus esset: hic est liber generationis, sed hic est mos in multis, ut visio Isaiae, subaudis: haec est: generationis autem singulariter dicitur, quamvis multae per ordinem replicentur, quia propter Christi generationem ceterae hic indicuntur.
Gloss. Ordinaria. The full expression would be This is the book of the generation; but this is a usual ellipse; e.g., The vision of Isaiah (Isa 1:1), for, 'This is the vision'. Generation, he says in the singular number, though there be many here given in succession, as it is for the sake of the one generation of Christ that the rest are here introduced.
Chrysostomus in Matth. Vel ideo librum hunc generationis nominat, quia haec est totius dispensationis summa, et radix bonorum omnium, Deum hominem factum esse: hoc enim facto alia secundum rationem sequebantur.
Chrysostom, homil. on Matt., ii. Or he therefore entitles it, The book of the generation, because this is the sum of the whole dispensation, the root of all its blessings; viz. that God became man; for this once effected, all other things followed of course.
Remigius. Dicit autem liber generationis Iesu Christi quia noverat scriptum esse: liber generationis Adae; et ideo sic exorsus est, ut opponeret librum libro. Adam novum Adae veteri, quia omnia per istum sunt restaurata quae per illum sunt corrupta.
Remigius. He says, The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, because he knew it was written, The book of the generation of Adam (Gen 5:1). He begins thus then, that he may oppose book to book, the new Adam to the old Adam, for by the one were all things restored which had been corrupted by the other.
Hieronymus in Matth. In Isaia autem legimus: generationem eius quis enarrabit? Non ergo putemus Evangelistam prophetae esse contrarium, ut quod ille impossibile dixit esse effatu, hic narrare incipiat, quia ibi de generatione divinitatis, hic de incarnatione dictum est.
Jerome, comm. on Matt., i. We read in Isaiah, Who shall declare his generation? (Isa 53:8). But it does not follow that the Evangelist contradicts the prophet, or undertakes what he declares impossible; for Isaiah is speaking of the generation of the divine nature; St. Matthew of the incarnation of the human.
Chrysostomus in Matth. Nec tamen parva aestimes te audire, hanc audiens generationem. Est enim valde auditu mirabile quod ineffabilis Deus ex muliere nasci dignatus est, et habere progenitores David et Abraham.
Chrysostom. And do not consider this genealogy a small thing to hear: for truly it is a marvellous thing that God should descend to be born of a woman, and to have as his ancestors David and Abraham.
Remigius. Si autem aliquis dixerit quia propheta de nativitate humanitatis dixit, non est respondendum ad interrogationem prophetae. Nullus generationem domini narravit, sed perrarus, quia Matthaeus et Lucas.
Remigius. Though any affirm that the prophet (Isaiah) does speak of his human generation, we need not answer to his enquiry, Who shall declare it? "No man"; but, "Very few"; because Matthew and Luke have.
Rabanus. In hoc autem quod dicit Iesu Christi, regalem et sacerdotalem in eo exprimit dignitatem; nam Iesus, qui nominis huius praesagium praetulit, primus post Moysen in populo Israel ducatum tenuit; Aaron vero mystico consecratus unguento, primus in lege sacerdos fuit.
Rabanus. By saying, of Jesus Christ, he expresses both the kingly and priestly office to be in him, for Jesus [Joshua], who first bore this name, was after Moses, the first who was leader of the children of Israel; and Aaron, anointed by the mystical ointment, was the first priest under the law.
Augustinus de quaest. novi et veteris testamenti. Quod autem per olei unctionem praestabat Deus illis qui in reges vel sacerdotes ungebantur, hoc praestitit Spiritus Sanctus homini Christo, addita expiatione: spiritus enim sanctus purificavit quod de Maria virgine in corpus salvatoris profecit; et haec est unctio corporis salvatoris, quare Christus est appellatus.
Hilary, questions on the old and new testament, il. What God conferred on those, who, by the anointing of oil were consecrated as kings or priests, this the Holy Spirit conferred on the man Christ; adding moreover a purification. The Holy Spirit cleansed that which taken of the Virgin Mary was exalted into the body of the Savior, and this is that anointing of the body of the Savior’s flesh whence he was called Christ.
Chrysostomus super Matth. Quia vero impia prudentia Iudaeorum negabat Iesum de David semine esse natum, subdit filii David, filii Abraham.
Because the impious craft of the Jews denied that Jesus was born of the seed of David, he adds, The son of David, the son of Abraham.
Quare autem non sufficiebat dicere illum filium Abrahae solius, aut David solius? Quia ad ambos de Christo nascituro ex eis promissio fuerat facta: ad Abraham quidem sic: et in semine tuo benedicentur omnes gentes terrae; ad David autem ita: de fructu ventris tui ponam super sedem tuam. Ideo ergo utriusque filium dixit, ut utriusque promissiones in Christo adimpletas ostenderet. Deinde, quia Christus tres dignitates fuerat habiturus: rex, propheta, sacerdos. Abraham propheta fuit et sacerdos, sicut Deus ad illum dicit in Genesi: accipe mihi vaccam triennem; propheta autem, sicut ait dominus ad Abimelech de illo: propheta est, et orabit pro te. David rex fuit et propheta; sacerdos autem non fuit. Ideo ergo amborum filius nominatus est, ut utriusque patris triplex dignitas originali iure recognosceretur in Christo.
Chrysostom. But why would it not have been enough to name one of them, David alone, or Abraham alone? Because the promise had been made to both of Christ to be born of their seed. To Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed (Gen 22:18). To David, Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy seat (Ps 132:11). He therefore calls Christ the Son of both, to show that in him was fulfilled the promise to both. Also because Christ was to have three dignities; king, prophet, priest; but Abraham was prophet and priest; priest, as God says to him in Genesis, Take an heifer (Gen 15:9); prophet, as the Lord said to Abimelech concerning him, He is a prophet, and shall pray for thee (Gen 20:7). David was king and prophet, but not priest. Thus he is expressly called the son of both, that the threefold dignity of his forefathers might be recognized by hereditary right in Christ.
Ambrosius super Lucam. Ideo etiam duos generis auctores elegit: unum qui de cognatione populorum promissum accepit, alterum qui de generatione Christi oraculum consecutus est. Et ideo, licet sit ordine successionis posterior, prior tamen describitur quia plus est, promissum accepisse de Christo, quam de Ecclesia, quae est per Christum potior est enim qui salvat eo quod salvatur.
Ambrose, comm. on Luke, iii. He therefore names specially two authors of his birth—one who received the promise concerning the kindreds of the people, the other who obtained the oracle concerning the generation of Christ; and though he is later in order of succession is yet first named, inasmuch as it is greater to have received the promise concerning Christ than concerning the Church, which is through Christ; for greater is he who saves than that which is saved.
Hieronymus in Matth. Ordo etiam praeposterus, sed necessario commutatus. Si enim primum posuisset Abraham, et postea David, rursus ei repetendus fuisset Abraham, ut generationis series texeretur.
Jerome. The order of the names is inverted, but of necessity; for had he written Abraham first, and David afterwards, he would have to repeat Abraham again to preserve the series of the genealogy.
Chrysostomus super Matth. Altera autem ratio est, quia regni dignitas maior est quam naturae, nam etsi Abraham praecedat in tempore, David praecedebat in dignitate.
Pseudo-Chrysostom. Another reason is that royal dignity is above natural, though Abraham was first in time, yet David in honor.
Glossa. Quia vero ex hoc titulo apparet totum hunc librum conscribi de Iesu Christo, necessarium est praecognoscere quid sit sentiendum de ipso, sic enim melius exponi poterunt quae in hoc libro de eo dicuntur.
Gloss. But since from this title it appears that the whole book is concerning Jesus Christ, it is necessary first to know what we must think concerning him; for so shall be better explained what this book relates of him.
Augustinus de quaest. Evang. Error autem haereticorum de Christo tribus generibus terminatur: aut de divinitate, aut de humanitate, aut de utroque falluntur.
Augustine, on heresies, 8, 10. The error of the heretics about Christ is limited to three areas: They err either about his divinity, or his humanity, or the two together.
Augustinus de Haeres. Cerinthus ergo et Ebion Iesum Christum hominem tantum fuisse dixerunt, quos secutus Paulus Samosatenus, Christum non semper fuisse, sed eius initium, ex quo de Maria natus est, asseverat, nec enim aliquid amplius quam hominem putat; et haec haeresis postea a Photino confirmata est.
Cerinthus then and Ebion made Jesus Christ only man; Paul of Samosata, following them, asserted Christ not to have had an existence from eternity, but to have begun to be from his birth of the Virgin Mary; he also thought him nothing more than man. This heresy was afterwards confirmed by Photinus.
Athanasius contra Haeret. Ioannes autem apostolus istius insaniam longe ante spiritu sancto conspiciens, eum alto imperitiae sopore demersum suae vocis praeconio excitat, dicens: in principio erat verbum. Ei ergo quod in principio erat apud Deum non relinquitur in novissimo tempore ut originis suae ab homine principium sumpserit. Item inquit: pater, clarifica me illa gloria quam habui apud te priusquam mundus fieret. Audiat Photinus eum gloriam ante principium possedisse.
Pseudo-Athanasius, against heretics. The Apostle John, seeing long before by the Holy Spirit this man’s madness, rouses him from his deep sleep of error by the preaching of his voice, saying, In the beginning was the Word (John 1:1). He therefore, who in the beginning was with God, could not in this last time take the beginning of his being from man. He says further, (let Photinus hear his words,) Father, glorify me with that glory which I had with thee before the world was (John 17:5).
Augustinus de Haeres. Nestorii autem perversitas fuit ut hominem tantummodo ex beata Maria virgine genitum praedicaret, quem verbum Dei non in unitatem personae, et in societatem inseparabilem recepisset; quod Catholicorum aures nequaquam ferre potuerunt.
Augustine, on heresies, xix. The error of Nestorius was, that he taught that a man only was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom the Word of God received not into unity of person and inseparable fellowship; a doctrine which Catholic ears could not endure.
Cyrillus Alex. ad monachos Aegypti. Ait enim apostolus de unigenito quod cum in forma Dei esset, non rapinam arbitratus est esse se aequalem Deo. Quis est ergo ille qui est in forma Dei? Aut quomodo exinanitus est, et descendit ad humilitatem secundum hominis formam? Et quidem si praedicti haeretici in duo dividentes Christum, idest in hominem et verbum, hominem dicunt sustinuisse exinanitionem, separantes ab eo Dei verbum, praeostendendum est quia in forma et in aequalitate intelligitur et fuit patris sui, ut exinanitionis sustineret modum. Sed nihil creaturarum est, si secundum propriam intelligatur naturam, in patris aequalitate quomodo ergo exinanitus dicitur, et ex qua eminentia ut esset homo descendit? Aut quomodo intelligitur assumpsisse tamquam non habens in principio servi formam? Sed aiunt quod verbum patri aequale existens habitavit in homine nato per mulierem: et haec exinanitio. Certe audio filium dicentem sanctis apostolis: si quis diligit me, verbum meum custodiet, et pater meus diliget eum, et ad eum veniemus, et mansionem apud eum faciemus. Audis quomodo in eis qui se diligunt, se et sibi cohabitare dixit Deum patrem? Putas ergo, ipsum exinanitum et vacuatum dabimus et servi formam accepisse, quia in diligentium se animabus facit mansionem? Quid autem spiritus habitans in nobis, putatis, et ipse humanationis dispensationem adimplet?
Cyril of Alexandria, epist. i, to the monks of Egypt. Saith the Apostle of the only-begotten, Who being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God (Phil 2:6). Who then is this who is in the form of God? Or how emptied he himself, and humbled himself to the likeness of man? If the above-mentioned heretics dividing Christ into two parts, i.e. the man and the Word, affirm that it was the man that was emptied of glory, they must first show what form and equality with the Father are understood to be, and did exist, which might suffer any manner of emptying. But there is no creature, in its own proper nature, equal with the Father; how then can any creature be said to be emptied? Or from what eminence to descend to become man? Or how can he be understood to have taken upon him, as though he had not at first, the form of a servant? But, they say, the Word being equal with the Father dwelt in man born of a woman, and this is the emptying. I hear the Son truly saying to the holy apostles, If any man love me, he will keep my saying; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him (John 14:23). Hear how he saith that he and the Father will dwell in them that love him. Do you then suppose that we shall grant that he is there emptied of his glory, and has taken upon him the form of a servant, when he makes his abode in the hearts of them that love him? Or the Holy Spirit, does he fulfill an assumption of human flesh when he dwells in our hearts?
Abbas Isidorus ad Atribium presbyterum. Verum ne universa annumeremus, unum, ad quod universa intendunt, dicemus quia illum qui Deus erat, humilia loqui, et dispensativum simul et utile est, et nihil inviolabili naturae praeiudicat. Eum vero qui homo est, divina et supernaturalia quaedam loqui summae praesumptionis est malum; nam regi quidem licet etiam et humiliter agere, militi vero non licet imperiales voces emittere. Si igitur Deus erat humanatus, etiam humilia locum habent; si vero homo tantum erat, excelsa non habent locum.
Isidore of Peleusium, epist. iv, 166. But not to mention all arguments, let us bring forward that one to which all arguments point, that, for one who was God to assume a lowly guise both has an obvious use, and is an adaptation and in nothing contradicts the course of nature. But for one who is man to speak things divine and supernatural is the highest presumption; for though a king may humble himself a common soldier may not take on him the state of an emperor. So, if he were God made man, all lowly things have place; but if mere man, high things have none.
Augustinus de Haeres. Sabellium discipulum Noeti quidam perhibent, qui dicebat Christum eumdem et patrem et spiritum sanctum.
Augustine, on heresies, xli. Sabellius they say was a disciple of Noctus, who taught that the same Christ was one and the same Father and Holy Spirit.
Athanasius contra Haeret. huius autem insanissimi furoris audaciam caelestium testimoniorum auctoritate frenabo ad demonstrandum propriae substantiae filii personam, non illa quae homini suscepto congruere cavillatur, assumens, sed illa in medium proferens testimonia, quae sine ullo ancipitis intelligentiae scrupulo divinitati eius competere omnes pariter confitentur. In Genesi enim Deum dixisse legimus: faciamus hominem ad imaginem et similitudinem nostram. Ecce pluraliter dicit faciamus, alium videlicet indicans ad quem loquentis factus est sermo. Si unus est, ad imaginem suam fecisse diceretur; nunc autem alius et alterius imaginem apertius fecisse describitur.
Pseudo-Athanasius, against heretics. The audaciousness of this most insane error I will curb by the authority of the heavenly testimonies, and demonstrate the distinct personality of the proper substance of the Son. I shall not produce things which are liable to be explained away as agreeable to the assumption of human nature; but shall offer such passages as all will allow to be decisive in proof of his divine nature. In Genesis we find God saying, Let us make man in our own image (Gen 1:26). By this plural number showing that there was some other person to whom he spoke. Had he been one, he would have been said to have made him in his own image, but there is another; and he is said to have made man in the image of that other.
Glossa. Alii vero veram Christi humanitatem negaverunt. Valentinus enim dixit Christum a patre missum spiritale vel caeleste corpus attulisse, nihilque assumpsisse de Maria virgine, sed per illam tamquam per rivum aut fistulam sine assumpta carne transisse. Nos autem non ideo credimus natum ex Maria virgine, quod aliter in vera carne existere atque hominibus apparere non posset, sed quia sic scriptum est in ea Scriptura, cui nisi crediderimus, nec Christiani nec salvi esse poterimus. Si autem de caelesti, vel aerea, vel humida creatura corpus assumptum vellet commutare in humanae carnis verissimam qualitatem, hoc eum potuisse facere quis negaret?
Gloss. Others denied the reality of Christ’s human nature. Valentinus said that Christ sent from the Father, carried about a spiritual or celestial body, and took nothing of the Virgin, but passed through her as through a channel, taking nothing of her flesh. But we do not therefore believe him to have been born of the Virgin, because by no other means he could have truly lived in the flesh, and appeared among men; but because it is so written in the Scripture, which if we believe not we cannot either be Christians, or be saved. But even a body taken of spiritual, or ethereal, or clayey substance, had he willed to change into the true and very quality of human flesh, who will deny his power to do this?
Augustinus de Haeres. Manichaei vero dixerunt, phantasma esse dominum Iesum Christum, nec femineo posse nasci ex utero.
The Manichaeans said that the Lord Jesus Christ was a phantasm, and could not be born of the womb of a woman.
Augustinus, Lib. 83 quaest. Sed si phantasma fuit corpus Christi, fefellit Christus; et si fallit, veritas non est. Est autem veritas Christus; non ergo phantasma fuit corpus eius.
But if the body of Christ was a phantasm, he was a deceiver, and if a deceiver, then he was not the truth. But Christ is the truth; therefore his body was not a phantasm.
Glossa. Et quia principium huius Evangelii, et etiam Evangelii secundum Lucam, manifeste ostendit Christum natum ex femina, ex quo apparet vera Christi humanitas, ergo utriusque Evangelii principia negant.
Gloss. And as the opening both of this Gospel, and of that according to Luke, manifestly proves Christ’s birth of a woman, and hence his real humanity, they reject the beginning of both these Gospels.
Augustinus contra Faustum. Unde Faustus dicit: Evangelium quidem a praedicatione Christi et esse coepit et nominari, in quo ipse nusquam se natum ex hominibus dicit. At vero genealogia adeo non est Evangelium, ut nec eius scriptor ausus fuerit eam Evangelium nominare. Quid enim scribit? Liber generationis Iesu Christi filii David; non ergo liber Evangelii Iesu Christi, sed liber generationis. At vero Marcus, quia generationem scribere non curavit, sed tantum praedicationem filii Dei, quod est Evangelium, vide quam competenter sit exorsus: Evangelium, inquit, Iesu Christi filii Dei, ut hinc satis appareat genealogiam non esse Evangelium; namque et in ipso Matthaeo, post inclusum Ioannem in carcere, tunc legitur Iesum coepisse praedicare Evangelium regni. Ergo quicquid ante hoc narratur, genealogiam esse constat, non Evangelium. Ad Ioannem ergo et Marcum me contuli, quorum mihi principia non immerito placuerunt, quia nec David nec Mariam inducunt, nec Ioseph.
Augustine, against Faustus, ii, 1. Faustus affirms, that the Gospel both begins, and begins to be so called, from the preaching of Christ, in which he no where affirms himself to have been born of men. Nay, so far is this genealogy from being part of the Gospel, that the writer does not venture so to entitle it. For what does he write? The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David; not therefore, 'The book of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,' but the book of the generation. But Mark, who cared not to write of the generation, but only of the preaching of the Son of God, which is properly the Gospel, begins thus accordingly, The Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God (Mark 1:1). Thus then, all that we read in Matthew before the words, Jesus began to preach the Gospel of the kingdom (Matt 4:17), is a part of the genealogy, not of the Gospel. I therefore betook myself to Mark and John, with whose prefaces I had good reason to be satisfied, as they introduce neither David, nor Mary, nor Joseph.
Contra quem Augustinus: quid ergo respondebit apostolo dicenti: memor esto Iesum Christum resurrexisse a mortuis, ex semine David, secundum Evangelium meum? Quod autem erat apostoli Pauli Evangelium, hoc etiam ceterorum apostolorum et omnium fidelium; hoc enim alibi dicit: sive ego, sive illi Evangelium praedicaverunt.
To which Augustine replies: What will he say then to the Apostle’s words, Remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ of the seed of David according to my Gospel (2 Tim 2:8). But the Gospel of the apostle Paul was likewise that of the other apostles, and of all the faithful, as he says, Whether I, or they, thus have we preached the Gospel (1 Cor 15:11).