In Ieremiam prophetam expositio
Commentary on the Prophet Jeremiah
Prooemium S. Thomae
Prologue of St. Thomas
2 Machabaeorum 15:14
2 Maccabees 15:14
Hic est fratrum amator, et populi Israel; hic est qui multum orat pro populo et universa sancta civitate, Jeremias propheta Dei.
This is the lover of his brethren, and of the people of Israel; this is he who prayed much for the people and for the entire holy city, Jeremiah, the prophet of God.
Verba ista sunt Oniae summi sacerdotis ad Judam Machabaeum, in visione Jeremiam commendantis. Ex quibus quatuor possunt accipi circa praesens opus quod prae manibus habetur; scilicet auctor, materia, modus, et utilitas.
These are the words of Onias the high priest to Judas Maccabees, commenting on the vision of Jeremiah. From this it is possible to derive four things regarding the present work, namely, the author, the subject matter, the genre, and the purpose.
Circa auctorem tria designat praesens auctoritas; scilicet officium, affectum et actum.
Concerning the author, the present record delineates three things: his office, disposition, and activity.
In officio ostenditur prophetalis dignitas: unde dicit: Jeremias propheta Domini.
With regard to his office, prophetic dignity is shown: as it says, Jeremiah, the prophet of the Lord.
In affectu fraterna caritas: unde dicit: hic est fratrum amator.
With regard to internal disposition, his brotherly love: as it says, this is the lover of his brethren.
In actu compassionis pietas: unde dicit: hic est qui multum orat pro populo, et universa sancta civitate.
With regard to action, his dutiful compassion, as it says, this is he who prays much for his people and for the entire holy city.
Dicitur autem propheta Dei ad differentiam aliorum qui non sunt prophetae Dei. Sunt enim quidam prophetae caeli, quidam prophetae diaboli, quidam prophetae Dei.
Now, he is called the prophet of God to distinguish him from others, who are not prophets of God. For there are some who are prophets of the heavens, some who are prophets of the devil, and some who are prophets of God.
Prophetae caeli sunt qui ex figuris caeli in motibus siderum futura conjicere student; et de istis dicitur Isa. 47: stent, et salvet te augures caeli, qui contemplabantur sidera, et supputabant menses, ut ex eis annuntiarent ventura tibi. Et ad hunc modum prophetiae reducitur omnis divinatio, quae fit per aliquas causas vel signa in rebus naturalibus inventa.
The prophets of the heavens are those who endeavor to tell the future from the figures of the heavens by the motions of the constellations; of these Isaiah speaks: let them stand and save you these augurs of the heavens, who contemplate the constellations and calculate the months, that from them they may announce to you the things which are to come (Isa 47:13). All divination belongs to this type of prophecy, which is accomplished through certain signs found in natural events.
Prophetae diaboli sunt qui ex revelatione daemonum aliqua futura cognoscunt, quae quidem, ut dicit Augustinus, ipsi daemones cognoscunt experientia longi temporis, vel perspicacitate naturae, vel revelatione supernorum spirituum. Et de istis dicitur infra 2: prophetae prophetaverunt in Baal, et idola secuti sunt.
Prophets of the devil are those who know certain future events from the revelation of demons, who, as Augustine says, gain knowledge by long experience, or perspicuity of nature, or by the revelation of supernal spirits. These are spoken of below: the prophets prophecy by Baal and follow idols (Jer 2:8).
Prophetae autem Dei sunt qui mediantibus angelis, ut dicit Dionysius, de futuris a Deo illuminationem accipiunt. Unde Cassiodorus dicit, quod prophetia est divina inspiratio rerum eventus immobili veritate denuntians. Et ideo dicitur Luc. 1: tu puer propheta Altissimi vocaberis, etc.
The prophets of God are those who, by the mediation of angels, as Dionysius says, receive an illumination from God concerning future events. For this reason Cassiodorus says that prophecy is a divine inspiration announcing the outcome of events with immoveable truth. For this reason it is said: you shall be called the prophet of the Most High (Luke 1:76).
Prima prophetia contemnenda est, quia vana: non enim habet immobilem veritatem. Effectus enim recipiunt contingentiam a causis proximis, non necessitatem a causis primis. Et ideo dicitur infra 10: a signis caeli nolite metuere.
The first sort of prophecy is to be spurned, because it is false, and because it has no immoveable truth. For they receive the contingency of the effect from proximate causes, not necessity from first causes. And, therefore, it is said below: be not afraid of the signs of heaven (Jer 10:2).
Secunda est fugienda omnino, quia deceptoria et perniciosa. Zach. 13: pseudoprophetas, et spiritum immundum auferam de terra.
The second type of prophecy is to be avoided entirely, because it is deceitful and pernicious. False prophets and unclean spirits I will drive from the land (Zech 13:2).
Tertia est sequenda et tenenda, quia illuminativa. 2 Petr. 1: habemus firmiorem propheticum sermonem, cui bene facitis attendentes, quasi lucernae lucenti in caliginoso loco.
The third is to be followed and held as true, because it is illuminating. We have a more certain word of prophecy, to which you do well to attend as to a lamp shining in a dark place (2 Pet 1:19).
Dicuntur autem isti sancti prophetae, prophetae Dei propter tria.
The holy prophets are called the prophets of God for three reasons.
Primo quia a Deo inspirati. Joel. 2: effundam de spiritu meo super omnem carnem, et prophetabunt filii vestri, et filiae vestrae.
First, because they are inspired by God, I will pour out by spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophecy (Joel 2:28).
E contrario de falsis prophetis, qui per spiritum suum loquuntur, dicitur Ezech. 13: vae prophetis insipientibus qui sequuntur spiritum suum, et nihil vident.
Concerning false prophets, on the contrary, who speak through their own spirit, it says: woe to foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and see nothing (Ezek 13:3).
Secundo quia a Deo missi. Matth. 23: ecce ego mitto ad vos prophetas, et sapientes, et scribas. Isa. 29: et nunc misit me Dominus, et spiritus ejus.
Second, because they are sent by God. Behold I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes (Matt 23:34). And now the Lord has sent me, and his spirit (Isa 48:16).
E contrario de falsis prophetis infra 23: non mittebam eos, et ipsi currebant; non loquebar ad eos, et ipsi prophetabant.
On the other hand, concerning false prophets it says below: I have not sent them, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, but they prophesied (Jer 23:21).
Tertio quia Deum testificati (Act. 10): huic omnes prophetae testimonium perhibent, etc. Isa. 44: vos estis testes mei.
Third, because they bear witness to God. To this all the prophets bear witness (Acts 10:43). You are my witnesses (Isa 44:8).
Affectus autem ostenditur fervens fraterna caritate: unde dicit: hic est fratrum amator.
His internal disposition is shown burning with fraternal charity, as it says: this is the lover of his brothers.
Affectus autem prophetarum tripliciter variatur.
Now the disposition of the prophets varies in three ways.
Quidam enim sunt amatores lucri. Isa. 56: dormientes, et amantes somnia: et canes impudentissimi nescierunt saturitatem, etc.
For some are lovers of profit. Sleeping and loving sleep; most unchaste dogs, they do not know abundance (Isa 56:10–11).
Quidam amatores favoris humani, de quibus Matth. 23: amant primos recubitus in caenis.
Some are lovers of human favor, of whom it says: they love the first seats in the feasts (Matt 23:6).
Sed tertii sunt amatores populi, implentes illud Apostoli ad Heb. ult.: caritas fraternitatis maneat in vobis, et hospitalitatem nolite oblivisci.
But the third are lovers of people, fulfilling what the Apostle says: may fraternal charity remain in you, and do not forget hospitality (Heb 13:1–2).
Primi spoliabant divitiis. Michaeae 3: haec dicit Dominus super prophetas qui seducunt populum meum, qui mordent dentibus, et praedicant pacem. Ezech. 13: violabant me ad populum meum propter pugillum hordei et fragmen panis, ut interficerent animas quae non moriuntur, et vivificarent animas quae non vivunt, mentientes populo meo credenti mendaciis.
The first plunder riches. Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who seduce my people, who bite with their teeth, and preach peace (Micah 3:5). They dishonored me before my people for a handful of barley, and a crumb of bread, that they may kill souls which are not dying, and give life to souls which live not, lying to my people who believe their lies (Ezek 13:19).
Secundi decipiebant blanditiis. Ezech. 22: prophetae ejus liniebant eos absque temperamento, videntes vana et divinantes eis mendacium.
The second deceive with flattering. His prophets have daubed them without tempering the mortar, seeing vain things and divining a lie unto them (Ezek 22:28).
Sed tertii instruebant veris doctrinis. Infra 3: dabo vobis pastores juxta cor meum, et pascent vos scientia et doctrina.
But the third instruct with true doctrines. Below it says: I will give you shepherds after my own heart, and they shall shepherd you with knowledge, and learning (Jer 3:15).
In actu autem ipsius, ostenditur pia compassio ejus ad populum suum, ibi, hic est qui multum orat.
Moreover, in his action one sees his pious compassion for his people at: this is he who prays much.
Est oratio ejus multa, sive magna tripliciter.
His prayer is said to be much, or great in three ways.
Primo altitudine contemplationis. Infra 18: recordare quod steterim in conspectu tuo, ut loquerer pro eis bonum, et averterem indignationem tuam ab eis. In conspectu ejus astare est per contemplationem praesto esse.
First, with regard to the depth of his contemplation. As it says below, remember that I stood in your sight, that I might speak good for them, and turn your indignation from them (Jer 18:20). To stand in his presence is to be present before him in contemplation.
Secundo fuit magna ex magnitudine compassionis. Thren. 2: conturbata sunt viscera mea, effusum est in terra jecur meum.
Second, it was great because of the magnitude of his compassion. My bowels are disturbed, my liver is poured out on the earth (Lam 2:11).
Tertio fuit magna assiduitate temporis, quia ante captionem, et post. Unde Jacobi ult.: multum valet deprecatio justi assidua.
Third, it was great with regard to duration of time, because it began before the captivity, and continued after. For this reason, James says: the constant prayer of the just man avails much (Jas 5:16).
Et haec tria, scilicet prophetalis dignitas, fraternalis caritas, et compassionis pietas, necessaria sunt prophetae.
And these three—namely, prophetic dignity, fraternal charity, and pious compassion—are necessary for a prophet.