Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Golden Rule in the Early Church, Part 2

CONTINUING WITH OUR CITATIONS of sources of the early Church in the area of the Golden Rule, we begin with St. Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyon (Lugdunum) in the Roman province of Gaul. We find mention of the Golden Rule in his famous work Adversus Haereses or Against Heresies. St. Irenaeus addresses the Gnostic bias against the Old Testament, even to the point of holding that one God is revealed in the Old Testament, and another God revealed in the New Testament. He refers to the so-called Council of Jerusalem mentioned in Acts 15, and the efforts to determine how much of the Mosaic law applied to the Gentile converts. The council is to have resulted in the following decree:
We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, that they may declare our opinion by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden that these necessary things: that you abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from fornication; and whatsoever you do not wish to be done to you do not to others: from which preserving yourselves, you shall do well, walking in the Holy Spirit.

Placuit enim sancto Spiritui, et nobis, nullum amplius vobis pondus imponere, quam haec, quae sunt necessaria: ut abstineatis ab idolothythis, et sanguine, et fornicatione; et quecunque non vultis fieri vobis, aliis ne faciatis: a quibus custodientes vos ipsos, bene agetis, ambulantes in Spiritu sancto.
Adv. haer., III.12.14. St. Irenaeus appears to reference the so-called Council of Jerusalem, and the Latin text of his Adversus Haereses appears to add a formulation to the Apostolic decision in Acts 15 that is not found in most of our Bibles, specifically, that part that proposes the Golden Rule as the "necessary things" (quae sunt necessaria). The so-called "Western text-type" manuscripts (e.g., the Codex Bezae) contain this additional "Golden Rule" injunction, whereas the Alexandrian text-type (e.g., the Codex Sinaiticus or the Codex Vaticanus, upon which our versions appear to rely) do not. An example of the differences may be noted by comparing Acts 15:22-29 in the New American Standard Bible with an English translation of the same section in the Codex Bezae.

Codex Bezae

Acts 15:22-29,
Codex Bezae
Acts 15:22-29,

22. Then it seemed good to the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to choose men out of their company and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, Judas called Barabbas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren.

23. And they wrote a letter by their hands containing as follows. The apostles and the elder brethren unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greeting:

24. Forasmuch as we have heard that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls; to whom we gave no commandment;

25. it seemed good unto us, having come to one accord, to choose out men, and send them to you with your beloved Barnabas and Paul,

26. men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every trial.

27. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who themselves also shall tell you the same things by word of mouth.

28. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;

29. that ye abstain from idol sacrifices, and from blood, [and from things strangled], and from fornication and whatsoever ye would not should be done to yourselves, ye do not to another. From which if ye keep yourselves ye do well, being sustained by the Holy Spirit. Fare ye well.
22. Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas-- Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren,

23. and they sent this letter by them, "The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings.

24.Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls, seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,

26. men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

27. Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth.

28. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials:

29. that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell."

(For the English translation of the Codex Bezae, see

Bardaisan (Syriac: ܒܪܕܝܨܢ, Bardaiṣān) (154–222 A.D.), also known as Bardesanes, was a Syrian Gnostic frequently compared to Origen. He wrote about the Golden Rule in both its negative and affirmative forms in his book Liber Legum Regionum, 11.
For two precepts are laid before us that fit beautifully and decorously with liberty. First, that we shall never serve any evil upon anyone, from that which we would not will to befall to ourselves. And the other, that we should do that which is good, what is pleasant to us and what we desire to have done to ourselves. For what man is it that is so bodily ill that he cannot avoid to steal, to lie, or not to commit adultery or fornication, or to be envious, or deceive?

Duo enim sunt praecepta coram nobis posita quae libertati pulchra sunt et decora: primum nempe ut servemus nos ab omni malo, et ab eo quod nollemus nobis fieri: alterum ut faciamus id quod bonum est et quod diligamus et desideremus nobis etiam fieri. Quis est homo qui ita infirmus est ut nequeat se abstinere a furto aut mendacio, aut ab adulterio, aut a stupro, aut ab invidia et falsitate?
Patrologia Syriaca, Vol. 2, 550.

The Golden Rule by Norman Rockwell

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