Thursday, May 08, 2008

Gregory Thaumaturgus - The First Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary - Pseudographic?

In a previous post we investigated the possibility that a widely used quotation attributed to Athanasius may be spurious. (link) Now, at the request of my debate opponent in the upcoming Sola Scriptura debate, Mr. Bellisario, I have turned my attention to another alleged quotation about Mary. This one is by someone my average reader probably has not heard of, Gregory Thaumaturgus. The quotation is taken from a work titled: "The First Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary." Unlike the "Homily of the Papyrus of Turin," the "First Homily," has been around for a while.

And it has been identified as spurious for a while. Indeed, it is included in the list of dubious or spurious works in this edition of the Ante-Nicean Fathers (link), and is specifically identified as spurious work (see page 58, footnote 1).

At least the following Catholic encyclopedia explains that the feast of the Annunciation of the Holy Virgin is thought to have emerged in the late 5th century (link), which tends to confirm the fact that a Homily on such an occasion is demonstrably anachronistic. Furthermore, the footnote referenced above notes that indeed the homily was previously set forth to try to prove an earlier date for the origin of the feast day, but that theory has evidently been discarded.

For example, EWTN states: "Both eastern and western churches celebrate it on this day, and have done so at least ever since the fifth century. This festival is mentioned by Pope Gelasius I, in 492. " (link)

As to the alleged author in general, the "New Advent" Catholic Encyclopedia states, "It is to be noted here that our sources of information as to the life, teaching, and actions of Gregory Thaumaturgus are all more or less open to criticism." (link) Likewise, Luigi Gambero states: "Tradition incorrectly attributes numerous pseudo-epigraphic Marian homilies to Gregory the Wonderworker." (link) Gregory the Wonderworker is another name for Gregory Thaumaturgus. (those interested will note that Gambero, at page 106, provides an English-language version of the (pseudo?) Athanasius quotation we discussed previously.

Again, I'm not sure whether any has tried to set forth a positive case for authenticity of this quotation, as truly being the work of Gregory Thaumaturgus. If they have, I'd be interested to see it - and particularly interested to see how the apparently settled date of origin of the feast day (March 25) is overcome.

I don't see this being used as widely as the Athanasius quotation, but since I was asked I've provided. Although Mr. Hoffer used it, I trust he did so with the most sincere believe that it was genuine - and I think he was simply mistaken.


No comments: