Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Apology of Claudius of Turin and His Commentary on Galatians

I have previously remarked how the icon-favoring council of 787 overthrew the precedent of the similarly sized council of 754, which condemned as idolatry the worshiping of God by images. Some folks have tried to suggest that the iconoclastic controversy was exclusively an Eastern issue. Some have even gone so far as to try to suggest that there was a Muslim and/or Jewish influence at play. Nevertheless, we ought to note that there was at least some Western opposition to the council. Not only was the council of 787 rejected by the regional Council of Frankfurt of 794, but it was also rejected by Claudius of Turin (flourished 810 – 827, bishop of Turin from 817 to his death).

Claudius not only spoke and wrote against such images, he tore them down. He himself states:
It came to pass that, after I was compelled to undertake the burden of the pastoral office I came to the city of Turin in Italy, sent by Louis, that pious prince and son of the Lord's holy Catholic church. I found all the churches filled with sordid images, which are anathematized and contrary to true teaching. Since everyone was honoring them, I undertook their destruction singlehandedly. Then everyone opened their mouths to curse me and, had the Lord not helped me, they would have swallowed me alive. . .
- Claudius of Turin (flourished 810 – 827), Apology (source of translation)

Here is an alternative translation of the same passage:
For which reason, of course, it came to pass that as soon as I was constrained to assume the burden of pastoral duty and to come to Italy to the city of Turin, sent thither by our pious prince Louis, the son of the Lord's holy catholic church, I found all the churches filled, in defiance of the precept of Truth, with those sluttish abominations - images. Since everyone was worshiping them, I undertook singlehanded to destroy them. Everyone thereupon opened his mouth to curse me, and had not God come to my aid, they would no doubt have swallowed me alive.
- Claudius of Turin (flourished 810 – 827), Defense and Reply to Abbot Theodemir (Translation by Allen Cabaniss in Early Medieval Theology volume IX of the Library of Christian Classics, p. 242)

On a seemingly unrelated note, it is interesting to read what Claudius has to say about the atonement:
His anger did not blaze carnally for a carnal observance and sustain the penalty set for those who did not keep it, but that believers might be in themselves entirely free from fear of such penalty, to which applies what he now added as follows: "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us, since it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.'" A man's death belongs to the nature of penalty for sin; wherefore it is also called sin. Not that a man sins when he dies, but that it is because of sin that he dies. In other words, the tongue properly so designated is that fleshly part which moves between the teeth and under the palate, yet that also is called a tongue which results because of the tongue, as the Greek tongue or the Latin tongue. Moreover, that member of the body which we use for work is designated the hand, but in Scripture that is called a hand which is brought about by the hand. We say, "His hand is stretched forth ... His hand is observed by him ... I hold your hand," all referring to the hand as a part of a human being. Now I do not deem writing a part of a human being, yet it also is called a hand because it is done by the hand. So not only is that great evil which is worthy of punishment, sin itself, called sin, but also death, which comes because of sins. Christ did not commit that sin which renders one liable to death, but for us he underwent that other, namely, death itself which was inflicted upon human nature by sin. That which hung on the tree was cursed by Moses. There death was condemned to reign longer and was cursed to die. Wherefore by such "sin" of Christ our sin was condemned that we might be set free, that we might remain no longer condemned by the rule of sin.
- Claudius of Turin (flourished 810 – 827), Commentary on Galatians, at Galatians 3:16 (Translation by Allen Cabaniss in Early Medieval Theology volume IX of the Library of Christian Classics, p. 229-30)

Notice that Claudius' comments are more or less specifically affirming a penal substitution view of the atonement. Admittedly, he does not provide a fully developed explanation of the atonement here, but the portion he does provide is explicitly one of penal substitution.

- TurretinFan


  1. Hi TF! I don't know where to put this query, but I want to know what your insight regarding this issue is. Here's my problem,

    Paul used Abraham as an example of one who is Justified by Faith, not by works. Quoting Genesis 15:4 he says:

    Rom. 4:2-3, For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness."

    Gen. 15:4, "And he [Abraham] believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

    According to the Evangelical understanding of Justification: Justification is a forensic one-time act of God declaring a believing sinner righteous on the account of Christ's perfect merits imputed on the sinner, and all the sinner's sins imputed to Christ. Therefore, it's not a process. A sinner can be justified only once in his lifetime the moment he put his faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

    In opposition to this view of Justification, Roman Catholics would argue that Abraham wasn't justified once, but in fact many times, thus making Justification not merely forensic but a process. For example, they would appeal to Hebrews 11:8-10 to prove that Abraham had faith already prior to his justification at Genesis 15:4:

    Heb. 11:8-10, By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

    Cross references:
    v. 8 - Gen. 12:1-4, 7
    v. 9 - Gen. 12:8; 13:3, 18; 18:1, 9

    Roman Catholics would argue that If Abraham already believed prior to Genesis 15:4, the inescapable conclusion would be that Abraham was already justified prior to his justification at Gen 15:4. Therefore, Justification is not merely forensic, but a process.

    What would be our response to this?

    ~ An Evangelical brother

  2. James 2:18 says: "Nevertheless, a certain one will say: "You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith apart from the works, and I shall show you my faith by my works. .....(Verse 21) Was not Abraham our father declared righteous by works after he had offered up Isaac his son upon the altar. You behold that his faith worked along with his works and by his works his faith was perfected. ..... (Verse 24-26) You see that a man is to be declared righteous by works, and not by faith alone. In the same manner was not also Rahab the harlot declared righteous by works, after she had received the messengers hospitably and sent them out by another way? Indeed, as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."


Comment Guidelines:

1. Thanks for posting a comment. Without you, this blog would not be interactive.

2. Please be polite. That doesn't mean you have to use kid gloves, but please try not to flame others, even if they are heretics, infidels, or worse.

3. If you insult me, I'm more likely to delete your comment than if you butter me up. After all, I'm human. I prefer praise to insults. If you prefer insults, there's something wrong with you.

4. Please be concise. The comment box is not your blog. Your blog is your blog. If you have a really long comment, post it on your blog and post a short summary of it here.

5. Please don't just spam. It's one thing to be concise, it's another thing to simply use the comment box to advertise.

6. Please note, by commenting here, you are relinquishing your (C) in your comments to me.

7. Remember that you will give an account on judgment day for your words, including those typed in comment boxes. Try to write so you will not be ashamed if it is read back before the entire world.

8. Stay on topic. If your comment has nothing to do with the post, email it to me (my email can be obtained through my blogger profile), or simply don't post it.

9. Don't post as "Anonymous." If you are going to post anonymously, at least use some kind of recognizable "handle," so we can tell you apart from all the other anonymous folks. (This is moot at the moment, since recent abuse has forced me to turn off "anonymous" commenting.)

10. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you; and abstain from doing to others what you would not wish upon yourself.