Saturday, September 16, 2023

Epiphanius Against the Worship of Mary in Panarion 79 - A Response to William Albrecht

In our recent debate on the Bodily Assumption of Mary, William made an anachronistic claim regarding Epiphanius' objection to the veneration of Mary.  More specifically, he offers an anachronistic recategorization of the veneration of Mary that is not supported by the text of Epiphanius' Panarion 79:

A side-by-side comparison of the English translation (left) and the Greek original (right) shows a different story:

Section 4

(1) But it must be observed that the ordinance of the church required not only deaconesses. It mentioned widows too, and called those of them who were still older, “elder,” but nowhere did it prescribe “eldresses” or “priestesses.” Indeed, not even the deacons in the hierarchy of the church have been commissioned to celebrate any mystery, but only to administer mysteries already celebrated. (2) But, once more, from whence has this new story arisen for us? Whence women’s pride and female madness? What has nourished the wickedness that—through the female, once more!— pours the feminine habit of speculation into our minds [and], by encouraging its characteristic luxury, tries to compel the wretched human race to overstep its proper bounds? (3) But let us adopt the firm resolve of the champion Job, prepare ourselves with the righteous answer on our lips, and ourselves say, “Thou hast spoken as one of the foolish women.” (4) For how can such a thing not appear insane to every wise man whose [mind is sound*] in God? How can the practice not seem idolatrous and the undertaking the devil’s? But the devil has always slipped into the human mind in the guise of someone righteous and, to deify mortal human nature in human eyes, made human images with a great variety of arts. (5) And yet the men who are worshiped have died, and their images, which have never lived, are introduced for worship—and since they’ve never lived they can’t be called dead either! And with adulterous intent [they have rebelled] against the one and only God, like a common whore who has been excited to the wickedness of many relations and rejected the temperate course of lawful marriage to one husband. (6) Yes, of course Mary’s body was holy, but she was not God. Yes, the Virgin was indeed a virgin and honored as such, but she was not given us to worship; she worships Him who, though born of her flesh, has come from heaven, from the bosom of his Father. (7) And the Gospel therefore protects us by telling us so on the occasion when the Lord himself said, “Woman, what is between me and thee? Mine hour is not yet come.” [For] to make sure that no one would suppose, because of the words, “What is between me and thee?” that the holy Virgin is anything more [than a woman], he called her “Woman” as if by prophecy, because of the schisms and sects that were to appear on earth. Otherwise some might stumble into the nonsense of the sect from excessive awe of the saint.(1) Παρατηρητέον δὲ ὅτι ἄχρι διακονισσῶν μόνον τὸ ἐκκλησιαστικὸν ἐπεδεήθη τάγμα, χήρας τε ὠνόμασε καὶ τούτων τὰς ἔτι γραοτέρας πρεσβύτιδας, οὐδαμοῦ δὲ πρεσβυτερίδας ἢ ἱερίσσας προσέταξε. καὶ γὰρ οὔτε διάκονοι ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησιαστικῇ τάξει ἐπιστεύθησάν τι μυστήριον ἐπιτελεῖν, (2) ἀλλὰ μόνον διακονεῖν τὰ ἐπιτελούμενα. πόθεν δὲ πάλιν ἡμῖν ὁ καινὸς μῦθος οὗτος ἐγήγερται; πόθεν γυναικῶν τῦφος καὶ μανία γυναικωνῖτις; πόθεν τρεφομένη ἡ κακία, διὰ τῆς † πάλιν θήλεος ἡμῖν τὸ θῆλυ τῆς ὑπονοίας τοῖς φρονήμασιν ἐπιχέουσα τὸ σφέτερόν [τε] ἡδυπαθείας ἐργαζομένη, ἀπὸ τοῦ προκειμένου ἔξω βαίνειν τὴν τάλαιναν τῶν ἀνθρώπων φύσιν ἐπιχειρεῖ ἀναγκάζειν; (3) ἀλλὰ μὴν τοῦ Ἰὼβ δεξώμεθα τὸ φρόνημα τὸ στερεὸν τοῦ ἀθλητοῦ, ἐξοπλισώμεθα τὴν δικαίαν ἀπόκρισιν ἐπὶ τοῖς χείλεσιν ἀναλαβόντες, εἴπωμεν καὶ αὐτοί «ὥσπερ μία τῶν ἀφρόνων γυναικῶν ἐλάλησας». (4) πόθεν γὰρ οὐκ ἐμβρόντητον τὸ τοιοῦτον φανήσεται παντὶ τῷ σύνεσιν ἔχοντι καὶ * ἐν θεῷ κεκτημένῳ; πόθεν οὐκ εἰδωλοποιὸν τὸ ἐπιτήδευμα καὶ τὸ ἐγχείρημα διαβολικόν; προφάσει γὰρ δικαίου ἀεὶ ὑπεισδύνων τὴν διάνοιαν ὁ διάβολος τῶν ἀνθρώπων τὴν θνητὴν φύσιν θεοποιῶν εἰς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἀνθρώπων ἀνδροείκελα ἀγάλματα διὰ ποικιλίας τεχνῶν διέγραψε. (5) καὶ τεθνήκασι μὲν οἱ προσκυνούμενοι, τὰ δὲ τούτων ἀγάλματα μηδέποτε ζήσαντα (οὔτε γὰρ νεκρὰ δύναται λέγεσθαι τὰ μηδέποτε ζήσαντα) προσκυνητὰ παρεισάγουσι, διὰ μοιχευσάσης διανοίας * ἀπὸ τοῦ ἑνὸς καὶ μόνου θεοῦ, ὡς ἡ πολύκοινος πόρνη ἐπὶ πολλὴν ἀτοπίαν πολυμιξίας ἐρεθισθεῖσα καὶ τὸ σῶφρον ἀποτριψαμένη τῆς τοῦ ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς εὐνομίας. (6) ναὶ μὴν ἅγιον ἦν τὸ σῶμα τῆς Μαρίας, οὐ μὴν θεός, ναὶ δὴ παρθένος ἦν ἡ παρθένος καὶ τετιμημένη, ἀλλ' οὐκ εἰς προσκύνησιν ἡμῖν δοθεῖσα, ἀλλὰ προσκυνοῦσα τὸν ἐξ αὐτῆς σαρκὶ γεγεννημένον, ἀπὸ οὐρανῶν δὲ ἐκ κόλπων πατρῴων παραγενόμενον. (7) καὶ διὰ τοῦτο τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἐπασφαλίζεται ἡμᾶς λέγον, αὐτοῦ τοῦ κυρίου φήσαντος ὅτι «τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι; οὔπω ἥκει ἡ ὥρα μου»· ἵνα [γὰρ] ἀπὸ τοῦ «γύναι, τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί» μή τινες νομίσωσι περισσότερόν [τι] εἶναι τὴν ἁγίαν παρθένον, γυναῖκα ταύτην κέκληκεν, ὡς προφητεύων, τῶν μελλόντων ἔσεσθαι ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς σχισμάτων τε καὶ αἱρέσεων χάριν, ἵνα μή τινες ὑπερβολῇ θαυμάσαντες τὴν ἁγίαν εἰς τοῦτο ὑποπέσωσι τῆς αἱρέσεως τὸ ληρολόγημα.

Section 5

(1) For what this sect has to say is complete nonsense and, as it were, an old wives’ tale. Which scripture has spoken of it? Which prophet permitted the worship of a man, let alone a woman? (2) The vessel is choice but a woman, and by nature no different [from others]. Like the bodies of the saints, however, she has been held in honor for her character and understanding. And if I should say anything more in her praise, [she is] like Elijah, who was virgin from his mother’s womb, always remained so, and was taken up and has not seen death. She is like John who leaned on the Lord’s breast, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” She is like St. Thecla; and Mary is still more honored than she, because of the providence vouchsafed her. (3) But Elijah is not to be worshiped, even though he is alive. And John is not to be worshiped, even though by his own prayer—or rather, by receiving the grace from God—he made an awesome thing of his falling asleep. But neither is Thecla worshiped, nor any of the saints. For the age-old error of forgetting the living God and worshiping his creatures will not get the better of me. (4) They served and worshiped the creature more than the creator,” and “were made fools.” If it is not his will that angels be worshiped, how much more the woman born of Ann, who was given to Ann by Joachim and granted to her father and mother by promise, after prayer and all diligence? She was surely not born other than normally, but of a man’s seed and a woman’s womb like everyone else. (5) For even though the story and traditions of Mary say that her father Joachim was told in the wilderness, “Your wife has conceived,” it was not because this had come about without conjugal intercourse or a man’s seed. The angel who was sent to him predicted the coming event, so that there would be no doubt. The thing had truly happened, had already been decreed by God, and had been promised to the righteous.(1) Χλεύης γάρ ἐστι τὸ πᾶν καὶ γραῶν [ὁ] μῦθος ὡς εἰπεῖν τῆς αἱρέσεως τὸ διήγημα. ποία δέ τις γραφὴ διηγήσατο περὶ τούτου; ποῖος προφητῶν ἐπέτρεψεν ἄνθρωπον προσκυνεῖσθαι, οὐ μὴν γυναῖκα λέγειν; (2) ἐξαίρετον μὲν γάρ ἐστι τὸ σκεῦος, ἀλλὰ γυνή, καὶ οὐδὲν τὴν φύσιν παρηλλαγμένη, τὴν δὲ γνώμην καὶ τὴν αἴσθησιν ἐν τιμῇ τετιμημένη, ὥσπερ τὰ σώματα τῶν ἁγίων· καὶ εἴ τι περισσότερον πρὸς δοξολογίαν εἴποιμι, ὡς Ἠλίας ἐκ μητρὸς παρθένος καὶ οὕτω μένων εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς καὶ ἀναλαμβανόμενος, θάνατον δὲ οὐχ ἑωρακώς· ὡς ὁ Ἰωάννης ὁ ἐπὶ τὸ στῆθος τοῦ κυρίου ἀναπεσών, «ὃν ἠγάπα ὁ Ἰησοῦς»· ὡς Θέκλα ἡ ἁγία, καὶ Μαρία ἡ ἔτι ταύτης τιμιωτέρα δι' ἣν κατηξίωται οἰκονομίαν. (3) ἀλλ' οὔτε Ἠλίας προσκυνητός, καίπερ ἐν ζῶσιν ὤν, οὔτε Ἰωάννης προσκυνητός, καίτοι γε διὰ ἰδίας εὐχῆς τὴν κοίμησιν αὑτοῦ ἔκπληκτον ἀπεργασάμενος, μᾶλλον δὲ ἐκ θεοῦ λαβὼν τὴν χάριν, ἀλλ' οὔτε ἡ Θέκλα οὔτε τις τῶν ἁγίων προσκυνεῖται. οὐ γὰρ κυριεύσει ἡμῶν ἡ ἀρχαία πλάνη [τοῦ] καταλιμπάνειν τὸν ζῶντα καὶ προσκυνεῖν τὰ ὑπ' αὐτοῦ γεγονότα. (4) «ἐλάτρευσαν γὰρ καὶ ἐσεβάσθησαν τῇ κτίσει παρὰ τὸν κτίσαντα» καὶ «ἐμωράνθησαν». εἰ γὰρ ἀγγέλους προσκυνεῖσθαι οὐ θέλει, πόσῳ μᾶλλον τὴν ἀπὸ Ἄννης γεγεννημένην, τὴν ἐκ τοῦ Ἰωακεὶμ τῇ Ἄννᾳ δεδωρημένην, τὴν δι' εὐχῆς καὶ πάσης ἐπιμελείας κατὰ ἐπαγγελίαν πατρὶ καὶ μητρὶ δοθεῖσαν, οὐ μὴν ἑτέρως γεγεννημένην παρὰ τὴν τῶν ἀνθρώπων φύσιν, ἀλλὰ καθὼς πάντες ἐκ σπέρματος ἀνδρὸς καὶ μήτρας γυναικός; (5) εἰ γὰρ καὶ ἡ τῆς Μαρίας ἱστορία καὶ παραδόσεις ἔχουσιν ὅτι ἐρρέθη τῷ πατρὶ αὐτῆς Ἰωακεὶμ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ὅτι ἡ γυνή σου συνειληφυῖα, [ἀλλ'] οὐχ ὅτι ἄνευ συζυγίας τοῦτο ἐγένετο, οὐδὲ ὅτι ἄνευ σπέρματος ἀνδρός, ἀλλὰ τὸ μέλλον ἔσεσθαι προεθέσπιζεν ὁ ἄγγελος ἀποσταλείς, ἵνα μή τις γένηται δισταγμὸς διὰ τὸ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ γεγενημένον καὶ τὸ ἐκ θεοῦ ἤδη τεταγμένον καὶ τῷ δικαίῳ ἐπηγγελμένον.

As you can see, the one place where a form of latreuo is used is in a Scripture quotation from Romans at 5,4.  Everywhere else, Epiphanius uses the general term for religious veneration (proskuneo), which is consequently translated worship.  This is the same Greek word later adopted by John of Damascus and his iconodules to describe their religious veneration of icons.  For Epiphanius, they seem to be approximately equivalent.  By contrast, Epiphanius uses the verb timao to indicate the honor given to Mary as a virgin.

The verb timao or honor is the same word used to translate the fifth commandment in Matthew 15:4, "Honor thy father and thy mother."  Although we can also honor God (and ought to, as John 5:23 tells us), God can also honor us (John 12:26), which demonstrates that this is not a religious veneration.  Indeed, Peter commands us to honor all men and particularly to honor the King (1 Peter 2:17).

That is not to suggest that Epiphanius never uses the latreuo, or some form thereof, in his Panarion more generally.  For example, 26 of the 58 places in Panarion where I found words involving some word derived from latreuo, the usage was actually the word idolatry (εἰδωλολατρεία / eidololatreia) or some form thereof.    

Nevertheless, I see no reason to conclude that Epiphanius sees latreuo as distinct from proskuneo.  Indeed, he seems to treat both as proper to God alone, in his contra Arian writing.  For example, in Panarion 69 ("Against the Arain Nuts"), section 18, sub-sections (1) to (3), he writes: 

Section 18
(1)This will help us [understand*] the exact nature of the truth we are after: to say, “Son,” but say it without considering him a son in name only, but say that the Son is a son by nature. With us too, many are called sons without being sons by nature. But our real sons are called “true”; they were actually begotten by us. (2) And if he was only called a son, as indeed all have been called sons of God, he is no different from the rest. And why is he worshiped as God? On Arius’ premises all the other things that have been given the title of sons should be worshiped, since they are termed sons of God. (3) But this is not the truth. The truth at all times knows one only-begotten Son of God whom all things serve and worship, and to whom “every knee shall bow, of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”(1) Ἔνθεν γάρ ἐστι * τὸ ζητούμενον τῆς ἀληθείας ἀκρίβασμα, τὸ υἱὸν μὲν λέγειν, λέγειν δὲ καὶ ἔχειν οὐχ ἁπλῶς ὀνόματι, ἀλλὰ υἱὸν κατὰ φύσιν υἱόν. καὶ ἐν ἡμῖν γὰρ πολλοὶ καλοῦνται υἱοί, μὴ ὄντες ἡμῶν υἱοὶ κατὰ φύσιν. οἱ δὲ ἀληθινοὶ υἱοὶ οἱ γνήσιοι καλοῦνται, οἱ κατὰ φύσιν ὑφ' ἡμῶν γεγεννημένοι. (2) καὶ εἰ μὲν οὖν υἱὸς μόνον ἐκαλεῖτο, ὡς καὶ πάντες ἐκλήθησαν υἱοὶ θεοῦ, ἄρα οὐδὲν διαλλάττει τῶν ἄλλων. καὶ πῶς ὡς θεὸς προσκυνεῖται; ἔδει οὖν καὶ τὰ ἄλλα πάντα, ἐφ' οὓς τὸ ὄνομα τῆς υἱοθεσίας ἐπικέκληται, κατ' αὐτὸν προσκυνεῖσθαι, ἐπειδὴ υἱοὶ θεοῦ προσαγορεύονται. (3) ἀλλὰ ἡ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔχει οὕτως, ἀλλ' οἶδεν ἀεὶ ἕνα μονογενῆ υἱὸν θεοῦ, ᾧ πάντα λατρεύει καὶ προσκυνεῖ, «καὶ πᾶν γόνυ κάμψει ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων, καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσεται, ὅτι κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός».

Thus, it can be seen that Epiphanius treats the terms as approximately equivalent, and that Epiphanius uses the absurd impropriety of offering proskuneo to everyone as an argument against Aris.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! You've shown Epiphanius of Salamis doesn't distinguish between lateria and prokinesis as clarified by John of Damascus.

On the other hand Epiphanius does distinguish between the respect (veneration if you will) given to holy people like saints which is different from that due to God so John of Damascus's point is still valid.
Good Effort.
Keep trying.