This is another of the multitude of Vulgate Prologues, but one which is now considered not to belong to Jerome, though it very obviously is intended to seem to be from him. The key interest in this prologue lies in its positive evaluation of the Johannine Comma. It appears in Codex Fuldensis, one of the earliest copies of the Vulgate NT, dating to 547, but curiously enough, the Comma does not! Since we have not a shred of information on Jerome’s opinion of the Comma, we’re left hanging without corroboration on whether this letter is his or is truly a forgery. Currently, as the Comma is considered not to have been included in the earliest editions of the Old Latin and Vulgate, it seems likely, but not absolutely certain, that Jerome would not have known of it. Also, we have no evidence that Jerome did any of the editorial work on the NT books outside of the Gospels, and in fact, evidence in his usage late in life of a contrary text. The decisive elements in this prologue for its inauthenticity are two, I think. Jerome did his work on the Gospels first out of all his Biblical translations/revisions in the Vulgate, in about 382. But here in this letter he addresses only Eustochium and not Paula and Eustochium. Paula, Eustochium’s mother and abbess, died in 404, only at which time did Jerome begin to address letters only to Eustochium. But here, the author, not knowing the chronology of Jerome’s work and life, says he “just now” (dudum) corrected the Evangelists, and yet addresses only Eustochium. At least twenty-two years previous is not “just now.” This dating contradiction is conclusive. So, to determine the true date of this prologue, we’re left with a terminus ante quem of the publication of the Codex Fuldensis in 547. Would perhaps the reference to a Latin tradition of placing Peter’s Epistles first among the Catholic Epistles, him being “first in the order of the Apostles,” indicate a dating after the Leonine period, when Papal Primacy based on Petrine Primacy first came to such prominence? Maybe, maybe not. It seems easier to ask questions about this prologue than to answer them, as is the case in so many of the issues surrounding the history of the Vulgate. The text is from Migne, Patrologia Latina 4.1114A-1114C, where it was, for some reason, only included in a note by Migne among the doubtfully attributed works of Cyprian.
THE PROLOGUE TO THE CANONICAL EPISTLES
The order of the seven Epistles, which are named Canonical, as is found in Latin books is not thus among the Greeks who believe rightly and follow the correct faith. For as Peter is first in the order of the Apostles, first also are his Epistles in the order of the others. But as we have just now corrected the Evangelists to the line of truth, so we have restored, with God helping, these to their proper order. For the first of them is one of James, two of Peter, three of John, and one of Jude. Which, if they were arranged by them and thus were faithfully turned into Latin speech by interpreters, they would have neither made ambiguity for readers nor would they have attacked the variety of words themselves, especially in that place where we read what is put down about the oneness of the Trinity in the First Epistle of John. In which we find many things to be mistaken of the truth of the faith by the unfaithful translators, who put down in their own edition only three words, that is, Water, Blood, and Spirit, and who omit the witness of the Father and Word and Spirit, by which both the Catholic faith is greatly strengthened and also the one substance of the Divinity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is proved. Indeed, in the other Epistles, I leave to the judgment of the reader how much the edition of the others differs from ours. But you, O virgin of Christ Eustochium, while you zealously seek from me the truth of Scripture, you expose my old age, as it were, to the devouring teeth of the envious, who call me a falsifier and corrupter of the Holy Scriptures. But I, in such a work, am afraid of neither the envy of my rivals, nor will I refuse those requesting the truth of Holy Scripture.
END OF PROLOGUE
THE APOCALYPSE OF NOREA
Church father Epiphanius wrote of the existence of a Book of Noria. On the Origin of the World makes reference to the First Book of Noraia and the First Account of Oraia. But those books are unfortunately lost to us now, but what can be provided in their place is a text entitled the Apocalypse (Revelation) of Norea, a brief work, extracted from the Hypostasis of the Archons. In this revelation, the world is filled with Gnosis, and the lesser gods hope to send a flood to destroy the enlightened and save the ignorant. Noah, being one of the ignorant, is instructed to make a vessel to save himself and his family. Norea wishes to come aboard, but Noah prevents this from happening, so she burns the ark down, so realizing that Noah isn't getting any where with Norea around, the gods choose to rape her. She calls upon higher powers to save her, and the angel Eleleth comes to do this. She then asks Eleleth to reveal to her certain mysteries, and he does so. A number of scholars believe this section was a separate work originally.
And Adam knew his female counterpart Eve, and she became pregnant, and bore Seth to Adam. And she said, "I have borne another man through God, in place of Abel." Again Eve became pregnant, and she bore Norea. And she said, "He has begotten on me a virgin as an assistance for many generations of mankind." She is the virgin whom the forces did not defile.
Then mankind began to multiply and improve. The rulers took counsel with one another and said, "Come, let us cause a deluge with our hands and obliterate all flesh, from man to beast."
But when the ruler of the forces came to know of their decision, he said to Noah, "Make yourself an ark from some wood that does not rot and hide in it - you and your children and the beasts and the birds of heaven from small to large - and set it upon Mount Sir."
Then Norea came to him, wanting to board the ark. And when he would not let her, she blew upon the ark and caused it to be consumed by fire. Again he made the ark, for a second time.
The rulers went to meet her, intending to lead her astray. Their supreme chief said to her, "Your mother Eve came to us."
But Norea turned to them and said to them, "It is you who are the rulers of the darkness; you are accursed. And you did not know my mother; instead it was your female counterpart that you knew. For I am not your descendant; rather it is from the world above that I am come."
The arrogant ruler turned, with all his might, and his countenance came to be like a black panther; he said to her presumptuously, "You must render service to us, as did also your mother Eve; for I have been given [...]." But Norea turned, with the might of [...]; and in a loud voice, she cried out up to the holy one, the God of the entirety, "Rescue me from the rulers of unrighteousness and save me from their clutches - forthwith!"
The great angel came down from the heavens and said to her, "Why are you crying up to God? Why do you act so boldly towards the holy spirit?"
Norea said, "Who are you?" The rulers of unrighteousness had withdrawn from her.
He said, "It is I who am Eleleth, sagacity, the great angel who stands in the presence of the holy spirit. I have been sent to speak with you and save you from the grasp of the lawless. And I shall teach you about your root."
Now as for that angel, I cannot speak of his power: his appearance is like fine gold and his raiment is like snow. No, truly, my mouth cannot bear to speak of his power and the appearance of his face!
Eleleth, the great angel, spoke to me. "It is I," he said, "who am understanding. I am one of the four light-givers, who stand in the presence of the great invisible spirit. Do you think these rulers have any power over you? None of them can prevail against the root of truth; for on its account he appeared in the final ages; and these authorities will be restrained.
And these authorities cannot defile you and that generation; for your abode is in incorruptibility, where the virgin spirit dwells, who is superior to the authorities of chaos and to their universe."
But I said, "Sir, teach me about the faculty of these authorities - how did they come into being, and by what kind of genesis, and of what material, and who created them and their force?"
And the great angel Eleleth, understanding, spoke to me: "Within limitless realms dwells incorruptibility. Sophia, who is called Pistis, wanted to create something, alone without her consort; and her product was a celestial thing.
A veil exists between the world above and the realms that are below; and shadow came into being beneath the veil; and that shadow became matter; and that shadow was projected apart.
And what she had created became a product in the matter, like an aborted fetus. And it assumed a plastic form molded out of shadow, and became an arrogant beast resembling a lion.
It was androgynous, as I have already said, because it was from matter that it derived.
Opening his eyes, he saw a vast quantity of matter without limit; and he became arrogant, saying, "It is I who am God, and there is none other apart from me".
When he said this, he sinned against the entirety. And a voice came forth from above the realm of absolute power, saying, "You are mistaken, Samael" - which is, 'god of the blind'.
And he said, "If any other thing exists before me, let it become visible to me!" And immediately Sophia stretched forth her finger and introduced light into matter; and she pursued it down to the region of chaos. And she returned up to her light; once again darkness [...] matter.
This ruler, by being androgynous, made himself a vast realm, an extent without limit. And he contemplated creating offspring for himself, and created for himself seven offspring, androgynous just like their parent. And he said to his offspring, "It is I who am god of the entirety."
And Zoe, the daughter of Pistis Sophia, cried out and said to him, "You are mistaken, Sakla!" - for which the alternative name is Yaltabaoth.
She breathed into his face, and her breath became a fiery angel for her; and that angel bound Yaldabaoth and cast him down into Tartaros below the abyss.
Now when his offspring Sabaoth saw the force of that angel, he repented and condemned his father and his mother, matter.
He loathed her, but he sang songs of praise up to Sophia and her daughter Zoe.
And Sophia and Zoe caught him up and gave him charge of the seventh heaven, below the veil between above and below.
And he is called 'God of the forces, Sabaoth', since he is up above the forces of chaos, for Sophia established him.
Now when these events had come to pass, he made himself a huge four-faced chariot of cherubim, and infinitely many angels to act as ministers, and also harps and lyres.
And Sophia took her daughter Zoe and had her sit upon his right to teach him about the things that exist in the eighth heaven; and the angel of wrath she placed upon his left.
Since that day, his right has been called 'life'; and the left has come to represent the unrighteousness of the realm of absolute power above. It was before your time that they came into being.
Now when Yaldabaoth saw him in this great splendor and at this height, he envied him; and the envy became an androgynous product, and this was the origin of envy.
And envy engendered death; and death engendered his offspring and gave each of them charge of its heaven; and all the heavens of chaos became full of their multitudes.
But it was by the will of the father of the entirety that they all came into being - after the pattern of all the things above - so that the sum of chaos might be attained.
"There, I have taught you about the pattern of the rulers; and the matter in which it was expressed; and their parent; and their universe."
But I said, "Sir, am I also from their matter?"
"You, together with your offspring, are from the primeval father; from above, out of the imperishable light, their souls are come.
Thus the authorities cannot approach them, because of the spirit of truth present within them; and all who have become acquainted with this way exist deathless in the midst of dying mankind. Still, that sown element will not become known now.
Instead, after three generations it will come to be known, and it has freed them from the bondage of the authorities' error."
Then I said, "Sir, how much longer?"
He said to me, "Until the moment when the true man, within a modeled form, reveals the existence of the spirit of truth, which the father has sent.
Then he will teach them about everything, and he will anoint them with the unction of life eternal, given him from the incorruptible generation.
Then they will be freed of blind thought, and they will trample underfoot death, which is of the authorities, and they will ascend into the limitless light where this sown element belongs.
Then the authorities will relinquish their ages, and their angels will weep over their destruction, and their demons will lament their death.
Then all the children of the light will be truly acquainted with the truth and their root, and the father of the entirety and the holy spirit. They will all say with a single voice, 'The father's truth is just, and the son presides over the entirety", and from everyone unto the ages of ages, "Holy - holy - holy! Amen!'"
SEVERUS OF ANTIOCH, SERMON 52: ON THE MACCABEES
A translation of the first form of the Homily on the Maccabees is given below. The chief interest of this discourse of Severus is to be found not in its treatment of the Maccabean story, but in its references, somewhat meager it is true, to the circumstances of Severus' own day. Plainly the Jews were still a great power in Antioch as they had been in Chrysostom's time and long before. The Manichees were still to be reckoned with; and astrology was still a trouble to the Church.
A MEMRA OF MAR SEVERUS
The Panegyric of the Maccabean youths is thought on account of the glory of the conflict they sustained to supply rich intellectual materials to those who pronounce it, but in that it surpasses all power finding of words it convicts of poverty those who eulogize.
And even in that which is before us they greatly fall short of the truth; for even a painter, if he see anything strange and unusual of endless beauty of created nature, and takes pains to copy this with pigments, paints indeed an image beautiful and very fair agreeing with this beautiful and lovely prototype; but he is overcome in that he is not able accurately by means of art to attain to that natural beauty.
So we also desiring to paint with the pigments of words the spiritual beauty and the manly struggle of these seven youths for piety say indeed things beautiful and very beautiful, for such is the subject, but we stand at a distance from their greatness of deeds, as we are removed even from nature. For merely to hear that seven youths, who, being now of youthful age, went forth by the same gate of youth, who over-topped one another a little in age like the steps of a ladder, but nevertheless youths all of them, that they suffered one and the same death on behalf of piety, and were constant under various kinds of tortures; and before them Eleazar elder and priest, and instructor rather in sufferings for piety than in the Law—and of their aged mother— that she endured manfully the scourgings of her sons and denied that she was a mother, what brave obedience! What a soul not dismayed! And what a wealth of words do the events need to be able to extol them to the height!
It putteth down therefore the eloquence which promises with sighs by study and art to write praises, and it flieth to that which is of heaven; and it lifteth up itself with its own wings and not with artificial and alien wings; and to God who crowns the contest of piety it cries with the prophet: Of thee is my glory in the great congregation.
And as regards that which I bring to the remembrance of the Church, I have evolved a certain truly divine and secret thought from the struggle of these valiant martyrs. For it seems to me that the old man holds forth a type of the Law which has waxed old in the Scriptures, and that the youths who were disciples to the old man together with their mother fulfill the conditions of the type of the Church of the Nations, which was indeed of old without child, but afterwards had many sons; which formerly was taught by the Law with symbolic teachings of piety; concerning which Hannah the prophetess said: The barren hath born seven. Because the Synagogue whose sons were formerly many hath waxed feeble.
But bring before your eye as it were into that stadium of virtue him whom time hath not darkened, who contended that he might annul former things. Moreover that which is sung by every man when it sounds as it were in the ears new and undefined of those who desire sustenance which is old indeed in the passage of years, but new in affection and freedom from cloying......
(3) And Antiochus the tyrant sat and was cruel in his mind, in a certain lofty place, for such is loftiness of spirit that it causeth perverseness to those who are troubled with it, namely, that they stand upon the earth with the rest but think they are fixed in the air when they walk on the tips of their nails, and lift up their eyebrows and exalt themselves as the cedars of Lebanon, as said the Holy Scripture, displaying their bareness of fruit and their haughtiness.
And there was standing before him girded in armor all the assembly of the soldiers and of the servants bearing lances, a sight sufficient to cause astonishment in the beholder. And there were set in the midst instruments of every kind of torture which threatened various kinds of punishment And there were some of them not yet made ready and as yet known only as a danger, which threatened by their very appearance bitter and violent death; and with scourgings very fearful, if it were possible, so to speak, lacerating with the body the soul also, and almost separating it from the bond of its fellow.
(4) And first into the midst came Eleazar the priest, hoary of hair but showing youth in mind. And he was urged to eat of heathen sacrifices and flesh of swine, and herein that he should renounce his pure reverence for the Law; for the tyrant thought that if he overcame this man, he would overcome the Law, yea the Priesthood itself; and he thought that to overthrow the old man was to dissolve these. For with these was his war and not with the sons of men. And he hoped again that the master would be followed without a struggle also by the young men his disciples. But his hope and his expectation disappointed him. For with the body the old man and infirm triumphed over the torments, and strengthened the youths strong as they were in body, and proved that the Law was spiritual and the Priesthood heavenly. And he made known that there was in them a good and ready hope for the sake of which it was also right to suffer, even though these things were not yet established unto legal form and writing.
For Antiochus indeed laughed much at him as though he were suffering in vain and in vain rejecting that pleasant taste of pork; and he called it a servant of nature and he reckoned it folly that he should take death in exchange for a single food. For he was mixing his very threats and at the same time mocking the man and frightening him. And sometimes he spoke both pitying and being grieved for his weakness and old age and worthiness; and the self-same sneers his servants also held forth. Being armed even thus on the king's side and helping him in every way, they were surrounding this old man as a tower of virtue. But he was not to be taken nor known nor subdued by them.
(5) For he said: Our Law, O Antiochus, is verily The Law, for it is the work and gift of God and the teaching is not of one of the sons of men. Hearest thou not of Moses and his fast of forty days and the purity and brightness which came from him? And of the top of Mount Sinai and the cloud, and of Him who spoke to him from thence, and of the tables graven with the finger of God, which were written on both their sides, within and without; declaring to those who were heavy brutish in their minds the external things of the word, but to those who Feared hinting carefully the theory of the deep things of the Spirit?
From thence we derive our refusal of the food of the flesh of swine, for it teaches us to restrain gluttonous desires, and not to pursue after pleasure, and that therein we should maintain constancy.
Reverence therefore either the Lawgiver who is God, or the high estimation of the Law. For irrational beasts are permitted, as I have said, to make use of the abundance of nature, and to possess the lust of unrestrained pleasures. But for rational man the Law is appointed that he may neither eat nor do all the things that are natural; for some are with-holden, and the rest are permitted him. On account of this we even call those barbarians beastly who bring all things under the tooth, obeying nature and not the Law. The counsels of the Law therefore are such as they are because they remove men from irrational follies. For I speak even to your untaught obedience and heathenishness. And what shall I say? For the sake of decency, that is reverence for the High-priesthood, I reverence the worked tunic which giveth oracles by means of various colors, making it known that it is fit for the high-priest to be clothed with the whole various host of virtues. I reverence the ephod of judgment and the Urim and Thummim which we who are worthy to exercise the priest's office carry upon our breasts when we enter within the Holy of Holies, that we may gain eloquence of soul and that the adversary may be turned back rather with a word than in wrath and in lusts; that we may be able to judge the things that are fitting, and as in a vision may receive revelations from above and teachings of truth, and may offer answers clear of falsehood to those who are initiated. I reverence the tiara which crowns the head of the priest, as of one who has mastered the passions.
I tremble at the sacred plate of gold seeing that he carries on it the name of God which is without reproach, for this is engraved on the seal, even things ineffable, that it may give light to the face and may direct him that he may see God only.
As I think these thoughts and more than these, how can I betray the law of my fathers? And how can I be overcome by one irrational food? How can I defile my mouth? Herein thou hast, Antiochus, proof of my soul; try now my body also!
(6) But he was smitten with these truly philosophic words as with goads, and now commanded that he should be scourged with torments. And immediately the cruel servants began smiting him with fists and jumping on him with kicks; and with blows of whips they broke and pierced his ribs and they carded his flesh and his blood ran down in streams.
But the old man fixed his eyes on the heavens, and running with swiftness the heavenly course, was oppressed with sweat and panting. And at last when he was not overcome even so as to utter one unsound word, he was delivered to the fire. And when the rest of his body was melted there after prayer on behalf of the people and dying words addressed to God, he flew away to the blessed roofs of the angels and the holy fathers.
(7) But these youths with like divine learning embraced the struggles of the teacher, and meditated therein very diligently and carefully. And more than the teachings of the Law, the constancy of the old man which they learned and enjoined while he suffered they kept in remembrance with a certain keen diligence.
And in nothing at all did they fall short of that which was learned; they made known and proclaimed it, not the more by the tongue, but by the like manhood under tortures. For every one of the youths according to the order of his age came into the midst, the tyrant thinking that by means of the punishment inflicted on the first he would bring the others to submission. For who is there that would not faint with fear when he saw the flesh of his brothers cruelly lacerated?
But this did not so fell out. But these armed ones, Piety's trained ones, showed the snare set for their submission to be an occasion for the display of their manhood. For the eldest of the brethren thought that the example set by his teacher was due from him also. And the second one thought that the virtue of his brother, as well as that of his teacher, was due from him. And the third one contended to surpass those who had contended before him, and that he might be an example of manhood to the rest
And all of them were associated together in the contests; and every one of them was glorified, not only in his own martyrdom but also in that of his fellow, for he who preceded was a kind of monument inspiriting him who followed, and a fresh type of encouragement, sufficient and able to draw him to like zeal. But the later ones who drew near to the stadium were more constant in the contests of their brothers than they who were suffering, and were made ready for that which was to follow, fearing lest they should be passed over, and desiring that they might display in the body a brotherly unanimity of constancy under varied torments of skilled tormentors.
(8) For one of them was stretched upon the wheel and the bond of his joints was loosened, and when he was revolving with the circle of the wheel at the same time also he was burning, because coals of fire were placed beneath. And another one was stripped of his skin with claws of iron as a lamb is stripped. Another when his tongue was ordered to be cut out, of his own will put this forth for cutting off, declaring that even if one of those things hidden in the deep, that is to say, his inner parts, was demanded of him to give up to tortures, even this, if it were possible, he would willingly put forth.
For each one of them was striving in regard to fresh kinds of tortures to shew fresh readiness of will, and to be tried in all his members and to bear many trials of his faithfulness, before his soul departed from his body. For they judged that it was the function of beasts to fall, as is generally the case, with one death, but that it better suits those who are made men to bear upon their bodies many marks of manhood, and to draw near together to the sword of the enemy, and that their blood should drop upon enemies and upon kindred. Such was the stedfastness of those manly youths that I will not occupy myself with many particulars, while I relate once for all as to every one of their tortures, that such was the prepared readiness for their conflicts of these invincible martyrs.
For as those who fix in crowns of gold these precious stones seek not one color but various for the increase of one beauty, these men leapt with the same banner over strange and varied inventions of tortures and desired the crown of martyrdom which comes by contests of all kinds which diversify it as with precious stones.
(9) When therefore the six brethren had finished the good course, and had attained to the crown of the City which is above, the youngest and seventh was left, prepared by six contests and exceedingly vehement in the strength of piety.
The tyrant being afraid of this one, tried to weaken him with flatteries and promises. And when he saw that he despised even these things, he commanded that his mother should stand by him, in order that he might take compassion as it were upon an old and childless woman; for he even thought that it would be enough, if she seemed only to be saying, Forbear, to weaken and subdue that athlete to nature. But it had escaped that self-sufficient one that it was she who had anointed the others for the contest and had sent them on their way to heaven. For when she was near, like the sum of virtuous strength, she was reminding these champions of piety, going round hither and thither and considering, and trembling lest any of her sons should stumble and fall from piety.
While she was testifying with each one and shared the torments with them and thought that she burned indeed and was indeed cut in pieces, like a tree whose own children, the branches, are cut in pieces. And so to speak she cried the cry of Paul, My sons, of whom I travail again 1, until Christ be formed in you!
(10) These things therefore she thought and taught and did secretly and not visibly. But when she stood openly by her youngest son according to the command of the tyrant, she cast in Hebrew speech one word not only into the ears of her son but into his mind. And she did not speak in his father-tongue to hide it from the servants, but that, she might remind the champion of the glorious deeds of the ancient and chief fathers and draw him to like zeal.
And she made the heart of the youth boil exceedingly and as if he were admiring bitter death, he hastened to swallow it as something sweet. And he cried out to those who stood by, Loose me from the bonds. And when he was readily loosed by those who erroneously supposed that he was changed from his manly mind, he leapt into every one of the frying pans which were set ready and flamed with fire, and he found more quickly even than he wished his desire and was added to the heavenly chorus of his brothers.
And by him also his mother cheerfully stood and was tried with like ills. And when she was crowned in the seven contests of her sons, she herself crowned her sons, and showed by deeds from what a root these manly shoots sprang and grew up. Not so truly did the candlestick of seven lights which made glorious the temporal tabernacle give light, as did this woman with the seven human lights, her sons, give light to the Church of Christ.
(11) Hear these things, O mothers, and so bring up your sons, and let them go to the church and urge them to the learning of sacred words and strangle them not with youthful cares. For the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal, as Christ crieth who speaketh in Paul O holy mother! O manly soul of a woman's body! O harmony of sons who showed us one patience and one virtue and one constancy, on behalf of one hope or one equal death.
What will they say to these things, they who compound fate from the planetary motion of stars? For their mother did not bear them as the orbits stood still, in the self-same hour, nor did they all have in themselves a special portion from one ruling-star, according to the folly of the Manichaeans. But because the Almighty Reason found one thing in them, It prepared one and the same crown of martyrdom for them.
(12) These though they girded themselves from the Law's Teaching were forerunners of the martyrs of the Gospel, as John also was the forerunner of Jesus. For those three youths also and Daniel the man of virtuous desires were delivered from the fire of the Babylonian furnace and from the pit of lions, in order that they of Israel might turn the barbarians towards Jerusalem which is below, and by means of signs they were shewn to be virtuous.
But the Maccabean youths, when the coming of Messiah and the resurrection were standing at the door, and when that Jerusalem whose architect and creator is God, and the preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven were about to be made known, departed from the stadium of conflict to heaven. And they first teach us the hope of the life to come and prepare us for it.
But otherwise, if this had not been thus ordered by Providence beforehand, would not the blind Jews say, Whom of the martyrs who testified for Christ have ye seen die in torments? And these things they say because they look not to that glorious hope by the brightness of which we shine by the grace and mercy of Him who called us to this. To whom be glory for ages. Amen.