Patristic Lectionary – 18 October 2021 – St. Luke, Evangelist; Monday, Twentieth Week in Trinitytide

Patristic Lectionary – 18 October 2021 – St. Luke, Evangelist; Monday, Twentieth Week in Trinitytide

[Consonant with both Anglicanism’s and monasticism’s love of patristic theology-spirituality, this is a series of occasional selections from a two-year lectionary for the Divine Office that draws mostly from patristic writings.  The lectionary was initially edited by Stephen Mark Holmes (University of Edinburgh School of Divinity) and subsequently re-edited and formatted by Michele Freyhauf (Durham University).  Click here for the link to the lectionary.  R. M. Healey’s edition is also used if there are lacunae in the Durham edition.  Click here for the link to Healey’s formatting of the lectionary.]

[Image: “Tertullian” from André Thevet’s (1504-1592) Des vrais pourtaits et vies des hommes illustrés]

Nahum 1:1-8; 3:1-7, 12-15A

God’s Judgement on Nineveh

An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh. The LORD is a jealous God and avenging, the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and of great might, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty.

His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither, the bloom of Lebanon fades. The mountains quake before him, the hills melt; the earth is laid waste before him, the world and all that dwell therein.

Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken asunder by him. The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. But with an overflowing flood he will make a full end of his adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness.

Woe to the bloody city, all full of lies and booty—no end to the plunder! The crack of whip, and rumble of wheel, galloping horse and bounding chariot! Horsemen charging, flashing sword and glittering spear, hosts of slain, heaps of corpses, dead bodies without end—they stumble over the bodies! And all for the countless harlotries of the harlot, graceful and of deadly charms, who betrays nations with her harlotries, and peoples with her charms. Behold, I am against you, says the LORD of hosts, and will lift up your skirts over your face; and I will let nations look on your nakedness and kingdoms on your shame. I will throw filth at you and treat you with contempt, and make you a gazingstock. And all who look on you will shrink from you and say, Wasted is Nineveh; who will bemoan her? Whence shall I seek comforters for her?

All your fortresses are like fig trees with first-ripe figs–if shaken they fall into the mouth of the eater. Behold, your troops are women in your midst. The gates of your land are wide open to your foes; fire has devoured your bars.

Draw water for the siege, strengthen your forts; go into the clay, tread the mortar, take hold of the brick mould! There will the fire devour you, the sword will cut you off. It will devour you like the locust.


Against Marcion 4.20 (The Ante-Nicene Fathers 7, tr. Peter Holmes [1868])

[Marcion (2nd century), whose writings are lost, rejected as a malevolent demiurge the God presented in the Old Testament.  He compiled possibly the first Christian canon of Scripture: a shorter version of the Gospel according to St. Luke and ten Pauline epistles.] 

But what manner of man is this? For he commands even the winds and water! Of course the heretics say he is the new master and proprietor of the elements, now that the Creator is deposed and excluded from their possession! Nothing of the kind. The elements recognise their own Maker, just as they had been accustomed to obey his servants also. Examine well the Exodus, O Marcion; look at the rod of Moses as it waves his command to the Red Sea, which is far greater than all the lakes of Judaea. How the sea yawns from its very depths, then fixes itself in two solidified masses, and so, out of the interval between them, makes a way for the people to pass dry-shod across. Again the same rod vibrates, the sea returns in its strength, and in the concourse of the waters the army of Egypt is engulfed! To that consummation the very winds subserved!

Read, too, how the Jordan was as a sword, to help the emigrant nation in their passage across its stream; how its waters from above stood still, and its current below wholly ceased to run at the bidding of Joshua, when his priests began to pass over! What will you say to this? But I should have been content with the examples I have given without adding any more, if a prediction of the Lord’s present passage on the sea had not preceded Christ’s coming. A prophecy from a psalm is, in fact, accomplished by the Lord’s crossing over the lake. The Lord, says the Psalmist, is upon many waters. When he disperses its waves, Habakkuk’s words are fulfilled, where he says, Scattering the waters in his passage. When at his rebuke the sea is calmed, Nahum is also verified: He rebukes the sea, and makes it dry, including the winds indeed, whereby it was disquieted.

With what evidence would you have my Christ vindicated? Shall it come from the examples, or from the prophecies, of the Creator? You suppose that he is predicted as a man of violence and an armed warrior, instead of one who in a figurative and allegorical sense was to wage a spiritual warfare against spiritual enemies, in spiritual campaigns, and with spiritual weapons – come now, when in one man alone you discover a multitude of demons calling itself Legion, of course comprised of spirits, you should learn that Christ also must be understood to be an exterminator of spiritual foes, who wields spiritual arms and fights in spiritual strife; it was none other than Christ himself who now had to contend with even a legion of demons. Therefore it is of such a war as this that the Psalm clearly spoke: The Lord is strong, the Lord is mighty in battle. For with the last enemy, death, did he fight, and through the trophy of the cross he triumphed.

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