November 23, 2016

Amphilochios of Iconium on the Canon of Holy Scripture

Amphilochios of Iconium was a cousin of Gregory the Theologian, and served as Bishop of Iconium (in Galatia) from A.D. 373 to 394. He wrote several books, but only a few poems and some other fragments from his writings have come down to us. His teaching on the canon is preserved in his Iambics for Seleucus (Iambi ad Seleucum), a didactic poetic work formerly attributed to Gregory the Theologian.

The Greek text reproduced below is from vol. 37 of Migne's Patrologia Graeca, where the Iambics of Seleucus is printed among the works of Gregory the Theologian.

Πλὴν ἀλλ' ἐκεῖνο προσμαθεῖν μάλιστά σοι
But this especially for you to learn
προσῆκον. Οὐχ ἅπασα βίβλος ἀσφαλής,
is fitting: not every book is safe
Ἡ σεμνὸν ὄνομα τῆς Γραφῆς κεκτημένη.
which has acquired the venerable name of Scripture.
Εἰσί γάρ εἰσιν ἔσθ' ὅτε ψευδώνυμοι
For there appear from time to time pseudonymous
Βίβλοι, τινὲς μὲν ἔμμεσοι καὶ γείτονες,
books, some of which are intermediate or neighbours,
Ὡς ἄν τις εἴποι, τῶν ἀληθείας λόγων∙
as one might say, to the words of truth,
Αἱ δ' ἄρα νόθοι τε καὶ λίαν ἐπισφαλεῖς,
while others are spurious and utterly unsafe,
Ὥσπερ παράσημα καὶ νόθα νομίσματα,
like counterfeit and spurious coins
Ἅ βασιλέως μὲν τὴν ἐπιγραφὴν ἔχει,
which bear the king's inscription,
Κίβδηλα δ' ἐστί, ταῖς ὕλαις δολούμενα.
but as regards their material are base forgeries.
Τούτου χάριν σοι τῶν θεοπνεύστων ἐρῶ
For this reason I will state for you the divinely inspired
Βίβλον ἑκάστην. Ὡς δ᾽ ἂν εὐκρινῶς μάθῃς,
books one by one, so that you may learn them clearly.
Τὰς τῆς Παλαιᾶς πρῶτα Διαθήκης ἐρῶ.
I will first recite those of the Old Testament.
Ἡ Πεντάτευχος τὴν κτίσιν, εἶτ΄ Ἔξοδον,
The Pentateuch has Creation, then Exodus,
Λευϊτικόν τε τὴν μέσην ἔχει βίβλον·
and Leviticus, the middle book,
μεθ' ἣν Ἀριθμούς, εἶτα Δευτερονόμιον.
after which is Numbers, then Deuteronomy.
Τούτοις Ἰησοῦν προστίθει καὶ τοὺς Κριτάς·
Add to these Joshua, and Judges,
Ἔπειτα τὴν Ρούθ, Βασιλειῶν τε τέσσαρας
then Ruth, and of Kingdoms the four
Βίβλους· Παραλειπομένων δέ γε δύω Βίβλοι·
books, and the double team of Chronicles;
Ἔσδρας ἐπ᾽ αὐταῖς πρῶτος, εἶθ' ὁ δεύτερος.
after these, Esdras, one and then the second.
Ἑξῆς στιχηρὰς πέντε σοι Βίβλους ἐρῶ·
Then I would review for you five in verse:
Στεφθέντα τ' ἄθλοις ποικίλων παθῶν Ἰώβ,
Job, crowned in the contests of many sufferings,
Ψαλμῶν τε βίβλον, ἐμμελες ψυχῶν ἄκος·
and the Book of Psalms, soothing remedy for the soul,
Τρεῖς δ' αὖ Σολομῶντος τοῦ Σοφοῦ· Παροιμίαι,
three of Solomon the Wise: Proverbs,
Ἐκκλησιαστής, ᾎσμα τ' αὖ τῶν ᾀσμάτων.
Ecclesiastes, Canticle of Canticles.
Ταύταις Προφήτες προστίθει τοὺς δώδεκα·
Add to these the Prophets Twelve,
Ὠσηὲ πρῶτον, εἶτ' Ἀμὼς τὸν δεύτερον,
Hosea first, then Amos the second,
Μιχαίαν, ᾽Ιωήλ, Ἀβδίαν, καὶ τὸν τύπον
Micah, Joel, Obadiah, and the type
Ἰωνᾶν αὐτοῦ τοῦ τριημέρου πάθους,
of Him who three days suffered, Jonah,
Ναοὺμ μετ' αὐτούς, Ἀββακοὺμ εἶτ' ἔνατον,
Nahum after those, and Habakkuk; and ninth,
Σοφονίαν, Ἀγγαῖόν τε, καὶ Ζαχαρίαν,
Zephaniah, Haggai, and Zechariah,
Διώνυμόν τε ἄγγελον Μαλαχίαν.
and twice-named angel Malachi.
Μεθ' οὓς Προφήτας μάνθανε τοὺς τέσσαρας,
After these prophets learn yet another four:
Παρρησιαστὴν τὸν μέγαν Ἡσαΐαν,
The great and fearless Isaiah,
Ἱερεμίαν τε συμπαθῆ, καὶ μυστικὸν
the sympathetic Jeremiah, and mysterious
Ἰεζεκιήλ, ἔσχατον δὲ Δανιήλ,
Ezekiel, and finally Daniel,
Τὸν αὐτὸν ἔργοις καὶ λόγοις σοφώτατον·
most wise in his deeds and words.
Τούτοις προσεγκρίνουσι τὴν Ἐσθὴρ τινές.
With these, some approve the inclusion of Esther.
Καινῆς Διαθήκης ὅρα μοι βίβλους λέγειν·
Time now for me to recite the books of the New Testament.
Εὐαγγελιστὰς τέσσαρας δέχου μόνους,
Accept only four Evangelists,
Ματθαῖον, εἶτα Μάρκον, οἷς Λουκᾶν τρίτον
Matthew, then Mark, to which Luke as third
Προσθείς, ἀρίθμει τὸν Ἰωάννην χρόνῳ
add; count John in time as
Τέταρτον, ἀλλὰ πρῶτον ὕψη δογμάτων,
fourth, but first in sublimity of dogma.
Βροντῆς γὰρ υἱὸν εἰκότως τοῦτον καλῶ,
Son of Thunder rightly he is called,
Μέγιστον ἠχήσαντα τῷ Θεοῦ λόγῳ.
who loudly sounded forth the word of God.
Δέχου δὲ βίβλον Λουκᾶ καὶ τὴν δευτέραν,
Accept from Luke a second book also,
Τὴν τῶν καθολικῶν Πράξεων Ἀποστόλων·
that of the catholic Acts of the Apostles.
Τὸ σκεῦος ἑξῆς προστίθει τῆς ἐκλογῆς,
Add to these besides that Chosen Vessel,
Τὸν τῶν ἐθνῶν κήρυκα, τὸν Ἀπόστολον
Herald of the Gentiles, the Apostle
Παῦλον, σοφῶς γράψαντα ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις
Paul, writing in wisdom to the churches
Ἐπιστολὰς δὶς ἑπτά· Ῥωμαίοις μίαν,
twice seven epistles, one to the Romans,
ᾗ χρὴ συνάπτειν πρὸς Κορινθίους δύο,
to which must be added two to the Corinthians,
Τὴν πρὸς Γαλάτας, τήν τε πρὸς Ἐφεσίους,
and that to the Galatians, and to the Ephesians,
Μεθ' ἣν τὴν ἐν Φιλίπποις, εἶτα τὴν γεγραμμένην
after which there is the one to the Philippians, then those written
Κολοσσαεῦσι, Θεσσαλονικεῦσι δύο,
to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians two,
Δύο Τιμοθέῳ, Τίτῳ δὲ καὶ Φιλήμονι,
two to Timothy, and to Titus and Philemon
Μίαν ἑκάστῳ, καὶ πρὸς Ἑβραίους μίαν.
one each, and to the Hebrews one.
Τινὲς δέ φασι τὴν πρὸς Ἑβραίους νόθον
Some call that to the Hebrews spurious,
Οὐκ εὖ λέγοντες· γνησία γὰρ ἡ χάρις
but they say it not well; for the grace is genuine.
Εἶεν. Τί λοιπόν; Καθολικὰς ἐπιστολὰς
What then is left? Of the Catholic epistles
Τινὲς μὲν ἑπτά φασιν, οἱ δὲ τρεῖς μόνας
some say seven, others only three
Χρῆναι δέχεσθαι, τὴν ᾽Ιακώβου μίαν,
must be accepted: one of James,
Μίαν τε Πέτρου, τοῦ τ' Ἰωάννου μίαν.
one of Peter, one of John,
Τινὲς δὲ τὰς τρεῖς, καὶ πρὸς αὐταῖς τὰς δύο
otherwise three of John, and with them two
Πέτρου δέχονται, τὴν Ἱούδα δ' ἑβδόμην·
of Peter, and also Jude's, the seventh.
Τὴν δ' Ἀποκάλυψιν τοῦ Ἰωάννου πάλιν,
The Apocalypse of John, again,
Τινὲς μὲν ἐγκρίνουσιν, οἱ πλείους δέ γε
some approve, but most
Νόθον λέγουσιν. Οὗτος ἀψευδέστατος
will call it spurious. This would be the most unerring
Κανὼν ἄν εἴη τῶν θεοπνεύστων Γραφῶν.
canon of the divinely inspired Scriptures.