måndag 29 december 2014

Ever Heard of Claudian Famine in Corinth, and Dinippus?

1) Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ... on Jephthah's daughter, 2) Great Bishop of Geneva! : Ever Heard of Claudian Famine in Corinth, and Dinippus?

My position earlier when I heard of Dinippus, oh so late in my life, was not that he was an emergency relief worker in a catastrophic famine, but that he was a kind of social worker among unemployed or ill paid poor people.

But when Evangelicals tout Dinippus, it is usually as "proof" that St Paul in 1 Cor 7 by "present concerns" means a dire famine, and that such times are not the best for getting children. In other words, he would not have been recommending celibacy per se, he would have been recommending Malthusian abstinence. You see, they claim Dinippus was an emergency relief worker and that Corinth was in a famine.

Before we get into other problems with this position, more of a theological type, we might want to ask ourselves if Dinippus was really living in a place and time when famine was occurring. So, I did two wiki searches and one google.

  • I Wiki search on claudian famine

    • Did you mean: claudian family

      The page "Claudian famine" does not exist. You can ask for it to be created, but consider checking the search results below to see whether the topic is already covered.

    • In the article on Claudius (or articles, I consulted both French and English articles, obviously not written by same contributing wikipedians) I found that Claudius had trouble getting grain to ITALY especially each winter, due to shipping liabilities (and I presume myself Italy being centre of empire attracted lots of people seeking redress of affairs from Emperor, from Emperor's courtier, from Emperor's courtier's courtier, from Senators, from Senators' courtiers, from Senators' courtiers' courtiers and so on) weather not being the best for shipping transports. Riots mentioned in Evangelical Apologetics as evidence for a general famine over Roman Empire in Claudiu' Day to my mind were simply due to these factors, and since Corinth was not Italy, but Greece, well, Corinthians I and II should contain no reference to the "Claudian famine".

      But supposing I were wrong, what about doing a wiki search for famine in Corinth?

  • II "famine corinth" was the next search. Still on wiki, of course.

    • Results 1 - 20 of 72

      Did you mean: family cornish

      The page "Famine corinth" does not exist. You can ask for it to be created, but consider checking the search results below to see whether the topic is already covered.

    • 1 Archias of Corinth - founded Syracuse was slain by Telephus the grandson of Hercules (not the right famine)

    • 2 430s BC (famine or not, NOT the right year)

    • 3 Battle of Greece quoting:

      "The loss of Piraeus and the Isthmus of Corinth would fatally compromise withdrawal and evacuation of British and Greek"

      (famine or not, not the right year)

    • 4 Damaskinos of Athens (category Bishops of Corinth)

      "priest of the Greek Orthodox Church in 1917. In 1922, he was made Bishop of Corinth. He spent the early 1930s as an ambassador of the Ecumenical Patriarch"

      (famine or not, not the right year)

    • 5 Aeëtes

      Yep, that man from the Black Sea, father of Medea, except that ...

      "Yet other versions make Aeëtes a native of Corinth and son of Ephyra, or else of a certain Antiope. Pausanias states that"

      (famine or not, not the right year)

    • 6 Melas (mythology)

      "He expressed desire to join the Dorians in their expedition against Corinth."

      Wait, was this before Corinth was Doric? NOT the right year.

    • 7 Paul the Apostle

      "Around 50–52, Paul spent 18 months in Corinth. The reference in Acts to Proconsul Gallio helps ascertain this date (cf. Gallio inscription).[18] In Corinth, Paul met Priscilla and Aquila who became faithful believers and helped Paul through his other missionary journeys. The couple followed Paul and his companions to Ephesus, and stayed there to start one of the strongest and most faithful churches at that time. In 52, the missionaries sailed to Caesarea to greet the Church there and then traveled north to Antioch where they stayed for about a year before leaving again on their third missionary journey"

      "Tiber[ius Claudius Cae]sar Augustus Ge[rmanicus, invested with tribunician po]wer [for the 12th time, acclaimed Imperator for t]he 26th time, F[ather of the Fa]ther[land...]. For a l[ong time have I been not onl]y [well-disposed towards t]he ci[ty] of Delph[i, but also solicitous for its pro]sperity, and I have always guard[ed th]e cul[t of t]he [Pythian] Apol[lo. But] now [since] it is said to be desti[tu]te of [citi]zens, as [L. Jun]ius Gallio, my fri[end] an[d procon]sul, [recently reported to me, and being desirous that Delphi] should retain [inta]ct its for[mer rank, I] ord[er you (pl.) to in]vite well-born people also from [ot]her cities [to Delphi as new inhabitants..."

      No famine mentioned!

    • 8 5th century BC (famine or not, NOT the right year)

    • 9 Greek Dark Ages

      "Following the collapse, fewer and smaller settlements suggest famine and depopulation. In Greece the Linear B writing of the Greek language used"

      Is Corinth mentioned? No (I perused article to verify). Plus again NOT the right year.

    • 10 Manuel I Komnenos, 11 Massacre of Kalavryta 13 Alaric I 16 Timeline of World War II (1944) 17 Late Antiquity 18 Military history of Greece during World War II 19 Lelantine War 20 Mississippi (yes, there is a Corinth along that river too!) 22 Demetrius I of Macedon 23 Argos and Nauplia 25 440s BC 27 Ottoman Empire 28 List of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess characters 29 Celtic settlement of Eastern Europe (doesn't say C. was one, but says North of C. sth.) 30 List of Greek Resistance organizations 32 Patrick Leigh Fermor 33 Battle of Crete 34 Goths 36 Hermes - Corinth mentioned without famine in preview, NOT the right year.

    • 12 1140s 14 Dacius (bishop of Milan) 24 Archaic Greece 26 Union blockade 35 Louisville in the American Civil War - famine mentioned in preview, not Corinth, NOT the right year.

    • 15 492 BC 21 490s BC

      NOT the right year. Both famine and Corinth mentioned, but the famine that year was in Rome, not in Corinth, and Corinth comes in as giving advice on Sicily

    • 31 Early Christianity

      I've gone to 36, half of the list now!

      Would latter half be better for finding a famine in Corinth in the time of St Paul?

      I somehow doubt it!

  • III Google on claudian famine corinthians

    • 1 [PDF]tiberius claudius dinippus and the food shortages in corinth


      Traduire cette page

      de BN Danylak - ‎2008 - ‎Cité 3 fois - ‎Autres articles

      present distress' (τὴν ἐνεστῶσαν ἀνάγκην) in 1 Corinthians 7:26 is a reference to a food .... pressed by the term ἀνάγκην to be the Claudian famine recorded in.

    • 2 The Book of Acts in Its Graeco-Roman Setting

      https://books.google.fr/books?isbn=0802848478 - Traduire cette page

      David W. J. Gill, ‎Conrad Gempf - 1994 - ‎Religion

      ... this unanimous display of appreciation by the Corinthians is unprecedented.30 There is only one ... The extent of the famine The more complex matter is to determine how one would expect ... Acts as having been fulfilled in the Claudian era.

    • 3 Tiberius Claudius Dinippus And The Food Shortages In ...


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      ... reference to 'the present distress' (τὴν ἐνεστῶσαν ἀνάγκην) in 1 Corinthians ... a number of famines in the Mediterranean region during the Claudian period, ...

    • Here I looked no further. Three first hits on the search were Evangelicals arguing the thesis about 1 Cor 7.

So I looked into the Bible. Douay Rheims Bible Online has a search function.

Acts 11:28, then ...

27 And in these days there came prophets from Jerusalem to Antioch.

28 And one of them, named Agabus, rising up, signified by the spirit, that there should be a great famine over the whole world, which came to pass under Claudius.

29 And the disciples, every man according to his ability, resolved to send relief to the brethren who dwelt in Judea:

30 Which also they did, sending it to the ancients by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Ver. 29. Who dwell in Judea. Most of the faithful in Jerusalem, who wished to live perfect lives, had sold their possessions, and placed the price in the hands of the apostles; and many others, who had not voluntarily relinquished their property, had probably lost most of it in the persecutions. Hence arose the particular distress of the brethren in Jerusalem, to relieve which the Gentiles made collections. It was meet, that they who had been made partakers of their spiritual goods, should now in time of need administer to them of their temporal substance. (Denis the Carthusian) --- Imitate the alms of these primitive Christians, and make to yourselves provision against another life. Oh how many are now clothed in silks, and abound in pleasures, but are naked and void of every thing, that will bear examination on the day of judgment! (St. Chrysostom, hom. xxvi. in Act.)

Ver. 30. Sending it to the ancients;[2] elders, &c. In this and diverse other places, are not to be understood such as were elder in age, but such as had offices and dignities, and by divine authority, and who with a due subordination were to govern the Church: so that by this word, were signified apostles, bishops, and priests. But of this more hereafter. (Witham) --- The ancients or priests, seniors, presbuterous. This is the first place in the New Testament, where priests are mentioned. Some interpreters think, that by this word, ancients, are meant the apostles; but this is not likely. The apostles must at that time have been dispersed over all the world. Others think it was some of the older deacons, who had charge of the alms. We like the opinion of those who think it means priests, subordinate to the apostles, who had the charge of governing the faithful, in their absence. Thus the Christian Church will appear modelled after the form of the synagogue. First, the bishop, who presides, corresponding to the head of the synagogue; the priests, to the ancients, who sat on the right and left of the chief; and the deacons, to the disciples of the Scribes, who studied the law. It must be allowed that many passages occur in Scripture, which it seems necessary to explain of priests of the second rank. St. Paul, (1 Timothy v. 1. 17. 19.) St. James (v. 14) orders the priests to be called to anoint the sick man, which cannot be explained of bishops, as there was only one in each town. It must nevertheless be observed, that this same word ancient, or priest, is often used in Scripture, and primitive writings, to designate a bishop. (Calmet)

I must admit there was a famine all over the world or over the Roman world (oikoumene) which is less well documented in modern secular scholarship, and as for documents of antiquity, I don't know. But was it especially hard in Corinth? I somehow doubt Corinth was famine stricken since that time when Archias of Corinth by his offense provoked a divine punishment which even the Greeks were able to pinpoint to his sodomitic extra bad behaviour.

OK, Antioch sent to the Church of Jerusalem or Faithful in Judea. A bit like Wittenberg was later sending Peter's penny to Rome, which Luther didn't like. Wasn't this before Corinth was converted?

I search Jerusalem, to see if it is mentioned in Corinthians. OK, there is 1 Corinthians 16:

[1] Now concerning the collections that are made for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, so do ye also. [2] On the first day of the week let every one of you put apart with himself, laying up what it shall well please him; that when I come, the collections be not then to be made. [3] And when I shall be with you, whomsoever you shall approve by letters, them will I send to carry your grace to Jerusalem.

Yes, when I Cor was written the collections for Jerusalem were being made. So, the famine was ongoing.

Still, if Corinthians could afford sending money or food necessities to Jerusalem, we can hardly imagine they were so hard set themselves so as not to be able to marry for economic reasons.

If it had been, St Paul would have been taxing them much more ruthlessly than ever Peter's penny taxed even Greenland before it was abandoned. So, if you think starvation in Corinth was what St Paul wanted to protect people from by calling celibacy preferrable, why wouldn't he have been better off telling them to give somewhat less to Jerusalem? We must give to the poor, but not so much as to suffer worries ourselves so they can live without care.

So, the thesis is not very plausible.

But the method in theology is even idiotic. Yes, people write things in context. Yes, to some extent the understanding of that context gives a new light to what the writing meant. But that extent must be limited when it comes to contexts unknown over two thousand years of Church History (except contexts foreseen for OUR times, if these are end times, of course) and new light at variance with how the writing has been taken over the same time by very different writers. Otherwise Bible is made useless for instruction up to the most recent discoveries, which is absurd.

Needless to say the usual Catholic comments would be saying the verses mean a recommendation of celibacy. But what about Calvin? Wouldn't he be a support to Evangelicals?

As he had spoken of fornication, he now appropriately proceeds to speak of marriage which is the remedy for avoiding fornication. Now it appears, that, notwithstanding the greatly scattered state of the Corinthian Church, they still retained some respect for Paul, inasmuch as they consulted him on doubtful points. What their questions had been is uncertain, except in so far as we may gather them from his reply. This, however, is perfectly well known, that immediately after the first rise of the Church, there crept into it, through Satan’s artifice, a superstition of such a kind, that a large proportion of them, through a foolish admiration of celibacy, (367) despised the sacred connection of marriage; nay more, many regarded it with abhorrence, as a profane thing. This contagion had perhaps spread itself among the Corinthians also; or at least there were idly-disposed spirits, who, by immoderately extolling celibacy, endeavored to alienate the minds of the pious from marriage. At the same time, as the Apostle treats of many other subjects, he intimates that he had been consulted on a variety of points. What is chiefly of importance is, that we listen to his doctrine as to each of them.

Is this the case? The theory is at least not supported by the guys who drag in poor old Dinippus into the question - if they had found evidence of a strong pro-celibacy party in Corinth, wouldn't they have preferred to say St Paul was partly conceding but mainly correcting these, as Calvin was explaining the passage?

1. It is good for a man. The answer consists of two parts. In the first, he teaches that it were good for every one to abstain from connection with a woman, provided it was in his power to do so. In the second, he subjoins a correction to this effect, that as many cannot do this, in consequence of the weakness of their flesh, these persons must not neglect the remedy which they have in their power, as appointed for them by the Lord. Now we must observe what he means by the word good, when he declares that it is good to abstain from marriage, that we may not conclude, on the other hand, that the marriage connection is therefore evil — a mistake which Jerome has fallen into (!), not so much from ignorance, in my opinion, as from the heat of controversy. (!)

Marriage is not an evil, but when Calvin accuses St Jerome of calling it so, one can suspect the people foolishly extolling celibacy too much in Corinth - according to Calvin's mind - are really a reflex of Calvin's rejection of the Catholic extolling of celibacy.

Here comes more, after some interruption:

But here another question presents itself, for these words of Paul have some appearance of inconsistency with the words of the Lord, in Genesis 2:18, where he declares, that it is not good for a man to be without a wife. What the Lord there pronounces to be evil Paul here declares to be good I answer, that in so far as a wife is a help to her husband, so as to make his life happy, that is in accordance with God’s institution; for in the beginning God appointed it so, that the man without the woman was, as it were, but half a man, and felt himself destitute of special and necessary assistance, and the wife is, as it were, the completing of the man. Sin afterwards came in to corrupt that institution of God; for in place of so great a blessing there has been substituted a grievous punishment, so that marriage is the source and occasion of many miseries. [...] The sum is this, that we must remember to distinguish between the pure ordinance of God and the punishment of sin, which came in subsequently. According to this distinction, it was in the beginning good for a man, without any exception, to be joined to a wife, and even yet, it is good in such a way, that there is in the meantime a mixture of bitter and sweet, in consequence of the curse of God. To those, however, who have not the gift of continency, it is a necessary and salutary remedy in accordance with what follows.

A Catholic would reason no differently as to the points made. Celibacy would not have been preferrable in the paradisal state, and matrimony would then not have been a distraction from wholehearted adoration of God. After the fall, this is no longer so, and once the assurance of mankind being multiplied is taken care of, the best disposed may certainly be recommended to become celibates.

Also, those not so well disposed should not be so recommended.

The one practical difference between Calvin and Catholics is that Catholics have monks, Calvin calls monks idlers and parasites.

Apparently, doing business is to Calvin less of a distraction from wholehearted adoration of God than marriage is. So those doing business and grudging the number of monks and priests supported by tithes and pious donations from those having gainful occupations could be rid of that number.

So, if the Catholic admiration of celibacy cannot be totally wrong - Calvin respected St Paul just a bit too much for that and had no Dinippus to show up as an excuse St Paul meant something totally other - the Catholic admiration of celibacy must at least be vastly exaggerated and the gift of continency must be vastly rarer than we Catholics suppose. And hence he comes to accuse also St Jerome, the great Bible translator, for falling into mistakes in the heat of controversy.

No, he didn't. If he had he would not have been a saint. And it's St Jerome, not Calvin, whom the Church Universal has considered a Saint. Catholics, and for those ignoring that Roman Catholicism is the Church, these are joined by Orthodox, by Lutherans, by Anglicans. Of which only the Anglicans would consider Calvin a saint. And Anglicans - like Lutherans - are not just schismatic and heretical, but even lack real Orders.

Here is Wesley:

Verse 1
It is good for a man - Who is master of himself. Not to touch a women - That is, not to marry. So great and many are the advantages of a single life.

Still not a trace of a Dinippus!

Here is Barnes - like Calvin he speculates there was an "exaggerated" admiration for celibacy around in Corinth:

Verse 1

Now, concerning … - In reply to your inquiries. The first, it seems, was in regard to the propriety of marriage; that is, whether it was lawful and expedient.

It is good - It is well. It is fit, convenient, or, it is suited to the present circumstances, or, the thing itself is well and expedient in certain circumstances. The apostle did not mean that marriage was unlawful, for he says Hebrews 13:4 that “marriage is honorable in all.” But he here admits, with one of the parties in Corinth, that it was well, and proper in some circumstances, not to enter into the marriage relation; see 1 Corinthians 7:7-8, 1 Corinthians 7:26, 1 Corinthians 7:28, 1 Corinthians 7:31-32.

Not to touch a woman - Not to be connected with her by marriage. Xenophon (Cyro. b. 1) uses the same word ( ἅπτω haptō “to touch”) to denote marriage; compare Genesis 20:4, Genesis 20:6; Genesis 26:11; Proverbs 6:29.

So, discovering Dinippus and making starvation in Corinth the background of St Paul's recommendation of celibacy is a real novum.

It is not made necessary by Genesis 2:18 either, since pre-fall and post-fall conditions are different. The goods of marriage in Catholic theology are : 1) offspring (common to pre- and post-fall conditions); 2) mutual help in warding off lust (post-fall only, and not quite as good as celibacy when it is well performed); 3) the bond of mutual fidelity which makes marriage different from philandering (and good celibates are not philanderers).

So, a novum is introduced, it is justified by a new discovery about the context ... or supposed such.

In other contexts that are NOT newly discovered, Evangelicals like Calvinists will not admit contexts known for more than 2000 years. The Queen of Heaven told of in Jeremiah is Ishtar the love goddess and war goddess. Her cult was already very much diminished, since Pagan Greeks and Romans called Juno or Hera Queen but Venus or Aphrodite love goddess and if any goddess then rather Minerva or Athena war goddess. But the person we honour as Queen of Heaven is no goddess at all, simply Mother of the King of Heaven, if Heaven's capital is called Jerusalem, its King's Mother must be Queen there. So, yes, some people do at their peril ignore a great difference of context.

It is not us Catholics.

Hans Georg Lundahl
BU Nanterre
St Thomas Becket of Canterbury

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