Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mormonism and the 'prophet' Joseph Smith's sons

I was reading through the history of Mormonism, and after the founder's death, Joseph Smith Jr. he left behind 5 children (the rest of Smith's children died in childbirth or soon after) in Nauvoo, Illinois, none of which were followers of Brigham Young and established a rival "church" to the Utah Mormon "church":

1 adopted daughter--Julia Murdock Smith who was 13 years old when her adopted father Joseph Smith Jr ("the prophet") died, making her the oldest. As a result of one of her marriages, she converted to Catholicism, whether she stayed Catholic-- I don't know.
3 sons:

Joseph Smith III, who was 11 when his father died. He eventually was his father's successor in the rival Mormon sect and an opponent of polygamy. He lead the Reorganized LDS church, now called the "Community of Christ." 
Alexander Hale Smith, who was about 6 years old when his father died. He was a leader with his older brother Joseph III in the RLDS.
David Hyrum Smith, who was about 5 months old when his father died. He was a missionary for the RLDS, and tried to even get the LDS in Utah to convert to the RLDS.
Doesn't it seem strange that none of Smith's children (that we know of) even cared to follow the rest of the Mormons into Utah? I suppose a LDS missionary will blame the children's mother.  What is interesting, is a similar phenomenon occurred with Islam when the "prophet" Muhammad died, there was a schism over who was to lead.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Abraham's Bosom in the Talmud

Today, I was asked by a Jewish friend where the term "Bosom of Abraham" is from that Jesus uses in Luke 16 in the Parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, since she did not believe it to be Jewish at all.

When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.--Luke 16:22
It is possible it was a term Jesus coined, but it's more likely that it was an already used term. Anyway, the term is used in Jewish literature, according to Jewish Encyclopedia:
In Ḳid. 72b, Adda bar Ahaba, a rabbi of the third century, is said to be "sitting in the bosom of Abraham," which means that he has entered paradise. With this should be compared the statement of R. Levi (Gen. R. xlviii.): "In the world to come Abraham sits at the gate of Gehenna, permitting none to enter who bears the seal of the covenant"--Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906, Abraham's Bosom
Looking up this reference of Kid 72b, it's found at the very end of the Kiddushin 72b (Gemera) (קידושין  עב,ב גמרא) (this is a tractate of the Babylonian Talmud) it reads:
דאגמא איכא בבבל אדא בר אהבה יש בה  היום יושב בחיקו של אברהם
"There is a Fort Agama in Babylon wherein dwells Adda b. Ahabah: today he sits in Abraham's lap;"--Kiddushin 72b (Gemera)
The word יושב  means to "sit" or "dwell," and it frequently used in the Hebrew bible for people settling down or living in an area (as well as just sitting). The phrase that can be translated as "bosom/chest of Abraham" is בחיקו של אברהם , the word של meaning "his", בחיקו (b'heyko) means "in bosom/lap," and with אברהם meaning Abraham. 

The word בחיקו 'in the bosom' is used the Hebrew bible twice:
Proverbs 6:27--הֲיַחְתֶּה אִישׁ אֵשׁ בְּחֵיקוֹ;    וּבְגָדָיו, לֹא תִשָּׂרַפְנָה 
Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?--Proverbs 6:27
Exodus 4:6--וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה לוֹ עוֹד, הָבֵא-נָא יָדְךָ בְּחֵיקֶךָ, וַיָּבֵא יָדוֹ, בְּחֵיקוֹ; וַיּוֹצִאָהּ, וְהִנֵּה יָדוֹ מְצֹרַעַת כַּשָּׁלֶג 
And the LORD said furthermore unto him: 'Put now thy hand into thy bosom.' And he put his hand into his bosom; and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, as white as snow.--Exodus 4:6
 The word חיקו is found around 34 times in the Hebrew bible, but I use these specific examples to demonstrate it can mean "chest" or "bosom", specifically (Moses did not put his hand in his lap but just to his chest!). I generally do not use the term "bosom" since its weird in modern speech to say a man has a bosom.


The phrase "bosom of Abraham" is used in Jewish literature (at least this one time) and is not unique to the New Testament.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Acacian Schism and Papal Primacy early Church

Disclaimer: The following is 100% NOT my own work. It is a reproduction of an article made by John Collorafi, on his now defunct website Ancient Papacy. 
The Acacian Schism (484-519)and Formula of Pope Hormisdas

In the late fifth century, Emperor Zeno, with the complicity of the bishop of Constantinople, Acacius [471-489] tried to impose on the Byzantine east an ambiguous formula called the Henoticon or decree of union.

Acacius quickly signed the Henoticon after it was promulgated in 482, and so did the notorious heretic Peter Mongus, who was installed as the imperially sponsored archbishop of Alexandria. Acacius tried to justify himself by claiming that he was merely following imperial orders in the matter.

Before long a new pope, Saint Felix III [483-492] was elected at Rome, and he sent legates to Constantinople to try to persuade the emperor to remove the heretic Mongus from Alexandria. The pope also wanted Acacius, whose behavior was becoming increasingly suspicious, to appear before a Roman council. The pope had also received reports from several bishops of the east, to say nothing of the monks and other faithful, complaining about the actions of Acacius.

When the papal legates reached Constantinople, they were thrown into prison and browbeaten into recognizing the heretic Mongus. The pope reacted in July 484 by holding a council at Rome which solemnly excommunicated Acacius.

The empire hardened its attitude and tried to coerce the bishops of the east to sign the Henoticon, and during this period Acacius died in 489, anathematized by Rome. His successor, Fravitas [489-490], made attempts to contact both the pope and Peter Mongus of Alexandria.

Fravitas died in 490 and his successor as bishop of Constantinople, Euphemius [490-496] took some objectively positive steps. Euphemius accepted the Council of Chalcedon, renewed the commemoration of the pope in the liturgy, and broke communion with the heretic Peter Mongus.

However, Rome had one more requirement before the schism could be healed: at Constantinople, the names of Acacius [and Fravitas], who had died in schism, needed to be removed from the diptychs or liturgical commemorations. Because Euphemius was unwilling to take this final step, the schism continued.

A similar situation existed under the next patriarch of Constantinople, Macedonius II [496-511]. Macedonius accepted the council of Chalcedon and attempted to send synodical letters to Rome—an attempt to reestablish communion—but the new emperor, Anastasius [491-518] intervened, sabotaging even the attempt to be reconciled with Rome.

Meanwhile, a new pope, Saint Symmachus [498-514], received an appeal entitled, “the eastern church to Symmachus, bishop of Rome.” The appeal describes in heart-breaking terms the persecution from which the east was suffering, and asked Symmachus to use his power of binding and loosing to mitigate the suffering in the east. [Mansi 8: 221 sq.]

Under the successor of Symmachus, Pope Hormisdas [514-523], the emperor began sending out feelers about an ecumenical council at Heraclea in Thrace. While nothing came of the council, the pope did compose a solemn profession of faith known as the formula of Pope Hormisdas.

When a new emperor, Justin [518-527], was proclaimed at Constantinople, crowds of the faithful literally demanded the restoration of orthodoxy—the faith of Chalcedon—and also the restoration of union with Rome. Pope Hormisdas sent legates into the east with the formula of faith. Eastern bishops and clergy were to be reconciled with Rome by signing the formula. The schism finally ended in 519 when Patriarch John II [518-520] the Cappadocian signed Rome’s formula, along with a great number of bishops, priests and archimandrites.

The first salvation is to keep the rule of the true faith, and to deviate in no way from the tradition of the fathers. And because the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be set aside, which says: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,” these things which have been said are proven by the course of events, for in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been preserved unblemished… Not wanting to fall away from this faith, and following the constitutions of the fathers in every respect, we anathematize all heresies, especially the heretic Nestorius, formerly bishop of the city of Constantinople, who was condemned at the Council of Ephesus by Celestine, pope of the city of Rome, and by the holy Cyril, bishop of Alexandria. Along with him we anathematize Eutyches and Dioscorus of Alexandria, who were condemned in the holy council of Chalcedon, which we follow and embrace. We anathematize with them Timothy the parricide [the Cat], surnamed Elurus, and his disciple and follower in all things, Peter [Mongus] of Alexandria. In like manner we condemn and anathematize Acacius, who was once bishop of the city of Constantinople, their accomplice and follower, and those who persevered in their communion, for anyone who embraces the communion of individuals receives a similar judgment at their condemnation. We also condemn Peter of Antioch [the Fuller], along with his followers... Wherefore, as we have already said, following in all matters the Apostolic See and preaching all its constitutions, I hope that I may merit to be in one communion with you, which the Apostolic See proclaims, in which is the integral and true solidity of the Christian religion. I also promise that during the celebration of the sacred mysteries, I will not recite the names of those who were separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is, who do not agree in every respect with the Apostolic See. This profession I have signed with my own hand, and offered it to you, Hormisdas, holy and venerable pope of the city of Rome. [CSEL 35: 520-22]

The formula of Pope Hormisdas is found in a collection of papal documents known as the Collectio Avellana, compiled about 550.

We do not know exactly how many bishops signed this formula, but a deacon of Rome, Rusticus, writing about 550, said that under Emperor Justin there were “perhaps twenty-five hundred priests” who signed libelli [the formula of faith] after the schism of Peter [Mongus] of Alexandria, and Acacius. [PL 67, 1251-2]

Evidently not all clerics who signed the formula were bishops. Rusticus does not say how many of the signers were bishops, and how many were from the lower clergy.

Copyright 2003, John Collorafi

Original translations by John Collorafi

Pope Silvester and Nicea I

Disclaimer: The following is 100% NOT my own work. It is a reproduction of an article made by John Collorafi, on his now defunct website Ancient Papacy. 

Pope St. Silvester (314-335)

Pope Saint Silvester [314-335] led the church through a critical period of her existence. During his lifetime Constantine, the first emperor who openly fought under the standard of the cross, changed the character of the Roman empire forever.

During the era of Pope Silvester, the Arian heresy, which denied that the Son of God was truly divine, first appeared. Arianism was condemned at the Council of Nicea, the first ecumenical council [325].

Pope Silvester is venerated as a saint not only in the Catholic Church, but also in the Greek Church. The Menaion, or monthly liturgy of the Greek Church, celebrates his feast on January 2. The liturgical prayers, which speak of his “unerring teachings,” also include these words:

God-bearing Father Silvester, you appeared as a pillar of fire leading the sacred college in a sacred manner, and as an overshadowing cloud, delivering the faithful from the Egyptian [Arian] error and on every occasion leading them with unerring teachings to divine land... Enriched with the chair of the coryphaeus of the apostles... you appeared as the coryphaeus, initiating the sacred college into divine things, and you graced the... throne of the coryphaeus of the disciples... [Menaion Ianouariou, Athens 1979: 17, 22, 24]

Coryphaeus is a Greek work that means the leader. Its use here means that Pope Silvester was the successor of Saint Peter-- the coryphaeus [chief or leader] of the apostles.

The Coptic Church also has a commemoration of “Silvester, pope of Rome,” on January 2. The commemoration is found in the Synaxarion or book of saints of the Coptic Church. [PO 11: 552]

The Armenian Synaxarion or Book of Saints is known as the Yaysmavurk in Armenian. The Armenian book of saints also commemorates St. Silvester on January 2. The Armenian book of saints praises Saint Silvester’s holiness and even commemorates certain orders which he inscribed into canon law. The Yaysmavurk also says that the Council of Nicea met in accordance with the faith professed by Saint Silvester.

Copyright 2003, John Collorafi

Original translations by John Collorafi