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Pseudo-Macarius and Gregory of Nyssa

Author(s): Dom Aelred Baker

Source: Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 20, No. 4 (Dec., 1966), pp. 227-234
Published by: BRILL
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Vigiliae Christianae 20 (1966) 227-234; North-Holland Publishing Co.




Professor Klijn,l in a recent number of the journal, delivired a salutary

warning against facile solutions to the problems of the relation between
Macarius' Great Letter and Gregory of Nyssa's De Instituto Christiano.2
In a case like this where there are two documents so similar that one
must be derived from the other, it ought to be simple by placing them
side by side to see which is prior. But we know from the now notorious
issue of the Rule of St. Benedict and the Rule of the Master, how difficult
it is to produce definitive proofs either way. Arguments can be found
on both sides and a good many are simply reversible.
In our present case the problem is complicated by the fact that both
works in style and thought are typical of their respective authors. Who-
ever is secondary has re-thought the sentences of the other and expressed
them with small but significant modifications.3 Arguments from the
general tone of the two works do not get very far. Even where detailed
textual questions are studied, conclusions are all too easily determined

1 A.F.J.Klijn, Some remarkson the Quotations of the Gospels in Gregory of

Nyssa's De Instituto Christiano and Macarius' Epistula Magna, Vig. Chr. 19 (1965)
2 The problemwas raised by the publicationof the definitiveeditions of the two
works by W. Jaeger: Two rediscovered works of Ancient Christian literature; Gregory
of Nyssa andMacarius(Leiden,1954),"Thetext of the new Greatletterof 'Macarius'"
pp. 233-301; Gregorii Nysseni Opera ascetica (Leiden, 1952), De Instituto Christiano
pp. 40-89. In the former Jaeger argued (p. 174f) that the Great Letter was "an
expanded metaphraseof Gregory'streatise". J. Gribomont, Le 'De InstitutoChris-
tiano' et le Messalianismede Gregoire de Nysse, Studia Patristica V (Berlin, 1962)
pp. 312-322 argued the reverse. He has been supported by R.Staats, Der Traktat
Gregors von Nyssa 'De InstitutoChristiano'und der Grosse Brief Symeons, Studia
Theologica 17 (1963) 120-128.
Jaeger on Macarius op. cit., (p. 204) thought the difference between the two
works largely stylistic. But H. Dorries, ChristlicherHumanismusund mbnchische
Geist-Ethik,ThLz79 (1954)643-645, and A. Kemmer,Messalianismusbei Gregorvon
Nyssa und Pseudo-Macarius, Revue Benedictine 72 (1962) 278-306, have shown that
the differencesare theological and dogmatic.

by the angle from which they start. Thus Jaeger who had spent many
years on the critical editions of Gregory rightly saw the De Institutto
Christiano as authentic but instinctively tended to see all its details as
the source for the parallel material in Macarius. Conversely students of
Macarius come upon the Great Letter as a typical work of its author and
are apt to find certain details preferableand prior to the relevant passages
in Gregory.4
I own to be among the second class, and as an exercise for a seminar
on Macarius undertook this very question. The results were published
in Studia Monastica.5 That investigation was concerned with the New
Testament quotations which are recited in almost identical order in the
two works.6 It was intended to show that where the citations agreed with
one another yet contained a significant discrepancy with the normally
printed text of the New Testament, the variant was typically "Macarian".
It is against this line of solution that Klijn has made his cautionary
remarks. He has shown that so-called "Western readings" are as much
a feature of Gregory's scriptural text elsewhere as they are of Macarius,
and therefore nothing can be proved either way by generalisations about
the kind of text the respective authors used.7 Nevertheless the investiga-
tion of individual New Testament readings has value if it concerns the
consistency or inconsistency of the quotations- not with a hypothetical
text-type- but with what the respective authors have elsewhere. While
it is admitted that this could not provide absolutely decisive proofs either
way, high degrees of probability could be attained. This article offers
the fruits of some such investigations carried out since the conclusion of
the article in Studia Monastica. The work has been much facilitated by
the use of the new critical edition of Macarius' homilies8 which will be
designated by the initials of its three editors "DKK". Other sigla are as

4 Thus Dorries, art. cit., (p. 649) whileacceptingJaeger'sthesis, noticedthatcertain

readingsin Macariuswere preferable. The instance of the citation of I Thess. 5,23
mentioned at this point, will be discussedbelow.
5 The Great Letterof Pseudo-Macariusand Gregoryof Nyssa, StudiaMonastica6
(1964) 381-387.
6 Staats, art. cit., (p. 123 note 25) "Nur zweimalist die Reihenfolgeverschieden".
7 Klijn, art. cit., (p. 168) "It is impossibleto say that Gregorydidnot use Macarius
in quoting the Gospels. We can only say that Gregory'stext of the New Testament
does not give rise to the suppositionthat he has to be dependant".
8 Die 50 geistlichen Homilien des Makarios, edited by H. Dorries, E. Klostermann
and M. Kroeger(Berlin,1964).

The Great Letter of Macarius - GL, De Instituto Christianoof Gregory

- DIC, Type III of Macarius' homilies 9 - KB, Critical edition of Gre-
gory 10 - the relevant volume number.
(i) GL 254,18-19 cites Mt. 16,24 as follows: T6v caTupov KaO'figpav
aipovTe,; geTa Xapag Kai &yaXitdrasco KaciaKo}oou0oSvTeg autra. The
corresponding place in DIC 64,15-16 hardly deserves to be called a
scriptural citation and is not indicated as such by the editor: 6 aTaupo6
TOOXptcTo 6Ov6erg?T' ECDppocGvrf; Kai aya0fs X7;ti6o0paUcT4rovTag
6Kokou0elv. The passages are clearly related giving the general advice
to carry one's cross with good will. It will be noted that the words ypeT
Xapag Kai ayaXkt&dao)g in Macarius correspond to peT' eitppocUnvri Kai
aya0cflq Xkti6Soin Gregory as two epithets describing the manner of the
goodwill. As there is no basis for this whatsoever in the scriptural text
of Mt. 16,24 or parallels, one of our authors must have derived it from
the other.
As far as 1 have searched, Gregory does not allude to this New Testa-
ment text elsewhere, so far the moment we will lay his text aside. Let us
turn to Macarius. We find that he cites Mt. 16,24 in KB 43,9 ;,aKo-
Xouvoioa TOV
ctaupov otov Kupto acipetv pTc& Xapag. In this free
citation of the text the last two words are a gloss exactly as in GL. Again
in DKK 52,144f there is the allusion to the same quotation in the in-
junction &pdrToTov aTctpov atzoIc Kca' flgEpav Xaipcov Kai aKokoueciTco
pot with the same gloss Xaipov. Now by a strange coincidence the
Syriac Didascalia Apostolorum according to the German translation 11
has "jeder der nicht sein Kreuz auf sich nimmt mit Freudenund Jauchzen
und mir nachfolgt ist meiner nicht wert". The words in italics may
fairly be said to indicate the same gloss as Macarius and indeed to corre-
spond exactly to pT&ra Xapaq Kai ayakkta6Etox in GL. Furthermore we
have grounds for thinking that Macarius knew of the Didascalia Aposto-
lorum for later on in the GL 282,14-15 - unfortunately after the parallel
with DIC ceases - he cites an agraphon almost exactly as in the Syriac

9 Neue Homilien des Makarius/Symeon aus Typus III, edited E. Klostermann and
H. Berthold(Berlin,1961).
Gregorii Nysseni Opera, edited W. Jaeger and others (Berlin and Leiden, 1929 f.)
11 Die Syrische Didaskalia, translated by H. Achelis and J. Fleming, TU XXV, 2
(Leipzig,1904) p. 13, 34.
12 O0&py6; psrle: EOtiTo- KaiUkaXxo0- To6 6&apyoi) Kai c6 0e6; iLtcLEcf. II
Thess. 3,10 cited in Didaschalia Apostolorumn,op. cit., p. 74, 22f, "so aber jemand bei

It can therefore reasonably be argued that pEaz Xcapdg Kai ayaikta-

Ciog)in GL is a gloss on the New Testament not introduced spontane-
ously by Macarius but derived from an earlier source and used elsewhere
in his work. Now it is possible that Gregory quite spontaneously wrote
pTz' 8U(ppociUvrl Ka i ayau i; ?XX7ti6o and Macarius coming after saw
that this was just the elegant Greek equivalent for a gloss he knew and
turned it into his more familiar language. This is possible. But there
is the alternative solution which may strike one as rather more than a
mere possibility.

(ii) GL 270,15-16 and DIC 80,6-7 cite Lk. 18,7 almost identically.
At any rate the variants from the New Testament text are the same in
both; H6acp (o taXov begins the citation, though it is entirely absent 13
in the scriptural text; icpO6aTo6v14 instead of the better attested aict;
TOv cKEcKTCOV is omitted without mss authority; vuKT6Og Kai fi]tppag
instead of lpcSpag Kai vuKT6g.
As far as I can see Gregory never cites this text elsewhere. On the
contrary as Klijn 15 has noted it appears in DKK 13,273 and 44,425
witnessing to the same variants.16 Klijn however perhaps overlooks its
importance for Macarius and for our problem. For it also appears in
DKK 259,43 supporting the last three of the variants 17 and is found
three times in KB 88,8 f, 134,13f, and 144,25f. Moreover as Dorries 18
has rightly said this quotation is fundamental to Macarius as a Messalian.
If DIC is prior then Gregory certainly served Macarius with a favourite
quotation. But the point is why does Gregory cite the text of Lk. 18,7
in such a peculiar form?
The full version as in GL and DIC appears nowhere in New Testament
mss. It does however appear in two near contemporary works - the
Pseudo-Clementine19 and Mark the Hermit.20 Now we know that Maca-
euch nicht arbeitet der soil auch nicht essen" and then follows the comment as in
Macarius"denn die Faulen hasst Gott der Herr".
A. Merk, Novium Testamentum, cites Tatian and the Syriac as witnesses for
1 The
reading is that of the Textus Receptus.
Art. cit., (p. 166).
16 In the second case some but not all mss have
lgpaq Kaci vuKTO6g rpoco8oKcoa
VUKTO6Kai fPIUpac KUi 0pooca irpO6aUO6v ... 0toriaet Tzlv K65iK6crl1V.
Symeon von Mesopotamien; die Uberlieferung der Messalianischen 'Makarios'-
Schriften (Leipzig, 1941) p. 163 note 1 "Lk viii, 7f kann man als die Grundstelle des
Messalianismus bezeichnen".
19 Edited B. Rehm
(Berlin, 1953) p. 231, llf.
20 PG 65,1021c OUT(og ev TOISEbcayyeXiolt 6 K6uploSs;TrlyyikaTzo t01otac T1V

rius has some unusual scriptural variants in common with Pseudo-

Clementine21 and the relation with Mark the Hermit is well established.22
What is more is that in this latter author's De Baptismo written against
the Messalians, our citation appears in a question as of an objection by
one of the Messalians themselves. It may be worth noting that a number
of unusual variants in Macarius including some in the GL appear in
Mark the Hermit.23
Let us return to the parallel citation in GL and DIC. It is possible
that Gregory had the same source as Macarius and wrote it down first
and Macarius in copying it had no reason to change it. It is also possible
that Macarius wrote it down first and Gregory copied it. All that we can
say of the two possibilities is that the available evidence supports the one
and not the other.

(iii) Both our authors at one point make use of Mt. 7,14. GL 257,18
has Ti arsvi 6&9 Kcai r,te9l vi40Vl3668utco; DIC 68,8-9 has tfiv TOXi1t-
,evrv v 6v pabicov. It will reasonably be admitted that O6evuSzo in
Macarius is equivalent to pa6Sicovin Gregory. As the New Testament
text says that the way "leads" anayouca to life, one or other of our
authors must presumably be the source of the unusual interpretation.
Gregory does refer to Mt. 7,14 twice elsewhere VI, 353,5 and VII, 1
132,9 but in neither case is it possible to determine the verb after 666v
in the version he is using. On the other hand in Macarius' frequent
citation we notice a curious thing. In DKK 109,48-9 and 229, 301, and
in KB 49,13, 50,24, 78,4 and 79,3 the verb 8to6sO) appears, so much so
that the editors of KB at 78 ask in a note if this verb is derived from a

K56iK[rilV TO[V1POVTWcV 7 p6q aUTOV vuKTx6 Kai fietpa;.

Cf. KB 88,14 and Ps-Clementine, op. cit., (p. 77, 2) citing Lk. 11,13 6vtqc for
ui6pXovTcq, and 6 naxtip ugcov6 oup6vtoSfor 6 ncareip 6 e' obpavov; KB 83,6-7 citing
Jn. 3,6 has &vayevvr0Oi cf. Pseudo-Clementine (p. 167,5) avayevvr0eflx; 0ob
o,i eicekOn
cf. Ps-CI. e?iCekhfTeand eig Tiv P3aGtiiav TcOV oupav6v in both; KB 38,27-28
citing Mt. 23,28 has rT6i?o)ev and To i9o0ev cf. Ps-Cl. (p. 168,18)TO aCoo0evand
Td i9Eo. See also the comparison noted by G. Strecker, Das Judenchristentum in den
Pseudoklementinen (Berlin, 1958) p. 131 and G. Quispel, Vig. Chr. 18 (1964) 230.
22 E. Peterson, Die Schrift des Eremiten Markus iiber die Taufe und die Messa-
lianer,ZNW 31 (1932) 273-288.
23 See for exampleLk. 16,10cited by MarkPG 1077cand MacariusDKK 312,3 as
'O ev 6oiycp aintTog;Kcai?:v noG0 dintcy-r6; eactv. In GL 269,11 note Lk. 17,21
'H Pa3ctsikia-ov obpavCov ?VTx65bltv with PG 1005b;and GL 237,22 citing Lk. 21,19
with KTijclar0e as PG 1109b. In both these cases DIC 78,20 and 46,1 follows suit,
though at least in the first instance it is contraryto what GregoryVIII, 1 300,18 has

variant reading. At any rate it is clearly Macarius' reading and it may

fairly be said to be present in GL where 665uzTCO appears.
It may be that Gregory quite spontaneously wrote paSicov and thus
provided Macarius with just the equivalent for his oft repeated 6io6tu(o.
Coincidence of this sort can never be ruled out. But the laws of prob-
ability also deserve respect.

(iv) I Thess., 5,23 is cited GL 253,10-11 and DIC 63,8-9 as ?v TJ1

fiEpaa zoO KcupiouiCjtv 'Ilqrob Xptcrzou. The variant here is fl pa
instead of New Testament napoucaia. The same variant actually appears
once in Origen's Greek 24and once in the extant latin.25 As an Origenist
it is not unlikely that Gregory could have taken this straight from his
great Alexandrine master. As I endeavoured to show elsewhere26Maca-
rius has a number of variants in GL in common with Origen even when
DIC has something else. Thus the chances of one or other of our authors
being prior in this case are about equal.
But we have a controlling factor. For earlier in GL 235,21 and DIC
44,11 the same quotation appears, but this time, while Macarius quite
consistently has f1ipa Gregory has the remarkable 6v6opaTc.Dorries27
has remarked that Macarius at this point must be prefered, suggesting
that there is a corruption of Gregory's text. But is there? For Gregory
cites I Thess., 5,23 in VIII, 1 212,21. It is an allusion only and impossible
to determine the text directly. But the purpose of the quotation is
revealed in the foregoing lines where there is reference (line 18) to r6dvT0ov
TCOv 6voItovcv and (line 19) To TODXpioToO... 6volla. Strange then as
it may seem ov6o'atz may be the text Gregory used and the word in
DIC 44,9 must stand. On the other hand Macarius uses the phrase
?v TM il[rpa ... zTO Kupiou filgov 'Irlao XptiTro in DKK 322,84-5,
though it is fair to say that the editors think part of the phrase may be
interpolation by a later hand.
Thus in reviewing the instance where GL and DIC both have fltpa
we have to explain for Gregory why he has changed his text from a few
pages back and why he has not used 6v6otazt as he has done elsewhere.
This could be explained from the use of different sources even within the
same composition, and the example of Origen was always there. But it

GCS IX,266 iv Tcirt/pa.
GCS VI,11 'in die Jesu Christi'.
26 Studia Monastica, art. cit., (p. 385).
27 Art. cit., (p. 649).

does need explaining, whereas Macarius needs no explanation at all; he

is perfectly consistent throughout.28

(v) Both authors GL 237,19 f, and DIC 46,16 f, run together Lk. 13,24
(Mt. 7,13) and Mt. 11,12 giving a particularly unusual reading for the
latter; 3pt&a Pitacaai yap aptdouacn T'iv 3palXktiavTCOvobpavcov
We need to explain (a) why the quotations are together, and (b) why
there is such a variant text.
In Macarius DKK 183,23 both points are explained, because the two
texts are cited together, though in the reverse order, and the reading for
Mt. 11,12 is exactly as in GL and DIG. The context of the passage in
DKK is not parallel to that of GL. Thus we can say that Macarius in the
latter work used a connection and a variant reading which he had
adopted elsewhere.
How do we explain the passage in DIC? Possibly the connection of
the two quotations might have occured to him independantly, but what
of the variant in Mt. 11,12? Jaeger in the footnote suggests that Gregory
has cited the text from memory - "an ex memoria citavit?". It is a
plausible explanation. But how remarkable is it that Gregory's memory
produces a variant reading unknown elsewhere except in the homilies
of Macarius and GL?

(vi) It may seem unfair that we have concentrated our attention on

New Testament citations which appear elsewhere in Macarius but not
in Gregory. This is doubtless due to a very much greater acquaintance
with the work of the former. It may also be due to the fact that an honest
search of the critical editions of Gregory simply does not yield the same
fruit. Professor Klijn confesses to the same experience.29 But one case
does occur.
GL 249,3-4 and DIC 58,25-26 cite Eph. 1,19-20. The significantfeature
is the reading VflpyrqTevin both works. The mss of the New Testament
are divided on this reading or 8viipyrlKev.30Macarius does not appear

It is fair to add that Jaeger'sedition shows Macariusto be inconsistentin citing
Jn. 5,44; GL 243,9 as nap&avOpbvntovand 263,15as napi aXkkikjv, but the apparatus
in the first case shows that there may be a confusion among the mss.
29 Art. cit., (p.
167) "Thereare howevernot many quotations in parallelpassages
which can be found in Gregory elsewhere". This point in itself may be thought
E. Nestle, Novum Testamentum,gives S, Koine, D, G, for vilpy7rlcv and B, A,
for the other.

to cite this quotation elsewhere. Gregory however does III, 1 77,10.

This is a point in his favour, but more significant is that the citation there
agrees substantially with that in DIC except for one small point; he has
?vlpyrnKrv. Of course he could have had a different text in front of him
on that occasion, he might have made a slip, a copyist was quite likely
to mistake one letter especially when it gave the Byzantine reading. It is
admittedly a small point. It can not however be thought unduly captious
to say that the alternative explanation is more likely.

It goes without saying that the arguments and observations given are
not intended to prove the priority of one or other of our writers. It could
fairly be said that the examples given refer only to some isolated in-
stances in any case. But for reasons given at the beginning of this essay,
it is only by study of small details that any arguments can be made at all.
Doubtless other such detailed investigations from the side of Gregory
would produce arguments of the same kind in his favour. Even so, and
at the very least, the arguments given here seem to offer unavoidable
difficultiesto acceptance of the priority of Gregory. Each argument taken
by itself may be thought to yield only a "more probable" conclusion.
What degree of probability can be reached by taking the arguments to-
gether as a whole, judicet lector.

Roma, Collegio di Sant'Anselmo,

La Via Porta Lavernale 19