Posts Tagged Hilary of Poitiers

Master of the Sea, Son of God

English: Walk on the water Deutsch: Rettung de...

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Matthew 14:22–33 narrates Jesus’ walking on water. Yet, unlike the parallel accounts in Mark 6:45–52; John 6:15–21, Matt 14:33 reports that the disciples’ conclusion, at the end of this episode, was ἀληθῶς θεοῦ υἱὸς εἶ (truly, you are the son of God). Apparently thinking along the lines similar to Heb 3:5–6, Archelaus, Disputation with Manes, 44 (ANF 6:220), relates this text to Jesus’ superiority to Moses. Perhaps more to the point here, however, is a chaos-versus-creation motif (Boring, “Matthew,” NIB 8, 327) in which Jesus subjects the surrounding disorder (Graves, “Followed by the Sun,” RevExp 99, no. 1 [2002]: 92; Ladd, Theology of the New Testament, rev.ed., 163; Verseput, “The Faith of the Reader,” JSNT 46 [1992]: 14–16; cf. Augustine, Serm., 25.6 [NPNF1 6:338]; Jerome, Epist., 30 [NPNF2 6:45]). He does so, first, by walking on the sea himself and then all the more by causing Peter to do the same (Chrysostom, Hom. Matt., 50.2 [NPNF1 10:311–12]). In this framework, then, if Israel’s God is master of the seas (e.g., Job 9:8; Ps 89:9, 19–37; Hab 3:8, 15; cf. Gen 1:2 [LXX; LSJ, s.v. ἐπιφέρω, §§2–3])—a kind of mastery not otherwise within the realm of human experience—Jesus’ walking on the sea is an eminently good reason for identifying Jesus as θεοῦ υἱός (son of God) and worshiping him as such (see Matt 14:33; Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 6.51 [NPNF2 9:117]; cf. Mark 6:51–52John 6:21; Aristotle, Poetics, 5.6, 6.2).

Cross-posted from New Testament Interpretation.

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Worthy of More Glory

Moses, confronted about his Cushite wife

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In Num 12:1, Miriam and Aaron confront Moses because of his marriage to a Cushite woman, and in so doing, they attempt to claim equal prophetic status with Moses (Num 12:2a). Apparently, on this occasion, Moses’ meekness constrains him from responding (Num 12:3; cf. Rom 12:191 Clem. 17 [ANF 9:234]; Socrates, Hist. eccl., 7.42 [NPNF2 2:176]), but יהוה hears the conversation and summons all three siblings to the tent of meeting (Num 12:2b, 4). יהוה then summons Aaron and Miriam for a special rebuke (Num 12:5): however high may be their claim to apparently equal prophetic status with Moses, Moses own status still surpasses that of prophet (Num 12:6–9). The status that Aaron and Miriam claim for themselves gets them only so far—only to dreams and visions (Num 12:6). By contrast, Moses is not limited to dreams and visions, but פה אל־פה אדבר־בו ומראה ולא בחידת ותמנת יהוה יביט (Num 12:8a; with him, I [יהוה] speak mouth to mouth, plainly, and not in riddles, and he looks upon the form of יהוה). More than a prophet, Moses is a faithful servant in all יהוה’s house (Num 12:7; Heb 3:5).

So much the greater, then, is he with whom Moses the faithful servant and Elijah the prophet appear on the mountain (Matt 17:3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30–31; cf. Irenaeus, Haer., 4.20.9–11 [ANF 1:490–91]). Yet, far from contending with this Jesus for their own status, Moses and Elijah discuss with him ἡ ἔξοδος αὐτοῦ, ἣν ἤμελλεν πληροῦν ἐν Ἰερουσαλήμ (Luke 9:31; his departure, which he was about to complete at Jerusalem; cf. Leo the Great, Serm., 51.4 [NPNF2 12:163]; Origen, Comm. Matt., 12.38 [ANF 9:470]). Not being sufficiently sensible of the situation, however, the newly awakened Peter does suggest a certain equality of status among the three glorious individuals he sees before him (Matt 17:2–4; Mark 9:2b–6; Luke 9:29–33; Leo the Great, Serm., 51.5 [NPNF2 12:163–64]). The divine response again comes in a cloud (Num 12:5; Matt 17:5a; Mark 9:7a; Luke 9:34). Nevertheless, the heavenly voice does not answer by assigning Jesus to the category of “servant,” however noble or faithful, but acknowledges him as the so much superior son (Matt 17:5b; Mark 9:7b; Luke 9:31–32, 35; cf. Hippolytus, Noet., 18 [ANF 5:230]; Jerome, Epist., 46.13 [NPNF2 6:65]; Leo the Great, Serm., 51.6 [NPNF2 12:164]; Rufinus, Symb., 4 [NPNF2 3:544]; Tertullian, Praescr., 22 [ANF 3:253]), who is himself deserving of all allegiance and honor (Matt 17:5–8; Mark 9:7–8; Luke 9:35–36; Heb 3:1–19; Augustine, Serm., 28.3–5 [NPNF1 6:347–48]; Clement of Alexandria, Paed., 1.11 [ANF 2:234]; Cyprian, Epist., 52.14 [ANF 5:362]; Leo the Great, Serm., 51.7 [NPNF2 12:164]; cf. Ambrose, Epist., 43.57 [NPNF2 10:464]; Chrysostom, Hom. Heb., 5.4 [NPNF1 14:390]; Cyril of Jerusalem, Lectures, 10.7–9 [NPNF2 7:59–60]; Hilary of Poitiers, Trin., 6.24 [NPNF2 9:106]).

Cross-posted from New Testament Interpretation.

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