John M oorhead PATRISTIC EXEGESIS OF THE LOVE OF G O D (ROM. 5:5)*

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1 PATRISTIC EXEGESIS OF THE LOVE OF G O D (ROM. 5:5)* John M oorhead It is sometimes the case that very simple expressions can be difficult to understand. Writing to the Romans, S. Paul had occasion to refer to the love of God which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us, (Rom 5:5). Nothing, it may be thought, could be clearer than these words. Yet lurking within them there is an ambiguity, for the expression the love of God (ή αγάπη τού θεοΰ; caritas dei, Vulg.) is capable of being taken in two ways. It could mean the love God has for us (i.e. God s love ), but it could equally be taken in the sense of the love we have for God. Modern biblical scholarship has decided in favour of the former interpretation', but many of the fathers of the church accepted the other. My purpose in the following pages is, firstly, to offer a brief survey of patristic exegesis of the expression, and secondly to examine in some detail the developing use to which it was put by Augustine. We may be begin with Origen. In a passage of his commentary on Romans which has been preserved in the Latin version of Rufinus, Origen tackles the problem in a direct way: But it seems to me that we should consider whether the love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit of which he speaks is that with which we love God, or that with which we are loved by God. And if someone were to understand it as that love with which we love God, the words used (sermo iste) make this interpretation quite possible. But because he says God s love (dei caritatem) the more likely interpretation is the love with which we are loved by God. It is certain that, just as he specifies love as the chief and greatest gift of the Holy Spirit, it is a gift which we first received from God. We are loved by God, and because of this we are able to love G od.2 *. Standard abbreviations: CCSL = Corpus Christianorum Series Latina C S E L = Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum P G = Patrologia Graeca P L = Patrologia Latina 1. Ernst Kasemann Commentary on Romans London 1980 p The question is touched on by G. B. Caird, The language and imagery o f the Bible Philadelphia 1980 p.99, John Macquarrie, In Search o f humanity London 1982 p. 185, and, with special reference to Augustine, John Burnaby, Am or Dei London 1938 p PG. 14:997AB. Unfortunately this passage is not among the portions o f the original Greek Jean Scherer was able to publish in Le Commentaire d Origene sur Rom. III. 5-V.7 Cairo 1957.

2 82 JOHN MOORHEAD Origen s interpretation of the text is clear, and it was the one generally accepted by Eastern authors. John Chrysostom, for example, makes it clear that he took Paul to be referring to God s love for us (περί ήμάς).3a later commentary which has come done to us under the name of Oecumenius provides a fuller discussion. Commenting on Paul s statement that we glory in afflictions (Rom 5:3). Oecumenius observes that this happens because of our love of God. But God s love of us came first: his love (έρως) was shown by Christ s suffering shame, being struck with stones and being considered dead; and who would not love (φιλεΐ) such a lover (έραστής)? Any sufferings we endure are of no account compared to his. And so Oecumenius can conclude his discussion of this passage by pointing out that there comes upon us the Spirit from that single love (άγάπη) by which he loved us. 4 The eleventh century scholar Theophylact of Ochrid sees the love as that of God for us, by which he makes us his sons.5 But an important dissident among Eastern authors may be noted. The fifth century Antiochene exegete Theodoret of Cyrrhus expounds the text of Paul in the following way: The grace of the all-holy Spirit, which we received through baptism, kindled in us a yearning for God. And then he teaches us the rudiments of love (φίλτρον, an unusual word).6 In the West, on the other hand, the interpretation accepted by Theodoret was to prevail. Two writers of the late-fourth and early-fifth centuries seem to have been fundamental in the history of Western exegesis of this text. Augustine of Hippo was like Origen in being aware that Paul s words posed a problem, but he came down firmly on the other side: Now the love of God is said to be shed abroad in our hearts. This is not the love with which he loves us, but that with which he makes us lovers of himself.7 Augustine compares the phrase caritas dei with similar expressions: the iustitia dei (Rom 3:24) by which we are made just, the domini salus (Ps. 3:9) by which we are saved, and the fides Iesu Christi (Gal. 2:16) by which we are made faithful. And so he can hold that by the gift of the Holy Spirit there is shed abroad in our hearts the love whereby we love God and neighbour PG. 60:470, end o f first paragraph. John o f Damascus is content merely to reproduce Paul s words at this point o f his commentary on Romans (PG. 95:476). 4. PG. 118: PG. 124:401B. 6. PG. 82:96D. 7. De spiritu et littera (ed. CSEL. 60). 8. De trinitate (ed. CCSL. 50). Similarly, in the Confessions this love can be that which friends have for each other (4.4.7) as well as that o f people for God (13, 31, 46).

3 THE LOVE OF GOD 83 A second important Western exegete to hold this interpretation was Pelagius. In his commentary on Romans Pelagius appends to this text a brief note destined to prove influential: A great number of benefits arouses a great amount of love which, when it becomes perfect, does not know how to be confounded and to fear (1 John 4:18).9 It is a little surprising to find Augustine and Pelagius united in their interpretation of this text of Paul. But Pelagius follower Julian of Eclanum took it differently. His position is known from a quotation embedded in a work of Augustine, in which he is mentioned as having glossed Romans 5:5 to the effect that through the gifts of the Holy Spirit God has demonstrated (probavit) his love for the human race. 10 In the West, however, it was the interpretation of Augustine and Pelagius which was to carry the day. Works which have come down to us under the names of Jerome and Primasius, but which seem to have been written by the Roman deacon John and a follower of Cassiodorus respectively, reproduce Pelagius note on the text with verbal alterations." Caesarius of Arles followed Augustine. In a tortuous passage in one of his sermons Caesarius imitates a discussion o f Augustine concerning the healing of the paralytic by the pool of Bethsaida. The man had lain by the pool for 38 years (John 5:5), and as the number 40 stands for good Christians and all the Saints, it is clear that he had fallen short of the two precepts of charity, love of God and of neighbour. And so, when the Lord said to him Rise he indicated the love of God, just as when he said Take up thy bed he referred to bearing the burdens of other people (cf. Gal. 6:2). But we cannot of ourselves have the needed love, so the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us. 12 Later authors, who may or may not be dependent on Augustine or Pelagius, take the text of Paul in the same way. For Gregory the Great, the love of God which the Holy Spirit sheds abroad is the Virtus bonae intentionis. 13 Similarly Atto of Vercelli, writing in the tenth century: Love is shed abroad, because we are ordered to love not only God, but also our neighbour, and not just our friends in God, but our enemies on 9. Pelagius expositions o f thirteen epistles o f St. Paul ed. A. Souter Cambridge (= Texts and studies 9) p.43. N ote, however, that Pelagius goes on immediately to discuss G od s love o f us. 10. Contra Iulianum (ed. PL. 44). 11. Jerome : PL Primasius : PL. 68:438D. 12. Serm. 39.6, based on Tractatus in evangelium Ioannis 17.5 (ed. CCSL. 36). 13. in librum I regum 1.52 (CCSL. 144:82).

4 84 JOHN MOORHEAD account of God. But, in case anyone thinks that love has been shed in him because of his own merits or the observance of the law, he adds: through the Holy Spirit. Again, lest he thinks he has the same Spirit on his own account, he subjoins: which is given to us.14 Abelard s discussion of the text, characteristic of his method of exegesis, comes to the same conclusion: He says of God, that is, it is had simply on account of the Lord, in contrast to love of the flesh. He says love (charitatem), that is, love (dilectionem) is shed abroad, which also embraces one s enemy.15 Abelard seems to have been unexpectedly in agreement with one of his assailants, for in a passage which provides an excellent example o f the intensity which Cistercian spiritual writing can reach, William of St. Thierry observes: You desire, and desire strongly, to love us in yourself and to love yourself of us and in us through the Holy Spirit, your love... So grant him unto us, and living in us, O God, love yourself from us, by moving and stimulating us to your love, by enlightening and arousing u s.16 By his stress on God within man loving himself, William comes close to denying the role of man in loving God, but there can be no doubt that in some sense he sees the love of God as proceeding from man to God. Despite the weight behind this way of interpreting the text, its acceptance was by no means universal in the West. Neither Ambrose nor the scholar to whom Erasmus gave the name Am brosiaster seems to have held it.'7 Scholars remained aware of the ambiguity of the text. The Carolingian author Haymo of Halberstadt refers to the love of God by which God loves us, or (vel) by which we love G od; 18 Sedulius Scotus, in his Collectanea on Romans, felt able to juxtapose comments by Pelagius and Origen;19 and Bruno the Carthusian commented: The love (caritas) of God is shed abroad in our hearts, that is, the love (dilectio) of God is amplified in our hearts because we are prepared to suffer and die for him. Or otherwise: truly, (hope) is not confounded but 14. PL. 134:172C. 15. PL. 178:860A. 16. PL. 180:591 f. 17. Ambrose: De spiritu sancto Ambrosiaster : CSEL. 81.1:154f, followed by Rabanus Maurus (PL. 111:1369BC, although he follow s exactly none o f the three versions o f the text o f Ambrosiaster printed in the Vienna corpus) and, in abbreviated fashion, by Lanfranc (PL. 150:120). 18. PL. 117: PL. 103:53.

5 T H E LOVE OF GOD 85 fulfilled, which is clear from because the love of God is shed abroad, that is, because God abundantly loves (diligit) us and because the love of God towards us is so warm.20 The exegesis of Rom 5:5, then, was something of a problem for the Fathers and early medieval writers. Confronted by an expression which could grammatically yield two quite different meanings, we find some interpreting it in one way and others in the other, while a third group seems content to note the two interpretations. It would be possible to provide more examples of patristic exegesis of the text, but rather than do this I propose to attempt to survey the consideration given it by the Father for whom it had most significance, Augustine. Studies of Augustine s thought have taught us to look for both continuities and change in his thought, as it developed;21 and as I hope to demonstrate, both can be seen in his treatment of the love of God. As will become clear, this text of Paul became of great importance for Augustine. However, in his early works he displays no particular interest in it.22 So it is that, in a discussion of certain texts of Romans he wrote in , this verse is passed by without comment. Augustine does, however, quote it at one point out of sequence, with the following notation: Therefore no-one ought to glorify in his own works, which he has through the gift of God, since that love works good in him.28 It is a fleeting anticipation of Augustine s deployment of this text, decades later, against the Pelagians.24 Writing to the Milanese priest Simplicianus in about 396, he could observe: The letter kills but the Spirit gives life (2 Cor 3:6)... because the fulfilling of the law is love (Rom 13:10) which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us. 25 The association of this text with the fulfilling of the law of Rom 13:10 was to remain characteristic of Augustine s handling of it. In his works against the Manichaeans he employed the text rarely, but one passage from the contra Faustum of about 400 is interesting: 20. PL. 153:50C. 21. It is scarcely necessary to refer to Peter Brown Augustine o f Hippo London 1967 and R. A. Markus Saeculum: history and society in the theology o f Saint Augustine. Cambridge In what follow s I have preferred to rely on writings which can be fairly closely dated. This has meant that such works as Enarrationes in psalmos have not been used to any great extent. 23. Expositio ad Romanos (ed. CSEL. 84) I use this term to encompass Pelagius and his followers. 25. De diversis quaestionibus ad Simplicianum 52.6 (ed. CSEL. 84).

6 86 JOHN MOORHEAD Love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom 13:10), just as the Apostle says. The Lord deigned to reveal and give that love by sending to the faithful the Holy Spirit. And so the same Apostle says again: The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which is given to us. And the Lord himself says: By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35).26 It is clear that Augustine here accepts the love of God as being the love for him which Christians have; but it is no less clear that the text is not being cited frequently, nor carrying considerable weight in the passages where it occurs. In the anti-donatist writings we find Augustine coming to use the text in a different way. In the De Baptismo of c.400 he asserts that the Holy Spirit is given by the laying on of hands only in the catholic church. Therefore, since the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which is given to us, those who are cut off from the communion of the catholic church do not have charity, so that whatever else they may have or do, it profits them nothing (cf. 1 Cor 13:1-3). Nowadays miraculous powers, such as speaking in tongues, are no longer received through the Spirit, but love still is.27 Similarly, in the Epistula ad Catholicos of c.402, Augustine points out that, whereas those outside the church (alieni) have visible baptism, they do not possess the kingdom of heaven; only those who will reign with Christ forever have the love of God which is the gift of the Holy Spirit.28 A passage of the Contra Cresconium of 406 uses the text in the same way: The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us. So those who receive the baptism of the church outside the church are deservedly believed not to have the Holy Spirit, unless they adhere to the church in the bond of peace by the linking of love.2 By stressing the connection between love and the Holy Spirit, Augustine can argue that the absence of one entails the absence of the other. One has the impression that in the early fifth century he was becoming more interested in this text of Romans, and, significantly, for his later use of it, he was using it to bring out the quality of the love of G od, even taken to be the love humans have for God, as something given them by God in the first place. But this was merely by way of preparation for the sustained use to which (ed. CSEL. 25) (ed. CSEL. 52) f (ed. CSEL. 52) ; cf , , (ed. CSEL. 52).

7 THE LOVE OF GOD 87 Augustine was to put the text in his writings against the Pelagians. The first definite instance I have found of what was to become almost a stylistic tic occurs in a work of , the De peccatorum meritis et remissione: So that God may be loved, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, not through ourselves, but through the Holy Spirit which is given to us.30 We may note that here again the love is unambiguously that of man for God, but more interestingly the quotation from Paul is interrupted by not through ourselves, but (non per nos, sed). In the De spiritu et littera of 412 Augustine inserts into quotations of this text the phrases not through free will, which arises out of us, but and not through the sufficiency of our own will, and not through the letter of the law, but,31 and other works written against the Pelagians reveal a wide range of insertions.32 As he himself pointed out in the De perfectione iustitiae hominis, that love is shed abroad in our hearts not through ourselves but through the Holy Spirit which is given to us, is something which should be said often (quod saepe dicendum est)!33 Building on his earlier perception that the love of God of Rom 5:5 is a love for God given by the Holy Spirit, Augustine can now use it to exclude other ways by which the love of God could conceivably be said to be obtained. He can boldly assert amemus deum de deo. 34 The relevance of such a use of the text to polemics against the Pelagians, accused by Augustine of belittling the need for God s grace, is obvious; what is perhaps not so obvious is that such employment of the text represents the strengthening of a tendency already to be found in his use of it against the Donatists. This is not the only way in which Augustine s use of this text developed. One has the feeling thdt his knowledge of the Bible, like that of many ancient and medieval theologians, was such that one expression in it led almost automatically, and perhaps unconsciously, to consideration of other parts (ed. CSEL. 60). Note as well, similar usage in Enarrationes in Psalmos 67.11, (ed. CCSL ), although this work was written over a long period (C ) , (ed. CSEL. 60). 32. Thus, in De natura et gratia (o f , ed. CSEL. 60): not through ourselves, but (17:18); not through the letter o f the law, but (57.67); by neither the ability o f nature nor the free will which is in Us, but (64.77); not by the resources o f nature and will which are in us, but (70.84). In b e patientia (of 417, ed. CSEL. 41): not from ourselves, but (17.14f; cf only through the Holy Spirit 25.22). See too De gratia Christi (o f 418, CSEL. 42) 9.10 and Contra lulianum N ote the m odified form which occurs in the De perfectione iustitiae hominis o f (ed. CSEL. 42): the grace o f Jesus Christ acts on us not only by precepts, sacraments and examples, but also by the Holy Spirit, through whom love is shed abroad in our hearts in a hidden way (20.43; cf f) Sermones de Vetero Testamento 34.3 (ed. CCSL. 41).

8 JOHN MOORHEAD Obviously, such a phrase as the love of God could suggest a vast number of passages of the Bible, but it is clear that for Augustine the love of God of Rom 5:5 chiefly brought to mind love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom 13:10). Throughout his works the mention of one of these expressions is very often followed by a reference to the other.35 Unless I am mistaken, it was during the period in which Augustine was concerned with the Pelagians that another expression of Paul became associated with Rom 5:5. This is Gal 5:6, in which Paul mentions faith which works through love. In the De spiritu et littera of 412 we encounter a rapprochement between these two texts, with Augustine mentioning the good works which faith works through the love which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us. 36 He also associates the two texts in the De gratia Christi of 418,37 and the Enchiridion of They are also brought together in a passage of one of Augustine s last works, the De haeresibus of , significantly in the context of a discussion of the Pelagians: These people are enemies of the grace of God, by which we were predestined to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ in himself (Eph 1:5), and by which we were plucked from the power of darkness, so that we might believe in him and be transferred to his kingdom (Col 1:13), on account of which he says No-one comes to me unless this is given to him by my father (John 6:65), and by which love is shed abroad in our hearts (Rom 5:5) so that faith may work through love (Gal 5:6), to such an extent that they believe a man can carry out all the divine commands without it.39 As Augustine became insistent in his use of Rom 5:5 to suggest the given nature of the love of God which men have, so it became natural for him to think of this love in connection with Gal 5:6, particularly when the sentence is taken as a whole, For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith which works through love, for the negation which precedes Paul s positive statement ( neither... nor... but ) is similar to the interpolations ( not... but ) which he himself was introducing into his citations of Rom 5:5. Augustine s use of this text may have developed in another way. In a 35. See above n.25, and for exam ple Enarrationes in Psalmos 67.11, 67.24, , 143.2; Contra Faustum 17.6; De catechizandis rudibus (ed. PL. 40); De spiritu et littera 16.28, 21.36, 24,4.6; Tractatus in evangelium Ioannis 26.1; De natura et gratia 17.18; De gratia Christi ; cf (ed. PL. 40) (ed. PL. 42).

9 THE LOVE OF GOD 89 number of his works written against the Pelagians he slightly misquoted Paul, affirming that love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit without specifying that the love was of G od, 40 just as he did in passages of other works which seem to have been written in about It is hard to tell whether this is significant: occasionally the phrase of God is omitted in early citations,42 the relative paucity of earlier citations makes it difficult to determine whether the omissions in later citations mark an important development, and in any case the word dei could be left out of quotations in many contexts as being redundant. But in his early exposition of some propositions from Romans, Augustine commented at one point: It is ours to believe and to will, but it is his to give believers and those who will the means of working good through the Holy Spirit, through whom the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.43 When he came to quote this passage of his writings in the Retractiones of , the word dei was left out.44 Perhaps this is a straw in the wind. For a man who increasingly became committed to a reading of Paul which saw the love of God as being the love of men for God which God gave them, the word dei was secondary. Whether the love was directed towards God or other men was irrelevant for Augustine s purposes; indeed, an understanding of God-given love embracing not only God but also men would fit his schema better, for if the love was restricted to being that directed towards God it would, in theory, be possible to envisage love of other men not shed abroad by the Holy Spirit but arising from some nondivine agency. And so, towards the end of the De trinitate, finished in 416, Augustine could expand Paul s text to the love of God and of neighbour. 45 We may therefore conclude that this text in Romans was of little interest to Augustine in his early years as a Christian writer, but that he came to find it useful in writings against the Donatists and, more particularly, the Pelagians. His deployment of it against those whom he deemed to be enemies of grace is characterized by the insertion of various phrases following the form not by... but, a tendency to take it in conjunction with Gal 5:6, and, possibly, a tendency to delete the word dei. This analysis is confirmed by a body of evidence we have yet to draw on, 40. De spiritu et littera 14.25; De natura et gratia 68.58; Enchiridion Tractatus in evangelium Ioannis 95.1, 96.4, 94.2; De trinitate De catechizandis rudibus 14.22, 23.41; De consensu evangelistarum (ed. PL 34); Contra Cresconium , Expositio 61 (ed. PL. 35) (ed. PL. 32)

10 90 JOHN MOORHEAD Augustine s letters.46 Only four of his letters written before 412 cite the text, and these citations are very much en passant.*1 Two letters written in 412, when he was becoming aware of problems concerning God s grace, show a much greater willingness to cite the text, although it still bears little weight in the development of his argument.48 A letter of 416 is the first to cite the text with an interpolated phrase: not through ourselves, nor through our own strength, but. 49 A later letter, written in 417, contains the only use of the text in his correspondence in an anti-donatist context, and we find Augustine using it as he does elsewhere in writing against the Donatists. 0 The text is also cited in four letters written against the Pelagians in ; twice it is expanded by an interpolated phrase, twice it is taken in conjunction with Gal 5:6, and once the word dei is left out.51 In a later letter, which seems to have been written in the period , Augustine once interpolates a clause and once suppresses dei.52 These are the only significant allusions to the text in the correspondence of the last decade of Augustine s life; perhaps we are to see a diminution of interest. * * * * It is clear that the fathers handle this phrase in different ways. Some adopt one interpretation and others the other, showing no awareness that the text is ambiguous. Perhaps there is nothing to be surprised at here: the ambiguity could easily escape a reader not subjecting the text to close analysis. Another group were aware that Paul s words were capable of being interpreted in different ways. Some of these authors were content merely to register the two possible meanings without indicating a preference, perhaps a legitimate approach for scholars who accepted the possible existence of manifold meanings concealed behind the words of the biblical text, and that some words of the Scriptures benefit from their obscurity, in 46. These are cited according to Goldbacher s edition (CSEL. 34, 44, 57, 58). The recentlydiscovered letters which were published by Johannes Divjak in 1981 (CSEL. 88) contain nothing o f interest for our purpose. 47. Ep (where the love is already that o f men for God: we do not find God except by loving (amando), when love (caritas) is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us ); 82.20; 92.1; Ep , 7.19, 18.45, 22.54, 37.85; Ep ; the text is also cited in this letter at Ep Ep (with Gal 5:6), 7.25; (with an interpolation along unusual lines: ne quisquam earn se habere nonnisi per proprium putaret arbitrium, continuo subiunxit ); (omission o f dei in a context where love o f neighbour as well as love o f God is treated); (with the interpolation non a nobis sed ) and reference to Gal 5: Ep

11 THE LOVE OF GOD 91 that they yield many interpretations. 53 O f the scholars we have considered, only Origen and Augustine essay justifications for their positions. Neither could be accused of lacking enthusiasm for an allegorical, multi-level approach to biblical texts, so the interest each has in establishing the meaning intended by Paul may be taken as a sign of critical concern as well.54 The exegesis of Augustine which we have examined in some detail is not only incorrect in the eyes of modern biblical scholars; it is also, on the face of it, uncharacteristic. What led Augustine, committed as he became to a view which emphasized the dependence of sinful man on the grace of God, to see in this text man reaching out in love to God? As we have seen he had adopted this interpretation long before becoming involved with controversy against Pelagians, and had found it useful in writing against the Donatists, but this scarcely accounts for the insistence with which he used it in anti- Pelagian polemic. It may be suggested that, taken with the following words, an interpretation of the love of God along the lines of m an s love for God would have been particularly attractive to Augustine at that stage of his development. For the love in question did not merely happen to exist in human hearts; rather, it was shed abroad by the Holy Spirit which is given to us, a point which he came to emphasize by interpolating statements of ways in which the love had not come to be there. For Augustine was able to deduce from this text that the love of men for God was given to them by God in the first place, an emphasis which, when he came to deal with the Pelagians, he found very congenial indeed. 53. Augustine Enarrationes in Psalmos Needless to say, allegorical interpretation does not necessarily exclude concern to understand the literal meaning o f the text. See on this the enlightening comments o f Henri de Lubac Exegese medi0vale 1.2 Paris 1959 p.663.

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2012 University of Notre Dame

2012 University of Notre Dame James A. Andrews Hermeneutics and the Church In Dialogue with Augustine University of Notre Dame Press Notre Dame, Indiana Copyright 2012 by the University of Notre Dame Press Notre Dame, Indiana 46556

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