restricted access Homily 21
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HOMILY 21 "This is the book ablYUt the origin of human beings. On the day God made Adam, in God's image he made him; male and female he made them. He gave them the name Adam on the day he made them. "I ONDERFUL [175] AND BEYOND TELLING, dearly beloved , is the treasure in the words read just now. I realize that for their part many people take one look at a list of names, pay attention only to the surface of the text, and judge that the words contain nothing more than simply a list of names. For my part, on the contrary, I beg you all not to pass heedlessly by the contents of Holy Scripture. I mean, there is nothing in the writings at this point which does not contain a great wealth of thought; after all, since the blessed authors composed under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, on that account they hold concealed within them great treasure because written by the Spirit. Don't be surprised if in the list of names I guarantee to show you a great wealth of thought hidden there. You see, there is not even a syllable or even one letter contained in Scripture which does not have great treasure concealed in its depths.2 Hence we must be guided by grace from above and accept the enlightenment of I. Gen 5.1-2, where the priestly editor of the Hebrew text begins his book of generations, or record of Adam's line. The LXX, which before this point has failed to respect the difference between Hebrew adam with article and without it to distinguish "human being" from "Adam" (as a proper name) and has preferred the proper name, strangely reverses its pattern in 5.1, still against the Hebrew. Chrysostom's own text here also omits the blessing in 5. 2 . 2. A classic statement of Chrysostom's principle of the precision, akribeia, of Scripture-a principle he adheres to not just by citing it but by examining carefully miniscule items in the text, even down to syllables and letters as he claims (ef. Homily 39 on Abraham's name). See notes 11 and 13 below, and my article, "Akribeia." 50 HOMILY 21 51 the Holy Spirit, and only then approach the divine sayings. That is to say, Sacred Scripture does not call into play human wisdom for the understanding of its writings, but the revelation of the Spirit, so that we may learn the true meaning of its contents and draw from it a great benefit.~ After all, if in daily affairs the writings composed by human beings frequently become corrupt through the passage of time, judging by the date mentioned at the beginning of the text, and still contain great significance in even a single syllable, so much the more in the case of the Holy Scriptures composed by the Holy Spirit can we find this, provided we are alert and do not rush heedlessly on but sharpen our responses and consider everything precisely, proving ourselves no worse than people demonstrating a like enthusiasm for material things. (2) To draw a comparison with people digging for metal ore: they don't stop short at its first appearance; instead, when they get down to great depth and are in a position to collect nuggets of gold, they expend much effort and vigor in separating them from the soil, and despite that great labor they find only some slight consolation for their pains.4 Still, even though they know they will gain little return in comparison with their trouble, in many cases despite long hours and much frustration and disappointment of their hopes, they don't give up at this stage: buoyed up by expectation they feel no effect of their efforts. So if they exhibit such zeal in regard to things that are corruptible and passing, to which is attached much uncertainty, much more should we exhibit a like, or even greater, enthusiasm in cases where the wealth is proof against theft and the treasure is not consumed nor is it 3. For Chrysostom not only are the author and text inspired but also the reader, if the inspired text is to be appreciated fully. One effect of such inspiration is that the reader is able to bring a like precision to his study of the precision of the text. See my Inspiration, pp. 108-121. 4. One of the several figures (probably not original, as we...


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