Archive for the ‘Robert Sungenis’ Category

Blogger Criticism of the Pope

April 29, 2011

Some people are unhappy because a well-known name in the Roman Catholic apologetics community has taken to criticize two popes. That’s just not something one does, apparently. I’m yet to see any rule in the Code of Canon Law against criticizing popes, but who knows – perhaps I missed something.

If you want to see a real celebrity culture: there it is. If Carl Trueman (or anyone else) thinks that the Evangelical world has celebrities, he need to take a look at what happens when a Roman Catholic blogger suggests that it might possibly be a bad thing for John Paul II to kiss the Koran.

Suggest that Benedict XVI might have been influenced by the liberal tendencies of his late buddy Rahner – and look out!

Popes are fallible and peccable in theory, but in the practice of the blogosphere …

Circumcision Ended Without Scripture?

July 15, 2010

In the discussion between Matt Slick and Robert Sungenis, Dr. Sungenis made the following comment:

In Acts chapter 15, where the debate over circumcision arises. And Peter stands up and says, “We’re no longer going to practice circumcision.” And he had no Scriptural precedent to do so.

(see 53:51 in this mp3 recording of Dr. White’s partial review of the discussion)

Dr. White provided some responses (as you will hear in the mp3), but I’d like to provide six of my own:

  1. The debate in Acts 15 was really a debate over sola fide, which the Judaizers opposed, claiming that circumcision was necessary for salvation. Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. Compare Acts 15:8-9 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

  2. Peter stood up, but what he stood up to do was to argue for faith alone and against the burden of circumcision: Acts 15:7-11 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

  3. Peter’s comment was not the announcement of a decision. The decision was pronounced by James. Acts 15:13 & 19 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: … Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: … And then by all the church at Jerusalem, not just the apostles and elders. Acts 15:22-23 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: and they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: … .

  4. The decision of the council was specifically directed to Gentile converts, not to Jews. (see the verses in the previous bullets) It was not actually a call to end circumcision, just a recognition that circumcision is not necessary for salvation. Jews continued to be circumcised. Act 16:1-3 Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.
  5. Peter’s argument itself refers to his experience with Gentiles such as Cornelius. That experience is recorded in Scripture, whether or not an as-yet-incomplete book of Acts had been written. So, the precedent on which Peter relied is in Scripture, although it may not yet have been in Scripture at that time.
  6. The decision of the church of Jerusalem, however, was based on Scriptural precedent. Specifically, as James explains it we can see the Scriptural precedent, I’ll provide cross-references in brackets. Acts 15:15-18 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: [Amos 9:11] that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, [cf. Hosea 3:5] and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. [Amos 9:12] Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. [cf. Isaiah 46:10]

So, for at least these reasons, I would have to respectfully disagree with Dr. Sungenis’ argument.


Sungenis: Defending Purgatory By Attacking Limited Atonement

July 4, 2010

In my previous post (link to post) I highlighted Sungenis’ admission that Roman Catholicism cannot answer with any certainty even such a basic question about Purgatory as whether it is a place or state. In the same oddly titled article (link to article), Sungenis purports to respond to Dr. White’s criticism of the Roman view of Purgatory with respect to the Atonement.

The bulk of the discussion, however, is simply an attack on Limited Atonement. It includes one of the typical misrepresentations of the Reformed position (the allegation that we or Calvin held that “Christ went to hell for [the elect].” In his Institutes, Calvin explicitly ties the credal expression “descended into hell” to Christ’s suffering on the cross, rejecting the idea that it refers to somewhere he went after his death and even responding to the objection that it would lead to the creed expressing the phrase out of order:

Those who — on the ground that it is absurd to put after his burial what preceded it — say that the order is reversed in this way are making a very trifling and ridiculous objection. f441 The point is that the Creed sets forth what Christ suffered in the sight of men, and then appositely speaks of that invisible and incomprehensible judgment which he underwent in the sight of God in order that we might know not only that Christ’s body was given as the price of our redemption, but that he paid a greater and more excellent price in suffering in his soul the terrible torments of a condemned and forsaken man.

– John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2.16.10

The Continental Reformed likewise teach:

Question 44. Why is there added, “he descended into hell”?

Answer: That in my greatest temptations, I may be assured, and wholly comfort myself in this, that my Lord Jesus Christ, by his inexpressible anguish, pains, terrors, and hellish agonies, in which he was plunged during all his sufferings, (a) but especially on the cross, has delivered me from the anguish and torments of hell. (b)

(a) Ps.18:5 The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me. Ps.18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. Ps.116:3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Matt.26:38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. Heb.5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Isa.53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Matt.27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (b) Isa.53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

– Heidelberg Catechism, Question/Answer 44

While the Scottish Reformed teach:

Question 50: Wherein consisted Christ’s humiliation after his death?

Answer: Christ’s humiliation after his death consisted in his being buried, and continuing in the state of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day; which has been otherwise expressed in these words, he descended into hell.

– Westminster Larger Catechism, Question/Answer 50

(see also Pastor Danny Hyde’s historical discussion)

Thus, it is misrepresentation of the Reformed position (either in General or as “Calvinistic” in particular) to say that we teach that Jesus “went to hell” for our sins. As to his humanity, he suffered on the cross and he remained under the power of death for three days. That’s our view, not the typical misrepresentation.

After all the criticism of the Reformed view of the atonement is complete, Sungenis remarkably offers only general characterizations of what his own view of the atonement is and no link at all between that view of the atonement and Purgatory:

The Catholic doctrine of the Atonement is the only one that answers ALL of the relevant Scripture passages. I go through them all in my book Not By Bread Alone. God predestinated, but not without man’s free will. God desires all men to be saved even though not all men will be saved. Christ’s atonement was given to the whole world, and from it all men have the potential to be saved. Christ did not go to hell to pay for man’s or the elect’s sins; rather, Christ propitiated the Father and made salvation possible for all men. All of these are taught in Scripture, and we arrive at these truths by combining ALL of what Scripture teaches.

Notice how, even in this brief paragraph, Sungenis again manages to insert his misrepresentation of the Reformed position on the atonement as a contrast to what he calls the “Catholic doctrine of the Atonement.”

While I understand that he is referring to the reader to his book (where one would hope to find a more detailed explanation), it’s worth noting that he simply offers a series of assertions, none of which really address the issues that Dr. White (and other Reformed critics) raise against Purgatory.

Also note the claim: “we arrive at these truths by combining ALL of what Scripture teaches.” This is a comment that is obviously tailored toward a “Protestant” audience. But is it true? Does Sungenis arrive at his view of the atonement by combining all of what Scripture teaches? It seems unlikely that this is really how Sungenis arrives at his view – though it may be how the more “Arminian” listeners in the audience may have arrived at their view of the atonement.

It’s easy to look at the explanation that Sungenis has provided and think that his goal is to trick Arminian hearers into thinking that the Roman Catholic view of the Atonement is essentially the same as their view of the Atonement by emphasizing certain differences between Roman theology and Reformed theology (as lampooned). I hope that’s not his intention, but it is certainly a danger in his approach.

Because he has not actually presented a full and relevant discussion of the Roman Catholic view of Christ’s work and its relation to the forgiveness and remission of the guilt and punishment of sins, Sungenis has not begun to answer the criticisms to which he purports to be responding in the article. In short, the article falls short of a rebuttal. Instead, some stones are thrown at a misrepresentation of the Reformed position.


Sungenis Claims: "the Church did not receive any divine revelation on the nature of Purgatory"

July 3, 2010

In a recent (2009) response to Dr. White, Robert Sungenis made some interesting admissions regarding the absence of knowledge of what Purgatory is in Roman Catholic theology:

Since the Church did not receive any divine revelation on the nature of Purgatory, and since the Church declined to make any official statements on its nature, it is only natural that people of different eras are going to come to different views of what precisely constitutes the Purgatorial experience.

… we have not settled on the nature of Purgatory …

… the nature of Purgatory is an admitted area of unsettled knowledge in the Catholic Church …

After we have already admitted that being in the 15% area of unsettled doctrine
the nature of Purgatory continues to be debated among “modern Roman Catholic advocates,” the truth is, it really doesn’t matter a whole lot. The fact is, Purgatory exists. It can be shown from Scripture, the Patristics, the medievals, and the Magisterium. Whether it is “days” or some other measurement is not really a make-or-break issue.

(Source: Sungenis’ article oddly titled: James White, Alive but Still Struggling)

The underlying problem here, though, is that Sungenis has not fully identified the reason for the lack of common assent regarding the nature of Purgatory. While it is true that God has not revealed the nature of “Purgatory,” the primary reason for the lack of common assent regarding the nature of Purgatory is that (a) Purgatory is a fiction and (b) Purgatory is a relatively new fiction. The medieval era in the West is where we really see the development of a view of Purgatory. There is no mention of any “Purgatory” in the fathers.

As Jacques Le Goff explains, “Until the end of the twelfth century the noun purgatorium did not exist: the Purgatory had not yet been born.” (Jacques Le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory, p. 3 – see also, Appendix II: “Purgatorium,” the History of a Word)(emphasize is Le Goff’s) There may well have been vague concepts of purgation either upon death or at the day of judgment (or the like) but the idea of a third state or place given the name “Purgatory” was a long time in development from some vague comments about purging by Augustine in the 5th century (I’ll leave the debate over those comments for another post).

But there is an interesting background against which Sungenis is making his claim. Benedict XV praised Dante Alighieri’s work (The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradisio) this way:

It is thus that, according to the Divine Revelation, in this poem shines out the majesty of God One and Three, the Redemption of the human race operated by the Word of God made Man, the supreme loving-kindness and charity of Mary, Virgin and Mother, Queen of Heaven, and lastly the glory on high of Angels, Saints and men; then the terrible contrast to this, the pains of the impious in Hell; then the middle world, so to speak, between Heaven and Hell, Purgatory, the Ladder of souls destined after expiation to supreme beatitude. It is indeed marvellous how he was able to weave into all three poems these three dogmas with truly wrought design.

– Benedict XV, In Praeclara Summorum, Section 4, 30 April 1921

Dante Alighieri lived from about 1265 to 1321. His work on the subject of the afterlife, including Purgatory, is one whose influence in the late medieval period, particularly in Italy, is hard to overstate. He is referred to both as the Supreme Poet of Italy and the Father of the Italian language.

His work makes clear that his view of Purgatory is that it is a place like Heaven or Hell in that it is a place having space and time. It is, for Dante, a Mountain that is to be climbed. We also see a similar view of Purgatory as a definite place in the works of Thomas Aquinas:

Article 2. Whether it is the same place where souls are cleansed, and the damned punished?

Objection 1. It would seem that it is not the same place where souls are cleansed and the damned punished. For the punishment of the damned is eternal, according to Matthew 25:46, “These shall go into everlasting punishment [Vulgate: ‘fire’].” But the fire of Purgatory is temporary, as the Master says (Sent. iv, D, 21). Therefore the former and the latter are not punished together in the same place: and consequently these places must needs be distinct.

Objection 2. The punishment of hell is called by various names, as in Psalm 10:7, “Fire and brimstone, and storms of winds,” etc., whereas the punishment of Purgatory is called by one name only, namely fire. Therefore they are not punished with the same fire and in the same place.

Objection 3. Further, Hugh of St. Victor says (De Sacram. ii, 16): “It is probable that they are punished in the very places where they sinned.” And Gregory relates (Dial. iv, 40) that Germanus, Bishop of Capua, found Paschasius being cleansed in the baths. Therefore they are not cleansed in the same place as hell, but in this world.

On the contrary, Gregory says [The quotation is from St. Augustine (De Civ. Dei i, 8)]: “Even as in the same fire gold glistens and straw smokes, so in the same fire the sinner burns and the elect is cleansed.” Therefore the fire of Purgatory is the same as the fire of hell: and hence they are in the same place.

Further, the holy fathers; before the coming of Christ, were in a more worthy place than that wherein souls are now cleansed after death, since there was no pain of sense there. Yet that place was joined to hell, or the same as hell: otherwise Christ when descending into Limbo would not be said to have descended into hell. Therefore Purgatory is either close to, or the same place as, hell.

I answer that, Nothing is clearly stated in Scripture about the situation of Purgatory, nor is it possible to offer convincing arguments on this question. It is probable, however, and more in keeping with the statements of holy men and the revelations made to many, that there is a twofold place of Purgatory. One, according to the common law; and thus the place of Purgatory is situated below and in proximity to hell, so that it is the same fire which torments the damned in hell and cleanses the just in Purgatory; although the damned being lower in merit, are to be consigned to a lower place. Another place of Purgatory is according to dispensation: and thus sometimes, as we read, some are punished in various places, either that the living may learn, or that the dead may be succored, seeing that their punishment being made known to the living may be mitigated through the prayers of the Church.

Some say, however, that according to the common law the place of Purgatory is where man sins. This does not seem probable, since a man may be punished at the same time for sins committed in various places. And others say that according to the common law they are punished above us, because they are between us and God, as regards their state. But this is of no account, for they are not punished for being above us, but for that which is lowest in them, namely sin.

Reply to Objection 1. The fire of Purgatory is eternal in its substance, but temporary in its cleansing effect.

Reply to Objection 2. The punishment of hell is for the purpose of affliction, wherefore it is called by the names of things that are wont to afflict us here. But the chief purpose of the punishment of Purgatory is to cleanse us from the remains of sin; and consequently the pain of fire only is ascribed to Purgatory, because fire cleanses and consumes.

Reply to Objection 3. This argument considers the point of special dispensation and not that of the common law.

– Thomas Aquinas (as completed by Reginald of Piperno), Summa Theologica, Supplement to the Third Part, Appendix 2, Article 2 (Although Reginald is given credit for adding this material to the Summa Theologica, the material is essentially taken word for word from Thomas Aquinas’ Commentary on [Peter Lombard’s] Sentences, Book IV, Distinction 21, Article 1, with some omissions of the materials found there, but no obvious insertions that affect the meaning)

Notice that in this discussion, Thomas Aquinas (lived about 1225 – 1274) suggests that Purgatory occupies two places: one place is in or below Hell – the other is at various specific times in other places for particular purposes.

Notice as well that Thomas Aquinas concedes that Scripture does not tell us about the “situation” (that is, the place where it is sited – it’s location) of Purgatory. Thus, he’s not willing to be dogmatic about it. However, Thomas Aquinas does believe that there were “revelations made to many” about Purgatory.

The bottom line is that, as Le Goff said, the Purgatory is something born in the 12th century. It is something that took shape as a definite place in the writings of folks like Dante and Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. Yet it is something that one today hears promoted as simply a state, not a place, from sources like EWTN (example) based on comments such as the following from John Paul II:

Purification must be complete, and indeed this is precisely what is meant by the Church’s teaching on purgatory. The term does not indicate a place, but a condition of existence.

– John Paul II, General Audience, 4 August 1999, Section 5

So, while we certainly agree with Mr. Sungenis that Rome has not received divine revelation about the nature of Purgatory, we would simply take that a step further and note that the current teachings one gets from Rome (whether from the pope or anyone else) lack the authority of divine revelation generally. Scripture does not speak of a Purgatory, and there is no good reason for accepting the changing traditions of Rome on this subject. Waving ones hands and saying that the things that are not known are not important doesn’t really address the issue behind the fact that Roman Catholics cannot even tell us with certainty whether Thomas Aquinas or John Paul II is right, when it comes to Purgatory.


N.B. As an aside, Mr. Sungenis makes reference to the idea that there is a “15% area of unsettled doctrine” in his religion. He made this number up out of thin air. He has no way of knowing how much additional doctrine his church will define this century or the next, and consequently he has no way of knowing whether the real number is 15% or 0.000001%. All he can really say is that his church makes more dogmatic statements than most other churches do.

Misquoting Athanasius

February 27, 2009

It’s very popular among Rome’s apologists today, to make claims that famous church fathers, those that “Protestants” would have heard of, held to the same views as Rome teaches today. Unfortunately for Catholicism, history is not her friend. So, while occasionally a church father or two will provide some seemingly helpful material for the apologist for Catholicism, these sorts of things often aren’t really good enough to provide a compelling case from the best known fathers.

So some of these apologists turn to spurious works: pseudographic writings that are attributed to some father but were not actually written by him. This can happen two ways: (1) unintentionally or (2) deliberately.

The unintentional error can happen to anyone. One of the callers to the “Dividing Line” radio program recently made reference to a quotation with respect to the Johannine Comma that John Calvin had attributed to Jerome. Upon the further investigation, it appears that the author of the quotation was not Jerome himself, but a later writer using Jerome’s name. Thus, the person who called unintentionally used a pseudographic writing (through simply adopting what Calvin said, but not investigating it more thoroughly).

A deliberate error is more serious. I have a particular quotation in mind, and at this point, I want to refrain from stating that Rome’s apologists are deliberately quoting a pseudographic source as though it were authentic. After all, they may simply be falling into the same error that our caller fell into of using outdated or inaccurate information from a secondary source.

Nevertheless, a particular quotation allegedly from Athanasius has come to my attention. Athanasius is one of those church fathers that lots of “Protestants” have heard of and respect. It would be an interesting survey to do, but I think that among Reformed Christians especially, one would find almost no criticism or negative attitudes towards Athanasius: after all, Athanasius stood for orthodoxy against error in a Martin-Luther-esque manner – “Athanasius Contra Mundum” (Athanasius Against the World).

Athanasius was a Reformer in his day, so what a shock it would be to “Protestants” if Athanasius turned out to be Roman Catholic! And of course, unbeknown to typical “Protestants”, there are a number of areas where there would be a significant difference between Athanasius doctrines or practices and those of the more Biblical churches of the Reformation. Those legitimate differences, however, are apparently not enough.

So, now we find apologists for Rome citing a spurious, pseudographic work entitled “Homily of the Papyrus of Turin.” This work is not part of any standard corpus of Athanasian writings, and no scholar who deals with Athanasius has (to my knowledge) ever identified it as authentic. It is not found in any Greek manuscripts but apparently comes down to us in a single Coptic manuscript. The manuscript does have the name “Athanasius” at the top, but this is not a sufficient reason to consider it an authentic work, as anyone familiar with ancient manuscripts would be aware.

Who are the guilty parties? Well, we see Steve Ray both at his own site as well as at the Catholic Answers site and This Rock magazine, Dave Armstrong, John Salza at CAI, and if one searches the Internet one will find quite a number of lesser luminaries in the field of Roman apologetics providing the same quotations.

Why are they doing this? I would like to assume that they just don’t know better. As noted above, Mr. Ray’s use of this spurious, pseudographic work was published in the popular This Rock magazine in 2005, which would have given it a wide distribution. It is possible that many folks that are using this quotation simply got it from Mr. Ray, mistakenly believing that Mr. Ray carefully checks his sources.

But where did Mr. Ray get it? Mr. Ray doesn’t read Coptic (as far as I know) – so how did he get an English translation of the text to present? I think the answer to that question lies in Mr. Luigi Gambero’s book, “Mary and the Fathers of the Church,” first published in English in 1999. At pages 106 and 107, Mr. Gambero provides two quotations from this source. Mr. Gambero himself cites to the earlier work of Louis-Théophile Lefort, in Le Muséon 71 (1958).

Scholarly citations aside from Mr. Gambero typically correctly identify the work as Pseudo-Athanasius (see, for example, Virginia Burrus’ citation at p. 258 of Late Ancient Christianity or David Frankfurter’s citation at p. 35 of Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt) or at least identify the work simply as “attributed to” Athanasius or other indicators of the dubious (at best) nature of the claim that Athanasius was the work’s author.

What about Mr. Gambero? He provides no argument at all in favor of authenticity of the quotation. Since Mr. Gambero did not write the book in English, but instead the work was translated from the Italian original, perhaps the translator left out some indication that Mr. Gambero had originally provided. Unfortunately, where I am now, a copy of the Italian original (published in 1991 and now out of print and largely unavailable for sale in a used condition) is not within my reach. If any of my readers has a copy and would care to let me know what citation is provided by Gambero in the original, I’d be much obliged.

Assuming that the translator has done a proper job, however, we are left weighing the weight of the scholarly consensus against authenticity with an unexplained citation by Mr. Gambero to the work as though it were authentic. Furthermore, Mr. Gambero (while certainly a scholar within his field) is not entirely without bias. One web bio described him this way:

Fr. Luigi Gambero, S.M., a Marianist priest, studied philosophy and theology at the University of Fribourg and the Lateran University in Rome. He specialized in Mariology at the Pontifical Faculty of the Marianum in Rome. He presently teaches patristics at the Marianum and at the University of Dayton.

I attempted to find contact information for Mr. Gambero through the University of Dayton, but it does not appear to be available. Again, if a reader is able to get in contact with Mr. Gambero, I would be much obliged to have the opportunity to hear his own explanation for this use of a pseudographic work, which has resulted in widespread miscitation of the work in the world of modern Roman apologetics.

Hopefully, this article will spur Mr. Ray and others to begin publishing suitable retractions to try to undo the (we assume unintentional) errors they have been propagating. I note that I would include in that group Mr. William Albrecht who recently posted a video in which reads back from this work as though it were Athanasius (link), even mistakenly using the section title from Gambero (“In Praise of the Blessed Virgin”) rather than the actual title of the work.

This is not the first time I’ve brought this matter to light. I had previously discussed this on my blog (link), and no one from the side of Rome has come forward to correct this mistake or justify this citation.

So here’s my challenge to Albrecht, Armstrong, Catholic Answers, CAI, and Steve Ray: stop using spurious and pseudographic quotations to try to bolster your cause. We realize that this may have been an unintentional error, but you can no longer use ignorance as an excuse now that this matter has been brought to light. When Alpha and Omega Ministries discovers an error in a quotation from the church fathers, we’re not afraid to fix the mistake (as demonstrated here). We’re not afraid of what the Early Church Fathers actually said or didn’t say, are you?


Updates: 4 March 2009

1) As noted in my more recent post in response to William Albrecht’s attempted defense of the spurious (or – at best – dubious) work, since the scholars I already named in the article above weren’t enough for Mr. Albrecht, I’ve added one more, Mr. Angelo Gila. Mr. Gila is not only a doctor of theology, whose doctoral thesis was a study of the Marian writings of Severus of Gabala, but Mr. Gila is also a Servite friar – a friar in the order of the Servants of Mary – as well as a resident of the Turin area of Northern Italy (the very area where they papyrus manuscript fragments are housed). In a scholarly article published in the “Theotokos” journal, (Theotokos VIII (2000) 601-631), at page 613, Mr. Gila correctly identifies this work as Pseudo-Athanasius.

2) One kind reader has noted that Jay Dyer is another of the folks that have used this quotation (link). [Further update: 5 March 2009 – Mr. Dyer has graciously agreed to remove his reliance on that particular quotation. My hat is off to Mr. Dyer.]

3) Another kind reader has observed that it might be helpful to provide the work’s number in the Clavis Patrum Graecorum. This work has been indexed and is included in the Clavis Patrum Graecorum, Volume 2, from Athanasius to Chrysostom (published 1974). At that time, the work was identified as Homilia adversus Arium, de s. genetrice dei Maria and was assigned the index number 2187, which is in the range of the “dubious” works for those works attributed to Athanasius.

Updates: 5 March 2009

1) Mr. Hoffer has correctly pointed out that Virginia Burrus is the editor of “Late Ancient Christianity,” but that the article in question is also by David Frankfurter. This ought to have been pointed out above.

2) Other editors besides Burrus could be identified as approving of Frankfurter’s identification of this work as Pseudo-Athanasius. For example, see “Envisioning Magic” edited by Peter Schäfer et al., page 126, and “Religions of Late Antiquity in Practice” edited by Richard Valantasis, page 475. In both cases, the articles in question are by David Frankfurter.

3) Probably it’s worth providing an example of the entries that this work gets in a couple of lists. The Université Laval (of Quebec) provides the following entries (under the direction of René-Michel Roberge), respectively in “by the author” and “by the editor” lists of patristic works:

ATHANASE ?, “Homilia aduersus Arium, de s. genetrice dei Maria” (coptice)
Lefort, L.-Th. * ATHANASE ?, “Homilia aduersus Arium, de s. genetrice dei
Maria” (coptice) * (introduction, apparat critique, traduction française,
repagination du papyrus, commentaire et notes) *22124 1P197 1958 PRSY (link to author index – pdf)

Lefort, L.-Th. * ATHANASE ?, “Homilia aduersus Arium, de s. genetrice dei
Maria” (coptice) * (introduction, apparat critique, traduction française,
repagination du papyrus, commentaire et notes) *22124 1P197 1958 PRSY (link to editor index – pdf)

Likewise, the Biblindex provides the entry corresponding to the Center for Patristics Analysis and Documentation (CADP) collection as follows (source):

ATHANASIVS ALEXANDRINVS ? Homliia aduersus Arium, de s. genetrice dei Maria 93470 CPG 2187

In both of the lists above, the “?” is the designator that the work is a dubious work, rather than being within list of authentic works (which would omit the “?”). The lists could have gone further and indicated the work as explicitly pseudographic by using the indicator “pse” – a straw that only someone desperate to continuing citing the work would grasp at.

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