An Ancient Latin Sermon For Christmas Day -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 072:287 (Jul 1915)
Article: An Ancient Latin Sermon For Christmas Day
Author: Anonymous

An Ancient Latin Sermon For Christmas Day

[In the Journal of Theological Studies for January, 1915, Mr. C. II. Turner and’ Dom Antonio Spagnolo publish the first installment of a Latin Homiliary, or Sermon Book, of the sixth century, which is preserved in the Cathedral Library at Verona. This first installment gives us seven sermons, viz., for Christmas Day, for Epiphany, for Easter, for Ascension Day (three sermons), and for Whitsunday. The MS. has a great interest textually, as it exhibits many Old-Latin readings; but it has also a high exegetical value, and represents the work of an anonymous Christian thinker of much power, who taught in the fourth century; for the citations in the first sermon from the Nicene Creed seem to forbid us to ascribe to the sermon a date earlier than 325 A.n.

With the belief that a specimen of this ancient Christian preaching would be of interest to those students of the Bible who are not familiar with Latin sermons (of which Augustine is the great master), I have translated the first sermon into English. The sermon is highly intellectual and controversial, and reflects the ferment of an age when the supreme quest was for a satisfying mental solution of the problem of the Person of the Son of God.

The transcribers of the MS. are in no way responsible for the Translation. The MS. was often seen by me in Verona, when I was transcribing the Codex Veronensis of the Gospels, and it is a great personal satisfaction, as well as a great gain for students of the Sacred Text, that these Sermons should now be so carefully and exactly edited.—B. S. Buchanan.]

[. . . . Sarah brought forth Isaac, the Virgin Mary brought forth the Christ;] the former, in her old age; the latter, in the old age of the world. Isaac is a type of the Lord Christ; Isaac is by interpretation “joy,” and our Lord Christ hath been proclaimed to be “great joy.” For thus the Angel spake, I proclaim to you great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born to-day the Saviour of the world, which is Christ the Lord. To-day, therefore, the Lord is born in Bethlehem of Judæa, according to the saying of the Prophet, And thou, Bethlehem, art not the least among the thousands of Judah, for out of thee shall come a King to rule my people Israel. Bethlehem is by interpretation “city of bread,” for there the heavenly bread descended, which giveth life to the world.

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. God, being made man, is Emmanuel, which is, by interpretation, God with us. Oh, wondrous fact! For us, the Lord of all sucked the paps of a chaste Virgin, and from the sacred breast of a mother, drew sweet streams as from ...

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