Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.
Showing posts with label Golden Rule in Lactantius. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Golden Rule in Lactantius. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Golden Rule as Summa et Radix Iustitiae: Height and Root of Justice

IN ST. PAUL'S EXPRESSION IN HIS EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS, God sent forth his Son to man in the fullness of time. (Gal. 4:4). Christ's teaching on the Golden Rule was equally opportune. It was as if the world had been philosophically and conceptually prepared to receive the Gospel. By a providential convenience, Jewish ways of thought were translatable into philosophical concepts by which they could be communicated to the pagan. By Providential timing, the urbane Greek and the Roman who had adopted the Greek's thinking, were able to understand rude Galilean fishermen. In the areas of morals, it was the Stoic moral philosophy that was most consonant with the Christian revelation. The Stoics embraced a cosmopolitan view of man, and believed in a universal or common rule of reason that informed a natural law that bound all men. This included the notion of the Golden Rule. As evidentiary of the Golden Rule among the Stoics, we may mention the Roman Seneca (4 B.C.-65 A.D.), whom Dante placed in the First Circle of Hell, the place for the virtuous unbaptized pagans, and whom the rigorous Tertullian endearingly referred to as "Seneca almost one of us," Seneca saepe noster. De anima, 20.

The Death of Seneca by Peter Paul Rubens

In both the handling of anger, and the apportionment of benefits, Seneca invoked the Golden Rule as the measure of right.
Let us put ourselves in the place of the man with whom we are angry; as it is, an unwarranted opinion of self makes us prone to anger, and we are unwilling to bear what we ourselves would have been willing to inflict.

Eo nos loco constituamus quo ille est cui irascimur: nunc facit nos iracundos iniqua nostri aestimatio et quae facere vellemus pati nolumus.
De Ira, III, 12.3.
Let us consider, most excellent Liberalis, what still remains of the earlier part of the subject; in what way a benefit should be bestowed. I think that I can point out the shortest way to this; let us give in the way in which we ourselves should like to receive.

Inspiciamus, Liberalis virorum optime, id quod ex priori parte adhuc superest, quemadmodum dandum sit beneficium; cuius rei expeditissimam videor monstraturus viam: sic demus, quomodo vellemus accipere.
Seneca, De Benef., II.1.1.

The importance of the Golden Rule in the early Christian community is evidenced by the fact that it is not only included in the Didache (Διδαχή), but it is virtually placed at the beginning of that compilation of Apostolic teaching:

The Apostles' Teaching
There are two ways, one of life and one of death, but a great difference between the two ways. The way of life, then, is this: First, you shall love (agapēseis, ἀγαπησεις) God who made you; second, [love] your neighbor as yourself, and in all things you would not want done to you, do not do to another.

Ὁδοὶ δύο εἰσί, μία τῆς ζωῆς καὶ μία τοῦ θανάτου, διαφορὰ δὲ πολλὴ μεταξὺ τῶν δύο ὁδῶν. Ἡ μὲν οὖν τῆς ζωῆς ἐστιν αὕτη· πρῶτον ἀγαπησεις τὸν θεὸν τὸν ποιήσαντά σε, δεύτερον τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν· πάντα δὲ ὅσα ἐὰν θελήσῃς μὴ γίνεσθαί σοι, καὶ σὺ ἄλλῳ μὴ ποίει.
Didache, 1.1. This teaching, which seems almost identical to the teaching of Hillel or that of the "Two Ways" of the Essenes, seems clearly to have been borrowed from the Jewish thinking of the time, and with which Jesus was apparently familiar and confirmed. Though it ought to be noted that the negative formulation of the rule has been adopted in the Didache, not the positive formulation given it by Christ.

So it was that the "golden rule thus proved to be a meeting ground for philosophical and biblical ethics." Wattles, 69.

The Good Samaritan by Henrik Stefan

In his polemic against Marcion, Tertullian adopts both the negative and positive formulations of the Golden Rule:
Thenceforth Christ extended to all men the law of His Father's compassion, excepting none from His mercy, as He omitted none in His invitation. So that, whatever was the ampler scope of His teaching, He received it all in His heritage of the nations. "And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise." In this command is no doubt implied its counterpart: "And as you would not that men should do to you, so should you also not do to them likewise."

Exinde Christus in omnes legem paternae benignitatis extendit, neminem excipiens in miseratione, sicut in vocatione. Ita et si quid amplius docuit, hoc quoque in haereditatem gentium accepit. Et sicut vobis fieri vultis ab hominibus, ita et vos facite illis. In isto praecepto utique alia pars eius subauditur: Et sicut vobis non vultis fieri ab hominibus, ita et vosne faciatis illis.
Tertullian, Contra Marc., IV.16.

In his Dialogue with Trypho, St. Justin Martyr ties the Golden Rule with the second great commandment of Christ, and the second table of the Ten Commandments: to love one's neighbor as one's self: "The man who loves his neighbor as himself will wish for him the same good things that he wishes for himself, and no man will wish evil things for himself." Dial. Trypho, 93.

Lactantius (ca. 240 - ca. 320), the Cicero Christanus, or Christian Cicero, called the Golden Rule the summa of justice (in the Divine Institutes), and the root (radix) of justice (in the Epitome).
But the root of justice, and the entire foundation of equity, is that you should not do that which you would be unwilling to suffer, but should measure the feelings of another by your own. If it is an unpleasant thing to bear an injury, and he who has done it appears unjust, transfer to the person of another that which you feel respecting yourself, and to your own person that which you judge respecting another, and you will understand that you act as unjustly if you injure another as another would if he should injure you. If we consider these things, we shall maintain innocence, in which the first step of justice is, as it were, contained. For the first thing is, not to injure; the next is, to be of service.

Sed radix iustitiae et omne fundamentum aequitatis est illut, ut non facias quod pati nolis, sed alterius animum de tuo metiaris. Si acerbum est iniuriam ferre et qui eam fecerit videtur iniustus, transfer in alterius personam quod de te sentis et in tuam quod de altero iudicas, et intelleges tam te iniuste facere, si alteri noceas, quam alterum, si tibi. Haec si mente voluamus, innocentiam tenebimus, in qua iustitia velut primo gradu insistit. Primum est enim non nocere, proximum prodesse.
Lactantius, Ep. div. inst., 55 (60).
We ought to consider ourselves in another's place. The summit of justice consists in this: that you do not do to another that which you not want to suffer from another.
Nos ipsos in altero cogitemus. Nam fere in hoc justitiæ summa consistit, ut non facias alteri, quidquid ipse ab altero pati nolis.
Lactantius, Inst. Div., VI.23.


The Golden Rule by Norman Rockwell