Apollinarius on John 16:14
January 9, 2009
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. — John 16:13-15
The question of the meaning of John 16:13-15 is quite important for the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. If John 15:26 declares that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father,” John 16:13-15 indicates a relationship, perhaps an eternal one, of the Spirit with the Son. For numerous fathers, both Greek and Latin, the passage bears a strong interpretation; its language about the Holy Spirit “hearing” from the Son, “glorifying” the Son, and “receiving” from that which is the Son’s is interpreted to mean that, as the Holy Spirit is from the Father, so also is he from the Son, and that in an eternal sense. So St. Epiphanius: “Christ is believed to be from the Father, God from God, and the Spirit to be from Christ, or indeed from both (παρ᾽ ἀμφοτέρων) — as Christ says, ‘Who proceeds from the Father’ (Jn 15:26), and ‘He shall receive of mine’ (Jn 16:14)” (Epiphanius, Ancoratus 67). St. Photius rejected that interpretation of the passage, and claimed that, when Jesus says of the Holy Spirit that “he shall receive of mine” (ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λήμψεται), he means only that the Spirit shall receive from him that is mine, i.e., from the Father (cf. Photius, Mystagogy, §§ 22-23).
An examination of the sources would, I think, show that the Holy Spirit’s ontological dependence on the Son was one of the issues on which the Antiochene and Alexandrian schools of Christian thought disagreed, by the early fifth century at the latest. Like Photius, the Antiochenes took a weak view of the Spirit’s relationship with the Son, and were suspicious of attempts to read events in Jesus’ temporal life back into his eternal nature; if Jesus gives the Spirit in time, breathing upon his disciples (John 20:22) or sending him down upon them from the Father at Pentecost (Acts 1:4; 2:1-4), then what follows from this is that Jesus gives the Spirit in time, and nothing more. Writers of the Alexandrian tradition, like St. Cyril of Alexandria, tended to see a great deal more significance in such actions of the incarnate Son. St. Cyril, in particular, thought that one needed to confess that the Holy Spirit does not simply come to Jesus from without, but that the Spirit is, in fact, naturally and eternally the Son’s own (ἴδιον αὐτοῦ: cf. Cyril’s IXth Anathema against Nestorius), that, in performing miraculous works in the Holy Spirit, the incarnate Son was exercising a power which was his by nature and by right, and which flowed from him naturally and substantially, just as this same power flowed naturally and substantially from the Father. People had noticed the affinity of St. Cyril’s language about the Holy Spirit with that of the Latin-speaking Church from at least the seventh century (cf. St. Maximus’s letter to the priest Marinus of Cyprus). And, in the thirteenth century, St. Cyril was one of the writers John Bekkos quoted most frequently for showing the harmony of the Greek and Latin theological traditions.
I give, then, this passage by Apollinarius of Laodicea. Apollinarius was a fourth-century writer and friend of St. Athanasius who was later condemned for a christological heresy, but his trinitarian teaching is generally considered orthodox, and is, arguably, closely linked to that of St. Athanasius on the one hand and that of St. Cyril on the other. Some writers, e.g. Harnack and G. L. Prestige, see him as having had a most important role to play in the Cappadocian fathers’ own theological development; my guess is that they are right, and that the disputed early correspondence between Apollinarius and St. Basil is genuine. At any rate, St. Jerome boasted of having had him as a teacher of Scripture, and, in the passage translated below, it seems to me his interpretation is unobjectionable. His main point is that the temporal language in the text from St. John’s Gospel is a concession to human weakness, that, properly, the Spirit does not pass from a state of ignorance to knowledge. From this it seems to follow that the things said about the Spirit in this passage of the gospel, his “glorifying” the Son and “receiving from” the Son, are eternally true, though what those things mean remains an open question. Apollinarius says here that it is from the Son, as from the Father, that the Holy Spirit “starts moving” (ὁρμᾶται); whether that statement has any implications for the Holy Spirit’s being, or only for his activity (or “energy”), probably cannot be answered without a deeper investigation of Apollinarius’s thought than I am immediately able to supply. Nevertheless, I think the passage is worth reading.
Apollinarius on John 16:14
Translated from the edition of J. Reuss, Johannes-Kommentare aus der griechischen Kirche (TU 89), Berlin, 1966, pp. 48 f.; reprinted in Βιβλιοθήκη Ἑλλήνων Πατέρων καὶ Ἐκκλησιαστικῶν Συγγράφεων, τόμος 72: Ἀπολλινάριος Λαοδικείας, Μέρος Α´ (Athens 1994), pp. 365 f.
|The Spirit’s activity and teaching will be to my glory, since it is “from me” that the Spirit’s motion arises. And when I say “from me,” it is clear that I also mean “from the Father,” since all the things that belong to the Father are mine. Thus, again, you should hear the phrase “he shall receive of mine” in the same way, not as though some knowledge were to come upon the Spirit, and that, moreover, at the present time; for it would be a strange thing indeed and might lead to suspicion if, at the time that the Spirit is about to tend to humanity, he should then receive instruction. And, again, it would be strange if one were to maintain that he is taught in any way. For, although he has not yet dwelt within men, when he does enter into them he will entrust them with all wisdom, albeit not a natural wisdom — and here, it is necessary for him to be taught! This is why, instead of saying that the Spirit’s motion completely originates from himself, he said, “he will receive of what is mine and will declare it to you.” For these words are briefer, the better to make the thing known to men, but the Spirit’s glory is greater in that the thing expressed is more proper to the Godhead. Now, God is also said to hear people’s words, and it is clear that this does not mean that they come to God’s knowledge in time; but, even before our words, he knows our prayers, and he created everything according to knowledge from the beginning, from the creation, knowing also the future movements of his own creatures. But, in spite of this, the expression is used, “Hearken, O Lord,” and again, “The Lord hearkened.” And in fact, to speak in terms that are proper to God, nothing like this ought to be taken in a temporal sense or as though some change had come to God from human prayers, nor yet as though some knowledge came to God of the things that were said, but, as I said, the words are spoken in a human way, but are understood by religious people in a divine way, such that the inalterable and unchangeable character of the glory of God will not be besmirched by your suppositions because of God’s hearing people talking. Likewise, then, in the case of the Spirit also, it is not the case that “hearing” and “receiving” indicate any addition of knowledge or any change in the Spirit’s inalterable substance.||Εἰς ἐμὴν ἔσται δόξαν ἡ τοῦ Πνεύματος ἐνέργεια καὶ διδασκαλία, ὅτι καὶ παρ᾽ «ἐμοῦ» τὸ Πνεῦμα ὁρμᾶται. Τὸ δὲ παρ᾽ «ἐμοῦ» λέγων δῆλον καὶ τὸ παρὰ τοῦ Πατρός· ἐμὰ γάρ ἐστι τὰ πατρῷα. Τὸ οὖν «ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λήμψεται» κατὰ τὸν αὐτὸν αὖθις ἀκούει τρόπον, οὐχ ὡς γνώσεώς τινος ἐπιγινομένης τῷ Πνεύματι καὶ ταύτης ἐν χρόνῳ τῷ παρόντι· δεινὸν γὰρ ἂν εἴη καὶ μέχρις ὑπονοίας, εἴ γε τότε πνεῦμα προσλαμβάνει τὴν μάθησιν ἡνίκα εἰς ἀνθρώπους μέλλει κομίζειν. Δεινὸν δὲ καὶ εἰ διδασκόμενον αὐτὸ ὅλως τις θήσεται· οὐκέτι γὰρ ἐνοικοῦν ἀνθρώποις καὶ πᾶσαν εἰς αὐτοὺς σοφίαν εἰσάγον πιστευθήσεται, εἴπερ οὐ φυσική τίς ἐστι σοφία, ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτῷ χρεία διδάσκεσθαι. Ὥστε ἀντὶ τοῦ λέγειν ὅλον παρ᾽ ἑαυτοῦ τὸ Πνεῦμα ὁρμᾶσθαι, εἴρηκε τὸ «ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λήμψεται καὶ ἀναγγελεῖ ὑμῖν»· μικρότεραι γὰρ αἱ φωναὶ πρὸς τὸ γνωριμώτερον ἀνθρώποις, μείζων δὲ ἡ τοῦ Πνεύματος δόξα πρὸς τὸ οἰκειότερον τῇ θεότητι. Λέγεται δὲ καὶ ἀκούειν Θεὸς ἀνθρώπου ῥήματα καὶ δῆλον ὡς οὐκ ἐν καιρῷ τι προσγίνεται πρὸς γνῶσιν Θεοῦ, ἀλλὰ καὶ πρὸ τῶν ἡμετέρων ῥημάτων οἶδε τὰς ἡμετέρας εὐχὰς καὶ τὸ ὅλον κατὰ διάνοιαν ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἀπὸ τῆς δημιουργίας ἐδημιούργησεν, ἐπιστάμενος καὶ τὰ μεταμέλοντα τῶν ἑαυτοῦ δημιουργημάτων κινήματα, ἀλλ᾽ ὅμως ἐλέγετο τὸ «εἰσάκουσον Κύριε» καὶ τὸ εἰσήκουσε Κύριος· καίτοι κατὰ τὸ πρέπον Θεῷ μηδὲν τῶν τοιούτων ἐκδέχεσθαι χρονικῶς μηδὲ ὡς μεταβολήν τινα περὶ Θεὸν γινομένην ἐκ τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων εὐχῶν, μηδὲ γνῶσις τῶν λεγομένων ἔπεισι Θεῷ, ἀλλ᾽ ἀνθρωπίνως μέν, ὡς ἔφην, οἱ λόγοι, θείως δὲ παρὰ τοῖς εὐσεβοῦσι νοοῦνται καὶ οὐ ῥανθήσεται τὸ ἀναλλοίωτον καὶ ἄτρεπτον τῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ δόξης ἐν ταῖς ὑμετέραις ὑπονοίας διὰ τὸ ἀκούειν αὐτὸν ἀνθρώπων λαλούντων. Οὕτω τοίνυν οὐδὲ ἐπὶ τοῦ Πνεύματος τὸ ἀκούειν καὶ τὸ λαμβάνειν προσθήκην τινὰ δέξεται γνώσεως οὐδὲ μεταβολῆς ἐπὶ τὴν ἀναλλοίωτον τοῦ Πνεύματος οὐσίαν.|