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Sed de quo peccato? Augustine’s exegesis of Rom. 8:3c in sermo 152, 9-11

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Abstract Augustine explored four exegetical solutions to reconcile Christ’s sinlessness with the expression de peccato in Rom. 8:3c (de peccato damnauit peccatum in carne): de peccato as referring to (1) Christ’s death, (2) Christ’s mortal body, (3) the sin of Judas and the Jews, which caused Christ’s death, and (4) Christ’s sacrifice for man’s sin. Augustine’s elaborate treatment of the fourth interpretation in s. 152, 9-11 is the main focus of this article. In light of other works from the same period (417/418), these paragraphs can be read as implicitly answering Pelagian criticism of Augustine’s Christology.

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40. FN11) For a discussion of the date of ss. 151-156, see G. Partoens (2008), IX-XXII; J. Lössl (2008), XXIII-LV.
41. FN22) s. 152, 8 (CCSL 41Ba, p. 42, ll. 177-183). For this interpretation of Rom. 8:3b, see Ph. Platz (1938), 178 (with a long list of parallels in n. 1); M. G. Mara (1994), 155-157. Earlier examples, listed by Mara, of this interpretation of Rom. 8:3b are Tertullian, c. Marc. 5, 14; Origen-Rufinus, in Rom. 6, 12; Ambrosiaster, in Rom. 8, 3; Ambrose, paen. 1, 3, 12; John Chrysostom, In ep. ad Rom. hom. 13, 5.
42. FN33) s. 152, 9 (CCSL 41Ba, pp. 42-43, ll. 190-201): De quo ergo peccato Dominus quod peccatum damnauit? Video, uideo quidem quod peccatum damnauit, uideo prorsus: Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccatum mundi [John 1:29]. Quod peccatum? Omne peccatum, omne nostrum peccatum damnauit. Sed de quo peccato? Ipse non habebat peccatum; de illo dictum est: Qui peccatum non fecit, nec inuentus est dolus in ore eius [1 Peter 2:22]. Nullum prorsus, nec trahendo, nec addendo, nullum peccatum habuit, nec originis, nec propriae iniquitatis. Originem uirgo demonstrat; conuersatio uero eius sancta satis ostendit nihil eum fecisse unde dignus esset morte. Ideo ait: ‘Ecce uenit princeps huius mundi’—diabolum significans—‘et in me nihil inueniet [John 14:30]: et non inueniet quare me occidat, princeps mortis.’
43. FN44) Our systematic presentation of the different Augustinian interpretations of Rom. 8:3c owes much to the overview of Ph. Platz (1938), 176-178, which we have modified, however, in essential ways.
44. FN55) See Ph. Platz (1938), 176 + n. 6; E. TeSelle (2002), 133.
45. FN66) See U. Wilckens (1980), 126 + n. 517.
46. FN77) See Ph. Platz (1938), 178. The same goes for the quotations of Rom. 8:3c in the works of Tertullian, Hilary, Ambrose, Ambrosiaster and Pelagius. See K. H. Schelkle (1956), 274-275; Th. S. De Bruyn (1993), 106 n. 6.
47. FN88) Unless indicated otherwise, all datings proposed in this article are borrowed from R. Gryson (2007).
48. FN99) exp. prop. Rom. 40 [48], 4-6 (CSEL 84, p. 22, ll. 2-5): [. . .] apostolus peccatum uocat susceptionem mortalis carnis quamuis non peccatricis, ideo quia immortalis tamquam peccatum facit, cum moritur. Sed de peccato, inquit, damnauit peccatum in carne.
49. FN1010) The manicheans Faustus (c. Faust. 14, 1; compare c. Adim. 21) and Felix (c. Fel. 2, 10) quoted Deut. 21:23 in order to rebuke the Old Testament. “Si les Manichéens n’ont aucune scrupule à rappeler [. . .] la sentence qui se lit dans l’Ancien Testament, c’est qu’à leurs yeux cette sentence elle-même condamne la Loi qui la contient. En effet, quelle est donc cette Loi, qui « maudit quiconque est pendu au bois », quand on sait que « le Christ fut pendu au bois et tous ses apôtres ont subi le même sort pour l’avoir suivi ? » [c. Fel. 2, 10] Quelle est cette Loi, qui maudit donc le Christ et ses apôtres, sinon celle de la gens Tenebrarum, qui s’exprime ainsi dans l’Ancien Testament ? L’argumentation de Felix n’est pas neuve: déjà Adimantus s’en servait pour condamner les Écritures juives [c. Adim. 21] et Faustus reviendra à plusieurs reprises sur ce sujet [c. Faust. 14, 1; 16, 5; 32, 5]. Ainsi, cette référence à la citation du Deutéronome confirme du même coup hautement l’authenticité du document juif, mais les Manichéens l’utilisent pour prouver que cette Écriture est bien vraiment œuvre du Mal.” See F. Decret (1970), 128-129; (1995), 84 and 252-263; E. Rose (1979), 130-131.
50. FN1111) Compare also exp. prop. Rom. 26 (32-34) (CSEL 84, pp. 13-14, ll. 25-10).
51. FN1212) c. Faust. 14, 3 + 5 (CSEL 25/1, pp. 404-405, ll. 29-5 + 406-407, ll. 23-1): Mors hominis ex poena peccati est: unde et ipsa peccatum dicitur, non quia peccat homo, dum moritur, sed quia ex peccato factum est, ut moriatur; sicut alio modo dicitur lingua proprie caro, quae intra dentes sub palato mouetur, et alio modo dicitur lingua, quod per linguam fit; secundum quem modum dicitur alia lingua graeca, alia latina. [. . .] eo ipso, quo mortalis erat, similitudinem habebat carnis peccati. Hoc appellat etiam peccatum, consequenter dicens: Vt de peccato damnaret peccatum in carne. Item alio loco: Eum, inquit, qui non nouerat peccatum, peccatum pro nobis fecit, ut nos simus iustitia Dei in ipso. Cur ergo timeret Moyses dicere maledictum, quod Paulus non timuit dicere peccatum?
52. FN1313) Compare especially c. Faust. 14, 12 (CSEL 25/1, p. 414, ll. 10-25).
53. FN1414) Origen-Rufinus, in Rom. 6, 12; Tertullian, c. Marc. 5, 14, 2; Hilary, Trin. 10, 25; Ambrose, expl. ps. XII, 37, 5; Pelagius, in Rom. 8, 3. Th. S. De Bruyn (1993), 106 n. 5.
54. FN1515) diu. qu. 66, 6 (CCSL 44A, p. 159, ll. 196-199).
55. FN1616) s. 294, 13 (PL 38, cc. 1342-1343, ll. 52-13): Misit [. . .] Deus Filium suum, non in carne peccati; sed, sicut sequitur qui scripsit, in similitudine carnis peccati; quia non de complexu maritali, sed de utero uirginali. Misit in similitudine carnis peccati: utquid hoc? Vt de peccato damnaret peccatum in carne: [. . .] de similitudine, quia in Christo nullum peccatum, sed sola similitudo carnis peccati. [. . .] Vt de peccato, propter similitudinem, damnaret peccatum in carne, propter ueram iniquitatem. Vera iniquitas in Christo non fuit: sed mortalitas in illo fuit. Peccatum non suscepit, sed poenam peccati suscepit. Suscipiendo sine culpa poenam, et poenam sanauit et culpam.
56. FN1717) For the date of en. Ps. 34, 1 and 2, see H. Müller (2001), 811-812.
57. FN1818) Augustine’s sermons frequently refer to goat’s hair as an image of sinfulness. Compare ss. 4, 14-16.24.27 and 5, 4.
58. FN1919) en. Ps. 34, 2, 3 (CCSL 38, p. 314, ll. 30-54): Cilicium fortasse appellat carnis suae mortalitatem. Quare cilicium? Propter similitudinem carnis peccati. Apostolus enim dicit: Misit Deus Filium suum in similitudinem carnis peccati, ut de peccato damnaret peccatum in carne, hoc est: Filium suum induit cilicio, ut de cilicio damnaret haedos. Non quia peccatum erat, [. . .] sed similitudo carnis peccati erat in Domino; quia mors non est nisi de peccato, et utique corpus illud mortale erat. [. . .] Ergo sic dicitur mors peccatum, quae facta est peccato, quomodo dicitur lingua graeca, lingua latina, non ipsum membrum carnis, sed quod fit per membrum carnis. [. . .] Sic ergo peccatum Domini, quod factum est de peccato, quia inde carnem assumsit, de massa ipsa quae mortem meruerat ex peccato.
59. FN2020) See P.-P. Verbraken (1976), 86; É. Rebillard (1999), 778; R. Gryson (2007), 239.
60. FN2121) s. 134, 5 (PL 38, cc. 744-745, ll. 56-6): Si ergo similitudo erat carnis peccati, non caro peccati; quomodo, Vt de peccato damnaret peccatum in carne? Solet et similitudo capere nomen eius rei cuius est similitudo. Homo dicitur uerus: sed etiam si pictum in pariete ostendas, et quaeras quid sit, respondetur, Homo. Peccatum ergo appellata est caro habens similitudinem carnis peccati, [. . .].
61. FN2222) For this date, see n. 46. Explicitly, Io. eu. tr. 41, 5 only establishes a link between 2 Cor. 5:21 and Rom. 8:3b, but verse 3c is clearly resounding in the background (CCSL 32, p. 360).
62. FN2323) c. Max. 1, 2 (PL 42, cc. 744-745, ll. 24-1): [. . .] inuenies non Christum pro nobis fecisse peccatum, sed a Patre Deo ipsum Christum factum esse peccatum, id est, sacrificium pro peccato. [. . .]. Non ergo fecit ipse peccatum, sed eum Deus pro nobis peccatum fecit, hoc est, ut dixi, sacrificium pro peccato. Si enim recolas uel relegas, inuenies in libris Veteris Testamenti peccata appellari sacrificia pro peccatis. Similitudo etiam carnis peccati, in qua uenit ad nos, dicta est et ipsa peccatum: Misit, inquit, Deus Filium suum in similitudine carnis peccati, et de peccato damnauit peccatum in carne: hoc est, de similitudine carnis peccati, quae ipsius erat, damnauit peccatum in carne peccati, quae nostra est.
63. FN2424) s. 134, 5 (PL 38, c. 745, ll. 6-33). Compare also ench. 13, 41 (CCSL 46, pp. 72-73, ll. 1-27).
64. FN2525) s. 152, 10 (CCSL 41Ba, pp. 43-44, ll. 209-218): Intellexerunt quidam et peruenerunt ad sensum non improbum. Sed tamen quid dixerit Apostolus, quantum mihi uidetur, indagare minime potuerunt. Rem tamen non malam dixerunt. Hanc uobis prius dico et deinde quid mihi uideatur et quod ipsa scriptura diuina ostendat esse uerissimum. Cum turbarentur—‘De quo peccato damnauerit peccatum? Habebat peccatum?’—hoc dixerunt: ‘De peccato damnauit peccatum, de peccato non suo; tamen de peccato damnauit peccatum. Si ergo non de suo, de cuius? De peccato Iudae, de peccato Iudaeorum.’
65. FN2626) s. 152, 10 (pp. 44-45, ll. 225-237): Verumtamen alio loco uide quid dicat Apostolus: [. . .] eum qui non nouerat peccatum—id est: Christum Deum, eum Christum qui non nouerat peccatum—peccatum pro nobis fecit, ut nos simus iustitia Dei in ipso. Numquid hic potest intellegi peccatum Iudae, peccatum Iudaeorum, peccatum cuiusque alterius hominis, cum audias: Eum qui non nouerat peccatum, peccatum pro nobis fecit? Quis? Quem? Deus. Christum. Deus Christum fecit pro nobis peccatum.
66. FN2727) s. 152, 10-11 (p. 45, ll. 237-240 + 244 + p. 45, ll. 248-254): Non dixit: ‘fecit pro nobis peccantem’, sed: ‘fecit eum peccatum.’ Si nefas est dicere peccasse Christum, quis ferat peccatum esse Christum? Et tamen non possumus apostolo contradicere. [. . .] Quid igitur est? [. . .] Audite legem. Qui nouerunt, sciunt quod dico, et qui non nouerunt, legant uel audiant. In lege peccata uocabantur etiam sacrificia quae pro peccatis offerebantur. Habes: cum uictima pro peccato adduceretur, dicit lex: Ponant manus suas sacerdotes super peccatum [Lev. 4:29]—id est: super uictimam pro peccato. Et quod est aliud quam Christus sacrificium pro peccato?
67. FN2828) Exactly the same interpretation of de peccato was proposed a few days/weeks later in s. 155, 8, where Augustine explicitly refers to his argument of s. 152, 9-11 (pp. 118-119, ll. 198-214). For an overview of the presence of the topic of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross in Augustine’s sermons, see A. Bizzozero (2010), 113-133 (esp. pp. 117-119 for ss. 134, 4-5 and 152, 10-11).
68. FN2929) Compare Ph. Platz (1938), 178.
69. FN3030) Compare J. Rivière (1933), 183 n. 1; A. Zumkeller (1977), 549.
70. FN3131) c. ep. Pel. 3, 6, 16 (CSEL 60, pp. 504-505, ll. 24-20): Dicimus itaque Christum et nullum habuisse peccatum nec in anima nec in carne et suscipiendo carnem in similitudine carnis peccati de peccato damnasse peccatum. Quod subobscure ab Apostolo dictum duobus modis soluitur: siue quia rerum similitudines solent earum rerum nominibus nuncupari, quarum similes sunt, ut ipsam similitudinem carnis peccati uoluisse intellegatur Apostolus appellare peccatum, siue quia sacrificia pro peccatis peccata appellabantur in lege, quae omnia figurae fuerunt carnis Christi, quod est uerum et unicum sacrificium pro peccatis [. . .]. Vnde est etiam illud eius multo euidentius nec aliquo biuio cuiusquam ambiguitatis incertum: [. . .] Eum qui non nouerat peccatum pro nobis peccatum fecit, ut nos simus iustitia Dei in ipso [2 Cor. 5:21]. Nam quod superius commemoraui: de peccato damnauit peccatum, quia non dictum est ‘de peccato suo’, potest quispiam sic intellegere, ut dicat eum de peccato Iudaeorum damnasse peccatum, quia de peccato eorum, qui eum crucifixerunt, factum est, ut sanguinem suum in remissionem funderet peccatorum.
71. FN3232) See M. G. Mara (1994), 158: “Preferisce pertanto un’altra [interpretazione di Rom. 8:3c] sottolineando come essa, oltre ad essere frutto del proprio pensiero, si basi sulla testimonianza della Scrittura, e più precisamente dello stesso Paolo.” (our italics)
72. FN3333) See Th. S. De Bruyn (1993), 106 nn. 6 and 8; M. G. Mara (1994), 161-163. Clear instances are in Rom. 6, 12 (on Rom. 8:3c) and in Cant. 3, 2, 9-10 (on Rom. 8:3c in combination with 2 Cor. 5:21).
73. FN3434) In the Latin tradition, the interpretation of de peccato as referring to sin in a literal sense and not to a metonymical sinless sin, is also found in Ambrosiaster’s commentary on Romans (366/378). This text, however, does not speak of the sin of the Jews, but of Satan, who killed God’s innocent Son and lost his grip on human souls because of this unjustified murder. See in Rom. 8, 3 (CSEL 81, pp. 255/257 [recensio γ], ll. 21-6). Compare K. H. Schelkle (1956), 277-278.
74. FN3535) Pelagius’ dependence on Origen-Rufinus is suggested by Th. S. De Bruyn (1993), 106 n. 8. For Origen-Rufinus’ interpretation of de peccato as de sacrificio pro peccato, see in Rom. 8, 3c (Vetus Latina 33, p. 526, ll. 59-78).
75. FN3636) Pelagius, in Rom. 8, 3c (PLS 1, c. 1145, ll. 34-46): Et de peccato damnauit peccatum in carne. Quasi si dicas: ‘de gente expugnauit gentem’. Sicut hostiae quas pro peccato offerebant in lege, peccati nomine uocaba[n]tur, cum ipsae delicta nescirent, sicut scriptum est: [et] inpone[t] manus super caput peccati sui [Lev. 4:29], sic et Christi caro, quae pro peccatis nostris oblata est, peccati nomen accepit. Quidam sane dicunt quod de peccato Iudaeorum quo Dominum occiderunt, peccatum diaboli quo hominem deceperat, per hominem condemnarit.
76. FN3737) Pelagius’ exegesis of Rom. 8:4 might at first sight suggest that Pelagius reduces the conquering of sin to man’s mortification of the flesh in imitation of Christ’s example, by which he would downplay the central role of Christ’s sacrifice (PLS 1, cc. 1145-1146, ll. 56-2). However, several studies on Pelagius’ Christology—see A. Dupont (2006), 323-324, 347-360, 367-372 and (2008), 237-238, 240-245, 249-251, 256-257 (both with further bibliography); M. Lamberigts (2008), 265-266 (with further bibliography)—show that Pelagius generally does not limit Christ’s grace to merely an external ethical example given as a guideline for reaching a good moral life. Pelagius writes that God saves on the basis of belief in Christ, that Christ reintroduced the true, spiritual circumcision of the heart (in Rom. 2, 12; 2, 27). Christ liberated us from sin (in Rom. 5, 16), which the law was not able to achieve, since neither an example nor a special grace to transcend the flesh was given in order that carnal people could preserve righteousness (in Rom. 8, 3). Christ’s death is the salvation of man (in Rom. 1, 16; 3, 24; 5, 10; 15, 5) and has a forgiving power (in Rom. 4, 25; 5, 5). It is a manifestation of God’s love for man, who does not deserve it, and incites in him a responding love (in Rom. 5, 6-8). Christ’s death is a substitutive punishment for our sins, for He bought us back with His death (in Rom. 3, 24), which He himself did not deserve (in Rom. 6, 6).
77. FN3838) We do not take into account the references to ep. 140, 30, 73 (412) and qu. 4, 12 (419/420), which refer to 2 Cor. 5:21 and Lev. 4, but do not quote Rom. 8:3.
78. FN3939) Io. eu. tr. 41, 5-6 links Rom. 8:3b and 2 Cor. 5:21, but does not quote Rom. 8:3c.
79. FN4040) See A.-M. La Bonnardière (1965), 103-104.
80. FN4141) See A.-M. La Bonnardière (1983). Compare G. Partoens (2008), IX-XXII (with further bibliography).
81. FN4242) This passage was treated in a comparable way by J. Lössl (2008), XLVIII-XLIX.
82. FN4343) ep. 140, 30, 72-73 (CSEL 44, pp. 219-221, ll. 25-8). Augustine’s ep. 140 was more than merely an anti-Pelagian treatise, but links with Augustine’s earliest anti-Pelagian texts are undeniable. See V. H. Drecoll (2004), 268-269 (with further bibliography).
83. FN4444) s. 155, 8 refers in exactly the same way to s. 152, 9-11 as the latter text refers to an earlier handling of the subject. Compare the words Qui nouerunt, sciunt quod dico et qui non nouerunt, legant uel audiant (s. 152, 11; ll. 248-249) with Iam aliquando exposuimus uobis hoc, sed qui meminerunt, recognoscant; qui non audierunt, audiant; qui obliti sunt, recolant (s. 155, 8; ll. 199-201; ‘I have already explained this once to you; still, let those of you who remember recognize what I say, those of you who did not hear it, hear it now, those of you who have forgotten, recall it to mind’). Comparable is also s. 134, 5: Qui nouerunt Scripturas Veteris Testamenti, recognoscunt quod dico (PL 38, c. 745, ll. 19-20; ‘Those of you who are familiar with the scriptures of the Old Testament will recognize what I am saying’).
84. FN4545) See n. 20.
85. FN4646) See M.-F. Berrouard (1977), 18-46. Berrouard’s hypothesis was taken over by P.-M. Hombert (2000), 488; H. Müller (2008), 706; R. Gryson (2007), 221.
86. FN4747) Christ had no sin, neither personal nor original. Augustine explains His freedom from original sin by the fact that He was conceived of by a virgin (see, e.g., s. 152, 9).
87. FN4848) s. 152, 10 (p. 45, ll. 236-240): Deus Christum fecit pro nobis peccatum. Non dixit: ‘fecit pro nobis peccantem’, sed: ‘fecit eum peccatum.’ Si nefas est dicere peccasse Christum, quis ferat peccatum esse Christum? Et tamen non possumus apostolo contradicere.
88. FN4949) See G. Partoens (2008), LVI n. 2.
89. FN5050) For the argumentation of s. 151 and its historical context, see G. Partoens (2003), 24-29 (with further bibliography).
90. FN5151) Compare also G. Partoens (2008), XIV; J. Lössl (2008), XLIX-LV.
91. FN5252) Compare also J. Lössl (2008), XXXII-XXXIV and XLVI-XLVII.
92. FN5353) Compare also J. Lössl (2008), XXXIV n. 61.
93. FN5454) Rejection of Manichean dualism: ss. 151, 3 and 152, 4; rejection of the Manichean condemnation of the Mosaic law: s. 152, 6.
94. FN5555) Libellus fidei 23 (Augustiniana 57 [2007] p. 381, ll. 16-17).
95. FN5656) See PL 48, c. 504, ll. 17-23. The libelli of Pelagius and Caelestius (PL 48, cc. 498-505) are very similar: “The strong similarity between the two libelli suggests a contact between both of them, but no message of this has been preserved.” Compare G. Honnay (1994), 287 n. 95. See R. Gryson (2007, 364)
96. FN5757) ep. ad Ruf. 9 (CCSL 88, p. 338, ll. 51-52).
97. FN5858) ep. ad Rom. 6 (CCSL 88, p. 397, ll. 27-29).
98. FN5959) See, e.g., PL 45, c. 1389 nn. a-b (reference to dial. adu. Pel. 2, 17 and 3, 2); PL 48, c. 496B (reference to dial. adu. Pel. 2, 17), c. 511 n. c (reference to dial. adu. Pel. 3, 2); N. Cipriani (1985), 213 n. 7 (reference to dial. adu. Pel. 2, 17 and 3, 2).
99. FN6060) dial. adu. Pel. 2, 17 (CCSL 80, p. 76, ll. 7-12).
100. FN6161) dial. adu. Pel. 3, 2 (CCSL 80, p. 99, ll. 1-9).
101. FN6262) See J. McW. Dewart (1982), 1230. Compare Ad Turbantium 3, 213b (CCSL 88, p. 381, ll. 314-316).
102. FN6363) Quoted in Aug., c. Iul. imp. 4, 88 (PL 45, c. 1389, ll. 5-19).
103. FN6464) Augustine’s answer to Julian’s reproach of ep. ad Rom. 6 [n. 58] in c. ep. Pel. 1, 12, 25 is restricted to a simple denial (CSEL 60, p. 445, ll. 3-7). Compare A. Zumkeller (1977), 549.
104. FN6565) c. ep. Pel. 3, 6, 16 (CSEL 60, p. 504, ll. 19-26): Quem iustum aduocatum [= Christum] absit ut dicamus, sicut ipsi calumniantur, ‘carnis necessitate mentitum’, sed dicimus eum in similitudine carnis peccati de peccato damnasse peccatum. Quod fortasse isti non intellegentes et calumniandi cupiditate caecati quam diuersis modis peccati nomen in scripturis sanctis poni soleat ignorantes peccatum Christi adfirmare nos iactant. Dicimus itaque Christum et nullum habuisse peccatum nec in anima nec in carne et suscipiendo carnem in similitudine carnis peccati de peccato damnasse peccatum.
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/content/journals/10.1163/157007212x617281
2012-01-01
2015-09-04

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