Why is everyone making such a big deal about Catena Aurea? (Or "what's in it for me?")

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Apr 6 2010 7:43 AM

Now that the George Müller collection is on its way, Catena Aurea is the next great buy in Community Pricing. With current bidding going as it has been, it looks like this gem will be available for $20 or less. We're getting close to 80% of production cost.

Community Pricing is an awesome way to get works for the least expensive price imaginable. For example, the Müller collection went for $15 in community pricing, and pre-pub is now $79.95; sale price once it ships will be $129.95. And the nice hardback edition on Amazon.com costs $139.95:

 

For anyone who has no idea what the Catena Aurea (Latin for "Golden Chain") is, "[Catenae are] collections of excerpts from the writings of Biblical commentators, especially the Fathers and early ecclesiastical writers, strung together like the links of a chain, and in this way exhibiting a continuous and connected interpretation of a given text of Scripture. It has been well said that they are exegetical anthologies....The most famous of the medieval Latin compilations of this kind is that of St. Thomas Aquinas, generally known as the "Catena Aurea" (Golden Catena) and containing excerpts from some eighty Greek and Latin commentators on the Gospels....Since the sixteenth century much industry has been expended in collecting, collating, and editing these exegetical remains of the early Christian Fathers, fully one-half of whose commentaries...have reached us in this way." (from New Advent, the Catholic Encyclopedia).

Why should we care to read (or at least have reference access to) these writings? (Perhaps Protestants in particular might be asking this question.) Because the Early Church Fathers are the closest interpreters of Scripture to the people who lived it and wrote it. Unlike the ECF collection, this work is arranged by Scripture reference, so it will work like a commentary and be able to scroll with your Bibles. The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (only the first volume of which is out in Logos format yet) would be really nice to have, but it's exorbitantly priced ($379.95 for one volume). But you can get your very own ancient Christian commentary on the Gospels for only $20. Why wouldn't everyone want to go for this??!!

OK, so who are these "eighty Greek and Latin commentators" on the Gospels? I found this table in the front of one volume of edition of the Catena Aurea that was available on on Google Books. I looked up all these people (most of whom were familiar names) and have provided links to more info on them, in Logos where available. Here's my key:

131CESK = 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (in all base packages except Original Languages)
ODCC = Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (in base packages from Scholar's on up)

Table of Fathers, Doctors, and Commentators, out of whom the Catena Aurea on the Four Gospels is gathered.

Cent. III.
Origen (131CESK) - Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
Cyprian (ODCC) - pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Cent. IV.
Eusebius (131CESK) - Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
Athanasius (131CESK) - Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
Hilary (ODCC) - Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
Gregory of Nazianzus (ODCC) - one of the "Cappadocian Fathers"; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
Gregory of Nyssa (ODCC) - one of the "Cappadocian Fathers"; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
Ambrose (131CESK) - Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
Jerome (ODCC) - biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
Nemesius (ODCC) - Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
Augustine (131CESK) - Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a "Doctor of the Church"; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
Chrysostom (131CESK) - Bishop of Constantinople; a "Doctor of the Church"; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
Prosper of Aquitaine (ODCC) - theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I ("the Great")
Damasus (ODCC) - pope; active in suppressing heresy
Apollinaris of Laodicea (ODCC) - Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
Amphilochius of Iconium (ODCC) - Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Cent. V.
Asterius of Amasea (ODCC) - Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
Evagrius Ponticus (ODCC) - spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
Isidore of Pelusium (ODCC) - an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
Cyril of Alexandria (ODCC) - Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
Maximus of Turin (ODCC) - Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
Cassion (? prob. Cassian) (ODCC) - one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
Chrysologus (ODCC) - Bishop of Ravenna; a "Doctor of the Church"
Basil "the Great" (ODCC) - one of the "Cappadocian Fathers"; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy's being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
Theodotus of Ancyra (ODCC) - Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
Leo the Great (ODCC) - Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a "Doctor of the Church"; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
Gennadius (ODCC) - Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
Victor of Antioch (ODCC) - presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
Council of Ephesus (Wikipedia) - declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ's human and divine natures
Antipater of Bostrum - ?
Nilus (ODCC) - Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Cent. VI.
Dionysius Areopagita (ODCC) (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) - mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
Gregory the Great (131CESK) - Pope; a "Doctor of the Church"; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
Isidore (ODCC) - Bishop of Seville; a "Doctor of the Church"; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople) (Wikipedia) - consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (ODCC) (aka Isaac the Syrian) - monastic writer on ascetic subjects
Severus (Bp. of Antioch) (ODCC) - Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
John Climacus (ODCC) - ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
Fulgentius (ODCC) - Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Cent. VII.
Maximus ( ? of Constantinople, 645.) (ODCC) - Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Cent. VIII.
Bede (131CESK) - "the Venerable Bede"; a "Doctor of the Church"; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
John Damascene (131CESK) - Greek theologian; a "Doctor of the Church"; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
Alcuin (ODCC) - Abbot of St. Martin's (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Cent. IX.
Haymo (of Halberstadt) (Wikipedia) - German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
Photius (of Constantinople) (ODCC) - Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
Rabanus Maurus (ODCC) - Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
Remigius (of Auxerre) (ODCC) - monk, scholar, and teacher
Paschasius Radbertus (ODCC) - Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Cent. XI.
Theophylact (ODCC) - Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
Anselm (131CESK) - Archbishop of Canterbury; a "Doctor of the Church"; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as "that than which nothing greater can be thought"
Petrus Alphonsus (Wikipedia) - Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
Laufranc (? prob. Lanfranc) (ODCC) - Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

Of uncertain date.
Symeon Metaphrastes (ODCC) - Byzantine hagiographer
Symeon Abbas - ?
Theophanes - ?
Geometer - ?
Alexander Monachus (Wikipedia) - Cypriot monk; composed homiletics and an encomium on the Apostle Barnabas
Glossa Ordinaria (ODCC) - the standard medieval commentary on the Bible. It was drawn up chiefly from extracts from the Fathers, and was arranged in the form of marginal and interlinear glosses
Glossa Interlinearis (Wikipedia) - by Anselm of Laon (d. 1117), who had some acquaintance with Hebrew and Greek; derived its name from the fact that it was written over the words in the text of the Vulgate

UPDATE: I count only 59 authors in that list, but the Glossa Ordinaria is made up of extracts from other authors, so I'm assuming that's where the balance of the 80 comes from.

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Alan Macgregor | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 7:49 AM

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Michael G. Halpern | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 7:52 AM

Rosie:  I sure hope Bob realizes the gem he has in you and several other customers and rewards you all richly for the incredible marketing you do for Logos and its numerous resources.  Every company would love to have people like you "selling" their products for them without having to pay you for it.  I say this as a way to compliment each of you who do such an awesome job in keeping us informed and tempting us to spend our hard earned money every day we log into the forums.  Thank you all...Michael

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 7:56 AM

Michael G. Halpern:

Rosie:  I sure hope Bob realizes the gem he has in you and several other customers and rewards you all richly for the incredible marketing you do for Logos and its numerous resources.  Every company would love to have people like you "selling" their products for them without having to pay you for it.  I say this as a way to compliment each of you who do such an awesome job in keeping us informed and tempting us to spend our hard earned money every day we log into the forums.  Thank you all...Michael

Thanks, Michael. My rich reward will be if this book makes it into production and I can have it in my Logos library. Smile  That's my major motivation for pushing the community pricing and pre-pub products (but also of course I know it will be a blessing to others, and I desire that). I've been waiting around on the Lion History Series for over two years now. Can I tempt you to take a look?

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SteveF | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 7:59 AM

Rosie:

thank you for doing the "leg work" on this.

I've long had the former PBB version (and a big thank you to the one who compiled it).

But I am looking forward to a "full" featured version.

thanks

 

Regards, SteveF - HP EliteBook 8740w i7-Q720 1.6GHZ 12G RAM Win 7 Pro (x64) 500G@7200 nVidia QUADRO FX3800M - Logos 2 Level 3, L3 Scholar's, L4 Scholar's Gold, L5 Gold

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Michael G. Halpern | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 8:08 AM

Rosie Perera:
 

Thanks, Michael. My rich reward will be if this book makes it into production and I can have it in my Logos library. Smile  That's my major motivation for pushing the community pricing and pre-pub products (but also of course I know it will be a blessing to others, and I desire that). I've been waiting around on the Lion History Series for over two years now. Can I tempt you to take a look?

Got me again Rosie...placed my order...thank you for the heads up.  Again, I'm thankful for you and the others that highlight these great resources (I think $$$) that may otherwise go unnoticed.

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Michael Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 8:11 AM

Outstanding post.  Nothing more really needs to be said. This is truly a great bargain.  Let's put it over the top.

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

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BillS | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 8:15 AM

Rosie Perera:
Catena Aurea is the next great buy in Community Pricing.

OK, I'm in on my 1st ever CP bid...

Thanks for your ministry to us, Rosie!

 

The Grace & Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!
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TCBlack | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 8:39 AM

Great post Rosie!  Yes  Keep it up they'll give you two MVP stars.  Wink

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Halo Hound | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 10:20 AM

Well, a couple of days ago, after seeing the deal I was blessed with through the Muller community pricing, I decided to hope this one was worth it as well so I placed my bid. You've given me the assurance and now I'm "convincingly  in." Thanks, but your bankrupting me :-)

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Roger Feenstra | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 2:15 PM

Rosie Perera:
I've been waiting around on the Lion History Series for over two years now. Can I tempt you to take a look?

I've read the Luther volume and it was wonderful. But....the only thing holding me back from this entire series is that it is not available on IPad/iPod/iPhone (Is this correct?).  This is the type of resource I would just like to read in bed or on a lunch break, and lugging my laptop around to do so just isn't practical.  

Elder/Pastor, Hope Now Bible Church, Fresno CA

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Roger Feenstra | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 2:16 PM

P.S.  I did, however, place a bid for Catena Aurea!

Elder/Pastor, Hope Now Bible Church, Fresno CA

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Bohuslav Wojnar | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 2:26 PM

Rosie, what an amount of work you must put into that great post. Thank you for doing that for us. Only now I am really glad I put my bid some months ago.

P.S. Pleeease, don't even try to tempt me with the Lion's History series. I just got all kind of Zondervan stuff. I need to heal my wounds for some time Smile

Bohuslav

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Ron | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 3:05 PM

Forgive my ignorance, but I only recognize one of the names from the 5th century onward.  Are these primarily Catholic Church Fathers?  Again, sorry if it's an ignorant question...

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 5:22 PM

Ron Keyston Jr:

Forgive my ignorance, but I only recognize one of the names from the 5th century onward.  Are these primarily Catholic Church Fathers?  Again, sorry if it's an ignorant question...

Hi Ron, I guess there really isn't a difference between Catholic Church Fathers and Protestant Church Fathers when you go that far back, since the split between Catholics and Protestants didn't come until much later. We share this same trunk of our family tree. True, some of the theological distinctions that the Protestants later made, and parts of Catholic theology that they rejected, might have been in nascent form already by as early as the 5th century, but many of those names are people who have influenced our own Protestant theologians and biblical exegetes down through the centuries. We are often not aware how much debt we have to those people that the Catholics also draw from. From that list, starting in the 5th century, the names I am familiar with from my studies in an evangelical seminary are: Evagrius Ponticus (aka Evagrius of Pontus), Cyril of Alexandria, Basil the Great, the Council of Ephesus, Leo the Great,  Dionysius the (Pseudo-)Areopagite, Gregory the Great, John Climacus, Venerable Bede, John Damascene (aka John of Damascus), Alcuin, and Anselm. A lot of the other ones are obscure (even for the Catholics).

John Calvin had a vast knowledge of the Church Fathers and quoted them extensively in his Institutes of the Christian Religion which is the systematic theology I know best and share most in common with. I so wish that the Logos version of the Institutes were the one edited by John McNeill, because it has an Author and Source Index at the back which is invaluable. But fortunately that index is available for viewing on Amazon.com (it starts on p. 1592). Among the Church Fathers on the Catena Aurea list above that Calvin quotes (and thus gives Protestant/Reformed validity to) are: Ambrose, Anselm, Athanasius, Augustine, Basil, Bede, John Cassian, John Chrysostom, Cyprian, Cyril of Alexandria, Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita ["pseudo" in this context just means works that had originally been attributed to someone but turned out to be probably by someone else perhaps unknown, however the originally associated name has still stuck for historical reasons; often in those days people would use as a pseudonym the name of a more famous author when publishing their works in order to give them credibility but if they've stood the test of time they have earned their own credibility anyway], Eusebius, Fulgentius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Hilary, Isidore of Seville, Jerome, John of Damascus, Pope Leo I ("the Great"), Origen, Prosper of Aquitaine, Rabanus Maurus, and Thomas Aquinas himself (the editor of the Catena Aurea).

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 5:27 PM

Rosie Perera:
We are often not aware how much debt we have to those people that the Catholics also draw from.

I also want to point out that the Orthodox also draw heavily from the Church Fathers. Many of the most accessible contemporary translations and introductions come from Orthodox presses. I very much want Logos to partner with some of these presses.

Logos4catholics Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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James W Bennett | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 6:10 PM

Yes, partnering with St Vladimir's would be a wonderful thing.

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Eric Weiss | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 6:11 PM

I didn't know about CP. But now I do. Which means I'll be spending MORE MONEY at Logos. Grrrrr!!!!

(Anyway, y'all convinced me to get this Catena Aurea; I bid $34 - that should help it along a bit.)

Optimistically Egalitarian (Galatians 3:28)

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TCBlack | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 6:59 PM

And the good news Eric, is that if CA enters production at lower than $34, than you'll pay the lower price as well!

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Dan DeVilder | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Apr 6 2010 7:10 PM

TERRIFIC JOB, Rosie!  I just spent 10 hours and 15 potty breaks on the road with my family, and tonight this is one of the forum posts that greeted me! 

 

. . . now you just need to add a picture of Aquinas and a brief summary of the interpretive bent of each father . . . Geeked

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