Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

Confraternity - Home | Free Downloads | Transcriber's Notes | Abbreviations | Contact Us


Supplemental Commentary:

ANTINOMIAN:  (Greek: anti, against; nomos, law) applied to any doctrine which erroneously minimizes the value and obligation of law.  In Apostolic times some exaggerated Christian liberation from sin and the Law to include abrogation not only of certain Mosaic ceremonial laws but also precepts of the natural law.  (Cf. 1 Pet. 2, 16; 2 Pet. 2, 13 f. 17-19.)  This error was somewhat revived in the sixteenth century by misrepresenting Paul's doctrine of justification by faith.

APOCRYPHAL:  books which illegitimately claim to be sacred, inspired and canonical books of Holy Scripture.  Although they are very ancient, the Church never received them into the Canon of Scripture.  The Apocryphal books are divided into those of the Old and those of the New Testament.  For the most part, the Old Testament apocrypha were written by authors in good faith, who ascribed them to celebrated men in order that their works might be acclaimed publicly.  They are useful and valuable in that they portray the Jewish mentality of their times in religious matters.  The New Testament apocrypha contain pious legends, but for the most part they were written by heretics, who desired to claim divine authority for their heretical doctrines.  According to their literary form they are divided into four groups: Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses.

APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS:  in the fourth and fifth centuries, various compilations referring to the discipline and liturgy of the primitive Christian Church were composed.  Of these the Apostolic Constitutions is the most important.  The early Fathers attributed the work to St. Clement of Rome and through him to the Apostles; but an analysis of the eight books manifests that the work was compiled at the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century, near Antioch, by a single anonymous author.

ATHANASIUS  (295-373):  Bishop of Alexandria and renowned as a great opponent of Arianism.  His apologetic and dogmatic treatises are important for his extensive use of Sacred Scripture in which he insists upon the simple and literal explanation of the text.

AUGUSTINE  (354-430):  Bishop of Hippo in Africa, known as the Doctor of Grace throughout the universal Church.  After his conversion in 387, he commented frequently upon Sacred Scripture both in homilies and in the books and commentaries which he composed.

AUTHENTICITY:  that quality or characteristic of a work which manifests it to be the product of the author to whom it is ascribed.  In Sacred Scripture books are declared to be authentic generally by criticism and history.

BASILIDES:  a heretic who taught a Gnostic doctrine in Alexandria between 120 and 140.  He wrote a gospel and a commentary on the same.  Only a few quotations from his works remain.

BIBLICAL COMMISSION:  this Commission consists of a group of Cardinals and priests versed in theology and biblical knowledge, selected by the Supreme Pontiff for the purpose of discussing and deciding problems that pertain to Sacred Scripture.  Their decisions are submitted to the Pope for approval before publication.  The faithful are obliged in conscience to accept the decisions of the Commission.

BROTHERS OF THE LORD:  see p. 94. [Commentary on Matt. 12, 46-50.]

CANON:  (Greek, kanon, a measuring rod, rule) applied first to the rule or norm of faith and conduct, then to the inspired books which give us this rule.  At present the canon is the Church's official list of inspired books.  A book is canonical when it is admitted and defined by the Church as inspired.

CANONICAL:  see Canon.

CERINTHUS:  a Gnostic-Ebionite heretic contemporary to John the Evangelist.  He taught that the world was created by angels, that Jesus was a mere man, that Christ descended upon Him at His Baptism and withdrew from Him before the Passion, that at the end of time the spiritual kingdom of heaven will be preceded by a period of abundant joy on earth.  Irenaeus tells us that St. John wrote his Gospel to confute these errors.

CHRISTOLOGICAL HERESIES:  Christology is the branch of theology dealing with the nature and personality of Christ.  Early errors on this subject were found among the Ebionites, the Docetists, the Cerinthians, and the Gnostic (which see).

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA  (150-220):  probably a  native of Athens, and a disciple of Pataenus, founder of the Catechetical School at Alexandria.  He was well versed in Greek philosophy and his numerous writings contain many references to the teaching of the Church on the canonicity, inspiration, and interpretation of Sacred Scripture.

CLEMENT OF ROME:  according to tradition St. Clement was the fourth Bishop of Rome (92-101).  He is chiefly known for his Letter to the Corinthians in which he asserts his supreme authority as Bishop of Rome.  The letter frequently bears witness to the inspired nature and canonicity of the Bible.


CODEX:  the modern book form with leaves arranged in quires or gatherings has its origin in the ancient codices of the Christians some of which date from the early part of the second century.  Papyrus was the material used till superseded by vellum in the fourth century.

CYBELE:  the name given to the goddess of nature in Asia Minor, known in Greece as Rhea, the mother of the gods.

DEACON:  see p. 379.  [Commentary on Acts 6, 1-7.]

DEACONESS:  see p. 575. [Commentary on 1 Tim. 3, 8-13.]

DIASPORA:  (Greek, a scattering) the name given to the Jews scattered throughout the pagan world after the exile.  At the time of Christ there were four or five million Jews outside of Palestine as opposed to about one million in Palestine.  Segregated groups were to be found in almost every part of the Euphrates and Mediterranean areas, usually enjoying political privileges of partial self-government.

DIDACHE:  or "The Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles"; a short treatise purporting to be an abstract of the Apostles' teaching composed by the Apostles themselves.  It was probably composed by some unknown author in the East between the years 70 and 90.  The treatise is a summary of the moral, individual, and social obligations of the early Christians.

DIOGNETUS:  the letter to Diognetus is probably of the second or third century.  The author and recipient are unknown.  It is a reply to questions of a heathen interested in Christianity.  It deals with the differences between Christian, pagan and Jewish worship, and with Christian charity.

DOCETAE or DOCETISTS:  (Greek, dokesis, appearance) Gnostic or Manichaean heretics who held that Christ had only the appearance of man.  He was simply a spirit or higher aeon and His body was a mere phantasm.

EBIONITES:  Jewish-Christian heretics who denied the divinity and the virgin birth of Christ and the authority of St. Paul.  They considered matter to be an emanation of the Deity.  Their name (Hebrew, ebyonim, poor) indicates their general poverty.

EPIPHANIUS  (315-403):  A saint, a scholar, a prolific reader, and a firm defender of Christian traditions.  In his works he has preserved many documents of great worth for the history of Christian thought.  He is best known for his book on Biblical Archaeology in which he also treats of the canon and the Versions of the Old Testament, and Palestinian Geography.

EUSEBIUS  (265-340):  born in Palestine, probably at Caesarea.  In 311 he became Bishop of Caesarea.  He was an erudite scholar and wrote upon History, Geography, Sacred Scripture, Apologetics, Theology and Sacred Eloquence.  His Ecclesiastical History is invaluable for a knowledge of the Church during the first three centuries.

GNOSTICS:  (Greek, gnosis, knowledge) heretics who claimed salvation by knowledge.  This "knowledge" was highly speculative without evidence or proof.  Concerned principally with the problem of the origin of evil, it was essentially dualistic.  Between the good God and the evil creatures there are numerous intermediary spirits or Aeons emanating from God and diminishing in goodness in proportion to their distance from the source.  The lowest aeon was Demiurge (Greek, workman), who was the creator and legislator of the Old Testament.  Christ was considered a higher aeon, but His importance in the system is so slight that Gnosticism can be considered essentially pagan.

HEBREW:  one of the Semitic languages.  Arabic, Aramaic, Syriac and Ethiopic belong to the same group.  In these languages the consonants play the predominant role.  The vowels, which might color the meaning of a word or give an entirely new word, were not written.  They were added to biblical texts only in the fifth century, A.D., and represent interpretations of that period.  In place of the tenses of our languages the Semites use a perfect or imperfect form of the verb according as the action or state of the verb is considered complete or incomplete.  Semitic poverty in adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions and particles presents a problem to translators.  Abstract terms are rare so that the language is often figurative and usually picturesque.

HEGESIPPUS  (110?-180?):  according to St. Jerome, the first historian of the Church.  He was a convert to Christianity from Judaism.  After his conversion he visited various Christian Churches in order to observe the uniformity of the faith in the midst of rising heresies.  Fragments of his work entitled "Memoirs" are cited by Eusebius and other Christian authors.

HERMAS:  the name or pen name of the author of an early Christian work called "The Shepherd."  His book was probably written about the middle of the second century.  It is a presentation of pretended revelations received in visions and an exhortation to penance and good works.

IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH  (d. 107):  one of the chief figures of the early Church.  He was probably a disciple of St. Peter and St. Paul, and became Bishop of Antioch about the year 69.  On his way to Rome, where he suffered martyrdom, St. Ignatius wrote seven Epistles.  He is the first to use the term Catholic Church.

INERRANCY:  a consequence of biblical inspiration.  It implies that there is not and that there cannot be any error in the Bible of which God is the author.  Inerrancy is found only in the original work as it came from the pen of the inspired writer.  It applies to the entire content of the books and not just to religious matters.  Each statement must be taken according to the intention of the author.  Our present Bibles share in this inerrancy as they agree substantially with the original works.

INSPIRATION:  as applied to the Bible a supernatural gift by which God, the principal author, uses man, the instrumental author, to write.  Man is not used as a mere lifeless instrument but with all his natural aptitudes and individuality of intellect, and will and executive faculties.  In a true though different sense God is the author of the whole book and man is the author of the whole book.

INTEGRITY:  this implies that all the passages in a book (e.g., John 21, 1-25) belong originally to it and were not added by a different author.  Since each book is usually the composition of a single author, the question of integrity is often intimately linked with that of authenticity.  Cf. authenticity (p. 721). [Glossary entry for Authority, above.]

IRENAEUS  (120-202):  A native of Smyrna in Asia Minor.  As a young man he often listened to the disciples of the Apostles, especially St. Polycarp.  Later he settled down in the city of Lyons, France, where he succeeded St. Pothinus as Bishop of that city in 177.  St. Irenaeus is known as the "most learned, most prudent, and most illustrious of the early head of the Church in Gaul."  He professed a strong attachment for tradition and a love of Sacred Scripture which he knew perfectly.  He is chiefly known for his work "Against Heresies," a refutation of religious errors in his time, especially Gnosticism.

JEROME  (347-420):  "The Doctor of Sacred Scripture," was born at Stridon in Dalmatia.  He was educated at Rome, and in his early life traveled through the East and the West studying, observing, and transcribing his impressions.  In 382, at the suggestion of Pope Damasus, he began to revise the Old Latin translation of the Bible.  His revision of the New Testament and a translation of the Psalms made from the Septuagint were completed about 384.  In 385 St. Jerome retired to Bethlehem where he spent thirty-five years devoted to the study of Sacred Scripture.  During this period he translated the Bible into Latin, which in the course of time was given the name "Vulgate."  St. Jerome is renowned also for his commentaries on the Old and New Testament, and several historical, dogmatical, and controversial books.

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM  (344-407):  a learned and holy Doctor of the Church, born at Antioch.  In 398 St. John became Bishop of Constantinople.  Throughout his life he was known for his sacred eloquence.  Besides his numerous letters, sermons, and homilies, St. John is the author also of treatises on the religious life, the priesthood, education, and of several commentaries on Sacred Scripture.

JOSEPHUS FLAVIUS: born about 37 A.D.  He was a Jew and belonged to the sacerdotal class of the Jews.  His History of the Jewish Wars and The Jewish Antiquities are important for a knowledge and appreciation of the periods treated by him.  Although Josephus is sometimes inclined to exaggeration and erroneous statements, in general he employed good sources and is worthy of credence.

JUDAIZER:  a Jewish Christian who advocated the retention of such Jewish laws as circumcision, abstinence from unclean food, the observance of Jewish festivals in the Church.  Some considered these practices as necessary to salvation, others as conducive to higher perfection.

JUSTIN  (100-165):  born at Sichem in Palestine and educated in paganism.  His study of philosophy led him to embrace Christianity about the year 130.  As a layman he spent his life in defending and propagating the truths taught by Christ.  The two Apologies addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius have placed St. Justin among the greatest of the early Christian apologists.

MANUSCRIPTS:  books or codices written by hand before the invention of printing in 1450.  The word is often abbreviated MSS.

MARCION:  (d. c. 170) a heretic who taught that there is opposition between the Old  and the New Testament, that these are the work of two beings, the righteous and angry God of the Law and the good and loving God of the Gospels.  He had an austere system of morals, forbidding marriage, meat, and wine.

NICOLAITES:  heretics who claimed origin from the deacon Nicolas mentioned in Acts 6, 5.  They sought to kill concupiscence by indulging I the passions at will.  They are referred to in Apoc. 2, 6.15.

ORIGEN  (185-253):  born at Alexandria in Egypt, as a youth a student of Clement of Alexandria.  His erudition and tenacity earned from him the surname "Man of Steel."  It has been estimated that Origen was the author of about 6000 works on Sacred Scripture, theology, apologetics, and ascetics.

PAPIAS:  according to Irenaeus, St. Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, was a disciple of St. John the Evangelist.  He composed "An Explanation of the Oracles of the Lord," and was the earliest writer whose extant works attest the Gospels according to St. Matthew and St. Mark.  St. Papias died about the year 120.

PAPYRI:  Papyrus was one of the chief materials used in ancient times for writing.  It was supplied by the pith of the papyrus plant which grew plentifully along the Nile River in Egypt.  Sheets were formed and fastened side by side to form a roll.  In recent years many biblical papyri have been discovered.

PARALLELISM:  a rhythm of thought in which an idea is immediately repeated, reversed or expanded.  It the thought is repeated, the parallelism is synonymous, as
O God come to my aid
O Lord make haste to help me (Ps. 69, 2.)
When the thought is reversed the parallelism is antithetic, as
They are entangled and fallen
But we are risen and stand upright.  (Ps. 19, 9.)
When the thought is expanded by giving the cause, the effect or a circumstance, the parallelism is called synthetic, as
Thou wilt turn, O God, and bring us to life,
And thy people shall rejoice in thee.  (Ps 84, 7.)
Parallelism is one of the principal characteristics of Hebrew poetry.  It is found to some extent also in Hebrew prose.

PAROUSIA:  (Greek, para, near; ousia, being) the name given to the solemn entry or an official visit of a ruler in a province.  This often marked a new era.  The word now refers to the Second Coming of Christ at the end of this world and the inauguration of the heavenly kingdom.

PESCHITTO:  see Versions.

PHILO  (25 B.C.-41 A.D.):  a Jewish writer of Alexandria.  In his writings he generally explains Jewish history and legislation in an allegorical way.  He is the author of two apologetical works directed against the adversaries of the Jews at Alexandria.

PHOTIUS  (c. 815-897):  a pretender to the Patriarchate of Constantinople and author of the great schism between the East and the West.

POLYCARP:  the teacher of St. Irenaeus.  He was personally acquainted with St. John, and is considered the last survivor of the Apostolic age.  As Bishop of Smyrna he wrote an Epistle to the Philippians.  He was martyred for the faith about the year 155.

PRAETORIUM:  see p. 188.  [Commentary on Matt. 27, 27.]

PRESBYTER:  see p. 577.  [Commentary on 1 Tim. 5, 22.]

PRESELYTE:  (Greek, proselytos, a newcomer, a stranger.)  In the Septuagint the Greek word is applied to aliens.  Even the Jews are described as "proselytes" in Egypt.  But by the seventh century, B.C., the proselyte was a convert to Judaism.

RECENSION:  an emendation or new edition of the sacred text.

SECOND COMING:  see Parousia.

SEPTUAGINT:  the most important translation in Greek made from the Hebrew.  It takes its name from the seventy translators by whom the work was supposed to have been done.  The Penateuch was translated in the third century before Christ; the remaining books of the Old Testament were translated by various persons at different times.  By the middle of the second century before Christ all the books had been translated.  The complete translation is known as the Septuagint.

SHEPHERD of HERMAS:  see Hermas.

SUETONIUS:  a non-Christian Latin historian, best known for his lives of the twelve Caesars.  He wrote about the year 120.

TALMUD:  a collection of Jewish commentaries on the Mishna, the traditional law of the Jews.  Composed by the Rabbis from the second to the sixth centuries, the Palestinian or Jerusalem Talmud was committed to writing about the fifth century, that of Babylon about the sixth century.

TARGUMS:  paraphrases of the Hebrew text of the Bible in the Aramaic dialect.  These paraphrases were made for the Jewish people after the Babylonian Exile when they no longer understood Hebrew.

TERTULLIAN  (150/160-240/250):  the first great representative of a series of Latin Christian writers from Africa.  He was born at Carthage, and converted to the faith about 195.  As a Christian Tertullian firmly defended Christianity in his Apologies, but towards the end of his life he fell into the heresy of the Montanists.

THEODORET  (d. 458):  a scholar of the Antiochian school of biblical interpretation.  He commented extensively on the books of the Old Testament, and is known also as the continuator of the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius.

VERSIONS:  translations of Sacred Scripture from the Hebrew and Greek texts into other languages.  From the earliest days of the Church translations were made, e.g., into Syriac (Peschitto), Arabic, Greek, Latin, etc.

VULGATE:  the most important ancient translation of the Bible.  The work was accomplished by St. Jerome, and by degrees it became the only Latin version of Sacred Scripture used in the Western Church.  The Council of Trent has declared the Vulgate to be the authentic, that is, the official Latin version of the Church.  But due to the fact that many editions of the Vulgate existed in the sixteenth century, the Council ordered that a corrected edition should be published as soon as possible.  The revised text of the Vulgate appeared in 1592 under Pope Clement VIII.  For this reason it is very often referred to as the Clementine Vulgate.