Friday, April 23, 2010

The Thirty-Third Letter (Item 39): Pope Pontian to All Bishops

The second and last letter of Pontian starts with a brief gloss on Luke 2:14 ("Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will"). From there it eases into a discussion about the "sons of God and the sons of the devil" . The sons of God always strive after those things which are of God; the sons of the devil...well, you know what they get up to.

You can always tell that Pseudo-Isidore is getting around to his point when the verbal echoes of Benedictus Levita start to resound. Nobody, he says suddenly, should do anything to a brother that this brother doesn't want. Enemies, those under suspicion, the litigious (facile litigantes), those "who do not lead a good life or whose life is worthy of accusation and who do not hold to or teach the right faith": all these cannot bring accusations against others.

Then we get a very long series of quotes from Ecclesiasticus (32:1-3, 37:21, 35:2,5; 27:18-33, 28:1-30; 5:8-18; 6:1-4) that bring us right up to the end of the letter. Before signing off, Pontian tells his readers to defend the oppressed and help the needy.

Longer than the last Pontian letter, but as most if it is a pastiche of unedited passages from the Bible, still pretty light on content.


SCORECARD

Recipients: all bishops

Date: 28 April, "Severo et Quintiano vv. cc. conss"

Sources: the bible, the Sentences of Sextus, Benedictus Levita, letter of Gregory the Great

Lines : 105

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