Monday, December 21, 2020

Church History, Transubstantiation, and John Ch. 6

Q. Did the Patristic authors have the same exegetical understanding of the sixth chapter of John that the modern Roman Church has?

Note: an older edition of this article can be found Here.


Q.1. From whence did the pagan accusation that Christians "ate actual flesh" originate?


Irenæus, Bishop of Lugdunum [Lyon] (c. 130 - 202 A.D.): More Here

For when the Greeks, having arrested the slaves of Christian catechumens, then used force against them, in order to learn from them some secret thing [practised] among Christians, these slaves, having nothing to say that would meet the wishes of their tormentors, except that they had heard from their masters that the divine communion was the body and blood of Christ, and imagining that it was actually flesh and blood, gave their inquisitors answer to that effect. 

(Philip Schaff, ANF, Vol. 1, Fragments, 13). Here


Q.2. What was the Christian response to the pagan claim that they "ate actual flesh?"


Justin Martyr (c. 100 - 165 A.D.): More Here

For what sensual or intemperate man, or who that counts it good to feast on human flesh, could welcome death that he might be deprived of his enjoyments… For having put some to death on account of the accusations falsely brought against us, they also dragged to the torture our domestics, either children or weak women, and by dreadful torments forced them to admit those fabulous actions which they themselves openly perpetrate; about which we are the less concerned, because none of these actions are really ours, 

(Philip Schaff, ANF, Vol. 1, The Second Apology, 12). Here


Tatian, the Assyrian (c. 120 - 180 A.D.): More Here

It is not we who eat human flesh—they among you who assert such a thing have been suborned as false witnesses; 

(Philip Schaff, ANF, Vol. 2, Address to the Greeks, 25). Here


Theophilus, Patriarch of Antioch (c. ? - 183/85 A.D.): More Here

…alleging…what is most impious and barbarous of all, that we eat human flesh. 

(Philip Schaff, ANF, Vol. 2, To Autolycus, 3.4). Here


Athenagoras, of Athens (c. 133 - 190 A.D.): More Here

…for men to partake of the flesh of men is a thing most hateful and abominable, and more detestable than any other unlawful and unnatural food or act; 

(Philip Schaff, ANF, Vol. 2, On the Resurrection of the Dead, 8). Here


Q.3. Did the Church historically understand the sixth chapter of the Gospel according to John in a carnal sense?


Clement, of Alexandria (c. 150 - 215 A.D.): More Here

Elsewhere the Lord, in the Gospel according to John, brought this out by symbols, when He said: “Eat ye my flesh, and drink my blood;” describing distinctly by metaphor the drinkable properties of faith and the promise, by means of which the Church, like a human being consisting of many members, is refreshed and grows, is welded together and compacted of both,—of faith, which is the body, and of hope, which is the soul; as also the Lord of flesh and blood. For in reality the blood of faith is hope, in which faith is held as by a vital principle. 

(Philip Schaff, ANF, Vol. 2, The Instructor, 1.6). Here


Tertullian, of Carthage (c. 155 - 220 A.D.): More Here

He says, it is true, that “the flesh profiteth nothing;” but then, as in the former case, the meaning must be regulated by the subject which is spoken of. Now, because they thought His discourse was harsh and intolerable, supposing that He had really and literally enjoined on them to eat his flesh, He, with the view of ordering the state of salvation as a spiritual thing, set out with the principle, “It is the spirit that quickeneth;” and then added, “The flesh profiteth nothing,”—meaning, of course, to the giving of life. He also goes on to explain what He would have us to understand by spirit: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” …we ought therefore to desire Him in order that we may have life, and to devour Him with the ear, and to ruminate on Him with the understanding, and to digest Him by faith. 

(Philip Schaff, ANF, Vol. 3, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, 37). Here


Origen, of Alexandria (c. 184 - 253 A.D.): More Here

Acknowledge that they are figures, which are written in the sacred volumes; therefore as spiritual, not carnal, examine and understand what is said. For, if as carnal you receive them, they hurt, not nourish you. Not only in the old Testament is there a letter which killeth; but also in the new there is a letter which killeth him who does not spiritually consider it. For, if according to the letter you receive this saying, Except ye eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, that letter killeth. 

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1857], Patrologiæ Græcæ, Tomus XII, Origenis in Leviticum Homilia VII, § 5, Col. 487). Here Trans. (Edward Harold Browne, An Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles, [1894], p. 691). Here see also 1864 Edition 


Alternate Translation:

Know that they are figures written in the divine volumes and, for that reason, examine and understand what is said as spiritual and not as carnal. For if you receive those things as carnal, they wound you and do not sustain you. For even in the Gospels, it is "the letter" that "kills." Not only in the Old Testament is "the letter that kills" found; there is also in the New Testament "the letter that kills" that one who does not spiritually perceive what is said. For, if you follow according to the letter that which is said, "unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood," this "letter kills." 

(The Fathers of the Church, Origen, Homilies on Leviticus, 1-16, Translated by Gary Wayne Barkley, [Catholic University of America Press, 1990], Homilies on Leviticus, Homily 7.5.4-5, p. 146). Here


Eusebius, Bishop of Cæsarea (c. 260/5 - 339/40 A.D.): More Here

Do you, receiving the Scriptures of the Gospels, perceive the whole teaching of our Saviour, that He did not speak concerning the flesh which He had taken, but concerning His mystic body and blood… He instructed them to understand spiritually the words which He had spoken concerning His flesh and His blood; for, He says, you must not consider Me to speak of the flesh which I wear, as if you were able to eat that, nor suppose that I command you to drink perceptible and corporal blood… these things profit nothing, if they are understood according to sense; but the Spirit is the Life, given to those who are able to understand spiritually. 

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1857], Patrologiæ Græcæ, Tomus XXIV, Eusebii Cæsariensis, De Ecclesiastica Theologia, Lib. III, Cap. XII, Col. 1021, 1024). Here Trans. (Lucius Waterman, The Primitive Tradition of the  Eucharistic Body and Blood, [1919.], p. 99). Here

 

Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria (c. 296/98 - 373 A.D.): More Here

Our Lord made a difference betwixt the flesh and the spirit, that we might understand that what He said was not carnal, but spiritual. For how many men could His body have fed, that the whole world should be nourished by it? But therefore He mentioned His ascension into heaven, that they might not take what He said in a corporal sense, but might understand that His flesh whereof He spake is a spiritual and heavenly food, given by Himself from on high; for the words that I spake unto you, they are spirit and they are life; as if he should say, My body which is shewn and given for the world shall be given in food, that it might be distributed spiritually to everyone, and preserve them all to the resurrection to eternal life. 

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1857], Patrologiæ Græcæ, Tomus XXVI, S. Athanasii, Epistola IV Ad Serapionem, Col. 665, 668). Here Trans. (John Cosin, The History of Popish Transubstantiation, edited by John Sherren Brewer, [1840], pp. 90-91). Here 


Alternate Translation:

Here also He has used both terms about Himself, namely flesh and spirit; and He distinguished the spirit from what relates to the flesh in order that they might believe not only in what was visible in Him but also in what was invisible, and might thereby learn that what He says is not fleshly but spiritual. For how many would the body suffice for eating, that it should become the food of the whole world? But for this reason He made mention of the ascension of the Son of man into heaven, in order that He might draw them away from the bodily notion, and that from henceforth they might learn that the aforesaid flesh was heavenly eating from above and spiritual food given by Him. For, He says, what I have spoken unto you is spirit and life, as much as to say, That which is manifested, and is given for the salvation of the world, is the flesh which I wear. But this and its blood shall be given to you by Me spiritually as food, so that this may be imparted spiritually to each one, and may become to all a preservative for resurrection to eternal life. 

(Darwell Stone, A History of the Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, Volume I, [1909], p. 90). Here


Basil the Great, Bishop of Cæsarea Mazaca (c. 329/30 - 379 A.D.): More Here

We eat the flesh of Christ, and drink His blood, if we, through His incarnation and human life, become partakers of the Logos and of wisdom.  

(Epist. viii. c. 4) see (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3, § 95. The Sacrament of the Eucharist). Here


See also:

“He that eateth me,” He says, “he also shall live because of me;” for we eat His flesh, and drink His blood, being made through His incarnation and His visible life partakers of His Word and of His Wisdom. For all His mystic sojourn among us He called flesh and blood, and set forth the teaching consisting of practical science, of physics, and of theology, whereby our soul is nourished and is meanwhile trained for the contemplation of actual realities. This is perhaps the intended meaning of what He says. 

(Philip Schaff, NPNF2, Vol. 8, The Letters, Letter VIII.4 [To the Cæsareans. A defence of his withdrawal, and concerning the faith]). Here


Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem (c. 313 - 386 A.D.): More Here

Christ on a certain occasion discoursing with the Jews said, Except ye eat My flesh and drink My blood, ye have no life in you. They not having heard His saying in a spiritual sense were offended, and went back, supposing that He was inviting them to eat flesh. 

(Philip Schaff, NPNF2, Vol. 7, Catechetical Lectures, 22.4). Here


Gregory Nazianzen, Archbishop of Constantinople (c. 329 - 390 A.D.): More Here

Now we will partake of a Passover which is still typical; though it is plainer than the old one. For that is ever new which is now becoming known. It is ours to learn what is that drinking and that enjoyment, and His to teach and communicate the Word to His disciples. For teaching is food, even to the Giver of food. Come hither then, and let us partake of the Law, but in a Gospel manner, not a literal one; 

(Philip Schaff, NPNF2, Vol. 7, Select Orations of Saint Gregory Nazianzen, Oration XLV.23). Here


Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (c. 340 - 397 A.D.): More Here

Christ is touched by faith, Christ is seen by faith; he is not touched by the body, he is not comprehended by the eyes; 

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1845], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus XV, Sancti Ambrosii, Expositio Evangelii Secundum Lucam, Lib. VI, § 57, Col. 1683). Here Trans. (William Goode, The Nature of Christ's Presence in the Eucharist, Volume I, [1856], p. 420). Here See also: (J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1887], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus XV, Expositio Evangelii Secundum Lucam, Lib. VI, § 57, Col. 1769). Here 


Therefore we ought not to seek thee on the earth, nor in the earth, nor according to the flesh, if we wish to find thee; for now we have not known Christ after the flesh. 

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1845], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus XV, Sancti Ambrosii, Expositio Evangelii Secundum Lucam, Lib. X, § 160, Col. 1844). Here Trans. (William Goode, The Nature of Christ's Presence in the Eucharist, Volume I, [1856], p. 320). Here See also: (J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1887], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus XV, Expositio Evangelii Secundum Lucam, Lib. X, § 160, Col. 1937). Here 


John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (c. 349 - 407 A.D.): More Here

“It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing.” His meaning is, “Ye must hear spiritually what relateth to Me, for he who heareth carnally is not profited, nor gathereth any advantage.” It was carnal to question how He came down from heaven, to deem that He was the son of Joseph, to ask, “How can he give us His flesh to eat?” All this was carnal, when they ought to have understood the matter in a mystical and spiritual sense. …"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." That is, they are divine and spiritual, have nothing carnal about them, …How then doth “the flesh profit nothing,” if without it we cannot live? Seest thou that the words, “the flesh profiteth nothing,” are spoken not of His own flesh, but of carnal hearing? 

(Philip Schaff, NPNF1, Vol. 14, Homilies on John, 47, on Jn 6:63). Here


Gaudentius, Bishop of Brescia (c. ? - 410 A.D.): More Here

For a figure is not the truth, but an imitation of the truth. [Figura etenim non est veritas, sed imitatio veritatis.] …For the bread which came down from heaven, said: The bread which I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world. For properly, by the species of wine His blood also is expressed, because when He says in the Gospel: I am the true vine: He sufficiently declared that all wine which is offered in a figure of His passion, is His blood. 

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1845], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus XX, S. Gaudentii, Sermo II. De Exodi Lectione Secundus, Col. 855). Here and Here Trans. (J. H. Treat, The Catholic Faith; Or, Doctrines of the Church of Rome Contrary to Scripture and the Teaching of the Primitive Church, [1888], pp. 218, 181). Here and Here


Jerome, of Stridon (c. 347 - 420 A.D.): More Here

We read the Holy Scriptures. I believe that the Gospel is the body of Christ. I believe the Holy Scriptures to be his doctrine, and when he says, He who does not eat my flesh and drink my blood, although this may be understood of the mystery, yet the word of the Scriptures and the divine doctrine is more truly the body of Christ and his blood. If at any time we go to the mystery, whoever is faithful understands that if he falls into sin he is in danger; so if at any time we hear the word of God, and the word of God, and the flesh of Christ, and his blood poured into our ears, and we are thinking of something else, how great is the danger we incur. 

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1845], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus XXVI, S. Hieronymi, Breviarium In Psalmos, Psalm. CXLVII, Col. 1258-1259). Here Trans. (George Finch, A Sketch of the Romish Controversy [1831], p. 170). Here


Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia (c. 350 - 428 A.D.): More Here

How can this man give us his flesh to eat? When nature itself does not allow this. And they opposed what he was saying as something difficult and sinful as though he were asking them to really eat human flesh. 

(Ancient Christian Texts, Commentary on the Gospel of John, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Trans. by Marco Conti, Ed. Joel C. Elowsky, [United States, InterVarsity Press, 2010], on Jn 6:52, p. 69). Here


Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (c. 354 - 430 A.D.): More Here

It seemed unto them hard that He said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, ye have no life in you:” they received it foolishly, they thought of it carnally, and imagined that the Lord would cut off parts from His body, and give unto them; …But He instructed them, and saith unto them, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, but the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I have spoken unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Understand spiritually what I have said; ye are not to eat this body which ye see; nor to drink that blood which they who will crucify Me shall pour forth. I have commended unto you a certain mystery; spiritually understood, it will quicken. Although it is needful that this be visibly celebrated, yet it must be spiritually understood. 

(Philip Schaff, NPNF1, Vol. 8, St. Augustin on the Psalms, Psalm 99 (98), § 8). Here


But the apostle says, and says what is true, “To be carnally-minded is death.” The Lord gives us His flesh to eat, and yet to understand it according to the flesh is death; while yet He says of His flesh, that therein is eternal life. Therefore we ought not to understand the flesh carnally. …What means “are spirit and life”? They are to be understood spiritually. Hast thou understood spiritually? “They are spirit and life.” Hast thou understood carnally? So also “are they spirit and life,” but are not so to thee. 

(Philip Schaff, NPNF1, Vol. 7, Tractates on John, 27.1, 6). Here


Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria (c. 378 - 444 A.D.): More Here

From an exceedingly great ignorance, some of those taught by Christ the Savior were offended by this statement of his. When they heard him saying, "Truely, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you," they understood themselves to be invited to some savage cruelty, as though they were being told inhumanly to eat flesh and gulp blood and were being compelled to commit acts that are horrible even to hear.

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1864], Patrologiæ Græcæ, Tomus LXXIII, S. Cyrilli Alexandrini Archiep, In Joannis Evangelium, Lib. IV, Cap. III, (VI. 62, 63), Col. 600). Here Trans. (Ancient Christian Texts, Commentary on John, Cyril of Alexandria, Volume 1, Trans. David Maxwell, Ed. Joel C. Elowsky, Bk. 4, Ch. 3, on John 6:61-62, p. 245). Here


Alternate Translation:

From utter ignorance, certain of those who were being taught by Christ the Saviour, were offended at His words. For when they heard Him saying, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of man and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you, they supposed that they were invited to some brutish savageness, as though they were enjoined to eat flesh and to sup up blood, and were constrained to do things which are dreadful even to hear. 

(A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Commentary on the Gospel According to S. John, by St. Cyril, Vol. I, S. John I-VIII, [James Parker & Co., Oxford, 1874], Bk. 4, Ch. 3, on John 6:62, p. 434). Here


Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus (c. 393 - 458/66 A.D.): More Here

For He, we know, who spoke of his natural body as corn and bread, and, again, called Himself a vine, dignified the visible symbols by the appellation of the body and blood, not because He had changed their nature, but because to their nature He had added grace. …of what do you understand the Holy Food to be a symbol and type? Of the godhead of the Lord Christ, or of His body and His blood? …You have spoken as a lover of truth should speak, for when the Lord had taken the symbol, He did not say “this is my godhead,” but “this is my body;” and again “this is my blood” and in another place “the bread that I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world.” 

(Philip Schaff, NPNF2, Vol. 3, Theodoret, Dialogue I.—The Immutable. Orthodoxos and Eranistes.). Here


Vigilius, Bishop of Thapsus (c. 5th Century A.D.): More Here

To believe on the Son of God, therefore, this is to see, this is to hear, this is to adore, this is to taste, this is to handle Him.

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1863], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus LXII, Vigilii Tapsensis, Contra Eutychetem, Lib. IV, § XXII, Col. 133). Here Trans. (J. H. Treat, The Catholic Faith; Or, Doctrines of the Church of Rome Contrary to Scripture and the Teaching of the Primitive Church, [1888], p. 204). Here 


Note: 

This exegetical trend would continue well into the Middle Ages.


Anastasius, Abbot of Sinai [Anastasius Sinaita] (c. 7th Century A.D.): More Here

For an incorruptible nature is not cut or wounded in the side and hands or divided or put to death or eaten or at all held or handled; 

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1860], Patrologiæ Græcæ, Tomus LXXXIX, S. Anastasii Sinaitæ, Viæ Dux, Col. 297). Here Trans. (Darwell Stone, A History of the Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, Volume I, [1909], pp. 137-138). Here


Bede, the Venerable (c. 672/73 - 735 A.D.): More Here

The poor eat and shall be filled eternally, because they shall understand in the bread and wine, visibly set before them, something invisible; namely, the true body and true blood of the Lord , which are true food and drink, whereby not the belly is distended, but the mind feasted. 

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1850], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus XCIII, Bedæ Venerabilis (opus spurium), In Psalmorum Librum Exegesis., In Psalmum XXI, Col. 597). Here Trans. (J. H. Treat, The Catholic Faith; Or, Doctrines of the Church of Rome Contrary to Scripture and the Teaching of the Primitive Church, [1888], p. 195). Here


Alcuin, of York [Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus], Abbot of Marmoutier Abbey (c. 735 - 804 A.D.): More Here

Whoso will live, let him believe in Christ, let him spiritually eat the spiritual food. …Anon He explains more diffusely what is the difference between spirit and flesh, and how to will to eat Christ carnally differs from receiving Him spiritually; for He says, It is the spirit which quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing. …And now He says: 'The flesh profiteth nothing'; that is, if you wish to receive carnally what I say, the flesh profiteth nothing; if you understand My flesh is to be thus eaten as other food, as meat which is bought in the markets. It is the spirit, therefore, that quickeneth; by the spirit the flesh profiteth, which by itself profiteth not, because the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth.

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1851], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus C, B.F. Albini Seu Alcuini, Exegetica. Comment. In Joan., Lib. III, Cap. XV, Col. 834, 837, 838). Here and Here Trans. (J. H. Treat, The Catholic Faith; Or, Doctrines of the Church of Rome Contrary to Scripture and the Teaching of the Primitive Church, [1888], p. 204). Here 


Walafridus Strabo, Monk of Fulda (c. 808 - 849 A.D.): More Here

As if to say: Then ye will understand that I do not give my body in the same manner in which you think, and that this grace is not consumed by the teeth, but by a spiritual grace in giving myself to them, I convert them into My body. 

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1852], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus CXIV , Walfridi Strabi Fuld., Glossa Ordinaria. Evang. Joan., Cap. VI, Vers. 63, Col. 384). Here also Here Trans. (J. H. Treat, The Catholic Faith; Or, Doctrines of the Church of Rome Contrary to Scripture and the Teaching of the Primitive Church, [1888], pp. 204-205). Here 


Rabanus Maurus, Archbishop Of Mainz (c. 780 - 856 A.D.): More Here

Whoso eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, hath life eternal. He, therefore, hath not this life, who eateth not this bread and drinketh not this blood. For this temporal life men can have in this world without that (spiritual eating), who are not in His body through faith; but they can never have that eternal life which is promised to the Saints. But lest they should think that in this food and drink, which they take carnally, and do not understand spiritually, life eternal is thus promised in faith, that they who should take it, should die neither in soul or body, He condescended to meet this thought. For when He had said, Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh My blood hath eternal life; He immediately added and said: I will raise Him up in the last day; that he may have, in the meantime, eternal life according to the spirit. 

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1864], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus CX, B. Rabani Mauri Archiep. Mogunt., Incipit Poenitentiale, Caput XXXIII - De Eucharistia, Col. 492-493). Here Trans. (J. H. Treat, The Catholic Faith; Or, Doctrines of the Church of Rome Contrary to Scripture and the Teaching of the Primitive Church, [1888], p. 242). Here


Ratramnus, Monk of Corbie (c. ? - 869 A.D.): More Here

For this which is done in the way is to be received spiritually; for faith, which sees not, believes and spiritually feeds the soul, and rejoiceth the heart, and bestows uncorrupt and eternal life, while we attend not to what feeds the body, to what is pressed with the teeth, to what is broken into pieces, but to what is spiritually received in faith.  

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1852], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus CXXI, Ratramni Corbeiensis Monachi, De Corpore Et Sanguine Domini, Caput LXXXIX, Col. 165). Here Trans. (J. H. Treat, The Catholic Faith; Or, Doctrines of the Church of Rome Contrary to Scripture and the Teaching of the Primitive Church, [1888], p. 241). Here


John Scotus Eriugena (c. 800 - 877 A.D.): More Here

For we also, who, after the accomplishment of His Incarnation, and Passion, and Resurrection, believe in Him, and understand His mysteries, so far as it is allowed us, both spiritually immolate Him, and intellectually eat Him with the mind, not with the teeth. 

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1853], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus CXXII, Joannis Scoti, Comment. In Evangelium Secundum Joannem, Fragmentum I, Cap. I, Col. 311). Here Trans. (J. H. Treat, The Catholic Faith; Or, Doctrines of the Church of Rome Contrary to Scripture and the Teaching of the Primitive Church, [1888], p. 244). Here


Hincmar, Archbishop of Rheims (c. 806 - 882 A.D.): More Here

A spiritual understanding makes the believer another person, for 'the letter killeth, it is the spirit that vivifieth.' For His disciples who followed Him were afraid and terrified, not understanding His discourse, and thinking that our Lord Jesus Christ said I know not what hard thing, that they were to eat His flesh Whom they saw, and were to drink His blood, and they could not endure it. But when He commended His very body and His blood, He took into His hands what the faithful know, and He bore Himself in a certain sense when He said: This is My body.

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1852], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus CXIV , Hincmari Rhem. Archiep., De Cavendis Vitiis Et Virtutibus Exercendis, Cap. X, Col. 920, 921). Here Trans. (J. H. Treat, The Catholic Faith; Or, Doctrines of the Church of Rome Contrary to Scripture and the Teaching of the Primitive Church, [1888], p. 205). Here


Fulbert, Bishop of Chartres (c. 952/70 - 1028 A.D.): More Here

Unless ye shall eat, He said, the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye shall have no life in you. He seems to enjoin a crime or wicked act. It is a figure, therefore (a heretic will say[see note below]), commanding us to partake of the Lord's Passion only, 

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1880], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus CXLI, S. Fulberti Carnotensis Episcopi., Sermones Ad Populum, Sermo VIII (Fragmentum), Col. 334). Here Trans. (J. H. Treat, The Catholic Faith; Or, Doctrines of the Church of Rome Contrary to Scripture and the Teaching of the Primitive Church, [1888], pp. 245-246). Here


NOTE. — The interpretation is mystical, and observe that these two words, 'a heretic will say,' are not found in the MS. of Dionysius Petavius. 

(Minge, Ibid, [footnote (54)]). Here Trans. (Treat, Ibid, p. 246). Here More on this Here.


Theophylact, Archbishop of Ohrid (c. 1050 - 1107 A.D.): More Here

Behold the foolishness of these people. For it had been their duty to ask and to learn those things which they knew not. But they ran back, and expounded nothing spiritually, but all things as they appeared. For when they heard of flesh, they imagined that he would compel them to become devourers of flesh and blood. But forasmuch as we understand of it spiritually, we are no devourers of flesh, and moreover we are sanctified by such meat. …Forasmuch as we have oftentimes said, they expounding carnally those things which Christ spake were offended, he saith: When the things which I speak are spiritually understanded, then do they profit. For the flesh, that is to say, carnally and fleshly to expound those things, profit nothing, but is made an occasion of offence, &c. The words therefore that I speak are spirit; that is to say, they are spiritual, and life, having in them no carnal and fleshly thing, and bringing everlasting life.

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1883], Patrologiæ Græcæ, Tomus CXXIII, Theophylacti Bulgariæ Archiep., Enarratio In Evangelium Joannis, Cap. VI, Vers. 60-63, Col. 1313, 1316). Here Trans. (Thomas Becon, The Catechism of Thomas Becon, S.t.p. Chaplain to Archbishop Cranmer, Prebendary of Canterbury, &c., Ed. John Ayre, [Cambridge University Press, 1844], p. 289). Here


Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux (c. 1090 - 1153 A.D.): More Here

The flesh of Christ even at this present day is exhibited and given to us, notwithstanding spiritually, not carnally. 

(J. P. Minge, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus, [1879], Patrologiæ Latinæ, Tomus CLXXXIII, S. Bernardi, In Festo S. Martini Episcopi Sermo. De exemplis obedientiæ, § 10, Col. 495). Here Trans. (Thomas Becon, The Catechism of Thomas Becon, S.t.p. Chaplain to Archbishop Cranmer, Prebendary of Canterbury, &c., Ed. John Ayre, [Cambridge University Press, 1844],  p. 286). Here


Bibliography: 

For resources regarding the ahistorical nature of the Roman dogma of transubstantiation see Here.


Additional Articles:

1. The historical understanding that the bread remained bread. Here

2. The historical understanding that Christ is no longer physically present. Here

2. The historical understanding of signs and figures. Here


End Note:

The intention of this endeavor is not to argue whether it was Calvin, Zwingli or Luther who held the most accurate view of the Lord's supper. Rather, the purpose of the preceding work is solely to demonstrate that Rome's exegetical pontifications regarding transubstantiation and the sixth chapter of John are devoid of meaningful historiographical evidence. 


The Roman View of the Lord's Supper:

Rome (The Council of Trent):

Canon VIII.—If any one saith, that Christ, given in the Eucharist, is eaten spiritually only, and not also sacramentally and really: let him be anathema. 

(Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, Vol. II, Roman Creeds, Canones et Decreta Dogmatica Concilii Tridentini, Thirteenth Session, held October 11, 1551., Canon VIII). Here


See also:

  • Rome's definition of transubstantiation. Here 

  • Rome's dogmatic pontifications regarding transubstantiation. Here

  • The Biblical understanding of the word Eucharist. Here


The Reformed View of the Lord's Supper:

The Reformation (The Westminster Confession of Faith):

Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this sacrament, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually, receive and feed upon Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death: the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are, to their outward senses. 

(Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, Vol. III, The Westminster Confession of Faith. A.D. 1647., Ch. XXIX, § VII). Here


See also:

  • The four primary views of the Lord's supper. Here



~ Soli Deo Gloria 



Church History, Transubstantiation, and John Ch. 6

Q. Did the Patristic authors have the same exegetical understanding of the sixth chapter of John that the modern Roman Church has? Note: an ...