Pg 88 Κοσμάς Cosmas Indicopleustes, Christian Topography. Preface to the online edition

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[223] After Moses and his successor Joshua the son of Nun, and after those who became Judges in Israel, and after Saul had been invested with the sovereignty and been rejected as unworthy, God raised up to them a King virtuous, righteous, and a prophet, who composed the book of 150 psalms, when moved by the Holy Spirit. These psalms were written metrically in accordance with the metre proper to the Hebrew language, and he chanted them with melody and rhythm, accompanied with the music of different instruments, and with dances and melodies. For he himself handled the harp, and he had under him a number of choirs of the minor prophets, for so they called those who attached themselves to the prophets, and who were also frequently designated the sons of the prophets. The instruments upon which they played were various: one part of the choir had cymbals, another flutes, another drums, another trumpets, another a psaltery and harp, while another played on what are called shepherd's pipes.112 Each of the choirs had its leader;113 one was called Asaph, another Idithum, others the sons of Core, another Aetham an Israelite, another Moses, a man of God.114 When David therefore was moved by the Spirit, he would then predict something as to the captivity |185 of the people, or as to their return therefrom----or he would inculcate lessons of morality, or take Providence for his theme, or the Lord Christ Each psalm he composed in metre----and it turned upon a single subject----on which account some psalms are short and others long. On composing a psalm he would hand it over to one of the choirs which he had proved, or to the one which it fitted best, and that choir sang it first. And if again in the middle of a psalm he considered that he should make over the rest of the psalm to another choir, then that succession of the measure was called a diapsalma;115 because those singers received in succession the rest of the psalm to be sung by them. But any one who so wishes can learn about this from what is written in the Chronicles of the Kings, namely: And he sung this song by the hand of Asaph the prophet.116 But when the psalm had first been handed over in the manner stated, then each choir afterwards, both by itself and in conjunction with all the other choirs in responsive, joyous, and measured strains, some with these instruments and others with those, sang the psalm, along with dancing to the glory of God. But again we can learn with regard to this matter that David himself, when he had received the Ark from aliens, danced before it, and when reproached for so doing by his wife Melchol (Michal), said: I will play and laugh for gladness before the [224] Lord.117 For not only did he not cease doing so, but promised that he would long persist in the practice. But some, neither understanding this ordinance and the real truth of the matter, nor wishing to be instructed by those who know, have betaken themselves to allegorical interpretations, and have maintained that all the psalms are not David's, but allege that they are manifestly the |186 compositions of those who received them from David to be sung. But never did either the Apostle or the Lord himself mention them as being the psalms of any other than David.


This is that great David, the King and prophet----the man after the Lord's own heart, to whom, as to Abraham, God again correspondently gave the promises that his seed should remain for ever, and that the throne of his kingdom should likewise be perpetual. For when Abraham, having left his country and his kindred, trusted God, God correspondently promised that he would make him the father of nations, and that he would bless all the nations through him and through his seed, that is, through Christ. And to David also, since he was a king, and one with whom He was well pleased, He promised that both his seed and the throne of his kingdom should remain in perpetuity----and here again Christ is meant. This David was privileged to prophesy under inspiration of the Spirit concerning the Lord Christ, having composed four psalms which refer entirely to him, namely, psalms ii, viii, xlv and cx.118 I say so because both the Lord Christ and the Apostles appear to have taken testimonies concerning him from these four psalms; as for instance, it is related in the Acts of the Apostles that, when the whole company of the Apostles were praying to God, they said: For of a truth against Jesus whom thou hast anointed both Herod and Pontius Pilate have been gathered together in this city;119 accepting the second psalm as having reference to Christ. In like manner in the Acts themselves, Paul when he was discoursing in the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia spoke thus: And we bring you good tidings of the promise made unto the fathers, |187 how that God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children in that he raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.120 Paul here, by Christ's having been begotten, understands his resurrection, and he too has decided that the second psalm has been spoken concerning him, as all the Apostles also have affirmed. And these things have been said about his humanity, for it is about his deity that in this very psalm it has been said: Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron; as a potters vessel shalt thou dash them in pieces;121 as if at the same time making known the force and might of his divinity, and indicating the renovation or regeneration of the human race----for the potter's vessel, though dashed to pieces, provided it has not as yet been subjected to the furnace, admits of being refashioned.

In like manner also David composed the eighth psalm [225] with reference to Christ, speaking of his divine nature in the first verses of it, as the Lord Christ himself also testifies of it in the Gospel, when they strewed his way with branches and praised him with shouts of welcome, saying: Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!122 And when the Jews, finding themselves powerless to rebuke the multitudes and the children, (for it was a marvellous spectacle----to see boys, babes and sucklings, and the disciples and the multitudes joining in shouts of applause, and with loud voices praising him in song), took in hand to throw questions at him, and said to him: Hearest thou not what these are saying?123 But another evangelist says: Some from among the crowd said to him: Rebuke thy disciples;124 as if they would say----Why dost thou blaspheme, accepting a hymn which can be suitably applied to God alone? each of the parties who |188 addressed him having the same purpose in view. Unto them the Lord said----to the one party: Yea, have ye never read; Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained praise?125 clearly indicating that the eighth psalm had reference to him; and at the same time obscurely hinting that he did not take by robbery the things which belonged to God, since he was God; as the Apostle also declares: He counted it no robbery to be on an equality with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant;126 to the other party he said: Why do ye wonder at the children and the disciples? If these should hold their peace the stones will cry out.127 But these men, knowing it had so been written, and seeing in very deed babes and sucklings in an astonishing manner with loud voices chanting the hymn, they reflected that if he could make babes beyond their natural capacity sing the hymn with loud voices, he could also make inanimate things cry out ----and thus reflecting, they for very shame put a bridle on their tongues. O how amazing the power of the Lord Christ! O how amazing his loving-kindness! O how amazing his merciful condescension! How by his teaching regarding the form of a servant which he took upon him, did he deign to show mildly glimpses of his divinity, to receive accusations preferred against him by his own creatures, and to answer them, not with anger but with mildness and forbearance? O the excess of his long-suffering! as David was privileged still further to make such prophecies, for he speaks also concerning his human nature in the same psalm from the passage: What is man that thou art mindful of him?128 on to the end, unto which the divine Apostle Paul bears witness in [226] the following passages: Heb. ii, 9; ii, 5; ii, 6-8; Acts xvii, 30, 31; as does also Peter in Acts x, 42. |189 

In like manner David again spake of him in the forty-second psalm (our 43rd) in which we again find him speaking both of his divine and his human nature. To whom again the blessed Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews bears witness in these words: And of the Son he saith, thy throne, O God! is for ever and ever; the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.129 Having said this concerning his divinity, he forthwith speaks of his humanity and says: Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity, wherefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.130 For it is not his divinity which is anointed on account of his loving righteousness and hating iniquity, nor is it in any case anointed, nor has it another God [for fellow], for God exists by himself. But it is his humanity which is anointed with the oil of gladness (by which is meant, with the Holy Spirit) above its fellows----that is, above all the anointed. For his divinity has no other fellow, for God is one, the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, but the humanity of Christ has for its fellows all men, especially those who have been anointed. For by reason that the humanity of Christ was anointed above all others, since it was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, a distinction accorded to none of the others who were anointed, he used the words: Above all thy fellows. The whole psalm, moreover, he wrote with reference to Christ and the Church, speaking of the one as a royal bridegroom and of the other as a royal bride.

And in like manner also he uttered the 109th psalm (our 110th) with reference "to him, as the Lord himself testified when he addressed the Jews in these words: How then does David in the spirit call him Lord, saying: The Lord |190 said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand till I put thy enemies underneath thy feet; if David then calleth him Lord, how is he his son?131 The expression, his Lord, clearly indicates that he was God, and that other, sit thou at my right hand, is clearly suited to his humanity. For, the word sit he said to him who was not sitting. But Deity is established in its own blessedness, and honour and glory, and is neither conceded by one who is greater to one who [227] is less, nor is one who is less invited to assume it. But the humanity of Christ is, by the Deity which is inseparably united, invited132 in the words: Sit thou at my right hand, that is, in my dignity----for God being uncircum-scribed has neither right hand nor left. But he says this to his humanity, sit in my dignity----that is, in my person, as the image of God, shown to all the world. For thus also Daniel speaks: And there was given to him a kingdom and dominion,133 et cetera; and the Lord himself says: There hath been given to me power in heaven and on earth.134 Farther down again in the same psalm he saith with reference to his deity: Out of the womb before morning have I begotten thee, as if the Father were saying to the Son, with reference to his deity, Thee before all creation have I brought forth from the womb (thus showing him to be con-substantial) and not afterwards, but having thee in myself without beginning and without limit, as if from the womb, from my own substance have I begotten thee, being with me and co-existing with me. Then immediately again with reference to his humanity he says: The Lord hath sworn and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec;135 for deity does not exercise the priestly office or render worship, but is rather itself |191 worshipped and the recipient of sacred services. The Apostle also mentions this passage, saying in the Epistle to the Hebrews: Even as Aaron, so Christ also glorified not himself to be made a high priest, but he that spake unto him, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee; as he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec;136 thus extracting all that referred to the humanity of Christ.

Thus then the blessed David spoke these four psalms with reference to the Lord Christ and to him alone, for he did not confound the things of the Lord Christ with those of servants, but he spake of the things which properly belong to the Lord as the Lord's, and of the things of servants as those of servants. But whatever other passages the Apostles quoted from the psalms, they did not extract them because they were specially spoken of him, but because they suited their argument. For example: They parted my garments among them,137 and again: They gave me gall for my meat,138 and: I have set the Lord always before me,139 and: Thou hast ascended on high leading captivity captive;140 and other such like passages they extracted, when they suited the argument they had in hand. The blessed Paul in like manner did this, transferring the passage of Moses in Deuteronomy to his own argument which it suited: Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down) or, Who shall descend into the abyss? (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead),141 thus accommodating the passage to suit the requirements of his argument. For the remaining parts of the psalms from which they [228] quoted are not applicable to the Lord Christ. For instance, the passage: They parted my garments among them, occurs |192 in the 21st (our 22nd) psalm. Is that psalm then speaking of him where it says: Far from my safety, the words of my transgressions? 142 No----that is out of harmony and at variance with divine scripture, and to cite such a passage as referring to Christ would be clear madness. As regards however those four psalms which speak concerning the Lord Christ, each of them is entirely throughout applicable to Him. For, as we have just observed, the blessed David discriminated what was said with reference to the Lord Christ from what was said with reference to any one else. For even the Saviour himself manifestly did this when the Jews accused him, saying: Why workest thou on the Sabbath day? and he replied to them saying: My Father worketh even until now.143 And when they accused his disciples, he said: Know ye not what David did when he was an-hungered and they that were with him, how he entered into the house of God and did eat the shew-bread, which it ivas not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but for the priests alone?144 thus expressly contradistinguishing145 himself from the Father, as a son relatively to his father, and his disciples from the prophets, or, at any rate, the priests, as servants relatively to servants. When the Lord was transfigured on the mountain before Peter and James and John in great glory, and Moses and Elias talked with Him, the disciples, witnessing the exceeding glory, were thrown into amazement and rapturous delight, and desire and ardent longing |193 for that wondrous beauty. But Peter, after a manner identifying himself with the others in their common astonishment at the spectacle, answered and said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here,146 as if he said, Lo! beautiful is the sight, and the place, the splendour and the transcendent glory. Wherefore should we go down hence, putting ourselves again into the hands of those who wish to plot against us and to oppress us, while we have to remove from place to place, and are persecuted? If thou wishest therefore, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.146 And because Peter considered Moses and Elias to be equal in honour to the Lord, seeing that with reference to their equality he reckoned the number of the tabernacles, assigning one to each, the evangelist Luke notes this and in these terms: Not knowing what he said,147 that is, Peter not knowing what he said with reference to the Lord. Straightway moreover a cloud overshadowed them, and separated Moses and Elias from them and hid them from the disciples, and as for Jesus, who was left alone in the midst, the Father pointed out and showed him to the disciples saying: This is my son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him.148 Ye are mistaken, he says, in putting Him on an equality with the others, for He is my Son. They, like yourselves, are servants. Him therefore as Lord and as my Son, hear [229] ye in all things.

Thus then the prophet David also, being moved by the Holy Ghost, did not indiscriminately confound what had an underlying reference to the Lord with what had an underlying reference to servants, but those four psalms which had a special reference to the Lord he was privileged to compose with prophetic foresight; while all the other psalms he gave out to the whole world for useful |194 instruction with regard to other persons or things or histories, in order that they might be held fast and well remembered by all as calculated to delight. And this is abundantly clear that, in all the churches of the world, we shall find that the Psalms of David are sung, and that they are on the lips of nearly all men, whether small or great, and are more studied and remembered than the other prophets and scriptures. But bringing this subject also to an end, let us pass on to the great Elias and supply a worthy delineation of him also. Here then you see him thus delineated.


This is Elijah the first of men who showed to men the path to heaven----the first of men who showed to angels and to men the one way----who though his lot was to be an inhabitant of earth, all at once penetrated into heaven----who though a mortal yet vies even with the immortals----who walked upon the earth, and yet, as a spirit, treads with the angels the paths of heaven; who with his mantle of sheep-skin imparted to his disciple Elisha a double share of his own gifts----a man who has lived for ages and is from old age exempt----who is reserved to be leader against Antichrist, standing up against him and convicting him of deception and overweening pride----who from the error into which he has seduced them, leads back all men to God at the consummation of the age. This is he who is deemed worthy to be the fore-runner of the second and glorious advent of the Lord Christ. O the wondrous measure of his services, in which he competes with the angels! Glory to God who graciously bestows these gifts upon men. Amen! |195 


This is the great Elijah, who having been taken up as into heaven shows to men and angels how highly human nature has been honoured, and by means of him God has again laid the foundations of a good hope, that it is possible for men, if God will, to ascend into heaven. For it is a great and wondrous thing to see this man, bridle in hand, riding his fiery chariot as he sweeps the fields of air. Oh! what wondrous kindness on his [230] part who has bestowed the honour. Let those be ashamed of themselves who do not extol the mighty dispensation of God----who do not praise and admire how wisely and how dispassionately God, on the one hand, awards to men their punishments, and on the other, preserves the honour of man who was made in his image. Glory and nraise to him for ever and ever, Amen!

The Prophet Hosea.

This is Hosea, the first of the twelve prophets who was privileged to speak concerning the Lord Christ in these terms: When they are afflicted, let them rise early to seek me saying, Come and let us return unto the Lord our God, for he hath smitten us and he will heal us; he that hath struck us will bind us up. After two days will he heal us. On the third day we shall be raised up again and we shall live! 149 With reference to this passage the Apostle Paul says to the Corinthians: For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.150 For that he was buried, and that he was raised up on the third day according to the scriptures, is not to be found anywhere else. The prophet still further says what is applicable to Christ: My flesh is of them; and again he says: Ephraim compasseth me about with falsehood, and the house of Israel and Judah with ungodliness. Now God knoweth them, and there shall be called a holy people of God, from the tribe,151 |196 through him who appeared out of it, namely, the Lord Christ according to the flesh----the prophet calling Judah the holy people of God. Yet again the same prophet says: From the power of the grave will I ransom them. Where is thy victory, O death! Where is thy sting, O grave!152----a passage which the Apostle has used concerning the resurrection.


This prophet also clearly predicted the resurrection on the third day, saying: On the third day we shall rise up. In like manner also he foretold the destruction of death and the vengeance upon the sting of the grave. How should we not be lost in astonishment at the ineffable benevolence of God, which is at all times making provision for the human race. Glory to him for his unspeakable gift!

The Prophet Joel.

This is Joel the second in order who was privileged to prophesy concerning the mystery of the Lord Christ, for he speaks thus (chap. ii, 28-32): And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; [231] and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. A nd I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered-----a passage which the blessed Peter mentions in the Acts of the Apostles as having been fulfilled when the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles occurred on the day of Pentecost. |197 


This prophet also foretold the wonderful things that took place in the time of the Lord Christ through the Holy Ghost, such as prophesyings, dreams and visions under his influence; likewise the day of the great, terrible, and glorious advent of the Lord Christ. For examples we may point to the revelations made, in different ways, to Joseph and to the Wise Men in sleep, as the Gospels relate; and to the revelation made by the Holy Ghost through visions to Symeon (Simeon) who took up the Lord Christ in his arms. Anna again the daughter of Phanuel gave thanks to the Lord because of him. There were also those who prophesied, such as Agabus and the daughters of Philip. Arid the women who were at the Passion of the Lord saw visions of angels, as did also the disciples. And why need I speak of the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles; yea, even upon Cornelius and upon all the faithful of whom the Apostle writes (I Cor. xii, 8-14): For to one is given the word of wisdom; to another faith in the same spirit; to another gifts of healings in the same spirit; to another workings of miracles; to another prophecy, and to another discernings of spirits, and to another divers kinds of tongues, and to another interpretation of tongues; but all these worketh the one and the same spirit, dividing to each one severally even as he will! Glory to God who through all the prophets foretold these things, glory for ever and ever, Amen.

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