The Sacred Writings of St. John of Damascus
„Concerning the Orthodox Faith“, the third book of the „Fountain of Wisdom“, is the most important of John Damascene’s writings and one of the most notable works of Christian antiquity. Its authority has always been great among the theologians of the East and West. Here, again, the author modestly disavows any claim of originality – any purpose to essay a new exposition of doctrinal truth. He assigns himself the less pretentious task of collecting in a single work the opinions of the ancient writers scattered through many volumes, and of systematizing and connecting them in a logical whole. It is no small credit to John of Damascus that he was able to give to the Church in the eighth century its first summary of connected theological opinions. At the command of Eugenius III it was rendered into Latin by Burgundio of Pisa, in 1150, shortly before Peter Lombard’s „Book of Sentences“ appeared. This translation was used by Peter Lombard and St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as by other theologians, till the Humanists rejected it for a more elegant one. The author follows the same order as does Theodoret of Cyrus in his „Epitome of Christian Doctrine“. But, while he imitates the general plan of Theodoret, he does not make use of his method. He quotes, not only form the pages of Holy Writ, but also from the writings of the Fathers. As a result, his work is an inexhaustible thesaurus of tradition which became the standard for the great Scholastics who followed. In particular, he draws generously from Gregory of Nazianzus, whose works he seems to have absorbed, from Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril of Alexandria, Leo the Great, Athanasius, John Chrysostum, and Epiphanius. The work is divided into four books.
The Sacred Writings of St. John of Damascus.
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Biography of St. John of Damascus (from wikipedia)
Saint John of Damascus, also known as John Damascene, was a Syrian monk and priest. Born and raised in Damascus, he died at his monastery, Mar Saba, near Jerusalem.
A polymath whose fields of interest and contribution included law, theology, philosophy, and music, he is said by some sources to have served as a Chief Administrator to the Muslim caliph of Damascus before his ordination. He wrote works expounding the Christian faith, and composed hymns which are still used both liturgically in Eastern Christian practice throughout the world as well as in western Lutheranism at Easter. He is one of the Fathers of the Eastern Orthodox Church and is best known for his strong defence of icons. The Catholic Church regards him as a Doctor of the Church, often referred to as the Doctor of the Assumption due to his writings on the Assumption of Mary.
The most common source of information for the life of John of Damascus is a work attributed to one John of Jerusalem, identified therein as the Patriarch of Jerusalem. This is an excerpted translation into Greek of an earlier Arabic text. The Arabic original contains a prologue not found in most other translations, and was written by an Arab monk, Michael. Michael explained that he decided to write his biography in 1084 because none was available in his day. However, the main Arabic text seems to have been written by an earlier author sometime between the early 9th and late 10th centuries AD. Written from a hagiographical point of view and prone to exaggeration and some legendary details, it is not the best historical source for his life, but is widely reproduced and considered to contain elements of some value. The hagiographic novel Barlaam and Josaphat, traditionally attributed to John, is in fact a work of the 10th century.
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