Archbishop’s paper approved for publication

Published 10:03 am Friday, August 12, 2016


The Most Reverend Michael B. Simmons, B.A., M.Div., S.T.M., J.W.F., O.S.F., O.A.C., Ph.D., Distinguished Research Professor, Auburn University Montgomery, Rector, Alpha and Omega parish, Luverne and Archbishop of the Anglican Church of the Americas, has been notified that the paper he read at the XVI International Conference on Patristics, University of Oxford (U.K.), last August has been approved for publication.

The paper, “Exegesis and Hermeneutics in Theophany, Book 4 of Eusebius of Caesarea: The Contemporary Fulfilment of Christ’s Prophecies,” was peer-reviewed by two anonymous experts in the field and recommended for publication in the prestigious journal Studia Patristica, Peeters Press, Leuven, Belgium.

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Eusebius was a Bishop of the early church who lived through the Great Persecution launched by the Roman emperor Diocletian in February A.D. 303. He also became what historical theologians describe as the first “Court Theologian” under Constantine the Great who became the first Christian emperor of the Roman Empire.

The original Greek text of the Theophany is extant only in 17 fragments, but the entire work was translated in the year A.D. 411 into Classical Syriac, a Semitic language related to the Aramaic spoken by Jesus of Nazareth. In the paper Simmons analyzes texts in Hellenistic Greek, Classical Syriac and Classical Latin to make a comparative philological study of how biblical prophecies during one of the most revolutionary periods in the history of Christianity were being applied to contemporary events of the 330s A.D.

In accomplishing this, Simmons also compared the philological studies of Hugo Gressmann who published a critical German translation of the Syriac translation in 1903; and the English translation of Samuel Lee, Anglican Canon and Regius Professor of Hebrew, University of Cambridge, during the early 18th century. The paper will be published in 2017.

Simmons’ essay, “Time, History and Eternity in the Theophany of Eusebius of Caesarea,” has recently been published in Pier F. Beatrice and Bernard Pouderon, eds., Pascha Nostrum Christus (Paris: Beauchesne) which is a Festschrift honoring the 80th birthday of Professor Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the Preacher to the Vatican Household under Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis.

In related matters, Simmons read a paper in May at the annual meeting of the North American Patristics Society in Chicago titled, “Eusebius and Porphyry: The Case of Theophany, Book V,” in which he argued that the historical contextualization of numerous texts in the latter provide indisputable evidence that Eusebius is rebutting the anti-Christian works of Porphyry of Tyre, a Neoplatonic philosopher who studied under Plotinus in Rome.

The conference was attended by Patristics scholars from the U.S.A., Canada and Europe. The paper is being prepared for publication sometime in 2017. Also, Professor Toda Satoshi of Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan, who is a specialist in Syriac studies and an Eusebian scholar with publications related to the Theophany, has published a very favorable review of Simmons’ recent book, “Universal Salvation. Porphyry of Tyre and the Pagan-Christian Debate in Late Antiquity” (Oxford University Press, 2015) in the prestigious “Bryn Mawr Classical Review.”

In the review Prof. Satoshi describes Simmons’ book as “an intellectual tour de force” which is highly recommended for ancient historians and classicists. Prof. David N. Greenwood of the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) said in “The Classical Review”, “Simmons demonstrates command of sources in Greek, Latin and Syriac…for those interested in Porphyry’s response to Christianity, this will likely be the volume of choice for some considerable time.”

Simmons is an internationally-known scholar who has published numerous articles, papers and essays in the most prestigious university presses in the world including Oxford, Cambridge, Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame.