“What is Man that You remember Him?”: Eusebius of Caesarea, Commentary on Psalm 8 — A Translation

September 10, 2020

Eusebius’s Commentary on Psalms has never been fully translated, and understandably so, for it is a massive work. This is my attempt to start chipping away at making some of it available in English.

ΨΑΛΜΟΣ ΤΩ ΔΑΥΙΔ Ηʹ.
Εἰς τὸ τέλος ὑπὲρ τῶν ληνῶν.
Psalm 8, by David.
For the end, concerning the winepresses.
Τὰ ἐπὶ τῇ συντελείᾳ νῦν τῶν αἰώνων προφητευόμενα τὴν ἐπιγραφὴν, εἰς τὸ τέλος, ἐποίησεν. Ὑπὲρ δὲ τῶν ληνῶν διὰ τὰς ἐν πάσῃ τῇ γῇ συστάσας Ἐκκλησίας, ἀλληγορίας νόμῳ λεγομένας ληνούς. Ὅτε μὲν εἷς ἦν λαός· ἦν δὲ οὗτος Ἰσραὴλ, ᾧ ἐχρημάτιζε καὶ πύργος ὁ παρὰ τούτοις νεὼς, καὶ προλήνιον τὸ πρὸ τοῦ ναοῦ θυσιαστήριον κατὰ τὴν Ἡσαΐου φωνήν. Τὸ δὲ πλῆθος νυνὶ τῶν ληνῶν τὰ πολλὰ μηνύει θυσιαστήρια, ταῖς κατὰ μέρος ἐκκλησίαις συνδιαιρούμενα. Διὸ καὶ ἐν πγʹ ψαλμῷ τὸν αὐτὸν ἐπιγραφέντι [M23.128] τρόπον πολλὰ θυσιαστήρια καὶ σκηνώματα θεσπίζονται καὶ αὐλαὶ, κατὰ τὸ, Ὡς ἀγαπητὰ τὰ σκηνώματά σου, Κύριε τῶν δυνάμεων! ἐπιποθεῖ καὶ ἐκλείπει ψυχή μου εἰς τὰς αὐλὰς τοῦ Κυρίου· μεθ’ ἃ ἐπάγει· Τὰ θυσιαστήριά σου, Κύριε τῶν δυνάμεων.He uses the title “for the end” here in reference to things prophesied about the consummation of the ages, and “concerning the winepresses” on account of the Churches that are existing in the whole earth, which are being referred to as “winepresses” by the law of allegory. At that time there was one people, and this was Israel, to whom belonged the temple that they referred to as “tower,” and the “winepress” as the altar before the temple, according to the expression of Isaiah (Isa 5.2). The plural here of “winepresses” indicates the many altars which are divided together according to the portion of the churches. Wherefore also in the 83rd Psalm which bears the same superscription [M23.128], many “altars,” “dwellings,” and “courts” are predicted, according to, How lovely are your dwellings, O Lord of powers! My soul yearns after and faints for the courts of the Lord. After which he asserts, Your altars, O Lord of powers (Ps 83.4).
Κύριε ὁ Κύριος ἡμῶν, ὡς θαυμαστὸν τὸ ὄνομά σου ἐν πάσῃ τῇ γῇ! Ὅτι ἐπήρθη ἡ μεγαλοπρέπειά σου ὑπεράνω τῶν οὐρανῶν. Ἐκ στόματος νηπίων καὶ θηλαζόντων κατηρτίσω αἶνον ἕνεκα τῶν ἐχθρῶν σου, τοῦ καταλῦσαι ἐχθρὸν καὶ ἐκδικητήν. Οὐ πάλαι θαυμαστὸν ἐν πάσῃ τῇ γῇ· μετὰ δὲ τὴν τοῦ Σωτῆρος παρουσίαν ἐγένετο, ὅτε καὶ συναγωγὴ λαῶν ἐκύκλωσεν αὐτόν· συμφώνως τῷ νῦν ῥηθέντι· Ἐκ στόματος νηπίων, καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς. Τὴν γὰρ νέαν καὶ καινὴν συναγωγὴν μετὰ τὴν εἰς ὕψος ἀνάληψιν αὐτοῦ ἐκ νηπίων διδάσκει συνεστάναι ψυχῶν διὰ τὴν ἀναγέννησιν τὴν ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ πανταχοῦ συστᾶσαν τῆς οἰκουμένης μετὰ τὴν ἀνάληψιν τὴν αὐτοῦ. Διὸ καὶ βοώντων αὐτῷ τῶν παίδων, Ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις, εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου, ἀγανακτοῦσί φησιν· Οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε, ὅτι Ἐκ στόματος νηπίων καὶ θηλαζόντων κατηρτίσω αἶνον; καὶ μήποτε τό· Ἕνεκα τῶν ἐχθρῶν σου. Καὶ διὰ τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς λέγεται καὶ Φαρισαίους· ἐχθρὸς καὶ ἐκδικητὴς ὁ λέων εἰρημένος ἐν τῷ πρὸ τούτου ψαλμῷ. Τὸ οὖν μέγιστον θαῦμα, ὅτι ὁ τοσοῦτος, ἐχθρός τε καὶ λέων, ὁ ἄρχων τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, διὰ νηπίων καὶ θηλαζόντων καθῄρηται· μεθ’ ὃ πανταχοῦ Θεὸς ἐν πᾶσι θαυμάζεται. Ἐχθρὸς δὲ ὢν ἐνεδρεύει πρὸς ἁμαρτίαν ὑποσκελίζων, καὶ τοὺς ἡμαρτηκότας μετὰ ταῦτα κολάζει.O Lord, our Lord, how marvelous is your name in all the earth! For Your magnificence is exalted high above the heavens. From the mouth of infants and nurslings you have prepared praise for the sake of your enemies, to put down the enemy and avenger. (vv. 2-3) The marvel in all the earth did not happen of old, but rather after the appearing of the Savior, when indeed “a congregation of peoples” [συναγωγὴ λαῶν] surrounded him (Ps 7.8), which is in harmony with what was said here, From the mouth of babes, etc. For he teaches that after his ascension on high the fresh and new congregation is made to consist of souls that are babes because of the regeneration, which [congregation] in Christ consists of the whole inhabited world after his ascension. Wherefore when children cry out to him, Hosanna in the highest, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, he says to those who are irritated, Have you never read that ‘From the mouth of infants and nurslings you have prepared praise’? (Matt 21.9, 15-16). And perhaps it says For the sake of your enemies on account of the chief priests and Pharisees; enemy and avenger is the “lion” mentioned in the psalm before this one (Ps 7.3). The great marvel, then, is that such a thing, an enemy and lion, who rules over this age, has been deposed through infants and nurslings. Accordingly God is marveled at by all everywhere. But he who is an enemy lies in wait to trip [them] up for sin, and he punishes those who have sinned according to these things.
Καὶ πῶς ἐν πάσῃ τῇ γῇ τὸ πάλαι μηδενὶ γινωσκόμενον ὄνομα τοῦ Κυρίου καὶ θαυμαστὸν κατέστη, διασαφεῖ λέγων ἑξῆς· Ὅτι ἐπήρθη μεγαλοπρέπειά σου ὑπεράνω τῶν οὐρανῶν· καὶ τὸ ἐπιλεγόμενον δὲ τρίτον ἐν τῷ, Ἐκ στόματος νηπίων καὶ θηλαζόντων κατηρτίσω αἶνον, ἔχοι ἂν συμφωνίαν πρὸς τό· Συναγωγὴ λαῶν κυκλώσει σε. Τὸ γὰρ νέαν καὶ καινὴν συναγωγὴν τῶν κυκλούντων τὸν Θεὸν μετὰ τὴν εἰς ὕψος ἀνάληψιν αὐτοῦ ἐκ νηπίων ψυχῆς καὶ θηλαζόντων συνεστάναι διδάσκει· οὕτω καλῶν τοὺς ἀναγεννωμένους ἐν Χριστῷ λαούς. Εἰς ὕψος γὰρ ἀναβὰς μετὰ τὴν εἰς οὐρανὸν κάθοδον, ὁ διὰ τῆς προφητείας παριστώμενος Κύριος κατηρτίσατο ἑαυτῷ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς τὴν τῶν λαῶν συναγωγὴν, ἐκ νηπίων καὶ θηλαζόντων αὐτὴν συστησάμενος.And he explains how the name of the Lord, which of old was made known to no one, is established as marvelous in all the earth, when he says next, For Your magnificence is exalted high above the heavens, and the third thing that is said, From the mouth of infants and nurslings you have prepared praise, might have agreement with, A congregation of peoples will surround you (Ps 7.8). For he teaches that the fresh and new congregation of those who surround God after his ascension consists of infants and nurslings in soul, referring in this same way to those “peoples” who are born again in Christ. For after ascending to the heights in accordance with [His] return to heaven, the Lord who is presented through the prophecy prepared for himself on the earth the congregation of peoples, making it to consist of infants and nurslings.
Ὅτι ὄψομαι τοὺς οὐρανοὺς ἔργα τῶν δακτύλων σου, σελήνην καὶ ἀστέρας σὺ ἐθεμελίωσας. Τί ἐστιν ἄνθρωπος, ὅτι μιμνήσκῃ αὐτοῦ; υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου, ὅτι ἐπισκέπτῃ αὐτόν; Εἰ καὶ θαυμαστά σου, φησὶ, δημιουργήματα οὐρανὸς καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ ἅπερ ἥδρασας δι’ ὅλου τοῦ αἰῶνος ἑστάναι· ἔστησε [23.129] γὰρ αὐτὰ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, καθά φησιν ἐν ἑτέροις, καὶ πρόσταγμα ἔθετο, καὶ οὐ παρελεύσεται· οὐ μήν σοι μεγάλα πρὸς ὕπαρξιν, ἀλλὰ βραχείας δυνάμεως δακτύλοις ἀναλογούσης· οὕτω γὰρ τὰς μικρὰς δυνάμεις ἐκάλεσε τοῦ Θεοῦ. Καὶ ταῦτα μὲν ἡδρασμένα μένει· ἄνθρωπον δὲ τὸν καθ’ ἕνα παρερχόμενον ἐκπέπληγμαι θεωρῶν, ὅπως καὶ μέμνησαι τούτου, καὶ προνοῇ· ὅπερ οὐκ ἂν ὑπῆρξεν εἰ μικρόν τι καὶ φθαρτὸν ἐτύγχανε ζῶον· οὕτω δὲ τίμιον ὡς ἐκ στόματος νηπίων καὶ θηλαζόντων ὕμνον αὐτῷ κατηρτίσθαι. Εἰ καὶ σμικρὸς τοίνυν κατὰ τὸ σῶμα· ἀλλὰ κατὰ ψυχὴν τὴν κατ’ εἰκόνα τετίμηται· ὥστε διὰ τούτου θαυμαστόν σου καταστῆναι τὸ ὄνομα ἐν πάσῃ τῇ γῇ.For I see the heavens, the works of your fingers, moon and stars which you have founded. What is man that you remember him? Or the son of man that you look over him? (vv. 4-5). “Even though your creations are wonderous,” he says, “heaven and the things in it which you founded to stand firm through the whole age”—for as he says in another passage he set [M23.129] these things unto the age, and he established an ordinance, and it will not pass away (Ps 148.6)—“yet for you these are not great things of substance, but involve a very little power which is comparable with fingers,” for this is how he refers to the “lesser” powers of God. “Indeed, these things [you] set in place remain, yet I am struck as I contemplate mankind which passes away one by one [καθ’ ἕνα], how you nevertheless remember him, and provide [for him].” This would not be the case if he were [merely] some small and corrupt creature.[1] And so an honorable hymn is prepared for Him as though from the mouth of babes and nurslings! Even though he is minute in body, yet he is esteemed in soul because it is according the Image, so that through him your marvelous name might be made known in all the earth.
Ἀποθαυμάζει τὸ θεῖον Πνεῦμα καὶ εὔχεται τοῦ θαυμασμοῦ λέγων· Οὐρανοὺς μὲν ὁρῶ τοὺς τὸν σύμπαντα κόσμον περιέχοντας· ὁρῶ δὲ καὶ σελήνην καὶ ἄστρα, καὶ ταῦτα πάντα γνωρίζω τῇ φύσει ὄντα μεγάλα καὶ θαυμαστὰ τῆς ὅλης δημιουργίας μέρη· ἀλλ’ ὅμως, καίπερ ὄντα τοιαῦτα, οἶδα, ὅτι βραχύτατα τῶν σῶν ἔργων τυγχάνει. Ἔργα γοῦν ἐστι ταῦτα τῶν σῶν δακτύλων· οὐχὶ δὲ χειρῶν, οὐδὲ μεγάλης τινὸς δυνάμεως· ἀλλ’, ὡς ἂν εἴποι τις, ἄκρων δακτύλων, τροπικῶς οὕτως τῶν δυνάμεων ὀνομαζομένων τοῦ Θεοῦ, δι’ ὧν τὰ αἰσθητὰ καὶ ὁρώμενα δημιουργήματα συνεστήσατο.He marvels greatly at the divine Spirit and prays about the marvel, saying, I see the heavens which includes the whole cosmos; I see the moon and stars, and I recognize all these things by nature as being great and marvelous parts of the whole creation. But at the same time, even with such things as these, I know that they are the least of your works, for they are the works of your fingers, not “of your hands,” nor of any great power, but rather, as someone might say, [they are the works of] “fingers,” with the powers of God that are “extremities” thus being named figuratively, through which [powers] he makes to subsist the sensible and visible creations.
Ἠλάττωσας αὐτὸν βραχύ τι παρἀγγέλους, δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφάνωσας αὐτόν. Καὶ μὴν ἑτέρως δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἐστεφάνωσεν ὁ Θεὸς, ἐπὶ μόνου τοῦ ἀνθρώπου φήσας· Ποιήσωμεν ἄνθρωπον κατεἰκόνα ἡμετέραν καὶ καθὁμοίωσιν, καὶ διαφόρως τοῖς ἁγίοις ἀνθρώποις ἐπιφανεὶς, καὶ Πνεύματος ἁγίου, καὶ δυνάμεως οὐρανίου μεταδοὺς, ὡς τὸ μέλλον εἰδέναι, καὶ νόσους ἐλαύνειν, καὶ νεκροὺς ἀνιστᾷν· καὶ τὸ μέγιστον ἁπάντων, τῇ τοῦ Μονογενοῦς τιμήσας αὐτὸν παρουσίᾳ.You have lowered him for a little while in relationship to the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor (v. 6). Quite different [than the sensible creation], God indeed crowned man with glory and honor, when he said about man alone, Let us make a man according to our image and likeness (Gen 1.26), and you appeared in various ways to holy men, imparting [to them] the Holy Spirit and heavenly power, so that they might see the future, and heal diseases, and raise the dead. And most marvelous of all, you honored him with the coming of the Only-Begotten.
Δόξῃ καὶ τιμῇ ἐστεφάνωσας αὐτὸν, καὶ κατέστησας αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὰ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν σου. Πάντα ὑπέταξας ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ, πρόβατα καὶ βόας πάσας, ἔτι δὲ καὶ τὰ κτήνη τοῦ πεδίου, τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, καὶ τοὺς ἰχθύας τῆς θαλάσσης, τὰ διαπορευόμενα τρίβους θαλασσῶν. Τῇ γὰρ λογικῇ φύσει, ὡς ἂν ὡμοιωμένῃ Θεῷ, τὴν κατὰ πάντων ἀρχὴν καὶ δύναμιν ἐδωρήσατο. Ὁ ἄνθρωπος, τῆς θεϊκῆς εἰκόνος λαβὼν, ὡς βασιλεὺς ἁπάντων ἐστὶν ὁ Θεὸς, οὕτως ἄρχων κατέστη τῶν ἐπὶ γῆς. Εἰ δὲ καθολικῶς εἴρηται· Καὶ κατέστησας αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὰ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν σου· λέγει δὲ ἀλλαχοῦ· Καὶ τὰ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν σου εἰσὶν οἱ οὐρανοὶ, δῆλον ὡς καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς οὐρανοὺς κατέστησεν αὐτόν. Καὶ μήποτε ἀποῤῥήτως τὴν ἐν οὐρανῷ διατριβὴν σημαίνει, τῶν ἀπὸ γῆς ἐκεῖσε μεθισταμένων, ὅτε μέλλουσι βασιλείαν κληρονομεῖν οὐρανῶν ὡς ἐπήγγελται. Λέγει δὲ ὁ Παῦλος· Κληρονόμοι μὲν Θεοῦ, συγκληρονόμοι δὲ Χριστοῦ. Οὕτω καὶ τὸ, Πάντα ὑπέταξεν ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ, νοητέον νῦν μὲν τὰ ζῶα· ἐπειδὴ δὲ καὶ βίος [23.132] ἰσάγγελος ἀπόκειται τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἐν οὐρανῷ, ἐκεῖ καταστὰς ἐπὶ τὰ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν αὐτοῦ, θεωρὸς οὐρανῶν ἔσται καὶ τῶν ἐν αὐτοῖς. Ὁ δὲ μακάριος Παῦλος καὶ τοῦτο περὶ τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἐξέλαβεν, ἐν αἰῶνι τῷ μέλλοντι γενησόμενον. Διό φησι πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ Πατήρ· Κάθου ἐκ δεξιῶν μου, ἕως ἂν θῶ τοὺς ἐχθρούς σου ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν σου.You crowned him with glory and honor, and you set him over the works of your hands. You have subjected all things under his feet, all sheep and cattle, and beasts of the field as well, the birds of heaven, and the fish of the sea, things which go about in the courses of the seas (vv. 6b-9) . For he bestowed the rule and power over all things to the rational nature [of mankind], since it has been made like unto God. The man, having received the divine image, is thus established as ruler on earth in the same way that God is the king of all. And if it is said universally, And you have set him over the works of your hands, and he also says elsewhere, And the heavens are the works of your hands (Ps 101.26), then it is clear that he also set him over the heavens. Perhaps he also signifies ineffably the manner of life in heaven [τὴν ἐν οὐρανῷ διατριβὴν], of those who are translated there from earth, when they come to inherit the kingdom of heaven as it was announced. Paul says, Heirs of God, and co-heirs of Christ (Rom 8.17). Thus one must understand, He subjected all things under his feet as [involving] both living creatures in the present, and since the life [M23.132] equal to angels [βίος ἰσάγγελος] is reserved for men in heaven (cf. Lk 20.36), after he sets [them] over the works of his hands there, he will be a spectator of heaven and those who are in them. The blessed Paul also took this passage as about the Savior, as what would happen in the age to come: Wherefore the Father says to him, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet (Ps 109.1; Heb 1.13).
Translation by Justin Gohl

[1] I am not completely confident of how to render this phrase: ὅπερ οὐκ ἂν ὑπῆρξεν εἰ μικρόν τι καὶ φθαρτὸν ἐτύγχανε ζῶον·

One Response to ““What is Man that You remember Him?”: Eusebius of Caesarea, Commentary on Psalm 8 — A Translation”

  1. […] “What is Man that You remember Him?”: Eusebius of Caesarea, Commentary on Psalm 8 — A Transla… […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: