NON-CANONICAL EPISTLES AND RELATED WRITINGS
indeed of such unchastity as is never met with among the Gentiles, that one lives with his father’s wife. And ye are yet puffed up, and do not rather mourn, that such an evil-doer may be removed from your midst. I am indeed absent in the body, but in the spirit am among you and already, as if I were present, I have passed sentence of on the evil-doer: to hand over that man to Satan in the name of Christ.”24 O invention of the devil, sport for those about to perish! Oh poison instead of honey, to take a father’s wife in the same way as any bride dedicated to Christ whom in thine heart thou hast craved for! O man, thou hast lent no ear to the wis dom that says to thee: the lust of the ascetic dishonors the virgin.25 So also did the ﬁrst created man fall because of a virgin: when he saw a woman giving him a smile, he fell. His senses became tied to a craving which he had never known before, assuredly he had not experienced earlier its ﬂavour and the sweetness that proved his downfall. O man who fearest not the face of this criminal person, pass ing by whom many have lost their lives. The disciple of the Lord, Judas Jacobi, brings that to our remembrance when he says: “Beloved, I would bring to your remembrance, though ye know, what happened to them who were oppressed by the corruption of the ﬂesh, as for in stance the genuine persons (veraces) who did not preserve their dignity, but aban doned their heavenly abode and, enticed by lust, went to the daughters of men to dwell with them.”26 Today also they forfeit the angelic character who crave to dwell with strange daughters, according to the word of the Lord who proclaimed by Isaiah: “Woe unto you who join house to house and add ﬁeld to ﬁeld that they may draw nigh one another.”27 And in Micah it is said:
“Bewail the house which you have pulled on yourselves and endure of yourselves the punishment of indignation.”28 Does the Lord mean perhaps the house or the ﬁeld of this time when he warns us against pressing them together? (No) rather it is a matter here of warnings in reference to holiness, in which the sepa ration of man and woman is ordered. So the Lord also admonishes us through Jer emiah, saying, “It is an excellent thing for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth; he will sit alone when his hope is real; he will keep quiet and have patience.”29 “To bear the yoke” is then to observe God’s order. And in conclusion the Lord says: “Take my yoke upon you.”30 And further, “in his youth” means in his hope. Thus he has commanded that salvation be pre served in lonely celibacy, so that each one of you may remain as a lonely tower ac cording to the saying of the Evangelist that house should not remain upon house, but should come down at once. Why then, O man, dost thou make haste to build you a ruin upon a strange house and thus to occasion not only your own destruction but also that of the bride of Christ who is united to you? And also if thou art free from unchas tity, already thou committest a sin in keeping up connections with women; for ﬁnally, thus says the Lord in the Gospel: “He who looks upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”31 On this ac count a man must live for God sincerely and free from all lust. In Daniel also we read: “As these false old men, who had craved for the beauty of Susanna, were unable to practise any unchastity with her, they slandered her. Susanna was 24
1 Cor 5:1ff. 5f.) 27Isa 5:8. 30 Matt 11:29.
Ecclus 20:4? Mic 1:11 (?) 31 Matt 5:28. 28
Gen 6:2 (cf. Jud. 1: Lam 3:27–28.