EPISTOLA ANNE AD SENECAM

The Epistola Anne ad Senecam de superbia et idolis is a brief 4th-c. Latin treatise against idolatry; Jewish or Christian, the end mutilated, it is preserved in the Cologne MS, Erzbischfliche Dizesan- und Dombibliothek, MS Dom 17 fol. 99r-102r first quarter 9th c.. It is rich in both OT and Senecan reminisces, esp. regarding the polemic against idols and against a distorted way of conceiving the deity, which may have contributed to the selection of the title which is probably not authentic and was influenced by the collection of letters attributed to Seneca and St. Paul that circulated in the 4th c. Seneca was not pro-Jewish, and the only Annas who was his contemporary was the high priest of 62, who was disliked, by Christians because he encouraged the assassination of James the Less, and was the son of the Annas who, with Caiaphas, sent Jesus Christ to his death. Similarly Annas was disliked by the Romans of Seneca’s time for his abuse of power in 62 and by the Jews for political reasons. Also, as a Sadducee, Annas did not believe in resurrection or the afterlife: the Epistola, on the other hand, maintains the survival of the soul for judgment. In its present form there is no greeting, and in the body of the presumed letter the names of Annas and Seneca never appear: the author usually addresses himself in the second person plural occasionally he uses the singular to unspecified fratres, a term linked to the doctrine of God’s universal Fatherhood, which is developed in the opusculum.

This paranetic i.e., in defense of the true conception of the deity and of the human being treatise has many thematic and terminological contacts with Christian apologetic, beginning with Paul’s discourse in the Areopagus. § I describes the characteristics of God Pater, Lord of the universe, and ties our life and actions to the divine will, in anticipation of future judgment; § II invites an investigation, not so much of cosmological questions, but of the human being, and attacks false pagan representations of the soul; it proclaims human immortality and judgment after this life; § III speaks of the creation of the soul by God and its infusion into the human body; § IV denounces the impotence of manmade idols, which are closely associated with death; § V explains that God can be recognized in nature; and § VI again criticizes idolatrous beliefs like the cult of Bacchus, which are, as already in Seneca, the hypostatization of human passions.

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