Sunday, February 12, 2017


I Do Not Know

The Sayings of the Desert Fathers. The Alphabetical Collection. Translated, with a forward by Benedicta Ward, rev. ed. (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1984), p. 4 (Anthony the Great, #17):
One day some old men came to see Abba Anthony. In the midst of them was Abba Joseph. Wanting to test them, the old man suggested a text from the Scriptures, and, beginning with the youngest, he asked them what it meant. Each gave his opinion as he was able. But to each one the old man said, 'You have not understood it.' Last of all he said to Abba Joseph, 'How would you explain this saying?' and he replied, Ί do not know.' Then Abba Anthony said, 'Indeed, Abba Joseph has found the way, for he has said: "I do not know."'
Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 65, col. 80 D:
Παρέβαλόν ποτε γέροντες τῷ ἀββᾷ Ἀντωνίῳ͵ καὶ ἦν ὁ ἀββᾶς Ἰωσὴφ μετ΄ αὐτῶν. Καὶ θέλων ὁ γέρων δοκιμάσαι αὐτοὺς͵ προεβάλετο ῥῆμα ἐκ τῆς Γραφῆς͵ καὶ ἤρξατο ἐρωτᾷν ἀπὸ τῶν μικροτέρων͵ τί ἐστι τὸ ῥῆμα τοῦτο. Καὶ ἕκαστος ἔλεγε κατὰ τὴν ἰδίαν δύναμιν. Ὁ δὲ γέρων ἑκάστῳ ἔλεγεν· Οὔπω εὗρες. Ὕστερον ὅλων λέγει τῷ ἀββᾷ Ἰωσήφ· Σὺ πῶς λέγεις εἶναι τὸν λόγον τοῦτον; Ἀποκρίνεται· Οὐκ οἶδα. Λέγει οὖν ὁ ἀββᾶς Ἀντώνιος· Πάντως ἀββᾶς Ἰωσὴφ εὗρε τὴν ὁδὸν͵ ὅτι εἶπεν͵ Οὐκ οἶδα.

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