Chreiai – An Important yet mostly Ignored Concept of Antiquity

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MrMacSon
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Chreiai – An Important yet mostly Ignored Concept of Antiquity

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Nov 15, 2020 4:11 am

A chreia (pl. chreiai) was/is a brief statement-narration or action aptly attributed to a specific person or something analogous to a person. A chreia usually conformed to one of a few patterns, the most common being "On seeing..." (ιδών), "On being asked..." (ἐρωτηθείς), and "He said..." (ἔφη).

There were three types of chreiai: sayings chreiai, action chreiai, and mixed chreiai. A chreia may be expanded, elaborated, or abbreviated.

The chreia or chria (Greek: χρεία) was, in antiquity and the Byzantine Empire, both a genre of literature and one of the progymnasmata, a series of preliminary rhetorical exercises used for and by early-teen students of rhetoric (the progymnasmata began in ancient Greece and continued during the Roman Empire).

As a literary genre the chreia was a subject of collection. Scholars such as Plutarch or Seneca kept their own private collections of chreiai. Published collections were also available. The chreiai were primarily known, however, for their role in education. Students were introduced to simple chreiai almost as soon as they could read. Later they practiced the complex grammar of Greek by putting these chreiai through changes of voice and tense. As one of the last stages of the progymnasmata students would elaborate the theme of a chreiai into a formal eight-paragraph essay. Each student would praise, paraphrase, explain, contrast, compare, provide an example, make a judgment, and, in conclusion, exhort the reader.

In his book, The Gnostic Discoveries (Harper Collins, 2005), Marvin Meyer noted the words of wisdom attributed to Jesus in Christian texts, mainly in the Gospels in the NT, qualify as chreiai. An example is in Mark 13: 1-2:

.
As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” [NRSV]
.

The famous passage in Luke 20: 21-25 also has the typical structure of a chreia, though its length is somewhat unusual:

.
So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and you show deference to no one, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. 22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose head and whose title does it bear?” They said, “The emperor’s.”

25 He said to them, “Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 And they were not able in the presence of the people to trap him by what he said; and being amazed by his answer, they became silent. [NRSV]
.

The progymnasmata

There are only four surviving handbooks of progymnasmata, attributed to Aelius Theon, Hermogenes of Tarsus, Aphthonius of Antioch, and Nicolaus the Sophist. The exercises expressed in each known handbook are very similar, with only minor variations. All students were asked to write out each assignment, memorize it, and then perform a class oration. The progymnasmata were taught in order, increasing in difficulty as the course advances. The courses were organized to begin with story-telling and end with making an argument. There was a focus on literature as a supplement to the course, paying close attention to models of rhetoric and literature.

.
Fable (mythos)
Aesop's fables were popular at the time rhetoric became a common topic of study. There are three forms of fable: the rational form (where characters are men and women), the ethical form (where animals are protagonists), and a third form involving both. What all three have in common is they each have a moral, stated before the story begins or after it has concluded. In Aphthonius's handbook, the first exercise was to create a fable that followed the three forms.

Narrative (diēgēma)
This elementary assignment was to simply write a narrative (not to be confused with fable). It is assumed that this training is a result of Aristotle's theory of categories and introduces students to the four values of narrative, which is perspicuity, incisiveness, persuasiveness, and purity of language. The content of the narrative exercise in the progymnasmata is either political, historical, or based on fiction. Just as diegesis indicates the narrative plot of a film, the so-called narrative of a speech or oration moves the content forth.

Anecdote (chreia)
Students were asked to take an action or saying of a famous person and elaborate on it. They were to develop the meanings of these actions or quotes with the framing under the headings of praise, paraphrase, cause, example of meaning, compare and contrast, testimonies, and an epilogue; anecdote is something that is frequently used in the Bible.

Maxim (gnōmē)
Maxim or proverbs were first described by Aristotle, and in Aphthonius's book are divided into, protreptic, apotreptic, declarative, simple, and compound. A moral generalization was given to students about a writer, and they were asked to create something similar to an anecdote about the writer.

Refutation (anaskeuē)
This exercise required the student to logically reason against something drawn from myths, narratives, or fables. The student's argument was that something was either impossible, illogical, unsuitable, and inexpedient.

Confirmation (kataskeuē)
The confirmation exercise is the opposite of refutation. The student was asked to reason in favor of something drawn from legends and literature.

Commonplace (koinos topos)
Working out the commonplace involved attacking vice by envisioning criticism of stereotypes rather than individuals. Students do this by using contradiction, comparison, and maxim attacking the motivation of the demographic described.

Encomium (enkōmion)
Students used encomium to praise persons, things, times, places, animals, and growing things. Each praise could be engendered from the headings upbringing, deeds, skills, and sometimes was in the form of a comparison with another person, an epilogue, or a prayer.

Invective (psogos)
Invective opposes commonplace. It attacks a specific, named individual, usually a political or cultural figure.

Comparison (synkrisis)
The comparison exercise acts as a double encomium or a combination of an encomium of one person or thing and the invective against another.

Personification (ēthopoeia)
Students used personification or ethopoeia by forming a speech ascribed to the ghost of a known person or of an imaginary or mythological character from past, present, or future times. This exercise was intended to request students to perform it with clarity, conciseness, and floridity.

Description (ekphrasis)
When asked to use ekphrasis to describe a person, place, thing, or time, students were obliged to produce a description that was complete. Included was detailed information about a person from head-to-toe, an action from start to finish, etc. This form is seen in many classical literature and historical writings.

Argument
Because this exercise is an introduction to argument in the philosophical schools, the use of thesis was not performed until first completing all previous exercises. Students had to come up with a thesis argument of their own nature; these questions were often ones difficult to answer.

Introduction to law (nomou eisphora)
Aphtonius calls this final exercise a gymnasma rather than progymnasmata. This exercise is in the form of advocacy of a proposed law or opposition of it. The argument is first stated, a counterargument follows, and then the headings are discussed

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progymnas ... Aphthonius


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Re: Chreiai – An Important yet mostly Ignored Concept of Antiquity

Post by mlinssen » Sun Nov 15, 2020 6:23 am

MrMacSon wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 4:11 am
A chreia (pl. chreiai) was/is a brief statement-narration or action aptly attributed to a specific person or something analogous to a person. A chreia usually conformed to one of a few patterns, the most common being "On seeing..." (ιδών), "On being asked..." (ἐρωτηθείς), and "He said..." (ἔφη).

There were three types of chreiai: sayings chreiai, action chreiai, and mixed chreiai. A chreia may be expanded, elaborated, or abbreviated.

The chreia or chria (Greek: χρεία) was, in antiquity and the Byzantine Empire, both a genre of literature and one of the progymnasmata, a series of preliminary rhetorical exercises used for and by early-teen students of rhetoric (the progymnasmata began in ancient Greece and continued during the Roman Empire).

As a literary genre the chreia was a subject of collection. Scholars such as Plutarch or Seneca kept their own private collections of chreiai. Published collections were also available. The chreiai were primarily known, however, for their role in education. Students were introduced to simple chreiai almost as soon as they could read. Later they practiced the complex grammar of Greek by putting these chreiai through changes of voice and tense. As one of the last stages of the progymnasmata students would elaborate the theme of a chreiai into a formal eight-paragraph essay. Each student would praise, paraphrase, explain, contrast, compare, provide an example, make a judgment, and, in conclusion, exhort the reader.
ⲉⲡⲉⲓ ⲧⲉ ⲭⲣⲉⲓⲁ ⲉ ⲧⲉⲧⲛ̄ ϭⲱϣⲧ` ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲏⲧ ⲥ̄

Logion 21, Thomas. There are a three more that just state XRHMA. Well, actually two and a lacuna - which caused a big fight between Grondin and me

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Re: Chreiai – An Important yet mostly Ignored Concept of Antiquity

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Nov 15, 2020 7:20 am

MrMacSon wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 4:11 am
A chreia (pl. chreiai) was/is a brief statement-narration or action aptly attributed to a specific person or something analogous to a person. A chreia usually conformed to one of a few patterns, the most common being "On seeing..." (ιδών), "On being asked..." (ἐρωτηθείς), and "He said..." (ἔφη).

There were three types of chreiai: sayings chreiai, action chreiai, and mixed chreiai. A chreia may be expanded, elaborated, or abbreviated.
Your posting has been hitting on all cylinders lately. :cheers:

My recent thread about the Memorabilia ties in explicitly to the matter of the chreia:

Denis M. Searby, “The Unmentionable Greek Apothegm,” page 9: The word ἀπομνημόνευμα (apomnēmoneuma) derives from the strengthening prefix ἀπο (cf. note 4 above), the verb μνημονεύω (remember), and the common ending -μα signifying the result of a process (etc.): a thing to be especially remembered. It may be rendered as memoir, mention, recollection, reminiscence.... Remembrance or memory is the key concept; an apomnēmoneuma is a record of some words or some incident worth remembering.... The key thing is that the apomnēmoneuma is presented as something remembered, something historical, even if, in fact, one may question its historicity; it need not be witty or pointed, just memorable. The apomnēmoneuma is longer than the apothegm or chreia, even if the latter is defined as a short apomnēmoneuma. Apomnēmoneumata is a relatively common word in titles, occurring most famously as the title of Xenophon’s recollections of Socrates. Both Athenaeus and Plutarch cite various works by this title, as does Diogenes Laertius; by far the most important for the latter is Favorinus’ Ἀπομνημονεύματα. Unlike apophthegmata, it does not seem to occur, as far as I know, in the titles of anonymous collections of anecdotes in extant manuscripts. [Link.]

Aelius Theon is pretty clear about this (in the translation, "reminiscence" = ἀπομνημόνευμα):

Aelius Theon, Progymnasmata, apud L. Spengel, Rhetores Graeci, volume 2, pages 96-97, lines 19-30 + 1-10 (translation slightly modified from that of George Alexander Kennedy): 96.19-30 A chreia is a brief utterance or action making a point, attributed to some specified person or something corresponding to a person, and maxim and reminiscence are connected with it. Every brief maxim attributed to a person creates a chreia. A reminiscence is an action or a saying useful for life. The maxim, however, differs from the chreia in four ways: the chreia is always attributed to a person, the maxim not always; the chreia sometimes states a universal, sometimes a particular, the maxim only a universal; furthermore, sometimes the chreia is a pleasantry not useful for life, the maxim is always about something useful in 97.1-10 life; fourth, the chreia is an action or a saying, the maxim is only a saying. The reminiscence is distinguished from the chreia in two ways: the chreia is brief, the reminiscence is sometimes extended, and the chreia is attributed to a particular person, while the reminiscence is also remembered for its own sake. A chreia is given that name par excellence, because more than the other [exercises] it is useful for many situations in life, just as we have grown accustomed to call Homer “the poet” because of his excellence, although there are many poets. / 96.19-30 Χρεία ἐστὶ σύντομος ἀπόφασις ἢ πρᾶξις μετ' εὐστοχίας ἀναφερομένη εἴς τι ὡρισμένον πρόσωπον ἢ ἀναλογοῦν προσώπῳ, παράκειται δὲ αὐτῇ γνώμη καὶ ἀπομνημόνευμα· πᾶσα γὰρ γνώμη σύντομος εἰς πρόσωπον ἀναφερομένη χρείαν ποιεῖ. καὶ τὸ ἀπομνημόνευμα δὲ πρᾶξίς ἐστιν ἢ λόγος βιωφελής. διαφέρει δὲ ἡ μὲν γνώμη τῆς χρείας τέτρασι τοῖσδε, τῷ τὴν μὲν χρείαν πάντως ἀναφέρεσθαι εἰς πρόσωπον, τὴν δὲ γνώμην οὐ πάντως, καὶ τῷ ποτὲ μὲν τὸ καθόλου, ποτὲ δὲ τὸ ἐπὶ μέρους ἀποφαίνεσθαι τὴν χρείαν, τὴν δὲ γνώμην καθόλου μόνον· ἔτι δὲ τῷ χαριεντίζεσθαι τὴν χρείαν ἐνίοτε μηδὲν ἔχουσαν βιωφελές, τὴν δὲ γνώμην ἀεὶ περὶ τῶν ἐν 97.1-10 τῷ βίῳ χρησίμων εἶναι· τέταρτον ὅτι ἡ μὲν χρεία πρᾶξις ἢ λόγος ὑπάρχει, ἡ δὲ γνώμη λόγος ἐστὶ μόνον. τὸ δὲ ἀπομνημόνευμα δυσὶ τοῖσδε κεχώρισται τῆς χρείας· ἡ μὲν γὰρ σύντομος, τὸ δὲ ἀπομνημόνευμα ἔσθ' ὅτε ἐπεκτείνεται, καὶ ἡ μὲν ἀναφέρεται εἴς τινα πρόσωπα, τὸ δὲ ἀπομνημόνευμα καὶ καθ' ἑαυτὸ μνημονεύεται. εἴρηται δὲ χρεία κατ' ἐξοχήν, ὅτι μᾶλλον τῶν ἄλλων πρὸς πολλὰ χρειώδης ἐστὶ τῷ βίῳ, καθάπερ καὶ Ὅμηρον πολλῶν ὄντων ποιητῶν κατ' ἐξοχὴν τοῦτον μόνον καλεῖν εἰώθαμεν ποιητήν.

It is this educational world of ancient literacy that Papias and other Greek patristic authors (including Justin) are apparently channeling as they describe the composition of the gospels:

Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, page 215: The translation of pros tas chreias as “according to needs” has now been largely abandoned in favor of the view that Papias uses chreia here as a technical rhetorical term to describe the form in which Peter delivered his teachings about Jesus. The argument was first made by R. O. P. Taylor in 1946. He pointed out that the chreia was a rhetorical form defined and described in the ancient handbooks of rhetoric that were guides to elementary education. He quoted the definition given by Aelius Theon: “A Chreia is a concise and pointed account of something said or done, attributed to some particular person” (Theon, Progymnasmata 3.2-3). Taylor also observed “that the definition exactly fits the detachable little stories of which so much of Mark consists — which are, indeed, characteristic of the first three Gospels.” Taylor’s interpretation was taken up by Robert Grant. Then, without reference to Taylor, the same interpretation of Papias’s phrase was later championed by Kürzinger, who made it part of his broader argument for the use of rhetorical terminology throughout the fragments of Papias quoted by Eusebius. Since then it has been quite widely accepted.

Papias apud Eusebius, History of the Church 3.39.15-16: 15 “And the Elder would say this, ‘Mark, who had become the interpreter of Peter, wrote accurately, yet not in order, as many things as he remembered of the things either said or done by the Lord [τὰ ὑπὸ τοῦ κυρίου ἢ λεχθέντα ἢ πραχθέντα]. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but later, as I said, Peter, who would make the teachings into chreiae [ὃς πρὸς τὰς χρείας ἐποιεῖτο τὰς διδασκαλίας], but not making them as an ordering together of the lordly oracles [ἀλλ' οὐχ ὥσπερ σύνταξιν τῶν κυριακῶν ποιούμενος λογίων], so that Mark did not sin having thus written certain things as he remembered them [ὡς ἀπεμνημόνευσεν]. For he made one provision, to leave out nothing of the things that he heard or falsify anything in them.’” 16 These things therefore are recorded by Papias about Mark. But about Matthew he has said these things, “Matthew therefore in the Hebrew dialect ordered together the oracles, and each one interpreted them as he was able.”

The same overlap of concepts is present here: the memory of certain words and deeds being transmitted as chreiae (or anecdotes, if you will).

Papias also suggests that this Marcan text recorded logia (oracles), albeit not "in order," thus imbuing it with a scriptural authority based upon the teachings of Peter.

We know that logia can be spoken; that is its most ancient, fundamental meaning, after all, and we have evidence that this meaning continued:

1 Peter 4.11a: 11a If someone speaks, let it be as the oracles [λόγια] of God.

It is worth pointing out that, according to Eusebius, Papias knew and used this epistle (History of the Church 3.39.17).

We also know that logia can be written:

Philo, On Flight and Finding 11.59-60: 59 Thus the priests, Nadab and Abihu, die in order that they may live, taking an immortal existence in exchange for this mortal life, and departing from the creature to the uncreated God. And it is with reference to this fact that the symbols of incorruptibility are thus celebrated, “Then they died before the Lord” (= Leviticus 10.2), that is to say, they lived; for it is not lawful for any dead person to come into the sight of the Lord. And again, this is what the Lord himself has said, “I will be sanctified in those who come nigh unto Me” (= Leviticus 10.3). “But the dead,” as it is also said in the Psalms, “shall not praise the Lord” (= Psalm 113.25), 60 for that is the work of the living; but Cain, that shameless man, that fratricide, is no where spoken of in the law as dying; but there is an oracle [λόγιον] delivered respecting him in such words as these: “The Lord God put a mark upon Cain, as a sign that no one who found him should kill Him” (= Genesis 4.15b).

Philo, On Mating 24.134: 134 This is a boast of a great and magnanimous soul, to rise above all creation, and to overleap its boundaries, and to cling to the great uncreated God alone, according to his sacred commands, in which we are expressly enjoined “to cleave unto Him” (= Deuteronomy 30:20). Therefore he, in requital, bestows himself as their inheritance upon those who do cleave unto him, and who serve him without intermission; and the sacred scripture bears its testimony in behalf of the oracle [λόγιον], where it says, “The Lord himself is his inheritance” (= Deuteronomy 10.9).

Philo, Life of Moses 2.10.56: 56 Therefore on this occasion, as the oracles [τὰ λόγια] tell us, thunderbolts fell from heaven, and burnt up those wicked men and their cities; and even to this day there are seen in Syria monuments of the unprecedented destruction that fell upon them, in the ruins, and ashes, and sulphur, and smoke, and dusky flame which still is sent up from the ground as of a fire smoldering beneath.

Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans 3.4 (long recension): 4 For the oracles [τὰ λόγια] say, “This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” (= Acts 1.11).

Polycarp to the Philippians 7.1: 1 For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is Antichrist; and whosoever does not confess the testimony of the cross, is of the devil; and whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord [τὰ λόγια τοῦ κυρίου] to his own lusts, and says that there is neither a resurrection nor a judgment, he is the firstborn of Satan.

Thus, it would seem that, according to Papias, both Mark and Matthew wrote down logia. Mark wrote down logia which had been spoken by Peter (refer to 1 Peter 4.11a!) in the form of chreiae; Matthew wrote down logia, too, but no external source is given (I suspect because Matthew was supposed to have written from his own memories, not from those of another person; that was the point of making Matthew/Matthias an apostle and eyewitness of Jesus).

So Papias seems to be describing an authoritative text (thus characterizing it as the writing down of logia taught by Peter) in terms of Greek literary culture, a fashion which continues up through Justin Martyr, the Alexandrian fathers, and beyond.

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Re: Chreiai – An Important yet mostly Ignored Concept of Antiquity

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Nov 15, 2020 1:50 pm

mlinssen wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 6:23 am

ⲉⲡⲉⲓ ⲧⲉ ⲭⲣⲉⲓⲁ ⲉ ⲧⲉⲧⲛ̄ ϭⲱϣⲧ` ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲏⲧ ⲥ̄

Logion 21, Thomas. There are a three more that just state XRHMA. Well, actually two and a lacuna - which caused a big fight between Grondin and me
Cheers Martijn. I had texts like Thomas in mind when considering chreiai.

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Re: Chreiai – An Important yet mostly Ignored Concept of Antiquity

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Nov 15, 2020 2:10 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 7:20 am
MrMacSon wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 4:11 am
A chreia (pl. chreiai) was/is a brief statement-narration or action aptly attributed to a specific person or something analogous to a person. A chreia usually conformed to one of a few patterns, the most common being "On seeing..." (ιδών), "On being asked..." (ἐρωτηθείς), and "He said..." (ἔφη).

There were three types of chreiai: sayings chreiai, action chreiai, and mixed chreiai. A chreia may be expanded, elaborated, or abbreviated.
Your posting has been hitting on all cylinders lately. :cheers:
Cheers Ben :cheers:


It was the sort of 'overlap of concepts' that you have articulated here which I had in mind, albeit less clearly so far [occasional underling and italics added by me] -
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 7:20 am
It is [the] educational world of ancient literacy that Papias and other Greek patristic authors (including Justin) are apparently channeling as they describe the composition of the gospels:

.
[omitted]

Papias apud Eusebius, History of the Church 3.39.15-16: 15 “And the Elder would say this, ‘Mark, who had become the interpreter of Peter, wrote accurately, yet not in order, as many things as he remembered of the things either said or done by the Lord [τὰ ὑπὸ τοῦ κυρίου ἢ λεχθέντα ἢ πραχθέντα]. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but later, as I said, Peter, who would make the teachings into chreiae [ὃς πρὸς τὰς χρείας ἐποιεῖτο τὰς διδασκαλίας], but not making them as an ordering together of the lordly oracles [ἀλλ' οὐχ ὥσπερ σύνταξιν τῶν κυριακῶν ποιούμενος λογίων], so that Mark did not sin having thus written certain things as he remembered them [ὡς ἀπεμνημόνευσεν]. For he made one provision, to leave out nothing of the things that he heard or falsify anything in them.’” 16 These things therefore are recorded by Papias about Mark. But about Matthew he has said these things, “Matthew therefore in the Hebrew dialect ordered together the oracles, and each one interpreted them as he was able.”

The same overlap of concepts is present here: the memory of certain words and deeds being transmitted as chreiae (or anecdotes, if you will).

Papias also suggests that this Marcan text recorded logia (oracles), albeit not "in order," thus imbuing it with a scriptural authority based upon the teachings of Peter.

We know that logia can be spoken; that is its most ancient, fundamental meaning, after all, and we have evidence that this meaning continued:

1 Peter 4.11a: 11a If someone speaks, let it be as the oracles [λόγια] of God.

It is worth pointing out that, according to Eusebius, Papias knew and used this epistle (History of the Church 3.39.17).

We also know that logia can be written:

Philo, On Flight and Finding 11.59-60: [omitted] 60 ... there is an oracle [λόγιον] delivered respecting him in such words as these: “The Lord God put a mark upon Cain, as a sign that no one who found him should kill Him” (= Genesis 4.15b).

Philo, On Mating 24.134: 134 This is a boast of a great and magnanimous soul, to rise above all creation, and to overleap its boundaries, and to cling to the great uncreated God alone, according to his sacred commands, in which we are expressly enjoined “to cleave unto Him” (= Deuteronomy 30:20). Therefore he, in requital, bestows himself as their inheritance upon those who do cleave unto him, and who serve him without intermission; and the sacred scripture bears its testimony in behalf of the oracle [λόγιον], where it says, “The Lord himself is his inheritance” (= Deuteronomy 10.9).

Philo, Life of Moses 2.10.56: 56 Therefore on this occasion, as the oracles [τὰ λόγια] tell us, thunderbolts fell from heaven, and burnt up those wicked men and their cities; and even to this day there are seen in Syria monuments of the unprecedented destruction that fell upon them, in the ruins, and ashes, and sulphur, and smoke, and dusky flame which still is sent up from the ground as of a fire smoldering beneath.

Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans 3.4 (long recension): 4 For the oracles [τὰ λόγια] say, “This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” (= Acts 1.11).

Polycarp to the Philippians 7.1: 1 For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is Antichrist; and whosoever does not confess the testimony of the cross, is of the devil; and whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord [τὰ λόγια τοῦ κυρίου] to his own lusts, and says that there is neither a resurrection nor a judgment, he is the firstborn of Satan.


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Re: Chreiai – An Important yet mostly Ignored Concept of Antiquity

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Nov 15, 2020 2:55 pm

I 've selected part of Ben's excellent elaborating post above and added some emphasis to the text of Aelius Theon ie. paragraphing, bold, spacing, & some numbering ie. (i), (ii), etc., [not using [ ] b/c ' i ' in the first one would produce italics throughout :facepalm: ] -
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 7:20 am

Aelius Theon, Progymnasmata, apud L. Spengel, Rhetores Graeci, volume 2, pages 96-97, lines 19-30 + 1-10 (translation slightly modified from that of George Alexander Kennedy): 96.19-30

A chreia is a brief utterance or action making a point, attributed to some specified person or something corresponding to a person, and maxim and reminiscence are connected with it.

Every brief maxim attributed to a person creates a chreia. A reminiscence is an action or a saying useful for life.

The maxim, however, differs from the chreia in four ways: (i) the chreia is always attributed to a person, the maxim not always; (ii) the chreia sometimes states a universal, sometimes a particular, the maxim only a universal; furthermore, (ii) sometimes the chreia is a pleasantry not useful for life, the maxim is always about something useful in [97.1-10] life; fourth, the chreia is an action or a saying, the maxim is only a saying.

The reminiscence is distinguished from the chreia in two ways: the chreia is brief, the reminiscence is sometimes extended, and the chreia is attributed to a particular person, while the reminiscence is also remembered for its own sake.

A chreia is given that name par excellence, because more than the other [exercises] it is useful for many situations in life, just as we have grown accustomed to call Homer “the poet” because of his excellence, although there are many poets.

/ 96.19-30 Χρεία ἐστὶ σύντομος ἀπόφασις ἢ πρᾶξις μετ' εὐστοχίας ἀναφερομένη εἴς τι ὡρισμένον πρόσωπον ἢ ἀναλογοῦν προσώπῳ, παράκειται δὲ αὐτῇ γνώμη καὶ ἀπομνημόνευμα· πᾶσα γὰρ γνώμη σύντομος εἰς πρόσωπον ἀναφερομένη χρείαν ποιεῖ. καὶ τὸ ἀπομνημόνευμα δὲ πρᾶξίς ἐστιν ἢ λόγος βιωφελής. διαφέρει δὲ ἡ μὲν γνώμη τῆς χρείας τέτρασι τοῖσδε, τῷ τὴν μὲν χρείαν πάντως ἀναφέρεσθαι εἰς πρόσωπον, τὴν δὲ γνώμην οὐ πάντως, καὶ τῷ ποτὲ μὲν τὸ καθόλου, ποτὲ δὲ τὸ ἐπὶ μέρους ἀποφαίνεσθαι τὴν χρείαν, τὴν δὲ γνώμην καθόλου μόνον· ἔτι δὲ τῷ χαριεντίζεσθαι τὴν χρείαν ἐνίοτε μηδὲν ἔχουσαν βιωφελές, τὴν δὲ γνώμην ἀεὶ περὶ τῶν ἐν [97.1-10] τῷ βίῳ χρησίμων εἶναι· τέταρτον ὅτι ἡ μὲν χρεία πρᾶξις ἢ λόγος ὑπάρχει, ἡ δὲ γνώμη λόγος ἐστὶ μόνον. τὸ δὲ ἀπομνημόνευμα δυσὶ τοῖσδε κεχώρισται τῆς χρείας· ἡ μὲν γὰρ σύντομος, τὸ δὲ ἀπομνημόνευμα ἔσθ' ὅτε ἐπεκτείνεται, καὶ ἡ μὲν ἀναφέρεται εἴς τινα πρόσωπα, τὸ δὲ ἀπομνημόνευμα καὶ καθ' ἑαυτὸ μνημονεύεται. εἴρηται δὲ χρεία κατ' ἐξοχήν, ὅτι μᾶλλον τῶν ἄλλων πρὸς πολλὰ χρειώδης ἐστὶ τῷ βίῳ, καθάπερ καὶ Ὅμηρον πολλῶν ὄντων ποιητῶν κατ' ἐξοχὴν τοῦτον μόνον καλεῖν εἰώθαμεν ποιητήν.
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It is this educational world of ancient literacy that Papias and other Greek patristic authors (including Justin) are apparently channeling as they describe the composition of the gospels:

Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, page 215: The translation of pros tas chreias as “according to needs” has now been largely abandoned in favor of the view that Papias uses chreia here as a technical rhetorical term to describe the form in which Peter delivered his teachings about Jesus. The argument was first made by R. O. P. Taylor in 1946. He pointed out that the chreia was a rhetorical form defined and described in the ancient handbooks of rhetoric that were guides to elementary education. He quoted the definition given by Aelius Theon: “A Chreia is a concise and pointed account of something said or done, attributed to some particular person” (Theon, Progymnasmata 3.2-3). Taylor also observed “that the definition exactly fits the detachable little stories of which so much of Mark consists — which are, indeed, characteristic of the first three Gospels.” Taylor’s interpretation was taken up by Robert Grant. Then, without reference to Taylor, the same interpretation of Papias’s phrase was later championed by Kürzinger, who made it part of his broader argument for the use of rhetorical terminology throughout the fragments of Papias quoted by Eusebius. Since then it has been quite widely accepted.

Papias apud Eusebius, History of the Church 3.39.15-16: 15 “And the Elder would say this, ‘Mark, who had become the interpreter of Peter, wrote accurately, yet not in order, as many things as he remembered of the things either said or done by the Lord [τὰ ὑπὸ τοῦ κυρίου ἢ λεχθέντα ἢ πραχθέντα]. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but later, as I said, Peter, who would make the teachings into chreiae [ὃς πρὸς τὰς χρείας ἐποιεῖτο τὰς διδασκαλίας], but not making them as an ordering together of the lordly oracles [ἀλλ' οὐχ ὥσπερ σύνταξιν τῶν κυριακῶν ποιούμενος λογίων], so that Mark did not sin having thus written certain things as he remembered them [ὡς ἀπεμνημόνευσεν]. For he made one provision, to leave out nothing of the things that he heard or falsify anything in them.’” 16 These things therefore are recorded by Papias about Mark. But about Matthew he has said these things, “Matthew therefore in the Hebrew dialect ordered together the oracles, and each one interpreted them as he was able.”


Now, lets return to the beginning of Ben's post and the points therein [bold and ' ' added by me] -
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 7:20 am
My recent thread about the Memorabilia ties in explicitly to the matter of the chreia:

Denis M. Searby, “The Unmentionable Greek Apothegm,” page 9: The word ἀπομνημόνευμα (apomnēmoneuma) derives from the strengthening prefix ἀπο (cf. note 4 above), the verb μνημονεύω (remember), and the common ending -μα signifying the result of a process (etc.): a thing to be especially remembered. It may be rendered as memoir, mention, recollection, reminiscence.... Remembrance or memory is the key concept; an apomnēmoneuma is a record of some words or some incident worth remembering.... The key thing is that the apomnēmoneuma is presented as something remembered, something 'historical', even if, in fact, one may question its historicity; it need not be witty or pointed, just memorable. The apomnēmoneuma is longer than the apothegm or chreia, even if the latter is defined as a short apomnēmoneuma. Apomnēmoneumata is a relatively common word in titles, occurring most famously as the title of Xenophon’s recollections of Socrates. Both Athenaeus and Plutarch cite various works by this title, as does Diogenes Laertius; by far the most important for the latter is Favorinus’ Ἀπομνημονεύματα. Unlike apophthegmata, it does not seem to occur, as far as I know, in the titles of anonymous collections of anecdotes in extant manuscripts. [Link.]

Aelius Theon is pretty clear about this (in the translation, "reminiscence" = ἀπομνημόνευμα):

Aelius Theon, Progymnasmata, apud L. Spengel, Rhetores Graeci, volume 2, pages 96-97, lines 19-30 + 1-10 (translation slightly modified from that of George Alexander Kennedy): 96.19-30

A chreia is a brief utterance or action making a point, attributed to some specified person or something corresponding to a person, and maxim and reminiscence are connected with it.

Every brief maxim attributed to a person creates a chreia. A reminiscence is an action or a saying useful for life.

The maxim, however, differs from the chreia in four ways: the chreia is always attributed to a person, the maxim not always; the chreia sometimes states a universal, sometimes a particular, the maxim only a universal; furthermore, sometimes the chreia is a pleasantry not useful for life, the maxim is always about something useful in 97.1-10 life; fourth, the chreia is an action or a saying, the maxim is only a saying. The reminiscence is distinguished from the chreia in two ways: the chreia is brief, the reminiscence is sometimes extended, and the chreia is attributed to a particular person, while the reminiscence is also remembered for its own sake. A chreia is given that name par excellence, because more than the other [exercises] it is useful for many situations in life, just as we have grown accustomed to call Homer “the poet” because of his excellence, although there are many poets. [Greek omitted]

Denis M Searby's point that, "the apomnēmoneuma is presented as something remembered, something historical, even if, in fact, one may question its historicity; it need not be witty or pointed, just memorable", is noteworthy in terms of lots of commentary about the literary genre of the times, eg. by M David Litwa, Jörg Rüpke, and others.


Chreiai were a pretty big deal in the rhetorical 'scheme of [rhetorical] things' of antiquity (sic), as Bauckham notes -

"The argument was first made by R. O. P. Taylor in 1946. He pointed out that the chreia was a rhetorical form defined and described in the ancient handbooks of rhetoric that were guides to elementary education."

I would like to modify Bauckham's preceding sentence thus -

" The translation of pros tas chreias as “according to needs” has now been largely abandoned in favor of the view that Papias use[d] chreia1...as a technical rhetorical term to describe the form in which Peter [is said to have] delivered his teachings about Jesus. "

1 chreia is singular so perhaps an 'a' should precede it; or else the plural chreiai would have been meant, which might be more significant.

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MrMacSon
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Re: Chreiai – An Important yet mostly Ignored Concept of Antiquity

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Nov 15, 2020 10:13 pm

Further to most of the focus above being on the chreia / chreiai and elaborations about them (including their overlaps with the tersm and concepts Ben introduced) and their uses, in literature in general and for students of rhetoric of the time, I'd like to revisit something I put in the OP and aspects of it -
MrMacSon wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 4:11 am

The progymnasmata

There are only four surviving handbooks of progymnasmata, attributed to Aelius Theon, Hermogenes of Tarsus, Aphthonius of Antioch, and Nicolaus the Sophist. The exercises expressed in each known handbook are very similar, with only minor variations. All students were asked to write out each assignment, memorize it, and then perform a class oration. The progymnasmata were taught in order, increasing in difficulty as the course advances. The courses were organized to begin with story-telling and end with making an argument. There was a focus on literature as a supplement to the course, paying close attention to models of rhetoric and literature.

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Fable (mythos)
Aesop's fables were popular at the time rhetoric became a common topic of study. There are three forms of fable: the rational form (where characters are men and women), the ethical form (where animals are protagonists), and a third form involving both. What all three have in common is they each have a moral, stated before the story begins or after it has concluded. In Aphthonius's handbook, the first exercise was to create a fable that followed the three forms.

Narrative (diēgēma)
This elementary assignment was to simply write a narrative (not to be confused with fable). It is assumed that this training is a result of Aristotle's theory of categories and introduces students to the four values of narrative, which is perspicuity, incisiveness, persuasiveness, and purity of language. The content of the narrative exercise in the progymnasmata is either political, historical, or based on fiction. Just as diegesis indicates the narrative plot of a film, the so-called narrative of a speech or oration moves the content forth.


Anecdote (chreia)
Students were asked to take an action or saying of a famous person and elaborate on it. They were to develop the meanings of these actions or quotes with the framing under the headings of praise, paraphrase, cause, example of meaning, compare and contrast, testimonies, and an epilogue; anecdote is something that is frequently used in the Bible.

Maxim (gnōmē)
Maxim or proverbs were first described by Aristotle, and in Aphthonius's book are divided into, protreptic, apotreptic, declarative, simple, and compound. A moral generalization was given to students about a writer, and they were asked to create something similar to an anecdote about the writer.

Refutation (anaskeuē)
This exercise required the student to logically reason against something drawn from myths, narratives, or fables. The student's argument was that something was either impossible, illogical, unsuitable, and inexpedient.


Confirmation (kataskeuē)
The confirmation exercise is the opposite of refutation. The student was asked to reason in favor of something drawn from legends and literature.

Commonplace (koinos topos)
Working out the commonplace involved attacking vice by envisioning criticism of stereotypes rather than individuals. Students do this by using contradiction, comparison, and maxim attacking the motivation of the demographic described.


Encomium (enkōmion)
Students used encomium to praise persons, things, times, places, animals, and growing things. Each praise could be engendered from the headings upbringing, deeds, skills, and sometimes was in the form of a comparison with another person, an epilogue, or a prayer.

Invective (psogos)
Invective opposes commonplace. It attacks a specific, named individual, usually a political or cultural figure.


Comparison (synkrisis)
The comparison exercise acts as a double encomium or a combination of an encomium of one person or thing and the invective against another.

Personification (ēthopoeia)
Students used personification or ethopoeia by forming a speech ascribed to the ghost of a known person or of an imaginary or mythological character from past, present, or future times. This exercise was intended to request students to perform it with clarity, conciseness, and floridity.

Description (ekphrasis)
When asked to use ekphrasis to describe a person, place, thing, or time, students were obliged to produce a description that was complete. Included was detailed information about a person from head-to-toe, an action from start to finish, etc. This form is seen in many classical literature and historical writings.

Argument
Because this exercise is an introduction to argument in the philosophical schools, the use of thesis was not performed until first completing all previous exercises. Students had to come up with a thesis argument of their own nature; these questions were often ones difficult to answer.

Introduction to law (nomou eisphora)
Aphtonius calls this final exercise a gymnasma rather than progymnasmata. This exercise is in the form of advocacy of a proposed law or opposition of it. The argument is first stated, a counterargument follows, and then the headings are discussed

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progymnas ... Aphthonius

One can imagine students Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John making the most of their classes ...

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