Isaac of Nineveh: God’s Justice is not Rome’s Imperial ‘Iustitia’

Isaac of Nineveh – 7th century ascetic and mystic,  born in modern-day Qatar, was made Bishop of Nineveh between 660-680.  Here Isaac easily debunks the Western Latin notion that God’s righteousness, or “dikaiosyne theou“, is the same as secular Imperial Roman Justice, or “Iustitia“.


Isaac Neneveh

Isaac of Nineveh, 7th century

“How can you call God just when you read the parable of the laborers in the vineyard and their wages?  ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong…  I choose to give to this last as I give to you… do you begrudge my generosity?’  Likewise how can you call God just when you read the parable of the prodigal son who squanders his father’s wealth in riotous living, and the moment he displays some nostalgia his father runs to him, throws his arms around his neck and gives him complete power over all his riches?  It is not someone else who has told us this about God, so that we might have doubts.  It is his own Son himself.  He bore this witness to God.  Where is God’s justice?  Here, in the fact that we were sinners and Christ died for us…”  ~ Ascetic Treatises, 60

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