Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bertrand on St. Augustine

"The loss of faith always occurs when the senses first awaken.  At this critical moment, when nature claims us for her service, the consciousness of spiritual things is, in most cases, either eclipsed or totally destroyed. . . .  It is not reason which turns the young man from God; it is the flesh.  Skepticism but provides him with excuses for the the new life he is leading."

     Louis Bertrand, Saint Augustin, trans. Vincent O'Sullivan (London:  Constable and Company Ltd., 1914), 65 | (Paris:  1913), 81.

Monday, May 25, 2015

"sometimes vanquished in battle, always victorious in war".

     Edward Gibbon, The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, chap. 38, "General observations on the fall of the Roman Empire in the West" (ed. Bury, 3rd edition, vol. 4 (London: Methuen & Co., 1908 [1897]), p. 165).

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"let the reader understand"

"'Whoso readeth, let him understand.'"

"You are not reading the word of a human being but the Word of God, the Most High.  He desires pupils who diligently note and observe what He says.  Moreover, if it is well said that the letters of princes should be read three times because they must speak with deliberation in order not to be considered fools, how much more necessary it is for one to read the letters of God, that is, the Holy Scriptures, three, four, ten, a hundred, a thousand, and many thousand times.  For God speaks with deliberation and weight, nay, He is the eternal Wisdom itself.  Whoever does this becomes better and more learned from Scripture.  Whoever does not do so learns nothing, nay, becomes the worse for it."

     Martin Luther, inscribing and then commenting on Mt 24:15 ("let the reader understand") "in someone's Bible", as trans. Ewald M. Plass on pp. 79-80 of vol. 1 of What Luther says:  an anthology (St. Louis, MO:   Concordia Publishing House, 1959).  = WA 48, 119, where there are the usual variants (since, presumably, Luther inscribed this in more than one?).  Cf. Aland, Hilfsbuch, no. 695, on p. 163.  The year given at WA 48, 119 is 1541.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The "narrow line between asking not to be treated with contempt and asking to be positively valued."

"The demand for recognition almost always arises when an ethnic, linguistic, or religious minority feels that it is being treated with contempt.  It is the demand for respect.  But there is a narrow line between asking not to be treated with contempt and asking to be positively valued. . . . Since toleration is one thing and respect another, the demand for recognition asks for more than toleration; it asks for approval, perhaps even for assistance in keeping such subcultures alive.  But why would a liberal state do that?  Toleration is quite enough. . . ."
". . . as he did in the Dred Scott case, Lincoln drew the line at any suggestion that free Americans should acknowledge the legitimacy of slavery.
     "Here is where Bromwich's opposition to the 'politics of recognition' finds its historical roots; it might be necessary to tolerate slavery, but it was impossible to accord it moral recognition."

     Alan Ryan, "The good patriots," a review of Moral imagination, by David Bromwich (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2014), The New York review of books 62, no. 5 (March 19, 2015):  38, 40 (37-40).
     Couple that with the comment "Liberal societies are better than totalitarian societies, but liberals are no less afflicted with the taint of Original Sin than the rest of humanity" (40), as well as the equal opportunity flogging that Obama gets, and one begins to hope that Ryan and Bromwich might actually possess the "moral imagination" to at least tolerate the insertion of "sexual" after "religious" in that first paragraph.

"nothing is firmly established in practical reason save through ordering to the ultimate end, which is the common good."

"just as nothing is firmly established in speculative reason save by resolution to first indemonstrable principles, so nothing is firmly established in practical reason save through ordering to the ultimate end, which is the common good.  What relates to [practical] reason in this way has the character of law."

"sicut nihil constat firmiter secundum rationem speculativam nisi per resolutionem ad prima principia indemonstrabilia, ita firmiter nihil constat per rationem practicam nisi per ordinationem ad ultimum finem, qui est bonum commune. Quod autem hoc modo ratione constat, legis rationem habet."

     Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae I-II.90.2.ad 3, trans. McInerny.  Latin from Corpus Thomisticum.

Monday, May 18, 2015

"the feeble and dissolute Valentinian . . . had reached his thirty-fifth year without attaining the age of reason or courage. . . ."

     Edward Gibbon on Valentinian III, The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, chap. 35 (ed. J. B. Bury, new edition, vol. 3 (London:  Methuen & Co., 1906 [1897]), p. 476).  Cf. "The deepest wounds were inflicted on the empire during the minorities of the sons and grandsons of Theodosius; and, after those incapable princes seemed to attain the age of manhood, they abandoned the church to the bishops, the state to the eunuchs, and the provinces to the Barbarians" (chap. 38, "General observations on the fall of the Roman Empire in the West" (ed. Bury, 3rd edition, vol. 4 (London:  Methuen & Co., 1908 [1897]), p. 165).

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Robert F. Taft, S.J., following William of Champeaux, on the argument against intinction from the "dipped morsel" of John 13:21-30

"As to reception of the Eucharist, there is a certain diversity of practice based upon various reasons, but it is really all one and the same thing.  Reception of the intincted Bread has been forbidden on a frivolous pretext; namely, on account of the intincted morsel which the Lord delivered to Judas in order to expose him."

"De perceptione Eucharistiae diversi quidem usus sunt secundum aliquas causas, sed res eadem.  Quod enim panis intinctus prohibitus est accipi, ex frivola causa fuit, scilicet pro buccella intincta quam Dominus Judae ad distinctionem porrexit. . . ."

     William of Champeaux (c. 1070-1121), De sacramento altaris, PL 163, col.1039, as translated by William Herbert Freestone in The sacrament reserved:  a survey of the practice (1917), 160.  (But check a medieval patrology for the authenticity and best edition of this!)

     I was put onto this by Robert F. Taft, S.J., "Communion via intinction," Studia liturgica 26 (1996):  230 (225-236), whothough siding with the Reformers (the 12th-century reservation of the cup was "a grave departure from the universal ancient tradition rightly stigmatized by the sixteenth-century Reformers" (229)) against a Catholicism that chose to forget that its own magisterium had once consistently and vociferously opposed every departure from the ancient practice of communion in both kinds in the hand separatelynonetheless considers the rationale that became, from Braga IV (675) at the very least, "a topos in Latin anti-intinction polemics and legislation" frivolous at best:  "saner heads like William of Champeaux (d. 1121) found it silly (ex frivola causa)" (230).
     As for (the Reformers on) communion in both kinds,
One often hears it said that Catholics have abandoned the tradition of communion under both species while the Orthodox have preserved the tradition.  The truth is that both Churches have abandoned the primitive usage, if in different ways.  For the ancient tradition was not just communion under both species, but communion under both species separately.  Despite Eastern Orthodoxy’s deep sense of tradition and its conviction never to have deviated from it, the present Byzantine ritual of lay communion represents a major departure from the universal ancient practice.  In the Early Church and throughout Late Antiquity, in the whole of Christendom eastern and western, the laity took communion under both species separately, receiving first the sacred bread in the right hand, then drinking from the cup. . . . in spite of their attachment to tradition, the Orthodox Churches managed to introduce the innovation of communion via intinction without a struggle:  barely a murmur of reproach or need for justification emerges in the Eastern sources cited above.
Things could not have been more different in the West, where the struggle over the issue was intense [(228)].
In the Western, or at least Roman Catholic communion ritual, the reduction of the ancient symbol was more radical, the problem more grave.  In the Catholic West’s favor, however, is the fact that it does not persist in pretending to have remained ever true to the traditions of the past when, in fact, neither East nor West has.  Furthermore, the Catholic Church since Vatican II has taken steps, already effective in some places, to restore the ancient usage [(235)].
     Cf. Dominique Cerbelaud, "'Et, trempant la bouchée . . .' (Jn 13:23):  Une curieuse exégèse des Pères syriens," Le Muséon:  revue d'études orientales 110 (1997):  78-80 (73-80):  The five [fourth- to sixth-century Syriac] texts [translated above] differ, but possess major commonalities as well.  They
interpret the 'morsel' of Jn 13:26 (Gk. ψωμίον) as a morsel of bread.  This interpretation Ephrem in all probability borrowed from the [text of the] Diatessaron.  Indeed, it is important to admit that many other ancient versions (the Peshitta . . . ; the Vulg[ate] panis; the Sl[avonic] . . .) accept it, while others (the Arm[enian] . . . and the Eth[iopic] . . . 'morsel') reject it.  Today it appears very problematic.  In the light of the Jewish paschal meal, certain Christian exegetes have in fact comprehended this 'morsel' as the bitter herbs that one dips ritually into a sauce called ḥaroseth . . . [There is] none of this in our texts, in which, in the wake of Ephrem, it is said that Jesus dipped 'in the water' a morsel of bread . . .
     But in this perspective, the execratory value of the act of intinction becomes, it, too, very problematic.  Whatever the nature of the 'benediction' here supposed (simple preliminary benediction or Eucharistic consecration), our authors interpret Jesus' gesture as its nullification.  Now, the exegetes are unanimous in seeing in this a gesture of hospitality, even affection—even if, in the present case, Jesus utilizes it to designate the one who will betray him.  We note [too] that this interpretation can be reconciled very well with the manducation of the bitter herbs.
     Across these distortions, one assumes that [(on pressent que; but then why not presse?)] that the Syrian authors that we have passed in review seek, in fact, to respond to an underlying question:  Did Judas take part in the Eucharistic meal?  Now, that they imagine an execratory intent in the act of intinction; that they, like Cyrillonas, imply that the traitor left the room before the event, or, like the anonymous monophysite, that he was sulky with [(il a boudé)] the cup; whatever the case, they give to this question a negative response.  And there we touch on the decisive point.  In the wake of Ephrem these [fourth- to sixth-century] Syrian theologians in fact judge it inconceivable that the felon was able to receive the precious gift of the Eucharistic sacrament, he who a few moments later was about to betray his Master.  Yet [(Comme on le sait)], the majority of the Greek and Latin Fathers were, on this point, of precisely the opposite opinion.  This question, still fiercely debated into the 1950s, seems to have lost today, in the eyes of the exegetes, its urgency.
     One realizes, however, that it could [only] arise on the basis of a harmonization of the different narratives of the Last Supper of Jesus, [a harmonization] integrating even the Johannine material, which it remains very difficult to know how to incorporate [into the synoptic tradition].  We should recall that the Ephremite thematic appears in a commentary on the Diatessaron, a text that did nothing if not fuse the four gospels into one.  The perduring success of this exegesis—which even after the interdiction of the Diatesseron and its replacement by the 'gospels separated' under the episcopate of Rabboula of Eddesa in the first half of the fifth century—appears, for that [reason], all the more remarkable.  Jacob of Sarug and the anonymous monophysite persist in interpreting the 'morsel' given to Judas in the context of a Eucharistic ritual . . . [a Eucharistic ritual] that the Fourth Gospel, 'separated', does not mention in any way!  One is permitted to see in this an eloquent index of the prestige of the deacon of Edessa in the Syriac tradition.
     The following are somewhat more appreciative than Taft (or Cerbelaud, above) of the "dipped morsel" rationale:
  • David Randall Boone, "To dip or not to dip?  Intinction among Reformed churches," Reformed liturgy and music 22, no. 4 (Fall 1988):  203-206:  "Popular sentiment against intinction was also fueled by the interesting argument that Jesus gave intincted breada morsel of soponly to Judas, to show who would betray him" (204).
  • Hellmut Zschoch, "Abendmahl ist Essen und Trinken - nicht Tunken:  Gegen das Vordringen der Intinctio in die evangelische Abendmahlspraxis," Luther 83 (2012):  167-173:  "Auch diese Reminiszenz gibt Anlass zur Zurückhaltung bezüglich der symbolischen Qualität des Tunkens beim Abendmahl" (170).
     For more on the passage in John, see
  • D. Francois Tolmie, "Jesus, Judas and a morsel:  interpreting a gesture in John 13,21-20," in Miracles and imagery in Luke and John:  Festschrift Ulrich Busse, ed. J. Verheyden, G. Van Belle, and J. G. Van der Watt, Bibliotheca Ephemeridium Theologicarum Lovaniensium 218 (Leuven:  Peeters, 2008), 105-124.  Tomie draws no strong conclusions, but leans towards interpreting Jesus' gesture positively (as indicating "care and [the offer of] nourishment" (-120-)), albeit non-sacramentally (or only very indirectly so).
     The following I have not yet read:
  • F. J. Maloney, "A sacramental reading of John 13:1-38," Catholic biblical quarterly 53 (1991):  237-256.  According to Cerbelaud, Maloney answers the question "Was the morsel eucharistic?" (pp. 250-255) in opposition to R. E. Brown in the positive.