Saturday, August 9, 2008

Marcellus of Ancyra: God isn't really in this for the long haul

“What then do we learn about the human flesh [(τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης σαρκός)] the Logos assumed”? Will “the Logos . . . possess this [flesh] also forever or only until the time of the Judgment [(καὶ ἐν τοῖς μέλλουσιν ἀιῶσιν . . . ἢ ἄχρι μόνον τοῦ τῆς κρίσεως καιροῦ)]?” (Vinzent 104=Klostermann 116=Rettberg 103)

“If [the Logos] confesses here [in Jn 6:61-63] that the flesh is of no avail, how can it be that th[is flesh] which is of earth and of no avail will be together with him also forever [(καὶ ἐν τοῖς μέλλουσιν ἀιῶσιν)] as if of some avail? . . . [Acts 3:20-21] speaks as if it fixed a certain limit and a pre-determined time [(ὅρον τινὰ καὶ προθεσμίαν)] within which it pertains to the human economy to be united with the Logos. . . . Paul [too] says clearly and obviously [in Rom 8:21, Phil 2:7, and 1 Cor 15:24] that the fleshly economy of the Logos must fall within a short span of both past and future eons [(ἐν Βραχεῖ τινι χρόνῳ τῶν τε παρεληλυθότων καὶ τῶν μελλόντων αἰώνων)], and that this [fleshly economy] will have, as a beginning, so also an end” (Vinzent 106=Klostermann 117=Rettberg 104).

“before coming down from heaven and being born of the virgin he was only Logos. Before the assumption of human flesh what else was [there]? . . . There was nothing other than Logos” (Vinzent 5=Klostermann 48=Rettberg 42).

And “therefore the Logos is in God just as he was also earlier, before there was a cosmos. For then there was nothing other than God alone” (Vinzent 109=Kostermann 121=Rettberg 108).

“But if someone is inclined to say, Human flesh is worthy [(ἀξίαν)] of the Logos because [the Logos] by the resurrection made it immortal, he should acknowledge that not all that is immortal is worthy [(ἄξιον)] of God. . . . [N]ot everything immortal is worthy [(ἄξιον)] of being united with God” (Vinzent 108=Klostermann 120=Rettberg 107).

     Marcellus of Ancyra. References are to fragments, not pages, and the translations (from Vincent's German, with an occasional glance at the Greek) are mine. Vinzent: Markell von Ankyra: Die Fragmente, Der Briefe an Julius von Rom, ed. Markus Vinzent, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 39 (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 2-129; Klostermann: Eusebius Werke, Vierter Band: Gegen Marcell, Über die kirchliche Theologie, Die Fragmente Marcells, ed. Erich Klostermann, 2nd ed. ed. Günther Christian Hansen, Die Griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1972), 183-215; Rettberg: Marcelliana, ed. Christian Heinrich Georg Rettberg (Göttingen, 1794). "heretics of the first centuries (Marcel of Ancyre [for example]) believed that once the redemption was accomplished and the history of salvation concluded, the Word would separate himself from his humanity just as one takes off one's coat when one enters one's home after having braved inclement weather outside" (Jean-Pierre Batut, "The Transfiguration: or, the outcome of history placed in the hands of freedom," Communio: international Catholic review 35, no. 1 (Spring 2008): 49n5). Cf. "But this union will be dissolved one day, . . . for flesh, even immortalized, doesn't suit God" (M. D. Chenu, "Marcel d'Ancyre," Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 9 (1926), 1998). Hence the words of the Creed, which were directed against Marcellus in particular: "whose Kingdom shall have no end."  Cf. the ODCC:  "Marcellus taught that in the Unity of the Godhead the Son and the Spirit only emerged as independent entities for the purposes of Creation and Redemption. After the redemptive work is achieved they will be resumed again into the Divine Unity and ‘God will be all in all’. The clause in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381, ‘whose Kingdom shall have no end’ [(the subject of that being, of course, the subject of its entire second article, namely the 'one Lord Jesus Christ')], was inserted to combat his teaching."

Monday, August 4, 2008

Farrer on "theistic semi-naturalism"

"The transcendentalist may hope to have refuted the rash claim that the relation of created activities to the Creative Act can be made closely analogous to a natural relation, and in so far intelligible. He has not in so doing shown the absolute untenability of what he would call half-theologies, or removed their attractiveness for minds whose religious attitude they fit or form. It often becomes evident to the orthodox student of such systems that their authors are simply articulating a strange religion. The God of Professor Hartshorne, for example, must be human enough to have a natural need of his creatures. It is apparently a matter of no concern that he should be divine enough to save their souls alive. Here is a rival doctrine about that divine charity which is the heart of our religion. The fervour of the faith behind the teaching is unmistakable; it claims to be judged as a new revelation, not as a rational conclusion."

Austin Farrer, Faith and speculation: an essay in philosophical theology (New York: New York University Press, 1967), 169-170.

Farrer on "the anti-scholastic revolt"

"if we attribute to God a life of creative volition we shall see his acts under the temporal form, not only in their effect, but in God's living of them. But it is absurd to say that we in this world have got all the time there is, and if God wants any of it, he will have to come in and have a bit of ours. There is no such thing as time; there is activity, which viewed objectively, may be called process; and there are relations of before and after within it, which for various purposes may be abstracted, described and diagrammatised in various ways. The time-relations to be found within process are determined by the structure of the process, not vice versa; if we knew what it was like to be God, or to live the life of God, we should know what there is in his existence analogous to the temporal forms which characterise ours. But perhaps we shall not be so rash as to claim that knowledge. . . .
"Nothing can be in our time-order without being a natural constituent of our world."

Austin Farrer, Faith and speculation: an essay in philosophical theology (New York: New York University Press, 1967), 164.

Farrer on an important distinction

"No element of theological analogy is involved in the statement of what God intends, when he intends what I should do; but analogy is involved in the statement that God intends it. God's act of intending is not identical with my act of intending, how could it be? The whole mode of divine being and action is other than the human. So in the whole statement 'God wills that . . .' analogy is involved; but attention will commonly be focussed on the part of the statement which does not involve it--the part which expresses what we have to do."

     Austin Farrer, Faith and speculation: an essay in philosophical theology (New York: New York University Press, 1967), 106-107. Meanwhile, I'm trying to determine whether Burrell disagrees: "If the only alternatives are univocity or equivocity, Scotus would be right; but ordinary language use displays terms used evaluatively (and therefore analogously), which we learn how to use in practical reasoning, as Jesus did in reminding univocally minded Pharisees that he 'came to save not the just but sinners'. So the initial step into the kingdom he announced will involve foregoing any empirical way of identifying either group, thereby suggesting quite different norms governing self-knowledge and practice, but ones intelligible to any practised agent" (David Burrell, CSC, "Maimonides, Aquinas and Ghazali: distinguishing God from the world," Scottish journal of theology 61, no. 3 (2008): 286.