Friday, January 1, 2010

Bardy on Tertullian on the argument from prescription

"One is naturally tempted to compare Tertullian with Saint Irenaeus. . . .  The bishop of Lyon and the priest of Carthage study often the same problems; combat the same heretics; utilize, order to refute error, the same argument from the apostolic origin of doctrines.  But an abyss separates the two men.  Saint Irenaeus is, above all, in everything he writes, the disciple of tradition.  He takes care not to innovate in any way.  He repeats--in an original manner, of course [(d'ailleurs)], and by placing on it the mark of his own mind--whatever he has learned from his masters; and, when he wishes to show where the truth is found, he is content to refer to the churches that preserve the apostolic teaching, [and] to the church of Rome above all.  Tertullian gives a new form to the argument from Saint Irenaeus; he imprints upon it the mark of his juridical mind and proposes a whole theory of prescription.  [The argument from] prescription is a good one [(valable)] to be sure, but the apostolic authority that founds it has, of necessity, faded into the background.  What catches one's eye is the new form that the reasoning and the juridicism that inspires [this argument] has imposed [(prise, taken)].  Is it any surprise, then, if, having become a Montanist, Tertullian abandons the argument from prescription?  It is not he who penned the formula Non est de præscriptione arguendum sed de ratione vincendum.  But this formula of Cyprian does give expression to the thought of Tertullian as it appears in his later writings, [and] in De pudicitia above all.  Of what value is prescription, if reason calls it into question [(lui donne tort)]?  Or, again, if the Holy Spirit adds new teachings to those of the apostles?  Such is in fact the final step in an evolution that one might wish [had been] less rigid.  Carried away by the exaggeration of a merciless logic, Tertullian becomes the doctor of private inspiration after having been that of fidelity to the traditional teachings."

G. Bardy, "Tertullien," Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 15.1 (1946), col. 167.  The argument from prescription is the argument from "Uninterrupted use or possession from time immemorial" (Oxford English dictionary), and Bardy elaborates on this, following Tertullian, in col. 146, pars. 2-3:  "in the matter of dogma, possession is equivalent to title."  And "The agreement of [widely scattered] communities among themselves confirms the proof", such that "the argument is solid.  The merit of Tertullian is to have found the definitive formulation of [it]:  Quod apud multos unum invenitur, non est erratum, sed traditum" (De præscr. 27; Bardy cites also 37).  I haven't read the whole article, but went looking for it in response to J. Bellamy, "Assomption de la Sainte Vierge," Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 1 (1903), col. 2135:  "In the matter of tradition and of beliefs, it is in the Church above all that prescription is equivalent to title. . . ."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Durand on the yield of the prioritization of relation over procession in St. Thomas

"The yield of a nuanced analysis of the different facets of the Trinitarian relation allows Thomas to honor a properly relational conception of the person of the Father. In this he distinguishes himself from Bonaventure, and leads to term the first sketch of [the] solution supplied by Albert the Great.
"The connection between procession [(read also emanation, origin)] and relation is more subtle in Thomas than in Bonaventure because Aquinas manages to avoid a univocal solution. At the point at which the Franciscan master opted for a subordination of relation with respect to emanation, the Dominican gives priority to the relation insofar as it subsists [(en tant que'elle subsiste)], while underscoring that relation qua relation [(en tant que rapport)] is indeed founded on procession.
"This speculative tour de force leads to a theology of the Father originale, and heads off an excessive reliance on the model of emanation [(soustraite au seul modèle de l'émanation)]. The Father is no longer characterized so much as first hypostasis and fontal plenitude as Father of the Son."

Fr. Emmanuel Durand, O.P., “Le Père en sa relation constitutive au Fils selon saint Thomas d’Aquin.” Revue thomiste 107, no. 1 (2007): 60 (47-72). "The complex resolution of the relation between origin and relation finds itself thus aligned with an advanced understanding of the hypostasis of the Father. The relation of paternity is not a simple consequence of the act of generation; it is the first element of analysis appropriate to the signification of the perfection of the Father. Thus Thomas recalls in Summa theologiae [ 2] that "generation is signified as in progress [(en devenir)], but paternity signifies the achievement of generation [(Generatio . . . significatur ut in fieri: sed paternitas significat complementum generationis, generation signifies something in process of being made, while paternity signifies the complement of [(i.e. that which completes)] generation (FEDP))]. Our way of knowing is tied naturally to becoming, but we have at our disposal . . . resources for, on the one hand, purifying the concepts of movement and change that we employ and, on the other hand, completing these concepts in other registers. This is precisely the function of relation in regard to procession in the theology of St. Thomas" (61). Cf. and

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Aquinas on transubstantion

"substance, as such, is not visible to the bodily eye, nor does it come under any one of the senses, nor under the imagination, but solely under the intellect, whose object is what a thing is. . . . And therefore, properly speaking, Christ's body, according to the mode of being which it has in the sacrament, is perceptible neither by sense nor by the imagination, but only by the intellect, which is called the spiritual eye."

"the accidents which are discerned by the senses are truly present.  But the intellect, whose proper object is substance . . . is preserved by faith from deception . . . because faith is not contrary to the senses, but concerns things which sense does not reach."

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae III.76.7, as quoted by Reinhard Hütter, in his "Eucharistic adoration in the personal presence of Christ:  making explicit the mystery of faith by way of metaphysical contemplation," Nova et vetera:  the English edition of the international journal 7, no. 1 (Winter 2009):  208.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hugo on the book

"le livre tuera l'édifice!"

Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris, book 5.

St. Basil on Tradition

"Concerning the teachings of the Church, whether publicly proclaimed (κηρυγμάτων) or reserved to members of the household of faith (δογμάτων), we have received some from written sources, while others have been given to us secretly, through apostolic tradition.  Both sources have equal force in true religion.  No one would deny either source--no one, at any rate, who is even slightly familiar with the ordinances of the Church.  If we attacked unwritten customs, claiming them to be of little importance, we would fatally mutilate the Gospel, no matter what our intentions--or rather, we would reduce the Gospel teachings to bare words."

St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, chap. 27, sec. 66, trans. David Anderson ((Crestwood, NY:  St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1980), 98, but with κηρυγμάτων and δογμάτων substituted--from the notes to the NPNF edition--for "kerygma" and "dogmata").  This is a major theme throughout (7.16, 10.26, 25.58, 27.66-67, 29.71-75, etc.), though the examples given here seem trivial.  According to the editors of the NPNF edition, at least, Basil can also come down pretty firmly on the side of Scripture, too.

St. Basil on the Holy Spirit

"If you remain outside the Spirit, you cannot worship at all, and if you are in Him you cannot separate Him from God."

St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, chap. 26, sec. 64, trans. David Anderson ((Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1980), 97).