Saturday, July 24, 2010

Marshall on Scheeben on the kenosis of Phil 2

"Scheeben is surely right to point out that the Son's existence in our flesh, let alone the decision to accept this temporal mission, cannot itself be regarded as kenotic.  The Son still, and forever, has our flesh, but Philippians 2 clearly insists that he does not now exist in a state of kenosis, but of exaltation.  It must, therefore, be the acceptance of liability to suffering and death, of flesh in its fallen state and not of flesh as such, in which the kenosis of Philippians 2 properly consists.  'One cannot apply the saying of the Apostle, "he emptied himself," to the incarnation as such.  Otherwise the Son of God would have to exist in a state of self-renunciation and self-emptying even now, in heaven.  This it has never occurred to anyone to think'. . . .

Bruce Marshall, "The unity of the triune God," The Thomist 75, no. 1 (January 2010):  26n32 (1-32), quoting Matthias Joseph Scheeben, Die Mysterien des Christentums, §64 (=The mysteries of Christianity, trans. Cyril Vollert, S.J. (St. Louis, MO:  B. Herder, 1946), 423-424).

I haven't read Scheeben, and am more than a little ignorant of the ins and outs of the patristic (and later) discussion, but couldn't one refer the exaltation to the human nature of him who is nonetheless (of course!) "one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ" ("one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten")?
I mean, according to the (merely) narrative logic of Phil 2, it was only "after" the self-emptying (ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν) that, "being found in human form", there came the further self-humbling (ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν) that amounted to obedience "unto death, even death on a cross."

The position I like.  But is Scheeben really so devastating here?

(And we haven't even factored in the extra Patristicum (extra Calvinisticum).)

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