Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Aquinas on the historicity of the natural law

"According to the Philosopher (Ethic. vii) 'human nature is not unchangeable as the Divine nature is.' Hence things that are of natural law vary according to the various states and conditions of men; although those which naturally pertain to things Divine nowise vary."

     Thomas Aquinas, IV Sent. 26.1.ad 3 =Summa Theologiae III Suppl. 41.1.ad 3, trans. FEDP.

"secundum philosophum, in 6 Ethicor., natura humana non est immobilis sicut divina; et ideo diversificantur ea quae sunt de jure naturali, secundum diversos status et conditiones hominum; quamvis ea quae sunt in rebus divinis naturaliter nullo modo varientur."

     I was put on to this by Jean-Pierre Torrell, "Saint Thomas et l'histoire:  ├ętat de la question et pistes de recherches," Nouvelles recherches thomasiennes, Bibliotheque thomiste 61, ed. L.-J. Bataillon, O.P, and A. Oliva, O.P. (Paris:  Librairie philosophique J. Vrin, 2008), 149 (131-175) =Revue thomiste 105 (2005):  355-409.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"The beauty of inflexibility"

"these sometimes murderous divisions were not the symptoms of a movement without coherent identity, but just the opposite.  Controversy arose precisely because 'unlike the religion of the Greeks and the Romans,' Christianity was more than a set of rituals:  'Christians affirmed that certain things were true' (and others, therefore, false).  Such a religion 'does not lend itself to every possible opinion; it imposes limits that cannot be formulated in advance, but become evident over time.'
     "This evolution and hardening of Christianity's doctrinal core, into what the Victorian Cardinal Manning liked to call the beauty of inflexibility, involved both the acceptance of martyrdom and the proclamation of creeds.  But it was also what gave the movement its staying power, and enabled it to prevail over the more yielding polytheism of the society in which it first found itself.  Paradoxically, the existence of self-imposed limits on the adaptability of Christian belief was the key to the movement's ability to thrive in dramatically different cultural settings."

     Eamon Duffy, reviewing Robert Louis Wilken's The first thousand years:  a global history of Christianity (New Haven:  Yale University Press, 2012), in "The staying power of Christianity," New York review of books 60, no. 11 (June 20, 2013):  70.  Cf. http://liberlocorumcommunium.blogspot.com/2009/07/furst-on-two-contributions-of.htmlhttp://liberlocorumcommunium.blogspot.com/2008/07/frst-on.html.