Saturday, January 4, 2014

"The intimate logic of the New Testament . . . imposes" the whole of that familial analogy of the Trinity according to which Adam stands for the Father; Eve for the Son; and Seth or Abel for the Holy Spirit

     “The familial analogy of the Trinity can be broken down into two aspects:  the paternity-filiation aspect, and the conjugal aspect.  It is clear that the first is explicitly contained in revelation and suggested by it.  It is permitted, even indispensable, to think that the second is at least insinuated [therein].  Theological, logical, and psychological or cultural reasons have not until recently permitted the development and explicit-ation of this implicit content of revelation.
     “First, the theological reasons:  such an explicitation [of the Trinity] [pre]supposes [that] the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit ‘a Patre Filioque tamquam ab unico principio, unica spiratione’ [(‘from the Father and the Son as from a single principle, a single spiration’)] has been irreversibly acquired [(en effet solidement acquise)].  Now, the first declaration of the extraordinary magisterium of the Church on this subject is that of the ecumenical council of Lyon in 1274 (DS 850; DB 460).
     “Next, the logical reasons:  the natural tendency of the human mind inclines it to associate Seth, Abel, or the infant with the only Son rather than [(et non à)] the Holy Spirit, and this parallelism seemed at first sight more satisfactory, because it underscored an analogical relation between son and earthly father [on the one hand] and Son and heavenly Father [on the other]; by a consequence not less logical, one was spontaneously inclined to assimilate aspects of [(partiellement)] the creation of Eve from the side of Adam to the procession of the Spirit (as did, for example, Saint John Damascene), in order to symbolize the procession of the Spirit from the Father, inasmuch as that would differ from the generation of the Son.  It did not even occur to most [(à l’esprit)] that one must invert the logical order in order to attain to a dogmatically satisfactory analogy, and assimilate Eve to the Word, [the] only Son.  Yet this was, as we have shown, the only way open to a fruitful understanding of the mystery, because it was the only [one] that allowed for an account, by way of [(en)] this analogy, not only of the generation of the Son, but also of the eternal procession of the Spirit in full conformity with definitively elaborated Catholic dogma.  The first [(i.e. Eve-Son)] version of the analogy was only a false lead that, for a long time, prevented the explicit-ation of the conjugal image of the Trinity.
     “Finally, the psychological or cultural reasons:  the familial analogy, since it implied, not only the father-son relation, but also the role of the woman, could not without peril be integrated into the didascalia, and much less still, into the kerygma; it would have favored a tritheist and sensual understanding of the Trinity, that is to say, its misunderstanding; even today it would doubtless be inopportune to promote it in an Islamic context; one can even wonder about the extent to which it can be presented to the Christian people as a whole, in our hedonistic age,  without peril of grave confusion.  Nonetheless, we think that it could [well] be the most eloquent way of facilitating from afar a glimpse into [(de faire soupçonner de loin)] the loving splendor of the procession [(la processions)] of the Holy Spirit, [that] mutual Love who proceeds from the Father and the Son as from a single [(unique)] principle and by a single spiration.  Thus the infant procedes from the mutual love of its parents as from a single principle, and by a single act of two [separate] persons.  Moreover, it would be easy to obviate the [(d’obvier aux)] perils of confusion by recalling not only the material, but also and above all the spiritual character of conjugal love [(cf. p. 83)], not to mention the divine transcendence:  ‘one cannot observe a similitude between creature and Creator without having to observe a dissimilitude even greater still’ (DS 806; DB 432):  inter creatorem et creaturam non potest similitude notary quin inter eos maior sit dissimilitudo notanda). . . .
“the two aspects of the analogy mutually implicate one another.  Paternity and filiation are situated in the framework of a matrimonial relation, and the latter is an image of the mystery only in the measure in which it is procreative, if, with Saint Paul, one admits the universal paradigmatic value of the triad Adam-Eve-Seth."

     Bertrand de Margerie, S. J., “L’analogie familiale de la Trinité,” Science et esprit 24, no. 1 (janvier-avril 1972):  86-87, 90 (77-92).  For further suggestions as to why the conjugal aspect of the analogy remains in Scripture only implicit, see. p. 91.  The hero of Margerie’s story is Gregory of Nazianzus, as sidelined on this point by the likes of Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas:
“What was Adam? A creature of God. What then was Eve? A fragment of the creature. And what was Seth? The begotten of both. Does it then seem to you that Creature and Fragment and Begotten are the same thing? Of course it does not. But were not these persons consubstantial? Of course they were. Well then, here it is an acknowledged fact that different persons may have the same substance. I say this, not that I would attribute creation or fraction or any property of body to the Godhead (let none of your contenders for a word be down upon me again), but that I may contemplate in these, as on a stage, things which are objects of thought alone. For it is not possible to trace out any image exactly to the whole extent of the truth. But, they say, what is the meaning of all this? For is not the one an offspring, and the other a something else of the One? Did not both Eve and Seth come from the one Adam? And were they both begotten by him? No; but the one was a fragment of him, and the other was begotten by him. And yet the two were one and the same thing; both were human beings; no one will deny that. Will you then give up your contention against the Spirit, that He must be either altogether begotten, or else cannot be consubstantial, or be God; and admit from human examples the possibility of our position? I think it will be well for you, unless you are determined to be very quarrelsome, and to fight against what is proved to demonstration” (Oration no. 31=Theological oration no. 5, sec. 11, as translated by Browne & Swallow (NPNF, ser. 2, vol. 7)).

No comments: