Saturday, September 27, 2014

"'No good work is undertaken with wise reflection.'"

"'. . . but God led me up like a[n old] nag whose eyes have been put out so that it won't see those who come to deliver the fatal blow.'
     "Then said the Doctor on this [subject], 'that rarely is a good work undertaken[rarely does a good work] come—out of wisdom or prudence, but it must all happen in [the context of] a misunderstanding or lack of information. . . ."

". . . aber Gott hat mich hinan geführt wie einen Gaul, dem die Augen geblendet sind, daß er die nicht sehe, so zu ihm zurennen.
     "Und sagte der Doctor darauf, 'daß selten ein gut Werk aus Weisheit oder Fürsichtigkeit fürgenommen werde oder geschehe, sondern es musse alles in einem Irrsal oder Unwissenheit geschehen."

     Martin Luther, at Tischrede no. 406 (Veit Dietrich 157), December 1532 =WA Tischreden 1, 175-176 (Aurifaber parallel in small print on p. 176, which is not there dated, and derives from Dr. Martin Luthers Tischreden oder Colloquia.  Nach Aurifabers erster Ausgabe, . . . vols. 1-3 ed. Karl Eduard Förstemann (Leipzig, 1844-1846), vol. 4 ed. Heinrich Ernst Bindseil (Berlin, 1848), vol. 1, no. 23, p. 26).
     I was put onto this by André Dumas, who translates it as follows:
'Dieu m'a conduit sur les sommets comme une rosse dont les yeux sont aveugles, afin que'elle ne voie pas ceux qui viennent la heurter..., car rarement bonne œuvre, entreprise en sagesse et prévoyance, n'atteint son but.  Tout doit se faire comme dans un dédale d'inconscience.'
My translation of the French:  'God led me onto the heights like a sorry nag whose eyes are blind, so that it doesn't see those who come to strike it. . . . for rarely does a good work, undertaken in wisdom and foresight, attain its goal.  Everything must be done as in a labyrinth/maze of ignorance/unawareness.'
André Dumas, "300e anniversaire de la mort de Blaise Pascal:  L'apologétique du Dieu caché chez Pascal," Revue d'histoire et de philosophie religieuses 4 (1962):  298n2 (290-303).

     Cf. Luther's Works 54, p. 64, which translates Veit Dietrich 157, but not the Aurifaber in small print on p. 176:
     'No good work is undertaken or done with wise reflection. It must all happen in a half-sleep. This is how I was forced to take up the office of teaching. If I had known what I know now, ten horses wouldn’t have driven me to it. Moses and Jeremiah also complained that they were deceived. Nor would any man take a wife if he first gave real thought [to what might happen in marriage and the household].     Here Philip said that he had diligently observed that in history great deeds had never been done by old men.  'This was so,' said Luther, 'when Alexander and Augustus were young; afterward men become too wise. They didn’t do great things by deliberate choice but by a sort of impulse. If you young fellows were wise, the devil couldn’t do anything to you; but since you aren’t wise, you need us who are old. Our Lord God doesn’t do great things except by violence, as they say. If old men were strong and young men were wise it would be worth something. The sect leaders are all young men like Icarus and Phaeton. Such are Zwingli and Karlstadt.  They are novices in the sacred Scriptures.'
(Note that the two paragraphs appear to contradict one another.  In the first, "'No good work is undertaken with wise reflection.'"  Yet in the second, "'you need us who are old.'")
     There are a couple of images of Rocinante here that would be perfect for that first sentence.

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