Friday, November 10, 2017

Abramowski on a potential pre-Augustinian source for the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is the bond of love betwen the Father and the Son

"an already pre-Augustinian origin for the interpretation of the inner-Trinitarian function of the Spirit as bond of Father and Son":
1. When Athanasius says that “the Spirit does not bind (or unite) the Logos with the Father, but rather the Spirit receives [the Father] via the Logos” (contra Arianos 3.24), he is attacking Eusebian positions on the Holy Spirit, not Arian ones, and Augustine, too, as it were, in advance (468-469).  
2. When Augustine says that “in the Holy Spirit an agreement [(concordia)] of unity and equality.  And these three are all one on account of the Father, all equal on account of the Son, all connected [(connexa)] on account of the Holy Spirit” (De doctrina Christiana 15.5), he is correcting, in his native Latin, the Eusebian Greek.  The question is whether this neo-Nicene correction of Eusebian disunity and subordination is original to Augustine or was taken over by him from someone else, possibly Ambrose (469).
3. When Augustine says that “the Holy Spirit is an ineffable communion [(communio)] of Father and Son” (De Trinitate V.11-12), he is rendering into Latin the Greek term κοινωνία, which belongs in the ideosphere of the [Eusebian?] terms συνάφεια and ἀσύγχυτος ἕνωσις (469).
4. Augustine was familiar with the late-second-century Neoplatonic Oracula chaldaica, and quotes it twice in De civitate Dei.  The Oracula chaldaica says in its first part that “Out of them both [(namely, the Monad and the Dyad)] flows the bond [(δέμα)] of the first Triad” (Frag. 31, available to us today thanks to the Neoplatonist Damascius, c. 458-post 533), and "This looks like the origin of both [1] the concept of the Holy Spirit as bond of the Trinity and [2] the controversial conception of the procession of the Holy Spirit ex patre filioque."  Porphyry would have been Augustine’s (and before him Eusebius') source for this, the former via Latin translations of the De philosophica ex oracuhs haurienda and the De regress animae.  But as tempting as it would be to assume that Augustine created his Trinitarian principle, so decisive for the Western doctrine of the Trinity, out of a Latin version of Porphyry directly, we must keep in mind what has just been said on the subject of the Eusebian universe of discourse, the Eusebian conceptuality, and its echo in Augustine.  And indeed, Eusebius himself remains our principle source for the 'oracular philosophy' of Porphyry (470-471).
So until we know better for sure, it would be best to continue to think of Augustine’s description of the bond of unity as love as his own contribution.

     Luis Abramowski, “Zur Trinitätslehre des Thomas von Aquin” (16 February 1995), Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche 92, no. 4 (1995): 468-471 (466-480).

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