Saturday, July 11, 2020


     "I may come down from my garret with a plan in view, intending the first move towards the 'liquidation of the bourgeoisie' about which I had read in my Marxist textbook.  But this plan will not survive the first exchange of words with my chosen victim, and the attempt to impose it or to speak the language that announces it will have the same effect as the wind in Aesop's fable, competing with the sun to remove the coat of a traveller.  Ordinary language warms and softens; Newspeak freezes and hardens."

     Roger Scruton, Fools, frauds and firebrands:  thinkers of the New Left (London:  Bloomsbury, 2015), 11.  The quotation marks around "liquidation of the bourgeoisie" appear with the first occurrence of the phrase in the previous paragraph, not here.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

In praise of a theological mediocrity

It was "the developed neo-Nicene theology of the Trinity and its concept of the hypostases that could for the first time provide the necessary conceptual and intellectual instrumentarium for a tension-free interpretation of the co-enthronment of Christ.  Only when the unity of God is thought together with [(in)] his simultaneous differentiation into three hypostases can the enthronement of Christ be expressed on the far side of [1] a naïve conception of the bisellium (and its tendency towards ditheism) [on the one hand] and [2] an allegorical solution to [the difficulties posed by] this passage [on the other]. . . .
     "And yet—and this is the surprising discovery—the requisite linkage of Cappadocian terminology to the interpretation of Ps 110:1 is first found not in the leading theological minds of the epoch, but in a [single] work of a rather (and I say this advisedly) 'average thinker' above all, in [the Ancoratus of] the already oft-mentioned Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis, . . . where passages on the enthronement of Father and Son are cited and then for the very first time interpreted in a sense consistent with the [new] doctrine of the three hypostases:
The Father sits in heaven, but '[the] Son sits at the right hand of the Father'. . . .  With this it should be obvious [that the Son] is an hypostasis and [the Spirit] is an hypostasis.
Only against the background of this conceptual solution can the Bishop of Cyprus speak in one breath of the 'one Godhead', the εἰς Θεός, without turning the 'co-enthronement of Christ' into an episode in salvation history.  By means of this complicated conceptual apparatus he can place the statement εἰς Θεός beside Ps 110:1 for the first time [in history] without tension.  Unoriginal [(wenig origineller theologischer Denker)] though he was, Epiphanius obviously realized that only a sessio ad dexteram interpreted against the background of the neo-Nicene formula could point the way between the Scylla of monarchianism and the Charybdis of ditheism, and he did so when he interpreted the text as [a] confutation of Sabellian phantasies of unity [on the one hand] and [the] Arian Christology of subordination [on the other]."

     Christoph Markschies, "»Sessio ad dexteram«:  Bemerkungen zu einem altchristlichen Bekenntnismotiv in der christologischen Diskussion der altkirchlichen Theologen," in Le Trône de Dieu, ed. Marc Philonenko, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum neuen Testament 69 (Tübingen:  J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1993), 296-297 (252-317).

"There it is that Paul, there it is that Peter, will rise, and be caught up to meet the Lord in the air."

     St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 32.  Greek from In divi Pauli epistolam ad Romanos homiliae XXXIII, ed. F. Field (Oxford:  J. H. Parker; London:  F. and J. Rivington, 1849), 490.

"This is why I love Rome, although if I would, there are many other things for which I might praise her her greatness, her antiquity, her beauty, her population, her empire, her wealth, or her victories. But all these I pass by, and I call Rome blessed for this cause, that Paul in his lifetime loved her children so well, was so kindly toward them, taught openly there, and at length laid down his life among them. They have there his holy body, and this alone maketh that city illustrious more than doth aught else. And just as a great and strong body hath two bright eyes, so are the bodies of these two Holy Apostles in the city of Rome. Not brighter is the sky when the sun doth make it all light with his beams, than is the city of Rome darting forth these twin rays of light to the uttermost bounds of the earth. There it is that Paul, there it is that Peter, will rise [(Ἐκεῖθεν ἁρπαγήσεται Παῦλος, ἐκεῖθεν Πέτρος)], and be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Think, and thrill at the thought, of what Rome will see then, when she beholdeth Paul and Peter rising suddenly out of that coffin, to be caught up to meet the Lord."

     Trans. at Divinum Officium.  Matins, Saturday in the Octave of  the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. Roman breviary (1910).

"I love Rome even for this, although indeed one has other grounds for praising it, both for its greatness, and its antiquity, and its beauty, and its populousness, and for its power, and its wealth, and for its successes in war. But I let all this pass, and esteem it blessed on this account, that both in his lifetime he wrote to them, and loved them so, and talked with them whiles he was with us, and brought his life to a close there. Wherefore the city is more notable upon this ground, than upon all others together. And as a body great and strong, it hath as two glistening eyes the bodies of these Saints. Not so bright is the heaven, when the sun sends forth his rays, as is the city of Rome, sending out these two lights into all parts of the world. From thence will Paul be caught up, from thence Peter [(Ἐκεῖθεν ἁρπαγήσεται Παῦλος, ἐκεῖθεν Πέτρος)]. Just bethink you, and shudder at the thought of what a sight Rome will see, when Paul ariseth suddenly from that deposit, together with Peter, and is lifted up to meet the Lord."

     Trans. J. B. Morris, LFC 7 (1841) =NPNF 11 (1889).

Thursday, July 2, 2020

"The Gospel terrifies me"

Or, Love, and you won't be allowed to do what you will:

"the gospel terrifies me [(terret me euangelium)]. I could easily say, you see, 'What business is it of mine to be wearisome to people; to say to the wicked, "Don't act wickedly, act like this, stop acting like that"? What business is it of mine to be burdensome to people? I've received instructions how I should live; let me live as I've been told to, as I've been commanded. Let me sign for what I have received; why should I give an account for others?' The gospel terrifies me [(euangelium me terret)]; because nobody could outdo me in enjoying such anxiety-free leisure. There's nothing better, nothing more pleasant than to search through the divine treasure chest with nobody making a commotion; it's pleasant, it's good. But to preach, to refute, to rebuke, to build up, to manage for everybody, that's a great burden, a great weight, a great labor. Who wouldn't run away from this labor? But the gospel terrifies [(terret euangelium)]".

     St. Augustine, Sermon 339.4, On the anniversary of his ordination (425), trans. Edmund Hill, WSA III/9 (Hyde Park, NY:  New City Press, 1994), 282.

"Through Him we have become certain of God"

"Jesus Christ has redeemed us.  Through him we have become certain of God [(Per Ipsum facti sumus certi de Deo)], a God who is not a remote 'first cause' of the world, because his only-begotten Son has become man and of him everyone can say:  'I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me' (Gal 2:20)."

     Benedict XVI, Spe salvi 26.  Or, rather, "have been made certain".

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

"he slept [much] better by book than by heart"

     "Pantagruel slept on a mattress, near a hatchway, holding a Greek text of Heliodorus in his hands.  That was his usual way, for he slept better by book than by heart [(trop mieulx par livre dormoit, que par cœur)]."

     Rabelais, Pantagruel (Gargantua et Pantagruel) IV.63, trans. Burton Raffel (New York & London:  W. W. Norton & Company, 1990), 512.  "Par cœur has the sense of « à la légère » [(lightly, rashly, thoughtlessly; unthinkingly, impulsively)]; cœur designates the seat of the memory" (Mireille Huchon and/or François Moreau, in the Pléiade edition of 1994, p. 1581n10).  "By-word.  In the Roman de la Rose, the lesson by heart (learned by ear) is already opposed  to the lesson by book" (Jacques Boulanger and/or Lucien Scheler in the Pléiade edition of 1955, p. 714n6, no citation).

Sunday, June 28, 2020

"avoid associating with sinners"

"The weak should avoid associating with sinners, on account of the danger in which they stand of being perverted by them. But it is commendable for the perfect, of whose perversion there is no fear, to associate with sinners that they may convert them."

     St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae 5, trans. FEDPCorpus Thomisticum