Wednesday, April 17, 2024

McGuckin on the "axiom" hopou logos agei in Origen

      Where does this (presumably something like ὅπου λόγος ἄγει), or some semblance thereof, occur in Origen?  So far as I've been able to tell, McGuckin doesn't say.  McGuckin translations (there are others, as, for example, here):

  • "'Follow wherever Holy Reason leads'"
  • "'Let us go wherever the Divine Logos takes us'"
  • "the soul must follow 'wherever the Logos leads'"
So far I've come up empty, even in Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, searched fairly loosely (though my Greek isn't really up to snuff), and McGuckin has yet to reply.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Faith, baptism, AND LIFE

"No one may share the eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ [(καὶ οὕτως βιοῦντι ὡς ὁ Χριστὸς παρέδωκεν, unless they live as Christ handed [it] down)]."

     St. Justin Martyr (c. 100-c. 165), First apology 66.1, as trans. Second reading, Office of readings, Third Sunday of Easter, Liturgy of the hours, vol. 2, p. 694.  Greek from the 3rd (1876) ed. of the Opera ed. Otto, tom. 1, pars 1, p. 180, which matches p. 256 of the 2009 Minns & Parvis Oxford early Christian texts edition exactly.  Minns & Parvis translation:  "And this food is called among us 'eucharist', of which it is lawful for no one to partake except one believing the things that have been taught by us are true, and who has washed in the washing which is for the forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives in just the way that Christ handed down."  I have not read around in this (for context) recently, but something very similar is said in 61:  "Those who believe what we teach is true and who give assurance of their ability to live according to that teaching. . .  We then lead to" baptism.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

"What a wonder! A sun is fashioned, and no counsel precedes"

 Ὤ τοῦ θαύματος·  ἥλιος κατασκευάζεται, καὶ οὐδεμία πρηγεῖται βουλή·

     St. Gregory of Nyssa, De opificio hominis 3.2, trans. Behr (Gregory of Nyssa:  On the human image of God (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2023), 161).  "In every single case—the aether, the stars, the intermediate air, the sea, the earth, the animals, the plants—all are brought to genesis by a word; while only to the formation of the human being does the Maker of all draw near with circumspection [(

Monday, April 8, 2024

Peterson on song and dance

"Song and dance are the result of an excess of energy.  When we are normal we talk, when we are dying we whisper, but when there is more in us than we can contain we sing.  When we are healthy we walk, when we are decrepit we shuffle, but when we are beyond ourselves with vitality we dance."

     Eugene H. Peterson, "Unself-made," Earth & altar:  the community of prayer in a self-bound society (New York:  Paulist Press, 1985), 36.  I have not read the book as a whole, but stumbled upon this when searching it for something else.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

"I am who I am, and my counsel is not with the wicked, but in the law of the Lord is my will"

"Ego et sum qui sum, et consilium meum non est cum impiis, sed in lege Domini voluntas mea est, alleluja."

     Currently antiphon to Ps 1, Office of readings for the Second Sunday of Easter/Divine Mercy Sunday (only?), though all (?) of the occurrences of this in the Cantus database are associated with the Mass.  Liturgy of the hours:  "I am who I am, and wicked men do not accept my ways, for the law of the Lord is my delight"; Universalis:  "I am who I am, and wicked men do not understand my ways:  my delight is the law of the Lord."  The earliest occurrence of this antiphon in Cantus at the moment (Albi, Bibliothèque municipale Rochegude, 44 (F-Al 44), 91r.) is dated c. 890, though the image is taken from the late 10th-century Sankt Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, 391 (CH-SGs 391), 32.  A quick and dirty initial stab at potential sources (though I have not run lemma searches):

  • "Ego et sum qui sum":  Ex 3:14.
  • "consilium meum": see also the two entries below.
  • "cum impiis":  Ps 25:5 ("with the wicked [(cum impiis)] I will not sit") and 9 ("with the wicked [(cum impiis)"), but more importantly Ps 1:1:  "Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly [(in consilio impiorum)]".
  • "sed in lege Domini voluntas mea est":  Ps 1:2:  "But his will is in the law of the Lord [(sed in lege Domini voluntas ejus)]", but also Is 46:10:  "My counsel shall stand [(Consilium meum stabit)]" and Lk 22:42:  "but yet not my will, but thine be done [(verumtamen non mea voluntas, sed tua fiat)]."

Saturday, April 6, 2024

"where truth and wisdom and [reason] are, . . . this is where Jesus is"

      "Now it is likely that, on the basis of our conjectures about the end, someone will focus on the statement, 'Where I go you cannot come,' [(Jn 8:21)] and reply that it is possible not to be able now, but to be able later.  And if indeed there is a present age and another to come, these to whom he has said, 'You cannot come,' cannot go where Jesus is during the present age (and the time which remains until its completion is great), that is, where truth and wisdom and the Word are, for this is where Jesus is [(ὅπου ἡ ἀλήθεια καὶ ἡ σοφία καὶ ὁ λόγος, τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν ὅπου Ἰησοῦς)].
     "But I know that some are overcome by their own sin not only in this age, but also in the age to come, as those of whom the Word says, 'If anyone blasphemes against the Holy Spirit he has forgiveness neither in this age nor in the one to come.'  If, however, there is no forgiveness in the coming age, neither is there any in the ages which come after it as well."

     Origen, Commentarii in evangelium Joannis 19.87-88 as trans. Ronald E. Heine (FC 89 (1993)), 187-188.  Heine is probably right, though, in translating 
ὁ λόγος as "the Word."  (But then why not "where the Truth and the Wisdom and the Word are"?)  Greek from Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, which is where I stumbled upon this while searching (so far unsucessfully) for something else (the Origenistic "dictum" or "adage" hopou logos agei, "where(ever) reason leads," as quoted (?) often, but with never (?) a citation, by John Anthony McGuckin).

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Ora et labora (Pray and work): that supposedly "ancient" and supposedly "Benedictine" formula "that . . . is scarcely more than a century old"

N.B.:  Though that headline remains valid, Meeuws (below) has since been updated by

  • Paul G. Monson, "Ora et labora:  a Benedictine motto born in America?", in God has begun a great work in us:  embodied love in consecrated life and ecclesial movements, ed. Jason King and Shannon Schrein, OSF, Annual publication of the College Theology Society 60 (2014) =(Maryknoll, NY:  Orbis Books, 2015), pp. 66-83.

Monson provides archival evidence that the saying actually surfaced qua Benedictine motto "four years before Wolter's work [(below)] and almost a quarter of a century before Sauter's application" of it to the Benedictine Order specifically, in a letter from first abbot of St. Meinrad Abbey Martin Marty to Frowin Conrad dated 20 November 1876; and thus evidence that it emerged in the late-19th-century American context before it first emerged in the late-19th-century European.  Monson's translation from the German:

. . . the family life of a true Benedictine house of worship, encompassing material as well as spiritual progress, is the model and ideal of family life, upon which rests the welfare of the individual and society.  Ora et labora is still today the only formula for curing the children of Adam, and both cannot be taught with words.

     And yet it's not clear to me why Monson doesn't credit instead the "German Catholic" Gottfried Edmund Friess, whom Monson himself says "uses the phrase for the Benedictines," and whoon p. 8 of the first Abteilung of his Studien über das wirken der Benediktiner in Oesterreich für Kultur, Wissenschaft und Kunst, usually dated to 1868, but surely certainly not later than 1872, the actually-specified publication date of Abteilung 5 (dates as late as 1868 appear in Abteilung 1, dates as late as 1869 in Abteilungen 2 and 3)—speaks (while, again, discussing the Rule of St. Benedict (7)) of the "motto" or "devise [(Wahlspruch)] of the Order [of] St. Benedict:  'Ora et Labora'" (8), "Gebet und Arbeit" (7).  For 1872 would be four years and 1868 eight years before 1876, but in back in Europe!
     Still, by Monson's time full-text searching had come into its own, so someone should now run patient and careful but exhaustive (and exhaustively researched) searches in full-text databases ranging from the Hathi Trust Digital Library, the Internet Archive, and Google Books all the way back to the (former) Library of Latin Texts and maybe even Patrologia Latina (plus all of the specialized databases, like, for St. Augustine, the CAG).  Take just the Hathi Trust Digital Library, for example.  In the HTDL it is extraordinarily easy to take the hits (if no Benedictine hits) back well before 1876 or even 1868 (at present there are, in the HTDL, more than 800 before 1850), such that the question should now be twofold:  1) Are none of those in some sense authentically Benedictine in nature?, and, even if demonstrably not, then 2) What fascinating story might they still tell about the history of the motto long before it was appropriated by the Benedictines from c. 1868/1876, and Does that story include, nonetheless, a vague and distant Benedictine influence way back in the mists of time originally (Where, for example, do the in-some-cases-presumably-long-standing family crest-mottos come from conceptually)?  Here are just a couple of examples, grabbed out of the HTDL (and other databases) just quickly (note, though I can't promise to have read around in context, how very divergent is the sense in these!):

Marie-Benoît Meeuws, OSB, "«Ora et labora»: devise bénédictine?," Collectanea Cisterciensia 54 (1992/93): 193-219 (Oliver J. Kaften, OSB, "Ora et labora: (k)ein benediktinishes Motto: eine Spurensuche," Erbe und Auftrag 90 (2014): 415-421 is mostly just a re-presentation in German of the findings of Meeuws):

All the while acknowledging that the question of the "the relation between prayer and work [(travail, usually manual labor)] arose for the [(s’est posée aux)] monks from the first generation" (194; cf., for the High Middle Ages, 201 and 205), and has persisted throughout the history of monasticism; and that her investigations could not possibly be exhaustive; and, so, allowing for the possibility of further discoveries (193, 194, 209, 215, etc., but especially 203 and 216), Meeuws attempts to answer two questions:

  • the question of the origin of the motto (and, yes, she does mean specifically the device, tessura, jumelage, banalité, apophtegme, stique, sentence, proverbe, couple verbale, junction, expression, rapprochement, cliché, maxime, marque de fabrique, racourci, formule, plaquette, etiquette, mot, jeu de mots, adage, somme, etc.) alone; and
  • the question of the origin of its association with [St. Benedict and] the Benedictine Order specifically.

Her findings she summarizes on p. 216 as follows (though I’ve drawn on the rest of the article as well):

  • "the brief formula Ora et Labora" "has not been found in all of its simplicity before the Praecipua ordinis monastici elementa of Dom Maur Wolter [OSB], [published] in 1880" (216), in which "the capital text" ("vetus clarrissimaque illa monachorum tessera: Ora et Labora! Opus Dei atque opus laboris") appears "finally for the first time" (213), but among whose "imposing list of references . . . ([to] Fathers of the Church, mystics, conciliar and episcopal documents, ancient monastic statutes, [and] authors of every sort) . . . one finds no testimony to this [supposedly] 'ancient' text, save that of the [11th-century] Carthusians" (214), below, according to ODCC4 (2022) "the only monastic order in the W[est] which does not follow the rule of St Benedict" (italics mine)! (For Meeuws' own typology of Western monasticism, see pp. 202-203.)
  • "Dom Wolter concocted [(a créée)] it in one of those vigorous abridgements [(raccourcis)] for which he had sometimes the genius, by synthesizing an apophthegm known in the 11th century among the Carthusians," as quoted (claimed Wolter) in their in some sense non-Benedictine (203) Statutes for Novices, but actually "in the text that follows the Statutes," the Quidam tractatus statutorum ordinis Carthusiensis pro novitii (203n11): "Nunc lege, nunc ora, nunc cum fervore labora." "The latter is still not exactly the text but" one is "finally" (203) getting "for the first time" "very close" (209). Yet that in some sense non-Benedictine (203) Carthusian text had an "explicitly different import" (216, the import or sense (or conception?) of a given formulation being crucial for Meeuws (193 and passim)). The Vitae patrum in which the Carthusians mistakenly claimed to have found it are discussed by Meeuws on pp. 194-197, and St. Benedict of Nursia himself, in three points on pp. 201-202. In the sections on the Late Middle Ages (201, 206-209) and Modernity (209-212) some additional quotations of interest are considered, but ultimately dismissed. Indeed, by the earlier 19th century the Ora et labora "had still not seen the light of day under that brief and imperative form in which the emphasis [(ictus)] can be placed, in accordance with the [various] conceptions [so crucial to the judgment of equivalence or the lack of it?], on each of the three words or . . . [(en toccata)] on [all] three [at once [(sur les trois)]" (212).
  • Meant by Dom Wolter to be descriptive of monasticism more generally (Meeuws closes with the observation that it is actually more "simply Christian" than uniquely Benedictine (219; Dom Jean Leclercq, OSB, had said back in 1961 that though "the motto [(devise)] composed of the play-on-words Ora et labora is of recent vintage [(est d'époque récente)]," "it has, in the texts of the Middle Ages, antecedents that give us [(font voir)] the sense that it must take on [(doit révêtir)] in the light of the tradition" (Études sur le vocabulaire monastique du moyen âge, Studia Anselmiana 48 (Rome:  Pontificium Institutum S. Anselmi; Orbis Catholicus, Herder, 1961), 142), e.g. "the work [(labeur)] of ascesis" (144, italics mine))), it was first said to be characteristic of the Benedictine Order specifically by Dom Sauter in 1899 (214), such that "From that time [(which is to say 1899)] its fortune was secured and the Benedictine Order appropriated to itself [(entra en droit de possession)] a [supposedly] 'ancient' formula that, unless I’ve missed something [(sauf erreur)], [was in 1992/93] scarcely more than a century old" (215). And by the time Dom Herwegen claimed—to the retrospective and prospective chagrin of many Benedictines both early and late, for whom so many "other elements could [also] be called just as 'fundamental'" to the description of "a son of St. Benedict"; and for whom the Ora et labora is therefore "a label [(etiquette)] all] too abbreviated" (219, but more importantly passim, the actual complexity of proposed characteristics being one of the major themes of the article)—that it "summed up the whole of [(totalisait)] Benedictine monasticism," it was "no longer an approximation [(? moyen)], an enumeration of [all of the relevant] activities"; it was considered to be "a definition, a 'trademark [(marque de fabrique)]'," to encapsulate "the whole [(l’integralité)] of Benedictine monasticism" (216).