August 3rd, 1983, Serial No. 00382

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Monastic Theology Series Set 2 of 3

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Let's see, there was one thing that I wanted to point out in that last section that we covered. I've got one for you. In that last chapter of Book 5 of Against the Heretics, they found a thing in the Armenian which is important because it ties together the seven days with the 7,000 years and so on. And it shows that Irenaeus wants to put that whole thing within the scheme of the seven days of creation. So it seems that the whole, two-thirds of his book there, the second and third parts in Book 5 of Against the Heresies, is really in the pattern of those seven days of creation. So that's a recapitulation of the whole history of mankind and of salvation in that story of the seven days. It's surprising that he gives so much weight to that, and we wonder why. That would be a good thing to think about together sometime, but I want to go into it


more. Why does he give so much importance to the seven days of creation? Because it seems to us almost like a poetic, what do you call it, a poetic arrangement, rather arbitrary, of the work of creation or of history. But one of the things is that seeing Christ as he does, as the Word in which all things are created and in which the whole seven days of creation are brought to their fulfilment, he sees Christ as the beginning and the end of that. It's through the Word that God makes everything. And somehow it also puts man in the centre of his universe. In other words, for Irenaeus, that puts man in the proper place in his universe, and then puts man and the universe in the correct relationship to Christ, both you can say ontologically and also historically. So I think it's for that reason that he does it, besides the depths that are just in the Word of God. Even when the Word of God seems to be giving us a kind of, what do you call it, mythological


presentation, as it were, of the creation itself, because the exegetes today wouldn't – nobody would say that the creation really happened exactly that way. So they have to be able to report that to the Lord? Probably not. Sometimes they write that way. Sometimes – there is a kind of fundamentalism that still exists, by which people will say still that the sun rotates around the earth. There are some people who will say that because it's in the Bible. I've seen it. It's all in the Bible. I've seen it in print. Even people who write books, that's right, oh, they fight that tooth and nail. Okay, let's go on with our final summary. Using these notes, I'm just going to skip through them, not the main points. Remember, originally we wanted to find the elements of a monastic theology. And we might wonder, well, what have we been doing?


We haven't been doing that at all. But I think actually we have been finding the foundation for monastic theology. The risk, the trap in the theology of monks is it becomes over-specialised. That's one of the traps. It becomes a professional theology, a house theology, which means that it gets narrow vision, and it doesn't see the totality of the Christian mystery anymore. And I've said this before, but maybe I'll return to repeat it. And one of the chief virtues of Irenaeus is that he brings before you the whole mystery, and you can't get away from it, because every door you open leads you into the same place with Irenaeus. He's so centripetal, he's so central and concentrated, and always focusing on this recapitulation, that you can't get away from the total mystery. So he's like the ground before the separate seeds are sprouted out. Everything is there. So for that reason he's very useful. Whereas almost immediately they start specialising after Irenaeus, especially on the intellectual


level. And then monasticism itself is a specialisation. And the big risk is that it will lose the totality, that it will go off in its own kind of totality, and lose the basic totality, which is the totality of Christ. There's all different kinds of totalities. So you've got some quotes here. And I've read, I think, this to you before, so I won't go over it with you right now, but it's good if you get sceptical later on about Irenaeus. Then the place of Irenaeus down here. A couple of quotes on that too. According to von Balthasar, with Irenaeus, Christian theology is born as a reflection on the world of revelation. So it's the first kind of complete reflection on what comes to us in the word of God. It is the whole Christian word, Old Testament, New Testament. And then Reneal. The first real synthesis of Christian, oh, he didn't say that, did he?


He calls him the father of Christian theology. See, he's had that title for a long while. They've argued it back and forth. Reneal is validating it. Reneal's article, by the way, those two, which are maybe the best treatments, the best treatments that we have, I think, in the library of Irenaeus are those two in French. The one is by Reneal, and it's an edition of his Spiritualité. And it's about spirituality, you see. So he's trying to extract a spirituality from Irenaeus. But before trying to do that, he very well sets out his actual theology. It's got that slant to it, which is useful for a month. And the other is the one of von Balthasar, and he is interested in Irenaeus as a theologian of beauty, a theologian of the glory of God. So you've got two particular slants. Nevertheless, they both go very deep. So he's the first real synthesis of Christian truth after the New Testament.


We can talk about syntheses in the New Testament, and it surprises us that those syntheses differ a little. That is, the synthesis of Paul is a little different from that of John. You can even speak of the other evangelists as having some kind of... They've got an attitude. They've got some kind of synthesis out of which their writing is coming, the resurrection experience, whatever. Paul is a real synthesis. And then you get the synthesis of syntheses, of that of sort of the intuitive synthesis of John, which sees everything in one ray of light, and a more articulated synthesis of Paul. And Irenaeus somehow merges the two. And we know that he's in the tradition of John, and yet he very much uses Paul, as we'll see. Excuse me for not giving these notes to you before, so you can look them over, because this is a lot to have in front of you at once. I'm just skipping through. I'll try to help you to find the location.


So I think he's important for us because he's in between the point where there wasn't any synthesis, where you just have kind of fragmentary interpretations of Scripture and so on by the early theologists and so on, Ignatius, and the letters, and the point where the synthesis begins to become, begins to be subjected to a kind of dissolution, I think, or at least a kind of special point of view which splits it up, and so we begin to lose the whole. So he's an unusual point in history. What's missing in Irenaeus? That part C, it starts on page 3. The whole thing starts on page 2 here. I had something else on page 1. If you ask yourself that question, it's useful sometimes to draw up a couple of columns and see the terms on which a person leans, or his preferences, and the terms which are given less importance.


And if you do that with Irenaeus, you end up with a real pattern. I mean, it's quite clear. If you read that book of Pagel's on the Gnostic Gospels and what she writes about Irenaeus, she exaggerates it, but she makes it very clear at the same time. It's useful. She doesn't mention things exactly the way they are here, but a number of them she does. What's the chance that Irenaeus' terms choose to be less useful? Now, when Irenaeus talks about the persons of the Trinity, how does he talk about them? Only in respect to their relationship to man. The Word and the Spirit are the arms of God which reach out and form man, form the human person. Ad extra means that. We say extroverted today, whereas ad intra, we would say introverted. The relations between the persons of the Trinity. Irenaeus doesn't seem to talk about them at all. Does he hardly? He must somewhere where he doesn't exegesis like a Saint John. Jesus is talking to the Father, or is regarding the Father.


But he does it very little. See, what he's interested in is how God relates to man. Now, of course, Jesus' relation with the Father relates to that too. I mean, it's a key for it. But he doesn't take it from that angle, at least usually. And when you think about it, you realize that Irenaeus is using a very exterior kind of imagery, isn't he? This moulding of this. So there's a whole kind of world of thought and a whole viewpoint that he's leaving out there, which develops and even develops to an exaggerated extent soon after. So probably this is providential that Irenaeus plant this foundation of a kind of exterior synthesis. I say exterior, but we have to be careful there because implicit is all of the depth of the Gospel of John and all of the depth of Saint Paul. But in his explicit terms, he tends to use this very physical imagery. Now, on Balthasar it says very well, he isn't one who tries to get into the depths,


who kind of disappears and takes you down into the depths of something beyond the surface. He is one who looks at the surface and sees the depths in the surface without that distinction of levels. So he's one who... Sometimes he's like Saint John in this, who looks at the outside of something and sees the outside and the inside at the same time. Instead of trying to get beyond the outside to get into the inside, because that's what Origen and those people do. Immediately they make a distinction of levels. Now one of the reasons why he doesn't do that is because he's fighting the Gnostics and that's exactly what they do. He has to prove that the outside is also made by God. He has to prove that the outside reflects the inside, that it expresses it. And therefore he doesn't make the distinction at all. You see, that's quite important because therefore he leaves out something which is a big part of theology. I think it's rather important to remind myself


that when we put things like this together, one of the last things I'll say, which is a terrible thing to remind me of, is to remember that St. Thomas has to make several claims, a very special point, that there are some things about my God which we can only say there is certainty if they are relieved. And really, I mean, this is essentially a theological revelation. So in a way, to draw that contrast between what's on the outside and what's on the inside, we can only infer what is inside from what is being believed. I think it's different if we think of, say, the inside of the Trinity. That's something where speculative theology has gone far beyond revelation. It really strays from revelation a great deal. You see, even Gnostology is done the same way. Yes, yes. But there is a certain interiority which is in the New Testament which is hard to find in Irenaeus. If you look, I was thinking this morning,


Irenaeus is close to John, but consider the chapters 14, 15, 16 of John, very close to John 17, where the Lord is the only one. But consider the indwelling, the interiority of the language that John uses when he speaks about coming and dwelling in you and so on is barren. He prefers to speak of the relationship as if it were outside, as if it were a relationship between the hands of God and so on. It's like the one word that crossed over bearing. That he uses the physical imagery to somehow interiorize. Exactly. Because of the double meaning of bearing. Because a tree bears its branches and bears its fruit. A plant bears its fruit and a man bears a virgin on his back. So that's an exterior relationship. But the same word indicates the interior relationship of bringing forth a child. Which for Irenaeus


goes far beyond just bringing forth a child which is other than yourself. It's bringing forth God in yourself. So there's a marvelous depth and kind of universality in that term. It's precisely the crossover term. And when he talks about the Virgin Mary and the containing of the word that's when the interiority converges. The Virgin Mary, the church and the containing of the word. And the word bear would be the crossover term. It's in Book 5. Those chapters 18, 19, 20. The kind of central portion. So in our left hand column we've got a bunch of terms that have a certain unity between them. Unity versus pluralism. Because he's fighting a kind of wild pluralism. And so he keeps talking about the unity of the faith. And conformity to a single tradition. Exterior versus interior and interiority.


When you get to origin that really of Agrius too. That really takes off. Masculine and feminine. This is something that Pagel's highlights. Here Agrius can talk about the feminine dimension very what do you call it? Sensitivity. When he talks about the Virgin Mary and when he talks about the church. His own intuitive handling of the scripture shows a very kind of feminine dimension in his own sensitivity. But nevertheless by and large this goes along with the exteriority of his imagery. By and large the treatment is somewhat masculine. And this has to do with that wild Sophia dimension in the Gnostic theology which he is trying to combat. The material versus the spiritual. The spiritual for Irenaeus you can say is material in a sense. And the material is spiritual


and that's what he's trying to prove. You see? You remember that expression that kind of violent paradox that there's nothing more spiritual than the physical there's nothing more spiritual than the body and there's nothing more bodily than the spiritual. Is that true? Well, I don't know whether it's true as it's said but it comes very close to being the distinctive mark of Christianity. That particular assertion even if it may be exaggerated. And that's what Irenaeus is doing. He goes head on when he wants to talk about the Holy Spirit he heads straight for the body. He heads straight for the question of the resurrection. Straight for this business of the transformation of earth. In other words, he doesn't take a sidetrack at all. Straight for the most difficult point as it were which is what God is doing is spiritualizing matter spiritualizing earth. So it's hard to find him talking about any kind of spirituality or spirit aside when it's not involved with matter because that's what he's interested in.


Remember, it's the Holy Spirit the Spirit of God that gives the likeness of God the final touch as it were of likeness of God to matter itself which receives the image of God in the Word. It's a little hard to tell exactly what's happening there with the Word and the Spirit those two hands of God. Whether the Word for him also means history. Does it mean? I think it does. In other words, how can you think he's talking about a man being molded by the hard knocks of life and of history and therefore the Word must also be the Word which is event and history. As the biblical theologians will tell you today that the Word of God is really a happening God's action in history. I think Irenaeus means that but he doesn't spell it out. And Bonhoeffer's art finds fault with him in that area the way he takes the Scripture very literally sometimes instead of with a sense of historical content. I think it's a little complicated. He prefers to talk about


the collective and the communal the common rather than the individual and the personal. So you don't hear Irenaeus talking about individual vocations. You don't hear him talking about individual personal experience. If you compare Irenaeus with Saint Augustine they're miles apart in that respect, aren't they? And even if you compare Irenaeus with Origen I think they're quite far apart or Gregory of Nyssa the individual approach to God the experience of Moses the darkness and so on you don't find that. Once in a while he'll talk about individual experience in a common way because the fathers all did that. The Logos of God the Word of God the Scriptures versus human thought. Now the thing about Irenaeus is that he may know Greek philosophy but he doesn't use it. When he wants to defend the faith when he wants to state Christian truth


he retires completely into biblical terms. Now, this gives him a strength and gives him a kind of unique value for us. There's a danger there too because he doesn't tell us how to translate. He doesn't tell us how to go out and integrate another culture how to insert the seed of Christianity into the ground of a different culture or even a different religious tradition. So, that's a problem we have very much today. So, Irenaeus has something very precious for us in that he gives us the pure seed as it were which has been really beautifully synthesized. The pure seed of revelation. On the other hand he doesn't seem to help us much in translating or inserting that seed into the ground of culture. Somebody, we're going to come to Clement of Alexandria soon and he's quite the opposite in that way. He's much more ecumenical you would say than Irenaeus. No doubt, largely because of his situation because he's not writing for the same purpose that Irenaeus is writing. Irenaeus' writings,


the ones that we have are almost all against the Gnostics. Even that demonstration of his dog preaching is largely polemic. Obedience. Irenaeus will speak of both freedom and obedience but he has to accent the obedience in order to defend as it were the connection with the church the apostolic preaching the apostolic tradition and obedience to the word of God rather than sort of doing your own thing rather than spinning out your own muscles. Word versus Sophia. This is a kind of reflection of the masculine feminine. He doesn't talk about Sophia except as the Holy Spirit. For him the Sophia of God the wisdom of God is the Holy Spirit one of the hands of God. But it's also something interior. He speaks of the presence of the Spirit as being interior but he doesn't go on about it at length. He'll speak about the body being the temple of the Spirit but it's not something that he talks about at great length.


And there's a kind of cryptic Sophia that comes up in the Virgin Mary and in the church. But there also it's very much in the context of obedience. Historical continuity versus actuality in the moment this sounds a little abstract what I mean is that he stresses the context and the continuity much more than he does the isolated moment the isolated experience anything like that. It's got something to do with what we were talking about the common and the individual. It's that along the dimension of time. He's not going to talk about peak experiences. Both because he doesn't isolate a moment and because he doesn't isolate an individual person who would have such an experience. Very much, very much so. Augustine is like a modern western man


with that existentialist thing focused on personal experience. The common and the particular the objective and the subjective we find Irenaeus much more on the side of the objective yet we have to be very careful when we talk about that because the objective that he's talking about contains the subjective within it. It's only that he doesn't single it out and talk about it. That's a later development it seems, a later evolution. And here we'd have to it gets quite complex when we try to distinguish the easterners from the westerners. Because the westerners have gone much further with the individual personal subjective even though the easterners like Origen and company will talk about the subjective but it's still kind of in touch with the tradition. Ephraim was mentioning that to me yesterday. Augustine breaks off with that tradition of the east into a kind of individual experience. But Origen and so on even when they talk about the individual experience it's still in a kind of classic pattern in which it remains


in a common tradition. Something else. The body versus what? Versus the you could say the spirit in a certain sense the inner spark the atman, the noose, the intellect you could say spirit there. Uranus will talk about the spirit of man but you just try to find him talking about it without talking about the spirit of God at the same moment. He'll talk about the soul of man but it's almost gone before you see it. It disappears while he's talking about it. He says the soul is that which sort of emerges from the body and receives the spirit of God. And that's all he says and it disappears. And then he'll go on and on talking about the body and maybe talking about the body and the spirit. But this thing here now what are we talking about? I remember Callistos Ware was here one time and we asked him what is it? What did we lose? What did the best orthodox tradition have that we don't have today? And he says the notion of the contemplative intellect the nous


which for some traditions is the heart the heart in terms of that innes which experiences God that's the way Louvre talks about it for instance. So that interior point. Now Irenaeus does talk about the heart sometimes but much less frequently than say Saint Augustine who was talking about the heart all the time it seems and he's much less talking about interiority than of Agrius or somebody like that. I'm not so sure about Argent because I don't know him so well. Or Cassian Cassian who was a kind of disciple of Agrius in purity of heart. I've only seen the heart really conspicuously in Irenaeus in a couple of places. The action of God versus the action of man. Now he never talks about the intellect. You try to find the word intellect in Irenaeus except when he's knocking the Gnostics because they for them see the nous the intellect


was a thing that went to God it went into the plurima and everything else sort of went down the drain. But he's only using the word when he's refuting them. You can see how much the argument that he's in may really affect the elements that are So we have to be careful not to just let that pass. The action of God versus the action of man. The action of man is just to correspond with the action of God. Look at that image again of God molding man out of the earth into his image. What does man do? He submits. And similarly there's not much about human creativity in Irenaeus. You could evolve a creation spirituality out of Irenaeus but you'd have to really have to work at it. You'd really have to evolve it because it's not there to start with in the sense of human creativity. But it is there in the sense that the whole creative act of God is there waiting to be


participated by man. But Irenaeus doesn't carry that participation. He hasn't got sunk into negativity. He's got that optimism which and positivity of the created being which allows you to construct a creation spirituality. But he doesn't do it himself. Historical experience versus inner experience. Anthropology or history versus psychology. He talks about the whole man he talks about history but he doesn't talk about psychology. He doesn't talk about that kind of experience. It's remarkable how little of it there is in Irenaeus. Then take Origen, my colleague. It opens up. Or take St. Augustine and it opens up in a different way. Man as body versus man as soul. That's clear. Common objective salvation versus something that you've got in the Gnostics that's sorting out into the three categories. Remember the spiritual the psychic and the carnal and then you've got it in Origen and you've got it in most of the Greeks. This kind of spectrum


of perfection. Irenaeus only talks about it a couple of times. He's got it right at the end. He lets it sneak in right in the last chapter of the book five. I don't know why. And just at the end in that eschatological conclusion when there are three levels the thirty-fold the sixty-fold and the hundred-fold. So there's a pattern. There's a continuity. You could draw put two threads through the items in these two columns and I think you'd find that there is a consistency there. And there are probably a lot of others that we could add. What could be missing from the point of view of a monastic theology that might be pretty important? That's in number eight there on page four. First of all I think that notion of the center that notion Panakart calls it the center. Now the center what's the center for Irenaeus? The center is Christ. No, the center is the Word incarnate. The whole recapitulation is in him. But from another point of view you'll find that the center is the center


of the human person. That's what it is when Panakart talks about the center. Or when Merton is writing about contemplative experience with the true self. It's a whole different point of view. And I think it would be very good for us to put Irenaeus on one side and put that point of view on the other side and then see how they get along together. See what kind of synthesis might result for our time. And note that that's the key element for the Gnostics at least for some of them that spark of gold or whatever it is a grain of gold in the mud of your bodily ordinary life. Prayer. Surprisingly he doesn't talk much about prayer. He doesn't talk much about asceticism either. Asceticism for him seems to be bearing the hands of God. And you've got to realize where the church is at during the second century. And he himself is in a context where martyrdom is going on. And then finally Sophia, that feminine wisdom element which tends to be


diverse and pluralistic and very free rather than the kind of uniform theology which Emanuele is pointed towards even if he is very original himself. Okay, Ragnarok says... Let's see. Where did... Oh! Oh, that's some stuff of mine. That's some stuff I've got in a file there. That was just a reminder for myself. If you're interested in it, I'll pass it to you. It's not in your notes. I've done that also with some of the other little references where it says F-A-S-C. That means something I've got over there. So historical and collective dimensions rather than the individual moral and mystical conditions and dimensions which Clement and Arjun and the others will bring up afterwards and which are typical of the monastic traditions. Okay. Irenaeus and our


own time. Now this is kind of a sales program here. But... The text of of Ranyalt there is... I thought it was very useful. So I put almost the whole thing down here. That's at the end of Ranyalt's article on Irenaeus. It's on page five in the dictionary of Spirituality. And I did quote some from that before to you. Now Irenaeus has come back into the light since the 16th century. Erasmus, I guess he called him my Irenaeus. He felt like a discoverer of a new land when he discovered manuscripts of Irenaeus at that time which had been lost. And he's been coming more and more into the picture. I think as Christianity begins to have more of a sense of its original balance, of its original center and wholeness, the respect for Irenaeus grows and his uniqueness dawns on us. Second Vatican Councils when you heard about that. Second paragraph,


third paragraph of number 18. It seems that Irenaeus is precisely suited to help the theologians to re-establish the unity of sacred knowledge. I've got in parenthesis EF Nasser with a exclamation point because he wrote this book on the disappearance of sacred knowledge which he sees as precisely the problem of our civilization. And it's certainly true within Christianity. To re-establish the unity of sacred knowledge so that it's more than knowledge because knowledge for us is just knowledge. We talk about a head trip or being in the head or whatever but knowledge is life. That's what it was for the ancients. That's why wisdom could be more than just a kind of dilettantism or more than a hobby or more than some kind of esoteric trip. It was life. Strengthening the connections which have become too loose between exegesis, dogma, and spirituality. Remember before on page two there we found


this other Benedictine saying patristic piety has a robustness a fullness a balance between asceticism and mysticism between exegesis and theological reflection between Bible and reflection and then between Bible and theological thinking between scripture thinking and spiritual life. Spiritual life then separating itself into those two threads asceticism and mysticism and in the history of the tradition often all of those elements have gone off in their own ways and so the people the monks don't have any don't have any breadth of theology very often because they're off on their own doing their own thing and the liturgists don't understand anything about spirituality or prayer and the theologians don't care about either one that's the way it's been too often each is a professional in his own life and so it's urgent that the center be found once again and then


about lay people seeking in the next paragraph seeking a spirituality which is simply Christian courément in French I don't know whether that means simply or purely I suppose an optimistic spirituality which doesn't flee the world and doesn't destroy the earthly goods nor does it reject the body it sees it as a masterpiece of divine art the image of God a broad and universal spirituality because it flows directly from that now here I have to make a correction I made a typing mistake from that which constitutes the substance the word the substance has to be put in there it flows directly from that which constitutes not itself it constitutes the substance of the Christian revelation and therefore fresh and known as the living faith of the church now this is a marvelous quote the faith of the church he says which always like a precious liquid kept in an excellent vessel becomes renewed in other words it renews itself and as it renews


itself it even renews the vessel which contains it it's marvelous that's kind of the power of Irenaeus coming out to that kind of intuition that he has of the faith which really brings it alive remember Jesus' parable of the wine skins and the wine so the only wine skins that will contain the wine are the skins that grow right on the wine the grape skins themselves in a sense and so it is with this wine of the faith it creates somehow renews its own vessel the vessel being the church the vessel being the language the vessel being the theology the vessel even being the people who keep the faith the church he's talking about and Irenaeus his theology okay then there's that summary by Olivier Clément which I read to you one time so I'll skip over it now which is an excellent boiling down of Irenaeus' theology


of the strong points of his theology because like him Clément has this synthetic talent and the theological sense okay do we find the elements for a monastic theology in Irenaeus this is letter F on page 6 there I would say the chief value is in that he focuses so well on the total of Christian mystery he knows its center of gravity and he knows its sort of boundary line and that's what the monk should be concerned with the monk should not be so much concerned with what he's doing that's important it's important what he does it's important how he prays it's important his ascetical praxis and all of that but the thing that's really important is Christ the thing that's really important is the mystery and so often that's been forgotten I know what I'm saying can be an excuse also for beginning to be a monk and just kind of being a theologian just being something like that


that's not what I mean and then he teaches us to read scripture in other words if you read his interpretations of scripture I think particularly of book 5 you begin to get a sense of the depth dimensions of scripture yourself and so you are inclined to do the same thing to begin to read it in the same way so he teaches us Lectio as do all of the fathers then there's a rather complicated quote from Rauner here I'll try to make it a little simpler Rauner has got this article kind of classical article classic article on the theories of the grades of perfection in Christian life I brought it up another time because it's kind of important for me where he says that actually nobody has ever made a good system of grades of perfection in Christianity and then he explains theologically why he thinks that is and then he


criticizes the ones that have been made the ones that have 7 steps the ones that have 3 steps the ones that have 4 steps 5 steps 2 steps however many steps you want to have it doesn't work because the gospel exactly short circuits all the steps that's one thing he says the only thing that you can really there are two dimensions one is the systematized grades it's exactly what frustrates every system and every structure and every ladder secondly you've got what he calls the human overcoming of concupiscence or a certain human liberation which can in some way be structured but in so far as it's really free in so far as it's really liberated it's also liberated from the structure so it's a gradual perhaps emergent construction and then he makes the two essential criticisms of all those theories and all those systems of grades one is that they disregard the historical element in favor of the personal element in favor of what's in here now that's precisely what Ernest doesn't do and the second is that they


intellectualize the thing in other words they are basically Gnostic they put the weight on the mystical element and then they see that mystical element the contemplative element in intellectualist terms now Ernest is the exact counterweight for these two problems and there's a quote from Lasky later on which is basically the same kind of thing on page seven I read that to you before too it's actually from two chapters in Lasky at the beginning of his book and at the end and so he ends up by putting us in the lap or in the hands of Eranais once again he makes this big loop between Eranais and Gregory Palamas and comes down again and finds the same return to history and return also to the body the physical and the hesychasts and Palamas he mentions also Simeon the new theologian and the Byzantine hesychast and in


between you've got he mentions Clement in Origins being the first sinners there constructing a kind of philosophical utopia Clement's Gnostic man and Origins spiritual man the danger of his spirituality of escape having Origins alien to Christianity in other words philosophical sources ok then on the next page page 8 you've got some elements which actually lend themselves to constructing a new monastic theology today if anybody wanted to set out to do that there are varying degrees of obviousness or interest first of all if you make a theology if monks make a theology today it's got to have the same center as the revelation in other words it's got to be centered in Christ it's got to be centered in the word and in the logos you can't bring in some scheme from somewhere else and drape the scripture on it the core of it has to be the scripture and that's what Irenaeus does in fact he does it exclusively the trouble is he doesn't help us


with the other thing with the integrating but especially that notion of the logos and monastic life itself as an initiation into the logos I don't mean just the written word I mean everything that Irenaeus means by the word an initiation into Christ and I think that's what the New Testament is about that's what John's gospel is about is an initiation actually a living initiation into the living word which is Christ secondly community or church and history not being abstracted from then monastic life is formation usually when we talk about formation you know the term gets so it scares you after a while because who knows how to form a human person who knows how to form to give the form to design the form to decide the form for a human being or a monk nobody except God now formation the exact word in Irenaeus means the formation of earth


into the human person into the image and likeness of God by God himself now that's what monasticism has to become transparent so its own formation can only be releasing the person into those forming hands of God remember that word plasma plasma excuse me well it is for Irenaeus gradually yes for him it's opening you to God and to the vision of God opening you to that freedom which is life and God he doesn't always use that language sometimes it sounds you know the physical image dominates so much because the image and likeness of God is freedom and remember that the business the switch between bearing the burden and bearing the child so bearing the child that's a matter of openness openness to the other which is within you which is the word basically


the word of God which kind of expands within you so that's openness remember very quickly one of that opening comes the need to send oh yes and the opening involves the choice to send and pass to the other he's very concerned with giving you the criteria for discernment to that open precisely because there can be a wrong kind of openness that's what he would accuse the Gnostics of that's right so he wants willingness and acceptance and acceptance well that's what he's complaining about see he says the Gnostics are like the serpent who persuaded Eve to be open in the wrong way and started out in trouble so he's trying to give you all the criteria for the right openness


that's what he does at the end I've got it down bearing as the central concept or axis of an asceticism and for that I have to refer you to all those other things we against the heresies and which is the kind of it's like a ball bearing in which everything rotates it's like a pivot or a hinge which with its own kind of ambiguity of meaning is able to carry all of these senses and able to carry all of these dimensions in some way I don't know why but so and along with it is the image of a tree of course there's the image of a tree but the tree becomes a person and the tree which bears fruit becomes a person which bears interior and so on the vision of God as the central axis of a mysticism so bearing and vision together seem to supply a kind of structure which is parallel to what we have in this practice and theory of both active and contemplative lives but it's biblical


you see it's biblical even if the word bearing you can say it's biblical but Irenaeus takes something that's in the scripture that's in the imagery of the scripture and then he kind of magnifies it and takes it way out of proportion to its scriptural importance it would seem that but you know just listening to the readings in the past few days a couple of times it really struck me how consistent that image of bearing is in the scriptures one of the readings remember it was one from Exodus where Moses said why do I have to carry these people remember why do I have to carry this whole nation all this time like a nurse like a mother that's bearing then the other one was St. Paul saying about the same thing until I bring you forth again how I am in labor with you I think this was just yesterday until I brought you forth remember as children again as infants the whole thing so it's there but even another word is not always used so


those two notions of bearing and vision suggest really two sides of the monastic life and two sides of the word because the word is a commandment it's a burden first some of the best of the early monastic theology I think talks about the monastic life as being the life of the commandments and thereby brings it right back into the biblical context and then the word is vision because the word is light too so first you listen first you hear first you obey first you bear the burden of the commandment of the law of the rule of the word it's like the rosary monastic starts that way and then you see and then you have the vision okay and then the next point there roman numeral three is kind of fanciful I was just wondering how what we've been talking about could relate to all of these contemporary elements but I won't talk about that now because we don't have time it's essential that some of these that if we want to use


RNAs that we bring them alongside many of these things and then see what happens one of the most difficult ones is the point I think of that interior the interior center intellect or contemplative noose or admin whatever you want to call it because it seems such a diametrically different point of view I don't know how the two come together but to the extent that they're both true they must come together oh yeah okay the first one up at the top the roman numeral let me try to find the original the roman numeral is two there I think the roman numeral is two and the words are some elements some elements so the idea was that those were some elements of


inner RNAs which could contribute to constructing a monastic theology today it's roman numeral three down below alongside that roman numeral three and some questions some questions number 47 or H for instance Vatican II conceived as the emergence of the world church the seed of the word appearing in pluralistic forms in the ground of the different human cultures this is the other critical point how will how will that work with RNA RNA seems to give you the pure seed and he doesn't talk about the ground except in so far as you find that he's already received the seed of revelation into his own ground into the ground of his life of his being his person and the ground of his thinking ok the ground of his human reason which he's


using but he doesn't talk about the ground as far as I remember there may be another way of looking at which point it looks almost when you read it's almost as if the revelation abstracts from any given culture it's just as it comes out of the Bible so it's in the biblical culture it's in the soil of Hebrew except for that light that pervades it everywhere which is straight New Testament revelation ok G on page 9 uranus and biblical exegesis there you'll find something about his connection with Saint John and with Saint Paul and he's got very strong affinity without the word it's everywhere we don't notice it so much in the English translation then the recapitulation which comes from Ephesians remember that's Saint Paul's version so those two are like the two axes of uranus the vertical


and the horizontal the vertical being the word and the flesh and the horizontal being the recapitulation of history actually I can say it's the recapitulation of Hebrew the recapitulation of history but the specific dimension of Saint John I'm mixing things up a little bit here yes just wondering how uranus conceived of the word logos what was the fact of the time it's a multi purpose term in Latin or Greek yes


with Justin we have an idea all right because he speaks of the philosophers and then he shows you how the logos of Greek philosophy has been taken up into the Christian revelation uranus doesn't say it but he knows Justin okay and so you can and he as far as I know he never contradicts it so you can take that he has that view of Justin but he's not interested in specifying at all or abstracting from Christ from the word incarnate when he speaks of the logos as far as I know he never does he could I wonder for example I'm almost looking for something where he doesn't kind of randomly like talk about you know speech or the words that someone was using or a discourse I'm sure he does that okay but the trouble is that I've never noticed it running through because you don't notice it we don't have the well they've reconstructed the Greek and probably in


certain cases they could be sure because they've got two translations to work from but it's not a thing that I've noticed because I'm always looking for that capitalized yeah one I'm looking for the particular use of it when they have a complete index of the Greek words that they would do that for those source somebody probably write a thesis on it it's such a crucial word to know what were the overtones in his mind the way he was bearing people are talking about words without growing the use of the word note however that his use of word is almost completely inclusive it's almost it's an absolute in a sense because that's the central of the recapitulation therefore it's hard to find anything that excludes I feel so


sure really if you use the word word to mean text rather than word feel the dynamic sense which is implicit the word of the god which is in his description he is deeply he is also trans-action words of relativity this is so dynamic that It seems to me that you are already hellenizing when you talk about the word scripture. It doesn't mean that, unless you understand, it's an Hebrew word, you see what I mean? Yes. It seems to me that he does actually have a point. It's an insertion of words essentially still in Hebrew. Unless you get back to him and get all the rest of it wrong.


Just a bit off focus. I think the essential axis is the Hebrew axis, and then he is able to set upon that, as it were, the scope of the Greek logos, in a sense. That is the cosmic kind of, I don't want to say static, but the ontological dimension of the Greek logos. I think he's able to mount upon that axis of the dynamic. But it's partly because it's there already in me, physically. Yes. But it isn't implicit, I think. It's a bit of a point you've just made. It isn't implicit in the dynamic. It's there all the time. Oh yes. Especially because it isn't a phrase of St. John after all. Oh yes. St. John is after all about the word of scripture. The word of scripture, only in the sense in which all scripture is recapitulated in one word, which is Christ, which is the person of Christ.


So it would, I don't know if he would ever use it in the sense of the page of scripture. It always goes beyond that. Once you begin to talk about it, there are even other pages of scripture that are already on there. It may mean, it may be equivalent with Revelation at a certain point, but it's never just text. One would have to take specific text. Revelation is about the act of the Christ. Yes. He is continuously being administered. He can send the action upon us. He is very spiritual. He is very superior to me. And that's really what I, at some early point, because he is so concerned with the idea of God still acting in history, that we have got an education process going on on the word that God speaks, not just in scripture, but in history.


Thomas, when Logos refers to the Revelation, it's not just a revelation. It's not just the substance of Revelation that he referred to. It's the fact that Revelation occurred at all. There's God's dynamic act right into history. It's the fact that prophets have been, that the gospel writers wrote everything. It just came through. I'm just saying it's a dynamic aspect. Even if you equate Logos with Revelation, because I don't think we are to the extent that there is, to a certain extent there is that equation. There's a dynamic element even in there. It's not just the fact that the reading of it is an actual divine event in history, that Revelation occurred. That's a key passage that Logos has. The word is that which accomplishes all things.


Even when we speak of Revelation, God is revealed in what he does. And you have these two dimensions of Revelation of God through his act, and then somehow the act which works through Revelation itself, insofar as man responds to the Revelation and himself corresponds. The two sides of it. Revelation, the vision, God showing himself, the light, and then the action, both his action and then the action of man corresponding to the Revelation. Intimately tied together. Okay, so here are some points which relate him to John. And these are just a few. And then note that business of continuity versus dialectic. This is number 1D on page 9. Irenaeus is much stronger on the continuity than he is on the dialectic.


So much so that he can say, well you will ask me at some point, what did Christ bring that is new? Dialectic, I mean the opposition, the kind of contrast between Old Testament and New Testament. Some of the fathers are continually doing that kind of thing, but Irenaeus is not. He's showing that the prophecies are fulfilled in Christ, but it's the same word acting all the time. And the faith of Abraham is like our faith. And the relationship of man with God in the Old Testament does not absolutely differ for him from the relationship of the human being with God in the New Testament. His continuity is much stronger than his discontinuity. Well, that's much closer to John than it is to Paul. Nevertheless, he has got the first Adam, second Adam thing in there. There's an opposition and there's a continuity at the same time. I think even there the continuity is stronger than the opposition. The continuity is the fact that Adam, all of the race of mankind is one in Adam. All of the race of mankind is one in Christ. There's your continuity. The same thing is true between Eve and Mary. The discontinuity is that Adam by his sin, of course, handed us over to darkness and death.


And Jesus, by his obedience and death, gives us life. But the basic continuity, I think, is stronger, because the positive continuity in Irenaeus is consistently stronger than the kind of dips, the contrasts of light and darkness. It's all an education process for him. Okay, Irenaeus and the four senses of Scripture. That may be somewhat obscure to you until we get into that. We can come back to it then when we do it. We'll run into those four senses of Scripture and origin and those who follow them. The historical sense, which is the straight word. We're talking about an Old Testament passage. Then the so-called allegorical sense or typological sense, in which you find Christ in that word. And Irenaeus is always doing that. He's always doing it. If you read that proof of the apostolic preaching, at least 50% of it is that kind of typological reading of the Old Testament, which is, well, at this point in Moses' experience, that was Christ,


that was the word talking to him and so on. Sometimes it's typological and sometimes it's just the straight presence of the word in the Old Testament, which is usually not what they mean by typology. I didn't think of that before, but it's true. Then you've got the individual sense, where it's this so-called mystical, some people call it mystical sense or moral sense, and then you've got the eschatological sense or anagogical sense, which others call the mystical sense. They're all there in Irenaeus. And my contention is that they haven't been divided yet, and therefore they're more authentic than they are after they become separated in system and text. Because after a while it becomes a kind of game, the separation of those four senses. And even in the Fathers you find them losing the sense of relationship and unity between them. The core of those four senses is the incarnation and the recapitulation in Christ. Now that's the obsessive idea of Irenaeus. That's the keystone of this whole thing. So he, less than any, is going to lose the relationship between those different senses of scripture.


He knows it better than anybody else. But he never talks about them separately. As you'll find so many Fathers, starting with Clement and Arjun, they'll give you an exegesis on one level, and then they follow up with an exegesis on the other one. Gregory the Great's novel goes through three or four. So now I'm going to talk about the moral application. And St. Bernard even did the same thing. So that goes on for a thousand years. Christian exegesis, actually. But Irenaeus and him, it's still together, and it's still, I think, bound together in that central light of the logos of the Word. That theory of the four senses is very interesting for trying to understand Revelation, understand the Christian mystery. Okay. Number 11, page 11, H there. Levels of meaning in Irenaeus. This is a little arbitrary.


But you find him talking on one level, and then you find there's a deeper level underneath, and you wonder how far you can go with that. And if I've talked about five levels here, as I say, it's arbitrary, because you talk about three or four or whatever. And then finally, the foundations of gnosis in Irenaeus, starting on page 11, the letter I there. And the one essential thing there, I think, in these criteria of truth for Irenaeus, is the unity of reality. I've had this expression, the ring of the real may not be broken. Now, ring, I mean a circle, okay? It's as if there were a circle of gold, which may not be broken. And no matter what angle you approach the Revelation from, you approach Christianity from, you find the same circle which may not be broken. Why do I call it a circle instead of a sphere? Because there are different points on it. It's as if there are different places, as if you move on a surface. And yet, wherever you go, the connection with the other points on the ring may not be broken.


Also, there's a movement of going out and returning. See, the recapitulation means that you go out, you move away from a point, and then you return to the point. But the unity between those, the unity of that whole circuit, that whole itinerary, may not be broken. It's like Irenaeus is always saying one thing. He's saying there's only one way to get all of reality together, and that's the Christian way. And if you take the Gnostic path, for instance, you won't be able to get it together, and therefore your system falls apart because you've split reality. So really there's a kind of intellectual demand at the bottom of Irenaeus' arguments. There's a philosophical position of the unity of all of reality, which, of course, people are very concerned with today, too. One of the things that most bothers people about Christianity, about Western religion, is it seems to be dualistic. There's not dualistic for Irenaeus. And then you've got a bunch of different points, as it were, along that ring.


Or you can say different rings. They all turn out to be the same one. And in each one you find, here is something which you may not split. Here is a facet of reality which you are not permitted to divide into different categories, and then send those categories in different directions. Like the Gnostics were the human person. You've got these three levels in man, and for salvation, the cream is going to be skimmed off and sent into the pyramid, sent back to God, and then the bottom layer is going into the pit, and then something else happens to the middle. For Irenaeus, you have to save all of reality. See, his realism is of different levels, let us say. First there's a realism that he won't deny any evidence. Then there's a realism which won't let go of a scrap of reality. It won't let go of anything that exists. It's a kind of a demand for the absolute glory of God, for the absolute sovereignty of God, who doesn't forget anything that he's made, doesn't lose anything that he's made,


and nothing can sort of slip out of his grip. Whereas you seem to have a lot of that with the Valentinian system. So this just sort of repeats itself, this unity argument, with each of those elements that I've mentioned. And they have a kind of... there's a ring that binds all of them, too. They have a continuity. Maybe they're not in the best order, but they are. And then, in the end, he boils this down, his whole argument, down into belief in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and in the incarnation of the Son. And that's three elements, three articles or four articles, as you choose to speak of it. I think really it's a quaternity, it's four articles. For him, all truth is contained in those four beliefs, those four realities of Father, Word, Spirit, and Creation, in which the Word becomes incarnate. And so you're left with a kind of a mandala,


you're left with a kind of something that's a sphere and a diamond, or a square and a cross at the same time. The center and the whole of which is the Logos, is the Word incarnate. On the last page there, 14, there are some... The text which I think again and again recapitulates kind of the whole doctrine, or the whole history of salvation, according to Irenaeus. And some of them are rather long, and others are only a paragraph, where he'll say again in slightly different terms what he said so many times. It's like he's always saying the same thing, which is good, because that's all there is to say. That one thing is the Word, that one thing is simply that Christ is, that God has spoken, and in that speaking somehow he recreates all things in the world. Okay, that's enough for today. Next time we'll go on with Clement, and I hope to...