Introduction to Theology, Serial No. 01127

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Well, as you know, Fr De Vogelrode has made some of this much, much more debatable and how far he is going to endure for very long in some of the points he's made, I really don't know. At least, he's done a whole study on the abbot as teacher and of course in a certain way, the abbot doesn't say very much he knows he teaches even by being sullen, doesn't he? So you've got a listening community who are listening in a double sense either because they're actually being taught by an interpreter which is what's happening when he's teaching but they're also doing their own literature in the context of the cloister so the monastery is a little church in a certain way and also, of course, in this way, unless we're kind of heresy hunters


we are in fact having some kind of theological influence on each other it oughtn't to be negative, but our lives ought to be helping us to interpret the scriptures in life and sometimes saying, you know, do you really think so-and-so, if it's necessary it seems to me, what do you think about this, Brother Lennon, everybody's very strong to say about this but it seems to me there is a kind of little church image here which is, if you like, continuously corrective, it's both teaching and corrective because the common life, being a life of charity, is being... we're working out all the major Christian problems in a context together, aren't we? we're seeing how it lives through and we're also discovering how complex it is very often


we just don't know the answer to every question, every situation I don't think I can go very much further than that but, of course, as you realise, one of the things that has become a matter of debate is which Father de Vogt does rather like to do having given pages and pages on what the school means in the Rules of Mandate will then suddenly say that he thinks perhaps we should reconsider the question of daily celebration of Lutheranism because, of course, it's not certain that the Eucharist was celebrated in the midnight's time every day very probably it wasn't, I suppose they did communicate, but just how, we don't really know and I don't yet know of any many communities that are very enthusiastic about taking up that idea certainly, there's no doubt about it, it is slightly later than St Benedict's time


and I suppose, as some people would say in a rather snooty way that it's a 19th century romanticism that makes the conventional mass seem to be such a very central thing in monastic life it seems to me this is a bit exaggerated because certainly in the early days of Cluny which one must remember was a very, very respectful reform on very, very Cistercian lines in spite of St Bernard's protests about how it was eventually becoming Cluny was very silent, indeed, they kept silent for a week at Christmas in Cluny in the early days and there I suppose you've got the first place where liturgy performed even though it does really take a great deal of time which for one of the reasons why somebody like Peter Damon and Camilla Lees said they were in church so long they hadn't had time to get a minute of Sins Adore


although at the same time of course he wrote very enthusiastic letters about how wonderful it was in her time, I'm still in the middle of the translation of Peace of Wonder for Benedict's Enhancement I promised to do it for him and the letter of Peter Damon to Hugh of Cluny saying I've come home but I don't know how to get away I miss it all so much, it's all been so wonderful so I suppose I think the only thing we can say Mark is obviously we're never going to see another Cluny again what's very sad for studies and for me I would say is we're never going to see another Saint-Laurent again that was a 17th century form which looked back to Cluny of course in many ways but the reason why I think it's slightly to be lamented that we're not going to see it is because Saint-Laurent not only had a very respectable kind of monastic observance but also had teams of men


who were capable of producing editions of the Fathers and that's that's one of our main problems today there will never probably be a complete complete edition of Augustine because sometimes the monks of Saint-Laurent could have a hundred monks working on an edition now you can't get five in the world very often one of the decisions I had to make some years ago was whether I would work with Corpus Christianorum because I was at that time working a great deal in paleography but I'm I'm very grateful I accepted the advice of the well that's what I'm afraid my excuse for being here at all is that the keeper of manuscripts said well you are very very good at that kind of thing but I think you're first and foremost you're communicators I think you better it's best for you to stick to that rather than sit down and work out the problems about manuscripts because you know really one of major problems you have to do if you're making an edition of somebody


if you want to find out what they're very serious you have to do what is called a stemmer you have to try to get back to as near as you can and here's Augustine or Ambrose or whomever it is writing and very often you've got all over you a whole series of manuscripts producing the same work in some form or another and you've got to find out whether this one replaces that one and so on until you get back as near as you can to something that probably is the right text and that's a very very long job I'm assuring one of the things I'm going to mention on Monday is a thing of which we only have and then one single 11th century manuscript so brother John Baptist never never forget there's always a possibility there may be one book in this library which would be the only copy to survive the century


could matter that means the whole community not just you of course the librarians use the books but it is very very extraordinary you see there was a time for instance when in the monastery of St. Gallen they collected little bits of classical text and also wrote down interesting enough you see for contemporary things the very first sentences in German German was just developing as a written language as of course French was a St. Bernard's time because sometimes you can almost hear him talking French so in fact sometimes you can't understand some of those sentences unless you translate them to French in your head then you get them clear but because he really was thinking in a language which has very nearly become vernacular but it is very important to remember that you know a book which doesn't seem important to us can sometimes matter quite a bit for the future and in a way texts are actually transmitted


or something we've only got by accident and sometimes very very interesting things I hope I've been succeeding showing you at least the thing I'm going to talk about on Monday is intensely intensely interesting in itself and it's a very good thing we have it as a picture of some some way of looking at a thing in the past I think that's a sort of answer isn't it Mark? I suppose you can say what we haven't done and what the council decided obviously at least couldn't couldn't get any further with was exactly what we mean by saying let's say if you like we can't easily identify that's why the thing I'm just washing rubbing off is I think the basic image to remember that the decision to read the Gospels in church to accept the letters of St Paul as something to


publicly read and so on is something that takes place here and that's certainly an important way of looking at the source of revelation it's not just the documents the fact the document is there and heard by all the people and so on this is something what we mean by the sources of revelation insofar as we can identify them it's never just the document in isolation it's in a context all the time so although we can't if you like I suppose some people felt you ought to be able to point to a specific way of saying something passing on as being tradition because it always does seem to be very extraordinary about something like the Assumption of Our Lady for instance that when you consider the number of bogus relics that were produced in the Middle Ages it's very very extraordinary nobody produced the body of Our Lady that seems to be most unlikely nobody did there are all kinds of bogus bodies around which can now be safely identified as cow


bones and so on nothing to do with saying the doctrine of the Assumption of Our Lady is necessarily the true but it's at least it's a it's very interesting just an interesting side fact in connection with it in the ecclesiastical setting that presumably there was some kind of sense even amongst forgers that you couldn't do this so you see you can be even rather a fraud and you still have a little bit of ecclesiastical sense perhaps we ought to go away do you think we should I think we've almost talked out what we can today haven't we so yes but do you have a kind of a checklist or a map or I want something


probably well thought out but I don't really uh how you can begin to feel the sense developing within yourself in other words uh a kind of a way to reflect on it as you go well I would have thought don't you find this don't you find this a tiny bit when you're coping with lexio divina I'd say I'm going to take it that most of you do do what I think most of us do is have in combined two things in our lexio divina time some scripture straightforwardly and then some some other artistic thing something like that which is nearer to the 19th century spiritual reading or less so according to the case may be and if you're really doing serious lexio divina you're bound to be looking at some commentaries well I doesn't it begin there John the Baptist I think don't you begin to find your way among the commentaries and feel well you know


this chap's being very ingenious but I don't think it really can mean this yeah um it hasn't always got to be a catholic commentator of course who will do this you see for instance one of the things one can mention is that although sometimes they had an axe to grind some of the anakin commentators like Bishop Breskid we can't always quite agree with what they say about certain texts of scripture when they're in their commentaries but they often didn't know their fathers look at the footnotes Bishop Breskid always has very interesting things from fathers and medieval writers and there are very very few biblical scholars who have the range of reading that those men had in the 19th century I always think they're well worth looking at from this point of view of course to me one of the most astonishing examples is that of Bishop Lightfoot who edited


the letters of Ignatius Vantion and somehow and understood exactly what they said but it remained in the study he never never taught his attitude towards the church he still went on in his anakin ways never feeling challenged about it but there's no doubt he saw exactly what those meant and on the whole he's quite safe where they where the meaning is and he just didn't take the consequences of it and so on at least I don't think he didn't some men can keep things in the study but I think in a monastery you can't keep things just in your study you have to go a bit further than that but I think I say I think this is the way you begin just simply looking at two or three people and very slowly you begin to feel yes you know this chap's on the right lines and then of course one must do what people have always done do remember that


because it can't really first-hand story that can't remember the vita prima of Saint Bernard and the two commodities perhaps don't know as much as certain history as I hope the Cistercians do the vita prima is of course written by William of Santieri and was writing he was writing it while Saint Bernard was still alive and remember that they really did when they were ill talk about the canticle together they really did talk about it and and so one does I think one can't I find myself constantly doing this I know in our own monastery I do often say to people afterwards you know what do you think about sense you think it was right to say that or so and and sometimes people will say yes I never thought of saying it that way before but I think it's all right and one sometimes has to go on to one stopped of course


because sometimes one may go too far sometimes I think I think this is one of the problems I'm not going to try to take this one on this time anyway whether we should do it later I don't know but some of the christological debates that are going on at the moment it seems to me for instance one of the ways one can find one's way through some of these without being too unfair to all of them is that do remember if we're to maintain anything like an orthodox doctrine about the person of our Lord I think we start with an enormous imaginative difficulty because well we can hardly know what is to be ourselves let alone to know what it can like to be son of God and son of man at once it seems to me if you like the desire to to try to envisage what things can have seemed like to our Lord is a proposition that absolutely baffles me and I probably begin to think what that can mean


but I don't I'm insane as I'm not saying that people obviously shouldn't do as they've always done desire to to ensure at any rate that we don't make our Lord so divine that he isn't human in any way at all this is the great monophysite trouble you at least you know what the word monophysite means do you know Peter no I'm it it means well it means that's to say there's only one really in effect that our Lord's human appearance is only an appearance that the divine person as it were under is under a veil now sometimes of course people I can barely talk about our Lord's humanity as though it were a veil though of course as you know the other strong side of this assertion like this is their very strong feeling for the physical so that they they're they're perfectly doctrinal in the sound but there's always been this kind


of temptation in the history of the person that we after all do develop do adores our Lord to make him as it were over divine and forget that he did in fact eat and sleep and have natural necessities such as we always have and obviously it's one of the sorts of things that people are working at again because they're all about the need to I think it's partly connected with some things we will probably talk about before we finish our 12 days namely problems about ourselves really I mean because we become rather over spiritualized ourselves I mean those of us who are involved in spiritual life can easily become too much like angels and not not doing enough our body you know like the desert father's talking about the young man who concentrates for three days and then says isn't there going to be any lunch and they reply well we thought you'd become an angel so we didn't call you


thank you very much thank you come holy spirit fill the hearts of those who believe in you and kindle within us the fire of your love send forth your spirit and they shall be created you will renew the face of the earth let us pray may the outpouring of your holy spirit oh lord cleanse our hearts and make them fruitful by the inward sprinkling of his due through christ our lord today i'm going today i'm going to talk about the importance and method of handling holy scripture as a theological source again of course i can't make this a very exhaustive lecture but at least we'll have some fundamental ideas about how this has been done once again the night before i was due to prepare this lecture responsive vigils gave him my starting


point this time it came from psalm 119 or 118 according to the way you number it 118 in the latin of course verse 18 open my eyes that i may behold what the wondrous things out of thy law now i'm sorry to say that words like this bias enough and sound and purpose could easily lead some of us to a grave misunderstanding about the role of scripture in the life of the theologian it's not my intention in this lecture to perch upon the territory of your professor of scripture but in my particular study with you here it is necessary to remind you of certain fundamental facts and suggest with the help of at least one outstanding book of a father of the church the way we should think of scripture as a source work with it and talk about it


since especially at a time when there's a revival interest in scripture among catholics there are real dangers that we shall not think sufficiently soundly about fundamental presuppositions the mass of principle in relation to our work let me first remind you that when the apostles began to preach their newfound faith on the day of pentecost not a single word of the new testament had been written and there was not even amongst the jews complete agreement as to what should be included among the sacred books of the old testament in addition you will notice when you begin to read the new testament the gospels and the other books whether acts or letters or even revelation they're apt to cite or allude to texts from the old testament in ways which would doubtless often surprise those who original words and moreover to do so rather seldom with the kind of verbal accuracy


suggested by an established text and we should notice that this situation continues if you read on further in the early centuries for a very long time after the writings eventually established as new testament had come into existence you will notice of course the resistance nearly always in diarneas and sometimes ignatius van tog too are clearly quoting a text from the new testament from memory from the memory of hearing it read in the liturgy and certainly not very often referring to a written text as far as the new testament itself is concerned i still feel one of the most valuable and accessible examinations of the evidence in relation to the old testament in the new is ch dodds according to the scriptures


from which i can't quote here since the library which i happen to be working with when writing this didn't seem to have a copy and i've just recommended to brother john dept as you try to get one here it is a very useful little book simply you'll remember that frequently peter begins to do it in the very first sermon and stephen does it in the sermon before he's martyred they pile up a set of texts from the old testament which were clearly quoted from memory and so on and what ch dot has tried to do in this book according to the scriptures is really to gather together these pieces and see what sort of body of text were being alluded to in the first apostolic preaching there may be other things that do it as well but i've not seen anything that seems to me to be quite so lively and interesting and i think it covers the ground rather well


i happen to be writing uh this lecture also when i fell on a work by a catholic scholar father bruce vaughter in a series called theological resources i don't think we ought to write his name up in here you might find it useful to see you later bruce so it is a book called biblical inspiration london 1972 and i think this book very well states the significance of this initial situation of whose importance most students i think in seminaries would i fear remain in blissful ignorance this kind of thing doesn't tend to get said


on the first page of his opening chapter father vaughter points out that judaism and christianity whether ancient or modern whether pre-reformation or post-reformation have always had as their distinct characteristic a canon scripture to which they've submitted themselves you will notice for instance how this is taken for granted in documents of vatican 2 in the decree on divine revelation which i ask you to look at it's taken for granted there is such a body and yet as father vaughter goes on to point out by contrast with islam mormonism or christian science neither judaism nor christianity were brought into being by their sacred books they weren't brought to be remember it's the same point i was trying to make yesterday that it's first of all the person of our lord and then the word about him


and so it really is true the the faith is not brought into being by the writing it's the revelation that precedes the writing that brings the faith into being as he wisely says it's quite the other way around the bible was first produced by the very people who only later accepted its canon historically and from an attached view the bible is a loose collection of casual works of disparate kind and to this extent it is quite different from a sacred literature in the conventional sense of their term despite the undeniable cultic and other religious influences that lie behind many of the biblical literary forms the bible is for the most part a secular literature this must be said sometimes to the scandal of the past do of course remember that can be taken very quite literally i mean there's a song of songs which everybody loved to comment on


north of the middle ages clearly a secular love poem there's a book of joe which is not even by a jew at least it was written by a jew it's not about a jew and it's a very very vital important book for the mystery of god which is why gregory great tells it to meditate on the mysteries of the race between the soul and god and this of course is one of the reasons why i think his situation of fact which was precisely what gave saint augustine as a man originally trained in secular literature a basic point of departure for perceiving how we should study those books which eventually been accepted as sacred on account of the belief of the undivided church they were divinely inspired whether their authors were aware of this or not i mean as you realize when the church says that the book is


divinely inspired she is not saying that the writer was aware of this at the time and one just doesn't this there's there are so many lovely um medieval illuminations especially gregory gate with the holy spirit speaking in his ear but i don't think we have to any having such picture of a sacred writer necessarily being aware that he is inspired at the time of writing um the conception of say of inspiration by the holy spirit comes afterwards and they're simply writing st luke is one of the most obvious cases in the new testament where st luke writes two little formal prefaces one to the gospel and one to the act where he is thinking of himself as writing a book just the same way that i


start to prepare this lecture thinking how shall i begin how shall i present myself as we shall see incidentally augustine is among the very first to give a list i mentioned this yesterday of which those books which he mentions corresponds to the received list of the catholic church of the canon of scripture i suppose we can say it was really crystallizing in the fourth century it's really not to the trend that firm decisions made about this partly of course you'll remember because at the time of the imposite reformation there was belief sometimes as we know and i'll be even better than we did even before the last war not so soundly grounded that only books which were survived in hebrew were necessarily


properly jewish whereas in fact we now have bits of hebrew from the dead sea scrolls for books which formerly we only had in greek further in another riverbrook revised in 1916 called the authority of the bible professor dodd sensibly has a first chapter which he calls literature and authority in which among other things he says the widespread appreciation of the bible as literature is indeed one of the most salutary results of the general change of outlook of the last two generations there was a time when you either held the book in superstitious reverence or repudiated with scorn the religious in general would have felt it trifling if not actually impious to enjoy the poetry of holy riches poetry or to read its splendid stories with the pleasure to be derived


consummate narrative prose that indeed is of course what they often are and you ought not to to remind you that the holder of st benedict forbade forbids the reading of the books of books of kings before complin since for many people they are too exciting i confess i've always been genuinely amongst these people i very much enjoy the books of kings indeed they are very exciting they are wonderfully told in the last few days we've had some of those splendid bits you remember nathan coming in and then saying you are the man they're all so very concise and so very very telling indeed they're very exciting stories and david david and i suppose really a sort of jewish che guevara he was a kind of guerrilla soldier anyway uh there is it comes across splendidly and of course for have you ever tried reading the books of kings in hebrew mark have you got as far as that it's very great fun it's well worth it once you've got as far as that


then you'll go on with him unless and as in my case you don't have to let it get rusty for other reasons but it is very very exciting indeed so it is it is i think one must not forget that god does give us all these things in a very in a very exciting way i don't think we have to exclude the inspiration of the holy spirit from the fact that it's also rather fun very often um all this i think makes the best introduction to our understanding of why peter brown in his final biography of augustine thinks that the book of which i mainly wish to speak today seems such a very modern book i hope that some of you have read you've got that have you here by the john baptist it's uh have a look for it anyway it ought to be in the library it's a biography of peter brown by peter brown of simply called augustine of hippo and it came from the university of california press and paperback 1969


peter is very very well versed in the whole of late latin culture and amongst other things it's a very vivid picture of north african life uh augustine of course is a very delightful writer to read um i mustn't let myself talk about him very much at the moment because i can go on forever but one is constantly reminded of the surroundings of north african life in his day he often mentions the people seeing coming back from work and so on things of that kind which bring the thing very much to life and the book i'm going to talk about is augustine's enormously influential book it was terribly


important for the whole middle ages even do remember of course people didn't always know books directly but they often knew about them in bits and pieces in the way that i tried to show yesterday with a little diagram of nicus of liars gloss little bits in the margin perhaps but this book was certainly its general form more generally known to people who wrote commentaries of their own um it's a book which in latin is called de doctrina this doesn't really require much knowledge from latin to understand de doctrina cristiana now there is a translation of this in the fathers of the church series it's not um it's only moderately good and so in fact the bits i'm going to quote today i've translated myself i'm afraid


there were such a number of them i haven't attempted to type them out for you um if there's a very strong desire to have at a later stage i could probably do something about it later but i can't just see how i can do it in the next day or two um well as you can see this literally translated means a book on christian doctrine um the fathers of the churches decided to call it christian education i much prefer teaching for the same reason as i like the word sense yesterday because just like atonement just like sense the english word teaching um preserves the double sense of that word in english namely what is taught and the actual business of teaching it how to teach


um teaching is not only what one is saying but it is the actual process of conveying it and augustine really means both in this book in fact of course this book was begun in augustine's middle age in 396 the year before ambrose who'd received him to the church died ambrose died 397 but at least the fourth book of it was not written until 427 at the point when augustine went systematically through his life's work reviewing as i was saying yesterday and sometimes revising and even as in this case completing the original plan here i would not quite agree with what peter brown is saying everything believing as i do that the late professor maru who was really the most wonderful lecturer i do now i'm afraid he although he could talk english i never heard him talk english


and he was very very excited to listen to i've never forgotten a splendid afternoon many years ago i was suddenly invited about this time to dr cross's the late dr cross's common room in christ church and professor maru arrived and took half postcard out of the carpet and again talked like an angel about great goodness on the psalms it was a wonderful wonderful afternoon and i think that maru was entirely right in thinking that augustine's profoundly original mind perceived that the christianization of culture required complete remaking of the mind in one way i'd like to think that's the sort of thing we're trying to do when we're trying to learn some theology you know it is to kind of remake our minds try and integrate into what we are as far as we can our own christian belief to make it part of ourselves and i think augustine really did hope to do this he really worked out because he was always one that


likes i suppose a great many actually i remember one phrase that comes to my mind i haven't written i remember peter brunt's one of his successful phrases is that augustine had the busy man genius for creating more and more work and i think that one of the things of course that happened to augustine when he was planning this book was that he decided he would do a series of sign of help books in here to help you along so there was going to be one on music and one on grammar and all these other kinds of music book he did which is a very very exciting book and uh a very delightful not about music in the modern sense of the word but about rhythm of course it starts with drops of water falling on the stones and so on but it's uh so he worked out a great program of ways to help you to get into the bible uh but i think peter brown is certainly right in saying that in this book augustine will give a large place in education


to the natural and will be genuinely concerned lest the gifted man be trammeled by rules and regulations he will play off talent against education above all he'll attempt to bypass the most self-conscious element in late roman education the obsession with rules of eloquence it's very important of course in i'm going to have to talk about this i think sometime next week that of course so much in hebrew as somebody who even studied only a few words of hebrew quickly discovers is that really you've got a quite different way of thinking in this language and so it does require the sorts of tools which you bring to understanding poem aura a new kind of novel um if you're going to do it properly in fact i was just looking over chapter three


of the decree on divine revelation before coming across and i see that paragraph 12 chapter 3 of the decree we were looking at yesterday from says this in determining the intention of the sacred writers attention must be paid into the area to literary forms for the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing and prophetical and poetical texts and in other forms literary expression so you can see although augustine couldn't read in hebrew knew a little bit by report as many of us do and probably couldn't read very much greek either he was really on the right lines and thinking that we have to look at these texts as texts now naturally of course i would like to read the whole of the day doctrine now


it's a fairly big book but uh i myself read it in the spring of 1947 though not necessarily i'd recommend reading with flu as i had at the time my novice master was rather astonished by he said what are you reading i'd found a nice little latin copy which would hold comfortably in bed and there i was reading the doctrina and it's a book which left its mark on me for life as i think it did on most many people who read it here i shall simply try to analyze some of those aspects of it which seem to me to be a permanent value of the last book on preaching of which gustin had of course a very wide experience i shall merely say that it seems to me to be far and away the very best thing i've ever seen written on that subject and i've always tried to take these guidelines as my model um i can just say to you very briefly that in case of any of you should have to preach later


but what it says is what i've always tried to do that you pray for the people you're to talk to before you do it and then look at the text and you let them speak to you and then you listen listening is very important i don't father thomas was saying to me the other day how impressed he always is but and i think this i am too with the idea that the very first word in the rules is listen and this is the secret i think you're having something to say and what it is what made agustin a very great because he was sometimes able to do this on the spur of the moment there's one delightful occasion i'm sorry but it's always dangerous to talk about uh there's one delightful occasion when agustin was faced with the sort of difficulty i haven't yet been faced with but i'm expecting it to happen any day when of course in those days


the preacher very often told the cantor what to sing as the little response oriole song and agustin eventually when he got around to the harmony he said well i told the cantor to but he actually sang the other one so i'm going to preach on that instead in other words he listened first although he hadn't read in advance and so just spoke spontaneously on the basis of hearing what the cantor had sung and what was i guess was i was listening wasn't i had sex today to know listen to what the old men say because they're only telling what the other people tell them before there's tradicio in one of its forms anyway isn't it the kind of thing you know was telling us about in people who could recite long pieces by listening hearing other people to hear and passing on so on but let's return to the prologue and the subject matter of book one of


the day doctrina the prologue begins thus there are certain principles for handling the scriptures which i think it's not unsuitable to pass on to those who really care for them not only to help them to understand what others have written about holy writ but also to profit by perusing it themselves there are some who will criticize this work of ours because they've not understood our principles we i believe no need to notice here only one class critic mentioned by agustin for they're always to be found everywhere and very dangerous they can be and then comes a splendid passage they're either those who genuinely deal well with holy scripture or seem to themselves to do so they're the kind of people who although they've never read any of the kind of remarks i intend to speak of seem or believe themselves to be the for expounding the holy books it makes these principles necessary to nobody but rather declare


that the whole of an excellent explanation of figures in these writings is better obtained by divine gift i should not be criticized for something they they do not understand like people wishing to see the waning or the new moon or some none too bright star which i indicate with my finger when their eyesight was not sharp enough even to see my finger they are indeed some who glory in divine gift and boast that they understand and treat the holy books without the kind of instructions i intend to give and therefore think that what i wish to write is quite unnecessary they should calm their agitation by reflecting that although they write to rejoice in the great gift of god they've learned these things from others or from reading nor have they any reason to allow themselves to be incited by the holy antony their perfect man among the egyptian monks who without any knowledge of reading sub committed


holy scripture to memory by hearing it and is said to have understood it by pondering it wisely and if anyone thinks these things are false i shall not get pugnacious about it for since our problem is with christians who rejoice to know holy scripture without the help of others and if this is true it is indeed no small gift let them at least grant that all of us have learned our own language by hearing it from our youth up and any other language such as greek or hebrew or something else they've likewise learned by hearing it from the human teacher should we then if you please advise all our neighbors not to teach these things to their children because in a single instant of time the apostles spoken to the times of every nation when they were filled by the coming of the holy spirit or should anyone who has not got so far judge himself not to be a christian or doubt that he's received the holy spirit no indeed


let what is to be learned in a human way be learned without pride and let anyone who teaches hand hand on what he's received without pride and envy nor should we tempt him in whom we believe in case to see by the snares and perversity of the enemy we become unwilling to go to church to hear and learn even the gospel itself read a book or listen to anyone reading or preaching and simply wait to be caught up to the third heaven whether in the body or out of the body as the apostle says and hear things that cannot be told which men may not utter and there see jesus christ our lord and learn the gospel from him rather than from human beings it's a very sensible thing that they had to need to be said sometimes i think um the gospel is simply saying well let's be honest and see that we sometimes have to work at it


it doesn't have to be like breaking stones of course but i think it's a magnificent outburst which i've only very slightly abbreviated in my translation and it sounds i think as contemporary as it always will be augustine goes on to remind us that even after the dramatic experience of his conversion this is a very very sensibly thought out argument even after his conversion paul was sent to a fellow human being to receive the sacraments and join the church and the centurion cornelius was sent by his vision to peter for the same purpose in the act of the apostles remember there's both those stories are very clearly told in a word whether we are studying scripture or trying to understand our faith we must be humble enough to be prepared to learn from others now as we open the first book of this book in four parts we find augustine saying that there


are two matters upon which any kind of interpretation of scripture depends the one is learning the way to penetrate what we are to understand and the other to explain what we've understood he was of course reading this sentence in his old age i presume that it made augustine realize that he'd never in fact finished the whole book and must add not only the end of book three but the part on the practice of preaching which comes in in book four because he talked a lot about penetrating the meaning and hadn't talked enough about explaining what they understood we should confine ourselves for the time being to the things augustine has to say about penetrating the meaning of scripture he begins by saying in chapter two that all teaching is either about real


things in themselves or about signs i don't see why we shouldn't really have augustine's that in words up because in fact we're probably going to come back to them in another connection so he's talking about res which means things and signal on which of course we get the english word signal sign and he says that all teaching is either about real things in themselves or about signs but real things are learned by signs here he says i have called real things he isn't using the word real of course that i put in just


to distinguish res from signal that's to say it's like that book on the table which is a thing an object and is not in itself a sign unless we agree to make it one i've called these things real things in the proper sense of the word those things which are presented to us without any purpose of functioning as signs they are indeed real things which also function as signs of other things we can decide for instance that red book whenever it's on this table it means that the man who's sitting in this chair is talking very very dull stuff indeed that could be a secret only known to the students of course but they could agree about that that then it could become a sign if you see that's the point augustine's making that you can decide that something will be a sign look out it's bright red


there are indeed real things which also function as signs of other things there are even some things whose function is to be signs like words you see if i write up everybody else's signs which i imagine are fairly intelligible for most people they are signs and they only really exist as signs they also marks of course but their function is simply to be signs for nobody uses words except to signify something of course the pig is a good example of some something where we do in fact quite commonly


use the word in a transferred sense which needs no explanation this is why every sign is also a thing for what is not a thing is nothing at all yet not every real thing is also a sign now because at the end of this first statement principle agustin embarks upon another vital distinction for his whole thought concerning objects of love and manners of loving i'm going first to make a quick leap to the beginning of book two we'll have to face since agustin on love at some later point but not today i think very specially just to make this bit of it quite clear i think we go straight to the beginning book two where he returns to the discussion of signs


i think it makes it much easier to follow his argument if we do that to the theme of love as i say we shall return later very a little bit superficially here and then perhaps later on in these 12 days we will talk a little bit more about it with other connections but let me warn you instantly that if you have to depend upon a translation like that of the father of the church series it's as well to bear in mind that agustin himself never uses the word symbol a word which i would agree we must for our modern purpose bring into this picture and i shall say so when i'm doing so but this sort of intervention he's thinking is one of the reasons why whenever i'm quoting him i'm quoting him in my own translation as i believe that honesty requires this wherever possible because of course the symbol immediately introduces something slightly more subtle for all of us than mere sign does


we shall in fact hear agustin himself in a moment or two talking about translations their problems and limitations so i shall resist the temptation to do any more about that for the moment this then is how he begins book two because when i was writing about real things i prefixed a warning that one should only attend to them as what they are and not the aspect of what they signify if they also do this likewise in speaking of signs i say that one must not concern oneself with what they are but with their sign aspect that is to say what they signify for a sign is a real thing which besides the form which invests upon the senses automatically causes something else to come to mind as for instance when we see a footprint the thought that an animal whose footprint it is has passed and when we see smoke we know that a


fire has occurred and the sound of a living voice we attend to the thought behind it at the sound of a trumpet soldiers know whether to advance or retreat or whatever else whatever else battle requires and so among signs some are natural others made by arrangement it's here i think useful to add a small modern comment what agustin called given or arranged signs i suppose we should normally call in modern language conventional signs like the traffic lights for instance the color of the green light in the traffic signal does not of itself suggest the idea go ahead until this has been agreed and arranged by law even though of course there may be some slight natural basis in the choice of colors i don't quite know whether there is


obviously it does seem to be something rather strange about the color red which suggests you should stop but i don't really know how far that's long-term association with the color red in speech rather than experience but certainly as far as the traffic signs are concerned you just have to know what red yellow and green mean and they are conventional signs which we arrange in other words we impose upon this color in this particular set of lamps this particular meaning since augustine is about to go on to the most important conventional signs for our reading words and the letters that make them up it seems useful to say why i've reserved for a separate remark the important word symbol of course i don't mean i don't mean the word c but the ones i'm going to do this not the classic symbols but the symbolic


i suppose the importance of symbols both in scripture and in literature and life in general is that they are many valued some people want to use the rather than every word polyvalent i suppose many valued i suppose that one of the exciting things about a really great poem and one of the things that makes the psalms or the song of psalms so attractive to read again and again of course that sometimes an aspect of a symbol will leap out at you for the first time it happens to vigils as you probably know quite often for those who remain conscious during vigils you suddenly see that this could mean something else as well and there you've got something which has a symbolic quality and sometimes um obviously some things we can see out of this window here trees and so on are enormously


suggestive all kinds of different things and especially in different lights and times of day since the gassing is about to go on to this question of words i thought this was the point to put this in um now these symbols may of course as i say just like trees and other sorts of things there may be natural objects in their own right which in a given context come to suggest several different layers of meaning which only the use of imagination and often informed imagination can discover there's a very amusing little place outside there monterey called whispering pines where there isn't a single pine tree at all and you have to use an awful lot of imagination it's obviously meant to make you think it's a much nicer little park than


it is there they just use a name which calls up something which i suppose is a symbol of where you'd like to be and of course where this many dimension thing comes in as it does in poetry and so often in the psalms most notable case is the parable which is of course why a true parable is not an allegory uh let's get that one clear shall we i hope you are all clear about that the wonderful thing about the parables is of course in a way they are polyvalent they've got lots of different layers of


meaning notice how our lord does taken by and large use natural objects for the parables nearly always growing things there are very few things about building so their symbolic value is very very high indeed and unlike an allegory where one thing will mean mean something else specifically you make up a little story which tells you how father abbot is at the moment trying to get away with a case of wine without being seen you can tell you a little story which talks about mr so-and-so who's doing something rather which feeling when you've got the element of great touch you know what the abbot is doing um you'll see what i mean that's the first thing that comes into my head where if you like where each of the elements in the story represents something else which can


be specifically worked out the parable is doing something much more coherent than that it really functions in the way that a crystal does when you hold it up and you can see it in different kinds of lights and so on and hasn't therefore necessarily only one meaning a true allegory has just one meaning i i wouldn't want to insist upon this too thoroughly but if you like i suppose if i can say that an allegory is very much like a conventional sign where like the traffic lights where once we have a reach agreement these particular signs are going to mean so and so so if you're making up an allegory then you really do disguise something you could tell


another way in such a way that all its elements can be independently interpreted a parable functions much more like a poem does in this way its impact is so many valued and we may notice of course this is sometimes important i think in scripture as in poetry that the first meaning the literal meaning if you might is not what the words say but what they suggest of course this is one of the things um i once had this experience in peter in my very very early days i remember once preaching this just so shows you what happened in theological formation in the old days i was once preaching in our in a in a priory church in oxford and i began


a homily by saying here we are we're all making bricks without straw and i received lots of notes from the congregation afterwards saying how exciting they'd found this because they all knew what it was to make bricks without straw they like you know