Introduction to Theology, Serial No. 01129

00:00
00:00
Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.

Serial: 
NC-01129

Keywords:

Suggested Keywords:

Photos: 
Notes: 

#item-set-209

Transcript: 

So you mustn't have very much, I think. I think sometimes about a dozen verses is an absolute maximum, sometimes it can be even less. It's a bit of a more difficult problem, I think, with books of the Old Testament, isn't it really? Because there you often do need to read a much larger chunk. That's the kind of thing I think I agree with you on. I think all of us, the more we get involved in any life of community, whatever we're doing, and not just people who teach, whatever you're doing, you do find that somehow or other you don't get the blocks of time that you would get before. I suppose the only thing to do is perhaps to plan that Advent or Lent or something like that coincides with the choice of a specific book.

[01:03]

And one of the things I've kept from the rule, which is, you remember as Millie says about the Lent book, I've always tried to make this a criterion to whether I read a book or not. Are you going to read it from cover to cover, per ordinemics integro, as a whole, and in order? Actually, Father Augustine Baker, 17th century Benedict, has a rather lovely phrase, where he says, one shouldn't read a book with too much gust. By which of course he means one shouldn't look ahead to see what's going to come next. I think that's, if one can keep that sort of rule, when one's actually, in relation to scripture, or if one's going to read a very special kind of commentary on it. Well obviously, for instance, many of St Bernard's little books, The Steps of Humility, or On

[02:06]

Loving God, and so on, those are the kind of things one still has a chance to read, don't you find? Do you find that's possible? Yes, it is possible to do those, I think, and as you see this one is not too unmanageable, it's only an October essay, it's 169 pages, it's not so very, very big to read, that particular work, 95 cents at the time it came out, I'm certainly going to be more now, but I agree with you, there is a problem about that, I think the only thing, one just has to make one's own rules somehow, I've tried to make them, I've found that partly because of one's body, which was one of the things we were talking about, which we're going to talk about a bit more next week, I think. You can't always force yourself to keep on with the same thing, sometimes you may have

[03:12]

to have three things going concurrently, one of which is a bit easier for you personally to take on the days when you know just you're too wet, and you know very well you won't get through, more than half awake, but of course the history things, as Brother Isaiah has been saying, especially the Books of Kings, which many have mentioned as being very exciting, they are, and of course in many ways they do need to read a story more or less in full, don't join it, read enough of a patch to get the story in your head. Of course, particularly in the old days, just to think they read the whole Book of Genesis in Advent, you know, the whole book they read in public, and they judged there, of course, the reader had to go on until they had a knot, I mean, they didn't have no first 20 verses or something like that, it really was a rather mammoth period.

[04:16]

I'm not saying, I don't think any of us physically could do that anymore. I've had now 36 years of religious life, and I certainly don't think I could do all the things I did 36 years ago very easily anymore. And we did them fasting too, in the way that nobody has to nowadays. Of course, one had to fast, and sometimes until quite late masses, and so on, one didn't think about it at that time, but I think you would think about it now, and feel rather incapacitated if you hadn't eaten anything, or had anything to drink, but everybody did it in those days. We are just physically and psychologically different, I think we've just got to accept that fact. Don't you agree, Peter, that's one of those kind of things I don't think we can do much about for the moment? Well, I agree very much, because what struck me, I like very much that idea of the spoils, is you only can bring what you are, and we each have different temperaments, and so,

[05:20]

you know, if some people can do three things at once, and we're getting tremendous out of it, you know, why should they cut down on two? Yes, I agree with you about that, I suppose really, I think the reason why it's important to make this point that Guston does make, is that sometimes people have tried to be much too austere about what one should do in monastic reading, because we really have a bad need, I think, to feed ourselves with good writing, don't we, whatever the thing is, and that's going to vary from person to person, but sometimes we just need to read for the sheer pleasure of reading, and that refreshes our capacity to attend to scripture, I think, it doesn't diminish it at all, unless you're doing the fast reading, which I've never been taught to do. Were you taught to do that? Oh, well, I was taught, but I've never done it. I can't do it. Very slow.

[06:23]

Brother Francis was telling me yesterday that he found that when he came to the monastery, he had to unlearn, having learned to read fast. But like Elgrid says something to the effect that he was reading Cicero, and he had to put it down because it wasn't salted with Christ, so it seemed like until the intellect, I guess the intellect changes, your attitude changes, so that you could read something that would lead you to Christ. Yes, I think this is true. I can tell you, brother, since we're talking in a very personal way now, that I found I went through a period like this about music, there were certain kinds of music I couldn't listen to for several years. Then it all came back in. Francis of Sales has a lovely passage about this, in which he says that sometimes God asks one to take everything off and makes you put it all on again, but for a different

[07:26]

reason. And I think what we've been talking about today is the reason why we ought to do things that some people think we ought to give up, if you see what I mean. We have to give them up perhaps for a time, and then we have to take them back for a different reason, because we see that a bit of ourselves needs that to keep alive. Because the scriptures are so alive, they are so much about life, and as I was saying to Mark when we were talking outside, it seems to be rather dangerous to confine oneself, as I suspect some people do in the end, to their favourite bits of scripture, not the bits which are rather more shocking and disturbing, because you never know when life is going to disturb you, and then you might need them. Like you say in terms of translation, the watering down you get, because some of the father Casimir was here, and St. Paul talks about the knife slit, in terms of the circumcision

[08:33]

body, he says that he hopes they castrate themselves, so I mean that's so strong that St. Paul would say that. So it comes down, watered down while made a slit, well we all get the analogy, but he's really using a strong analogy, and Ezekiel, he says to the Lord, you know, you raped me, and in this translation you duped me. The contrast, you know, and even with what we do have in translation, the earthiness that the Bible can use in talking to God, and we're talking about God. Yes, yes I remember an Irishman I lived with once saying, why is the Bible so vulgar? And I said, well do remember it was written by Jews, who have a very strong sense of physical things, I've had a lot of Jewish friends in my life, and they're marvellous people, absolutely marvellous, because they have so strong sense of physical things. They're all very very physical, they're also very beautiful very often, to look at.

[09:37]

That's why so many, I suppose, have become remarkable musicians, there have been a lot of them. We've still got some alive in America, haven't you? There's a, what's the violinist, who's a very crippled violinist, who has a Jewish ancestry? Eichmann? No, and a young man. Zubenmutter? Zubenmutter, yes. Is that who you're talking about? Yes, I think probably it is, yes. I saw a film about him once, a real, I think a polio victim, who not only performs, but also teaches violin in summer sessions and so on, and this is, these are the kind of people the Jews were, you know, and Paul was a Jew, right, and they didn't mince their words about these kinds of things, and after all, they are the things we have to live with, in the long run.

[10:40]

On the other tack, then, about developing the sense, with the proliferation of the word in so many books, I mean, in terms of discernment or discretion? Yes, I think that here I would rather hesitate to say the sort of thing I've, I'm afraid I've adopted, it's a practical thing, I've, for years now, I've taken it that I haven't got time to read articles, unless they're very special. In fact, the Cistercian Collections, I think the only thing I generally read nearly all of when it comes, because I nearly always got something that really does interest me, which does feed these kind of interests. But I certainly think that probably most of us, again, I think probably Peter's right,

[11:51]

I think people are temperamentally different here, I think that if you do dissipate your mind on a great range of readings, it does limit your capacity really to attend to what you're reading in one script. Did you find that, Mark, at all? Perhaps you don't, perhaps you have the same rules I have, do you? I mean, that you are fairly selective in what you read. Yeah, I don't, I haven't, I became kind of narrow, I think, when I, limited in my manner. Yes, so have I, exactly, I definitely do that. And I tend to read again and again, the same books too, the few things that one knows, not only early scripture, but other kinds of books that one reads several times over in one's lifetime, because, in fact at one time, the various periods when I've been living

[12:55]

alone, and most religious when they are living alone are allowed, and some, of course, we come out of these, have some tradition, which is quite old, I believe, of having at least some sort of small library for our own selves. I've always tried to use the criterion, am I going to read, before getting a book, am I going to read this more than once, and if the answer is no, then I don't take it. You usually can tell. And I think I can say that nearly all the things in my room I do read, I have read sometimes four or five times, in the course of several years. So I think external to scripture, apart from the sort of thing that Augustine is saying, a very classical way of analysing what's involved in it, certainly one's ordinary

[13:57]

reading habits are quite an important side-factor in what one should do. But again, I think everybody's got to make up their own mind about this. Ken, may I ask you as a fellow gardener, do you find that gardening is actually rather conducive to lexio divina? I certainly do. Do you find that it does help, doesn't it, actually, being out in, doing things with plants and the earth and so on? Especially because scripture is not only full of very vivid natural descriptions, but it is very often using these in a highly symbolic way. And so I find that when you're digging or working alone, outside, lots of these things have time to run through one's head.

[14:58]

Of all the kind of physical occupations, I think it's perhaps the most congenial for lexio divina. That's very much a gardener's thought, I'm not a fanatic about it. Well, perhaps we should pray, it's hard as it may be, we need to be ready to retire into our shells and wait till tomorrow to carry on. Thank you all very much. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of those who believe in you, and kindle within them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. You shall be created. Let us pray. May the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, O Lord, cleanse our hearts and make them fruitful

[15:59]

by the inward sprinkling of his dew, through Christ our Lord. Amen. Well, I've called this lecture, Two Attempts at Systematic Presentation of the Body of Belief. At the point of writing this, I was, of course, unable to anticipate what our discussions after the first two lectures might have produced in the way of problems and perspectives. But I hope I have succeeded in helping you to see that theology as a discipline, being as the two Greek words from which it's composed imply, word or talk about God, it's, of course, chaos, which is practically the same as Zeus, and Deus in Latin, God, and Logos

[17:02]

I hope I've somehow succeeded in showing you that talk about God is, for us as Christians, immediately involved in an ambiguity which cannot be wholly resolved and will be done if we attempt it. On the one hand, it involves the special sense in which the Word of God is not so much anything written or uttered as a person who reveals in his fullness the God who is hidden. On the other hand, it involves written scriptures in which this first belief is, among other things, declared in words. In so far as the Church comes to believe that the writings of some of its first writers,

[18:07]

including some like the Jewish patriarchs and prophets and some others, were authors either directly or indirectly of writings divinely inspired, she also derives her credentials from a canon of scripture whose interpretation will slowly be seen to require the aid of human knowledge and human considerations, as well as way of life, which leads us back into the mystery of God by way of the incarnate Word. In fact, this is really why we were seeing, I think, yesterday, Augustine was trying to show us that we needed to think about the text itself so that we could notice its natural meaning and its layer of sign and symbol, and showing also how to live with scripture

[19:13]

is also part of the work of love, part of the work of loving. And of course, all one's other actions are concerned with the right evaluation of loving, because this will affect one's understanding. I think this is something we should come back to on this part of this course, which I haven't yet completed writing, because I wanted you to teach me what I had to say, and I think you're certainly doing that, and I'll try and help you a bit more today, if it's possible, to help me. But I think we can see to begin with that it does matter very much what is our attitude towards the sacred text and how we live, even when we're not reading the next head reading, which is one of the things we found ourselves talking about yesterday. In other words, just as I tried to show in Asking the Fathers, you can't really live a

[20:14]

prayer which is just in a vacuum. It must be part of life. So evidently, the apprehension of theology in this sense of confrontation with the word in person and confrontation with the sacred text is something for which we do prepare ourselves, by the way we live when we're not actually directly engaged in Lectio Divina or prayer. Well, when we've said that, even if you're not aware of it, it ought not to surprise you to be told, and all of us I think need to be reminded, that it took the Church some time in practice to distinguish between the canon of Scripture, as we now generally have it in a Bible, and the writings of those whom she came to regard as her fathers in the faith. The great handers-on, remember the word, the Greek word paradosis or Latin word traditio,

[21:18]

tradition, great handers-on of the absolute tradition in one form or another. For instance, an important theologian like Joseph Victor, teaching in Paris in the beginning of the 12th century, still thinks of the writings of the Fathers as part, in a way, of Holy Scripture. He does actually say that, distinguish from the canonical books, but he still, in other words, he makes a sign that he knows these are not on quite the same footing as that of what we should call Scripture today. But he is clear that the paradosis, the tradition which goes on, the way the faith is expounded by those who believe in our Lord, and regard the Scriptures as sacred writings, is of extreme importance. And even the Pope, like St Gregory the Great, will put the declarations of the first four councils of the Church on the same level as

[22:23]

the Gospels. If you want the reference for that, it's rather important, I think. In book three of his letters, in a letter to a subdeacon, Savannas, he writes, we receive the four sinners of the Holy Universal Church as we receive the four Gospels. You'll find that in Patria Dea, Latin, mean, volume 77, poem 613, letter 10. I think it's necessary to say these things because we are, of course, again, once again, as the Church always is, in a new period of clarification. And I think it is important to remember that the Church was very much concerned with the kind of thing we were doing so happily together in the liturgy this morning, and taking seriously the aspect of what's publicly done and declared as the sign of her faith.

[23:26]

And so, not being too concerned to insist on absolute break between Sacred Scripture and the way it is presented to us liturgically or through the teaching of those who have a special authority, like bishops and abbots and so on. I say, this last phrase of Gregory will remind us that as Catholic Christians, the ambiguity of the Word of God is seen most clearly functioning within the life of the Church. It's perhaps no accident that after all my prayers and heart-searchings, and before embarking on what I regard as the key to what I'm attempting to do, in these first 12 lectures, there should have been a lesson of vigils from one of the letters

[24:34]

of the great martyr Bishop of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who died probably, I suppose, about the year 1117. And probably not more than about 30 years after the completion of the 4th Gospel, as a written text anyway. In this letter to the Christians in Ephesus, having insisted, as he habitually does, on the primary importance of the liturgical assembly of the Church around the Bishop, as the great means of fostering unity and excluding the devil, he continues, None of this is hidden from you if you have perfect faith and love for Jesus Christ, who is the beginning and the end of life. Faith the beginning and love the end. When these two come together, they are God, and everything else follows from that.

[25:36]

No one who professes the faith sins, nor does anyone who has charity hate. The tree is known by its fruits. Thus those who profess to belong to Christ are recognisable by what they do. For it is not the profession of faith that counts, but being found in the power of faith to the very end. It is better to keep silence and to be, and to speak and not to be. It is a good thing to teach, if only he who speaks does what he says. And so there is only one teacher who spoke and it was done, and the things he did in silence are worthy of the Father. That's the letter to the Ephesians of Ignatius of Antioch, paragraph 14 and beginning of 15. So there you've got Ignatius talking about our Lord in person as the teacher.

[26:48]

And as I say, it seems to me that our faith requires us to see this double function of the word in person and the word as communicated to us through scripture, as speaking to us. To try to display the riches of the doctrine implied in this passage is, as I conceive it, my present task. Christ is the centre of our theological picture. There's some problems about talking about this and I think some of these I'm working away at, rather slowly today, slower than I'd hoped. But it's working, I think, a little bit. Surely this is not to misinterpret the opening word to the Decree on Divine Revelation from

[27:52]

the last Council, with which we concluded our first lecture. The word is communicated to us for life, for living. Now there are two influential attempts to make a summary of the doctrinal legacy of the Undivided Church's teaching. One of these, that of St. John of Damascus, who is reckoned to be the last of the Fathers by Protestant scholars, for of course the use of this title in connection with St. Bernard is due to the first great Benedictine editor, Anton Mabillon. A monk of some more in the 17th century, who was particularly devoted to St. Bernard and his edition we had to use until Jean Leclerc finished a new one for us, not so long ago. So that is in the Fathers of the Church series in translation, a book called The Fountain of

[29:12]

Revelation. I think the second attempt to do something of this kind, very specifically planned, which I distinctly always remember being told was modelled on the major work of St. John of Damascus, is of course St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica. This is in fact rather an unwieldy paperback edition of the Leonine text, which is the critical text being prepared by Dominicans in Rome. Not the whole work, it simply is the first part and the first part of the second part together in one volume. And it is of course, one must remember, an unfinished work, which is, I'm afraid in its big text, this one is fortunately innocent of that,

[30:16]

usually hashed up with a number of interpretations St. Thomas would certainly never have recognised, and it held the field when I was young. But I must say that looking more carefully at St. John of Damascus, as I have been doing in more recent years, I find this really hardly more than the most superficial resemblance between the Dei Filii Orthodoxo, on the Orthodox face, with a small o of course, because there was no schism in the Church at that point, so Orthodox means everybody, us included, there's, I think, only a very superficial resemblance between the general shape of the Sermon of St. Thomas and St. John of Damascus. And there is, I think, one very important difference, in that the earlier part of St. John's work, much of which is philosophical,

[31:22]

for as I say, the Orthodox faith, it's, I don't know how many of you, have you all read it? I know that you all have done something on the Fathers, you've looked a bit on the shape of this work, have you? It is, in fact, the Fount of Knowledge is, in fact, divided into philosophical chapters, then a series of chapters on the Hesses, and then you come to the Orthodox faith, which is this part of the book. And I just thought I'd put a marker in, showing where the piece on Christology begins, and you'll see that physically, in proportion to the size of the book, it's about half the whole quantity, whereas this, which contains St. Thomas's beginning of the Sermon in Theology, and leads into his dynamic consideration of man, is this size, and the part on Christ is about half that size.

[32:32]

And then the rest, of course, was put together from earlier works of his, because he never completed the full scheme. I think those physical comparisons don't quite matter, but I think there is a different perspective in this sense, that you can see when you're looking, I think, at the work on the Orthodox faith of St. John of Damascus, that John has got, right from the beginning, constantly in mind what he's going to need to say about Christ. I think, in one way, as I say this, even quite apart from the amount of space that is given to what the Greeks call, if this is something which is not known to everybody, we must get that to know at once, the economy of God, that means the whole business of the Incarnation, all that concerns the incarnate life of our Lord,

[33:36]

the work of salvation wrought for us, the divine economy. He's got this in mind, right from the beginning. As I say, there are so many details, I'm just going to try to illustrate how this is so, even in the philosophical part. I say that this difference is important, because some of what eventually needs to be said about Christ is inevitably connected with what a Christian and a theologian needs to say about human beings. Now, the materials for all this exist, of course, in their own way, in the Summa of St Thomas, but they certainly don't leap to the eye. You have to know where to look for them. On the other hand, the way he presents and articulates his work is, I believe, very instructive for us at this stage of our studies.

[34:39]

Nor shall I forget, I'll probably say something about this later on, the really splendid fourth book of the other great summary which St Thomas completed, namely his Summa contra Gentiles, and a work which was really aimed at the Islamic audience. I think I perhaps may be able to give you, succeed in giving you a feel of that work when we come to it, especially the fourth book, which is about the incarnation. And suddenly changes the whole tone of the book. It's a very concentrated, philosophical type of Summa in its earlier part, and some of the most elaborate forms of St Thomas's arguments

[35:43]

to do with divine things contained in the earlier part. And then suddenly you feel an extraordinarily deep, contemplative dimension, when he comes to talk about the word in book four of the Summa contra Gentiles. What a pity that these two rather different men, John, who was brought up in a territory occupied by Islam, and Thomas, who was so fascinated by everything you get from Islamic sources, because, of course, one's got to remember that all St Thomas knew about Aristotle had come through Islamic libraries. What a pity they didn't meet. But I don't think there's any reason why we shouldn't invite them to make each their contributions to our classes,

[36:43]

and that's what I'm intending to do, in fact. That some of the things I shall take from the Summa, and some of them I shall take from St John as we go along. I suppose I may just say here, something I haven't written down in my text, but I think it always is well worth saying, and I think on balance, when you are working with a number of different great theologians, it is very striking that although St Thomas was, in fact, acutely aware, and sometimes rather worried, about what he didn't know about Greek things, it's always said he would have given berets for having St John, Christopher, St John, St Matthew. I'm not quite sure that it was worth the change, but I suppose... He was very much aware of this, and what is very extraordinary is how he had an extraordinary theological sense

[37:48]

of what the tradition of the Undivided Church was on major subjects. The things that he couldn't know directly, somehow he got the balance of the things, very, very like the, I think we can say, historian would find the tradition of the Undivided Church to be. I think one can say this quite apart from how one evaluates the way he handles this material, he has got an extraordinary sense of what the tradition is. Let's go back to John for a moment. John of Damascus was born of a Christian family, though his father and grandfather had been given Arabic names as servants of the occupying Islamic authorities after 636. So that he received an education in both Arabic and Greek. It looks as though the accession of an anti-Christian ruler

[38:49]

was a factor in his joining the monastery of Maas Abba, near Jerusalem, which still exists, where after his ordination he taught and preached. It seems that the book to which we are concerned must have been written sometime before 729. And that after a long and industrious life, John died about 750, possibly in his middle 70s. Now, as everyone agrees, the fount of knowledge, this is where it differs, of course, from St Thomas in certain ways, is quite straightforwardly, a vast compilation of John's Greek sources. In fact, he himself says this quite frankly, he uses the kind of image that all medieval writers, both in Greek and in Latin, would use of themselves.

[39:50]

They talk of themselves as the industrious bee who goes around and sucks the honey from the hives. And sometimes they weren't doing very much more than that, just taking the things which they found useful. Such quotations as I'm making, I'm making from this translation, largely because I didn't any longer have beside me the Greek. But I can say from the time when I did have it beside me, that this translation is not too bad. I mean, it's not, I think, a very attractive translation, but it's not misleading as far as the Greek, those passages which I've compared with the Greek, it's fairly good. As I said, these volumes are very variable in this series, but this one is quite a good one from the point of view of its text. As John says in his dedicated letter to Bishop Cosmas,

[40:52]

in imitation of the method of the bee, I shall make my composition from those things which are conformable with the truth, and from our enemies themselves, gather the fruit of salvation. Spoiler alert of Egypt again, see? But all this is worthless and falsely labeled as knowledge, I shall reject. However, as I already said, I think he does himself a little less than justice. His Christological purpose can be discerned from the very first chapters in the great opening philosophical section. There he says, Christ is the subsistent wisdom and truth, and in him are all the hidden treasures of knowledge. In sacred scripture, let us hear him who is the wisdom and power of God, and let us learn the true knowledge of all things that are.

[41:54]

This conception involves, I believe, a profound conviction later shared by St. Thomas, or as in the West, that whatever is true is from God. But that is a matter into which we shall probably have to look slightly later, with the help among others of St. Athanasius, for whom the whole creation is, as it were, signed with the wisdom of God. I think, again, I must just slightly digress and say that I think that one of the things which I would consider to be a mark of the Catholic sense of things is the feeling that the world as the creation of God, who reveals himself in the world in the person of Christ,

[43:01]

has necessarily about it the sign of truth, which means that it cannot be incompatible with what is revealed. We shall see St. Thomas saying this very explicitly later on, not today, I think, but in the next lecture, and saying several times, either directly or equivalently, that if something is true, then it is from God, even if the person who knows it doesn't know that it is. I think it's a very firm conviction of the kind of rationality of the world, in a way. I would hesitate to call it intellectual in the proper sense of the word, but it just simply is a straightforward conviction that although what is revealed to us

[44:05]

is something we cannot know by our own reflection, it still is not, as it were, presenting us with two diverse worlds. John declares that he is providing principles adapted to those still in need of milk, and chapter three on the found of knowledge is, in fact, a brief run-through of the various uses of the word philosophy, concluding with something that late Greek non-Christian philosophers would certainly have approved. Philosophy is the love of wisdom, but true wisdom is God, therefore the love of God, this is true philosophy. This is, of course, a way of speaking that goes on also in the West right into the 12th century,

[45:07]

and we, and all those who lead the monastic life seriously, are, in this terminology, philosophers, lovers of wisdom. And, in fact, you will find that this is ordinary monastic language, in fact, you probably will have noticed in your early Cistercian writers using the word philosophy for those who pursue the life of the search for the wisdom of God. From this point, I shall make several large leaps, because I would ask you to notice this in chapter 10 on genus and species. Man, on the other hand, is divided into all individual men, and these are unlimited in number.

[46:10]

For this reason, there are some who say that that which is from species to individuals is not to be called division, but enumeration. When it is clear that Peter and Paul are not species, but individuals, that is to say, hypostases, this is really very important. In other words, we're already getting introduced to a notion which is going to be theologically very important when we're going to talk about our Lord. I'm sorry that we have to use some of these terms, but that's what we do. It's that which, it's that, really, which stands underneath, which is the substance. In other words, as we're going to see later on,

[47:18]

that's why we're going to take several days to think about this, as human beings, we are individuals. Peter, the difference between Peter and Paul, who happen to be sitting at opposite ends of the table at the moment, and one Peter, anyway, is a very, very important kind of difference. They are both men, but they are both very, very individual. So they're not just, as it were, cut off slices of a big joint. They really are individual hypostases, individual living substances of human beings. And hypostasis, which we're going to have to meet in Christology and the theology of the Trinity, is a difficult word to know quite hard

[48:22]

to deal with, really, in English. Perhaps it'd be better to say for the moment that it means the underlying subject, which actually exists. We should note John saying, in chapter 43 of this first book, that one should know that the Holy Fathers used the term hypostasis and person and individual for the same thing. Namely, that which by its own subsistence subsists of itself from substance and accidents is numerically different and signifies a certain one, as, for example, Peter and Paul, or this horse. Which, curiously enough,

[49:29]

is connected with their ancient portraits. They're both from very earliest times. The iconography of Peter and Paul has been entirely consistent. Paul always had a large face, and Peter had a round face. It's a short view. Right through, of course, to Eureka, you get the insistent iconography, which goes back to the catacombs and must surely really be a memory of what these people physically were like. So, as I say, John will add that it's not just the underlying subject, it's the person or the individual. And in the following chapter 14, I'm sorry, 44. 44 concludes,

[50:30]

that nature is called N-hypostaton, which has been assumed by another. Hypostasis, and even for an instant, is not a hypostasis, but N-hypostaton. That's to say, if you like, John could, Peter, this is Peter, he could get thinner, and he could wear different kinds of clothes, and so on. These would be, there could be different things that would happen to him physically, which would change his general appearance, and these would be in the thing that subsists. They would be rather like the accidents. I suppose even those two words need some explanation, don't they? The substance is what goes on in Peter and Paul,

[51:36]

even though we know that their bodies have changed every seven years since they were born. The accidents of Peter happen to be a bit kind of ginger on top. In other words, so both Peter and Paul have hair, but it's not the same colored hair. These are accidents. In the case of Peter and Paul, in the sense that just as men, it's quite normal that they should have hair, but they are so individual that this is one example of the kind of way in which something happens in substance. In other words, the accidents, the hair, or other kinds of things, which are supported by the ongoing substance, these are accidents. They can change. Suddenly they can become as white as a sheet. If they're very frightened

[52:40]

or feeling rather unwell or something like that, that would be an accident happening to the substance. I'm sorry this is a rather crude way of talking, but I think it's rather necessary not to use words without trying to explain what they mean, and you're bound to find them at some point when you have to use theological books. So I can't live too long, I think, knowing what they mean. I hope I haven't said anything too deceptive about them. And John adds, and this is because it was assumed by the hypostasis of God, and this subsisted, and did and does have this for a hypostaton. Of course, in chapter 66, we have, one should know that the hypostatic union produces one compound hypostasis

[53:44]

of the thing united, and this preserves, unconfused and unaltered in itself, both the uniting natures and their difference, as well as their natural properties. In other words, what orthodox Christianity has always said is that the incarnate person of our Lord is not, as it were, what would happen if Peter and Paul suddenly got joined and became Petra and or Pauline. So they became mixed. What is being said is that in the person of our Lord, someone, someone exists who is both genuinely divine

[54:45]

and human. In other words, what orthodox Christianity has always refused to say is that that the human aspect of our Lord is only an accident, and that all things that can be said about the human side of our Lord are only accidental. We have no other example, of course, of this at all. We wouldn't even need this language, perhaps, if we hadn't been confronted with the difficulty of talking about the person of Christ. And here you've got the hypothesis of the person, the person actually existent, who is both human and divine. And these two are not confused, so as for something which is half divine and half human. And then for our comfort,

[55:55]

in chapter 67, and this is really what I think we can see, we shall see, we get one of the sort of problems when we come to think about ourselves. Philosophy is becoming like God in so far as this is possible for man. In other words, this is a problem which you can see theologians are going to have to do a great deal of thinking about, and still are doing a great deal of thinking about, namely, how it is that we become partakers in the divine nature, which we saw the Council saying is what happens to us as a result of living our faith. Now let's just turn to the De Filo Orthodoxy, just the beginning of it,

[56:57]

which St. Thomas knew in a Latin translation, which has been published independently in the last 30 years, I suppose, yes, I must have seen it probably by the middle 50s, I can't just remember, I think it came probably from Toronto, which is doing mostly things like that. It's quite useful to know what sort of text St. Thomas had sometimes. In any case, St. Thomas had to do, as most of us will have to do, use a translation. And I think the first chapter of the De Filo Orthodoxy begins with a very important statement for the whole of our work, taken from the first chapter of the Gospel of John, verse 18. No one has ever seen God, the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known. St. John's Gospel, chapter 1, verse 18. Thus, if you like,

[58:05]

we have St. John putting his Christology right in the very center of his Orthodox faith from the beginning, from the very first sentence. It's only then, in his second paragraph, that John goes on to say, as we should remember that the Councils of Vatican I and II also reaffirm, without indicating how it is so, nevertheless, God has not gone so far as to leave us in complete ignorance, for through nature, the knowledge of the existence of God has been revealed to all men. But while St. Thomas is appreciative of the points John urges, he's not fully persuaded that whenever he steps outside scriptural arguments, he offers us conclusive reasoning. We may perhaps return to this matter a little later. I would simply like to note here how quickly John moves into the world

[59:06]

of the pseudo-Dennis, who is actually quoted towards the end of chapter 1. And as St. Thomas, in his own way, also will, that while it is clear that God exists, what he is, in essence and nature, is unknown and beyond all understanding. I suppose I'd better just say a word about the pseudo-Dennis at this point. I think I should also say, as a matter of general knowledge, that the Christology of the pseudo-Dennis is extremely difficult to reconcile with complete orthodoxy. But most orthodox writers were not particularly aware of that. They were very impressed with... He's usually called pseudo-Dennis because St. Thomas and all the early writers believed that he was Dennis the Eliabachite,

[60:08]

one of St. Paul's converts in Athens. Most writers nowadays would agree he was probably a 5th century Syrian writer. And really, his great celestial hierarchies, which is what most people are quoting, is almost like a liturgical picture. It's like the picture of the church on earth as a sort of reflection. The bishop's picture which you had from Ignatius of Antioch is somehow put up in heaven. And up beyond the angels, everything is mediated in this world. Everything comes down through mediation. We see St. Thomas saying the same thing without any criticism at all, that what comes from above

[61:10]

comes through mediation of higher things. And beyond this is the utterly incomprehensible, the absolute mystery which cannot be spoken of. I expect that's enough to say about pseudo-Dennis, isn't it? I think it is. You probably haven't got any of pseudo-Dennis in the library there. So Lame did actually do a big edition many years ago. I don't quite know whether you can get hold of it. I think it's very much a scholar's subject. It's just enough to know the general way it works, I think. It is, as I say,

[62:11]

really a conception which is very, very right like Greek philosophy, like a certain kind of link Greek philosophy, Hellenistic philosophy is, namely that beyond a certain point you can't keep one, the absolute one, the absolutely good and so on. But all is beyond good, beyond being, beyond anything you can say. And then, from him who precedes lesser beings, these in their turn illuminate other ones. Just as they went round the circle and Paul illuminates Isaiah and Isaiah illuminates Dino and Dino illuminates Peter. So what I'm saying doesn't come to each of them individually, it comes to them through all the other ones. This kind of picture. Is what you have. It's a picture of mediation

[63:14]

really commanded by the fact, by the conviction that beyond all that can be known there is absolute mystery. I should like to lead you into St Thomas, which I'm going to do in the last bit of time I have. More gently than I was myself led in. It seems he became a master in theology in Paris in April or May of 1256. And we know that he chose as his text verse 13 from Psalm 103, the lovely creation Psalm, you all remember. 104 in Hebrew numbering, 103 in the Vulgate numbering. The old Dari translation translate this verse, which is literally what

[64:15]

Thomas had as a text. Thou waters the hills from thy upper rooms, the earth shall be filled with the fruit of thy works. You can see how closely this is going to relate to this kind of world. Watering the land from the mountains coming down streams. It seems probable that we have the text of this brief introductory sermon, which I shall give you in translation of an.

[64:47]