Saturday, November 16, 2013, 12:56 AM
Perichoresis was originally a Christological notion, describing the mutual penetration-without-mixture of the divine and human natures in Christ. It of course became primarily a concept in Trinitarian theology, but, according to Verna Harrison, in Maximus it was understood as an anthropological and cosmic pattern. Harrison writes,
“Maximus, however, places special emphasis on the anthropological and cosmic consequences of the incarnation, as the passage we have quoted indicates. Elsewhere, in a text incorporating Stoic language and concepts, he speaks of a union of opposites in the cosmos and particularly in the human body whose parts are preserved in unity through an interpénétration of opposites into each other in accordance with the mixture [citing Ambigua 17]. . . . This passage clearly locates perichoresis in the context of Stoic mixture theory. . . . it also suggests a parallel between the mutual interpénétration built into the structure of the created natural world and the mutual interpenetration between God and divinized creation that occurs through grace.” In Maximus, this cosmic coinherence “appears to characterize realities at every level,” but it does so Christologically: “Christ is at the center, but the effects of the hypostatic union in him between Creator and creation extend throughout the universe” (59).
At the end of her article, she concludes:
Saturday, November 16, 2013, 12:45 AM
Gregory of Nyssa rarely uses the specific language of perichoresis, but Daniel Stramara argues in a 1998 Vigiliae Christianae article that he uses different language to make very similar claims about the communion that is the Triune God. Specifically, he uses the words periphero and anakuklesis, “carry” or “whirl” about on the one hand and “resumptively encompassing” on the other.
In one passage in Adversus Macedonianos, Gregory writes of the mutual glorification of the Persons:
Friday, November 15, 2013, 3:32 PM
NT Wright, once again, explicates the “shape of justification” (Paul and the Faithfulness of God), setting it interestingly in the context of Paul’s doctrine of election, reshaped by the work of the Spirit. That perhaps another day. For now, an observation on Wright’s comments on the opening verses of Romans 8. (He argues that chapter 8 completes themes about judgment by works introduced in chapter 2; again, another day).
He links the terms “condemnation/condemn” (katakrima in 8:1 and katakrinen in 8:3; cf. 8:34) with the “righteous requirement” (dikaioma, 8:4) and suggests: “The two terms katakrima and dikaioma are opposites, corresponding to krithesontai and dikaiothesontai in 2:12-13: on the one hand, the negative verdict and the consequent punishment . . . and on the other the positive verdict and the consequent resurrection life.” That dikaioma/verdict is fulfilled, Paul continues, is those who walk by the Spirit (939).
Friday, November 15, 2013, 2:56 PM
Marilynne Robinson reviews Flannery O’Connor’s A Prayer Journal in the NYTBR. At one point O’Connor thanks God for making her his instrument, and Robinson ponders:
“Every writer wonders where fictional ideas come from. The best of them often appear very abruptly after a period of imaginative drought. And, mysteriously, they really are good ideas, much superior to the contrivances of conscious invention. Such experiences are by no means exclusive to writers with religious worldviews. But believing them to be literal gifts grants them an objective existence they seem actually to deserve. This entails problems, of course. Fiction rarely shows a divine imprimatur, as its mortal creators are well aware. I would be curious to know what story or part of a story by O’Connor should be attributed to the Lord. It can seem self-aggrandizing or simply bizarre to ascribe any thought or work to a seemingly external source, named or unnamed. Nevertheless, Hesiod, Pindar and any number of poets and prophets before and after them have declared indebtedness of this kind. If they, and O’Connor, were naïve, sophistication has made language poorer. There is no way now to describe an experience many a writer can attest to, having been surprised by it, and having enjoyed it as a particular pleasure and reward of the art. Religion is by its nature more accommodating to the unaccountable than rationalism ever can be.”
Friday, November 15, 2013, 5:31 AM
In her TLS review of the Royal Shakespeare production of Richard II, Katherine Duncan-Jones points out that the play is “the most consistently poetic of all Shakespeare’s plays,” without any speeches in prose, even from Welshmen, gardeners, and grooms.
The effect is comically to emphasize the departures from iambic pentameter: “Though probably not consciously noticed either by actors or audience, the metrical beat provides the equivalent of a basso continuo. It also contributes to the surprisingly and pleasingly comic effect of the text’s rare deviations into spondaic phrases, such as the Duke of York’s comically imperious command: ‘Gíve mé mý bóots,’ or, in the following scene, the new King Henry’s exasperated appeal to York’s Duchess (Marty Cruickshank): ‘Góod áunt, stánd úp!,’ at once striking and inescapably comic.”
Duncan-Jones likes David Tennant’s performance in the title role (“consummate brilliance”) and she is convinced by the play that Tennant, playing the sacred king all the way to the gilded fingernails, “can do camp.” She also likes the beauty of this production:
Friday, November 15, 2013, 5:19 AM
If Judah keeps Yahweh’s fast, a new day will dawn (Isaiah 58:8). In the Hebrew, the promise is announced in two tiny chiasms:
A. then shall break out
B. as dawn
C. your light
C’. and your recovery
A’. shall spring
Thursday, November 14, 2013, 10:12 AM
Nietzsche claims in his Course on Rhetoric that tropes are not ornaments but inherent in language. As Ricoeur puts it, “Language is figurative through and through” (Oneself as Another, 12).
Then Nietzsche says that for this reason language is a lie.
But the conclusion follows only if Nietzsche assumes that we can discover truth only if we can find a way (extra-linguistic?) characterized by transparency and immediacy. But he’s not supposed to believe in transparency and immediacy.
If language is a tool for discovering truth, and if language is figurative through and through, then that means that figuration is essential to our discovery of truth.
Like his postmodern heirs, Nietzsche is haunted by the paradigm he renounces.
Thursday, November 14, 2013, 9:41 AM
Descartes’s doubt leads to the cogito, but Ricoeur, following Martial Gueroult’s argument in Descartes’ Philosophy Interpreted According to the Order of Reasons I: The Soul and God, argues that by itself the cogito gives us “a strictly subjective version of truth; the reign of the evil genius continues, with regard to whether certainty has any objective value” (Ricoeur, Oneself as Another, 8).
Gueroult claims that this can be resolved only through a “demonstration of God’s existence,” but this is achieved only by a reversal in the direction of the argument. Ricoeur writes:
Thursday, November 14, 2013, 7:08 AM
In a contribution to The Trinity and an Entangled World: Relationality in Physical Science and Theology, Anton Zeilinger illustrates the “entanglement” of quantum entities by imagining a popular future Christmas toy – the quantum dice: “If we throw the two dice, they will always show the same number. . . . This number may vary from one pair of dice to the next, but for each pair, the first throw always specifies what the number will be” (35).
Move the two dice at a distance, and the same phenomenon continues, a result that Einstein regarded as “spooky” and a sign of the limits of quantum theory.
Thursday, November 14, 2013, 6:12 AM
Modernity, argues Deborah Lupton, was an effort to manage risk. Risk was originally connected with the science of probability and statistics, which developed “as a means of calculating the norm and identifying deviations from the norm” and thus as a means for getting the world under control (Deborah Lupton, Risk, 6-7). Modern theory and practices attempted to eliminate uncertainty and indeterminacy, aiming to produce a “grandiose technocratic rationalizing dream of absolute control of the accidental . . . a vast hygienist Utopia” (8, quoting R. Castel in The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality).
Originally, “risk” carried potential for good and bad consequences, but today, Lupton says, it has narrowed down to its negative connotations. “Risk” means “danger,” and her study is a social and cultural study of this sense of danger as it presents itself in late modernity.
Thursday, November 14, 2013, 5:20 AM
In Adrian Pabst’s interpretation, creation is for Thomas “that event by which the infinity of united ‘definiteness’ is converted into the finitude of composite ‘definiteness.’” That is, creation is not “generality” moving into particularity but infinite definiteness “converted” into finite. Because of this “individual things reflect in particular and diverse ways the universal triunity of their Creator whose goodness individuates all beings relationally” – relationally because it is only by virtue of their relation with God that they are individual beings at all. Thomas thus claims that by creation God “brings everything into being and makes it in the image and likeness of the relational Godhead” (Metaphysics: The Creation of Hierarchy, 251).
Pabst sees this relationality in three dimensions: “horizontally,” all beings share a “common being”; there is a “vertical asymmetrical relationality of created being to God upon which the horizontal relation depends”; and at the origin there is “the absolutely symmetric relationality between the Trinitarian persons” (251).
On the first, “horizontal” relationality, he cites a passage from the Summa Contra Gentiles:
Thursday, November 14, 2013, 5:03 AM
Yahweh’s fast is “to divide bread for the hungry” (Isaiah 58:7). Then again, it’s to “give yourself to the hungry” (v. 10). Giving bread is a mode of self-gift.
Jesus keeps Yahweh’s Eucharistic fast.
Yahweh’s fast is to cover the naked and “not to hide from your own flesh” (v. 7). That could mean, “not hide from flesh that is like your flesh,” but it could be taken more strongly: “You are one-flesh with the poor, and his naked exposure is your own shame. Cover your neighbor as you would cover yourself.”
And again: Jesus doesn’t recoil from our shameful flesh but takes it as His own flesh, so that He can cover it with glory. Jesus keeps Yahweh’s incarnational fast.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 1:53 PM
Lewis Ayres is a skeptic and critic of recent efforts to formulate a Trinitarian relational ontology. These often fail to specify the meanings of basic terms – analogy, relation, person, especially analogy. Zizioulas in particular makes a theological mistake by making “person” more basic than the unity of the persons: “That which is fundamental,” Ayres writes, “is the union of the three irreducible persons constituted by the Father’s eternal begetting of the Son and breathing of the Spirit” (essay in Polkinghorne, ed., The Trinity and an Entangled World: Relationality in Physical Science and Theology, 133).
Given these criticisms, it’s important to add that Ayres closes by offering “ways in which we may and should envisage theologians exploring relationships between communion in the created order and the inner divine communion” (143).
Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 11:00 AM
Pickstock sees mimesis everywhere. There is a sort of imitation in the way a plant “returns inside itself to draw forth nutrients from the soil, to drink down the rain and transform these, with the sunlight’s energy, through photosynthesis.” Animals copy one another, and “some animals can also be initiated into some of the patterns of human behaviour.” Both animals and plants exhibit internal mimetic repetitions and external ones (Repetition and Identity: The Literary Agenda, 34-5).
Above all, human beings are characterized by mimesis, and in the case of human beings imitation confuses “the boundary between internal and external repetition” more thoroughly than in animals. Pickstock elaborates:
Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 7:58 AM
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Judah cries out to God, wondering why Yahweh doesn’t respond to their prayers and fasts (Isaiah 58). Yahweh responds with the charge that during their fasts they oppress their workers and stir up strife (vv. 3b-4). The response echoes Exodus: “drive hard” is what the Egyptians do to Israelites (Exodus 3:7; 5:6, 10-14), and so is “afflict” (Genesis 15:13; Exodus 1:11-12). “Strife” describes the contention of Hebrew with Hebrew in Exodus 2:13, and the sorts of battles that are regulated by Exodus 21:18, 22. They fast with their fists (v. 4).
Judah fasts, but they fast like Egyptians. When they fast, they close the fist, clamp down on workers, confine and imprison.
The alternative fast that Yahweh demands is a gift of freedom. All the actions of Isaiah 58:6 are actions of opening: “open bonds . . . undo bands . . . let go free . . . break yoke.” The actions of verse 7 are actions of the open hand, rather than the fist (v. 4): “divide bread . . . bring homeless into the house . . . cover naked.” These too are exodus themes, since in the exodus Yahweh broke the yoke and lifted Israel from being a four-footed beast of burden to become upright humans (Leviticus 26:13).
Israel is supposed to participate in Yahweh’s own acts of liberation. Fasting is an enacted exodus.
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