Incarnation without sin?

“If there is a natural, there is a spiritual,” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15. This is often read as a statement about two states: As soon as Adam was created a living soul, he was destined to rise to the state of “Spirit.” In context, though, this contrast is a contrast not . . . . Continue Reading »

Cruel imagination

JS Lawry says that Emma insults Miss Bates in an effort to liven up a dull party: “Like a virtuoso, she takes care that her art be equal to its occasions – but no more. Later, when a party seems dull, she will be brought to insult Miss Bates precisely because she cannot bear that those . . . . Continue Reading »

Emma’s embarrassment

David Southward suggests in a fascinating study of embarrassment in Austen’s novels, Emma “seems more concerned about ‘being looked at’ than she is about ‘doing wrong.’” When she holds a dinner party for the Eltons, it’s intended to avoid being . . . . Continue Reading »

Rousseau and Austen

Rousseau is not the only source of sentimentality in novels, the literature of sensibility. There are English resources, such as the free prayer tradition, which made spontaneity the test of sincerity. But Rousseau is one of the sources of this stylistic strategy, and a source that Austen would . . . . Continue Reading »

Emma’s paradise

Like Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse’s desires for her man are awakened while exploring his property, Donwell Abbey with “all its appendages of prosperity and beauty, its rich pastures, spreading flocks, orchard in blossom, and light column of smoke ascending.” That this scene . . . . Continue Reading »

Paul and Israel

N. T. Wright’s views on Paul and justification will be misconstrued if they are examined outside the context of his views on Israel’s history and Jesus’ role in that history. That is, Wright’s work is of a piece – his historical Jesus studies are essential to a proper . . . . Continue Reading »

Sanders and Bultmann

To understand EP Sanders’s “revolution” in Pauline studies, it’s helpful to look at Bultmann’s understanding of Paul, against which Sanders and others are explicitly and implicitly reacting. (I’m following the superb summary in Stephen Westerholm’s . . . . Continue Reading »

Troubadours and courtly love

In his book, The Reign of Chivalry , Richard Barber gives a very fine summary of the courtly love tradition and the romantic tradition that it produced. I reproduce here only some of the main points of his discussion of the lyric love poetry of the troubadours. 1) Courtly love, Barber argues, is . . . . Continue Reading »

Literal and spiritual senses

Early in the Summa theologiae , Thomas defends the fourfold interpretation of the Old Testament Scripture by saying that the words of Scripture refer univocally to things, and that God providentially uses those things to signify later things. In this, he was anticipated by Hugh of St. Victor. In . . . . Continue Reading »