17 November 2016

A medlee of bloodsports metaphors

Surely, there are few pleasures more acute, more delightful to savour, or with more superb an after-taste, than that of watching another human impaled, wriggling, writhing, on the horns of a dilemma.

In a post some time ago, I relished the fact that the Anglo-Saxon Council of Hatfield, which promulgated filioque, was presided over by a Syrian monk of Byzantine culture, S Theodore. I had wondered how those rather pushy 'Orthodox' for whom it really matters to prove that the Saxon Church was "Orthodox" would get around that amusing little quirk of history.

Happily, my fishing line did not lie upon the water long without enjoying a catch. The suggestion duly appeared that the filioque in Hatfield must represent a deliberate Filioquist perversion of the authentic text of Hatfield. Oh frabjous day! Exactly like the claim that some Latin pervert must have added the filioque to the Quicumque vult.

To make that hare run, it would have needed the attachment of at least four bionic legs. Our account of Hatfield rests upon a text of Bede which is commonly constituted on the basis of four manuscripts all of which are eighth century. And there is, at this point, no variant reading in their texts. One could only get round that by positing a hypothetically "corrupted" archetype. But that would not have been able to be much later than the time of Bede himself. Whether the alleged filioquist perverter of the text of Hatfield is ipsissimus Baeda or someone very soon after Bede wrote his Historia Ecclesiastica, we would still be left with a very embarrassing piece of evidence for the filioquist enthusiasm of the Anglo-Saxon Church (is S 'Filioquist' Bede, incidentally, regarded as a Saint by "Saxon Orthodoxy"?).

But more. I had craftily perpetrated a slight simplification by saying that Hatfield sanctioned filioque. The text actually reads "et filio". In other words, the Council, using a minutely different lexic for saying precisely the same thing, sanctioned the substance of filioque before the advocates of that formula had even decided to promote it in exactly that verbal form.

Tally Ho! The bloodlust of the hunt!


DMG said...

...as cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University...

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

Theodore is of course a fine inspiration for the Ordinariate as it flowers as an institution of reforming excellence. It was he who three years before this, at the Synod of Hertford, established the administrative structure of the English Church which survives virtually unchanged in the poor old Church of England.

One has often wondered how many of those venerable archdeacons realise they owe their rank and privileges to a Greek monk. And a Greek monk sent by a Pope to knock us into line with the Roman church, notably in relation to the date of Easter, and who greatly encouraged rigorous learning for the Anglo-Saxon clergy.

Our dear established clergy, owe, indeed, much of what they hold dear and most English to our Greek monk!

Duarte Valério said...

How curious: the Mozarabic rite, too, says «et Filio» in the Creed at Mass. The Creed was added to the Mozarabic Mass far before it was added to the Roman Mass; the translation and the position (before the Lord's Prayer) is completely different.

Duarte Valério said...

How curious: the Mozarabic rite, too, says «et Filio» in the Creed at Mass. And the Creed was added to the Mozarabic Mass far before it was added to the Roman Mass: the translation and the position (before the Lord's Prayer) are completely different.

B flat said...

I enjoyed this enormously, Father. This is so very English. Thank you.
However, I am puzzled. I have practically no knowledge in this area, but I have read the Venerable Bede's account of the Council. The aim was to affirm the orthodoxy of the English bishops against Eutyches, which they recorded in a letter of which St Bede's history quotes three extracts.
Bede's account does not quote the Nicene Creed as such, which may easily account for the difference in wording you note.
However, the Nicene Creed as recorded in Rome, and presumably as recited at that time and for several more centuries, did not contain the filioque.
Did St Augustine bring the expression to Kent as a departure from Roman practice? How and when did it arise in England?
Can this be explained please?

Jesse said...

And we recall that Pope Vitalian sent Theodore to Canterbury in the company of that learned North African Neapolitan abbot, Hadrian, ut ei doctrinae cooperator existens diligenter adtenderet, ne quid ille contrarium ueritati fidei, Grecorum more, in ecclesiam, cui praeesset, introduceret.

KaeseEs said...

Thumbing* through the Anglo-Saxon "Leofric Missal" shows the Te igitur right where it belongs, a calendar which has few feast days but prominently lists those of Pope S. Gregory and S. Augustine of Canterbury, and later on a set of Mass propers for the Natale of S. Augustine of Hippo**. What was the argument again?

*I'm looking at a digital copy of F.E. Warren's 1883 edition, so I suppose I'm not really 'thumbing'.

** Imagine a modern controversialist (of the sort that might contend that the English church was not Catholic before the Normans) saying this with a straight face:
"Deus, qui beatum augustinum ecclesie tue in exponendis scripture sancte mysteriis doctorem optimum et electum antistitem providisti; da nobis, quaesumus, eius semper doctrina instrui et oratione fulciri."

franciscanhobbit said...

I love the Britiwiticisms on this blog.

Banshee said...

To the puzzled -- the Spanish/Portuguese were behind a lot of the filioque concept, because the heresies against it were in their area. Tons of adoptionism and Arianism, and stuff that could be read wrong or right. They just wanted stuff ironed out, so they started elaborating the wording to make sure people stayed on the straight and narrow.

And really, by sea, England is close to Spain.

neilmac said...

I am constantly enlightened by and thoroughly enjoy your erudition and wit, Father. Thank you.