30 August 2020

The "binitarian" genius of the Roman Rite (4)

Oops ... instead, I'll let Gregory Dix say it for me ...

" ... the pre-Nicene theology of the incarnation as a rule regarded it, not as we do, as the effect of a conception 'by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary', but as a conception 'by the Logos (the Word, the Second Person of the Trinity) of the Virgin Mary'. The eternal Word of God Himself, the creative Logos 'coming down to us' as Athanasius himself said, 'formed for Himself the Body from the Virgin.' However perverse it may seem to us, 'the Spirit' which came upon Mary and 'the Power of te Most High' which overshadowed her were unanimously interpreted by the second century christian writers as meaning the Second not the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. And this nterpretation, general in the pre-Nicene church, lasted on in many quarters during the fourth century. It is accepted and used by all the anti-Arian stalwarts, Athanasius, Hilary, Ambrose, and Gregory Nazianzene, as a normal expression of orthodoxy. This 'Spitit = Word' terminology is obviously related to the 'Spitit = Presence-of-God' terminology  ... It is also likely that both are originally connected in pre-christian jewish thought with the idea of the sanctity and 'power' of the Name of God ... The 'Spirit = Word' terminology is, like the 'Spirit = Presence idea in christian usage, a survival of the New Testament conception of the 'presence' of the heavenly Christ as the 'quickening Spirit' in His members on earth ... What is important to our purpose here is that such language was still currently used of the eucharist in the fourth century, so that S Ambrose does not hesitate to say to catechumens about the sacrament. 'The Body of Christ is the Body of "Divine Spirit", for the Spirit is Christ.'"

When Dix moves on to the first main exegete of the eucharistic, consecratory, Eucharist, he writes:

" ... from end to end of Cyril's account of the liturgy and throughout his eucharistic teaching, Christ plays only a passive part in the eucharist. He is simply the divine VictimWhose Body and Blood are 'made' by the action of the Holy Ghost, that the earthly church may offer Him to the Father 'in propitiation for our sins'. The older tradition was that He is the active agent in the eucharist, who offers the Church as found 'in Him'..

Dom Gregory Dix, using the in-house slang of dear old 1930s Anglo-Catholicism, tells us: "The church of Jerusalem in the fourth century is 'very advanced' and S Cyril is 'a very extreme man', with no overwhelming reverence for old-fashioned churchmanship."!

I have a few concluding comments.

1 comment:

Banshee said...

But the reason there was dispute over Who formed a Body was because of the verse in Hebrews 10:5 and Ps. 40:6, "A body you have prepared for me." Lots of different true ways that you could take that verse.