Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) argues that the “Catholic concept” of sacrament arises from an understanding of the Bible, especially of the relation of the Old and New (Theology of the Liturgy, 177-8). He writes, “the Catholic concept of sacramentum is based on the ‘typological’ interpretation of Scripture – an interpretation in terms of parallels to Christ. This concept loses its mainstay when this interpretation is completely lost.” The connection is there, even if “Catholic” doesn’t mean “Roman Catholic.” A Christian… Read more

From Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols, on “reason” in philosophy: “You ask me what all idiosyncrasy is in philosophers? . . . For instance their lack of the historical sense, their hatred even of the idea of Becoming, their Egyptianism. They imagine that they do honour to a thing by divorcing it from history sub specie æterni,—when they make a mummy of it. All the ideas that philosophers have treated for thousands of years, have been mummied concepts; nothing real has… Read more

Martin Hauge’s Descent from the Mountain draws attention to the parallels between Israel’s reaction to Yahweh’s direct revelation of the Ten Words (Exodus 20:18-21) and the golden calf incident and its aftermath (Exodus 32-34). The two episodes are introduced similarly: “the formal contacts of 20.18 and 32.1 [are] possible signs of a referential relationship. While 20.18a represents an expansion of the visio motif in participle form and an extended description of what was seen, the sentence wayyar’ ha’am in 18.b is… Read more

What does Yahweh mean when He introduces Himself to Moses as ‘ehyeh ʾăšer ‘ehyeh (Exodus 3)?  Victor Hamilton (Exodus) notes that the traditional translation “I am who I am” is too constricting. Grammatically the phrase has multiple possible meanings: “The term ‘ehyeh is a first-person imperfect of the verb hāyâ (‘be’) and equals the English ‘I was,’ ‘I am,’ and ‘I will be.’ Plus, ‘WHO’ in ‘I AM WHO I AM’ may also mean ‘WHAT, THAT,’ thus adding to the possibilities…. Read more

Paul DeHart argues that Christianity, not the Enlightenment, gave us the separation of church and state. He cites Gelasius. He points out that Christianity challenged the near-universal institution of sacral kingship on Christological grounds. He of course alludes to Jesus’ statement about the things of God and the things of Caesar. The separation of church and state didn’t privatize religion. Thus: “Gelasius grounds the shattering of the ancient unity of government and sacred observances in the advent of the Messiah… Read more

Eric Laursen’s forthcoming  The Duty to Stand Aside provides an intimate glimpse into British debates about Allied tactics during World War II. He focuses on the “wartime quarrel of George Orwell and Alex Comfort.” Orwell needs no introduce. Comfort is best known for his Joy of Sex, published long after the war. During the war, Comfort worked as a physician but we better known as a poet, a member of the “New Romantics” circle, and a vocal pacifist. Orwell and Comfort… Read more

The letter to the Hebrews is sometimes read as a brief for a cultless, liturgy-free Christianity. Barnabas Lindars (Theology of the Letter to the Hebrews) argues that, on the contrary, the letter is a defense of Christian cult. He provides an innovative sketch of the pastoral impetus behind the letter. In apostolic Christianity “nothing was said about post-baptismal sin. They simply assumed that they would remain in a state of grace until the parousia. But as time passed, some of… Read more

In Saving the Appearances, Owen Barfield describes the consciousness of early humanity as follows: “The human soul may be one of the ‘stopping-places’ for mana, but what differentiates the primitive mind from ours is, that it conceives itself to be only one of those stopping-places and not necessarily the most significant. The essence of original participation is that there stands behind the phenomena, and on the other side of them from me, a represented which is of the same nature… Read more

There is a glory of the sun, of the moon, and of the stars, Paul says. And star differs from star in glory. He’s talking about resurrection, but Joel Salatin (The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs) wants to apply the principle to every created thing: “Glory speaks to uniqueness; what makes God God, you you, and me me. And a pig a pig.” He wants us to see the glory of the pig: “Respecting the glory of each encourages a respect… Read more

Aristotle taught that women are defective men, with rational and moral capacities inferior to men. This is evident in generation, where the man provides the form, the fertilized seed, while the woman plays a passive role. It’s sometimes argued that Aristotle’s philosophy of femininity simply reflects his age, with its limited knowledge of the biology of reproduction. Sister Prudence Allen (The Concept of Woman, vol. 2) doesn’t allow Aristotle that out: “more than one philosopher prior to Aristotle offered the… Read more

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