Markus Vinzent's Blog

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Liber XXIV philosophorum - Book of 24 Philosophers, Latin - English


As there seems to be no English translation available for this text, here my work in progress. The Latin text follows the latest critical edition Liber Viginti Quattuor Philosophorum, cura et studio F. Hudry, Hermes latinus III,1, CChr.CM CXLIIIA (Turnhout, 1997), taking into account the textcritical suggestions made by Kurt Flasch, Kurt Flasch, Was ist Gott? Das Buch der 24 Philosophen, Lateinisch-Deutsch (Munich, 2011):

 

Liber viginti quattor philosophorum
Book of 24 Philosophers
 
< PROLOGUS>
Congregatis viginti quattuor philosophis, solum eis in quaestione remansit: quid est Deus? Qui communi consilio datis indutiis et tempore iterum conveniendi statuto, singuli de Deo proprias proponerent propositiones sub definitione, ut ex propriis definitionibus excerptum certum aliquid de Deo communi assensu statuerent.
< Preface >
While the 24 Philosophers were brought together, amongst them the only question remained: Who is God? Having decided jointly deliberated, to give themselves a break and to fix again another time to come together again, they should individually in form of a definition propose their understanding of God, in order to state, taken from the various definitions, something assured and jointly agreed about God.
I

DEUS EST MONAS MONADEM GIGNENS IN SE UNUM REFLECTENS ARDOREM.
Haec definitio data est secundum imaginationem primae causae, prout se numerose multiplicat in se, ut sit multiplicans acceptus sub unitate, multiplicatus sub binario, reflexus sub ternario. Sic quidem est in numeris: unaquaeque unitas proprium habet numerum, quia super diuersum ab aliis reflectitur.
I
 
GOD IS A MONADE THAT BRINGS FORTH A MONADE BY REFLECTING IN HIMSELF AS A FLAME.
 
This definition is given imagining the first cause, just as it numerously multiplies itself in itself, so that as multiplying it is taken as unity, as the multiplied as twofold, as reflex threefold. So it is, namely, with numbers: Each single unity has its own number, insofar as it reflects the diversity from the others.
II

DEUS EST SPHAERA INFINITA CUIUS CENTRUM EST UBIQUE, CIRCUMFERENTIA NUSQUAM.
Haec definitio data est per modum imaginandi ut continuum ipsam primam causam in vita sua. Terminus quidem suae extensionis est supra ubi et extra terminans. Propter hoc ubique est centrum eius, nullam habens in communia dimensionem. Cum quaerit circumferentiam suae sphaericitatis, elevatam in infinitum dicet, quia quicquid est sine dimensione sicut creatoris fuit initium est et sic terminus nusquam. Sic patet propositum.
II
 
GOD IS AN INFINITE SPHERE WHOSE

CENTRE IS EVERYWHERE AND HIS CIRCUMFERENCE NOWHERE
 
This definition is given as a way of imagining the very first cause in its own life as continuum. Namely the end of its extension lies above the ‘where’, terminating outside. Therefore, its centre is everywhere, and has no common dimension. Asked for the circumference of its sphere, he states that it is elevated into infinity, as what is without dimension, was like the creator, is the beginning and so the end is nowhere. From which the proposition is clear.
III
DEUS EST TOTUS IN QUOLIBET SUI.

Haec definitio data est secundum considerationem essentiae divinitatis in sua simplicitate. Cum non sit aliquid ipsi resistens, ipsa simul ubique tota ens, et etiam similiter super et extra ubique non distrahitur defectu virtutis alicuius in ipsa deficientis, nec stat terminata virtute alieni dominantis.
III
 
GOD IS TOTALLY IN WHATEVER BELONGS TO HIM.
 
This definition is given in consideration of the essence of the Godhead in its simplicity. As nothing else should exist to resists it, it is itself once and everywhere total being, and similarly above and outside the ‘where’, and it is neither drawn awy by any defect of virtue which would be a defect in itself, nor is it limited by virtue of an dominating alien.
IV
DEUS EST MENS ORATIONEM GENERANS, CONTINUATIONEM PERSEVERANS.
Haec definitio dicit vitam propriam secundum rationes diversas ipsius essentiae deitatis. Numerat enim se genitor gignendo; genitura vero verbificat se quia gignitur; adaequatur vero per modum continuationis <qui> se habet spirando.
IV

GOD IS INTELLECT THAT GENERATES THE WORD, PRESERVING CONTINUATION.

This definition expresses life proper of the essence of the Godhead itself with regards to diverse aspects. Namely it mentions that what generates, generates itself; yet, what is generated speaks itself out as word, because it is generated; but it is adequated by way of continuation, which preserves itself as spiration.
V

DEUS EST QUO NIHIL MELIUS
EXCOGITARI POTEST.
Haec definitio data est a fine. Unitas vero finis est et perfectio. Quod ergo sonat hoc, bonum est, et quanto magis, tanto magis bonum. Gaudium ergo veritatis omnis essentiae sua vita est, vita quidem omnis ab unitate, haec autem ab interiori indivisione. Quanto igitur magis unum, tanto magis vivit. Sua unitas summa est.
V


GOD IS THE ONE BEYOND WHOM NOTHING BETTER CAN BE THOUGHT OF.

This definition is given with regards the end. Namely the oneness of the end is also perfection. What, therefore, sounds accordingly, is good, and what sounds more so, is so much better. Joy, therefore, of all true essence is its life, all life derives from oneness, this, however, from being undivided within. The more, therefore, something is one, the more it is alife. Its oneness is the utmost one.
VI

DEUS EST CUIUS COMPARATIONE SUBSTANTIA EST ACCIDENS, ET ACCIDENS NIHIL
.


Haec definitio datur sub relatione. Subiectum quoque accidentis propria substantia est cum aliena. Quae aliena si recedit, perit accidens, id est proprietas agens. Relatione ergo ad primum agens omnis substantia accidens est, et accidens nihil, et substat nihil substantiae ut alienum. Substantia divina est ut substantia propria quae non fluit.
VI

GOD IS THE ONE COMPARED TO WHOM ANY SUBSTANCE IS AN ACCIDENS, AND ANY ACCIDENS IS NOTHING.

This definition is given with regards to relation. The subject, too, of an accidens is its proper substance, although an alien one. If the alien recedes, the accidens perishes, namely its acting propriety. In relation, therefore, to the first actor, all substance is accidens, and any accidens is nothing, and it is not anything of substance, but what is alien. Only the divine substance is a proper substance which is not flowing.
VII

DEUS EST PRINCIPIUM SINE PRINCIPIO, PROCESSUS SINE VARIATIONE, FINIS SINE FINE.

Haec definitio est secundum speciem data. Genitor vero primum capit ratione geniturae, sed non sic primo ut non prius. Genitus vero procedit generatione in finem, sed non recipit variationem natura medii. Intendit enim quod idem est finis vero nomine generantis et geniti, quia non est vita divina nisi unum medio tantum; sed non est finis ratione operis, ut quies et motus.
VII

GOD IS THE PRINCIPLE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE, THE PROCESS WITHOUT VARIATION, THE END WITHOUT END.

This definition is given with regard to the specific nature [of the divine]. What generates gets indeed ‘first’ with regards to what it generates, but thus not first, as if he were not before. What is being generated comes forth by generation towards its end, but being of a medium nature does not suffer variation. Therefore this means that the end of what is truly called generator and generated, is the same, as it would not be divine life, unless such one middle one; yet, it is not end in the sense of acting, such as rest with regards to motion.
VIII

DEUS EST AMOR QUI PLUS HABITUS MAGIS LATET.

Haec definitio data est per effectum. In prima causa id a quo vita et est ipsum a quo vita tota. Igitur id ipsum est fons amoris in illo. Quod si rei creatae unitas generantis et geniti ad illam penitus se inclinat, revertendo per viam regressionis, tunc est id ipsum amor creaturae, prout ordinata est creatura ab ipso cui quanto magis te unificaveris, tanto exaltaberis et tanto elevabitur. Et hoc eius latere est.
VIII

GOD IS LOVE WHO THE MORE HE IS HELD THE MORE HE HIDES.
 
This definition is related to the effect. In the first cause that from which life stems is also the one itself from which all life stems. Therefore this itself is the well of love in that one. If in the created thing the oneness of what generates and is generated inclines itself most inwardly towardes that one, reverting by way of regression, then this is itself the love of the creature to which creature has been ordained by him, and the more you unify yourself with him, the more you will be exalted and the more he will be elevated. And this is how he himself hides.
IX

DEUS EST CUI SOLI PRAESENS EST QUICQUID CUIUS TEMPORIS EST.

Haec definitio est secundum formam. Totum quidem uno aspectu omnes partes videt, pars vero totum non videt, nisi diversis respectibus et successivis. Propter hoc deitas est successivorum totalitas. Unde intuitus eius unicus est, non consequenter factus.
IX  

GOD IS THE ONE TO WHOM ALONE IS PRESENT WHAT BELONGS TO TIME.

This definition relates to form. The totality namely sees the parts in one look, whereas the part does not see the totality, unless from diverse perspectives and succesively. Therefore, the Godhead is the totality of successive things. Wherefore its intuition is unique and not the result of a process.
X

DEUS EST CUIUS POSSE NON NUMERATUR, CUIUS ESSE NON CLAUDITUR, CUIUS BONITAS NON TERMINATUR.

Haec definitio patet per quartam et septimam. In posse creato, et primo inventus est numerus, secundum plura aut pauciora opera educentia possibile ad actum, quia, si sint infinita, impossibile dicitur. Eius enim quod fiet ab eo actu sunt infinita opera; unde subito operatur. Ubi vero est infinitus numerus ordinatus ad actum et invenitur resistens, non poterit evenire. Omne esse clausionem dicit finitatis alicuius. Unde a centro ad esse eius sunt operationes finitae. In divino esse non est sic, sed opera infinita a centro ad extimum et actum. Unde sua clausio infinita est et actu non impossibilis, nisi quia necesse existens. Unde sequitur quod etiam redeundo est interminata bonitas via securior ab esse in unitatem centri.
X

GOD IS THE ONE WHOSE POWER IS NOT COUNTED, WHOSE BEING NOT CLOSED, WHOSE GOODNESS NOT LIMITED.
 
This definition is clear from the fourth and seventh [definition]. In the created power also the number is first found, where according to more or fewer actions bring the possible things to realised ones, because, were they infinite, it would be said to be impossible. Namely the one from which things have been acted upon, this has limitless actions, with the result that it acts suddenly. Where, however, infinite number of planned actions are and where it finds resistance, it cannot succeed. All being is called closure of something’s finitude. Wherefore from the centre to its being there are only finite actions. In the Godhead, being is not alike, but infinite actions from the centre to the extreme and action exist. Therefore, its closure is infinite and action not impossible, if not even necessary. It follows therefore that also in returning, endless goodness is the way which is the more secure from being into the unity of the centre.
XI

DEUS EST SUPER ENS, NECESSE, SOLUS SIBI ABUNDANTER, SUFFICIENTER
.

Haec definitio formalis est, sed relata. Esse omne clausionem dicit. Superest igitur qui non clauditur. Et necesse quia malum non habet, quia non clauditur, sed infinita possibilitate. Nec sic distrahitur suum superesse quin redeat a se in se, et non totum indigenter, sed exuberanter.
XI
 
GOD IS ABOVE BEING, NECESSITY, HE ALONE IS HIMSELF MORE ABUNDANT AND MORE SUFFICIENT.
 
This is a formal, but relational definition. Being is said to be totally closed. Therefore, what is above being is not closed. And it is necessary, because it misses nothing, as it is not closed, but of infinite possibility. Thus neither it is drawn away, being itself above being, as it never moves away from itself, but returns to itself, and isn not in need of the totality, but in excess of it.
XII

DEUS EST CUIUS VOLUNTAS DEIFICAE ET POTENTIAE ET SAPIENTIAE ADAEQUATUR.

Voluntas, scire et posse principia sunt actionis in creaturis. Non aequalia sunt quia voluntas est deiformior quam scire et posse. Mihi quidem natura coartavit posse, correptio vero scire, sed remanet voluntas non coacta usque ad elongationem perpetuam.
XII

GOD IS THE ONE WHOSE WILL EQUATES TO HIS GODMAKING POWER AND WISDOM.

Will, knowledge and power are principles of action in creatures. They are not equal because will es more conforming to God compared to knowledge and power. Indeed, nature has confined power to me, practicing, indeed, knowledge, but will remains unrestrained for perpetual elongation.
XIII
DEUS EST SEMPITERNITAS AGENS IN SE, SINE DIVISIONE ET HABITU.


Agunt creata et acquirunt habitum. Agunt et deficiunt continuatione quia inveniunt resistens. Unde fatigatio scindit vim. Sic non est in creatore. Non transmutatur acquirendo habitum. Non indiget obumbratione ut quiescat fatigatus.
XIII
 
 
GOD IS ETERNITY ACTING IN HIMSELF WITHOUT DIVISION AND DISPOSITION
 
The creatures act and acquire a disposition. The act without continuity as they hit resistance. As a result, fatigue cuts down her strength. So it is not in the Creator. He is not transformed by aquiring a disposition. He does not overshaded so that he gets tired and rests.
XIV

DEUS EST OPPOSITIO NIHIL MEDIATIONE ENTIS.


Haec definitio imaginari facit Deum esse sphaeram in cuius centro nihil incarceratur. Et est continue agens sphaera divina opus divinum quo detinet nihil in suo esse aeternaliter, a quo per exuberantiam suae bonitatis vocavit in esse rem quae est quasi circa centrum. Quae si ad esse actum attrahit, stabit sphaera, si ad esse possibile, redibit ad nihilum.
XIV

GOD IS THE OPPOSITION TO NOTHINGNESS BY MEDIATION OF BEING.
 
This definition creates the image of God being a sphere, in the centre of which nothing is emprisoned. And the divine sphere is continuously acting the divine work through which it detains eternally nothing to be in it, from which through exuberance of its goodness it calls into being the thing which is as if it existed around the centre. If it attracts it to being, the sphere remains, if to potential being, it goes back to nothing.
XV

DEUS EST VITA CUIUS VIA IN FORMAM EST VERITAS, IN UNITATEM BONITAS.

Est motus a medio et ad medium: primus dat esse, secundus dat vivere. In Deo primus motus est via generantis ad genitum cum esse; secundus, id est via conversa, est bonitas.
XV
 
GOD IS LIFE WHOS WAY TOWARDS FORM IS TRUTH, TOWARDS UNITY IS GOODNESS.

There is motion from the middle and towards the middle: the first gives to be, the second gives to live. In God, the first motion is through generating towards the generated to be, the second which is the converse way, is goodness.
XVI

DEUS EST QUOD SOLUM VOCES NON SIGNIFICANT PROPTER EXCELLENTIAM, NEC MENTES INTELLIGUNT PROPTER DISSIMILITUDINEM.
Officium vocis est significare intellectus mentis, et non aliud. Anima non invenit in se speciem vel exemplar Dei, quia ipsa sunt penitus ipse, non secundum quod sit in rebus. Ergo dissimilis est ei secundum se totum, et non intellectus, igitur nec significatus.
XVI
 
GOD IS THE ONE WHOSE NAMES ALONE DO NEITHER SIGNIFY [HIM] BECAUSE OF [HIS] EXCELLENCE, NOR DO INTELLECTS GRASP [HIM] BECAUSE OF [HIS] DISSIMILITUDE.
The task of a name is to signify intellectual concepts, nothing else. The soul does not invent in itself the form or sample of God, because they themselves are innermost himself, not in the way he is in the things. Therefore as he is, he is totally dissimilar to them, also neither intellectually grasped, nor, therefore signified.
XVII

DEUS EST INTELLECTUS SUI SOLUM, PRAEDICATIONEM NON RECIPIENS.


Non cognoscitur nodus per relationem nodi. Praedicatio in rebus est ut diversis rationibus explicetur quod unica includitur. Igitur cum in Deo non sint diversae rationes secundum prius et posterius, perficientes quid eius secundum magis et minus, non recipit praedicationem, sed se ipsum ipse intelligit quia ipsum ad ipsum generat.
XVII
 
GOD IS INTELLECT FOR HIM ALONE, HE DOES NOT RECEIVE A PREDICATION.

A knot is not regocnised through a relation to a knot. With Predication in things diverse aspects are unfold what is included in one single. Therefore, as there are not diverse aspects in God, such as prior and later, which would perfect him more or less, he does not receive predication, but he knows himself through himself, because he himself generates himself.
XVIII

DEUS EST SPHAERA CUIUS TOT SUNT CIRCUMFERENTIAE QUOT PUNCTA.


Ista sequitur ex secunda, quia cum sit totus sine dimensione, et etiam dimensionis infinitae, non erit in sphaera suae essentiae extremum. Igitur non est in extremo punctus quin exterius sit circumferentia.
XVIII
 
GOD IS A SPHERE WHICH HAS AS MANY CIRCUMFERENCES AS CENTREPOINTS.

This [definition] follows from the second, because with him being totally without dimension, even without infinite dimension, the extreme did not exist in the sphere of his essence. Therefore there is no centrepoint in the extreme, unless the circumference would be even further exterior.
XIX

DEUS EST SEMPER MOVENS IMMOBILIS.
Immobilis dicitur Deus quia est secundum unam dispositionem semper, et hoc est esse in quiete. Movens semper est, quia vivens in se, tamen sine alteratione. Intelligit se intellectu simplici, et hoc est quod intellectus perficit intellectum, et intellectum est forma intelligentis.
XIX
 
GOD THE UNMOVED ALWAYS MOVES.
 
God is said to be unmoved, because he always is of the one disposition, and this is to be resting. He is always moving, because he is alive in itself, however without alteration. He knows himself according to simple knowledge, so that knowledge perfects what is known and what is known is the form of knowledge.
XX

DEUS EST QUI SOLUS SUI INTELLECTU VIVIT.

Non vivit sicut corpora quae recipiunt aliena intra se ut convertant ea in sui naturam. Non vivit ut corpora supracaelestia quae a spiritibus habent motum, nec vivit ut intelligentiae, animae quae ab ipsius unitate sustentantur. Sed a se ipso et in se intelligendo vivit et est superessentialiter.
XX
 
GOD IS THE ONLY ONE WHO LIVES THROUGH HIS KNOWLEDGE.
 
He does not live like bodies that receive alien things in themselves, so that they convert them into their own nature. He does not live like supracelestial bodies which have motion from the spirits, nor does he live like minds, souls, who from unity with himself are sustained. Instead, he lives through knowing of himself and in himself, therefore is above being.
XXI

DEUS EST TENEBRA IN ANIMA POST OMNEM LUCEM RELICTA.

Species rerum apud animam, quae detegunt quod in ipsa est
, gratia cuius dicitur quodammodo omnia, ipse illuminat animam. Sed post abiectionem omnium istarum formarum contemplatur divinitatem. Abnegando et removendo omnes rerum species ab ipsa, convertit se supra se et vult videre causam primam. Et obtenebratur intellectus animae, quia non est aptus ad illam lucem increatam. Unde cum ad se convertit, dicit: Hic mihi tenebrae sunt.
XXI

GOD IS DARKNESS LEFT BEHIND IN THE SOUL AFTER ALL LIGHT.
 
The forms of things at the soul reveal what is in her, because of that it is said of her that she is somehow all, itself illuminates the soul. But after the detachment of all those forms, the divinity is contemplated. Through abnegation and removal of all forms of things von herself, she turns herself beyond herself and wants to see the first cause. And the intellect of the soul is overshadowed, because it is not apt for that uncreated light. Therefore, when it turns towards itself, it says: This is darkness for me.
XXII

DEUS EST EX QUO EST QUICQUID EST NON PARTITIONE, PER QUEM EST NON VARIATIONE, IN QUO EST QUOD EST NON COMMIXTIONE.



Applicatione vero suae triformis essentiae ad nihil, iuxta illas res quae sunt ad esse producit, ut ex generante initium suae existentiae perciperent, per genitum in esse starent, in vivificatore permanerent. Sed sic ex generante – quod ipse non dividitur – aliquid de sua essentia eis adhaerentiam tribueret, nec species divina, rebus speciem dans per se, non per alium, se ipsam variaret, nec vivificator, ipsa in se colligens, commixtionem ex interceptione aut impuritatem contraheret.
XXII
 
GOD IS THE ONE OUT OF WHOM IS W WITHOUT HIM BEING PARTITIONED, THROUGH WHOM IS WITHOUT HIM BEING ALTERED, IN WHOM IS WITHOUT HIM BEING MIXED WITH IT.

By applying his threefold essence indeed to nothing, he brings those things for to be which are, so that they gain the beginning of their existence through generation, exist through being generated, being kept alife they remain. However, thus they are from being generated that he himself is undivided, and does not donate something of his own being which would adhere to them, neither the divine form, but the form for things, given through himself, not through another, without altering himself, neither as if the life giver, by collecting them in himself, suffers mixture from interception or impurity.
XXIII

DEUS EST QUI SOLA IGNORANTIA MENTE COGNOSCITUR.


Haec definitio cognoscitur per vicesimam primam. Nihil cognoscitur ab anima nisi cuius speciem recipere potest et ad exemplar eius quod est in ipsa comparare. Nullius enim habet anima exemplar nisi illius quod per ipsam a prima causa fluxit in esse. Igitur eius quod est super ipsam non habebit cognitionem, igitur non primae causae. Sed cum omnem aliorum contemplata fuerit scientiam, extrahendo ipsam primam causam a rebus et supponendo oppositionem nihil, quantum poterit acquirere sic habebit cognitionem. Et hoc est vere ignorare, scilicet scire quid non est, et nesciendo quid est.
XXIII
 
GOD IS THE ONE WHO THROUGH IGNORANCE OF THE MIND ALONE IS BEING GRASPED.
 
This definition is known through the twentyfirst [definition]. Nothing is known by the soul, unless she can receive the form of him and compare it to the sample of him that is in her. Yet, the soul has no sample whatsoever, except those that through herself flew from the first cause into being. Therefore, she has no knowledge of what is above her, hence, not of the first cause. Now, once she has contemplated all knowable of others, and by extracting the first cause itself from the things and by understanding the opposition to nothingness, as far as she can aquire it, so she will gain cognition. And this is true ignorance, namely to know what she is not, and not to know what she is.
XXIV

DEUS EST LUX QUAE FRACTIONE NON CLARESCIT, TRANSIT, SED SOLA DEIFORMITAS IN RE.


Haec definitio est ad essentiam data. Lux creata sicut cadit super rem tenebrosam tantae tenebrositatis quod non sit potens lux illa purgare tenebrosum, propter sui vehementem possibilitatem, tunc frangitur lux in radiis, in maximo scilicet sui acuti, et pertransit in accidentia, essentialis cum ista fractio accidentia multiplicat. Et haec claritas est. Lux divina non invenit in rebus creatis tantam possibilitatem quae eam frangat in sui actione; unde omnia pertransit. Sed sola deiformitas in re, illa multiplicat et claritatem in re generat, in se nullam. Et hoc est quod dicit.
XXIV
 
GOD IS LIGHT WHICH DOES NOT RADIATES AND SHINES THROUGH FRACTIONS, BUT THROUGH DEIFORMITY IN REALITY.
 
This definition refers to essence. Created light falls upon a dark thing into such darkness that such light might not be able to clear the darkness, because of its [the thing’s] strong power, then the light fractions in radiation, mostly there where it is most intense, and it goes over into accidens. As it is an essential fraction, the accidens multiply. And this is what shines. The divine light does not find in created things such possibility which fractions it in its action; therefore it goes through everything. The deiformity alone in the thing multiplies and generates shining light in the thing, yet not in itself. That is what he says.

 

 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Meister Eckhart, Parisian Question IV - a much neglected text

In preparation of a contribution to the exhibition catalogue on 'Taery Kim, Performing Space', a contemporary video artist who is inspired by and interprets Meister Eckhart's understanding of Space and Time, I had to study the fourth of Meister Eckhart's Parisian Questions, unfortunately a much neglected text in Eckhart research. Nevertheless, it is an important witness for Eckhart's radically new understanding of 'space' compared to those to whom he refers, his teachers Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, opening up their concept of a closed container space which provides the place and location for things, and re-conceptualising it as an open space to be, a transcendental and universal space where everything has its non-categorical place and location - or rather where there is no given place, but where place is dynamically understood as space and space as a continuum of dynamics. This he details in his Exposition of Genesis (In Gen. I n. 49 [LW I/2, 220,1-221,6]), and exemplifies in the following Question which I give in my own translation:



Whether any motion without end implies a contradiction?

As it seems, no, since motion without end can be found, such as the motion of the heavens.
The counter-argument: The end of motion is still motion. Who, therefore, negates the end [to be motion], negates motion [itself].
 
One has to say that it implies a contradiction, because something does not attain to be moved, unless it is being moved. The same would be power without action.

To the argument about the motion of the heavens, one has to say that the end, from which the heavens are moved, is disregarded. Therefore, speculation remains about the end, within which and towards which they are moved.

With regards the end, within which something is moved, it is the subject of motion, and this is the first mover. The first moving body, therefore, is the first body, because the first body is less powerful and consequently less moved; insofar as it is the first mover, it has the least motion. What is perfect differs from what is imperfect, but to be moved is called an imperfection. And, therefore, as much as something is more perfect, the less motion and location it has, and because the heavenly body is the first perfect one, therefore it is least moved and located, but moves all things and locates all things. Whereas the earth locates nothing, the water already more, and thus in an increase [the heavenly body] has the least motion, because it has alone the spacial motion, namly solely its ‘where’, as it is neither from something else, nor to something else, unless notionally. Similarly, it is one motion, although moved in [its] parts, [but] not through its centre; because it is the prime mover from the immovable which is in it, because this constitutes its perfection. Therefore, it needs to move in itself, not in its centre.

And if it is argued: The parts have potential being, one has to say that the argument works to its opposite. Because the fact that they potentially are, moves them, because motion is the act to be of something that potentially is. And the cause of movability in all things and of immovability are the total and [its] parts; because what has full being is immovable, such as God, but all those who have a part of being, are movable. And this Thomas states in the Question about evil, in the article about the demons q. 2 in the solution of that argument. Hence, so the heavens is moved through [its] parts, because it is the first, wherefore it has only one motion, a uniform one, from which follows that it has no contrary [motion]. The astrologers, however, assume therefore that it was not the prime mover, because they discover in the heavenly constellation a deformation.

The end, however, to which in olden times the motion of the heavens was said to be there was the generation and decline of those inferior things. Yet, one has to say that in its own motion the heavens strives for the same as matter does. Because what has not total being, but parts [of it], therefore strives for all forms: Thus, as the heavens is a quantitative thing, it has parts, and because it has no place, it strives for it: therefore it is moved, so that it receives the ‘where’ from all parts, be they right or left.

Or one could say that the heavenly body is the supreme one. However, it is the nature of the superior to infuse and give being, and it is the nature of the inferior to strive for being; and it is the nature of the superior that it be present to all inferior ones, namely itself totally and itself in whichever way possible to the inferior in total and parts; and because this cannot be done in one go, it therefore infuses the inferior successively.

What, then, is its end? One has to say that it does not strive something else for itself, like the eye does not see for itself, but for the total [body], because it has being with regards to the totality and itself totally for that end. Therefore also, the end which the heavens strive for in motion is being of the universe or the conservation of the universe. 
 

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Eckhart on Prayer

Recently came across, again, the link to an interview which I gave a few years ago on Meister Eckhart and the Lord's Prayer (in German) for an Austrian broadcaster. Simply follow the link.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

‘Jews’ and ‘Christians’ in the eyes of others

In two recent articles, A. Baumgarten, ‘The Rule of the Martian in the Ancient Diaspora’,  and J. Barclay, ‘“Jews” and “Christians” in the Eyes of Roman Authors c. 100 CE’, both part of P.J. Tomson and J. Schwartz (eds), Jews and Christians in the First and Second Centuries: How to Write their Histories (Leiden, 2013), 313-26 and 398-430, respectively the question of ‘Jews’ and ‘Christians’ in the eyes of others, predominantly Greco-Roman, non-Christian authors, have been ventured.

As Baumgarten rightly quotes, Lucian of Samosata in his famous Peregrinus depicts Jews and Christians as 'a cluster of bats coming out of a nest, or frogs holding council round a marsh, or worms assembling in some filthy corner' which he interprets in the light of Jonathan Z. Smith (‘What a difference a difference makes’, 47) as an expression of '... even identity' and calls the debate between Jews and Christians a 'Jewish discussions'. Hence, according to Lucian, Christians are seen as part of Judaism, not separated from Judaism (403), although Baumgarten shares the views of those Jews who see in these Christians anything, but Jews. That is the reason why he underlines against the apologetic trend of modern scholarship the difference between Christians and Jews, despite what he quoted from Lucian, relying on the Jew from Celsus. However, what this Jew complaints about, that Christianity was 'another name and another life' to which some Jews have 'deserted' is not very different from how Paul would have regarded those Jews whom he persecuted with all his powers. And even the 'mother-daughter' image of this Jew is not different from what we read in Tacitus (dismissed by Barclay, see below). It is obvious (and I don't know many amongst those criticized representatives of 'modern scholarship' that would deny that Celsus' Jew, like the persecuting Paul before him, held such views) that from a Jewish perspective, critical of the 'Christian' interpretation, 'Christians' were seen as deviators, perhaps even apostates of Judaism - which does not say much about how 'Christians' would have regarded themselves (as one can see, again with Paul who despite having joined the persecuted communities did not regard himself or his new brethren as apostates from Judaism). Baumgarten, then, supports his Jewish argument by pagan writers who, according to him, share this view that 'Christians' were no longer Jews (410), with reference to Barclay. He then takes on Lucian's P. again and mentions the 'new cult' and martyrdom (note this terminology reminds of Marcion's catchword 'new' and the fact that the Marcionites were known for having produced most martyrs in the second century) and mentions that for Lucian Christians are something else than Jews (no surprise from somebody who writes contemporary to Justin/Irenaeus and reports about somebody around the year 144 - note, it is the year in which Marcion went public with his New Testament). Galen, all agree, still sees Jews and Christians as 'one school' which is now one of two lawgivers (Moses and Christ; see also the notes of Celsus on the 'contradictory laws' CC 7.18; 'Moses or Jesus', 'opposite purpose' which supports the case I have made in my Marcion and the Synoptic Gospels [Leuven, 2014], that the Jewish source of Celsus was aquainted with and critical of Marcion’s Antitheses). When Baumgarten draws the conclusion, based on his retake of Lucian (no longer mentioning what he quoted from him earlier - the cluster of bats coming out 'from a nest', not nests), and against Galen (but supported by what he found by Barclay, see below), he comes to the conclusion: ‘The nearly unanimous evidence of the “pagan” authors, taken together with the explicit remarks of Celsus’ Jew, make it hard to argue that, “Most, if not all of the Christians of the first, second, and perhaps even the third centuries considered themselves and were considered by others as Jews” or that the elites on what would become the two sides (to whom Celsus’ Jew would have belonged) were so concerned with distinguishing between Jews from Christians because so many other people of Antiquity did not see the difference between Jews and Christians, that is, because the ways had not yet really parted’ (412-3). As Baumgarten himself italizes the passage in Boyarin’s quote (Daniel Boyarin, ‘Semantic Differences’, in Adam H. Becker, Annette Yoshiko Reed (eds), The Ways that Never Parted [T├╝bingen, 2003], 65-86, 69), his concern has not been about how Christians saw themselves, but how they were seen by others.

As he has based the core of his argument on Barclay’s article, we also need to review the latter. Here my observations:

In his contribution on ‘“Jews” and “Christians” in the Eyes of Roman Authors c.100 CE’, John M.G. Barclay suggests that ‘as far as Romans were concerned, the association between “Christians” and “Jews” was not an early, but a late phenomenon; two groups once clearly differentiated could now be closely associated, but only when a good deal was discovered about “Christian” beliefs and the “Christian” self-image. It was only late, and then only patchily (and in elite circles) that Romans began to identify “Christians” with “Jews”, an association certainly not made by 100CE’ (326).

This hypothesis is based on the assessment of a relatively coherent picture that Barclay sees being painted by Roman authors of the first and early second century who write about ‘Jews’ (Valerius Maximus, Apion of Alexandria, Seneca, Petronius, Pliny the Elder, Quintilian, Martial and Juvenal), about ‘Jews’ and ‘Christians’ (Suetonius and Tacitus), a picture that he contrasts with the profile of ‘Christians’ given by those authors who talked about ‘Jews’ and ‘Christians’, and those who talked about ‘Christians’ alone (Pliny the Younger, Trajan) or on ‘Galileans’ (Epictetus).

While ‘Jews’ are seen as a superstitious gens, ‘Christians’ are regarded as criminals, two ‘different’ categories, therefore, as Barclay suggests who never before Celsus have been connected.

In order to maintain this neatly differentiated picture, he needs to exclude the Claudian edict (taken as an individual rebel ‘not a representative of a group’ [317], although according to the edict the Emperor ‘expellat Iudaeos’. Would an Emperor issue an edict, if the rebellious Chrestos were only a single phenomenon with the Jewish synagogue without impact on a group? That the Emperor expells ‘Jews’ contradicts Barclay’s reading – the Emperor does not exclude and expell an individual rebel, but ‘Jews’, amongst them the famous Aquila).

The second witness which Barclay needs to exclude (317) to make his case is Tacitus’ lost work, the Historiae, where Tacitus reports about Titus who wanted to destroy

completely the religion of the Jews and the Christiani: For although these religions are conflicting, they nevertheless developed from the same origins. The Christiani arose from the Jews: With the root removed, the branch is easily killed.[1]

Only recently E. Laupot (not mentioned by Barclay) has made a good case that the text is genuinely by Tacitus.[2] The quote is, indeed, of interest as it gives, if not the opinion of Titus, at least that of Tacitus that for him, Jews and Christians still belonged to one religion, while at the same time he can also speak of them as two religions with a clear indication that the Christians derive from the Jews and can be seen like branch and root.

The third evidence that Barclay dismisses is Epictetus. When Epictetus talks about a Jew who ‘has been baptised and has made his choice’ and ‘is in reality a Jew’, Barclay takes this as evidence for proselyte baptism which, according to Barclay, ‘has nothing to do with Christian practice’ (319). Yet, for a long time, the terminology of ‘baptism’ has made scholars think that there was a potential connection to Christians (see, for example, James D.G. Dunn, Beginning from Jerusalem (Cambridge, 2009), 55-6 (not mentioned by Barclay).

In addition, one does not only need to look at the positive evidence, but also at the negative one. If the two groups were as differentiated and distinct from early on, as Barclay claims, one needs to explain why, for example, Josephus who talks about the different groups of Judaism and also mentions key figures like James, Jesus’ brother, never speaks of ‘Christians’. Likewise, James D.G. Dunn is more precise when he states that ‘there are no references to Christians or Christianity in non-Christian Greco-Roman sources prior to the second century’ (54), but that all we have are second century authors writing about first century events. This reduces the basis for the claim that from early on, we have a differentiation between Judaism and Christianity which only towards the later second century were brought together by authors.

A more systematic problem is given by the fact that Barclay states that ‘Jews’ and ‘Christians’ are incomparable labels, belonging to a ‘different category’, yet – in his contrasting of two groups, ‘Jews’ and ‘Christians’ he starts blurring the difference between a label (which can be distinct, as they are in the case of 'Jews' and 'Christians') and 'groups'. If the labels refer to distinct categories ('Jews' a gens, 'Christians' criminals), a comparison of 'Jews' with 'Christians' is like that of apples with pears, hence, such comparison will not give us an insight into how people were related to each other (let alone in their own minds), but will give us labels under which people have been categorised from different perspectives. Instead, if one followed Barclay's logic, one would need to say that if 'Jews' and 'Christians' are incomparable, Jews could easily also be seen as criminals (Christians) (without the need of people by making such strictures to refer to these people being Jews), as well as Christians could be seen as belonging to the gens of Jews (without in thise case people being in need in accusing them of being ‘Christians’ or criminals, as being a Jew was far from being a criminal). If 'Christians' as a label is equated with being a 'criminal' - and this is how I see it too, this label explains why the title ‘Christians’ has not become a self-reference for a long time and that writings like 2Peter and Acts still know of it as a shame name, and that even Justin has difficulties to give it a positive rendering. If this is so, how can such a shame name which has no reference to a gens give us any indication about the relation between 'Christians' and 'Jews' in the first half of the second, let alone about the first century?

 



[1] Tac., in: Sulp. Sev.: ‘Plenius Iudaeorum et Christianorum religio tolleretur: quippe has religiones, licet contrarias sibi, isdem tamen ab auctoribus profectas; Christianos ex Iudaeis extitisse: radice sublata stirpem facile perituram’.
[2] E. Laupot, ‘Tacitus' Fragment 2: The Anti-Roman Movement of the Christiani and the Nazoreans’, VigChr 54 (2000), 233-47.