Markus Vinzent's Blog

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Meister Eckhart, Parisian Sermo die b. Augustini Parisius habitus, English translation


This sermon was available on the Internet in an English translation (see footnote below), although, the link seems to have disappeared (I give the old link which, strangely enough, is still working), and I have translated the text anew in the light of other work I have done on Eckhart:


'Vas auri solidum ornatum omni lapide pretioso', Eccli. 50
A vessel of pure gold, adorned with whatever most precious stone, Jes. Sir. 50[:10][1]
<LW5:89>
◊1◊ Ad commendationem beati Augustini potest proprie introduci haec auctoritas, et inter cetera commendatur sub vasis metaphora in tribus quae in vase continentur: primo in pretiositate materiae, quia per aurum intelligitur sapientia, ibi: 'vas auri', secundo in dispositione formae, ibi: 'ornatum omni lapide pretioso', tertio in ponderis quantitate, ibi: 'solidum'.
 
 
 
◊2◊ Primo ergo commendatur a pretiositate materiae, id est multitudine sapientiae et scientiae sub diversis habitibus collectae. Ipse enim erat bonus theoricus, egregius logicus et excellentissimus ethicus. Sic enim dividunt nobis magistri scientiam philosophiae, scilicet in theoricam, logicam et ethicam sive practicam. Et hoc secundum illa tria, quae ita vicissim occupant homines, ut nunquam aliquo tempore ab aliquo istorum trium feriari videantur; et ea sunt cogitatio, locutio et operatio. Theoricam sive speculativam ulterius partiuntur <LW5:90> in mathematicam, physicam et ethicam sive theologiam. »In naturalibus autem rationabiliter, in mathematica disciplinabiliter, et in divinis intellectuabiliter versari oportebit neque deduci ad imagines, sed potius respicere formam, quae vere forma est nec imago est et quae esse est et ex qua esse est«, quia secundum Boethium libro De trinitate »omne esse ex forma est«. Mathematicus autem formas et figuras materiae actu inhaerentes disciplinabili consideratione sequestrat. Physicus, id est naturalis, causas qualitatum, motuum et quantitatum inquirit. Ethicus sive theologus ideas rerum, quae in mente divina, antequam prodirent in corpora, ab aeterno quo modo ibi intelligibiliter exstiterunt, subtilius intuetur.
 
 
 
 
◊3◊ Et de divinis aliquando ratiocinatur auctoritatibus maiorum, aliquando exemplis extra quaesitis, aliquando vero ipsam divinam usiam sine subiecta materia contemplatur. Auctoritatibus usus fuit beatus Augu-stinus, quando trinitatem personarum cum unitate essentiae primo nobis volens insinuare introduxit illud in Genesi: 'faciamus hominem ad <LW5:91> imaginem et similitudinem nostram', et per verbum pluralis numeri trinitatem intelligens et per nomina singularis numeri declarans substantiae unitatem. Exemplo etiam usus est Plato in Timaeo, qui dum de principe summo rerum loqui esset animatus, dicit: ita +im++possibile est aliquid de deo profari, sicut difficile est ipsum reperiri. Et ideo idem confugit ad rerum similitudines et exempla et inter omnes res creatas solem ei quam simillimum repperit; unde et solem nominavit. Et Iohannes evangelista, dum de verbo increato loqui auderet, lucem ipsum appellavit, quia lux est prima et universalis species formarum corporalium et principium vitae in corporalibus. Et sic verbum dei patris est omnium »exsistentium substantia« et omnium »viventium vita« <LW5:92> et »omnis substantiae et vitae principium est et causa«, secundum Dionysium De divinis nominibus.
 
◊4◊ Et sic contingit theologum duplici ditari cognitione in via: una est 'per speculum et in aenigmate', alia est per speculum et in lumine. Prima fit tripliciter, scilicet ablatione, eminentia et causa. Ablatione in hunc modum procedendo: nullum corpus est deus; nullum intelligibile creatum est deus. Et cum demonstratio de re cognoscibili fiat ad sensum vel ad intellectum, de deo autem cognoscendo non potest fieri demonstratio ad sensum, quia est incorporeus, nec ad intellectum, quia forma nobis cognita caret, sed per solam alterius formae remotionem: quasi ab aliis eligendo separatur et separando eligitur. Quod innuit Boethius in libro De duabus naturis dicens: »deus et materia integro perfectoque intellectu capi non possunt, sed aliquo modo privatione ceterarum rerum capiuntur«. Unde Dionysius dicit quod affirmationes de deo factae vel dictae incompactae sunt, negationes vero verae. <LW5:93> Eminentia cognoscitur, quando in unoquoque, quod nobilius est et eminentius, deo attribuitur. Secundum quod dicit Augustinus X Confessionum: qui facit pulchra, pulchrior est, qui fortia, fortior et qui bona, melior est. Disce ergo homo ex creaturis cognoscere creatorem, et ne inhaereas ei quod factum est et perdas eum per quem factum est. Causa vero cognoscitur, quando omnia mobilia ad unum immobile, omnia variabilia ad unum invariabile, omnia corporabilia ad unum simplex et omnium multitudinem ad primam resolvimus unitatem, quae quidem »principium et causa est omnium« eorum quae sunt. Unum enim est in generatione omnium ante multa, et simplex est ante compositum prioritate naturali, secundum philosophum in De caelo et mundo.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
◊5◊ Secundo cognoscitur in via per speculum et in lumine, quando scilicet lux divina per effectum suum aliquem specialem irradiat super potentias cognoscentes <LW5:94> et super medium in cognitione, elevans intellectum ipsum ad id quod naturaliter non potest. »Mentis enim humanae acies invalida in tam excellenti lumine non figitur, nisi per iustitiam fidei prius purius emundetur«, secundum Augustinum libro De trinitate; et in VII Confessionum dicit: »aeterna veritas et vera caritas et cara aeternitas, tu es deus meus, tibi suspiro 'die ac nocte'; cum te primo cognovi, tu assumpsisti me«. Ecce qualiter dicit quod assumptus fuerit, ut videret esse quod viderat, »et nudum me esse qui videram; et reverberasti infirmitatem meam radians in me vehementer, et contremui amore et horrore et inveni me longe esse a te in regione dissimilitudinis«.
 
 
 
 ◊6◊ Et haec cognitio operatur ad tria: primo ad occulta vel futura pronuntiandum, secundo ad meritorie operandum, tertio ad divinam dulcedinem praegustandum. Primus modus est prophetalis; secundus in habitibus gratuitis usque ad fructus; tertius in exstasi mentis, et haec in fructibus. Secundus et tertius perfecte erant in eo, quia de tertio dicitur secundum quod est in intellectu <LW5:95> practico. Haec cognitio scientia vel sapientia, quasi sapida scientia, quae aliquando intromittit hominem in affectum multum. Ecce quomodo 'vas' illud 'auri' commendatur a pretiositate materiae, id est utilitatis scientiae. Et secundum hoc talis et tanta scientia non fuit in materia vitii, sed virtutis. Unde dicitur X Confessionum: »da mihi te, deus meus, redde te mihi«; non enim amo 'primos recubitos in cenis' nec 'salutari in foro', nec 'vocari ab hominibus rabbi'; sed te »amo et, si parum est, amem validius. Et nec possum metiri, quantum mihi desit amoris ad id, quod satis est, donec currat vita mea in amplexus tuos et abscondatur in absconsione vultus tui. Hoc tamen scio, quia mihi male praeter te, non solum extra me, sed etiam in me ipso, et omnis copia, quae deus non est, egestas mihi est«.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 ◊7◊ Secundo commendatur beatus Augustinus a dispositione formae in eo quod dicitur 'ornatus omni lapide pretioso'. Dispositio autem formae in ipso est exhibitio virtutis in operatione. Et bene dicitur virtus gratuita forma, quia rem esse est a forma, secundum Boethium De trinitate. Et bene dicitur <LW5:96> esse a virtute, quia sicut improprie dicuntur mortui homines, ita malus improprie dicitur esse. Esse enim est »quod ordinem retinet servatque naturam«, secundum Boethium in III Consolationum. Et virtus est ordo, secundum Augustinum, ordo inquam amoris, quia qui virtutem habet, ordinem tenet servatque naturam. »Nihil enim est quod servans naturam deo contrarie conetur«, secundum Boethium in eodem.
 
◊8◊ Sapientia igitur beati Augustini fuit sibi pro materia virtutis, virtutis inquam monasticae, politicae et theologicae. Monastica virtus ordinat et perficit hominem in se ipso, quia opus eius est carnis suppeditatio. Actus virtutis monasticae est +hic; fructus eius est++ spiritualis laetitia ex luculenta bonorum operum exercitatione, virtutis politicae cum civium amicitia et ex integra spiritus conservatione actus virtutis theologicae obtinetur spiritualis effectus a dei gratia. Fructus eius iste est. Unde ad Gal. 5: 'fructus autem spiritus caritas, gaudium'. De quo gaudio Eccli. 30: 'non est sensus supra sensum salutis, et non est oblectamentum supra cordis gaudium'. De quo gaudio Augustinus X Confessionum dicit: »est gaudium, quod non datur <LW5:97> impiis, sed eis qui te gratis colunt«, domine, »quorum gaudium tu ipse es. Et ipsa est beata vita: gaudere ad te, in te, propter te, ipsa est vita et non est altera«.
 
 
 ◊9◊ Virtus politica est luculenta bonorum operum exercitatio et perficit hominem et ordinat in civium collegio. Actus virtutis politicae est haec, quae exhibet opera amicis in deo et inimicis propter deum in tantum, ut 'si esurierit inimicus, cibat illum; si sitit, potum dat ei'. Fructus autem qui ex hoc sequitur, est non tantum civium, sed etiam inimicorum vindicata amicitia. Unde ad Rom. 12: 'hoc enim faciens carbones ignis congeres super caput eius', et ad Rom. 12: 'caput eius' est mens animae, super quam carbones congeruntur, dum per praeventionem beneficiorum ad reddendum compelluntur.
 
 
 
◊10◊ Theologica virtus perficit hominem cum deo, quia est integra spiritus conservatio ex carnis subiectione. Actus virtutis theologicae, id est fidei, dilectionis, est hic. Fructus eius est spiritualis effectus gratiae ad perfectionem iustitiae.
◊11◊ Sed quia non contingit nos de deo aliquid scire nisi per effectus, ideo distinguamus septem modos gratiae adventus in 'vas' taliter 'ornatum'. Venit enim <LW5:98> primo per modum nivis refrigerantis, et sic relinquitur eius effectus in anima, scilicet ab aestu carnalium desideriorum refrigeratio. Secundo venit per modum roris impinguantis, et sic relinquitur eius effectus in anima, scilicet aeternorum desideriorum impinguatio. Tertio venit per modum vini inebriantis, et sic relinquitur eius effectus in anima, scilicet omnimoda rerum mutabilium oblivio. Quarto venit per modum olei subiectum penetrantis, et sic relinquitur eius effectus in anima, scilicet illuminatio dei et inflammatio. Quinto venit per modum ignis depurantis, et sic relinquitur eius effectus in anima, scilicet perfecta purgatio. Sexto venit per modum lucis se cum subiecto unientis, et sic relinquitur eius effectus in anima, scilicet 'in eandem imaginem' cum deo transformatio. Septimo venit per modum spiritus vehementer impellentis, et sic relinquitur eius effectus in anima, scilicet naturalis vitae defectio. Ecce per istum modum beatus Augustinus fuit ditatus, ideo dicitur sic 'vas electionis' a dispositione formae.
 
 
 
◊12◊ Tertio commendatur beatus Augustinus a ponderis quantitate in eo quod dicitur 'solidum'. Quantitas autem in pondere est vehementia in amore. De quo idem: »Quantum te amabo, bone Iesu? Tuus amor sicut fons, meus sicut <LW5:99> sitis. Ex toto enim tu amasti me. Scio enim, quid faciam. Ponam totum meum contra totum tuum, quia plus non possum. Potero autem, cum donare volueris. Unum scio, quia non quiescam, donec totus amor fiam.« Quod nobis praestare dignetur, qui vivit deus. Amen. Iste sermo sic est reportatus ab ore magistri Echardi de Hochheim, die beati Augustini, Parisius.
 
◊1◊ One can appropriately introduce this verse for the commemoration of Saint Augustine, wherein, amongst others, he is commended in three ways which are implied in the metaphor of a vessel: first, in the preciousness of the material, for by ‘gold’ we have to understand ‘wisdom’, when [it is said], a vessel of gold, second, in its characteristics, when [it is said], adorned with whatever most precious stone, third, in the magnitude of its weight, when [it is said], pure.
◊2◊ First, therefore, he is commended by the preciousness of the material, for the breath of wisdom and knowledge gathered under his many talents. For he was a good theorist, an exceptional locutor, and a most excellent ethicist. For in such a way do the Masters divide for us the science of philosophy, namely into theory, logic, and ethics or practical [philosophy]. And according to these three, which so in turn occupy men, that they were never seen to rest for any time from any of these three: thinking, talking, and doing. Theory or speculation is further divided into mathematics, physics, and ethics or theology. ‘On natural things, however, one has to ponder rationally, on mathematicals systematically, and on divine things intellectually; and neither to be drawn to images, but rather to refer to form, which truly is form, not image, and which is being and from which being is’, as [one reads] in Boethius' book On the Trinity, ‘all being is from form’. The mathematician, however, separates the forms and shapes which are indeed inherent of matter, by way of disciplined consideration, the scientist of physics, i.e. of nature, makes inquiries into the causes of quality, motion, and quantity, the moral philosopher or theologian more subtly looks closely into the ideas of things which are in the divine mind, before they come forth into bodies, according to which mode they exist there from eternity in an intelligible manner.
◊3◊ And of the divine things, sometimes it is argued according to the highest authorities, at other times, by means of examples searched for outside [these], but at other times the divine substance itself without subjected matter is contemplated. Saint Augustine made use of authorities when he first wants to lead us to the trinity of persons with their unity of essence and introduces it from Genesis: Let us make man according to our image and likeness [Gen. 1:26], and through the plural form of the verb understanding the trinity and by means of the singular of the noun declaring the unity of substance. The example is also used by Plato in the Timaeus, when speaking about the highest principle of all things, he says, ‘it is thus impossible to say anything about God, just as it is difficult to find him, and so one flees to the similitude of things, examples and amongst all created things only to that one which one finds most similar [to God]’. And John the Evangelist, when he dares to speak of the uncreated word, calls it light [John 1:4], because light is the first and universal species of corporeal forms, as well as the principle of life in bodies. And thus the word of God, the Father, is ‘the substance of’ all ‘that exists’, and ‘principle and cause of all substance and life’, according to Dionysus' On the Divine Names.
 
◊4◊ And thus on [his] way the theologian reaches a twofold knowledge; one is through a mirror and in darkness [1Cor. 12:13], the other is through a mirror and in light. The first happens in three ways, namely by taking away, by eminence and by causality. Taking away proceeds in the following manner: no body is God, nothing intelligibly created is God. And as a recognicable thing is being shown by way of sense or intellect, God, indeed, cannot be recognised by way of sense or intellect, because he is incorporeal and has not a known form like us, but [he can only be recognised] solely through the removal of the other form, which as if by selecting it was separated and by separating it was selected, which Boethius introduces in his book On the Two Natures: ‘God and matter cannot be grasped wholly and perfectly by the intellect, but they may be grasped by another way of privation of other things’. Therefore, Dionysius says that our affirmations about God are incompletely made or said, whereas negations are true. By eminence, he [God] becomes known, when in a single way something that is more noble and more eminent is attributed to God, according to which Augustine says in Confessions X: ‘Who makes things beautiful, is more beautiful; things strong, is stronger, and who made things good, is better. Learn therefore, human being to know the creator from the creatures, do not cling to things which have been made, loosing the one through whom it has been made’. By cause, he [God] becomes known when we resolve all that is moveable to the one immovable; all that is varied to the one invariable, all that is corporeal to the simple one, and all multiplicity to the first one, who, indeed, is ‘the principle and cause of all’ those which are. The one, indeed, in the generating of all prior to the multiple things, and he is simple by natural priority before anything composed according to the Philosopher [Aristotle] in On Heaven and Earth.
◊5◊ Secondly, how [God] becomes known on the way through a mirror and in light, when, for example, the divine light, through its own effect, shines on something special beyond the powers to know and beyond the mean of cognition, elevating the intellect itself to that what it can naturally not achieve. ‘Truly the feeble sight of the human mind is not remedied in so excellent a light, unless it is first cleansed more purely through the justice of faith’, according to Augustine in the book On the Trinity. And in book VII [10:16] of the Confessions he says: ‘Eternal truth, true love and beloved eternity, you are my God, to you I sigh both day and night [Ps. 1:2]. When I first knew you, you raised me up [see Ps. 26:10]’. See, in which way he says that he was raised up, so that he saw the being that he say, ‘yet I was naked, when I saw, but you cast aside the infirmity of my sight, shining heavily into me, and I trembled with love and fear; and I found myself to be far off from you, in a land of dissimilitude’.
◊6◊ And this cognition operates towards three things: First, towards the annunciation of hidden or future things; second, towards things that have to be done for benefit, third towards the foretasting of divine sweetness. The first is the prophetic way; the second happens in graced habits until they carry fruits; the third takes place in the ecstasy of the mind, and this means in the fruits. The second and third were perfectly present in him [Augustine], because it is spoken about the third one according to that which exists in the practical intellect. This cognition by science or wisdom, like tasting wisdom, sometimes comes into a person in a heavy affect. See how that vessel of gold is commended by the preciousness of its material, i.e. its usefulness for knowledge. And according to this such kind and breath of science did not happen in the material of vice, but of virtue. Therefore, it is said in book XIII of the Confessions: ‘Give yourself to me, my God, give yourself back to me’, for I do not love the places of honour at table [Matth. 23:6] nor salutation in the square [Matth. 6:2], nor to be called ‘Rabbi’ by human beings [Matth. 23:7], but ‘I love you, and if that is not enough, make me able to love you more. How much is my love still lacking? I can never know, so give to my life your bounty and shelter me in the shadow of your presence. Only this I know, my life is worthless to me, not only the things outside myself, but things within myself, and [this] is my poverty, all the treasures I have which are not God.’
◊7◊ Second, Saint Augustine is commended for the characteristics of this which is said to be adorned with whatever most precious stone. The characteristics in itself is an exhibition of virtue in action, and virtue is well-called free form, because something is through form, according to Boethius in On the Trinity. And it is well said to be through virtue, because just as men are improperly said to be dead, so the evil person is improperly said to be. Being, namely, is ‘what retains order and preserves nature’ according to Boethius in book III of the Consolation. And virtue is order according to Augustine, indeed the order of love, for the one who has virtue keeps order and,  preserves nature. ‘Nothing that [truly] serves nature can be contrary to God’, according to Boethius in the same place.
◊8◊ Wisdom, therefore, of Saint Augustine was for him the matter of virtue, namely monastic, political, and theological virtue. Monastic virtue directs and perfects human being in itself because its work is the submission of the flesh. The act of monastic virtue is <this: its fruit is> spiritual delight from the splendid exercise of good works; of political virtue, it is the obtaining the friendship with fellow-citizens; and from the entire preservation of the spirit the act of theological virtue is obtained as spiritual effect from the grace of God. Its fruit is that one, from where [one reads] at Gal. 5[:22]: The fruit of the spirit are love, joy. Of that joy Jes. Sir. 30[:16 writes]: There is no greater riches than bodily health, and there is no delight greater than a joyous heart. On that joy Augustine says in book X of the Confessions: ‘There is a joy not granted to the impious, but only to those who abide by grace in you’, Lord, ‘and you, yourself, are this joy. The blessed life is this, to rejoice unto you, in you, and with you. This is life and no other’.
◊9◊ Political virtue is the splendid exercise of good works, and it perfects human being and directs one in the community of citizens. These are the works of political virtue: it exhibits its deeds for friends in God and for enemies, insofar as God is in them, as [it is said]: If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat; if thirsty, give him something to drink [Rom. 12:20]. The fruit which follows from this is not just love of the citizen, but even the vindicating love of our enemies. Therefore, [one reads at] Rom. 12[:20]: In doing this you will heap red hot coals upon your head. And ad Rom. 12[:20]: Your head is the mind of the soul, upon which coals are heaped when through the anticipation of kindness they are compelled to give back.
◊10◊ Theological virtue perfects a human being in relation to God, because it is a entire preservation of the spirit from the subjection of the flesh. The fruit of it is the effect of spiritual grace for the perfection of justice.
◊11◊ But because we are not able to know God other than through His effects, we must therefore distinguish seven manners of grace having come into the vessel so adorned. It comes first in the manner of a cooling snow, and so it leaves its effect on the soul, namely cooling the heat of fleshly desires. Second, it comes through the manner of dense dew, and so it leaves its effect on the soul, namely the intensifying of desires for eternal things. Third, it comes through the manner of an inebriating wine, and so it leaves its effect on the soul, namely in the forgetfulness of all mutable things. Fourth, it comes through the manner of ointment that penetrates to what it is applied, and so it leaves its effect in the soul, namely the illumination of and the burning for God. Fifth, it comes through the manner of a purging fire, and so it leaves its effect in the soul, namely that perfect purification. Sixth, it comes through the manner of light, uniting itself with what is subjected to it, and so it leaves its effect in the soul, namely one's transformation into the image of God (Gen. 1:26). Seventh, it comes through the manner of the spirit blowing vehemently, and so it leaves its effect in the soul, namely giving up one's natural life. Behold, in this way Saint Augustine was enriched, and so he is called a chosen vessel for his character.
◊12◊ Third, Saint Augustine is praised for the magnitude of that which he pondered, [for it] is called “solid.” Magnitude in weight is intensity in relation to love, about which he himself has said: “As much as I love you, Good Jesus, your love is like a spring, whereas I am parched. You have loved me without limits. Indeed, I know my deeds. I lay my whole being before you, because nothing more is possible. I will drink, if you but command. I know only this, I shall not be satisfied until I am made completely [yours] in love” which he deigns to offer us, God who lives. Amen.
This sermon has been recounted from the mouth of Meister Eckhart of Hochheim, on the Feast of Saint Augustine, at Paris.

 




[1] This translation takes note of (although often deviating from) the translation provided by M. Demkovich, OP; P. Hyde, and J.D. Rooney, and edited by M. Demkovich, OP, available at https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxheWNhcmR1c3Byb2plY3R8Z3g6MmY3ZDY0NTUzYmJjN2IzNw.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Dieter T. Roth, on 'Marcion and the Dating of the Synoptic Gospels'

'He is the truer friend who by his censure heals me, than the one who by flattery anoints my head' (Aug., Ep. to Jerome). What I have written at the start of my comments on Paul Foster's review is even more true for the discussion below. Dieter Roth was so fair to send me his review even prior to its publication. I did not want to correct things then, as I believe in more learning experience, when pros and cons are discussed in the public, so that understandings and misunderstandings (and both will occur on the writer as on the reviewer's side) will allow the discussion to move on and to share the route to a deeper understanding. Hence, before I seriously engage into this review here, let me again, express my gratitude and appreciation for reading and reviewing the monograph. It is so good to see people delving deeply into one's own thoughts, and it is sometimes helpfully shocking to see, how badly one has expressed one's thoughts, so that readers have been misled to think, what they believe they read in one's text. Reviewing and being reviewed is one of the master tasks of our scholarship.

It is therefore more than nice to see Larry Hurtado in his blog having given Dieter T. Roth to write a few guest entries which engage with my 'Marcion and the Dating of the Synoptic Gospels'. In order to let the reader of my blog see the arguments, please visit the blog here.
As time permits, I'd like to engage with these posts here and also with the published version of Dieter's review in JTS 2015.

As in the first posting on the Larry Hurtado blog, Dieter T. Roth refers to the JTS review without repeating the criticism (the first of his main two), I'd like to engage with the published review first.

His main criticism relates to my first chapter, where I am reading the second century sources on Marcion and his Gospel, readings that strike the reviewer as 'idiosyncratic, often debated or debatable, and in some instances simply indefensible'. Now - every reading is, hopefully, idiosyncratic to some extent, as otherwise everybody would read the same things in the same sources which, even without being a deconstructivist, the most Gadamerlike hermeneutic reader would accept.
Where he starts his detailed criticism he states: 'Certainly, part of the problem is that Vinzent is undertaking a massive redating and revisioning of all early Christian Gospels in a relatively slender volume'.
I don't see, why this should be either idiosyncratic or indefensible. The size of a book does not help any argument. As Foster (see his review in the previous blog) admitted - the basis for the conventional dating of these Gospels is 'slender'. I think, it would not even have needed my 353pp ('slender'?) for making this case. If the dates are uncertain - which even some conservative New Testament scholars would admit - why qualify it as 'redating', 'revisioning', let alone giving it this attempt the qualification of 'massive'. What NT scholarship has done, is dated texts to a particular point in time without the firm evidence that is asked for, in order not only to date those texts, but also to build skyscrapers of historical reconstructions of early Christianity on a basis that is more than slippery ground. To insinuate with 'redating' and 'revisioning' a secure basis, from which scholarship should start is the turning the burden of proof upside down. In historical research it is the task of somebody who dates evidence early (meaning prior to its first historical surfacing) to give the proof, not the one who points out the slender evidence of such early dating. In this case the so-called argumentum e silentio is taken to absurdity, if in the absence of such proof (which turns the early dating into an unproven hypothesis), the scholar who points out the lack of evidence is seen as basing his theory on an argumentum e silentio.
Roth gives two examples for my 'inadequate and inaccurate references made to other scholars and to the ancient sources':
1) My reference to John Knox and his linguistic arguments, set forth in 1939 and 1942. Indeed, I could and should have mentioned that later Knox himself disputed his own arguments, an article that apparently had escaped my knowledge (and is not listed in the bibliography), but looking at his admission that he should not 'have attempted to build any positive argument for Marcion's priority on so meager and uncertain a basis as the recoverable text of his [Marcion's] Gospel provides', I would maintain that sometimes, earlier insights of scholars are better than later ones (I can only remind the readers of what happens in the 1850th debate with Ritschl).
2) The second 'evidence' for my 'inadequate and inaccurate references' is the following. 'One of Vinzent's contentions regarding Tertullian's views of Marcion is that "Consistently, discussing Paul's concepts of the 'new covenant' and of 'newness', Tertullian asserts that with his Gospel Marcion introduced a nova forma sermonis, a literary innovation, that there is in Christ a novel style of discourse, when he sets forth similtudes, when he answers questions". In support of this point, Vinzent offers a citation from Marc. 4.11.12, which is the only place in Adversus Marcionem where there is a reference to a nova forma sermonis.'
Now, Roth claims that my quotation (p. 92 n. 352) 'is taken completely out of context and used by Vinzent to say precisely the opposite of what Tertullian actually states. Following comments that though the Gospel is different from the Law it is nevertheless in no way opposed to the Law. Tertullian goes on to say Nec forma sermonis in Christo nova. Cum similitudines obicit, cum quaestiones refutat, de septuagesimo venit psalmo: Aperiam, inquit, in parabolam os meum, id est similitudinem; eloquar problemata, id est edisseram quaestiones.'
Both, his comment and judgement ('such troubling use of the statement of others'), however, only reveal that either I have not expressed myself clear enough, or it was only a cursory reading which led to it. As rightly quoted by Roth, I was NOT talking about Tertullian's views, but of his 'views of Marcion'. While I totally agree with Roth that Tertullian did not subscribe to Marcion's views here that with Christ a new literary genre was born, but that already the Psalm talks about parabola, similitudes in connection with dialogues - it should be clear that Tertullian, nevertheless, witnesses that Marcion made such claims (and this is the only thing that I stated and which is rather confirmed and not disputed by Roth). Hence, instead of myself quoting and interpreting inadequately or inaccurately, it seems a misreading of this passage in my book (and reading of Tertullian that does not go far enough to unravel Marcion's opinion behind it) which becomes apparent.
Unfortunately, the reviewer does not give further examples, as the ones which he mentions do not substantiate his case that my use of sources 'are a significant impediment to this monograph's intention of advancing contemporary scholarship and discussion on Marcion's Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels'. In contrast, it shows that this volume is being read against its intentions, in order to safeguard what I think is a traditional, yet, hardly substantiated dating of the Gospels.

Let me move to Dieter Roth's comments on Larry Hurtado's blog:

He first begins to note 'three highly curious comments. First, though Vinzent clearly seems aware of the history of scholarship on Marcion’s Gospel and the reconstructions of Marcion’s Gospel in Greek by, e.g., Theodor Zahn and Adolf von Harnack, unaccountably he writes “Marcion’s Gospel has not been critically edited from its Greek and Latin sources to provide us with its contours and, as far as possible, with its Greek wording, except for a very early attempt by the famous August Hahn (1792-1863)” (p. 4).' Then he points to his own PhD to which I refer 'on the same page ... as providing “a textcritical commentary on Marcion’s Gospel, on the basis of which one can establish, at least to some extent, the Greek text, yet he does not give us the text itself.” Though it is true that the reconstruction of the entirety of Marcion’s Gospel only appears in my above-mentioned monograph (word count restrictions precluded my doctoral thesis from dealing with all of the sources and reconstructing all the verses of Marcion’s Gospel), my dissertation provided a textual commentary on every verse attested by Tertullian precisely in order then to reconstruct every verse attested only by Tertullian. In fact, the reconstruction of Marcion’s gospel-text as evidenced in Tertullian is one of the main contributions of the dissertation.'
I totally agree with this explanation, but I do not understand why in the light of these, my comment would be 'highly curious'. So far, it is only confirmed that to the date when I wrote this comment, it was true that nobody had produced a critical edition of Marcion's Gospel (except the early one done by Hahn).
More interesting and very important is his added note, relating apparently to what he calls the third of my 'highly curious comments':
'Finally, Vinzent states, “The Gospel and [Marcion’s] Apostolikon (of ten Pauline letters) can be recovered only partially from glimpses that are given by his opponents, unearthed from their writings (primarily Tertullian, Epiphanius, Adamantius’ [Pseudo-Origen?] Dialogue I-II, and Codex Bezae)” (p. 9). When I first read this sentence, I was fully agreeing with Vinzent until he got to “Codex Bezae.” Though the question of the relationship of Marcion’s Gospel to the so-called “Western” text has often been discussed, Codex Bezae is not a source for Marcion’s Gospel and has no place in this list. Such statements are a bit surprising and unexpected for a monograph focusing on Marcion’s Gospel and, unfortunately, reflect subsequent problematic interactions with ancient sources and scholars by Vinzent.'
The exclusion of Codex Bezae from the reconstruction of Marcion's Gospel (fortunately already Harnack made reference to it and scholarship of Codex Bezae have often pointed out the close relation between Marcion and this text, hence the importance of it also given to this text by Matthias Klinghardt. In addition, I have recently given a paper at a conference in Dresden, where I was able to point out some more evidence that Codex Bezae has to be taken into the list of sources, pace Roth), goes back to the fundamental principle of how to reconstruct Marcion's Gospel. This principle, however, is a decision which scholars like Roth take, but it is based on the further assumption of the posteriority of Marcion in the Synoptic Problem, something which should only be decided once a Synoptic comparison between Marcion and the Synoptics has been explored. Here, we hit the fundamental problem of either principally excluding or including Codex Bezae into the reconstruction of Marcion. My own - preliminary suggestion was and is, based on some indications which I shared in the reviewed monograph (p. 275-6) that it should be included.

Dieter Roth, then, points out that I introduced in my monograph a new chapter and verse numbering of Marcion's Gospel, born out of the idea, of course, than as soon as this Gospel is no longer taken as an abbreviation, it does not make sense or would be even a contradiction, if it were numbered according to the Gospel of Luke. Why would any other Gospel, even if it is synoptically close to another be numbered according to that one? Yet, I have to admit, since I have read Matthias Klinghardt's two volumes, Das älteste Evangelium und die Entstehung der kanonischen Evangelien (Tübingen, 2015), simply for reasons of easier referencing, I have given up my own numbering and will revert in my forthcoming commentary of Marcion's Gospel to the standard numbering, even though, Marcion's Gospel will then open with chapter 3, vers 16 - that is ok, as long, as everybody knows, I do not mean by this, that Marcion has omitted more than two chapters, but that, in my view, Luke had added the text before.

When Roth carries on criticising that I give on pp. 264-72 an example of my reconstruction of Marcion's Gospel without giving the details for its sources, he is, of course, right, and I will deliver that in conjunction with the forthcoming commentary.

Then, however, comes another important remark which will bring us back to the question of methodological aprioris. Roth states: 'One further problem highlights a methodological issue in reconstructing Marcion’s Gospel. On p. 275, Vinzent offers an (English) reading of Luke 5:36-39 in Marcion’s Gospel. This parable is clearly attested for Marcion’s Gospel, but, in my view, the precise wording cannot be reconstructed. Vinzent’s focus, however, is on 5:39, which (as some others have done before him) Vinzent argues was not present in Marcion’s Gospel, but was added by Luke as an anti-Marcionite reading. The problem is, however, that 5:39 is unattested for Marcion’s Gospel. That is to say, no source makes any mention of either its presence or its absence. As Ulrich Schmid already pointed out in a 2003 article (“How Can We Access Second Century Gospel Texts? The Cases of Marcion and Tatian,” in Christian-B. Amphoux and J. Keith Elliott (eds), The New Testament Text in Early Christianity/Le texte du Nouveau Testament au debut du christianisme [Lausanne, 2003], 139-50, 143), arguments positing the absence of 5:39 in Marcion’s Gospel are “simply creating positive evidence (in this very case positive negative evidence) out of no evidence at all.”'
This is a nice, rhetorical statement by Ulrich Schmid, uncritically followed by Roth, but as with all well sounding rhetoric, we have to check whether we have to agree with it. A simple look into Adamantius, Dial. II 16 proves that this version is attested for Marcion's Gospel - and therefore to speak of 5:39 as unattested makes no sense. The same version is also given by Codex Bezae (D), a further support to what has been said above about the nature and quality of this codex as a potential source for Marcion's Gospel (although, of course, not all readings in this codex are reflections of Marcion's text). Therefore, for very good reasons, did I present the text with this version (as does now Matthias Klinghardt, Das älteste Evangelium [2015], 502) as Marcion's Gospeltext, all the more that this text (unlike the one given by Luke) makes perfect sense to the entire story (a comparison with other NT manuscript evidence lends support to the importance of this reading of 5:39). Hence, we find the next 'proof' not for my idiosyncratic misreading or misquoting of sources, but for an oversight and not detailed enough attention to the sources by earlier scholarship and the reviewer who followed it.


(more to follow)

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Paul Foster, Review of my 'Marcion and the dating of the Synoptic Gospels'

First of all - before I give my comments about the above review - I'd like to express my gratitude to Paul Foster and every reader of my monograph. It is a wonderful duty and responsibility to read and write reviews of colleague's books, as it is one of the gems of being reviewed by them. Criticism is part of this job and being criticised is what one wants when one publishes something. One of the most important elements, in my eyes (and I do not write reviews myself to please anybody, but to contribute to the discussion furthered by the text I am reviewing, hence I do not expect less of any reviewer and am more than willing to subject myself to criticism) is to take criticism serious - so far, and I hope I am not moving away from this principle by getting older, I have never taken criticism personally, but always tried to get to the bottom of a counter-argument, think it through and then, of course, come up with my own judgement. Yet, it is never taken lightly and the intention is to learn from every review.

In the short review that Paul Foster published about the above monograph to conclude that 'as a whole the book is unpersuasive and idiosyncratic throughout' (sounds so similar to the review by Dieter T. Roth in JTS - see special blog entry that one wonders who copied whom?), unsurprising, as the book challenges, indeed, fundamental assumptions shared by many New Testament scholars like himself, but rarely supported by firm arguments. In a way, he admits this, when he sees the strengths of the book in that it gives 'summaries of previous scholarship, either in relation to Marcion or the dating of the Synoptic Gospels, and in showing that many scholarly proposals are based on slender evidence'.
If this is learned from the book, I am quite happy and live with the verdict of idiosyncrasy - as too many NT scholars in the past have repeated a scholarly consensus which stood, indeed, 'on slender evidence'. Of course, I would have liked the reviewer to have also engage with the detailed interpretations of evidence presented.

When he complaints 'that earlier scholars are often cited as being in broad agreement with Vinzent’s work. However, when the carefully nuanced statements of scholars such as Andrew Gregory or Christopher Tuckett are read in context it appears, at least to this reader, that what Vinzent draws from them is in fact markedly different from what they seem to be saying', he gives as example the reviewer's quote of my previous monograph on Christ’s resurrection, James Carleton Paget who stated that ‘it is, however, difficult to see how one could disprove what he [Vinzent] has argued’ (p. x). Foster adds: 'This is presented as suggesting that reviewer was open to Vinzent’s proposals. Again, reading the review in its entirety, it is obvious the person was being extremely nuanced and careful in his selection of words, but clearly did not agree with what was being argued'. The bias of Foster's review can be seen from the fact that what he accuses me of is the principle on which he himself wrote the review, as I state in 'Marcion and the Dating of the Synoptic Gospels' about James Carleton Paget and his review that 'as the responses to my recent monograph (Christ's Resurrection ...) have shown, readers were complimentary, although not unanimously applauding of its results - something which, in any case, no scholar aspires to - but the serious and detailed criticism underline that the questions raised were seen as worth investigating. For example, in his 27-page review for the Journal for New Testament Studies (2012), James Carleton Paget concludes, despite his methodological criticisms, that 'it is, however, difficult to see how one could disprove what he [M.V.] has argued, that is, show it to be wrong beyond reasonable doubt' (ix-x). To turn this statement, where I point out that Carleton Paget presented a 'serious and detailed criticism', particularly with regards to my methodology, is far from me having presented him so suggest 'that reviewer was open' to my proposal. What, however, I was trying to do is the contrary. Despite Carleton Paget being extremely sceptical of my book and having spent 27 pages on it arguing against my proposal, he then was forced to conclude that despite all his criticism he could not achieve to fail the proposal 'beyond reasonable doubt'. Whether or not the present reviewer would have been led to the same conclusion, I do not know, but I would have liked to see him presenting his counter-arguments, so that we could engage in a serious discussion.

Meister Eckhart, Collatio in Libros Sententiarum in English translation

As there seems to be no English translation available of Eckhart's inaugural lecture, his Collatio in Libros Sententiarum of Peter Lombard, held between 14 September and 9 October 1295 in Paris, here text and translation (work in progress):


'Altissimus creavit de terra medicinam', Eccli. 38
The most high created medicine from earth (Jes. Sir. 38:4)
 
◊1◊ Verba ista pro ingressu Libri sententiarum aptissime assumunt+ur++. Primus siquidem liber loquitur de altissimo; secundus de creatione et creaturis; tertius de terra benedicta, scilicet de humanitate Christi, verbi incarnati; quartus de sacramentis, quae tamquam medicina homini sauciato adhibentur.
◊2◊ Circa primum notandum quod hoc nomen 'altissimus' proprie deo competit. In ipso est siquidem perfectissima altitudo: est enim in divina natura altitudo in se sive secundum se, est etiam in ipsa altitudo respectu creaturae. In ipsa siquidem est altitudo secundum proprietates tam essentiales quam personales, secundum quas personae comparantur ad se ipsas. Et etiam altitudo in ipso secundum quod ab ipso rerum creatarum universitas. Et huic apte congruit sive alludit quod dicit 'altissimus', quia nulli creato competit esse altissimum, Psalmus: 'tu solus altissimus super omnem terram', et Eccli. 1: 'altitudinem caeli' 'quis dimensus est?' Et nota: signanter duo dicit, scilicet 'altitudinem caeli' et 'quis <LW5:018> dimensus +est++?' Est enim in caelo altitudo quaedam, sed dimensa. Est et alia in caelo, sed indimensa. In caelo siquidem stellato est altitudo permaxima, sed tamen dimensa. Unde Alfraganus Differentia XXI dicit quod diameter circuli signorum est centum milium milium et triginta milium milium et septingentorum vginti milium miliariorum. Et Rabbi Moyses l. III c. 15 dicit quod a centro terrae usque ad superficiem circuli signorum inferiorem est iter octo milium annorum et septingentorum fere ad minus, spissitudoque ipsius circuli signorum est iter quattuor milium annorum. Et hoc est quod dicit 'altitudinem caeli'. Ultimi autem caeli mobilis sphaerae altitudo mensurari non potest, ut dicit Rabbi Moyses, eo quod stellis careat. Et hoc est quod <19> dicit: 'quis dimensus est?' quasi dicat: nullus. Sed quamquam altitudo caeli non sit dimensa ab homine, est tamen dimensa in se et in re: superficie enim claudente omne corpus dimensionatur, quiditate terminante omnis creatura limitatur et non ultra in altum corrigitur. Deus autem non sic. Propter hoc convenientissime dicitur: 'tu solus altissimus super omnem terram'.
 
 
◊3◊ Est autem deus 'altissimus' in essentia, in permanentia, in potentia, in sapientia, in misericordia sive benevolentia. Propter primum est incommutabilis, propter secundum est interminabilis, propter tertium invincibilis, propter quartum infallibilis, propter quintum exorabilis. De primo Eccli. 1: 'unus est altissimus creator omnium', ubi tria tanguntur circa divinam essentiam, propter quorum unumquodque deus est omniquaque incommutabilis. Tangitur enim ipsius dei simplicitas, sublimitas, diffusivae bonitatis universalis causalitas: simplicitas, <20> quia 'unus', sublimitas, quia 'altissimus', universalis causalitas, quia 'omnium' creator'. Omne enim mutabile habet hoc et hoc, nec est simplex. Manet enim secundum aliquid et variatur secundum aliquid. Item omne mutabile habet aliquid se sublimius, cum »semper agens sit nobilius patiente«. Item omne mutabile habet causam transmutantem sive moventem, et sic in ipso non est universalis causalitas. Est igitur deus incommutabilis omniquaque, quia 'unus' in simplicitate, 'altissimus' in sublimitate, 'creator omnium' in universali causalitate.
 
 
 
 
◊4◊ De hac eius incommutabilitate dicitur in Psalmo: 'ipsi peribunt, tu autem permanes' etc. Item: 'mutabis eos et mutabuntur; tu autem idem ipse es, et <021> anni tui non deficient'. Boethius: »stabilisque manens das cuncta moveri«. Et illud: 'ego dominus, et non mutor'. Omnis creatura subiacet mutabilitati vel corruptionis vel localis transmutationis vel saltem durationis: corruptionis, ut elementa; <l>ocalis transmutationis, ut corpora caelestia; durationis, ut natura angelica, vel quia ipsorum duratio initium sumpsit, vel quia affectiones eorum et intellectiones secundum Augustinum tempore variantur. Deus autem non sic. Ex quo patet secundum, quia 'altissimus' in permanentia, et sic interminabilis, Psalmus: 'tu autem altissimus in aeternum, domine'; Exodus: 'dominus regnavit in aeternum et ultra'. Et sic patet tertium, quia 'altissimus' in potentia, et sic invincibilis, Psalmus: 'altissimum posuisti refugium tuum'. Item 'altissimus' in sapientia, et sic infallibilis, Apostolus: 'omnia nuda et aperta sunt oculis eius'. Item 'altissimus' in benevolentia, et sic exorabilis, Psalmus: 'quoniam rex <22> spe+rat in domino: et in misericordia altissimi non commovebitur'++. Sic igitur est deus 'altissimus' in se sive
secundum se.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
◊5◊ Est et nihilominus, immo multo fortius, 'altissimus' respectu naturae creatae, Psalmus: 'tu solus altissimus super omnem terram; nimis exaltatus es super omnes deos': 'super omnem terram' quantum ad creaturas corporales, 'nimis exaltatus super omnes deos', quantum ad creaturas spirituales. Et de hac duplici altitudine divinae naturae deter+minatur++ in primo libro sententiarum, et secundum hoc sunt duae partes principales primi libri sententiarum: primo enim docetur de deo, ut est 'altissimus' in se, quantum ad proprietates essentiales et personales, usque ad tricesimamquintam distinctionem; secundo de deo, ut est 'altissimus' respectu naturae creatae, prout est principium posse, nosse et velle. De his determinatur a distinctione tricesimaquinta usque ad finem libri.
 
 
 
◊6◊ Secundo tangitur subiectum secundi libri cum dicitur 'creavit'. Agitur enim ibi de creatione et creaturis, Gen. 1: 'in principio creavit deus caelum et terram'. Quod beatus Augustinus exponit dicens: »per caelum et terram spiritualem <23> corporalemque creaturam intelligimus«. Et hoc est quod dicitur in Psalmo: 'ipse dixit et facta sunt' etc. 'Ipse dixit et facta sunt', quantum ad creaturam corporalem, 'ipse mandavit et creata sunt', quantum ad spiritualem. Et secundum hoc liber etiam secundus in duo dividitur. Agitur enim in principio de creatura spirituali angelica, usque ad duodecimam distinctionem, et de creatura corporali deinceps. Creatura autem corporalis est duplex: quaedam corporalis rationalis, quaedam vero corporalis irrationalis. Et secundum hoc illa secunda pars iterum in duo dividitur: primo siquidem agitur de pure corporali, usque ad sextamdecimam distinctionem, secundo de ea quae est corporalis simul et rationalis, ut homo, a sextadecima distinctione deinceps. Et hanc distinctionem duplicem innuit magister sententiarum libro secundo distinctione prima capitulo ultimo de homine.
 
 
 
 
◊7◊ Tertio tangitur materia tertii libri, cum sequitur: 'de terra'. Haec est illa terra benedicta, de qua scriptum est: 'ut inhabitet gloria in terra nostra', id est in carne nostra. »Caro enim et frater noster est«, de cuius incarnatione et humanitate dicet liber tertius. Haec est enim terra, de qua scriptum est: <24> 'terra nostra dabit fructum suum', scilicet humilitatem et perfectionem. Per 'terram' igitur intelligitur humanitas salvatoris nostri congruentissime ad praesens propter duo, scilicet +passionem et++ actionem. Primum congruit Christo propter eius poenalitatem et humilitatem eximiam, secundum propter virtutum et gratiarum ipsius redundantiam. De primo dicitur ad Phil. 2: 'humiliavit semet ipsum', 'formam servi accipiens', 'factus oboediens usque ad mortem'. Et sic de Christo determinat liber tertius usque ad vicesimamtertiam distinctionem. De secundo Psalmus: 'visitasti terram et inebriasti eam'. Et sic docet de Christo liber tertius a vicesimatertia distinctione usque ad finem eiusdem. Primo enim docet liber ille de incarnatione, passione et morte, quae sunt humilitatis; secundo de virtutibus eius et donis, quae sunt perfectionis et gratiae redundantis.
 
 
◊8◊ Ultimo tangitur materia quarti libri, cum additur: 'medicinam'. Sciendum autem quod homo descendens 'ab Ierusalem in Iericho' duplici langore plagatus <25> est, scilicet culpae et poenae. Propter quod signanter Luc. 10 in parabola dicitur pluraliter: 'et plagis impositis abierunt, semivivo relicto'. Et propter hoc duplici indiget medicina, una sanante a culpa, alia liberante a poena. prima est gratia iustificationis, secunda est gloria sive impassibilitas resurrectionis. Prima est gratia sacramentalis, secunda est gloria finalis. Utramque enim istarum medicinarum 'creavit altissimus de terra' illa benedicta, Christo scilicet salvatore nostro, dum sacramenta a latere dormientis in cruce profluxerunt, quibus sanavit culpam, et dum 'reformavit corpus humilitatis nostrae, configuratum corpori claritatis eius', et sic liberavit a poena. Et secundum hoc iterum liber iste quartus in duo dividitur: primo enim determinatur in ipso de sacramentis, quae sunt vasa +gratiae++, usque ad quadragesimamtertiam distinctionem, secundo de statu resurrectionis et gloriae, a quadragesimatertia distinctione usque ad finem libri. Primam medicinam petit psalmista in persona peccatoris, secundam promittit in persona salvatoris; primam insinuat, cum dicit: 'sana animam meam, quia peccavi tibi'; secunda promittebat, cum diceret: 'qui sanat omnes infirmitates tuas' usque inclusive 'renovabitur ut <26> aquilae iuventus tua'. De hac duplici medicina potest intelligi illud quod dicitur Ier. 17: 'sana me domine, et sanabor', quantum ad primum; 'salvum me fac, et salvus ero', quantum ad secundum.
 
 
 
◊9◊ Haec est 'medicina' quam quidem 'creavit altissimus'; de quo Eccli. 38: 'honora medicum propter necessitatem; etenim illum creavit altissimus'. Propter quod dicit beatus Ambrosius in libro De virginitate: »omnia nobis Christus est: si vulnus curare desideras, medicus est. Si febribus aestuas, fons est. Si gravaris iniquitate, iustus est. Si auxilio indiges, virtus est. Si mortem times, vita est. Si caelum desideras, via est. Si tenebras fugis, lux est. Si cibos quaeris, alimentum corpus eius est«. 'Gustate' ergo 'et videte, quoniam suavis est dominus'. Haec est ergo 'medicina', quam 'creavit altissimus de terra'. Quam nobis concedat altissimus, conficiat medicus salvator noster Iesus Christus, qui est benedictus per infinita saeculorum saecula. Amen. Echardus, pro principio. Collatio in libros sententiarum.
◊1◊ These words are most aptly picked up, to introduce the Books on the Sentences. The first Book, namely, speaks about the most high, the second about the creation and the creatures, the third about the blessed earth, i.e. about the humanity of Christ, the Word incarnate, the fourth about the sacraments, which are offered as medicin to the wounded human being.
◊2◊ On the first one, one has to note that this title the most high properly fits God. In himself, namely, he is the most perfect height: because in himself and according to himself is in the divine nature height, and also in itself the height with regards to creature. In itself, therefore, is the height according to both essential and personal properties, according to which the persons compare to each other. And there is height in himself [scil. God], as from him the totality of created things are. And this is congruent or alludes to the word the most heigh, because nothing created can claim to be most heigh, [according to the] Psalm [96:9]: You alone are the most heigh above the entire earth, and Jes. Sir. 1[:2]: The height of the heaven, who has measured it? Also note: He pointed out two things, namely the height of the heaven and who has measured it. There is, namely, a certain height in heaven, but it is measured. Yet, there is another one in heaven, and that is unmeasured. Because there is the heaven of the stars is of maximal height, but it is nevertheless measured. Therefore Alfraganus says in [the Elements of Astronomy], distinction 21, that the diameter of the zodiac measures 130 720 000 miles. And Rabbi Moses [in the Guide of the Perplexed], b[ook] 3 c[hapter] 15 says that from the centre of the earth to the lower cover of the zodiac there is a way of 8700 years, and that the depth of the zodiac itself is a way of 4000 years. And this is what is meant by ‘height of the heaven’. The height, however, of the sphere of the ultimate moveable heaven cannot be measured, as Rabbi Moses says, the one where no stars are. And this is, what is meant by who has measured it, as if he said: nobody. Although the height of the heaven may not be measured by a human being, nevertheless in itself and as a matter of fact, it is measured: through its cover, namely, every body has its dimension, every creature is limited by its determined whatness and is not changed, lifted beyond it. God, however, is not of this kind. Therefore, it is most conveniently said: You alone are the most high above the entire earth [Ps. 96:9].
◊3◊ However, God is the most high in essence, in permanence, in power, in wisdom, in mercy or benevolence. Because of the first, he is unchangeable, because of the second he is without end, because of the third, he is invincible, because of the fourth, he is infallible, because of the fifth, he is implorable. On the first, Jesus Sirach 1[:8 says]: The one is the most high, the creator of all, through which three things are touched upon with regards to divine essence, because of each of which God is unchangeable in every respect. Touched upon are God’s own simplicity, sublimity, universal causality of dispensing goodness: simplicity as the one, sublimity as the most high, universal causality as the creator of all. Everything moveable, namely, has [its] here and there and is not simple. Because it remains because of something and is varied according to something. Hence, everything moveable has something which is more sublime than itself, because ‘the one that acts is more noble than the one that is acted upon’. Furthermore, everything moveable has a cause of transmutation or motion, and thus, in itself it is not the universal causality. Therefore, God is unchangeable in every respect, because he is the one in simplicity, the most high in sublimity, the creator of all in being universal cause.
◊4◊ About that unchangeability of him one reads in the Psalm [101:27-8]: They will perish, but you will remain etc. And: You are going to change them and they will be changed; you, however, you yourself are the same, and you will not lack your years. Boethius [states]: ‘Remaining also stable, you give movement to everything’. And that [verse Mal. 3:6]: I am the Lord and I do not change. Every creature is subject to changeability, corruption, transmutation in space, or at least of duration: of corruption, such as the elements; of transmutation in space, such as the heavenly bodies; of duration, such as angelic nature, either because the duration of them takes a beginning, or because their affections and insights vary in time according to Augustine. God, however, is not of this kind. From this, the second becomes obvious, because the most high [he is] in permanence, and thus without end, [as] the Psalm [91:9 says]: You are the most high in eternity, Lord; [and] Exodus [15:18]: The Lord reigns in eternity and beyond. And thus the third is obvious, because [he is] the most high in power, and thus invincible, [as the] Psalm [90:9 says]: You have placed the most high as your refuge. Moreover, [he is] the most high in wisdom, and thus infallible, [as the] Apostle [Heb. 4:13 says]: Everything is naked and open to his eyes. Moreover, [he is] benevolent, and thus implorable, [as the] Psalm [20:8]: As the king hopes in God and in the mercy of the most high he will not be moved. Such, therefore, is God in himself and according to himself the most high.
◊5◊ He is also, nevertheless, or even more strongly the most high with regards to created nature, [as the] Psalm [96:9]: You are the sole most high above the entire earth; you are utterly exalted above all gods; above the entire earth [is said] with regards to bodily creatures, utterly exalted above all gods with regards to spiritual creatures.
And this double altitude of divine nature [Peter Lombard] determines in the first book of the Sentences, and according to it there are two principle sections of the first book of the Sentences: Namely first, he teaches about God, as he is the most high in himself, with regards to the essential and personal properties, up to the 35th distinction; second, about God, as he is the most high with regards to created nature, just as the principle of can, know and want. These [topics] he determines beginning from distinction 35 to the end of the book.
◊6◊ Second, to touch on the subject of the second book, when it is said created. Namely, here [Lombard] deals with creation and creatures, [according to] Gen. 1[:1]: In the principle, God created heaven and earth which the blessed Augustine explains, saying: ‘by heaven and earth we understand the spiritual and corporeal creature. And this is what is said in Psalm [32:9]: He himself spoke and they happen to be etc. He himself spoke and they happen to be, insofar as the corporeal, he ordered and they have been created, insofar as the spiritual creature is concerned. And according to this book, also the latter one is divided into two topics. As it deals on in the principle up to distinction 12 with the angelic spiritual, and following that about the corporeal creature. The corporeal creature, however, is twofold: a certain rational corporeal one in contrast to a certain irrational corporeal one. And according to that second part, he adds a further twofold division: namely first, he deals with the purely corporeal ones up to distinction 16, second from distinction 16 onwards with those which are simultaneously corporeal and rational such as human being. And this twofold distinction, the Master of the Sentences intimates in book two, the first distinction, in the last chapter On the human being.
◊7◊ Third, to touch on the matter of the third book, when it follows from earth. This is that blessed earth, of which it is written: So that glory may inhabit our earth [Ps. 84:10], i.e. in our flesh. ‘Namely he is our flesh and brother’, the incarnation and humanity of which [the master] speaks about in the third book. Because this is the earth, of which it is written: Our earth gives its fruit [Ps. 84:13], such as humility and perfection. By earth, therefore, we understand most accurately here the humanity of our saviour for two reasons, because of <passion and> action. The first one fits Christ because of his extraordinary taking on punishment and his humility, second because of his virtue and overflowing of his grace.
Of the first it is said in Phil. 2[:8]: He humbled himself, accepting the form of a servant, becoming obedient to death. And thus, [the master] determines Christ in book three up to distinction 23.
Of the second, the Psalm [64:10 says]: You visited the earth and made it drunk. And thus he teaches about Christ in book three from distinction 23 up to the end of it. First, this book namely teaches about incarnation, passion and death which belong to humility; second about his virtue and gifts which belong to perfection and the overflow of grace.
◊8◊ Ultimately, to touch on the matter of book four, when it is added: medicine. One has to know, however that when a man came down from Jerusalem to Jericho he was wounded twice, namely by guilt and reproach. For that reason it is said in the parable by Lk. 10[:30] more clearly in the plural: And once the wounds were inflicted, they went off, having left him half alive. Therefore, he needs a twofold medicine, one that heals from guilt, another that frees from reproach. The first is justifying grace, the second is glory or impassibility of the resurrection. The first is sacramental grace, the second final glory. Both of these medicines, then, the most high created from earth, the blessed one, namely from Christ our saviour, at the time when the sacraments flew forth from the side of the one who had fallen asleep on the cross, through which he healed from guilt, and at the time when he transformed the body of our humility, so that it will be configurated to a body of his clarity [Phil. 3:21], and in this way he liberated from reproach. And accordingly, this fourth book again is divided into two parts: first, namely, up to distinction 43 he determins the sacraments which are vases of grace, second, from distinction 43 to the end of the book, the state of resurrection and glory. The psalmist in the person of sin asks for the first medicine, the second one he promises as saviour; the first one he hints at when he says [Ps. 40:5]: Heal my soul, for I have sinned against you; the he promises when he would say [Ps. 102:3]: He heals all your infirmities up to and including Your youth will be renewed like that of the eagle. This twofold medicine can be understood from that [vers] where it is said in Jer. 17[:14]: Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed with regards to the first; save me and I will be saved with regard to the second.
◊9◊ This is the medicin which, indeed, the most high created; of which Jes. Sir. 38[:1 states]: Give doctor the honor because of necessity, for the most high created him. Therefore, the blessed Ambrose says in the book On Virginity: ‘Christ is everything for us: if you want to be cured from a wound, he is the doctor. If you burn from fever, he is the fountain. If you are burdened by iniquity, he is the just. If you need help, he is the power. If you fear death, he is life. If you wish for heaven, he is the way. If you flee darkness, he is the light. If you look for food, his body is the nourishment’. Therefore, taste and see that the Lord is sweet. This, then, is the medicine which the most high created from earth. What the most high made available to us, may this the doctor, our saviour Jesus Christ bestow on us who is blessed through infinite times of the times. Amen. Eckhart, for the Principio. Collation on the Books of the Sentences.