16 November 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

A very interesting passage that friend showed me sometime ago from St. Theodoret of Cyprus, from Eranistes, Dialog 2. Note that the Orthodox responder in this dialog confesses that the substance of bread and wine remain in the Eucharist, even as we confess that they become Christ's true body and blood:

Eran.--You have opportunely introduced the subject of the divine mysteries for from it I shall be able to show you the change of the Lord's body into another nature. Answer now to my questions.

Orth.--I will answer.

Eran.--What do you call the gift which is offered before the priestly invocation?

Orth.--It were wrong to say openly; perhaps some uninitiated are present.

Eran.--Let your answer be put enigmatically.

Orth.--Food of grain of such a sort.

Eran.--And how name we the other symbol?

Orth.--This name too is common, signifying species of drink.

Eran.--And after the consecration how do you name these?

Orth.--Christ's body and Christ's blood.

Eran.--And do you believe that you partake of Christ's body and blood?

Orth.--I do.

Eran.--As, then, the symbols of the Lord's body and blood are one thing before the priestly invocation, and after the invocation are changed and become another thing; so the Lord's body after the assumption is changed into the divine substance.

Orth.--You are caught in the net you have woven yourself. *For even after the consecration the mystic symbols are not deprived of their own nature; they remain in their former substance figure and form*; they are visible and tangible as they were before. But they are regarded as what they are become, and believed so to be, and are worshipped as being what they are believed to be. Compare then the image with the archetype, and you will see the likeness, for the type must be like the reality. For that body preserves its former form, figure, and limitation and in a word the substance of the body; but after the resurrection it has become immortal and superior to corruption; it has become worthy of a seat on the right hand; it is adored by every creature as being called the natural body of the Lord.

Eran.--Yes; and the mystic symbol changes its former appellation; it is no longer called by the name it went by before, but is styled body. So must the reality be called God, and not body.

Orth.--You seem to me to be ignorant--for He is called not only body but even bread of life. So the Lord Himself used this name' and that very body we call divine body, and giver of life, and of the Master and of the Lord, teaching that it is not common to every man but belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ Who is God and Man. "For Jesus Christ" is "the same yesterday, to-day, and forever."


William Tighe said...

I think that you mean "of Cyrhus" or "of Cyrrhus" rather than "of Cyprus." Cyrrhus was the small city in Syria of which he was bishop.

christopher3rd said...

I'm not sure that Theodore of Mopsuestia can be titled "Orthodox" without serious qualifications. It cannot be assumed that everything he wrote apart from what was anathematized is therefore in bounds.

What does it say about this position that it was defended and held by a "proto-Nestorian"?

the more common Orthodox response is that the elements 'change' and 'become' the Body and Blood of Christ. What this means... this is not explored. It is true that the Liturgy of St. Basil - after the epiklesis! - refers to the 'tokens' or 'symbols' (different translations) of bread and wine. Making so bold as to declare that the bread and wine definitely remain is seen, by the Orthodox, to be as presumptuous as declaring them to have been transubstantiated.

christopher3rd said...

Sorry, I meant Theodoret of Cyrus, and he should probably be termed a 'quasi' Nestorian.

William Weedon said...

Dr. Tighe,

Thanks for the correction.


Was he not one of the holy fathers at Chalcedon and did he not sign the condemnation of Nestorius?

William Weedon said...

One more thought, Christopher, the answer of Theodoret agrees with the Apostolic testimony, for St. Paul refers to the bread that has been consecrated as "bread." "The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ." "There is one body for we all eat of the one bread." "Whoever therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner..." It is not contrary to the teaching of the Sacred Scriptures that bread remains. My favorite confessional answer to this is always from the Smalcald Articles: "the bread is Christ's body." That conforms to the Scripture and to the point Theodoret was making without at all losing the mystery of what this bread has become.

christopher3rd said...

Per Wikipedia:

"He was ordered to participate in the Council of Chalcedon, which created violent opposition. He was first to take part only as accuser, yet among the bishops. Then he was constrained (October 26, 451) by the friends of Dioscurus to pronounce the anathema over Nestorius. His conduct shows (though hindered from a statement to that effect) that he performed this with his previous reservation; namely, without application beyond the teaching of two sons in Christ and the denial of the theotokos. Upon this he was declared orthodox and rehabilitated.

The only thing known concerning him following the Council of Chalcedon is the letter of Leo charging him to guard the Chalcedonian victory (PG, lxxxiii. 1319 sqq.). With Diodorus and Theodore he was no less hated by the Monophysites than Nestorius himself, and held by them and their friends as a heretic. The Three-Chapter Controversy led to the condemnation of his writings against Cyril in the Second Council of Constantinople (553)."

St. Paul is, of course, not the sum total of "the Apostolic testimony".

cheryl said...

St. Paul is, of course, not the sum total of "the Apostolic testimony".

Irregardless, of what this "Apostolic testimony" says, it cannot contradict St. Paul, or else it is not "Apostolic testimony". Therefore, I think Pastor's citation of St. Paul stands (afterall, all he did was quote the guy :)) Secondly, it has always been my understanding that the EO believe Scripture and Tradition to be a unified whole, and not two distinct sources of Revelation.

I found this interesting. From the Lutheran And Orthodox Joint Commission:

Scripture And Tradition:

9. Therefore, those church decisions which have been received by the catholic church as true expressions of the intent of the holy scripture can be considered authentic criteria of the church's faith and its confession (cf. Vincent of LĂ©rins, Commonitorium, 2,3; PL 50, 640). The church's doctrinal definitions which confess the holy Trinity and God's saving act in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit are guidelines for defending truth against falsehood. Proclaiming, confessing and living in Christ, the church communicates the mystery of God's revelation. The church's doctrinal statements are rooted in its whole spiritual life and at the same time are shaped by it. As St. Basil affirmed about holy scripture and holy Tradition: "... regarding the true faith, both of these have the same value" (St Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, XXVII, 66, PG 32, 188A). In another place St Basil argued for the formula "the glory is common to the Father and to the Son" (he doxa koine Patri kai Hyio) first on the basis of some of the fathers; then he continued: "But it is not sufficient for us that it is a tradition of the fathers. For even they followed the intent (boulema) of the scriptures because they have used as principles the testimonies of the scriptures as mentioned shortly before (St Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, VII,16; PG 32,96).

10. The function of holy scriptures is to serve the authenticity of the church's living experience in safeguarding the holy Tradition from all attempts to falsify the true faith (cf. Heb. 4:12, etc.), not to undermine the authority of the church, the body of Christ.

The Canon & Inspiration Of Scripture:

1. The holy scripture is a great treasure of the church and serves as norm for its faith and life. The Old Testament bears witness to the self-revelation of the triune God in the prophets to the fathers (Heb. 1:1). It witnesses to God's acts of deliverance and judgment, to God's demands for faithful obedience and to God's promise of the coming Saviour of the world. The New Testament bears witness that God the Father sent his Son into the world to become a human being, born of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:30-31; Gal 4:4) and that God raised him from the dead in the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 1:3). Thus the triune God opened the door to life eternal for all believers from all nations. The one church of Jews and Gentiles, gathered in the Holy Spirit as the body of Christ, received the Hebrew scriptures which St Paul called "the old covenant" or "the Old Testament" (2 Cor. 3:14) or "holy scriptures" (Rom. 1:2; cf. "the scripture", John 2:22; Acts 8:32; "the scriptures", Mark 12:24; 1 Cor. 15:3f.) and later established the canon of the books of the New Testament. The Old and the New Testaments together comprise the holy scripture, the church's Bible.