Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sacerdos in Cyprian

Having recently read in Gonzalez's Story of Christianity (p. 143) that the Constantinian age was when Christian ministers began being called "priests" (i.e. sacerdos or ἱερεὺς), I was suprised to open up the Office of Readings on Wednesday, the Feast of Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian, to find Cyprian writing the following to Cornelius:
Nam cum nobis et Ecclesia una sit et mens iuncta et individua concordia, quis non sacerdos in consacerdotis sui laudibus tamquam in suis propriis gratuletur?

For as we have one Church, a mind united, and a concord undivided, what priest does not rejoice in the praises of his fellow-priest as if on his own? (Wallace's translation [with slight modification] in ANF 5, p. 350)

Perhaps Gonzalez means that it was only after Constantine that the term came into more general usage for bishops and presbyters, which may be the case, but a quick perusal of Cyprian's letters shows him using the term liberally and apparently without any sense that it was controversial. It was not a complete novelty after Constantine.

I found a good summary of the development of this usage in Toward a Christology of Christ the High Priest by Michael Keenan Jones, available in preview on Google Books here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Logos Early Church Fathers Tips

A couple of helps for finding your way around the Logos Early Church Fathers sets that turned up recently:
  1. Via the Logos forums, Logos user George Somsel has made available a notes file containing an index to the Early Church Fathers volumes. Here.
  2. Via the Logos blog, Morris Proctor recommends using the Locator Pane to figure out where you are in these massive books. Here.
  3. Some other recommendatations: create collections, for instance, one for all the Augustine and one for all the Chrysostom volumes. These are handy for searches and can be automatically search for references whenever you run a Passage Guide.
    Also, look for the Augustine and Chrysostom commentaries to show up in passage guides. You might have to hit "More" once or twice to see them if you have a lot of commentaries, but if you click them a few times, they'll get promoted higher in the list. (You'll need the recent updates for this that have been indexed by Bible reference.)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Goodman: Republic of Letters

Goodman, Dena. The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the Enlightenment. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1994.

Goodman's primary aim is to revise the common picture given of the eighteenth century Parisian salons--and the women who ran them--and their role in the French Enlightenment leading up to the French Revolution. She succeeds, I think, in showing that the dismissal of the salon as a frivolous distraction from the serious work of the philosophes is derived more from the polemics of Rousseau and other outside critics than on the direct testimony of the Parisian solonierres and philosophes themselves.

I am less certain whether she is right in ascribing so much importance to the art of the salonierre in establishing cooperation among men accustomed to the disputation of the schools.The disputatio itself has had everything do with making Western thought what it is, and in the big scheme of things has probably spurred more cooperation than it has prevented. Nonetheless, she demonstrates ably that the polite and intelligent conversation of the salons, governed by the literate women who ran it, provided, in combination with correspondence by post, a crucial piece of the context that made the Enlightenment possible.

I also find it interesting to watch the dance that the modern feminist must do in establishing the important, if underappreciated, roles of women in history, when those roles were almost always viewed at the time (by both men and women) within the traditional, common sense view of the differences between the sexes that feminism rejects. Thus, for instance, the governing role of salonierre that Goodman wants to ascribe so much importance to was understood, by both the salonierres and the philosophes, as a distinctly female role. Goodman is sure to un-"gender" the role by pointing to male exceptions, but that leaves me wondering what the point is. Are we trying to establish the importance of certain historical roles that just happened to held mostly by women, or are we attempting to establish the importance of certain women, even though we are not allowed to agree with them that there is anything particularly "female" about what they did?

I won't presume to judge feminism's coherence from my own limited acquaintace with it. This contradiction is, in some sense, at the heart of the whole modern liberal project, which is only capable of recognizing your full humanity if you shed any of the particular identities that, in any traditional understanding, make you what you are. I'm less comfortable, however, with attempting to celebrate the salonierres while ascribing so much of how they understood themselves to false consciousness.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Present for the Feast of St. Gregory

Logos has released some updates for Early Church Fathers volumes. Specifically, the volumes containing works of St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose and St. John Damascene now have new data types. These were done in conjunction with the Summa Theologica (which has now shipped) in order to link up thousands of St. Thomas's patristic references. Even if you haven't purchased the Summa, the new data types should be big help for navigation within the massive set.

If you already own the Early Church Fathers set (either edition), you can get the free update by running Libronix Update. If you don't own it, you can get the Protestant Edition here or the Catholic Edition (same as the Protestant edition, but minus the often polemically anti-Catholic 19th century introductions) here.

Update: I should also note that Augusine's Tractates on the Gospel of John and Tractates on the First Epistle of John and Chrysostom's Homilies and his Commentary on Galatians have been made into commentary resources, meaning that they can now be referenced by the scripture verses they comment on, scrolled along with your Bible, show up in the commentary hits that come up in the Passage Guide, etc.