Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Revised Standard Bible
Seven Comedies; Shakespeare
Dante's Paradise; Anthony Esolen
Conceiving Parenthood; Amy L Hall
Poetry, Plays, Prose; Robert Frost
Compendium of the Catholic Catechism
Philosophy of Medicine; E Pellegrino
Four Romances; William Shakespeare
Aquinas on Friendship; D Schwartz
Ascension & Ecclesia; D. Farrow
Homilies; St John Chrysostom
A Parish Book of Chant


tdunbar said...

n connection with the chapter on the Holy Spirit in Ratzinger's book, Bulgakov's book provides a useful different perspective. From page 130:

It is remarkable that this Filioque dispute killed all interest in the theology of the Holy Spirit. We have already observed that, in the epoch of the ecumenical councils, which concerned themselves with questions of Christology, the dogma of the Holy Spirit was totally undeveloped and even remained outside the scope of consideration. The definition of the eighth article of the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed contains no more than a recognition of the divinity of the Third hypostatis and of His equidivinity with respect to the two other hypostates (and, as we have seen, the formula here is an indirect one). THis definition can in no wise be considered an exhaustive dogma of the Holy Sporit. But it remains in this form during the entire following epoch, so that the Filioque disputes turn out to be an obstacle to true pneumatology, for they lack spirit. Waged in the icy emptiness of scholastic abstraction, these disputes were never extended or generalized in the direction of true, substantive pneumatology. To be sure, they often included such vital questions as the sending of the Holy Spirit into the world, from the Father and the Son, or from the Father through the Son, but these questions were examined not in and of themselves but only as arguments in favor of one or another scheme of the procession of the Holy Spirit, that is, they were treated in such a meager, one-sided, and distorted manner that it would be better if they hand not been treated at all. (Of course, this does not prevent the development, past and present, of particular doctrines of grace, of the action of the Holy Spirit in the Church, of salvation, of the Church, and so on, but this development was invariably oriented toward particular questions of dogmatics, and was not connected with a general doctrine of the Holy Spirit.)

tdunbar said...

Speaking of Bulgakov's book, here's a review from the Anglican Theological Journal:

Eerdmans continues to make a major contribution to our knowledge of the diversity of Orthodox theological thought with its publication of this major work by Russian Orthodox theologian Sergius Bulgakov (1871-1944). This is the third English translation of a Bulgakov work by Eerdmans (Friend of the Bridegroom, 2003, and Bride of the Lamb, 2002), and all have been translated most elegantly by Boris Jakim. Here, the English-speaking world has a most compelling pneumatological reflection from the Eastern Christian tradition. While tracing some of the historic differences between Eastern and Western reflections upon the Holy Spirit, Bulgakov goes well beyond this to reflect theopoetically on the One "who fills all things" and is "the giver of Life."

Bulgakov begins from the premise that the Holy Trinity "must be understood not on the basis of themselves alone, but on the basis of their trinitarian union" (p. 141). One cannot speak of one person of the Trinity without reference to the other persons. Thus, although focused on the Holy Spirit, The Comforter is an exquisite reflection upon the issues raised by our inadequate development of a pneumatology. Though much has been made of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed as foundational for Christian Trinitarian reflection, Bulgakov deems this text as just a beginning. According to Bulgakov, "the ancient Fathers did not consider the . . . formula to be exhaustive" (p. 87). Thus, this work is a contribution to the development of Trinitarian doctrine, not an attempt at an authoritative explication of that doctrine. This perception of his theological enterprise as tentative, awaiting an eschatological fulfillment, is intimated in the preface. Bulgakov shows his theological style by referring to our human "blindness," our inability to "see this Glory in the heavens" and our need to await "the fullness of Divine-humanity [that] will be manifested" (p. xvi). Though analytical and well argued, The Comforter is as much a theopoetic reflection upon the Holy Trinity as it is a clear, traditional presentation of pneumatology.

Nonetheless, Bulgakov's volume makes a significant contribution to the theological enterprise, especially in several areas. On the filioque controversy, Bulgakov demonstrates that the East did not have a formal theology for the procession of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Western theology won out. However, Bulgakov concludes that neither position is adequate, and so "there does not yet exist a definitive dogma of the procession of the Holy Spirit" (p. 145).

The Comforter contains the clearest explanation for Bulgakov's belief that a sophiology is necessary for an adequate understanding of the Holy Trinity. For Bulgakov, kenosis, the divine self-diminution, is the core revelation of who God is (p. 219). It is in positing a totally other (creation) that God is. But this other, although created out of nothing, is also that which reveals God in the creaturely Sophia. Sophia is that which binds the other to the divine-binds, however, not as the hypostasized second person, but rather as a ground which roots in God that which is not God. This kenotic aspect also explains the Incarnation and, in this instance more importantly, the relation of the Spirit in the world. That which is the Fullness (the Spirit) enters into "unfullness" in order that it may someday (the eschaton) be made full. "Matter's receptivity to spirit has as its precondition the creaturely descent of the Spirit, His kenosis in creation" (p. 221). Kenosis allows the world to know God, though incompletely, even before the divine Incarnation.

This incomplete knowledge and fullness allow Bulgakov to recognize the value of "pagan piety." Because of the Spirit's presence in the world "all true religions, all religions that contain the experience of Divinity, necessarily have a ray of Divinity, the breath of the Spirit" (p. 241).

Boris Jakim has once again produced a marvelous translation. It is unfortunate that in omitting some repetitive sections from the original he did not signal to the reader where this took place. Nonetheless, his text is true to the original both in style and content (a most admirable achievement). It provides the Western reader with a wonderful glimpse at the reflections of one of the most interesting Orthodox scholars and also helps conquer those who have stereotyped Orthodox theology as a monolithic whole.

St. Jerome's College
Waterloo, Ontario

Copyright Anglican Theological Review, Inc. Fall 2005

tdunbar said...

Regarding the Holy Spirit, Torrance writes:

"The Spirit of God is not the emission of some divine force detachable from God but the confrontation of human beings and their affairs with his own Self in which he brings the impact of his divine power and holiness to bear directly and personally upon their lives in judgment and salvation alike." (The Trinitarian Faith, 192)

"This twofold movement of the giving and receiving of the Spirit actualised within the life of the incarnate Son of God for our sakes is atonement operating within the ontological depts of human beings. It constitutes the 'deifying' content of the atoning exchange in which through the pouring out of the same Spirit upon us we are given to participate. . . . Pentecost must be regarded not as something added on to atonement, but as the actualisation within the Church of the atoning life, deathand resurrection of the Saviour." (The Trinitarian Faith, 190)

tdunbar said...

An article by Nadia Delicata,
The Comforter and Divine-Humanity, may be useful.

tdunbar said...

And from a Wesleyan prespective:
Come, Holy Spirit.