- Meaning of "Eisperle" in the German dictionary
- CONTENTS OF THE THIRD VOLUME
- The Cambridge Ancient History
- The Cambridge Ancient History edited by Alan K. Bowman
Meaning of "Eisperle" in the German dictionary
The History of the remodelling of the conception of the Church. Cyprian's idea of the Church and the actual circumstances; Appendix II. Uncertainties regarding the consequences of the new idea of the Church. Introduction; The Original Montanism; The later Montanism as the dregs of the movement and as the product of a compromise; The opposition to the demands of the Montanists by the Catholic Bishops: importance of the victory for the Church; History of penance: the old practice; The laxer practice in the days of Tertullian and Hippolytus; The abolition of the old practice in the days of Cyprian; Significance of the new kind of penance for the idea of the Church; the Church no longer a Communion of Salvation and of Saints, but a condition of Salvation and a Holy Institution and thereby a corpus permixtum ; After effect of the old idea of the Church in Cyprian; Origen's idea of the Church; Novatian's idea of the Church and of penance, the Church of the Catharists; Conclusion: the Catholic Church as capable of being a support to society and the state; Addenda I.
CONTENTS OF THE THIRD VOLUME
The Priesthood; Addenda II. Sacrifice; Addenda III.
Means of Grace. The historical position of the Apologists; Apologists and Gnostics; Nature and importance of the Apologists' theology. The doctrines of Christianity as the revealed and rational religion. Introductory: The personality and importance of Origen; The Elements of Origen's theology; its Gnostic features; The relative view of Origen; His temper and final aim: relation to Greek Philosophy; Theology as a Philosophy of Revelation, and a cosmological speculation; Porphyry on Origen; The neutralising of History, esoteric and exoteric Christianity; Fundamental ideas and arrangement of his system; Sources of truth, doctrine of Scripture.
The second century of the existence of Gentile-Christian communities was characterised by the victorious conflict with Gnosticism and the Marcionite Church, by the gradual development of an ecclesiastical doctrine, and by the decay of the early Christian enthusiasm. The general result was the establishment of a great ecclesiastical association, which, forming at one and the same time a political commonwealth, school and union for worship, was based on the firm foundation of an "apostolic" law of faith, a collection of "apostolic" writings, and finally, an "apostolic" organisation. This institution was the Catholic Church.
At first the innovations introduced by this were not of a material, but of a formal, character. Hence they were not noticed by any of those who had never, or only in a vague fashion, been elevated to the feeling and idea of freedom and independence in religion. But the conflict with the so-called Montanism showed that there were still a considerable number of Christians who valued that immediateness and freedom; these were, however, defeated.
The fixing of the tradition under the title of apostolic necessarily led to the assumption that whoever held the apostolic doctrine was also essentially a Christian in the apostolic sense.
The Cambridge Ancient History
This assumption, quite apart from the innovations which were legitimised by tracing them to the Apostles, meant the separation of doctrine and conduct, the preference of the former to the latter, and the transformation of a fellowship of faith, hope, and discipline into a communion "eiusdem sacramenti," that is, into a union which, like the philosophical schools, rested on a doctrinal law, and which was subject to a legal code of divine institution.
The movement which resulted in the Catholic Church owes its right to a place in the history of Christianity to the victory [pg 3] over Gnosticism and to the preservation of an important part of early Christian tradition. If Gnosticism in all its phases was the violent attempt to drag Christianity down to the level of the Greek world, and to rob it of its dearest possession, belief in the Almighty God of creation and redemption, then Catholicism, inasmuch as it secured this belief for the Greeks, preserved the Old Testament, and supplemented it with early Christian writings, thereby saving—as far as documents, at least, were concerned—and proclaiming the authority of an important part of primitive Christianity, must in one respect be acknowledged as a conservative force born from the vigour of Christianity.
If the founder of the Christian religion had deemed belief in the Gospel and a life in accordance with it to be compatible with membership of the Synagogue and observance of the Jewish law, there could at least be no impossibility of adhering to the Gospel within the Catholic Church. Still, that is only one side of the case.
The older Catholicism never clearly put the question, "What is Christian? This solution of the problem seems to be on the one hand too narrow and on the other too broad. Too narrow, because it bound Christianity to rules under which it necessarily languished; too broad, because it did not in any way exclude the introduction of new and foreign conceptions. In throwing a protective covering round the Gospel, Catholicism also obscured it.
The Cambridge Ancient History edited by Alan K. Bowman
It preserved Christianity from being hellenised to the most extreme extent, but, as time went on, it was forced to admit into this religion an ever greater measure of secularisation. In the interests of its world-wide mission it did not indeed directly disguise the terrible seriousness of religion, but, by tolerating a less strict ideal of life, it made it possible for those less in earnest to be considered Christians, and to regard themselves as such.
It permitted the genesis of a Church, which was no longer a communion of faith, hope, and discipline, but a political commonwealth in which the Gospel merely had a place beside other things. This course disfigured Christianity and made a knowledge of what is Christian an obscure and difficult matter.
But, in Catholicism, religion for the first time obtained a formal dogmatic system. Catholic Christianity [pg 5] discovered the formula which reconciled faith and knowledge. This formula satisfied humanity for centuries, and the blessed effects which it accomplished continued to operate even after it had itself already become a fetter. Catholic Christianity grew out of two converging series of developments.
In the one were set up fixed outer standards for determining what is Christian, and these standards were proclaimed to be apostolic institutions. The baptismal confession was exalted to an apostolic rule of faith, that is, to an apostolic law of faith. A collection of apostolic writings was formed from those read in the Churches, and this compilation was placed on an equal footing with the Old Testament. The episcopal and monarchical constitution was declared to be apostolic, and the attribute of successor of the Apostles was conferred on the bishop.
Finally, the religious ceremonial developed into a celebration of mysteries, which was in like manner traced back to the Apostles. The result of these institutions was a strictly exclusive Church in the form of a communion of doctrine, ceremonial, and law, a confederation which more and more gathered the various communities within its pale, and brought about the decline of all nonconforming sects.
The confederation was primarily based on a common confession, which, however, was not only conceived as "law," but was also very soon supplemented by new standards. One of the most important problems to be investigated in the history of dogma, and one which unfortunately cannot be completely solved, is to show what necessities led to the setting up of a new canon of Scripture, what circumstances required the appearance of living authorities in the communities, and what relation was established between the apostolic rule of faith, the apostolic canon of Scripture, and the apostolic office.
The development ended with the formation of a clerical class, at whose head stood the bishop, who united in himself all conceivable powers, as teacher, priest, and judge. He disposed of the powers of Christianity, guaranteed its purity, and therefore in every respect held the Christian laity in tutelage. But even apart from the content which Christianity here received, this process in itself represents a progressive secularising of the Church, This would be self-evident enough, even if it [pg 6] were not confirmed by noting the fact that the process had already been to some extent anticipated in the so-called Gnosticism See vol.
But the element which the latter lacked, namely, a firmly welded, suitably regulated constitution, must by no means be regarded as one originally belonging and essential to Christianity. The depotentiation to which Christianity was here subjected appears still more plainly in the facts, that the Christian hopes were deadened, that the secularising of the Christian life was tolerated and even legitimised, and that the manifestations of an unconditional devotion to the heavenly excited suspicion or were compelled to confine themselves to very narrow limits.
But these considerations are scarcely needed as soon as we turn our attention to the second series of developments that make up the history of this period. The Church did not merely set up dykes and walls against Gnosticism in order to ward it off externally, nor was she satisfied with defending against it the facts which were the objects of her belief and hope; but, taking the creed for granted, she began to follow this heresy into its own special territory and to combat it with a scientific theology.
That was a necessity which did not first spring from Christianity's own internal struggles. It was already involved in the fact that the Christian Church had been joined by cultured Greeks, who felt the need of justifying their Christianity to themselves and the world, and of presenting it as the desired and certain answer to all the pressing questions which then occupied men's minds. The beginning of a development which a century later reached its provisional completion in the theology of Origen, that is, in the transformation of the Gospel into a scientific system of ecclesiastical doctrine, appears in the Christian Apologetic, as we already find it before the middle of the second century.
As regards its content, this system of doctrine meant the legitimising of Greek philosophy within the sphere of the rule of faith. The theology of Origen bears the same relation to the New Testament as that of Philo does to the Old. What is here presented as Christianity is in fact the idealistic religious philosophy of the age, attested by divine revelation, made accessible to all by the incarnation of the Logos, and purified from any [pg 7] connection with Greek mythology and gross polytheism.
But the majority of these were successfully manipulated by theological art, and the traditional rule of faith was transformed into a system of doctrine, in which, to some extent, the old articles found only a nominal place. This hellenising of ecclesiastical Christianity, by which we do not mean the Gospel, was not a gradual process; for the truth rather is that it was already accomplished the moment that the reflective Greek confronted the new religion which he had accepted.
But yet an important distinction obtains here. It is twofold. In the second place, they do not yet regard the scientific presentation of Christianity as the main task and as one which this religion itself demands. As they really never enquired what was meant by "Christian," or at least never put the question clearly to themselves, they never claimed that their scientific presentation of Christianity was the first proper expression of it that had been given. Justin and his contemporaries make it perfectly clear that they consider the traditional faith existing in the churches to be complete and pure and in itself requiring no scientific revision.
In a word, the gulf which existed [pg 8] between the religious thought of philosophers and the sum of Christian tradition is still altogether unperceived, because that tradition was not yet fixed in rigid forms, because no religious utterance testifying to monotheism, virtue, and reward was as yet threatened by any control, and finally, because the speech of philosophy was only understood by a small minority in the Church, though its interests and aims were not unknown to most.
Christian thinkers were therefore still free to divest of their direct religious value all realistic and historical elements of the tradition, while still retaining them as parts of a huge apparatus of proof, which accomplished what was really the only thing that many sought in Christianity, viz. The danger which here threatened Christianity as a religion was scarcely less serious than that which had been caused to it by the Gnostics. These remodelled tradition, the Apologists made it to some extent inoperative without attacking it.
The latter were not disowned, but rather laid the foundation of Church theology, and determined the circle of interests within which it was to move in the future.
But the problem which the Apologists solved almost offhand, namely, the task of showing that Christianity was the perfect and certain philosophy, because it rested on revelation, and that it was the highest scientific knowledge of God and the world, was to be rendered more difficult. To these difficulties all that primitive Christianity has up to the present transmitted to the Church of succeeding times contributes its share. The conflict with Gnosticism made it necessary to find some sort of solution to the question, "What is Christian?
But indeed the Fathers were not able to answer the question confidently and definitely. They therefore made a selection from tradition and contented themselves with making it binding on Christians. Whatever was to lay claim to authority in the [pg 9] Church had henceforth to be in harmony with the rule of faith and the canon of New Testament Scriptures. That created an entirely new situation for Christian thinkers, that is, for those trying to solve the problem of subordinating Christianity to the Hellenic spirit. That spirit never became quite master of the situation; it was obliged to accommodate itself to it.
The framework in which these articles were placed virtually continued to be the apologetic theology, for this maintained a doctrine of God and the world, which seemed to correspond to the earliest tradition as much as it ran counter to the Gnostic theses. Here they undoubtedly learned very much from the Gnostics and Marcion. If we define ecclesiastical dogmas as propositions handed down in the creed of the Church, shown to exist in the Holy Scriptures of both Testaments, and rationally reproduced and formulated, then the men we have just mentioned were the first to set up dogmas 8 —dogmas but no [pg 10] system of dogmatics.
As yet the difficulty of the problem was by no means perceived by these men either. Their peculiar capacity for sympathising with and understanding the traditional and the old still left them in a happy blindness. So far as they had a theology they supposed it to be nothing more than the explanation of the faith of the Christian multitude yet Tertullian already noted the difference in one point, certainly a very characteristic one, viz.
They still lived in the belief that the Christianity which filled their minds required no scientific remodelling in order to be an expression of the highest knowledge, and that it was in all respects identical with the Christianity which even the most uncultivated could grasp.