XIX (1998)

Kofsky A., Prophecy in the Service of Polemics in Eusebius of Caesarea, XIX, 1-30.

This study deals with biblical prophecy as a major polemical proof of the truths of Christianity in Eusebius. The force of prophecy as a proof stems from its fulfilment in the whole continuum of the history of Christianity which actually constitutes a single chain of fulfilled prophecies. This is the general perspective of Eusebius’ Demonstratio Evangelica. Eusebius must re-establish the prophetic status of Scripture following the assault of Porphyry and demonstrate that biblical prophecies are fulfilled only in the life of Jesus and in Christianity after him. In order to establish the uniqueness of Hebrew prophecy as source and proof for Christian truth Eusebius must distinguish it from pagan prophecy. All his efforts in the Praeparatio Evangelica are aimed at preparing the ground for the universal recognition of Scripture as the sole oracular source of truth.

Jotischky A., Some Mendicant Views of the Origins of the Monastic Profession, XIX, 31-50.

Mendicant writers looked back to the early Church, and in particular the example provided by the Desert Fathers, when trying to articulate the origins and function of their profession. In the case of Jordan of Saxony’s Life of St. Dominic, this took the form of literary borrowing. The Augustinian Hermits Henry of Friemar and Jordan of Quedlinburg, and the Spiritual Franciscan Angelo Clareno, saw their orders as restoring a lost ideal of the monastic life. The Carmelites, however, preferred to show that their order rested on the continuity of the earliest monastic tradition, and this led them to argue that the Carmelites were the ≪original≫ monks, and predated all other religious orders.

Campi E., Jan Amos Comenio e la teologia Protestante del suo tempo, XIX, 51-88.

The article examines Comenius’s theological thinking on the basis of a group of specifically theological writings, never previously studied, which mainly concern the controversy with the anti-Trinitarians. Particular attention is paid to Comenius’s concept of theology and to his theological idea of God. The author argues that the aspiration of the ≪vir desideriorum≫, to arrive at a science of God, in which speculative vigor is united to the authentic practice of the Christian way of life, can be traced back in great measure to the theological program of Protestant Orthodoxy, as well as the spiritual tradition of the ≪Unitas fratrum≫.

Routhier G., L’itinéraire d’un Père conciliaire. Le cardinal Léger, XIX, 89-148.

For many bishops Vatican Council II was the moment of an important evolution. For some of them, we can speak of a complete change or reversal of their positions. Starting from the study of one of these cases, the position of Cardinal L.ger on Revelation, the author has gone deeply into the examination of this itinerary by following it for seven years (1959-1965), so as to more easily identify some of the factors at work in his evolution: from the assumption of the expectations of the Christians of his diocese, to a reshuffle of his closest entourage, the dynamics of the Council itself (and the relations it fostered), and contact with Christians of other persuasions; etc. At the same time, the author has similarly examined certain elements that prevented such an evolution from expressing itself within the Council texts themselves: in particular, the narrow margin of manoeuvre allowed by the rule or norm of having to arrive at a consensus, and the pressure provoked by the rapid series of deadlines at the end of the Council.

Malpensa M., Note in margine al volume «Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, Lettere pastorali», XIX, 149-175.

The extraordinary personality of the Bishop of Piacenza, Giovanni Battista Scalabrini (1876-1905) – the “bishop of the emigrants. who was proclaimed ≪blessed≫ on November 9th, last by Pope John Paul II – has made him become the subject of an increasing amount of research and commentary, mainly in line with a firmly rooted historical tradition which has recently, however, shown itself to be willing to renovate some of its interpretative categories. Taking his cue from the publication, in its entirety, of the corpus of pastoral letters written by Scalabrini in the course of his time as bishop, the notes first go over critically the bases of such an attempt al methodological renovation, and then analyse the themes that emerge from the letters themselves, in the light of a comparison with the pastoral production of his contemporary bishops. It turns out that, beyond a sensitivity to social problems undoubtedly quite a lot deeper than that of most of the Italian bishops of his day, towards the modern world Scalabrini was entirely in tune with the main framework of references and the stances taken by the intransigent sections of Catholic culture, although on certain occasions he could be bitterly polemical towards them.

Rizzo F.P., «Sofisti» e «Santi». Due esemplarità a confronto nell’Impero Romano-Cristiano dei secoli IV e V d.C., XIX, 243-253.

An investigation into some of the characteristics of the Vitae Sophistarumof Eunapius shows how the author attempted to set up a comparison between his characters and the Christian saints. The Eunapian models, lacking the excellent quality of the pagan ethical tradition, turn out to be baral ≪exemplars≫, because the biographer lacks the proper mental equipment to frame the different θειο νήρ which the Christian hagiography managed to create.

Ditchfield S., «In search of local knowledge». Rewriting early modern Italian religious history, XIX 255-296.

The following survey of recent writing about Italian religious history for the period ca. 1542-1660 argues for the necessity of revising two influential interpretative paradigms: the imposition of an essentially Whig evolutionary chronology on the one hand, and the adoption of a simplistic binary configuration of power – centre versus local, with the progressive weakening of the latter in favour of the former, on  the other. The proposed solution is to employ the term “local knowledge”, whereby local is understood as enjoying a reciprocal relationship with the centre. To this end, after an initial statement of the main argument, which focuses on the problematic, ≪whig≫ nature of the label “early modern”, the survey is divided into two main sections. The first has as its focus the historiography of the papacy and the second, that of the bishop and his flock. Next, that of several marginal groups is considered: heretics, Jews and women. The survey closes with a consideration of .long Tridentine Reformation. as reflected in the cult of saints and of the need to replace the currently dominant model of conflict and control by one which gives cooperation and compromise their proper due.

Bonechi S., Chiesa e società nell’Italia napoleonica. Rassegna di studi recenti (1989- 1996) e proposte di ricerca, XIX 297-332.

The review illustrates the fragmentary nature and small number of the historiographical studies on the Italian Church in the years of French rule, and tries to suggest subject areas for future exploration. Works concerning the editions of sources, general studies of the Church in the various realities of Napoleonic Italy, works devoted to the biographies of bishops and others dealing with the economic and institutional aspects of the ecclesiastical institutions under the Empire, are all examined; studies on the relationship between Church and society finish up the essay. The continuation of an apologetic perspective which prevents an objective interpretation of the Church-State relationships under the empire is demonstrated on the one hand: on the other, the difficulties over the formation of a “school” of historians who are specialists in the history of the Italian Church in the French epoch.

Soetens Cl., Entre Concile et initiative pontificale. Paul VI en Terre sainte, XIX, 333- 366.

Paul VI had the idea of a strictly religious pilgrimage to the Holy Land right from the beginning of his time as Pope. The aim of also making it into an ecumenical act developed independently: primarily through the willingness of the Patriarch Athenagoras, and the intervention of the Roman Secretariat for Christian unity. The two meetings between the Pope and the Patriarch at Jerusalem received great publicity from the media world-wide, while they strengthened the determination of the two protagonists to hasten the movement towards each other of their two Churches. Moreover, on the one hand, the reserved attitude of the other Orthodox Churches, together with that of the ecumenical WCC of Geneva, showed that the meeting made progress toward unity more complex; on the other hand, regarding the ecumenical opening of the Catholic Church, the Pope gave the impression of wanting to act as Primate, in an independent way from the Council which was going on at the time, perhaps also wishing to get beyond the conciliar phase of his time as Pope.

Cova G.D., In margine al volume di E. Zenger sulla Bibbia ebraica e i cristiani, XIX,367-370.

Around this work of Erich Zenger it is possible to set out a series of theses, between Biblical exegesis and systematic theology, which enable us not only to check up on the state of the so-called Judaism-Christianity dialogue, but above all to sound the revision process taking place over this in the Churches and in the theologies. Such a process very often appears quite confused or merely pragmatic, and reveals the  lack of true foundations, in its own terms, both of the revision and of the previous inability to see, as in the most appropriate methods.

Mayeur J.-M., Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu. Un catholique libéral devant l’Orthodoxie, XIX, 371-382.

In 1889 Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu published the third volume, devoted to religion, of his masterpiece: The Empire of the Tsars and the Russians. The aim of this study is to re-examine this classic, asking what perspective the liberal and Catholic author adopted on Orthodox religion in autocratic Russia. An acute observer of the various aspects of religious life, Leroy-Beaulieu insists especially on popular religious feelings and the role of the raskol. He pays particular attention to the relations between Orthodoxy and the State, and frequently uses comparative analysis. Rather in the manner of a Tocqueville, he also goes out of his way to explain the originality of Russia’s situation. Three closely associated characteristics stand out for him: the Church’s dependence on the State, the link between Church and nationality, and the lack of religious freedom. According to Leroy-Beaulieu, the key to our understanding must lie here, it is ≪la plus grande infériorité de la Russie […] le signe des autres≫.

Paiano M., «L’era post-cristiana» di É. Poulat. Le parole e la storia, XIX, 383-398.

Èmile Poulat’s L’ère post-chrétienne is a kind of intellectual autobiography by a scholar who is hard to place in the academic distinctions of religious-historical sciences. The note brings out the ideas of a methodological nature which are of the greatest use for those adopting an historical-critical approach to the study of contemporary Catholicism. It pays special attention to Poulat’s very rigorous distinguishing of the interpretative categories from the concepts underlying the key words by which the phenomena under inquiry are designated by their protagonists or by contemporary observers.

Alberigo G., Per l’analisi delle decisioni dei concili ecumenici e generali, XIX 399-404.

The publication of the Thesaurus Conciliorum Oecumenicorum et Generalium Ecclesiae Catholicae (ed. P. Tombeur), offers scholars a valuable tool for the comparison of the lexical structure and language of the Latin texts of the decisions of the great Councils from Nicea to Vatican Il. The use of the Thesaurus cannot however leave out of consideration certain necessary comments on the corpus from which it is taken. In the first place it should not be forgotten the way the cultural distance of many centuries often leads to the use of identical terms with different meanings, and that the quite variable length of the texts should not be overlooked in the analysis of the frequency of the recurrences. Finally, one must keep in mind that the corpus only includes the texts of the decrees, that are the end result of the Council debates which are often much richer in content than the final document.

Tillard J.-M.R., Comment accorder synodalité et primauté?, XIX, 405-417.

The author develops his argument on the basis of a few preliminary reflections: the present-day rethinking of what Catholic tradition, from the Middle Ages, believed to be ≪universal≫; the ≪anaemic nature≫ of the local Churches following on the assumption of their specific functions by the Roman curia; the improper attribution, through the expansion of the contemporary Church, of ecclesioiogical  tasks inherent in papal services to organisms of the curia. He then examines the difficulties, the uncertainties and the contradictions with which various aspects of the ecclesiology outlined at the Second Vatican Council have been received in the later practice of the Church. Finally he proposes some basic theses on the relation between ≪synodality≫ and primacy, also with the idea of recovering an ≪ecumenical≫ conception of it, underlining in particular the need for reciprocal support and full collaboration between the two, and the strengthening of the local Churches and their synodal government.

Bettiolo P., Scritture e cristianesimi in Siria tra II e IV secolo, XIX, 479-482.

The editor of the monographic volume presents the essays collected together and outlines the crucial questions of Syrian Christianity in the early centuries: the translation of the Scriptures into the language of Edessa, and the setting up in the region of various communities who welcome and interpret the Gospel.

Brock S.P., The Peshitta Old Testament. Between Judaism and Christianity, XIX, 483-502.

After a brief consideration of views, both ancient and modern, of the origins of the Peshitta Old Testament, attention is focused on five different areas where traces of the Peshitta’s Jewish background can be identified: exegetical traditions, ‘targumic’ phraseology, topographical identifications, terminology, and text division. Some examples of each of these are provided, paying especial attention to those which have proved influential in subsequent Syriac tradition.

Lenzi G., Il contributo della «Vetus Syra» alla esegesi di Gv 7,37-38, XIX, 503-518.

The Syriac versions use the expression men karseh to render the Greek ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας υτοῦ in the famous sentence: ≪Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water≫ in John 7:38. The same expression in Jewish Aramaic would be min karseh, and it would correspond to the kətiv in Daniel’s vision of the throne of God (Dn 7:9-10): ≪His throne was fiery flames, and its wheels were buming fire. A stream of fire issued and flowed out from his presence≫. This correspondence points to an underlying Aramaic source for our verse, that would sound like this: ≪Out of his throne shall rivers of living water≫, an expression which is very close to Re 22:1 (as Rendel Harris noted already in 1920): ≪The angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb≫, and to Henoch 14:18-19. Since this expression was so widely known, it seems highly probable that the Johannine tradition made a deliberate change in the vocalisation of krsyh in order to create a link between our passage and John 19:34, adding a new Christological interpretation to the traditional expression.

Camplani A., Rivisitando Bardesane. Note sulle fonti siriache del bardesanismo e sulla sua collocazione storico-religiosa,XIX, 519-596.

The aim of this contribution, whose philological bases are explained separately in Miscellanea Marciana (in the press), is to offer a general picture of the Syriac sources on the thought of Bardaisan and his school, taking into account the progress made in philology and the interpretative models that have emerged since H.J.W. Drijvers’ well-known monograph. After a history of the studies from 1966 to 1996, the philological problems related to the sources are raised. In the Book of the Laws of the Countries, the literary fiction makes it very difficult to ascertain whether the ideas it expresses belong to Bardaisan himself. Concerning Ephrem’s Prose Refutations we can almost never really be certain that the quotations are from the thinker rather than from his school. Among the later cosmological traditions, those reported by Theodore bar Konai and Barhadbešabba ‘Arbaïa, that present quotations taken from Bardesanite texts, deserve the most careful attention. Following on this there is an outline of Bardaisan’s and his followers’ theology. It is possible that the cosmology and anthropology derive from the reading at several levels of Gen. l, through the meditation of John l. After this there is an interpretation of the poetic fragments quoted by Ephrem in Hymni contra haereses 55: despite the presence of language and structures of Gnostic thought (Ptolemy, the Gospel of Philip, and the Ophites of Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 1, 30), they cannot really be called Gnostic in that the idea of a crisis of the divine is missing. Against Jansma, who had attributed the divergences between poetic fragments and the rest of the Bardesanite textual inheritance to the diversity of the ideological orientation of separate authors, it is proposed to see above all in the female dimension of the christology of pre-existence, that which unites the former to the latter. In the conclusions it is shown how Bardaisan and his followers present themselves as a Christian school in competition with the pagan schools of philosophy. Despite using a middle-Platonic or Stoic philosophical language, it does not conceal its central reference to the Old and New Testaments; its theology reworks Gnostic material, excluding from it the idea of a crisis of the divine, and the consequent theological dualism, for a precise historical reason, i.e. the polemic against the Marcionites, in competition with the Bardesanites in the Christian world of second century Edessa.

Vergani E., La fucina di verità. Storia, escatologia e parenesi ecclesiale nell’esegesi su Dn 3 di Efrem il Siro, XIX 597-630.

The essay examines the exegesis of Dn 3 (vv. 11ss.) in the hymns of Ephrem, and brings out the ways they can help us understand the history and eschatology of the Syrian doctor. Starting from the comparative analysis of verses from the Hymns on the Fast and Against Julian, some of the exegetical motifs that they have in common, and which mark Ephrem’s interpretation of Julian’s time in an eschatological sense, are identified. For Ephrem, the Christian community seems to be subject to a constant effort of discrimination and ≪purification≫: even when placed beside other Biblical texts, the allusions to the story of the three young men are intended to present the characteristic ≪solidity≫ or firmness, and the radical nature, of discipleship and Christian martyrdom.

Bettiolo P., Confessare Dio in perfetta spogliazione. La via del discernimento dei comandamenti nel Liber graduum, XIX, 631-651.

The study shows the way the spiritual perception of the various commandments through which God from time to time intended Adam and his descendents to live by, be disciplined by and/or suffer punishment for, and the understanding of their reasons, is a central theme of the ≪Liber Graduum≫, a Syrian text of the tum of the fifth century. It is quite close both to the Judaic-Christian traditions of a fair amount of early Syrian literature, and to the more or less contemporary pseudo-Macarian writings. Only a discernment of this kind, indeed, creates the conditions for the understanding of the dignity and the needs of the Christian life, in all the stages of its journey towards that elimination of every worldly concern, the creatural premiss for living in conformity with the perfect will of God, which Jesus testified to. Only that, again, explains the economy of God’s acts towards the whole of humanity, the various kinds of violence or decrees in themselves unable to offer salvation, that he himself carried out or dictated through his prophets in the times of enmity, up until the coming of Christ (with whom peace between heaven and earth is restored); similarly, it explains the always indefensible nature of every kind of evil behaviour, word or intention, on the part of mankind, even where apparently justified by the righting of wrongs suffered.