Tuesday, 28 June 2011

István M. Bugár - Can theological language be logical? The case of "Josipe" and Melito

I propose to reassess the controversy about monarchy and Trinity around 200 from a fresh vantage point. I assume that the parties of the controversy have been to rigidly defined without taking into account that the issue at steak was not only whether monarchianism is a legitimate interpretation of the faith of the Church but a question also of a methodological character was to be answered. What are the rules of the logos that is to speak about Theos? One characteristic answer was that of the work entitled "Refutatio omnium haeresium" whose anonymous author I shall name "Josipe" in tribute to P. Nautin.  He is following the path of the logic based on the principle of non-contradiction pioneered by Parmenides, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle -- and  trodden by Justin martyr also. An alternative way emerges, however, through the texts of Melito; a language of paradox, though not of uncontrolled paradox. This is a poetical, mystical, and liturgical language. The failure to distinguish between these two modes of speech led to the (false) assumption of a Noetian Melito. Notwithstanding, "Josipe" is not far off the mark when he connects Noetus' theology -- which, though different, is derivative of this paradoxical language -- with the logos of Heraclitus.  The main line of development of Christian theology in the fourth and fifth centuries up to Chalcedon was to reconcile these two modes of speech by assigning the appropriate scope for them and excluding the exclusive use of one at the expense of the other or the unreserved mingling of the two ways of speech that we find in Noetus.

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