Monday, April 15, 2013

11X Cyril, 12X Theodoret of Cyrus

This is the last of the series, (for the moment) on Brevard Childs' The Struggle to understand ISAIAH as Christian Scripture.

Of Cyril, (c 378-444), Childs comments on the literal and spiritual senses of Scripture according to Cyril, that precisely what he means by literal is not immediately obvious. Twice Childs says that Cyril has 20 different terms for the literal and 20 different terms for the spiritual - but Childs never lists them. Perhaps this is because he is reporting on the work of Kerrigan - and reporting the work of another (as I am doing) can leave much out. But he does report a few: the literal includes what is perceived by the senses, including the legal, material prosperity, ordinary things of the earth, animals, plants, food; the spiritual includes truth, value, the hidden, the spiritual (?). This is not very helpful. Self-inclusive taxonomies are always suspect. Eventually he comes to the position of Neall - that the spiritual is Christological.
The Old Testament is certainly the source of divine illumination, but it is also accompanied by shadows. Therefore it is not to be compared with the unadulterated light radiated by Christ. Its light is compared to that of the moon, while the gospel shines with the brightness of the noonday sun... The law is perfect and imperfect as one and the same... perfect if it is understood spiritually (since it speaks to us of Christ's mystery); imperfect if the mind of those who are being instructed does not go beyond the letter...
I find this summary, quite frankly, somewhat appalling. We are being blinded by a darkness of words, and there is no fire to purge the air. If indeed God is in Christ, which I believe, then the same God is in the examples that are written for us. God lives in his metaphors and makes them real in those who seek. And of course you know that whoever seeks, finds. This is how the Spirit works, hearing and learning - not by formula and mistranslation.

Childs has better luck in my opinion with a sermon of Cyril's on the rod of Isaiah 11:3.

Of Theodoret (of Cyrus) ... I will continue my study of the ancient and modern voices of Christian prejudice at a later date - hopefully.