A sola scriptura approach would allow for the validity of the Arian reading.
- I thought this had some interesting, related things to say to our recent
discussion of sola Scriptura:
Mark 13:32 Orthodox vs.
from Frontier Orthodoxy<http://www.google.com/reader/view/feed/http%3A%2F%2Ffrontierorthodoxy.wordpress.com%2Ffeed%2F>
Fr. Oliver Herbel
Ok, so the title of this is nothing like the Atari �Alien vs. Predator� game
that a dorm floor mate had my freshman year of college, but here it goes.
In the previous post on this, I mentioned how biblical interpretation has to
occur within the context of tradition. I had noted how thus far, the only
interpretation of St. Paul�s vision in 2 Corinthians 12 that I have seen
from the fathers have all attributed the vision of the third heaven to St.
Paul himself. I haven�t looked systematically into our hymnography, either,
but it seems that is attested there as well. There are times when
everything in the tradition points to a singular interpretation. That does
not happen often, but when it does, we�d best note it.
One key verse where this affects dogma (once delivered to the saints, so pay
attention) is Mark 13:32. This verse, of course, is where Jesus is quoted
as saying no one knows the hour of the last judgment, not even the Son of
Man. You can probably imagine how Arians took this. For the Arians, this
text showed precisely how the Son could not be said to be of one with the
Father in any ontological sense. There had to be an ontological divide. It
wasn�t the only verse they used this way, but they used it. It is also the
verse that I personally think is the most obvious one to cite in their favor
(from a �sola scriptura� perspective).
One way of dealing with this is to try to say that revelation was revealed
sequentially. A better way is to remember that there is a �scope� to the
Scriptures, which is the double account of the One Christ, or to say it
another way, the One Christ in two natures.
�Now the scope and character of the Scripture, as we have often said, is
this�that there is in it a double account concerning the Savior: that he was
ever God, and is the Son, being the Word and Radiance and Wisdom of the
Father; and that afterwards, taking flesh from the Virgin, Mary the
Theotokos, he became man. And this [scope] is to be found indicated
throughout the inspired Scripture, as the Lord himself has said, �Search the
Scriptures, for it is they that testify to me� (John 5.39).� [*Orations
Against the Arians* 3.29.1; translation taken from John Behr, *The Nicene
Faith* (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir�s Seminary Press, 2004)]* *
To get at a passage, we need to know the time, person, and subject matter.
A similar approach was taken by St. Ambrose [Expositio Evangelii secundum
Lucam, 8.34]. For St. Ambrose, the humanity of Christ was ignorant, but the
divinity was not. This is not St. Ambrose�s only answer, but it is
consistent with St. Athanasios of Alexandria. In *De Trinitate *[Book one,
chapter twelve] St. Augustine made a similar move, though he had given some
other rationales elsewhere.
St. Ambrose and St. Jerome both also argued that Christ actually knew (St.
Jerome found this clarified by noting that Jesus says it is not for the
disciples to know what the Father has set by his own authority.
This is a difficult text to address, but for my purposes here, at this
point, the main thing I wish to note is that when reading this verse, we
cannot accept an Arian interpretation. One must always keep in mind the
double account. There simply are times when we have no other choices
concerning biblical interpretation because of the overwhelming testimony of
the tradition. A *sola scriptura *approach would allow for the validity of
the Arian reading. Indeed, someone might even argue it is a much better
reading. We, however, have a faith with a tradition, a faith that IS
tradition. The Holy Spirit leads the Church into all Truth and it is the
Church that is the pillar and ground of truth.
For those interested in going beyond this post, read Kevin Madigan,
�Christus Nesciens? Ignorant of the Day of Judgment? Arian and Orthodox
Interpretation of Mark 13:32 in the Ancient Latin West,� *Harvard
Theological Review *96:3 (2003): 255-78. Please also read Fr. John Behr�s
treatment of St. Athanasios� arguments against the Arians.
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