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J. Ratzinger, Commentary on Dei Verbum Articles 8-10

J. Ratzinger, Commentary on Dei Verbum Articles 8-10

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From Joseph Ratzinger's Commentary on Dei Verbum in the Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (Translation: Herbert Vorgrimler, ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II - New York: Crossroad, 1989, Vol. 3)
From Joseph Ratzinger's Commentary on Dei Verbum in the Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (Translation: Herbert Vorgrimler, ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II - New York: Crossroad, 1989, Vol. 3)

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DOGMATICCONSTITUTIONONDIVINEREVELATION
derivedfromScriptureinitsdetails,ortheactualformofChristianlifeasithaddevelopedintheChurch.ThusforthefathersofTrent,thequestionoftraditionwasmoreaquestionofthereformofChurchlifethanaquestionofChurchteaching.?OnesawthequestionoftraditionastheactualproblemoftheChurch'sexistence,nottheproblemofthehistoricaljustificationforeachofthestatementstobefoundinitscatechism,ashappenedduringthecontroversyofVaticanH.Thatpeoplewereincapableofrealizingthisisshownbythelamentableweaknessandtheimpossibilityofanyinnersolutiontothebitterdisputeontradition,whicheversince1962hasdividedthefathersonaquestionthatmustberegardedasfundamentally
fruitless.f
Whathasinfact,however,beenachievedwasthereturntoamorecomprehensiveviewoftheproblembythenewunderstandingofrevelationandamoregeneralviewofthephenomenonoftraditionwhichresultsfromit,butboththeconceptionoftraditionasanaccumulationofstate-mentsand,consequently,thequantitativewayoflookingatitremainedtotheendanexplosivesourceofcontroversy.
Article
8appearsforthefirsttimeinTextEundertheheading.
DesacraTraditione
andisanattempttomeetthewidelyexpressedneedforaclearandpositiveaccountofwhatismeantbytradition.Itisnotdifficult(asintheadditionsinwhichArticle7goesbeyondTrent)torecognizethepenofY.CongarinthetextandtoseebehindittheinfluenceoftheCatholicTübingenschoolofthenineteenthcenturywith,inparticular,itsdynamicandorganicideaoftradition,whichinturnwasstronglyimpregnatedbythespiritofGermanRornanticism.?Thefirstsectionpointsoutthetotalnatureoftradition:primarily,itmeanssimplythemany-layeredyetonepresenceofthemysteryofChristthroughoutalltheages;itmeansthetotalityofthepresenceofChristinthisworld.AgainthethreedivisionsofArticle7aretakenup,whichhadoutlinedtheperspectivesoftherealityoforigin.Teaching,lifeandworshiparenamedasthethreewaysinwhichtraditionishandedon.IthasitsplacenotonlyintheexplicitlytraditionalstatementsofChurchdoctrine,
but
intheunstated-andoftenunstatable-elementsofthewholeserviceoftheChristianworshipofGodandthelifeoftheChurch.Thisisthebasisofthefinalcomprehensiveformulationoftraditionasthe"perpetuation",theconstantcontinuationandmakingpresentofeverythingthattheChurchis,ofeverythingthatitbelieves.Traditionisidentified,andthus
apostoliquesnonecritesetsuffisancedel'Ecriture",
Istina
6(1959),pp.219-306,esp.pp.289ff.;].Ratzinger,
ReuelaiionandTradition
(1965),pp.57-62.
7
Ratzinger,
op.cit.,
pp.59f.
B
InhisinterventionattheCouncilon5October1964,ArchbishopEdelbyexpressedthisfromtheviewpointoftheEasternChurch,inamannerthatwasbothbrilliantandhighlyenlighteningforbothsidesoftheconciliarcontroversy.ItisprintedinHampe's
DieAutorität,
Ipp.119-122.
9
Cf.thetwo-volumedworkbyCongar,mentionedinnote5ontheIntroduction,inwhichhesumsupthefindingsofnumerousearlierworksonthistheme.OntheideaoftraditioninGermanRomanticism,especiallyintheTübingenSchool,cf.thevariouswritingsof
J.
R.Geiselmann,andinparticular,
LebendigerGlaubeausgeheiligterÜberlieferung
(1942);
DielebendigeÜberlieferungalsNormdeschristlichenGlaubens(1959).
•0.
\r.
!
I
CHAPTERII
defined,withthebeingandthefaithoftheChurch.Thedangerthatlurksinthisstatement(asaltogetherinthedynamicideaoftraditionheldbythebingenSchool)hadbeenpointedoutbyCardinalMeyerinanimportantspeechon30September1964:noteverythingthatexistsintheChurchmustforthatreasonbealsoalegitimatetradition;inotherwords,noteverytraditionthatarisesintheChurchisatruecelebrationandkeepingpresentofthemysteryofChrist.Thereisadistorting,asweIlasalegitimate,tradition.AsexamplesofthisnegativekindoftraditionMeyermentionedakindofpietythatisopposedtothespiritofliturgyandacasuisticanduntheologicalmoralism.Heaskedthatthetextshouldstatenotonlythat
instatuviatorum
traditionproceedsinaspiritofprogessandeverdeeperinsightintofaith,butthatthereisalsothepossibilityofa
deficere,
andinfact,thispossibilityisconstantlybeingrealized.Consequently,traditionmustnotbeconsideredonlyaffirmatively,butalsocritically;wehaveScriptureasacriterionforthisindispensablecriticismoftradition,andtraditionmustthereforealwaysberelatedbacktoitandmeasuredbyit.
10
Asaresultoftheseobjectionsthemiddleclause
(omnequodhabet)
wasdeletedfromtheoriginalformulationinthreeparts-intraditiontheChurchpasseson
omne...quodipsaest,omnequodhabet,omnequodcredit.
Onthispoint,the
relatio
inTextFstatesthatthisomissionisintendedtomakeclearthatallthat,andonlythat,proceedsfromtheapostolictradition"quaesubstantialiasuntEcclesiae..."
(ibid.,
p.19).Thisconcession,towhichthereisnoreferenceinthepresenttext,mustberegardedasunsatisfactory,anditistoberegrettedthatthesuggestionoftheAmericanCardinalwasnot,infact,takenup.EvenTrenthadnotbeenabletogiveapositiveaccountofthecriticismoftradition,theneedforwhichwasnotquestioned(thenecessityofreformwasoneofthereasonsfortheCouncil,andthisreformwasconcernedwiththe
traditiones);
itishiddenaway,hardlydiscernibleforsomeonewhoisnothistoricallyinformed,inthephrase
adnosusquepervenerunt.
Thiswasanattempttoformulateatthattime,inthemultiplicity.ofthe
traditiones
thathadpassedawayandthatstillremained,acriterionofvalidtradition.ItwasfoundinthereceptionbythewholeChurch-onlytraditionsreceivedbytheChurchweredescribedasimportantforfaith.Asecondcriterionwasapostolicity,whichagainwassupposedtohelpindifferentiatingbetweentrueandmerelyfactualtradition.Inpractice,however,thereceptionofatradi-tionbytheChurchwastakenasacriterionofapostolicity,sothatthelatterwaslargelyexcludedasaseparateyardstick.HNevertheless,anattempthadbeenmadetomakeadistinctionamongtraditions,unsatisfactorythoughitwas,inasmuchascriticismofreceptionbytheChurchwasscarcelypossible.OnthispointVaticanIIhasunfortunatelynotmadeanyprogress,buthasmoreorlessignoredthewholequestionofthecriticismoftradition.Bydoingthis,ithas
10
Cf.A.Wenger,
VaticanII,
III(1965),pp.145f.;L.A.DornandG.DenzIer,
TagebuchdesKonzils.DieArbeitderDrittenSession
(1965),p.103.UnfortunatelythisimportantspeechwasnotincludedinHampe'scollectedvolume.nCf.
J.
Ratzinger,
op.cit.,
pp.57ff.,p.63(cf.note6);Bevenot,
loc.cit.,
p.338.
!
1
t
!
1
!
oseph Ratzinger,Commentary on Dei Verbum
 
r
i
1'1
missedanimportantopportunityforecumenicaldialogue.Infact,itwouldhavebeenecumenicallymorefruitfultoworkoutapositivepossibilityandtostressthenecessityofthecriticisrnoftraditionwirhintheChurchthantoengageinwhatmustbecalledanunrealcontroversyaboutthequantitativecompletenessofScripture.Thesecondparagraphofourtextpointsoutthedynamiccharacteroftradi-tion,thusarousinglivelyoppositiononthepartoftheCanadianCardinalLeger.Itstatesthattradition,whichsternsfromtheApostles,developsundertheassistanceoftheHolySpiritintheChurch,i.e.thatthereisagrowingunder-standingofthewordsandrealitiesthathavebeenhandeddowntous.Again,threefactorsofthisgrowtharelisted:contemplationandstudyonthepartofbelievers;innerunderstanding,whichcomesfromspiritualexperience;andtheproclarnationbytheteachingoffice.ThefinalpointismadethattheChurchanditsunderstandingofrevelationismovingforwardtowardsthefullnessofthedivinewordintheChurchinthe
eschaton.
ItisimportantthattheprogressofthewordinthetimeoftheChurchisnotseensimplyasafunctionofthehierarchy,butisanchoredinthewholelifeoftheChurch;throughit,wehearinwhatissaidthatwhichisunsaid.ThewholespiritualexperienceoftheChurch,itsbeliev-ing,prayingandlovingintercoursewiththeLordandhisword,causesourunderstandingoftheoriginaltruthtogrowandinthetodayoffaithextractsanewfromtheyesterdayofitshistoricaloriginwhatwasmeantforal1timeandyetcanbeunderstoodonlyinthechangingagesandintheparticularwayofeach.Inthisprocessofunderstanding,whichistheconcretewayinwhichtradi-tionproceedsintheChurch,theworkoftheteachingofficeisonecomponent(and,becauseofitsnature,acriticalone,notaproductiveone),butitisnotthewhole.Thedynamicconceptoftradition,withwhichtheCouncilheredevelopsitspositiveconceptionof
traditio,
wasstronglyattackedfromtwoquiteoppositedirections.Ontheonehand,CardinalRuffinirejecteditfromhispositionoftraditionallyneoscholastictheology,butontheother,CardinalLegerattackeditfromanecumenical
standpoint.P
Inspiteofthesharpdivisionintheirgeneraltheologicalorientations,theargumentsofthesetwoCouncilfatherswereaston-ishingly
similar.P
Ruffinifirmlyemphasizedtheideaofrevelationbeingcon-cludedwiththedeathofthelastApostle,rejectedtheideaofincludingdisciplesoftheApostlesamongtheoriginsofrevelation,andopposedtheideaofalivingandgrowingrevelation,for,inaccordancewiththetextofTrentandVaticanI,heconsideredthatthisshouldbementionedonlyinconnectionwithastrong
12
ThetextofthespeechescanbefoundinHampe's
DieAutorität,
pp.112ff.(Ruffini)andpp.114ff.(Leger).
13
Cf.thecommentmadebyG.Marononthediscussionontraditioninhis
EvangdischerBerichtvomKonzil
(1965),p.32:"Again-assooftenduringthisCouncil-thestrangesituationhasarisenthatmanyProtestantobserversofthisdevelopmentare(relativeIy!)dosertothetradi-tionaliststhantotheprogressives."
(.
jl
H-
11'
iH'I'
jll
1Qh
emphasisonthestrictunchangeabilityofarevelationthathadbeenconcludedonceandforall,withwhichhereferredtoanappropriatetextbyVincentdeLerin,quotedatbothCouncils.Intheconceptoftheschema,andespeciallyinitsemphasisonspiritualexperienceasaprincipleofthegrowingknowledgeofrevelation,hedetectedtheologicalevolutionism,condemnedasmodernismbyPiusXII.InanothertoneandwithotherreasonsCardinalLegerinsistedonthesame
point,
HefoundthattheSchema,especiallyinitsideaofprogress,whichseemedtoreferno~onlytotheknowledgeoftradition,buttraditionitself
(Haec...Traditio...proftcit),
blurredthestrictdistinctionbetweenapostolicandpost-apostolictraditionandendangeredthestricttranscendenceofdivinerevelationwhenitwasconfrontedwiththestatementsandactionsoftheteachingofficeoftheChurch.TheCardinalwasconcernedthattheChurchshouldbinditselffirmlytothefinalandunchangeablewordofGod,thatdoesnotgrow,butcanonlybeconstantlyassimilatedafreshandcannotbemanipulatedbytheChurch.TheTheologicalCommissionconsideredthequestioncarefully,butdecidednottomakeanymajoralterationsinthetext.Itpointedoutthattheclause"...Traditioproficit"isexplainedbyasecondclause"crescit...tarnrerumquamverborumperceptio",i.e.thegrowthoftraditionisagrowthinunderstandingoftherealitythatwasgivc;natthebeginning.
14
Itformulatedtheideaofreligiousexperiencemorecautiously,withoutabandoningit,but
it
refusedtoquoteagainthetextofVincentdeLerin,citedbypastcouncils,inviewofthedubi~uslightinwhichthisChurchwriterisnowseenbyhistoricalresearch.PHenolongerappearsasanauthenticrepresentativeoftheCatholicideaoftradition,butoutlinesacanonoftraditionbasedonasemi-Pelagianidea.HeattacksAugustine'steachingongraceasgoingbeyond"whathadalwaysbeenbelieved",butagainstthisbackgroundthisprovestobeaninappropriateattempttoexpresstherelationshipbetweenconstancyandgrowthinthetesti-monyof
faith.J"
TherejectionofthesuggestiontoincludeagainVincentdeLerin'swell-knowntext,moreorlesscanonizedbytwocouncils,isagainastepbeyondTrentandVaticanI,aproductiverevisionoftheirtexts,aphenomenonthatwehavecomeacrossseveraltimesalready.ItisnotthatVaticanIIistakingbackwhatwasintendedinthosequotations:therejectionofamodernisticevolutionism,anaffirmationofthedefinitivecharacteroftherevelationofChristandtheapostolictradition,towhichtheChurchhasnothingtoadd,butwhichisitsyardstick,but
it
hasanotherconceptionofthenatureofhistoricalidentityandcontinuity.VincentdeLerin'sstatic
semper
nolongerseemstherightwayofexpressingthisproblem.Thiskindofneworientationsimplyexpressesour
14
Thusinthevolumepublishedafterthevotesof20to22September1965,withthe
Expensiomodorum,
pp.20f.
15
Ibid.,p.21:"InterpretatioautemVinc.Lirin.controvertitur."
16
Cf.B.AltanerandA.Stuiber,
Patrologie
(7thed.,1966),p.454f.(andbibliography);K.Baus:
LTK,
X,
cols,
800f.(andbibliography);
J.
Ratzinger,
DasProblemderDogmengeschichteinderSichtderkatholisthenTheologie
(1966),p.9.
187
 
lJOGMATICCONSTlTUTlONONlJIVINhKhVhLATIUN
deeperknowledgeoftheproblemofhistoricalunderstanding,whichisnolongeradequatelyexpressedbythesimpleideasofagivenfactanditsexplanation,becausetheexplanation,astheprocessofunderstanding,cannotbeclearlyseparatedfromwhatisbeingunderstood.Thisinterdependenceofthetwo,whichdoesnotremovetheultimatebasicdifferencebetweenassimilationandwhatisassimilated,eveniftheycannolongerbestrictlyisolated,isweilexpressedbythedialecticjuxtapositionofthetwoclauses
Traditioprojicit
and
crescitperceptio.
AftertheCounciltheobjectionofCardinalLeger(andthusindirectlyalsothatofRuffini)wasagaintakenupbyProtestanttheologians-cautiouslybyJ.C.
Hampe'"
andemphaticallybyO.
Cullrnann-"
andJ.K.S.Reid,19whosaysofthestatementaboutthedevelopmentoftraditionthat
it
is"bothunclearanduntrue".20HeconsidersthatthisistomakethecommissionoftheLordidenticalwithitsactualfulfilmentandcontinues:"HerewestandbeforethebroadestanddeepestgulfthatseparatestheReformedChurchesfromtheRomanCatholic."21Cullmannreferred,inthisconnection,tohiswell-knowntheory,accordingtowhichtheestablishmentofthecanonsofScriptureandtheself-submissionofScripturetothiscanon"weredecisiveeventsinthehistoryofsalvationandanessentialpartofit-infact,itsclimax".24TheBibleitself,however,knowsnothingofthisclimaxofthehistoryofsalvation,andthereisnothingtoshowthattheChurchofthattimesawitassuch.Thisthesisisrathertheexpressionofaspecialtheologicaltheory,aconceptionofthehistoryofsalvationdevelopedbyCullmann,butbynomeansgenerallyshared,evenbyProtestant
theologians.P"
Ifonewantedtopursueacomprehensiveandproperdiscussionoftheproblem,onewouldalsohavetotakeaccountofthemanyotherpositionsthataretobefoundinProtestanttheologyonthisquestion,andaboveallthewholewouldhavetobeplacedwithinthewiderframeworkofthefundamentalquestionofthepossibilityandnatureofhistoricalunderstandingaltogether.Thiscannotbethepurposeofourcommentary.TheimportantproblemraisedbyCullmannisnotthequestionofdevelopment,butthatoftherelationbetweenScriptureandChurch,whichweshallhavetoconsiderindetailinourcommentaryonArticles
9
and
10.
LetitsufficeheretosaythatbothCullmannandReid,likeRuffiniandLeger,ignoredtheproblemofunderstanding,theemergenceofwhichoverthelastdecadeshasdissolvedtheclearantithesisofobjectandsubject,withoutleadingtoanidentificationofboth,inawaythatissimplynotinaccordancewiththepresentsituationinhermeneuticsandthat,bothhistoricallyandtheologically,makesthingstooeasyforitself.Thiswasalsoclearlyshownbytheconferenceon
17
Hampe,
DieAutorität,
I,p.116,note3.
18
Ibid.,
pp.189-97.
19
Ibid.,pp.
223-31,esp.pp.229ff.
20
Ibid.,
p.229.
21
Ibid.,
pp.230f.
22
IbM.,
pp.192f.Cullmannhaselaboratedthisviewin
DieTradition
(1954),pp.42-56.
23
Cf.Cullmann'streatmentoftheBultmannschoolin
HeilalsGeschichte(1965).
.00
CHAPTERII
faithandthenatureoftheChurchatMontrealin
1963,
whichwasconcerned,atmanydifferentlevels,withthesameproblem.P'ThelastparagraphofArticle8
(SanctorumPatrum...)
presentsinconcreteformtheprecedinggeneraldefinitionoftheideaoftraditionandatthesametimetriestoformulatefromthenewpositiontheparticularimportanceoftheChurchFathersforthefaithoftheChurch.Theycannolongerbeseen,asinthestaticcon-ception,asthebearersofindividualapostolictraditionsintheformofstatements,butrathertheirimportanceistoberevaluedinthelightofthedynamicunder-standingoftradition.Theirwritingstestifytothelivingpresenceoftraditionandare,asitwere,alivingexpressionoftheperpetuationofthemysteryofChristinthelifeoftheChurch.Thisraises,ratherthananswers,thequestionofthespecialposi-tionofthefathers,forthesamethingcouldbesaidaboutthetheologicalandspir-itualwritingsofailtheotherperiodsoftheChurch'shistory.Nevertheless,thepurposeofthestatementistodeclarethatthefathersareaspecificsourceoftradi-tion,notinthesenseofsettledindividualstatements,butasanexpressionoftheactofunderstanding,whichassimilateswhathasbeenpasseddownandholds
it
forthepresent.Againthereisareferencetothe"practiceandlife"ofthe"believingandprayingChurch",inwhichthewealthoftraditioneffectivelyrealizesitself.Itisimportanttonotetheconcretewayin'whichtheeffectsoftraditionaredescribed:through
it
thecanonofScriptureismadeknownandmadeactive,inaconstantdialogueofGodwithmen-notinthesenseofapietisticandindividualisticconception-butastheconverseoftheSonwithhisbride,theChurch.Thatinnowayexcludesconversewiththeindividual-hewillbeaffectedinthisdialoguebythewordthatisspokentohiminanewandhighlypersonalway-butitplacestheindividualdialoguewithinthedialoguebetweentheSonandhisbride,thuspresentinginawhollyscripturalwaytheirreplaceableimportanceoftheChurchfortheprocessofunderstandingScripture.Inthiscontextwecannowfinallyseethepneumatologicalcharacteroftheideaoftradition.TraditionisultimatelybasedonthefactthattheChristeventcannotbelimitedtotheageofthehistoricalJesus,butcontinuesinthepresenceoftheSpirit,throughwhichtheLordwho"departed"onthecross"hascomeagain"andthroughwhichhe"reminds"hisChurchofwhathadhappened,sothatitisled,asitremembers,intoitsinnersignificanceandisabletoassimilateand
:!
24
Cf.theprofoundremarksofE.Dinklerinhisarticle"TheologischeAufgabenderökumeni-schenArbeitheute"in
ÖkumenischeRundschau
14(1965),pp.116-32,esp.117-27.Onthecon-nectionsbetweentheConstitutionandwhatwassaidatMontrealcf.SchutzandThurian,
La
parole,
pp.101ff.;E.StakemeierinHampe,
DieAutorität,
pp.182f.Bothrefertonos.44-46oftheofficialreportoftheconference,wherewefindtheimportantsentences:"ThuswecansaythatweexistasChristiansthroughthetraditionoftheGospel,towhichScripturetestifiesand~hichispassedontotheChurchthroughtheChurchinthepoweroftheHolySpirit.Thusweunderstandtraditionas.actualizedinthepreachingoftheword,intheadministrationofthesacraments,intheworshipofGod,inChristianinstruction,intheology,inmissionarywork,andinthetestimonythatthemembersoftheChurchgiveforChristthroughtheirlives..."

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