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JAMES MATTHEW WILSON University of Notre Dame
he concept of modernity in the nineteenth century sprang, in part, from an often unstated acceptance of “historicism,” a belief in the contingency of human judgments as a product of specific temporal conditions, that is, “that the works of art of the different peoples and periods, as well as their general forms of life, must be understood as products of variable individual conditions, and have to be judged each by its own development, not by absolute rules of beauty and ugliness” (Auerbach 184). As such, to be modern was to be conscious of the problem of history, or rather of history as a problem. This consciousness would serve as the central concern of the nineteenth century’s most celebrated theologian, John Henry Newman. I propose to consider Newman’s theory of history as an early attempt to recover from the limitations of historicism by reinstating “mystical interpretation,” or figural historiography, as central to the life of the church. Newman’s support for the notion of doctrinal development has been of sustained interest to scholars, but because of the still unsettled debates over historical biblical research and Modernist theology, attention to Newman has generally been limited to debating “which side” of the Modernist/Integralist divide he was on.1 In consequence, many scholars have debated the sufficiency of his historical research in comparison with modern methods, but none have noticed Newman’s most important contribution to historical theology. He reintroduced a typological method that centralizes the multitudinous structural meanings of historical events within the literal and chronological narrative forms standard to the practice of modern historians.2 We can best grasp his achievement if we elaborate the now wellknown ideas of horizontal and vertical historiographies within the context of Newman’s authorized narrative of his intellectual growth in The Apologia and his definitive statement on historical method in the Essay on Development. In so doing, we shall find that Newman deployed Christian


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allegory and typology (that is, vertical historiography) and other figural hermeneutics in tandem with what Auerbach and, to more galvanizing contemporary effect, Benedict Anderson have described as horizontal historiography (Anderson 68–69). This latter denotes a sense of historical depth, change over time, and causal relationships linking events together strictly along a successive chain or chronology. Implicit in vertical historiography is a transcendent intelligence that renders historical events as symbols of its will, connecting them according to a system of inner meaning rather than causality. No less implicitly, in horizontal historiography resides a theory of immanence that may attribute meaning to historical events through the observation of cause and effect but leaves open the radically empirical possibility that history is the terrain of a homogenous, empty time that cannot be meaningfully interpreted, because it is simply a field of unrelated events.3 After examining Newman’s description of his earliest theories of history in particular relation to these two historiographies, I shall examine his Arians as the first detailed attempt to formulate doctrinal history according to their twinned, intertwined methods. Having established how these methods work in his writings, we will turn to the Essay on Development, where Newman exemplifies, articulates, and defends what had been, in Arians, left entirely to an implicit typological gloss. The fruit of this survey will be to recognize Newman’s view of knowledge as the product of a multifoliate series of interpretive acts. One interpretation, one conclusion, does not necessarily work to dislodge or supersede another, but rather helps to create a polysemous network of meanings that interact with, and modify, each other—as well as coexist within what Newman saw as an infinite body of universal Truth. He sensed with evident anxiety that concepts of historicism were working to undermine the very possibility of belief in Truth, since “facts” could be understood as arbitrary products of history rather than its intentioned “incarnations” of a divine intellect. Ultimately, this would lead Newman not to the advocacy of any one method of historiography but to the conviction that history itself demonstrated that the Roman Catholic Church was the single, transcendent and yet visible entity that could embody, interpret, and judge all the facts of history. Through Christianity, one could detect in historical events a surfeit of meanings rather than a poverty of them. In turn, through the Church, one could organize and criticize those meanings. This attempt to recover the patrimony of traditional Catholic hermeneutics would bear fruit explicitly in work by later theologians, for instance in Henri de Lubac’s Medieval Exegesis, and in the rise of theological pluralism more generally after the Second Vatican Council.4

History as simply “facts” without any intrinsic meaning or order to them must be an impossibility if even those most material. as a system of cognitive relations: material things are only shadows when compared to the ideas that they manifest. properly understood. have for Newman an absolute. He suggests that such laws have a metaphysical reality. where angels take the place of exemplars. then. suggest to us the notion of cause and effect. and of those elementary principles of the physical universe. The light and wind are only their raiment. is a product of the “economy” of providence. light. when offered in their developments to our senses. moves us from concern for natural laws to an affirmation of history itself as having a law and a reality transcending and subsuming the phenomena and facts of its content.” They are “the real causes of motion. of course. Only a page onward in his narrative. shouts. Newman notes that it was “to the Alexandrian school and to the early Church.RART 10. There he found Butler’s inculcation that through the visible church we could learn that “Nature was a parable: Scripture was an allegory: pagan literature. What follows from this thought. which. which of course have a material reality to the extent that a revolution can be called real as the aggregate designation for a group of shootings. these ideas are central to the premodern worldview of the Christian West. The evolution of human understanding. through Butler. Newman thus renews the assimilation of Platonic realism into Christian angelology. The external world exists primarily. Newman first read Bishop Butler’s The Analogy of Religion. he is recovering rich truths lost to the acid of modern thought. to the Constitution and Course of Nature (1736) in 1823. Natural and Revealed. That system is not necessarily singular or subject to a single hermeneutic—parable and allegory can be distinguished in a number of ways without preference being given to either. and life. As Louis Dupré has noted. Hence Newman’s consciousness that. that I owe in particular what I definitely held about the Angels.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 499 James Matthew Wilson According to The Apologia. even exclusively. but so are the laws themselves. may be present from the beginning. and of what are called the laws of nature” (Apologia 35). philosophy. stabbings. supernatural reality as well: 499 . may be a permanent “fact. of meaning. The instances themselves are real. The invisible forces of history. cries and explosions. although the totality of Truth. however. they do not emerge contingently in the thinking mind as a pragmatic concept to explain a thousand observed instances. slowly offering to the mind what exists perfectly outside of time. and mythology.” the limitations of time and human understanding necessitate that totality’s unfolding along a historical line. Finally. were but a preparation for the Gospel” (Apologia 34). elemental phenomena are governed by the genius of angels.

that perhaps one such demon could possess the actions of. More than that. or other group agents in a Hegelian dialectic. daimónia. I considered there was a middle race. The early. as the case might be. They are as angels not as men. which cause events to occur in a teleological sequence. say.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 500 RELIGION and the ARTS Also. In these early reflections a specifically metaphysical. And so. in other words. We may extrapolate. specifically realist. they also transcend it in the sense that they continue to exist with a relatively consistent identity from age to age. which is often so different from that of the individuals who compose them. specifically Judeo-Christian concept of history finds articulation. The result of any such theory is to allow for the reading of history according to both vertical and horizontal historiographies. partially fallen. nations. living flesh for ascendant theories of historical change that emphasized the role of races. for example. spiritual presence or entity that merely possesses or occupies ephemeral forms throughout history. My preference of the Personal to the Abstract would naturally lead me to this view. nations. noble or crafty. wayward. and classes of men. they do not become extinct. capricious. Newman invents an appealing. and therefore. we may infer that while these demons are immanent to the historical world. benevolent or malicious. we might posit with Newman some kind of permanent. or the graduated 500 . From the vantage point of horizontal history. classes. beside the hosts of evil spirits. the demons would represent those social forces suffusing mankind. I thought these assemblages had their life in certain unseen Powers. although they are in history. of religious communities and communions. The “demons” (and that is the translation of the Greek term in the passage) of historical forces grant a sentient reality to what empiricist and materialist historical theories were stripping of all anthropomorphism. to formulate theories akin to those of German idealism (with which he was unfamiliar) in a language that reinstates the rich providential imagination of Christian patristic writings. Hence the character and the instinct of states and governments. Cromwell’s Roundheads in one century and those of the mob of the French Revolution in the next. He seeks. Hence the action of bodies politic and associations.RART 10. (Apologia 35) Platonic ideas and the romantic imagination cross in the concrete “unseen Powers” that inform history. still more. coursing through individuals and groups alike. nor in hell. These beings gave a sort of inspiration or intelligence to races. neither in heaven. optimistic understanding of Darwinian natural selection.

this configuration. Newman needed a theology with a red streak of anti-Catholicism run through it. Thus. This still life.RART 10. As a historian. at that moment Newman had good reason to view historical forces as potentially malevolent and destructive creatures. from the vertical perspective these temporally disconnected events can be understood in the spatial likeness of their system of relationships—which. Even in this crude formulation. discrete thing in itself. From the vantage point of vertical history. transhistorical spirits who simply put on one mask or another depending on the given scenario manifesting itself. Rather. in the example at hand. The demon of the bourgeoisie may be pacing on the tennis court. rendering them closest to mankind in their fallibility. defined primarily not by its sequential relationship to past and present. but by the relation of its parts. or gathering around the guillotine. As an Anglican divine. Although he would eventually find a more compelling mode of expression for this inchoate doctrine than talk of demons. In any case. Newman has simply rechristened these forces within the speculative systems of patristic theology in which he was quickly becoming expert. One facet of Newman’s importance is the prescience of his theorizations. he required that this anti-Catholicism be 501 . S. the demon of nobility may be sweating at Versailles or packing for exile. becomes intelligible only when conceived as if from above.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 501 James Matthew Wilson chronological development of class consciousness toward revolution in Marxism are based on similar assumptions. in their (spatially conceived) position relative to one another. causal relationships are not yet relevant. but the spirit he embodies is present in all times and all times are present in him. its participants. To be present at the moment of one revolution is in some sense to be simultaneously present in all. Another demon might possess the Jacobites—call it the demon of the nobility. A second remarkable aspect of this passage is the way in which Newman carefully debases these demons. Eliot and James Joyce (5). Sanford Schwartz observes one such a synthesis in James Frazer’s Golden Bough. Newman has chosen to represent as permanent. Newman’s historiography anticipates the synthesis of modern narratives of historical progress with the structuralism that would rise to prominence in the early twentieth century. though we may also discover them throughout the works of modernist authors such as T. one particular demon might possess Cromwell’s Roundheads—call it the demon of the bourgeoisie. from Heaven. the vertical perspective allows one to look at any given historical moment as if it were a frozen. at this early stage. And their relationship is one of conflict.” We then may look to another frozen. discrete historical moment—that of the French Revolution—and easily find an analogous structure. Cromwell is ephemeral and mortal. hence the designation “vertical.

He could not do so while still an Anglican: I could not prove that the Anglican communion was an integral part of the One Church. (Apologia 122) This helps explain why the demons had to be “partially fallen. long unnoticed. rather than in the sixteenth. Thus he quietly relocated the Reformation in the seventeenth century. leaving a 502 . fall. Donne. but the undisputed. and restoration. And so The Apologia describes the Oxford Movement as the restoration of “ancient religion” to England after Roman and. the Incarnation. For Newman.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 502 RELIGION and the ARTS supported by his historical method. creating a massive historical dark age in which no redeeming “Demon” could exist. and I could not defend our separation from Rome and her faith without using arguments prejudicial to those great doctrines concerning our Lord. Crucially. the heyday of the Anglican literary divines. subsequently.RART 10. Moreover. a felix culpa had to occur. as he and his associates brought back into practice the truths of the early church. on the ground of its teaching being Apostolic or Catholic. the declension turned into real corruption and as a result the articulation of true doctrine became the invention of new doctrine—not. without reasoning in favour of what are commonly called the Roman corruptions. which he refused to associate with Luther and Calvin. and as such. when Luther was spiritually marshaling an ugly war against the Papacy and Calvin was stripping the church of all her ornament (Apologia 119). because this would have undermined his narrative of primitive innocence. The transhistorical stability his early vertical typology articulates gets quashed. That is. Only with the Reformation did pure Christianity reemerge. which are the very foundation of the Christian religion. of course. only with the Oxford Movement did a restored Anglicanism emerge.” Newman could suggest thereby how history had run so amok as to produce discrete moments in which there was no True Church. The primitive church was pure because temporally proximate to the moment of revelation. Anglican failures (47). and others. here. the heresies of the Arians and Socinians. it does so only in the High-Church Anglicanism of Andrews. A gradual declension occurred that was coupled with a gradual articulation of Christian doctrine. At some point. The Anglican Church’s existence was predicated on separation from Rome. there had to be a period without a manifest representative of uncorrupted Christianity. Newman had not fully integrated the vertical or structural element of his historiography with that of the horizontal. corruptions of the Romanists.

There. we are always on much firmer ground in understanding Newman when we can show how a theory arises out of. As Rowan Williams has observed. and returns to. but still inadequate.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 503 James Matthew Wilson more conventional. there. Where traditional typology vertically draws together disparate historical events. simply to justify Anglicanism. Newman’s demons could only suggest the perennial spirits operative in every epoch: theology became the key to unlocking the meaning of every present moment’s structure.RART 10. and however probable it may be. Although establishing the English Church as the Church of History would become the young Newman’s central project. probably because he was not looking. of course. this preference for the concrete example emerges in Newman’s Arians as a systematic practice drawn from Christian tradition. he had not yet found a way to argue this. Formalized doctrine is a tragedy because it signals that apostasy and heresy have already occurred. in part because the intuitions of his demon theory of history were sufficiently Platonic to lack a theory of essential temporal change. boldly rechristening history as a whole within the sphere of theological knowledge. The unsystematic doctrine of the anteNicene church possessed a purity that was preserved by the various forms of “economy” exemplified in scripture and beyond—such as the Alexandrian Church’s Disciplina Arcani (Newman. Of course. as I have said. . the notion of formulation itself being a kind of betrayal of some richer truth” (Williams. But Newman seems not to have entirely grasped this within the context of his demon theory. he was. Indeed. such a privileging of primitive Christianity does not necessarily preclude the vertical historiography Newman had begun to contemplate. While Williams assigns 503 . horizontal historiography to claim that some historical moments are truly unique in a narrative of decline and progress. but only with the initiated. Arians 30). the Alexandrian Church avoided ugly public disputes that would perforce result in a rigidifying of what was by definition ineffable but knowable into exact. a specific historical example presented in his writings—how a theory is always tied so closely to a given instance that sometimes the theory itself goes unstated. published language. defensible. must rely on mere extrapolation from one retrospective passage. Newman’s Arians 270). . Such a claim. and because the formalizing of dogma makes possible future misinterpretation and error. a traditional formulation of typology allows one to interpret the primitive church as the type to modern Anglicanism’s antitype. By not sharing the church’s most difficult and edifying doctrines in their full with catechumens. spurring dogmatic articulation. Newman views the gradual articulation of doctrine as a “necessary but real evil for the Church .

And yet it. that is to say. but both. The two poles of the figure are separate in time. Further on. not Protestantism. indeed. Rather. the anxiety Williams discovers in Arians may properly be assigned to Newman’s desire to understand Christianity as a visible church discernable in the structure of every historical moment. If ever there were a safe truth.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 504 RELIGION and the ARTS a shadow of remorse to this specter of historical contingency (and therefore hermeneutic instability) looming over the development and articulation of doctrine. whose divine origin and continued role as the mystical body of Christ vouchsafed it against any error at the ignorant hands of the demon of historical contingency: “I am very far more sure that England is in schism. As an Anglican. and his own evolving recognition that there never was a historical period that was in and of itself a purer manifestation of Christianity than another. and the more complex theory of history that would develop from it. while the second encompasses or fulfills the first. than that the Roman additions to the Primitive Creed may not be developments. but of the misinterpretation. the first of which signifies not only itself but also the second. is the fact. the Church of History: “At least the Christianity of history is not Protestantism. being real events or figures. from its founding to the present. The effort to suggest that the church may disappear. it seems more reasonable to assign it to another cause. the growth of the historian’s mind will lead him to conclude that Catholicism. there was simply the church that Christ founded and which the Catholic and apostolic tradition continued. and therefore appear in isolated times and locales within a vertical and typological history betrayed the central belief that Christ had founded the church through his incarnation and that such a church would guide Christians to the end of time. loss and recovery of those doctrines. Newman’s demon theory corresponds in no exact way to Auerbach’s “Figura” in his essay of that name. Auerbach elaborates that figural interpretation establishes a connection between two events or persons. arising out of a keen and vivid realizing of the Divine Depositum of Faith” (Apologia 163). But. as Newman’s biography makes clear. are within 504 . Isolated historical churches become emblematic in his imagination not of the formulation of doctrines per se.RART 10. Newman would feel himself torn between the established church’s understanding of primitive Christianity as pure and of itself as a return to that purity. A pall does linger over the Arians text. That is to say. as “something real and historical which announces something else that is also real and historical” (Auerbach 29). it is this” (Essay 7). can best be understood if we view it as a species of figura.

in the Essay on Development. the events of the Old Testament prophesy and represent in germinal or shadow form what will be fulfilled in the New. Moreover. Newman’s efforts must be understood as a gradual recovery of an ancient tradition. where. they are types” (64). but viewed primarily in immediate vertical connection with a divine order which encompasses it” (Auerbach 72). Newman writes of Christ as “anti-type and repealer” (14). (53) Auerbach finds figura in its purest form in the system of biblical exegesis called typology. Only the understanding of the two persons or events is a spiritual act. Newman is restoring to his theological vocabulary words that have fallen into disuse and that he himself may not always use consistently.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 505 James Matthew Wilson time. Meaning is immanent to the events of history. as I have indicated. but their meanings. we may envision their meaningful connection occurring not in history but in the mind of God. which also must be literal and historical. it is historical because the figural resides within the literal. These uses in that sense confirm Auerbach’s claim that typology had disappeared. we designate this concept as a form of vertical historiography.RART 10. As such. If Auerbach was right to claim that in “most European countries figural interpretation was active up to the eighteenth century” (61). within the stream of historical life. Adam did not exactly cause Christ. When. but this spiritual act deals with concrete events. which is a literal historical event. Importantly. in Arians. as types. they qualify rather than invalidate the hybridization Benedict Anderson makes of Auerbach and Benjamin in suggesting that vertical historical relations ceased to be perceived because they had been beaten out in competition 505 . Auerbach’s exploration of vertical historiography suggests that the notion of a primitive Christianity typologically fulfilled in Anglicanism was more intuitively in accord with traditional figural interpretation than was Newman’s early theory of ever-present demons/ideas. The type. and later. he notes that “the earlier prophecies are pregnant texts out of which the succeeding announcements grow. As such. it is hardly surprising that the next stage in Newman’s thinking would be to reconfigure his youthful conception in better accord with that tradition. are developed or fulfilled in the incarnation of Christ as antitype. will have its meaning completed and revealed in the antitype. We must see an event not “as a link in a chain of development in which single events or combinations of events perpetually give rise to new events. Hence. Joshua did not either. and so they would not be without alteration and development. We have already observed that the separation in historical time of the two events means that they cannot stand in causal relation to each other.

Now the first condition of any such ordering is that there should be a regular unfolding of events in time. noting that while there are differences between modern and medieval concepts. horizontal historiography. in fact. rather than as events occurring within a fundamentally static. both in the life of individuals and in the life of societies of which individuals form a part. Different writers appropriated it for subjects either broader than the history of revelation found 506 . which adopted the literal interpretation. A moment later. mystical interpretation “has been the doctrine of all ages of the Church.” Newman seems anxious to preserve figura under the rubric of “mystical interpretation. “the School of Antioch. eternal world (Gilson 384). in Gilson’s conception. Newman reproaches modernity (through and in ancient Antioch) for losing the one hermeneutical means of orthodoxy.” precisely because he is conscious that the modern world was becoming illiterate in reading world and texts alike in any other sense than the literal. systematized in St. That mystical interpretation or typology is everywhere in Newman’s work may well suggest that it was all but nowhere in the minds of Newman’s England. As Etienne Gilson has argued. Progress was not invented by Walpole’s Whigs. they are those of the logical development of a single idea. it was. as is shown by the disinclination of her teachers to confine themselves to the mere literal interpretation of Scripture” (342). that there should be a time” (385). was . an idea now so prevalent as to be nearly synonymous with our idea of “history. causally linked across time according to a meaningful system of forces: “everything. is ordered to this supernatural end. and first of all. In a typological formulation that anticipates much of what we shall discuss below. Gilson wrote in rebuttal of scholars who claimed that this modern concept of history was. was the ordered sequence of events. even though such a practice guaranteed the loss of historical Christianity. Augustine’s theology. .” was itself a roughly contemporary product of the same hermeneutical impulse as the vertical. however. A mono-dimensional “Protestant” literalism seemed to be cutting away all but its own pedantic reading of history. the very metropolis of heresy” (343). The medievals themselves established the notion of history as teleology. uniquely modern. Thus history as such. This medieval consciousness of horizontal history operated in tandem with vertical historiography over the centuries. As he notes in the Essay on Development. . he observes. The ascendancy of the literal over the figural does not necessarily amount to the replacement of vertical with horizontal historiography.RART 10. As if confirming the reality of just such an interpretive “competition. We owe both methods to the early Christian Middle Ages.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 506 RELIGION and the ARTS with a series of horizontal systems of meaning that allowed for the development of national identities (Anderson 24–25). of course.

and more importantly. Eden and Adam. According to Gilson. the achievement of a free market—was hardly the final development in horizontal historiography. for example. a volatility in the historical world would of necessity become agonizingly clear. whose arbitrary teleologies. Such would become the operating principle of history after Vico and Auerbach. offers us his Discourse on Universal History in which the dialectic of reason has taken the place of God. as a permanent and driving force of history. Even this transformation does not uncouple the horizontal and vertical. or any other ur-historical vanishing point. As Gilson surely knew. immanent character. whose narratives. but rather relocates both in a species of literal immanence. with this secularization. this would result in a general discrediting of 507 . (Gilson 394) Newman seems to have been responding to this hubristic appropriation throughout his career. Hegel. exposed the contingency and radical mutability of humanity in its historical conditions. are intentionally man-made. the chief difference between nineteenth and fourth-century history is simply intellectual secularization—the emancipation of historical method from a specifically Christian timeline. This brand of “historicism. he sought not simply to set history at the center of his Christianity but to reestablish Christianity as a central event in. To counter Liberalism. The historical self-consciousness that concerned Newman. among others. and to counter the exclusion of religion and theology from education. in their human. it would never have even dreamed of undertaking. was not simply that mankind had dared write history according to a principle of progress independent of Christian providence. and to effect from its own resources.RART 10. the practice of Hegel and other nineteenthcentury thinkers in writing histories according to one metaphysical idea—be it a history of liberty. without Christianity.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 507 James Matthew Wilson in Scripture or narrower. Ultimately.” we noted. class struggle. such as the rise of national histories that did not (any longer) attempt to trace national origins to Rome and Aeneas. Rather. a vacuum of authority was created that no single idea could hope to replace permanently or universally. it imagines itself able to effect. the quest for Whig culture. to counter the tendencies toward the disestablishment of Anglicanism. His ambition to provide us with an intelligible interpretation of history as a whole bears the evident mark of a time in which reason is so profoundly saturated with Christianity that what. If one had not the permanent currency of revelation upon which to found everything else.

According to Newman. if not all.RART 10. rather than the incarnated God-Man. Introduction iii). Newman’s foremost concern is to describe Antioch and prove the influence of Judaism on the intellectual life of that church (an ambition Williams describes as inaccurate and anti-Semitic [Newman’s Arians 281]). by that carnal. steering “the minute peculiarities of their doctrinal views” which are “humanitarian” rather than “Gnostic” in conception (Arians 15). And he defines the Church of Alexandria as possessing many. In brief. self-indulgent religion. Newman defines the Church of Antioch according to a series of ideological characteristics that appear analogous in every way to those of the various sects in and around the Church of England during his lifetime. I will not say that the Arian doctrine is the direct result of judaizing practice. which seems at that time to have prevailed in the rejected nation. he chose instead to argue that Judaic influence led to a kind of sensual Christology. This tendency to privilege the grosser tastes led to a conception of Christ as a mere man. of the attributes that in 1831 the members of the Oxford Movement desired that Anglicanism should itself possess. but it deserves consideration whether a tendency to derogate from the honour due to Christ was not created by an observance of the Jewish rites. For his part. Newman’s Arians of the Fourth Century therefore does not merely reject the older secular narrative history of Gibbon and Mosheim on which it nonetheless draws: the first half of the volume contains little narrative at all.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 508 RELIGION and the ARTS narrative methods of historiography and leave one only empirical events and chronological sequence. and they had the ears of clerics. and much more. (14) While Newman could have easily condemned these qualities for a perceptible sensuality in morality and behavior. The method is fundamentally vertical and structural. Thus the Arians were anti-intellectual and anti-mystical. as a merely mortal creature. they had the ear of the masses via easy appeals to “the grosser tastes of human nature” (Arians 14). Judaism in the period was a compound of superstition. Jews had the ear of rulers. they 508 . It seeks instead to draw up detailed sketches of the intellectual character of the schools and parties “in and about the Ante-Nicene Church” as they stood in relation to the ideas at stake in the Arian heresy (Williams. Newman seems to have been alarmed not only by secular historical narrative. hypocrisy and Arnoldian Philistinism (Arians 10). but also by the radical historicist eclipsing of narrative. The consequence of these influences and practices is not without its bearing on the rise of Arianism.

to the exclusion of others. had its price” (115). Newman says later in Idea. I should deny the influence of mind upon bodily health. The practical habit of this Judaic school of thought is one of exclusion—the exclusion of coeternal divinity from the concept of Christ. Throughout his writings.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 509 James Matthew Wilson insisted on thinking by flesh alone rather than allowing for a living. or family of sciences. they necessarily become bigots and quacks. Rather.RART 10. and so on. reductive principle. (37) At stake here is not Newman’s understanding of the Jews so much as his condemnation of an exclusionary principle of mind that seems to have been present in the early church. and Newman’s history is not simply one of the Arian centuries but of modern England. in close association with contemporary Utilitarianism. The Church of Antioch’s members are types to England’s antitypes. as regards the devotees of any science. Rabbinical pedantry vertically rhymes with that of modern Protestants. “as if every thing. developing spirit that guides our understanding of the world and of revelation. Utilitarians argue. In general. Exclusion in general always haunts Newman’s pages as the source of error and heresy. It is no stretch to imagine his tacitly assigning a single demon as the genius loci of the Arian Church of Antioch and the Utilitarian University of London. as it was present in the Reformation and in nineteenth-century Protestant theology. “mystical” analogy that would guide Newman’s judgments on the ancient and modern world alike. they were the source of a tendency 509 . we may note how Newman condemns adamantly the specialist in any discipline who refuses to think beyond his subject—or rather who attempts to portray his subject’s methods and facts as coextensive with the circle of all truth: Were I a mere chemist. as well as every person. To turn to The Idea of a University for just one example. The same figural formulation comes into play for “The Schools of the Sophists. which. Emerging from these characterizations is a transcendental. Arians was written during the same period Newman claims to have been preaching his theory of angels and demons. Newman targets this tendency toward simplification and loss of Truth as either the anticipation or apotheosis of a “literalist” heresy.” These schools are not to be considered as entirely distinct from the Antiochene Church. scorning all principles and reported facts which do not belong to their own pursuit. this is alleged not against Antiochene Jews and Christians but Protestant dissenters of every variety. had sought to identify reality with a single.

but specious. 510 . . . Thus. Their talent for belligerent debate resulted in a continuous. in truth it is an abuse of language to say they had any definite belief at all” (Arians 136).4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 510 RELIGION and the ARTS toward “disputatiousness” that Arius exploited in prosecuting his heretical war against the reserved. . after the defeat of the Arians before Constantine and the Nicene Council. than solving objections” (Arians 18). Newman spent his public career as a reluctant orator. which display a like pugnaciousness and almost satirical spirit. As in the Nicene Creed. reactionary. Regarding LowChurch Anglicanism. makes an especially repugnant specimen because of his typical argumentativeness: When he betook himself to the doctrinal controversy he chose for the first open avowal of his heterodoxy the opportunity of an attack upon his diocesan . what is right and true can be identified because it is. . . of finding. He almost always condemned those who chose to speak while he sometimes valorized those who only mounted the public lectern when called by the force of conscience and justice. Of Catholics he had an early admiration for their “zealous maintenance of the doctrine and the rule of celibacy” (Apologia 54. the assailant. The analogy with liberals in modern England in general would have been hard to miss. His regret at the republication of Dr. in a literal sense. has the advantage of the party assailed. not merely from the recommendation which novelty gives to his cause in the eyes of bystanders. we read of the excitement which his reasonings produced . my italics). and necessarily secretive. of many in Newman’s writings (Apologia 56–57). a tendency to controvert doctrine betrays an absence of principle. And so Arius. wrenched from the tranquility of monastic seclusion to set right what had been wronged through the innovating and hyperactive opinionatedness of nineteenthcentury liberals. and then of his verses composed for the use of the populace in ridicule of the orthodox doctrine. Hampden’s pamphlet. (Arians 19–20) Just as a reactionary position suggests one’s stable and principled knowledge of the truth. in Newman’s account. “Observations on Religious Dissent” would be just one example. and that.RART 10. orthodox bishops. of his letters addressed to Eusebius and to Alexander. the Truth generally gets formally articulated in reaction to a crisis. he “had a thorough contempt for the controversial position” (Apologia 47). but also from the greater facility in the nature of things. Always. or antitype. victory for all manners of error and heresy: “It is obvious. . “they became nothing better than a political party . that in every contest. as such.

but because they are outside of Rome. and to digest these into one consistent doctrine” (Arians 55). primarily to distinguish it from the Alexandrian Church proper. and the way to Atheism: Anglicanism is the halfway house on the one side. rationalizing school of thought that did not tend toward syncretism. but rather submitted him to a full reabsorption into the Godhead. “There are but two alternatives. the way to Rome. and pure system of thought. “Introduction” xli). was circumstantially different 511 . The Eclectic sect in Alexandria Newman presents in detail. an identification most precisely illustrated in his note on Liberalism in the Apologia (216–25).4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 511 James Matthew Wilson Arians condemns two other ancient “parties. One he refers to as “Neologism” (Arians 56). Analogously. And yet Newman draws it into a kind of contemporaneous existence in order to suggest that the threat it posed distracted the orthodox bishops from sooner response to nascent forms of Arianism. in which aspects of other religions or philosophies enter as by subterfuge the body of a previously full. As is often the case in his history. He argues that it was a Platonizing. and it bears mentioning here to illustrate Newman’s conventional strategy of showing that ostensibly opposite positions lead. . comprises two very different parties and ideas in Newman’s thought. Liberalism and Anglicanism may be superficially different. coherent.RART 10. but “to select the better parts of the systems invented before it. He considers both the Evangelicals and the Rationalists to be Liberals. as a term. he would later say in the Apologia. Newman does not leave the figural correspondences entirely to the reader’s inference: Sabellianism’s “peculiar tenet is the denial of the distinction of Persons in the Divine Nature . Their doctrine did not deny the divinity of the Son. like that which has led to the term ‘Unitarianism’ in the present day” (Arians 63). The capaciousness of the term emphasized the atomistic quality of innovative heresies and thus the impossibility of hanging a single group on the type of Eclecticism only leads Newman to inscribe more carefully its figural importance: The rationalism of the Eclectics. to the same error. . fundamentally. Liberalism. Newman traces two traditions within the sect. as the Arian did.” The Sabellian heresy preceded the Arian and is in all immediate ways disconnected from it. a term that Williams has noted was itself a neologism frequently used by conservative Anglican clerics in reference to the various heretical and skeptical theologians and the “Higher Critics” in Germany (Williams. they converge in an identical error. More importantly. and Liberalism is the halfway house on the other” (161). though equally opposed with the modern to the doctrine of the peculiar divinity of the Scripture revelations.

and Newman concentrates instead on Alexandria and its admirably “comprehensive philosophy” that would be partially secularized in the form of the Eclectic sect described above (Apologia 25). As such. Newman wishes to show that Alexandria is a desirable figure. Rome seemed to be absent from doctrinal debate. He would elsewhere observe that. And so his disgust for modern Liberals incites him to particularly vituperative condemnation of those of antiquity: “Who does not recognize in this old philosophy the chief features of that recent school of liberalism and false illumination. In the Alexandrian Church’s thinking. or type. central authority (such as the Chair of St.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 512 RELIGION and the ARTS from it. Newman’s central concern is not merely to persuade his reader to condemn these different factions. 512 . in other words. (Arians 57) The one certain feature of the Eclectics is their eschewing of dogma and their insistence on private judgment. parable. Rhetorically. seemed not. to have arrogated primacy to itself in ecclesiastical matters (Apologia 33). the word “Rome” scarcely appears in the first half of the volume. because it included a strong tradition of scripturally submissive Apostolic authority that served as a substitute for a single. “History is made the external garb of prophecy. but to envision them as fragments outside of and in conflict with the Church of Alexandria.RART 10. Newman’s Arians is full of historical misrepresentations. exemplified by the church’s use of allegory. with its extensive tradition in theology. Alexandria offered the first of several via media he would endorse during his Anglican years. According to Williams. during those early centuries. they result from a desire to preserve the Church of Alexandria as a model of orthodoxy and authority. To Newman. which Newman loathed. The Neologists of the present day deny that the miracles took place in the manner related to the sacred record. which Newman would later call “mystical interpretation” (Williams. political and moral. and persons and facts become the figures of heavenly things” (Apologia 34). metaphor. Peter) whose hegemony might result in a divergence from scripture through corrupting innovations. If this is so. the Eclectics denied their cogency as an evidence of the extraordinary presence of God. Newman condemns this conversion. which is now Satan’s instrument in deluding the nations?” (Arians 58). and umbra (the shadowing forth of the esoteric in an exoteric form) and its refusal of a literalizing or scriptura sola principle of Christianity. while he celebrates the careful and capacious uses of the intelligence and spirit that the pre-Eclectic Alexandrians demonstrated in their use of mystical interpretation. for the Anglican Church. Newman’s Arians 280).

doctrinally and ecclesiastically sound. And it was apostolic of its own offices.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 513 James Matthew Wilson However. with that Father [Irenæus].RART 10. We need not consider it in any great detail. arbitrary doctrines of heretics. Apostolical Tradition is brought forward. The Alexandrian Church was scriptural. but the inevitable result of sophistication. and a corroborating. but one of the most satirical and subtle moments in all of Newman’s prose surely comes in his chapter detailing the Council of Nicea and its 513 . one must sense a certain attempt to characterize Alexandria in opposition to Rome. we might read it as an apologetic for Catholicism. it must not be supposed. for the Anglican Newman. The soundness of intelligence that created the inevitably short-lived Alexandrian Church tradition could forge a sound body of doctrine and expunge heresy from its midst just as the young men of Oxford intended to purify Anglicanism of both the illogicality of High and the vulgarity of Low-Church practices. its purpose and identity were not dependent upon its Protestantism but upon its righteous subordination to scripture and the teachings of the early fathers. Alexandria serves as the perfect model for a national church attempting to affirm its identity not as Protestant but as freestanding and independent. not to supercede Scripture. but here. illustrating. . The target of condemnation in the volume as a whole is not modern Rome. this was not a fault. without submission to mediation by Rome. In short. Alexandria was conciliar without the atomizing democracy of congregationalism. between a tradition supplanting or perverting the inspired records. We must cautiously distinguish. as a record of the truth . that this appeal to Tradition in the slightest degree disparages the sovereign authority and sufficiency of Holy Scripture. but Westminster. That Alexandria was surrounded and partly penetrated by ideas and personages of heretical nature offers no immediate cause for objection in Newman’s portrayal. (33) Had Newman made this statement a decade later. And yet Alexandria’s communion with Rome suggested that Anglicanism itself need not be merely anti-Catholic. to refute the self-authorized. and altogether subordinate tradition. yet unreductive. The de facto absence of Roman primacy in the primitive church justified de jure secession from Rome in the modern. open to the dispensations of paganism and natural religion but generally as a means of enhancing and expanding the understanding of revelation (Arians 48). . If it risked breeding heresy by its tolerance of polysemantic exegetical and catechetical practices. but in conjunction with Scripture.

the hand of power redirected its threatening gestures accordingly. denying it the reality that inspiration (and the angels and demons of Newman’s theory) was intended to vouchsafe. Catholic emancipation. while Parliament was more than willing to meddle in ecclesiastical organization and affairs. while also condemning the tendency to “spiritualization” found in Origen. it was entirely unwilling to do anything that would support or aid the church’s power and mission. Williams’s questioning of the accuracy of Newman’s analogy inadvertently calls into question the volume’s merit as an apologetic for the English Church. Newman was perfectly conscious of this “projection” of England’s silhouette onto Alexandria. Newman’s demon theory and concern for figural. He in fact catalogues the different degrees of allegorical and Platonic methods of interpretation in his treatment of the ancient church. These acts indicated that Erastianism threatened Establishment to the benefit of nonconformity and Romanism. not through a desire for orthodoxy but for conformity. which could be justified according to the figural theory of history he had explored with his talk of angels and demons. among others (37). obsessed with maintaining order and peace in his empire at any cost—even the cost of adopting Christianity as its official religion (129) and sponsoring a council to resolve a theological dispute whose matter he could not explain and whose importance he could scarcely fathom (134).RART 10. Were that the case. the suppression of some Irish sees. the Reform Bill all signaled that. and when the Arians were able to win his court’s and his heir’s favor.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 514 RELIGION and the ARTS instigator Emperor Constantine. When Newman began working on Arians in the late 1820s. the inept catechumen. but he intended to take it for the literal. and also for a political theology. to transform the figurative and metaphorical language of Scripture and of patristic writings and apologetics into a nominal language of convenience. He appears as the typical English stage Machiavel. 514 . And so Newman’s figural interpretation of the Arian controversy became a subtle but impressive tool for a theology of history. Newman was not writing England onto Alexandria merely as a means of organization or because he did not consider the integrity of honest history anything important in comparison to polemical effect. he would have been himself a modern Origen. Constantine enforced the decision of the council with an iron fist. historical truth. He wanted his readers to take his great analogy for reality—to read history as typological once again. vertical history serve to make the analogous conditions of Alexandria and England more than mere analogy. centrally. the British Parliament seemed continuously to interfere and undermine the independence of the Anglican Church. Origen’s method threatened to dehistoricize scripture and.

we should turn briefly to his theories of university education. in which Newman reenacts the method of Arians as a corrective to his own earlier conclusions.” (Apologia 114–15) In eliding Rome’s presence in the life of the early Church. We have seen that Newman’s tendency is to view error as a state of fragmentation. Athanasius. that in the history of Arianism. The truth lay. No greater testimony could be given to the importance of fact in Newman’s vertical historiography than his experience of his own self-deception as one of “three blows” that effected his conversion (Apologia 114). but I saw clearly. a catholic— desire to have its methods and degrees of knowledge be coextensive with the limits of human and divine reality. In Arians. and that Rome now was what it was then. atomization. only Alexandria. the semiArians were the Anglicans. on what is called a “metaphysical” subject. whose identity was not based on its exclusion of Rome. Newman realized. but with what was called “the extreme party. or astringency. the pure Arians were the Protestants. Before moving at last to the Essay on Development. The Church of Antioch excluded all exegesis but the literal. In The Idea of a University he commends this desire as an essential quality: It is not then that Catholics are afraid of human knowledge. far from the controversies of the day. and that they think the omission of any kind of knowledge 515 . Upon considering the failure (or erroneousness) of the facts on which his typology relied. he had distorted the history of orthodoxy and had given Alexandria too much credit. not with the Via Media. Several years after writing Arians. the hero of Nicea who remained Newman’s image of the ideal churchman during his Anglican and Catholic periods. embodied a Catholic—or rather. Newman himself would doubt the merit of his figural narrative. Newman felt obliged to abandon his typological justification of Alexandria/Canterbury in favor of the perennial Church of Rome. the Eclectic sect and even Origen denied the literal in favor of gnosticism and syncretism. his translation work on St. but that they are proud of divine knowledge. the Arians denied the hypostatic union.RART 10. led him to see that his typology was flawed: I was reading and writing in my own line of study. These give us a clear definition-by-analogy of how he would conceive vertical historiography especially in its relationship to the horizontal.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 515 James Matthew Wilson More than a century before Williams would assail Newman’s history as inadequate by contemporary scholarly standards.

must be a full. wrongly associated 516 . To perceive this circle in a discrete historical moment is the act of vertical historiography. the various shards of truth in every sphere enlarge their respective encircling Truth. by identifying the dramatis personae of a historical milieu with the appropriate demon. then. Just as the entire faculty of university subjects widens the circle of knowledge. but which is a grotesque jag so long as it remains out of communion. that science is forgotten. must be a deformed shard: a shard that can be purified and refitted into the circle. The Universal. or type. you cannot keep its place vacant for it. as far as it goes. In this circle. but ignorance. In places. The Essay on Development illustrates these premises by subtler and more extensive means. in other words. One can find the same circle and the same subordinate and heterodox units in any age (although the demons themselves disappear from Newman’s theory as it matures). human or divine. And the heat sectarian frictions create actually serves to make the universal circle itself more visible and therefore acts as the cause of. (54–55) And in the following section: I observe. Newman depicts the various schisms and sects in Arians according to this image. not knowledge. As Williams argues on Newman’s behalf. grinding against each other. We shall only survey the manner in which its characterizations of religions and sects outside the Catholic Church operate. The False. and the interpretive guide to history along a horizontal timeline. if you drop any science out of the circle of knowledge. Newman’s section mentioning “Zenobia’s Judaism” (218) shows the manner in which the “superstitiousness” for which he had condemned Antioch.RART 10. they exceed their proper bounds and intrude where they have no right. the force of. and which certain pagan authors noted in describing the early church. ideological and bigoted. (55) No image is more essential for an understanding of Newman’s historiography than that of the circle. which is always provincial. encompassing circle. that. one gains a tentative guide to right action. Beyond that. which is always the True. “The accurate perception of Christian truth is shaped by conflict” (Introduction xxxv). the vertical defines the forces of history that in fact drive the horizontal. attenuating and qualifying them. or. The demons of history are as parts of a circle. the other sciences close up. For example. of course.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 516 RELIGION and the ARTS whatever. Newman actually reproduces the conclusions of Arians. and so intellectual progress is made. to be.

condemn Catholicism. dumb for the public. they despise our temples as if graves. Newman suggests that the pagans themselves are not without their role as representative figures. spit at our gods. Indeed. via gossip or the popular press. talkative in corners. It is the permanent type of all true religion. The pagans. like its true modern form. deride our religious forms” (Essay 238). The chief purpose of these accounts. he may be more successful in drawing out an analogy between the pagans of antiquity and the English of the modern day. he centralizes the Catholic and treats not of various fragmentary groups of English who have broken from the true nation.” but has been reduced to one of its shards. saw their neighbors apparently losing their minds and going over to that sect. As the pagans of old condemned Christianity for these qualities. Without ceasing to condemn it in isolation. whose vehement anti-Catholicism was prone to create gothic caricatures of “Papists” in order to represent the mysterious threat they posed to rational. saw Christians lurking everywhere. However. so do the rationalists and deists of modern England. and secret to those outside of it (219).4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 517 James Matthew Wilson Christianity with various other eastern cults.” Newman himself provides this gloss on the pagan view of Christians: “A tribe lurking and light-hating. The Christianity of old. gloomy. he has used it to show one “note” by which one can recognize the type of Christianity in any historical moment. as Tertullian portrays them. Newman has actually. among others. Rather than looking to the various sects in and about the Church of England. but of the English nation and national church as a fragment of the Catholic universal. His scale has widened considerably. in Newman’s self-consciously 517 . is to show the continuity of Catholicism from antiquity to the present. but they never attempted to see any good or truth in Christianity: “They praise that which they know. must always seem magical. in relying so heavily on pagan testimony. in the argument of the text. A Catholic England would. Newman turns to Tertullian for evidence of pagan scorn for Christians because of their tendency to undermine or disturb the civil order (Essay 237). they revile that which they know not. in mentioning this Antiochene Judaism. Such diagnosis reveals one particular manner in which Newman’s vertical history had transformed since Arians. further defined the type or circle of Catholicism. the national church is no longer the “largest circle. Hence the rumors that emerged surrounding Newman’s ostensible affinity for Catholicism late in his Anglican period only testified to the truth of the Catholic religion and the “paganism” of English prejudice (Apologia 141). or that of Alexandria. civil society—a threat that must always be out of view in its actuality but always in view via effigy or fiction.RART 10.

or in Alexandria. Newman suggests that such a formation. and propagating itself in colonies. is insufficient. of course. We must note. but without adding the vital. and heresy did in fact arise within it. Thus when he recounts that “the Arians cried out that ‘they would not seek enchantments like Saul. No longer struggling to find a laudable analogy between the primitive and modern churches. This. so was it with heresy” (252).4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 518 RELIGION and the ARTS English imagination. a heresy is a family rather than a kingdom. for Scripture was enough for them.5 Until the split between England and Rome was healed. however. rather than subordinate. literal reading. He leaves his audience to examine these depictions and examples for themselves. meaning. But in Essay on Development. and it is not to be found in Canterbury. as opposed to that of the Catholic monarchy. is more consistent with his usual method of composition than was Arians. retain its national character. conclusive observation that would draw the connection into uncomfortable clarity. which was more powerful than all bewitchments.RART 10. Generally. in fact. intimation. and allusion. that one other change is marked indeed between the method of the earlier and later texts: Newman seldom explicitly draws out the relations between type and antitype. in fact. These few analogies will suffice to suggest that the same method of reading history is at work in the Essay as that which is so central to Arians. founding new houses. Newman brings out in full what he had all but suppressed in Arians: that only one form of ecclesiastical hierarchy is sufficient to prevent the atomistic road to atheism that he had witnessed in the England of his Anglican years. but it would do so in harmony with its universal or supranational identity. infallible authority: “The Church is a kingdom. he would understand that the Arians were as modern Protestants are. only in this later work does Newman suggest that such was the case because of the absence of an immanent. This of course provoked the great public contro518 . commenting on them. each of them as independent as its original head. in Arians. a strong recommendation. This serves as a slightly ironic way of leaving interpretive possibilities open—Newman’s prose never insists upon a single. if it is not founded upon Rome. for Newman’s distinctive style was argument by image. Why then Newman opposed the First Vatican Council’s (1870) declaration of Papal infallibility is a provocative question we cannot address here.’” he insinuates this could well have been the antisuperstitious refrain of every covenanter in Scotland (Arians 245). it requires one to perform a kind of mystical interpretation—such as reading typologically—and intuit which interpretation the author intends as its primary. The Church of Alexandria had risked heresy. and as a family continually divides and sends out branches. The conciliar nature of Anglicanism had been.

and discordant” (Essay 251). Newman would have read the Catholic Church as typological in the most important sense: that it. the Catholic Church has not changed in any essential way. However unstable texts. sects are everywhere. The material body of Christ. the chief aid to his argument for an apostolic Catholic Church is one that. Catholicism. His famous seven notes in the Essay are means of explaining how change can occur over a couple of millennia without causing corruptions. But in the Essay. as the New Dispensation. Newman’s concern was to show the nature of apostolic tradition—which he once attributed to Anglicanism and then applied to Catholicism at its expense. Amidst all these swirling gossamer overlays of one time and another. he had always known could never work for the Anglican: the Catholic Church was catholic. language. the Church stands—not immutable as God the Father does in the Catholic concept of the Trinity—but more like an indestructible fortress: “The Church is everywhere. when Charles Kingsley saw this not as a leaving open of interpretive possibilities. He may have been correct in applying such epithets in defense of straightforward Protestant religion against the onset of the cunning serpent. was an exemplary type for the mystical body of the Catholic Church. so that vertical historiography no longer has to make a connection between disparate historical events by uniting them in Heaven or providence.RART 10. But within the history of this New Dispensation. how history. but they are many. Rather. it has simply developed.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 519 James Matthew Wilson versy of his life. which was crucified. but it is one. one now could understand historical types by positioning them relative to the immanent and ever-present Catholic Church. deceitful. independent. can work horizontally without destroying the metaphysical continuities or consistent principles that he had once defined as actual spiritual beings. facts. and unmanly. in other words. his texts simply repeat the polysemantic and ever-opening attributes of biblical texts. Its universality gave it a capaciousness for Truth: a capaciousness Newman intends as transhistorical. typology leads to the Catholic Church. one can hardly miss what Newman demonstrates does not change. But Newman’s style is Scripture’s. Again: “In those ancient times the Church was that Body which was spread over the orbis terrarum and sects were those bodies which were local or transitory” (Essay 263). While Arians and semi-Arians die and Anglicans and Protestants are born and die in their own good time. and the Catholic Church is the authority that can determine the validity and importance of those different levels of meaning. with some anxiety. but as slippery. was a fulfillment of the Old. In Arians and in much of the Essay. It therefore suggests that the varied levels of its meaning lead to typology. 519 .

it was to be the foundation for the proper exercise of their discipline and all other disciplines. By finding a divinely decreed authority in the world of history. Different kinds of truth. while his understanding of writing. in enlightening itself to a single concept of rational thought. subsume. Newman’s anxiety about the possibility of history “going all the way down” resolved itself into what may be called both a reappropriation of and an escape from history. by default.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 520 RELIGION and the ARTS history. of fact. rather than shunning supernatural and metaphysical realism in favor of materialism and nominalism. and consciousness itself all have a literal reality. and order them all. it is allowable. and human institutions. Theology vouchsafed the capacious. and though when an idea is very complex. universalizing method of exegesis of scripture. was 520 . far from deserving to have its relevance questioned by historians. (35) While the brave new worlds of the Utilitarians and Evangelicals were insisting upon one zealous cognitive pathway to Truth. to consider its distinct aspects as if separate ideas. It is stable. require different methods of interpretation and understanding. In Catholicism. though of course one representation of it is more just and exact than another. no one term or proposition which will serve to define it. Catholicism is stable because it can absorb. simply sought to demonstrate by facts that ideas were real agents in the world properly interpreted only by a visible church. It is fitting that the young cleric who read Butler’s Analogy should formulate an epistemology of history that. and so. independent of the contingent and ephemeral assents we freely give to other authorities out of mere pragmatism. Like the mystery of the Incarnation itself. he found a shelter under which to stand. Newman was laying out an intricate argument that demonstrated such a narrowing might actually put the possibility of knowledge beyond reach. different sciences. But theology is the foremost of them.RART 10. all facts: There is no one aspect deep enough to exhaust the contents of a real idea. for the sake of convenience. The modern world. and so it is the only infallible authority—is the only source of real authority. history. he and his Catholic audience were able to evade the epistemological crises that have run roughshod through intellectual debates ever since Newman’s time. material beings. Newman’s historiography insists that spiritual and divine beings. hermeneutics and the nature of historical facts develops within a whirling concept of mutability and instability. There are of course real differences between these things.

order. Because the very possibility of endlessness.6 For this reason. of conceptualizing. these strategies of understanding provide a means of entering into. Athanasius.” fell prey to a hermeneutic of suspicion. Nor is his anxious retention of figural history as bound up with the horizontal merely the mystifying eccentricity of an erudite churchman. . Newman details with great care that the mystical interpretation of scripture is a doctrine innate to the church: “And this has been the doctrine of all ages of the Church . The transcendent becomes unconscionable to a worldview that perceives the unidirectional. They make meaning possible precisely because they refuse the reductive and finite concept of a meaning. Newman believed that the world was so polysemantic that any perspective but the modern would necessarily detect in it a surfeit rather than a poverty of meaning. those depths. . It may be almost laid down as an historical fact. the Catholic Church remained the permanent hermeneutical standard for historical meaning. singular progress of time extending to the very limits of consciousness. securing for each a fuller. Consciously following the tradition of St. makes it impossible to exhaust the content of reality. Similarly. or eternity. capable of absorbing all knowledge. that the mystical interpretation and orthodoxy will stand or fall together” (Essay 342–44).4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 521 James Matthew Wilson blinding itself to the real until even its last “unit” of certainty. and when necessary limit the copious meaning an open intellect will naturally encounter. the “fact. more profound significance. His historical studies sought to recover this rich hermeneutic variety. 521 . Hence. but are in fact the means that the Church’s authority itself provides to make conceivable the very possibility of absolute Truth. Thus Newman’s insertion of a section on mystical interpretation into the Essay was not simply one more note intended to justify the process of development. One may point to the obvious consequences of this position: the doctrine of the Trinity can only have been developed through mystical interpretation (Essay 343). in the Essay as elsewhere. They are means not of proving the authority of the Catholic Church. They make knowledge of singular facts possible because they provide manifold ways of perceiving and organizing them. Newman perceived that the loss of such a body. to read history according to only one method—to exclude figural and vertical relations—is to ensure the human condition will be conceivable only within a vertiginous historicism.RART 10. he also discovered that a central role of church authority was to comprehend. Typology and other such historiographies and hermeneutics cut across time and text. Those churches that insisted upon literalism either stood in a state of intolerable confusion—believing in the Trinity while condemning the only basis for supporting it—or fell into one of the various heresies. In doing so. whether as a temporal or spatial concept.

Eugene OR: WIPF & Stock. New York: W. 1990. 1989. Norton. and leave each individual to the pathetic hut of private judgment and the repetitious nightmare of his opinions. ed. ———. New York: Meridian. Scenes from the Drama of European Literature. New Haven CT: Yale University Press. as if truth and institutional power could never be on the same side.RART 10. as a Catholic convert.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 522 RELIGION and the ARTS would in fact make knowledge impossible. This study of Newman’s historiography anticipates a study (in progress) of Newman’s influence on the structure of Joyce’s Ulysses.. Green & Co. In this article I focus on the importance of Newman’s thinking for the historical Catholic Church. Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press. Gauri Viswanathan has critiqued Newman’s efforts to reconcile national and Catholic identity in Outside the Fold. But Newman understood England as in dissent. Vol. Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans. Newman. The Idea of a University. NOTES 1 2 It would be impossible to provide a comprehensive bibliography of such literature. 1989. see Jenkins. See Poovey. de Lubac. Walter. 1998. 1 of The Four Senses of Scripture. W. 1968. New York: Schocken. he had merely restored himself to orthodoxy. Jenkins. Gilson. For one ample source. 522 . Viswanathan’s insightful treatment of Newman is compromised by a postcolonial position of being perpetually in the opposition. Sigmaringendorf. Apologia Pro Vita Sua. 1959. through it. in the next. See Benjamin for Anderson’s source for this concept. Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press. 1919. I shall examine the way in which his work informed the structures of Joyce’s novel and. 1991. Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press. Louis. ———. she presumes that Newman’s conversion was an act of “dissent” and that Newman himself should have treated it as such. literary modernism in general. Etienne. Benjamin. London: Longmans. John Henry Newman and Modernism. Germany: Glock und Lutz. The Spirit of Mediaeval Philosophy. ———. Passage to Modernity: An Essay in the Hermeneutics of Nature and Culture. Erich. An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. Dupré. The Arians of the Fourth Century. 3 4 5 6 WORKS CITED Auerbach. 1993. Illuminations. 1968. Arthur H. Facsim. In doing so. Henri. Medieval Exegesis. John Henry. See Lubac. 1996.

“Newman’s Arians and the Question of Method in Doctrinal History. A History of the Modern Fact. Outside the Fold. Sanford. Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press.” In Newman after a Hundred Years.RART 10. Williams. Gauri. Ed. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press. 2001. 1998. 523 . Mary. “Introduction. Rowan. ———. 1985. Schwartz. Hill. England: Clarendon Press. Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press. The Matrix of Modernism.” The Arians of the Fourth Century. Viswanathan. by John Henry Newman. 1998. Oxford. 1990.4_f4_497-523 11/9/06 8:44 AM Page 523 James Matthew Wilson Poovey. Ian Ker and Alan G. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.