About Wednesday, Jul 8 2009 

I really dislike blogging on one level.  However, a few things convinced me of the necessary evil of blogging.  If one writes in a scholarly journal, the odds are maybe thirty people will ever see that article.  On the other hand, my old blog (theogothic) was getting 50-75 hits a week.  That’s not a lot but it is more than most “scholars” can say.

And I am not trying to bash academia.  I wanted to be one a long time ago.  But influence is no longer determined by the university.  So I blog.  But I don’t want influence.

On my old theogothic blog I did have some interesting files on reserve dealing with Gothic architecture, social theory, and other stuff.  I probably should have stayed on that route.  But one of my passions is Eastern European history.  And I commented too much on Russian and Serbian issues, which attracted some negative press.

About the title.  I took the title from John Milbank’s interpretation of the great Russian masters.   The Russian masters posited tha the divine Sophia was the interpersonal personal essence of the Divine trinity.  That’s abstract, I realize, but the point is to get around the “third term” aporias in Trinitarianism and Christology.

Aporia: a difficulty encountered in establishing the theoretical truth of a proposition, created by the presence of evidence both for and against it.

The problem: in the case of Christology, there is no third term between the two natures, nor between both the natures and the divine hypostasis. In other words, how does one relate the two natures (or the three persons of the Godhead, same problem applies) to each other in a way that does not introduce another nature (or person: Godhead)?

However, where there is no third, no between, no metaxu, to use the Platonic term also favoured by Bulgakov, then one tends to get a resolution of all relations into impossible free-standing univocal identities, resulting in an unexplained pluralism, or else alternatively into a monistic equivocal flux whose self-grounding remains equally inexplicable.

I am summarizing Milbank here. Where there is no third term (or connecting middle, forgive the neo-logism), the two natures (or persons: Godhead) are left standing unrelated.

This isn’t just resurrected scholastic philosophy. This is the age old problem between Nestorius and Cyril. While Cyril won the day, it really wasn’t clear how he distinguished the two natures.

Stating the problem a different way, Milbank writes (“Sophiology and Theurgy”)

Thus between the persons of the Trinity defined as substantive relations (following a tradition successively elaborated across East and West by the Cappadocians, Augustine and Aquinas) there are no third terms between Father and Son or between Father plus Son and the Spirit: media non dantur. Likewise there is no third term between the essence of the Godhead and the persons of the Trinity themselves. Were there such media, then persons and relations and essence would become specific instances of something more general and fundamental. Likewise, if there were a third term between God and the Creation, if God were related to the creation and not just the Creation constitutively related to God, there would be a greater than God and God would not be God.

Possible solutions? Following the Russian masters, Milbank argues for a personal intrapersonal essence of the Godhead. Perhaps this isn’t the best answer, but it does provide a way forward.


Hello world! Wednesday, Jul 8 2009 

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