03 August 2009

Subterranean scribbling: Marian prayer

Over on Pr. Weedon's blog, he's done a re-write of an Orthodox compline prayer to the Theotokos. "Why?" you ask. Listen to his own words:

I couldn't help but think as I listened that precisely the things that are being asked of the Blessed Virgin in this prayer are the things that I would ask of our Lord. Remembering how the 16th century Lutherans did a similar rewrite to the Marian antiphons after Western Compline (which I posted a few weeks ago), I wondered if it were possible to do the same thing with this prayer, shifting the address to our Lord Jesus Christ, who (after all) has said: Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. And it is He who promised to be with us always, to the end of the age. It is He whom the Father has set forth to be the Propitiation of our sins and our eternal hope. It is He who ever lives to intercede for us at the Father's right hand.

The thought underlying his discomfort seems to be that it is not proper to ask others to do things that we would ask our Lord to do. (It would seem, I take it, either unnecessary or blasphemous: unnecessary if we can ask those things of our Lord directly, and blasphemous if we ascribe to others what belongs to him alone.)

That got me to thinking.

So I went through the Bible, and corrected some troublesome passages that ascribe what Christ does, to others as well. For example, we read in Matthew's gospel:

Matthew 19:28 Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Clearly this must be a scribal error. As it stands, the text says that others will sit on thrones at the same time as Christ, and will do the work that he says elsewhere belongs completely to him (John 5:22ff).

So fix your Bibles, folks. It should say:

Matthew 19:28 Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will get to stand there while I judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

Then there are those puzzling passages in Acts--for example:

Acts 19:11-12 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

Now here's another early scribal error. Whoever copied this, obviously was thinking of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' garment. That in itself is a little superstitious, but he makes it worse here by ascribing a similar work to Paul's handkerchiefs or aprons.

We can fix this one if we supply one detail: obviously Paul had obtained the garment that Jesus was wearing when the woman had touched him. It was pieces of that garment that were made into "handkerchiefs or aprons," that did the work.

"When you put Christ at the center of anything, it makes it better."

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What Pr. Weedon and other Lutherans are missing, of course, is that all that is true of Christ by nature in the Second Article of the Creed becomes true of the Church (and the Theotokos herself as type of the Church) by grace. Since Christ himself (who is the Light of the World) calls all Christians the Light of the world, it cannot be wrong to speak of his Mother as "Light of my darkened soul."

5 comments:

Christopher D. Hall said...

You wrote:

"What Pr. Weedon and other Lutherans are missing, of course, is that all that is true of Christ by nature in the Second Article of the Creed becomes true of the Church (and the Theotokos herself as type of the Church) by grace. Since Christ himself (who is the Light of the World) calls all Christians the Light of the world, it cannot be wrong to speak of his Mother as "Light of my darkened soul."

Right on the head! It is that very issue of what is true of Christ becomes true of His co-heirs where Lutheranism and Catholic/Orthodox butt heads. We Lutherans grant your premises, as they are scriptural, i.e., that we are co-heirs, that we are united with Him as vine and branches, that He dwells in us and we in Him and so forth.

But Lutherans do the following:
1. Read these things as pertaining to forensic justification. Union with Christ means forgiveness of Christ--Osianderism wasn't really defeated in the FC, I don't think. This is a huge issue that I do not think gets much attention, BTW.
2. Lutherans don't take these premises to any extra-scriptural conclusion. What I mean is that we leave these balls in the air and say, "Thus says the Lord and that's all He said." That the Apostles will judge is incontrovertible. What this means is hermeneutics, and we prefer to keep silent about implications.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

"And the glory which You gave Me I have given them..." John 17:22

Benjamin Harju said...

I remember how scary it was at first when I truly had to formally leave Lutheranism for Orthodoxy. One of the things that was scary was that I had to take it on faith that the Holy Spirit was actually at work in Orthodoxy, uncaged by sola Scriptura, yet actually preserving and promulgating and living out Truth in the lives of the Saints and the Church herself. Scary, but the Truth convinced me, as stupid and slothful as I am.

At the end of the day the only way a Lutheran can come to grips with these sorts of saintly invocations ;-) is to step out of his self-made bio-dome of sola scriptura and trust that the air is breathable and just what everything should be. But the only way to do that is to cease to be what he is and become Orthodox.

Apart from that, I suppose our friend Pastor Weedon will get by with taking in Orthodox prayers and writings, but changing them into something that will survive in the bio-dome. Hey, it could be a lot worse than this.

orrologion said...

"And the glory which You gave Me I have given them..." John 17:22

I love this passage as a proof for the 'divine' abilities of the saints both living and departed. Not believing they can exhibit these 'divine' abilities is to make God a liar.

Paul said...

...and the Spirit will lead you into all truth. Could this mean that not all truth has been revealed sola scriptura? Could it mean that Cardinal Newman was onto something in his development of doctrine theory? There is more than "ferensic justification" going on even in the very words of Scripture.