jeudi 24 novembre 2011

When CSL was wrong, Charles Gore was wrong before him, I think. Pt 1

by Hans-Georg Lundahl on Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 5:10pm
            C. S. Lewis died, one hour later John F Kennedy was shot, Aldous died even later
When CSL was wrong, Charles Gore was wrong before him, I think. Pt 1

In Georges Pompidou library of Paris, I found exactly one work by Charles Gore. It is in its present edition from 1963 - the year that CSL died. So going down to look for it, I was afraid it might be only a namesake. I was wrong in that fear. Everyman's Library No. 924 is indeed from 1963, but as other Everyman's Library, it is a re-edition of an older work. The Philosophy of the Good Life is a series of 12 Gifford Lectures held by Bishop Charles Gore - as Anglicans style him - in 1929-1930, and modified before print by his personal contact with the lecture hearers, which was one part of the conditions prescribed for lecturers.

A Bibliography reveals that he 1889 wrote Roman Catholic Claims - presumably a rebuttal of them - and 1930 a small tract, Lambeth on Contraceptives - I fear it was an acceptance of the Lambeth Conference of that year, a first of Christian Confessions accepting contraceptives. Neohimerite Orthodox took another forty years before accepting them, and Roman Catholics fortunately have not accepted them. Not Trads, nor Vatican loyalists at any rate.

Now, equally from 1889, there is, in Lux Mundi, The Holy Spirit and Inspiration. I fear it was less traditional even than Divino Afflante Spiritu by Pius XII from 1943, passages of which shocked me as modernist at the time I rejected that pope.
I do not have that work, but I do have his words on Zarathustra (not an inspired author) and on Moses (an inspired author) in this work. And he is not right.

With Zarathustra, he claims that Zoroastrian priesthood under Sassanides drew their prophet closer in time, ch II p. 32:

"The gulf which separates the religious thought and social outlook of these hymns from the rest of the Avesta, or from Persian religion as wehear of it in the sixth century B.C. and later, must represent a great interval of time."

Why? What if Zarathustra was simply before as other parts after conquest of Babylon? He seems to accept the kind of topsy turvy arguments that his disciple CSL so clearly refuted in Fernseeds and Elephants. A gulf in content or outlook not perceived by the adherents of a tradition but clear to a XIXth C professor? Using that as an argument in dating? Uh uh!

One of our authorities, Dr. J. H. Moulton, is content to postulate a date not later than the eighth century B.C. But Ed. Meyer and others--with reason as it seems to me--require us to go back to some date not earlier than 1000 B.C. Let us be content to leave the date in uncertainty.

So professors are not certain of the real date, but they can still be certain that the ancients were wrong about it? As if ancients were no authorities and XIXth C. critics were! For, here we come to the footnote on bottom of this same page:

The later Parsi priesthood, perhaps infuenced by their desire to bring the now mythical and divinized Zarathustra nearer to their own time, put him in the seventh century B.C. ...

Thus one century later than the latest date Gore is willing to accept. The century before Cyrus and all that. Now, it is quite plain that the Zoroastrian religion as accepted later under Sassanides is more at variance with the Hebrew religion than Cyrus needs have been. The book of Esther too is explicable as relating an early conflict between Jewish and Zoroastrian religion, ending in a temporary setback for the Zoroastrian one. And influencing later Zoroastrianism, so that it appears allied to later Judaism (also against Christianity, as we find when Chosroes III invades Palestine). But neither this consideration, nor the fact that Zoroastrians claim 700-600 B.C. as the dates stands up to the XIXth C. "authorities" of Gore. Neither do they respect the alternative tradition very much (continuing footnote):

But the Greeks, relying on earlier tradition, assigned to him a very remote antiquity--6000 years before Alexander or 5000 years before the Trojan War (Plutarch).

What if Plutarch found Zoroastrians worthier of respect than Isis worship and set an early date to rival Egyptian remote dates? The Chronological Snobbery back then was all for Remote Antiquity (this chronological snobbery still exists, but only if dates are pre-Biblical, older than Creation according to the Bible). I even checked wikipedia, which in its present shape indicates that Plutarch compared Zarathustra to Osiris and Isis mythology. It seems that the Avestas about his life assign to him duels with demons - part Gandalf in Khazad Dûm, part Jesus refusing Satans temptation (like Luther, Zarathustra seems to have regarded second thoughts about his personal illumination as temptations from the evil one). But nothing supernatural about his death, Avesta does not mention it, Shahnahme says he died murdered at the altar. And recent research is more prone to accept the traditional dates, half a century to a century before Cyrus. My sources are Qui était Zarathoustra?, also (following link from previous): Fr-Wiki-Zoroastre and its English counterpart (click "English" button in left margin).

Now, here come we to Moses, a thoroughly bad piece of XIXth C. philology if ever there was one (p. 128):

I will confess myself to be a conservative critic. I mean, for instance, that, while recognising to the full that in the Pentateuch a great deal is attributed to Moses, the great founder of Jewish nationality, which was in fact elaborated in a gradual historic process, the stages of which we can trace more or less clearly in the literature, yet I find it difficult to doubt that the fundamentally ethical character of Israel's worship of Jehovah must be traced back to its Founder ...

Sorry, Gore. That is not Christian. That is applying to the Pentateuch the same method which your disciple CSL so rightly rejected in Fernseeds and Elephants. Pope Pius IX was so right to say - by implication condemning the opposite thesis in the syllabus - that Protestantism is not quite just another form of the same Christian faith, in which it is equally possible to please God. If Pusey might have proven him wrong, you as succeeding Pusey proved him right.* Intellectually speaking, this is not Christianity. It is academolatria. And as we get to Church Fathers, let us quote them rightly. Here is Gore (next page):

Again, we cannot doubt that St. Chrysostom was right when he described the material of Jewish religious rites--'the sacrifices, the cleansings, the new-moons, the ark, and the temple itself,' as derived from their pagan background.

The footnote goes to Hom. in Matt. vi. 3 (P. G. lvii, col. 66) - do please note that the words "derived from their pagan background" are not in Gore's quote. I have read St. John Chrysostom's against the Jews, on internet, and I know that his thought is not that they were simply pagan customs without divine correction, but rather they were divine concessions to their pagan attitude, which they had when coming out of Egypt.

Indeed, if we accept that thought, and accept that God brought Israel out of Egypt, as Christians are bound to, we must accord that the ritual descriptions are from Moses' own time. How so? We know that the Israelites, coming out of Egypt, were not quite content with a merely ethical core of religion, without any ritual. St. Chrysostom describes them as addicts to ritual of a pagan type. So too did they show themselves before Moses, when adoring the Golden Calf.

Therefore it was not quite safe for God to leave their ritual sense empty for later accretions, he had to give them a very detailed ritual of the right sort - in a sense - in order to preserve them from what was a detailed ritual of the wrong sort - in every sense. And, as the fulness of revelation had not yet come, the detailed ritual could not yet be that of the New Law, nor of the Holy Mass, it had to be a shadow and a makeshift. But it had to come at the beginning of Aaronite priesthood because Aaron himself had bowed down to that Golden Calf.

Actually, I did post a link to St John Chrysostom's Adversus Iudaeos on the MSN Group Antimodernism which was closed down in February 2009.** Maybe that was construed as "unacceptable antisemitism" and part of the reason the group was closed down (if my group was the real target, since all groups were closed down, in a fashion that did in actual fact not admit saving all messages from one group to the new kind of groups that MSN lanced - I tried on a much smaller side issue group).

BBL/Hans-Georg Lundahl

*The Gorham case had done so even in a worse way: The case of the Rev. M. Gorham against the Bishop, of Exeter, considered. - Adress to the Clergy of the Diocese of Vermont, by John H. Hopkings, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese. (1849) J. H. Hopkins said therein:

The second opinion, held by some, extends the benefits of infant regeneration, in all cases where the Sacrament is rightly administered, to a complete spiritual renovation of nature: the child being made, in the very act, a living temple of the Holy Ghost, and becoming a new creature in so excellent a sense, that the future aim of the Christian life is chiefly to be directed to the maintenance or recovery of baptismal purity. This notion, to my mind, seems quite untenable.

**Confer history at What was MSN Group Antimodernism? and history of close down at Help for safeguarding messages and Handicapped by a freemason.

1 commentaire:

  1. Pope Pius IX was so right to say - by implication condemning the opposite thesis in the syllabus - that Protestantism is not quite just another form of the same Christian faith, in which it is equally possible to please God.
    Pope Pius IX was so right to say - by implication, by the fact of condemning the opposite thesis in the syllabus - that Protestantism is not quite just another form of the same Christian faith, in which it is equally possible to please God.