restricted access 3. Verbum in corde
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58 chapter three Verbum in corde A ugustine, bishop of Hippo in the first decades of the fifth century, was the great authority for the theorizing of Christian faith in the Latin Middle Ages, and the notion of an interior speech—a word generated in the heart, or verbum in corde, to use his favorite expression —played a primary role in his trinitarian reflections. Thus, his influential De Trinitate contributed, more than any other source, to our present theme’s being written onto the very heart of theology. The expressions verbum mentis and verbum mentale, common in the Middle Ages, are not found as such in his work, but are directly inspired by it, and his doctrine of the interior word— which these expressions inevitably evoked in the eyes of the Scholastics—became , beginning at least with Anselm, an essential component of trinitarian theology in the Latin world. Considered in relation to Plato and Aristotle, the Augustinian framework, by virtue of this theological emphasis, marks a spectacular displacement, for it is insofar as it reveals something of the transcendent divinity that the theory of mind interests Augustine. Not that he takes the latter lightly—far from it: since man was created “in the image of God,” as Genesis proclaims, the most serious investigation imposes itself upon anyone who hopes to comprehend the divine mysteries to the slightest degree. The psychological analyses of De Trinitate often shine with finesse and clarity. Their deep motivation, however, always remains theological, the object being to find in human dimensions, in the intimate relation of the soul to its own interior speech, a model of the generation of the Son by the Father in God. This theological use of our chosen theme did not originate with Augustine. Philo of Alexandria, as we have noted, traced a parallel connection between the duality of logos endiathetos and logos prophorikos in man and that of the Logos immanent in the universe. Other authors of the first century—Heraclitus, Cornutus , Plutarch, to mention only those of whom we have already spoken—also in one sense or another readily established connections between the psychology of human logos and the order of theological or mythological stories—the god Hermes, in particular, was often invoked in this kind of context. But it is above all in the theologians from the end of the second century and beginning of the third—Justin, Irenaeus of Lyon, Theophilus of Antioch, Hippolytus 1. Philo of Alexandria, De vita Mosis II.127 (the relevant passage was quoted at length in chapter 2). F6925.indb 58 F6925.indb 58 10/24/16 12:52:22 PM 10/24/16 12:52:22 PM Verbum in corde 59 of Rome, Tertullian—and in their Gnostic opponents—Valentinus, Basilides, Ptolemy, Marcion, and a host of others—that the vocabulary of philosophical gnoseology (Logos, Noûs, Ennoia) began to be used systematically for the benefit of Christian speculation. In this chapter we shall briefly recall how the theme of logos endiathetos was exploited in theological contexts by the first Greek fathers and how it was subsequently transposed into a nascent Latin theology by such authors as Tertullian and Marius Victorinus, coming finally to consider more directly that famous Augustinian doctrine as it was progressively constructed through the great doctor’s works. The battle against Gnosis From the end of the second century to the age of Augustine (354–430), the logos endiathetos/logos prophorikos pair is current among the Greek fathers, although it plays different roles according to times and places. Athanasius of Alexandria and the fourth-century Cappadocians sometimes invoke it in an admonishing tone to warn sternly against the temptation to assimilate the divine Logos to human logos, whether interior or exterior. A century earlier, Origen knew the terminology but did not himself use it for a direct comparison with the divine order, and his intellectual guide, Clement of Alexandria, 2. References to the relevant passages in the church fathers can be found in many commentators: Aall 1896; Lebreton 1906, 1928; Schmaus 1927; Michel 1950; Paissac 1951; Spanneut 1957; Mühl 1962; Schindler 1965; Wolfson 1976; Lampe 1978; Couloubaritsis 1984; and Colish 1990. 3. Athanasius of Alexandria, De synodis II.21, Patrologia Graeca [hereafter PG] 26, 737; Basil of Caesarea, Homily 16, PG 31, 477; Gregory of Nyssa, Adversus Arium et Sabellium 10, PG 45, 1296B. Lampe (1978) gives in section II.B.2b of his article “Logos” a list of passages from the fathers where recourse to the...