The Reshaped Mind: Searle, the Biblical Writers, and Christs Blood (Biblical Interpretation Series)

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The central thesis of this volume is that the bib… More. Biblical Interpretation Series. Essays in this volume describe the shift in bibli… More. Church-representatives like Finnian, Columbanus, the anon- ymous author of the Ambrosianum, Cummean and Theodore developed a new conception of repentance that protected privacy and guaranteed a discrete, an affordable as well as a pre- dictable penance, the paenitentia privata. They not only connected to the therapeutic aspect of repentance in the Oriental Church by adopting basic ideas of Basil of Caesarea and John Cas- sian, they also established an astonishing network in using their mutual interrelations.

Here the earlier penitentials served as source for the later ones. But it is remarkable that the authors in no way appeared as simple copyists, but also as creative revisers, who took regard of the pastoral necessities of the entrusted flock. Email: wil- helm. The aim of the authors was to enable the confessors to do the healing dialogue qualitatively in a high standard; quantity was not their goal.

The penitents should feel them- selves healed, not punished. KEY WORDS: Ambrosianum, Basil, Cassian, Columbanus, confessor, Cummean, Finnian, Insular Church, Oriental Church, paenitentia canonica, paenitentia privata, remedial character of penance, penitent, penitential literature, sixth-eighth centuries, sin as an ailment of the soul, soul-friend, confessor as a spiritual physician Theological Preamble The advent of the Kingdom of God in Jesus, personally, contains as an in- trinsic quality the opportunity for conversion and reconciliation as often as required Matthew , because in the sight of Jesus repentance metanoia is an on-going process of life.

So it is astonishing that a serious problem with the case of repeated sinning and the chance of following rec- onciliation appeared in the developing community of Jesus-followers, in the growing church. The dynamics of the beginning laid the focus on forming a community living a holy and exemplary life. Thus, the baptism initially represented the only way for the forgiveness of a sinful life.

The Reshaped Mind

But the experi- ence that performance of a faultless life even after the divine gift of baptism demanded too much of the faithful, eventually led to the undesirable devel- opment that people postponed their baptism to the last moment of life, on- to the deathbed. Therefore, from the beginning of the church onwards an urgent demand can be perceived for the opportunity of repentance. In addi- tion to this problem confession of the fault as well as the imposition of pen- ance occurred publicly in front of the congregation exomologesis, in Tertulli- an 9, 1.

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Not only that the transgressor was blamed for his or her transgression the penance especially turned out extremely harsh. Sin was seen as an ailment of the soul. Thus the penance had the character of a remedy. Healing, not punishment was in the foreground. Using the meta- phor of physicians of the body the physicians of the souls are called to use appropriate medicine to cure the ill soul. The model for these doctors of soul is Christ. So the confessors, the spiritual physicians have to assist Christ in the pastoral care for the sinner by an engaged spiritual guid- ance.

This guide on the one hand is called on to help people in recognizing temptation and how to overcome it. On the other hand, he encourages the sinner to repent and fulfill the penance until he or she becomes reconciled with God and the church. In this way, he acts like an anmchara, a soul-friend, who is mentioned in the later Insular Penitentials. The act of repentance, meaning the reception of confession, the imposition of penance as well as the rite of reconciliation, was normally reserved to the bishop.

But this procedure too did not resolve the problems of repentance. On the contrary: because the moment of dying abbreviated all periods of penance the proce- dure of repentance also became increasingly postponed to old age or even to the hour of death. Indeed, a new practice of repentance appeared in the sixth century at the Western edge of the Christian World: in particular authorities of the Irish Church or areas of its influence on the Continent and in England hereinafter: Insular Church developed a way of repentance which protects privacy and guarantees an affordable as well as a predictable penance: the paenitentia poenitentia privata, conceptualized in the Penitentials.

Catalogues and handouts easily come under the suspicion as tending to superficiality, because they are generally designed for mass use and distribution. To prove that this light-minded rating by no means meets the actual value of the Pen- itentials for the historic and pastoral development of the church in the insu- lar world and the continental of its influence needs a detailed scrutiny.

This applies particularly to the basic penitence-writings of the sixth to the early eighth century. At a time when word-of-mouth, face to face talks or letters were the sole means of communication a surprisingly well working network can be detected in the writings of this genre. The selection of these peni- tence-writings in this essay is neither casual nor unplanned. It will become apparent that the selected Penitentials are basic ones.

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Mutual influences are evidently, they partly built on each other, complete the content and form a pattern for later writings from the eighth century onwards. They also rep- resent ecclesiastical documents, which-dealing with partially rough human behaviour and attitudes-provide revealing glimpses into the life of the de- veloping Church and its relations with an often unruly and violent civil so- ciety at a time when secular documentation is scant.

The Writings and Their Origin The modalities of this alteration turned up in the different writings about repentance in the sixth, the seventh and the eighth century compiled by British and Irish authors, who acted as collectors, compilers and revisers. The name of others is attached to certain issues, but their authorship is questionable: Gildas and David of Menevia sixth century, Bieler and McNeill and Gamer Two more ap- pear as decisions of local synods of far reaching influence: Sinodus Aqui- lonalis and Sinodus Luci Victoriae sixth century, Bieler and McNeill and Gamer But good arguments can be made that he was an Irish ecclesiastical in the environment of Columbanus on the Continent.

A cluster of writings eventually represents records of the late seventh and early eighth century Discipulus Umbrensium taken from the advice of the important authority Theodorus, the former Greek monk and archbishop of Canterbury Finsterwalder But no original writing or written- report of these authorities has survived.


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  • So it is not surprising that not only the named authorities can be counted among the authors, who were responsi- ble for the texts. Disciples and followers later took over, but also revised the rules to adapt them to a changing target group, political and social envi- ronment, necessary pastoral request and different ecclesiastical areas. Therefore, all these documents possess a file character and allow an insight into the altering ecclesiastical, but also civil circumstances and conditions. Each of the selected writings simultaneously represents in its own way a pat- tern for further penitence-writings from the eighth century onwards.

    In the course of time the statements give evidence of an ever-increasing network- ing and reveal the observation that quite often the later writers used the earlier writings as source. Severity of Trespasses and Scheme of Vices Three general classes of trespasses spiritalia vulnera, vitia: P.

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    Ambrosianum, delicta: P. Cummeani, cicatrix: D.

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    Umbrensium according to their severity iuxta magnitudinem culparum: P. Columbani appear in the different penitence- writings: capital peccata capitalia: Excerpta Davidis, crimina capitalia respec- tively peccata praevalenta: P. Columbani, mala, lapsus: D. Umbrensium or later called mortal sins peccatum ad mortem: P. Ambrosianum , grave sins scan- dalum, magnum crimen: P. Vinniani , and minor sins peccatum parvum: P. Am- brosianum, minutae causae: P. Although the multitude of terms to describe the severity of sins shows that the boundaries are often fluent, the networking relations run like a common thread through all the Penitentials.

    It requires some effort to unravel these tangled threads of cross- and inter- connections, but exactly this examination reveals the astonishing network. The contribution of the bridge-building authority John Cassian c. These Irish roots as well as his sojourn on the continent the author of the P.

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