The total absence of need in the true God provides Augustine with a hermeneutic to interpret the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, which were of course no longer continued in his day, but had an enduring presence in the Scriptures: “…their role was to signify what is now done among us, for the purpose of clinging to God and helping our neighbor to the same end.” In other words, the blood sacrifices of the Old Covenant were genuine expressions of those interior dispositions, which, when translated into the practice of love of God and love of neighbor, enable us to attain union with God. The meaning and purpose of sacrifice does not lie in the actual slaughtering of the animal or the destruction of the victim, but in the right intention of those who offered it. Hence comes Augustine’s widely received definition: “Sacrifice, therefore, is the visible sacrament of an invisible sacrifice; that is, it is a sacred sign.”
Bonner argues that Augustine’s theological conception of the Eucharistic sacrifice is traditional and rooted in the Latin Fathers, above all Cyprian’s widely received Letter 63. There are in fact plenty of passages in Augustine’s work where he affirms the sacrificial and propitiatory character of the Eucharist, and he does so at a later stage in book ten of the City of God. This passage comes after a long hiatus, when Augustine returns to the main apologetic thrust of the book, which is his argument against false worship that is exemplified in sacrifices offered to lesser beings and not to the one true God.
, as a result of these points being ignored, in quite a number of Enns's discussions I wished the presentation went in slightly different directions. I will not here treat the use of Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2, as I have discussed that quotation at rather too much length in my commentary on Matthew in the EBC series. But consider how Psalm 95:7-11 is used in Hebrews 3 and 4. Enns makes much of the shift in the position of diov: he thinks that this means that, whereas in Psalm 95 God is angry with his peoplethe forty years of the wilderness wanderings, in Hebrews 3-4 God's anger comes of wilderness wandering (140-142). But this is seriously overstated. Even in the account in Hebrews, it is clear that during the forty years the people are hardening their hearts, rebelling, and testing the Lord and trying him. That is why (diov) God was angry with that generation--i.e. because of this rebellious behavior the forty years. The assumption, surely, is that God's response has been wrath as long as there has been rebellion. The text does not say that God was wrathful during the forty years, but suddenly became wrathful at the end of forty years: the latter way of taking the text demands an antithesis that is simply not there. Instead, what one finds is a small difference in emphasis. One can even venture a guess as to why this small difference in emphasis has taken place: in Hebrews, wants to show his readers how God's wrath finally issued in his refusal to let his covenant people enter the Promised Land. The readers are thereby warned that they, too, might not enter into the ultimate rest, if, like the generation of the exodus, they begin well, but do not persevere to the end. Of course, that lesson was already there in the words of Psalm 95; all that has done is strengthen that point. And meanwhile, what Enns has overlooked in 's brilliant exposition of Psalm 95 is (as we have seen) the way he situates the Psalm within the trajectories of redemptive history to show that even the Old Testament writers did not think that entrance into Canaan constituted the ultimate rest. Collectively they generated a typological trajectory that outstrips the rest of Canaan.
A example cements the problem. The brief linking of Martin Luther and Charles Spurgeon as two men who illustrate how the appeal to "the authority of Scripture" can merely be the language of protest, sometimes resulting in the protestor starting a new denomination or movement (20), is singularly inapt. Of course it's possible to claim Scripture's authority in order to enhance one's own, but I have not found that fault to be worse among those who protest current developments than among those who endorse them. Wright repeatedly emphasizes the special responsibility of those who are "authorized teachers" or "accredited teachers" of the church: I had not noticed him using that expression until he himself was elevated to the see of Durham. But I'll let that pass, and notice how often those who occupy the role of "authorized teacher" in his own denomination have been happy to disown the bodily resurrection of Jesus, deny the incarnation (except in the most metaphorical sense), to go no further, without any serious repercussions whatosever, except for a little charming notoriety. Thank God for those, then, like Luther and Spurgeon, who, in the name of what Scripture says, were willing to sacrifice their reputations to call people to the truth of the Bible . Shall we condemn Athanasius for standing alone? Shall we condemn Paul for confronting Peter? Once again, then, Wright is sometimes not really wrestling with the questions surrounding the authority of Scripture, but is scoring points on somewhat adjacent subjects related to his own theological agendas.
I cannot take the space to deal with every instance Enns adduces, but a few examples will demonstrate that the diversity is not quite as problematic as he wants us to think. Consider the two Proverbs, 26:4 and 26:5: "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself"; "Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes." The fact that these two lie side-by-side is strong evidence that the compiler did not think they are mutually irreconcilable. Indeed, the second part of each proverb hints at the different situations when one or the other might be most appropriate. I have often appealed to this pair of verses to demonstrate the way proverbs work: they are not universal case law. The formal divergence in this instance powerfully embraces more comprehensive reflection than either proverb alone could have done. Yes, Proverbs includes divergent emphases on wealth. But far from being irreconcilable, these diverging emphases--wealth as an evil, wealth as a blessing; poverty as an evil, poverty as a blessing--are utterly realistic, and together paint a more comprehensive picture than one emphasis alone could have done. Why should anyone find these divergent emphases in any sense problematic? True, at a superficial level, passages such as Hos 6:6; Amos 5:21-27; Micah 6:6-8 and others might be taken to be in conflict with the insistence of the Mosaic code that the prescribed sacrifices be offered. But apart from the fact that, as a literary form, Hebrew prophets regularly use a "not this . . . but that" form to articulate strong preference or ultimate preference, these verses are also part of the fabric of Old Testament theology that slightly relativizes the Sinai law, thereby preparing the way for that to which, canonically speaking, the law was pointing (as Heb 10, and many other passages, insist: more on this below). As for diverse emphases in Ecclesiastes, Enns criticizes those who see "Qoheleth as a fool himself, someone whose lack of faith will not allow him to see past the end of his nose. The end of the book does not cancel out the words of Qoheleth" (79). But as one review comments in this regard, "No, they don't cancel them out, but they situate them, especially when it is realized that Qoheleth is speaking from an 'under the sun' perspective and that the second wise man who is quoting him to his son (12:8-14) is trying to lift his son to an above the sun perspective."
Cf. Johannes Zachhuber, “Modern Discourse on Sacrifice and its Theological Background,” in Sacrifice and Modern Thought, ed. Julia Meszaros and Johannes Zachhuber (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) 12–28.
Early modern Catholic theology on the sacrificial character of the Eucharist in response to the Protestant challenge largely focussed on the victima and its immolation in the sacrificial act. From an Augustinian-Thomist perspective the essence of sacrifice [End Page 47] lies not so much in the destruction of the victim as it does in the interior act of offering. Hence comes the definition, which has been so widely received in the Christian tradition and at the same time has spurred much controversy, that sacrifice properly understood is the visible sacrament of an invisible sacrifice.
The apologetic perspective of the City of God may obscure the Christocentrism in Augustine’s theology of sacrifice: the acts of [End Page 45] mercy, through which we cling to God, our supreme good, in a holy society, are made possible only through Christ, the true mediator, who offered himself on the cross in his humanity (in the form of a servant) and also received this sacrifice as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity (in the form of God). Hence the self-offering of Christ, accomplished once for all on Calvary, is an eternal reality and is made present in the Holy Eucharist, as Augustine elucidates in one of his sermons:
Daryl Ellis (Theological Studies): Published “The Ambivalence and Lust of Marriage: With and Beyond Augustine towards a Theology of Marriage as Consecrated Sacrifice,” Scottish Journal of Theology,vol. 66, no. 1 (2013), 30-49.
In September 2010 third-year fellow Gerald Liu and Blair School of Music Professor Gregory Barz released their compilation of East African Hip-Hop, Kampala Flow, on Lime Pulp Records. The compact disc is a compilation of recordings Barz and Liu undertook during Gerald's summer 2008 fieldwork as a Center for the Study of Religion and Culture Fellow. Gerald's article exploring the theological dimensions of HIV/AIDS messages rhymed by two female MC's is forthcoming in a book from Oxford University Press.
Consequently, many historians and theologians tend to read the decrees separately, heralding Trent as either the triumph of scholasticism or the ossification of an antiquated theology of expiation. Nevertheless, if one reads the decrees together—as the [End Page 145] council fathers intended—a theological unity emerges that defies such neat academic categories. Attempting to move beyond a fragmented analysis of the subject, this paper argues that both decrees embody a renewed emphasis on the visible sacramentality of the Eucharist, that is, the Eucharist as making Christ and his sacrifice present to the world sub signis visibilibus—under visible signs.
(e) Finally, Wright's important insistence that the authority of Scripture is nothing other than the authority of God exercised the Scripture, as important as that is (and of course many others have said the same thing), rapidly becomes skewed by Wright's next moves. Wright does not leap to a meditation on, say, Psalm 119, with all the things said there about God's word, God's statutes, God's words, etc.--a lot of them in remarkably atemporal categories. Instead, he stipulates that God's authority must be thought of in terms of his , whether the eternal sovereignty God always manifests, or kingdom understood as the inbreaking of his transforming power to rescue human beings and to bring the creation to its completion. The former notion of kingdom Wright does not take up in connection with Scripture; everything depends on the latter notion of kingdom. As a result, the authority of Scripture becomes one vehicle (perhaps the most important one) of the authority of God as he displays his transforming kingly rule in rescuing people and transforming the world. The result of this is that the authority of Scripture becomes, as we have seen, "a sub-branch of several other theological topics: the mission of the church, the work of the Spirit, the ultimate future hope and the way it is anticipated in the present, and of course the nature of the church." In one sense, this is the same mistake that Webster makes: Webster, it will be recalled, attempts to tie "Scripture" to the entire communicative act, and loses clarity on what is. Wright doesn't do that, exactly; instead, he links the authority of Scripture to God's authority (a good move), reduces God's authority to his redemptive-kingdom display of authority (a bad move), associates the purpose of Scripture with this notion of kingdom (a reductionistic move)--and loses clarity as to what is, as to what is as God displays his authority . We ask again, Does not Scripture's authority stand, even if the church is failing in its mission, and people do not believe this word? "Failure to pay attention to all of these [themes] in discussing how scripture functions [note again: we have leapt from Scripture to how it ] is part of the problem, as we can see when people, hearing the word 'scripture', instantly think of a rule-book--and then, according to taste, either assume that all the rules are to be followed without question or assume that they can all now be broken" (22). But the problem that Wright has himself introduced is so to tie God's authority to the inbreaking kingdom that the authority of Scripture becomes a "sub-branch" of such topics as mission, transformation, ultimate hope, and so forth. How does this follow? Where is the notion, expressed in both Testaments, that God's word is forever settled in heaven, that the grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of the Lord endures forever? Is authority diminished when mission is not accomplished? Is this not rather an instance of God's authority being undiminished, but liable to be manifest now in judgment? Why then should Scripture's authority be diminished, demoted to a "sub-branch" of mission? True, God's authority is in his kingly advance to reconcile rebels to himself and bring in the new heaven and the new earth, but it is not to be with this kingdominion. God's authority is also displayed in the courts of heaven; it is displayed in his sweeping, universal, sovereignty (which Wright, as I've said, does not develop in connection with Scripture). In both Testaments, the authority of Scripture is sometimes tied to God's reliability in both word and deed--and when in word, to God's reliability in speech, and thus to his truthfulness, whether he is believed or not. God's authority is chimerical and deceptive if he himself is not reliable: the point is developed at length by the Prophets and by some of the Psalmists. By the same token, insofar as God's authority is displayed in Scripture, the authority of Scripture is chimerical and deceptive if it is not reliable. It is certainly true that God's word is often described in performative categories, to use a term much loved by speech-act theorists: God's word things, and these things are regularly bound up with God's redemptive purposes, and thus with the kingdom. But God's word is also often described in truth categories (which of course are also allowed by speech-act theorists), which inform, instruct, reform, teach, and so forth, and this word is true and reliable (as God himself is, for God discloses himself by this means) whether people accept it or not.