Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Quote for the Day...

“The normative theologians are the authors of Scripture."
--Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology (trans., M. F. McCarthy; San Francisco: Ignatius, 1987), 321.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Matthew 9:35-10:8

The literary structure of Matthew 9:35-10:8 seems to highlight Jesus' act of giving his authority to the twelve:

A Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and heals 9:35
B People like “sheep without a shepherd” 9:36
C Pray to send out laborers 9:38
D Calls the twelve 10:1
E gives twelve authority 10:1
D the names of the twelve 10:2
C Sent out the twelve 9:38
B only to “lost sheep” of Israel 10:6
A Apostles preach Kingdom and heal 10:7-8

Friday, October 27, 2006

JP Catholic Event of the Year

On November 11th, John Paul the Great Catholic University will hold its 2nd Annual Celebration Gala. Internationally known Catholic actor Eduardo Verastegui will be speaking. Eduardo is currently making waves in America with his new film, Bella, which was the winner of the prestigious Toronto Film Festival People's Choice Award.

You are going to be hearing a lot about this film in the months ahead.

I will also be speaking at the Gala--though I have no movies coming out.

This event is going exciting. If you're interested in what our new school is all about, if you interested learning more about how Catholics are infiltrating the media, you don't want to miss this event.

Go here for more details.

Making Essene

From the New Testament we know about different Jewish groups in Jesus' day: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Zealots. Another group, not mentioned in the New Testament, was the Essenes.

The ancient Jewish historian Josephus tells us that the Essenes were one of the four main Jewish groups of his day. He gives us an account of the Essenes' meals:

“…when they again assemble in one place and, after girding their loins with linen clothes, bathe their bodies in cold water. After this purification, they assemble in a private apartment which none of the uninitiated is permitted to enter; pure now themselves, they repair to the refectory, as to some sacred shrine. When they have taken their seats in silence, the baker serves out the loaves to them in order, and the cook sets before each one plate with a single course. Before meat the priest says a grace, and none partake until after the prayer.” [Jewish Wars 2:129-31]

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Update on Fr. Scott

Thanks to all of you who have been keeping Fr. Scott in your prayers. I am happy to report that he is on the road to recovery. For more information you can visit the parish's website and go to his Care Page.

God bless you Father Scott...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Dei Verbum and Divine Pedagogy (Part 3)

Be sure to read Parts 1 & 2...

After the sin of the golden calf, the Levites alone were given the priesthood. Why? Well, imagine the consequences of this. Now whenever Israel gathered to worship they would remember their sin--the ones leading them in worship are the same individuals who killed the idolaters, i.e., their own family members. Furthermore, since Aaron led Israel in this idolatry, constructing the golden calf, he would now head up the offering of bulls and goats in the sanctuary.

Understanding this is key to grasping the logic of the Levitical law code. Leviticus explains: "[The LORD said to Moses…] Aaron shall present the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house; he shall kill the bull as a sin offering for himself" [Lev 16:11]. Aaron has to make atonement not only for the people, but specifically for himself.

The change in the priesthood implied a change in the law. Hebrews 7:12 explains, "For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well." The secondary laws added because of Israel's sinfulness were known as the deuterosis in early Christian writings. An example of this would be the Didascalia Apostolorum, which describes the "second legislation" of the sacrificial code given at Sinai [DA, chapter 26].

The Old Testament itself bears witness to the idea that Israel had been given a "lower" law. The book of Ezekiel outlines God's dealings with Israel. The Lord explains to Ezekiel, "Moreover I gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not have life..." (Ezek 20:23).

Hahn and Bergsma explain that the reference here is the book of Deuteronomy [Scott Hahn and John Bergsma, "What laws were 'not good'? A canonical approach to the theological problem of Ezek 20:25-26," JBL 123/2 (2004): 201-218] . Specifically, the laws that "were not good" refer to the fact that whereas prior to Deuteronomy, the Israelites had been told that all sacrifices were to be offered at the central sanctuary (cf. Lev 17:1-8), Deuteronomy only mandated a yearly pilgrimage to the sanctuary (cf. Deut 15:20) for the sacrifice of firstlings (Deut 12:6, 17; 14:22-23; 15:19, 20). In other words, whereas Leviticus explained that all sacrifices were to be brought to the Lord, Deuteronomy explains that only the firstlings are to be offered at the sanctuary.

In addition, whereas the Deuteronomic code allows Israelites to offer substitute animals, including, apparently, in the place of their firstlings (Deut 14:22-26), Leviticus explicitly forbids this practice (Lev 27:9-10, 28).

Hahn and Bergsma conclude:
Thus the distinctly Deuteronomic practice of making annual pilgrimage to the central sanctuary represented a defiling concession (i.e., a cultic sin of omission): the sacrifice of (only) the firstlings--with its corrollary, the profane slaughter of all non-firstlings--was completely deficient by stricter Priestly standards, especially concerning the handling of blood. Furthermore, the consecration of firstlings that was commanded by the Deuteronomic code and the substitution that was allowed were totally inadequate from the Priestly perspective. [Scott Hahn and John Bergsma, "What laws were 'not good'?", 217.]
Why does Dueteronomy make such concessions. I think one reason is the fact that Deuteronomy is given to Israel prior to entering the promised land. In the wilderness it was much easier for the Israelites to bring their sacrifices to the Tent at the center of the camp. In the promised land, however, they would spread out across a much greater area. The tribal territories encompassed a much larger geographical area than the "camp" of Israel in the desert. Bringing sacrifices to the central sanctuary (cf. Deut 12:10-13) entailed a much greater hardship. In this God accommodated himself to the Israelites. So much more could be said here about all of this, but due to the limited scope of this essay, that will have to suffice for now.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church picks up the concept of divine pedagogy, alluding to Dei Verbum. CCC 53 states,

"The divine plan of Revelation is realized simultaneously "by deeds and words which are intrinsically bound up with each other"[DV 2] and shed light on each another. It involves a specific divine pedagogy: God communicates himself to man gradually. He prepares him to welcome by stages the supernatural Revelation that is to culminate in the person and mission of the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ."
To prepare humanity for what He would ultimately do in Christ, God in the Old Testament therefore had to make certain allowances. Again, we can cite Dei Verbum 15, which explains that the Old Testament contains some things "which are incomplete and temporary" that "nevertheless show us true divine pedagogy."

The pedagogy, however, does not simply imply a "stooping" but also a raising. The fathers explained that the sacrificial laws of the deuterosis functioned as a kind of medicine. Theodoret, for example, described the Lord as the all-wise physician (ho pansophos iatros), who allowed for the Levitical sacrifices because of Israel's weakness as a drug (to pharmakon) for the disease of Egypt [cf. Graecorum Affectionum Curatio, 7]. Of course, if the deuterosis is a medicine, it could also be said that used improperly it could also render one sick and become a poison [cf. Stephen D. Benin, The Footprints of God: Divine Accommodation in Jewish and Christian Thought (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993), 87-88].

St. Augustine uses the imagery of medicine, combining the image of God as physician with that of God's Fatherhood.
Whoever denies that both Testaments come from the same God for the reason that our people are not bound by the same sacraments as those by which the Jews were bond and still are bound, cannot deny that it would be perfectly just and possible for one father of a family to lay one set of commands upon those for whom he judged a harsher servitude to be useful, and a different set on those whom he deigned to adopt into the position of sons. If the trouble is that the moral precepts of the old law are lower and in the Gospel higher, and that therefore both cannot come from the same God, whoever thinks in this way may find difficulty in explaining how a single physician prescribes one medicine to weaker patients through his assistants, and another by himself to stronger patience, all to restore health [De Vera Religione, XVII, 34].
Relating the use of medicine to the divine economy, Augustine writes,

The art of medicine remains the same and quite unchanged, but it changes its prescriptions for the sick, since the state of their health changes. So the divine providence remains entirely without chang, but comes to the aid of mutable creatures in various ways, and commands or forbids different things at different times according to the different stages of their disease...
In keeping with this imagery the fathers saw God's concessions in the Old Testament as necessary for the "curing" of Israel.

The ultimate expression of divine condescension for the fathers is the Incarnation. Jesus stoops down, becoming man, in order to make us partakers in the divine nature. John Chrysostom writes,
"Do you see that he did many things so as to give an example? A teacher who is full of wisdom stammers along with his stammering young students. But the teacher's stammering does not come from a lack of learning; it is a sign of the concern he feels toward the children. In the same way, Christ did not do these things because of the lowliness of his essence, he did them as a condescension" [On the incompreh., X, 2, 786. Cited in Benin, 70].
Athanasius thus writes, "In like manner then, if the blessed Peter speak of the Divine Word also, as sent to the children of Israel by Jesus Christ, it is not necessary to understand that the Word is one and Christ another, but that they were one and the same by reason of the uniting which took place in His divine and loving condescension and becoming man. [Discourse IV Against the Arians, 31]."

As a post-script to this essay, we might wonder what God's example of accommodation and condescension mean for us as parents, teachers and catechists. If Scripture reveals a divine pedagogy, how might we apply that model to the way we raise up children in the faith today? Comments are of course welcome.

Listen to me on the radio...

I haven't posted on this in a while, but just a reminder--I am still on the radio every Friday from 2-3pm Eastern Time (11am-12pm Pacific).

To listen on-line go here and click the "Radio" tab (you'll figure it out from there).

To find a radio station in your area go here.

And you can also listen in on SIRIUS Satellite Radio [channel 160] or shortwave.

Samuel as the New Moses

Like Joshua, Samuel is also presented as a new Moses. Like Moses, Samuel
-- is given up at birth (Exod 2; 1 Sam 1:21-28)
-- he receives a divine call (Exod 3:4; 1 Sam 3:4)
-- he intercedes for Israel after they have sinned (Ex 32; 1 Sam 7:7-14)
-- he leads Israel in battle (Deut 2; 1 Sam 7)
-- he anoints leaders (Lev 8; 1 Sam 10, 16)
-- he renews the covenant (Deut 31; 1 Sam 7)
-- he presents Israel with future consequences of their decisions (Deut 28-30; 1 Sam 12)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Joshua: a New Moses

Jesus' name in Hebrew is "Joshua". It is often hard for us to appreciate the significance of this. What connection is there between Jesus and Joshua? Well, Joshua is presented as a New Moses--much like Jesus later is.

Like Moses, Joshua...
-- rules Israel with the book of the law Moses had written (Josh 1:8-9)
-- leads Israel through waters that are miraculously parted (the Red Sea/the Jordan) (Josh 3-4)
-- removes his shoes in the presence of God (Josh 5:15; Exod 3:5)
-- intercedes for the nation when they have transgressed the covenant (Josh 7:7-9; Exod 32:11-14; Deut 9:25-29)
-- leads them in a Passover (Josh 5:10-11; Exod 11-12)
-- serves a military leader (Joshua 12:1-6: Moses’ victories; 12:7-24: Joshua’s victories)
-- makes provisions for the allotment of the land (Josh 13:8-32, 14:1ff)
-- renews the covenant (Joshua follows the prescriptions laid out by Moses in Deut 27:1-8 (cf. Josh 8)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Dei Verbum and Divine Pedagogy (Part 2)

Be sure to read Part 1.

Dei Verbum 15 affirms that the Old Testament, though inspired Scripture, contains "some things which are incomplete and temporary." As we saw from Paul's explanation in Galatians, this view is consistent with the New Testament. In fact, Jesus also makes this point.

In Matthew 19, Jesus is asked a question about divorce and remarriage. Of course, in the book of Deuteronomy Moses makes provisions for divorce. Jesus responds by saying, "“For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” (Matt 19:8).

The allowance made for divorce in Deuteronomy is a great example of divine accommodation and pedagogy. From the beginning, "it was not so," however, Moses had to make a provision for it in Deuteronomy. Why?

Well, ancient Jewish and Christian writers had an answer. Thomas echoes it in the Summa. He writes, "As in the Mosaic law it was allowable by dispensation to grant a bill of divorce in order to avoid wife-murder..." (Supplement, Q. 65, A. 5). Moses had to allow divorce? Why? Because he knew that if the Israelite men were told they could only have one wife at a time they would kill their wives to marry another.

Keep in mind, a person could only be convicted of murder if there were at least two witnesses (cf. Deut 17:6). A requirement like that would make it very easy for a husband to "get away with murder." So, as Jesus explained, Moses allowed divorce for Israel's "hardness of heart."

In fact, Deuteronomy makes a number of concessions--containing a number of things not found in the books of Exodus-Numbers. For example, Deuteronomy allows for harem warfare--the command to slaughter ALL the inhabitants in the land, including children. Why? It has to do with God's divine pedagogy. To explain this though we need to look more carefully at Israel's relationship with God in Exodus-Deuteronomy.

After leading Israel out of Egypt through the Red Sea, the Lord brings His people to Mt. Sinai. Here He seeks to make them a “holy nation” and a “royal priesthood” (Ex. 19:6). God gives Israel the 10 Commandments, which were written by God's own finger into the stone tablets. In addition, He gives them civil laws, telling them how to deal with certain criminal actions. Israel offers sacrifice to God and Moses seals the covenant by sprinkling the blood of the slaughtered animals on the people. Moses calls the blood, “the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you” (Ex. 24:8). The people swear: “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient” (Ex. 24:7).

While Moses is up on the mountain, Israel reverts back to the idolatrous practices of the Egyptians. The people construct an image of the Egyptian god Apis, a bull god. Israel rejects God and reverts to the gods of Egypt. From this we see that though God brought Israel out of Egypt, taking Egypt out of Israel would prove to be even more difficult.

Moses comes down from the mountain and, upon seeing the idolatry of Israel, smashes the tablets of the Ten Commandments. This symbolizes what Israel has done: they have broken their covenant with the Lord. Moses asks, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” (Ex. 32:26). The Levites respond. Moses instructs them to kill the idolaters. 3,000 Israelites are put to the sword. Moses then tells the Levites, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the LORD, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, that he may bestow a blessing upon you this day” (Ex. 32:29).

No longer is Israel a nation of priests--from now on only one tribe of Israel will serve as priests, the Levites. As we shall see, in all of this we see God's Fatherly pedagogy...

To be continued...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Pray for Fr. Scott Daugherty

I ask you all to please offer up prayers and whatever other spiritual offerings you may be able to make for an amazing priest who is currently being hospitalized for a heart attack. Fr. Scott Daugherty is a priest in the diocese of Fresno, CA. He is truly a dynamic priest, a godly leader, who loves our Lord, His Church and sacred Scripture.

When he's not serving his flock, he's praying and studying. He is a big supporter of Scott Hahn's work and the Saint Paul Center. In fact, during our first annual West Coast Biblical studies conference, the largest single group came from his parish--hundreds of miles away in Fresno.

He spends many hours each week driving as part of his minsitry--he has extremely large parish boundaries. When he's not praying, he's listening to cds. When he's not serving as a priest or praying, he's reading books.

A true man of God--a rare jewel.

Lord, pour out your blessings upon him.

Please spread the word. For more information, go here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dei Verbum and Divine Pedagogy (Part 1)

Dei Verbum 13 reads as follows: "In Sacred Scripture, therefore, while the truth and holiness of God always remains intact, the marvelous "condescension" of eternal wisdom is clearly shown, "that we may learn the gentle kindness of God, which words cannot express, and how far He has gone in adapting His language with thoughtful concern for our weak human nature." (11) For the words of God, expressed in human language, have been made like human discourse, just as the word of the eternal Father, when He took to Himself the flesh of human weakness, was in every way made like men."

The reference here [footnote 11] reads: St. John Chrysostom "In Genesis" 3, 8 (Homily l7, 1): PG 53, 134; "Attemperatio" [in English "Suitable adjustment"] in Greek synkatabasis.

Let's unpack this wonderful paragraph.

The idea here is that God stoops down to us--like a good Father--in order to raise us up as his children. This concept--the Council uses the Greek term, "synkatabsis"--was an essential term for the Church fathers' interpretation of Scripture. It helped explained the relationship between the Old Testament and the New.

One exercise I often do with my students goes as follows. I begin by asking them to name as many things they can think of found in the Old Testament that are not found in the New. "Animal sacrifice", "kosher laws," "divorce"--as they shout them out I write them all on the board.

I then proceed to tell them how the earliest heresies in the Church involved some denial of the unity of the two Testaments. I'll say something to the affect, "After all, it seems as though you have not only two different Testaments but two different gods. How would you respond?"

The answer: synkatabasis-- divine "accommodation." That is, God "accommodates" himself to us. Put another way, God stoops down to his children's level.

The term fits in with another term used in Dei Verbum, "pedagogy." In Dei Verbum 15 the Council Fathers speak of the books of the Old Testament, explaining how they show us how God was preparing the way for the coming of Christ. We read, "These books, though they also contain some things which are incomplete and temporary, nevertheless show us true divine pedagogy."

The term "pedagogy" comes from a Greek word, paidagogos. The word comes from two words: pais (gen. paidos) "child" and agogos "leader" [from agein "to lead"]. The term referred to a child's tutor or teacher. Paul uses the term to describe the Law in Galatians 4:23-24:
"Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. So that the law was our custodian [paidagogos] until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a paidagogos [custodian]; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith."
Paul's words in fact represent the custom at the time in the Greco-Roman world. Children were "led" by a pedagogue until maturity. Until that time they were treated as the slaves of the hosuehold. However, once they came of age they no longer were led by the tutor and were considered full-blown "sons".

The idea here is that the Old Testament law was temporary--a pedagogue. The Church fathers expanded Paul's analogy to describe the role of the whole Old Testament. Throughout the Old Testament God was "raising" his children--stooping down to their level. He didn't reveal to them the mysteries of faith, such as the Trinity, right out of the gate. God educated the human race in a way similar to the education of a child.

Augustine picks up the analogy:

“The education of the human race, represented by the people of God, has advanced, like that of an individual, through certain epochs, or, as it were, ages, so that it might gradually rise from earthly to heavenly things, and from the visible to the invisible. This object was kept so clearly in view, that, even in the period when temporal rewards were promised, the one God was presented as the object of worship, that men might not acknowledge any other than the true Creator and Lord of the spirit, even in connection with the earthly blessings of this transitory life… It was best, therefore, that the soul of man, which was still weakly desiring earthly things, should be accustomed to seek from God alone even these petty temporal boons, and the earthly necessities of this transitory life, which are contemptible in comparison with eternal blessings, in order that the desire even of these things might not draw it aside from the worship of Him, to whom we come by despising and forsaking such things” (City of God, Book X, 14)

To be continued...