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On the contrary, even the appropriate designation of the bishop of Hippo is a matter of fierce debate: depending on which Orthodox theologian one happens to read, the verdicts on Augustine range from "heretic," to "blessed," to "saint. A third option seems to be an 1 I am profoundly grateful to all those who have provided critical feedback at various stages of this article: Fr Joseph Mueller and Dr John D.

On the other hand, Nicodemus Hagiorites' unin- formed acceptance of "saint" Augustine went so far as to attribute to him the thought of the Incarnation as preordained independently of the Fall. Fr Seraphim Rose articulated what may be called a "pastoral" reception of the "blessed" Augus- tine: "I myself fear the cold hearts of the 'intellectually correct' much more than any errors you mightfindin Augustine It appears, therefore—and we are indebted here to the work of recent scholars—that the last time Augustine was taken seriously in a theological manner by Orthodox thinkers was in fourteenth-cen- tury Byzantium, when both St Gregory Palamas and his adversaries seem to have known Augustines De Trinitate and consciously reacted to its theology.

Even if the ultimately victorious Palamite synthesis rejected many of his ideas, "Palamas, quite clearly, was much less reluctant to benefit from Augustine's theological thought than many of his present day interpreters. Casiday deplores the fact that authors such as Fedotov, Bulgakov, Berdiaev, and Florovsky had a "painfully limited" knowledge of Augustine, which made their engagement with him "remarkably unencumbered by knowledge of the source material. One should not forget, however, that in the Russian theological academies of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, instruction and even everyday conversation!

There may then be the possibility of reading the Hesychast Controversy involved in this ex- change, now underway within the Orthodox community itself, and dealing—inter alia—with the question of how to assimilate Augustine. However, Augustine's understanding of theophanies is certainly an important element of the debate. The choice to discuss only statements in De Trinitate is not only a matter of imposing certain limits on this essay. My main reason is that, in a careftil historical study of Augustine s treatment of theophanies from the Commentary on Gaktians to Against Maximinus , Jean-Louis Maier has already shown that "De Trinitate represents Saint Augustine's definitive response to the problem of theophanies.

In the third section, I will attempt to relate Augustine's treatment of the theophanies to other areas of his theology. Finally, I will attempt a critical evalua- tion of Augustine's approach, together with a justification of the method and criteria employed in the evaluation. After noting that "the person of God Himself is not assumed in every event which is a message" from God 3. These pages comprise the fourth chapter of the book, en- titled "Les theophanies de L'Ancien Testament. Commenting on such theophanic passages as Gen Abrahams sacrifice or Ex "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God ofJacob" , Augustine considers that the appearance and the words were those of a real, created angelic being.

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However, on close examination, God is present in the the- ophany only inasmuch as the angel speaks expersona dei 3. On the other hand, it can be said that the Word of God "was" in the angelic manifestation on Sinai in the sense that He was present in the decrees of the Law, and also in the sense that these theophanies "prepared and foretold" the Incarnation 3.

The second type of theophany is constituted by apparitions of "a form which is not that of an angel, although ordered and prepared for its ministry by an angel, in ea specie quae non est quod angelus quamuisperangelum disposita ministretuf 3. The respective notes the following with regard to the use of "persona" in Augustine's theology of the theophanies: " First he presents it a hypothetical case a situation in which "one of many angels Theophanies and Vision of God in Augustines De Trinitate 71 creature will, by angelic manipulation, come to signify something about God and God s will.

The third type of theophany is rather more "spectacular. Two elements are clearly emphasized here: on the one hand, this created matter had not existed prior to the theophany and is brought into existence by the will of God. The Historical Background to Augustine's Discussion of the Theophanies The use of Old Testament theophanies as building-blocks for Chris- tology is a very prominent and characteristic feature of early Chris- tian thought. In the second century, apologists such as Justin 11 " The "stuff' of these manifestations is "form of a creature, made for the occasion" 2.

A second context in which theophanies play an important role is the anti-dualistic polemic of authors such as Irenaeus or Tertullian: their argument that Christ is not a "new" God rests upon the thesis that he has already manifested himself in the old dispensa- tion. Theophanies were also invoked against modalism: since Christ has appeared in Old Testament theophanies, whereas the Father has not, it follows that the Son is distinct from the Father.

First of all, the identification of Christ with the Glory, Name, Angel, Son of Man manifested to the patriarchs and prophets, was neither the fruit of second-century polemics, nor a pious exegetical tradition among others. This is rather a constitutive element of early Christology. Greene and Max M. James R. Davila et al. What is at stake in identifying the "Lord," the "Angel of the Lord," the pillar of fire, the "Glory," etc, with Christ is the christological interpretation of the transformative experience shared by "our fathers," the patriarchs and prophets.

Him "who wraps himself in light as in a garment. Whom does Judas deliver to death?

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Him who delivered Israel out of bondage. Who is given gall and vinegar? Who is judged? The Judge of Israel.

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Who is it that has his arms stretched out and is hanging on the Cross? For a more detailed account, see Bogdan G. After this rather long excursus, I return to the discussion of the- ophanies in Augustine. The historical background that is immedi- ately relevant to the discussion in De Trinitate, is the polemic engagement between three parties in the second half of the fourth century: the Modalists who denied the hypostatic existence of the Word, claiming that the three hypostases are merely three "modes" of divine manifestation , the Homoians advocates of the thesis that the Son is "similar," homoios, to the Father , and the supporters of Nicea.

It is this three-side theological conflict that spurs the intense debate over the theophanies that is echoed in De Trinitate However, the Homoians also extracted a subordinationist doctrine from the- ophanies: since the Son was manifested in theophanies, he must be visible in a way that the Father is not, and therefore be of a different nature than the Father. Barnes considers the idea of the Son's inher- ent visibility to have been "the bedrock of early Latin Trinitarian theology. Since Augustine's contribution to this debate is, to a large extent, a rehearsal of traditional anti-Homoian arguments, it is necessary to see what these arguments were.

The Homoian interpretation of theophanies relied on the following causal chain: in the theopha- nies, the Son is visible ergo mutable ergo not divine. According to their explanation, the Son is not mutable, because even while conde- scending to manifest himself to the patriarchs and prophets, he is and remains invisible in his essence. Invisible according to nature, the Son is seen in the theophanies according to his will, in conde- scension to the weakness of human perception.

As Studer observes, the distinction between what remains invisible the divine natura and what becomes visible the species produced by the will could raise suspicions about a composite character of the Son. Well, then, was the Son visible? Certainly not , although he was the Face of God He was visible indeed in the flesh, but was invisible before his appearance in the flesh" Adv.

Studer, Zur Theophanie-Exegese, 8, In Hillary's words, "[t]he resemblance was perfect between himself, after his birth, and him- self, as he had been seen in vision.

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As he was born, so he had appeared; as he had appeared, so was he born. However, unsatisfied with what he probably per- ceived as his predecessors' incomplete solutions, Augustine will take several innovative theological moves. As for Gregory of Elvira, Hilary and Ambrose, even when they are describing the theo- phanic phenomena loosely as "created" or "material," their under- standing of theophanies comes much closer to that of patristic writers in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Numidia, Palestine, Syria, and Greece, than to the new solutions advanced by the bishop of Hippo.

This issue, however, requires a separate investigation. Augustine's Revolutionary Theology of the Theophanies Augustine shares with his predecessors the distinction between natura and the species produced by divine will. But he finds this solution incomplete. He solves the paradoxical coexistence of what is visible and what is invisible in the theophany by severing the ontological link between the two, so that the species is no longer "owned" by the subject of the natura.

The exegetical translation of this position is especially relevant for what I have called theopha- nies of the first type: unlike earlier authors, who would interpret "angel" as a reference to Christ in the form of an angel, Augustine has two subjects involved in the action: the angel—a real, created angel—and God who speaks his words through him.

What he 5. Theophanies and Vision of God in Augustines De Trinitate 77 means by "signification" is, then, not the presence of God himself, but rather God's "impersonation" by an angel. Further elabora- tion is necessary at this point on the mode of divine presence in the theophanies, and the "who" in the theophanies. According to Augustine, God produces visible effects in the creature "in order to signify his presence, and to reveal himself in them If the creature is an angel first type of theophany , God is present in the theophany inasmuch as he is "impersonated" by the angel.

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If it is a pre-existing body second type theophany , God is present in the theophany inasmuch as the angelic "prepara- tion" of this body makes the latter capable of signifying something about him. If the creature is not a pre-existent creature, but one cre- ated for the occasion, God is present in the theophanies inasmuch as his presence and will are signified by the various human or other forms that are made manifest. In conclusion, in the first two cases, theophanies are either angelophanies or evanescent manifestation created for the occasion.

For pre-Augustinian authors, instead, the visible manifestation is the Son Himself direcdy present and directly active in the lineaments of the visible form of an angel, human being, and so forth. As I have already said, what all authors before Augustine share, throughout Syriac, Greek, and pre-Augustinian Latin Christianity, is a tradition of interpreting the theophanies as "Christo- phanies. Legeay, "L'Ange et les theophanies," passim. This new understanding seems, as I said, revolutionary.

Andrew Louth, on the contrary, asserts that Augustine s new understanding of the theophanies exemplifies a theological shift taking place not only in the West but also in the East, and that the Corpus Dionysiacum offers something comparable to Augustine's interpre- tation of the theophanies. The very attributes which constitute, as it were, the Son's capacity to reveal are judged as decisive indica- tions of the Son's inferior status to the Father who is revealed by the Son—the Fa- ther who is the 'one true God'" Barnes, "The Visible Christ," Dionysius, CH IV.

Jahrhunderts, ed. Bienert and U. See also John N. Jones not to be confused with John D. Indeed, the logical out- come of thinking that "the Trinity works inseparably in everything that God works" 1. Certain theophanies, however, can be associated with a particular divine person. For instance, the dove at baptism or the tongues offireat Pentecost signify the Holy Spirit, while "the voice from above" is that of the Father.

Augustine solves this problem by pointing to the paradigmatic character of the Incarnation, where the entireTrmixy is involved in "producing" the human form 2. Similarly, the entire Trinity is at work in "produc- ing" the created forms of theophanies, through which a specific divine person may be signified.


The main arguments are concen- trated in notes 7, 8, and 9. A more precise determination is quite easy for theophanies of the first or second types, which involve either an angel or some other non- angelic creature. As for the third type, the "stuff" of the visible form in the theophanies isfirstof all ephemeral. Augustines theology of theophanies not only moves away from the christological content of theophanies, but also marks a break with the transformative character of theophanies. Traditionally, the theophanies at the Lord's Baptism in the Jordan or at the Trans- figuration Mount Tabor were considered a revelation of Christ's own divine glory to the apostles, which transfigured them.

For Augustine, instead, "what appeared in events such as the the- ophany atop Mt Tabor was created matter being used as an instru- ment of communication by the Trinity. Lebreton makes the very same point, with reference to the Baptism in the Jordan i.

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This break with the previous theophanic tradition, and with the theology of the Christian East, whose core remains "theophanic" is, however, perfectly coherent with the whole of Augustine's theol- ogy. It would, indeed, make little sense to speak of Tabor as revela- tion of Christ in divine light and glory once "the divinity of the Son is, until the eschaton, unseen and unseeable, although it can be symbolized or signified by some created artifact.

According to this classification, theophanies instantiate either the corporeal vision Isa ; Rev or the spiritual vision Ex What seems to be clear is that theophanies cannot grant the higher, "intellectual," vision. Theophanies are thereby relegated from the center to the periphery of Christian theology, or, in a vertical perspective, from the top to the bottom of the ladder leading to the vision of God.

Perhaps the most determinant driving force of Augustine s new approach to the theophanies is his eschatological transference of the visto Dei. If the theophanies whether of the Old or of the New Testaments, or theophanies in the lives of Christian saints do not confer a direct experience of the divine, it is because such an experi- ence is reserved for the eschaton. It is necessary at this point to take 40 Barnes, "Visible Christ," Augustine also raises the possibility that the form of the dove and that of tongues of fire were different, in that the latter may have been perceived not with the eyes, but in the spirit; however, the idea is enunciated as a mere possibility, and does not in- form the discussion 2.

As will become apparent, this is an area of striking divergence between scholars. According to Barnes, Augustine's thought on of faith and vision can presented in syllogistic form: a.

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To these passages should be added Jn ; 1 Cor ; 2 Cor The resulting account is the following: while during his earthly life Christ, under the form of servant, reveals the Father "only through the instru- mentality of the faith," at the end of time the Same will reveal, in the form of God, the essence of God as Holy Trinity to the pure of heart. Phil and 2 Cor are fundamental in interpreting the Christians earthly journey, and function as a reading lens through which the visionary element of passages such as Jn becomes eschatological.

It should be noted that Augustine's 43 I should note that the qualification "of God's essence" is very important at this point, since Books make it clear that understanding is a sort of mental seeing. This, however, is not a direct vision of God. Pullman also discusses Maupertuis and Diderot, with their sensitive and intelligent atoms; Holbach, with his materialistic atoms; and Maxwell, who believed that atoms exist due to the action of a creator.

Christian antiatomists — philosophers or scientists who use religious arguments to reject the theory — include Descartes, who rejected the concept of void; and Leibniz with his metaphysical atoms monads. The final part of the book moves into the modern era with the advent of scientific atomism through the 19th and 20th centuries. Pullman begins with the demise of the year-old theory of four elements by the demonstration of Lavoisier that water, and of Cavendish and Priestley that air, have a compound structure.

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In a closing chapter, Pullman delves into the nanoworld. Here he describes how the scanning-tunnel microscope and the atomic-force microscope led to visualization and manipulation of single atoms interacting with bulk surfaces, and how complete isolation of single charged atoms surrounded by vacuum was accomplished using ion traps. No-one can contest that the atoms conceived years ago as invisible and indivisible impenetrable philosophical constructs have today become divisible and visible objects of reality.

But are they really in human thought? The book is let down by its index, which is difficult to use and occasionally inaccurate. That said, however, to read this book is a fruitful learning exercise, and it has a host of informative notes. This book is aimed at specialists — engineers and applied physicists — employing electronic systems and materials in radiation environments.

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