Theological Notebook: Letter to Barnes/Note to self on Augustine's Letters to Nebridius
This is mostly an entry/note for myself: just something I sent off today with a point or two that I want to keep track of or be able to find later. (Our LiveJournal "tags" are very handy for that!) I'm missing a session of Barnes' seminar on Augustine's De Trinitate today because of a mild flu. The readings for the session today, should you be bored and looking for a chewy piece of Trinitarian theology to sharpen the mind and feed the spirit, were fabulous. There was this selection of original texts: Augustine's letters to Nebridius that make up his earliest (391) trinitarian work, a letter of Seneca's giving a Stoic philosophical context for Augustine's approach, and selections from Peter Brown's masterful biography of Augustine, the Confessions, and the 1998 class notes from an earlier version of this seminar. The original sources might best be read with Barnes' article "Re-reading Augustine's Theology of the Trinity" from the published collection from the Oxford Trinity Seminar, and Lewis Ayres' "'Remember That You Are Catholic': Augustine on the Unity of the Triune God" article as frosting.
I'm pissed that *this* would end up being the day I missed: re-reading your article has been fascinating. It was the de Regnon part that has really stayed with me from reading this for the first time in Del Colle's Trinity seminar. Having read the Nebridius letters now at the same time--I certainly have no recollection of reading them from '92--has really fleshed-out or concretized your argument for me. I still find that my natural inclination is to take Ep. 11 as a "harder" Trinitarian analogy: I think it might be useful for the class if you highlighted your reasons why you reject that temptation. Can any triad that has a necessary logical sequence be separated from the attention given to Trinitarian sequence once the "taxis" model has come to rule? I would expect to see a more explicit denial of this in his argument if that's what he was doing; and in this "being" model, the "what it is" second aspect just has such a "logos" appeal to me....
I've mentioned her before, but I am here struck by the 14th-century writing of Julian of Norwich in which she alleges a similar ontological supposition that "all our life is in three" and that in everything we find the resonance of "the Maker, the Lover, and the Keeper." I've noticed De Trin material in her before, but now I'm wondering about the transmission of this line of thought.
Given what you said in class the other day about the amazingly-small number of scholars working on Nicaea, I'd be curious to ask Coffey if his opinion about current Systematics' treatment on Nicene questions is as dim as his opinion of current writing on grace. He expressed the same kind of line as you that most writers said awful things about grace because they had never had to really get into the Tradition and all of its subtlety and difficulty on the matter. I wonder if I could find a career as a Systematician in Nicaea?