The Medieval Review 13.07.12

Knibbs, Eric and Ann Matter. De fide Sanctae Trinitatis et de incarnatione Christi. Quaestiones de Sancta Trinitate . Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis (CCCM 249). Turnhout: Brepols, 2012. Pp. lxxvi, 180. 145.00 EUR. ISBN: 978-2-503-54209-6. . .

Reviewed by:

Jerry Etzkorn
getzkorn@frontiernet.net

This is Alcuin's major theological treatise deemed of considerable importance attested to by its survival in over 100 manuscripts. Making a critical edition from such a large number of manuscripts is a formidable task. The editors give a detailed description of the manuscripts (xviii–lxx) with multiple caveats in the search for the golden egg of a putative autograph or apograph terminating with a complicated stemma codicum (lxv). Under the stemma codicum should be written, as the eminent medievalist Gedeon Gál had suggested: "noli me tangere" [lest a branch fall off], or "this tree bears no fruit," such that stemmata provide neither an infallible nor often even a reliable guide to a putative original. Editor(s) must make selections safeguarding the meaning of the author, whose meaning must always be the overarching hermeneutical principle of critical editing. Regarding orthography, this reader applauds the use of dipthongs (found already in Beneventen manuscripts) helping readers to discriminate between adverbs and adjectives/nouns.

The structure and themes of Alcuin's work (in Books I–III) can be seen as being later found in Lombard's Sentences (in Books I–IV) and the many commentaries by theologians of the thirteenth century and beyond. Examples of such themes: safeguarding divine simplicity while speaking of the divine intellect and will or what of the divine essence is shown to the blessed in Heaven. Among Alcuin's sources are the categories of Aristotle which are used but not analyzed in any detail (there are no references to the Stagerite's Metaphysics or Physics). The main sources are Augustine and Fulgentius Ruspensis cited (often verbatim) on virtually every page. At times Alcuin uses some of Fulgentius's favorite phrases, e. g. "firmissime tene" or "firmissime credere."

For scholars interested in the theological themes discussed in Alcuin's De fide S. Trinitatis, it seems appropriate to list the chapter headings of the three books. It will be apparent to students of medieval theology that the topics listed in these three books will continue to be discussed by theologians for centuries until the demise of Scholasticism.

Liber I

I. Quod ad ueram beatitudinem nisi per fidem catholicam peruenire nemo potest

II. Quae sit vera fides

III. De trinitate unitatis et unitate Trinitatis

IV. Quod sit unus Deus, Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus

V. Quod quaedam de Deo substantialiter, quaedam relatiue dicuntur

VI. Prorsus et Spiritus Sanctus relatiue dicitur ad Patrem et Filium, sed non eo modo quo inter se Pater et Filius

VII. Quod Spiritus Sanctus communis est Patris et Filii Spiritus VIII. Quid enim de Patre et Filio 'illud de illo' dici possit

IX. Quod necessario discernendum sit, quid de Deo substantialiter, uel quod relatiue, dicatur

X. Quod non est maius aliquid Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus simul dicti quam unaquaelibet persona in eis

XI. Quod nihil secundum accidens in Deo dicatur

XII. Quod non sit diversum in substantia Patrem uel Filium dicere

XIII. Quae sint propria unicuique personae in sancta Trinitate

XIV. Quod quaedam opera sanctae Trinitatis quibusdam personis proprie conueniunt

XV. Quod sancta Trinitas non sit separabilis in natura nec in personis dicenda

XVI. Quid sit inter ingenitum et Patrem, et quod Filius solus sit genitus, Spiritus Sanctus nec ingenitus nec genitus

XVII. Quomodo intellegendae sint locutiones praedicamentorum in Deo.

Liber II

I. Quod Deus omnium sit causa quae sunt ut sint

II. Quod Deus super omnia sit

III. Quod melius sit de Deo aequalia dicere quam similia

IV. De immensitate omnipotentiae Dei

V. Quare Deus dicatur magis incaelo habitare quam in terra

VI. Quamvis humano more scriptura de Deo loquatur, nil tamen communicationis in Deo esse

VII. Quod Deus ubique sit totus, potestate naturali

VIII. Quod Deus aliter in sanctis sit, aliter peccatoribus praesit

IX. De diversitate eorum quae sunt

X. Quod uero quaedam mirabilis facta est coniunctio creatoris ad creaturam

XI. Utrum anima Christi plenam habeat diuinitatis suae cognitionem

XII. Si anima Christi plenam habet diuinitatis cogntionem, quomodo dicitur in euangelio Filium nescire diem iudicii

XIII. Quod unum opus sit Patris et Filii

XIV. Omnia per Christum facta esse, ipsum uero natum non factum

XV. Deo eo quod sicut Pater est uita, ita et Filius est uita

XVI. Quod substantia diuinitatis omnimodis inuisibilis sit et incomprehensibilis in sua natura creaturis

XVII. Quod illae uisiones quae in Veteri Testamento patribus apparuisse leguntur maxime per angelicas admistrationes fierent

XVIII. Non de solo Patre intellegendum est ubi dicitur: "Qui facit mirabilia magna solus"

XIX. De unitate Spiritus Sancti cum Patre et Filio

XX. Nihil itaque temporale in eo debemus intellegere de Spiritu Sancto dum dicitur donum Dei

XXI. Cur idem Spiritus Sanctus bis a Deo Christo datus sit

XXII. Quamuis diuersa sint Dei dona in sanctis, ab uno eodemque Spiritu singulis singular dantur

Liber III

I. De gratia Dei qua Deus homo factus est

II. Ad commendationem eiusdem gratiae beatus euangelista Christum ait: "Plenum gratia et ueritate"

III. Quomodo non sit Christus Filius Spiritus Sancti, dum in simbulo dicitur: "De Spiritu Sancto et ex Maria uirgine natus"

IV. Quomodo intellegenda sit missio Filii a Patre

V. Quomodo missio Sancti Spiritus sit intellegenda

VI. Cur solus Pater missus non legatur

VII. Quare Filius nunc aequalis, nunc minor Patre dicatur

VIII. Quare nusquam Spiritus Sanctus Patre minor legatur

IX. Quod aliter intellegendum sit uerbum caro factum, atque aliter uerbum Dei, in quolibet sanctorum

X. Quod nec Pater nec Spiritus Sanctus, sed solus Filius incarnatus sit

XI. De eo quod uerbum Dei suae carnis conceptione conceptum sit in utero uirginis

XII. De mediatore Dei et hominum, homine Iesu Christo

XIII. De eo quod in Christo sit naturarum distantia, non personae, in sancta Trinitate personarum, non naturae

XIV. De Maria uirgine et incarnatione uerbi Dei

XV. Quid cuique naturae in Christo conueniat

XVI. Quod diuinitas hominem quem adsumpsit numquam dimisit

XVII. De baptismo Christi, et quod omnia quae gerebantur in Christo, nostrae salutis causa gesta sunt

XVIII. Quod Deus Pater quaedam opera facit per Filium sibi coaeternum in forma Dei, quaedam per eundem Filium in forma serui, Filium hominis

XIX. De nouissimis saeculi temporibus

XX. De resurrectione corporum in nouissimo die

XXI. De iustorum praemio et poena peccatorum

XXII. De aeterna beatitudine sanctorum

The following are suggestions which would have enhanced the edition (in the view of this reader). The use of quotation marks around citations from Augustine or Fulgentius would have better indicated Alcuin's dependence on them, even if occasionally there are small differences. The manuscript of Augustine's De Trinitate that he was using differs occasionally from the edition of found in Corpus Christianorum Series Latina, which, as Fr. Leonard Boyle had noted, did not collate medieval manuscripts. This reader would like to know who were the dialectici to whom Alcuin occasionally refers. Retro references could have been made where Alcuin refers to previous discussions, e. g. p. 43 (ll. 34-5) to I.5-6, pp. 24–6; p. 71 (ll. 24-5) to I.5-6, pp. 24–6; p. 82 (l. 4) to II.3, pp. 49–50; p. 90 (l. 3) to II.20, pp. 84–5. References could have been made to the Symbolum Athanasianum: p. 71 "Filius genitus non factus" (ed. Denzinger-Rahner in Enchiridion Symbolorum, Herder, Freiburg 1957, p. 18, n. 39); the "dicitur in simbulo catholicae fidei" (p. 90 [ll. 3-4]) to the Formula "Fides Damasi" (ed. cit. p. 12, n. 16): "conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto et natus ex Maria Virgine"; "Dum in simbulo catholico...Dei Filium de Spiritu Sancto et Maria virgine incarnatum" (ed. cit. p. 12, n. 16). The Scripture passage alluded to on p. 52 (l. 11): "Prope est Dominus obtritis(! for "contritis"?) corde" is not to be found in Is. 52:15; the closest one might come is Ps. 33:19 (Hebr.): "Iuxta est Dominus contritis corde." The Scripture passage "Generationem eius quis ennarabit?" cited on p. 88 (l. 32) is found in Is. 53:8 and Act. 8:33. This reader would very much like to know, having been unable to find, to what the "hispanica haeresis" (p. 104 [l. 25]) refers.

Regarding the "puzzling" phrase: "et ideo OMOYCIOC, id est unius substantiae" (p. 50 [l. 26]) and again "totum Trinitas, totum OMOYCION" (p. 70 [ll. 11-12]), there is an interesting parallel in John Damascene's De fide orthodoxa, III, c. 6, ed. E. Buytaert (Franciscan Institute Publications, Text Series n. 8, p. 186): "quia unaquaque homoidon hypostaseon (id est earum quae sub eadem specie personarum) perfecta substantia est." There is likewise an interesting parallel regarding the phrase "quod semel assumpsit numquam dimisit" namely that the Divine Word "maintains" and does not "discard" human nature, is regularly by later medieval theologians attributed to Damascene, De fide orthodoxa, III, c. 27 (ed. cit. p. 273). We may wonder if there was any direct influence of Damascene whose work, dated circa 749 according to E. Buytaert, antedated Alcuin's De Fide S. Trinitate by three decades.

This excellent critical edition, thanks to Professors Knibbs and Matter, provides a reliable text which will allow scholars to study and evaluate the contribution of Alcuin to the theology of his day as well as his influence upon theologians into the thirteenth century and beyond.