Wednesday, June 20, 2007

De constitutivo divinarum personarum

Today's snippet is from Scotus's discussion of whether the divine persons are consituted by something relative or absolute. In the Ordinatio he doesn't explicitly side with one opinion or the other, but gives thorough replies to objections for both positions. The vat. editors say that he holds the absolute side as being more probable than the common opinion. As far as I could tell, it comes from considering the intellect and will as principles of the processions and in same way as quasi effective causes. The part I'm posting is actually part of his defense of the absolute position, where he talks about Scriptural and Ecclesiastical authority with respect to theological opinion. It's too long to type out the latin too.
Ord. I d. 26 q. un. nn.70-72 [vat. ed. 6 p. 29]:

It seems therefore that it can be said that if the New Scriptures expressly preferred that those persons are relative, and this is of the substance of the faith, nevertheless it is not found expressly that relations are the primary forms [primae formae], primarily constituting and distinguishing the persons, -the church has not declared this. It was not declared in the Apostle’s Creed, nor in the Nicene Creed, nor in the general council under Innocent III, nor in the general council under Gregory X in Lyon, nor in any other council, because still some authentic things are clearly handed down in the Scriptures [I’m not sure how to take this last bit; it almost seems contradictory: “quod adhuc manifeste videatur traditum in Scriptura aliqua authentica].
If therefore Christ did not teach this nor the Church declare it, namely, that the persons are distinguished primarily by relatins, it does not seem then that this should be asserted as being of the faith, because if that is not true, it does not seem to be reverently said about the divine persons that they are "subsistent relations"; nevertheless if it is true, but not handed down as if it were a certain truth, it does not seem safe to assert this just as if it must be held as a certain truth. And although it may be true that the persons are distinguished by relations (et by standing in this generally, the saints labored how distinction of persons could stand with unity of essence), nevertheless it is not fitting to deny that some distinction quasi prior can be posited, which also grants that distinction [ie, that the persons are constituted by relations] -so that every way holds that affirmative true, that namely the divine persons are distinguished by relations, although some way might say that some real distinction quasi preceeds that distinction. Nor is it fitting to bind an article of faith handed down in general, to one special meaning, as if that general meaning cannot be true unless in that special: and just as that article, that the "Word of God is made man", is not fitting to be limited to one determinate mode (which is not expressed in the canon nor by the Church), so that it cannot be true unless that mode whould be true; for this is to reduce an article of faith to uncertainty, if something might be uncertain which is not handed down just as an article of faith (for it seems uncertain that it cannot be held without another uncertain one).
If that position be held, it should be said that that absolute reality, - constituting the persons and distinguishing them - would not be a reality to itself [ad se] just as essentials are to themselves, but a personal reality and to itself in the second mode [1st mode=quid, 2nd =aliquem], according to the distinction of that master [Bonaventure-this has incensed various Bonaventurian editors] posited in the beginning of the opinion.

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