Archive for the ‘Psalm 34’ Category

Response to Albrecht on Augustine on Psalm 34

April 15, 2009

I heard an interesting argument from Mr. Albrecht regarding a phrase in Augustine’s exposition on Psalm 34. First, here is the relevant passage:

1. Because there was there a sacrifice after the order of Aaron, and afterwards He of His Own Body and Blood appointed a sacrifice after the order of Melchizedek; He changed then His Countenance in the Priesthood, and sent away the kingdom of the Jews, and came to the Gentiles. What then is, “He affected”? He was full of affection. For what is so full of affection as the Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, seeing our infirmity, that He might deliver us from everlasting death, underwent temporal death with such great injury and contumely? “And He drummed:” because a drum is not made, except when a skin is extended on wood; and David drummed, to signify that Christ should be crucified. But, “He drummed upon the doors of the city:” what are “the doors of the city,” but our hearts which we had closed against Christ, who by the drum of His Cross hath opened the hearts of mortal men? “And was carried in His Own Hands:” how “carried in His Own Hands”? Because when He commended His Own Body and Blood, He took into His Hands that which the faithful know; and in a manner carried Himself, when He said, “This is My Body.” “And He fell down at the doors of the gate;” that is, He humbled Himself. For this it is, to fall down even at the very beginning of our faith. For the door of the gate is the beginning of faith; whence beginneth the Church, and arriveth at last even unto sight: that as it believeth those things which it seeth not, it may deserve to enjoy them, when it shall have begun to see face to face. So is the title of the Psalm; briefly we have heard it; let us now hear the very words of Him that affecteth, and drummeth upon the doors of the city.

(source)

Albrecht’s argument seems to be that the phrase “Carried in His Own Hands” should be taken literally, and to therefore to refer somehow to the Roman doctrine of transubstantiation. But if one takes that view, here’s what you get:

Metaphorical Sense: What then is, “He affected”? He was full of affection. For what is so full of affection as the Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, seeing our infirmity, that He might deliver us from everlasting death, underwent temporal death with such great injury and contumely?

Metaphorical Sense: “And He drummed:” because a drum is not made, except when a skin is extended on wood; and David drummed, to signify that Christ should be crucified.

Metaphorical Sense: But, “He drummed upon the doors of the city:” what are “the doors of the city,” but our hearts which we had closed against Christ, who by the drum of His Cross hath opened the hearts of mortal men?

Literal Sense: “And was carried in His Own Hands:” how “carried in His Own Hands”? Because when He commended His Own Body and Blood, He took into His Hands that which the faithful know; and in a manner carried Himself, when He said, “This is My Body.”

Metaphorical Sense: “And He fell down at the doors of the gate;” that is, He humbled Himself. For this it is, to fall down even at the very beginning of our faith. For the door of the gate is the beginning of faith; whence beginneth the Church, and arriveth at last even unto sight: that as it believeth those things which it seeth not, it may deserve to enjoy them, when it shall have begun to see face to face. So is the title of the Psalm; briefly we have heard it; let us now hear the very words of Him that affecteth, and drummeth upon the doors of the city.

Do you see what is out of place there? The better way to interpret that middle passage is in a metaphorical sense, not in a literal sense. What confirms this beyond the context? Well look again at the particular section:

“And was carried in His Own Hands:” how “carried in His Own Hands”? Because when He commended His Own Body and Blood, He took into His Hands that which the faithful know; and in a manner carried Himself, when He said, “This is My Body.”

What’s the Latin expression behind that “in a manner”? It is “quodam modo”, which is a way of saying that something is not being referenced in the literal sense, much as we might say “in a way” or “in a manner” – hence the translation.

So, with respect to Mr. Albrecht and his video (link), I must respectfully disagree. Not only is Augustine’s commentary on Psalm 34 consistent with the Reformed position (and even the non-Reformed bare symbolic position) it is more consistent with the Reformed position than with the Roman Catholic position.

-TurretinFan

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