Scriptural Interpretations, Heresies, and the Seeds of Orthodoxy

The Heretics

Once tolerant of new ideas, the Church thereafter became intolerant of those that deviated from official Church doctrine as set by Church Council.  The first such Council was led by Constantine – so much for separation of Church and State . . .

Durant notes that oftentimes a Church heresy was associated with political rebellion.  The principal heresies of the fourth and fifth centuries were as follows:  Arianism was strongly associated with the barbarian invasion; it taught that Jesus was not literally the Son of God but of similar being with God.  Manicheism was associated with Persian dualism of God and Satan, Good and Evil, Light and Darkness.  The Donatists in Africa asserted that the sacraments would have no benefit when administered by a clergyman in a state of sin.  Pelagius argued against the doctrine of original sin. We will discuss his ideas more in our discussion of St. Augustine. Nestorius argued against the notion of the “Mother of God.  When he refused to recant at the Council at Rome in 430 A.D., he was deposed and excommunicated. Mopsuestia developed principles textual analysis of scripture, predating the principles of Higher Criticism. When he examined scripture with these principles, Mopsuestia concluded that the Book of Job was of pagan origin.  But, perhaps the claim that got him into the greatest trouble was that Mary was not the mother of God but the mother of the human Jesus.

Nestorius retired to Antioch, but because he insisted that Mary was not the mother of God, Emperor Theodosius II banished him to the Libyan desert.  Here is where church matters become entangled with political power and favor: the Byzantine court granted him an Imperial pardon. His followers settled in eastern Syria translating the Bible and classics. Will Durant tells us that they “played a vital part in acquainting the Muslims with Greek science, medicine, and philosophy.” Further persecution caused this sect and its ideas  to disburse into Persia, two areas of India, China and throughout Asia. Their communities survive to this day and still reject Mariolatery.

Eutyches taught that Jesus was not both human and divine, but only divine. The patriarch of Constantinople called a local synod and condemned his “Monophysite” doctrine as heretical. Eutyches appealed to Rome, and the church authorities there convinced Emperor Theodosius to call the Council at Ephesus in 449 A.D.. Essentially, appealing to the Roman political authority to take its fight with Constantinople with some clout, it held that religion was subordinated to politics. Eutyches was exonerated and Flavian, the patriarch of Constantinople, was assailed with such vitriol that he died. Upon Flavian’s last VS death there was no further need to support Eutyches.  The Roman church called to the Council at Chalcedon in 451 A.D., which compliantly condemned Eutyches, reaffirming the nature of Christ as both human and divine. The Church authorities in Syria continued to teach Eutyches’ Monophysistic doctrine, which thereafter became adopted by the Christian church-states of Egypt and Abyssinia.

Durant at p.50 writes ”The bishops of Rome, in the fourth century, did not show the Church at her best. . . . The conversion of the Western barbarians immensely extended the authority and influence of the Roman see. As rich and aristocratic families abandoned paganism for Christianity, the Roman church participated more and more in the wealth that came to the Western capital.” With political infusion of wealth into the Church, by 400 A.D., the Roman Catholic Church was able to build opulent churches.

The Saints

Approximately contemporaneous with heresy, were several persons who would be approved by the Church as Saints. The first of these is St. Jerome.  He was a passionate Christian. He founded a monastic brotherhood at Acquileia, choosing to leave it to its unrelenting wickedness to move in 374 A.D., to a monastic settlement in the desert near Antioch.  He found the atmosphere unhealthy fear and retreated to live as an anchorite in the desert.  He had been trained in the Latin classics, and while in the desert he studied those in addition to other subjects at least he did so until he had a dream that he had died and, as Durant quotes him, he was “dragged before the Judge’s judgment seat. I was asked to state my condition, and replied that I was a Christian. But He who presided said, ‘Thou liest; thou art a Ciceronian, not a Christian. For where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also.’”  Then, as so many other persons of enlightenment have felt guilty for their thinking independent of the perceived authority, he felt the perceived scourge of that authority and succumbed to it.  In 379 A.D. he returned to Antioch, and was ordained a priest. He became a secretary to Pope Dasmasus, who commissioned him to make a new Latin translation of the New Testament. The extravagant atmosphere of the papal court seem to conflict with his aesthetic vows.  A Christian aristocrat couple admitted him to their home as their spiritual advisor. However, others believed that his enjoyment of the company of women contradicted his claimed commitment to celibacy.  He satirically castigated the pagan Roman society that criticized him. As Durant describe it at page 52, “He scolds a Roman lady in terms that suggest an appreciative eye.”  Again, as Durant describes it at page 53, “He is shocked to find, concubinage even among Christians, and more shocked to find it covered by the pretense of practicing chastity.”  Durant concludes at page 54, “Jerome was a saint only in the sense that he lived an ascetic life devoted to the church; he was hardly a saint in character or speech. It is sad to find in so great a man so many violent outbursts of hatred, misrepresentations and controversial ferocity. “

The next great saint of this era is St. Augustine ( 354 to 430 A.D.). Whereas St. Jerome was a passionate Christian from early years, St. Augustine’s mother was a devout Christian, but Augustine preferred the company of the most vile youth of his day. Durant quotes him at page 65 to say, despite his mother’s anxious pleas that he reject their life style and company,“ I ran headlong with such blindness that I was ashamed among my equals to be guilty of less impudency and . . . I heard [them] brag mightily of their naughtiness; . . . And I took pleasure to do it, not for the pleasure of the act only, but for the praise of it also; . . . And when I lacked opportunity to commit a wickedness that should make me as bad as the lost, I would feign myself to have done what I never did.”   It has been said that Augustine at some point in his early life, prayed, “Lord, give me celibacy . . . but not yet.”

For nine years, Augustine accepted Manichaean dualism as a proper explanation of the existence in the world of evil and good. His study of Plato and Plotinus influenced him toward  Neoplatonism, which was later to dominate Church theology and doctrine.

Like St. Jerome, St. Augustine had a visionary experience that led him to orthodoxy. One day, as Augustine sat contemplating, he heard a voice that kept ringing in his ears; “Take up and read; take up and read.” He picked up a Bible and read Paul: “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in clamouring and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.”

He was moved by the sermons of St. Ambrose.  On Easter Sunday, 387 A.D., St. Ambrose baptized Augustine. Thereafter, Augustine and several of his friends who were baptized with him went to Africa where St. Augustine established in 388 A.D. the Augustinian order. That is the oldest monastic group in the Western church. He helped in administering a diocese, where he also preached eloquently, with renown. Four years later, the Bishop of that diocese died and, over his protests, Augustine was unanimously elected to fill that position.

With that ecclesiastical power, he undertook a long battle against the Donatists. Ultimately, the Donatists were ordered to hold no further meetings and turn all of their church property over to the Catholic Church. Previously, Augustine had held to the position that no person should be coerced into the Christian faith. But now that he was Bishop, he urged the Church to chasten the Donatists as a father might chastise an unruly son.

Augustine did have some concerns about the doctrines of the Church. He labored for many years to reconcile its doctrines with classical philosophic principles,  The Trinity, the problem of free will of man with the foreknowledge of God, and the problem of damnation for those predestined to do what they did, were really tough, but he managed to do so to his satisfaction.

Perhaps, considering his own youthful, morally rudderless  indulgences, Augustine concluded that humankind is born inclined to evil. That he attributed to Original Sin as inherited from Adam.  Being naturally inclined to evil, only the grace of God can turn man to good. “Through a woman we were sent to destruction; through a woman’s salvation was it restored to us.” Durant at page 69.  St. Augustine was prone to extreme statements, even for his taste.  At page 69, Durant notes that, “At times he propounded the Calvinistic doctrine that God arbitrarily chose, from all eternity, the “elect” to whom he would give his saving grace.”  As to creation, Augustine held that it was not necessary to believe that it occurred in six days.

The contemporary of Augustine, Pelagius, argued that mankind has freedom to choose evil or good, and that, as Jesus taught in Matthew 25, good works could save. God leaves our fate to our choosing. The theory of innate human depravity, he said, was a cowardly shifting to God of the blame for man’s sins. Man feels, and therefore is, responsible: “if I ought, I can.”  Durant  at 69. Pelagius moved to Rome about 400 A.D. to live with Christian families there, where he built a reputation of being virtuous. Augustine attacked him as heretical.  One must wonder if he had to attack Pelagius to cover his own gilt for placing the blame for his youthful sinfulness on God by the Doctrine of Original Sin, which Pelagius had attacked.  Through a series of political machinations, Pelogius was finally declared a heretic.

Two of Augustine’s literary works are among the world’s classic literature: the Confessions, written about 400 A.D., is his autobiography, and City of God, is, in Durant’s words, a philosophy in history. When Rome fell to the barbarians, it shook the faith of many Christians, including that of Augustine. City of God was Augustine’s effort to provide a logical basis for why God would allow such a disaster.  Although the Church was an ally to the Roman State, Augustine attempted to distance the church from this political debacle, arguing that it was not reasonable to conclude that the defeat of Rome impugned Christianity. As Durant puts it, “Augustine’s initial answer was Rome had been punished not for her new religion but for her continued sins.” Perhaps influenced by that position, the barbarians ransacked the pagan shrines, but they left the Christian churches untouched and available as a refuge for all that fled there. As a result of the pagan option for Christianity, former pagan festivals were replaced by Christian celebrations. “… The feast of the purification of Isis became the feast of the Nativity; the Saturnalia were replaced by Christmas; the Floralia by Pentecost; the ancient festival of the dead by All Souls Day; and the resurrection of Attis by the resurrection of Christ. See Durant page 75.

Whether incidentally or by influence, Augustine accepts the Persian notion of a world divided between good and evil, lightness and darkness.  That duality had its natural roots in Neoplatonism, contrasting the actual on earth as a poor reflection upon the ideal, above the earth, which it imitated.  Augustine adapted that dualism to his own purposes: there are two cities: the earthly city which worldly men, devoted to earthly affairs, enjoy; and the divine City of the one true God, preserved for the elect. Not surprisingly, the Church has throughout its history identified itself with the City of God.

The church, spared by the barbarians for whatever reasons, survived the fall of Rome to become a repository of classical learning through the Dark Ages until  the Renaissance was to rediscover them. With the dissolution of the Roman Empire, the Church filled the political vacuum and validated those feudal powers that played to its power.

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

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From Monody to Polyphony with contribution by Guido d’Arezzo

When we had previously discussed early church music, we mentioned the use of instruments with singing. The vocal performances, however, were a single melody.  These recognized melodies by which the liturgy was sung were called Plainchant.  The church excluded instrumental music because of its association with pagan cellebrations and practices.  In the late sixth and early seventh centuries, Pope Gregory I codified the chants and liturgies that had developed among the churches of Catholicism.  The resultant officially recognized chant became known as Gregorian chant.

Two treatises appeared in the 10th century, Musica enchiriadis and Schola enchiriadis. These provide descriptions of how music can be ornamented, either by embellishing the melody or by adding parallel parts at the octave, fourth or fifth, but they did not indicate the actual pitches.  These added lines had no particular interest in themselves. This style of ornamentation was called origanum.  The Winchester Troper, appearing in about 1000 A.D., is the earliest sample of musical writing that specified the pitches and durations of the melodies.

In the 11th century, the Christian educator, Guido d’Arezzo, developed pedagogic tools for singing. He found a song that had certain syllables on an assending scale. From those syllables, we have today the basis of the solfeggio system of sight singing: ut (now do), re, mi, fa, sol, la .   He also developed a four line staff on which he could indicate precise pitches as well as durations.  He could combine several staves for different pitches of singing at the same time, which he identified with clefs.  To teach his system of sight singing, he developed what became known as the Guidonian Hand.  This system became the source of modern notation.  It enabled composers to notate different melodies to be sung simultaneously, which became known as polyphony.

Guidonian Hand and Music Manuscript of the Eleventh Century

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.designwritingresearch.org/music/images/3.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.designwritingresearch.org/music/index.php%3Fid%3D8&h=274&w=400&sz=34&tbnid=Kx5DsIjIFGb1AM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=131&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dguidonian%2Bhand%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=guidonian+hand&docid=TolRsC2__yHMpM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=-4_NTuDGBK3E2QXhtZimDw&sqi=2&ved=0CDYQ9QEwBg&dur=3166f

For a demonstration of how the Guidonian Hand was used to aid sight singing, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlleweQuq14.

For an excellent synopsis of the development of polyphony and a scrap of music manuscript of the greatest master of polyphony, J.S. Bach, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphony .

For a sample of the music of Hildegard von Bingen, who succeeded d’Arezzo, go to http://www.last.fm/listen/artist/Hildegard%2Bvon%2BBingen/similarartists.

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

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For a sample of early development of polyphony in the Orthodox tradition, see http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/readings/SJK1/breath.shtml.

Sant Quirze de Pedret, Catalonia, Spain, 11th and 12th Centuries

Located in the mountains of Spain,  Sant Quirze de Pedret  is an example of 11th and 12th centuries Romanesque architecture.  Romanesque architecture is characterized by the Roman arch which, during that time, spread throughout the Roman Empire, including Europe. As there were aqueducts built in Europe as far as France, Roman architectural features, such as the arch, likewise were employed for ecclesiastical purposes.

First, some background: the Roman Empire is considered to have fallen in the fifth century A.D. At that time the former Roman Empire, extended well into Europe; it was considered to have entered the “Dark Ages.”  As the name suggests, this was a time in which Roman civilization, including all its arts and learning, was  archived and preserved in reclusive monastic libraries. When Charlemagne was crowned in 800 A.D. as Holy Roman Emperor, Europe is considered to have taken its first steps, although haltingly, out of the Dark Ages, toward a rebirth of classical civilization, imitating in many ways the Roman model some 600 years later. That laster time is known as the Renaissance, which refers literally to a “rebirth of civilization. During that time, Europe began to rediscover classical arts and learning.

Charlemagne, perhaps in an attempt to portray his allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church, a political as well as an ecclesiastical force of the time which had to be dealt with in some degree, began a building campaign utilizing Roman architectural features, notably the arch.  That architectural renaissance extended beyond the area now known as France, north into Britain. Sant Quirze de Pedret is a church built shortly after Charlemagne’s reign but as an extension of that architectural renaissance.  Its arches represent the Romanesque style.  Moreover, it employed early church graphic arts to tell the Christ – story.

http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/Romanesque.html

Exterior of Sant Quirze de Pedret

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b2/Sant_quirze_pedret-exterior.jpg

Interior of Sant Quirze de Pedret

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/21/Sant_Quirze_de_Pedret_-_una_absidiola_lateral_al_MNAC.jpg

For video see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLYAJVzQ2Hw

See http://professional.barcelonaturisme.com/files/8684-773-pdf/MNAC.ang.pdf for a sampling of examples and discussion concerning Romanesque art, including a piece from Sant Quirze de Pedret.

See http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/wise-and-foolish-virgins-sant-quirze-de-pedret for a video exploration and expert discussion of the gospel story of the wise and foolish virgins.

See https://www.google.com/search?q=Sant+Quirze+de+Pedret&hl=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=cETMTqy6G-aOiAK9tInUCw&sqi=2&ved=0CDIQsAQ&biw=1096&bih=744 for pictures of art work and the interior of Sant Quirze de Pedret.

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

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Basilica of Santa Prassede, Rome Eighth Century

The Basilica of Santa Prassed was commisioned in the eighth century by Pope Hadrian I.

Interior of Basilica of Santa Prassede, Rome

See http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/85/Interior_of_Basilica_di_Santa_Prassede%2C_Rome.JPG for the source of the above photograph.

For video of this church see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FL81EVJTUE&list=PLOF8CAav1A6YGsEvjlBWXlgEsvj_IHujd

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Prassede and http://rometour.org/church-chiesa-di-santa-prassede-allesquilino.html for photographs and descripion in English of mosaic pictures in the interior.

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

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Sixth Century San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy and its Mosaics

Following Constantine, Roman emperors viewed themselves as defenders of the Christian faith.  That included defending Christianity from heretical diversions such as Arianism.  These subsequent emperors saw themselves not only as defenders of the faith, but elected by God for Roman Rule.  It was also true of Justinian.  He is known for codifying and clarifying Roman Law.

The octagonal  shape of San Vitale was understood to honor the martyrdom of St. Vitale.  As is typical of many of the early churches and cathedrals  the art that adorned its walls and ceiling were intended to convey to the common, illiterate Christian Biblical stories, interpretation, and connections with their common lives.  It was not unusual to portray some contemporary political figure as participating in such stories.  This teaching function of church architecture and decoration continued in San Vitale.  Indeed, San Vitale is a remarkable example of the practice,  displayed  in the round, making it fully accessible from a single vantage point.

San Vitale Floor Plan

From early Christendom, there had been various church leaders who cautioned against taking all Biblical stories literally.  That caveat continued  in the mosaics of San Vitale, as described at http://employees.oneonta.edu/farberas/ARTH/arth212/san_vitale.html:

In order to “read” the mosaics and gain an understanding of the richness of their meaning, we must have an understanding of the nature of Biblical interpretation. From Early Christianity, Biblical interpretation played an integral role in religious experience. Biblical exgesis, or interpretation, traditionally defines four different levels of meaning: 1) literal or historical; 2) allegorical; 3) tropological or moral; 4) anagogical. Reading of the Bible is, thus, not limited to a record of past events, but is seen as a key to an understanding of a universal plan of history. Critical here is the relationship of the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament is not seen as just an account of events before the time of Christ, but the events of the Old Testament are seen to “prefigure” or typologically connect to events of the New Testament. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430), one of the Four Church Fathers, in his City of God (XVI. 26) states that “the New Testament is hidden in the Old; the Old is clarified by the New.” Christ himself articulates this relationship when he compares Jonah’s three days spent in the belly of the sea monster to the three days he would spend in the tomb awaiting Resurection (Matt. 12:40). The story of Jonah can also be seen to link to the sacrament of Baptism. In the ritual of Baptism, the immersion in water is seen as a dying of the old self and a rebirth through Christ. In a more general sense, the story of Jonah refers to the importance of faith and prayer as the way of salvation of the “elect” from damnation. Because of his belief in God, Jonah was willing to have himself cast into the sea in order to save his shipmates. This self-sacrifice by Jonah was regularly seen as an Old Testament prefiguration of Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross on behalf of humanity.

In your study of the mosaics, try to find the typological parallels and relationships between the different parts of the mosaic program. From the perspective of our knowledge of later Christian art, it is significant to acknowledge the absence in the mosaics of San Vitale of direct representations of New Testament images, but they are typologically alluded to in the other mosaics. Pay special attention to the importance of the figures of Christ and the Emperor Justinian. Note the number of different figures represented in the mosaic program which can be typologically related to Christ or Justinian.

San Vitale Interior

San Vitale Apse

http://www.oneonta.edu/faculty/farberas/arth/arth212/san_vitale.html

For a video presentation of this church see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=It3i-dKusIM ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGKbvgv0Nko

See the above-referenced site for pictures of the church and its mosaics and for commentary.  See http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/byzantine-justinian for a video presentation and discussion of that art work.

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

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Basilica of Santa Sabina and Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, Fifth Century

Santa Sabina is a basilica built in Rome about 432 A.D on a classical rectangular form. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Sabina notes,

Together with the light pouring in from the windows, this makes the Santa Sabina an airy and roomy place. Other basilicas, such as Santa Maria Maggiore, are often heavily and gaudily decorated. Because of its simplicity, the Santa Sabina represents the crossover from a roofed Roman forum to the churches of Christendom.

Exterior Santa Sabina Basilica, Rome

Interior Santa Sabina Basilica, Rome

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:RomaSSabinaEsterno.JPG for the source of the above photographs.

See http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/santa-sabina for an expert discussion of the interior of Santa Sabina and the source of the photograph of its interior, including columns demarking side isles and ceiling.

Santa Sabina Apsis and Triumphal Arch

Depiction of the crucifixion on the wooden door of Santa Sabina.

This is one of the earliest surviving depiction of the crucifixion of Christ.

See a video presentation of the cathedrals at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEIs8nPaEQo ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwujR6zeCxI ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQWYg2dLbdA

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Sabina for the source of the above photographs and descriptions.

A church structure contemporary with Santa Sabina is that of Santa Maria Maggiore.  See http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/santa-maria-maggiore for a video presentation and expert duscussion of its interior; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TE72yuH91EY;

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

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Fourth Century Christian Music

As a music student and teacher, I developed an interest in church history and music, particularly as it developed into Gregorian Chant and then into polyphonic church music.  We have already seen in the art of Santa Pudenziana the influence of imperial Rome, or, more particularly, Constantine, in embracing Christianity as its state religion by taking the catacomb image of Jesus as the simple shepherd and teacher and transforming him into Ruler of Heaven who legitimatized imperial Rome as His political representative on earth.  The Roman adoption of the Church as its servant also effected the Church’s music.

I have found an excellent essay on early church music that far exceeds my own knowledge of it.  I will outline some of its principle observations and encourage the reader of this blog to read the actual writing.  The source of the treatise is http://jcsu.jesus.cam.ac.uk/~mma29/essays/dissertation/.  The educational institution for which it was written is the Jesus College at Cambridge, Massachusetts, whose web site is http://www.jesus.cam.ac.uk/about-jesus-college/.  I am unable to identify the author, but I am greatly indebted to, and appreciative of, him or her.

The author organizes the Fourth Century attitudes toward music into several categories of approval or disapproval: as born of the physical world which should be rejected by the Christian, as transcendent experience drawing attention to Heaven; as raising and offering great value to God; as “revealing to us the harmony of the cosmos, through which we may discover God.”  The conclusion drawn by the author of this essay expresses vividly the tension that has remained in the Christian Church in all its forms, orientations and traditions from that time to the present:

“[A]ll sides were agreed that music was powerful – the question was whether that power could be controlled and directed towards good ends.”

A similar question that has recurred through the ages from that time to now has been whether, if music is to be allowed at all, instrumental music belongs in church or if it should be only presented with the unaccompanied voice.

The author sets out his or her purpose for that essay:

There had always been Christian use of music, but it is in the fourth century that we find a new debate about music. Music was now openly used as a medium for theological contention, by figures as diverse as Arius and Augustine; in this context the old philosophical concerns about music’s power over emotion gained a new relevance. In this essay I intend to explore the historical development of fourth-century Christian attitudes to music, and to show how those attitudes related to wider theological concerns.

It would appear that the principal congregational use of music in worship was to participate in hynms and Psalms.  This essay is highly recommended for all persons who have either an interest in church music, per se, or the theological ideas associated with its use.   I particularly like the graphic image the author uses at the head of the essay: the experience of worshipful music is worth a thousand words.  Whoever the author is, that person is not only well-acquainted with the history of sacred music but also with historical Church practices and church literature, especially that relating to the development of its religious and theological ideas.

For an excellent description of early music and how it involved, see http://www.liturgica.com/html/litEOLitEarly.jsp and its related sites.  It also has some examples of chant, particularly.

Links to my site:

Introduction https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/introduction/

Graphic Arts https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/i-graphic-arts/

Architecture https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/ii-church-architecture-and-its-incorporation-of-art/

Music https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iii-music/

Theology https://bibleartists.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/iv-theology/

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