Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pedro Calderón de la Barca and the Natural Law, Part 8

SYNAGOGUE IS CLOTHED AS A JEW, and Paul, as yet unconverted, dressed in Roman garb. This is Paul, "a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God." Acts 22:3. Synagogue is speaking frankly with Paul about the crucifixion of Christ. Synagogue is amazed at the centurion's comment ("Indeed this was the Son of God," see Matt. 27:54) after Christ's death, and is similarly amazed at the Penitent Thief's remarkable conversion and statement ("Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom," see Luke 23:42). Christ's death itself, and the sorrow it brought enlightened men, similarly tugs at him. From a natural perspective, these things are marvelous, Synagogue concedes. But he will not yield to these, and must remain firm in his resolve against Christ's teachings. And this is why he speaks with Paul.

pues muerto ha de ser mayor
contra cuantos promulgar
su Ley intentan; y así,
Pablo, pues de ti me fío,
toma este decreto mío.

Even dead, we ought to take greater
Actions against those who
Intend to promulgate his law; and so,
Paul, well in you I trust,
Take this decree of mine.

He instructs Paul to depart to Damascus, as he has heard that four humble fisherman, disciples of Christ, are there preaching the bizarre errors of Christ's law, "los extraños errores de aquella ley."

Paul Learning from Gamaliel, St Mary's, Melton Mowbray.

Paul accepts the honor and the charge, and informs Synagogue that he may consider it as good as done. He will squash the inchoate Christians. He will do so in his capacity as Hebrew of the tribe of Benjamin and as Roman citizen, to the applause of both Jew and Gentile. Paul is extremely dubious that God and Crucifixion are signs of God, and he begs to be granted leave so as to be, to the dismay of this errant band of fishermen, the lightning, thunder, and ray against the new faith.

As Synagogue and Paul take leave of each other, Thought and Intellect begin to speak, and Thought suggests that Intellect speak to Paul his old friend. But Paul is in too much a hurry to speak to Intellect. He cannot be detained by Intellect, they must speak another day. He knows that he is distancing himself from Intellect, but justifies it because of the alacrity associated with his charge:

Ya lo veo, mas hoy
déjame, Ingenio, que voy
tan veloz que hacer quisiera
que mi pensamiento fuera
mi caballo.

I am aware, but today
Leave me, Intellect, in that
I go so quickly that I wish
That my thought was my

Thought chimes in. Vulgar is Thought that leaves Intellect behind, "bruto es el Pensamiento de quien el Ingenio va atrás dejándose."

Unmoved by Intellect and Thought's efforts to delay him, Paul exits, and Intellect decides to converse with Synagogue, as he is marveled by him. Synagogue is clearly unsettled, however, by the prodigies that have occurred, and, as if with bad conscience, wants to be told that the earthquake, eclipse, and lightning and thunder have nothing to do with its role in Christ's crucifixion and its rejection of his Messianic claims. Synagogue perhaps seeks Intellect's enlightenment. But Intellect was seeking the same from Synagogue, as he has not the answer. Intellect thought that the world was ending or the Creator was suffering, but as the world seems to be continuing, and so he is leaning toward believing that the world's Creator suffered. But Synagogue resists such an idea because of its implications:

No ha sido, no ha sido,
si ya no quieres que sea
autor suyo un sedicioso
nazareno, escandaloso,
que en Palestina y Judea,
en Samaria y Galilea,
predicando aquestos días
dio a entender que era el Mesías,
Hijo de Dios verdadero,
que ha tantos siglos que espero.

It was not, it was not
Unless you want your creator
To be a seditious
Nazarene, a scandal-monger,
Who in Palestine and Judea,
In Samaria and Galilee
Preached these last days,
And gave to understand he was the Messiah,
Truly the Son of God,
Which for many centuries I've expected.

But Synagogue is anxious, if for no other reason than because the signs that all are speaking about and trying to explain occurred contemporaneously with Christ's death. And this linkage Intellect finds compelling him to believe that it was not chance that tied them with Christ's death. Synagogue suggests that Intellect may be unfaithful in leaning in that direction, daring to doubt Synagogue's divine election, so as to throw himself to believe that Christ was the Messiah.

Marc Chagall's Praying Jew

Synagogue then undertakes a long and thorough explanation of why her rejection of Jesus as the Messiah was justified, beginning with her election, her divine pedigree, her Mosaic experience, the divine grant of the Promised Land, and all the divine favors--manna from heaven, water from rock, the Red Sea miracle. How could the recipient of such divine favor err in regard to the Messiah? Synagogue then throws in some technical arguments: that the weeks of Daniel and the prophecies of Isaiah concerning the Messiah were arguably not fulfilled. Synagogue pays short shrift to the miracles of Jesus, suggesting that they were nothing but magical arts. Synagogue also wonders how Jesus could save others if he could not even save himself from the ignominious death on the Cross. And he ends his discourse with a threat:

no en el eclipse me arguyas,
que habrá para ti también
otro rencor, otra ira,
otra saña, otra esquivez,
otro azote u otro acero,
otra cruz u otro cordel.

Do not argue with me about the eclipse
Or there will be for you as well,
Another resentment, another anger
Another malice, another disdain,
Another scourge, another steel,
Another cross, and another cord.

Synagogue leaves, and Thought and Intellect converse. Thought notes that the Synagogue has the two indicia Intellect sought in his search for truth:

Que has hallado
en la Sinagoga ley.
Que adora a un Dios primer causa,
que ojos, manos y oídos es,
y con todo eso te queda
de averiguar y saber
lo que a lo posible toca.

That you have found
In the Synagogue law.
That it adores one God as First Cause,
That he is eyes, hands, and ears,
And with all this yet it remains
That you want to investigate an know
Things that may be possible.

All this is true, but Intellect is troubled. If the Synagogue awaits the Son of God, how can there be one God? Does this not suggest two? And why, to what effect, asks Intellect, would God send his Son as Synagogue believed? And how would this be done? If he came as man, would not that mean he was both God and man? How, moreover, could Jesus have introduced himself as both God and man? And if he was not both God and man as he claimed, how explain the darkness over earth's green carpet and the sky's blue canopy, that were concomitant with his funeral rites? Who was there, Intellect frustratingly asks Thought, who can answer these questions?

Lightning flashes, thunder sounds again, and a voice from the Heavens states, "Paul." Thought and Intellect by some miracle find themselves on the road to Damascus.

Calderón de la Barca

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