Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Marion's Last Word

Now that I've had my April fool's day fun yesterday, back to the third part and conclusion of Marion.

For Marion, the Bishop is the primary theologian, since he alone has the authority as the celebrant to go beyond the words as far as the Word. Only the bishop is in the place where the signifier, sign, and signified are overcome, where the Word speaks Himself. Thus, theology cannot break away from the Bishop, it can only be delegated from the Bishop to the theologian. To detach oneself from the bishop does away with the theological site of theology, the Eucharist. To do so cannot offer a “theological science” that is “neutral.”

When a theologian decides to move away from the bishop, two possibilities result: Either the theologian renounces aiming at the referent and indulges in scientific positivism toward theology; or he produces a new site of interpretation with a new referent at the cost of ideology. Lessings critique comes back over and over again, namely, that the main thing that Christianity offers is a positive content. Yet that is precisely what history cannot offer to us. So the original content of Christianity is hopelessly unavailable to us.

But for Marion in the true making of a theologian, the referent is not taught but encountered. “Only the saintly person knows whereof he speaks in theology, only he that a bishop delegates knows wherefrom he speaks.” This is why theology must be done on one's knees, specifically, in the liturgy, during the Eucharistic prayer. We see Balthasar's influence present here.

The Scriptures exceed the limits of the word. The text receives an “objective” imprint: inspiration, in the same way the disciples receive an “objective” imprint as its interpreters: apostleship. The “closure” of the canon refers to the excess of Scripture and the infinity of meaning already present in it. The closing of the "Apostolic Age" simply refers to the infinity of meaning already present within it. Yet present in that age is inspiration, or the "principle of endowment," as Walter Kasper calls it, and apostleship, or the "principle of reception." These principles are found in the Bishop and Scripture, intertwined hermeneutically in Tradition.

Many theologies contradict one another only inasmuch as many Eucharists do, when they lose their site. But none of these can attain to the original parousia. Only a second parousia can attain to that, for which we wait. The Eschatalogical is also present in Marion's synthesis, though only at the end.

He concludes: "We are infinitely free in theology: we find all already given, gained, available. It only remains to understand, to say, and to celebrate. So much freedom frightens us, deservedly.”

Markel, SJ

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