The Passions of Christ in High-Medieval Thought: An Essay on Christological Development

By Kevin Madigan | Go to book overview

8
Conclusion: The Passions
of Christ in Ancient
and Medieval Thought

Continuities and Discontinuities

The major focus of this study, around which other themes have revolved, has been what Cardinal Newman, thinking of the difference between the earliest expression of a dogma and its developed form, called a “prima fade dissimilitude” between the two.1 In Newman's mind, the truth of the developed form of an idea stood or fell on whether it could be proven that the ultimate shape of the idea could be tied—“really belong [ed]”2—to the idea from which it took its origin and whose characteristics, however embellished, it never failed to maintain. This is not to say that an idea and its development had to be verbally, formulaically indistinguishable. Newman explicitly says that, usually, they are not.3 Still, the developed or even final form of an ideal should, in order to be judged an authentic, faithful development, contain within it the rudiments of the original; the latter likewise should be visible “in miniature” in the former.4 In this way, the later idea can be said to complete what was inchoate, immanent, or implicit in the earlier.

For Newman, of course, the “prima facie dissimilitude” was, in many cases in the history of dogma, quite misleading. In fact, on further inspection, the dissimilitude often concealed the deeper fact of development:5 the drawing out of implications and consequences; the making explicit of the implicit; the complication and enrichment of the simple; the making known or clarifying of the mysterious, dim, and confused; the expansion of the laconic; the completion of the rudimentary, the slow bringing to maturity of the embryonic; and

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