26 August 2009

Hippolytus again

Yes, my post on the "Eucharistic Prayer of Hippolytus" was somewhat gung-ho, and I have some sympathy with the reader who said that words like (my) "Everyone agrees" inspire him to consider a contrary approach. Likewise. To be told that "Modern Scholarship" has a particular consensus does remind all right-thinking people of all the nonsenses which, over the years, various academic establishments have demanded that we accept on faith.

I would also agree that Paul Bradshaw does have an agenda of his own. But what I feel it is very important to emphasise is the uncertainties surrounding "Hippolytus". I am far from sure that Ap Trad can be certainly known to be by a Hippolytus who, as an early "Antipope", claims he is giving, and really is giving, the liturgical tradition of "his", id est, of the Roman, Church. I am unsure who really wrote it; what his status was; whether it represented the Tradition of a particular Church or what some shadowy writer thought ought to be its Tradition; whether (if it really has some sort of relationship with Rome) it is the Liturgy of the Roman Pontiff himself or of some other grouping within a pluriform Roman Church; whether the text as we have it is a reliable witness to the liturgical Tradition which might be recoverable from what might be identifiable as the earliest stratum of that text.

In view of all this, I feel that the way the liturgists of the Sixties rammed "Hippolytus" down our throats is itself a scholarly consensus which we do very well to view with immense suspicion. This text is not something which deserves such enormous respect that whole liturgical traditions have to be reconstructed to conform to it. It is a very interesting but highly suspicious text best left to scholars to amuse themselves with, and not to be imposed on congregations. When I recall that in the modern RC Church the "Hippolytan" Eucharistic Prayer has, de facto, become the normative Prayer, on Sundays and weekdays, all over the world (or am I wrong about that too?); and that in the C of E "Hippolytus" is used as an alibi for Eucharistic Prayers which have an 'epiclesis' after the Institution Narrative; I feel that something is decidedly askew.

Piltdown Man, well before the 'forensic' scientists exposed the fakery, had become suspicious because he increasingly failed to fit into growing amounts of new evidence about the evolution of our species. Likewise, I feel that "Hippolytus" is very hard to fit into the emergence of what we have as the Canon Romanus. The consensus seems to be that "H" is to be dated to the first half of the third century. How exactly did this Ape evolve (in Liturgy, an area given to the preservation of the archaic) into a Prayer the text of which was, in my opinion, pretty well settled in if not before the time of Leo the Great?

[Mazza, 1995, The origins of the Eucharistic Prayer; Driscoll, 2003, Theology at the Eucharistic Table; are books which do offer a different perspective to that of Bradshaw].

9 comments:

Steve Cavanaugh said...

Dear Father H,

Unfortunately, I think you are not incorrect in surmising that EP 2 has become normative in the English-speaking Latin church. Last week I heard EP 3 during a weekday Mass and thought "What a treat to finally have something other than EP2" (even though I know that the wonderfully evocative phrase "from the rising of the sun to its setting" is blandly translated in English into "from East to West"...blech!).
Fortunately, I usually get to hear the Roman Canon in the very nice translation we have in the Book of Divine Worship on Sundays; although I do wish that one began a bit differently, so that the initial letter was a T so that the iconographic tradition in missals could be kept. Our sacramentary (which I can see being in the choir) does have a wonderful engraving of the crucifix with Our Lady and St. John, but the tradition of embellishing that "T" would be well worth keeping.

Little Black Sambo said...

Can't you begin the Canon with "Therefore"?

Chris Jones said...

Fr Hunwicke,

[T]he way the liturgists of the Sixties rammed "Hippolytus" down our throats is itself a scholarly consensus which we do very well to view with immense suspicion.

I quite agree; as I ought to have made clear in my original comment, my skepticism about a purported consensus against Hippolytus's authorship says nothing against your main point (nor was meant to do so). I carry no brief for "the liturgists of the Sixties." Their belief in Hippolytus's anaphora was a thin reed on which to base a reconstruction of the primitive liturgy -- if, indeed, a reconstruction of earlier tradition is ever a good idea, compared to faithfulness to the tradition that has actually been received.

I very much agree with a mutual friend of ours who writes that he find[s] it hard, impossible really, to imagine that anything like Hippolytus's anaphora was ever the anaphora of the Roman Church. If that is the case, then the modern EP II cannot claim to be "deeply traditional," but must earn its current popularity on its own merits. Forgive me for suspecting that chief among those merits is brevity.

William Tighe said...

I think it's time for another rereading of that delightfully mordant article "The New Eucharistic Prayers: Some Comments," by Geoffrey Willis, *The Heythrop Journal,* XII:1 (January 1971), pp. 5-28.

Two Latin quotations from it will give you an idea of Willis's attitude towards the new EPs, "In Tiberim defluxit Orontes" and "omne ignotum pro magnifico."

Pastor in Valle said...

Quite recently I asked an eminent (RC) liturgist about Hipplolytus; he is a man respected among the mighty in the land, and also by me (they are a small but select number that can claim the respect of both). He told me that nobody (nobody, that is, who is anybody) now thinks that Hippolytus is a Roman liturgy at all, but mostly Syrian. The really ancient Roman Canon is, er, the Roman Canon. The Hippo thing was a 60s fad, and the introduction of a heavily mangled version of it into the liturgy was a tug of the forelock towards what was then considered state-of-the-art liturgical scholarship.
As for its present-day ubiquity; well, yes; in Italy or Spain you rarely get anything else. A certain major prelate not a million miles from me has issued instructions that when he visits a parish, no other canon is to be used. But then, the first edition of the Missale Romanum, (Novus Ordo) specified that it was to be used on weekdays, reserving 3 for Sundays, 1 for greater festivals and 4 for intellectual groups. That makes it officially the one to be used most often.
In my experience in this country, 1,2 &3 are all used pretty frequently, and 4 less so—it grew unpopular because of (a) its length and (b) the irritation it caused those who thought it sexist and (c) those, like myself, who considered its preface in English to be Unitarian (speaking of the Father; 'you alone are God, living and true) and in earlier days were disinclined to make alterations to the text on their own authority.

Joshua said...

Astonishing it is that in most places only EP II is used, a horrifying lapse in continuity. (BTW, I take it that Anglican use of the Roman Canon only resumed after a lapse of some hundreds of years...)

Pleasingly enough, I seem to recall that in one major Australian diocese EP II is not to be used when the Archbishop comes to say Mass...

At least Paul VI wasn't completely overawed by Bugnini, and overruled him on three maters: that Mass was to begin with the Sign of the Cross, that the Orate fratres was to be retained, and that the Roman Canon was to be kept in the Missal - Bugnini et al. (cue spooky music) had pushed for all three to be dumped.

Joshua said...

Did I mention that the Ethiopian Rite also adopted Pseudo-Hippolytus?

Michael McDonough said...

I don't know the Ethiopian Rite, but if it is anything like the Coptic, I can understand how they might not have qualms about EP II. The Copts have a very developed theology of the Great Entrance (i.e., the Offertory) and they focus greatly on the "Host" as the "Lamb of God" and God's Suffering Servant who is processed to the Altar where He sacrifices Himself.

IMO, that emphasis makes other references to the Sacrifice less important in the Anaphora in the Coptic context, while the lessened emphasis in the offertory of the NO, makes such words more important in the RC Anaphorae.

Which is one reason I do not much like EP II.

Joshua said...

Yes, the atrophy of the offertory (and most other parts of the Mass), combined with the hypertrophy of the Liturgy of the Word, has had unfortunate effects...