Wherein Ratramnus concludes his arguments about the nature of the Eucharist. For how we got to this point, see my previous posts here, here, and here. Next post in the series here.
The main thing to comment on here, setting aside some of his really interesting claims about identity and difference, is the structure. This section of the letter seems to have been rewritten at some point, or perhaps even reworked by a later author. Why?
The formatting of the first section of the letter was very straightforward: terms, analysis, Scripture, Fathers, conclusion. This latter section, however, does a few things differently.
First he begins with a lengthy presentation of St. Ambrose’s thoughts on the Eucharist. With very little commentary added in his own words, this essentially amounts to a twenty-paragraph appeal to Patristic authority. This is no big shock; perhaps Ratramnus felt he was on riskier ground here and wanted to give himself as much advance cover as possible for his views.
Second, and I think more interesting, Ratramnus embeds his subsequent analysis on identity and difference inside a surprising inclusio: the Eucharist is a two-fold figure of not only Christ, but also of His mystical body–us. Between raising this in #73-75 and closing out with St. Augustine’s take on the same in #93-96, he lays out differences of attributes and definition in a way that doesn’t really depend on the Two-Fold Figure idea. The opening of the inclusio is based on liturgical practice, but when he returns to liturgical texts inside his analysis he shows no notice or dependence on the earlier material.
Third, his use of Fulgentius in #90-92, while still pursuing the same kind of dichotomies as the earlier analysis, is far subtler an argument than anything used previously. There are some new text markers in the last ten or so paragraphs as well, most notably referring to St. Augustine by the hitherto unseen Pater Augustinus.
Now I’m pretty skeptical of authorship claims based on text variation, but at the very least it should be well-noted how different “part two” of this letter is. I’m open to any number of interpretations here, including the possibility that I’m over-pressing the claim or missed structure in “part one,” but one thing I know: I had a lot more outline-thinking to do for this part of the text!
Without further ado: Continue reading Ratramnus on the Eucharist (IV)