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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Do Elves have free will?
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Morthoron
Gondor


Aug 28 2008, 4:09pm

Post #151 of 157 (1934 views)
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To elucidate... [In reply to] Can't Post


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... It would really be better if you put on your historian thinking cap. The Biblical canon was fixed long before Trent, in fact no later than 363 A.D. And the Gospel of Mary was never considered for inclusion in the canon, because like all the so-called Gospels of the Gnostics, it was denounced early and often as plainly heretical. The criterion for inclusion in the canon was that a text was deemed by the Church to be inspired scripture, not whether it was "genuine" (whatever that means).


Perhaps I wasn't clear. There were two different issues I was referring to: Apocrypha and banned books. When I said "whether because of heresies such as the Arian Conspiracy, or, in the case of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, because it confounded the patristic and conservative church leaders", I was not referring to the Council of Trent, but a far earlier time (as you may know, the Arian heresy had been suppressed a millenium before Trent). It was not until after Constantine Christianized the Roman Empire that a serious effort was made to consolidate the Christian Bible (previous to that, there was even a movement pomulgated by Marcion of Sinope to eliminate all Hebrew text from the Christian bible).

The Gospel of Mary was considered heretical and rejected because the Church Fathers at the time refused to recognize woman leadership in the church, and it was a direct threat to the patristic view of the church (which unfortuantely has been carried down to the present time). From a historical perspective, any question of female leadership was considered anathema by 4th century patriarchs. The idea that someone could truthfully divine (pun intended) inspired scripture from non-canonical material for inclusion in the bible at that early date is up for conjecture, as any reading of the historical record would show. The final inclusions in the bible were made out of the prejudices and political and religious manuevering of the time, and the criterion used does not necessarily reflect complete agreement within the church at that time or now. When Athanasius compiled his list of acceptable texts for the bible, he also presented a list of unacceptable books. It was based on that list that Gnostic monks buried their text at Nag Hammadi, rediscovered in 1945.

I do not require a historian thinking cap as far as the Council of Trent, because I base that point on historical fact: the Apocrypha as they now stand were formally canonized by the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Trent. For the record, the exact date was April 8, 1546.

THE EARL OF SANDWICH: "Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"
JOHN WILKES: That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
John Wilkes (1727-1797)

(This post was edited by Morthoron on Aug 28 2008, 4:11pm)


Aelfwine
The Shire

Aug 28 2008, 6:59pm

Post #152 of 157 (2037 views)
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You were quite clear. [In reply to] Can't Post

I just don't agree with your presentation of the history.

Trent dogmatically defined the canon, true; but the canon that it so defined was recognized at least since 363 (and numerous canon lists dating even before that were essentially the same). Many long-held truths of the Church have been dogmatically defined only many centuries after the belief became evident in writings. Indeed, it is typical that dogmatic definitions are not made until and unless some point of orthodoxy is challenged. Which is precisely what led to Trent defining the canon dogmatically.

As for the rest of your portrait, yes, I recognize all the proper shibboleths in it. I read Pagels too. Fortunately, I did so only after reading real scholarship on the Gnostics, and a good number of their texts, and so I saw (and see) how thin is the gruel that Pagels is ladling. And I'll leave it at that as otherwise off-topic.

--
Carl F. Hostetter


Morthoron
Gondor


Aug 28 2008, 9:54pm

Post #153 of 157 (1890 views)
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Let's agree to disagree then... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
As for the rest of your portrait, yes, I recognize all the proper shibboleths in it. I read Pagels too. Fortunately, I did so only after reading real scholarship on the Gnostics, and a good number of their texts, and so I saw (and see) how thin is the gruel that Pagels is ladling. And I'll leave it at that as otherwise off-topic.



From a scholarly standpoint, Pagels' pieces dealt more with the Gnosticism evident in the writings of Paul of Tarsus or Thomas; whereas Karen L. King, a professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard Divinity, dealt more with Mary Magdalene. Regarding Pagels, interestingly enough her book The Gnostic Paul was voted by Modern Library as one the 100 Best Books of the 20th Century, and, conversely, the Christian Intercollegiate Studies Institute voted it one of the 50 Worst Books of the 20th Century. Religion is so divisive, which is why I don't practice it.

P.S. Sorry for the unnecessary divergence.

THE EARL OF SANDWICH: "Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"
JOHN WILKES: That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
John Wilkes (1727-1797)

(This post was edited by Morthoron on Aug 28 2008, 9:56pm)


Curious
Half-elven


Mar 22 2009, 5:17pm

Post #154 of 157 (1632 views)
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It depends on your perspective. [In reply to] Can't Post

No one has free will from the perspective of Eru, for whom all of time and space is here and now. But other than Eru, who is omniscient? No one, not even the Valar. Since they are bound by time and space, they cannot know the future with the certainty of the past, and therefore must make difficult choices without knowing what Fate says about it. No one bound by time and space knows what choice they will make, and Eru does not constrain their choices -- it's just that Eru does know what choice they will make, since for him it has already happened.


visualweasel
Rohan


Mar 23 2009, 2:00pm

Post #155 of 157 (1641 views)
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If I understand you, then I disagree :) [In reply to] Can't Post

You say "no one one has free will from the perspective of Eru" — why? If I am reading your post correctly (i.e., making the inferences you intended me to), then it would seem you are saying that Eru will not view Frodo's choices (let's say) as free, simply because he, Eru, omnisciently knows all about them, and even "experiences" them outside of time (in an all-encompassing present moment). Is that what you intended?

If so, why should omniscience preclude free will? I think we are in agreement that Frodo's choices seem to be freely made to him, but I don't see why you would say Frodo's choices seem not to be freely made to Eru? You seem to say that because (to Eru) Frodo's choices are inevitable, that Frodo did not freely make them. But the mere inevitability of an outcome has nothing to do with freedom of the choice, does it? Not to mention, even to talk of "inevitability" or of the "past tense" when speaking of a being whose perception of time is all NOW doesn't really make sense to me.

"Eru does know what choice they will make", sure, but how does that make their choice (even when viewed from Eru's perception) unfree? There is — and I may have mentioned this already earlier in the thread (it's an old one; forgive me if I don't read back through it all) — a letter in Lewis's Screwtape Letters which addresses this quite well. There's also a passage in Paradise Lost (to which Lewis may be consciously alluding). And if I recall, one in Boethius, too. All of these confront the question of whether omniscience precludes free will, and they all decide it does not.

Jason Fisher
Lingwë - Musings of a Fish


The Lord of the Rings discussion 2007-2008 – The Two Towers – III.4 “Treebeard” – Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
“On Fairy-stories” discussion 2008 – “Origins” – Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Curious
Half-elven


Mar 23 2009, 3:15pm

Post #156 of 157 (1634 views)
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I misspoke. [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree, everyone has free will from the perspective of Eru. But Eru knows what they will choose, because from his perspective they have already chosen. That does not, however, make their choices any less free.


visualweasel
Rohan


Mar 23 2009, 3:18pm

Post #157 of 157 (1837 views)
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Agreed! :) // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Jason Fisher
Lingwë - Musings of a Fish


The Lord of the Rings discussion 2007-2008 – The Two Towers – III.4 “Treebeard” – Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
“On Fairy-stories” discussion 2008 – “Origins” – Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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