This brings us to the true function of decoration in a twelfth-century book. It was clearly not just because it was pretty. The twelfth century was an age which delighted in classification and ordering of knowledge. Its most admired writers, men like Peter Lombard and Gratian, arranged and shuffled information into order that was accessible and easy to use. Twelfth-century readers loved encyclopedias…Les us then consider book illumination in these terms. It suddenly becomes easy to understand. Initials mark the beginning of books or chapters (PL.85). They make a manuscript easy to use. It helps classify the priorities of the text…A newspaper does this today with headlines of different sizes…any reader of a modern newspaper will fiercely defend his choice of paper by praising the text, not the layout or illustrations. It is not surprising that the twelfth-century chroniclers from St. Albans, Lincoln, and Canterbury complimented the accuracy of manuscripts when what they meant was that they liked using them.
Christopher De Hamel, A History of Illuminated Manuscripts 99.
A student, Daniel Foucachon, gave some very thoughtful perspectives on Jesus’ instructions in the Sermon on the Mount. He noted that Jesus is not commending non-resistance, but a particular kind of resistance. Our resistance is modeled on Jesus’ own; He conquered by going willingly to the cross, and He instructs us to do the same in the details of life.
Regarding the instructions to give more than adversaries ask, he points out that the Bible says the borrower is the slave of the lender. When we give more than is demanded of us, we become lenders and place our opponent in the place of a borrower. Giving more than asked thus reverses the power relationship, so that the “oppressed” takes mastery of the situation. We really do “overcome” evil with good.
-Dr. Leithart, Leithart.com
If you hold that Dante’s Divine Comedy was written verse after verse, then you must also judge the Gospels as separate entities. However, you then must forgive me if I am not interested in your views because you prove yourself a complete barbarian in matters of creation. A great symphony first exists as a whole and later it unfolds in its single movements. Quacks may patch four movements together; that, however, entitles us to call them quacks. The whole test of Christianity is that it binds all the times together.
– Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Fruit of Lips, 133.
We do this [use apocalyptic language] all the time ourselves. I have often pointed out to students that to describe the fall of the Berlin Wall, as one well might, as an ‘earth-shattering event’ might perhaps lead some future historian, writing in the Martian Journal of Early European Studies, to hypothesize that an earthquake had caused the collapse of the Wall, leading to both sides realizing they could live together after all. A good many readings of apocalyptic literature in our own century operate on about that level of misunderstanding.
-N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, 282.