Volume 9, Number 2 (Spring 2014)
Over the last fifty years ecumenical progress on the Eucharist has been accompanied by widespread disregard for semantic and metaphysical questions about how Christ is, and comes to be, present in the Eucharist. This paper argues that these questions must be faced, and that Christ's Eucharistic words ("This is my body," "This is my blood") should be understood semantically as genuine identity statements. They were taken this way by Christians from the earliest times, and this is the most natural way to take them. Christians also insisted early on that Christ's Eucharistic presence comes to be by way of a radical conversion of bread and wine into Christ's body and blood. The Council of Trent's teaching on transubstantiation is meant to insist that this ancient conviction about Eucharistic conversion is normative doctrine. Thomas Aquinas's application of the idea that God is the auctor entis can aid in an understanding of Trent's teaching on the Eucharist. At the same time, the arguments of Scotus and Ockham make the ecumenically helpful point that this conversion is not metaphysically necessary for Christ's Eucharistic presence, though it is, of course, the way this presence actually comes about.
This paper responds to Bruce Marshall's use of logic to clarify the metaphysical issues at stake in the doctrine of transubstantiation. While appreciating and agreeing with the general approach of finding connections between logic and metaphysics, on the one hand, and the communal and ecumenical significance of Eucharistic doctrine, on the other, this paper criticizes Marshall's particular analysis as beholden to a distinctively modern approach to logic, and displaying a typically modern neglect of the notion of substance. The conclusion suggests that distinctively Catholic teaching on transubstantiation is significant today not only for proclaiming a mystery of Christian faith, but also for calling attention to classical categories of reality, categories once considered more natural and common but subsequently obscured by modern philosophical and theological developments.
The present paper argues that while Thomas Aquinas and William of Ockham disagree about the metaphysical status of 'quantity' as articulated in their respective eucharistic theologies, they agree about the theologically more significant issue regarding the metaphysical status of the real substantial presence of Christ's body. The essay proceeds by first examining Thomas's account of eucharistic presence, eucharistic change, and eucharistic accidents before considering Ockham's argument against Thomas's account of quantity. The paper subsequently turns to the agreements between Thomas and Ockham, before concluding that while Thomas's account of transubstantiation is a historically significant contribution to eucharistic theology, Ockham's interpretation of eucharistic transubstantiation is also a valuable resource for modern theologians investigating the relationship between ontology and the Lord's supper.
Saint Anselm's argument in Proslogion II and III has continuing relevance for philosophers and religious people as an illustration of the important virtue of contemplation. The particular way Anselm develops his argument, aside from whether its modal logic succeeds, develops an important aspect of theoretical rationality. Although there are generally two kinds of approaches to Anselm's argument in Proslogion II and III, namely, that which explores what it means for faith and that which dissects its logic, I present a third-its value as an exercise of contemplation. Anselm's Proslogion provides an excellent example of intellectual rigor applied to thinking about a reality which is known for its own sake (i.e., God). In this paper I first trace the development and importance of contemplation in Anselm's philosophical-theological method and follow with an examination of the importance of the virtue of intellectual contemplation. With this understanding, I then analyze Anselm's argument in Proslogion II and III as a contemplative act and show how important intellectual insights follow from it. Finally, I claim that Proslogion II and III as a demonstration of the virtue of intellectual contemplation remains relevant for philosophy and theology.