I’m in the process of transcribing (slowly) several books from my collection that are out of print and copyright. One of them is William Porcher DuBose’s High Priesthood and Sacrifice. For those who aren’t aware, DuBose was one of the early founders and deans of the School of Theology at the University of the South. He is often referred to as the greatest theologian the Episcopal Church has ever produced, though he has been more well known aborad than in the US, in part because of his role as a chaplain in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
At any rate, I was struck this evening by how applicable much of what DuBose writes is–not only his writing about scripture, but the cultural struggles that his writing makes clear. Truly there is nothing new under the sun:
All science of life is now a science of beginnings and growth, or of evolution. The New Testament as absolutely transcends the Old as it fulfills it; but on the other hand, it is as actually the culmination and completion of the Old Testament as it transcends it. The thought, the language, the life of Christianity are from the very beginning Hebrew, transformed and as far as possible universalized by transition through Greek thought and speech. All this history has its meaning, and enters largely into the meaning and form of Christianity as we have it. But it brings with it also its embarassments. the most immediate consequence comes to us in the manifest face that we are attempting to address the world to-day, in the matter of its profoundest interest, in terms of the world two thousand years ago. We have first to know what those terms meant then, and to prove that all they meant they mean now, and mean for all men in all time. Are our Bible and our Creeds to be recognized by us as antiquated? Are the Hebrew phrases and terms of priesthood and sacrifice, and the Greek or Gentile application of them to the Cross of Christ, waxed old, then we must take measures to preserve them, and the only way to preserve them is to make them as living to-day, as much a part of our thought and our speech and our life now, as they were two thousand years ago.