Disciplina arcani

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Disciplina arcani (Latin for "Discipline of the Secret" or "Discipline of the Arcane") is the custom that prevailed in Early Christianity, whereby knowledge of the more intimate mysteries of the Christian religion was carefully kept from non-Christians and even from those who were undergoing instruction in the faith.[1]

In the early stages of Christianity[edit]

The idea of a disciplina arcani, a law imposing silence upon Christians with respect to their rites and doctrines, has been well-studied in the past century.[2] Some state that a nucleus of oral teaching was inherited from Palestinian and Hellenistic Judaism and formed the basis of a secret oral tradition in the early stages of Christianity.[citation needed] This nucleus of oral teachings (which reflected older traditions and which can be shown to form the background of both Christian and Gnostic conceptions),[3] formed what came to be called disciplina arcani in the 4th century.[4][5]

It is characteristic of the disciplina that the subject of the silence was not the dogma and the sacramental gift, but the elements and the ritual performance.[6] Origen, in Contra Celsum, argues that it is the doctrine of the Christians, and not only their rites, which should be secret in character.[7] Even if the elements of ritual performance, such as missa fidelium and other Christian rites were under the disciplina arcani during the early stages of Christianity (especially during the 3rd–4th century), nobody at the present time can definitively state which other subjects comprised the disciplina. Indeed, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, St. Basil, St. Ambrose of Milan and many other Church Fathers of early Christianity mention an "oral tradition," as in St. Basil's appeal to the "unwritten tradition" in de Spiritu Sancto:

Of the dogmata and kerygmata, which are kept in the Church, we have some from the written teaching (εκ της εγγραφου διδασκαλιας), and some we derive from the Apostolic tradition, which had been handed down en mistirio (εν μυστηριω). And both have the same strength (την αυτην ισχυν) in the matters of piety. [...] They come from the silent and mystical tradition, from the unpublic and ineffable teaching.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Disciplina arcani The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V. Published 1909. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, May 1, 1909
  2. ^ G.G. Stroumsa, Hidden Wisdom: Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism (Studies in the History of Religions), Paperback, 2005
  3. ^ Frommann, De Disciplina Arcani in vetere Ecclesia christiana obticuisse fertur, Jena 1833
  4. ^ G.G. Stroumsa, Hidden Wisdom: Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism (Studies in the History of Religions), Paperback, 2005
  5. ^ E. Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church, chap. x., London, 1890
  6. ^ Schaff Philip, New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. I: Aachen – Basilians, 1819–1893
  7. ^ Origen, Contra Celsum, (1,1)
  8. ^ St. Basil, de Spiritu Sancto, 66

Bibliography[edit]

17th-19th century texts on Disciplina Arcani

  • G. T. Meier, De recondita veteris ecclesiæ theologia, Helmstedt, 1670;
  • E. von Schelstrate, Antiquitas illustrata circa concilia generalia et provincialia and Commentatio de s. Antiocheno concilio, Antwerp, 1678, 1681;
  • W. E. Tentzel, Exercitationes selectæ, ii., Leipsic, 1692, contains Tentzel’s Dissertatio de disciplina arcani, 1683;
  • Schelstrate, Dissertatio apologetica de disciplina arcani contra disputationem E. Tentzelii'', 1685;
  • G. C. L. T. Frommann, De disciplina arcani, Jena, 1833;
  • R. Rothe, De disciplinæ arcani origine, Heidelberg, 1841;
  • K. A. Credner, in the Jenaer allgemeine Litteraturzeitung, 1844;
  • T. Harnack, Der christliche Gemeindegottesdienst im apostolischen und altkatholischen Zeitalter, pp. 1–66, Erlangen, 1854;
  • G. von Zezschwitz, System der Katechetik, i. 154-209, Leipsic, 1863;
  • E. Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church, chap. x., London, 1890;
  • G. Anrich, Das antike Mysterienwesen in seinem Einfluss auf das Christentum, Göttingen, 1894;
  • G. Wobbermin, Religionsgeschichtliche Studien zur Frage der Beeinflussung des Urchristentums durch das antike Mysterienwesen, Berlin, 1896;
  • P. Batiffol, Études d’histoire et de théologie positive', Paris, 1902;
  • H. Gravel, Die Arkandisciplin, part i., Münster, 1902.
  • K. von Eckartshausen, "The Cloud Upon The Sanctuary" 1752 / 1803

External links[edit]