The Holy Spirit and the Life of the Christian According to Hugh of St. Victor
Hugh of St. Victor impresses even the cursory reader of his great De Sacramentis Christianae Fidei with his tendency to "think in threes." Why does he do this? Is it significant? At the same time, common scholarly judgment holds that Latin theology, in focusing on the person and work of Christ, fails to give an adequate account of the Holy Spirit's role in Christian life. This accusation appears true of Hugh, whose relatively sparse references to the Spirit in, for example, the De Sacramentis are easily catalogued. After a brief introductory chapter, the second chapter of this dissertation exacerbates the problem of Hugh's relative silence about the Holy Spirit by exploring the Trinitarian resonance of his threefold thought: When one demonstrates that the terms of which many of these traids are composed either reproduce the Trinitarian relations or can be "appropriated" to Trinitarian persons, Hugh is recognized not simply as an impressively "triadic" thinker, but a resolutely "Trinitarian" one. How can so Trinitarian a thinker have such an underdeveloped pneumatology? Chapter two proceeds to discuss Hugh's use of the doctrine of appropriations, acquainting the reader with the way Hugh associates various concepts with the different members of the Trinity. The question of Hugh's threefold thought now provides an answer to the accusation of a truncated pneumatology: While Hugh's explicit mentions of the Spirit may be relatively sparse, his doctrine of the Spirit is surprisingly robust, once the pneumatic moments in the triads which structure his thought are identified and considered. The implicit nature of his pneumatology is not surprising, given his tendency to reserve the names of "Father, Son, and Spirit" to discussions of the immanent Trinity. To prepare the reader to uncover Hugh's "implicit" doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian, chapter three does the work of identifying pneumatological themes related to the human person. The second part of the inquiry, structured around Hugh's own description of his spiritual program, properly considers the role of the Holy Spirit in Christian life: One first reads and meditates, then prays, and then receives the grace to live the moral life, all in preparation for a final state of contemplation in which one enjoys the foretaste of eternal sweetness. Utilizing the above method for uncovering Hugh's implicit pneumatology, the Holy Spirit is found to be both "giver and gift" (dator et donum), advancing the believer through the first four steps while being the very gift finally received and enjoyed. Chapter four, on reading, concludes that the Spirit makes the Word's knowledge and wisdom present to the earthly reader. Chapter five examines the interplay between the Word and the Spirit in the act of prayer, in which the Spirit--who first makes the Word "incarnate" in sacramental-Scriptural and sacramental-liturgical signs--intensifies the believer's love for God through the prayerful use of these signs. Finally, chapter six demonstrates that the moral life is given by the Spirit who, in fifteen steps not explicitly attributed to the Spirit yet shown to be the work of the Spirit, makes Christ the Word incarnate present not just "in history" but in the very heart of the acting believer. The dissertation concludes with a reflection on whether the sweetness the soul now enjoys is understood as the "immanental gift" of the Spirit itself or is simply a gift appropriated to the Spirit, suggesting the former.