The common perception of the concept of dogma is as a revealed truth, founded on a non-human authority reverberating power over the community of the faithful. At the same time, dogma also defines the attempt to materialize what is intangible and to describe what is invisible. Setting aside the variety of descriptions and definitions of dogma, what is certain beyond doubt is its pertaining to the religious sphere. This does not necessarily imply that all religions can be described as dogmatic. In actual fact the concept, far from being universally widespread, is a cultural product having its own historical roots within Christianity. It therefore shares Christianity's diachronic spreading fortunes, and its confrontations with and rise within the western world. Bearing this in mind, the present article aims to follow the steps through which the concept of dogma has originated, has been received by different cultural environments and has finally had to be remolded to fit changed historic-religious contingencies. This temporal journey starts in classical Greece. From here the term dogma will migrate carrying a meaning that would thereafter change and build up when entering religious literature: Hellenistic Judaism, the New Testament and the need for a “rule” to fix its canon are only the first steps toward this building process. All of this would then have consequences both on the theological and the social/ideological level, as much in the structure of the community as in the identity of the Church. From this point of view the 4th century will be a crucial time and the emperor its protagonist. The Council of Nicaea of 325 and that of Constantinople of 381 were to be convened as forums to discuss theological and Christological issues on the one side and to establish and institutionalize the Church on the other. However, only in Christian literature will the concept of dogma evolve to find completion, especially thanks to refined thinkers such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, and Augustine, while its definition by Vincent of Lérins, in 5th-century, will find its way through all history of Churches to present times. Over this considerable lapse of time, which encompasses late antiquity and early modern period, significant contributions to both canonical and present-day definition of the concept of dogma have been provided by Catholic Ecumenical Councils convened whenever historical changes have been perceived as dangerous. After the Council of Trent (1545-1563) dogma became a fixed rule based on faith authority as handed down by apostolic tradition, as opposed to the innovation represented by contemporary Lutheran option. In the First Vatican Council (1868-1870) the concept was employed to establish the infallibility of the Pope: as a consequence, dogma would thereafter mean the determination and assertion of scriptural contents on the part of the Church of Rome, and only Ecumenical Councils and, by virtue of his infallibility, the Pope himself would be entitled to issue them. Over the 19th and the 20th centuries ecclesiastical conclusions are juxtaposed with the thinking of Christian philosophers and theologians. In the opinion of John Henry Newman (1801-1890), heir of the great patristic tradition, to believe is essentially to believe in dogmata, which are consubstantial with faith and derive their authority from their apostolic origin, that is from their antiquity. The theologian and Christian historian Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930) on the other hand expresses doubt about the definitions of dogma and points up their underlying ambiguities. His synthesis insists on a formulation which is at the same time the starting point and the conclusion thereof: “Dogma in its conception and development is a work of the Greek spirit on the soil of the Gospel” (A. von Harnack, History of Dogma, transl. by N. Buchanan, Boston, Little, Brown, and C., 1901, vol. I, p. 17). The last significant step of this long building process is represented by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965): once again changed historical conditions call for a conceptual reformulation that takes into account the inexorable march of modernism and the secularization of religious values. After all, if film director Lars von Trier can make use of the term dogma to name a cultural movement that rejects rules, this is made possible only within this very context of secularization of religious values and of the concepts that define them.
Dogma: il dilemma della certezza / Saggioro, Alessandro. - In: PLANNING DESIGN TECHNOLOGY. - ISSN 2282-7773. - 4(2015), pp. 62-69.
|Titolo:||Dogma: il dilemma della certezza|
SAGGIORO, Alessandro (Corresponding author)
|Data di pubblicazione:||2015|
|Citazione:||Dogma: il dilemma della certezza / Saggioro, Alessandro. - In: PLANNING DESIGN TECHNOLOGY. - ISSN 2282-7773. - 4(2015), pp. 62-69.|
|Appartiene alla tipologia:||01a Articolo in rivista|