Who said it?

It’s time again for another ‘Who said it?’ competition. From whose mouth/pen did the following words come:

‘Aristotle claimed superiority for the poet over against the historian on the ground that the latter was only concerned with the detail of what Alcibiades did and suffered; while the former probed the universal import of Oedipus’ suffering. The Gospel writers (Mark and Luke as well as John) are in this respect nearer to Aristotle’s poets than to his historians; they guess and hint a universal import in those events whose detail they chronicle, constrained to this effort by the mystery of the resurrection to which their often stumbling and contradictory conclusions bear witness. The authentic Anselmian theology of the atonement is ultimately continuous with the Evangelists’ interpretation of the details they record … This interpretation of Christ’s passion is grounded in the manner of its presentation in the Gospels, where … the universal is manifested through the particular – the judgement of God through the particularities of human envy, and cruelty, through the grim actualities of Judas’ greed, of Caiaphas’ cold raison d’état, of Pilate’s self-regarding capitulation. It is Jesus who tears away the masks from their faces, his witness to the truth the ordeal imposed upon him by his fidelity. Even the women of Jerusalem who lament his fate, are warned in almost harsh tones, of the disaster that awaits their city, oblivious of the summons to a new way offered them by Jesus. Human pretension is stripped bare, and the judgement of God accepted in an action profoundly tragic in its cost’.

Closing on Friday. No cheating.


  1. Well, at the considerable risk of embarrassing myself, I’m going to say that it is might not be the person who it sounds most like… Donald MacKinnon. I’m genuinely conflicted about this one. It’s entirely possible that it is MacKinnon. I keep thinking to myself, “it has to be MacKinnon”. But I just can’t seem to place the text right at the moment, and its pace seems to me (only very) slightly different from what one might expect from DM (although this may be because you have contracted it, and such things are notoriously difficult to judge anyway). However, the themes and the language are certainly his. If it isn’t DM – and it might well be – it’s a paraphrase of his thought by someone who has absorbed his work and may well be a former pupil of his. Rowan Williams of course springs immediately to mind… but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest Kenneth Surin instead, from one of the essays in The Turnings of Darkness and Light.


  2. Since the contest is fast ending, and there is (sort of) a promise of a reward, I thought it’s a good time to give the answer: It is indeed Donald MacKinnon, in his article “Teleology and Redemption” in Justice the True and Only Mercy: Essays on the Life and Theolgoy of Peter Taylor Forsyth, ed. Trevor Hart (1995).

    How about an all-expenses paid trip to NZ to visit you, Jason?


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