Thursday, August 28, 2014

In a blinding bout of nerd rage

At one point in time, the Fantastic Four was one of the most respected comics in the history of the medium. Until that day, that fateful day, when, seemingly in 80s, the stories became lackluster and the title quickly degenerated into one of Marvel's fourth tier features. History and Stan Lee kept the title alive, but everyone knew the title was, overall, getting well past its peak.

So it was that during Hollywood's tepid dance with comic book movies in the 90's, there was a filmed but never released version of the Fantastic Four. By all accounts, it was a quick dodge job done to retain movie rights, with no intention of distribution. Most impressions are that the movie was abysmal and it was probably a very good thing it never saw theatrical release.

Fast forward to the 2000s. The popularity of the X-Men films and Spiderman inspire another run at the Fantastic Four. Two movies were produced, and, generally, they were crushing failures. The first of the two leaned a little to heavily on camp value. Although, Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer was most egregious. Featuring key aspects of the comic book's mythology and basing itself off of two well crafted story arcs from the Silver Age, it was an astounding failure to achieve cinematic promise that had been so thoroughly laid out forty or so years before.

Now we have this - leaked images of Dr. Doom from the pending Fantastic Four reboot. Not a good sign going forward. Hopefully the shots are being leaked to gauge some sort of public reaction.

We'll have to see the movie to know how this actually pans out. I'd image there will be a thick overlay of cgi on this, but who knows. Until then, the comic geek in me is planning a protest.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Found in Transliteration: Scripture and the probelm of harmonizing with Christian Theology

Years ago I saw a Bible published shortly after Vatican II. What made this edition stand out, and made me regret not having picked up a copy when I had the chance, was that it opted to transliterate a number of Hebrew terms, as opposed to following conventional vernacular translation. The most notable being its use of the multiple divine names in the Old Testament (Elohim, Yahweh, El Shaddai, etc.), a characteristic it shared in common with the New Jerusalem Bible, if memory serves.

The decision to reduce the divine names to God or Lord, following the tradition set in the Septuagint, though enacted out of necessity, had negative consequences on Christianity, which neither East or West is immune from. The conventional translation imposes a block in the Christian's access to the text. Concepts in the theology of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible are denied expression to the Christian reader - and this has been the case since, at least, the second century.

Contemporary Bibles, such as the RSV and NRSV, try to get around the gap of centuries by providing numerous explanatory notes that detail Hebrew terms or the Jewish background. The success depends upon the accuracy of the notes, the tendency of the reader to engage the notes, and whether or not the reader has any background in Biblical languages. In an ideal world, the reader would have such a sufficient knowledge of the original languages that he or she could make his or her own determinations.

It is often asked, and typically with some degree of either paranoia or derision, what significance an understanding of Hebrew has for understanding Jesus of Nazareth, the New Testament, and Christianity. When it comes to Biblical translations and theology, the insinuation behind the question is that proponents of such a perspective imply that somehow, someway, the Church "missed something;" the canons and decrees which came to define Christian orthodoxy are, in some manner, deficient, the result of men who could not bridge the cultural-linguistic gap between late antiquity and its corresponding Neo-Platonism and the multi-layered, often times to the point of obscurity, mythological worldview of an fundamentally Semitic religious movement. They are correct in their insinuations.

By the time Nicaea meets and the first plans to define normative Christian doctrine are set in motion, Christianity has already been approximately three centuries removed from its point of origin, its original linguistic and cultural milieu. During this time, Hebrew and Aramaic have been replaced by Greek and other languages, such as Latin and Coptic, are beginning become the favored means of linguistic expression in their population centers. Although respect for tradition retained memory of the earlier Jewish expression, it increasingly became apparent that the original "language" of religion born from the movement and memory of Jesus of Nazareth was increasingly indecipherable to the Church that professed faith in him. As an example, the angel of Yahweh and panim Yahweh motifs that seem to underlie the theology of the fourth gospel are displaced in favor of an imposed logos theology sprung from the well springs of a Platonic revival. Plainly, a new and culturally relevant language was needed to interpret texts that had become ever more alien to the Church that transmitted them. Yet, there was a trade off; the original theology, doctrine, mysticism, et al., of movement that encircled Jesus of Nazareth's activity, the original Hebrew/Aramaic context, was lost.

There are times I am tempted to go so far to say that the legends of an original Hebrew copy of Matthew that circulated until at least the time of Jerome are evidence that the New Testament itself, in virtue of being written in Greek, was an example of bartering the original cultural and linguistic matrix for a new and more relevant mode of expression. After the New Testament had become relatively prevalent, perhaps by the time of Papias, the memory of the original context was preserved in legends of an original textual source for the New Testament "in the Hebrew tongue."

The idea that there is an original "Hebrew" theology behind the New Testament that was obscured as Christianity became an increasingly gentile  religion is nothing new in scholarly research. Margaret Baker has written a handful of otherwise well received books detailing the survival of particular form of Judaism in the New Testament. For those wishing to study the Apocalypse of John, it is now nearly impossible to do so without considering the book as one part of the continuum of proto-merkavah mysticism. The scholarly evidence is there and for those with a command of the languages the evidence is considerable.

If the above is true, then, well so what? Hasn't Christianity gotten along well enough with the theological system that gradually came into being and was eventually solidified during the great ecumenical counsels? Well, yes and no. A new language of interpretation was needed, but in the process of finding a new interpretive lens there was a very real loss of much of the tradition, as it was rendered unintelligible. If, for instance, the point and purpose of John's Apocalypse is mystical experience and revelation of arcane knowledge, then the eschatological obsession over the book is possibly misplaced. If this is the case of a book that seems to have come out of the Christian matrix, what of those books that are decidedly pre-Christian? How much has the Old Testament been misread? Additionally, one wonders how much an amnesia around Christian origins has contributed to the "one true Church" mentality; if Christianity really did undergo a revolution whereby its original interpretive lens was displaced in favor of something more palatable with Greco-Roman culture, then the claims of any one church to have preserved the faith of the apostles would have to be taken with a grain of salt. Moreover, it is worth asking whether or not the orthodoxy that displaced the original strata has exhausted itself and if anything of the original Jewish strata could be retrieved and reapplied in our contemporary context.

Reading the Old Testament as it was meant to be read is a start, and it is perhaps inevitable. Simple things such as transliterating terms that are often translated by glosses, or by faithfully translating the anthropomorphism in the Hebrew text, have the effect of orientating the reader more in the direction of the original author's intention and potentially re-discovering a perception of reality that has been lost.

Is any of this possible on a Church-wide level? Probably not. There is a very real way in which one can see a survival of Marcion's thought in the definition of classical Christian theology, in so far as it is by and large a theology that is admittedly foreign to the thought of Scripture. Certain elements of classical Christian theology can be read into the New Testament only with much presupposition. With regards to the Old Testament, Christian theology, as it has come to define orthodox belief, is often times only possible by either ignoring the theology of the Old Testament, claiming it has been superseded by Church tradition, or seriously mutilating the thought of the books.

At this point, it is common to bring up Tradition and, in Catholic or Orthodox circles, observe that the religion does not abide by sola scriptura. True enough. On the level of pure religion, Christian theology and the gap that sometimes exists between it and the earliest documents related to the tradition is almost irrelevant. A religion either works or it doesn't; if it fails to communicate certain perennial truths about our condition, our reality, our cosmos, and our destiny, then it simply collapses. More importantly, the Tradition, both Catholic and Orthodox, has succeeded in cultivating religious experience. People are able to experience religion and, in this manner, attest to its veracity. Faith makes reality....but, this does not eliminate the evidence demonstrating that when the cultural and linguistic milieu shifted, a profound alteration of paradigm took place, one which Christianity has not reconciled with. From this perspective, there is crucial chapter in Christianity's past that the Church has not come to terms with and it is uncertain if such is possible on a religion-wide scale.

As one trained in historical criticism, I am, of course, biased towards the perspective that, most sacred above all is not necessarily the theology or interpretation hallowed by the Tradition, but, ultimately, the original thought and intention of the ancient author. On an individual level, recapturing the original theology of the ancient author is indeed possible, and, I would argue, ought to be done. Religion, however, requires a myriad of other considerations that must be met and these considerations may well exclude the thought of the ancient author. Although the book of Job may well follow the traditional concept in Semitic theologies that one may justifiably raise a charge against the Deity for unfaithfulness to his covenant, such thought does address the theological or practical concerns of religion, which may be better served by expounding Job as an exemplar of patience in suffering or following a Christological interpretation. Neither Christian piety or theology allow for the possibility that God could unjustifiably be unfaithful to his end of the covenant, although Job intends to provide the vocabulary to raise such a charge and demonstrate that the Deity can be called into account before man.

This is the paradox we face. There is a certain integrity to the Christian theological tradition; no serious scholar would dispute this. Yet, one cannot ignore that a notable points of disagreement exist between what appears to have been in place during Jesus of Nazareth's life to the close of first century, and the Christian tradition that begins to come into its own. No one is entirely sure, aside from individual assimilation, the data of the first century ought to be applied to the Christian context, or if it even can be applied. Nevertheless, it is there, it exists. For some, it is the result of the machinations of faithless secularists who want nothing more than to dismantle Christianity. For others, it is part of the quest to encounter God on the most unadulterated manner possible.

In Jewish thought, reflected in both the Old and, incidentally, the New Testament, there is notion of name theology. To learn the name of the Deity is to discover its essence and power. The various names of God transmitted in the Hebrew text reveal aspects of the Deity. We find this name theology transmitted into the New Testament - "Who do you say I am?", "the name above every other name," etc. It is impossible to fully integrate the significance of the name theology in the New Testament without understanding how and what the names of God reveal. To this point, transliteration and a rediscovery of the first century are integral.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Another one enters the great beyond.

From Sacramentum Futuri.

Carlo Braga passes. Yet another one of the names that spearheaded liturgical reform in the Roman Church has embarked upon the great transitus.

Reading the article, coupled with the autumnal temperatures in my region of the country, I could not help but be taken back to some now distant October, working well late into the night on one of my (in retrospect) one too many degrees in Theology. I spent a considerable time of my life studying the depths of the liturgical reform in the Roman Church, such that a tinge of loss was the first reaction I had to reading of Carlo Braga's death.

Putting aside conspiracy theories and whatever one makes of the Novus Ordo and Liturgia Horarum, Fr. Braga, much like Bugnini, was a liturgical scholar of some notoriety in his time. Although Vaggiani was the only Italian to achieve must reputation in English speaking circles, Braga, like Bugnini, had a reputation among scholarly European Catholics. True, he did not gain the level of notoriety of, say, Jungmann. However, he was enmeshed in the project of liturgical reform in Italy.

It is impossible not to think of the numerous articles by Braga and other obscure but influential figures in the reform of the Roman liturgy. It is easy enough, and horribly common, to demonize these men, although such a Manichean worldview hardly does justice to them. The end result of their efforts may be questionable, and was even questioned by notable persons of their rank, but if one takes them time to read those obscure journal articles that floated about in Italy and the rest of the continent, one sees men whose enthusiasm for the liturgy was palpable. They lived and breathed the liturgy, really. They fed off the waves of excitement that came from rediscovering liturgical texts that never made it into the Roman Rite as it came down to us, the new horizons that were borne from comparative liturgy, and the noticeable results achieved by popularizing the vernacular with the copious hand missals in circulation.

Whether or not all of the above mentioned really should have funneled into a vision of reforming the order of the Roman Mass is debatable. However, you cannot deny the love for the liturgy that inspired such a fateful decision. Which is why, in my estimation, scholars like Ward and Johnson continue to defend the reform of the Roman Rite and go great efforts to reveal the sources of the liturgical reform. It only takes a few moments of reading these articles (published before, during and after the Council) until one has caught their excitement.

Braga goes forth to his eternal reward; at the end of the day, I think it unlikely that God condemns him. With his passing, one wonders how many figures are left from those decades of liturgical reform.

Monday, August 18, 2014

How long until I can have this on a bumper sticker?

Domi suae in urbe R'lyeh Chtulhu et somniat et exspectat.

The coat of arms for the high priest of old ones.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Because it would have been too much to do anything in defence of the Christians that were persecuted in Iraq.

At least the persecution of one group is recognized by the White House.

I don't have a dog in Democrat vs. Republican fight. Although, I have to wonder if the president's foreign policy flubs will come back to bite his party in the ass. How is it that this administration cannot acknowledge that ISIS has been executing Christians when even the secular media has covered the story?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Ecclesiastical New Coke

An excellent snippet of Cardinal Heenan's observations of the Second Vatican Council as it was in session.

I think, perhaps, the most insightful intervention (so far as I've read) at Vatican II came from Cardinal Brown, the head of the Dominicans at the time.

The refusal to hear the criticisms of men like Heenan and Brown back then is mirrored by the refusal to tolerate anything less than an appreciative disposition towards the Council now. This is also why a fair number among the episcopacy wanted Ratzinger out; anything that raises even the smallest question against that Council's wisdom threatens to dismantle the entire rotten edifice that was built up around it.

Perhaps "rotten" is too strong of a word..."incompetent" might be best.

Vatican II has become the litmus test for one's Catholicism in the Roman Church. A strange position given that practical self destruction of the religion in its wake.

It reminds me of a lesson one learns early on in the real world; corporations that fail are the ones that cannot break out of their corporate culture to see their business failing.

Best case scenario for Rome: Vatican is consciously referred to as ecclesiastical new Coke.

Likelihood of this happening: next to none.

Ecclesiastical Provincialism

If there is one area at which the Orthodox and Roman Catholics can seem to agree, it's that reality should be defined by extreme ecclesiastical provincialism. Various Traditionalist Catholic sites treat the plight of Middle Eastern Christians as concerning only the assortment of churches in communion with Rome. The Orthodox, meanwhile, often refuse to acknowledge there is any Catholic presence.

At times like these I simply pray: Ineffable God, save me from your Church.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Office of Heiligen Kreuz (Cistercian), or the Dude Abides.

I agree, the book looks magnificent. Although, it is nothing without the contents. This Cistercian abbey signed off on a general reform of its office after Vatican II and adopted a two week cycle. My impression, based on looking at the psalter schema, is that it offers an office still reflecting the monastic ethos in terms of its spirituality. Simply put, this looks like a more fulfilling office than the modern Roman breviary (Liturgia Horarum).

Looking through this window into the office of Heiligen Kreuz stirs a lot of conflicting emotions. On the one hand, it is truly frustrating that this office is unavailable outside of the abbey in Austria. On the other, there is something somewhat comforting about knowing there was an abbey that kept a balanced view of liturgical reform and prays from these books.

If Roman Catholicism, or Catholicism in general, is going to survive in a form that resembles its classical expression, it will be at the hand of communities, monastic or otherwise, who have the expressed intention of providing an oasis in midst of West's spiritual aridity.

It's just good to know this office, this abbey, is out there. It reminds of the Big Lebowski in a way,

"The Dude abides. I don't know about you, but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all of us sinners."

Excising the Sons of God: the decline of an ancient mythology and liturgical development.

The prospect of seeing another edition of the Missale Romanum back in print stirs the hope that it will, even if coming from more extreme elements, facilitate a real discussion of the twentieth century liturgical reforms in the Latin Church. How much depth the discussion will have is anyone's guess. Nevertheless, the hope is there that perhaps some additional perspective can be provided. Much as I agree with the observations that the Missale Romanum of Paul VI is a liturgy clearly distinct from the traditional Roman liturgy, I must also agree that the Missale Romanum of Paul VI did not emerge from a vacuum. It was the largest step in a series of previously tepid steps towards reforming the Roman liturgy in the light of criticism drawn by modern historical research, theology, and society.

So it seems that Pius XII reforms of Holy Week are often considered a crucial moment in the twentieth century's liturgical reform. It seems as though this was the moment confirming that a recasting of the Roman liturgy was not only possible, but indeed it would happen.

The arguments discussing the merits or lack thereof of Pius XII's reforms range over a variety of concerns. My concern is a particularly narrow one. It seems to me that the greatest casualty of the reform of Holy Week was the abridgment of the twelve prophecies to four. Now, the Holy Week reforms of Pius XII are not a major issue for me; I do not mark them as the beginning of the Roman liturgy's decline and I do not consider the pre-Pian form to be a indicator of sure orthodoxy. Among the Holy Week reforms, only the reduction of the prophecies strikes me as a loss, although it is not a be all and end all issue for the traditional Roman liturgy.

Truth be told, it is the elimination of only one of the twelve prophecies that concerns me. This would be the text of the second prophecy, which was comprised of Genesis 5-8, the narrative of Noah and the flood.  In particular, my concern is with one segment of this narrative, Genesis 6, the account of the sons of God and the daughters of man and the Nephilim.

Anyone with a background in Biblical Studies should immediately note that the account of Genesis 6 intersects with I Enoch. The relationship between these texts is still, in higher critical circles, considered somewhat muddy. We presume that I Enoch is an expansion of Genesis 6, although J.T. Milik, one of the original scholars to work on the text of I Enoch recovered from Qumran, championed the opposite view. It should be noted that Milik's position is not as off base as it might seem at first; many scholars of Genesis believe the account of Genesis 6 is a truncated version of a longer narrative. However, there is no consensus that I Enoch is the longer narrative.

In any event, the sons of God myth, be it through the text of Genesis or the Book of Enoch, played a major role in the formative years of Christianity, well into the end of Ante-Nicene period. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, to name a few, all accepted the sons of God myth of Genesis 6 as authentic and held to a literal interpretation of the text. An important example can be found in Irenaeus' Proof of the Apostolic Preaching. Some, such as Origen and Tertullian, if I recall correctly, cite the Book of Enoch as authentic. Of course, contemporary textual studies have highlighted the influence of the myth and the text of I Enoch on the composition of the New Testament, the most blatant example being found in the clear citation of the text in the Epistle of Jude and II Peter, wherein both authors treat the text as, in our parlance, canonical. Additionally, it seems as though Paul makes a very veiled allusion to it in his prescriptions for the head covering of women in II Corinthians.

Only the Ethiopian Orthodox Church retained the Book of Enoch in its canon. It appears as though the book fell off the radar in the West and the East rather soon after Nicaea. The sons of God myth, however, took a different route as the rise of platonic and neo-platonic philosophy in Christian theology struggled to find an acceptable interpretation. Augustine finds a way around it by demythologizing the passage in the City of God. Ascetic authors, such as John Cassian, aptly applied the four senses of scripture to the passage and offered an anagogical interpretation.

I have, alas, forgotten much the history of the development of the old Roman lectionary (as it came to us in the traditional Missale Romanum). The oldest manuscripts of the Roman lectionary date to approximately the 7th century, if I recall correctly, and it has been some time since I last studied up on the contents. As such, I will not try to argue a train of historical continuity between the Ante Nicene Church and the Missale Romanum as it stood in the 1940s. I would argue that whatever the circumstances of its composition, the second prophecy, whether by intention or accident, offered us a connection to the formative decades of Christianity. The sons of God myth stretched through the centuries to the early cosmology of Christian Church. In that mythological context we encountered the mythological frame work that underlined the greater cosmology of Christianity's earliest years. Based upon our studies of the literature that heavily circulated at the time of second temple and left its imprint on the New Testament, this mythological narrative may well have been the background for the worldview of Jesus himself. It is a strange and utterly alien worldview for us.

Indeed, it was alien by the time we reached the debate between Alexander and Arius that served as an impetus for the Council of Nicaea. Perhaps that is why even before the Second Vatican Council and the complete reform of the Roman liturgy, it did not survive. My wife and I had a discussion about this very topic. As I waxed on and on about the profound significance of this reading and the sons of God myth, she remarked, "Well, evidently it wasn't really passed on, otherwise they wouldn't have put it on the chopping block before Vatican II." I couldn't reply with anything other than, "true."

It was perhaps many centuries before 1950 that the second prophecy of the old Holy Saturday liturgy had become wrapped in obscurity. It preserved a kernel of the earliest Christian mythological framework that had otherwise failed to be passed on. One need only study a hand full of the obscure liturgical texts out there to realize that this is a recurring pattern in the history of the Western liturgy (I cannot speak with any knowledge concerning the Eastern liturgy). There is an elucidating article by Ward in my files. It focuses on the Ravenna Rotolus and how the text was incorporated into the collects of Paul VI's Missale Romanum. At one point, he highlights an oration not included in the reform of the Roman liturgy because the theology expressed therein was too alien. Yet, the prayer was clearly of a Roman type and is part of a collection of prayers used during the Advent/Christmas cycle, some of which were present in old Missale Romanum. Plainly, it is true; through the course of history some texts suffer a loss of meaning and Bugnini's generation was not the first one to drop a text whose relevance seemed utterly obscure.

Of course, the passage of time is a funny thing. Recent decades have seen a reemergence of the son of God myth's among scholars and more discussion of its influence on early Christianity. On a more practical level, the myth is having a renewed impact on more evangelical leaning Protestants who have grown disaffected with certain tendencies in mainline Protestantism. Yet, I have no delusions about this impacting Western Christianity as a whole, most especially mainline Catholic Christianity, especially those of a Roman variety.

As distant as Roman Catholics were from the second prophecy prior to the Pian reform, the distance has only grown and the worldview reflected in that text is yet more obscure. This should offer us something to reflect on. Much as proponents of Paul VI's liturgical reform like to chime in about going to earlier forms and earlier theology (disputable points to be sure!), the interest is really half-hearted. If one was interested in returning to an earlier theology, one would advocate for this text's re-introduction into the Roman liturgy. Similarly, those groups advocating the pre-Pian Holy Week scantly mention the significance of reducing the number of prophecies and the historical importance of the sons of God myth to Christianity.

The distance between Roman Catholicism and the old second prophecy of Holy Saturday is perhaps unbridgeable. This reading is perhaps a clear example of how liturgical texts can become obscure through the centuries, to the point where its relevance will only be appreciated by specialist or a few odd fellows. In the modern Roman liturgy, the application of Genesis 6 is careful to leave out verses 1-4, the truncated account of the sons of God myth. In this case, appears to be a deliberate editorial decision by the editors of Paul VI's Missal to eliminate the relevant verses. This, of course, leads us to the controversial topic of the new lectionary's redaction of scripture, which is another matter entirely.

There is an unavoidable question that comes up when discussing defunct liturgical texts: Is it possible to retrieve them and reapply them? In the instance of the Missale Romanum prior to the Pian reforms, the sons of God myth more specifically, it seems relatively easy. There is a contingent in Catholicism (be it Roman, Anglican, or even Western Rite Orthodox) that do not necessarily need to follow every pontifical directive on the liturgy and have proceeded to use prior editions of the Roman Missal, if not other branches of the Latin liturgy. In the instance of the reform of the Roman liturgy, the text were retrieved and reapplied in a selective if not ideological way, modified where the text did not reflect the editors' goals for the reformed Roman liturgy. It is the second instance which concerns us most. The majority of Catholics will likely not be part of a parish that uses the pre-Pian Holy Week liturgy, rather, they will be part of a parish that has either removed or severely redacted the text pertaining to the sons of God. How one answers the question of whether or not the text can be restored to the liturgy in those settings reflects how one conceives the liturgy. Is the liturgy something we create, or something we receive?

Without getting into a "pissing match" (as we call it in the real world) about who changed what first and when, the form and text of the pre-Pian reform, post-Pian reform, and Pauline reform missals is essentially fixed in place. Indeed, I think one can make the case that the pre-Pian will come into its own as a third option the vexed climate of the Roman liturgy (although, I still maintain the pre-Pian and post-PianMissale Romanum of Paul VI as a received liturgy and have done so by maximizing the usage of Latin in the celebration. If this continues and succeeds, whether using Latin or the vernacular, it is a crucial step towards establishing the Pauline liturgy as something received and, in turn, re-inducing a sense of perennial into the greater part of Catholicism. Once this happens to a liturgy, it is to a religious body's detriment if substantial changes are introduced, which a revision of the Easter readings would certainly be.

The wonderfully arcane text of Genesis 6:1-4 may well be lost in perpetual obscurity. We can discuss the revisions of Holy Week all we want, it does not change the fact that the significance of the text was not passed on. It was a prime candidate for elimination when Roman circles got that revision bug. Yet, it hardly seems as though the groups that would utilize the Roman Missal as it was before Pius XII's revision would know what to do with it. It would be read or chanted as proscribed by the rubrics, but it still lacks any poignant relevance.

Christianity long ago grew uncomfortable with a myth that had an influential role in its conception of reality, It tried various ways around the problem. The second prophecy of the pre-Pian Missal was, in a poetic way, a lingering reminder of the religion's original nexus, something that could not be shaken until the executive decision was made to excise it. Rightly or wrongly, the Church, both Eastern and Western really, has long since wandered from the ancient mythology represented in that text.