Filius

Waldburg-Gebetbuch_158

Vellem iam quidem, et forte possem, illum esse verissime Patrem; hoc vero verissime esse Filium concludere. sed nec hoc negligendum existimo, an Patris et Filii, et an matris et filiae magis illis apta sit appellatio, cum in eis nulla sit sexus discretio. nam si idcirco convenienter est ille Pater, et proles eius Filius, quia uterque est Spiritus: cur non pari ratione alteri convenit esse matrem. alteri filiam, quia uterque est veritas et sapientia? an quia in his naturis, quae sexus habent differentiam, melioris sexus est patrem esse vel filium; minoris vero, matrem vel filiam? et hoc quidem naturaliter in pluribus; in quibusdam vero econtrario, ut in quibusdam avium generibus, in quibus femineus sexus semper maior et validior est; masculinus vero minor et infirmior. aut certe idcirco magis convenit summo Spiritui dici Patrem quam matrem, quia prima et principalis causa prolis semper est in patre. nam si maternam causam quolibet modo semper paterna praecedit, nimis est incongruum ut illi parenti adaptetur nomen matris, cui ad gignendam prolem nulla alia causa aut sociatur, aut praecedit. verissimum est igitur summum Spiritum Patrem esse prolis suae. quod si filius semper similior est patri quam filia; nihil autem similius est alteri quam summo Patri proles sua; verissimum est hanc prolem non esse filiam, sed Filium. sicut igitur proprium est illius verissime gignere, istius vero gigni, sic proprium est illius esse verissimum gignitorem, istius vero verissimum esse genitum. et sicut alter est verissimus parens, alter verissima proles; sic alter est verissimus Pater, alter verissimus Filius.
(Anselm of Canterbury, Monologion 42)

I would now like to infer, if I can, that the Supreme Spirit most truly is father and that the Word most truly is son. Yet, I think I ought not to by-pass [the following question]: is the appellation “father and son” or the appellation “mother and daughter” more befitting for them?, for there is no sexual distinction in the Supreme Spirit and the Word. For if the Supreme Spirit is suitably [called] father and its offspring suitably [called] son because each is spirit, then why is it not suitable, by parity of reasoning, for the one to be [called] mother and the other to be [called] daughter because each is truth and wisdom?* Is it [preferable to call them father and son] because among those natures which have a difference of sex it is characteristic of the better sex to be father or son and of the inferior sex to be mother or daughter? Now, although this is by nature the case for many [beings], for others the reverse holds true. For example, in some species of birds the female sex is always larger and stronger, the male sex smaller and weaker. But, surely, the Supreme Spirit is more suitably called father than mother because the first and principal cause of offspring is always in the father. For if the paternal [cause] always in some way precedes the maternal cause, then it is exceedingly inappropriate for the name “mother” to be applied to that parent whom no other cause either joins or precedes for the begetting of offspring. Therefore, it is most true that the Supreme Spirit is father of its own offspring. But if a son is always more like a father than is a daughter, and if no one thing is more like another than this offspring is like the Supreme Father, it is most true that this offspring is a son, not a daughter. Therefore, just as this Spirit has the distinguishing property of most truly begetting and this offspring of most truly being begotten, so the former has the distinguishing property of being the most true begetting one and the latter of being the most true begotten one. And just as the one is the most true parent and the other the most true offspring, so the one is the most true father and the other the most true son.

* “Spirit” is in Latin a masculine noun (“spiritus”); “truth” and “wisdom” are feminine nouns (“veritas,” “sapientia”).

(tr. Jasper Hopkins and Herbert Richardson, with their note)

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