“But hasn't this been more or less entirely discredited by the subsequent scholarship? Certainly, everyone admits that this was a possible interpretation, and even some of the bishops who voted for it thought that it was the correct interpretation. But they were factually wrong, because if that interpretation were in fact true, it would render the entire Creed self-contradictory. Obviously, the homoiousians didn't know that, and it's questionable whether even St. Basil did, but it's a fact nonetheless. For the Creed to be meaningful, it HAD to be interpreted as Constantinople interpreted it. That is essentially what the Cappadocian theology proved.”
The funny thing about Jonathan Prejean is that he never does more damage to Roman Catholicism than when he’s attempting to defend it.
i) According to him, even though some of the bishops who originally voted for the Nicene Creed thought they knew what it meant, they were wrong.
So, for Prejean, original intent is extraneous to the real meaning of a conciliar document. The framers may think they know what they mean by the language they chose, but they could be wrong. The delegates who voted to ratify the conciliar language may think they know what they are voting for, but they could be wrong.
ii) But in that event, how can a later council like Constantinople fix the meaning of an earlier council like Nicea? For appealing to a later council simply kicks the same problem down the block. If the original intent of the Nicene bishops is irrelevant, then the original intent of the Constantinopolitan bishops is irrelevant.
Same thing if you had a papal interpretation or “clarification” of a conciliar document.
iii) Also observe his appeal to the shifting sands of scholarship. What it seemed to mean 30 years ago has since been revised. So what it meant yesterday, today, or tomorrow may be three (or more) different things.
Mind you, I don’t object to scholarship which endeavors to ascertain the historical import of a document from the past. But it’s amusing to see a Catholic epologist resort to the vicissitudes of scholarship to prove his point.
iv) And what’s to prevent an uninspired creed from being self-contradictory? Notice his glaringly fallacious inference: their interpretation can’t be right, for if it were, then that would render the creed self-contradictory.
But how does the conclusion logically follow from the premise? Why can’t the creed be inconsistent? After all, this is a collaborative effort. A lot of horse-trading went into the formulations. Give up something here to get a vote there. So, yes, it’s quite possible to end up with a document which reflects the competing aims of rival parties. There could well be remaining internal tensions in the finalized language. For you have to compromise to get enough votes.
v) Of course, Prejean is a lawyer, and for Prejean, interpretation and truth are two different things. For Prejean, a law means whatever the last judge said it means. If a lower appellate court says it means white, then it means white. If a higher appellate court says it means black, then it means black. The sense instantly shifts from meaning white to meaning black–or pink or yellow or green.
And Prejean applies the same hermeneutical relativism to Biblical and conciliar documents alike.