[Milton-L] Crucial punctuation in The Book of Common Prayer

Carol Barton cbartonphd at earthlink.net
Fri Sep 14 10:13:44 EDT 2007


I believe the intent is that God the Father is Justice; the Son is the Word of God made flesh (in a non-figurative sense, intelligible to human beings); and the Holy Ghost is the soul, the anima, the spirit that is breathed into the created to give them life (which leaves the inanimate body upon death). The Holy Spirit that sat "brooding on the vast abyss" breathed life into the inanimate world the Father created, "and mad'st it pregnant"--therefore he, the Holy Ghost, is "the Lord and Giver of Life"--he who rules over and imparts life--not the "Lord God" in the sense that that single-word epithet for Yaweh/Adonai/Jehovah would be used.

Modern services at Cripplegate (as well as at the modern Episcopal church where I learned my catechism) enunciate the phrase that way ("the Lord and Giver of Life" in a single breath). If I recall correctly, it is almost impossible to determine who would have served as Rector at Cripplegate during the period when Milton would have been most likely to have attended services there--and I don't know how we could even begin to guess as to how that congregation would have said the prayer without at least that much to go on.

Best to all,

Carol Barton


----Original Message-----
>From: Roy Flannagan <roy at gwm.sc.edu>
>Sent: Sep 14, 2007 9:57 AM
>To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
>Subject: [Milton-L] Crucial punctuation in The Book of Common Prayer
>
>Perhaps the kind of ignorance of earlier prayer-book phrasing has caused
>what may be the modern equivalent of the Joannine comma the list has
>been discussing.  
>
>Here is something I noticed in the 1977 Book of Common Prayer that
>seems to indicate confusion about the Trinity: in the Nicene Creed,
>recited in the Holy Eucharist Rite 1, the priest and congregation
>together say "And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of
>Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father
>and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; . . . ."  
>
>But in fact they don't say it as punctuated: they say "And I believe in
>the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life," leaving me, at least,
>confused about subdivisions of the Holy Ghost.  Is the Holy Ghost, the
>third member of the Trinity, defined as "the Lord," separated from
>"Giver of Life," or is the Holy Ghost supposed to be defined as "the
>Lord and Giver of Life."  How is the Holy Ghost supposed to be a giver
>of life: is that the dove that broods?  And, aren't all three of the
>members of the Holy Trinity to be spoken of as one, the triune God?
>
>The 1559 Book of Common Prayer agrees with the local South Carolina
>congregation "And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of
>life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father
>and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, . . . ." (Booty's
>edition, which is collated and is not a facsimile, done in 1976; but
>notice the lack of capitalization in "giver of life").
>
>Would some theologian/Miltonists step up to the plate here and explain
>how to subdivide the duties and responsibilities of the Holy Ghost? 
>Perhaps Michael Bauman can tell us how Milton might have recited the
>lines had he attended services at St. Giles Cripplegate?
>
>Roy Flannagan
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