Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism

A Mnemonic for Christ’s Divine Nature

Readers may be familiar with Nicholas of Lyra’s verse-couplet that is intended to aid in remembering the fourfold sense of Scripture:1

Littera gesta docet, quid credas allegoria,

moralis quid agas, quo tendas anagogia.

The literal sense teaches what happened, the allegorical what you are to believe,

the moral what you are to do, the anagogical where you are headed.

In his Enchiridion Theologicum, which I mentioned the other day, Niels Hemmingsen does something similar to aid in remembering the headings [capita] under which he organizes the proofs [testimonia] for the divinity of Christ, of which there are five: the declarations of Scripture; the worship that is to be given him; his works; the confession of the Church; and the fact that he discharges the office of redemption. He summarizes these in two lines of dactylic hexameter:

Dictum, cultus, opus, confessio, munera, quinque haec

Naturas Christi cognoscendas tibi monstrant.

What is said, worship, work, confession, offices–these five

show you the natures of Christ that you must recognize.

  1. I say nothing here concerning the whether such a method of reading should be adopted or not.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.