RADBERTUS, rad-bār'tus, PASCHASIUS: Life and Works. Medieval abbot; b. at or near Soissons (56 m. n.e. of Paris) about 786; d. at Corbie (9 m. e. of Amiens) Apr. 26, about 865. He was one of the most distinguished writers of the Carolingian period. The little that is known of his life is derived from scattered notices in his own writings and from a panegyric on him by Bishop Engelmodus of Soissons (MPL, cxx. 25 sqq.; MGH, Poet. Lat. vi Car., iii. 1886, pp. 62 sqq.,). Brought up by the Benedictine nuns of Soissons, he entered the monastery of Corbie in Picardy under the Abbot Adalhard (see ADALHARD AND WALA), and gained early distinction for his theological learning, piety, and moral enthusiasm; his range of familiarity with classical authors was remarkable for that period, also with the Fathers, and the leading authorities of the Eastern and Western churches; but he probably knew neither Greek nor Hebrew. Because of his wealth of learning he became the instructor of the young monks at Corbie and had a large number of distinguished pupils; but notwithstanding his eminence he never became a priest. He was abbot in 844-851, but retired on account of difficulties arising from efforts to reform the lax discipline. Of his writings are extant his expositions (1) of Matthew, in twelve books, the first four written before his retirement; (2) of Ps. xliv.; (3) of Lamentations, written in 845-857; (4) De corpore et sanguine Domini, 831-833; (5) Epistola ad Frudegardum; (6) De partu. virginis, dedicated to the nuns of Soissons, by whom he was brought up; (7) De fide, spe, et caritate libri tres; (8) De passione Sancti Rufini et Valerii; (9) De vita Sancti Adalhardi; and (10) Epitaphium Arsenii libri duo, a biography of Abbot Wala. The first of the above biographies is a panegyric and the other an apology. In exegesis Radbertus was not original even in aim. His work on faith, hope, and love shows him to be a follower of St. Augustine, and it consists mostly of repetitions of the latter's sentences. His character as traditionalist appears still more pronounced in De corpore, the first comprehensive treatise on the Lord's Supper written in the Christian Church, and the cause of the first controversy over the Eucharist, establishing his reputation for orthodoxy securely in the eyes of the future.
View on the Eucharist. Radbertus combined the symbolic idea of Augustine with the transformation doctrine of others; but he was thoroughly convinced himself that Augustine believed that the true historic body of Christ was present in the Eucharistic elements. Such thoughts of Radbert as these exhibit Augustine's standpoint: Christ and his flesh constitute not a material but a spiritual and divine sustenance and serve only as objects of a purely spiritual partaking (v. 1-2). To eat the flesh of the Lord and drink his blood means nothing else than that the believer abides in Christ and Christ in him (vi.-vii.). Only faith enables to transcend the visible and to apprehend from within what the fleshly mouth does not touch or the fleshly eye does not see (viii. 2). Christ is food only for the elect, and only they are worthy to partake of him who are of his body (xxi. 5, vii. 1). The partaking of the flesh of Christ by the unworthy seemed to him impossible, hence he accepted Augustine's distinction between the sacrament or mystery and the virtue of the same. Under the term virtue he included not, as in his later works, only the vitalizing power of the flesh of Christ, but, in Augustinian mode of speech, what was offered in the symbols to faith, or the content of the sacrament, that is, the flesh of Christ itself with the fulness of his saving virtues. Accordingly, the unworthy receive not anything but bread and wine. The priest indeed distributes to all alike; the high priest, however, distinguishes between the worthy and unworthy; and the latter receive the sacrament or mystery only to judgment, the former receive the virtue. Spiritual sustenance in Christ effects the forgiveness of sins (iv. 3, xi. 1, xv. 3), union with Christ (iii. 4), and spiritual sustenance of the whole man to eternal life (xi. 2-3, xix. 1-2, xx. 2). So far the points are Augustinian; parallel with these he places a thought-series teaching a transubstantiation represented in the pseudo-Ambrosian writings. This teaching is carried by him to its full conclusion. What by faith is received in the sacrament is the body born of Mary that suffered on the cross and rose from the grave (i. 2), It is the body and blood, not the virtue of the body and blood (Epist. ad Frudegardum, p. 1357); the sacramental body must be regarded as the natural body of Christ (cf. De corpore, xiv. 4), which does not exclude it from being considered as in the state of glorification (vii. 2). In the consecration the sensible properties remain unchanged, but the substance of the bread and wine within are efficaciously changed into the real body and blood of Christ (viii. 2). This is done by miracle (i. 2), a creative act performed by the word of the Creator; more particularly, through the medium of Christ's words of institution since he is himself the substantial and eternal Word. The body of Christ is not perceptible by the senses, because that would be superfluous (visibility of the presence of the body) and would not increase the reality, and to eat the flesh in its sensible appearance would clash with human custom (xi. 1); because such reception would seem repulsive and ridiculous to heathen and unbelievers (xiii. 1 sqq.); but mostly because the operation would no longer be a mystery but a pure miracle, whereas the former by concealing the content does not originate but excites faith so that this is preserved and its meritorious service is enhanced (xiii. 1 sqq. i. 5). Though upon consecration the bread and wine are only such in appearance, yet not all symbols are merely appearances, and these as symbols cover the real presence as content.
Influence. The explanation of Radbert's position in holding at once such opposite views is found in his attachment to the literal authority of the Scriptures. Christ's words, "This is my body," are to be taken in the crassest literalness. Christ has only one body and if another body be offered in the sacrament than the crucified one, another blood than what was shed, then its partaking could not effect the forgiveness of sins. The historical body is the indispensable basis of the sacramental body, howsoever spiritual the sacramental mystery. Moreover, Christ abides in the believer by the unity of his flesh and blood which must be sustained by the real presence in the sacrament. These two disparate views of the patristic tradition Radbertus approximated but never successfully fused. This remained for the strenuous efforts of the later centuries, as evidenced in the following elements of the resulting dogma: (1) The body of Christ is not created but becomes present in the consecration though without extension in space; (2) the relation of the presence to the sensible properties is posited under the categories of substance and accidents; and (3) the elements are symbols of the presence and the sacramental body is symbol of the mystical body, the sustenance of both in one constituting the blessing. Two of his contemporaries opposed the view of Radbert, namely, Rabanus Maurus and Ratramnus (qq.v.), both of whom were Augustinian. The former took offense at the transformation of the elements into the historical body of Christ, denying that the mystery identified the sacramental with the historical body. A great many followed along the lines marked out by Radbert, among whom, of the ninth century, were Florus Magister, subdeacon of Reims, Hincmar of Reims, Remigius (qq.v.), and Pseudo-Alcuin.