Skip to comments.Papal Infallibility: A Symbolic, Yet Problematic, Term
Posted on 04/29/2012 3:06:06 PM PDT by NYer
Although papal infallibility is commonly found in popular conversation, how well the term is understood is another matter.
“Christ giving Peter the keys of the kingdom” by Pietro Perugino
As Danny Garland, Jr., pointed out in his recent article on The Development of the Dogma of Papal Infallibility, the term papal infallibility has a centuries-old history that stretches from Peter John Olivi, in the thirteenth century, through John Henry Newman, in the nineteenth century, and down to the present. 1
In addition to being a well-known term with a lengthy history, papal infallibility is also highly symbolic: for Roman Catholics, it has often been a badge of self-identitya way of distinguishing themselves from Anglicans, Orthodox and Protestants. Simultaneously, the popes infallibility has been a counter-symbol to those Christians who do not recognize the authority of the Bishop of Rome. Indeed, for many non-Catholic Christians, the term symbolizes everything that is wrong with Roman Catholicism.
Although papal infallibility is commonly found in popular conversation, how well the term is understood is another matter. One of the most entertaining discussions of the issue is found in a pub-scene in James Joyces Dubliners, where a group is stoutly discussing and strenuously defending the infallible teaching of the pope. In Joyces story, Mr. Cunningham summarized the doctrine with Hibernian exuberance: But the astonishing thing is this: Not one of them (the popes), not the biggest drunkard, not the most . . . out-and-out ruffian, not one of them ever preached ex cathedra a word of false doctrine. Now isnt that an astonishing thing? 2
Cunningham went on to claim that one of the two prelates who voted against Pastor Aeternus at the Council was a German Cardinal, by the name of Dowlingpresumably meaning Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger (1799-1890), a German priest-professor at the University of Munich, who was not at Vatican I, but was excommunicated in 1871 for refusing to accept its teachings about infallibility. 3 Although Cunningham and companions can be credited for knowing the essentials of the doctrine, their theological method makes historians and theologians winceat least if they know anything concerning the history and teaching of the First Vatican Council (1869-1870) about infallibility. As John Tracy Ellis once remarked: It is doubtful that any event in the history of the modern Church ever gave rise to a greater flow of misinformation than the [First] Vatican Council. 4
Unfortunately, Ellis was all too right. First of all, contrary to popular belief, Vatican I did not really define infallibility, at least, not in the sense of stating precisely what infallibility is. Rather, the Council described how infallibility is operative. What the Council actually did was to specify the conditions required for pope to exercise this authority of infallibility. He must: (1) Rely on the divine assistance promised to Peter; (2) Act as pastor and teacher of all Christians; and, (3) Invoke his supreme apostolic authority. In addition, the Council limited the type of teachings that can be taught infallibly to matters of faith and morals, held by the whole Church. Only if all these conditions are fulfilled, does the pope enjoy the infallibility given by Christ to the Church. Then, and only then, can such papal definitions be deemed irreformable. 5
Although the First Vatican Council did not give a precise definition of the nature of infallibility, its operative description suggests that the Council understood it to be an endowment or charism given by Christ to the Church, which can only be exercised by the pope under specific conditions. A charism ensures that the teaching of the pope, in a particular instance, is immune from error. In describing this divinely given gift of infallibility, the Councils list of conditions serves a double purpose. First, the list specifies the conditions which must be fulfilled (i.e., if a pope truly wants to mandate a particular doctrine by using the charism of infallibility). Secondly, the list of conditions enables Christians to recognize when a particular teaching is being infallibly taught.
The fact that the vast majority of Church teachings are not taught under this charism does not mean that such teachings are unimportant. They do not have the same importance as teachings deemed infallible, which have a greater binding force, precisely because they are closely connected with the essentials of revelation. 6 Moreover, while teaching the Gospel is a daily responsibility of the Church, only rarely has the Church invoked infallibility in fulfilling its teaching mission. In fact, since Vatican Is declaration on infallibility in 1870, there is only one clear-cut instance where a pope has taught infallibly: Pope Pius XII’s 1950 proclamation of Our Lady’s assumption. 7
Meaning of Infallibilitas
What is absolutely crucial to any discussion about infallibilitybut all too often overlookedis what the term actually means. In English, infallibility has simply been taken from the Latin, infallibilitas, without specifying its meaning. 8 As a result, many people use the term in a rather elastic senseoften meaning immunity from error or inability of making fundamental mistakes in religious matters. While such casual explanations may suffice for popular understandings, they have the potential for creating misunderstandings, among Catholics and other Christians.
In contrast, German-speaking theologians have tried to translate the term. The most common translation has been Unfehlbarkeitinability of erring. However, this term is not completely satisfactory, since it can have a pejorative connotation. Unfehlbar can describe a person who thinks that he is incapable of making mistakes, which is obviously not the case here. Accordingly, unfehlbar can make the not-too-subtle suggestion that it is humanly impossible for anyone, including the pope, to claim to exercise infallibility. Such a dismissive connotation underpinned Hans Küngs attack on infallibility on the centennial of Vatican I in 1970. 9
Some German-speaking theologians, such as Hans Urs von Balthasar, have opted for other understandings of infallibilitas, such as Letzverbindlichkeit, implying that a definitive response can be given to a specific doctrinal question. He states:
Heinrich Fries suggestion of Verbindlichkeit (binding power), which at the highest level can become an ultimate binding power (Letzverbindlichkeit) seems to me certainly worth considering. 10
The merit of interpreting infallibility as ultimate binding power or judicial finality is that a doctrinal decision pronounced under infallibility is finalat least, here and now, for this specific question, unless, and until, new questions are raised.
The understanding of infallibility as judicial finality has sometimes been popularized in American catechetics, comparing doctrinal declarations to decisions of the Supreme Court: whose decisions are judicially final as there is no higher court to which an appeal can be made. So, too, decisions under infallibility are ecclesially final, as a pope, or an ecumenical council, teaching with infallibility, has the definitive word about the specific doctrinal matter under discussion, with no further appeal possible. Nonetheless, change is possible in the future, that is, a new legal question may arise, resulting in the Supreme Court modifying a previous decision. Similarly, a new doctrinal question may be posed, resulting in a new doctrinal decisionnot one contradicting the previous teaching, but one amplifying and developing it.11
In other words, just as judicial finality does not preclude the possibility of the Supreme Court modifying a previous Supreme Court decision, infallibility does not exclude the possibility that a later pope, or later council, might amplify and develop it further, and in that sense, change the doctrinal decisions of their predecessors. In this respect, the answer to one doctrinal question sets the stage for further questions, and for further doctrinal decisions in the future. For example, the responses of the ecumenical councils of the early church to a series of Trinitarian and Christological controversies may be seen as instances of this continual dynamic of definitive decisions, followed by new doctrinal developments and consequent clarifications. 12
While papal infallibility is routinely used, not only in common conversation, but also among theologians, it should be emphasized that the First Vatican Council did not use the term. In fact, Vatican I deliberately changed the heading of the fourth chapter of Pastor Aeternus. The original draft read: the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff, which was changed to: the infallible magisterium of the Roman Pontiff. The importance of this terminological shift is two-fold. First, it avoided the implication that the pope possesses infallibility in such a personal way that all his statements come under infallibility. While Catholics generally take this for granted today, at the time of the First Vatican Council, there were people who felt that any and every doctrinal statement by the pope was a matter of infallibility. The English theologian, W. G. Ward (1812-1882), for example, was famously reported as desiring a daily exercise of infallibility by the pope: I should like a new Papal Bull every morning with my Times at breakfast. 13
Secondly, the reason for preferring the term infallible magisterium is that infallibility can be exercised not only by the pope, but also by the college of bishops in union with him; as the Second Vatican Council taught:
Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christs doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held. 14
Accordingly, just as Vatican I specified a list of conditions that the pope must follow in order to exercise the Churchs infallible magisterium, Vatican II indicated the conditions that the bishops must follow if their teaching is to be considered a collegial exercise of the Churchs infallible magisterium.
Another term, routinely used in discussions about infallibility, is the expression: infallible statements. Again, one must emphasize that this term was not used by Vatican I; rather, the Council used the term irreformable definitions. Many commentators on infallibility have ignored the difference, or have even claimed that the two expressions are equivalent. However, in addition to the need to respect the Churchs official terminology, a casual mixing of terms entails a number of philosophical and theological difficulties. For example, to speak of infallible statements suggests that such statements are absolute. In contrast, most philosophers insist that all statements are historically and culturally conditionedexpressions delimited by a particular time and place, and so not absolute, but relative. Similarly, many theologians today do not want to speak of infallible statements in order to avoid the doctrinal equivalent of biblical literalism: if God did not dictate the Bible word for word, why should one suggest that God dictates doctrinal decisions word for word?
Using terms, like infallible statements or infallible teaching, risks making the doctrine of infallibility both philosophically, and theologically, indefensible. It becomes an easy target for rejection. In effect, defenders of infallible statements, with the best of intentions, can inadvertently become the doctrines enemies, just as defenders of biblical literalism can unwittingly destroy the credibility of the Bible. In contrast, the expression irreformable definitions harmonizes readily with interpreting infallibility as judicial finality or ultimate binding power (Leztverbindlichkeit), as proposed by Hans Urs von Balthazar. 15 Key to this interpretation, however, is the meaning of irreformable definitionswhich, at first glance, would seem to have the same meaning as infallible statements and, therefore, sharing the same philosophical and theological problems.
Why did the First Vatican Council use the term irreformable definitions? Apparently, the Council used this term as a way of rejecting Gallicanismthe seventeenth century doctrinal claim that all papal decisions are subject to the approval of local churches. According to the its proponents, no Vatican ecclesiastical decision could be considered authoritatively final unless, and until, it received the official approval of the Church in France. When Pastor Aeternus is read in the context of Gallicanisman ecclesiological position well-known to the participants at Vatican I, though not so familiar todaythe Council is effectively stating that definitions enunciated by the pope, when exercising infallibility, are not subject to any further approval or appeal. 16 In sum, irreformable definitions are not definitions that are philosophically immutable or theologically unchangeable, but decisions that are judicially final.
Lessons from History
The axiom that: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, has been repeatedly exemplified in the numerous discussions about infallibility in the half-century since Vatican II. There is not only a vast amount of material on the teaching of the two Vatican Councils about infallibility, but, unfortunately, many writers on infallibility have discussed what they presume the Church teaches, rather than carefully examining what the Church actually taught. 17 Sadly, there is a great deal that has been written about infallibility showing little or no familiarity with, much less critical analysis of, the texts of the two Vatican councils. Surprising as it may seem, some commentators have proposed interpretations about infallibility without analyzing the conciliar texts, much less studying the history of the Councils.
This failure to do the essential historical-theological homework means that many discussions of infallibility are like the conversation in Dublinerseloquent and entertaining but exaggerated and often erroneousleading some people to find infallible statements everywhere, while leading others to reject infallibility out of hand. Neither an outright denial of infallibility, nor an exaggerated extension of it to all church teachings, really serves anyone well. In effect, the many misconceptions about infallibility effectively distort the Churchs teaching, confuse believers, repel prospective converts, and create unnecessary ecumenical difficulties. 18
Admittedly, changing terminology is always a difficult task. Like overcoming an addiction, one keeps falling back into accustomed habits of speech. Yet papal infallibility is one of those theological terms that has been misinterpreted so often that it might well be worth the effort to replace it with the terminology that Vatican I actually used: the infallible magisterium of the pope. Admittedly, this substitution requires a few more words, and people might be puzzled by the seemingly new terminology, but that reaction might be beneficial. This historical version might succeed in drawing peoples attention to what the two Vatican Councils actually taught, rather than what many people presume the Councils taught.
In addition, terms like infallible statements and infallible teaching might well be replaced with terms like irreformable definitions or teachings of the Churchs infallible magisterium. Again, such substitutions involve a few more words, but their use might prompt people to reflect on what the Churchs teaching really is. Last but not least, in explaining the doctrine of infallibility, it would seem not only appropriate, but extremely beneficial to use the short and succinct description of infallibility found in the Glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: The gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church whereby the pastors of the Church, the pope and bishops in union with him, can definitively proclaim a doctrine of faith or morals for the belief of the faithful. 19
That would seem to describe the entire posting history of the anti-Catholics with respect to the Church. What makes all ya'll superior to the Church?
yes. No wonder these folks make up their own interpretations every day of the Bible, books and even posts (no, wait scratch the bit about books or the Bible, they just read and quote excerpts)
Harley, this is false.
Perhaps you're not aware that the Nicene Creed came out of the Council of Nicea attended by Saint Athanasius who held what came from Nicea is Inflatable
"But the WORD OF THE LORD which came THROUGH the Ecumenical Synod at Nicaea, abides forever" (St. Athanasius, Ad Afros 2)
"But what is also to the point, let us note that the very TRADITION, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning was preached by the Apostles and PRESERVED by the FATHERS. On THIS the Church was founded; and if anyone departs from THIS, he neither is, nor any longer ought to be called, a Christian." (St. Athanasius, Ad Serapion 1,28)
Sounds a little overblown.
LOL! You got me. Meant to say Infallible.
Autocorrect does lead to amusement at times, lol.
I have an I phone with SIRI and that's even funnier.I tried to say to my wife that I put a tuna sandwich in her car the other day and SIRI translated into I caught a tuna in your car
Got to love modern technology.
I am not swayed by the number of times you "correct" the issue or the length and number of dubious sources you cite in the process...you cannot misstate history and maintain any credibility. To attempt to do so is yet another Protestant canard.
I am not swayed by the number of times you or other RCs assert or infer that Rome had a settled indisputable canon (which was my assertion which you disallow) from the 4th century which Trent merely affirmed, as no matter how much you avoid it the historical research - including that done by Catholics - reveals that it was not wholly settled, and thus there was dispute about books right into Trent.
You cannot misstate history and maintain any credibility. To attempt to do so is yet another Catholic canard, and reveals the cultic mindblock of so many Roman Catholics when faced with evidence that impugns their object of devotion.
Over and out.
How is that for a laugh! ALL persons whether they read Scripture or not are fallible! Reading it doesn't make anyone infallible. It's ONLY God's WORD that is pure of error - never man.
The land of the catechism/man made doctrine teachings - totally void of The Holy Spirit. Like walking in the ghetto, one is on their own - open to spiritual deception and inviting that deception.
Ping to a good post by daniel....
I do appreciate the difficulties that this issue poses to the Reformation. To admit that the Church ever established a canon prior to the Reformation would not only undermine the alteration of that canon, but admit that the Church had the authority to set canon and had provided the very Scripture that the Reformation hijacked. It is clear to anyone not belonging to the Reformation that the Reformation is clearly painted itself into a corner.
What I have observed is that the Protestant does not want to share Scripture with Catholics and as a result enter into communion with Catholics. The Protestant wants to possess Scripture. First to deny it to those whom he feels are not worthy and then to own it himself. He does the former by denying its shared state with Catholics and any historic role they had in canon, and defending its orthodoxy against prior heresies because of the precedent that would pose. He then imposes a personal ownership through an eisegesis that is completely his own. The problem is that there is no room for the Holy Spirit in that.
Your deduction is nonsense, as is the premise that Rome had a indisputable infallible canon prior to the Reformation, which you still will not admit they did not,
or that Rome’s authority is what really established Scripture,
or that Rome being an instrument for affirming truth would somehow negate the Reformation any more than the Jews being instruments and stewards of of revelation does.
RCs are blind to the fact that the church began in dissent from those historical heavyweights who, like Rome, presumed promises of preservation and authority gained them a level of assured veracity and perpetuation thru them, while the church was established on Scriptural substantiation and attestation, not the premise of assured formulaic infallibility which negates the need the weight of Scriptural substantiation, while assurance of the veracity of her decrees rests upon herself.
Unless you work for the IRS you have no authority to make that statement. My statements are demonstrations of fact. Your responses are, at best deductions.
A deduction is a conclusion that proceeds only from human reason, which as you have aptly demonstrated, is shaped by the limitation of human thought and education, bent by human passions, and thwarted by human prejudices. Whatever it might be it is not a proof. Your prejudices have caused you to actually reverse the inductive process. You have begun with a conclusion and assembled what ever premises you think support your conclusion.
Logically, the proper argumentative form is a demonstration. All I need to do to disprove your hypothesis and impeach your Reformation is demonstrate one instance in which it is false. The Church did an exhaustive, encyclopedic job of this at Trent. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.
I can only imagine the thoughts of it came from an anti Catholic site. Imagine, the whole papacy scam is based on forgeries. Whodathunkit.
In reality, your recourse is sarcasm and sophistry in response to the weight of evidence that Rome did not provide an infallible, indisputable canon until Trent, which was my assertion from the beginning, and to which you vainly objected, as if some "formal canon" was just that. Nor have you provided one fact that would disprove that being an instrument of Divine truth makes one assuredly infallible, while it is I who provided the fact to the contrary!
Either show that the Jews were assuredly infallible (as per Rome) because they were instruments of Divine revelation, and prove that the canon was infallibly, indisputably settled before Trent, and that these Catholic, etc sources are wrong, or cease from your insolent, desperate attempts at avoidance and denial.
▀ When was the first infallible Roman Catholic definition of the Biblical canon?
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Canon of the New Testament, (1917), states (emphasis mine throughout the proceeding),
► The Canon of the New Testament, like that of the Old, is the result of a development, of a process at once stimulated by disputes with doubters, both within and without the Church, and retarded by certain obscurities and natural hesitations, and which did not reach its final term until the dogmatic definition of the Tridentine Council. (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03274a.htm)
► "The Tridentine decrees from which the above list is extracted was the first infallible and effectually promulgated pronouncement on the Canon, addressed to the Church Universal. (Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03267a.htm;
► According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church at the Council of Trent...The Council of Trent definitively settled the matter of the Old Testament Canon. That this had not been done previously is apparent from the uncertainty that persisted up to the time of Trent" (New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. II, Bible, III (Canon), p. 390; Canon, Biblical, p. 29; Bible, III (Canon), p. 390).
► The Catholic Study Bible, Oxford University Press, 1990, p. RG27: "The final definitive list of biblical books (including the seven additional Old Testament books) was only drawn up at the council of Trent in 1546. Most Christians had followed St. Augustine and included the 'Apocrypha' in the canon, but St. Jerome, who excluded them, had always had his defenders." (Joseph Lienhard, The Bible, The Church, And Authority [Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1995], p. 59)
► "...an official, definitive list of inspired writings did not exist in the Catholic Church until the Council of Trent (Yves Congar, French Dominican cardinal and theologian, in Tradition and Traditions" [New York: Macmillan, 1966], p. 38).
► As Catholic Church historian and recognized authority on Trent (2400 page history, and author of over 700 books, etc.), Herbert Jedin observes, it also put a full stop to the 1000-year-old development of the biblical canon (History of the Council of Trent [London, 1961] 91, quoted by Raymond Edward Brown, American Roman Catholic priest and Biblical scholar, in The New Jerome biblical commentary, p. 1168)
►The question of the deutero-canonical books will not be settled before the sixteenth century. As late as the second half of the thirteenth, St Bonaventure used as canonical the third book of Esdras and the prayer of Manasses, whereas St Albert the Great and St Thomas doubted their canonical value. (George H. Tavard, Holy Writ or Holy Church: The Crisis of the Protestant Reformation (London: Burns & Oates, 1959), pp. 16-17)
►It may be a surprise to some to know that the canon, or official list of books of the Bible, was not explicitly defined by the Church until the 16th century though there was a clear listing as early as the fourth century. (Leonard Foley, O.F.M., Believing in Jesus: A Popular Overview of the Catholic Faith, rev. ed. (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1985, p. 21)
► "For the first fifteen centuries of Christianity, no Christian Church put forth a definitive list of biblical books. Most Christians had followed St. Augustine and included the 'Apocrypha' in the canon, but St. Jerome, who excluded them, had always had his defenders." (Joseph Lienhard, S.J., A.B., classics, Fordham University, The Bible, The Church, And Authority; [Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1995], p. 59)
► "in the fifth century a more or less final consensus [on the New Testament canon] was reached and shared by East and West. It is worth noting that no ecumenical council in the ancient church ever ruled for the church as a whole on the question of the contents of the canon." (Harry Gamble, in Lee McDonald and James Sanders, edd., The Canon Debate [Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002], p. 291)
▀ Prior lists were by councils that were not ecumenical.
► ...at the present day, and for many centuries in the past, only the decisions of ecumenical councils and the ex cathedra teaching of the pope have been treated as strictly definitive in the canonical sense... (The Catholic encyclopedia, http://www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=6099)
► Neither Catholics nor the Orthodox recognize Rome or Carthage or Hippo as Ecumenical in their list. http://www.newadvent.org/library/almanac_14388a.htm http://orthodoxwiki.org/Ecumenical_Councils#List_of_the_Seven_Ecumenical_Councils.
► The Council of Florence (1442) contains a complete list of the books received by the Church as inspired, but omits, perhaps advisedly, the terms canon and canonical. The Council of Florence therefore taught the inspiration of all the Scriptures, but did not formally pass on their canonicity. (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03267a.htm)
► The seventh Ecumenical Council officially accepted the Trullan Canons as part of the sixth Ecumenical Council. The importance of this is underscored by canon II of Trullo which officially authorized the decrees of Carthage, thereby elevating them to a place of ecumenical authority. However, the Council also sanctioned were the canons of Athanasius and Amphilochius that had to do with the canon and both of these fathers rejected the major books of the Apocrypha. In addition, the Council sanctioned the Apostolical canons which, in canon eighty-five, gave a list of canonical books which included 3 Maccabees, a book never accepted as canonical in the West.101 Furthermore, the Apostolical canons were condemned and rejected as apocryphal in the decrees of Popes Gelasius and Hormisdas.102 Thus indicating that the approval given was not specific but general. (http://www.christiantruth.com/articles/Apocrypha3.html)
The claim that the Council of Rome (382) approved an infallible canon is contrary to Roman Catholic statements which point to Trent, and depends upon the Decretum Gelasianum, the authority of which is disputed (among RC's themselves), based upon evidence that it was pseudepigraphical, being a sixth century compilation put together in northern Italy or southern France at the beginning of the 6th cent. In addition the Council of Rome found many opponents in Africa. More: http://www.tertullian.org/articles/burkitt_gelasianum.htm
Therefore what can be said is that although the Roman Catholic canon was largely settled by the time of Carthage, it was not infallibly defined (thus disallowing dissent), and thus substantial disagreement did exist even in the deliberations of Trent, despite decrees by early councils such as Hippo, Carthage and Florence. The canon of Trent was issued in reaction to Martin Luther and the Reformation, apparently after a vote of 24 yea, 15 nay, with 16 abstaining (44%, 27%, 29%).
While Roman Catholics often charge that Luther excluded some books as being Scripture due to doctrinal reasons, Rome can be charged with the same motivation for adding apocryphal books, while Luther did have some scholarly reasons and concurrence in Rome (see below) for his exclusions.
▀ Dissent before and in Trent
Among those dissenting at Trent was Augustinian friar, Italian theologian and cardinal and papal legate Girolamo Seripando. As Hubert Jedin (1900-1980) explained. he was aligned with the leaders of a minority that was outstanding for its theological scholarship at the Council of Trent. Jedin writes that his position was
► Tobias, Judith, the Book of Wisdom, the books of Esdras, Ecclesiasticus, the books of the Maccabees, and Baruch are only "canonici et ecclesiastici" and make up the canon morum in contrast to the canon fidei. These, Seripando says in the words of St. Jerome, are suited for the edification of the people, but they are not authentic, that is, not sufficient to prove a dogma. Seripando emphasized that in spite of the Florentine canon the question of a twofold canon was still open and was treated as such by learned men in the Church. Without doubt he was thinking of Cardinal Cajetan, who in his commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews accepted St. Jerome's view which had had supporters throughout the Middle Ages. (Hubert Jedin, Papal Legate At The Council Of Trent (St Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1947), pp. 270-271)
►While Seripando abandoned his view as a lost cause, Madruzzo, the Carmelite general, and the Bishop of Agde stood for the limited canon, and the bishops of Castellamare and Caorle urged the related motion to place the books of Judith, Baruch, and Machabees in the "canon ecclesiae." From all this it is evident that Seripando was by no means alone in his views. In his battle for the canon of St. Jerome and against the anathema and the parity of traditions with Holy Scripture, he was aligned with the leaders of a minority that was outstanding for its theological scholarship. (ibid, 281-282; https://aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?blogid=1&query=cajetan)
Cardinal Cajetan himself was actually an adversary of Luther, and who was sent by the Pope in 1545 to Trent as a papal theologian, had reservations about the apocrypha as well as certain N.T. books based upon questionable apostolic authorship.
►"On the eve of the Reformation, it was not only Luther who had problems with the extent of the New Testament canon. Doubts were being expressed even by some of the loyal sons of the Church. Luther's opponent at Augsburg, Cardinal Cajetan, following Jerome, expressed doubts concerning the canonicity of Hebrews, James, 2 and 3 John, and Jude. Of the latter three he states, "They are of less authority than those which are certainly Holy Scripture."63
Erasmus likewise expressed doubts concerning Revelation as well as the apostolicity of James, Hebrews and 2 Peter. It was only as the Protestant Reformation progressed, and Luther's willingness to excise books from the canon threatened Rome that, at Trent, the Roman Catholic Church hardened its consensus stand on the extent of the New Testament canon into a conciliar pronouncement.64 http://bible.org/article/evangelicals-and-canon-new-testament#P136_48836
Theologian Cardinal Cajetan also stated,
"Here we close our commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament. For the rest (that is, Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees) are counted by St. Jerome out of the canonical books, and are placed amongst the apocrypha, along with Wisdom and Ecciesiasticus, as is plain from the Protogus Galeatus. Nor be thou disturbed, like a raw scholar, if thou shouldest find anywhere, either in the sacred councils or the sacred doctors, these books reckoned as canonical. For the words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the correction of Jerome. Cardinal Cajetan, "Commentary on all the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament," Bruce Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha (New York: Oxford, 1957), p. 180.)
►Cajetan was also highly regarded by many, even if opposed by others: The Catholic Encyclopedia states, "It has been significantly said of Cajetan that his positive teaching was regarded as a guide for others and his silence as an implicit censure. His rectitude, candour, and moderation were praised even by his enemies. Always obedient, and submitting his works to ecclesiastical authority, he presented a striking contrast to the leaders of heresy and revolt, whom he strove to save from their folly." http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03145c.htm
► The late (liberal) British bishop and Scripture scholar B.F. Westcott reported, Some proposed to follow the judgment of Cardinal Caietan [as sometimes spelled] and distinguish two classes of books, as, it was argued, had been the intention of Augustine. Others wished to draw the line of distinction yet more exactly, and form three classes, (1) the Acknowledged Books, (2) the Disputed Books of the New Testament, as having been afterwards generally received, (3) the Apocrypha of the Old Testament. (B.F. Westcott, The Bible In The Church, p. 256)
Another argument for the canonicity of the apocryphal books is that some were used by some early church leaders, yet some of the books of the Pseudepigrapha were also invoked by some church fathers, and found their way into other canons of various Eastern churches. And since Jude 1:14 evidently quotes from the Book of Enoch 1:9, then according to the logic of this argument that book would be Scripture also, even though Enoch also states in section 7:1-4 (in a section of the Book of Enoch dated to about 250 B.C.B.) that the "giants" mentioned in Genesis 6:4 were 300 cubits (or about 450 feet, though i think i read somewhere that an Egyptian manuscripts makes it more like 40 feet). The apostle Paul even quoted truth uttered by a pagan prophet, (Acts 17:29) but such does not sanction the whole source.
While some ancients reference texts from (what we call) the apocryphal books, texts from books of the Pseudepigrapha and otherwise non-canonical books (as per Trent) were also referenced or alluded to by some church fathers, and books which also found their way into other canons of various Eastern churches.
As Jerome explains,
In his famous Prologus Galeatus, or Preface to his translation of Samuel and Kings, he declares that everything not Hebrew should be classed with the apocrypha, and explicitly says that Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobias,and Judith are not in the Canon. These books, he adds, are read in the churches for the edification of the people, and not for the confirmation of revealed doctrine (Catholic Encyclopedia, Canon of the Old Testament)
The distinction then is that while good, they were not for doctrinal use. As the above source states regarding St. Athanasius, Following the precedent of Origen and the Alexandrian tradition, the saintly doctor recognized no other formal canon of the Old Testament than the Hebrew one; but also, faithful to the same tradition, he practically admitted the deutero books to a Scriptural dignity, as is evident from his general usage.
An excerpt from the Prologue to the Glossa ordinaria (an assembly of glosses, that of brief notations of the meaning of a word or wording in the margins of the Vulgate Bible) expresses this distinction:
The canonical books have been brought about through the dictation of the Holy Spirit. It is not known, however, at which time or by which authors the non-canonical or apocryphal books were produced. Since, nevertheless, they are very good and useful, and nothing is found in them which contradicts the canonical books, the church reads them and permits them to be read by the faithful for devotion and edification. Their authority, however, is not considered adequate for proving those things which come into doubt or contention,or for confirming the authority of ecclesiastical dogma, as blessed Jerome states in his prologue to Judith and to the books of Solomon. But the canonical books are of such authority that whatever is contained therein is held to be true firmly and indisputably, and likewise that which is clearly demonstrated from them. (note 124, written in AD 1498, and also found in a work attributed to Walafrid Strabo in the tenth century... http://www.christiantruth.com/articles/Apocryphaendnotes3.html)
► Also, among other authorities, different canons were sanctioned by the Council in Trullo (Quinisext Council) in 692 and the seventh Ecumenical Council (787)
And just prior to Trent, The Polyglot Bible (1514) of Cardinal Ximenes separated the Apocrypha from the canon of the Old Testament and soon received papal sanction.
►Luther's translation of the Bible contained all of its books. Luther also translated and included the Apocrypha, saying, "These books are not held equal to the Scriptures, but are useful and good to read." He expressed his thoughts on the canon in prefaces placed at the beginning of particular Biblical books. In these prefaces, he either questioned or doubted the canonicity of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation (his Catholic contemporaries, Erasmus and Cardinal Cajetan, likewise questioned the canonicity of certain New Testament books). Of his opinion, he allows for the possibility of his readers to disagree with his conclusions. Of the four books, it is possible Luther's opinion fluctuated on two (Hebrews and Revelation). Luther was of the opinion that the writers of James and Jude were not apostles, therefore these books were not canonical. Still, he used them and preached from them. (Five More Luther Myths; http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2089)
► Regarding James and Hebrews,
Most writing from before 200 do not mention the Epistle of James. One significant text does quote James: The Shepherd of Hermas, written before 140 M66. The theologian and biblical scholar, Origen, quotes James extensively between 230 and 250. He mentions that James was Jesus' brother, but does not make it clear if the letter is scripture M138. Hippolytus and Tertullian, from early in the third century, do not mention or quote James. Cyprian of Carthage, in the middle of the third century, also makes no mention. The "Muratorian Canon," from around 200, lists and comments on New Testament books, but fails to mention James, Hebrews, and 1 and 2 Peter. Yet by 340 Eusebius of Caesarea, an early Christian historian, acknowledges that James is both canonical and orthodox, and widely read. However, he categorizes it, along with the other catholic epistles, as "disputed texts" M203. Two Greek New Testaments from that time each include James, along with the other catholic epistles M207. In 367 Athanasius lists the 27 New Testament books we presently use as the definitive canon M212. But the battle for James was not won. Bishops in 428 and 466 rejected all the catholic epistles M215. Early bibles from Lebanon, Egypt, Armenia, India and China do not include James before the sixth century M219. A ninth century manuscript from Mount Sinai leaves out the catholic epistles and the Syriac Church, headquartered in Kerala, India, continues to use a lectionary without them still today M220. (James and Canon: The Early Evidence: http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/james/Background/Canon.htm
Another researcher states,
He [Luther] had a low view of Hebrews, James, Jude, and the Revelation, and so when he published his New Testament in 1522 he placed these books apart at the end. In his Preface to Hebrews, which comes first in the series, he says, "Up to this point we have had to do with the true and certain chief books of the New Testament. The four which follow have from ancient times had a different reputation."'
And on James, he states in his preface,
Though this epistle of St. James was rejected by the ancients,1 I praise it and consider it a good book, because it sets up no doctrines of men but vigorously promulgates the law of God. However, to state my own opinion about it, though without prejudice to anyone, I do not regard it as the writing of an apostle; and my reasons follow.
In the first place it is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works. It says that Abraham was justified by his works when he offered his son Isaac; though in Romans 4 St. Paul teaches to the contrary that Abraham was justified apart from works, by his faith alone, before he had offered his son, and proves it by Moses in Genesis 15.
In the second place its purpose is to teach Christians, but in all this long teaching it does not once mention the Passion, the resurrection, or the Spirit of Christ. (Antilegomena; http://www.bible-researcher.com/antilegomena.html )
But Luther's rejection of these does not mean he did not include them in his translation, and thus some may think he held them as inspired Scripture, which he did not, and as he did also did with the apocrypha (in a separate section as in ages past), but this not make them inspired Scripture.
In terms of order, Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation come last in Luthers New Testament because of his negative estimate of their apostolicity. In a catalogue of The Books of the New Testament which followed immediately upon his Preface to the New Testament Luther regularly listed these fourwithout numbersat the bottom of a list in which he named the other twenty-three books, in the order in which they still appear in English Bibles, and numbered them consecutively from 123 a procedure identical to that with which he also listed the books of the Apocrypha
Likewise the Apocrypha:
The editors of Luthers Works explain, In keeping with early Christian tradition, Luther also included the Apocrypha of the Old Testament. Sorting them out of the canonical books, he appended them at the end of the Old Testament with the caption, These books are not held equal to the Scriptures, but are useful and good to read.
It also should be understood that as with early church fathers, Luther was working his way through his theology and the canonization of Scripture. Also of note is that the words canon and Scripture could be used less formally sometimes than they would be later on. (And it would not be until the year of Luther's death that Trent presented its finalized canon.) The canon which Protestantism came to hold is that of the ancient 39 book Old Testament and the 27 book New Testament canon. Which, like authoritative Old Testament writings by time of Christ, came to be accepted due to their qualities and other Divine attestation through the consensus of the faithful, without a purportedly infallible conciliar decree.
The page to see on Luther's canon is here.
Here is information as regards Eastern Orthodox Acceptance Of The Hebrew Canon
Information on the formal criteria and processes of acceptance of books can be seen here.
See a list and basic summary of the 66 books of the Bible, and more links on the exclusion of the apocrypha here. William
▀ Is the canon of Trent the same as that of Hippo and Carthage?
Not only was the canon not settled, with Trent arguably following a weaker scholarly tradition in pronouncing the apocryphal books to be inspired, but it is a matter of debate whether the canon of Trent is exactly the same as that of Carthage and other councils:
The claim that Hippo & Carthage approved the same canonical list as Trent is wrong. Hippo (393) and Carthage (397) received the Septuagint version of 1 Esdras [Ezra in the Hebrew spelling] as canonical Scripture, which Innocent I approved. However, the Vulgate version of the canon that Trent approved was the first Esdras that Jerome designated for the OT Book of Ezra, not the 1 Esdras of the Septuagint that Hippo and Carthage ( along with Innocent I) received as canonical. Thus Trent rejected as canonical the version of 1 Esdras that Hippo & Carthage accepted as canonical. Trent rejected the apocryphal Septuagint version of 1 Esdras (as received by Hippo and Carthage) as canonical and called it 3 Esdras. More
Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta, states,
► "Let me be perfectly clear. My assertion that the Council of Trent passed over the question of the canonicity of Esdras in silence is not a matter of my own or anyone else's interpretation of the decree. It is a historical fact." Responding to this, Protestant apologist James Swan states,
► Let's grant Michuta's assertion that Trent passed over in silence on the book of Esdras in question. This means in the Roman system, as interpreted by Michuta, the possibility exists that the book in question is canonical, but not currently in the canon. Therefore, it is possible that the Bible is missing a book, in which case, Roman Catholics cannot be certain they have an infallible list of all the infallible books. In which case, their arguments stating they have canon certainty crumbles. It would also possibly mean, the canon is still open. Michuta notes that 42 people at Trent voted to pass over the book in silence. If Michuta is correct on his interpretation of Trent, these 42 people solved the problem of the contradiction between Hippo, Carthage, and Trent, but created the problem of an unclosed canon, and thrust Catholics into uncertainty.
It was Jerome, who is considered the only Church father who was a true Hebrew scholar, who was responsible for separating Ezra and Nehemiah to be designated as 1 and 2 Esdras respectively as separate books in an official Bible and who relegated 1 Esdras of the Septuagint to a noncanonical status which later became designated as III Esdras. He did this because he followed the Hebrew canon. (http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=1911)
The New Catholic Encyclopedia states concerning the status of 1 Esdras among the fathers who followed the 'Septuagintial plus':
► "The origin of 3 Esdras cannot be adequately explained....Until the 5th century, Christians very frequently ranked 3 Esdras with the Canonical books; it is found in many LXX MSS [Septuagint manuscripts] and in the Latin Vulgate (Vulg) of St. Jerome. Protestants therefore include 3 Esdras with other apocrypha (deuterocanonical) books such as Tobit or Judith. The Council of Trent definitively removed it from the canon." (New Catholic Encyclopedia; New York: McGraw Hill, 1967), Volume II, Bible, III,pp. 396-397. http://www.encyclopedia.com/article-1G2-3407700673/apocrypha.html).
As for the Vulgate, the apocrypha was included, apparently after Jerome died, but not universally in all versions:
► At the end of the fourth century Pope Damasus commissioned Jerome, the most learned biblical scholar of his day, to prepare a standard Latin version of the Scriptures (the Latin Vulgate). In the Old Testament Jerome followed the Hebrew canon and by means of prefaces called the reader's attention to the separate category of the apocryphal books. Subsequent copyists of the Latin Bible, however, were not always careful to transmit Jerome's prefaces, and during the medieval period the Western Church generally regarded these books as part of the holy Scriptures. (http://www.gnte.org/ecopub/apocrypha.htm)
► "In his famous 'Prologus Galeatus', or Preface to his translation of Samuel and Kings, he (Jerome) declares that everything not Hebrew should be classed with the apocrypha, and explicitly says that Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobias,and Judith are not in the Canon. These books, he adds, are read in the churches for the edification of the people, and not for the confirmation of revealed doctrine" (Catholic Encyclopedia, Canon of the Old Testament). http://aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=1948
► The Glossa ordinaria, an assembly of glosses (brief notations of the meaning of a word or wording in a text) in the margins of the Vulgate Bible states in the Preface that the Church permits the reading of the Apocryphal books only for devotion and instruction in manners, but that they have no authority for concluding controversies in matters of faith. It prefixes an introduction to them all saying, 'Here begins the book of Tobit which is not in the canon; here begins the book of Judith which is not in the canon' and so forth for Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom, and Maccabees... (http://www.christiantruth.com/articles/sippocanon.html)
In reality the quantity of your response is meaningless. All I or anyone needs to know is this:
"And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church," - Matthew 16:18
Peace be to you.
There aren't words that could be said to do your posts justice, daniel. They are in my spirit, though, and God knows. You are a workman who will not be ashamed when you stand before God. Thank you for all you do in His name and for His glory.
God Bless! smvoice