Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Spy vs. Spy...Continued.

I’ve been trying to sift through DA’s blog entries on the “Luther quote” that I recently provided both a reference and a context for (two things usually missing from Catholic citations of it). I do have some time this week to take a look at some of the concerns raised by DA.

I usually have to cut away 90% of his words that don’t really matter anyway. For instance, there has been an excessive amount of hostility and slander directed towards me. There really isn’t much need to counter-respond to it, as his words speak more about him than I. I’m going to begin with this entry (posted January 4, 2008), in whatever form it is now. If he changes it, I can’t be responsible to keep up with his constant editing.

In the past few weeks, I have sought, as much as possible, to avoid commenting on Steve Ray’s involvement while commenting on DA’s continued assaults. I’ve had a cordial dialog with Steve behind the scenes, and I would speculate, had DA not gotten involved, this would have been a much easier, and less hostile discussion. It could’ve been an intelligent and respectable discussion between two people with two very different perspectives. I think it could’ve edified both Protestants and Catholics. My opinion is that DA tainted the entire issue. If things have gotten progressively ugly, one has to ask, “If Ray and Swan are cordially dialoging about this, what in the world is wrong with DA?”

On the other hand, from what I’ve gathered from the entry, DA more-a-less stated he entered into this discussion by an invite from Steve Ray: “Steve himself wrote to me and asked my opinion on a particular matter, related to what has become a huge controversy, on 11-28-07. I got more and more involved, with Steve's complete agreement.” I still consider my dispute to be with Steve and not DA, but if indeed DA is involved by request, then I guess, in a way, I am still in dispute with Mr. Ray. The “professional” thing to do (or what DA probably should have done), if he was indeed invited, would have been to work behind the scenes to help Mr. Ray compose the best possible response to my assertions he could. But, the professional course was not taken, so I guess I’m expected to respond to both of these gentlemen.

DA states he’s not only working together with Mr. Ray, but also a man named Paul Hoffer, whom I believe is a lawyer (though I may be mistaken on this). DA states, “Since mid-December, we have all worked together extensively, doing research, trying to get to the bottom of this. It has been a lot of fun, and a most welcome challenge. Steve thanked me publicly for my assistance, on 12-13-07.” Mr. Hoffer has offered his comments and “research” over on DA’s blog, so I have also a third person to contend with if I so choose. For those of you keeping score, that’s three against one. I admit, I do get a bit of a chuckle out of it taking three men working together to “refute” my work. It’s funny, because DA has taken so many shots at me, stating both explicitly and implicitly things like, I’m a “lightweight in the anti-Catholic apologetic world”- one really does wonder why it would take three of them in this matter.

DA thinks his ability to discern the translation from a German treatise to a Latin treatise was information I snatched from his blog. DA should know by now, I do not use his blog for Luther research. I do not approve of either his methods or abilities, so it would be inconsistent for me to speak negatively about his work, while using his work. I have a large collection of books on the Reformation, so I don’t need his insights or work.

DA states, “Swan mentioned Latin in his earlier salvoes, but he did not come up with the theory of discrepancies being explained by Latin vs. German versions. That came from our end. Time will tell if this is important in what we eventually find. But Swan would like his readers to vainly imagine that he came up with this ingenious analysis and is doing our work for us. Nice try.”DA fails to realize, but should know by now, I primarily use Luther’s Works (and not the “Google” version, like he does). That is, in my initial investigations into this quote, the introductory comments from LW 37 specifically point out the treatise was written in German. When I reviewed Mr. Ray’s book and Balmes, I saw the Latin translation. Obviously, anyone should be able to put 2 + 2 together at this point.

What DA might not realize, is that in some instances Luther wrote the same thing in both German and Latin. While Luther’s Works did not mention a Latin original, it did not deny it either. Thus, out of caution, I did not immediately state my suspicions on this. While doing research, I found no mention of Luther composing the same text in Latin. I’m not sure if DA is even aware of such issues like this. Either way, it’s not a far stretch of logic to read the LW 37 introductory comments stating they translated the treatise from German, and then see that Balmes provided a Latin quotation. Obviously, if the treatise was originally in German, and one finds a Latin quotation from it, well, as DA himself has said, “It ain’t rocket science.” If DA thinks it takes his superior depth of wisdom to note 2 + 2= 4, well, fine. DA you win: you arrived at 2 + 2=4.

On this same topic, I wrote to Steve Ray earlier and mentioned another theory I have had for quite a while now, and since DA is so keen on being thanked for his own 2 +2 = 4 insights, I guess I should post it now, noting that DA is welcome to claim it as his own (we’ll call it, 3 + 3 =6). Consider it a gift. Besides, I’ve already found the title of the treatise in both German and Latin, and produced a context. Any other “discovery” after this is trivial in comparison. I mentioned to Steve,

“In regard to the Luther quote, there is a possibility, and a strong possibility, that if you do recover a Latin version, the quotes still will not match up. That is, it is quite possible the Latin version that has circulated throughout history is rather the result of a paraphrase from an earlier secondary source like Cochlaeus. I've checked my copies of Eck and Cochlaeus, and haven't found anything. You can tell DA this possibility.”

In other words, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that the Latin quote was a paraphrase from a secondary source- that is, someone writing about Luther, say a Cochlaeus or a John Eck. If DA is looking for an avenue of research, I would suggest he think of checking the earliest of secondary sources. He doesn’t need to check the recent Cochlaeus book Luther’s Lives. I’ve done that for him. Also, I’ve checked Eck’s Enchiridion, and it’s not there either. I’ve worked on this theory now, since before I even posted my initial review of Mr. Ray. It would account for the looseness of the translation, and also accounts for the context that precedes the quote (recall, that would be the context from the treatise I was correct about all along).

It would also account for someone, (say...maybe a 16th Century Catholic apologist?), conflating the quote while writing against Luther, and completely butchering the context- particularly leaving off "Their success will be the same as it was in the past," and ignoring that which is before and after the quote. This to me seems very plausible.


Anonymous said...

I thought this might be helpful to you:

"Luther's answer the following day was no single answer but a careful and dignified speech. His books were of various sorts, some of which were indeed 'polemic against the papacy,' which reflected 'the experience and the complaint of all men.' 'If then, I revoke these books, all I shall achieve is to add strength to tyranny, and open not the windows but the doors to this monstrous godlessness, for a wider and free range than it has ever dared before.' He spelled out to the emperor that without a conviction from 'scripture or plain reason (for I believe neither in Pope nor in councils alone),' he could recant nothing. It was such a momentous ending to his words that not long after his death, the first editor of his collected works, Georg Rorer, felt compelled to construct two tiny summary sentences in German, which have become the most memorable thing Luther never said: 'Here I stand; I can do no other.'"

[Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation, (Viking, 2003), p. 127.)

Anonymous said...

The emphasis is mine, btw.

James Swan said...


I noted the same thing in my orignal aomin article:

If one simply reads the quote as it stands, it appears to be saying that Luther believed Church councils and creeds are necessary in order to "preserve the unity of faith" because sola scriptura is some sort of blueprint for anarchy. Well, creeds are indeed useful. Even during Luther's lifetime, statements of faith were produced from Luther and his immediate circle. So what is going on here? How can Luther hold to sola scriptura, but yet say the Church needs to have the Christian faith "decreed by a council"? Didn't Luther say "Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason- I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other- my conscience is captive to the Word of God"?