Gary’s post entitled “The 44% Solution: Why Anti-Catholics Should Trust Their Instincts” seems to be relying heavily on a paper from Peter Duncker (The Canon of the OT at the Council of Trent, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, vol 15) which describes much of the discussion around the canon that occurred at Trent. After reading through this article again, I am not quite sure how Gary ended up at the conclusions that he did.
First, Duncker points to the better citation from the Concilium Tridentinum (CT) dealing with the discussions on February 15th (the date of the 44% vote):
“February 15th—Third General Congregation. Severoli again gives the more extensive account (footnote CT. I, 31-33)”
But instead of pulling Severoli’s account in volume 1 of the CT, Gary pulls from volume 5 (pg 10) which is a section that is confusing and contradictory according to Duncker (pg 290, CBQ). Now, instead of explaining why there may be some discrepancies in the above mentioned accounts, let me just quote what was stated by Jedin in History of the Council of Trent (pg 56, footnote) in regards to the vote:
“Severoli, C.T.,Vol. I, p. 32,1. 42, clearly shows that the result of the vote of 15 February relates to the addition of the anathema and not, as Massarelli endeavours to prove, ibid., p. 480, l. 42, to the acceptance without discussion of the Florentine canon; above all, and contrary to what the acts, Vol. V, p. 10, ll. 1-6, seem to hint at, not to a distinction of various degrees of authority.”
So Jedin, the great historian on Trent, says the vote was on the addition of the anathema (not on refutations, not on distinctions). Duncker seems to agree (pg 291). Now, whether Gary believes this or not I can not ascertain. I re-read Gary’s post and he seems to be unsure of his own opinion and he seems to have misread Duncker:
“The 44% vote had nothing to do with the contents of the canon, rather it appears that the vote concerned the inclusion of a anathema (the application of canonical penalties to those who deny what is stated). I should note that, according to Dunker, there is some slight disagreement among the sources and it is not completely clear whether this vote was on the inclusion of the anathema or whether it was on whether it would be illicit for the council to include a refutation of some of the attacks on the canon in its decree. Dunker makes a good case that the 44% vote was on the latter and not the former.”
First, Gary needs to read pgs 290-291 of Duncker again because Duncker makes a case for the anathema as the subject of the vote, not the discussion. Plus, the “discussion” that Duncker was referring to was actually around the distinction of degrees of authority (pg 290), not on a refutation to attacks as Gary states. I am not going to quote Duncker here because it’s just not that interesting, but if Gary reads pgs 289-292 carefully, I think he will see his errors.
Second, Gary’s post appears to be in conflict with his own book (Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger) where he states:
“The Third General Congregation (February 15) offered two questions for final approval by the entire congregation. The first question asked if the Council of Trent should approve all the books which had been approved at Florence; each and every one of the fathers responded in the affirmative [L. placer]. The second question asked if an anathema should be added to the decree on the canon. The inclusion of an anathema was carried with 24 votes in favor, 15 votes against.” (pg 236)
Oddly enough, the answers that Gary was originally searching for can be found in his own book!!
He did not document the 16 abstentions, but everything else he needed is there (the vote, the date, the place), including a citation to Jedin’s account from pg 56 which I quoted above to clarify this whole matter. I would suggest Gary go back and read Duncker, Jedin, and his own book and consider revising his post on this subject. Perhaps he was a bit too hasty in attempting to respond to Dr. White because these mistakes just shouldn’t have occurred.
With that said, let me remind you of Jedin's analysis of the vote on the anathema:
“The result of the above-mentioned vote of the general congregation of 15 February committed the Council to the wider canon…”
Metzger's original quote may have appeared to be misleading, but I think his assessment of the effect of the vote was in-line with Jedin. The 44% majority vote to include the anathema committed the Council to the final canon we find in the decree of April 8, 1546.
My question from my prior post regarding this vote on the anathema remains:
“That’s right. The decision to adopt the Florentine canon as an article of faith was agreed to by only 44% of the council members.
I guess my questions is, why did 56% of the council members believe that the biblical canon that was supposedly taught throughout church history, accepted by Hippo/Carthage and later confirmed by the Council of Florence, perhaps shouldn’t be an article of faith? In other words, if the historical witness of the canon was so clear that Luther (and Protestants in general) could be accused of “throwing out 7 books of the Bible” (a common RC apologist claim), why were 56% of the council members not in favor of making the canon an article of faith?”