Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cajetan on the Canon: He's Ok Bcause He's One Of Us

A few weeks back I mentioned my recent acquisition: Jared Wicks tr., Cajetan Responds: A Reader in Reformation Controversy (Washington: The Catholic University Press of America, 1978).

A contemporary of Luther, Cajetan was a leading Roman Catholic scholar and deeply affiliated with the Papacy. I usually mention Cajetan because of his views on the canon of Sacred Scripture.

Cajetan's opinions are interesting to juxtapose against Luther's. Romanists typically malign Luther mercilessly on the canon. For instance, on a discussion thread I'm involved with, it was stated, "Luther was a Catholic who denigrated Scripture, removed 7 Books from the Old Testament as he saw fit, and attempted to do the same with Revelation, James, Jude and Hebrews. He tampered with Scripture to boost his new doctrines..." This is a typical caricature.

A person stating something like the above typically has no idea how to navigate their way through Cajetan's view on the canon. Recall some of the charges against Luther: he questioned (or denied) the canonicty of James, Jude, Hebrews, and Revelation. He saw these books as not the works of apostles, but of second century Christians. He also classified the Old Testament Apocrypha as: not held equal to the Scriptures, but are useful and good to read.

Cardinal Cajetan also questioned the authenticity of certain Biblical books and if they were canonical. The Catholic Encyclopedia points out he questioned “the authorship of several epistles… Hebrews, James, II Peter, II and III John, Jude.” The New Catholic Encyclopedia takes a stronger position on his “questioning” and says, “He expressed strong doubts about the literal meaning of Canticles and the Apocalypse; the authenticity of Mk 16:9-20 and Jn 8:1-11; and the authorship of Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, and 3 John, and Jude.” In 1532, Cajetan wrote his Commentary on All the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament (dedicated to Pope Clement VII ). In this work, Cajetan leaves out the entirety of the Apocrypha since he did not consider it to be Canonical:

“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 Ecclesiasticus, as is plain from the Prologus 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. Now, according to his judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the Bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the Bible for that purpose. By the help of this distinction thou mayest see thy way clearly through that which Augustine says, and what is written in the provincial council of Carthage.”

The dilemma is obvious: how can Luther be chastised for being the sixteenth century Marcion, while Cajetan held very similar views, and was a leading Roman Catholic scholar?

Here's some interesting information from the preface to Cajetan Responds by Jared Wicks:

Cajetan's biblical commentaries occasioned no little admiratio. From Luther, there is a recorded remark, "Cajetan, in his later days, has become Lutheran." Considerable zeal was expended by Ambrosius Catharinus, O.P., against the exegetical work of his retired Master General. Catharinus submitted a denunciation before the still acerbic faculty in Paris and proceedings began that could have led to another book-burning Clement VII intervened in a letter to the Parisian professors in September, 1533, to protect the man who was by then the Pope's regular source of valued theological advice. Proceedings were halted at this time in Paris, but not before an open letter of the Parisian theologians had begun to circulate listing the censurable propositions excerpted from the commentaries. The Sorbonne masters charged Cajetan with imprudently taking these notions from Erasmus or even Luther. The letter ended with a stinging rebuke of Cajetan's rashness in abandoning the long approved Vulgate text to base his work on new versions in no way guaranteed for their exactness. In 1534 a Wittenberg printer, no doubt with considerable glee over this discomfiture of Luther's old adversary, brought out the open letter in pamphlet form. Catharinus published his criticisms of Cajetan's commentaries in 1535, revised and expanded them in 1542, and obtained a censure by the Paris faculty against Cajetan's biblical works in August, 1544.

The specific charges brought against Cajetan concerned the reservations and plain doubts he had expressed about the apostolic origin of the final eleven verses of Mark's gospel, the story of the adultress in John 8, and five whole epistles of the New Testament (Hebrews, James, Jude, and 1 and 2 John). These views were especially serious in Cajetan's case, since he had laid down the rule that apostolic authorship or direct approval by an apostle was normative for inclusion in the New Testament canon. Following Jerome, Cajetan also relegated the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament to a secondary place where they could serve piety but not the teaching of revealed doctrine.

-snip-

Certainly Cajetan's commentaries deserved better treatment than they received at the hands of the fearful Catharinus and the censorious Parisian faculty. Cajetan's confident approach to the biblical text did not fit into the mentality of cautious defensiveness that began to predominate in the Catholic world less than a decade after his death. From our vantage point, it may well be that the most significant results of Cajetan's dedicated work on Scripture are to be found in the concise treatises he wrote in the final four years of his life.

I found this very interesting because I didn't realize Cajetan's views did cause some controversy, at least with one man. So what does this information do to the Luther / Cajetan comparison?

First it shows us that someone close to the papacy was able to express similar ideas as Luther and be protected by the papacy. And why not? Cajetan, and Luther had every right within the Roman Catholic system to engage in Biblical criticism and debate over the extent of the Canon before an offical declaration by a council.

Second, It appears to me, the quest for ad fontes sources was a major impetus provoking the textual and historical criticism of sixteenth century scholars, both on the Roman Catholic and Protestant side. Other documents besides Scripture were being looked over as well. Forgeries of the Early Church Father's were uncovered. Wicks points out that Cajetan's criticism of the Vulgate drew heated response as well. The tradition of the Vulgate appears to have clouded many minds.

Third, the problem of bias still stands. How is it not a double standard for contemporary Romanists to chastise Luther's New Testament criticism, while completely ignoring Cajetan (or Erasmus as well)? Why is it the man protected by Clement VII gets a pass?

One interesting source has found its way on to the Internet: Pre-Tridentine Doctrine: A review of the Commentary on the Scriptures of Cardinal Cajetan. It's an old source, but gives yet another look into the life of Cajetan. Interesting finds:

Following St. Jerome, the Cardinal finds great difficulty in assigning the Epistle of St. James to the " brother of the Lord " its opening salutation which differs so greatly from the ordinary apostolic formula playing in his mind a preliminary obstacle to its apostolic origin. The violent abuse which the Roman advocates have heaped upon Luther for entertaining the same doubt stands in strange contrast with the fact that Cajetan s views on the doubtfulness of this and many other parts of the canon have never given him a place in the " Index," or even detracted from his general authority as a divine. The salutation appears to him so brief and secular as to present no point of affinity to those of the other apostles.

-snip-

The Second Epistle of Peter he held to be of very doubtful authenticity, but considers that St. Jerome's scepticism regarding it, on account of its difference of style from that of the former, would tell against either epistle with equal force. For either might represent St. Peter s style, and two of the Catholic Epistles claim to be his. But difference of style he regards as not a sufficient criterion, as many writings of the same author (as the Registrum of Gregory the Great and his other works) present equal differences.

-snip-

Yet (and this is not a little remarkable) the writings of Cajetan, notwithstanding the freedom with which he rejects the Apocrypha, and claims a "liberty of prophesying" such as the Roman Church has never admitted in its greatest saints, have never been placed in the Index, though the bitter attack of Catharinus, himself a member of the Council of Trent, and of great influence in Rome, might have well secured for them a place in that Walhalla of sacred and profane literature. The writings of Cajetan, however, needed not this posthumous advertisement. Nay, he has a yet more illustrious one in the great work of Pope Benedict XIV., " De Synodo Dicecesana " (1. xiii. c. xix. sect, xxviii.), where he is bravely defended by the Pope against Catharinus. "Catharinum excessisse in censura, tum quia non fideliter Cajetani sententiam retulerit, tum quia non admodum solide eam impugnaverit, facillime ostenditur."

19 comments:

louis said...

Not sure why this should be an issue at all. Here is Eusebius in the 4th century:

"It will be well, at this point, to classify the New Testament writings already referred to. We must, of course, put first the holy quartet of the gospels, followed by the Acts of the Apostles. The next place in the list goes to Paul's epistles, and after them we must recognize the epistle called 1 John; likewise 1 Peter. To these may be added, if it is thought proper, the Revelation of John, the arguments about which I shall set out when the time comes. These are classed as Recognized Books. Those that are disputed, yet familiar to most, include the epistles known as James, Jude, and 2 Peter, and those called 2 and 3 John, the work either of the evangelist or of someone else with the same name." (3.25)

louis said...

By the way, could someone translate Benedict's quote?

James Swan said...

Not sure why this should be an issue at all. Here is Eusebius in the 4th century

My interest in Cajetan's views on the canon are stated in the blog entry. Perhaps though, I didn't make them clear enough.

louis said...

I didn't mean on your part; I meant on the part of those questioning Luther.

Viisaus said...

Ironically, Cajetan's attacker Catharinus apparently held some "heretical" ideas himself.

The 1910 Catholic Encylopedia:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12212c.htm

"He studied Scripture and theology without a master. This may account for his independence, and his defence of opinions which were singular, especially in regard to predestination, the certitude of possessing grace, the residence of bishops in their dioceses, and the intention required in the minister of a sacrament."

"Historians and theologians generally have regarded Catharinus as a brilliant, eccentric genius, who did much good, was frequently accused of teaching false doctrines, yet always kept within the bounds of orthodoxy. Pallavicini* and other authorities declare positively that the Council of Trent did not condemn his singular opinions."


RC advocate of strict predestinationism, Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, wrote:

"It should be remarked that, before Molina, almost all the traditional theologians taught that grace was intrinsically efficacious, except a few such as the very small perversely inclined minority among the Dominicans, among them Durandus and Catharinus, who invented Molinism before Molina."

http://www.ewtn.com/library/Theology/grace6.htm

Viisaus said...

A 17th century high-church Anglican apologist John Cosin wrote the following about Erasmus and Cajetan in his thoroughly documented treatise "Scholastical history of the canon of the Holy Scripture":


http://www.archive.org/details/workscos03cosiuoft

pp. 256-257

"And it is remarkable here, that in Erasmus his time, who had so many corrivals, both envious of his glory, and desirous of his ruin, yet there was not one among them all, (not Sutor, and Bedda, not any doctors of Spain or Italy, not the Sorbonists themselves, who censured divers other of his writings,) that found any fault with him for all these, which he had published concerning the difference betwixt the canonical and apocryphal or ecclesiastical Scriptures.

CLXXIII, Cardinal Cajetan was at this time the common oracle, to whom most of the divines in the Church of Rome had recourse, for their better resolution in any difficult or doubtful question, that occurred about the Scriptures, and the public doctrine of the schools: so that his testimony will involve many more, and be of as good authority, as if we should now produce a great number of witnesses for us together. And in this particular question he declareth himself (oftener than once) to be formally for us. Somewhat he had said to that purpose in his Commentaries upon Thomas Aquinas; but afterwards, in his Commentaries upon the Bible, (which he wrote at Rome,) he spake more clearly."

pp. 258-260

"Whereby it is evident, that in the days of Cardinal Cajetan, (which was but ten years before the council began at Trent,) all this went for good Catholic doctrine at Rome; that is to say, in the year 1534: wherein, (writing upon the Prophets, and having gone no further than the third chapter of Esay,) he died, when he was most likely to have been chosen Pope, after Clement the Seventh, if he had outlived him. I know how hot and angry both Catharin and Canus were in this matter against Cajetan; but, (as Homer said of Hector,) they barked and insulted over him, as dogs over a dead lion. And yet it is observable, that, as no man wrote any thing herein against him while he was alive and able to answer for himself, so the Sorbonne, or the faculty at Paris, that afterwards censured him for some other matters, (for they took upon them to censure all writings that displeased them,) yet in this particular had nothing to find fault with him."

Viisaus said...

So it would seem that Cajetan was attacked for his views on the NT canon, but he was NOT attacked (nor was Erasmus) for his views on the OT canon - as rejecting the full canonicity of apocryphal OT books was common among RC scholars before Trent.

James Swan said...

By the way, could someone translate Benedict's quote?

(paraphrase):"It can be easily shown that Catharinus excessively censured Cajetan, because he did not accurately recollect his opinions and consequently do not very solidly attack them."

James Swan said...

I didn't mean on your part; I meant on the part of those questioning Luther

Ah, well that's an easy one. for some people, any mud can be thrown at Luther will be scooped up and thrown at Luther. History or contexts don't matter.

James Swan said...

Ironically, Cajetan's attacker Catharinus apparently held some "heretical" ideas himself.

Interesting. Theology was a bit more dangerous back then. The ironic part is that Rome has infallibly defined very little. I've been told of all the "freedom" of interpretation the papacy allows, yet their history is filled with examples of their scholars charging one another with heresy, or trying to get their books banned.

James Swan said...

he died, when he was most likely to have been chosen Pope, after Clement the Seventh, if he had outlived him.

Hmm, that would've been interesting.

James Swan said...

So it would seem that Cajetan was attacked for his views on the NT canon, but he was NOT attacked (nor was Erasmus) for his views on the OT canon - as rejecting the full canonicity of apocryphal OT books was common among RC scholars before Trent.

I actually don't know. The way Wicks worded his paragraph is somewhat ambiguous. I originally made the same point in this blog entry, but removed it.

That there were scholars at Trent holding to Cajetan's view leads me to believe these books weren't nearly as important as the New Testament books. There were two traditions within the church as to the acceptance of the books.

I would be interested in seeing the charges against Cajetan. A few weeks ago, a gentleman with a good amount more knowledge on Cajetan than I have stopped by the blog ("Matt"). Perhaps he could verify this.

Matt said...

Hi,

Great conversation.

There were actually *a lot* more critiques/condemnations of Cajetan than Catharinus. The University of Paris theology faculty is almost certainly the most prominent! Then you have Alfonso de Castro and others putting him in lists of heretics (though he does so with *some* caution). His texts (including his commentary on the third part of the Summa Theologiae) were "emended" in the middle of the sixteenth century.

The quotation from Cosin about Cajetan being an "oracle" in his time is only partially true. His views on the immortality of the soul (and many other issues) were sharply criticized by his fellow Dominicans. Indeed, it seems that almost any Dominican (let alone Franciscans and others!) writing in this period was critical of Cajetan, even if no one could dispute his erudition and intellectual powers.

His defenders sometimes used the conventional argument that Cajetan was doing these controversial things (regarding, say, the Canon) before the Tridentine Decrees and that he was always disposed to obey the Church in these matters. It is the latter point, though, that has a bit more weight and is rather more interesting. There is something, it seems to me, that separates Cajetan from Luther and even Erasmus. Even if he criticized Jerome or other traditional interpretations, those defending him later in the sixteenth century stated (quite plausibly, I think) that Cajetan always made these criticisms with reverence, respect, due caution, a readiness to submit to the Church, and so on. They thought that the same could not be said of Luther and Erasmus. Luther's approach of the Fathers is rather complicated, so the distinction may not be as great as appears at first glance...

Furthermore, while James Swan knows Luther's views on this matter better than I do, you would not see (ni fallor) Cajetan actually criticizing an author of one of these (even debatably) canonical texts. At least at certain points of his career, the same cannot be said of Luther, say, in the case of James. The grounds for Cajetan to hesitate about or even reject the canonicity of certain books were (almost?) exclusively based on scholarly and textual grounds. Again, while Luther knew and employed these same arguments, he was pretty clear about his theological motivations as well.

The issue of canonicity is not one to which I have devoted much specific attention, however. I look forward to the ensuing conversation, and I would (of course) appreciate any correction that is needed.

Pax.

James Swan said...

Hi Matt,

Thanks for your comments.... fascinating! My apologies for not responding sooner.

Cajetan always made these criticisms with reverence, respect, due caution, a readiness to submit to the Church, and so on.

Wicks brings out this a little in his introduction, that Cajetan was always ready to submit to the church. Of course, this makes a good deal of sense, seeing how involved he was with the Papacy. Indeed therefore, Cajetan is of a much different tone than Luther and Erasmus. In an upcoming post, I was going to address this.

while James Swan knows Luther's views on this matter better than I do, you would not see (ni fallor) Cajetan actually criticizing an author of one of these (even debatably) canonical texts. At least at certain points of his career, the same cannot be said of Luther, say, in the case of James.

I wish that Cajetan's Biblical commentary was made available. If it is, and you know of it, please let me know.

As to Luther, most of the negative comments were indeed directed toward James, and mostly early on. His most charged comments were in the original edition of his prefatory comments to James. He later revised his comments, and toned them down.

But as is typical of Luther, he still positively preached from James throughout his career.

while Luther knew and employed these same arguments, he was pretty clear about his theological motivations as well.

This really only applies to James, not any of the other books he questioned. But even then, I think he fueled by the belief it wasn't written by an apostle. He knew of the typical way that James and Paul are reconciled, yet he still thought the book was of later non-apostolic origin.

But enough of Luther. That Erasmus, Cajetan, and Luther had different methods of expressing themselves is a great point.

Matt said...

Good stuff. I would just re-phrase the statement that "of course, this makes a good deal of sense, seeing how involved he was with the Papacy." It isn't explicit or even necessarily implied, but this might *suggest* that Cajetan was only being cautious because of his political and personal connections to the popes. I would just want to note that Cajetan's ecclesiology and view of papal authority are deeply held convictions. Indeed, he is clearly an architects of certain aspects of the modern view of the papacy, even if the Dominican view of papal infallibility has certain differences from the Jesuit view which ended up being victorious at Trent (see one of the only translated works of the brilliant historian of ecclesiology, Ulrich Horst, Dominicans and the Pope (or something like that)

On a personal and political level, Cajetan's dissatisfaction with the certain popes is pretty evident, particularly in the handling of the Luther case itself!

Again, you were not saying anything different. I would just rephrase it differently. Excuse the pedantry...

Oh, most, if not all, of Cajetan's Bible commentaries are available on Google books, which is amazing! But I'm pretty sure that there are no translations, except for passages in the works of that Michael O'Connor fellow that I mentioned in the previous Cajetan post.

Even though we're setting Luther aside somewhat, I just wondered whether you say that there were no 'theological motivations' in his rejection of certain books of the Old Testament (Deutero-canonical)? I've read conflicting stuff on this. Just curious what your conclusion is. Thanks!

James Swan said...

It isn't explicit or even necessarily implied, but this might *suggest* that Cajetan was only being cautious because of his political and personal connections to the popes.

I agree.

I don't doubt the zeal or sincerity of Cajetan, at all. I do think he was dedicated to his beliefs. From what I've read of him, he doesn't appear to be a person who self-edited himself to stay out of trouble. He appears to have been an honest theologian within the confines he understood his church to have.

Even though we're setting Luther aside somewhat, I just wondered whether you say that there were no 'theological motivations' in his rejection of certain books of the Old Testament (Deutero-canonical)? I've read conflicting stuff on this. Just curious what your conclusion is. Thanks!

Simply review Luther's prefaces to the apocrypha. As far as I can recall, his views followed the typical criticisms.

The only instance I can think of at the moment is 2 Maccabees & purgatory. I've done a review of this here:

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2467

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2476

The typical charge is that Eck cornered Luther about purgatory in the Leipzig debate, so Luther was forced to conclude 2 Maccabees wasn't scripture as his counter-response. The only problem though is Luther still believed in purgatory during the Leipzig debate with Eck. My feeling is that there were other historical reservations Luther had about the apocryphal books in play already.

Matt said...

I know this thread is old, but I figured it couldn't hurt.

Earlier, I said, "you would not see (ni fallor) Cajetan actually criticizing an author of one of these (even debatably) canonical texts."

Well, it turns out that I was at least partially mistaken. Though he does so cautiously (of course), he does criticize the author of Hebrews with regard to his use of Old Testament passages. He thought that his problematic quotations were an important argument *against* Pauline authorship.

James Swan said...

Matt,

The thread isn't that old- I appreciate your comments, particularly since you're the first person I've ever come across that is so familiar with Cajetan, much more than I am.

I recall earlier when you stated:

There were actually *a lot* more critiques/condemnations of Cajetan than Catharinus. The University of Paris theology faculty is almost certainly the most prominent! Then you have Alfonso de Castro and others putting him in lists of heretics (though he does so with *some* caution). His texts (including his commentary on the third part of the Summa Theologiae) were "emended" in the middle of the sixteenth century.

It would seem to me, whatever Cajetan did say, was taken to be very, very bad, at least by those you mention.

Matt said...

Indeed. Of course, he had his defenders, but his views on the Bible were certainly among the most controversial. It is funny that his reputation--emerging from his role as Luther's "judge" and Thomas Aquinas' great commentator--is really so far from the reality of the situation.