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.
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.
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.
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."