Monday, June 07, 2010

How the fictional early papacy became real

Historically, Catholics have argued that the papacy was a divinely-given institution papacy (Matt 16:17-19) etc., and they have relied on the notion that there have been bishops of Rome extending all the way back to the time of Peter.

This notion of bishops extending all the way back was thought to be actual history. In fact, as Shotwell and Loomis pointed out, in the General Introduction to their 1927 work "The See of Peter":
With reference to the Petrine doctrine, however, the Catholic attitude is much more than a "pre-disposition to believe." That doctrine is the fundamental basis of the whole papal structure. It may be summed up in three main claims. They are: first, that Peter was appointed by Christ to be his chief representative and successor and the head of his Church; second, that Peter went to Rome and founded the bishopric there; third, that his successors succeeded to his prerogatives and to all the authority thereby implied. In dealing with these claims we are passing along the border line between history and dogmatic theology. The primacy of Peter and his appointment by Christ to succeed Him as head of the Church are accepted by the Catholic Church as the indubitable word of inspired Gospel, in its only possible meaning. That Peter went to Rome and founded there his See, is just as definitely what is termed in Catholic theology as a dogmatic fact. This has been defined by an eminent Catholic theologian as "historical fact so intimately connected with some great Catholic truths that it would e believed even if time and accident had destroyed all the original evidence therefore. (xxiii-xxiv, emphasis in original).
So, if the history of the early papacy is disrupted, it should, by all rights, disrupt the dogmatic definition of the papacy. And this is what we have come upon in our era: the most widely accepted historical accounts of the period -- which are now almost universally accepted among legitimate historians of the era -- is that Peter did not "found a bishopric." There was no "bishopric" in that city for 100 years after his death. The history completely contradicts what the "dogmatic fact" has held for more than 1000 years. Now, according to Eamon Duffy, among others, what was thought to be historical accounts were actually fictitious accounts that became passed along as history:
These stories were to be accepted as sober history by some of the greatest minds of the early Church -- Origen, Ambrose, Augustine. But they are pious romance, not history, and the fact is that we have no reliable accounts either of Peter's later life or the manner or place of his death. Neither Peter nor Paul founded the Church at Rome, for there were Christians in the city before either of the Apostles set foot there. Nor can we assume, as Irenaeus did, that the Apostles established there a succession of bishops to carry on their work in the city, for all the indications are that there was no single bishop at Rome for almost a century after the deaths of the Apostles. In fact, wherever we turn, the solid outlines of the Petrine succession at Rome seem to blur and dissolve. (Duffy, pg 2.)
Briefly, on Peter and "the tradition," Reymond talks about the further lack of information about Peter in Scripture:
The Peter died in Rome, as ancient tradition has it, is a distinct possibility (see 1 Peter 5:13, where "Babylon" has been rather uniformly understood by commentators as a metaphor for Rome), but that he ever actually pastored the church there is surely a fiction, seven some scholars in the Roman communion will acknowledge. Jerome's Latin translation of Eusebius (not Eusebius's Greek copy) records that Peter ministered in Rome for twenty-five years, but if Philip Schaff (as well as many other church historians) is to believed, this is "a colossal chronological mistake." Paul write his letter to the church in Rome in early A.D. 57, but he did not address the letter to Peter or refer to him as its pastor. And in the last chapter he extended greetings to twenty-eight friends in Rome but made no mention of Peter, which would have been a major oversight, indeed, an affront, if in fact Peter was "ruling" the Roman church at that time. Then later when Paul was himself in Rome, from which city he wrote both his four prison letters during his first imprisonment in A.D. 60-62 when he "was welcoming all who came to him" (Acts 28:30), and his last pastoral letter during his second imprisonment around A.D. 64, in which letters he extend greetings to his letters' recipients from ten specific people in Rome, again he made no mention of Peter being there. Here is a period of time spanning around seven years (a.d. 57-64) during which time Paul related himself to the Roman church both as correspondent and as resident, but he said not a word to suggest that Peter was in Rome. (Reymond, "Systematic Theology," pg 814)

Schaff, who is cited by Reymond, explicates a little bit further. "The time of Peter's arrival in Rome, and the length of his residence there, cannot possibly ascertained. The above mentioned silence of the Acts and of Paul's Epistles allows him only a short period of labor there, after 63. The Roman tradition of a twenty or twenty-five years' episcopate of Peter in Rome is unquestionably a colossal chronological mistake."

In a footnote, Schaff says, Some Catholics, following the historian Alzog and others, "try to reconcile the tradition with the silence of the Scripture by assuming two visits of Peter to Rome with a great interval." (fn1, pg 252). The operative verse here, Acts 12:17, says only, 'He departed, and went into another place." This gives no details at all, and to posit that Peter took a trip to Rome at this time is irrational, given that just two chapters later (Acts 15) Peter is present back in Jerusalem again for a council.

Schaff continues his work in Vol 1 with two sections: The Peter of History, and the Peter of Fiction.

I won't get into the "history" at this point, other than to say, all that we know about Peter, we know about him from the pages in Scripture, as outlined by Reymond. The summary statement from Duffy, of any further details about Peter's life being "pious romance" is true.

D.W. O'Connor, in his 1968 work "Peter in Rome," looks at the absence of a Petrine presence in the second half of Acts and largely Paul's letters, and gives a reason for why all of this "pious romance" developed:

It has been suggested that Acts is a "selective" history, a fragmentary history, which simply did not include the facts pertaining to the last days and martyrdom of Peter and Paul. This is not acceptable, for such information would have been of great moment in the early church, which a century and a half before the rise of the cult of martyrs, only thirty-two years after the death of the apostles, remembered their martyrdom vividly (1 Clement 5). [But] the Early Church was so eager for details that within another century it created the full accounts which are found in the apocryphal Acts. (O'Connor, 11).
In my next post, I'll provide a catalog of some of these.

52 comments:

Matt said...

I make a comment that is meant only very indirectly to make an argument. I'm not being coy.

Do you see how "liberal" approaches to the Deity of Christ mirror what has been laid out here? They say that the original "historical" "real" story was much more messy and more mundane. They state that the Church Fathers (as early as the 2nd century, etc.) bought into pious myths and legends. They then say that, out of this naive acceptance, the Church fashioned doctrines that became widely believe and central to Christian faith.

Another huge caveat: I in no way suggest here that the Deity of Christ and Petrine authority (etc.) are parallel doctrines or that they are close to one another in the hierarchy of Catholic truth. I also fully acknowledge that there is a great deal more evidence for Christ's Deity in the New Testament. I'm just pointing out the structure of the account here looks familiar.

Anyway...it's just something I've seen quite often in New Testament scholarship from those most people would consider all the "legitimate" "experts"... Does this resonate?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi Matt,

I think John Bugay is cognizant of what you're saying.

This issue of agenda-driven historical revisionism versus capturing what really happened is not always easy.

The Catholics accuse Protestants of revisionism and Protestants counter that it's the Catholics who committed revisionism.

Thus we have the battle cry "Ad Fontes!"

I think what's helpful is that John B. often cites Catholic scholar-theologians themselves to ward off criticisms that he's an agenda-driven Protestant revisionist.

John Bugay said...

Thanks, Truth.

I'd add, Matt, that I've written in various places about the confluence of critical scholarship and conservative scholarship in various places.

For example, I've already talked about charges of pseudepigraphy in early church documents, and I've cited a number of sources that document the reliability of the New Testament documents, for example.

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/05/integrity-of-new-testament-canon.html

Another place where I've outlined more examples:

http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/a-positive-view-of-christian-foundations/

So no, it doesn't resonate. I think if you want to challenge this argument I'm making, you'll need to do more than to try to discredit "liberal" approaches. Because by and large, "liberal" approaches are tending to "prove" a higher degree of reliability about things like the life of Christ and the reliability of the New Testament.

The fact is, the same kinds of methods are also making it hard for the papacy to maintain its historical story.

Matt said...

I'm not as sanguine as you are about the direction of New Testament biblical scholarship, but I do hope that you are correct! Thanks.

Matt said...

By the way, I want to say that I was not really trying to discredit the "liberal" scholarship. I was just saying that it is not always coming up with conclusions (using these same methods and a similar narrative regarding the early church) that are in keeping with, broadly speaking, Christian orthodoxy. But I know why you would assume that I was using that strategy since I'm sure you see it from others. I tried to make that clear with my caveats, but I could have been much clearer. Thanks again!

John Bugay said...

Matt -- I think there's tremendous reason to be hopeful.

For those who aren't interested in following links:

But on the positive side, there is an amazing confluence of opinion regarding the life of Christ.

Consider the work of Gary Habermas who is said to have “compiled a list of more than 2,200 sources in French, German, and English in which experts have written on the resurrection from 1975 to the present. He has identified minimal facts that are strongly evidenced and which are regarded as historical by a large majority of scholars, including skeptics.”

http://www3.telus.net/trbrooks/garyhabermas.htm

1. Jesus died by crucifixion

2. Jesus’s disciples believed he rose and appeared to them

3. The conversion of Paul (from persecutor of the church to leading Apostle).

4. The conversion of James, the brother of the Lord (originally a severe skeptic)

5. The empty tomb.

In his work “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus,” Habermas says that virtually 100% of scholars believe the first four are “so strongly evidenced historically that nearly every scholar regards them as reliable facts,” and the fifth is believed by more than 75% (pg 48).

John Bugay said...

Take a look at the following link from the blog of Biblical scholar Craig Blomberg:

http://blog.bible.org/primetimejesus/content/resurrection-probably-reported-same-year-it-happened

“Professor Dr. Gary Habermas of Liberty University, an internationally known expert on the resurrection of Jesus, reported on a forthcoming work of Richard Bauckham, prolific New Testament scholar for many years at the University of St. Andrews. In it, Habermas explained, Bauckham builds on research by evangelical writer Larry Hurtado and atheist historian Gerd Ludemann, both of whom have argued that belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus must have emerged within two or three years of the death of Jesus (whether or not one believes it actually happened).”

It’s not that 100% of scholars believe that the resurrection happened. But they are virtually unanimous in saying that this is something that the early church believed.

John Bugay said...

Harvey Cox, who no conservative Christian would consider an ally, recently summarized the work of the Jesus Seminar: while setting out to disprove much about history, in the process they proved he was a first century Palestinian Jew who claimed to be God and who was crucified under Pontius Pilate; his disciples fanned out to the world with the story that he was raised from the dead. Cox said:

“Despite widespread discrepancies among the researchers, some things were not contested. All agreed that Jesus really had existed, and that he was a first-century Palestinian Jew living under the heel of a Roman occupation that – like many such occupations before and since – had split its captive people into feuding sects and warring factions. They also agreed that he was a rabbi who taught the imminent coming of the kingdom of God, and gained a following as a teacher and a healer in Galilee, especially among the landless and destitute, but that he aroused the ire of the nervous ruling religious circles and the tense Roman authorities. When he and some of his followers arrived in Jerusalem for the Passover holidays he caused a stir in the Temple, was arrested, interrogated, and executed by crucifixion, a form of death by torture reserved by the Romans for those suspected of subverting their imperial rule. But after his death, his followers insisted that he had appeared to them alive, and they continued to spread his message even in the face of harsh persecution.” (Harvey Cox, “When Jesus Came to Harvard,” ©2004, pgs 18-19).

Even “critical scholarship” is confirming the facts of the life and death of Jesus Christ. We have come a long way since the days when the someone like Bertrand Russell could say that Jesus didn’t even exist.

John Bugay said...

The New Testament itself has also undergone and withstood a similar historical investigation, and conservative viewpoints continue to be confirmed. For example, most of Paul’s letters are now accepted by most scholars as absolutely authentic. They can be dated within a year or two, and, when cross-referenced with Acts and with secular history, they provide a remarkably clear picture of the history of that era.

Paul Barnett says,
“The implications of this Luke-Paul nexus for historical analysis are considerable. It means, first, that Luke’s narrative about Paul must be regarded as reliable; Paul was Luke’s direct (oral) source. Paul’s letters and the book of Acts form the basis for establishing a chronological sequence for Paul’s mission. In consequence, secondly, we are able to plot the time and place Paul wrote (many of) his letters to the churches. To be sure, there are gaps. Yet a practical chronological sequence is possible.” (“Paul, Missionary of Jesus,” pgs 209-210).

And this is precisely one of the factors that is going into the historical studies that I’ve cited elsewhere.

John Bugay said...

And with regard to the “development of the Canon of the New Testament,” more such studies are being pieced together:

“There is reasonable evidence to see the origin of the Pauline corpus during the latter part of Paul’s life or some time after his death, almost assuredly instigated by Paul and/or a close follower or followers, and close examination of the early manuscripts with Paul’s letters and of related documents seems to support this hypothesis.” (Stanly E. Porter, “Paul and the Process of Canonization,” in “Exploring the Origins of the Bible, Craig A. Evans and Emanuel Tov, Editors, pg. 202.)

Catholic apologists think they sense blood when they can ask questions about the Canon of the New Testament. But with all of Paul's letters in one place, the question of a need for an "infallible interpreter" to come up with a "canon" is a real non-starter.

John Bugay said...

In his introduction to Ladd’s “New Testament Commentary,” Donald Hagner summarizes this confluence: “Evangelicals – at least many of them – have become more open to many of the conclusions of critical scholarship (in regard to, for example, the authorship and dating of New Testament writings and the implications for the development of the New Testament) in the twenty years since Ladd wrote (in 1974). They continue, however, to share the basic convictions embodied in Ladd’s approach to biblical theology.” (pg 19)

Ladd’s approach simply involved a “commitment to the historical study of the New Testament, but with an openness to its theological truth.” (18) “Biblical theology must be done from a starting point that is biblical-historical in orientation. Only this approach can deal adequately with the reality of God and his inbreaking into history.” (13)

John Bugay said...

Matt, sorry for all the copy-and-pasting, but I want you to understand that I'm not pulling this out of my butt. Believe me, I am aware that there are still issues. But I am absolutely confident in the direction that conservative Biblical scholarship is going.

Matt said...

No, I wouldn't think that you are making something up! :-) We shall see. Your quotations have made me more hopeful. Thanks.

John Bugay said...

Glad to be of some help :-)

louis said...

To what others have already said, I would only add that Matt's point would be stronger if the Roman church itself didn't, at least implicitly, acknowledge that history cuts against this doctrine.

They used to say it was all there from the beginning. Now they say it was there in acorn form and then developed. In other words, they've backed off their earlier claims. There is not so much an attempt to refute the history as to accomodate it.

I know RC's would view this differently, but that's the way I see it.

Matt said...

That is an interesting point. It's funny that people often start with Bossuet in talking about "development" of doctrine, i.e., that he is the backdrop because he said that the church was semper eadem. Fine. But it seems to me that Bossuet's view wasn't necessarily the "standard" one, if even he really meant this in a strong sense. I'll need to do more investigation, but there are plenty of times in treatises from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries where it is acknowledged that, during the first couple of centuries of the Church, things looked quite a bit different than they did later on. We certainly can't think that "semper eadem" was always understood in a strict sense... This kind of thing is even said by Thomas Aquinas, though "history" became increasingly important as more texts became available... This may be a well-grasped point by readers of the blog, but I thought I'd put it on the table.

John Bugay said...

To what others have already said, I would only add that Matt's point would be stronger if the Roman church itself didn't, at least implicitly, acknowledge that history cuts against this doctrine.

That's a good point Louis, and I think that the kinds of concessions that we're seeing in public are only the tip of the iceberg with regard to what kinds of things are actually being said in private. (Behind Vatican doors).

John Bugay said...

Matt -- I think Bossuet is used because Chadwick used him as a starting point. Or maybe as an "ending" point of the old polemic.

But there is all kinds of language like "unanimous consent of the fathers" and Vincent of Lerins' "quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus" for example.

Lvka said...

So basically you dismiss any element of Christian history that's not recorded in the Bible... no matter how early the source AND how universal the belief. Cool. (Faith is, after all, a gift from God).

John Bugay said...

Whatever gave you that idea?

Lvka said...

You.

Tim Enloe said...

A friend and I are presently reading Thomas F.X. Noble's The Republic of St. Peter, which is, Noble says, what the "Papal States" ought to actually be called. The work is very interesting even in just its first two chapters for the wealth of practical political circumstances it recounts that led to the peoples of Italy in particular coming to think of the Bishop of Rome as their "father" and as the "successor of St. Peter" wielding great political authority.

There can be no doubt that some of the "history" of the early papacy was indeed made up after the fact as pious legendsb, but at the same time one needs to take care not to impute necessary dishonesty or willful departure from Scripture to the whole process.

When Imperial authority in the West collapsed in 476 A.D., the people of Rome still had to eat, the aqueducts still had to be maintained, the outlying villages had to be protected, money still had to be coined and regulated, and so on. Regardless of how much fiction it rested upon, the government of the Roman Church had developed a very high level of sophistication paralleling the now defunct Imperial government, and the pope and his clerks stepped into the vacuum to do the jobs that had to be done just for basic, daily maintenance of civilization.

The basic provision of daily needs, the works of charity that the popes engaged in during this time along with their rallying of defenses against the barbarians, all contributed to a growing sense on the part of Italy's peoples of being "St. Peter's peculiar people," with the Bishop of Rome as their "father" - a father for whose protection they would fight the Lombards, the armies of the Eastern Emperor, and pretty much any other comers.

None of this excuses the pious frauds, of course, but at the same time, "truth" to these people was quite a bit more than the "literal meaning" of texts. The purpose of history for ancient men, in fact, was to instruct in proper morals and teleological goals, not to convey a bare-bones "just the facts" account - a view of history which would not take over historical writing until the 19th century. This is why pious frauds did not bother them like they bother us. The factual fraud served a higher moral purpose, and without a developed critical sense about documents it was often extremely difficult to separate fact from fraud even when one consciously wished to avoid the latter.

None of this is an excuse the papacy or its defenders. It's only a reminder that the people who invented the papacy were, in fact, people. "The best of men are men at best," and it isn't appropriate to read old texts through modern eyes without first accounting for the differences between the two sets of eyes. It's always easier to argue that something is "clear" or "obvious" after the fact, especially when we didn't walk the miles in their shoes.

John Bugay said...

Hi Tim -- I appreciate your comments. I don't necessarily disagree with anything you say here -- Rome was the capital of much of the world, a large population center, etc, and at some point, there were civic functions that needed to be taken care of.

But in many ways, what I'm saying here is intended to speak directly to the "pope and bishops … immediately and directly promised … therefore all authority" apologetic that's out there.

My wife asks me why I don't turn my focus on something like Islam or Mormonism, and my overwhelming sense is that Christianity has got to get its own house in order first. And so long as the news networks are covering the papal conclaves, saying that it's "to choose the next leader of the world's two billion Christians," something is terribly wrong.

Tim Enloe said...

Sure, John, I don't disagree with debunking the "pope and bishops … immediately and directly promised … therefore all authority" argument. In the hands of apologists it is a merely propagandistic reading of history that, for all its rhetorical appeal to "history" ironically discounts the very historical circumstances that made the claims both possible and intelligible in the first place.

No doubt you know that I am all about "Christianity getting its own house in order first," except that I think as Protestants we can only be responsible for getting our Protestant house in order first. I can't do anything about the Roman Catholic or the Orthodox houses, because I don't live in them. I can't comment with great acuity on the "house rules" of a house in which I don't live, but what I can comment on are attempts to make those "house rules" apply to other houses on matters where the truth can be investigated by anyone who has the means and the patience and a sense of public accountability for his or her claims.

The popes and their creatures, the apologists, by and large don't have either the patience or the sense of accountability to do this. Mostly they indulge only in cheap rhetoric about their "separated brethren" and the need for "unity" - the rot that caused the numerous rifts of pre-Reformation times, not to mention the rot that caused the Reformation itself, is still there and as far as many outsiders can tell, they just basically refuse to address it. I"m not sure they can address it, because their claims have become increasingly viciously circular in response to the skepticism of Modernity, and they appear to be progressively walling themselves up inside an impregnable fortress of invincible ignorance.

But that's their "house." Our house has some messes too, and one of them is, ironically, the same as theirs: namely, a tendency to anachronistically read history as if every word of Foxe's Book of Martyrs or Our Favorite Seventeenth Century Polemicist is literally true. Pre-Reformation history does not belong to "Papist dogs" who "hide the light of Scripture under a bushel so their deeds of darkness won't be seen," and "Romanists" weren't (and aren't) always people who willfully twist "plain truth" because they don't like it. A lot of the rot of Rome is just basic human rot, to which anyone else - even us - could go "but for the grace of God."

I wasn't commenting to disagree with your post. Just adding another dimension to it. But I probably better stop because Number 57 on the Catholic Apologetics website list is surely watching and doesn't need any more material from which to construct new "papers."

John Bugay said...

Tim, I grew up Catholic, and so I did live in that "house." But beyond that, I've repeatedly quoted A.A. Hodge to the effect that there is only one church, and so, I look at this as if there is only one big Christian house. (So I am less inclined to see the various divisions as "not mine". As well, I've been deeply moved by the whole "Nestorian churches" thing, and who speaks for them any more?)

Of course Protestantism has problems. But if you look at all of this from the perspective, "what's the biggest single problem that "the one church" has ever had, and I think that, if it's not the #1 problem, it's right up there among them.

And so, being just one small person, I choose to focus my efforts in an area where I think some movement can be made. (Can you imagine what a Christian council would be like if the bishop of Rome had only one vote, just like everybody else?)

Not being one to attribute the most charitable motives to Rome, I've looked at the "Ut Unum Sint" statement, and wondered, "what could motivate a pope to seek 'a new situation' for the papacy?" Sure, they opened the "Vatican Secret Archives," but who knows what else they've got hidden around there? Maybe the complete works of Hegisippus? The other fragments of Papias? Other things that could shed some light? Eusebius certainly had access to these documents. And he was the emperor's man. Certainly not a stranger to the popes.

But I'm just speculating here.

Tim Enloe said...

John, remember, I've investigated the conciliarist background to the Reformation and what that investigation showed me about the papacy is that being too quick to attribute the best of motives to Rome is a bad thing. The more entrenched the papacy became in the West, the less it was willing to answer for itself to community Christian standards. And the less it was willing to answer for itself, the bigger a tyranny it became until at last the Tradition's own resources were reformulated and redeployed to cast the tyrant down. Thanks be to God, indeed!

Walter Ullmann's fascinating book Medieval Papalism and the more monumental study of Michael Wilks, The Problem of Sovereignty in the Later Middle Ages demonstrate the dark side of the papacy's authority claims in the sense that popes and their defenders frequently claimed that the pope was God on earth and so had to answer to no one. He not only had the keys and control of both swords, but he could even abrogate or change natural law and decide when a particular passage of Scripture was no longer relevant to daily life and could be ignored. That is the sort of stuff the papacy today and its defenders will not deal with, and that is the very human rot of which I spoke earlier.

So you don't have to convince me that the papacy doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt. I don't know what's hidden - "uncatalogued" and "untranslated" would be better words - in the Archives, and I won't speculate. I think the papacy's face today is mostly a political survival mechanism. Contrary to appearances, the pope still has temporal power but it's so utterly insignificant that he wouldn't dare pull a Gregory VII or a Boniface VIII today. Tanks would be at his door before he got to the "And if the wrath of God isn't enough, wait until the wrath of Peter and Paul hit you" part. The theoretical justification for his claims has never been repudiated, but he can't enforce the claims in this world.

But it is worse. The archives of my friend Frank Ramirez's blog demonstrate pretty conclusively that Catholic academia has been taken by storm by a mode of argument that literally locks Catholic "historical" claims away from all possibility of public scrutiny. It's the "Tradition III" position that some have talked about. They wouldn't care about hidden documents in the Archives even if there were such things. Such things would only be interpreted away by the "Living Magisterium" which alone properly understands the Holy Spirit and properly interprets Him for the rest of us.

My only point in engaging your post was that in a world where they are locking themselves away from history, we have all the more reason to embrace history.

History is the stage on which God's play plays out, and the play He wrote is almost never a story of Pure Bible-Loving White Hats Vs. Nefarious Tradition-Bound Black Hats. (I'm not saying you said it was.) I find, in fact, that the deeper I get into real history, the stronger my Protestantism becomes.

John Bugay said...

Thanks TIm. You wouldn't believe this, but I purchased your thesis on Conciliarism, and I'm carrying it around with me. I remember reading portions of it when you posted it online, but I know more now than I did then.

I've been to Frank's blog a few times. One of the problems that we have in our day is that there's just too much information. I realize there are dangers with too much summarization. But someone who can summarize church history in an effective way can do a great service in our time.

Too, as insulated as Rome might be from the world, I'm certain that they can still be swayed by public opinion. We're just a drop in the bucket here and now, but information travels far and fast on the internet -- there are no guarantees, but I'm sure they all surf the web in the Vatican, too.

I'm also listening to Carl Trueman's lectures right now on the history of the Medieval church. All I can say is, I wish there were an army of Carl Truemans teaching in seminaries. May God grant us something like that.

I've just started on this, but these days, I spend far more time commuting than I like. It's a good way to redeem the time.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I wish there were an army of Carl Truemans teaching in seminaries.

Amen! I couldn't agree with you more. We credit Carl to a large degree for helping to keep Westminster on track during the Pete Enns controversy.

Carl and his family have been members of our church for several years. We on the Pastoral Search Committee, in addition to calling a new Pastor, have also called Carl to serve as teaching elder.

You can catch any of his sermon series on the Book of Judges in the sermon archives here.

Blessings,

Tim

Pilgrimsarbour said...

BTW, you can find direct links to specific sermons in the Judges series in the posts on my website as well.

John Bugay said...

Tim (Pilgrim) - He's persuaded me to look up Alcuin now. I found his Medieval History through iTunes. I'm trying to track down a course syllabus or something -- I'm actually hoping to be able to find some of his other courses there, too.

Tell him he's got fans out here in flyover country :-)

The Space Bishop said...

John Tim Tim anyone .. Just out of curiousity , if i were to give you a magic wand that had the power to unearth artifacts or lost tomes or anything archaeological from any period of history what would you like to get back? You are allowed to unearth on thing. Ive asked many people this question and i always enjoy the answers. I was remined of it by John mentioning the possibility of finding hegisippus' works in the Vatican.

John Bugay said...

Hi Space Bishop. I'd have to rate the works that I cited, Hegesippus and Papias, as being right up there. Of course, there could be works that we don't even know about, so I'd have to reserve commentary on any of those.

The Space Bishop said...

John. Sounds good to me. Best answer ive got was from Craig Blomberg, he said that most students of rabbi's took notes on papryii so he'd like to get hold of the notes the apostles took from the sermon on the mount!!

John Bugay said...

Well, that beats mine.

It has also been posited that some of the "oral traditions" from NT times had been written down in some form -- "Q" and things like that. I'd also be interested in knowing what Paul wanted in 2 Tim 4:13: "When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments." There is some recent scholarship to suggest that Paul began collecting his own letters during his lifetime.

Matthew Bellisario said...

John, when are you going to quite using the logical fallacy of appealing to authority? It is not a convincing argument to go around cherry picking historian's quotes that fit into your neat fantasy of what you consider to be historical truth. Historical criticism is a weak platform to build your anti-papal tirade off of.

Isn't it funny that when historical criticism can be used to to attack the papacy, then it is good history, but when we look at the "Reformers" doctrines of men founded on the misinterpretation of the Bible through the same historical lens, we see that it is not consistent to the historical critics either. Thats Ok though, because John will ignore the same historians who are also saying that Protestantism is not consistent with the Christianity of the early Church either. So where does that leave poor John? Inventing his own church which only exists in the figment of his imagination. What a joke.

John Bugay said...

Matthew Bellisario -- Thanks for another edifying ad hominem rant, again proving that you don't have the goods to actually interact with the material.

The Space Bishop said...

John

Paul's pwn collection of his letters.. Deadly.

Richard

Rhology said...

when are you going to quite using the logical fallacy of appealing to authority?

The irony of this issuing forth from the mouth of a papist is apparently lost on Bellisario, like so many other things.

The Space Bishop said...

Hey Rho, Matthew want to give a go at my question?


John Tim Tim anyone .. Just out of curiousity , if i were to give you a magic wand that had the power to unearth artifacts or lost tomes or anything archaeological from any period of history what would you like to get back? You are allowed to unearth on thing. Ive asked many people this question and i always enjoy the answers. I was remined of it by John mentioning the possibility of finding hegisippus' works in the Vatican.

Rhology said...

Hmm, I like Blomberg's answer too!
Maybe Paul's letter to the Laodicaeans? Or his lost letter to the Corinthians?
Or maybe the original autograph of a biblical book or two.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I would like to see unearthed the following three things:

1) The original official list of authoritative canonical books

2) The original official list of apostolic oral traditions

3) The original official list of authoritative dogmatic doctrinal pronouncements

Dozie said...

"The original official list of authoritative canonical books"

Is there an actual Protestant canon of scriptures? If so, how did it come about? Who decided on the Protestant canon? In what setting was it decided - Council, Study Groups, etc? Are there records of the research/deliberations leading to such canonizations? Are Protestants still considering new materials? Please explain why or why not. Answers to these question would be very helpful.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Dozie,

There is a guest post over at TurretinFan's blog which substantively answers some/many of your questions:

The Jews Knew the OT Canon.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Dozie,

Your premise is flawed. None of the questions I asked is in any way a Protestant assertion. They are exclusively Roman Catholic or EO assertions.

Protestants do not believe:

1) That there exists an original official list of authoritative canonical books which were assembled by an authoritative council and were pronounced "the Scriptures." (We see the Scriptures as having been attested to by Christ's [Universal] Church and received as such; that is, they were Scriptures all along, not that the Church conferred authority upon certain books which then became Scripture).

2) That binding apostolic oral traditions exist apart from and outside of the written Word of God, the Holy Scriptures.

3) That there exists an original official list of authoritative dogmatic doctrinal pronouncements which are accessible to any Christian believer.

I have never seen any RCC or EO produce such lists, despite repeated requests for same. Ironically, in order to produce a list of apostolic oral traditions, they would have to have been written down, defeating their purpose.

Your questions are not a rational response to my questions.

Dozie said...

"Scriptures as having been attested to by Christ's [Universal] Church and received as such"

I frankly do not know what "attested" is supposed to mean or the form it took.

By "Universal" are you implying visible or invisible Church?

Edward Reiss said...

Dozie,

The problem with the question is in the unspoken premise: that recognition gives the one recognizing the thing superior to the thing. For this reason it doesn't cause any protestant any consternation to state that the Church (not understood as only the RC or EO sects respectively)recognized and received the canon. it is as if the Church asserted superiority over Christ because she recognizes Christ.

Dozie said...

“The problem with the question is in the unspoken premise: that recognition gives the one recognizing the thing superior to the thing.”

The problem with the question is the one you bring to it. The Church does not teach she is superior to the Scriptures.

“For this reason it doesn't cause any protestant any consternation to state that the Church (not understood as only the RC or EO sects respectively) recognized and received the canon.”

Ok, “the Church not understood as only the RC or EO”, but as what? Do you mind clarifying?

Edward Reiss said...

Dozie,

"The problem with the question is the one you bring to it. The Church does not teach she is superior to the Scriptures."

Well, according to the arguments advanced by RC apologists, she is superior, because they need an infallible interpreter, and no one knew what the Scriptures were until the canon was "officially" put forth. This argument is quite common, and I submit it means the Church is over the Scriptures. The superiority is embedded within the claim made by the RCC--look to the RCC (or EOC)and not the Scriptures, because we only know the Scriptures from the RCC. That certainly sounds like an embedded claim to superiority.


"Ok, “the Church not understood as only the RC or EO”, but as what? Do you mind clarifying?"

Where ever two or three are gathered in Jesus' name.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Dozie,

I mean that the local congregations, wherever they existed, accepted certain books by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and rejected others. I believe it was God's intention to bring His Word to His people in this way.

Regarding the visible Church, I do not believe that God intended to establish one gigantic, overarching religio/political institution through which His people would be governed by a hierarchy of a privileged relative few by apostolic succession. His Church is visible in that we see it in the myriads of local congregations scattered throughout the world. Those who are truest to His written Word are among His true Church, His true disciples.

The Church is invisible in the sense that we do not know who the elect are; that is, we can make human judgements about who are true believers but we can't know for certain--that is in God's hands.

Dozie said...

"I mean that the local congregations, wherever they existed, accepted certain books by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and rejected others."

and

"Where ever two or three are gathered in Jesus' name."

So, should you be worried about the canon the other "church" has "adopted"? If yes, what would be the basis for your worry?

"Regarding the visible Church, I do not believe that God intended to establish one gigantic, overarching religio/political institution through which His people would be governed by a hierarchy of a privileged relative few by apostolic succession."

Ok, what are going to do with the other Protestant whose idea about church is different from your very strongly held opinion?

"The Church is invisible in the sense that we do not know who the elect are.."

Somehow, "invisibility" is not sufficent for you because you still want to know what the canon is and your invisible church can't get it done for you.

Pilgrimsarbour said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pilgrimsarbour said...

Reposting to fix typos:

So, should you be worried about the canon the other "church" has "adopted"? If yes, what would be the basis for your worry?

What do you mean? What other church has adopted what other canon? You mean the RCC canon?

Ok, what are going to do with the other Protestant whose idea about church is different from your very strongly held opinion?

What other Protestant church holds to a different understanding than what I've laid out here?

Somehow, "invisibility" is not sufficent for you because you still want to know what the canon is and your invisible church can't get it done for you.

I know what the canon is. I trust God in Christ that we have His Word as intended, otherwise I can make nothing of your statement.