Sunday, February 20, 2011

Michael Liccione is mistaken on multiple points

Stephanie said:
One item from Liccione which does deal with what you have responded is also being discussed in the combox.

Specifically: Another of Mathison’s arguments is that there’s no evidence of mono-episcopacy in Rome until the late second century, and that some Catholic scholars agree with that judgment, which indeed they do….
In fact, most of the Catholic scholars I am aware of actually agree with that judgment. I’m not aware of any who contradict that “judgment”. You might say it is “universal”. In fact, this view is taught in a work entitled “The Rise of the Papacy,” by Robert B. Eno, S.S. That S.S. stands for the Order of the Sulpicians, whose mission it is to teach parish priests. So I can’t account for the course schedule, but there’s a good chance that a parish priest near you is on board with this account.
Liccione: That requires arguing, as he does, that St. Irenaeus and one of his sources, Hegisippus, misstated the evidence from the post-apostolic Church of Rome, even though Irenaeus himself had been to Rome and known St. Polycarp of Smyrna personally, who in turn had been to Rome and had himself known the Apostle John personally. Such an argument would have us believe that, roughly 1,900 years after the fact, we can understand the meaning and reliability of the late first-century sources better than people who had lived less than two generations after the fact and had known eyewitnesses to it.
There’s no question that Irenaeus was an important witness. It’s funny that Liccione wants to talk about Hegesippus, because Hegesippus is one of those “secondary sources” for which Liccione says “is not a reputable form of argument” down below.

With respect to Irenaeus, Cullmann [who is not by any means a liberal!], in the work I referred to in my previous post, noted this:
Toward the end of the second century, Irenaeus writes, chiefly in connection with a description of gospel origins that goes back to Papias, that Peter and Paul had preached in Rome and founded the church, and he repeats the assertion when he speaks of the Roman church as the “very ancient and universally known church founded and organized by Peter and Paul.” Here, too, occurs at least one [historical] error: the Roman church in any case was not founded by Paul. That is entirely clear from his letter to the Romans. This at once calls in question the historical trustworthiness of the statement (Cullmann, 116).
Paul writes to the church at Rome without addressing a leader. He writes in the years 57-58, a date that is very firm in history, in a letter that is not contested. Excuses are made as to why Paul makes no mention of Peter in Rome, even though the church has been attested in Rome perhaps from Acts 2, when visitors for Rome were present at/saved at Pentecost. In Acts 18, Aquila and Priscilla are expelled from Rome by the edict of Claudius, attested in secular history, 49 ad.

So the church at Rome is attested long before Paul writes, and there is no leader there.

Ignatius, who knows and writes about Bishops in the east, writes to Rome without mentioning a Bishop. There is no question the city of Rome is important. It is the capital of the empire. This church “which presides in the place of the district of the Romans…”

Consider the Shepherd of Hermas. According to the Muratorian Canon, the oldest (ca. AD-180-200?) known list of the New Testament and early Christian writings, Hermas was the brother of Pius, who is listed as a bishop of Rome (ca 140-154). So he was writing earlier than Hegesippus, whose “list of bishops” is said to be the first one (c. 166), and earlier than Irenaeus (c.180). Hermas was, in fact, listed in the Muratorian Canon as a book to be read in the churches [i.e., it was liturgical].
Afterwards I saw a vision in my house. The elderly woman came and asked me if I had already given the little book to the elders (presbuteroi, plural). I said that I had not given it. “You have done well,” she said, “for I have words to add. So when I finish all the words they will be made known to all the elect through you. Therefore you will write two little books, and you will send one to Clement and one to Grapte. Then Clement will send it to the cities abroad, because that is his job. But Grapte will instruct the widows and orphans. But you yourself will read it to this city [Rome], along with the elders (presbuteroi) who preside (proistamenoi – plural leadership) over the church." (Vis 2.4)
Roger Collins, “Keepers of the Keys of Heaven: A History of the Papacy,” (New York: Basic Books, 2008), notes “The author of the Epistle of Clement may have been the man of this name later described as the person responsible for drafting communications sent behalf of Christians of Rome to other churches.” If this Clement did compose 1 Clement, then it certainly would be understandable why the Corinthian church would have thought they received a letter from Clement (even though the name of Clement does not appear within that letter. Rather, it is from “the church of God that sojourns in Rome”).

But Hermas could not be clearer. There is a plurality of presbyters who “preside over” the church at Rome. This is no fuzzy mention, as in Ignatius, of a church in “a place of honor”. This is a clear explanation for the “argument from silence” in Paul’s letter to the Romans, in the absence of a clear leader in both 1 Clement and Ignatius.

Hermas reiterates the structure of this leadership, and the fact that they are not leading, but rather that they fight among themselves. He calls them “children”.
Look therefore to the coming judgment. You, therefore, who have more than enough, seek out those who are hungry, until the tower is finished. For after the tower is finished, you may want to do good, but you will not have the chance. Beware, therefore, you who exult in your wealth, lest those in need groan, and their groaning rise up to the Lord, and you together with your good things be shut outside the door of the tower. Now, therefore, I say to you [tois – plural] who lead the church and occupy the seats of honor [multiple “Chairs of Peter”?]: do not be like the sorcerers. For the sorcerers carry their drugs in bottles, but you carry your drug and poison in your heart. You are calloused and do not want to cleanse your hearts and to mix your wisdom together in a clean heart, in order that you may have mercy from the great King. Watch out, therefore, children, lest these divisions of yours [among you elders] deprive you of your life. How is it that you desire to instruct God’s elect, while you yourselves have no instruction? Instruct one another, therefore, and have peace among yourselves, in order that I too may stand joyfully before the Father and give an account on behalf of all of you to your Lord.” (Vis 3.9)
Hermas here is chastising the multiple leaders of the church at Rome. This is important to note because Hermas identifies himself as a slave (Vis. 1.1). It will not do to say that this is a group of priests who work for a bishop. The entire group "presides."

Yet here, in the leadership of the church of Rome, there are multiple elders who "preside"; they are acting like sorcerers. They exult in their wealth. They take the seats of honor. They want to teach, but they are guilty themselves of having no instruction.

As for what we can know 1900 years after the fact, I’m convinced there is much that we can learn. Archaeology confirms writings, secular writings confirms New Testament writings. How can forensic scientists reconstruct a murder based on such small and insignificant things as fingerprints, DNA evidence, and striations on bullets?
Liccione: That dubious sort of move is rather common among liberal scripture and patristic scholars; it’s just special pleading when made by a conservative theologian who would often find liberal scholarship dubious on just such grounds.
Is it “special pleading”? There is no question that “liberal scholarship” has put the New Testament as a whole, and the life of Christ, through the most strenuous bit of examination over the last 200 years that any person or set of documents has been subjected to. And our historical knowledge of both the life of Christ and the New Testament is on far firmer footing than it has ever been. Even “liberal” scholarship is confirming important facts and details about the life of Christ.

With respect to the life and letters of Paul, for example, there is a body of his work that interacts with secular people and places and histories, that there is no question as to who Paul was, where he traveled to, what he wrote, and on and on. His letters are so well attested, scholars don’t even quibble over dates and places any more.

I’d say rather that what Liccione calls “conservative” and “liberal” scholarship in these fields are doing their jobs so well that many formerly contested things and events are coming into such a sharp focus that many things are agreed upon by both sides.

Consider the life of Christ. Craig Blomberg recently blogged about a conservative and an atheist historian who agreed: the Resurrection probably was being reported the same year it happened. This is a tremendous confluence of agreement on facts, especially when you consider that 100 or so years ago, Bertrand Russell was making a name for himself by mouthing off that Jesus never even existed. Blomberg has published one or two books in the last few years, which I haven’t read, that probably go into far more detail than this.

Gary Habermas has put together a list of 12 historical facts about the resurrection of Christ that huge numbers of scholars, liberal and conservative, agree upon in huge numbers.

Consider the following four items. 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).

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.

Habermas surveyed more than 2,400 sources in French, German, and English in which experts have written on the resurrection from 1975 to the present.
So when Liccione and other Roman Catholics from the CTC school of thought want to wave their hands and dismiss “liberal” scholarship, I want to say they simply do not know what they are talking about.

But consider further that this same confluence of scholarship that is bringing the life of Christ and the reliability of the New Testament into such sharper and clearer focus, are decimating Roman Catholic tales of the early papacy.
Liccione: The argument in question, which is fairly common, also trades on an ambiguity in the use of the word ‘presbyteros’ in the early Church. And it has been vigorously contested on that and other grounds by Catholic scholars whom Mathison simply ignores. The selective use of secondary scholarly sources is not a reputable form of argument. So Mathison’s present argument doesn’t merit more attention here either.
I’ve given examples from Hermas above of the “trading on ambiguity” in the word “presbuteros” above. What’s Hermas saying? Is he being ambiguous?

Too, I’m sure that Mathison’s trying to summarize here. There is nothing “not reputable” about what Mathison has done, and for Liccione to cast aspersions on his motive or his method is just simply what’s decried at CTC as ad hominem. But when you can’t really address what the writer is saying, then shoot the messenger.

43 comments:

John Bugay said...

For more background on why and how the Apostolic Fathers can have had many difficulties with "oral tradition" being over-run by heresies, especially in ancient Rome, and the need to form a New Testament canon as a rather fixed "rule of faith," see Cullmann on the difference between "apostolic" and "ecclesiastical" tradition and specifically why "oral tradition" was not a reliable option for transmitting "the apostolic faith".

Ken said...

John,
Very good and to the point - you should also copy your first comment here with the links into your main article - when I clicked on the link, it is very good, and I had missed that one before ( I was overseas at the time) and also Ryan's quote of Ridderboss and also Tim Enloe's comment, and Constantine and Natamlc (?) comments were good also.

John Bugay said...

Hey Ken, thanks again for your kind words. I hadn't actually re-read through those comments, so thanks for bringing that out. I'll try to pull some of that information forward, but I'm at work now and don't have my fancy link-making tool.

The point is, we're getting a very good, clear, sharp picture of at least some components of those first centuries, and cries of "liberal" are just seeming to be shorthand for "we don't know how to address what's being said here."

I doubt that Hermas was affected by 19th century liberal higher critical scholarship.

Randy said...

You don't deal with Peter Lampe. I think that is the scholar Dr Liccione had in mind. Is it fair to say he should be discarded by conservative protestants due to his liberal opinions that would lead to the rejection of Christianity in total? I don't recall him dealing with Cullmann. He is a Lutheran. It seems bias against the papacy might be possible there. How do you get past simple dueling scholars?

John Bugay said...

Randy, I think Lampe's work is among the finest historical scholarship I've ever seen. It's incredibly thorough, and to dismiss his conclusions without actually analyzing the evidence he presents, and saying precisely where he is wrong, would be foolish.

No I don't think his work should be discarded. My understanding is that the concept of inerrancy is not so dear to European scholars as it is to US scholars. Maybe if someone can write a paper telling how his lack of a belief in inerrancy affects the conclusions he reaches in his historical work, that would be worth looking at.

But otherwise, just to dismiss him for the reasons Liccione and the others give is foolish. The body of research he has done, the facts he has pieced together from across different disciplines -- it's incredible.

Cullmann and Lampe are from different generations -- Cullmann writing in the 50's and 60's, and Lampe having written his work in 1987.

These are not "dueling scholars". For all I know, they are both relatively conservative Lutherans. Their work overlaps in some places; in some places they go off in different directions.

I think both of them have helped immeasurably in allowing us to see the church in ancient Rome from perspectives we've never seen it before.

As for "a bias against the papacy," the one thing that Cullmann's work was known for (and he stressed this in his own work) is that he sought for objectivity inasmuch as it is humanly possible.

It would be hard to find any biases in Lampe's work as well. Why don't you try reading the work of both of these individuals and come to your own conclusions?

John Bugay said...

On the other hand, Randy, what comments might you have about the things I have presented here? What Hermas reports about the leadership of the Roman church? The growing body of agreement on the life of Christ among, as Habermas puts it, all scholars who study the issues?

Constantine said...

I am greatly time challenged this week and all the more so frustrated to not be able to deal with Liccione’s material more deeply, so thanks to you John for doing so.


I would like to point out that, in the first section of his essay, Dr. L. affirms sola Scriptura. When he says,

” Catholic theologians generally understand Scripture as the divinely inspired norma normans for other secondary authorities, including the Church.”

Because Dr. L. uses a “follow the bouncing ball” methodology we must take a moment and recap. Although he introduces the qualifier “generally”, he still describes the Scriptures as

the divinely inspired norma normans for other secondary authorities…”

Surely, that is sola Scriptura.

But in the next sentence, he takes his first statement away:

That means that, once the biblical canon was formed, whatever was admitted from other authorities had to conform to and cohere with Scripture.

Just to be clear that funny little phrase – norma normans – means THE norming norm. There is no other norm by which this one can be “normed” or determined. It is the cardinal rule which is, by definition, above all other rules and not subject to any. But apparently the canon of Scripture – which is its essence – has apparently been “normed” by something else. Now if we take the good Dr. at his statement about what “Catholic theologians generally understand” we could rightfully conclude that the ‘norma normans’ that “formed” the canon was the Scripture – and that is as precise a definition of sola Scriptura as you can find. But don’t be deceived. Dr. L. believes and asserts that it was the RCC that “normed” the canon and it must therefore be - at least in his theology – the true “norming norm”. So he claims something in one sentence and then takes it back in the next.

Next time I would like to address the issue of the Vincentian Canon the use of which by Dr. Mathison, Dr. Liccione takes some exception to.

Peace.

John Bugay said...

Hey Constantine -- You are right to point this out. After Mathison describes "Tradition I" [which became the Reformers' understanding of "Sola Scriptura"] and "Tradition II", which Trent canonized, Mathison then makes mention of a "Tradition III" (which we might characterize as "Sola Ecclesia"). In that model, it is the word of the Magisterium (and "the Magisterium Alone") which can truly say what is the content of either Scripture or Tradition.

While the Roman Church officially positions these three elements as necessary, Rome functionally has become "Sola Ecclesia." It will be interesting to trace that development.

Stephanie said...

thank you john for responding. It still seems strange to me that nobody challenged Ireanaus' list and that even the aformentioned scholars agree that the belief of succession from St. Peter was fully intergrained into the mind of the church by the 2nd century.

John Bugay said...

It still seems strange to me that nobody challenged Ireanaus' list and that even the aformentioned scholars agree that the belief of succession from St. Peter was fully intergrained into the mind of the church by the 2nd century.

Stephanie, believe me, other people have had this same concern. I would heartily recommend to you Francis Sullivan's work "Apostles to Bishops" (on the topic of "Apostolic Succession"). The folks over at CTC will be quick to say "Sullivan's a liberal," etc., but the only thing that Sullivan does is to cite long, long selections from the Apostolic Fathers, and then to comment on them. To discern what they are saying. To discern "what they knew, and when they knew it".

See also the Cullmann links I posted in the first comment here as well, and there's more of the same in this group of threads:

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/search?q=torrance

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/search?q=kostenberger

It's really important to understand the context in which Irenaeus was writing. He was writing in Lyons, modern day France, farther west than Rome. The vast majority of the church at the time he wrote was further east. Within the Roman church in the second century, there was a ton of stuff going on. Early in the century, there were persecutions. 1 Clement was written on the occasion of the the end of some massive persecutions. Most of the apostles had died long before that time. Their writings were collected and circulated to some degree, but a "canon" had not been formed. (Though "canon" meant "rule" -- as in "measurement" and though certain writers talked about it, it wasn't at that time well defined.)

There was real concern in that city at that time to deal with many, many difficult "heresies" (really a range of gnostic-types of religions, syncretic mixtures of elements from Christianity -- some used the name Christ -- Gnosticism was almost a "flavor-of-the-decade" type of spin on things -- docetism, Basilides, Carpocratians, Valentinians -- add a completely different challenge from Marcion to that mix -- it was genuinely difficult to sort out "genuine Christianity" from all the others who were claiming that name.

(Valentinus was one of the early claimants to leadership in the Roman church.)

T.F. Torrance did a study in the 1940's that traced through the "Apostolic Fathers" (c. 100-150) a lack of understanding of Jesus's and Paul's concept of "grace" -- the Didache, 1 Clement, the letter of Barnabas, and even Hermas -- that's what Cullmann was writing about in the links I provided. There were several factors that contributed to this -- the Scriptures had not yet been collected into a canon; there was a heavy reliance on "oral tradition" (which, at that time and in that environment, proved to be truly "unreliable"). The Muratorian Canon (which lists the vast majority of the books of the NT) was one major event that "fixed" the "canon" of beliefs as within "bounds of orthodoxy" -- and they did this because they knew of writings that were "apostolic," and writings that were not.

(cont)

John Bugay said...

(cont)

One particular thing that the churches of that era fought against was the gnostic notion of "secret knowledge" -- and the claim of "succession" was produced along the lines of Jesus's statement that, "I have taught everything publicly."

The concept of "Apostolic Succession" today has become intertwined (and Rome has facilitated this fudging of the original understanding) with "sacramental orders" for example, and some sort of "divine commission" -- but when Irenaeus (c. 180-190) wrote, and Tertullian wrote, the tracing of these "successions" was not ever intended to be "a divinely-instituted guarantee of doctrinal purity" -- which is what you'll hear from CTC. What Irenaeus and Tertullian wrote about was rather an evidence that "these things we teach today have been taught publicly since the times of the apostles.

Hegesippus apparently was a writer who understood this. He was the first to compile ["I drew up"] a list -- and in the assembling of this list in Rome (other such "lists" have big gaps in them), the people of the church at Rome had memories of names of worthy teachers. [Consider, though, the first-hand report of Hermas from around 140].

Understanding how you get from Hermas's plurality of elders, and related linguistic elements of the inter-mixed usage of "presbuteros" and "episkopos" ("elders" and "oversight") -- and other similar questions and evidence -- is the subject of the famous Chapter 41 in Lampe's work. (It is clear, from the use of the language in Clement, that "presbyters" exercised "oversight").

Ask the folks over at CTC -- do they want to consider actual evidence, or do they want to be involved in defending their position through a process of name-calling?

I've intended to get into this discussion for a long, long time. It's a very difficult issue precisely because there are so many different variables to consider.

But I'm confident that, the more we study this issue (and I mean, building on some of the clarifications that individuals such as Torrance and Cullmann and Lampe and now Kostenberger have provided), the more clearly we will understand how all of these disparate pieces fit together.

The Roman story, as articulated by the folks at CTC, is totally discredited, from an historical perspective. Even "official Rome" does not stand behind that story any longer.

These CTC guys have found an authority model where they think they can be bigshots and thought leaders. But really, they are the gnostics -- "Oral Tradition" is now the name for the "secret knowledge" -- They are so grotesquely distorted away from reality, it really is tragic that people follow them.

Sean Patrick said...

John -

You've been asked some good questions that hit at the heart of the matter with all of your reliance on these historians over the fathers themselves. You did not really answer the question about why we should trust scholars over the fathers. You merely told us why Cullman for example says what he says.

Yesterday on the Feast of St Peter's Chair we posted an historical summary the church's understand of St Peter's Chair. You can find it here.

The conclusion of that study is: The testimony of the tradition we find in the Fathers and other early writers indicates a deepening awareness of the significance and authority of St. Peter’s chair, especially in grounding and preserving the fidelity and unity of the Church. But some conception of the authority of this chair seems to have been present even from the second century. And the clearest and most developed conception of this authority seems to have been in the particular Church of Rome, and especially in her bishops. At the same time, there is no comparable set of patristic quotations in which it is claimed that the chair of St. Peter did not hold such authority. So the inquirer is then faced with a dilemma that in a certain respect parallels that each of us faces regarding Christ’s own claims concerning Himself.10 Either the Church at Rome almost immediately fell into serious error regarding her own eccesial authority and role in relation to the universal Church, and though various bishops at times disagreed with her decisions (e.g. St. Cyprian), no one ‘corrected’ her claim concerning her own authority until the time of Photius in the ninth century, or during all those centuries (and to the present) she was truly what she always claimed to be.

One can hardly read any father without getting a strong since of the unity and primacy of Peter's chair. It is often cited from the 2nd century onward as a mark of unity in the church.

At the very most Mr. Bugay can accuse us Catholic of being 2nd Century Christians in terms of our ecclesiology. Our belief in the unity and succession of the chair of St. Peter is that of the fathers.

You'll note that no scholar John cites can produce a single extant piece of evidence from the 1st or 2nd century of the church which says that Peter did not have a successor in Rome. The most you get is a scholar in the 19th century telling us that "Irenaeus...was wrong."

By the way, for anybody else who is interested, we have already had this discussion with John on Called to Communion in Modern Scholarship, Rome and a Challenge.

John was asked:

Can you name one piece of historical evidence that meets these two conditions:

(1) it shows that there was no monarchical bishop in Rome until the second half of the second century, and;

(2) it is stronger evidence than is the list of St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies III.3.3)

(Please show why it is stronger evidence than is St. Irenaeus’ list.)3

- And he could not deliver.

Sean Patrick said...

By the way, in the challenge thread on Called to Communion John wrote:

"Rome’s exegesis of Matthew 16 and its historically developed claim to authoritative primacy in the Christian world simply cannot be demonstrated and sustained from Scripture itself. This claim is surely one of the great hoaxes foisted upon professing Christendom, upon which false base rests the whole papal sacerdotal system."

Here is what Oscar Cullman has to say about exegesis and Matthew 16?

"The Aramaic original of the saying enables us to assert with confidence the formal and material identity between petra [petra] and Petros; Petros = petra. . . . The idea of the Reformers that He is referring to the faith of Peter is quite inconceivable . . . for there is no reference here to the faith of Peter. Rather, the parallelism of “thou art Rock” and “on this rock I will build” shows that the second rock can only be the same as the first . It is thus evident that Jesus is referring to Peter, to whom he has given the name Rock. . . . To this extent Roman Catholic exegesis is right and all Protestant attempts to evade this interpretation are to be rejected." - Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. by Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich

Elsewhere Cullman is a strong defender that in the gospels Peter enjoyed primacy.

For any inquirer I suggest to go t the extant source material upon which these scholars are drawing their conclusions. It can't hurt and surely John would ask you to do the same.

PS - The idea that the Catholic Church is anyway changing Her teaching on the papacy, the church's foundation and apostolic succession is outrageous.

John said: These CTC guys have found an authority model where they think they can be bigshots and thought leaders. But really, they are the gnostics

In keeping with the spirit of the successor to St. Peter our Holy Father Benedict 16t's instruction to not attach people in these discussions I will lay off of ad homs and not response to John's in kind.

Sean Patrick said...

Looks like first part of that was lost in blogger (I'll try again with out the hyper links as that is what usually causes issues I think).

John -

You've been asked some good questions that hit at the heart of the matter with all of your reliance on these historians over the fathers themselves. You did not really answer the question about why we should trust scholars over the fathers. You merely told us why Cullman for example says what he says.

Yesterday on the Feast of St Peter's Chair we posted an historical summary the church's understand of St Peter's Chair.

www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/02/the-chair-of-st-peter

The conclusion of that study is: The testimony of the tradition we find in the Fathers and other early writers indicates a deepening awareness of the significance and authority of St. Peter’s chair, especially in grounding and preserving the fidelity and unity of the Church. But some conception of the authority of this chair seems to have been present even from the second century. And the clearest and most developed conception of this authority seems to have been in the particular Church of Rome, and especially in her bishops. At the same time, there is no comparable set of patristic quotations in which it is claimed that the chair of St. Peter did not hold such authority. So the inquirer is then faced with a dilemma that in a certain respect parallels that each of us faces regarding Christ’s own claims concerning Himself.10 Either the Church at Rome almost immediately fell into serious error regarding her own eccesial authority and role in relation to the universal Church, and though various bishops at times disagreed with her decisions (e.g. St. Cyprian), no one ‘corrected’ her claim concerning her own authority until the time of Photius in the ninth century, or during all those centuries (and to the present) she was truly what she always claimed to be.

One can hardly read any father without getting a strong since of the unity and primacy of Peter's chair. It is often cited from the 2nd century onward as a mark of unity in the church.

At the very most Mr. Bugay can accuse us Catholic of being 2nd Century Christians in terms of our ecclesiology. Our belief in the unity and succession of the chair of St. Peter is that of the fathers.

You'll note that no scholar John cites can produce a single extant piece of evidence from the 1st or 2nd century of the church which says that Peter did not have a successor in Rome. The most you get is a scholar in the 19th century telling us that "Irenaeus...was wrong."

By the way, for anybody else who is interested, we have already had this discussion with John on Called to Communion in:

www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/09/modern-scholarship-rome-and-a-challenge

John was asked:

Can you name one piece of historical evidence that meets these two conditions:

(1) it shows that there was no monarchical bishop in Rome until the second half of the second century, and;

(2) it is stronger evidence than is the list of St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies III.3.3)

(Please show why it is stronger evidence than is St. Irenaeus’ list.)3

- And he could not deliver.

John Bugay said...

Sean, for now all I'll say is that I'm glad to discuss this topic.

As for your totally ridiculous challenge:

You'll note that no scholar John cites can produce a single extant piece of evidence from the 1st or 2nd century of the church which says that Peter did not have a successor in Rome.

Give me a single piece of extant evidence that proves to me that there are no green men on Mars.

Sean Patrick said...

Give me a single piece of extant evidence that proves to me that there are no green men on Mars.


But John, I am not claiming there are no green men on Mars.

On the other hand, here is what you are claiming:

"there is overwhelming historical evidence that there was no successor."
.

Source: http://deregnisduobus.blogspot.com/2009/09/newman-on-development-of-papacy.html

John Bugay said...

I'm claiming there are green men on mars. Prove to me there are none.

Your claim for an early papacy is the equivalent to my claim that there are green men on mars.

I'll agree, and I continue to stand by what I said, there is overwhelming evidence there was no "early papacy," just as I agree, there is overwhelming evidence there are no green men on mars.

Sean Patrick said...

Well John - note the cited post on St. Peter's Chair on Called to Communion posted yesterday. In it you will find explicit testimony that the fathers believed that Peter's successor was a source for unity in the life of the church from very early times.

You will find no evidence to the contrary.

Let your readers look at the evidence for themselves. Hiding behind a 'green men from mars' proposition should not be necessary.

Adios for now.

John Bugay said...

I'll be happy to engage the article.

Good-bye Sean.

Stephanie said...

I read both comments here and comments linked to previous discussions.

Looking from the outside/in it seems that we are dealing with something like the following timeline in terms of data in support of either thesis.

1) The gospels/pastorals (completed around 120AD depending on who you ask)

2) 120AD-200AD : not much extant data at all either positively identifying apostolic succession from Peter or negative data.

3) 200AD onwards: Plenty of positive data affirming AS from Peter and very little (if any?) explicit denial of this.

It seems that the scholars John cites are attempting to peer into the 120AD - 200AD timeframe and draw conclusions about the question. If you read those scholars, and I've read a few, most of the arguments are based on what wasn't said in a given letter. For example, one needs to assume that Irenaeus made a 'fictive construct' for apologetic purposes only and did not believe that it was historical...in other words, he made up history to try to win an argument. I don't see any reason to think that Irenaeus did that. Other examples are similar...'Clement does not claim to be the bishop of Rome in 1 Clement so therefore he must not have been the bishop of Rome.' The conclusion does not necessarily follow from the premise.

The Occam's Razor approach is that it is not very likely that Irenaeus lied and that the whole Christian world would forever be duped (at least until the Reformation). Occam's Razor would make me lead towards thinking that AS was always the thinking of the church but that it is not explicitly testified until AD 200 because quite simply there is not a whole lot of extant data prior to this. I mean, we don't see a complete NT canon until about 100 years after we see AS from Peter affirmed! There are also good reasons why a bishop of Rome would not be identified in writing in the first century (Nero anybody)?

Thanks for the discussion. John, I do plan on reading the scholars you cite further.

John Bugay said...

Stephanie -- just a couple of things for now:

1) The gospels/pastorals (completed around 120AD depending on who you ask)

I do not make this assumption. There is certainly very good reason to hold to the early (much earlier than this) dating of the gospels and letters of Paul. Nothing that Lampe says, or any of the other modern commentators, about the supposed later composition of the Pastoral epistles, has any effect on the discussion about Clement/Hermas/Hegesippus/Irenaeus.

2) 120AD-200AD : not much extant data at all either positively identifying apostolic succession from Peter or negative data.

What about Hermas (140)?

dtking said...

The Occam's Razor approach is that it is not very likely that Irenaeus lied and that the whole Christian world would forever be duped (at least until the Reformation).

This is a rather simplistic evaluation of Irenaeus. Perhaps Irenaeus was simply mistaken. Perhaps, Irenaeus wasn't lying when he suggested that Jesus was nearly 50 years old when He was crucified . . . Perhaps Irenaeus was simply mistaken in his chiliast views that Christ would reign a thousand years on the earth, which Rome rejects. Perhaps, Irenaeus was simply mistaken about some things he passed on as "apostolic tradition," such as a list of monarchical bishops in the primitive Church of Rome. Thus, there is no need for an "Occam's Razor approach."

Stephanie said...

John,

I need to read Hermas more closely. Wasn't it written though about 100 years after the events that it purports to describe?

dt,

Fair enough but to my knowledge none of those views became widely perpetuated throughout the thinking of the early church for 1500 years nearly uninterrupted.

dtking said...

...none of those views became widely perpetuated throughout the thinking of the early church for 1500 years nearly uninterrupted.

Well, no surprise there, none of those view were self-serving to the interests of the Roman communion in later years.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Sean Patrick said:

You did not really answer the question about why we should trust scholars over the fathers.

You've always had a talent for disingenuously framing the terms of an issue.

What you should be asking is why we should prefer your unofficial, private interpretations of your denomination's church tradition to what your own denomination's learned and established scholars have to say on the matter.

Here there's no contest. Your credentials, Catholic or academic, amount to a keyboard and a conversion experience. There's no reason we should take your private ruminations as conclusive or compelling.

Stephanie said:

If you read those scholars, and I've read a few, most of the arguments are based on what wasn't said in a given letter.

Which is an acceptable line of historical inquiry if some want to posit the existence of a mono-episcopacy from the very beginning. If a certain institution is posited to have always existed, then we should expect that institution to be mentioned or show other signs of existing in places of likely influence.

Hence the whole question of "green men," which Sean Patrick dubiously dismissed as a cover for not answering his loaded questions. And hence why these historians can be considered credible and their arguments worth engaging. See, for example, some Catholic scholars discuss the matter.

Sean Patrick said...

Matthew.

I note that you make no argument but rather simply resort to ad hom.

Couple of things, however -

1) Which among the 'Beggars All' blogger have phds in church history? I note that John Bugay in this very thread has challenged new testament dating given by Peter Lampe - maybe he should take your advice and question why he should trust himself over such 'first rate' scholars?

If non-Phd carrying apologists trouble you than 'heal thyself physcian.'

2) When I say that Christ built the Catholic Church and that Peter held primacy among the apostles and that Benedict 16th is Peter's successor, I am not merely giving my opinion. I am simply articulating de fide church teaching.

There is no opinion involved in any of that. That is Catholic dogma.

3) There are many Catholic phd scholars whose works carry the Nil Obstat and Imprimatur whose conclusions about the early papacy are quite divergent from Brown and Meier. I am talking about scholars such as Guarducci, Rivington, Colin Lindsay, Thomas W. Allies, Fortescue, Giles, Chapman, Ratzinger, De Lubac
and Dulles…the list can go on.

4) Several contributors at Called to Communion indeed have Phds in related fields of study and several more are close to earning Phds in related fields.

Sean Patrick said...

5) The Nil Obstat and Imprimatur are not functions protected by the chrism of infallibility. As you surely know, these are stamps given by a particular cleric over a work. That cleric is supposed to take care in giving the stamp but it is not a perfect process. Raymond Brown has even given his own work the Nil Obstat before.

There are works that have been given the Nil Obstat and Imprimatur and then the authors of those works have subsequently been banned from teaching in any official capacity. Hans Kung comes to mind. Other times the Nil Obstat and Imprimatur have been removed in subsequent printings. "Catholicism" by Richard P. McBrien comes to mind. So, the process needs some work but you are wrong to present the Nil Obstat and Imprimatur to mean that we cannot disagree with anything in said work.

6) The Catholic faith is not decided by any given set of Catholic historians.

7) Even then – Raymond Brown does not say that Peter had no successor. He argues that the structure of the church looked different but does not say that there was not bishop in Rome at all or that Peter in particular lacked a successor.

8) Even so, even as a poor old lay Catholic I am allowed to disagree with the historical interpretations of any scholar.

John Bugay said...

7) Even then – Raymond Brown does not say that Peter had no successor. He argues that the structure of the church looked different but does not say that there was not bishop in Rome at all or that Peter in particular lacked a successor.

Brown's position is that the episcopacy is a second-century development.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Sean Patrick said:

I note that you make no argument but rather simply resort to ad hom.

I did make arguments, such as addressing your dismissal of the burden of proof.

The question of personal credentials is directly related to the "authority" paradigm out of which you Catholic apologists so often operate.

And Protestants don't operate out of the same paradigm, so your later charges of hypocrisy are specious on these grounds alone.

Which among the 'Beggars All' blogger have phds in church history? I note that John Bugay in this very thread has challenged new testament dating given by Peter Lampe - maybe he should take your advice and question why he should trust himself over such 'first rate' scholars?

If non-Phd carrying apologists trouble you than 'heal thyself physcian.'

...

8) Even so, even as a poor old lay Catholic I am allowed to disagree with the historical interpretations of any scholar.


Of course you are free to be a functional Protestant and pick and choose who really represents true Catholicism. I wouldn't expect anything else from the current crop of conservative, lay-Catholic apologists. The question is why we as Protestants should dismiss these scholars' arguments and prefer your private opinions, as you initially framed the issue between scholars and what "the fathers" themselves supposedly say through the filter of your private interpretation. The Beggars All crew analyzes scholarship; we don't just pull out a stack of church fathers and privately interpret them over against what the learned men of our own community teach and expect people to functionally ignore what other scholars have to say about the subject, as if we were the final say on the matter. And if a scholar we cite uses a methodology that (allegedly) contradicts beliefs we hold about New Testament dating, there are numerous Protestant scholars to which we can (and do) turn to help us analyze and refute such conclusions. Your dull attempt to charge hypocrisy is shown for what it is.

As usual, you can only offer asinine "gotchas" that fail to grasp the essence of the argument on the table. You continue to confirm the assessment that the contributors at Called to Communion are mere bubble wrap for its two (or three) heavy hitters.

There are many Catholic phd scholars whose works carry the Nil Obstat and Imprimatur whose conclusions about the early papacy are quite divergent from Brown and Meier. I am talking about scholars such as Guarducci, Rivington, Colin Lindsay, Thomas W. Allies, Fortescue, Giles, Chapman, Ratzinger, De Lubac
and Dulles…the list can go on.


Let's see the documentation then, Sean. You have a reputation for empty claims that evaporate on contact and a penchant for reading incomprehension, so it's not appropriate to merely trust your assertions at this point. Pull out the relevant quotations and show: (a) that you've properly interpreted these scholars and (b) why these scholar's arguments are superior to those of the likes of Brown and Meier.

Sean Patrick said...

Matthew.

Let's count the ad homs in your past two comments to me.

Here we go:

1) "You've always had a talent for disingenuously framing the terms of an issue."

2) "Your credentials, Catholic or academic, amount to a keyboard and a conversion experience. There's no reason we should take your private ruminations as conclusive or compelling."

3) "I wouldn't expect anything else from the current crop of conservative, lay-Catholic apologists."

4) "As usual, you can only offer asinine "gotchas" that fail to grasp the essence of the argument on the table."

5) "You continue to confirm the assessment that the contributors at Called to Communion are mere bubble wrap for its two (or three) heavy hitters."

6) "You have a reputation for empty claims that evaporate on contact and a penchant for reading incomprehension, so it's not appropriate to merely trust your assertions at this point."

Now - ask yourself why any person would want to have any dialog whatsoever with a person who relies so heavily on such methods?

I don't care to, that's for sure.

John Bugay said...

Good-bye Sean.

John Bugay said...

For what it's worth, whether you think it's ad hom or not, Matthew's assessment of you is 100% honest.

Which is the sort of thing we value around here. Contra your bombast.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Let's count the ad homs in your past two comments to me.

Right, Sean, you don't have an answer to the fundamental problem of preferring your private interpretation to scholarly interpretation, and rather than admit your snarky charge of hypocrisy was just wrong, you ignore my arguments and try to justify your anti-intellectual behavior by claiming me a meanie. The irony is so thick I can hardly breath.

Life is extremely short, and I don't have the time to engage people who continuously reveal themselves to fit the Biblical definition of a scoffer. Please do us all a favor and relieve us of your vacuous mockery by finally keeping your promise never to visit Beggars All again.

Turretinfan said...

"8) Even so, even as a poor old lay Catholic I am allowed to disagree with the historical interpretations of any scholar."

And canon law does not require that there be any rational or sane reason for the disagreement.

Suggesting otherwise is a straw man!

Sean Patrick said...

Matthew - Sean, you don't have an answer to the fundamental problem of preferring your private interpretation to scholarly interpretation

Perhaps you did not read my response that. I cited quite a few other scholars in this thread.

If you doubt that they diverge from Raymond Brown look them up yourself.

You said: "And if a scholar we cite uses a methodology that (allegedly) contradicts beliefs we hold about New Testament dating, there are numerous Protestant scholars to which we can (and do) turn to help us analyze and refute such conclusions."

But you act as if we're bound to Raymond Brown’s conclusions; otherwise we are just idiots slamming away at our keyboards.

You know, you act all put off that I show up here and comment. I have before said I would not come back but you know I see John link up Called to Communion several times a week so I think, “Gosh, he must really want to interact with us.” So I try. If I am really not wanted than say so and I won’t come back. Scouts honor.

John Bugay said...

I see John link up Called to Communion several times a week so I think, “Gosh, he must really want to interact with us.” So I try.

What I consistently try to do is to explain the bankruptcy of Roman claims for a Protestant audience. You guys just offer particularly stellar examples.

Sean Patrick said...

John - The fact is that our project has been a huge success and we can only attribute that success to the work of the Holy Spirit. I, for one, appreciate that you reading regardless of your reason for doing so.

John Bugay said...

You have been a huge success at wrecking lives, and as Calvin said, it's not the Holy Spirit, but rather Satan who has polluted every good thing that is given for our salvation.

Good-bye again, Sean.

Constantine said...

1) Which among the 'Beggars All' blogger have phds in church history?

Not that God works exclusively through Ph.D.'s but, if you insist, we can borrow a few from the Catholic Church:

“The papacy did not come into existence at the same time as the church. In the words of John Henry Newman, “While Apostles were on earth, there was the display neither of Bishop nor Pope.” Peter was not a bishop in Rome. There were no bishops in Rome for at least a hundred years after the death of Christ. The very term “pope” (papa, daddy) was not reserved for the bishop of Rome until the fifth century – before then it was used of any bishop (S. 89). ….”
Wills, Garry. Why I am a Catholic. Boston, Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 2002. p. 54

“A judicial superiority of one church over another, or certainly anything like papal primacy of jurisdiction, was completely foreign to Ignatius or Irenaeus [in the second century], or even Augustine [in the fourth]…In particular, all kinds of thinking in categories of hierarchical subordination or superiority will lead us astray”. Karl Schatz, SJ, Ph.D.

““The Eastern patriarchs and metropolitans certainly still (in the sixth century) regarded the pope as bishop of the old imperial capital and sole patriarch of the West. But as such he was first among equals. And this was not, say, because of a special biblical promise or a legal authority, but as always, because of the tombs of the two chief apostles, Peter and Paul….” P. 60 Hans Kueng, Ph.D. The Catholic Church: A Short History. Trans. John Bowden. United States: Modern Library - Random House Publishing Group, 2003.

“The study of the history of the Roman primacy has shown that Catholics must resign themselves to the fact that the New Testament does not support claims for Peter’s position of primacy, nor for succession to that position, nor for papal infallibility.” Ohlig, Karl-Heinz, Ph.D. Why We Need the Pope: The Necessity and Limitations of Papal Primacy. Trans. Dr. Robert C. Ware. St. Meinrad, Indiana, USA. Abbey Press, 1975. Trans. of Braucht die Kirche einen Papst?. Germany, 1973. P. 91

“Consequently, no historical foundation exists in the New Testament to justify the papal primacy. The concept of this primacy is, rather, a theological justification of a factual situation which had come about earlier and for other reasons.” Ohlig, P. 92


As fun as this is, I noticed that Liccione had this to say in his response to Mathison:

the Church affirms extra-scriptural Tradition as another “source,” older than and concurrent with Scripture, from which we receive the Word of God...

Now what this displays – in what can only be described as a Marcionist error – is that the Roman Catholic Church believes only in the New Testament! For what “tradition” could be older than Genesis 1?!! (Actually, the RC may have an answer. The Council of Trent – in a de fide pronouncement on the canon requires each of its members to believe that the Wisdom of Solomon is part of the canon. And Wisdom teaches that God created the world out of pre-existent matter. So, the Roman Catholic, bound to Rome's “infallible” de fide pronouncements, is bound to believe BOTH that God created the world out of nothing (Genesis 1, John 1) AND that He created the world out of something else (Wisdom 11:17). Do we need a Ph. D. to see that?)

At any rate, many Roman Catholic Ph.D.'s disagree with SP and his modernist interpretation of history and that is very easy to see.

More later.

Peace.

Constantine said...

BTW - Liccione has a Ph.D. in Philosophy...so according to Sean, I guess that disqualifies him!

Discussion over.....

Peace.

John Bugay said...

Hi Constantine, that's good stuff!

RPV said...

Somebody's not the only one.
Ph.D.s are over rated.
#35 from 100 Reasons NOT to Go to Graduate School: Mumbo-jumbo abounds.

Do you think he's been peeking here or over at CTC?
Nah, it's really the little green men that have been driving the traffic.

John Bugay said...

I'm not a fan of Chesterton, but even a stopped clock shows the correct time twice a day. He gets it with this one: Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.

Sean Patrick has shown himself to be in this kind of "horrible and deadly danger."

A high school teacher of mine told us what the initials stood for:

B.S. = "Bull Sh--"
M.S. = "More of the Same"
Ph.D. = "Piled Higher and Deeper"

That last would be Liccione.