Monday, May 16, 2016

Cajetan's Quote on the Apocrypha is Fraudulent?

Every few weeks over on the CARM boards, the never-ending discussion about the inter-testamental books rages on. Each time the battle is engaged, the same arguments are dragged out from both Rome's defenders and Protestant polemicists. In the most recent discussion, someone brought up the famous quote from Cardnial Cajetan on these books:
from the Roman Catholic Cardinal Cajetan, a contemporary of Martin Luther:
"Here we close our commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament. For the rest (that is, Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees) are counted by St. Jerome out of the canonical books, and are placed amongst the apocrypha, along with Wisdom and Ecciesiasticus, as is plain from the Protogus Galeatus. Nor be thou disturbed, like a raw scholar, if thou shouldest find anywhere, either in the sacred councils or the sacred doctors, these books reckoned as canonical. For the words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the correction of Jerome. Now, according to his judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the Bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the Bible for that purpose. By the help of this distinction thou mayest see thy way clearly through that which Augustine says, and what is written in the provincial council of Carthage." (Cardinal Cajetan, "Commentary on all the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament," cited by William Whitaker in "A Disputation on Holy Scripture," Cambridge: Parker Society (1849), p. 424)

This quote from Cajetan is interesting for a number of reasons. Cardinal Cajetan is primarily remembered as the papal legate that officially questioned Luther in Augsburg in 1518. Cajetan represents what a leading, educated, 16th Century Roman Catholic believed about the inter-testamental books. Cajetan's views on the canon and textual criticism have some similarities to Luther's, and this often confounds those who attack Luther to no end. How is it Luther was so evil about the canon of sacred scripture, yet a leading Roman Catholic contemporary isn't? Over the years, I've been given various answers from Rome's defenders about Cajetan. Recently though, I came across an explanation for the Cajetan quote above I've never heard before:
I've researched this to find that the original commentary by Cajetan does not contain this language. The source is erroneous. [link]
The burden is on the person claiming its existence. Precious cited a document which claimed to reference an original source. You can look for that source as readily as I can. The words which are claimed to exist, do not exist. I encourage you to research it and prove me wrong if you wish, but I've already done my own research and concluded that the secondary source is in error. [link]
The source you need is the original source = Cajetan's actual statement, not the reproduction and possible distortion of that statement by others. [link]
Because I looked for the original language that is purported to come from the Catholic Cardinal and could not find it. The lack of existence is enough for me. The source cited by Precious appears to be flawed. I cannot produce the absence of a document. [link]
I forgot that I actually did write down my research on this. Here it is: Look at Catholic Reform: From Cardinal Ximenes to the Council of Trent by John C. Olin (Fordham University Press, 1990). On page 61, you will find the Preface in which the supposed admonition is to be found. It is short and easy to read since it has been translated into English. As you read it, you will discover that the words Precious quoted are not there. William Webster also used the very same quote as the other non-Catholic sources that Precious has referenced. It seems that mere repetition has caused some to assume it is true. But since the original source is different than the proposed quote we can see Precious has been misled. [link]

So, the refutation of the Cajetan quote in question is that... it does not exist! A CARM Roman Catholic wrote me and inquired about this quote because I have likewise used it in the past. Here's how I responded. First, if someone quotes something, it's up to the person quoting it to produce documentation and authenticity. That is, if someone were to claim a citation I was using did not exist, it would be my burden to demonstrate it does. That being said, the quote from Cardinal Cajetan is authentic. It is from In omnes authenticos veteris Testamenti historiales libros ComentariiHere you can find it from an original source, towards the bottom of the page. The quote is as follows:

William Whitaker was mentioned in the CARM discussion. After locating this information, I went and pulled out my copy of Whitaker, and noticed that he cites the Latin text for the Cajetan quote. All someone would have had to have done is search words from the Latin quote in order to return back to the source.

I'm not familiar with the book, Catholic Reform: From Cardinal Ximenes to the Council of Trent by John C. Olin (Fordham University Press, 1990) alluded to above by the person arguing the Cajetan quote does not exist. I am familiar with the author (John Olin) and his work on Erasmus. It is the responsibility of the person claiming this source proves the Cajetan quote is ingenuine to produce the relevant material from page 61 to see exactly what's going on.  I know with Luther's writings, different editions read differently. Sometimes Luther edited an earlier text he wrote, sometimes others did within his lifetime. Sometimes other people did after he died. I'm not fluent in Cajetan's writings, so perhaps there's something like this going with what was read in Olin.

There was controversy over Cajetan's comments on the Bible, so it would not surprise me if some editing (by someone) was going on. See my blog entry where I reference Roman Catholic scholar Jared Wicks stating:
Cajetan's biblical commentaries occasioned no little admiration. From Luther, there is a recorded remark, "Cajetan, in his later days, has become Lutheran." Considerable zeal was expended by Ambrosius Catharinus, O.P., against the exegetical work of his retired Master General. Catharinus submitted a denunciation before the still acerbic faculty in Paris and proceedings began that could have led to another book-burning Clement VII intervened in a letter to the Parisian professors in September, 1533, to protect the man who was by then the Pope's regular source of valued theological advice. Proceedings were halted at this time in Paris, but not before an open letter of the Parisian theologians had begun to circulate listing the censurable propositions excerpted from the commentaries. The Sorbonne masters charged Cajetan with imprudently taking these notions from Erasmus or even Luther. The letter ended with a stinging rebuke of Cajetan's rashness in abandoning the long approved Vulgate text to base his work on new versions in no way guaranteed for their exactness. In 1534 a Wittenberg printer, no doubt with considerable glee over this discomfiture of Luther's old adversary, brought out the open letter in pamphlet form. Catharinus published his criticisms of Cajetan's commentaries in 1535, revised and expanded them in 1542, and obtained a censure by the Paris faculty against Cajetan's biblical works in August, 1544.
The specific charges brought against Cajetan concerned the reservations and plain doubts he had expressed about the apostolic origin of the final eleven verses of Mark's gospel, the story of the adultress in John 8, and five whole epistles of the New Testament (Hebrews, James, Jude, and 1 and 2 John). These views were especially serious in Cajetan's case, since he had laid down the rule that apostolic authorship or direct approval by an apostle was normative for inclusion in the New Testament canon. Following Jerome, Cajetan also relegated the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament to a secondary place where they could serve piety but not the teaching of revealed doctrine.
Now before one thinks that it was Luther, Cajetan, and Erasmus against the world on downgrading the inter-testimental books, these men were not an anomaly. Previous to Trent, there were Roman Catholic scholars that held a low view on the apocrypha. Even at Trent, there were a group of scholars considered fairly knowledgeable on this issue. One particular was Cardinal Seripando. The Roman Catholic historian (and expert on Trent) Hubert Jedin explained “…[H]e was aligned with the leaders of a minority that was outstanding for its theological scholarship” at the Council of Trent.
Jedin is worth quoting at length:
(Seripando was) Impressed by the doubts of St. Jerome, Rufinus, and St. John Damascene about the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament, Seripando favored a distinction in the degrees of authority of the books of the Florentine canon. The highest authority among all the books of the Old Testament must be accorded those which Christ Himself and the apostles quoted in the New Testament, especially the Psalms. But the rule of citation in the New Testament does not indicate the difference of degree in the strict sense of the word, because certain Old Testament books not quoted in the New Testament are equal in authority to those quoted. St. Jerome gives an actual difference in degree of authority when he gives a higher place to those books which are adequate to prove a dogma than to those which are read merely for edification. The former, the protocanonical books, are "libri canonici et authentici"; Tobias, Judith, the Book of Wisdom, the books of Esdras, Ecclesiasticus, the books of the Maccabees, and Baruch are only "canonici et ecclesiastici" and make up the canon morum in contrast to the canon fidei. These, Seripando says in the words of St. Jerome, are suited for the edification of the people, but they are not authentic, that is, not sufficient to prove a dogma. Seripando emphasized that in spite of the Florentine canon the question of a twofold canon was still open and was treated as such by learned men in the Church. Without doubt he was thinking of Cardinal Cajetan, who in his commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews accepted St. Jerome's view which had had supporters throughout the Middle Ages [Hubert Jedin, Papal Legate At The Council Of Trent (St Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1947), 270-271].
“For the last time [Seripando] expressed his doubts [to the Council of Trent] about accepting the deuterocanonical books into the canon of faith. Together with the apostolic traditions the so-called apostolic canons were being accepted, and the eighty-fifth canon listed the Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) as non-canonical. Now, he said, it would be contradictory to accept, on the one hand, the apostolic traditions as the foundation of faith and, on the other, to directly reject one of them” [Hubert Jedin, Papal Legate At The Council Of Trent (St Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1947), 278].
Jedin also documents a group of excellent scholars that stood against “tradition” as being on the same level of authority as scripture:
In his opposition to accepting the Florentine canon and the equalization of traditions with Holy Scripture, Seripando did not stand alone. In the particular congregation of March 23, the learned Dominican Bishop Bertano of Fano had already expressed the view that Holy Scripture possessed greater authority than the traditions because the Scriptures were unchangeable; that only offenders against the biblical canon should come under the anathema, not those who deny the principle of tradition; that it would be unfortunate if the Council limited itself to the apostolic canons, because the Protestants would say that the abrogation of some of these traditions was arbitrary and represented an abuse… Another determined opponent of putting traditions on a par with Holy Scripture, as well as the anathema, was the Dominican Nacchianti. The Servite general defended the view that all the evangelical truths were contained in the Bible, and he subscribed to the canon of St. Jerome, as did also Madruzzo and Fonseca on April 1. While Seripando abandoned his view as a lost cause, Madruzzo, the Carmelite general, and the Bishop of Agde stood for the limited canon, and the bishops of Castellamare and Caorle urged the related motion to place the books of Judith, Baruch, and Machabees in the "canon ecclesiae." From all this it is evident that Seripando was by no means alone in his views. In his battle for the canon of St. Jerome and against the anathema and the parity of traditions with Holy Scripture, he was aligned with the leaders of a minority that was outstanding for its theological scholarship" [Hubert Jedin, Papal Legate At The Council Of Trent (St Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1947), 281-282].


Ken said...


David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

You asked, and you shall receive:

"And in this place we terminate the commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament : for the rest, (to wit, the books of Judith, of Tobit, and the Maccabees,) are reckoned by St. Jerome without the canonical books, and are placed among the apocryphal, together with the book of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus : as is manifest in the Helmet-Preface. And be not discomposed as if by a fresh discovery, if, at any time, you shall find these books accounted among the canonical, either in the sacred Councils or in the holy Doctors. For the words, as well of Councils as of Doctors, are to be brought back to the standard of Jerome: and, agreeably to his opinion addressed to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books, (and if there be others like them in the canon of the Bible) are not canonical, that is, are not of authority to establish articles of faith. They can, however, be designated canonical (that is regular) for the edification of the faithful : as for that purpose, they are received and authenticated, in the canon of the Bible. For, with this distinction, you will be able to understand the language of Augustine in his second book of Christian Doctrine, passages in the Council of Florence under Eugenius the Fourth, and in the Provincial Councils of Carthage and Laodicea,—and the words of the Pontiffs Innocent and Gelasius. Cardinal Cajetan: To the praise and glory of Almighty God : Rome, in the year of salvation, 1532 : and in the 64th year of my age, and 19th day of July, Amen."

Grace and peace,


James Swan said...

Sorry guys. I back-posted the quote in order to use the picture of the Latin text on the CARM boards. I've only now had the chance to fill out the blog entry with the details.

Ken said...

Thanks both David and James.

Excellent article James.

John said...

Mmm, the western thinking has been argued to death, but what about the eastern thinking? I don't remember reading any quote in the last millennium from the eastern church against the canonical status of these books.

Some cardinal made some quote, I forget who or the exact words, but to the effect that excessive focus on the past is a betrayal of the current church, because we can't know fully what the ancient church thought. I always thought that quote might have taken things a bit far, but it did have a point. We know what a few characters thought 500 years ago about the canon, but we can't take a survey about the most popular opinion. This quote from Cajan doesn't say a whole lot more than that he had some knowledge of what Jerome said, and he had a high opinion of Jerome. Sometimes the most educated person in the room is also the one most out of step with the majority because he is so steeped in his education.