Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Foggy Facts

James is up to his old tricks again: I am an idiot, an incompetent stooge, whereas he is a sublime model of lay apologetics and does only work of the highest sublime levels of scholarship.” – A Catholic Apologist

No, I've simply been asking questions this Roman Catholic apologist doesn't want to answer. If I were to go to print making historical claims, I would make sure that I actually did read and understand the material I presented. This guy was busy in the blog-back comments of another post, and would not answer a most simple question, if he had (or had not) actually read the context of some words from Bullinger he cited in one of his books.

It’s one thing to put up a web page of information one has not read, it’s quite another to have books published and expect the general public to consider one an authority on the Reformers. I’m hopeful that the Bullinger citation was a simple oversight on this guy's part. I’m hopeful he is not going to print with this same type of research presented in his web pages, obfuscating any who desire to check his facts. More importantly, if he wants to be considered a reliable author, he needs to invest the time in doing ad fontes research.
The following is a snippet from my response to this Catholic apologist on Luther’s view of Mary, and demonstrates some of the reasons discussions with him can be difficult when one takes the time to work through the material he presents.

He was dismayed that I did not provide a specific utterance number from Luther’s Table Talk. Apparently, he is unaware that multiple versions of the Table Talk exist (for instance, a popular on-line version is different in content to the version contained in Luther’s Works). Hence, one can see why a uniform approach to quoting Luther is the most pragmatic approach. Luther’s Works English Edition proves to be the most cogent approach. One can conclude after perusing his many comments on Luther from his web site, that he is serious about studying Luther. My citing of volume and page in Luther’s works was intended to make the job of checking references easier. Secondary sources quoting Luther were a last resort, as were any references to the Weimar edition. I also attempted to use other easily available primary references: popular collections of sermons, and the helpful compilation, What Luther says.

He takes a different approach in his Luther research. In version #3 of his response he references the German Weimar edition 33 times (he cites the English Luther’s Works only 4 times). In order to help out any who cannot read German, he lets the reader know that they can get a “cross-referencing of Luther's German works and English translations,…Heinrich J. Vogel, Cross Reference and Index to the Contents of Luther's Works.” Unfortunately, this book is out of print and is not normally available in college libraries. Used copies are not cheap either. One wonders why he would have a copy of Vogel’s reference, and yet not provide the cross- references for the following citations he provided:

WA 9, 74; WA 10; 46, 136; WA, 10, III, 268; WA 10/3:269.12-13; WA 17, II, 287-289; WA, 17-II, 288; WA 17,409; WA 17/2:288.17-34; WA, 30, II, 351; WA 36,143; WA 37,231; WA 39, II, 107; WA 39/2,.92-121; WA 39/2:107.8-13; WA 40/3:680.31-32;WA 52, 39; WA 52:681.27-31;WA 52, 681; WA 53:640.18-22;WA 4, 693; 10 (3), 331; 46, 136; 47, 860; WA 54,207.

In fairness to him, he did provide 4 cross references to the English edition in his response. Perhaps he did not have the time to provide the others. Interestingly, some of his WA quotes did not make sense. Some references seemed to note which edition of WA (for instance, “2”), while others did not. Are we to assume the earlier edition of WA is meant? There was a lack of uniformity also: sometimes he used Roman numerals, others times he did not. At one point he offered, “WA 4, 693; 10 (3), 331; 46, 136; 47, 860.” These seem more like bingo numbers than references. I still don’t know what “10 (3)” refers to. It would be helpful to at least pick one way of citing WA and sticking with it. Perhaps I might not be able to check WA, but maybe another interested reader will.

I ask any to compare my footnotes with any of this guy's Luther pages. As an example, please see his footnotes for his on-line Paper “Martin Luther: Beyond Historical Myth to Fact.” Primary references to Luther are mostly to Luther’s Works in German. Similarly, A large amount of his Luther references are given merely as titles of a particular treatise, with the readers’ job being the arduous task of tracking down a volume that contains said treatise. Many treatises are still not available in English (Like the frequently quoted sermon he utilizes, “On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God," 1527), and many have variations in the specific names of his treatises, making them even harder to track down.

He also employs a high volume of Luther citations from secondary sources. That’s fine, but many of the books he cited are no longer in print. Thus, the readers’ task of checking his citations is not an easy road. This leads to only two conclusions: Either he is fluent in German or he does not have the most basic tool for Luther studies: the English edition of Luther’s Works, so he relies on secondary sources or web sites that have posted samplings of Luther’s treatises. He thus complicates the task of any who would check his references or contexts.

His response provided many references that are virtually impossible to track down. One wonders why these sources were offered. Not only are they in different languages, the majority are long out of print:

“Was Luther a Devotee of Mary?" Marian Studies, 21, 1970; Marian Studies 18 (1967);"Die Gottesmutter im Glauben und Beten der Jahrhunderte," Hochkirche 13 [1931], Uber die Selige Jungfrau, May 18, 1558;De origine erroris, 16, written in 1568; (Acts of the Council in March 1526 and March 1530; Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1952; "Weimarer Ausgabe / 1883 ff. Weimar edition of Luther's works; Maria bei Luther (Gutersloh: Bertelsmann Verlag, 1954); K. Algermissen, "Mariologie und Marienverehrung der Reformatoren," Theologie und Glaube, XLIX (1959); Le Drame de Martin Luther," Decouverte se l'oecumenisme (Paris: Desclee de Brouwer, 1961);Am tage der Empfengknus Marie der mutter Gottes. Luk. 11; from Martini Lutheri Postillae. In die Conceptionis Mariae Matris Dei, . Argentorati: apud Georgium Ulricum Adlanum, anno xxx); "On the Schem Hamphoras and the Genealogy of Christ (Vom Schem Hamphoras und vom Geschlecht Christi), 1543; Walter Tappolet and Albert Ebneter (eds.), Das Marienlob der Reformatoren (Tubingen: Katzmann, 1962), . Hans Dufel, Luthers Stellung zur Marienverehrung ( . . . 1968) Festpostille -- two 1527 editions; Sermon at the First Vespers of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; House Sermon for Christmas (1533) ; Vom Schem Hamporas und vom Geschlecht Christi [On the Schem Hamphoras and the Genealogy of Christ] (1543) -- WA 53,640; Wider das Papstum zu Rom (1545); WA 54,207”

In contrast, I have made the readers’ task of locating a context for Luther’s words quite easy; all you need is access to Luther’s Works, which are available in many college libraries, and some public libraries. Used volumes can still be purchased, even singularly (individual volumes can be as cheap as $15-25). Therefore, I see no reason to redo all the footnotes.

He got himself into a somewhat precarious situation on the CARM bulletin boards in November 2002 with his methods of quoting Luther. He posted this quote:

Inasmuch as I know for certain that I am right, I will be judge above you and above all the angels, as St. Paul says, that whoever does not accept my doctrine cannot be saved. For it is the doctrine of God, and not my doctrine; therefore my judgment also is God's and not mine . . . It would be better that all bishops were murdered, and all abbeys and cloisters razed to the ground, than that one soul should perish . . . If they will not listen to God's Word . . . what can more justly befall them than a violent upheaval which shall root them out of the earth? And we would smile did it happen. All who contribute body, goods . . that the rule of the bishops may be destroyed are God's dear children and true Christians."

He gave the reference as simply “Martin Luther, Against the Falsely So-Called Spiritual Estate of the Pope and Bishops, July 1522.” After searching the entire treatise, I could not find this quote. A Lutheran friend joined the discussion and was able to ascertain that the reason I could not locate the quote was because it was extracted in bits from different spots spanning 31 pages. He responded that he had gotten the quotes from secondary sources (Durant and Janssen), and that he trusted their scholarship. This is not the place to quibble over whatever point he was trying to make. I offer this example merely to show that this Catholic apologist complicates the task of any who checks his Luther references.