Monday, January 21, 2008

Why Anti-Protestants Should Sharpen Their Latin

Gary Michuta has written a critique of my December post on the “underwhelming” Trent post entitled The 44% Solution: Why Anti-Catholics Should Trust Their Instincts in addition to a questionable video he posted to YouTube (Dr White captured his name in a screenshot before it disappeared). First let me note that I have explained some of the confusion around the vote in a recent post already.

Gary opens saying:

“'Cursed be he who misleads a blind man on his way!'” For me, the verse really hits home the importance of being as accurate as I possibly can whenever I write or give a talk…That is why whenever I run across something that does not seem right to me (especially when it concerns non-Catholics) red flags go up and I try to do my best to go the extra mile to make sure everything is accurate… It seems to me that this is what happened to a member of our loyal opposition named James Swan.”

Apparently, going the “extra mile” doesn’t include noticing my signature or the “posted by Carrie” at the bottom of the post. Oops.

“You can see the red flags going up in Swan’s mind. Something seems out of whack with these numbers. Unfortunately, James didn’t trust his instincts and published this article, not only once, but twice. Indeed, the republished article didn’t escape the attention of another Protestant apologist, whom I respect, James White who wrote:’…I am more than happy to learn new things from folks like James Swan and others who post on his blog as well…’”

No red flags for James Swan since he didn’t write the post. Now, the reference to “others who post on his blog” should have indicated that Beggars All is a group blog and perhaps a “red flag”…

“In a way, I do understand why Swan and/or White ignored the red flags and went with the story. Bruce Metzger is a very reputable Protestant scholar and the quote comes from a well respected work, namely, The New Testament Canon: It’s Origin, Development, and Significance (Oxford: Clarendon, 1987)…”

Agreed. In reality, I (Carrie) did look for other sources for this vote but could find none and trusted Metzger.

“One big flag came when I noticed that the quote given in my copy of Metzger did not match the one given in Swan's article.”

My post was an oldie from my own blog. I (Carrie) had originally come across the numbers while looking at a Wiki article and that is the source I used. When questioned on the accuracy of the Wiki article, I found the numbers confirmed by Metzger. The exact wording of the quote was not a concern.

“I also checked the link to Wikipedia that Swan provided, but I was unable to find the quote there either.”

Hmmm, either my original link was wrong or things were rearranged. Either way, the source of my quote can now be found here. (still Carrie)

“The second red flag came when I noted the absence of any footnote in Metzger for his figures. Where did Metzger get the 24 to 15 voting tally?”

Metzger does cite Jedin and Maichle at the end of the paragraph. Jedin’s chapter on this topic gives the vote numbers and date of the vote as I have previously outlined.

“Both Swan and White clearly believe that the "44% vote" was on the approval of the entire Decree. For example, Swan wrote:”

Yes, that was my (Carrie) construal of the vote as phrased by Metzger. I’m still not sure Metzger’s phrasing was incorrect as I previously outlined.

“When I see red flags, I do a little digging. The first place I looked was the same place I looked to confirm the Council’s position on the book of Esdras, the Concilium Tridentinum”

That’s great. I (Carrie) am somewhat jealous that Gary is fluent enough in Latin that he can read through the Concilium Tridentinum (CT). It would be nice if he would actually translate his findings, though.

Now, here is where Gary starts to lose me:

“There was some voting on this topic, not on April 8th, but February, 15, 1546. However, it took place, not in the General Council, but the particular councils known as the classes.”

“After further digging, I finally discovered the 24 to 15 vote. As the Catholic historian Peter Dunker [sic] records”

“Concilium Tridentinum, volume 5, p. 10… The 44% vote had nothing to do with the contents of the canon, rather it appears that the vote concerned the inclusion of a anathema (the application of canonical penalties to those who deny what is stated). I should note that, according to Dunker [sic], there is some slight disagreement among the sources and it is not completely clear whether this vote was on the inclusion of the anathema or whether it was on whether it would be illicit for the council to include a refutation of some of the attacks on the canon in its decree.”

First, according to both Jedin and Duncker, the congregation of February 15th was a General Congregation, not a class. Second, Gary’s scan from vol 5, pg 10 shows a date of February 18th, yet the “44% vote” took place on February 15th according again to both Jedin and Duncker. February 18th was a particular congregation according to Jedin as corroborated by the “classes” title at the top of Gary’s scan.

Now, as Gary mentioned, there was some confusion about this vote as outlined by Duncker based on the source material (CT). It appears as if Gary has pulled the wrong page, perhaps he could supply a translation?

“Why is there disagreement on what this vote was on? Because the 44% vote had no effect on the final decree. It was a straw vote taken during an ongoing discussion in the classes, not in the General Council where amendments were adopted.”

Based on Jedin and Duncker, Gary is wrong on this one. The vote took place on February 15th in the General Council.

“Moreover, if you look closely at the quote above (Concilium Tridentinum, volume 5, p. 10) you will see that the vote didn't decide anything even in the class. The document explicitly states "(sed nihil decretum)", which is translated "(but nothing was decided)."

Not to be too flip, but I think Gary should now be the one seeing red flags. Duncker, who Gary directed me to in his own article states the following:

“Thirdly, both texts on the distinction contain a term of which we have not yet heard : "ari auctoritate" in Massarelli's Diary ; "pari reverentia" in the Acts. The Acts even state that the Fathers, voting by a majority in favour of the anathema, thereby (itaque) approved the addition of the words, "pari pietatis affectu recipimus" in the decree. It seems to us that Massarelli has here introduced words that were not used at the meeting itself ; they would be used later in another context but, according to Massarelli, they expressed the idea of the majority of the Fathers, who did not want any distinction between the books. This explains why he adds, "sed nihil decretimi," vis. about these words.” (Duncker, Catholic Biblical Quarterly (15), 1953, p. 291)

The bolded words are found in the scan of CT which Gary posted and on which he is basing his argument. However, in the quote above (which matches Gary's "evidence") is where Duncker is outlining some discrepancies in the CT where Severoli’s diary, Massarelli’s diary, and the Acts give conflicting information. I’m starting to think Gary’s Latin is a bit rusty. Gary is going to have to work out these citations issues before we can even deal with his argument. His evidence (CT scan) conflicts with his star witness (Duncker).

"Swan and White has apparently misunderstood Metzger. Moreover, Metzger didn't really read Trent very carefully because the vote he recorded likely wasn't even on the anathema and even if it was "nothing was decided” by it.”

Well, if it is true that Metzger did not read Trent carefully then I think the same can be said for Gary.

“What’s the difference between a propagandist and an apologist? A propagandist is mainly concerned with mocking and ridiculing his opponents for the entertainment of his co-religionists using whatever information he or she finds to be damaging. An apologist, however, takes his opponents seriously and recognizes that the opponents do have a rationale for what they believe. A good apologist feels the strength of his opponent’s position before critiquing it.”

Unfortunately for Gary, I think he has yet to ascertain anyone’s position, including Trent’s. The propagandist vs apologist may have been an overshot on this one.

“The very fact that James Swan had a red flag or two, I think, says some good things about James Swan. As for the "44% vote" idea, this one has been sent to the graveyard of bad arguments, may it rest in peace.”

Again, the post in question was mine (Carrie). And I will admit that Metzger’s quote was a bit confusing. But unfortunately for Gary (again), he has yet to prove anything except that his reading of both Duncker and Latin have disproven his own argument. I'm afraid the victory dance on the grave of my argument will have to wait until he locates the correct page in the CT.

*For the record, my jabs at Gary are meant to point out his own mistakes using his own measure. Hence, the title of my post is meant as a joke. I do think there is more to the story on this topic, but I will leave Gary to figure out where he went wrong for now.

(written by CARRIE)


Carrie said...

I have now opened comments.

Any comments that are off-topic or targeted to my personal motivations, my abilities, my tone, etc. will be deleted. If your comments are not about the facts of this topic they will disappear.

Turretinfan said...

What I find interesting is Michuta's reliance on "Concilium Tridentinum." It's not as though the Council of Trent itself published a journal of its proceedings. Or perhaps I'm wrong. And, if so, I wonder if Michuta could direct us to that work.

Based on the typography in the Michuta's cut-n-paste jobs, I imagine he's referring to the immediately succeeding volume (i.e volume 5) of this work (link to volume 4).


Unknown said...

What I find interesting is Michuta's reliance on "Concilium Tridentinum." It's not as though the Council of Trent itself published a journal of its proceedings.

The CT is the official acts of the Council, at least, what is published. I believe it is a compilation of Severoli's notes (he was the council promoter), Massarelli who became the official secretary, and I believe some letters from the legates. Jedin relied heavily on the CT for his book although I believe he used other source material.

The problem is that not only is the CT in latin, but I believe to get an accuarte understanding of what occurred over a certain time period, you have to jump around to piece together the different writings (across multiple volumes). At least that is the feeling I get from Jedin's footnotes. Besides perhaps weak latin skills, this is probably how Michuta pulled the wrong information.

It looks as if only Vol 4 is in Google books which doesn't help too much in this matter. Maybe I'll do a post on the documents from Trent, some of it may be interesting.

Captain Kangaroo said...
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Captain Kangaroo said...
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Unknown said...


Repeating a comment I have already deleted b/c it didn't follow the rules isn't helping your cause. I will delete all further comments from you.