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Historiography of Brian Tierney

Historiography of Brian Tierney

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Published by Matt Cromwell
This is a historiographic essay on the life and work of Brian Tierney. He's a medieval historian who focuses on church and state issues. I choose him because I appreciated that he takes the church/state issue back to the medieval period and he "rocked the boat" a bit with his conclusions. He (along with Karl Jung) brought historical criticism to the catholic doctrine of Papal Infallibility. I enjoyed reading him and I feel like this was a good review overall. A good example of my research and skills.
This is a historiographic essay on the life and work of Brian Tierney. He's a medieval historian who focuses on church and state issues. I choose him because I appreciated that he takes the church/state issue back to the medieval period and he "rocked the boat" a bit with his conclusions. He (along with Karl Jung) brought historical criticism to the catholic doctrine of Papal Infallibility. I enjoyed reading him and I feel like this was a good review overall. A good example of my research and skills.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Matt Cromwell on Jan 08, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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04/07/2013

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BRIAN TIERNEY:
 
A Life of Infallibility
 
A Historiographic EssayMatthew Cromwellfor HIST601 with Dr. Lawrence BaronDecember 16, 2010
 
BRIAN TIERNEY 
 by Matt Cromwell
PAGE 2 OF 21
I.
 
Introduction
In the field of the history of the tension between Church and State there are few Christianhistorians who do not focus on American history. Brian Tierney is one of the few. Tierney is aRoman Catholic medievalist who’s influence both within and without the Catholic Church issignificant. He has effectively shown the Middle Ages as being anything but “dark” as well asproven that the modern concepts of democracy and natural rights have their origins in the MiddleAges. That alone would make any professional academician satisfied with their career. But Tierney is also Catholic and has sought to enhance the Church’s understanding of the doctrine of papal infallibility. It is this goal that has dominated Tierney’s career and works and has brought him – for good or ill – the most attention of all.This short historiography of Tierney’s work is an attempt to illustrate his development and highlight how his perspective on papal infallibility has influenced every other major work hehas published.
II.
 
Outlining Tierney’s Career and Works
Brian Tierney (b. 1922) began his career at The Catholic University of America in 1951and then accepted a post at Cornell in 1959 where he has stayed until the present. He publishedseveral significant works that have each been reprinted and republished throughout his career. Iwill be covering four of these works:
Foundations of the Conciliar Theory 
(Tierney 1955),
TheCrisis of Church and State
(Tierney 1964), a two volume source book for undergraduates called
 The Middle Ages
(Tierney 1970)(Tierney 1970b), and
Origins of Papal Infallibility 
(Tierney 1972).Each of these works highlights different aspects of church organization in the medievalperiod, while also addressing the issue of papal power, each from a different angle. While he ismost respected for his work in
Foundations
and
Church and State
he is most bedeviled by
Origins
.
 
BRIAN TIERNEY 
 by Matt Cromwell
PAGE 3 OF 21
It is my belief that 
Origins
of all his works, makes explicit what he had previously as well asafterwards only said indirectly.The controversy around this work was preceded by Hans Küng’s
Infallible? An Inquiry 
one of the primary pieces of evidence used against Küng in stripping him of his license to teachwithin the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed, Tierney references the coincidence and distanceshimself from Küng in his preface by saying that his book was not provoked by Küng’s but “mayprove to have some relevance” for the discussion surrounding that controversy. It would be avaluable study in itself to compare the main arguments of Küng, Tierney, and even someone socentral to 20
th
Century theology as Karl Rahner, and to extrapolate why Küng was dealt with soharshly in comparison, specifically when their conclusions are very similar.Of all of Tierney’s works,
Origins
is also the only one to have met so much criticism that in1974 Tierney engaged in a published “duel” with Father Alfons Stickler, the then prefect of theApostolic Vatican Library (now Cardinal Librarian and Archivist of the Roman Church). Sevenyears later the controversy remained fresh enough that Tierney enters the fray with D.L. D’Avaryregarding his article “A Letter of Innocent III and the Idea of Infallibility” (D’Avray 1981). That discussion continued through responses from each of them as well. I will elaborate on thesediscussions when covering
Origins
later; here I want to illustrate the significance of this work inthe scope of Tierney’s career.By claiming
Origins
as the full expression of Tierney’s work, one can see a trajectory to hiscareer which is illustrative of his methodology and approach to medieval history. Throughexamining his significant influences and the works themselves I hope to illustrate clearly that papal infallibility is Tierney’s primary concern as well as show how he has adapted over theyears.

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