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Protestant principle of Scriptura sola. Indeed, it can be said that the theology of tradition emerged as a distinct treatise within Catholic dogmatics because of the Reformers’ challenge. Catholic theologians had to respond to the charge that the teaching of the Church represents a fundamental corruption of the original revelation of Christianity. They had to consider how Church practices, foreign to the first century, are compatible with the spirit of apostolic teaching. And they had to explain how doctrines which only reached their full maturity long after the time of Christ are implicit in the New Testament. To be sure, the Counter Reformation thinkers were not the first to grapple with the problem of the development of practice and doctrine. But the challenge of the Reformers provided a formidable impetus to further thought. What is the principle of Scriptura sola? According to what can be considered Luther’s theoretical exposition of the principle, written in 1520 as a response to the Bull Exsurge Domine of Leo X, Christians should be guided foremost by the Scriptures as the word of God.1 Merely human words can follow from God’s word, but they must lead back to it and be proven by it. The traditions of the Catholic Church are precisely such human words, according to the Reformers.2 Traditions therefore do not merit the reverence due to Scripture as the word of God. Catholic theologians involved in the immediate response to Luther, notably Johannes Eck and Johann Cochläus, employed a double argument against the principle of Scriptura sola. They affirmed that, first, all heresies stem from the misinterpretations of Scripture, and second, that Scripture is to be understood only with in the Church, as guided by the Holy Spirit.3 An authentic tradition “Sint ergo Christianorum prima principia non nisi verba divina, omnium autem hominum verba conclusiones hinc eductae et rursus illuc reducendae et probandae.” Martin Luther, “Assertio omnium articolorum M. Lutheri per Bullam Leonis X. novissimam damnatorum” (December, 1520), in D. Martin Luthers Werke, kritische Gesamtausgabe: sec. 1, vols. 1-57; 58 (Index); 60 (History of the Critical Edition); sec. 2 (Tischreden): 6 vols.; sec. 3 (Deutsche Bibel): 12 vols.; sec. 4 (Briefwechsel): 16 vols.; 93 vols. (Weimar: H. Böhlau, 1883- ); vol. 7, p. 98. Gerhard Ebeling notes that Luther’s exposition of the Scripture principle is not a clear antithesis to the Catholic understanding, and was prefigured by the Biblicism of medieval heretics. Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 3rd (1959) ed., s.v. “Hermeneutik,” byGerhard Ebeling, 111.251. Congar points out that, although Luther rarely used the word “traditio,” it was always linked to the adjective “human” as a term of derogation (“Ad dialogum Silvestri Prieriatis. . .” (1518) in Luthers Werke, 1. 659, and “Operationes in Psalmos” (1519) in Luthers Werke, V.32). See Congar, I.185, translation, p. 141.
3 2 1
George Tavard cites and comments upon Eck’s 1521 De primatu Petri adversus Lutherum, among other works by Eck, and upon Cochläus’ 1524 De auctoritate Ecclesiae 335
authorizes the interpretation of Scripture. Luther replied that Scripture is sui ipsius interpres: “it wants to be interpreted by a comparison of passages from everywhere, and understood under its own direction.”4 This does not mean, of course, that Scripture is granted an absolute independence. It is, on the contrary, the spirit and body of Christ, and the principle of sola Scriptura needs to be supplemented by the principles of sola gratia and sola fidei.5 But within this threefold of exclusive principles, there is little room for the interpretive authority of the Church and its traditions. And it is to tradition – not as an antithesis to Scripture, but (in the view of most Counter-Relormation theologians) as its complement – that Catholics turned in their polemic against the Reformers.6 et Scripturae adversus Lutherum and (in relation to the Holy Spirit) his 1538 Aequitatis discussio super Consilio delectorum Cardinalium. See George H. Tavard, Holy Writ or Holy Church: The Crisis of the Protestant Reformation (London: Burns and Oates, 1959), pp. 118-129. Tavard also treats Cochläus in a later publication, “Tradition in Early PostTridentine Theology,” Theological Studies 23 (1962): 377-405, esp. pp. 399-400. “Sic habet universa scriptura, ut collatis undique locis velit seipsam interpretari et se sola magistra intelligi.” Martin Luther, “Deuteronomium Mosi cum annotationibus” (1525), in Luthers Werke, 14.556. Translation: “Lectures on Deuteronomy,” trans. Richard R. Craemmerer, in Luther’s Works, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan et al., 54 vols. (St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publishing House, 1950), 9.21.
Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 3rd (1959) ed., s. v. “Schriftprinzip,” by G. Gloege, vol. 5, cols. 1540-43, col. 1541 cited here.
Thus it is no surprise that the first treatise formally devoted to tradition appeared in 1549, only 32 years after the posting of the 95 theses in 1517: Martin Pérez de Ayala’s De divinis, .apostolicis atque ecclesiasticis traditionibus (Coloniae: excudebat Iaspar Gennepaeus, 1549). This work stood in the line begun by the pre-Tridentine publication of Albert Pigge’s 1538 Apologia indicti a Paolo III R. Pontif. concilii adversus Lutheranae confederationis. . . (Coloniae: M. Nouesianus, 1538) and John Driedo’s 1533 De Ecclesiasticus Scripturis et Dogmatibus (vol. 1 of the Opera Omnia, ed. Ruard Tapper, 3 vols. (Louvain: Bartholomeus Gravius, 1556)). The most influential treatment of the concept of tradition in the period immediately after Trent is Melchior Cano’s De locis theologicis, published posthumously in 1563 (see vol. I of the Opera Omnia, 3 vols. (Rome: Libreria edit rice della Vera Romana de E. Filiziani, 1900), esp. Book I, chap. iii). Of later controversialists, the best known is Robert Bellarmine, whose1599 De controversiis christianae fidei in four volumes (Venize: apud Societatem Minimam, 1603) was widely read in the theological world. On Pérez de Ayala, see George H. Tavard, “Tradition in Early, Post-Tridentine Theology,” Theological Studies 23 (1962), esp. pp. 391399. Albert Pigge is treated by Johannes Beumer in Die mündliche Überlieferung, volume I, part iv of the Handbuch der Dogmengeschichte, series edited by Michael Schmaus and Alois Grillmeier (FreiburgBaselWien: Herder, 1962), p. 95; and in Tavard, Holy Writ or Holy Church, pp. 144-150. An extensive discussion of Bellarmine can be found in Josef Rupert Geiselmann, Die Heilige Schrift und die Tradition, vol. 18 of Quaestiones Disputatae, ed. Karl Rahner and 336
and second. in Migne. pp. and Athanasius of Alexandria (fl. αυτάρκεις” 1. 1914). 5 vols. i. Patrologia Graeca. Murphy’s The Notion of Tradition in John Driedo (Milwaukee. Gerhard Kittel situates the term within its classical and New Testament context in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. a. 5. and that all necessary things are plain within it (In Epistolam secundam ad Thessalonicenses. in Quaestiones disputatae. 50. in Migne. 9 337 . ca. 22. vol. sec. 14).. 274-275. 640). in 3. “αυτάρκεια.139-140 (translation. Melchior Cano’s thought is sketched by Tavard. chap. The Protestants insisted that. Wis. col. 111-116). 107-108). chap. John Chrysostom (fl. s. 2. John L. Patrologia Latina.” 8 7 Thomas Aquinas. 25. 7. pp. pp. Patrologia Graeca. 195-220) adds that if something is not written in Scripture. tradition must give way. For other references. homily 4.. For further references see Congar. 62. This argument was a persuasive one. Taurinensis (Augustae Taurinorum: Ex typographia Pontificia et S. Of all the references cited by Congar as to the sufficiency of Scripture according to the Fathers (I.8 One can also cite medieval theologians to the effect that everything necessary for salvation is contained in Scripture. col. makes precisely this point: “sacra Scriptura ad hoc divinitus est ordinata ut per eam nobis veritas manifestetur necessaria ad salutem” (Quaestiones duodecim quodlibetales. col. 378-390. 328-337) writes that the Scriptures suffice (αυτάρκεις) for the exposition of the truth (Oratia contra gentes. Irenaeus of Lyons (fl. Congregationis. Hermogenes. chap. because Scripture excludes certain doctrines and practices which the Church upholds. For the ante-Nicene Fathers. then his opponent. in Migne. in Migne. col.. Petri Marietti. I.. translation. RR. 805). and Congar. pp. and Tertullian (fl. it is complete and more than sufficient (“sibique ad omnia satis superque sufficiat”) in itself (Commonitorium primum. Quodlibetum VII. ed. ed. I. vol.9 In the light of Heinrich Schlier (Freiburg-Basel-Wien: Herder.” pp. ed. q. because Scripture contains all Christian truth. in Migne. vi. III. pp. for example. Patrologia Graeca. 1964 ed. vol. 184-221. although Scripture requires the authority of ecclesiastical interpretation. 218). especially for Irenaeus and Tertullian. 107-111). especially in the light of patristic teaching on the unique and primary dignity of Scripture. the Reformers charged: first. “Tradition. 1962). chap. 1959) provides a widely-praised analysis of that Counter-Reformation theologian. Instead of complementing one another. because they were spoken by the Word of God and his Spirit (Adversus haereses.143-148 (translation. 466-467. vol. 178-200) describes the Scriptures as perfect. see van den Eynde. vol. v. 2. and requires no supplement from tradition.: Seraphic Press. 4). 120-121. 2nd ed.The power of the Lutheran critique lay in the denial of the complementarity of Scripture and tradition. ed. col. the two are antithetical.139-143. where Scripture and tradition clash. Scripture is the source of all truth and the court of appeal in doctrinal disputes. 485). Patrologia Latina. ed. 386) states that everything in Scripture is clear and straightforward (σαφη και ευθέα).. only Athanasius and Vincent actually use cognates of the adjective “sufficient. vol. must fear that which follows upon those who add to or detract from Scripture (Adversus Hermogenem. 28. Vincent of Lerins affirms that.7 The Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries were of the same opinion.
p. 302.70. limited – sufficiency. how ever. Heretics. III. The Tridentine Decree The Council of Trent offered the classical solution. while truth rests in the word of the Lord.10 But the Scriptures are formally insufficient in that they do not suffice for their own interpretation. pp.12 Yet many theologians. 1546.255-261. they said. 855). Scripture. to the problem of Scripture and tradition. col. and the Protestant reforms must follow. 338 . Irenaeus. at the close of the council’s fourth 10 Congar notes that. one can understand how Protestants could press Catholics to choose between alternatives which seemed mutually exclusive: either the primacy of Scripture is to be granted. assert the validity of doctrines and practices whose justification does not lie primarily in Scripture? Many theologians of the modern period treated this problem by distinguishing between the formal and material sufficiency of Scripture. attests that the fullness of truth was deposited in the Church. The distinction between formal and material sufficiency has the merit. 7. ed. I. Patrologia Graeca.. chap. the Scriptures need to be authoritatively interpreted. on the one hand. while the Fathers acknowledged the material sufficiency of Scripture. vol. was another matter. 11 12 See Congar. As a consequence. for example. The sufficiency of tradition was self-evident to them. especially those at the end of the modern period. have always appealed to the Bible to support their contentions. 30-35. translation. Patrologia Graeca.1.this strong testimony from the Catholic Church’s own sources. ed. X. vol. which would give the lie to Catholic affirmations of the primacy of Scripture. One cannot speak of the sufficiency of the Scriptures in the fullest sense without reference to that body whose exposition of them has the assistance (if not the inspiration) of the Holy Spirit. 1. This was recognized in the patristic age. in that sense. of being in accord with the teachings of the Council of Trent. pp. Bk. 508-519). translation. and required a distinction. if that is the proper term. translation. for example. The material sufficiency of Scripture refers to that property by which the sacred books are said to contain all the truths necessary for salvation. argued that the Scriptures do have a material – and. and Origen states that. II. In Roman Catholic teaching. II. the ecclesiastical magisterium alone interprets the Scriptures with binding authority. 13. iv.47-50. or human traditions are to be admitted. The solution can be found in the decree De canonicis Scripturis. one need not believe anything which has not been transmitted by the Church of God (Commentaria in Evangelium secundum Matthaeum: commentariorum series. 1667). apart from which are only “thieves and robbers” (Adversus haereses. in Migne. and on the other. Other texts in Congar. promulgated on April 8. A dilemma faced the Catholic Church: how could it assert the unique and primary dignity of Scripture. in Migne.11 and became a point of strife during the Reformation and CounterReformation. the link between that phrase and the “truths necessary for salvation” was not forged until the late middle ages (Congar. col..
qui ab ipsa synodo suscipiuntur. which have been received by the apostles from the mouth of Christ Himself.13 “Sacrosancta oecumenica et generalis Tridentina synodus.session. nec non traditiones ipsas. turn ad mores pertinentes. they answered the questions of where the traditions originated. quinam sint. since one God is the author of both. the manner of their transmission. ne cui dubitatio suboriri possit. aut ab ipsis apostolis Spiritu Sancto dictante quasi per manus traditae ad nos usque pervenerunt. A critical text of the decree (with which I have brought the Denzinger text into accord. and [the Synod] clearly perceiving that this truth and instruction are contained in the written books and in the unwritten traditions. 244. cum utriusque unus Deus sit auctor. which was followed by a list of the canonical books of Scriptute. quod promissum ante per prophetas in scripturis sanctis Dominus noster Iesus Christus Dei Filius proprio ore primum promulgavit. hanc veritatem et disciplinam contineri in libris scriptis et sine scripta traditionibus. that with the abolishing of errors.” Denzinger. p. transmitted as it were from hand to hand. Mc. at the dictation of the Holy Spirit. is quoted here in full: The sacred and holy ecumenical and general Synod of Trent. and the kind of veneration in which the Christian is to hold Scripture and traditions. In the first of the session’s three decrees. and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession. no. have come down even to us. tanquam vel oretenus a Christo.15]: perspiciensque. Sacrorum vero librorum indicem huic decreto adscribendum censuit. pari pietatis affectu ac reverentia suscipit et veneratur. receives and holds in veneration with an equal affection of piety and reverence all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament. And so that no doubt may arise in anyone’s mind as to which are the books that are accepted by this Synod.. quae ab ipsius Christi are ab apostolis acceptae. The council fathers insisted that Scripture and traditions are not antithetical. as having been dictated either by Christ’s own word of mouth. deinde per suos apostolos tanquam fontem omnis et salutaris veritatis et morum disciplinae omni creaturae praedicari iussit [Mt. in Spiritu Sancto legitime congregata. turn ad fidem. and then commanded “to be preached” by His apostles “to every creature” as the source of every saving truth and of instruction in morals [Matt. those that appertain both to faith and to morals. but form a unity. which promised before through the Prophets in the Holy Scriptures our Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God first promulgated with His own mouth. keeping this constantly in view. the purity itself of the Gospel is preserved in the Church. 16. and also the traditions themselves. orthodoxorum patrum exempla secuta. [the Synod] following the examples of the orthodox Fathers. The first half of the decree. it has decreed that a list of the Sacred books be added to this decree. 28:19 ff. lawfully assembled in the Holy Spirit. mainly by reducing the initial letter of certain proper nouns from the upper to the lower case) can be found in 13 339 . 783. vel a Spiritu Sancto dictatas et continua successione in ecclesia catholica conservatas. translation. praesidentibus in ea eisdem tribus Apostolicae Sedis legatis.19 sq. omnes libros tam veteris quam novi testamenti. ut sublatis erroribus puritas ipsa evangelii in ecclesia conservetur. with the same three Legates of the Apostolic See presiding over it. or from the apostles themselves. Mark 16:15]. hoc sibi perpetuo ante oculos proponens. 28. or by the Holy Spirit.
1901. The Council of Trent made it a dictum that. and both are to be regarded as making an equal demand upon piety and reverence. Der Ursprung des katholischen Traditionprinzips (Würzburg: Konrad Triltsch. in deciding a held with an as saying that doctrinal dispute.91. Within the decree. How the Gospel is contained in Scripture and traditions. To the question of the kind of veneration in which Scripture and traditions are to be held. and second. they avoided the issue of Scriptural primacy. Scripture is to prevail. is the source of every saving truth and of instruction in morals. Scripture and traditions form a unity. that when Scripture and tradition clash. meaning the entirety of the good news of salvation. tractatum. how issue with the Protestant principle of Scriptura sola was to be joined. To the question of the mode of transmitting the traditions. edited by the Societas Goerresiana. that Scripture and traditions can clash. V. The Protestant anti thesis – Scripture or tradition. and to what extend it is contained in the one or the other.” in libris scriptis et sine scripto traditionibus. 7 vols. 14 340 . But saying that the two are to be received and equal affection of piety and reverence is not the same the two are of equal value. between Scripture and traditions. 15.). the phrase “pari pietatis affectu ac reverentia” suggests that Scripture no longer has primacy. The fathers present no criterion for deciding between the two media of revelation. The council fathers state that both Scripture and traditions have their origin in God. Herder. The Protestants had insisted that. the decree suggests a personal communication (“transmitted as it were from hand to hand. Trent insisted upon equality: it venerates them both “with an equal affection of piety and reverence. for Roman Catholics. who received them at the dictation of the Holy Spirit. The fathers of the Council of Trent responded in the following way. The Gospel. namely.” pari pietatis affectu ac reverentia. The truth and moral instruction of the Gospel is contained in both. epistularum. This truth and instruction are contained “in the written books and in the unwritten traditions. words of God or words of men. either from the mouth of Jesus or at the dictation of the Holy Spirit. The council decree laid the groundwork upon which subsequent theologians would build.14 On the other hand. as the decree states. actorum.” quasi per manus traditae) which has been preserved by a continuous succession in the Catholic Church. On the one hand. In short. Joseph Ranft. the council fathers refused to choose. primacy of authority belongs to Scripture. in 13 (Freiburg in Breisgau: B. for example. It is clear. the council fathers implicitly denied the premise of the second Protestant critique. are matters about which the fathers are silent. first. even from this preliminary analysis. divine or human authority – is never once explored. but shares equal authority with unwritten traditions. but rather puts traditions and Scripture on the same level in order to prevent the degradation of traditions.This passage focuses upon the purity of the Gospel. It has been noted that the expression “pari pietatis affectu” does not set tradition on the same level as God’s unchanging word. 12. the Tridentine fathers trace them back to Christ or to the apostles. 1931). To the question of the origin of the unwritten traditions. To be sure. as it were. But two questions which it Concilium Tridentinum: diariorum. this possibility never arises.
123-206. Josef Rupert Geiselmann (b. Ortigues (“Écritures et Traditions apostoliques au Concile de Trente. To ascertain the meaning of the change. Geiselmann’s Interpretation Geiselmann called attention to a change in wording between the draft of the Tridentine decree and the decree itself. 1959). Beiträge zum Begriff der Tradition (Munich: Hax Hueber Verlag. originated in the translation into Latin of Geiselmann presented his thesis in a compressed form in the article. In “Das Konzil von Trient. Der Grundgedanke der Theologie Johann Adam Möhlers und der katholischen Tübinger Schule (Freiburg-Basel-Wien: Herder. Kuhn (Freiburg: Herder. The thesis appeared first in a preliminary way in Geiselmann’s three volume work.” in Michael Schmaus. permits an interpretation in which Scripture and traditions are media of the same truth. Die apostolische Tradition in der Form der kirchlichen Verkündigung – das Formalprinzip des Katholizismus dargestellt im Geiste der Traditionslehre von Joh. and was continued by other authors.31. Geiselmann’s first two volumes. The meaning of the change.” Geiselmann (p. pp. were republished in 1966 as Lebendiger Glaube aus geheiligter Überlieferung. he examined. Ev. the truth of the Gospel is declared to be “contained partly in the Sacred Scriptures. because the draft suggests the complementarity of Scripture and tradition. pp. and part is contained in the other. The final decree. 15 16 Concilium Tridentinum. he discovered. The third volume was published in 1959 as Die lebendige Überlieferung als Norm des christlichen Glaubens. First. “Das Konzil von Trient über das Verhältnis der Heiligen Schrift und der nicht geschriebenen Traditionen. This.16 The actual decree of April 8 deletes the adverbs “partly” and states only that the Gosepl is contained in Scripture “and” in tradition (in libris scriptis et sine scripto traditionibus). however. how is the assertion that the two are to be held “pari pietatis affectu ac reverentia” to be reconciled with the patristic and medieval testimony to the unique and primary dignity of Scripture? The force with which these questions were raised was due in large part to the research of the Tübingen dogmatic theologian. especially in the decade immediately preceding the Second Vatican Council. expressing the same thing in different ways. This change is significant.” became Geiselmann’s theme. 133) credits Edm.left unanswered became particularly acute for theologians of the modern period. became a series. and partly in the unwritten traditions” (partim contineri in libris scriptis.A. X. first of all. Part of the truth of the Gospel is contained in one. ed. Die Überlieferung in der neueren Theologie which.15 In the draft of the decree. 1966). from the “partim-partim” formula to the simple conjunction “et. 341 . 1890). Die mündliche Überlieferung.” Recherches de Science Religieuse 36 (1949): 271-299) as the first to call attention to the nominalism implicit in the “partim-partim” formula.. the origin of the “partim-partim” formula. dated March 22. 1957).1. 5. how is the truth of the Gospel contained in both Scripture and tradition? Second. after these three volumes. It was presented in a more extended form in Die Heilige Schrift und die Tradition (1962). In this volume Geiselmann first explored the Tridentine decree. published in 1942 but virtually destroyed during the war. partim sine scripto traditionibus). 1546. 155-160.
and New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.60-61. The answer involves one of the dramas of the council.18.51-52 (translation. II. Furthermore. Melbourne. See Geiselmann. V. in the meeting of April 5. Later. I: Der Kampf um das Konzil. and to this degree departs from the Greek text.86-87. rather than parallel. p. Traversari translated this incorrectly. (Freiburg: Herder Verlag. spells the first word ταις. trans.7l. II. according to Geiselmann.” pp.64-65). Traversari’s text was published in 1498 (Strassburg) and 1546 (Cologne).. it implies that the relationship between Scripture and tradition is complementary.433. line 5). both combating the principle of Scriptura sola. and by Johannes Eck in his 1526 De sacrificio missae. see Concilium Tridentinum. II: Die erste Trienter Tagungsperiode 1545/47 (Freiburg: Herder. Geiselmann asked why this formula was not adopted in the final decree. Geschichte des Konzils von Trient. the Bishop of Chioggia.. 1951). II. suggesting that all doctrines necessary for salvation are to be found in Scripture. But the Traversari version. partim non scriptus.18 Fisher and Eck were cited by the council fathers. sec. “Das Konzil von Trient. but also in what is not written. 140-143. Translation: A History of the Council of Trent. It was cited by John Fisher in his 1524 Assertionis lutheranae confutatio. and vol. PseudoDionysius wrote that what God had revealed to human beings was made known not just in the written word. writes the modern historian. the “partim-partim” expression became an independent formula. 147. Toronto. Ibid.the Greek Ecclesiastica hierarchia of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. and through them. 1546.”17 The Latin wrongly suggested that neither Scripture nor that which is unwritten is sufficient in itself.20 But Giacomo Nacchianti. Hubert Jedin. General of the Servite Order. a translation made about 1400 by Ambrosius Traversari. Most of the fathers. 11. 17 18 19 20 Geiselmann. “Das Konzil von Trient. col. took for granted that the truth of the Gospel is contained partly in Scripture. Edinburgh. Hubert Jedin. Patrologia Graeca. chap. in Migne. 3. lines 25-29. and Augustine Bonuccio. vol. disagreed.71-72. 1bid. that Scripture is complete and The text in Pseudo-Dionysius is τοις εγγράφοις τε αυτων και αγράφοις µυήσεσιν (Ecclesiastica hierarchia. Nacchianti questioned the very principle of tradition on February 23. II. 141-145. translation. Ernest Graf. line 16). Migne’s text. however incorrect. in contrast to that used by Geiselmann. 376. was influential. also known as Camaldulensis. vol. (London. 2nd ed. Paris. ed. 1957). on March 23. I. according to Geiselmann. II. 21 342 . II.” pp.21 Bonuccio argued. V. 5. 2 vols. See Concilium Tridentinum. and the last µυήσεσι). Nacchianti stated that it would be impious to put Scripture and tradition on the same level (Jedin. a statement which resulted in “magnus tumultus” (Concilium Tridentinum. as “partim scriptis. partly in tradition.74-75.19 After establishing the origin of the formula contained in the draft. 1957)..
” pp. II. fn. In the eyes of the council fathers.22 The arguments of Nacchianti and Bonuccio did not win general approval. Ibid.26 The absence Jedin. But if the replacement is to be regarded as an improvement in the text. 162-163. As to the positive significance of the “et. “Das Konzil von Trient.61.47.23 and Bonuccio fell into an argument with another of the fathers which had to be silenced by Cardinal Cervini. II. so doch die Sache billigten. translation.75. lines 1-2. it affirms that the relation of Scripture and tradition is not a complementary one. the objections of this minority were apparently met. The council fathers had settled on an ambiguous formula which seemed to allow the interpretation of both majority and minority. II.75. II. he states. The formula of the draft of the decree. 22 23 24 25 Jedin. We have only the speech of Nacchianti and the objection of Bonuccio. translation. Nacchianti was later obliged to leave the council. lines 16-18.24 Nonetheless. II. the question arises as to how the text is thereby improved. V. That is. Such a replacement would simply make the text more ambiguous and less clear. 26 Jedin emphasizes that this was the minority view and unacceptable: “Es kann nicht zweifelhaft sein. both denying the parity of Scripture and tradition.” Geiselmann argues that there is none. Geiselmann. See Concilium Tridentinum.458.” Jedin. 97-98. II.74-75). and that the Gospel is not contained partly in the one and partly in the other. nämlich dass die dogmatische Tradition einen die Schrift ergänzenden Offenbarungsstrom beinhalte. I. the relation of Scripture to tradition remained an open question. the future Pope Marcellus II and one of the council presidents. The change from the “partim-partim” formula to the “et” signifies only what the council fathers did not intend. 343 .25 Geiselmann’s view on the negative clarification embodied in the “et” is somewhat controversial. however.” He reasons in the following way: if the text of the final decree can be interpreted in the sense of the draft version.59-61 (translation. II.525. there is no record of the council fathers having discussed the reasons for the change in the draft. Die heilige Schrift und die Tradition.. fn. in which the Gospel was described as being contained “partly” in Scripture and “partly” in traditions. II. dass die Mehrzahl der in Trient anwesenden Theologen wenn nicht den Ausdruck partim-partim.61.64-65. was replaced by one in which the Gospel is said to be contained in the one “and” in the other. pp. 2). one on which a consensus had not yet been reached. First of all.that tradition is not the complement of Scripture but its authoritative interpretation. Geiselmann answers the question by postulating a kind of negative clarification. argues that the conjunction “et” cannot be interpreted in the sense of the formula “partim-partim. 21 (translation. then the replacement of the “partim-partim” formula by the conjunction “et” is superfluous. Geiselmann.
Manz. Gregorianum 40 (1959): 38-53).30 Robert Bellarmine gave the doctrine of God’s word being contained partly in Scripture. (Augustae Vindelicorum. (Paris: apud Ludovicum Vivès.27 Another objection made against Geiselmann’s view is that it forces a revision of post-Tridentine theology. 29 Catechismus ex decreto Concilii Tridentini. Vol. 11. A.29 It was canonized. secundum editionem Coloniae. See Geiselmann. that the change in the draft was regarded by the fathers as insignificant.of recorded discussion might suggest.. see also p. 168-177. “Das Konzil von Trient. 147-148. 30 Roberti Bellarmini. A summary of the fourth book of De verbo Dei. et Clementis XIII. vol. partly in tradition.28 This misunderstanding was perpetuated by Peter Canisius.” Scholastik 34 (1959): 1-22. 17073. a persuasive exposition in his De verbo Dei. 50).” pp. 31 344 . Bellarmine is also treated in Johannes Beumer. partly unwritten. the Summa doctrinae christianae. Summa doctrinae christianae. XII. 389. 1845. one could argue. so to speak. devoted to “De verbo non scripta. 45. “Das Konzil von Trient. anno 1569. ex editione veneta. 27 28 The second part of Geiselmann’s 1957 article is entitled “Das Missverständnis in der Bestimmung des Verhältnisses von Schrift und nicht geschriebenen Überlieferung in der nachtridentischen Theologie. publici iuris factam accuratissime expressus (Ratisbonae: Instit. ii. 1970). 4 vols. in his work of 1555. I contains the first three controversies. p.” is provided by E. pridem G. Petrus Canisius. including De verbo Dei scripta et non scripta. jussu editus ad editionem Romae A. Ryan. Gregorianum 40 (1959): 624-635. in the Catechismus Romanus of 1566. editorem. Librar. as a misunderstanding. See Gerhard Bellinger.” pp. 1905). Prooemium. apud Geruvinum Calenum et haeredes Joannis Quentel.31 That these representatives of post-Tridentine theology misunderstood the council decree is a contention hard to prove. die wir bei den vortridentinischen Theologen gefunden haben” (p. published between 1586 and 1593. Max. apud Carolum Kollmann. pp. in the section “De praeceptis Ecclesiae. ad parochos Pii V. The Historical Scholarship of Saint Bellarmine (New York: Fordham University Press. Lennerz treats the same themes in “Sine scripto traditiones. 1833). I. Opera Omnia. “ See Geiselmann. the first controversy treated in his De controversiis fidei. 12 vols.” written in Latin. the first great controversial theologian of the post-Tridentine period. “Die Frage nach Schrift und Tradition bei Robert Bellarmin.D. p. 18701876). Die katechetische Antwort des Trienter Konzils auf die Hauptkatechismen der Reformatoren. Justinus Fèvre. J. who states: “Die Lehre des Konzils ist die gleiche. ed. 1936).” sec. 27 of Konfessionskundliche und kontroverstheologische Studien (Paderborn: Bonifacius Druckerei. Even the supporters of Geiselmann are reluctant to accept the thesis that the change in the final decree from “partim-partim” to “et” was meant to This is the point of Heinrich Lennerz (“Scriptura sola?” written in German. Bibliopolam. Pont. vol. pluribus tum additis tum correctis. Geiselmann characterizes the persistence of the view that the Gospel is partly written. Der Catechismus Romanus und die Reformation.
Kuhn granted to Scripture a “relative Vollständigkeit. he asserts. Johannes Beumer points out that the council fathers were not concerned about the modern question of whether the Gospel is divided into Scripture and tradition.35 The insufficiency of Scripture was emphasized during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation period to such a degree that Scripture and tradition came to be seen as two distinct and very often opposed sources of the Gospel. theologians began to acknowledge that the Scriptures do not contain everything necessary for the life of the Church. sec.” See ibid. He states this in an indirect way in “Das Konzil von Trient. in whose thought he finds the controversial theology of the period after Trent raised to a higher plateau. “Das Konzil von Trient.” pp. 270. and the aspect central to the characterization of the modern theology of tradition. pp.” Scholastik 34 (1959): 249-58). J. In this article. p. Geiselmann affirms the material sufficiency of Scripture by applauding the nineteenth-century Tübingen theologian. 217-218. for example. 33 See Geiselmann. he sketches the doctrine of the Church Fathers. in addition to the “auctoritas scriptuarum. p. 228.” there are also the “traditio universalis” and the particular bases for Church practice known as “propria et particularis instructio. First. E.. Die Heilige Schrift und die Tradition.36 This teaching obscured the venerable doctrine of the material 32 Congar. Then. His argument is an historical one.” and section ten. it may have had a “prophetic” meaning (I. p. section nine. 345 . die schriftgewordene Tradition aber vermittelt die Offenbarungswahrheit des Evangeliums in der Form ihrer Auslegung und ihres auktoritativen Verständnisses.” which is “inhaltlich [materially] relativ zureichend. translation. 34 Gratian’s Decretum. Kuhn.exclude the doctrine that the Gospel is contained partially in Scripture.” esp. 35 36 Ibid. is his advocacy of the material sufficiency of Scripture.”33 and makes it explicit in Die Heilige Schrift und Tradition. 264-265..32 But perhaps the most controversial aspect of Geiselmann’s thesis. under the influence of the Decretum of Gratian (a twelfth-century collection of canon law which rapidly achieved universal recognition).” Geiselmann sums up Kuhn’s view (and his own) in the following words: “Die Heilige Schrift vermittelt uns das Evangelium als Offenbarungswahrheit. 205-206.” Geiselmann.34 This doctrine was taught consistently. 8. partially in tradition. “Die Tradition über die materiale Suffizienz der Heiligen Schrift mit Bezug auf den Glauben. according to which divine revelation is identical with the Scriptures. which attempted to reconcile various traditions from Christian antiquity – and so was called the Concordia discordantium canonum – acknowledged that. “Die Übergang von der inhaltlichen Suffizienz zur Insuffizienz der Scrift.” esp. but simply wished to counter the Protestant critique of the Church’s “merely human” traditions (“Katholisches und protestantisches Schriftprinzip im Urteil des Trienter Konzils. “Die Tradition über die inhaltliche Insuffizienz der Heiligen Schrift mit Bezug auf die Mores und Consuetudines der Kirche. suggests that while this exclusion was not the conscious intention of the council fathers. up until the later middle ages. 168).
37 These theologians were so successful. p. their origin lies partly in Scripture. As to the Church’s moral teaching and customs. the latter stands apart from the mind or understanding of the apostles (Mackey. He answers the question of Josef Rupert Geiselmann.39 This is the only proper application of the “partim-partim” formula. It must be noted.” permits the doctrine of material sufficiency. 204. This sufficiency extends only to matters of faith.” in Maximilian Roesle and Oscar Cullmann. 131-159. on the one hand. Begegnung der Christen. With this distinction Geiselmann claims to have illuminated the matter. that this interpretation of or commentary on Scripture by the Church’s magisterium is usually distinguished from exegesis.40 Tradition thus becomes the living interpretation of the Scriptures.” 38 39 40 41 Geiselmann. partly in tradition. and Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Josef Knecht-Carolusdruckerei.. that today the material sufficiency of Scripture is widely acknowledged.. 1964). Ihre theologische Eigenart (Freiburg: Herder. 157). Studien evangelischer und katholischer Theologie (Stuttgart: Evangelisches Verlagswerk. insofar as it concerns the question of faith. 1959). whose recovery is due to the efforts of nineteenth-century theologians. But at least one of those whom he cites – Joseph Ratzinger – accepts the material sufficiency of Scripture with serious reservations. But the decree of the council. explicating only what is already implicit in the principles and teaching of Scripture. 346 .. has contributed to the obscurity of the question of sufficiency. on the other. of whose thought he is the principal modern exponent. is the source and norm of the Church’s teaching. Die katholische Tübinger Schule.B.41 X. p. 272. according to Geiselmann. The former is authentic because it is an understanding of that oral deposit from the apostles which finds expression in both Scripture and tradition. eds. 37 Geiselmann offers an impressive number of references in his article “SchriftTradition-Kirche.1. Scripture. Opposition to the Material Sufficiency of Scripture Geiselmann’s research provides compelling answers to the two questions raised by the decree De canonicis Scripturis of the Council of Trent. 282. according to Geiselmann. 282. from documentary analysis. See the section below entitled “The Question of Authority. it was not one of the doctrines of the Council of Trent. according to Geiselmann. especially the change from the “partim partim” formula to the simple “et. Men such as Johann Adam Möhler (1796-1838) and Johannes Ev.” p. “Das Konzil von Trient. Ein ökumenisches Problem. and matters of moral teaching. he says. however.38 To be sure. This is stated more fully in Geiselmann. that is. He adds that failure to distinguish between matters of faith. p. p. Die Heilige Schrift und Tradition. Ibid.sufficiency of Scripture. Ibid. as we shall find. von Kuhn (1806-1887) figure prominently in Geiselmann’s analysis of the Catholic Tübingen school.
258. And he answers the question of how.43 In the modern period. The change does not exclude the view that the truth of the Gospel is contained partly in Scripture. “Die Frage nach Schrift und Tradition bei Robert Bellarmin. 44 45 46 47 Mackey (p. The first is that there are indeed unwritten apostolic traditions. Lennerz. “Katholisches und protestantisches Schriftprinzip. in the Tridentine documents. however. many revealed truths which cannot be proven from Scripture. by consequence. Lennerz states further that there are. 11. it can be classified as one of many stylistic changes made in the draft which were not intended to alter its content. vol. De verbo Dei scripto et non scripto.47 But Bellarmine. See the section of his work entitled “De divina traditione. the worth of infant baptism. Beumer.” thesis xix. He draws certain conclusions from his rejection of Geiselmann’s interpretation of the change from the Tridentine draft to the final decree. These include the canonicity and inspiration of the Scriptures. 52-53. the two can be held “pari pietatis affectu ac reverentia. partly in tradition. Lastly. Bellarmine did not accept it. Beumer will not allow material sufficiency.how the truth of the Gospel is contained in both Scripture and traditions by stating that the entire truth is contained in the one and in the other. but only the complete harmony of Scripture and tradition. following Geiselmann’s exposition of his thesis.” p. Nothing in Scripture will contradict the truths of faith. chap. in the Opera Omnia.46 Lennerz’s theses have not been generally well received.44 Following a minute analysis of the documents of the Council of Trent. After an analysis of Bellarmine’s treatment of the question. 42 43 To be sure. Heinrich Lennerz and Johannes Beumer have taken issue with the doctrine of material sufficiency.42 and Franzelin gave it a qualified rejection. 153) criticizes Lennerz’s view that the question of the material sufficiency of Scripture has been decided by Trent. and called this material sufficiency. “Scriptura sola?” pp. is not without opponents. I. Beumer argues primarily on historical grounds. book iv. he writes. 16. Beumer. Beumer opposes Geiselmann’s interpretation of the change from the “partim-partim” formula in the draft to the “et” of the decree. the institution of the sacraments by Christ.45 Beumer’s writings are valuable in that they suggest the extent to which Geiselmann’s thesis rests upon what is latent. in the light of the ancient teaching about the primary dignity of Scripture.” with the doctrine of the material sufficiency of Scripture. he claims. esp. but should be acknowledged as a self-evident principle which follows from the conviction of many theologians that not everything is contained in Scripture. This doctrine. rather than manifest. and Congar regrets that Lennerz confines his 347 . he concludes that this is no cause for lament. Rather. the validity of baptism by a heretic. But he emphasized that there is no sense in which Scripture suffices apart from its infallible and apostolic custodians. although not all of them will find in Scripture their conclusive proof. Franzelin granted a “hypothetical” sufficiency to Scripture. Lennerz’s critique is of more systematic than historical interest. and the perpetual virginity of Mary.” p.
the context of anti-Protestant polemic within which Lennerz poses the question of Scriptura sola is overly controversial. which in Latin is the “sensus 348 .2. that matter requires a correct interpretation. he suggests. citing an anonymous treatise which he calls ancient and orthodox. Without a doubt. While conceding that the advocates of material sufficiency distinguish themselves from Protestants by insisting on only a material (as distinct from formal) sufficiency.216-217. and suggest the vitality – and controversial status – of this aspect of the modern theology of tradition. Published in 1959. simply as a restoration of the Scriptures to their rightful place as defined in Patristic teaching? Or did Geiselmann advocate such restoration as an irenic gesture to a Protestant world suspicious of Catholic claims to venerate Scripture? Is the doctrine of material sufficiency purely an affirmation of the unique dignity and unalterable character of Scripture? Or does it implicitly weaken. rather than acknowledging the formal aspect or authority by which a statement becomes a dogma (I. by linking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a documentary idea of revelation. But it does raise. This is what Eusebius.49 The Church. But the questions assert themselves. Second. that is. often appear mutually exclusive. treatment to the content of dogma. it judges that. Can the doctrine be interpreted. 164) also draws this conclusion.48 Furthermore. described as the φρόνηµα εκκλησιαστκόν. The doctrine of material sufficiency responds to these affirmations by judging first that Scripture is sufficient. his juxtaposition of the efforts of Geiselmann and his school with the Protestant reformers arouses more than historical interest. The question of the material sufficiency of Scripture. is similar to the question of Scriptura sola. in that it contains. The second is the equally ancient affirmation that the correct interpretation of Scripture occurs only within the Church. in Protestant writings. when the believer comes to share in the mind of the Church. He limits his attention to Tridentine theology and its emphasis upon those traditions which deserve veneration equal to that merited by Scripture. of the unique and primary dignity of Scripture. X. his article displays neither the conciliatory demeanor of the council nor its acknowledgment of Scripture as the very soul of theology. The matter of Scripture only attains a proper form. pp. all the truths necessary for salvation.he makes it abundantly clear that the doctrine of the material Sufficiency of Scripture is still a matter of dispute. when it is rightly appropriated. whose origins go back to the patristic age. while the matter of Scripture is sufficient. at least implicitly. in the view of theologians of the modern period. 167-16 48 49 Mackey (p. the spiritual bond which is at the basis of Christian unity? Lennerz does not raise these questions in an explicit way. Lennerz nevertheless taxes them with a position which bears more of a relation to Protestantism than it does to Tridentine Catholicism. however indirectly. for example. important questions about the relation of the doctrine of material sufficiency to the principle of Protestantism. translation. The first is the affirmation. Sufficiency and Authority The doctrine of the material sufficiency of Scripture can be regarded as an attempt by Catholic theologians to synthesize two ideas which. almost on the eve of the Second Vatican Council.
because it can be interpreted as signifying either place or relation. 1960). with an English translation by H. then. pp. Nothing else is needed.52 Sufficient comes from the Latin -ficere (an unstressed form of facere..139-148. The distinction between the material and formal sufficiency of Scripture. 20. V.33). The author of the Letter to the Hebrews referred to the same thing when. Aeneid. Only in the Church does Scripture enjoy a full.10. raises two questions. 2 vols. 2 vols. What suffices is that which underlies or enables one to undertake something.” ( . unqualified sufficiency.A.” Vergil. Patrologia Graeca. for the Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries. is the locus of correct understanding of the Gospel. Aeneas’ mother told him that Jupiter himself supplies (“sufficit”) the Greeks with courage and attendant strength.” esp. Mass. He includes Athanasius of Alexandria and Vincent of Lerins. The Etymology of Sufficiency Congar has shown that. sufficient is linked to the idea of place. It means literally “to make under.53 What suffices for the Greeks is the divine power which underlies their might. for the ante-Nicene Fathers. The Ecclesiastical History. and for the medieval theologians. according to the modern theology of tradition. the sufficiency of Scripture. to make do) and the prefix sub-. Congar is prepared to grant. 1975). also in Migne. 31. and London: William Heinemann Ltd.2.618. (Cambridge. In Hebrew.28. above. See footnote 162. ecclesiasticus” (Eusebius Pamphili. containing within it all truth? The second question has to do with authority: why is the Church the authoritative locus for Scriptural interpretation? X.. 410-421. pp.51 The French theologian cites an impressive number of patristic sources testifying to Scripture as the source of all truth.: Harvard University Press. with Geiselmann. quoting Jeremiah.: Harvard University Press. 11. 38. he spoke of the law which the Lord will write on the believer’s mind or διάνοια (Heb. for example. Georgics. 51 52 53 “Ipse pater Danais animos virisque secundas sufficit. 8. Scripture was deemed sufficient. Aeneid. and London: William Heinemann Ltd. (Cambridge. The text is virtually identical with that of the Septuagint version (Jer.50 For this reason. Only there is it rightly understood.6. to supply or provide. The first has to do with the term sufficiency: what does it mean to say that Scripture suffices.נתתי את־תורתי בקרבםJer. Ibid. translation. Here. Mass. 10. the phrase is “I will put my law in their inner part.. The Loeb Classical Library. in Virgil: Eclogues. 349 . translation. This material has been sketched in the section above entitled “The Sufficiency of Tradition and Scripture.” The prefix lends the word a certain ambiguity. with an English translation by Kirsopp Lake. to suffice means to supply something basic and essential.513). Rushton Fairclough. the magisterium.166-176. In the first and more common interpretation.16). 50 Congar. adding the qualifier “material” sufficiency.33). ed.particularly its official teachers. This is apparent in the transitive meaning of the verb sufficio. II. 107-116. who uses cognates of the adjective sufficient. I. footnotes 8-10. As the battle began to turn against the Trojans.
“sufficio. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. with an English translation by Betty Radice. and believes that it deserves treatment by the historian. Patrologia Latina. for example. The Sicilians.Thus when Vincent of Lerins states that the canon of Scripture is itself more than sufficient to enable one to remain firm in the integrity of faith. Glare. and indeed supply. An unadorned narration suffices. 8 fascicles (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press. and London: William Heinemann Ltd. 2 vols. C. he nevertheless adds this qualification: “History need never exceed the truth.G. In Verrem. is that the Sicilian wealth did not really satisfy Verres’ henchmen. s. They would have preferred even more. is flattery: the bald truth suffices. because the truth suffices for honest deeds. et honeste factis veritas sufficit. It substitutes for some thing preferable. in Plinius Caecilius Secundus. he writes. the inferiority) implicit in the verb sufficio. 1968-1982). Epistulae. In one of them he relates an incident to Tacitus. however.” 55 “[P]aucorum cupiditati tum. Although Pliny knows that Tacitus can enhance the incident’s merit. Commonitorium primum (chap. 57 56 350 . and London: William Heinemann Ltd.33. “were not able to resist the cupidity of the few. in an absolute sense. and knowing that such inclusion would increase the fame and importance of the incident. What suffices may not. Letters and Panegyrics. for what really belongs in the sufficient thing’s stead.H. The Scriptures suffice for faith because they rest at. What Pliny insinuates. but certainly implies. cum obsistere non poterant.. he means that it under girds his faith. 2 vols. with an English translation by L. in Cicero. because nothing can really suffice the greedy. It can suggest that the very thing which suffices has something inferior about it. notes that the Sicilian people had sufficient wealth for those criminals in league with the greedy Verres.54 Yet the prefix sub. its very foundation.”55 Cicero.640. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Sufficio can imply this when it means “to have sufficient wealth or resources.48.10. one could say. 50. whom he was prosecuting. but the brilliant Tacitus can do with the incident so much more. The Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge.which underlies the word sufficient conveys relation as well as place. 54 Oxford Latin Dictionary. but would be inferior to Vincent of Lerins. Yet the Sicilian wealth was sufficient insofar as the criminals took all they could.. The Loeb Classical Library. 127). 1969). but in one way or another were able to satisfy [sufficere] it. truly satisfy. Here we glimpse the limitations (and. he can give the incident meaning.” Cicero. desiring that it be included in the historian’s annals..5.”56 What Cicero does not say. (par. Other examples suggesting the inferior status of the sufficient can be drawn from the letters of Pliny. II. P. ed. in Migne.” Pliny. “Nam nec historia debet egredi veritatem. VI. The Verrine Orations.”57 This truism. (Cambridge. Greenwood. Without distorting the facts. might seem impertinent. ed. W. were it taken at face value by Tacitus.v. II). G. tamen sufficere aliquo modo poterant. 1953).
sed ejusdem eloquia aliter atque aliter alius atque alius interpretatur. Sabianus. The sufficient appeasement is only partially satisfying. Commonitorium primum (chap.2. that Scripture is an authority because it is God’s own law. On the other hand. and I hope you will again love him. above). who says that the canon of Scripture is itself more than sufficient to enable one to remain firm in the integrity of faith. The sufficient thing is thus inferior to what Tacitus can accomplish.” Vincent of Lerins. 60 Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.269. “but it suffices in the interim if you allow yourself to be appeased. he means that they 58 59 Ibid.21.. 50. (New York: Fathers of the Church. He means. But it is sufficient in our second as well as first sense. in Migne. trans. It is enough only in the context of that truth which is both the source of Scripture and its goal. “You loved the man. “The same text is interpreted differently by different people. “so that one may almost gain the impression that it can yield as many different meanings as there are men.”60 Thus when Athanasius of Alexandria says that the holy and divinelyinspired Scriptures are sufficient for the proclamation of the truth. 1947-). Pliny hopes for a restoration of love in the future. Scripture is not universally accepted in one and the same sense. we find a related ambiguity. 351 . and inferior to a full reconciliation. Inc.” writes Vincent... IX. Morris. “to be enough or sufficient.640. but its very sufficiency suggests that it stands in the place of something preferable: the fullness of divine truth. It is sufficient. ut pene quot homines sunt. The dilemma of Vincent.”58 While present mollification will suffice. and is its foundation. Having considered the implications of the word sufficient. II).” and the body of it stems from the verb αρκέω. When we turn to the Latin word’s Greek roots. in The Fathers of the Church. Doubtless. Patrologia latina. then. Scripture is for him sufficient.”59 The problem of distinguishing a right from a wrong meaning Vincent solves by an appeal to the traditions of the Catholic Church. Translation: Vincent of Lerins. on the one hand. 61 vols.a re-telling which portrays the incident in all its importance. finds apt expression in the ambiguities of sufficio. however. I. A last example comes from a letter of Pliny to his friend. 7. The prefix of this word means “of or by oneself. editorial director Roy Joseph Deferrari. tot illinc sententiae erui posse videantur. It suffices. The author pleads with his friend to forgive the wrong-doing of Sabianus’ young freedman. “Scripturam sacram pro ipsa sua altitudine non unum eodemque sensu universi accipiunt. The Greek word for sufficient is αυτάρκεις or αυτάρκης. ed. in our first sense: God underlies it. we are better able to consider the dilemma of Vincent of Lerins. who acknowledges the truth in Scripture but needs to supplement it.” writes Pliny.466-467 (see footnote 162. Rudolph E. The Commonitories.
Writing to the Philippians.13). 1910). [∆]υνατει δε ο Θεος πασαν χάριν περισσευσαι εις υµας. so that you may always have enough of everything. But God provides the context in which self sufficiency occurs.”63 By contentment or self-sufficiency he does not mean independence from Christ. Rackham.61 His use of the word αυτάρκεις follows a solid tradition.”62 Common sense suggests that self-sufficiency is desirable. The theological resonance of the word αυτάρκεις becomes more distinct as one delves into its cognates in the Hebrew Scriptures. in that sense. in the writings of Paul.4. For Athanasius. 64 352 .” he writes. the fullness of it.” writes Aristotle. in Migne.”64 One can certainly have enough and. Christ is rather the source of his self-sufficiency. Athanasius of Alexandria. When he writes that the Scriptures suffice for declaring what is true. εγω γαρ εµαθον εν οις ειµι αυταρκης ειναι. has at hand all that is needed. for self-sufficiency means having all things and lacking nothing. extending back at least to Aristotle. ινα εν παντι πάντοτι πασαν αυτάρκειαν. Something of this same idea can be transferred to Athanasius. Politics. but God’s. Oratio contra gentes. 25. One need look no further. good sense or sound judgment. Only when land is self-sufficient can the citizens of Aristotle’s ideal state lead a life of tempered leisure. Patrologia graeca. 4. 2 Cor. “in whatever state I am. he means that the Christian. Aristotle.contain. for example. like Aristotle’s citizen. that self which suffices is not an autonomous self. be self-sufficient. Phil. There he assures his readers with the following words: “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance. One glimpses this second sense. 4. Though the apostle is self sufficient. 62 63 [Ο]υχ οτι καθ’ υστέρησιν λέγω.5 (1326b 27-29). “Everybody would command that [land] which is most self-sufficing. the truth is present in Scripture.8. 61 [Π]ερι µεν γαρ του ποίαν τινά. But there is another traditional sense of the word αυτάρκεις which puts into question the idea that anything apart from God could suffice for truth or salvation.11. There is a false self-sufficiency apart Άυτάρκεις µεν γαρ εισιν αι αγιαι και Θεόπνευστοι Γραφαι προς την της αληθείας απαγγελίαν. but takes pains to show that he has no undue reliance on them. “I have learned. in whom he gains strength (Phil. even in his tribulation. in themselves. δηλον οτι την αυταρκεστάτην πας τις αν επαινέσειεν (τοιαύτην δ’αναγκαιον ειναι την παντοφόρον. This becomes even clearer in Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians. ed. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. “and such must be that which is all-producing. The self which suffices is not one’s own self. το γαρ πάντα υπάρχειν και δεισθαι µηθενος αυταρκης. he ex presses joy in their concern for him.. VII. There one finds the same ambivalence toward self-sufficiency as was found in the Greek. in which to be self-sufficient is akin to what the Greeks called σωφροσύνη. and London: William Heinemann Ltd. to be content. Translated by H. The Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge. 9. untroubled by the necessity of seeking a livelihood outside of that which belongs to them.
and indices under the editorship of Rabbi Dr. I-II: Genesis.1. Freedman and Maurice Simon. translated into English with notes. testi I (Napoli: Istituto Orientale di Napoli.אל תשען על חילך ואל תאמר יש לאל ידי Midrash Bereshit Rabba: Critical Edition with Notes and Commentary. Sir. Theodor and Ch. Albeck. a cura di Giovanni Garbini. 1965).1) is described in the Midrash Bereshit Rabba as a statement to the patriarch that the sufficiency of the world is due to God alone: only when El Shaddai ( )אל שדיsaid “enough!” ( )דיto the world did creation come to an end. to be interpreted within a context which belongs to God alone. introduction and register by Ch. God’s self-revelation as El Shaddai to Abraham (Gen. glossary. sufficient) may be related to the word κανών (canon or limit) as its opposite. trans.68 The unity of God and the philosophic notion of sufficiency. latinae siriaca. (Jerusalem: Wahrmann Books. God has blessed and informed them. 1968).תרגם אקילס אקסיוסIbid. Αξιος (honorable) is the root of our word axiom. Sirach implies that God alone is the one who. Such a statement seems to put Athanasius squarely within the Old Testament tradition. H.67 But sufficiency is not only God’s decision. complete in ten volumes. . This etymological sketch enables a proper understanding of Athanasius’ statement that the Scriptures suffice for announcing the truth. by J. possesses sufficiency. Although Aquila does not use here the word αυτάρκεις. is implicit in the divine name itself. They are. Albeck. 1939). for example. as the Hebrew commentaries suggest. Text taken from Ecclesiastico: testo ebraico con apparato criticoe versioni greca. ‘It is in the power of my hands. the divine name means worthy and sufficient. It is also the divine nature. Albeck. holy and divinely-inspired. 3 vols. and do not say ‘This is sufficient for me. the divine name El Shaddai includes the idea of sufficiency.from God. a cura di Francesco Vattioni.460-461 (parasha 46. pubblicazioni del Seminario di Semitistica. but should be. and ultimately to be identified with God. 353 . Translation: Midrash Rabba. H. 1. vols. I. second printing with additional corrections by Ch. Indeed. Epstein. one reads in Greek the injunction. “Do not say. the concept of self sufficiency is clear in the Greek words transliterated into Hebrew. Thus the midrash further explains the name El Shaddai by quoting Aquila. with a Foreward by Rabbi Dr. 17. In the deuterocanonical book of Sirach. says the midrash. and a true self-sufficiency which has its source in God.3). Ικανός (worthy. “Do not hold fast to your property. Freedman (London: Soncino Press.דיcan be translated as sufficiency. the second century Jewish proselyte who translated the Old Testament into Greek. 65 66 .’”65 Here the notion of self-sufficiency apart from God is rejected. I. 67 68 [ικανός] [ ואיקנוסαξιος] . says Athanasius. But then Athanasius Μη επι τοις χρήµασίν σου και µη ειπης Αυτάρκη µοί εστιν.390-391.’”66 The “power of my hand” is exactly that which is not acknowledged as God’s. The last syllable of the name. a maxim accepted on its intrinsic merit. 5. His words suggest that the selfsufficiency of the Scriptures is a gift from God. according to the midrash. The Hebrew version underlying the Greek renders the second phrase. For Aquila. in any absolute sense. fit.
IV: St. Patrologia graeca. because they are not themselves the goal. First.”69 Through the teachers one is led to a proper Scriptural hermeneutic. 1890-1900). The Scriptures are inspired by God. In sum. Athanasius: Select Works and Letters. Athanasius of Alexandria. translated under the editorial supervision of Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. in Migne.B. ης δε ορέγεται γνώσεως τυχειν δυνήσεται. in which the truth of the faith is conserved. but must be read within the context of faith in Christ. it must be properly [Ο]ις εάν τις εντύχοι. Hence the question of sufficiency leads to the question of authority. and enough to enable one to proclaim the truth. that it is sufficient only within a context belonging to God. Athanasius’ application of the term sufficiency to the Scriptures must be distinguished from the term autonomy. Translation: Athanasius. indices. The sufficiency of Scripture consists in the fact that it has God for its author. in whose absence he himself is writing. Second. The Christian exposition of the Scriptures has elicited the best efforts of Athanasius’ own teachers. Against the Heathen (par. 25. (New York: The Christian Literature Company. appears only when one regards the Church in a genuinely theological light. namely. Athanasius forges here a link between hermeneutics and gnosis. Its insufficiency is due to the fact that it is not God. The modern theologians of tradition arguing for the material sufficiency of Scripture were advocates. as the privileged creation of God and the body of Christ. Rather. of a difficult and elusive concept. we can now say. While both writers affirm the sufficiency of Scripture. ed. but they are not a law unto themselves. and tables. 1). “a man will gain some knowledge of the interpretation of the Scriptures. The Scriptures are not self explanatory. But their sufficiency is limited in two ways. their sufficiency depends on the insights of blessed teachers. he states. edited. εισεται µέν πως την των Γραφων ερµενείαν. and be able to learn what he wishes to know. and for it they suffice. Oratio contra gentes (1. in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. by Archibald Robertson. From their teachings. and of himself. in the varied senses which have been brought out. X. which is truth. can be leveled against the sufficiency of tradition. This enables true knowledge. 69 354 . he writes.introduces a characteristic Christian note. with prolegomena. The hermeneutical key lies in the works of his blessed teachers. The sufficiency of the traditions of the Church. and are enough to reveal the divine truth.. Such gnosis is the product of those Scriptures. but it does not explain itself. It too suffices in the varied senses described above. but the means to it. This glimpse at sufficio in Vincent of Lerins and αυτάρκεις in Athanasius of Alexandria plunges us into a maze of difficulties. These efforts are aimed at knowledge of that faith which alone enables correct interpretation of the Scriptures.2.4. insufficient. 14 vols. vol. they also assert that Scripture needs to be authoritatively interpreted. The Question of Authority The criticism of the sufficiency of Scripture. whose doctrine unlocks the meaning of the Scriptures. This limits its sufficiency in the following way: like Scripture. Scripture contains all things necessary for faith.4). and the divine Scriptures have a secondary relation to God. He suggests that true gnosis is the result of correct hermeneutics. It is thus sufficient and. God is the ultimate authority. they require the interpretive tools of Christian tradition.
Karl Rahner and Heinrich Schlier (Freiburg-Basel-Vienna: Herder. W..” in Karl Rahner and Joseph Ratzinger. the problem of God’s self communication. the problem of the manner in which the Scriptures contain the revealed truth of Mary’s Assumption leads to a notion of sufficiency which loses all serious meaning. aus dem Schrift und Überlieferung hervorkornrnen und ohne das beide nicht zu verstehen sind in der Bedeutung. p. however. revelation. J. arguments for sufficiency. His remarks give us a critical view of the sufficiency debate. all revealed truth) raises insoluble problems. Both camps tend to over look the underlying problem of revelation. 0 ‘Hara. apart from a proper theological perspective.. Ratzinger points to what he considers a serious flaw in the arguments for Scripture’s material sufficiency. they say. “Dann zeigt sich. 1965). 34. 355 . with him. p. trans.72 Ratzinger. vol. Revelation and Tradition. accept the material sufficiency of Scripture.”70 Ratzinger’s argument is directed at both Protestants and Catholics. Joseph Ratzinger (b. and the defenders of tradition decry that Scriptural interpretation which. 34. Both tend to neglect the underlying issue of revelation. Advocates of Scriptural sufficiency criticize the traditions of the Church as merely human. scripture and tradition. 70 72 See footnote 38. 17 of Quaestiones disputatae (New York: Herder.. p. which is logically prior to both Scripture and tradition. to their inner source. p. He argues that “we must go behind the positive sources. seem empty and inappropriate.71 Geiselmann. Offenbarung und Überlieferung. vol. “Ein Versuch zur Frage des Traditionsbegriffs. counted Ratzinger among those theologians who. Thus it can be said that. In particular.” in Karl Rahner and Joseph Ratzinger. die sie für den Glauben haben. writing while the Second Vatican Council was underway.understood. belongs to a period subsequent to the modern theology of tradition. 71 Ibid. At any rate. 1966). And he raises questions about the anti-Protestant polemic of those who urge the primacy of tradition over Scripture. 33. the living word of God from which scripture and tradition spring and without which their significance for faith cannot be understood. above. 1927) who. das lebendige Wort Gottes. whether of Scripture or of tradition. seems to disqualify himself as Geiselmann’s wholehearted ally. tr. he insists that an exclusive emphasis on Scripture as the word of God tends to surrender the Bible to the caprices of exegetes and historians. dass hinter die positiven Quellen Schrift und Überlieferung zurückgegriffen werden muss auf deren inner en Quell: die Offenbarung. Against Protestants. Translation: “Revelation and Tradition. 25 of Quaestiones disputatae. ignores the Church.” Joseph Ratzinger. ed. at least implicitly. as we have seen. 32. This is the point made by the theologian and cardinal. Against Catholics – and he mentions Geiselmann by name – Ratzinger states that the concession of material sufficiency to Scripture (by which he means that Scripture contains.
one might say. Authority is not bestowed by the one who acknowledges it. and thus risks the suggestion that the debate on sufficiency is trivial or at least misleading.31-33). translation. 73 74 See Chapter Eight. p. and noumenal.6). One can go even further. Revelation. he argues. 263. They are the media of revelation. But the authority of God only becomes visible in the positive Ratzinger. acknowledges the presence of doctrines in revelation which have not always and everywhere been sufficiently taught. one concedes that the authority has superior insight. 31. who subordinates Scripture and tradition to revelation. the more immediate authority would be viewed as a puppet. that the γράµµα kills while the πνευµα gives life (2 Cor. Although Ratzinger does not make this point. p. The positive or phenomenal. p.73 It is more in the sense hinted by the prophet Jeremiah.74 In other words. manipulated by another.75 And that superiority does not consist merely in the fact that it has been delegated to the authority by a yet-higher authority. who said that the law written on the heart will supercede that written on tablets of stone (Jer. “dass der andere einem an Urteil und Einsicht überlegen ist und dass daher sein Urteil vorgeht. In so doing. revelation is more than the teachings of the Church’s tradition. translation. a couple of observations may suggest their pertinence to the topic of sufficiency. is more than Scripture. Ratzinger puts the arguments for sufficiency within a wider theological vista. To describe it as an authority would be less than true. both Scripture and tradition express a revelation which outstrips them. 45. To be sure. No. in Rahner and Ratzinger. And it Paul’s sense. can only be properly considered in the context of the theoretical. He makes their authority dependent upon that of the inner source. The revealed source of Scripture and tradition. Rather. Gadamer makes the point that. Ratzinger is correct in putting the positive sources in their proper theological context. it exists as such be cause one recognizes its superiority. above. of their divine author. enjoying a borrowed status. 3. speculative. a genuine authority is more than a delegate. Franzelin. 44.Ratzinger’s thesis subordinates to revelation the positive sources. enjoys a higher authority than they do. in his view. If that were the case. Although the dimensions of the hermeneutical discussion are too broad to be fully explored at this point. and the recognition of their common source in God provides an irenic counterpoint to Catholic Protestant debate. 248. footnote 33. Scripture and tradition. and reveal the importance of the discussion of that topic by the modern theologians of tradition. The concept of authority has recently been posed as a philosophic problem within hermeneutics. The value of Ratzinger’s critique of sufficiency lies in his subordination of the positive sources to their inner source. as we have seen. The first observation has to do with the source of authority. he tends to diminish the authority of the positive sources. Offenbarung und Überlieferung. This insight provides a counter-critique to the view of Ratzinger. Its authoritative stature must truly belong to itself. when one acknowledges authority. 75 356 . p.” Wahrheit und Methode.
This view of authority is implicit in the theological argument that the authority of the Church enables one to know the truth apart from those insights which belong to oneself. This suggests that the one for whom something is authoritative can judge the authority. Scripture or tradition. Authority has a presence. First. This fact alone makes the debate over sufficiency comprehensible. translation.sources of the divine self-revelation. It then appears not simply as a question of which positive source should be accorded primacy. The Protestant emphasis on the full sufficiency of Scripture must be regarded as an affirmation of the divine generosity which has expressed itself in language. to my knowledge. systematically applied to the theology of tradition in general.. it is the question of the relation between a mediate but genuine authority. it provokes a question about the authority of the positive media of revelation and that of their inner source. This insight of hermeneutical philosophy has never been. Such discernment in acknowledging authority distinguishes that acknowledgment from blind obedience. 248. But it suggests a fruitful line of thought. It must prove itself. a solidity. nor to the question of sufficiency in particular. acquisition. Centuries of religious conflict cannot be due to a trivial dispute. because when one subjects them to a Gadamer writes that authority is not bestowed. the debate reveals the passion with which Catholics and Protestants have insisted upon the reality of the divine which has been delivered into human hands. and yet authority. This is Ratzinger’s question. so to speak. but can tell whether the authority is legitimate. the body of Christ. due to the fact that it has already been acquired. winnings. must always be newly acquired.77 One acknowledges such authority. which is not known until expressed in positive sources. “sondern erworben wird und erworben sein muss. True. because to judge it would be presumptuous. 264. In addition. The second aspect shows that authority must be acquired. Authority has thus been obtained and must be obtained. The authority of the revelatory media is pivotal. The verb “erwerben” suggests inheritance. Hermeneutical philosophy suggests that an authority which is only secondary is no real authority at all. 76 77 See Chapter Nine. p. and the immediate authority of God. A second aspect complements the first. It suggests that authority has a dual aspect. Scripture and tradition are only the media of revelation. above. the hermeneutical insight poses the question of how the positive sources must prove themselves as authoritative. For our purposes.76 When an authority is acknowledged. They are themselves authoritative. it exists as such because the one for whom it is authoritative accepts its superiority. 357 . It stands as something with an established status. But they possess more than merely a secondary authority.” Ibid. He or she may lack the depth of insight possessed by the authority. Second. Hermeneutics offers yet another insight into the nature of authority. p. The Catholic emphasis on tradition must be seen as reverence for the communication of God which has taken up residence. This is a real question. in the Church. footnote 9. one can also see. This is the first of the two aspects of authority. Something is authoritative because it exceeds our grasp.
two avenues of inquiry. and is that truth.proof. Yet they are the gift of God’s own self. is the authoritative locus of Scriptural interpretation because the Father has delivered the Son over to the Church. by the modern theologians of tradition. and how it continues to be acquired. To be sure. a recognition of the limits of the human intellect. The modern theologians of tradition. 358 . opened up by philosophical hermeneutics. in the modern theology of tradition. which is the Son’s mystical body. Doubtless this is true. following Trent. What that authority is. This would objectivize the positive sources. The divine self-revelation is the source of the truth of the Church’s tradition. But the Church’s authority would be wrongly characterized as derivative if this means that its authority is bestowed by its members. in its contemporary form. This might suggest that the authority of the Church is only a derivative or secondary authority. are two questions. But their meditation on sufficiency set the stage for an appreciation of that pertinence. The Church. and thus deprive them of their authority altogether. Hermeneutics is not a question until one glimpses the authority of that which is interpreted. the traditions are not God. To say more would draw us from the theology of tradition to that of the incarnation. as an approximation of something which exists perfectly in God alone. affirmed that the traditions of the Church and Scripture contain the truth of the Gospel. The Catholic consensus seems to be that Scripture and traditions suffice in a qualified way for this truth. This task is entangled with the hermeneutical question in general: what is the interpretive stance toward authority which best enables an approach to the truth? The pertinence of the hermeneutical question to the concept of theological authority and sufficiency was not raised explicitly. This is not the place for an examination of the theology of the Church. The authority of the Church’s traditions. And it is the Church’s vocation to call itself back to its creator in a ceaseless self examination. and of Scripture as well. The task for theological thought is to define the degree to which a judgment on the authority of the positive sources is necessary and valid. and the degree to which the acknowledgment of such authority is itself an act of knowledge. To affirm their sufficiency is to acknowledge their authority. until it is a matter of debate whether the focus of interpretation can suffice for faith and for truth. suffices in all senses of the word. Even more misleading would be that view of the Church as the epiphany of an idea. because creation exists for the sake of the creator. one may be tempted to assume a position of superiority. But a comment is needed on the authority which the Church claims as the sacrament of Jesus Christ. That draws too bold a line between humanity and divinity.