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Holy Scripture and the Quest for Authority among Three Late Medieval Masters


John Wyclif (d. 1384), Thomas Netter (d. 1430) and Jean Gerson (d. 1429) had a good deal in common. They were all theologians, and thus ‘masters of the sacred page’ by trade. They all recognised the absolute authority of Scripture in matters of the Catholic faith over and against any pretensions of canon law. What separated them, therefore, was not the recognition of authority as such, but rather the correct application of that authority. Wyclif exercised his rights as a university master to dissent from ecclesiastical determinations that ran contrary to the truth as revealed in Scripture. Netter and Gerson set out to curb this sort of magisterial excess which they believed would inevitably lead to the destruction of all proper norms of authority within the Church. Rather than being a simple tale of heresy and orthodoxy, therefore, this late medieval conflict turned on the question of professional expertise, rights and responsibilities.

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1 Some excellent studies include Wei Ian P., ‘The self-image of the masters of theology at the university of Paris in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries’, this Journal xlvi (1995), 398441; Jacques Verger, ‘Teachers’, in Hilde de Ridder-Symoens (ed.), A history of the university in Europe, Cambridge 1992, i. 144–68; Gabriel Astrik, ‘The ideal master of the mediaeval university’, Catholic Historical Review lx (1974), 140; Gabriel le Bras, ‘Velut splendor firmamenti: le docteur dans le droit de l'église médiévale’, in Melanges offerts à Etienne Gilson, Toronto 1959, 372–88; R. Guelluy, ‘La Place des théologiens dans l’église et la société médiévales', in Miscellanea Historica in honorem Alberti de Meyer, Louvain 1946, 571–89; and Leclercq Jean, ‘L'Idéal du théologien au moyen âge’, Revue des sciences religieuses xxi (1947), 121–48, and ‘La Théologie comme science d'apres la littérature quodlibétique’, Recherches de theologie ancienne et medievale xi (1939), 351–74.

2 Olga Weijers, Terminologie des universités au XIIIe siècle, Rome 1987, 134–5.

3 G. H. M. Posthumus Meyjes, ‘Quasi stellae fulgebunt: on the position and function of the doctor of divinity in mediaeval Church and society’, in D. W. D. Shaw (ed.), In divers manners: a St Mary's miscellany to commemorate the 450th anniversary of the founding of St Mary's College, 7th March 1539, St Andrews 1990, 11–28. See also Congar Yves, ‘Bref historique des formes du “magistère” et de ses relations avec les docteurs’, Revue des sciences philosophiques et theologiques lx (1976), 99112.

4 J. M. M. H Thijssen, Censure and heresy at the university of Paris: 1200–1400, Philadelphia 1998, 9–34; Shogimen Takashi, ‘From disobedience to toleration: William of Ockham and the medieval discourse on fraternal correction’, this Journal lii (2001), 599622; Courtenay William J., ‘Inquiry and inquisition: academic freedom in medieval universities’, Church History lviii (1989), 168–81.

5 ‘Ad rationem pertinet de dubiis, et de illis post inquistionem iudicare et determinare. Sed ea quae condita sunt a papa possunt esse dubia. Ergo ille sapiens praecipue ratiocinandi potest inquirere et determinare. Sed doctor in theologia debet esse inter alios de numero sapientum’: quodlibet iii, q. 10, in Les Philosophes belges, ed. M. de Wulf and A. Pelzer, Louvain 1904, ii. 218.

6 ‘Praeterea doctor theologicus debet dicere veritatem in fide et moribus. Sed peccat si recusat determinare veritatem quae ad fidem pertinet, et praecipue si aliqui deviarent a fide’: quodlibet xii, q. 6, in Les Philosophes belges, ed. J. Hoffmans, Louvain 1932, v. 105; ‘Cum ergo doctor veritatis habens officium publicum docendi veritatem’: ibid. v. 107.

7 Bernstein Alan, ‘Magisterium and license: corporate autonomy against papal authority in the medieval university of Paris’, Viator ix (1978), 291307; Mary Martin McLaughlin, Intellectual freedom and its limitations in the university of Paris in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, New York 1977, 238–45. For a close analysis of Godfrey and Henry on these issues see also Wei, ‘Self-image’, 421–30.

8 Most recently Kantik Ghosh, The Wycliffite heresy, Cambridge 2002, and also Minnis Alastair, ‘Authorial intention and the “literal sense” in the exegetical theories of Richard Fitzralph and John Wyclif’, Proceedings of the Irish Academy lxxv (1975), 131; Hurley Michael, ‘“Scriptura sola”: Wyclif and his critics’, Traditio xvi (1960), 275352; and Smalley Beryl, ‘The Bible and eternity: John Wyclif's dilemma’, Journal of Warburg and Courtauld Institutes xxvii (1964), 7389. The most sympathetic account can be found in Paul de Vooght's classic Les Sources de la doctrine chrétienne, Bruges 1954, 168–200.

9 For a thorough examination of Wyclif's medieval critics see Mishtooni Bose, ‘The opponents of John Wyclif’, in Ian Christopher Levy (ed.), A companion to John Wyclif: late medieval theologian, Leiden 2006, 407–55.

10 ‘primus est liber vite … secundus est veritates libro vite inscripte secundum esse earum intelligibile, et utraque istarum scripturarum est absolute necessaria’: De veritate sacrae scripturae vi, ed. Rudolf Buddensieg, London 1905–7, i. 108; ‘Primo enim scriptura sacra signat Jesum Christum librum vitae, in quo omnis veritas est inscripta … Secundo modo signat veritates in ipso libro vitae inscriptas, sive sint rationes exemplares aeternae sive veritates aliae temporales’: Trialogus iii.31, ed. Gotthard Lechler, Oxford 1869, 238–9; cf. Levy Ian Christopher, ‘John Wyclif's neoplatonic view of Scripture in its Christological context’, Medieval Philosophy and Theology xi (2003), 227–40.

11 ‘sacra scriptura candor est lucis aeternae, quis continet veritates aeternas a regulis lucis aeternae transcriptas’: Lectura ordinaria super sacram scripturam, ed. R. Macken, Leiden 1980, 7.

12 ‘Est autem advertendum quod proprie dicitur [scriptura] “candor lucis.” … Nec tamen est tam obscura, quin contra omnem errorem clara est et manifesta. Et ideo tertio sacra scriptura est speculum sine macula, quia continet veritates claras’: ibid.

13 ‘veritas enim est ibi permanencior, quia eterna et indelebilis, liber est serenior, quia candor lucis eterne et speculum sine macula, Sap. Septimo’: De veritate sacrae scripturae vi (i. 111–12); ‘tum quia [scriptura] est fundamentum cuicunque opinioni catholice, sed et exemplar est speculum ad examinandum et extigwendum quemcunque errorem sive hereticam pravitatem’: ibid. i (i. 1–2).

14 ‘Non enim licet hereticare aliquid nisi docendo quod sit Scripture sacre contrarium … Ex quibus patet quod solus theologus debet hereticare dampnabile; solum enim iste scit quid est hereticum, qui scit esse Scripture sacre contrarium. Et per idem cum nove constituciones, que non fundantur in Scriptura sacra, sunt superflue et inique’: De civili dominio i. 44, ed. R. L. Poole and Johann Loserth, London 1885/1900–4, 437.

15 De veritate sacrae scripturae xxvii (iii. 63).

16 Glorieux Palémon, ‘L'Enseignment au moyen âge: techniques et méthodes en usage a la faculté de thélogie de Paris, au xiiie siècle’, Archives d'histoire doctrinale et littéraire du moyen âge xxxv (1968), 108–19.

17 See Wippel John, ‘The condemnations of 1270 and 1277 at Paris’, Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies vii (1977), 169201.

18 ‘Conceditur tamen cum Doctore [John Kynyngham] quod rudium grammaticorum, et polemicorum, ac aliorum quorum animus est phantasmatibus temporalium involutus, non est sic loqui, cum margaritae non sunt spargendae inter porcos; sed altissimorum theologorum ac eos intelligentium, quando loquuntur de veritatibus supra tempus, et praeter tempus, illud mysterium.’: Fasciculi zizaniorum, ed. W. W. Shirley, London 1858, 463; ‘nos autem sub auctoritate Scripturae decet pro loco et tempore sic loqui, ut sensus celatus plus pateat theologis diligentibus veritatem’: ibid. 468.

19 De veritate sacrae scripturae vi (i. 119–20).

20 ‘quod [scriptura] est vera de virtute sermonis secundum quamlibet eius partem et quod professores scripture sacre debent sequi eam in modo loquendi’: ibid. i (i. 2). Note that a Paris statute of 1340 declared that a word derives its force/meaning (‘virtus’) from the author's intention rather than its strict grammatical sense; the literal sense is the intended sense: Chartularium Universitatis Parisiensis, ed. Heinrich Denifle, Paris 1889–97, ii/1, 506; cf. Courtenay William J., ‘Force of words and figures of speech: the crisis over virtus sermonis in the fourteenth century’, Franciscan Studies xliv (1984), 107–28.

21 ‘Et cum secundum Augustinum omnis veritas sit in scriptura sacra vel explicite vel implicite, patet quod nulla alia scriptura capit auctoritatem vel valorem, nisi de quanto sua sententia a scriptura sacra sit derivata’: Trialogus iii. 31, p. 240; cf. De doctrina christiana ii.42.63, CCSL xxxii. 76.

22 ‘quod sancti doctores in primitiva ecclesia racionabiliter formidabant in materia fidei introducere novellos terminos preter scripturam propter veneni formidinem, quod abscondi posset ab hereticis. Verumptamen detecto sensu et limitata significacione terminorum ab ecclesia, satis secure potest catholicus uti terminis, licet non fuerint in textu scripture exemplati … vel si exceditur, caveamus de terminis concernentibus materiam fidei, et sequamur antiquos doctores et sanctos magis probabiles, sed pre omnibus scripturam sacram’: De veritate sacrae scripturae xiii (i. 309).

23 De trinitate xvii, ed. Allen DuPont Breck, Boulder 1962, 173–4.

24 ‘Pro isto notandum quod secundum diversitatem temporum et pululaciones heresum erant diversa concilia diversas hereses dampnancia’: ibid. 178.

25 ‘Secundo dico quod multa catholica sunt docta per sanctos et doctores ecclesie qui non sunt expresse posita verbaliter in scriptura. … Patet enim quotlibet esse docta catholice in ecclesia quae non sunt expressa in evangelio, ut patet de descensu Christi ad inferos, de quotlibet condicionibus sacramentorum, et edicionibus symbolorum et conciliis diversis. Sed quia in scriptura sacra est omnis veritas philosophica et in sanctis doctoribus racione duce veritas philosophica occulta est sepius manifesta, ideo dico tercio quod eque expresse sequitur ex sensu scripture quod spiritus sanctus procedit ex filio sicut et procedit ex patre’: ibid. 179.

26 ‘quanto magis moderna ecclesia fugeret a seductivo satrapa capere tam terminos extra fidem scripture quam eciam sentenciam a scripture extraneam. Nam isti termini accidens et subiectum ad sensum loquencium in ista materia sunt satis extranea’: Sermo lviii, in Sermones, ed. Johann Loserth, London 1887–90, iii. 507.

27 Consider, for instance, how, as he establishes the authority of theology as a science, Thomas Aquinas employs the terms sacra doctrina and sacra scriptura interchangeably: Summa theologiae i, art. 1 q. 1.

28 Long R. James, ‘“Utrum iurista vel theologus plus proficiat ad regimen ecclesiae”: a quaestio disputata of Francis Caraccioli: edition and study’, Mediaeval Studies xxx (1968), 134–62; Southern R. W., ‘The changing role of the university in medieval Europe’, Historical Research lx (1987), 122–46; G. H. M. Posthumus Meyjes, ‘Exponents of sovereignty: canonists as seen by the theologians in the late Middle Ages’, in Diana Wood (ed.), The Church and sovereignty: essays in honour of Michael Wilks, Oxford 1991, 299–312; Shogimen Takashi, ‘The relationship between theology and canon law: another context of political thought in the early fourteenth century’, Journal of the History of Ideas lx (1999), 417–31.

29 Dialogus i.i.2–5; in Monarchia S. Romani Imperii, ed. M. Goldast, Hanover 1611; repr. Graz 1960, ii. 400–3.

30 De veritate sacrae scripturae xx (ii. 146–7).

31 Sermones xxviii, i. 257–8.

32 De veritate sacrae scripturae xxiv (ii. 268).

33 Ibid. xx (ii. 129).

34 Ibid. xx (ii. 131).

35 Ibid. xxiv (ii. 235).

36 Ibid. xx (ii.134–5). In fact, the canonists would only have said that the pope can grant a dispensation from an evangelical counsel (not a precept) and from an apostolic ordinance so long as it was not an article of faith: Walter Ullmann, Medieval papalism: the political theories of the medieval canonists, London 1949, 50–5.

37 De veritate sacrae scripturae xv (i. 403).

38 ‘quelibet epistola decretalis est condita per aliquem papam, Cristi vicarium cum suis subditis; quelibet pars scripture sacre immediate et proxime autorizatur per deum, igitur conclusio’: ibid. xv (i. 395).

39 De civili dominio iii. 17, p. 331.

40 De veritate sacrae scripturae xxi (ii.176); cf. Decretum, C. 25 q. 1 c. 6, in Corpus iuris canonici, ed. Emil Friedberg, Leipzig 1879, i. 1008.

41 Decretum, D. 9 cc. 3–10 (Friedberg, i. 17–18).

42 Decretum, D. 19 c. 7 (Friedberg, i. 62).

43 Tierney Brian, ‘Sola scriptura and the canonists’, Studia Gratiana xi, Rome 1967, 345–66.

44 Thomas Izbicki, ‘La Bible et les canonists’, in Pierre Riché and Guy Lobrichon (eds), Le Moyen Âge et la bible, Paris 1984, 371–84.

45 Hermann Schuessler, ‘Sacred doctrine and the authority of scripture in canonistic thought on the eve of the reformation’, in Guy Fitch Lytle (ed.), Reform and authority in the medieval and Reformation Church, Washington, DC 1981, 55–68; ‘scriptura sacra est lumen et regula: ad quam et secundum quam omnes doctrine doctorum ecclesie veniunt dirigende et examinande … nulli doctori creditur nisi quatenus dictum eorum aut scripture sancte auctoritas aut manifesta ratio roborat’: ibid. 61.

46 Decretum, D. 20 ante c. 1 (Friedberg, i. 65).

47 Fasciculi zizaniorum, 110–14.

48 Consider, for instance, Wyclif's appeal to Johannes Teutonicus' Glossa ordinaria on the Decretum in his De civili dominio ii. 11, pp. 121–2; cf. Glossa ordinaria, Paris 1601, cols 1768–9.

49 De veritate sacrae scripturae xv (i. 386–7). Wyclif is referring specifically to the bull of Pope Nicholas iii, Exiit qui seminat, in Decretales Gregorii ix, 5. 12. 3 (Friedberg, ii. 1120–1).

50 ‘unde doctor de Lyra, licet novellus, tamen copiosus et ingeniosus postillator scripture’: De veritate sacrae scripturae xii (i. 275); ‘unde sanctus Thomas parte prima Summe … ecce, quante sancti doctores laborarunt ad excusandum scripturam sacram a falsitate’: ibid. iv (i. 73).

51 ‘Item, si sine auctoritate scripture licet variare vocando sacramentum, quod ipsa vocat panem, non panem sed quantitatem vel aliam vanitatem (et non est finis potencie sic glosantis), videtur quod totam scripturam sacram pari auctoritate poterit sic glosare et sic totam fidem scripture antiquam pervertere et novam inducere, ut totam historiam gestorum Christi negare ad literam et glosare ad suum oppositum; et sic de aliis que in biblia inseruntur’: De apostasia iii, ed. M. H. Dziewicki, London 1889, 49.

52 ‘Intelligo autem dicta mea in ista materia secundum logicam Scripturae, nec non secundum logicam sanctorum doctorum et decreti Romani ecclesiae, quos suppono prudenter fuisse locutos. Non enim valet scandalizare totam Romanam ecclesiam … et non obstante errore glossantium, ista fides mansit continue in ecclesia, etiam apud laicos’: Fasciculi zizaniorum, 119; ‘Ista autem septem testimonia sic inficiunt glossatores, quod dicunt tacite omnia talia dicta sanctorum debere intelligi per suum contrarium, et sic negari finaliter cum Scriptura’: ibid. 128–9.

53 De veritate sacrae scripturae xiv (i. 356).

54 ‘prima: longe plura mala orta sunt per tacenciam veritatis, quam per eius promulgacionem … cum igitur omnis omissio culpabilis in obligato dicere verbo et opere, veritatem sic tacencia … diccio autem veritatis numquam est culpabilis, licet forte quandoque per accidens ipsam concomitetur indiscrecio et sequatur illacio mali pene’: ibid. xiii (i. 316); ‘tercio videtur, quod veritatis tacencia principaliter propter periculum subtraccionis comodi temporalis vel perturbacionis auditorii ex veritatis displicencia gravati testatur timorem servilem’: ibid. xiii (i. 318).

55 Hurley, ‘“Scriptura sola”: Wyclif and his critics’, 350; Minnis, ‘Authorial intention’, 25; Ghosh, Wycliffite heresy, 60.

56 De doctrina christiana ii.42.63, CCSL xxxii. 77.

57 De magistro xi.38, CCSL xxix. 196.

58 Bonaventure, Breviloquium, prologus, in Opera omnia, ed. R. P. Bernardini and P. Romatino, Quarrachi 1882–1902, v. 201.

59 In Hexaëmeron Collatio i.13, Opera omnia v. 331.

60 Ibid. iii.9, Opera omnia v. 345.

61 ‘unde solebam dicere, quod virtuosa disposicio discipuli scripture specialiter stat in tribus, scilicet in autoritatis scripture humili acceptacione, in sui et racionis conformacione et sanctorum doctorum testificacione.’: De veritate sacrae scripturae ix (i. 198).

62 Ibid. ix (i. 201).

63 ‘et patet, quomodo ex conformitate sensus cristiani ad sensum Cristi oportet intelligere scripturam … sic necesse est, cristianum conformare logicam logice Cristi’: ibid. xvi (ii. 20).

64 ‘oportet enim, cristianum esse per assimilacionem quodammodo ipsum Cristum’: ibid. xxii (ii. 184).

65 Ibid. xx (ii. 143–4).

66 Sermones lviiii, i. 385–6.

67 Cf. the famous canonical passage: ‘si papa suae et fraternae salutis negligens reprehenditur inutilis et remissus in operibus suis … quia cunctos ipse iudicaturus a nemine est iudicandus nisi deprehendatur a fide deuius’: Decretum, D. 40 c. 6 (Friedberg i. 146).

68 For information on the life of Netter and production of the Doctrinale see Hudson Anne, ‘Netter, Thomas’, ODNB xl. 444–7.

69 Andrew Jotischky, The Carmelites and antiquity: mendicants and their pasts in the Middle Ages, Oxford 2002, 189.

70 Thomas Turley, ‘Ab apostolorum temporibus: the primitive Church in the ecclesiology of three medieval Carmelites’, in Rosalio Castillo Lara (ed.), Studia in honorem Alphonsi M. Stickler, Rome 1992, 559–80.

71 Hurley Michael, ‘A pre-Tridentine theology of tradition, Thomas Netter of Walden’, Heythrop Journal iv (1963), 348–66.

72 Siebel F. X., ‘Die Kirche als Lehrautorität nach dem “Doctrinale Antiquitatum Fidei Catholicae Ecclesiae” des Thomas Waldensis (um 1372–1431)’, Carmelus xvi (1969), 370.

73 Doctrinale antiquitatum fidei Catholicae, Venice 1757; repr. Farnborough 1967, i. 348–52.

74 ‘Ita nempe in dubiis fidei debemus inquirere quid senserunt Apostoli, quid successores Apostolorum, et deinceps viri probati, et usque ad haec nostra tempora Catholici Doctores, relinquerunt in Scripturis; et secundum quod ipsorum verba concordant; sic elicere veritatem. … Sic enim dicimur Superaedificati super fundamentum Apostolorum et Prophetarum. Qualiter ergo Apostoli consuluerunt Prophetas, ita justum est, ut consulamus Apostolos, et deinceps Apostolorum haeredes et temporum successores’: ibid. i. 338C–D.

75 ‘Dum tamen scripta authoritas non certificat sine concordi intellectu Ecclesiae; nec revelatio sine teste. Omnis alia via quam per successores Apostolicos, qua omnes ante nos credentes intrabant, est sacrilega’: ibid. i. 339D.

76 ‘Nec tamen hic laudo supercilium, quod quidem attollunt, volentes occasione hujus dicti, decretum Patrum in Ecclesia majoris esse authoritatis, culminis, et ponderis, quam sit authoritas Scripturarum. Quod quidem non tam videtur ineptum, quam fatuum; nisi talis quis dicat Philippum fuisse majorem Christo’: ibid. i. 349A–B; cf. Augustine, Contra epistolam Manichaei quam vocant Fundamenti 5, PL xlii. 176.

77 ‘Omnis ergo Ecclesiastica authoritas cum sit ad testificandum de Christo et legibus ejus, vilior est Christi legibus, et Scripturis Sanctis necessario postponenda’: Doctrinale i. 349C.

78 See Wyclif, De eucharistia ix, ed. Johann Loserth, London 1892, 274.

79 Doctrinale ii. 390A–91E. See Duns Scotus, In libri IV sententiarum iv.11.3.

80 ‘Non ergo inde est fidelis Doctor, quia fidem Scriptura producit, nisi etiam fidem et authoritatem sequatur, non unius particularis, sed universalis Ecclesiae, in qua sola sensus Scripturarum verus habetur’: Doctrinale i. 360C–D.

81 Ibid. i. 362A.

82 Ibid. ii. 234D–35B. See Wyclif, De eucharistia v. 140.

83 Doctrinale ii. 556A–57E.

84 Ibid. ii. 451E–52E. Netter's defence of the word ‘transubstantiation’ is reminiscent of the Nicene party's argument for the non-biblical ‘homoousios’; cf. Athanasius, De decretis v. 21.

85 Doctrinale ii. 397A–D.

86 Ibid. ii. 392B–D; cf. Augustine, De baptismo contra Donatistas iv.6, PL xliii. 159.

87 For John of Paris see John Hilary Martin, ‘The eucharistic treatise of John Quidort of Paris’, Viator vi (1975), 195–240.

88 Doctrinale ii. 393A–D. For Wyclif on John of Paris see De eucharistia vii. 222.

89 ‘Deus ipse non per se omnia, sed per conditas creaturas multa dispensat, ne supervacue crederentur instituti. Et Christus multa discipulis instituenda commisit, et Apostolis item suis successoribus … Plane verum est, omnen articulum fidei lucidiorem factum post resultationem haereticam, et contradictiones catholicas … Hac ergo forma, non novella fides, sed ejusdem fidei nova declaratio authoritate majorum Conciliorum, post multas eventilationes veritatis, succedit Ecclesiae: quia omnes circumstantiae veritatis non poterant simul una hora proferri’: Doctrinale ii. 455A–56C; cf. Augustine, De baptismo contra Donatistas i. 18, PL xliii.124–6; cf. also Vincent of Lérins, Commonitorium xxii.7, CCSL lxiiii.177.

90 ‘Omne revelatum a Deo est verum, et quod Scriptura sacra divinitus est a Deo revelata, sic quod in omni sua parte est Verbum Dei quod transire non potest’: Jean Gerson, Quae credendae de necessitate salutis, in Opera omnia, ed. Louis Ellies Du Pin, Antwerp 1706; repr. Hildersheim 1987, i. 22B.

91 ‘Scriptura sacra est Fidei regula, contra quam bene intellectam non est admittenda autoritas, ratio hominis cujuscunque, nec aliqua consuetudo, nec constitutio, nec observatio valet si contra sacram Scripturam militare convincatur’: Contra haeresim de communione laicorum sub utraque specie, Opera omnia, i. 457B.

92 ‘Attendendum in examinatione doctrinarum primo et principaliter, si doctrina sit conformis sacrae Scripturae, tam in se, quam in modi traditione … quoniam Scriptura nobis tradita est tanquam regula sufficiens et infallibilis, pro regimine totius Ecclesiastici corporis et membrorum, usque in finem saeculi. Est igitur talis ars, talis regula, vel exemplar, cui se non conformans alia doctrina vel abijcienda est ut haereticalis, ut suspecta, ut impertinens ad Religionem prorsus est habenda’: De examinatione doctrinarum, Opera omnia, i. 12D–13A.

93 ‘Scriptura sacra in expositione partium suarum requisivit et requirit homines Primo praeditos ingenio. Secundo exercitatos studio. Tertio humiles in judicio. Quarto immunes ab affectato vitio … Scriptura sacra in sui primaria expositione habuit homines eruditos, non solum human ratiocinatione vel studio; sed divina revelatione et inspiratione Spiritus Sancti’: Contra haeresim de communione laicorum sub utraque specie, Opera omnia, i. 458B.

94 Louis Pascoe, Jean Gerson: principles of Church reform, Leiden 1973, 107–9.

95 De examinatione doctrinarum, Opera omnia, i. 18B.

96 De potestate ecclesiastica et de origine juris et legum, Opera omnia, ii. 252A.

97 Pascoe, Jean Gerson, 89–92. ‘[T]heologi proprio nomine dicuntur hi qui notitiam profitentur et habent eorum quae proprie dicuntur esse ad theologia hoc est de jure divino, seu evangelico quod idem est, et qui illud sciunt elucidare, defendere, roborare’: Dominus his opus habet, quoted ibid. 92 n. 30.

98 ‘Ex quibus palam elicitur quod Summus Pontifex qui succedit Petro in apostolatu reprehendi potest publice per doctorem theologum qui in officio praedicationis succedit Paulo’: An licet in causis fidei a papa apellare, quoted ibid. 91, n. 27. ‘Quod si quis praelatorum vellet hujusmodi legem aut diceret habere robus legis divinae, sibi fas esset per theologos aut alios hoc cognoscentes resistere in facie et dicere quod non recte ambulat ad veritatem Evangelii’: De vita spirituali, ibid n. 28. See also G. H. M. Posthumus Meyjes, Jean Gerson: apostle of unity, Leiden 1999, 334–5.

99 Brian Patrick McGuire, Jean Gerson and the last medieval reformation, University Park 2005, 213.

100 Hobbins Daniel, ‘The schoolman as public intellectual: Jean Gerson and the late medieval tract’, American Historical Review cviii (2003), 1308–37.

101 ‘Falsum, blasphemum et haereticum est asserere quod sensus litteralis Sacrae scripturae sit aliquando falsus. … dicimus quod aliud est littera, aliud est sensus litteralis … Est enim sensus litteralis vere et proprie dictus ille, quem Spiritus sanctus principaliter intendebat, et qui ex circumstantiis litterae Scripturae sacrae trahi potest et debet, sicut expositores sacri fecerunt et docerunt’: Que veritates sint credenda de necessitate salutis, Opera omnia, i. 24C–D.

102 ‘Sensus litteralis sacrae Scripturae accipiendus est non secundum vim Logicae, seu Dialecticae, sed potius juxta tropos et figuratas locutiones, quas communis usus committit, cum consideratione circumstantiarum litterae ex precedentibus et posterius appositis. Habet enim Scriptura sacra sicut moralis et historialis scientia suam Logicam propriam, quam Rhetoricam appellamus’: De sensu litterali sacrae scripturae, Opera omnia, i. 3A. In his rejoinder to the Parisian master Jean Petit's scriptural defence of the murder of the duke of Orleans, Gerson will speak in a similar vein of the sensus theologicus litteralis. For an excellent analysis of this dispute see Karlfried Froehlich, ‘“Always to keep to the literal sense in holy Scripture means to kill one's soul”: the state of biblical hermeneutics at the beginning of the fifteenth century’, in Earl Miner (ed.), Literary uses of typology from the late Middle Ages to the present, Princeton 1977, 20–48.

103 Contra haeresim de communione laicorum sub utraque specie, Opera omnia, i. 457D–58A.

104 ‘Sensus Scripturae litteralis judicandus est, prout Ecclesia Spiritu sancto inspirata et gubernata determinavit, et non ad cujuslibet arbitrium vel interpretationem’: De sensu litterali sacrae scripturae, Opera omnia, i. 3A.

105 Ibid.Opera omnia, i. 3C.

106 ‘Sensus litteralis sacrae Scripturae fuit primo per Christum et Apostolos revelatus et miraculis elucidatus, deinde fuit per sanguinem Martyrum confirmatus; postdum sacri Doctores per rationes suas diligentes contra haereticos … postea successit determinatio sacrorum Conciliorum, ut quod erat doctrinaliter discussum per Doctores, fieret per Ecclesiam sententialiter definitum’: ibid.

107 ‘Sensus literalis sacrae Scripturae si reperitur determinatus et decisus in Decretis et Decretalibus et codicibus Conciliorum, judicandus est ad Theologiam et sacram Scripturam non minus pertinere quam Symbolum Apostolorum: propterea non est spernendus tanquam humana seu posiitiva constitutione fundatus. [Haeretici] dicunt omnes tales Scripturas apocryphas esse vel falsas, nisi ostendatur quod sint expresse in Scriptura sacra: et consequenter negant quatuor Doctores et Concilia, putantes quod ex sacra Scriptura convinci non possint’: ibid.Opera omnia, i. 3D–4A.

108 ‘Et isto modo non tenetur homo dictis sanctorum preter nec bullis papabilis credere, nisi quod dixerint ex scriptura vel quod fundaretur implicite in scriptura’: Tractatus de ecclesia viii, ed. S. Harrison Thomson, Boulder 1956, 56.

109 ‘Postea contra partem nostram accumulat plura mendacia ille doctor [Páleč]: primum mendacium quod solam scripturam sanctam in talibus materiis pro iudice habere volumus. In quo dicto asserit, quod nec deum nec apostolos nec sanctos doctores nec universalem sanctam ecclesiasm habere vellemus pro iudice. Traxit autem istud mendacium ex quadam collacione’: ibid. xvi, 132–3.

110 ‘Sensus literalis quamvis sit in multis, praesertim in his quae sunt necessaria ad salutem, satis expressus in libris sacrae Scripturae, vel ex illis evidenter consequatur apud eruditos in eisdem libris: nihilominus expedivit tales sensus sub certis articulis compendiose in publicum tradere, quemadmodum de Symbolo Apostolorum et Athanasii factum fuisse cognovimus’: De sensu litterali sacrae scripturae, Opera omnia, i. 4A.

111 Meyjes, Jean Gerson, 326.

112 Contra haeresim de communione laicorum sub utraque specie, Opera omnia, i. 458d.

113 ‘Scriptura sacra recipit interpretationem et expositionem nedum in suis verbis originalibus; sed etiam in suis expositionibus’: ibid. i. 459a.

114 ‘Scriptura sacra in sui receptione et expositione authentica finaliter resolvitur in autoritatem, receptionem et approbationem Unversalis Ecclesiae; praesertim primitivae, quae recepit eam et ejus intellectum immediate a Christo, revelante Spiritu sancto in die Pentecostes, et alias pluries’: ibid. i. 459C.

115 Pascoe Louis, ‘Jean Gerson: the “ecclesia primitiva” and reform’, Traditio xxx (1974), 379409.

116 Mark Burrows, ‘Jean Gerson on the “traditioned sense” of Scripture as an argument for an ecclesial hermeneutic’, in Mark Burrows and Paul Rorem (eds), Biblical hermeneutics in historical perspective: studies in honour of Karlfried Froehlich for his sixtieth birthday, Grand Rapids 1991, 152–72.

117 ‘Haec enim est infallibilis regula a Spiritu sancto directa, qui in his quae Fidei sunt, nec fallere potest nec falli … Universalis Ecclesiae circa ea quae Fidei Sacramenta respiciunt et dispensationem ipsorum; quam autoritatem Doctoris unius particularis etiam Sancti’: Contra haeresim de communione laicorum sub utraque specie, Opera omnia, i. 459C–D.

118 ‘Examinator authenticus et finalis Judex doctrinarum Fidem tangentium, est generale Concilium. … Nam persona quaelibet singularis de Ecclesia, cujuscunque dignitatis, etiam Papalis, circumdata est infirmatate, et deviabilis est, ut fallere possit et falli’: De examinatione doctrinarum, Opera omnia, i. 8A–B.

119 ‘Unde valde mirandum videtur apud aliquos considerativos, dum vident quod statim ut Doctor aliquis composuit unam lecturam vel unam compositionem; aut glossam super Decretalibus aut Decretis redegit in scriptis; habetur illa glossa seu lectura in reverentia tali, quod allegatur authentice in Scholis et Judiciis: qui Doctor si viveret, non esset comparandus mille et mille qui jam sunt in vita. Et tamen si tota una Universitas, exempli gratia, quae habet Doctores in omni facultate peritissimos, declararet aut determinaret unam expositionem circa unum passum Scripturae sacrae vel Decretorum aut Decretalium, vix reputabitur aut recipietur hujusmodi testificatio; quasi vidilicet scriptura mortua sit majoris autoritatis quam viva. Et si opponatur, quod in vivis pervertitur judicium propter perversionem affectus; cur non similiter potest dubitari quod in mortuis regnaverint dum viverent passiones judicii subversivae’: Contra haeresim de communione laicorum sub utraque specie, Opera omnia, i. 459D–60A.

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The Journal of Ecclesiastical History
  • ISSN: 0022-0469
  • EISSN: 1469-7637
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