Saturday, January 31, 2009


Read the chapter in Stump's Aquinas book on God's knowledge. I have to admit, I'm not convinced that fr. Shanley and Leo Elders didn't know the difference between God's knowledge ad intra and ad extra. Or maybe she was just inventing a false dilemma to ease the literary development of her argument. Some quotes:

p. 177: "That is, God not only makes composites of matter and form, as any craftsman or inventor does, but he also creates the formless matter that underlies the forms of any material object." humans make form and matter? Perhap she only meant that humans make composites, which is what Aquinas actually says.

My favorite quote from the book so far, p. 182: "Medievals, including Aquinas, love the matter-from distinction and tend to apply it indiscriminately to virtually anything at all; but they are speaking figuratively when they do so, not literally or strictly." Really?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Scotus on the Lombard's Christological Models

This is something of a no-brainer. There is a claim made by a prominent Thomist theologian regarding Scotus’ Christology that is slanderous and based on sheer ignorance. Now, I am aware of this claim only through hearsay; several friends have taken this Thomist’s class and told me of the charge. I have not bothered to look it up in any of his published writings, as I doubt he would commit such a charge to writing. In any case, it comes from an intro to medieval theology class. Certain elements (the part about Thomas) of this claim are a central feature of this person’s scholarly work, however.

The Charge: Peter Lombard describes three models for the incarnation. One of them he rules out of bounds; another one he endorses. But there is a third one that he is not sure of. Thomas Aquinas, being a great lover of ancient lore, was always trying to acquire the oldest and best manuscripts of the fathers, councils and other church documents. He stumbled upon the documents of an ancient council (I think it was Constantinople II) and by imbibing them was able to formulate an orthodox Christology. Scotus, however, was not so interested, and so predictably fell into great error and is in fact a heretic.

Here is the text of the Lombard:
Liber III Sententiarum d.6-7

"De intelligentia harum locutionum: Deus factus est homo, Deus est homo, an his locutionibus dicatur Deus factus esse aliquid vel esse aliquid vel non. Ex praemissis autem emergit quaestio plurimum continens utilitatis, sed nimium difficultatis atque perplexitatis. Cum enim constet ex praedictis et aliis plluribus testimoniis, omnesque catholici unanimiter fateantur Deum esse factum hominem, et Christum verum Deum esse et verum hominem, quaeritur an his locutionibus: 'Deus factus est homo', 'Filius Dei factus est filius hominis','Deus est homo' et 'homo est Deus', ...

Alii enim dicunt in ipsa Verbi incarnatione hominem quendam ex anima rationali et humana carne constitutum: ex quibus duobus omnis verus homo constituitur. Et ille hoo coepit esse homo ille. Concedunt etiam hominem illum assumptum a Verbo et unitum Verbo, et tamen esse Verbum. Et ea ratione tradunt dictum esse 'Deum factum hominem' vel 'esse hominem', quia Deus factus est (id est coepit esse) quedam substantia ex anima rationali et humana carne subsistens; et illa substantia facta est (id est coepit esse) Deus. Non tamen demigratione naturae in naturam, sed utriusque naturae servata proprietate, factum est ut Deus esset illa substantia, et illa substantia esset Deus. Unde vere dicitur Deus factus homo et homo factus Deus, et Deus esse homo et homo Deus, et Filius Dei filius hominis et e converso. Cumque dicant illum hominem ex anima rationali et humana carne subsistere, non tamen fatentur ex duabus naturis esse compositum, divina scilicet et humana; nec illius partes esse duas naturas, sed animam tantum et carnem. Auctoritates ponit...

Sunt autem et alii qui istis in parte consentiunt, sed dicunt hominem illum non ex anima rationali et carne tantum, sed ex humana et divina natura, id est ex tribus substantiis: divinitate, carne et anima, constare; hunc Christum fatentur, et unam personam tantum esse, ante incarnationem vero solummodo simplicem, sed in incarnatione factam compositam ex divinitate et humanitate. Nec est ideo alia persona quam prius, sed cum prius esset Dei tantum persona, in incarnatione facta est etiam hominis persona: not ut duae essent personae, sed ut una et eadem esset persona Dei et hominis. Persona ergo quae prius erat simplex et in una tantum natura exsistens, in duabus et ex duabus subsistit naturis. Et persona quae tantum Deus erat, facta est etiam verus homo, subsistens non tantum ex anima et canre, sed etiam ex divinitate. Nec tamen persona illa debet dici facta persona, quamvis dicatur facta persona hominis. Facta est igitur illa persona, ut quibusdam placet, quiddam subsistens ex anima et carne, sed non est facta persona vel substantia vel natura. Et in quantum est ille subsistens, composita est; in quantum autem Verbum est, simplex est. Auctoritates ponit...

Sunt etiam et alii, qui in incarnatione Verbi non solum personam ex naturis compositam negant, verum etiam hominem aliquem, sive etiam aliquam substantiam, ibi ex anima et carne compositam vel factam diffitentur; sed sic illa duo, scilicet animam et carnem, Verbi personae vel naturae unita esse aiunt, ut non ex illis duobus vel ex his tribus aliqua substantia vel persona fieret sive componeretur, sed illis duobus velut indumento Verbum Dei vestiretur ut mortalium oculis congruenter appareret.

Aliis quoque pluribus modis illi sententiae [#1] potest opponi: quibus supersedemus, exercitationis studium lectori relinquentes et ad aliam properantes...

Posita est diligenter sententia secunda et eius explanatio. Cui in nullo, vel in modico, obviant auctoritates in tertia sententia inductae, quae iam consideranda est...

Satis diligenter, iuxta diversorum sententias, supra positam absque assertione et praeiudicio tractavi quaestionem. Verumtamen nolo, in tanta re tamque ad agnoscendum difficili, putare lectorem istam sibi nostram debere sufficere disputationem; sed legat et alia melius forte considerata atque tractata, et ea quae hic movere possunt vigilantiore atque intelligentiore, si potest, mente discutiat; hoc firmiter tenens, quod 'Deus hominem assumpsit, homo in Deum transivit, non naturae versibilitate, sed Dei dignatione: ut nec Deus mutaretur in humanam substantiam assumendo hominem, nec homo in divinam glorificatus in Deum, quia mutatio vel versibilitas naturae diminutionem et abolitionem substantiae facit.'"

Faber’s reply:

I don’t have much to say on the Aquinas part of this; I have seen statements of Thomas in which he says he got someone to translate some of the fathers for him. I haven’t seen Thomas saying he got ancient council documents. When it comes to texts of Aristotle, Gauthier has sufficiently demonstrated that Aquinas was aware of Moerbeke’s new translations, but made no special effort to acquire them and used whatever text was at hand in the convent where he was staying.

As for the charge against Scotus, well, our Thomist hasn’t bothered to actually look this question up in Scotus. It has been critically edited, and is found in volume 9 of the Vatican edition, p. 256-59.

Ordinatio III d.6 q.3:

“Last it is asked, without arguments, which of those three opinions, which the Master recites, is to be held.

I respond. The first is not commonly held, because the assuming is not that which is assumed, the Word however is ‘that man’. Whether ‘that man’ can stand for some singular of human nature, and not precisely for the supposit of the Word (just as white can stand for ‘this white’ which is the singular of white in the concrete-in the way in which this is true, ‘every colored is white’- and not for the subject or supposit subsisting in whiteness), will be discussed in distinction 11, ‘whether that man began to be’.

The third opinion in the time of the Master was not heretical, but after the time of Alexander [III, pope] it was condemned, just as is clear from Extra, ‘De haereticis’, Cum Christus [reference to the Decretales of Gregory IX]. Also, the authorites which seem to say that “Christ assumed human nature as a habit” are to be explained on account of some similitude of this nature to a habit: for just as one having a habit is not changed, but having more or habituated is hidden also under a habit, so the divine person is not changed by that union, but the human nature, which quasi hides the person of the Word.

Therefore the second opinion is to be held, that the person of the Word subsists in two natures: in one, from which it has first being [esse], in another (quasi adventicious) from which it has second being [esse], -just as in some way, if Socrates would be said to subsist in humanity and whiteness. But that that opinion says ‘the person of Christ is composite’, this is not commonly held, properly speaking of composition, namely from act and potency (just as from matter and form), or from two potentialities, of the sort which acccording to the Philosoher are called elements integrating the whole.

The authorities of Damascene, which say that person is composite, should be explained, because so truly is the human and divine nature there, just as if they were composing a person, but so inconfusedly that nothing third should be from them, because they do not make composition. And the same says Damascene himself chapter 49 “If according to the heretics Christ is of one composite nature, he is changed from a simple nature into a composite” and “neither is he called God, nor man,” “just as we say man to be from soul and body, or the body from the four elements”. He ought therefore to be explained that Christ is composite because of the truth of the two natures in which he exists-but composition is more truly denied, because one does not perfect another, nor from them is there some third nature.”

And that is the whole question. The Vatican editors speculate it is so short because it had been exhaustively treated by earlier scholastics. They also list parallal passages in the Summa and Sentences of Aquinas, Alexander of Hales, and Bonaventure. Determining Scotus’ knowledge of Thomas is tricky (Thomas just wasn’t that important outside the Dominican order, especially prior to the hardening of the viae in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries), but he certainly read Bonaventure and Alexander of Hales. So the whole charge is nonsense. Both Thomas and Scotus know to avoid the Lombard’s third position because of their training in canon law, something all mendicants and seculars were thorougly schooled in (which came out at the recent SIEPM conference, though it should have been obvious).

So where does this slander come from? I really do not know. Ignorance, sloppy scholarship, the age-old rivalry between the followers of Thomas and Scotus. All one can really say is “tolle, lege!”

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Definition of Baptism

Here is Scotus's definition of baptism, that comes at the end of roughly 400 pages of analysis. I was quite taken by surprise, as a lot of what he was doing seemed haphazard and unfinished, but I was wrong. Following this passage he glosses every word in the definition and shows where he defended it in the previous 400 pages.

Ordinatio IV, , nn.1-2 (XI 411):

"Ex dictis, a principio 3 distinctionis usque huc, potest colligi una ratio baptismi, exprimens omnia quae sunt simpliciter necessaria ad rationem baptismi, quia si ponatur relationem illam signi - quam immportat baptismus - fundari in illa ablutione ut in fundamento totali, habente tamen ad verba habitudinem, et ad alia concomitantia, potest talis ratio assignari ipsius baptismi:

'Baptismus est ablutio hominis viatoris, actualiter vel virtualiter consentientis, vel numquam usu liberi arbitrii disentientis, facta in aqua elementari fluida ab alio simul abluente et verba certa - actum et suscipientem cum invocatione Trinitatis designantia - proferente, tam in abluendo quam in proferendo intendendo facere quod Christus instituit faciendum vel quod intendit facere Ecclesia christiana'"

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Mochrie on Scotus on Economic and Political Philosophy

I just noticed this article, thanks to a link posted by Brandon at Siris. I haven't read it yet, but it looks promising (some historical inaccuracies, but Scotus is a full-time job), just the sort of thing I wish were done more often: exposition of text, with some conclusions as to its usefulness on the contemporary scene.

R.I. Mochrie, "Justice in Exchange: The Economic Philosophy of John Duns Scotus" in Journal of Markets and Morality," 9 (2006).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Scotus on Canon law Glosses

He was't a big fan. I had to post this; it's a comment on whether the Poenitentiali of Theodoricus is a valid authority.

Ordinatio IV d.6 pars 4 art. 1 q.2 n. 184 XI 350-51):

"Et si dicas 'licet Theodorus non potuit condere ius, tamen innuit papam condisse, cum dicit "secundum canones"', - respondeo: hoc deberet glossator apponere, quia haec glossa est necessaria; sed nullam ponit ostendendo ubi sit canon super hoc editus. Et hic, sicut in multis aliis locis, apparet inutilis occupatio glossatorum in iure canonico, qui multiplicant concordantias et auctoritates ad unum vocabulum, et postea in suo fine nihil ad propositum, - et alibi, ubi est verbum maximi ponderis, a quo dependet sententia totius capituli, transeunt sicco pedo..."

Monday, January 5, 2009

Random Remarks on Baptism

Ordinatio IV d.5 q.1: Utrum malitia ministri impediat conferri baptismum

Item, Augustine in De unico baptismo, after the middle: "the glorious martyr Cyprian, who refused to recognize the baptism given by heretics and schimatics" etc. From this it is argued thus: one erring around an article of faith, if he dies in that error, is condemned because "without faith it is impossible to please God, Hebr. 11; Cyprian said that true baptism, at least one given by a heretic or schismatic, cannot be conferred by an evil minister, and in that opinion he endured to the end, and nevertheless he is not condemned but is a glorius martyr; therefore that opinion is not erroneous nor against some article of faith. [and so on]

To that about Cyprian I say that some things are so absolutely(simpliciter) about the substance of the faith that all-perhaps the ones receiving after they receive the use of reason-are held explicitly to believe them, just as are the articles about the incarnation (as Christ has been born and died), about which there are special solemnities in the Church, and whoch the people are able to conceive because they are about Christ the man; others are explicitly required of the substance of the faith, observed by the great ones[or majority? maioribus] of the Church (such as God is trine, and things pertaining to spiritual and imaginable things of this sort). And that distinction is clear from Augustine, XIV De Trinitate ch. 1. Others are which are neither necessarily nor explicitly believed by them nor by those, because they are not yet declared by the Church; of this sort are many conclusions necessarily included in the articles of faith. But before they are declared by the Church it is not necessary that anyone believe them-nevetheless it is necessary sober opinions should be held about them, as namely man is prepared to hold them for the time in which the truth is declared.

In this way I say that 'baptism is a sacrament of the new law necessary for salvation' immediately was a truth of the Christian faith because it was expressed in the Gospels; but t hat it can be conferred by a heretic was not immediately expressed, indeed nor was it declared in the time of Cyprian; on account of which about the declaration of that truth Augustine greatly labored in his books, as is clear from De unico baptismo and Contra Donatistas.

Hence if Cyprian and so thought, namely that there is no baptism among heretics, because he would have been prompt to hold with his mind what the Church had declared, he erred in nothing, unless perhaps by sinning venially, because he strenously asserted that which neither reason nor authority was urging. For his argument was not valid, namely "that which someone does not have he is not able to give" because the one baptizing does not give grace, but a sacrament, and he has that in power, because he has Orders [...].

And in this way Abbat Joachim can be excused, because even if he spoke an erroneous statement, as is clear from Extra, 'De summa Trinitate et fide catholica,' that 'three persons are not some one t hing which does not generate nor is negerated nor spirates nor is spirated,' because he is not said to have defended this pertinaceously but to have left all his books to be corrected according to the judgment of the Church.

New Blog

Be sure to check out Scot William's new Henry of Ghent blog if you haven't already. It promises lots of food for thought. The link is on the sidebar.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Scotistic Censorship

The following is a segment that I noticed was dropped from two manuscripts (Wien 1494 and Paris 3490) of Peter Thomae's Quaestiones de esse intelligibili, q.4 a.3. In this passage Peter criticizes Scotus and says that he contradicted himself. I submit that this is an act of censorship. It does not constitute an homoeoteleuton but is a simple omission. After the omitted passage, the text continues with the words "Ideo tenendo eandem conclusionem cum ipso". A few paragraphs later, there is another omission by the same two manuscripts of the words "in quo contradico isti Doctori". Apparently, some Scotists don't like the master being criticized and suppress text that does. Here is the lenghty section of omitted text:

NB: * = lectio incerta

"Preterea, in hoc quod dicit in quarto dicto, quod videlicet esse intelligibile non producitur per memoriam sed per intelligibilitatem, contradicit sibi in primo, vbi expresse dicit quod memoria est principium creaturarum in esse intelligibile et hoc magis videtur esse verum quam illud, nec enim video quod intelligentia habeat rationem productiui, nam principium productivum intellectionis etiam in nobis non ponitur intelligentia set memoria que quidem habet producere intelligibilia.
Quintum etiam dictum licet sit verum in se * ipsum ad predictam non videlicet quia remota causa remouetur effectus. Set hic remouetur hoc quod ipse supponit scilicet quod esse intelligibile sit a memoria uel intelligentia cum sit ab essentia ut supra ostensum est.
Similiter motiva sua predictam non videntur cogere prima enim tria petunt principium quondo enim dicitur in primo illud quod est principium productionis necessarie et contingentis, ista maior petit et accipit vnum falsum, petit si quid in hoc quod accipit quod intellectus est principium creature in esse intelligibile; hoc enim est questio. Si dicas quod ipse tantum intendit ibi loqui de existentia siue de esse in effectum, contra hoc est hoc quod ipse dicit in secundo articulo; ibi enim dicit quod omnis rationes que * sunt in primo | [N 96va] articulo de esse reali possunt fieri de isto esse intelligibili. Secundo accipit falsum, scilicet quod illa productio quidditatis in esse intelligibili sit contingens cum tamen sit necesse ut preostensum est.
Secunda ratio similiter deficit, supposit enim quod hoc esse intelligibile sit a potentia intellectiua quod falsum est.
Consimiliter tertia ratio, cum dicitur prior est habitudo nature ad suppositum,et cetera. Hic namque supponitur quod esse intelligibile sit per aliquam productionem uel actionem quod falsum est, et ita patet ad primas tres rationes.
Ad alias que ponuntur in principio secundi articuli, ad primam, quando dicitur si productionem intrinsecam precedit esse intelligibile creabilium et cetera, non video aliquod inconveniens rei illa cum quia etiam secundum ipsum in tertio instanti voluntas complacet in illis quidditatibus et ista complacentia est necessaria quia ante determinationem voluntatis. Similiter potest dici quod non sequitur quod amor creature sit necessarius, quia precedit non sicut ratio illius productionis intrinsece set sicud consequens necessario esse essentie.
Secunda etiam ratio non valet, quia cum deberet arguere de esse intelligibili, arguit de esse cognito seu intellecto. Illud etiam assumptum est falsum, quia non credo quod Filius habeat esse prius esse cognitum quam esse productum, non enim cognoscitur antequam producatur.
Tertia etiam ratio non valet ymaginatur enim quod ex hoc sequiretur relatio realis prime producentis ad illud esse intelligibile precedens productionem intrinsecam; set hoc non est verum. Dicerem enim quod verbum non nascitur seu gignitur de illis que in esse intelligibili essentiam consequntur; set primo et per se de ipsa essentia nec illa intelligibilia precedunt verbum ut de quibus ait uel fiat set ut necessario consecuta rationem essentie * autem sit intelligendum dictum AUGUSTINUS quod etiam ille Doctor contra se adducit et non soluit dicentis quod verbum nascitur de omnibus que sunt in Patris scientia dicetur inferius.