Modern Scholarship, Rome and a Challenge

Sep 3rd, 2010 | By | Category: Blog Posts

Within the Reformed blogosphere there has lately been put forth some pretty bold claims regarding the structure of the church in the first century, particularly the structure of the Roman Church.

Basically the argument is that in the first century the church did not have a monarchical bishop and was instead ruled by a group of elders who were all equal.

The main work that has been cited by those putting forth this hypothesis is “From Paul to Valentinus: Christians in Rome in the First Two Centuries” by Peter Lampe. Here is most of the entire work on Google.

One of Lampe’s conclusions, the one that is being embraced by the Reformed apologetic blogosphere,1 is presented by Lampe thus:

The fractionation in Rome favored a collegial presbyterial system of governance and prevented for a long time, until the second half of the second century, the development of a monarchical episcopacy in the city.

The intended connotation to all of this is that apostolic succession and in particular the office of the Bishop of Rome was a 2nd century invention. This has caused various Reformed bloggers to conclude that the Papacy is an invention and that apostolic succession is a ‘fraud.’2

This post is not attempt to give a thorough treatment of Lampe’s work. However, the question must arise, “How did Peter Lampe get to this conclusion? What evidence has Peter Lampe uncovered that is more reliable than early witnesses to the succession of bishops such as the list of St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies III.3.3)?”

Therefore, the challenge is the following:

Can you name one piece of historical evidence that meets these two conditions:

(1) it shows that there was no monarchical bishop in Rome until the second half of the second century, and;

(2) it is stronger evidence than is the list of St. Irenaeus (Against Heresies III.3.3)

(Please show why it is stronger evidence than is St. Irenaeus’ list.)3

“Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:3:2 (A.D. 180).

  1. The fact that Lampe draws various conclusions in his study that these same Reformed bloggers would necessarily reject out of hand is not discussed here but has been demonstrated elsewhere such as here. []
  2. Example here. []
  3. See comments at Ecclesial Deism This was originally offered by Bryan Cross. []
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  1. Sean, there are a number of things wrong here.

    First, of course, (and as has become your unique signature), you have misrepresented what I’ve said. Here’s how you put it: “This has caused various Reformed bloggers to conclude that the Papacy is an invention and that apostolic succession is a ‘fraud.’”

    Just to be brief, my position is actually that apostolic succession is a later development and the papacy is a fraud.

    Notwithstanding that, your challenge is wrong-headed on several accounts.

    This is not a field in which “one piece of evidence” is going to win the day.

    In the first place, let me turn your challenge around on you: give me one piece of evidence that proves there are no green men on mars. Give me one piece of evidence that proves there are no such things as unicorns. Give me one piece of evidence that proves the sun will come up tomorrow.

    We are in the world here of the inductive argument. And it is the weight of the evidence that makes the case, and not not some supposed magic pill as you (quite mistakenly) propose.

    The selection that you give from “Ignatius, to the Trallians” itself is a spurious interpolation — a fourth century addition to what his held to be an authentic letter of Ignatius — that is, it is evidence that has been tampered with.

    What you’ve quoted as Ignatius is a fake, a forgery, and you yourself have cited it as if it were genuine. This perfectly illustrates a process, writ large, that helped to solidify the authority of the papacy, and helps to maintain it today, among those of you who choose to believe myths and fables (and worse) rather than to consider the genuine evidence.

    You chide me for relying on a source that “draws various conclusions” that “these same reformed Bloggers would necessarily reject out of hand.” But you do precisely the same thing, in that it is the work of two Protestants, Zahn and Lightfoot, that established the opinion that at least a portion of what has historically been attributed to Ignatius is genuine. If it were not for the work of Zahn and Lightfoot, modern scholarship would likely hold that the whole Ignatian corpus was spurious. But you are too blinkered to be able to know the difference.

    Regarding Irenaeus’s list, it is not only Lampe but others hold similar views. There are so many problems in the list that Irenaeus gives that the Roman Catholic historian of the papacy Klaus Schatz does not even cite this list as evidence for succession in the papacy. Even Robert Eno, S.S. (Order of Sulpicians, the mission of which is to teach diocesan priests), discounts the list of Irenaeus not as “pure fiction” — for you to say that I have suggested such would be another of your misrepresentations — but rather it is, as I have always maintained, “a reading back into the first century of the role of the community bishop found in the mid-second century.”

    Of course, the case against the papacy is far broader and more multi-faceted than you have allowed here.

    There is strenuous agreement among commentators on the New Testament that while Peter was an important apostle, in the important “petrine texts,” there is no hint of anything at all like “succession.” Peter was unique, and his role in the foundation of the church was unique.

    Rome’s claims to such a succession have been so disproven, that the Reformed seminary professor and systematic theologian Robert Reymond stated clearly, in a textbook that he wrote,

    Rome’s exegesis of Matthew 16 and its historically developed claim to authoritative primacy in the Christian world simply cannot be demonstrated and sustained from Scripture itself. This claim is surely one of the great hoaxes foisted upon professing Christendom, upon which false base rests the whole papal sacerdotal system.

    http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2010/04/11/one-of-the-greatest-hoaxes/

    For anyone here who is interested in an overview (admittedly incomplete) of the historical research in the early papacy, see these links:

    http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/historical-literature-on-the-earliest-papacy/

    http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/a-timeline-of-the-early-papacy/

    And for those interested in a broader examination of the early Roman church, see this link:

    http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2009/06/27/an-examination-of-roman-catholicism/

  2. John,

    What methodological approach do you take when reading modern critical scholarship? I only ask because I don’t see how it helps your case as a conservative Christian to champion the results of scholars who employ a certain methodology to cast doubt on the unique claims of the Catholic Church when (it seems to me) other scholars use the same methodology to draw conclusions that cast doubt on unique claims of the Reformed Church(es) or, indeed, all of historic Nicene Christianity. Surely you would find the holes (or perhaps I should say “incompleteness” so as not to discredit critical scholarship altogether) in these critical approaches when they are used to conclude, just to give an easy example, that the textual tradition of the bible is not reliable, or, to give an example that somewhat parallels what you’ve given us about the monespiscopacy, that the sayings of Jesus recorded in the Gospels are what later Christians thought of him as saying. If you would, in fact, see the problems with this kind of argumentation, why do you use scholarship based on the exact same principles to discredit the Church?

    You also bring up modern Catholic scholars as if this is meant to prove to us that even “our own” are coming around to face the facts that our Church has been perpetuating falsehood for centuries. This seems problematic in the same way as the question I raised above, unless there’s something I’m missing. Many professing Catholics say and do all kinds of things. Why should that in itself matter? The opinions of individual Catholics, from the great theologians of the patristic age to today, do not produce the teaching of the Church. We could reference plenty of self-identifying Reformed scholars who draw all kinds of cleverly argued, academic conclusions about any number of issues that would throw everyone on the Puritan Board into a fit over these scholars’ infidelity to the Reformed tradition and perhaps even historical or theological methodology, yet they would know that this is no argument against Reformed Christianity. Yet you are doing this here with Catholicism and I’ve seen you do it on the Puritan Board, and I’ve seen the folks there join in the cheerleading as if it were a sound argument with real force. I think there is a double standard here.

  3. John,

    Thanks for your comment. Several things I need to get out of the way before addressing the meat of the argument you presented.

    Firstly, you are not the only Reformed blogger who has latched onto this problem. So, my summary was not just a simple summary of what you have argued. I did not even name you, or anybody else specifically. Further, I have seen the Catholic doctrine of apostolic succession dismissed in the Reformed blogosphere on these grounds recently. Having said that, you have talked about ‘apostolic succession’ in the same way you talk about the papacy in recent memory.

    On Creed Code Cult you recently said:

    I’ll be honest. Catholic defenses that I’ve seen for “apostolic succession” over the centuries really, really appear to be to be just giving cover for individuals like the pharisees, and for individuals maybe a good bit worse than the pharisees, to claim they are somehow representing God himself, when they’re not. Can you see my point Tom? Source.

    So, forgive me if you feel that I did not accurately state your position. I was not trying to offer your position in the first place.

    Nevertheless, thank you outlining what you believe: That its the papacy that is a fraud. We can focus on that.

    Next, am I safe to assume that you agree that there is not any historical or archeology evidence that proves that there was no monarchial bishop in Rome until the 2nd Century that is better evidence that Irenaeus’ list?

    Are we agreed on that?

    Lastly, I approved your comment because it is the first you’ve made on Called to Communion (I think), but in the future any comments containing Ad Homs will not be approved.

    Please read the posting guidelines.

  4. David,

    Yes, you aptly identify a major problem with this approach. It gets even stickier when it is the same scholars that they cite who are drawing the conclusions that would ‘give them fits.’

  5. John, to whom are you going to file your grievance in order to remedy this great historical wrong, a wrong that extended over the entirety of Christendom from (if you’re right) the 3rd century until the 16th?

    Both East and West apparently fell into precisely the same error, assimilating into its ecclessial DNA an understanding of itself that came into being out of whole cloth one afternoon in the 3rd century. And to make matters worse, no one really noticed, not Nicea, not Chalcedon, not Orange, though these councils presupposed the authority you claim is a forgery. The hoodwinking was so clever, so sublime, so sophisticated, and so diabolical that it developed in such a way as to fit seamlessly with the Church, its doctrinal development, its liturgy, its councils, and its declarations on the canonicity of Scripture. The deception was so well done–by the Enemy, of course–that it displays an elegance that makes it seem to be, in retrospect, just how one would expect the Church to have developed.

    Perhaps it was the green men after all.

  6. John,

    Welcome to Called to Communion. I want to echo’s Sean’s words. Please be assured that you have the right to tenaciously hold your views and defend them. But please do not engage in personal attacks, like, “as has become your unique signature”.

    Also, I think David and Frank put forward some very fair questions for you to ponder and engage with. How would and do you navigate the terrain of biblical scholarship? Who do you decide to accept and how do you make that judgement? Bart Erhman, at UNC, does a fantastic job, according to some (let’s say unorthodox Christians), of deconstructing the NT text. How would you recommend that we, who affirm the authenticity of the NT, engage his arguments?

  7. Gentlemen:

    Although, as a Catholic, I sympathize with what Sean Patrick is trying to do here, I am dubious about the usefulness of this sort of discussion in itself, whether the upshot be pro- or anti-Catholic. The “historical” basis for almost any theological claim, including those denominated “scriptural,” has always been controversial. As is shown by what Peter said about the writings of Paul (2 Peter 3:15-16), or by the cryptic allusions to Docetism and Gnosticism that we find in the Gospel of John, interpretations of the data have conflicted since before the ink was dry on what we now call the New Testament. And so they have remained. So, before we can determine the truth of any given doctrine–be it the Catholic doctrine of the papacy or any other–we must consider the questionby what means theological claims are to be evaluated so that we can distinguish the propositional content of divine revelation from mere human opinions about the data taken as sources. Academic research, on the Bible or anything else, is never going to answer that question definitively. All it can do is clarify what data there are to be interpreted–and even that matter is often more speculative than partisans are willing to admit.

    When the question is what I’ve said it is, the answer must appeal to a final authority as one divinely empowered to settle disputes about applying the distinction in question. The question then becomes what that authority is to be. Many Protestants, of course, say “Scripture alone.” But the Catholic Church teaches that her doctrines are supported by Scripture. So what? That standoff only raises the question anew.

    E.g., John quotes a Reformed scholar thus:

    Rome’s exegesis of Matthew 16 and its historically developed claim to authoritative primacy in the Christian world simply cannot be demonstrated and sustained from Scripture itself. This claim is surely one of the great hoaxes foisted upon professing Christendom, upon which false base rests the whole papal sacerdotal system.

    When I saw that, I just scratched my head. As a Catholic, I’d say that of course the Catholic doctrine of the papacy cannot be “demonstrated and sustained” just by “Scripture itself,” even though it is supported by Scripture when Scripture is interpreted in a certain way. Indeed, from what Vatican II said, we may infer that no article of faith can simply be “demonstrated” by Scripture; for “Scripture, Tradition, and the teaching authority of the Church are so linked…that none can stand without the others” (Dei Verbum §10). The three constitute a tripod, each of whose legs help hold up the others. And the “final authority” for resolving disputes about what Scripture and/or Tradition tell us is the Magisterium, which is then irrevocably committed to what it teaches with its full authority. If that’s true, then the above-quoted criticism is simply irrelevant. It is not criticizing what the Catholic Church actually teaches about the authority of Scripture, Tradition, or even her own authority.

    What that shows is that the discussion must be moved to a different level. There, we ask not whether sola Scriptura or Vatican II’s teaching can be proven from the data, but which picture is best suited to making the distinction I invoked. Unless and until that question is answered, disputes about how to interpret the historical data for doctrinal purposes will go nowhere.

    Best,
    Mike

  8. Mike.

    Academic research, on the Bible or anything else, is never going to answer that question definitively. All it can do is clarify what data there are to be interpreted–and even that matter is often more speculative than partisans are willing to admit.

    Exactly, and this is really all I am trying to demonstrate with this thread. The problem is that many out there are treating some of this scholarship as the ‘definitive’ answer to these questions. Hence the need for the thread.

    The purpose of this thread from my perspective is not to put our scholars against their scholars but to show that their whole argument is based on academic research that, as you say, cannot answer these questions definitively.

    Just imagine if we Christians allowed modern historical criticism to direct our faith and define our doctrines?

  9. I think Michael makes a good point. Take the quote he reproduces above:

    “Rome’s exegesis of Matthew 16 and its historically developed claim to authoritative primacy in the Christian world simply cannot be demonstrated and sustained from Scripture itself. This claim is surely one of the great hoaxes foisted upon professing Christendom, upon which false base rests the whole papal sacerdotal system.”

    I would add to Mike’s excellent point the observation that the quote is not only an almost textbook case of crass question-begging its assertion about the “Christendom” is more incredible than the exegesis it claims cannot be sustained. Here’s what I mean: who precisely did the foisting and why was it so relatively easy to accomplish? The ecumenical councils of the first five centuries–including all its bishops–were all duped. But by whom and for what insidious purpose? Even the Eastern Churches, though rejecting the Catholic claims of the papacy, maintain some view of petrine primacy (i.e., first among equals). So, even those who were uneasy about Rome’s claims about the papacy shared with Rome the belief in petrine primacy as well as apostolic succession and the visible Church as the means by which grace is given through the sacraments.

    The scope and depth of the conspiracy is global and virtually unopposed. And we are supposed to, in light of this, abandon the universal and visible church because some Reformed writer happens to draw our attention to the fact that the Catholic interpretation of Matthew 16 has its detractors and thus we cannot conclusively prove from the text petrine primacy. But this Cartesian skepticism cuts both ways, since one can find among even the Reformed disagreements on justification and the passages in Scripture employed by partisans on all sides (e.g, Wright v. Piper). The problem with scorched Earth apologetics is that you may “win” the argument but there’s no Earth left on which to revel in your victory.

  10. The problem is that many out there are treating some of this scholarship as the ‘definitive’ answer to these questions. Hence the need for the thread.

    Sean – I agree with you here. I don’t think we Reformed can say anything definitive. But we can question what Catholics have come to see as definitive concerning Apostolic authority, and so Catholics do need to provide the basis for their historical claims that, at least to some extent, undergird their ecclesiology. This is what I understand you to be doing.

    But I would like to know how you would address John’s complaint about having to prove the negative. How can we prove that there was no leader in the congregation at Rome who held a position that is line with RCC understanding of the monarchical bishop? What we can show is the Apostolic and sub-apostolic writers did not differentiate between bishops and elders and what we take from this is that the nature of the office of bishop was something quite a bit different than what Rome came to later enunciate.

    Concerning Irenaeus, I don’t know how we can verify his list or really get at what ecclesiastical status the men in his list possessed. Irenaeus had heard about these people no doubt and he records what he heard. But where did he get this list from and how accurate were his sources? Perhaps it’s a similar case to what Irenaeus says about Simon in Acts. He repeats what he has heard from others (i.e. Justin) concerning Simon, but most scholars today (Catholic and not) would say that most of what Irenaeus reports concerning Simon was legend. From my perspective there is no way to test what Irenaeus reports on the list you reference or figure out what role the men such as Anencletus played in the Roman church.

    Francis – I really don’t understand your “conspiracy” comment. There are times in history when everyone at a given point of time comes to believe something is true even though it is later shown not be be true. I think of the Catholics Church’s belief that Dionysius was Paul’s companion in Acts. The Church believed this for 1000 years or so and no Catholic during the Middle Ages questioned it. But they were all wrong. There was no conspiracy here, it was just an idea that took hold and stuck.

    And I’m not sure you want to use the EO perspective on the Bishop of Rome to support your standpoint. “First among equals” was purely titular in the Eastern mind. The EO understanding represents another interpretation of the history of ecclesiology that in general does not agree with that of Rome. There certainly are some commonalities between RCC and EO on the role of bishops in general, but you and they will part ways quickly on the doctrines surrounding the Bishop of Rome.

  11. This question goes to either John or any of his opponents: From how early on was Irenaeus’s list cited as evidence of unbroken succession?

    And to John: What is the nature of the evidence for its being a forgery?

  12. Hi Gentlemen, I’m very pleased that you’ve all come out to ask some questions of me.

    David Pell — you ask (#2) “What methodological approach do you take when reading modern critical scholarship?”As Steve Hays has noted on many occasions, “truth is normative.” And so, if I may suggest that the method is derived from Paul: “test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess 5:21) and “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

    It is the method, too, that Francis Turretin espoused some time ago: “examination of faith and knowledge ought to precede the knowledge of the church” — that is, examine the Scriptures to discern the doctrines, and locate the church where such doctrines are held and practiced.

    With that said, you may recognize this following from the Pontifical Biblical Commission:

    …the very nature of biblical texts means that interpreting them will require continued use of the historical-critical method, at least in its principal procedures. The Bible, in effect, does not present itself as a direct revelation of timeless truths but as the written testimony to a series of interventions in which God reveals himself in human history. In a way that differs from tenets of other religions, the message of the Bible is solidly grounded in history. It follows that the biblical writings cannot be correctly understood without an examination of the historical circumstances that shaped them.

    Of course they go on to suggest other things, but at the very least, they, too, suggest that interactions with critical positions is necessary to arrive at a “correct understanding”.

    You may be aware of a work by Mark Noll some time ago, “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind,” in which the famous conclusion has been often repeated. But in the face of that, there has been a conscious effort in Evangelical biblical scholarship to produce work that is willing to engage with the historical-critical method, while remaining open to “the possibility of the transcendent,” as Donald Hagner noted in his introduction to Ladd’s “Theology of the New Testament.” This method combines “a thorough-going historical scholarship” with “deeply rooted devotion to biblical faith” (19).

    As Hagner continues, then, “Evangelicals — at least many of them — have become more open to many of the conclusions of critical scholarship (in regard to, for example, the authorship and dating of the New Testament writings and the implications for development within the New Testament) in the twenty years since Ladd wrote. They continue, however, to share the basic convictions embodied in Ladd’s approach to biblical theology. For all the actual diversity in the New Testament writings there remains an unforced and genuine unity among them at the same time. For all the historical particularity of thee writings they continue to possess a normative authority for the church.”

    This method is widely adhered to now, among evangelical and Reformed scholars whose work I’ve read. As a particular example of this, I’m thinking of Carson and Moo’s “Introduction to the New Testament” (2005), which is a shining example of conservative New Testament scholars interacting in thorough detail with the broadest possible range of scholarship, while still being able to say, on a case by case basis, what we find useful in critical scholarship, what the evidence is for more conservative interpretations, and why precisely we reject some of these critical conclusions.

    This is not a double standard. This is a willingness to engage with all of the information that is available — biblical, historical, etc., and producing a biblical commentaries and theologies that continue to make further and further inroads into that very “critical scholarship” that is so decried.

  13. Francis Beckwith #5: I would add some nuance to your characterization of things here. Probably, quite a bit more nuance. If you’re interested, I’ve outlined the process of how “error” crept in, here:

    http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/06/answers-for-dozie.html

    If you’re not interested in checking a link, let me know, and I’ll be happy to provide a summary for you.

  14. Tom Riello #6 — I’ve addressed the question of “navigating the terrain of biblical scholarship” in my comment to David Pell. I’m happy to respond to any specific questions you might have.

    I do not think Frank’s questions in #5 were very fair, and in another comment, I’ve volunteered to clarify.

    As for Bart Ehrman, my understanding is that he is a formidable scholar, but he doesn’t really present “new” problems — he simply repackages things for popular audiences, in the form of “problems without solutions.” But others have dealt with those particular problems, again on a point by point basis, and from what I’ve seen, have provided very convincing responses to him.

    The recent work “The Heresy of Orthodoxy” by Andreas Kostenberger and Michael Kruger is one such work that deals with a particular emphasis of Ehrman’s on a very fundamental and thorough level. I’m in the process now of putting together a detailed look at that work; briefly it provides an account of authority and canon development, based on an understanding of God’s covenants, and with God being the one who takes the “divine initiative” to accomplish these things. This work provides a very fine response not only to Ehrman (in some respects) but also to the charge of ecclesial deism:

    http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/08/covenant-canon-and-new-testament-church.html

    My hope again is to put together a more detailed look at that work as it applies to that charge.

  15. Michael Liccone #7: before we can determine the truth of any given doctrine–be it the Catholic doctrine of the papacy or any other–we must consider the questionby what means theological claims are to be evaluated so that we can distinguish the propositional content of divine revelation from mere human opinions about the data taken as sources.

    and

    When the question is what I’ve said it is, the answer must appeal to a final authority as one divinely empowered to settle disputes about applying the distinction in question. The question then becomes what that authority is to be.

    What means, then, were used in, say, the first three centuries?

    As a Catholic, I’d say that of course the Catholic doctrine of the papacy cannot be “demonstrated and sustained” just by “Scripture itself,” even though it is supported by Scripture when Scripture is interpreted in a certain way.

    What is that “certain way” of interpretation?

    for “Scripture, Tradition, and the teaching authority of the Church are so linked…that none can stand without the others” (Dei Verbum §10). The three constitute a tripod, each of whose legs help hold up the others. And the “final authority” for resolving disputes about what Scripture and/or Tradition tell us is the Magisterium, which is then irrevocably committed to what it teaches with its full authority.

    I’m sure you would point to Acts 15 as an instance of this. I would have a different interpretation — one that I would back up with exegesis. During the first three centuries, what might you point to as an example of this “final authority” that exists as you described it?

    What that shows is that the discussion must be moved to a different level. There, we ask not whether sola Scriptura or Vatican II’s teaching can be proven from the data, but which picture is best suited to making the distinction I invoked.

    Without invoking “Sola Scriptura” as a sort of straw man against which you argue (since such a term had not been invoked during the first three centuries), what positive articulation of your “three-legged stool” can you point to that demonstrates this principle? What positive picture of this can you draw to say “this is the way the church operated”?

  16. Francis Beckwith #9: I would add to Mike’s excellent point the observation that the quote is not only an almost textbook case of crass question-begging its assertion about the “Christendom” is more incredible than the exegesis it claims cannot be sustained.

    What exactly is question-begging here?

    Here’s what I mean: who precisely did the foisting and why was it so relatively easy to accomplish? The ecumenical councils of the first five centuries–including all its bishops–were all duped. But by whom and for what insidious purpose? Even the Eastern Churches, though rejecting the Catholic claims of the papacy, maintain some view of petrine primacy (i.e., first among equals).

    Again, it might be suggested that your use of the word “duped” here is a straw man. But the ecumenical councils of the first five centuries did not recognize the divine institution of the successor of Peter

    The council of Nicea, for example, recognized similar regional structures of authority for both Rome and Alexandria. But this is a far step from recognizing a papacy as “pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”

    Constantinople (and later Chalcedon) both recognized the bishop of Rome as “first among equals,” but neither is this the same thing as “pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”

    In fact, it could be said that except for some exceptions, the Eastern churches never recognized the bishop of Rome as “pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.” And I believe it is safe to say that that the “churches of the east” (those which separated at the council of Ephesus) never had any conception that Rome was important at all outside of being a political capital of another empire.

    What’s really important to note here is that the Eastern churches did reject the Catholic claims of the papacy. Recognition that Rome was the capital city is NOT a recognition that “the pope = Peter” with all requisite benefits and privileges.

    So, how is your statement any less “question-begging” than Reymond’s?

    The scope and depth of the conspiracy is global and virtually unopposed.

    Straw man, right?

    And we are supposed to, in light of this, abandon the universal and visible church because some Reformed writer happens to draw our attention to the fact that the Catholic interpretation of Matthew 16 has its detractors and thus we cannot conclusively prove from the text petrine primacy.

    Michael Liccone above said that no, you cannot conclusively prove what you would define as “petrine primacy” from the text, unless those texts are interpreted in “a certain way,” which, as yet, is undefined here. Do you agree with him? Or do you disagree?

    The scope of my particular argument against the papacy is far more extensive than anything that Reymond said, or that Lampe said. Think of me as a reporter, pulling together very many points of data into a cohesive story that just happens to run counter to what Rome has historically taught about its own importance.

    But this Cartesian skepticism cuts both ways, since one can find among even the Reformed disagreements on justification and the passages in Scripture employed by partisans on all sides (e.g, Wright v. Piper).

    But we are not talking about justification here.

    I think that officially, the Roman Catholic Church attributes “development” to the papacy. I don’t think there’s disagreement about that. And the question should be at this point, “was that development legitimate, yes or no?” It’s not fair to say, “Sola Scriptura isn’t in the Bible, therefore Petrine development was legitimate”. You have to judge that development on its own merits.

    The problem with scorched Earth apologetics is that you may “win” the argument but there’s no Earth left on which to revel in your victory.

    I assure you this is not “scorched earth.” Because I can show you examples of how the “critical historical scholarship” which is seemingly doing great damage (hence your use of “scorched earth” terminology) is actually confirming very important elements about the life of Christ. I can live with that, and I believe that the entire church will be better off with that understanding in place.

  17. Andrew,

    To be clear I am not asking John (or anybody) merely to prove a negative. I am simply asking them to prove what they are asserting.

    Imagine the following scenario: If a scholar put forth that all of the Reformers were high on opium and that the opium was a major catalyst for the Reformation I imagine that you and John Bugay and everybody else would want to see the evidence. Right?

    Further, it is not simply that we are asking to prove the assertion, we are asking why this ‘proof’ trumps the earliest Christian witness that addresses these questions. The earliest historical witness that we have which specifically addresses the question, “Was their a monarchial bishop in Rome since beginning?”, affirms that there was a monarchial bishop in Rome since Peter. The way that this office was exercised has developed, to be sure, but the fact remains that the earliest evidence that addresses the question at hand confirms the orthodox Catholic understanding of apostolic succession and the bishop of Rome.

    In order for John’s thesis to work, the early fathers must be attacked. This work is a fraud. That father was lying. This father was confused. Etc etc. At the end of the day the faith of the fathers is obliterated at the hands of modern scholarship that is really merely guessing about what ‘is not said.’ An argument from silence trumps what was actually said!

    In addition to Irenaeus’ list which has already been posted, consider the following witness:

    (1) Tertullian (c. AD 197) speaks of Peter apart from Paul as ordaining Clement as his episcopal successor (De Praescrip Haer 32).

    (2) The Poem Against Marcion (c. 200 AD) states how “Peter bad Linus to take his place and sit on the chair whereon he himself had sat” (III, 80). The word “chair” (cathedra) in ecclesiastical language always means one’s episcopal throne (i.e. the bishop’s chair).

    (3) Caius of Rome (214 AD) calls Pope Victor the thirteenth bishop of Rome after Peter (Euseb HE V, 28).

    (4) Hippolytus (225 AD) counts Peter as the first Bishop of Rome (Dict Christian Biog I, 577).

    (5) Cyprian (in 250) speaks of Rome as “the place of Peter” (Ep ad Anton), and as “the Chair of Peter” (Ep ad Pope Cornelius).

    (6) Firmilian (257) speaks of Pope Stephen’s claim to the “succession of Peter” and to the “Chair of Peter” (Ep ad Cyprian).

    (7) Eusebius (314) says that Peter was “the bishop of Rome for twenty-five years” (Chron an 44), and calls Linus “first after Peter to obtain the episcopate” (Chron an 66). He also says that Victor was “the thirteenth bishop of Rome after Peter” (HE III, 4).

    (8) The Council of Sardica “honors the memory of the Apostle Peter” in granting Pope Julius I the right to judge cases involving other episcopal sees under imperial Roman law (Sardica Canon IV, and Ep ad Pope Julius).

    (9) Athanasius (340′s) calls Rome the “Apostolic Throne” — a reference to the Apostle Peter as the first bishop to occupy that throne (Hist Arian ad Monarch 35).

    (10) Optatus (370) says that the episcopal chair of Rome was first established by Peter, “in which chair sat Peter himself.” He also says how “Peter first filled the pre-eminent chair,” which “is the first of the marks of the Church.” (Schism Donat II, 2 and II, 3).

    (11) Pope Damasus (370) speaks of the “Apostolic chair” in which “the holy Apostle sitting, taught his successors how to guide the helm of the Church” (Ep ix ad Synod, Orient ap Theodoret V, 10). Damasus also states how “The first See is that of Peter the Apostle, that of the Roman church” and says how Rome received primacy not by the conciliar decisions of the other churches, but from the evangelic voice of the Lord, when He says, “Thou art Peter…” (Decree of Damasus 382).

    (12) Ambrose (c. 390) speaks of Rome as “Peter’s chair” and the Roman church where “Peter, first of the Apostles, first sat” (De Poenit I, 7-32, Exp Symb ad Initiand).

    (13) Jerome (c. 390) speaks of Rome as the “chair of Peter” and the “Apostolic chair,” and states that Peter held the episcopal chair for twenty-five years at Rome (Epistle 15 and se Vir Illust I, 1).

    (14) Augustine (c. 400) tells us to number the bishops of Rome from the chair of Peter itself (in Ps contra Part Donat), and speaks of “the chair of the Roman church in which Peter first sat” (Contra Lit Petil).

    (15) Prudentius (405) writes how in Rome there were “the two princes of the Apostles, one the Apostle of the Gentiles, the other holding the First Chair” (Hymn II in honor of St Laurent, V).

    (16) Bachiarius (420) speaks of Rome as “the chair of Peter, the seat of faith” (De Fide 2).

    (17) Prosper of Aquitaine (429) calls Rome “the Apostolic See” and the “Chair of the Apostle Peter” (Carm de Ingratis).

    (18) The Roman legates at the Council of Ephesus (431) declare how “it is a matter doubtful to none that Peter lived and exercised judgement in his successors” and how “the holy and most blessed [Pope] Celestine, according to due order, is his successor and holds his place” (Acta Councilia, session 3, tom III, col 621).

    (19) Peter Chrysologus (440) speaks of “blessed Peter living and presiding in his own see” (Ep ad Eutech).

    (20) Pope Leo the Great (440) says how “the whole Church acknowledges Peter in the See of Peter (Rome)” (Serm II, 2).

    (21) At the Council of Chalcedon (451), the assembled bishops respond to the teaching of Pope Leo the Great by crying out, “Peter has spoken through Leo.” The sentence of the council is pronounced by the legates “in the name of Leo, the Council, and St. Peter” (Canons of Chalcedon).

    (22) The Synodical Letter to Pope Leo from Chalcedon calls the Pope “the interpreter of Peter’s voice.”

    (23) Emperors Theodosius and Valentinian III (450) speak of “the primacy of the Apostolic See (Rome), made firm on account of the merits of Peter, Chief of the Corona of Bishops” (Inter ep Leon I, Vol XI, col 637). Source

    Those are just a few examples that were already catalogued on the cited website. Is it too much to ask for simply ONE piece of evidence that proves that the fathers and the councils in the preceding 23 examples were lying, confused or just wrong?

  18. Jason asked (#10): to John: What is the nature of the evidence for [Irenaeus’s list] being a forgery?

    It isn’t claimed that Irenaeus’s list is “a forgery”. It is claimed that his list is “a historical construction” and even a “fictive construction.”

    There is very good evidence that Irenaeus (and another early list, that of Epiphanius), were both drawn from the list of Hegesippus.

    Daniel O’Connor (“Peter in Rome”: New York and London, Columbia University Press, 1969) speaks to this.

    We have reference to this list, but not the list itself, referred to in Eusebius Church History, 4.22.3. Hegesippus claims to have compiled this list himself. Paul Maier’s translation reads like this:

    The Corinthian church remained in the true doctrine until Primus became bishop. I conversed with the Corinthians on my voyage to Rome, and we were refreshed by the true doctrine. After arriving in Rome I compiled the succession down to Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. Anicetus was succeeded by Soter and he by Eleutherus. In each succession and every city, preaching corresponds with the Law, the Prophets, and the Lord.

    So you see here, the “succession” was dependent on the “true faith,” (i.e., the Law, the Prophets, and the Lord). It was not the other way around. And this is the pattern that you may recognize from your studies.

    O’Connor elaborates,

    The purpose of Hegesippus list was not historical. There was still no compulsion at this time in the Church to preserve the memories of the past. The intent was purely practical. Hegesippus mentions that while he was at Corinth he noticed that the Corinthians had remained “in the true doctrine” until Primus. Heresy was widespread at Rome, however, under Marcion, Basilides, and Valentinus. Therefore, Hegesippus wished to draw up a Bishops’ list to be used in combating these heresies. By demonstrating the authorized channel through which the true doctrine had come down to the present (probably to the period of Eleutherus) from Peter and Paul, he hoped the Roman succession would serve as “a guarantee of the unbroken transmission of the original faith.” If there were no bishops’ list before this period, which is most likely the case, the memory of those living could still supply the information with reasonable accuracy.

    This is what is meant by “historical construction”. (And as I’ve noted above, Robert Eno clarifies that it was “a reading back into the first century of the role of the community bishop found in the mid-second century,” again using names available in the memories of those living at the time).

    Lampe goes further than this. But prior to Lampe, Oscar Cullman said:

    Toward the end of the second century Irenaeus writes, chiefly in connection with a description of gospel origins that goes back to Papius, that Peter and Paul had preached in Rome and founded the church, and he repeats this assertion when he speaks of the Roman church as the “very ancient and universally known church founded and organized by Peter and Paul.” Here too, occurs at least one error: the Roman church in any case was not founded by Paul. That is entirely clear from his letter to the Romans. This [historical error] at once calls in question the historical trustworthiness of the statement… (Cullman, “Peter: Disciple, Apostle, Martyr” Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1953, reprinted 1961, pg 116).

    The reason why Lampe goes further than this and says “fictive construction” for several reasons.

    Irenaeus’s list is the first extant list of names. And his purpose is similar to that of Hegesippus: to anchor the present doctrine with a successive chain of authorities back to the apostles.

    Lampe notes that there are twelve names in the list. Hegesippus had only noted three names in the selection given above. “All three belong to the second half of the second century.” The list given by Irenaeus “gives a more elaborate and therefore a younger impression.” And oddly, “Sixtus” is in the middle.

    Of course, Lampe had just spent many pages establishing that there had not been a single monarchical bishop in Rome, but rather, a network of house churches. (Which he traced beginning with the list of “house churches” who met in the homes of the various individuals he identifies, and ending with the tituli churches of the fourth century for whom we have actual signatures of presbyters on file. He also traces locations throughout this period with the help of cemeteries, analyses of names and inscriptions, etc. This part of his work is very thorough.)

    What is the result? At the time that Rome experiences the development of a monarchical episcopacy, a twelve-member list of names going back to the apostles is constructed. Analogously to the present situation of Eleutherus one now presumes about the past single prominent bearers of tradition, passing on the tradition one by one. The presence of a monarchical bearer of tradition is projected back into the past” (405-406).

    The alternative — presenting an actual representation of a “bundle of chains before the middle of the secon denture in order to correctly portray thehistorical plurality of presbyters as Roman bearers of tradition. But this type of unpopular complex representation was badly suited for a handy model of history by which the integrity of Eleutherus’s doctrine was supposed to be proved.”

    The case, then, is: Irenaeus’s historical accuracy is questioned in the first place, given his mention of Peter and Paul. Second, the list of “twelve” is just very neat. (And oddly, “Sixtus” is in the middle). And further, this was a time when, according to O’Connor, “the Early Church was so eager for details that [within this time period] it created the full accounts which are found in the apocryphal Acts” (11) — that is, such works as the apocryphal Acts of Peter and Acts of Paul (and several other spurious works) are already widely in circulation.

    So the real work, especially given the weight that these folks at Called to Communion put on this list, is to try to somehow corroborate its veracity. This type of effort is not forthcoming.

  19. Sean #17: In order for John’s thesis to work, the early fathers must be attacked.

    What I’ve provided here is not “attack,” it is analysis.

    Without going into too much detail, virtually every citation that you give above including and after (7) Eusebius has been summarized by Eamon Duffy as having as their foundations “the pious fictions” that were elaborated in the fictitious “Acts” that were circulating. Each one of those has been analyzed in detail; not one of them has basis in fact.

    As for the prior items, both Cyprian (5) and Firmilian (6) do not support your case. Both individuals, while holding that Peter was a fairly important apostle, become apoplectic at the suggestion that Stephen was claiming Peter’s authority as his own.

    (Cullman notes that this is the first recorded instance that any bishop of Rome claims Peter’s authority, and he further notes that it ought to give one pause that such a suggestion is not made until almost 200 years after the death of Peter.)

    And re. Tertullian — many of the other lists mention Linus and Anacletus — for Tertullian to skip past these names directly to Clement is much akin to the witnesses against Christ, who could not get their story straight.

    We’ve discussed the earlier “witnesses” here, and their motivations and methods and relative lack of historical reliability.

  20. John, (re: #18)

    The section Sean quoted from me in his post was something I wrote to you on September 10 of 2009, in this thread on Jason’s old blog (see page 12 of the comments).

    St. Irenaeus was himself in Rome for some time, and would have learned from the Church in Rome what its history was. He would not have needed to rely on a list of bishops compiled by a previous visitor to Rome. He may have made use of St. Hegesippus’ list, but that does not mean that St. Hegesippus’ list was St. Irenaeus’ only source of the history of the bishops of Rome.

    O’Connor speculates that St. Hegesippus’ list was not historical, and that there were no bishops’ lists before this period. But those claims are both pure speculations on O’Connor’s part. The testimonies of St. Hegesippus and St. Irenaeus are far greater evidence than is O’Connor’s speculations, in large part because of their greater proximity to the first century by about eighteen hundred years. So if we are comparing the weight of the evidence from St. Hegesippus and St. Irenaeus on the one hand, and the weight of the evidence of O’Connor on the other hand, St. Hegesippus and St. Irenaeus are far weightier and more credible than is O’Connor’s recent speculation.

    Likewise, Eno’s speculation that Hegesippus was “reading back into the first century of the role of the community bishop found in the mid-second century” is, again, pure speculation. And once again, the testimonies of St. Hegesippus and St. Irenaeus are far greater evidence than is Eno’s speculation, again for the same reason.

    Cullman attempts to discredit St. Irenaeus’s testimony by claiming that the Church at Rome was not founded by St. Paul. But by “founding the Church” at Rome, St. Irenaeus does not mean that St. Paul was the first Christian in Rome, or that believers were not already assembling together in Rome until St. Paul arrived in Rome. When speaking of founding the Church at Rome, St. Papias and St. Irenaeus are referring to establishing its apostolic foundation as an apostolic [particular] Church. The ‘founding’ is not temporal per se, but missional. So, Cullman’s objection does not discredit St. Irenaeus; it only shows Cullman’s own misunderstanding of what St. Irenaeus meant when he spoke of a particular Church being founded as an apostolic Church.

    Lastly, consider Lampe’s ‘evidence.’ Lampe’s ‘evidence’ that St. Irenaeus’s list is a “fictive construction” is far more dubious than St. Irenaeus’s list is trustworthy. First Lampe presumes that if St. Irenaeus intends to use the list of bishops to anchor present doctrine, then the list must be a fictive construct. But there is no reason to assume that St. Irenaeus would distort history in order to serve his own purpose. It is no less likely that Lampe would, by his speculations distort history in order to serve his [Lampe's] own purpose. We have no reason to doubt that St. Irenaeus was appealing to this list because he and other Christians knew it to be the actual succession of bishops at Rome. So Lampe’s first deconstruction of St. Ireneaus is a non sequitur; just because St. Irenaeus intended to use the list to defend orthodoxy, it does not follow that the list must be a “fictive construction.”

    Second, Lampe reasons from St. Irenaeus’ list being a fuller list of names to the conclusion that it must be a “fictive construction.” That too is a non sequitur, because it ignores the possibility that St. Irenaeus provided a fuller, more complete list of bishops. It just assumes that fuller means fictional, rather than allowing that fuller might mean more complete.

    Third, Lampe reasons from there being twelve names on the list, and the sixth bishop being named Sixtus, to the conclusion that the list is a “fictive construction.” That too is a non sequitur. Why not simply believe that there had actually been twelve bishops in succession from St. Peter, at the time of St. Irenaeus? The paradox is that if there actually were twelve bishops between St. Peter and the time of St. Ireneaus, and the sixth from St. Peter was actually titled “Sixtus,” Lampe wouldn’t be able to know it, because it would be too “neat” for him, and so he would have to assume that it was all a fictive construct. If Sixtus was in fact the sixth bishop in succession from St. Peter, it is fully understandable that he would be named Sixtus, presumably a variant of Sextus. So note Lampe’s loaded methodology. Lampe assumes that there was no succession, and then points to the name ‘Sixtus’ as evidence that St. Irenaeus is making things up. But that just assumes precisely what is in question. Lampe is loading his assumption that the succession is a fictive construct into his method of evaluating the evidence for the succession. Instead of seeing ‘Sixtus’ as evidence that there was a succession from St. Peter, he treats ‘Sixtus’ as evidence that St. Irenaus is making things up. That kind of loaded method is worthless; you get out of it precisely just what you bring to it.

    That’s also why his claim that “the presence of a monarchical bearer of tradition is projected back into the past” is pure speculation two thousand years removed from the testimony of St. Hegesippus and St. Irenaeus. He continually assumes that the presence of a plurality of presbyters is evidence against a monarchical bishop. But, that too is a non sequitur. The presence of a plurality of presbyters is in no way evidence against the presence of a monarchical bishop. (See the letters of St. Ignatius.)

    Lampe had just spent many pages establishing that there had not been a single monarchical bishop in Rome

    Actually, he has not provided a single piece of historical evidence that shows that there was no monarchical bishop in Rome until the second half of the second century. (I’ve read Lampe’s book.) He has only provided his own fictive deconstruction of the concrete evidence St. Hegesippus and St. Irenaeus provide.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

    UPDATE: Joe Heschmeyer has provided an analysis of Duffy’s similar argumentation in Saints and Sinners.

  21. Bryan Cross: much of what you above say falls into the realm of wishful thinking.

    It is true that Irenaeus was much closer and that we should give him some credit for credibility. But you are misusing him as a defender of the papacy, when that is not the thrust of his work. This is a mention in a much longer work, and he gets critical factual elements wrong.

    The purpose of this thread, from your point of view, is to criticize and discredit “critical scholarship” and “critical history.” And I’m sure you are highly motivated to do so; very much of what you say is pretty much completely dependent on me being wrong. But you are not a scholar of Irenaeus. You are not considering his work as a whole. You are not considering his work in the context of the other work from the period.

    You are throwing out a scenario that might fit with what you want to be true. You seem rather to be making a series of excuses. But no serious historian has adopted the scenario that you are proposing. What Irenaeus had in terms of proximity, he lacked in terms of perspective. Jason Engwer wrote about Irenaeus extensively, citing from scholars of Irenaeus. Note:

    “All churches must agree with it [the Roman church] on matters of doctrine because they must agree with the apostolic tradition preserved by the apostolic churches….In any event this is a striking testimony though not, in my view, as decisive as some have argued. The context of Irenaeus’ argument does not claim that the Roman Church is literally unique, the one and only in its class; rather, he argues that the Roman church is the outstanding example of its class, the class in question being apostolic sees. While he chose to speak primarily of Rome for brevity’s sake, in fact, before finishing, he also referred to Ephesus and Smyrna….The German Catholic scholar, Norbert Brox of Regensburg, has claimed that the argument is framed entirely within a western context. At first I found this argument weak, but after comparing Irenaeus’ argument to its expansion as found in Tertullian’s De praescriptione haereticorum (36), (cf. next chapter), I find Brox’s argument more convincing.” (Robert Eno, The Rise Of The Papacy [Wilmington, Delaware: Michael Glazier, 1990], pp. 39-40)

    “It is indeed understandable how this passage has baffled scholars for centuries! Those who were wont to find in it a verification of the Roman primacy were able to interpret it in that fashion. However, there is so much ambiguity here that one has to be careful of over-reading the evidence….Karl Baus’ interpretation [that Irenaeus wasn't referring to a papacy] seems to be the one that is more faithful to the text and does not presume to read into it a meaning which might not be there. Hence, it neither overstates nor understates Irenaeus’ position. For him [Irenaeus], it is those churches of apostolic foundation that have the greater claim to authentic teaching and doctrine. Among those, Rome, with its two apostolic founders, certainly holds an important place. However, all of the apostolic churches enjoy what he terms ‘preeminent authority’ in doctrinal matters.” (William La Due, The Chair Of Saint Peter [Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1999], p. 28)

    The Roman primacy Irenaeus refers to is a result of non-papal factors, such as the Roman church’s historical relationship with two prominent apostles, its familiarity to other churches, and probably its location in the capital of the empire. Irenaeus believed in a form of Roman primacy that doesn’t imply a papacy. Why are Catholics going to this passage in Irenaeus to begin with? A few hundred pages of Irenaeus’ writings are extant, and we have descriptions of some of his non-extant writings. He frequently addressed issues of authority, repeatedly appealing to the authority of the apostles, the authority of those who knew the apostles, the authority of scripture, etc. He never appeals to papal authority, nor does he ever even mention it. Yet, Catholics so often tell us that the papacy is the foundation of the church, the center of unity, that it’s the solution to a wide variety of problems in Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy, etc. How likely is it that Irenaeus would have believed in the concept of a papacy, yet would have said so little of it? The fact that discussions of the papacy in Irenaeus place so much emphasis on this one passage, which doesn’t actually say anything of a papacy, is revealing.

    In addition to Irenaeus’ focus on the Roman church and its primacy for non-papal reasons, note that he repeatedly refers to Peter and Paul together, without placing Peter in a position of higher authority.

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2010/03/apostolic-succession-part-6-irenaeus.html

    But this is not just me. It is not just Peter Lampe. It is not just a “liberal” school of thought. You want to discredit Cullman’s point of view, but Karl Barth chided him for being “an advisor to three popes”; Ratzinger, in the work that you’ve taken as a namesake, tries to appeal to him (see pg 57 for example).

    But both the methodological weight and the weight of the evidence is going against the traditional Roman account. And the Roman historical account is critical because, as Shotwell and Loomis noted,

    With reference to the Petrine doctrine, the Catholic attitude is much more than a “pre-disposition to believe.” That doctrine is the fundamental basis of the whole papal structure. It may be summed up in three main claims: They are: first, that Peter was appointed by Christ to be his chief representative and the successor and the head of his Church; second, that Peter went to Rome and founded the bishopric there; third, that his successors succeeded to his prerogatives, and to all authority implied thereby. In dealing with these [historical] claims we are passing along the border line between history and dogmatic theology.

    I’ve written to some degree about what Adrian Fortescue wrote in his “The Early Papacy.” He wrote, for example, that “There is constant tradition, from Irenaeus down, that the letter written by Clement, Bishop of Rome. Clement, in his letter, commands the Corinthians to return to the obedience of their lawful hierarchy. He does not advise, he commands. He commands with an authority, one would almost say with an arbitrary tone that has not been exceeded by any modern pope. (66)

    It’s incredibly noteworthy that the letter of 1 Clement has been classified as a “symbouletic” letter — it is self-described that way, and it is noted that other symbouletic letters of the period had the purpose to persuade and not to command. That’s what I mean about “context”. Fortescue’s characterization is one that I would have believed (and did believe) growing up Catholic; but it is rare that you will find even a highly placed Roman Catholic cleric who believed that Clement “commanded” — most of them

    Yes, Irenaeus “might” have learned something of Rome what its history was. You can’t say whether or not he did rely on Hegesippus. And you are not a historian with full access to all the data.

    O’Connor’s work is not “pure speculation.” There are exactly “zero” extant bishops lists. And then there is the positive evidence. The word that Hegesippus used, epoiasamen, really does have meaning, and its primary meaning is one of “creating where nothing existed before.” O’Connor’s work is not based on speculation; it is based on the use of the language.

    At some point, even though you may say that these are “arguments from silence,” you have to wonder just why there is so much silence. And this silence about the papacy is in contrast to a New Testament period that was quite active with the writing, collecting and copying of documents, as well as — as Kostenberger and Kruger note about the letters of Ignatius, Polycarp, and others being written and copied as a “veritable beehive of activity.”

    What’s most telling is that Rome has done its own historical study of the period (1989), and we’ve heard nothing of this. Instead, we have a papal encyclical asking for help in defining “a new situation for the papacy.”

    Even official Rome is not moving in your direction. They are all moving away from it.

  22. I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this yet, since I haven’t read the entire thread yet, but the link to Peter Lampe’s book isn’t working.
    I found it on another Beggar’s All post:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=vOoxGmc1DGAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Peter+Lampe+Paul+to+Valentinus&cd=2#v=onepage&q&f=false

  23. John,

    #18.

    It is interesting that when you ‘weigh everything’, the studies critical of the Catholic claim are taken as truth while anything supportive of the Catholic claim is taken as false (fictive construction, fraud, etc).

    You have basically admitted that any extant evidence that we can produce is merely ‘fictive construction’ or blatantly fraudulent. You also discredit out of hand any scholarship that is supportive of the Catholic position while elevating any scholarship critical of the Catholic position as beyond question. It is very convenient isn’t it?

    Lampe himself, upon whom you rely, calls various epistles ‘Psuedo-Pauline’ and/or forgeries. That is obviously a problem for you but this does not matter. All that matters is his inductive construction of the early church that you feel damages the claims the Catholic Church.

    O’Connor’s work is not “pure speculation.” There are exactly “zero” extant bishops lists.

    That is just false. There is Irenaeus. You merely discredit him out of hand for no apparent reason other than the speculation of a handful of scholars because you need to have him discredited for your position to hold up.

    The pattern that emerges from reading your studies on Beggars All and elsewhere is that anything that undermines the Catholic Church is true while anything that supports it is ‘fiction’, ‘fraudulent’ or worse.

  24. John (#15):

    I’m glad to see you’ve quoted my most important statements. For convenience I’ll quote them myself, then your replies to them, before offering my rejoinders.

    1. I had written:

    …before we can determine the truth of any given doctrine–be it the Catholic doctrine of the papacy or any other–we must consider the question by what means theological claims are to be evaluated so that we can distinguish the propositional content of divine revelation from mere human opinions about the data taken as sources….When the question is what I’ve said it is, the answer must appeal to a final authority as one divinely empowered to settle disputes about applying the distinction in question. The question then becomes what that authority is to be.

    About that, you then asked:

    What means, then, were used in, say, the first three centuries?

    That bare question tells me that you’ve pretty much missed my point. Your question would be germane if, in order to be justified in affirming that there is such an authority as I’ve argued is necessary, we in these latter centuries first need to examine the documentary data from the pre-Nicene Church so as to find independent, corroborative evidence that a monarchical episcopacy was the standard form of church polity, especially at Rome, from the death of the Apostles onward. The assumption motivating such a strategy would be that such evidence in needed for showing that the monarchical episcopacy, with the authority I’ve called for, belongs to the very constitution of the Church founded by the Lord. But that’s just the assumption I reject. I reject it not on the ground that historical inquiry is useless–it does have its uses as an ancilla fidei–but on the ground that, by itself, it cannot even in principle do what I said needs to be done.

    As I described it, the task at hand is to locate a “final authority” enabling us to distinguish “the propositional content of divine revelation from mere human opinions about the data taken as sources.” Yet your exchanges with Sean Patrick, Bryan Cross, and Prof. Beckwith indicate that what you’re working with are, precisely, human opinions about the data taken as sources. To be sure, many Catholic scholars offer such opinions. But given the state of the data, and our historical distance from the period in question, opinions are all they’ll ever be. On that level, you see our “evidence” as “fictive construction” and, to use Bryan’s phrase, we see yours as “fictive deconstruction.” But that doesn’t even address the underlying and crucial question: What is the true doctrine, belonging to the deposit of faith, about the teaching authority of something called “the Church”? The methodology you’re following can never answer that question because it can yield only tentative scholarly opinions. When rationally plausible, such opinions can and do support doctrinally normative answers. But by themselves, they cannot even answer, in a doctrinally normative way, the question what counts as “the Church” whose authority is at issue–never mind the true nature of that authority.

    How to locate and identify “the Church,” and what kind of teaching authority she has, are questions to be answered by divine revelation. Following Aquinas, Newman, and others, the thesis I’ve long argued for is that in order to distinguish “the propositional content of divine revelation from mere human opinions about the data taken as sources,” disputes about how Scripture and Tradition answer the above questions only be settled by a living, dominically instituted authority that is divinely protected from error under certain conditions. Otherwise all we’re left with is opinions, such as yours and countless other, different ones. To be sure, even when we recognize and accept such an authority, we can form more-or-less plausible opinions about the extent to which the raw historical data support its claims. But those claims can never be decisively demonstrated or rebutted by historical research.

    2. I wrote:

    As a Catholic, I’d say that of course the Catholic doctrine of the papacy cannot be “demonstrated and sustained” just by “Scripture itself,” even though it is supported by Scripture when Scripture is interpreted in a certain way.

    You then posed the question: What is that “certain way” of interpretation?

    Surely you know there’s a vast literature doing just that. I cannot synthesize the details in a combox; but then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s book Called to Communion does contain a brief sketch of the approach I favor. What Ratzinger offers is, necessarily, only an opinion. But the opinion is reasonable, and does cite reasons to accept, by faith, the sort of authority I’ve said is necessary.

    3. I wrote:

    “Scripture, Tradition, and the teaching authority of the Church are so linked…that none can stand without the others” (Dei Verbum §10). The three constitute a tripod, each of whose legs help hold up the others. And the “final authority” for resolving disputes about what Scripture and/or Tradition tell us is the Magisterium, which is then irrevocably committed to what it teaches with its full authority.

    You replied:

    I’m sure you would point to Acts 15 as an instance of this. I would have a different interpretation — one that I would back up with exegesis. During the first three centuries, what might you point to as an example of this “final authority” that exists as you described it?

    Once again, you’ve missed my point. You’ve noted that you have an exegetical and historical opinion different from mine. But my point was that the sort of authority I accept is necessary for distinguishing divine revelation from human opinion. If that point is correct, then our respective opinions about the evidence for its exercise in the New Testament and the pre-Nicene Church matter relatively little. The authority was there, and was exercised, even if opinions arrived at independently of it cannot demonstrate either the truth or the falsity of such a claim. To be sure, I take it as almost self-evident that Acts 15 can be plausibly interpreted to support Catholic doctrine. That must be the case if the doctrine I accept is true. Of course it can also be plausibly interpreted in a way that doesn’t premise or entail Catholic doctrine. But so long as we remain at the level of opinion, nothing is settled. And that’s my main point.

    4. I wrote:

    What that shows is that the discussion must be moved to a different level. There, we ask not whether sola Scriptura or Vatican II’s teaching can be proven from the data, but which picture is best suited to making the distinction I invoked.

    You replied:

    Without invoking “Sola Scriptura” as a sort of straw man against which you argue (since such a term had not been invoked during the first three centuries), what positive articulation of your “three-legged stool” can you point to that demonstrates this principle? What positive picture of this can you draw to say “this is the way the church operated.”

    You see the problem. Neither sola Scriptura–a doctrine to which many Protestants such as yourself adhere in this-or-that form–nor the doctrine of Vatican II about how Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium are interrelated had received any “positive articulation” in the pre-Nicene Church. That’s because the questions to which such doctrines are (true or false) answers had not yet been explicitly raised. Raising them required a long period of reflection, and answering them required a longer period still. Accordingly, the project of seeking explicit affirmations in the pre-Nicene Church of the sort of authority I’ve said is necessary is misguided from the start. And even if historical research uncovered some such affirmations, that would leave open the question which such answers are doctrinally normative for Christians. The question of authority needs to be answered before we can assess the doctrinal significance of any historical evidence.

    5. Accordingly, the question how to locate and identify such an authority raises the general question of development of doctrine. To Prof. Beckwith, you said:

    I think that officially, the Roman Catholic Church attributes “development” to the papacy. I don’t think there’s disagreement about that. And the question should be at this point, “was that development legitimate, yes or no?” It’s not fair to say, “Sola Scriptura isn’t in the Bible, therefore Petrine development was legitimate”. You have to judge that development on its own merits.

    Ask yourself this: who decides which developments are “legitimate” as doctrines belonging to the deposit of faith, as distinct from human opinions? The methodology you seem to follow would leave us with only one answer: “an academic magisterium.” But that can only yield opinions–and that rules out precisely the sort of authority I’ve argued is necessary.

    Best,
    Mike

  25. Mike,

    Great post and this is why a Bart Erhman and others like him, after they, using the same methodology used by John and others to discredit the Papacy, can say that all we have are Christianities, all in their own way laying claim to the be the true heirs of Christ.

    John,

    You imply that then Cardinal Ratzinger somehow used Cullmann to back up his claims. Yet, as I type, in front of me, on pg 67 of Called to Communion, the then Cardinal chides Cullmann for objecting to any notion of succession, “yet he believes that he can show Peter was replaced by James and that this latter assumed the primacy of the erstwhile first apostle.” That does not sound like the current Pope Benedict was seeking to employ Cullman to make his points about succession, except that Cullman contradicts himself. A bit later, Ratzinger, after mentioning Bultmann writes, “we have no need to discuss these hypotheses and others like them; their foundation is weak enough. Nevertheless, they do show that it is impossible to avoid the idea of succession once the word transmitted in Scripture is considered to be a sphere open to the future” (pg. 67).

    It appears that what the then Cardinal Raztinger is doing is saying something like: “You reject any notion of Petrine primact, yet, have no problem saying that this primacy was passed onto James.”

  26. John (re: #21),

    I carefully read through your reply (#21) a few times, looking for any evidence meeting the two conditions specified in the body of Sean’s post, copied from my comment from Sept 10, 2009. I did not find even one piece of evidence meeting those two conditions. I found instead, among other things, many comments about me, which do not establish anything about the veracity of the testimony of St. Hegesippus and St. Irenaeus. And I noticed a number of quotations from various academics, none of which provided even a single piece of evidence meeting those two conditions. (Mostly the quotations consist of the author stating his opinion.)

    Regarding O’Connor, he claims that it is “most likely” that there was no list of bishops before the time of St. Hegisippus. I pointed out (in #20) that this is “pure speculation” on O’Connor’s part. You replied (in #21) that it is not “pure speculation” because “there are exactly zero extant bishops lists.” But your conclusion is a non sequitur. Just because there are no extant bishop lists (i.e. lists of the succession of bishops in the Church at Rome) that we know to have been written prior to the time of St. Hegesippus, it does not follow that there were no such lists existing at that time, or that it is “most likely” that were no such lists at that time. So the claim that there were no such lists, or that it is most likely that there were no such lists, is indeed pure speculation, because it does not follow from the existing evidence, nor is made more-likely-than-not by the existing evidence.

    Also, regarding the “positive evidence” from St. Hegesippus, here’s the section in the Greek from Eusebius:

    καὶ ἐπέμενεν ἡ ἐκκλησία ἡ Κορινθίων ἐν τῷ ὀρθῷ λόγῳ μέχρι Πρίμου ἐπισκοπεύοντος ἐν Κορίνθῳ· οἷς συνέμιξα πλέων εἰς Ῥώμην καὶ συνδιέτριψα τοῖς Κορινθίοις ἡμέρας ἱκανάς, ἐν αἷς συνανεπάημεν τῷ ὀρθῷ λόγῳ· γενόμενος δὲ ἐν Ῥώμῃ, διαδοχὴν ἐποιησάμην μέχρις Ἀνικήτου· οὗ διάκονος ἦν Ἐλεύθερος, καὶ παρὰ Ἀνικήτου διαδέχεται Σωτήρ, μεθ᾿ ὃν Ἐλεύθερος. ἐν ἑκάστῃ δὲ διαδοχῇ καὶ ἐν ἑκάστῃ πόλει οὕτως έχει ὡς ὁ νόμος κηρύσσει καὶ οἱ προφῆται καὶ ὁ κύριος. (Ecclesiastica Historia, IV.22)

    This term [ἐποιησάμην] is a first person, aorist middle, and means that he made for himself something, in this case a succession (διαδοχὴν) [list]. The verb does not in itself mean “creating where nothing existed before.” A person who makes something for himself may be doing so where nothing of that sort existed before. But the verb form itself does not demand that. It surely suggests that he himself did not already have a list of the succession of bishops at Rome. But what he says here is fully compatible with his wanting such a list for himself, and so making one for himself upon arriving at Rome, even possibly by using existing lists already present in Rome at the time. In addition, St. Hegesippus is implying here (in the last sentence) that in his travels he finds that every city (πόλει) has a succession (διαδοχῇ) of bishops. In order to claim that St. Hegesippus is making up a line of succession for Rome, where previously there had been only groups of presbyters, one has to claim that he is fabricating such lines for all the cities, not just for Rome. So either he’s a liar, and can’t be trusted at all, or we should give him the benefit of the doubt about his list of bishops at Rome, unless we have some stronger evidence that there was no prior monepiscopacy in Rome. And no stronger contrary evidence than the evidence provided by St. Hegesippus and St. Irenaeus has been provided.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  27. Mike,

    If I am understanding your position correctly, you are saying something like this: “There’s no point in sifting through the biblical or historical data if we have no ecclesial authority that is infallible (under certain conditions) in order to interpret it for us in such a way as to enable us to distinguish divine revelation from human opinion.”

    Assuming I’ve got that somewhat right, my question to you is how you distinguish your position from something like presuppositionalism, which I could have sworn that Catholics reject?

    The reason I ask is that what you seem to be doing is presupposing the need for a Catholic ecclesiology from the get-go. I’m not saying the presupposition is silly or unwarranted, I am just mainly curious about your methodology, as it seems different from the rest of the CTC guys.

  28. Tom Riello #25: You seem to want to just laugh off this Cullman situation as if it were mere “chiding,” but this reflects much more badly on the Catholic side than you are letting on.

    I did mention page 57, and that footnote does refer to Cullman not in a chiding way, but for an overview of the historical exegesis of Matthew 16:17-19. In the sentence leading up to the footnote, Ratzinger says,

    We must now now examine this central text of the Petrine tradition somewhat more closely. Considering the significance that this utterance of the Lord about binding and loosing has been accorded in the Catholic Church, it comes as no surprise that all the vicissitudes of confessional polemics are reflected in the interpretation of it, as are also the variations within Catholic theology itself. (56-57).

    We should publish maybe some of these “variations within Catholic theology itself,” as, after all, Cardinal Ratzinger was good enough to vouch for the accuracy and even the generous spirit which Cullman exhibits in this “short overview of the problem.” I don’t have any doubt that Cullman bends over backwards and is very kind and considerate vis a vis the Catholic sensibilities over such “variations.”

    Nevertheless, isn’t it odd that Cardinal Ratzinger, on page 67, seems to make light of the supposed act of “succession” in which James is “the true successor of Peter? Here is what Cullman says about that:

    The original Church was led by [Peter], and he led it only in its earliest period. For as soon as the foundation for this leadership is laid, Peter will give it up. Another, James, will take it over in Jerusalem, while Peter will concentrate entirely on his missionary work and will do so, indeed, in a subordinate role under James.

    This later subordination of Peter under James is a fact important in every respect. It confirms first of all that the leadership of the Church by Peter also has its significance for us chiefly as a starting point. [This is a point that Cullman has been making throughout: the fact that Peter is "first" is a unique fact. There is no "successor" to Peter. Any leadership role that was given to Peter, any primacy, was completed by this time. It was non-continuing in any way.].

    James is the actual head of the Church from the moment that Peter dedicates himself completely to missionary work. The memory of that fact was steadily retained in the whole of Jewish Christianity, which took an interest in the ancient traditions. According to Hegesippus, “The brother of the Lord, James, takes over the leadership of the Church with the Apostles. (Citing Eusebius E.H. II, 3, 4).

    Particularly important is the fact that the Pseudo-Clementina, which are friendly to Peter, clearly subordinate Peter to James. Peter has to “give an accounting” to James, “the bishop of the holy Church.” To him Peter sends his public addresses, and [Pseudo-]Clement calls him [James] “Bishop of Bishops,” “leader of the holy church of the Hebrews and of the churches founded everywhere by God’s providence. [Pseudo-]Clement traces Peter’s commission to him [Clement] back to a commission that James gave to Peter. These late reports thus agree with what we can learn concerning James from the letters of Paul and the book of Acts.

    It will not do, however, to make some such objection as that Peter went to Rome just at that time in order to “transfer” the primacy from Jerusalem to that place. In reality Peter does not leave Jerusalem in order to transfer the primacy elsewhere; he leaves rather to spread the Gospel. But the significant thing, as said, is that in relation to the new leadership at Jersusalem he does not continue in some superior position, as though James were only his substitute, or were only Bishop of the church at Jerusalem, already sunk to the position of a local church. He rather subordinates himself to the authority of James as the central government. (Cullman, “Peter,” 224-226).

    If I am being called on the carpet for citing works selectively, how about a round of applause for Cardinal Ratzinger, for his selective citation and attempts to deflect the true message of Cullman with a “chide”.

    And in response to Bryan, who wants to give “St. Hegesippus” the benefit of the doubt about bishops lists, we should also note here that Hegesippus also says quite strongly that any possible “succession” from Peter involves James.

    In fact, here is where the whole story of the Pseudo-Clementine literature begins. These documents, which later becomes the Pseudo-Isidore decretal, were thought to be valid by the popes for centuries, bolstering their leadership not in a succession from Peter, but in a succession from James to Clement of Rome.

    This is a very twisted situation, with many threads that require unravelling, and it is by no means as pretty as the one that you Called to Communion guys want to present.

    Especially not, given that you are trying to formulate some sort of story that lends “divine institution” to the papacy.

  29. JJS (#27):

    Reformed controversialists have sometimes accused me of “presuppositionalism.” But as I understand that approach–at least as presented by writers such as Van Til and Bahnsen–I do not subscribe to it. I do claim that the historical data can only be assigned doctrinal significance within a “hermeneutical paradigm” that posits some sort of “final authority.” But logically, speaking, nothing in that claim “presupposes” any particular form that authority is to take–be it Scripture alone, Scripture-and-Tradition, or the Catholic tripod of Scripture-Tradition-Magisterium. Rather, I have an independent argument for the Catholic HP.

    I’ve developed that argument before in detail, but this is not the place to rehearse all the details. I will say that the form of the argument is conditional. Thus, if we are to reliably distinguish between divine revelation on the one hand and human opinions about the “sources” on the other–whatever those sources are taken to be–we need “a living, dominically instituted authority that is divinely preserved from error under certain conditions.” Taking Scripture “alone” as the needed “final” authority doesn’t cut it. For one thing, Scripture is a book, and books do not tell us how to interpret them. For another, given that Scripture itself does not assert sola Scriptura, taking Scripture alone as the final authority is itself a developed doctrine that cannot be considered irreformable if the Church is always fallible. The Orthodox come closer to the mark, both by emphasizing Tradition and by affirming a visible communion of churches as “the Church” believed be collectively infallible under certain conditions. But Orthodox ecclesiology in general, and the Orthodox ways of identifying when the Church teaches with her full authority, are nowhere near as clear and consensual as the Catholic. Hence, despite my youthful difficulties with the Catholic Church, I eventually concluded that Catholic ecclesiology is best suited to presenting the needed sort of authority.

    That’s not presuppositionalism.

    Best,
    Mike

  30. Bryan #26: I want to put into context and break down some of what you were saying about Hegesippus and his “list” (which we don’t actually have):

    A person who makes something for himself may be doing so where nothing of that sort existed before. But the verb form itself does not demand that.

    So your scenario “may” have occurred because “the verb form does not demand” what I have said it entails.

    But O’Connor says that, given the context, it strongly indicates it. O’Connor makes it clear that he “drew [it] up.” Tell me how your statement that about it not demanding [that it was "from scratch"] is anything more than wishful thinking on your part?

    It surely suggests that he himself did not already have a list of the succession of bishops at Rome.

    This is in my favor. Do you think, if there were extant lists, he would have had access to one, much less than to have to “draw one up”?

    But what he says here is fully compatible with his wanting such a list for himself, and so making one for himself upon arriving at Rome, even possibly by using existing lists already present in Rome at the time.

    Why would he “make” one or “draw [one] up” if one already existed? It is again a conjecture on your part. You are making an assumption about something that may have occurred.

    In addition, St. Hegesippus is implying here (in the last sentence) that in his travels he finds that every city (πόλει) has a succession (διαδοχῇ) of bishops.

    By “succession” he does not say “succession of bishops”. He says “succession” of teaching. Your provision of the original Greek clarifies this.

    Second, Maier’s translation says, “in each succession and in every city, preaching corresponds with the Law, the Prophets, and the Lord.

    What makes a “succession” is not a physical lineage of individuals: it is the “correspondence” of the teaching (“diadoxe” — not “episcope,”) with the Scriptures.

    In order to claim that St. Hegesippus is making up a line of succession for Rome, where previously there had been only groups of presbyters, one has to claim that he is fabricating such lines for all the cities, not just for Rome.

    Unless it is “teaching” that he is talking about. Which does seem very clear from the text you’ve provided.

    What you have presented is an incredibly improbable string of events, all the more striking because this improbable string must be what occurred in order that your whole papal theology doesn’t go down the tubes. Because if your improbable scenario is not the one that actually occurred, Lampe and “critical scholarship” are correct, and in that case there is no monoepiscopate in Rome.

    But here’s the twist. Given that you are willing to “give the benefit of the doubt” to “St. Hegesippus” to accept your improbable interpretation of the scenario he described, do you “pick and choose” from among the teachings of Hegesippus?

    Here is something else that Eusebius attributes to Hegesippus:

    Hegesippus goes on to say that until then [the torture and death of Symeon, "the son of the Lord's uncle, Clopas], the church had remained a virgin, pure and uncorrupted, and any who might have tried to defile her lurked in obscure darkness. But when the sacred band of the apostles and the generation of those who had heard the divine wisdom with their own ears passed on, then godless error began through the deceit of false teachers who, now that the apostles were gone, tried to counter the truth by proclaiming falsely the knowledge [gnosis] so-called. (Maier ed., 3.32, pg 106-107)

    I’m putting this here for future reference, but this nicely supports the timing that Kostenberger and Kruger posit, contra Bauer/Ehrman, and contra your theory of “ecclesial deism” for the introduction of the second-century heresies in the church.

    But further, we also know from Hegesippus that Peter totally relinquished any leadership role he had to James. In what way do you give Hegesippus the benefit of the doubt on the lists, but discount that Peter relinquished leadership to James?

    Bearing in mind the way that Cullmann qualifies that statement. “He rather subordinates himself to the authority of James as the central government.”

    Consider everything that you have resting on the story of the early papacy having taken place exactly as you have posited it.

  31. John,

    Pope Benedict, of course being a scholar in his own right and a theologian of the highest order (e.g. Hahn’s book on his biblical theology is a must read in order to get a sense of the Pope’s depth as not only a historical theologian, systematic theologian but as a biblical theologian), would and does engage with the scholarship of the day.

    Within the context that you are quoting the then Cardinal, he actually warns against engaging in the type of methodology that you are employing (as Bryan and Mike have both beautifully demonstrated to you). In reference to all the various debates concerning the Petrine passage in Matthew 16 the Pope says. “we will not enter into those debates here; nor is it necessary for us to do so. There are two reasons why this is the case. First, we have seen that the substance of what Matthew says is mirrored in all the strata of the New Testament tradition, however diversely these layers may be organized in other respects. Such unity of the tradition can be explained only if what is recounted in Matthew originates from Jesus himself. Second, we have no need to pursue these discussions further in a theological reflection, because for one who in the faith of the Church reads the Bible as the Word of God, the validity of a given statement does not depend upon the historical hypotheses concerning its most ancient form and source. Everyone who attends to the findings of the exegetes over a longer period of time knows how shortlived these hypotheses are… Said in other terms: the guarantee of its validity does not result from hypothetical constructs, however well founded they might be, but from inclusion in the canon of Scripture, which in turn the faith of the Church avouches as the Word of God, that is, as the trustworthy ground of our existence” (pg. 58-59).

    Pope Benedict’s argument is made within the background of the many who dispute the authenticity of Matthew 16 based off their own historical investigations of the post-apostolic Church, their own presuppositions that the Jesus Christ did not intend a Church, let alone an ordained hierarchy established by Him etc…

  32. Tom Riello #31: I’ve interacted a good bit with Hahn’s book, and I’m not impressed with it:

    http://www.puritanboard.com/f85/initial-impressions-scott-hahn-work-ratzinger-55983/

    Further, some time after this I did start reading some Ratzinger. My opinion of him did not improve:

    http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/not-called-to-communion-dishonest-about-“exegesis”/

    http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/looking-at-ratzingers-called-to-communion/

    I don’t see myself as having had something “beautifully demonstrated” to me. I see individuals who are contorting what most people would understand as straightforward biblical and historical understanding into a philosophical system that’s put in the service of a fairly twisted religious system.

  33. To be clear I am not asking John (or anybody) merely to prove a negative. I am simply asking them to prove what they are asserting.

    OK Sean, then I’m not following you. You said in the original post:

    Therefore, the challenge is the following: Can you name one piece of historical evidence that meets these two conditions:
    (1) it shows that there was no monarchical bishop in Rome until the second half of the second century,…..

    So are you not asking us for historical evidence to prove that there was not a monarchical bishop (at least up until the later half of the second century)? But if so, then again how do we prove this negative?

    Now maybe there are some bloggers out there who feel they have evidence that the RCC claim is a demonstratable fraud. I don’t know and I will leave that for John to comment on. From my standpoint, it is we who are looking at the claims of the RCC. I don’t see that it is us who need to provide historical evidence in this particular discussion. We are just commenting on the evidence provided by the Catholic apologists.

    I also don’t see any reason to speak of lying or conspiracy or anything like that. When we say that Irenaeus and later fathers were wrong about Simon for instance, we are not saying that he was lying. He just picked up on what he considered to be a credible source and reported it. There was no malice of forethought. So I’m not accusing Irenaeus of anything duplicitous here in his commentary on his listing of bishops of Rome. I’m only saying that there is no way to verify what he reports. Perhaps Irenaeus did pick something useful up in Rome as Bryan suggests, but who knows. It’s complicated by the fact that the ECF’s did not agree as to who is the first, second, etc bishops of Rome. There are conflicting reports between Irenaeus, Jerome, Tertullian, and others.

    I think that Mike’s thoughts here are worth thinking about. You are not going to get far in interpreting historical events without considering the means by which such historical events are interpreted. Mike (and you I assume) holds that there has to be a living magisterium interpreting such matters infallibly (as qualified by RCC dogma). My observation from speaking with Catholics is that it does not matter how much or how little historical evidence there is for what those such as Irenaeus taught and believed. In the end we have to figure out how to interpret traditions such as those which Irenaeus helped to foster. Now Mike’s living magisterium approach is one possible approach and Mike states the Catholic approach quite succinctly. So then how do we determine if Mike’s interpretation (representing a certain conservative strain within the RCC) makes more sense than another approach?

  34. John (@28)

    If I am being called on the carpet for citing works selectively, how about a round of applause for Cardinal Ratzinger, for his selective citation and attempts to deflect the true message of Cullman with a “chide”.

    I know this is a more-or-less lost cause on the internet, but your quotation above displays a lack of charity towards your brother in Christ – Joseph Ratzinger. I understand we Protestants have systemic disagreements with Ratzinger, but nonetheless he is a spiritual elder (even if not our own,) and he is (at the very least) owed the kindness, respect, and honor we show to all Christian brethren, much less those of significant academic and ecclesiastical rank. As an academic scholar, his work is first-rate (an acknowledgment made here by one lifelong Protestant, but echoed widely throughout the Protestant and Eastern Orthodox worlds as well). Your blatant accusation of scholarly malfeasance on Ratzinger’s part is implausible at best and suggests the presence of bluster rather than argumentation. Your arguments would perhaps find a more receptive audience (at least with this one Protestant) if they displayed the common politeness and charity due to an older, and likely wiser, scholar than both of us are put together.

    I hope I give no offense; the internet makes everything sound worse than if the same words were spoken verbally, and I suspect such to be true in this case as well. Still, I would be ashamed to say something like what you wrote to Ratzinger’s face, and he is enough of a scholar that I highly doubt that he is guilty of prima facie selective citation in the way you suggest. As my own Dad has said, “If you wouldn’t say it to the fellow’s face, it probably shouldn’t be written in a combox either, no matter how obscure the website…”

    ~Benjamin

  35. Andrew # 33.

    I am asking a negative to be proved only because a negative (that there was no monarchial bishop in Rome until the 2nd century) is precisely what is being asserted.

    Maybe I could ask this a different way to appease the charge of asking a negative to be proved? Maybe I could say, “Provide proof that the Roman church was ruled by a group of bishops who were all equal in authority and none of them directly in succession to Peter’s chair?”

    At any rate, I am not asking anything unfair…I am merely asking for proof of what is being asserted. It just so happens that the thing being asserted is a negative…

    Further, I am not claiming that we decide matters of faith based on the use of modern scholarship. I am simply intent on proving some modern scholarship is basing these findings on pure speculation alone which presents a problem for the Reformed bloggers that are out trumpeting these scholars as the very end of the Catholic Church.

    So, I do agree largely with what Mike is saying about how we arrive at truth.

  36. John (re: #28)

    You wrote:

    we should also note here that Hegesippus also says quite strongly that any possible “succession” from Peter involves James.

    I don’t wish to be contentious, but I think I’ve read everything we know to be written by St. Hegesippus, and to the best of my knowledge he nowhere says (weakly or strongly) or even suggests that any possible succession from Peter involves James.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  37. John, (re: #30)

    You wrote:

    Tell me how your statement that about it not demanding [that it was "from scratch"] is anything more than wishful thinking on your part?

    Because I know what the word generally means, in the first person aorist middle. It means “I made for myself [something].” It does not mean (per se) that nothing of its kind already existed, even though in a particular application it may be the case that nothing of its kind already exists. That is, the verb itself does not contain enough content to rule out the pre-existence of something of its kind. It is possible that the Church kept a list, either in writing and/or by memory and/or even (in part) liturgically, as we do to this day. St. Hegesippus may have wanted to make a list for himself from whatever form the Church at Rome kept the record of its succession from St. Peter. Since you’re the one claiming that there was no list of bishops before the time of St. Hegesippus, you have the burden of proof of demonstrating that claim. When I point out that St. Hegesippus’ statement doesn’t entail your hypothesis, then instead of accusing me of wishful thinking, you need either to show how his statement does entail the truth of your statement, or provide some other evidence showing that there was no such list prior to St. Hegesippus, or say, “Good point, I concede that the evidence we have is compatible with the possibility that there was some sort of list prior to the time of St. Hegesippus, and I retract my claim.”

    By “succession” he does not say “succession of bishops”. He says “succession” of teaching. Your provision of the original Greek clarifies this.

    No, it really means succession of bishops. It is the same word used a few sentences earlier when St. Hegesippus says that he made for himself a succession [list] “down to Anicetus.” He says this right after saying that he had been refreshed with the “true doctrine.” It would make no sense to talk about making a succession if (1) by ‘succession’ he meant ‘teaching’ and (2) he just got done saying that he already had the true doctrine. Also, ‘succession’ is what the word means in the lectionaries as well. In addition, all these academics you have been quoting take διαδοχῇ to mean succession [of bishops]. So if you are now claiming that they are all wrong about the meaning of this term, that calls into question their credibility in your earlier use of them.

    Regarding the quotation from St. Hegesippus stating that after the death of the last apostles, false teachers tried to counter the truth by proclaiming falsely the knowledge so-called, there is nothing incompatible with it and anything I have written, including the ecclesial deism article. The rise of heresies at the death of the last apostles does not mean that the Church herself fell into heresy, or formally taught heresy; it means rather that she faced a greater challenge from heresies, and particularly from these false teachers. But, it is no coincidence that the primary heresy that arose upon the death of the apostles was gnosticism. Why? Because gnosticism is the error that denies apostolic succession. It claims to have sacred knowledge through a secret, invisible way, rather than through the physical succession from the apostles, by the public handing on of the stewardship of the apostolic deposit, to men authorized by them. Not only are the false teachers teaching a false doctrine, they are proclaiming it falsely, i.e. without the authorization of the apostles. As soon as the apostles died, the believers were faced with the choice of following those who were authorized by the apostles and received the truth from the apostles, or following those who claimed to have the truth [apart from the authorization of the apostles]. It remains the same choice today. If the authority of the Church were the written Scriptures alone, and not a living magisterium, then the death of the last apostles should have occasioned no greater challenge to the Church, because the apostles would have had no greater interpretive authority than anyone else. Gnosticism could only arise to its greatest threat when the last apostle had died and the remaining believers could no longer trust in the eye-witness credibility of the Apostles themselves, but now had to trust in the promise of God concerning the sacrament of Holy Orders.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  38. Michael Liccone #24 wrote:

    Your question would be germane if, in order to be justified in affirming that there is such an authority as I’ve argued is necessary, we in these latter centuries first need to examine the documentary data from the pre-Nicene Church so as to find independent, corroborative evidence that a monarchical episcopacy was the standard form of church polity, especially at Rome, from the death of the Apostles onward. The assumption motivating such a strategy would be that such evidence in [s.b. "is"?] needed for showing that the monarchical episcopacy, with the authority I’ve called for, belongs to the very constitution of the Church founded by the Lord. But that’s just the assumption I reject. I reject it not on the ground that historical inquiry is useless–it does have its uses as an ancilla fidei–but on the ground that, by itself, it cannot even in principle do what I said needs to be done.

    So you make the assumption that “the authority [you've] called for” is just already there waiting for you to fall on your knees before it?

    But that doesn’t even address the underlying and crucial question: What is the true doctrine, belonging to the deposit of faith, about the teaching authority of something called “the Church”? The methodology you’re following can never answer that question because it can yield only tentative scholarly opinions.

    The methodology I follow begins with epistemological statements like this:

    “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

    “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

    When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

    The hermeneutic we are asked to follow is a very simple one.

    How to locate and identify “the Church,” and what kind of teaching authority she has, are questions to be answered by divine revelation. Following Aquinas, Newman, and others, the thesis I’ve long argued for is that in order to distinguish “the propositional content of divine revelation from mere human opinions about the data taken as sources,” disputes about how Scripture and Tradition answer the above questions only be settled by a living, dominically instituted authority that is divinely protected from error under certain conditions. Otherwise all we’re left with is opinions, such as yours and countless other, different ones.

    How do you know that any such “authority” genuinely is “divinely protected from error”? Only because it, itself says so. By what means do you know this other than by reasoning in the tightest of circles?

    Further, whether you feel you need such a thing, where does God tell you that such a thing is needed?

    my point was that the sort of authority I accept is necessary for distinguishing divine revelation from human opinion. If that point is correct, then our respective opinions about the evidence for its exercise in the New Testament and the pre-Nicene Church matter relatively little. The authority was there, and was exercised, even if opinions arrived at independently of it cannot demonstrate either the truth or the falsity of such a claim.

    The gospel has everything to do with what our eye has seen and our ears have heard. We simply need to “turn and be healed” —

    The elaborate construct that you’ve posited about “dominically instituted authority that is divinely protected from error” — that’s not a promise of the Gospel. You’ve moved into the realm of “hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Col 2:8)

    Neither sola Scriptura–a doctrine to which many Protestants such as yourself adhere in this-or-that form–nor the doctrine of Vatican II about how Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium are interrelated had received any “positive articulation” in the pre-Nicene Church. That’s because the questions to which such doctrines are (true or false) answers had not yet been explicitly raised. Raising them required a long period of reflection, and answering them required a longer period still.

    The task here is not to test one system vs another. The genuine test is to verify whether that “long period of reflection” offered valid solutions. That’s the only thing that’s being done on our side. And we are doing it via the means that God gave to us — eyes to see, ears to hear, a heart to discern and respond.

  39. Benjamin Kell #34: I know this is a more-or-less lost cause on the internet, but your quotation above displays a lack of charity towards your brother in Christ – Joseph Ratzinger.

    I’ve published this selection, and I stand by it today:

    I am not a Roman Catholic because Roman Catholicism is a false religion. It is headed by an imposter, a man who claims to be something he is not. The Pope is not the Vicar of Christ, he is not the head of the Christian Church, he is not a “Holy Father,” and I owe him no fealty, honor, nor respect in the religious sense. Roman Catholicism is a man-made perversion of the truth. While it retains elements of the truth (having moved away from the faith slowly and over a great deal of time), it falls under the condemnation of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 1. If the Judaizers were properly anathematized for their additions to the gospel, it is very clear to me that they never came close to dreaming up half the stuff Rome has added to the gospel over the centuries. Nor do we have any evidence that they attacked the sufficiency of Scripture, included grossly unbiblical offices (priests, Cardinals, Popes), or elevated anyone like Mary to the lofty heights of nigh unto divinity that Rome has over the past few centuries. The Papacy has embarrassed the Judaizers in the realm of innovation and gospel-corruption, to be sure.

    So I am not a Roman Catholic by positive conviction that the gospel of grace found in Scripture is not the gospel of Rome. My positive conviction of the gospel that saves utterly precludes my consideration of Roman Catholicism, for to embrace that system would require me to abandon all I believe about Scripture (its inspiration, its preservation, its supremacy, its sufficiency), all I believe about the gospel (the sovereign decree of God, the perfection of the atonement, the power of the Spirit in bringing the elect to salvation), all I believe about the church (its form, function, and purpose). In other words, Roman Catholicism is a different religion than I profess. It is not just a variant, “another flavor.”

    One is either convicted that the gospel is something that matters or not. There really isn’t any middle ground…

    http://reformation500.blogspot.com/2009/04/why-i-am-not-roman-catholic.html

    If you do call yourself a Protestant, I would have to ask you if you really understand what that means. If you really understand the kinds of things that were at stake at the time of the Reformation. If you understood how genuine Christians put their lives at risk, and even suffered and died at the hands of this self-same false system that really can’t prove that it is anything more than a dead echo of the Roman empire.

    I would say this to his face, and I would ask you these things to your face. It is not “impolite.” It is no less polite than Paul’s defending the integrity of the Gospel to those who would obscure its message. Because genuine love requires genuine honesty.

    Your blatant accusation of scholarly malfeasance on Ratzinger’s part is implausible at best and suggests the presence of bluster rather than argumentation.

    Read his work, and read my comments, and see for yourself if the things I’m saying are true. I have nothing to hide.

  40. Bryan Cross, #37:

    My credibility is not in question. You are the one who looks at a text that says “that is not excluded” therefore it is somehow both plausible and included. But that does not follow.

    On the other hand, I am on far more solid ground with this analysis from Lampe, pg 404:

    Hegesippus, in Eusebius, writes” During my visit to Rome I made a succession list / diadoche up to Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. Soter followed Anicetus and then followed Eleutherus” (γενόμενος δὲ ἐν Ῥώμῃ, διαδοχὴν ἐποιησάμην μέχρις Ἀνικήτου·). Hegesippus visited Rome around 160 C.E. at the time of Anicetus and recorded his memoirs about the visit around 180 C.E. at the time of Eleutherus. In spite of all the difficulties the text presents to the researcher (Harnack and Zahn [two of the most well-known exegetes of the 19th century, one a liberal, the other a conservative] even conjectured diatriban: “I took up residence in Rome until Anicetus), a consensus may be formed. Hegesippus’ interest lay in the pure doctrine>/i> (4.22.2) as it allegedly was passed down uninterruptedly from the apostles until the present. During this trip, Hegesippus tried to convince himself that this passing down had indeed occurred in the different cities of the world. Also in Rome he investigated to his satisfaction that it had been so. In other words, it by no means concerned him to prove a succession of monarchical bishops from the apostles until the present. What he pictured in his mind were chains of bearers of correct belief, and he was of the opinion that he could recognize such a chain also in Rome. More than this is not in the text.

    So this is the story of Roman teaching: When it says, “more than this is not in the text,” Rome always finds things “implicitly” in the text — “implicit” having the bare meaning of “not excluded.” This is the story behind Roman doctrine after Roman doctrine — beginning with “bishops” of Rome, through such things as confession to a priest, the priesthood itself, transubstantiation, the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary.

    (Although even when something like “the sacrifice of the Mass” is excluded by long selections such as that in Hebrews, there are still rationalizations that somehow “make present” this one sacrifice that the writer to the Hebrews clearly says happened at a point in the past and is “finished.”)

    These things — meaning current Roman rationalizations — are not explicitly excluded, and therefore they are dogmas of the faith.

    There are very many exclusively Roman Catholic doctrines for which this is the case, and given that we are talking about “method” here, your readers should know that this is what the Roman Catholic “method” is (for example, when Michael Liccone talks about that long process of “reflection”. This is the fruit of that).

    As well, the “method” behind Lampe’s statement of not finding more in the text than is there, here is corroborated by Irenaeus, in these selections:

    If we cannot find the solutions for all the questions raised in the Scriptures, let us not seek for another God than he-who-is, for this would be the worst impiety. We must leave such matters as these to the God who made it and correctly realize that the scriptures are perfect, since they were spoken by God’s Word and his Spirit, while we, as we are inferior and more recent than God’s word and his Spirit, need to receive the knowledge of his mysteries.

    If, then, as we have said, we leave certain questions to God, we shall preserve our faith and remain free from peril. All Scripture, given to us by God, will be found consistent. The parables will agree with the clear statements and the clear passages will explain the parables. Through the polyphony of the texts a single harmonious melody will sound in us, praising in hymns the God who made everything.

    (“Irenaeus of Lyons,” “Against Heresies,” 2.28.3, Robert M. Grant translation, pgs. 117-118. Emphasis supplied.)

    The Lord of all gave his apostles the power of the Gospel, and by them we have known the truth, that is, the teaching of the Son of God. To THEM the Lord said, “He who hears you hears me, and he who despises me and Him who sent me” (Luke 10:16).

    For we have known the “economy” for our salvation only through those through whom the Gospel came to us; and WHAT THEY FIRST PREACHED THEY LATER, by God’s will, TRANSMITTED TO US IN THE SCRIPTURES SO THAT WOULD BE THE FOUNDATION AND PILLAR OF OUR FAITH (1 Tim. 3:15).

    It is not right to say that they preached before they had perfect knowledge, as some venture to say, boasting that they are correctors of the apostles. For after our Lord arose from the dead and they were clad with power from on high by the coming of the Holy Spirit, THEY WERE FILLED CONCERNING EVERYTHING AND HAD PERFECT KNOWLEDGE. They went forth to the ends of the earth, proclaiming the news of the good gifts to us from God and announcing heavenly peace to men. Collectively and individually they had the Gospel of God.

    Thus Matthew published among the Hebrews a gospel written in their language, at the time when Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome and founding the church there. After their death Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself delivered to us in writing what had been announced by Peter. Luke, the follower of Paul, put down in a book the Gospel preached by him. Later John the Lord’s disciple, who reclined on his bosom, himself published the Gospel while staying at Ephesus in Asia.

    Thus the TRADITION OF THE APOSTLES, manifest in the whole world, is present in EVERY CHURCH [in the form of the Scriptures] to be perceived by all who wish to see the truth.

    (“Irenaeus of Lyons,” “Against Heresies,” from the “Prospectus for Book III “and 3.1, Robert M. Grant, pg.. 123-124. Emphasis supplied.)

    Now, this is precisely the opposite the concept that the church needed to “reflect” on “the deposit of faith,” because somehow, the Apostles failed to relate everything that needed to be known. In effect, it makes the later, “infallible” Church, to be “the correctors of the apostles.

    http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/irenaeus-scripture-interprets-scripture/

    http://reformation500.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/irenaeus-on-development-of-doctrine/

  41. John,

    Much of what you’ve written in # 40 has already been addressed on Called to Communion. I encourage you to check out the archive and interact with what has already been covered as respect to sola scriptura.

    For the sake of having a dialog that all can follow we should stay on this topic until we’ve exhausted this topic.

  42. Appologies if this has been gone over already and for interupting.

    John Bugay said:

    “Of course, the case against the papacy is far broader and more multi-faceted than you have allowed here.”

    The “case” against the papacy is so “multifaceted” that I became blinded by its loud atempts to twist the plain meaning of scripture and history. In my opinion, after months of personal investigation, each point against the papacy is so weak they must combine and be “multifaceted” to convince anyone. It reminds me of a Dispensationalist explaining his “system”. None of it makes any sense, but put it all together and…

    And…

    “… while Peter was an important apostle, in the important “petrine texts,” there is no hint of anything at all like “succession.” Peter was unique, and his role in the foundation of the church was unique.” (bolding mine)

    Outrageous.
    This is another “multifacedted” statement that, like Saruman the Many Colored, is false. The plain meaning of what Christ says in Matt. 16:18 is easy to know if we let scripture interpret scripture. At the very least, for the sake of honesty, you need to retract your “no hint of anything at all like “succession.”” comment. Isaiah 22 shows, at the very least, a “hint” of succession in Matt. 16, and to the unbiased is much more than a mere hint.

    In Isaiah 22 we see Shebna, the Prime Minister of the King of Israel being replaced. This is long after the death of David.

    Isaiah 22:20-22:
    “In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

    Sort of jumps off the page as being what Jesus was refering to in Matt. 16:18 doesn’t it? You said “Peter was unique, and his role in the foundation of the church was unique.” would you say of Isaiah 22 “Eliakim was unique, and his role in the administration of the Davidic kingdom was unique.”? Of course not. The keys of Isaiah 22 had been and would be handed down by succession. So why the reluctance to let scripture speak for itself here by denying even a “hint” of succession in Jesus words?

    As I prepare to come into full communnion with the successor of Peter this next Easter, I am constantly amazed at how biblical Catholicism is. You would think they had made up a doctrine like sola scriptura, but of course not a hint of that doctrine is found in scripture… ; )

    Peace.

    David Meyer

  43. John

    I have hesitated jumping in the middle of this conversation, but as a fellow Protestant who has not yet (emphasis on the yet) became Catholic, I have a question for you. You seem to suggest that the Catholic Church should be anathematized. Your reasoning is that they have added to the Gospel. You appeal to an example in Scripture to prove your case. Now lets see the problem with this, being fellow Protestants with, I would suppose, a similar background. Excommunicating a person or group from the Church, or Body of Christ, is an act of Church authority that the Church leadership is granted from Christ. We see Paul commanding the Church leaders of Corinth to do exactly this to a certain man in 1 Corinthians. Now, the Protestant view of Church, in regard to both its leadership and its personal members, neither subjects have the gift of infallibility in interpreting Scripture, which is the Protestants only infallible source of divine revelation. As other articles on this site have pointed out, “All appeals to Scripture are an appeal to an interpretation of Scripture.” Here lies the problem. Since, to a Protestant, no Church leader or group of leaders possess, as a divine gift from the Holy Spirit, infallibility when interpreting Scriptures, it is intrinsic to our Church “worldview” that whatever our church leaders teach or whatever “authority” they exercise might not be the correct interpretation of Scripture. Since there is no judge to decide which is the correct interpretation of Scripture amongst competing interpretations. It cannot be Scripture for that is the subject matter. I mean, there is no guarantee that a Protestant Church leader has not “missed” something in the scriptures that some future Biblical scholar might uncover. I mean this is basically what we have in Protestantism, a leadership’s understanding of dogma depending on a war between scholars. The laymen has to become a scholar himself. Its imperative, in the Protestant Church view. If my Pastor, at my Protestant Church, encourages me to confess a certain doctrine, I am discouraged from confessing it based on his authority. I have to become the judge of what he says in order to confess it. So once again, even the ability to understand the Gospel (which you say the Catholic adds to), in Protestantism, depends on the laymen becoming just as scholarly as the leadership, and just as much their judge as they are mine. So, in Protestantism, how could there ever be a right situation, given the possibility of doctrinal error, for the Protestant leadership, or even myself, to ever have the authority to judge that an individual or group should be anathematized? The Protestant view of the Church can never allow it. And this is a problem.

    Jason

  44. I do want to try to swing this conversation back towards the topic.

    John,

    The main question of the thread has not really been answered by you. I asked you after your first response:

    Next, am I safe to assume that you agree that there is not any historical or archeology evidence that proves that there was no monarchial bishop in Rome until the 2nd Century that is better evidence that Irenaeus’ list?

    Are we agreed on that?

    So, are you agreed that there is not any historical or archeological evidence that proves that there was no monarchial bishop in Rome until the 2nd Century? If we can agree on this that we can move onto the scholarly support you are citing in greater detail.

  45. while Peter was an important apostle, in the important “petrine texts,” there is no hint of anything at all like “succession.”

    yep, Acts 1:24-26, was just an anomaly.

  46. Sean #44: So, are you agreed that there is not any historical or archeological evidence that proves that there was no monarchial bishop in Rome until the 2nd Century?

    Of course we’re not agreed on this; as I’ve argued strenuously (a) it is wrong-headed to ask for “one piece of evidence” when that’s not the way historical analysis works, and (b) our historical understanding of that period makes it far more plausible that the scenario outlined by Lampe and supported by virtually every “critical scholar” we’ve discussed in this thread.

    You, after all, have not yet given me “one piece of evidence” that unicorns do not exist, or that there are no green men on mars.

  47. If you do call yourself a Protestant, I would have to ask you if you really understand what that means. If you really understand the kinds of things that were at stake at the time of the Reformation. If you understood how genuine Christians put their lives at risk, and even suffered and died at the hands of this self-same false system that really can’t prove that it is anything more than a dead echo of the Roman empire.

    John,

    If you are really concerned about the discoveries of modern scholarship and the way that they shed light on the received history, you should be just as willing to call into question your monolithic descriptions of the 16th century as you are to call into question what we’re saying about the early Church, especially since the sources make it objectively much easier to do early modern/Reformation history. The idea that the Reformation was a time when gallant knights swept down from heaven on white horses to save the poor, exploited peasants of Europe from the evil oppression of the clerical class – the version that every Reformed Christian I’ve ever known hears in church and gleefully propagates – has to be called into question for the same reasons that no serious historians still refer to the medieval period as the “Dark Ages.” This version of history is a useful polemical tool against the Catholic Church, but I think that’s why it even developed and became so popular in the first place, i.e. given that modern scholarship originates in the universities of Protestant Germany and England.

    You must know, for example, that Reformed Christians were not the only people who gave their lives for their cause during the Reformation. Not only did Reformed and Catholic Christians persecute the Anabaptists, but many, many Catholics were put to death by the developing Protestant leadership, especially in England. You must also know that the motivations and results of the “Reformation” across Europe were not monolithic. The best example I can give is, again, in England, and since you happily quote Eamon Duffy when he supports your argument about the papacy in the early centuries, I’m assuming you’re also familiar with his works on the English “Reformation.” You must also know that the abuses we most often hear about, perpetrated by certain individuals within the Catholic Church, were localized phenomena, never officially sanctioned by the Church, and the pressing concern of just as many Catholics as emerging Protestants, with the main difference between the two being that the Catholic reformers were not willing to divide the Church and overturn centuries of received doctrine because of a dispute that originated over things everyone agreed as being wrong (clerical immorality, sale of indulgences, etc.). Assuming that you are actually familiar with the historical complexities that we must wrestle with regarding what happened in the 16th century, why do you pose these questions to your fellow Protestant as if “what was at stake” and the nature of martyrdom at that time really could be boiled down into the oversimplified, black-and-white sound-byte version of history that those who actually know nothing about the history of the period would normally pass off as the truth?

  48. David Meyer #42: This is almost a direct quote from R.T. France’s commentary on Matthew:

    “… while Peter was an important apostle, in the important “petrine texts,” there is no hint of anything at all like “succession.” Peter was unique, and his role in the foundation of the church was unique.” (bolding mine)

    I’m at work and working from memory here, but there is a transcription of a Scott Hahn talk on the papacy, and in that talk, he made a big deal out of the fact that even France held that Peter was the rock.

    In case you are not aware of it, but it is widely held in Protestant circles that Peter was very important.

    What is lacking is the connection — there is no hint of anything at all like “succession” to be found in the New Testament. You may find something like Paul telling Timothy to name elders — that’s merely a responsible thing to do. And we know that God gave gifts of apostles, prophets, teachers, etc. But where do you find that the “powers and prerogatives” of an apostle supposedly passed along? Where is that connection — that any one person is anything more than a unique individual?

  49. Tap #45: yep, Acts 1:24-26, was just an anomaly.

    It was a one-time event based on a one-time betrayal by Judas. You’ll note that the procedure was not repeated.

  50. John,

    #46

    I asked:

    So, are you agreed that there is not any historical or archeological evidence that proves that there was no monarchial bishop in Rome until the 2nd Century?

    You answered:

    Of course we’re not agreed on this;

    So there is evidence? What is it?

    I am not the one asserting something about history. I do believe that there was a successor to Peter and I have cited historical evidence of this fact. But that is beside the point. This is about what you are asserting about history. You should be able to back up your claims with evidence.

    Neither am I asserting that Unicorns do not exist or that there are no green men on mars.

    Lastly, you are the one who has been throwing out critical scholars into this discussion.

    We can talk about other critical scholars that do not agree with you. We can also talk about how the critical scholars that you are citing don’t agree with you.

    But first let it be known that no evidence exists to suppor the claims that you are making about the early Roman Church.

  51. By the way John, we have been through this before.

    See Here.

    In that thread you claimed that, “there is overwhelming historical evidence that there was no successor.”

    Bryan then asked you for that evidence and then you said, “you are asking to prove a negative. That is the kind of trickery that should be beneath someone who expresses such good intentions as you do.”

    If you don’t want to be asked for evidence that perhaps you should not claim that there is evidence.

  52. Sean: It is trickery, it’s grandstanding.

    We are looking at history here. And history takes place from the beginning.

    Andrew McCallum is correct: You are the ones with the authority claim. It is your argument. Your argument is:

    a. There is a pope who is in charge.

    b. Irenaeus cites a list of bishops of Rome.

    c. Therefore there is a pope who is in charge.

    What Lampe is doing is to make (b.) far less plausible. He has also created an alternative scenario, that is far more plausible than what the Roman church has posited for its own authority structure.

    “Authority” is an argument that you must make, and you must do it from history. And if I have not characterized it correctly here, then how would you characterize it?

    As it stands, there is no defeater to premise (a.) because you begin by assuming what you want to prove.

    You do need to present to the world what your argument is in favor of the papacy. You have not done so — and what you are doing here is grandstanding and trickery.

  53. Tap,

    Re # 45 and John’s # 49.

    “And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus saith the Scripture a certain place, ‘I will appoint their bishops s in righteousness, and their deacons in faith.’… Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry…For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties.”

    Clement, Epistle to Corinthians, 42, 44 (A.D. 98).

    “Hegesippus in the five books of Memoirs which have come down to us has left a most complete record of his own views. In them he states that on a journey to Rome he met a great many bishops, and that he received the same doctrine from all. It is fitting to hear what he says after making some remarks about the epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. His words are as follows: ‘And the church of Corinth continued in the true faith until Primus was bishop in Corinth. I conversed with them on my way to Rome, and abode with the Corinthians many days, during which we were mutually refreshed in the true doctrine. And when I had come to Rome I remained a there until Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And Anicetus was succeeded by Soter, and he by Eleutherus. In every succession, and in every city that is held which is preached by the law and the prophets and the Lord.’”

    Hegesippus, Memoirs, fragment in Eusebius Ecclesiatical History, 4:22 (A.D. 180).

    The fathers understood that they were to appoint successors.

    John # 49,

    Where does the bible say that Judas’ succession was a one time event and not to be repeated?

  54. John # 53,

    You do need to present to the world what your argument is in favor of the papacy. You have not done so.

    The Church has done so for two millenia.

    You can also take a look at the archive on Called to Communion.

  55. Sean 53 and 54: Here’s the point. These are not found in the New Testament. And if you look closely at what Clement is saying, and what Hegesippus is saying, it neither of these things say what you’re saying. It may look close, but the supporting details are not there.

    That’s where such scholarly disciplines as textual studies and language studies (which you are dismissing) are important. You really provide no reason to dismiss them, other than that they don’t support what you need them to say in order for your (existing) scenario to be plausible.

    And for you to say that “the Church has done so for two millenia” not only overlooks much factual information — you must rely on such things as Bryan has done, saying, “it’s not explicitly excluded, therefore it’s included.”

    But again, my question to you was, “what is the argument in favor of a papacy.” Start from the beginning.

    You’ve attributed the papacy to development. Well, outline the stages of development for us, and tell us why they were legitimate. Otherwise, we can’t believe what you are saying.

    Where does the bible say that Judas’ succession was a one time event and not to me repeated?

    Simple math. There are twelve apostles, there are twelve thrones. Only one needed to be replaced. Only one was replaced. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

  56. What is lacking is the connection — there is no hint of anything at all like “succession” to be found in the New Testament. You may find something like Paul telling Timothy to name elders — that’s merely a responsible thing to do. And we know that God gave gifts of apostles, prophets, teachers, etc. But where do you find that the “powers and prerogatives” of an apostle supposedly passed along? Where is that connection — that any one person is anything more than a unique individual?

    Mat 16:18 says, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” So is Peter is a “unique individual” then when he died the church lost this rock. In no sense did this blessing of the rock remain in the church. How is that not a victory of Hell over the church? Same with the apostles. If they had some blessing to allow them to lead the church, “I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me”(Lk 22:29). If that blessing was lost to the church with the death of the apostles does that not mean Satan won an important victory? In fact, if you are right and the papacy is the work of Satan, then Satan has quite the string of victories. In what sense did the papacy not overcome the church? How can you say Jesus’ promise was not broken?

  57. John (#38):

    So you make the assumption that “the authority [you've] called for” is just already there waiting for you to fall on your knees before it?

    I have reasons for my faith. See #29.

    You wrote that “[t]he methodology I follow begins with epistemological statements like this,” followed by a passage of Scripture. You then concluded: “The hermeneutic we are asked to follow is a very simple one.” There are two difficulties with that.

    First, you’re assuming (a) that what you regard as Scripture reliably records divine revelation and (b) that it’s perspicuous enough in itself, apart from Tradition and some teaching authority, to settle disputes about its divinely intended meaning. But if all Christians are fallible under all conditions, then (a) is just an opinion that might be wrong, and lacks divine authority itself. Moreover, if (b) is true, then either (c) disputes about Scripture’s divinely intended meaning would be far less frequent than they are, or (d) everybody who disagrees with your interpretation of it is stupid, ill-willed, or both. Yet (c) is contrary to fact, and there’s no evidence for (d).

    Second, you don’t actually follow the “very simple” hermeneutic you profess. You rely heavily on an army of biblical and patristic scholars that happens to be opposed by another army of such scholars. If matters were as simple as you say, then scholarship would be unnecessary for discerning the divinely intended meaning of Scripture, and to the extent scholars disagree, the way to resolve their disagreements would be straightforward enough to do so successfully and definitively. But it isn’t.

    You asked:

    How do you know that any such “authority” genuinely is “divinely protected from error”? Only because it, itself says so. By what means do you know this other than by reasoning in the tightest of circles?

    You have overlooked the fact that the form of my argument is conditional. No process of human reasoning alone can establish any article of special revelation, such as the authority of the Church or, for that matter, the divine inspiration of Scripture. My argument, rather, is that if we are to reliably distinguish between divine revelation on the one hand and human opinions about the “sources” on the other–whatever those sources are taken to be–we need “a living, dominically instituted authority that is divinely preserved from error under certain conditions.” Since that argument does not purport to show that there is such a thing as divine revelation, or even that we can reliably distinguish between it and human opinion, the argument is not “reasoning in the tightest of circles.” It is an argument that, if we are to have a certain sort of knowledge, then we need a certain sort of authority. Your position is that Scripture alone is that authority. I’ve given reasons for rejecting that position and accepting another. I’m far from the only one.

    Skipping over a few paragraphs of rhetoric, I note that you conclude:

    The task here is not to test one system vs another. The genuine test is to verify whether that “long period of reflection” offered valid solutions. That’s the only thing that’s being done on our side

    That evinces a remarkable lack of reflection on your part. There are various hermeneutical systems for interpreting Scripture and, indeed, all the evidence for what the Faith actually was and is. To hold that one can come up with criteria for “valid solutions” to interpretive problems without relying on some hermeneutic for interpreting and unifying the data from the sources is either naïvete or pretense.

    Best,
    Mike

  58. In what sense did the papacy not overcome the church? How can you say Jesus’ promise was not broken?

    There are still Christians all over the world, Randy, and more every day. And persecution has always made the church grow more. The gates of death never prevail, when we stand upon the Rock, who is Christ, revealed in the word of God, as confessed by believers, represented by Peter our first spokesman and example.

  59. There are still Christians all over the world, Randy, and more every day. And persecution has always made the church grow more.

    We are not talking about persecution. We are talking about heresy. John is saying that the church bought the heresy of the papacy early and completely. Is that unimportant? To say people calling themselves Christian is enough even when they are accepting a heretical version of the gospel?

    You are right that the papacy did not seem to behave as if it was designed by Satan. The popes did end up on the right side of every heresy. But that still does not fit John’s theory. He could say God used an evil thing and did a great good with it. But then why believe he stopped in the 16 century?

  60. Hello all, since Mr. Bugay indicated in his comments to my article on his misuse of Rev. Lampe’s book that I should have directed my energies to interact with Chapter 41, I have had the opportunity to take up some time studying the thesis presented there. It seems to be founded on a notion that Rome’s titular churches (home-churches) were so fractionated that they could not have been overseen by a single bishop. Reviewing the data that he sifts through does not actually show that the Roman churches were fractionated and is based on a more modern-view of what a mono-episcopal bishop was supposed to be. As pointed out by David Albert Jones, a professor from Oxford and Oswald Sobrino, such an argument is based on several false assumptions and is a poor argument. Adrian Fortesque, Henri Daniel-Rops, Prof. Edward Weltin, and Prof. Bernard Green seem to concur based on the preliminary researches that I have started (I have not read all of their books yet). Note too that Mr. Bugay does not address the fact that Schatz, Sullivan, Eno or even Raymond Brown whose views tend to mirror in some respects Lampe’s views, do not argue (Schatz and Sullivan especially) that this argument negates the validity of apostolic succession or the basis for the papacy.

    The whole notion is fractionation is sort of making a mountain out of molehill as all it shows is that the Catholic Church back in the day practiced setting parishes up based on geographical boundaries which we still do today. And as far as the papacy goes since it is an office with three-fold responsibilities derived from Christ’s prophetic, sacerdotal and pastoral offices, what Mr. Bugay and his sort need to show is that the 1st century church structures contained none of these in order to make their case.

    God bless!

  61. Sean said:
    Maybe I could ask this a different way to appease the charge of asking a negative to be proved? Maybe I could say, “Provide proof that the Roman church was ruled by a group of bishops who were all equal in authority and none of them directly in succession to Peter’s chair?

    Sean – I think that would be what the EO hold to (except that they would agree that bishops of Rome are in proper succession to Peter’s chair) rather than the Protestants, but that brings up a whole different set of challenges to RCC ecclesiology. My contention would be that given the 1) very scanty information of who succeeded who as the Bishop of Rome in the first century (see conflicting reports among the ECF’s – i.e. Tertullian, Jerome, Irenaeus), 2) the lack of documentation of these matters before Irenaeus, and 3) the complete lack of data on where Irenaeus got his listing of “popes” from, that there is just not much that can be said one way or another. Do you see that I’m not setting out a definitive position, but rather questioning whether one can be established at all given the historical record?

    At this point I think you have go back to Mike L’s approach and affirm the RCC interpretation of these matters before you look at the relevant history. In short, the RCC position on the succession of the bishops at Rome becomes a matter of faith, not one of established historical record.

  62. Mike,

    It is an argument that, if we are to have a certain sort of knowledge, then we need a certain sort of authority.

    I am simply stunned by the number of theologically minded persons who apparently never take the time to step outside of their confessional boundaries long enough to ask about the sort of knowledge which something called “DIVINE revelation” is meant to provide. The idea that the God-intended meaning of divine revelation is only to be deciphered by means of a Herculean sifting among a mountain of scholarly opinion [opinion which itself rests upon a wide range of theological and philosophical prejudices] entails a one way ticket back to functional agnosticism. Not only is such a proposal simply inaccessible to the vast multitude of professing Christians; it functionally reduces the very notion of “divine revelation” to “doctoral revelation”.

    At the end of the day, if all we are left with regarding the “de fide” content of divine revelation is the fallible opinion of scholars, then for all practical purposes the “divine” in “divine revelation” fades away and the very purpose for which a “divine” revelation was ostensibly given (to rescue mankind from drowning in the confusing and uncertain ocean of human opinion) fades away with it. John’s theological milieu constitutes the environment in which secularism, skepticism and relativism are born and thrive; for when these three juggernauts meet a new opinion – even an erudite theological opinion – they swallow it whole, absorbing its contents. The Church is, and always has been, at war with the spirit of the age, even as she wars against the infidelity among her own members and clergy. Yet as the dust begins to settle on modernity, I still see an ancient ship afloat – though beat to hell and in need of repairs; and further up at the helm there remains a war-weary old fisherman at the wheel.

    Go Mike Go!

    Pax et Bonum,

    Ray

  63. Andrew (#61):

    At this point I think you have go back to Mike L’s approach and affirm the RCC interpretation of these matters before you look at the relevant history. In short, the RCC position on the succession of the bishops at Rome becomes a matter of faith, not one of established historical record.

    Thank you for treating the Catholic position as a reasonable option, not just as a species of presuppositionalism. That’s more than I get from certain other Reformed controversialists. But the immediate matter at hand is a little more nuanced than you let on.

    The Catholic “faith” about mono-episcopacy, apostolic succession, and the papacy–or indeed about other matters as basic as the Resurrection–is not something to embrace in the absence of evidence. If there were no evidence for such doctrines in the early sources, then affirming them by faith would be unreasonable. Rather, from the standpoint of reason alone, we first see that the historical data, just by themselves, do not suffice to either to establish or to rule out any particular position on such matters as doctrinally normative. So we must therefore seek additional grounds for adopting some particular position as doctrinally normative–not grounds instead of historical evidence. That move is necessitated simply by the difference between the sorts of knowledge involved: knowledge by scholarly reason, and knowledge by faith. Both exist, and both must somehow harmonize, even though one can’t get to the latter just by the former.

    As you know quite well, I and other Catholics writing on this blog argue that the sort of authority claimed by the Catholic Magisterium is necessary (albeit not sufficient by itself; see Dei Verbum §10) for distinguishing reliably between divine revelation itself and human opinions about what the sources mean. We also assume–if only for sake of this argument–that there is such a thing as divine revelation and that God does in fact equip us to reliably make and apply the distinction called for. And so we see the Catholic doctrine about mono-episcopacy, apostolic succession, and the papacy as the best way to interpret the early data as evidence for what’s doctrinally normative.

    Nonetheless, and as I’ve said before, those data by themselves do not rationally necessitate the Catholic position. From a purely rational standpoint, other approaches (such as the Reformed and the Orthodox) have a certain degree of plausibility. So I do not say that those alternatives are unreasonable. I claim only that, given the general epistemological requirements for distinguishing between divine revelation and human opinion, the Catholic way of interpreting the early data is the most reasonable.

    Best,
    Mike

  64. Ray (#62):

    Indeed. But the ironic thing is that Protestant appeals to an academic magisterium are so often coupled with and assertion of the perspicuity and formal sufficiency of Scripture. I often find myself asking: Which is it?

    Best,
    Mike

  65. Fixed it for you Mike ( # 64)

  66. Thanks, SP!

  67. Hey John,

    What Michael said; and if all Christians are fallible under all conditions, then I’m unclear how you believe yourself authorized to judge Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI and Benjamin K with such confidence (or arrogance). Because you and your ‘critical scholarship’ are always already fallible, aren’t you simply articulating your opinion?

    Unfortunately, the way you’ve described the situation–in your response to Benjamin, all that stuff about how you could never consider Catholicism because you’d have to give up everything that’s true–makes impossible a fair investigation and locks you into what must seem like a heroic battle with the Enemy wherein any Catholic and any Protestant who tries to engage [rather than cheer] you is instantly dismissed as being evil, duped or otherwise ignorant (you may not realize it but you sound all rhetorically bombastic and rude when you posture that way).

    I’d recommend you read Louis Bouyer’s Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, but I’m half afraid that the recommendation will be received by you as an attack and/or an invitation to eat a poisoned apple; anyway the author lays out why it is that the positive principles of Protestantism are necessarily undermined by Protestant errors born of the very medieval excess that Protestantism purports to be correcting. Point is, I don’t know Catholic converts from Protestantism who rejected the positive principles we were raised with; if you read Bouyer, I think you’ll see (or pray that you’ll see) what I mean. I converted to Catholicism and have not thereby rejected salvation by grace alone, for example; haven’t rejected my belief in Scripture’s inerrancy, authority, and so on. These assertions I see you making about BOTH Protestantism and Catholicism are, well, hard as nails, completely inflexible, admitting no room whatsoever for any misunderstanding or mistake on your part or the part of those whom you site with dogmatic rigor DESPITE your belief in every Christian’s fallibility. (It never gets old seeing those who have abandoned infallibility nevertheless reject as damnable and absolutely false the Christianity which maintains it.)

    One of Bouyer’s immensely useful terms is ‘authoritarian subjectivism’; you’re employing what the term is meant to signify, which will be instructive (I hope and pray) for those who do read the book. I apologize for not steering the discussion back to the point of the post, its challenge (which I haven’t yet seen you answer with anything more than deflection).

    I’m praying for you, JB, and hope you’ll pray for me too.

    wilkins

  68. Wilkins 67: I’m a former Catholic; cradle Catholic, heard the Gospel, left the RCC as a teen; went back a few years later thinking that I could adequately find the Gospel there. Married, had six kids, attended Opus Dei for a while. Was overjoyed at ECT until I started looking at the details.

    I value truth incredibly highly. If we pursue truth, we won’t need “infallibility”. The Word is infallible. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” With God shining the light, what are we lacking? (Note too Michael L. that this is a “conditional” statement).

    Sorry if I’m reading too quickly and responding too shortly right now; I’m at work, and will respond to some of the comments and questions in more detail when I have more time.

  69. Thanks, John, for the context.

    No worries about reading quickly: reading and responding quickly have to be done sometimes. I hope to see more of your interaction here—look forward to it is what I mean.

    “Your word is a lamp…” : of course I affirm that Scripture with the Church; can you unpack your statement that “we don’t need infallibility”? I’m certain you don’t mean, “we don’t need infallibility because opinion is good enough,” right? But if you don’t mean that, I’m not sure how Protestantism is equipped to stave off a collapse into that. Help?

    Peace,
    w

  70. John Bugay: If we pursue truth, we won’t need “infallibility”. The Word is infallible.

    Suppose, as Joe Christian, I am confronted with two very educated men that both believe that the Bible is without error, and they are presenting to me two different and wholly irreconcilable interpretations of the Bible.

    As Joe Christian, I also believe that the Bible is without error, but I must honestly admit that I am nowhere near as educated as either of the men that are giving me their contradictory interpretations of the Bible. Let us further assume that one man’s interpretation is true, but I don’t know at this time which man is giving me the interpretation that is true. All I can see is that both interpretations are at least plausible to me, given the current state of my education.

    What source of authority should I turn to that would allow me, with certainty, to know which man’s interpretation of the Bible is true?

  71. This comment is just so that I can subscribe to comments by e-mail!

    jj

  72. John (#68):

    I value truth incredibly highly. If we pursue truth, we won’t need “infallibility”. The Word is infallible. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” With God shining the light, what are we lacking? (Note too Michael L. that this is a “conditional” statement).

    I agree with every sentence in that paragraph except the second–and I agree that even that sentence is true when what’s in question is scientific knowledge attainable by human reason. But divine revelation is different.

    If by “the Word” you mean what St. John the Divine does, namely the Person who was incarnate in the man Jesus Christ and later came to be called the Second Person of the Trinity, then I agree that the Word is infallible. If by “the Word” you mean the human writings which we both believe to be divinely inspired Scripture, then the Word is in some respect inerrant. Yet it’s not infallible; for infallibility is a property of persons, not texts. With that distinction in mind, my point was that, when we’re after the propositionally expressible content of divine revelation, as distinct from the constructs of human reason, no text–not even one that’s inerrant in some respect–simply speaks for itself. If it did, there would be no lingering disputes about what the Word-as-person wants us to learn from the Word-as-text. But there are such disputes, and the text alone cannot prevent that.

    The writings comprising Scripture were produced through members of the people of God for the instruction and edification of the people of God. Like many others, I have argued that, when disputes arises about exactly which doctrines can be extracted from them, such that those doctrines command the assent of faith as distinct from opinion, those disputes can only be resolved above the level of mere opinion if the visible authority appointed over the people of God speaks with divine and thus infallible authority. Otherwise we are left just with a clash of opinions–some relatively informed, some relatively uninformed, but none infallible. At certain periods of history, some opinions prevail over others; but they are always revisable in principle, and hence cannot be irreformable. If they’re not irreformable, then they cannot be reliably identified as the doctrines which an infallible God proposes to us for the assent of faith. They are just opinions, some of which might approximate the truth, but none of which can command the assent of faith.

    That’s not the result you want. But given your assumptions and your methodology, that’s the result you’re always going to get.

    Best,
    Mike

  73. What source of authority should I turn to that would allow me, with certainty, to know which man’s interpretation of the Bible is true?

    Mateo,
    I think there are three main things you should do in that situation. First of all, God wants us to wrestle with His word to understand it, and to seek Him with all our hearts in His word and prayer and in the body of Christ too.
    If you really want to understand something in scripture because you are ‘seeking first the kingdom of God’ and wanting to know Him, then you should pray continually for wisdom and understanding in general and for that specific issue.
    Secondly, you should search the whole of scripture for wisdom on that subject. Scripture interprets scripture, with the Holy Spirit’s help.
    Thirdly, you should seek the wisdom of Godly people who have also wrestled with God’s word and are able to rightly divide the Word of Truth, including but not only pastors or elders. You may not end up agreeing totally with any of them, but you will get a good idea of what God is communicating to His people.
    The word, the Spirit, and the Body work together to interpret scripture. Specifically, the entire word interprets specific passages, and God uses the Body of Christ and the Spirit to give light also. These all work as one when they work as they ought. Ephesians 4 explains some of this.

  74. @Jennie S.:

    If you really want to understand something in scripture because you are ‘seeking first the kingdom of God’ and wanting to know Him, then you should pray continually for wisdom and understanding in general and for that specific issue.
    Secondly, you should search the whole of scripture for wisdom on that subject. Scripture interprets scripture, with the Holy Spirit’s help.
    Thirdly, you should seek the wisdom of Godly people who have also wrestled with God’s word and are able to rightly divide the Word of Truth, including but not only pastors or elders. You may not end up agreeing totally with any of them, but you will get a good idea of what God is communicating to His people.

    So I take it you mean that there is no certainty we will get the right answer – only a good idea?

    And if two men do the above three things, and fundamentally disagree? What do they do then?

    This was my predicament when I was a Protestant. There were men whose integrity I think was unassailable, who did the three above things – and who did end up in fundamental disagreement over matters that I really wanted to know the answer to.

    Thank God I am a Catholic now! I believe God has given the world a source of infallibility. We still must do the above three things. But when push comes to shove, I know the right answer will ultimately be there when it becomes necessary to know it.

    jj

  75. Jennie,
    As a protestant looking at Rome’s claims, I have always done what you recommend, yet all it has produced is change of mind when a better exegete comes along. In other words–when this method alone is employed, you get division. The phrase mateo mentioned in his comment that makes all the difference is “with certainty.”
    What you have said is fine, and the Catholic church agrees with the gist of this in Dei Verbum chapter 3:

    “the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words.”

    “The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture.”

    ” no less serious attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture if the meaning of the sacred texts is to be correctly worked out.”

    But if that is where you stop, there will be no certainty, unity, or ability to discern the meaning of scripture. The difference comes in the next sentence of chapter 3:

    ” The living tradition of the whole Church must be taken into account along with the harmony which exists between elements of the faith. It is the task of exegetes to work according to these rules toward a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through preparatory study the judgment of the Church may mature. For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God. ”

    All of our sincerity, ability, prayer, study, humility does not get us where we want to go, even though the church and her interpretation of scripture is said to “mature” through the very activities you lay out and are affirmed in Dei Verbum. In the end, the church through the promises of Christ will discern what is Divine and what is just our opinion.

  76. In other words, Mateo, John B. is right when he said “if we pursue truth, we won’t need infallibility. The Word is infallible.” Because if we seek first the kingdom of God, by seeking Him in His revealed word, then the infallible word and the infallible Spirit will be sure we find the One we seek, if we seek Him with all our hearts. Maybe that’s why there is so much misinterpretation, because people are seeking something besides Him, or seeking half-heartedly. There is no promise for that.

  77. Okay, since maybe there is a lull in the action, I’ll post a few thoughts even though I am not up to the academic level of this discussion.

    Some of my thoughts are in the same line of thinking as David Myers describes here as well as other places that finding the Church the Jesus founded shouldn’t be beyond the ability of an ordinary person.

    I’ve seen this type of discussion too much. Degenerating into a competition of who is familiar enough with various books and authors to counter the charges of the other side. I’ve tried to follow those kinds of arguments and even participate for years and have reached two absolute conclusions. First no minds are ever changed, it isn’t really a dialogue it’s a pissing contest. Second there is no end point and no path to clarity or resolution. The “winner” is usually whoever is willing to keep wasting time digging up sources and writing 3 page responses.

    Essentially a discussion like this is thoroughly pointless for the perspective of non-academic ordinary Christian believers. They are counter productive to the extent that average guys in the pews like me get that idea that we should “know our faith” well enough to defend it in such arguments. I find myself feeling inadequate as a Christian because I’m not a scholar enough to defend my faith!

    Thankfully, Called To Communion generally manages to avoid falling into that trap, by the guidance of the main contributors and a focus on the real issues. Authority being #1. In this particular case, so far, the debate seems mired in the pointless.

    I don’t believe Jesus founded a Church where I as a Christian have to spend hours every night studying to make sense of competing scholarly opinions. I don’t believe Jesus founded a Church where my faith needs to change based on the latest interpretive theory or new scholarship.

    There is the #1 reason I am and will happily remain Catholic, because as a Protestant or a Orthodox Christian that is the faith I would inhabit.

  78. GNW Paul,

    Well said. The purpose of this post, again, was not to get into a scholar debate but merely to demonstrate how our faith is not built on scholars reaching back into history and filling in the details with their guess work. That goes for Catholics and Protestants.

    With that – I’ll shut ‘er down.

    * There are some pending comments that won’t be posted in this thread. The reason is that we’ve gotten pretty far off topic and are getting into covered ground (authority/sola scriptura etc). My fault for letting it get off topic. Unless a comment is directly related to the original post that we’ll move on. I’ve offered John Bugay a final opportunity to answer some of the questions directed at him.

  79. @Jennie S.:

    Maybe that’s why there is so much misinterpretation, because people are seeking something besides Him, or seeking half-heartedly.

    Underneath this is lurking: “if he disagrees with me, then it must be because he is seeking something besides God, or seeking half-heartedly.”

    The hidden variable there is ‘misinterpretation.’ Precisely how do you distinguish a correct interpretation from a misinterpretation? If it is just by the three rules you gave above, then we are back at square one. If I believe I am following those rules, then my interpretation must be correct – and if you claim to be following those rules, yet come up with a different interpretation, then yours must be a misinterpretation – and I conclude you aren’t really following those rules, or are doing so half-heartedly.

    I became a (Protestant) Christian only in early adulthood (age 27 – and I am now not-quite-68). I remember a few years later, being really tormented about a Christian truth. I went to my pastor. He concluded that I must, in fact, be trying to avoid the truth because I was trying to cover up my secret sins.

    I told him that I did, indeed, have many sins, some of them secret (at least from him, though not from God), but that I was really puzzled about the matter at hand.

    When I was 53, God took pity on me and brought me into the Catholic Church :-)

    jj

  80. Jennie S:

    Because if we seek first the kingdom of God, by seeking Him in His revealed word, then the infallible word and the infallible Spirit will be sure we find the One we seek, if we seek Him with all our hearts. Maybe that’s why there is so much misinterpretation, because people are seeking something besides Him, or seeking half-heartedly.

    Then if I go about this in the best way I know how, then if someone who *seems* to be equally in earnest strongly disagrees with me about some not-piddly point, then the only explanation is that he/she is deceiving themselves or me or both. It’s no wonder that “Protestantdom” is such a mess. Compare with what Jesus says in the gospel of John about his intentions for his Church, and weep.

  81. If there were no evidence for such doctrines in the early sources, then affirming them by faith would be unreasonable.

    Mike,

    Yes I agree with you here that it does not make sense to believe something that has no basis in history. But there are some things about the history of God’s people where the documentary evidence is not that strong. I’m thinking here of all the battles between liberals and conservatives in the 19th century over the historicity of certain parts of Scripture. Mostly the liberals have been disproved by recent historical and archaeological research, but not all the time. There are some people, events, and places that still remain shrouded in mystery. But I’m not worried that we cannot come up with an equally strong historical argument for the historical reality of obscure OT figures than we can for the historicity of let’s say of Jesus. And I’m glad to see Catholic apologists like Peter Kreeft and Protestant apologists like Norman Giesler team up in these efforts of demonstrating the historicity of Jesus – they both know they are fighting for something important. There are some things that are of great importance and some things that of lesser importance. From my perspective many of the details of the early bishops remain shrouded in mystery because the specifics of whether folks like Linus and Cletus were actually bishops, or if they were, what they believed about the office of bishop, or who was the first, second, etc bishop of Rome are just not that important. The Christian faith lives on whether there was this direct line or not. Now there was no question that early bishops like Irenaeus believed that being able to trace the lines of the bishops back to the Apostles was valuable evidence against the teachings of the heretics. But if they had not been able to provide this evidence it is not like they would have been without any evidence. In other words if Irenaeus’ list had flaws, it would not have destroyed his witness.

    From what I’ve read about your methodologies, I don’t think the presuppositionalists are that far from you. Or at least some of them are – it’s not a monolithic movement. One of its foci is to affirm the necessity of the kinds of paradigms that I hear you speak of. We cannot build everything from raw evidence ala Josh McDowell and some of the evidentialists. But that’s another discussion for some other time….

    I’m probably repeating myself, but the traditional Reformed way of looking at revealed truth is through Scripture, confession (tradition), and Church. Obviously the last two of these elements have a somewhat different meanings between our respective communions, but I’m just pointing out that sola scriptura does mean the Bible stands alone apart from the Church. We agree that the Bible cannot interpret itself. It has to be interpreted within the context of the Church. Where we disagree is whether the Church’s interpretations in any sense must rise to the level of infallibility which then, taken along with Scripture, becomes part of the infallible standard for the Church. Now I know what you might say here concerning the necessity of infallible interpretations (as the RCC qualifies them), and you probably know how I would answer that. I just wanted to make clear that we hold that the Scriptures cannot stand alone outside of the interpretive authority of the Church. And I know that you might say that my relatively small communion of Reformed believers should not be taken as “the Church.” And were you to say this I would agree. And I would also answer that I don’t think “the Church” should be taken to be the relatively small branch of conservative Catholics that you have associated with. And I would guess that you might agree with this with some qualification.

    Cheers….

  82. To John Thayer Jensen:

    So I take it you mean that there is no certainty we will get the right answer – only a good idea?
    I believe we will finally find the right answer, when we keep seeking Him with all our hearts. We can’t stop doing this. Of course there are some things that are not so difficult to find answers to. But some questions are there maybe just so we will keep seeking, and also along the way learn to love one another even when we disagree, because we know we are fallible, but God is not. Don’t forget Ephesians 4: when we finally all come to a full knowledge of Him and to full maturity, then there will be unity.

    And if two men do the above three things, and fundamentally disagree? What do they do then?
    Know that there are some things we will never understand fully, and learn to love one another.

    This was my predicament when I was a Protestant. There were men whose integrity I think was unassailable, who did the three above things – and who did end up in fundamental disagreement over matters that I really wanted to know the answer to.
    As we all need to learn, sometimes we need to want to know Him more than the answers, and the answers will come. ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you.” I’m so glad you all mentioned this, because it helped me to think it through too.

    Thank God I am a Catholic now! I believe God has given the world a source of infallibility. We still must do the above three things. But when push comes to shove, I know the right answer will ultimately be there when it becomes necessary to know it.

    Yet many believers see things that are not right in some Catholic doctrines, so we have to keep seeking God in His word, and we’ll find Him, as I keep repeating, when we seek Him with all our hearts. I needed to remember that too, today.

  83. Mateo said:

    Suppose, as Joe Christian, I am confronted with two very educated men that both believe that the Bible is without error, and they are presenting to me two different and wholly irreconcilable interpretations of the Bible.

    GNW said:

    I don’t believe Jesus founded a Church where I as a Christian have to spend hours every night studying to make sense of competing scholarly opinions. I don’t believe Jesus founded a Church where my faith needs to change based on the latest interpretive theory or new scholarship.

    But what if you were a Christian in during the Great Schism when there were at times 2 or 3 men claiming to be Pope? Who is your Pope and who do you follow? To make a decision wouldn’t you have to study the arguments and counterarguments of each claimant? Or do you flip a coin? What do you do when you have 2 or 3 claiming to be “infallible” leaders?

  84. I don’t believe Jesus founded a Church where I as a Christian have to spend hours every night studying to make sense of competing scholarly opinions. I don’t believe Jesus founded a Church where my faith needs to change based on the latest interpretive theory or new scholarship.

    Nice strawmen. I’m a Protestant and I believe the same thing.

  85. Jennie,

    If Jesus founded a Church of which He is the Head, and It did not fail (eg, the gates of Hell did not prevail), then one might expect that Church to be the infallible arbiter of Scripture, as well as faith and morals, through Its teaching authority. Jesus did promise to lead It to all truth.

    If one takes the position that Jesus founded a Church against which the gates of Hell did prevail, then one would have to wonder why anyone would look for salvation to a Person Who could not maintain His Church against the gates of Hell. If He could not maintain the Church He founded against the gates of Hell, He won’t be able to do anything for you or me.

    The Yellow Pages under Church are full of churches and sects which believe that Jesus failed to protect the Church He established against the gates of Hell. They are now using Him to justify their varied and antithetical positions vis-a-vis each other. Pentecostal? Non-Pentecostal? Luther? Calvin? Anabaptist? Millenial? Trinitarian? Unitarian? Oneness? The Methodists are a breakaway from the Church of England, which is a breakaway from Rome. I never looked into the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church so I cannot give you any idea of how it came to be. There is a huge and misshapen history behind the names under Church in the Yellow Pages. There is often enough a great desire for God, and even a great deal of love for God, but it is met with a desire to control God by telling Him what He can and cannot do. God has been put in a box and when I was a Protestant, I was the one who designed that box. After a while I discovered that the more lively portion of those I knew in Protestantism had designed a box, sometimes more like mine, and sometimes less. We were all designing boxes for God to inhabit and He better not appear outside that box without permission.

    If I am putting God in a box and requiring Him to stay where He is put, am I God? It would appear that I have placed myself above God by placing demands on Him that I have no authority to require. It is as though He works for me, rather than me depending on Him.

    In any case, when I stopped being the arbiter and judge of truth, upon discovering that the gates of Hell had not prevailed against the Church founded by and upon Christ Jesus, I left where I was and became a Roman Catholic. Thanks be to God for the grace to do exactly that.

    Part of my education involved learning that God was not limited to my perception of both Who He is and what He can do. Thanks be to God for the grace to recognize that.

    It is getting close to four decades since I dove into that water. Like Peter, I recognized the Lord and could not wait for the boat to arrive on shore. I had to swim to get there sooner. Thank you Lord. I have occasionally missed the friendships I once had, but never the supposition that I had to be the arbiter of truth or the person who discerns it, of which in fact I never felt comfortable performing. I was not the replacement for Jesus or for those He assigned the task of revealing Himself and His truth.

    Faith is a gift. Life is a gift. The ability to respond to our Lord is a gift of grace. The ability to respond to our neighbors’ needs is a gift of grace. The new Covenant marked by the Blood of Christ, Who is the new Passover, is a universal gift extended to us by the Messiah Jesus through His Church. It is a visible gift and a visible Passover. It is intended for the salvation of the world by attachment to the Body of which Christ is the Head. Accordingly it is visible and goes back to the Apostles and their successors.

    It is like Israel in that we have seen Its successes and its failures. The failures do not extend to its dogmatic positions, but do extend to its sons and daughters who are in need of this particular Physician to cure their ills.

    When I was becoming Catholic, there were no surprises. Every critic and enemy of the Catholic Church knows the real problems in Its history, and even then they will try to invent more problems that don’t exist.

    Before Jesus departed this planet, He said to Peter, “You follow Me.” When I was a Protestant, I said to Jesus, “You follow me.” When I became a Catholic, Jesus’ words to Peter, “you follow Me,” became His words to me. Here I am Lord.

  86. But if that is where you stop, there will be no certainty, unity, or ability to discern the meaning of scripture. The difference comes in the next sentence of chapter 3:

    ” The living tradition of the whole Church must be taken into account along with the harmony which exists between elements of the faith. It is the task of exegetes to work according to these rules toward a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through preparatory study the judgment of the Church may mature. For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God. ”

    All of our sincerity, ability, prayer, study, humility does not get us where we want to go, even though the church and her interpretation of scripture is said to “mature” through the very activities you lay out and are affirmed in Dei Verbum. In the end, the church through the promises of Christ will discern what is Divine and what is just our opinion.

    Canadian,
    What I’m saying is that you DON’T stop seeking, and you don’t seek just answers but seek God and His kingdom first, with all our hearts. “You will seek me and find Me when you seek Me with all your hearts.”
    Secondly, you said the ‘church through the promises of Christ will discern what is Divine and what is just our opinion.” The church ,scripturally, is not the magisterium, but is the actual and whole Body of Christ which consists only of those who are regenerate, saved by faith in Christ and made new creations. And we discern what is Divine by the way that I have described by the grace or gifts of the Holy Spirit to each believer. If we seek Him with all our hearts and love one another.

  87. A little side note here. May I suggest the following set of articles by well respected Catholic apologist Mark Bonocore… http://catholic-legate.com/Apologetics/ThePapacy/Articles.aspx Scroll down and the title of the article series is the Monarchial Episcopate. He addresses this issue and few others in the articles. Very good stuff.

  88. Quick Update:

    Paul Hoffer is presenting a series on this topic, specifically analyzing Peter Lampe’s conclusions that John Bugay is relying upon. You can find the first entry here.

  89. I also encountered Mr. John Bugay in his “beggars all” blog to which I say his arguments here was beyond any reasonable doubt ….CRUMBLED to the ground. Aside from the thing John was asserting including the idea behind the man-made tradition of “sola scriptura”, all his assertions were weighted and found wanting! Like all contributors of beggars all, they just wanted to be tickled by their own without any form of opposing views, they just delete comments that’s very critical to theirs’. Their own logic and assumptions were mostly taken from their pope in charge Mr. James White (I really doubt his doctorate credentials) are not even supported by written Historical facts, Academic references (Encyclopedia Britannica, Oxford dictionary, World Atlas etc), Patristic Fathers’ writings so what else could they do but either deny, play blind or spin.

    I apologize in advance for my blunt words that most probably I got from the arrogance of Reformed apologists.

  90. Just a quick update on this topic. There appears to be some more recent scholarship than Peter Lampe that examines the same period and concludes something altogether different than Lampe.

    For instance, Bernard Green: Christianity in Ancient Rome in the First Three Centuries – Oxford Press 2010.

    Here is a review.

    “It might be noted that although Green readily acknowledges doctrinal diversity, he is less inclined than some recent scholars to see “fractionated” multiplicity as a defining feature of the city’s Christian social landscape or to postpone the emergence of a fully fledged Roman episcopate until as late as the 230s and 240s…

    The fact that scholarly views of the first centuries of the church differ is no surprise of course. This recent scholarship only drives home that point.

    HT: Raymond

  91. Sean,

    Can you recommend a scholarly book that does the opposite of Lampe’s work and defends the orthodox Catholic doctrine of apostolic succession/the mono-episcopacy? I am currently reading Lampe’s book and would really appreciate seeing a view that supports the traditional Catholic understanding of these issues.

    Thank you,

    Christie

  92. Hi Christie. Besides the work cited in comment # 90, I might suggest that you peruse the suggested reading section here.

    Thanks for dropping in.

    Sean

  93. Shamless Popery has a good discussion related to this topic here.

    Suggested reading for anybody who is interested.

  94. Sean,

    I just came across your post here from Sept 7th 2012. I plan to look into Green. Thanks for the recommendation!

    I did want to point out something very interesting about this particular review of Green that you linked to. Dennis Trout, the reviewer, links to another review offered by Peter van der Horst. First Trout’s comment about Green,

    Less likely to gain easy assent now is Green’s argument in favor of Peter’s presence and martyrdom at Rome, though he will not have known the case to the contrary offered in Otto Zwierlein’s Petrus in Rom

    Green’s book must be evaluated on its own merits, however, Trout seems to imply that Green’s section on Peter’s presence in Rome is problematic. That does not even begin to address the issue of whether or not Peter was the Vicar of Christ or whether he ordained a bishop to succeed him. It is unclear to me whether Green is arguing any such thing from the review (saying that Green puts the development of the episcopate earlier than 240 seems to imply that he does not postulate it from 33 AD).

    To get a taste of what Trout is talking about, here is the review of van der Horst,

    Otto Zwierlein, well-known for his important work on the Roman dramatists, argues in this provocative and well documented study that the apostle Peter never visited Rome, did not undergo martyrdom there, was not buried there, and certainly was not the first bishop of Rome. Although Zwierlein does not say much about what his thesis implies for the historical power claims of the Vatican (but see pp. 334-5), these implications are clear enough: the claims are completely unfounded. Yet this is certainly not a theological ‘Streitschrift,’ it is rather a very sober and thorough philological and historical analysis of all the literary documents from antiquity that are commonly supposed to underpin the Vatican myth.

  95. […] [70] http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/09/modern-scholarship-rome-and-a-challenge/#comment-11165. […]

  96. For the reference of any of those interested I have written an extended review (roughly 20 pages single spaced) of Peter Lampe’s important study on Roman Christianity. The review also contains interaction with Dr. Cross’s analysis of Lampe in Comment #20 by Dr. Cross.

    The review is found at: http://reformation500.com/2014/01/24/extended-review-of-peter-lampes-from-paul-to-valentinus/

    Comments and interaction are certainly welcome. I am also currently writing a more specific article on whether or not the RCC was founded by Jesus which will certainly utilize conclusions drawn from Lampe but will also interact with other scholars, particularly Bernard Green who is mentioned in Comments #90-94.

  97. Brandon, (re: #96)

    Thanks very much for letting me know, and for all the work you did writing this up this 20 page (single-spaced) article. Drawing from Lampe, you’ve provided twelve pieces of evidence you think show that there was no monarchical bishop in Rome during the first two centuries. The problem, as I show below, is that each of these twelve pieces of evidence is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome, and therefore is not evidence that there was no monarchical bishop of Rome.

    (1) Among the Christians in Rome, some were wealthy, but most were poor.

    You write:

    the first and early second century Christians; most were poor but there were some who had resources to assist those in need

    This is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome. As evidence, all one needs to do is look at any Catholic diocese in the world, and one will find some Catholics who are wealthy, and some who are poor, all while being led by a diocesan bishop.

    (2) The Christians of the various city quarters each cared for their own burial sites.

    This too is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome. The principle of subsidiarity is a long-standing Catholic principle.

    (3) Some Christians were not buried at the Vatican.

    This too is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome. Catholic bishops do not require that all Catholics in a diocese are buried in the same cemetery.

    (3) There was a growth in Church ownership of property.

    You write,

    the opinions and socially upward movement of Christians led to the ownership of church property in the middle of the third century (as we will see later, this is one of the social developments that led to the development of centralized church government and the development of the monepiscopate).

    Here you presuppose that the allowance of ownership of church property entails “centralization of church government,” as if so long as there were no designated church buildings in Rome, there could be no central church government in Rome. And that’s a non sequitur. The growth of ownership of Church property is fully compatible with there having been a monarchical bishop even prior to Church ownership of land or buildings.

    (4) There were house churches in Rome.

    You write,

    These churches were not completely independent, yet, they worshipped separately from one another. There was no centralization in Rome and there would have been minimal reason to have the centralization of such power.

    Here you implicitly assume that if there were distinct house churches in Rome, then there couldn’t have been a central ecclesial authority in Rome. Again, that conclusion does not follow, for the same reason that from the plurality of parishes in any present city, it does not follow that there is no monarchical bishop over the Church in that city.

    (5) There were Christians in Rome who followed the Quartodeciman tradition.

    Quoting Lampe, you write:

    Some Roman circles of Christians are aligned according to their country of origin [such as] the Quartodecimans, who continued to foster in Rome their Asia Minor fasting and Easter practices Quartodecimans were more attached to their native bishops in Asia Minor than to Bishop Victor in Rome.

    There being Christians in Rome who had come from Asia Minor and continued to follow the Quartodeciman tradition is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome. This Quartodeciman practice would be evidence against the existence of a monarchical bishop in Rome only if one presupposes that a bishop would not allow visiting Christians to maintain their native custom. But even to do this day the Church of Rome allows non-Latin Rite Catholics to maintain their traditions in Rome.

    (6) The Church of Rome contained different ethnicities.

    You write,

    Rome were not only fractionated by socio-economic factors but also by ethnic factors.

    This too is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome. For evidence, simply look at any Catholic diocese in the US, and one will find different ethnicities, and yet under one bishop.

    (7) Some heretics freely left the Church, without having been disciplined.

    You write:

    Excommunication was not regularly practiced in Rome. As a matter of fact, with the exception of Marcion, “heretics” left the church of their own volition and not under discipline.

    Even to this day heretics freely leave the Church while there is a monarchical bishop. Hence heretics freely leaving the Church does not show there was no bishop, because it is fully compatible with there being a bishop. This evidence too is therefore fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome.

    (8) The Christians in Rome held different eschatological views.

    You write:

    Lampe also mentions that there were a large number of Christians who were aware of multiple interpretations of varying theological positions. Justin, himself a premillennialist, concedes that others in the orthodox community held to divergent views of the eschaton.

    This would only count as evidence against a monarchical bishop if one assumes that bishops wouldn’t allow divergent eschatological views. And that’s a question-begging assumption. Bishops often (even typically) allow divergent views on unsettled matters, unless or until this causes problems or divisive disputes. And at this point in time (prior to St. Augustine), the eschatological questions had not yet been settled. Hence, once again, this too is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome.

    (9) Hermas refers to Clement, and to the presbyters who quarrel over status, but does not mention a monarchical bishop.

    This is an argument from silence, which is a fallacy when there is no objective standard by which to know the likelihood of non-silence given the truth of the hypothesis [e.g. that there was a monarchical bishop]. There being presbyters in the Church at Rome is fully compatible with there also being a monarchical bishop (i.e. St. Clement). To this day there are many presbyters (i.e. priests) in the Church at Rome, while at the same time there is a monarchical bishop of Rome.

    (10) In his letter to Rome St. Ignatius does not mention the bishop of Rome.

    You write:

    Interestingly, Ignatius, addresses bishops in 6 of 7 cities he writes letter to in his pilgrimage, but to the leaders in Rome Ignatius addresses these leader in the plural.

    Again, this is an argument from silence. It presupposes the impossibility that he could be protecting the identity of the bishop, or have some other justifying reason for not identifying the bishop of Rome in his letter. He himself states that there cannot be a Church without a bishop, deacons, and presbyters. (See his Epistle to the Trallians, 3, which I’ve discussed here.) So this evidence too is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome.

    (11) The accounts of the dispute with Marcion mention that he faced the “presbyters and teachers” in Rome, but do not mention a monarchical bishop.

    You write:

    Every account of the dispute with Marcion mentions that Marcion faced the “presbyterys and teachers” in Rome, not a monarchical bishop.

    This too is an argument from silence, and thus is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome. The authors who describe this dispute, however, wrote that there was a succession of bishops in Rome from St. Peter. Tertullian wrote of Marcion in his work “Against Marcion,” but wrote of the succession of bishops in Rome from St. Peter in his “Prescription against Heretics,” 32. St. Irenaeus wrote about Marcion in Against Heresies, I.27, but also of the succession of bishops from Rome in Against Heresies III.3.3. So it is disingenuous to use their not mentioning a bishop of Rome in their focused account of Marcion when in fact they do state elsewhere that there was a bishop of Rome during the time of Marcion.

    (12) Clement in his letter mentions leadership in the plural at the city in Rome.

    Since St. Clement believed that his presbyters were part of the leadership of the Church at Rome, it is reasonable for him to describe the leadership in the plural. So again, this fact is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome.

    After describing these twelve pieces of evidence, you then respond to three things I wrote in comment #20 above about Lampe’s argument. I had written, “First Lampe presumes that if St. Irenaeus intends to use the list of bishops to anchor present doctrine, then the list must be a fictive construct.”

    You replied:

    There is no citation for this claim. Perhaps what Dr. Cross is thinking is the preliminary remarks that Lampe makes at the bottom of page 404 where Lampe discusses the intent of the list. At no point does Lampe make a connection between the reliability of Irenaeus’s list with his purpose in writing it. This is a misrepresentation and misunderstanding of Lampe’s argument.

    Lampe does in fact make this connection, as you yourself noted four paragraph earlier, when, quoting Lampe, you wrote, “In other words, it by no means concerned him to prove a succession of monarchical bishops from the apostles until the presents…he pictured in his mind the bearers of correct belief.” (Lampe, 404) Lampe is attempting to discredit the historical reliability of St. Irenaeus’s list by claiming that St. Irenaeus wasn’t concerned to prove a succession of monarchical bishops from the apostles to the present, but was only concerned about showing that the present Church had maintained the correct belief of the Apostles. But that presumes a false dilemma, i.e. that if St. Irenaeus was concerned about showing that the present Church possessed correct doctrine, then he wasn’t intending to provide a truthful account of the historical succession of bishops from St. Peter, and was willing to falsify the history of the Church of Rome (with creative historical reconstruction) in order to defend his claim that the present Church possessed correct doctrine. And that presumption is what is doing Lampe’s argumentative work, not the evidence itself.

    Lampe does the same thing on that page with St. Hegesippus’s list, when he writes:

    Hegesippus’s interest lay in the pure doctrine (4.22.2) as it allegedly was passed down uninterruptedly from the apostles until the present. During his trip, Hegesippus tried to convince himself that this passing down had indeed occurred in the different cities of the world. Also in Rome he investigated to his satisfaction that it had been so. In other words, it by no means concerned him to prove a succession of monarchical bishops from the apostles until the present. What he pictured in his mind were chains of bearers of correct belief, and he was of the opinion that he could recognize such a chain also in Rome. More than this is not in the text. (Lampe, 404)

    Lampe here presupposes a false dichotomy by which if St. Hegessipus is concerned about pure doctrine, then he cannot be intent on providing the actual historical succession of bishops in Rome. Lampe’s dismissal of the historical reliability of St. Hegesippus’s list depends on that false dichotomy, and thus Lampe’s false presupposition, not the historical evidence itself, is actually doing the evidential work.

    Then I had written in comment #20 above, “Second, Lampe reasons from St. Irenaeus’ list being a fuller list of names to the conclusion that it must be a “fictive construction.” That too is a non sequitur, because it ignores the possibility that St. Irenaeus provided a fuller, more complete list of bishops.”

    In reply you wrote:

    Lampe does not rule out this possibility, but based on other evidence (both internal to Irenaeus–see above—and external evidence of fractionation) Lampe does not believe this is a probable position and is attempting to provide a broader understanding of the data.

    The problem with your claim is that all the other “evidence” is fully compatible with St. Irenaeus providing a truthful fuller list of names, and therefore in no way lowers the probability that St. Irenaeus is telling the truth regarding the historical succession of bishops in Rome. If you disagree, please feel free to refer to any additional evidence beyond the twelve pieces of evidence you raised in your article.

    Next, I had written, “Third, Lampe reasons from there being twelve names on the list, and the sixth bishop being named Sixtus, to the conclusion that the list is a “fictive construction.” That too is a non sequitur. Why not simply believe that there had actually been twelve bishops in succession from St. Peter, at the time of St. Irenaeus?… Instead of seeing ‘Sixtus’ as evidence that there was a succession from St. Peter, he treats ‘Sixtus’ as evidence that St. Irenaus is making things up. That kind of loaded method is worthless; you get out of it precisely just what you bring to it.”

    To that you responded:

    Such responses demonstrates an unfamiliarity with Lampe’s argument in Chapter 41 as well as his broader argument concerning fractionation.

    This is just an ad hominem, so I won’t address it. Next you say:

    There are no citations of Lampe and I am unable to find anything in Chapter 41 that argues anything resembling what Dr. Cross is saying.

    It is in the very section you quoted, where you wrote:

    To clarify, Lampe views that the name “Sixtus” in the sixth slot, in conjunction with his grammatical notations with the names being in the present and commentary being in the imperfect, to show that the number 12 appears to be essential to the creation of the list. Dr. Cross has missed a significant amount of the nuance in Lampe’s presentation.

    I haven’t missed any of the “nuance” of Lampe’s presentation. Here’s what Lampe actually says:

    What is the result? At the time that Rome experiences the development of a monarchical episcopacy, a twelve-member list of names going back to the apostles is constructed. Analogously to the present situation of Eleutherus one now also presumes about the past single prominent bearers of tradition, passing on the tradition one by one. The presence of a monarchical bearer of tradition is projected back into the past. This model of history abstracts from the actual course of history; one would have had to present a “bundle” of chains before the middle of the second century in order correctly to portray the historical plurality of presbyters as Roman bearers of tradition. But this type of unpopular complex representation was badly suited for a handy model of history by which the integrity of Eleutherus’s doctrine was suppsed to be proved. Result: The list of Irenaeus (Haer. 3.3.3) is with highest probability a historical construction from the 180s, when the monarchical episcopacy developed in Rome. Above all, the framework of “apostolic” twelve members (from Linus to Eleutherus) points in the direction of a fictive construction. The names that were woven into the construction were certainly not freely invented but were borrowed from the tradition of the city of Rome (for example, “Clement” or the brother of Hermas, “Pius”). They had belonged to presbyters of Roman church history. These persons, however, would never have understood themselves as monarchical leaders — especially Pius at the time of Hermas. (Lampe, 405-6.)

    Lampe is here assuming that the number 12 was a priori essential to the creation of the list, and Lampe is using that assumption as a support for his conclusion that the list is a fictive construction designed by St. Irenaeus (or St. Hegesippus) to fall into a pattern of twelve, rather than intended to be an historically accurate account of the actual episcopal succession in Rome from St. Peter to the time of St. Irenaeus. Hence Lampe’s assumption is doing the evidential work, not the historical evidence itself. And his assumption is question-begging; it presupposes that it couldn’t have been the case that historically there had actually been twelve successive bishops leading the Church at Rome from the time of St. Peter and that St. Irenaeus wrote his list in a way that highlighted that number while remaining entirely truthful and reliable as an historical witness regarding the succession of bishops in Rome. Here again Lampe’s assumption of that false dichotomy is doing the argumentative work in the same way that higher critics use St. Luke’s account of Jesus prophesying the fall of Jerusalem in order to date St. Luke’s gospel after AD 70, presupposing that there is no supernatural, and thus that his gospel couldn’t have been written prior to AD 70. But such a presupposition presupposes the impossibility of divine prophecy. If God exists, and supernatural prophecy is possible, then the prediction of the fall of Jerusalem could have been made prior to AD 70. Likewise, if there really had been twelve bishops of Rome up to Eleutherus, then when approaching St. Irenaeus’s list there is no need to choose between his having a commitment to pure doctrine, and his having a commitment to historical accuracy. Most of us would take offense if others approached our writings in that way, and yet Lampe does not follow the Golden Rule here when approaching the writings of Sts. Hegesippus and Irenaeus. Lampe’s presupposition that there were not twelve bishops in Rome is what underlies his “pure doctrine” vs. historical accuracy false dichotomy, and thus leads him to conclude that St. Irenaeus’s list is a fictive construction. But that, again, is simply drawing a target around one’s embedded arrow, not an objective pursuit of truth.

    You continue:

    Dr. Cross demonstrates his ignorance of Lampe’s book throughout this entire comment

    That’s another ad hominem, which I will again pass over.

    You then wrote:

    Lampe has presented a defensible understanding of Irenaeus even apart from the other contributing factors that we should use to assess Irenaeus (fractionation of Roman Christianity).

    Just as guilty defendants are defensible (otherwise there would be no such thing as defense lawyers), so even false positions are defensible. Therefore, the fact that a position is “defensible” is irrelevant. Nor does it refute anything I said. A criterion like “defensible” is unhelpful precisely because even false position are “defensible.”

    Next you wrote:

    Yet, Dr. Cross does not interact with any of the arguments that Lampe sets forth.

    My not doing x is fully compatible with what I said being true. Nor does my not doing x refute what I said. But now that I have addressed the twelve pieces of evidence you drew from Lampe, and have shown how each is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome, it should be clear why everything I said in comment #20 concerning Lampe’s argument was true and justified.

    Then you wrote:

    Yet, perhaps most startling is Dr. Cross’s assertion that Lampe does not provide a “single piece of historical evidence” to believe that there was no Roman bishop in the first two centuries. By way of recap I hope to show why such a claim demonstrates ignorance of Dr. Lampe’s book.

    For sure Lampe provides lots of evidence which he believes shows that there was no Roman bishop in the first two centuries. But as I have just shown above, all of that evidence (or more accurately, all the evidence that you thought was his best evidence, and thus worthy to include in your paper) is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome in the first two centuries.

    You continued:

    Dr. Cross claims that presbyterial governance does not necessarily preclude a monarchical episcopate. Theoretically, in the world of ideas, that is true. When weighed by the inductive historical investigation of the relevant data, however, the possibility that a monarchical episcopate existed is exceedingly low.

    I don’t know what it means for a possibility to be low. If by ‘possibility’ you mean “probability,” then you would need to show how you have calculated that probability to be less than 50%. That would be difficult, because all the evidence you have cited is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome during that time. And the evidence showing that there was a monarchical bishop during this time (e.g. the testimonies of Sts. Hegesippus and Irenaeus) is entirely incompatible with that thesis.

    You then wrote:

    To state it another way, Lampe’s conclusions about the monepiscopate are firmly grounded in his analysis of the fractionated nature of Roman Christianity.

    The problem with that claim, again, is that the ‘fractionation’ he describes is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop of Rome during this time period, for reasons I’ve explained above. So his conclusions are not firmly grounded at all, because his premises are fully compatible with the falsehood of his conclusion.

    You continued:

    Lampe provides persuasive falsifiable reconstructions whereas the argument for a monarchical episcopate in Rome in the first and second century possesses no explicit evidence and weak implicit evidence.

    By using a subjective criterion (i.e. “persuasive”), you shift the inquiry away from objective criteria, and instead toward using as a criterion whatever happens to persuade you. And that’s not truth-seeking, but is instead the epistemic equivalent of painting a target around one’s embedded arrow.

    Finally you write:

    House churches in Rome worshipped separately based on economic, social, and ethnic backgrounds, while meeting in small meetings because of persecution forcing Christians to worship in secret and the general inability of Christians to pay for large dwellings. When all of the data is considered and compared to other pieces of information (just as Lampe indicates in his introduction), then we are able to conclude that there was no monarchical bishop in the first or second century in Rome.

    The point in question is not whether a person can evaluate all the data and come to the conclusion that there was no monarchical bishop in the first or second century in Rome. Persons can evaluate all the first century data and come to the conclusion that Jesus never existed. People can examine all the historical data from the 1960s and 1970s and come to the conclusion that we never put men on the Moon, that it was all a hoax. (There are such people who have made this claim, and cannot be persuaded otherwise by any data you show them; try googling “Moon Landing Truthers.”) It is always possible for people to evaluate the data and come to false conclusions. Humans are fallible. Moon Landing Truthers can say just what you say, swapping the relevant nouns: “When all of the data is considered and compared to other pieces of information …, then we are able to conclude that there was no Moon landing.” So setting the standard at a unanimous consensus regarding the meaning of the historical data is setting the epistemic bar too high. The problem for your claim is, as I’ve explained above, that all the data Lampe points to is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome during the first two centuries. And the fact that people can come to Lampe’s conclusion is, like the fact that people can come to the position of the Moon Landing Truthers, not evidence that the data support’s Lampe’s conclusion.

    One other point worth noting. You draw from St. Optatus to show that there were 40 churches in Rome. But if one draws from St. Optatus as an historical source, then one cannot dismiss what he says about schism and the role of the bishop of Rome as the essential principle of unity for the Church. You also draw from Eusebius to cite the number of presbyters in Rome. Not only is it ad hoc to pick and choose from within the writings of a particular source (e.g. St. Optatus), it is also ad hoc to accept [one thing in] St. Optatus and Eusebius, while dismissing the testimony of Sts. Hegesippus and Irenaus as a fictive construction. To construe the latter two persons as making up “fictive constructions,” while assuming the former two persons to be reliable, is ad hoc special pleading, i.e. making use of the Fathers when they support your position, and accusing them of error when what they say (i.e. that there was an unbroken succession of bishops extending down from St. Peter) doesn’t fit your paradigm. You do this same thing as well in your appeal to Tertullian and St. Irenaeus regarding Marcion facing “presbyterys and teachers” in Rome, while dismissing what Tertullian and St. Irenaeus say about apostolic succession in Rome. When Lampe does this, he is not doing history; he is doing creative historical fiction woven onto and between historical facts, and driven by a particular theological position, but presented as straightforward historical analysis. As speculative historical fiction, Lampe’s account is not far removed from Kipling’s “Just So Stories,” such as how the elephant got his trunk; in this case it is Lampe’s “just so” story, “How Rome got her Pope.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  98. Bryan,

    Thanks for the response. I’ll try to have a more thorough response at the beginning of next week but before proceeding I would like to ask you what I asked Andrew Preslar at the Reformation 500 blog: What would falsify your belief that Jesus founded the RCC? Is it even possible for there to be evidence that falsified your belief that Jesus did not found the RCC?

    It appears to me that no piece of historical evidence would be able to falsify your belief and that makes me think it’s fideism. I just want to try to understand you better because I know you do not want to be a fideist. In other words, that is not a charge of fideism, but a question of how your methodology avoids fideism.

  99. It has been awhile since I thought about Dr. Lampe and his book. Thinking about some of the things that have been posted recently and the issue of the presence of presbyters, wouldn’t the fact that there were a large number of presbyters in Rome early on tend to show the existence of at least one bishop in Rome. After all, who was ordaining them? Furthermore, given what the office of bishop originally entailed, being the surety of the trustworthiness of the apostolic deposit and of the Gospel message, it must be pointed out that Lampe assumes that the office of bishop had not developed between the 60′s AD and the time he thinks a monarchical bishop first appeared on the scene, a hundred years later. He needs to show that there was no one who held the office of bishop as portrayed in Paul’s Letters to Titus and Timothy until the middle of the second century as opposed to one that assumed some measure of the temporal authority that is included in his definition of a monarchical bishop.

    God bless!

  100. Brandon, (re: #98)

    It is better to avoid assuming that my position is fideistic (i.e. “makes me think it is fideistic”) until after you have good reason to believe that it is so. Otherwise, I’m not the one leaping to conclusions. :-) So first note that nothing I’ve said in comment #97 entails fideism. In my “Wilson vs. Hitchens” post I’ve explained why the Catholic Church condemns fideism, and in the comments under that post I’ve discussed the role the motives of credibility have in relation to faith, such that fideism is rightly avoided. For a fuller presentation of the idea of the motives of credibility see “Lawrence Feingold: The Motives of Credibility for Faith.”

    Regarding your question, “Is it even possible for there to be evidence that falsified your belief that Jesus did not found the RCC?,” my answer is yes in the second sense of the term ‘falsifiable.’ For the distinction between the two senses of the term, see our “Faith and Reason” podcast (the discussion of falsifiability begins in the fourth minute, I think).

    Regarding, your other question, “What would falsify your belief that Jesus founded the RCC?” let me back up a bit, before answering your question, to figure out how much common ground we have. Do you agree that the persons at the Council of Nicea in AD 325 were the leaders (or their representatives, in some cases) of the one Church Christ founded, or do you think this council was not a council of the leaders of the one Church Christ founded? If you believe that the Council of Nicea was an ecumenical council of the leaders of the Church Christ founded, then my answer to your falsification question will probably move to the second millennium (assuming you agree that the seventh ecumenical council was also a council of the leaders of the Church Christ founded). But if you believe that the Council of Nicea was not composed of the leaders of the Church Christ founded, then my answer to your falsification question will move to the first three hundred years after Christ.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  101. Hi Brandon,

    I don’t want to get too much in the way of your interaction with Bryan, since I suspect there will be an extended engagement between you two over your different takes on Lampe. That said, I did want to briefly highlight something Bryan wrote in #87,

    When Lampe does this, he is not doing history; he is doing creative historical fiction woven onto and between historical facts, and driven by a particular theological position, but presented as straightforward historical analysis. As speculative historical fiction, Lampe’s account is not far removed from Kipling’s “Just So Stories,” such as how the elephant got his trunk; in this case it is Lampe’s “just so” story, “How Rome got her Pope.”

    I agree with Bryan’s analysis of the 12 points you discuss from Lampe’s book. – in sum, that none of the historical evidence he discusses is incompatible with a monarchical bishop in Rome in the first century, and to propose that any of the data points suggests otherwise relies on unnecessary presumptions about what we should or shouldn’t be looking for if there was indeed such an ecclesial office. The conclusions Lampe draws from the historical data reminds me of the book Quo Vadis, written by Henryk Sienkiewicz in the 1890s; the work contributed to Sienkiewicz winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1905. Sienkiewicz conducted an impressive amount of historical research for his book in order to paint a remarkable picture of both Rome and the early Church at the time of Nero. For the purposes of our discussion, what is interesting is that his book recognizes several of the historical realities in Rome you discuss: (1) house churches, (2) varying Christian traditions/customs operating in the city, (3) heretics not being disciplined, and (4) differing eschatological opinions among Christians, to name a few. Yet in Quo Vadis, both Peter and Paul make appearances, and Peter is recognized by many of the story’s characters as the bishop of Rome. Linus and Cletus are also featured in the story as Peter’s successors in office. Of course, Sienkiewicz’ story is historical fiction. But he uses much of the same data as Lampe, and he conjures up an entirely different story – part of which could also be called “A Catholic Speculation as to How Rome Got Her Pope.” What unites Lampe and Sienkiewicz, I think, is that both employ speculative historical fiction for their ideological purposes – Lampe, to prove the disconnect between the early Church and a supposed later, disconnected development into the papacy; Sienkiewicz, a Polish Catholic, to conjecture as to the papacy’s origins with the Apostle Peter. I suppose what I’m saying is that if we bring certain presumptions to the historical data (either Protestant or Catholic), we may try to present it in such a way as to make it conform to our own ideological convictions, but that won’t necessarily get us closer to what the historical data can and cannot tell us. God bless, Casey

  102. Well said Casey. Its not as if, in order for apostolic succession/Roman primacy to be true, the first decades of the Roman Church have to have included white smoke and a Pope-mobile.

    And, nothing in Lampe answers the original question of this thread – what historical evidence of a lack of a monarchial bishop is better than St. Irenaeus’ list? Still waiting….

  103. In response to my comment #97 above, John Bugay has written:

    No one of the “twelve pieces of evidence” is offered as “evidence there was no monarchical bishop in Rome”. Rather, it is the aggregation of these (and other) points that again, are not intended to show “it is incompatible” (in the sense that you use this word) with the notion that “with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome, and therefore is not evidence that there was no monarchical bishop of Rome.

    Lampe’s work is in fact an extended argument – each item analyzes in detail one piece of the puzzle that, in aggregate, is not an attempt to prove there was no monarchical bishop in Rome, but instead was to create a positive picture of what the church at Rome was actually like. It is that overall picture itself which itself is “incompatible with there being a monarchical picture in Rome”.

    John is claiming that it is not the twelve pieces of evidence considered individually that are incompatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome, but rather the twelve pieces of evidence (and the other historical facts Lampe presents) taken in aggregate that are “incompatible with there being a monarchical picture in Rome.” Here’s the problem with John’s claim. All the historical evidence Lampe cites in his book, even when taken together in aggregate, is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome. Twelve times zero is still zero; it isn’t greater than one times zero. Because each of the pieces of evidence Lampe cites (not just the twelve Brandon picked out as the strongest pieces of evidence, but the other things Lampe discusses in his book) is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome, putting them all together does not provide any increase in the likelihood of the truth of Lampe’s conclusion, over the likelihood of its falsity. However, because we do have positive historical evidence for there being a monarchical bishop in Rome from, for example, the testimonies of Sts. Hegesippus and Irenaeus, therefore, given all the available evidence, Lampe’s conclusion does not fit with the aggregate of the evidence. As I explained in comment #97, Lampe has to use question-begging presuppositions to eliminate evidence that doesn’t fit his thesis (e.g. the testimonies of Sts. Hegesippus and Irenaeus).

  104. Bryan,

    I appreciate the time that it took for you to write this response. Hopefully we can grow in mutual understanding from it.

    One of my biggest concerns, however, is that you have misunderstood the nature of the evidence Lampe presents. Lampe is using the historical method and building one piece of evidence on another to prove first fractionation, which then points to the very high unlikelihood of an episcopate.

    1 & 2 are generally accurate assessments of things Lampe says (though they are an introduction to the argument and not an argument in themselves as you imply). Number 3is not something that Lampe or I cite as evidence. Rather, the Lampe points out that the rich did not help the poor at the Vatican burial site which confirms the evidence that Peter was not buried at the Vatican and that the fractionation impacted the relationship between the rich and the poor.

    Number 4 [they were misnumbered—I make mistakes like this all the time!—so I’ll continue to count down from the number of points and not the numbers you’ve listed] is also not accurately represented. The thrust of Lampe’s point about church property is to demonstrate that meeting in one location would have been impossible (aside from the fact the Justin tells us that everyone did not meet together). Legal changes in Rome and social changes in Roman Christianity explain the development of centralization in Roman Christianity. It is not used specifically as an argument against a monarchical bishop. It simply is a further piece of evidence that shows centralization would have been very difficult and unlikely to achieve.

    Number5 is to reinforce number 4. Different church communities worshipped in different houses. When combined with what we know about their social conditions, many of the meeting places would have been small, limiting the number of people that would have been in them. Add to this that Christianity was illegal and it is not as if you can have a big meeting of Christians at a small house without asking for persecution. Earliest Christians held worship services in house churches.

    Numbers 6&7 are mutually enforcing. The churches were clearly worshipping in different manners and on different calendars in the city of Rome. When someone tried to bring uniformity to that, people bristled. Lampe even points out that Irenaeus chastises Victor for attempting to exert his power when the churches always operated in this fashion. You do not mention that Lampe has already shown how Christianity came into Rome via the trade routes, had a very high immigrant population, and that these immigrant populations held different theological positions. All of this is further evidence of fractionation of Roman Christianity. It wasn’t that they didn’t conceive of unity, it is that they weren’t rubbing elbows with one another on a regular basis because of the complicating social realities. There is more available in more article to expand on this and much more available in Lampe.

    Point 8 is simply to show that heretical groups were not excommunicated but left the orthodox of their own volition. This is simply a very small piece of evidence to show that there was no judicial authority requiring churches to cease fellowship with another body. The other bodies did it themselves. The earliest example is Marcion, who was excommunicated by the presbyters.

    Number 9 is again a very small portion of Lampe’s overall argument. He is simply stating that we know there were different theological opinions that not every person possessed. To single this out as one of the important pieces of data is rather odd because this is a subpoint of a subpoint. In the context of my review, I show that Lampe is arguing that there was vast tolerance of varying theological positions. One of the things that he points to is that excommunication was not regularly practiced in Rome. He cites the example of Marcion above, and he mentions in passing the example of Justin. This is not a significant point of Lampe’s argument and to identify it as such is a mistake.

    Numbers 10-13 are all about the extant literary data. To the fact that there is no mention of a bishop, you claim that this *could be* consistent with there be a monarchical episcopate. I’ve conceded in the article that it *could be* but you are basing such an argument on trust of later sources. Furthermore, you claim that an argument from silence is fallacious, but this is not the case. I’ll quote John Bugay’s use of Gilbert Garraghan on this,

    Gilbert Garraghan (A Guide to Historical Method, 1946, p. 149), notes that there if two conditions are met, an “argument from silence” is a valid argument. Those two conditions are: “the writer[s] whose silence is invoked would certainly have known about it; [and] knowing it, he would under the circumstances certainly have made mention of it. When these two conditions are fulfilled, the argument from silence proves its point with moral certainty.”

    The debate on whether or not this applies would center on whether or not these people would “certainly” mention the principle of unity for the entire church. I think a very persuasive case could be made that if such an office existed, someone would have mentioned it before Irenaeus.

    You are correct though about Irenaeus mentioning the bishop list (though it is not when he is reporting on the trial of Marcion), but the use of the word “every” was my word, not Lampe’s. I should have been clearer.

    I was surprised that your response did not deal with one of the more intriguing pieces of evidence for fractionation and the lack of a monarchical episcopate: the fractionation of Roman Jewry. This argument is much more significant than a number of the ones that you have mentioned and I’m not sure if the mistake is in my presentation or not. Regardless, omitting such a vital piece of evidence shows that your artificial 12 pieces of evidence are not a proper paradigm through which to read my review. Not including this among the important pieces of evidence while including tangential sub-points of sub-points explains why you have also misunderstood Lampe’s writing on Irenaeus.

    First, you cite my description of Lampe’s position on Hegesippus as being from Irenaeus. The use of diadoxen by Hegesippus is in fact regarding the transmission of doctrine (Even Johannes Quasten acknowledges this). It seems this confusion contributes to your misunderstanding of Lampe’s argument. For clarity, note that Lampe’s discussion of Irenaeus does not start until the bottom of 404.

    As you continue to interact with Lampe, it is fascinating that you skip is argument, go to his conclusion, and then conclude that in his conclusion he has assumed things a priori. It appears as if you have not read Lampe or my review of Lampe from the response correctly.

    The difference in the present and imperfect is presented as evidence that Irenaeus is working from a preexistent list. He then suggests that the number 12 plays an important role in the composition of that list (Apostolic # of 12, not starting with Peter as the first bishop which would throw off the numbering, mention of the place of the twelve, “Sixtus” being the name of the sixth person in the list). This means that it couldn’t have been constructed before the last member of the list was in office. That provides insight into the dating of the list and its origination.

    You have indeed missed the nuance here *or* you have ignored Lampe’s argument. It is for this very reason I’m demonstrating that you have not read Lampe well. That’s not an attempted ad hominem but a statement regarding your interaction with Lampe. What you wrote in comment #20 does not remain true and justified; it leaves Lampe’s argument unscathed.

    Finally, you claim that Lampe’s use of Optatus to show there were 40 churches in Rome and not affirm what he says about schism is selective. You make the same claim about Eusebius. This is, of course, a deeply flawed historical methodology. There are some things in historical sources which are more reliable than others. I think John has summarized what my response would be but I would like to note that you site minor pieces of Lampe’s construction as being inconsistent (the number of churches & presbyters in Rome in the 3rd century) to invalidate his methodology. Showing one part of the argument—an insignificant one at that—unevenly deals with the evidence does not falsify his entire argument.

    More importantly, however, Optatus and Eusebius are writing about contemporary events in the third century, things about which their reliability is bound to be more accurate. The numbers could be wrong, but they make sense of everything else we know and are therefore utilized. It is important to keep Lampe’s broader argument at work as well, which casts serious doubt on third century characterizations of the Roman episcopate. To claim, “When Lampe does this, he is not doing history; he is doing creative historical fiction woven onto and between historical facts, and driven by a particular theological position, but presented as straightforward historical analysis,” is to strongly overstate your case. Such overstatement is continued when you go on to claim that Lampe’s work is “speculative historical fiction.” Nothing that you’ve mentioned is speculative about Lampe’s work. Perhaps you have other examples in mind, but the ones you have offered are not speculative—they are falsifiable and testable. Unfortunately, nothing that I’ve seen you present for the Papacy is falsifiable or testable–it is only something that could exist in the silence of the evidence of collegial leadership.

  105. Casey,

    You said,

    I agree with Bryan’s analysis of the 12 points you discuss from Lampe’s book. – in sum, that none of the historical evidence he discusses is incompatible with a monarchical bishop in Rome in the first century, and to propose that any of the data points suggests otherwise relies on unnecessary presumptions about what we should or shouldn’t be looking for if there was indeed such an ecclesial office.

    As I’ve just responded to Bryan, he has not properly identified my argument or Lampe’s. You can refer to my response article to see where Bryan misunderstands both Lampe and myself. Hopefully you will do the reading for yourself because at this time Bryan’s response is not representative of myself or Lampe.

    Sean,

    Have you read my review or have you read Peter Lampe or any other modern scholarship? Can you cite a bibliographic reference of any historian arguing that Peter was a Roman bishop? Have you read Bernard Green? I’ve just completed reading Bernard Green (whom I plan on citing in a forthcoming article)–he doesn’t make the claim that Jesus founded the RCC. In fact, he cites Eric G. Jay who argues that episcopacy was a later development, for readers to explore the issue further.

    I don’t have the time to engage you in the methodological backward way you are approaching this question, but I will admit that I cannot meet the criteria that you suggest the Protestant meet. The reason that I cannot meet this condition is because what you are asking for is impossible and unreasonable. It would be akin to me asking you to prove to that George Washington actually didn’t cut down a cherry tree and admitting that he could not tell a lie to his father. Historians all acknowledge this didn’t happen and is apocryphal, but none of them could met the criteria you’ve introduced because it’s unreasonable. Hopefully more on this in the near future though.

  106. Brandon.

    I’ve read Bernard Green’s “Christianity in Ancient Rome.” While its not a slam dunk apologetic for the papacy, it does undermine and come to very different conclusions than Peter Lampe. My copy is loaned out but Google has a preview and I found some of the major differences.

    For instance on ‘Leadership’ (Page 92) he writes, “Many people think of the Roman Christians as a loose federation of independent groups which gradually came together in the late 2nd century to form a united church under one leader; in other words, a bishop emerged in Rome at a fairly late stage to hold those separate communities together[...]by contrast the letter from the Roman Church to the Corinthian Church called 1 Clement is clear evidence that the Roman Christians though of themselves as one church in the closing years of the first or early years of the 2nd century[...]there is no strong reason to think of the Roman church as a federation of independent groups.”

    He goes on to talk about Hegesippus’ and Irenaeus’ list and says that the use of the ‘lists’ as an anti-Gnostic argument would have been ‘embarrassingly easy’ to ‘explode’ had the “lists not been based on a common opinion that there was a recognized tradition of leadership going back a long way.”

    On page 98 he calls the reconstruction that Roman Christians belonged to autonomous communities ‘less plausible.’ He cites events in the 250s where presbyters governed the Church after Fabian died ‘until…a new bishop could be elected.’ He says, “If the position of the Bishop of Rome was such a recent invention, events in Rome would have been very different.”

    Green cites Lampe in these passages so he is aware of Lampe’s work.

    Green also puts Peter in Rome, something often denied by those denying Roman apostolic succession from Peter.

    As to the question being unreasonable? I disagree. The claim being made, so loudly, by John Bugay and others is that there is ‘overwhelming evidence’ that there was no bishop in Rome in the first centuries. Ok, then. I think its pretty fair to ask for that evidence don’t you?

    We do have evidence from very early that there was a bishop. The first bishop was Peter. Then came Linus etc etc. That is extant historical evidence that confirms that there was always a bishop and that there was a succession. The evidence is Irenaeus and Hegesippus’ list. Bernard Green says that had they been making it up, it would have been easy to ‘explode’ by the Gnostics. It was not ‘exploded’ by the Gnostics. It therefore, reflected the thinking of the church.

    Its like Frank Beckwith said in the 2nd or 3rd comment of this conversation, “…to whom are you going to file your grievance in order to remedy this great historical wrong, a wrong that extended over the entirety of Christendom from (if you’re right) the 3rd century until the 16th? Both East and West apparently fell into precisely the same error, assimilating into its ecclessial DNA an understanding of itself that came into being out of whole cloth one afternoon in the 3rd century. And to make matters worse, no one really noticed…”

  107. Brandon, (re: #103)

    One of my biggest concerns, however, is that you have misunderstood the nature of the evidence Lampe presents.

    Thank you for your concern. But here’s a suggestion for mutually respectful dialogue; instead of making me the object of your criticism, let’s keep the focus on the positions, evidence and argumentation.

    Lampe is using the historical method and building one piece of evidence on another to prove first fractionation, which then points to the very high unlikelihood of an episcopate.

    I agree that this is what he is trying to do. But as I explained in #97, the sort of ‘fractionation’ he lays out is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop, and thus does not show any unlikelihood of a monarchical bishop.

    Legal changes in Rome and social changes in Roman Christianity explain the development of centralization in Roman Christianity. It is not used specifically as an argument against a monarchical bishop. It simply is a further piece of evidence that shows centralization would have been very difficult and unlikely to achieve.

    Except that it is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop.

    Number5 is to reinforce number 4. Different church communities worshipped in different houses. When combined with what we know about their social conditions, many of the meeting places would have been small, limiting the number of people that would have been in them. Add to this that Christianity was illegal and it is not as if you can have a big meeting of Christians at a small house without asking for persecution. Earliest Christians held worship services in house churches.

    Again, this is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop, as I’ve explained in #97.

    The churches were clearly worshipping in different manners and on different calendars in the city of Rome. When someone tried to bring uniformity to that, people bristled. Lampe even points out that Irenaeus chastises Victor for attempting to exert his power when the churches always operated in this fashion.

    Again, as I explained in #97, this is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop. In St. Louis, where I lived until last year, there was one jurisdictional bishop, but different Catholic rites within that same archdiocese.

    You do not mention that Lampe has already shown how Christianity came into Rome via the trade routes, had a very high immigrant population, and that these immigrant populations held different theological positions. All of this is further evidence of fractionation of Roman Christianity. It wasn’t that they didn’t conceive of unity, it is that they weren’t rubbing elbows with one another on a regular basis because of the complicating social realities. There is more available in more article to expand on this and much more available in Lampe.

    And all this is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome.

    Point 8 is simply to show that heretical groups were not excommunicated but left the orthodox of their own volition. This is simply a very small piece of evidence to show that there was no judicial authority requiring churches to cease fellowship with another body.

    The problem with that conclusion is that it doesn’t follow from the premise, as I showed in #97.

    Number 9 is again a very small portion of Lampe’s overall argument. He is simply stating that we know there were different theological opinions that not every person possessed.

    And that is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop. (If you come to my diocese, or any diocese, for that matter, and you will find different theological opinions.)

    In the context of my review, I show that Lampe is arguing that there was vast tolerance of varying theological positions.

    And that is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop. The presence of a monarchical bishop does not entail monolithic theological uniformity, especially on unsettled matters, as I explained in #97.

    One of the things that he points to is that excommunication was not regularly practiced in Rome. He cites the example of Marcion above, and he mentions in passing the example of Justin. This is not a significant point of Lampe’s argument and to identify it as such is a mistake.

    It was in your article, so I included it in my response in case you thought it was additional evidence.

    Numbers 10-13 are all about the extant literary data. To the fact that there is no mention of a bishop, you claim that this *could be* consistent with there be a monarchical episcopate.

    I didn’t “concede” anything. Let’s please not use loaded language. Nor am I claiming that it “could be” consistent with there being a monarchical bishop. It is consistent with there being a monarchical bishop. If you disagree, please show how it is incompatible with there being a monarchical bishop.

    Furthermore, you claim that an argument from silence is fallacious, but this is not the case. I’ll quote John Bugay’s use of Gilbert Garraghan on this, Gilbert Garraghan (A Guide to Historical Method, 1946, p. 149), notes that there if two conditions are met, an “argument from silence” is a valid argument. Those two conditions are: “the writer[s] whose silence is invoked would certainly have known about it; [and] knowing it, he would under the circumstances certainly have made mention of it. When these two conditions are fulfilled, the argument from silence proves its point with moral certainty.”

    Regarding your “this is not the case,” I specifically qualified what I said in #97 about the argument from silence being a fallacy. And I agree with the Garraghan quotation. The problem however, is that neither you nor Lampe have established that the author in question “would under the circumstances certainly have made mention of it;” instead, that is merely assumed.

    I think a very persuasive case could be made that if such an office existed, someone would have mentioned it before Irenaeus.

    Regarding the use of subjective criteria like ‘persuasive,’ [or 'is exactly what I want to believe'], or anything like that, see what I wrote in #97. And instead of speaking in the subjunctive about a hypothetical case that could be made (which is the phantom argument fallacy), please feel free actually to make that case. Otherwise, it is just hand-waving.

    I was surprised that your response did not deal with one of the more intriguing pieces of evidence for fractionation and the lack of a monarchical episcopate: the fractionation of Roman Jewry. This argument is much more significant than a number of the ones that you have mentioned and I’m not sure if the mistake is in my presentation or not. Regardless, omitting such a vital piece of evidence shows that your artificial 12 pieces of evidence are not a proper paradigm through which to read my review. Not including this among the important pieces of evidence while including tangential sub-points of sub-points explains why you have also misunderstood Lampe’s writing on Irenaeus.

    Again, please try and resist the easy temptation to make *me* the object of your criticism. I’m fully aware of what Lampe says about the fractionation of Roman Jewry. But that fractionation is fully compatible with there being a monarchical bishop.

    First, you cite my description of Lampe’s position on Hegesippus as being from Irenaeus. The use of diadoxen by Hegesippus is in fact regarding the transmission of doctrine (Even Johannes Quasten acknowledges this). It seems this confusion contributes to your misunderstanding of Lampe’s argument. For clarity, note that Lampe’s discussion of Irenaeus does not start until the bottom of 404.

    There was no confusion on my part, Brandon. Again, please refrain from making *me* the object of your criticism. Lampe is working on the assumption that St. Irenaeus used St. Hegesippus’s list; hence the reason why I put them together.

    As you continue to interact with Lampe, it is fascinating that you skip is argument, go to his conclusion, and then conclude that in his conclusion he has assumed things a priori.

    This is a criticism of me. My reply (#97) is to your article, not to the whole of Lampe’s book. If there was something else in Lampe’s book you think was good evidence that you omitted from your article, feel free to bring it up, especially if you think it is better evidence than the twelve points addressed in #97.

    It appears as if you have not read Lampe or my review of Lampe from the response correctly.

    I’ve read the book. And again, what you say here is a criticism of me. It doesn’t refute the truth of anything I said.

    The difference in the present and imperfect is presented as evidence that Irenaeus is working from a preexistent list. He then suggests that the number 12 plays an important role in the composition of that list (Apostolic # of 12, not starting with Peter as the first bishop which would throw off the numbering, mention of the place of the twelve, “Sixtus” being the name of the sixth person in the list). This means that it couldn’t have been constructed before the last member of the list was in office. That provides insight into the dating of the list and its origination.

    I’m fully aware of this, and all of this is fully compatible with the historical accuracy of the list.

    You have indeed missed the nuance here *or* you have ignored Lampe’s argument.

    This is a criticism of *me,* and doesn’t refute anything I said.

    It is for this very reason I’m demonstrating that you have not read Lampe well.

    Again, this is a criticism of me. It doesn’t refute anything I said in #97.

    That’s not an attempted ad hominem but a statement regarding your interaction with Lampe. What you wrote in comment #20 does not remain true and justified; it leaves Lampe’s argument unscathed.

    How so? Asserting that it leaves his argument unscathed is quite different from showing that it leaves his argument unscathed.

    Finally, you claim that Lampe’s use of Optatus to show there were 40 churches in Rome and not affirm what he says about schism is selective. You make the same claim about Eusebius. This is, of course, a deeply flawed historical methodology. There are some things in historical sources which are more reliable than others.

    I don’t disagree with that, but that difference in reliability has to be established first; it cannot be assumed in an argument.

    I think John has summarized what my response would be

    Then see comment #102 in which I respond to what John said.

    but I would like to note that you site minor pieces of Lampe’s construction as being inconsistent (the number of churches & presbyters in Rome in the 3rd century) to invalidate his methodology. Showing one part of the argument—an insignificant one at that—unevenly deals with the evidence does not falsify his entire argument.

    I agree that showing a problem with an ad hoc uses of sources does not necessarily invalidate Lampe’s entire argument. The problem with his entire argument is that all the evidence he presents, taken together, is fully compatible with the falsity of his conclusion.

    More importantly, however, Optatus and Eusebius are writing about contemporary events in the third century, things about which their reliability is bound to be more accurate. The numbers could be wrong, but they make sense of everything else we know and are therefore utilized.

    I wasn’t calling into question the numbers given by St. Optatus and Eusebius. I was pointing out Lampe’s ad hoc use of patristic sources, drawing from them when he wants, and then recasting them as fictive constructions when they don’t fit his conclusion.

    It is important to keep Lampe’s broader argument at work as well, which casts serious doubt on third century characterizations of the Roman episcopate. To claim, “When Lampe does this, he is not doing history; he is doing creative historical fiction woven onto and between historical facts, and driven by a particular theological position, but presented as straightforward historical analysis,” is to strongly overstate your case.

    It would be overstated if the evidence he cites weren’t fully compatible with the falsity of his conclusion.

    Such overstatement is continued when you go on to claim that Lampe’s work is “speculative historical fiction.” Nothing that you’ve mentioned is speculative about Lampe’s work.

    His conclusion is speculative because it does not follow from his premises, because it is fully compatible with the falsity of his premises.

    Perhaps you have other examples in mind, but the ones you have offered are not speculative—they are falsifiable and testable.

    My intention in #97 was only to show that from the evidence you laid out from Lampe in your article, Lampe’s conclusion does not follow, because it is fully compatible with the falsity of his conclusion. That’s why his work is not strictly historical analysis, but also historical speculation (presented as strictly historical analysis) that presuppose the untrustworthy character and testimony of Sts. Hegesippus and Irenaeus.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  108. Brandon,
    Please excuse me for jumping into this. I hope not to distract or interfere in the dialogue with Bryan Cross.

    You said in #103

    One of my biggest concerns, however, is that you have misunderstood the nature of the evidence Lampe presents. Lampe is using the historical method and building one piece of evidence on another to prove first fractionation, which then points to the very high unlikelihood of an episcopate.

    Thisthe important point of this discussion. “Lampe is using the historical method and building” You agree that Lampe is using some method of historical analysis to “fill in the blanks.” Lampe is building an historical picture, using sparse data, and constructing a story.

    The Primary problem with Lampe’s work is that his methodology is not appropriate to the data. The secondary problem is that the narrative Lampe constructs is only one plausible narrative, and none of the indirect data (data that says nothing directly about the existence or non-existence of a monoepiscopate) either individually or in aggregate is incompatible with the existence of a monoepiscopate.

    In a nutshell, we have a few pieces of extant, hard evidence from the late second and early 3rd century that directly testify to the existence of a Petrine line of succession in Rome. That is reinforced with the existence of, and the constant teaching of the Catholic Church on the same matter. Lampe builds his case on assumptions and inferences based on data that does not directly pertain to answer the question: Was there a monoepiscopate in Rome in the 1st century?

    The only justification for Lampe “using the historical method and building one piece of evidence on another to prove first fractionation, which then points to the very high unlikelihood of an episcopate” (constructing a plausible narrative based on assumptions and inferences) is the lack of direct evidence. However, there is direct evidence. It is only once Lampe rejects the accuracy of that evidence that he can justify the methodology. However, Lampe’s historical method itself can not be a basis for rejecting the direct testimony because that would be circular. So, for the primary question we come back to the direct evidence. As Bryan stated in #97

    Lampe is here assuming that the number 12 was a priori essential to the creation of the list, and Lampe is using that assumption as a support for his conclusion that the list is a fictive construction designed by St. Irenaeus (or St. Hegesippus) to fall into a pattern of twelve, rather than intended to be an historically accurate account of the actual episcopal succession in Rome from St. Peter to the time of St. Irenaeus. Hence Lampe’s assumption is doing the evidential work, not the historical evidence itself. And his assumption is question-begging; it presupposes that it couldn’t have been the case that historically there had actually been twelve successive bishops leading the Church at Rome from the time of St. Peter and that St. Irenaeus wrote his list in a way that highlighted that number while remaining entirely truthful and reliable as an historical witness regarding the succession of bishops in Rome.

    Lampe’s argument for rejecting the sources of direct evidence were question begging arguments. Thus, Lampe’s application of “historical methods” is inappropriate.

    The secondary problem regards the logic of Lampe’s conclusion. As you restated it above, Brandon, “franctionalization points towared…”. However, that statement is itself a big assumption, that is doing the work in your argument. It is completely possible for their to be a monoepiscopate and for fractionalization to exist. They are not mutually exclusive. You may subjectively judge that fractionalization leads to low probability but you do not have any justification for that judgment.

    Thanks for the discussion.

    GNW_Paul

  109. Hi Brandon (#104),

    You wrote,

    You can refer to my response article to see where Bryan misunderstands both Lampe and myself. Hopefully you will do the reading for yourself because at this time Bryan’s response is not representative of myself or Lampe.

    I studied your article before Bryan posted his response – I don’t want you to get the impression I’m only assessing your own work second-hand.

    You wrote to Sean,

    Can you cite a bibliographic reference of any historian arguing that Peter was a Roman bishop?

    I wrote a review of Robert Louis Wilken’s book The First Thousand Years on Called to Communion several months ago. Wilken is one example of a respected early Church historian who believes there is sufficient historical evidence in favor of Peter being a bishop of Rome (it’s on page 168 in his book). God bless, Casey

  110. Brandon,

    I don’t know if you want references that disagree with some of Lampe’s conclusions, or you want references that disagree with only his conclusion on Roman episcopate. For example, Green was offered as someone that disagrees with the view on fractionation amongst other things, but then you say “well he agrees the episcopacy developed” so I’m not entirely sure what you then actually want. The point I think is that although Lampe is a respected scholar, others are not unanimous on all of his conclusions, because of how they analyze the same data and what assumptions they bring. And, if as you say, his case is a cumulative one, then those who disagree with some of his conclusions (such as Green) even though they agree with other conclusions, start to throw his “high probability” final conclusion into doubt.

    Anyways, if you want references that take a more conservative angle on early Rome, these may interest you (some predate Lampe but I don’t think the state of archaeology/documentary evidence has developed so much as to make their analyses obsolete):

    William Moran The Government of the Church in the First Century (1913) (fully online at open library)
    Felix Cirlot Apostolic Succession: is it True? (1955)
    Kenneth E. Kirk (ed) The Apostolic Ministry –Essays on the History and the Doctrine of Episcopacy (1946)
    Robert Williams Bishop Lists (2005)
    Chrys Caragounis, “From Obscurity to Prominence: The Development of the Roman Church between Romans and 1 Clement” in Judaism and Christianity in First-Century Rome, ed. Karl P. Donfried (1998)

  111. Bryan,

    I certainly want this to be respectful dialogue because I do respect you. If it any point I’ve stepped over those bounds please forgive me. My conscience does not convict me, but we all know how tricky our hearts can be!

    There are two large things that I wanted to stress in my response to you:

    1. You created the list of 13 pieces of evidence as an aide to assist in interacting with my review, but your 13 points are not an accurate summary of my review. I explained why that is the case in my previous comment #103 (not mentioning Roman Jewry while mentioning Justin’s statement on Premil as two examples). Moving forward, perhaps the best frame of reference is to use the six sections that I’ve outlined by Lampe to make sure we are interacting with the evidence from the right frame of reference.

    2. Lampe’s statements about Irenaeus are not a priori statements assuming Irenaeus must be wrong. I’ve not seen you interact with the evidence that Lampe presents on page 405 section A. Furthermore, in your response where you claim that you did not misunderstand, you further that misunderstanding by claiming that Lampe argues that Irenaeus used Hegesippus. This is exactly the opposite of what Lampe argues. Lampe contrasts Hegesippus and Irenaeus while arguing that Irenaeus is using his list of 12 names from a previous created source—but not the incomplete list of Hegesippus. I don’t want to be pejorative when I say you haven’t understood Lampe, but you have not accurately presented Lampe’s argument and therefore have not interacted with it. It will help us moving forward if you properly state and interact with Lampe’s argument regarding Hegesippus and Irenaeus.

  112. Sean,

    As Allen Brent notes in his review of Bernard Green, Green is not accurately representing the view of Allen Brent or Peter Lampe with regard to the unity of early Christianity. Both Brent and Lampe emphasize the importance of unity within orthodox Christianity. Consider this from Brent,

    “…the thrust of [Brent's} critique of my [and he has previously mentioned Lampe as well] position is therefore unexplored, namely that before Victor the Roman Church was governed by a single presbyterate and hence was *not* a loose confederation of separate assemblies.”

    But even though Green has not properly critiqued Lampe and Brent, Green shows his own position regarding the development of the episcopate. Green asks the question, “did the church at Rome have one leader?” and then footnotes Eric G. Jay for a “fair and balanced discussion.”

    What is Jay’s conclusion in this “fair and balanced discussion”?

    This survey shows, I maintain, that for about a century and a half the church’s ministry was basically prebyteral. There would, perhaps, be speedier progress in ecumenical conversations between episcopal and presbyterian churches if, on the one hand, this were frankly recognized, and if, on the other hand, the cogency of the needs which prom[p]ted the eventual emergence of the monepiscopate were acknowledged

    Green’s citation of Jay doesn’t mean that he agrees with everything he argues, but the best case scenario for your citing of Jay is that he is hedging his bets on the argument that he doesn’t feel sketch out. But I think that Green’s citation significantly complicates what you’re trying to argue about Green.

    Moreover, Dr. Beckwith’s claim about the development of the episcopacy sets up a false dilemma that I’ve even seen others object to. Either it is all there or it’s not there. Dr. Beckwith asks, “How could such a thing have developed?!” Well, that is what Lampe is attempting to do; explain how it developed. It wasn’t some sinister development (that is a straw-man), but the conception of monarchical episcopate developed in Rome as the social and ecclesiastical climate changed.

    With regard to the acceptability of the burden, you argue that there is early evidence of a bishop in Rome. I’ve presented Lampe’s argument that the lists of Irenaeus and Hegesippus are later developed and while earlier are certainly not as early as the evidence we possess which show that the Roman community was led by a plurality of leaders.

    I won’t speak for John, but I agree with his assessment that Lampe’s scholarship shows that there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that shows that Roman church government was Presbyterian. But lest we get lost in this discussion as if we are arguing on level ground, Called to Communion has claimed that Jesus founded the RCC. This is one of the most important motives of credibility. That requires a rigorous historical argument to defend that claim. Even if you were successful in showing that Lampe’s argument about fractionation or the development of the episcopate are flawed you have only falsified a competing claim. To claim that a list from c.180 AD is the definitive argument that you have for the historical claim that Jesus founded the RCC, is weak historical evidence (particularly in light of the argument that Lampe makes).

    To perhaps put this a little differently, let us imagine that the roles are reversed. Early evidence talks about a monarchical episcopate while later evidence points to Presbyterian government. How would you feel if when you presented the evidence for the monarchical episcopate I responded that having a leader make decisions is consistent with having a moderator of the presbytery? You pointed to other pieces of information that showed centralization, but I kept insisting that nothing that you presented showed that this individual couldn’t have been the moderator of the presbytery. There would be no evidence that you could present that I couldn’t respond with “that is not inconsistent with there being a presbytery of the supposed bishop is moderator.” The conversation couldn’t move forward and we would be at an impasse because I was already ideological committed to interpret evidence in a way that was favorable to my position.

  113. Brandon, I have read Dr. Lampe’s book as well. The problem with his analysis is his anachronistic definition of what a bishop is. Rather than using the biblical office as seen in the NT to determine whether the office existed after the 60′s when SS. Peter and Paul were in Rome, he seeks to use a more developed office as his yardstick for analysis. Dressing up first century bishops in second century garb would be ill-fitting literally or in making a claim that bishops did not exist in Rome until the mid-second century.

    Furthermore, if the lists of Ireneaus and Hegesippus were flawed, one would have thought that their contemporary opponents would have pointed it out. There were surely Christians around that would have been alive who would have known the successors to Peter listed and could have said yea or nay to them being the bishop of Rome.

    God bless!

  114. Casey,

    I read through Wilken and don’t see anything in his section on “The Bishop of Rome as Pope” that would lend support to the idea that Wilken believes that Peter was the first bishop with Linus after him. For example, consider Wilken’s measured statements,

    Though Peter figures large during the lifetime of Jesus and in the years immediately after Jesus’s death, the sources are silent about his years in Rome and the early history of the church there. The first leader to come into view in Rome is Clement, who lived at the end of the first century…another was Telesphorus

    Notice how he does not even give the title bishop to Clement. This is a measured statement which does not demonstrate that there is sufficient historical evidence of the Papacy being established by Jesus

    Wilken also states that the first time Matt 16 is cited in defense of the Papacy is by Stephen in the 3rd century, which was disputed by Cyprian.

    On page 168 I only see Wilken’s discussion of the development of the Papacy in the 4th and 5th centuries and nothing that provides an indication that Wilken believes was founded by Peter. Perhaps you could cite it for me?

    JD,

    Thanks for the references. I’ll make sure to follow up with many of those.

  115. Brandon, (re: #110)

    I certainly want this to be respectful dialogue because I do respect you. If it any point I’ve stepped over those bounds please forgive me. My conscience does not convict me, but we all know how tricky our hearts can be!

    Thanks. What I’m talking about (when I ask that you not make me the object of your criticism) is not so much respect (as if I’m in need of it, or thin-skinned), but rather sticking to the form of dialogue by which our disagreement (and any disagreement) can be resolved. So, for example, if I criticize *you* and you criticize *me* that does not lead to resolving our disagreement. It not only distracts from the task of resolving the disagreement, it obstructs it, because it becomes more difficult to be open and comfortable and receptive to good reasoning in the pursuit of agreement with a person who is personally attacking you. That’s why we should keep our focus entirely on the truth or falsity of claims, the soundness of the arguments, and the evidence for or against positions, and discipline ourselves to refrain from ad hominems.

    You created the list of 13 pieces of evidence as an aide to assist in interacting with my review, but your 13 points are not an accurate summary of my review. I explained why that is the case in my previous comment #103 (not mentioning Roman Jewry while mentioning Justin’s statement on Premil as two examples).

    What part of comment #103, precisely, are you referring to? So far as I know, in #106 I addressed everything your raised in #103. So which point or claim do you think was left unaddressed?

    Moving forward, perhaps the best frame of reference is to use the six sections that I’ve outlined by Lampe to make sure we are interacting with the evidence from the right frame of reference.

    Ok.

    Lampe’s statements about Irenaeus are not a priori statements assuming Irenaeus must be wrong.

    I agree that it is not entirely a priori. He uses certain features of St. Irenaeus’s list to reach his conclusion concerning the falsehood of St. Irenaeus’s list. But his conclusion does not follow from those features. In order to make it follow, he has to add an implicit premise which is a priori, namely, that if St. Irenaeus is concerned “to anchor the present doctrine with a succession chain of authorities back to the Apostles,” (p. 404), and if he is intentionally emphasizing the number twelve, and if St. Irenaeus’s list is more elaborate than is that of St. Hegesippus, then St. Irenaeus must have made up the list (“presumes about the past single prominent bearers of tradition”, p. 405-406), and it cannot be historically accurate. Only with this a priori premise in his argument does his conclusion follow, “The list of Irenaeus … is with highest probability a historical construction” [i.e. reconstruction] and “points in the direction of a fictive construction.” (p. 406)

    I’ve not seen you interact with the evidence that Lampe presents on page 405 section A.

    The evidence he presents in that section is fully compatible with St. Irenaeus’s list being historically accurate. Only if one assumes the false dichotomy I laid out in detail in comment #97 does the evidence Lampe mentions in that section support Lampe’s conclusion.

    Furthermore, in your response where you claim that you did not misunderstand, you further that misunderstanding by claiming that Lampe argues that Irenaeus used Hegesippus. This is exactly the opposite of what Lampe argues. Lampe contrasts Hegesippus and Irenaeus while arguing that Irenaeus is using his list of 12 names from a previous created source—but not the incomplete list of Hegesippus.

    Lampe does not deny that St. Irenaeus used Hegesippus’s list. Lampe argues that there are more names in St. Irenaeus’s list, and that is true, but that does not entail that St. Irenaeus did not use the list of St. Hegesippus. Lampe says that in Haer. 3.3.3. St. Irenaeus “uses a previously prepared list.” (p. 405) If you think that “previously prepared list” St. Irenaeus used was not St. Hegesippus’s list, that’s fine with me. Now you have two independent lists of the succession of Roman bishops prior to St. Irenaeus: one by St. Hegesippus, and the other a list that was used by St. Irenaeus. And that makes it even more difficult to argue that both these two lists preceding St. Irenaeus were “fictive constructs.”

    I don’t want to be pejorative when I say you haven’t understood Lampe,

    Too late, you just did. Again, perhaps you can refrain from making *me* the object of your criticism, and instead make my positions, claims, or arguments the objects of your criticisms.

    but you have not accurately presented Lampe’s argument and therefore have not interacted with it.

    That conclusion does not follow from that premise.

    It will help us moving forward if you properly state and interact with Lampe’s argument regarding Hegesippus and Irenaeus.

    Of course I agree. But again, this is making *me* the object of your criticism. If something I’ve said is false, then explain how and why it is false, and please refrain from adding the ad hominems.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  116. Paul Hoffer 112:

    I have read Dr. Lampe’s book as well. The problem with his analysis is his anachronistic definition of what a bishop is. Rather than using the biblical office as seen in the NT to determine whether the office existed after the 60′s when SS. Peter and Paul were in Rome, he seeks to use a more developed office as his yardstick for analysis. Dressing up first century bishops in second century garb would be ill-fitting literally or in making a claim that bishops did not exist in Rome until the mid-second century.

    I’m sure Lampe was aware of the evolving definition of what a bishop is. If anything, the anachronism comes on the part of Roman Catholicism, which imports later definitions of “bishop” back onto the earlier word/usage (i.e., when Ignatius uses the word).

    Perhaps some day there will be some official Roman Catholic source that traces the “development” of “bishops” from, say, New Testament times through the 4th century.

    Furthermore, if the lists of Ireneaus and Hegesippus were flawed, one would have thought that their contemporary opponents would have pointed it out. There were surely Christians around that would have been alive who would have known the successors to Peter listed and could have said yea or nay to them being the bishop of Rome.

    Furthermore, if Lampe’s analysis were flawed, one would have thought that his contemporary opponents (who are they again?) would have pointed it out. There have surely been knowledgeable Roman Catholics around today [other than yourself] who would have known the official “successors to Peter” list and could have said yea or nay to various points in his analysis.

  117. Brandon,

    #111.

    Green also cites Lampe in the footnote and then goes on to contradict Lampe as I previously illustrated.
    Besides, I’ve never understood citing work to mean a full endorsement of all the views put forth in that work. Green’s whole discussion in that chapter is – what kind of leadership was present in the 1st century Roman church? He says that there were presbyters (plural) but also says that this does not mean that one presbyter was, even in a nascent view, the ‘leader.’ He posits that the leader might be the author of 1 Clement. He then, contra Lampe, says that it’s unlikely that the early Roman church was formed of autonomous factions etc etc. He then says that Ireanaues’s list was likely not ‘a fictive construct’ as John Bugay likes to say, because there was no challenging of that list and the entire notion of apostolic succession as far as the Roman church is concerned at the time or after.

  118. Sean,

    The citation is not a citation of “This article says X.”Green is telling people to check out Jay’s view on the government of the church because he is not going to give an extended treatment. In that sort of citation it would presumably reflect the general position of the author.

    Additionally, Green asserts that he doesn’t find fractionation to be as formative to Roman ecclesiology as Lampe. He just notes that Gnostics would have responded to Irenaeus and Hegesippus. There are numerous problems with this approach which are highlighted most important by Allen Brent’s review. Green creates a straw-man and does not acknowledge that Lampe and Brent believe in presbyterian government. You do the same thing when you say,

    “He then, contra Lampe, says that it’s unlikely that the early Roman church was formed of autonomous factions etc etc”

    For clarity,the various groups did function autonomously *but* each of these presbyter-bishops in house churches met at times and had fellowship with one another. As Green notes, this is precisely what the extant literature (not to mention the biblical data) tells us.

    The validity of Irenaeus’s list is not dealt with beyond a few sentences. Green’s brief comment on the reliability of Irenaeus and Hegesippus however, does not address Lampe’s interpretation of these sources. Even if Green believes in the greater trustworthiness of Irenaeus, there is no explicit mention of his belief about the origination of the episcopate and his approving citation of Jay is very important in the analysis of Green’s work.

  119. “there was no challenging of that list ”
    “He goes on to talk about Hegesippus’ and Irenaeus’ list and says that the use of the ‘lists’ as an anti-Gnostic argument would have been ‘embarrassingly easy’ to ‘explode’ had the “lists not been based on a common opinion that there was a recognized tradition of leadership going back a long way.”

    Have John or Brandon attempted to explain this? I find it to be quite strong – especially given their criteria for valid arguments of silence. Were the gnostic opponents just equally as duped by Irenaeus’ machinations?

  120. Hi Brandon (#113),

    You wrote,

    On page 168 I only see Wilken’s discussion of the development of the Papacy in the 4th and 5th centuries and nothing that provides an indication that Wilken believes was founded by Peter. Perhaps you could cite it for me?

    And yes, I apologize, I should have been more thorough and explicit in my previous comment (that’s what I get for writing you right before bed). What I wanted to highlight is the following on p.165 and p. 168:

    Already in the second century, in defending the apostolic faith against the Gnostics, Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons in Gaul, appealed to the “preeminent authority” of the Church of Rome where, in his words, the apostolic tradition has been “preserved continuously.”

    and,

    Siricius began the letter by observing that, as a successor of Peter, a graver responsibility was laid on him (he uses the formal “we”) than on other bishops, for Rome was the ‘apostolic rock on which Christ built his universal Church.’”

    Wilken quotes these data points as if he believes them historical credible. The first, that Rome has preeminent authority because of its apostolic roots being “preserved continuously,” (which, given what Irenaeus claims elsewhere, is a reference to Peter as first bishop of Rome). The second, that the 4th century bishop of Rome Siricius viewed himself as a successor of Peter; Wilken does not reject the assertion as if it is a historical invention by Siricius.

    You also wrote,

    Consider Wilken’s measured statements, “Though Peter figures large during the lifetime of Jesus and in the years immediately after Jesus’s death, the sources are silent about his years in Rome and the early history of the church there. The first leader to come into view in Rome is Clement, who lived at the end of the first century…another was Telesphorus…” Notice how he does not even give the title bishop to Clement. This is a measured statement which does not demonstrate that there is sufficient historical evidence of the Papacy being established by Jesus.

    I think calling Wilken’s analysis “measured” is an unnecessary conclusion from his writing. The fact that he begins his chapter by emphasizing as a “capital fact” in the history of the early papacy Peter dying in Rome (which, in Wilken’s words, gives Rome a “singular authority”), and then proceeds to provide the biblical warrant for Peter being the leader of the Church, suggests Wilken is, albeit subtly, seeking to present a case for the biblical and historical evidence for the papacy (p.164). Note his mention of Peter being listed first in Paul’s witnesses of Christ’s resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, a typical Catholic apologetic for Peter being viewed as the first leader of the Church. As for Clement, just because Wilken calls him a “leader” and not “bishop” does not mean Wilken does not believe he was a bishop. Indeed, given that the very next paragraph begins, “the best known and most forceful bishop of Rome in the early years was Victor,” suggests that he believes the previous leaders he cites (Peter, Clement, and Telesphorus) to be bishops, as well. At least, I think this would be the most appropriate way to follow the logic of Wilken’s writing style.

    Finally, more anecdotal and personally, I know Wilken believes the historical evidence for Peter as first bishop in Rome to be credible because he said as much in his course “History of Christianity I” at the University of Virginia, which I took (Wilken’s analysis was, at the time, much to my chagrin, given I was quickly developing into a committed Reformed Protestant). God bless, Casey

  121. Hello John (#115), Blessings and grace to you. I hope all is well with you and yours.

    Addressing your comments directly, I would only state that there perhaps has not been too much interaction with Lampe’s work in modern Catholic circles because the issue of when monarchical bishops first presided over the Roman Church is an old one and already much argued. Scholarly discussion of the matter is referenced in the old Catholic Encyclopedia all the way back in the beginning of the last century. Many modern Catholic scholars, such as Raymond Brown and Francis Sullivan, have argued against monarchical bishops long before Lampe wrote his Protestant apologetics cult classic. Their arguments didn’t impress me then; I am not all that excited about it now despite Lampe’s detailed work.

    Your comments today still dance around the biggest problem I posed to you long ago. Lampe makes no effort to define what he thinks a bishop is nor does his evidence go to the heart of the doctrine of apostolic succession. If Peter Lampe wishes us to believe that there was no solitary permanent resident church administrator for one city (the usual definition of a monarchical bishop), I say so what? No John, the real question is whether Lampe’s enethymemic assumption of the primary function of a bishop is correct in the first place? I would contend that the primary definition of a bishop would have to contain at its essence that the bishop’s role was to protect and pass on the deposit of faith as given to him by his appointed predecessor who likewise received it from his predecessor, and so on, that can be traced back to the apostles themselves. After all, why was Irenaeus even offering his list of Peter’s successors to his opponents-to show who was boss over the Church of Rome or to show that authentic doctrine had been passed down from the apostles? And to be frank, Lampe’s book does not even come close to rebuffing that definition of a bishop. And given the preeminence of Saint Peter as that sort of bishop, I have no problem of assenting and accepting the authority of his successors in that regards.

    God bless!

  122. Hey Casey,

    No worries about typos. Sometimes I see what I submitted and wonder what I was thinking…Regarding your reading of Wilken, at the very least Wilken does not spell it out or develop his argument. You’ll find the same sort of rhetoric in Eamon Duffy’s work on the Papacy but Duffy clearly rejects the notion of a Petrine office established by Jesus. Your personal knowledge of Wilken may shed more light that I am able to see, but there is nothing in his recounting of the early Papacy that any one taking to modern position on the Papacy could not affirm.

    Are you aware of anything that Wilken has written on the subject of Jesus founding the RCC? The only thing I see come up in bibliographic perusal of the academic literature is “The Christians as the Romans Saw Them,” which does not really deal with Peter in Rome. Unfortunately I can’t evaluate or interact with anything that Wilken said in his lectures because I’ve not encountered them…but if you could mediate it or point to where he has written on the subject that could be very helpful!

  123. Brandon (#122),

    Unfortunately I can’t evaluate or interact with anything that Wilken said in his lectures because I’ve not encountered them…but if you could mediate it or point to where he has written on the subject that could be very helpful!

    Yes of course you’re right, information from Wilken’s lectures cannot serve as a helpful piece of evidence in favor of the theory for a continuos Roman bishop since Peter, since you don’t have access to that information. Your question to Sean in #105 was “can you cite a bibliographic reference of any historian arguing that Peter was a Roman bishop?” The chapter on the papacy in Wilken’s book indicates he is indeed a historian who believes Peter was a Roman bishop, for reasons I explain in #120. My anecodatal comment about Wilken’s lectures is to emphasize that my reading of his book is influenced by the way he developed the history of the papacy in the class (which, I’ll add, is largely identical to his book), rather than me being an outsider to what Wilken is seeking to accomplish with his analysis of the historical data. Yes, it’s true as you say, Wilken does not “spell it out” as explicitly as we would like for the purposes of our discussion. All the same, other remarks that I’ve highlighted in the chapter demonstrate Wilken is working from the assumption that later Roman bishops had a right to call themselves successors of Peter.

    Are you aware of anything that Wilken has written on the subject of Jesus founding the RCC? The only thing I see come up in bibliographic perusal of the academic literature is “The Christians as the Romans Saw Them,” which does not really deal with Peter in Rome.

    I’d have to take a look at Christians as the Romans Saw Them, but no, I don’t think you’ll find Wilken making such a claim there. He also wrote The Spirit of Early Christian Thought but I doubt that would have anything on the topic, either. As for the subject of “Jesus founding the RCC,” as you put it: I think the chapter in Wilken that we’re discussing does make that claim:

    (1) Wilken first presents the biblical evidence of Peter being the leader of a visible Church founded by Christ. The conclusion: Christ founds a visible Church with Peter as the head.
    (2) Peter, the leader of that visible Church, dies in Rome. Presumably if he spent his last years there and died there, he passes that authority on to another.
    (3) Later bishops in Rome, as well as ECFs such as Irenaeus, Hegesippus, and Augustine, assert that their office’s authority comes from Peter himself.
    (4) Rome progressively asserts its authority over the visible Church, which by-and-large recognizes the authority of Rome as preeminent.

    You’ll find the same sort of rhetoric in Eamon Duffy’s work on the Papacy but Duffy clearly rejects the notion of a Petrine office established by Jesus.

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to, as my knowledge of Duffy’s work is pretty limited. God bless, Casey

  124. Brandon,

    I appreciate that you have multiple irons in the fire, but I want to point out, in case some readers of this thread might be interested, that I have offered a couple of responses to your arguments (as well as some answers to your questions), by way of outlining an alternative sketch of the transition from Apostles to bishops, which is, I think, at least as consistent with the extant data from the first two centuries (including but not limited to that presented in your summary of Lampe) as the “presbyterian” sketch, and which is (easily and intentionally) far more consistent with the ecclesiology of the Church as whole from (at least) the end of the second century to the protestant reformation (and beyond, for the large majority of christians; catholics, orthodox, and [in some sense] anglicans): see here and here.

    Andrew

  125. Paul,

    I wanted to briefly respond to two of your statements in #121,

    First, you characterized Lampe’s work as,

    his Protestant apologetics cult classic

    Lampe is not writing an apologetic, he is writing a social history. Some of his conclusions have apologetic implications, but Lampe’s work is not intended as an apologetic work. I say that more so for Protestants than for Catholics. Lampe’s conclusions are conducive to Protestant critiques of the RCC, but Lampe’s purpose is not chiefly apologetic.

    Second, you say,

    Lampe makes no effort to define what he thinks a bishop is nor does his evidence go to the heart of the doctrine of apostolic succession.

    I’ve seen this assertion made before and I must ask you, how did you come up with this supposition about Lampe’s argument? It is neither explicitly stated or implied in any of the 400+ pages of Lampe’s book. Could you point to any reference where Lampe comes remotely close to defining a bishop like you suggest? If you cannot, then my question to you is why you would resort to the use of such a rhetorical question when you yourself are unable to describe Lampe’s position–especially considering that both John and myself have exerted great energy to try to fairly mediate Lampe and we have never made that claim either.

    Lampe’s argument is that there were presbyter-bishops *not* presbyters and bishops in the city. If you had read either my review, John’s previous explanations of Lampe, or Lampe himself you would recognize that Lampe is addressing your claim of what a bishop is,

    I would contend that the primary definition of a bishop would have to contain at its essence that the bishop’s role was to protect and pass on the deposit of faith as given to him by his appointed predecessor who likewise received it from his predecessor, and so on, that can be traced back to the apostles themselves.

    Lampe’s work–along with the staggering number of modern scholars including Bernard Green, Chrys Caragounis, and Robert Williams!–argues that such a conception of a Roman episcopate is false. He could not be any clearer about that point and your claims that Lampe does not “come close to rebuffing that definition” are ironic considering that you didn’t understand that Lampe was addressing that conception of the episcopate throughout his entire book.

  126. JD #119,

    I actually find Green’s own take to be exactly how Lampe would respond,

    it might be plausibly suggested that the presbyters who led the church at the end of the 1st and beginning of the second centuries always needed some kind of president for them to act coherently as the leaders of one church

    Lampe himself states virtually the same thing by saying the Clement may have well be the “minister of external affairs” among the presbyter-bishops. This early office developed into a monepiscopal office that later church traditions retrojected back into the available sources. There is much more that needs to be understood textually about Irenaeus’s list–there has yet to be a response to Lampe’s argument regarding the present and imperfect indicating Irenaeus used a contemporary source for his list, but I also believe that this would shed important light on the topic as well.

    Finally, we don’t have a lot of the Gnostic literature of the second century but we know that the Gnostics in fact disputed the claims of Irenaeus regarding apostolicity. We don’t have any extant literature that shows his claims being contested, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t do it. I’ll generally concede Green’s point that if there were not some conception of authority that it would seem to be an odd argument to make, but that does not necessarily mean that Irenaeus was right. It may simply mean that he believed it (or that he misunderstood a redacted list of bishop-presbyters).

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