Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Quick Footnote to the Luther Citation Dialogue

UPDATE: I note that as of this update, Armstrong has micharacterized this post as: " that [] Robert Bellarmine is the original Latin source (at least for the quote in isolation, if not its translation) ." That's not what this post says or means. I invite readers to read the post for themselves. I'm not suggesting Bellarmine translated Luther from German to Latin. I'm not even suggesting that Bellarmine ever once saw the German original.

You may recall that Dave Armstrong had previously sought to present some sort of nuanced reductio ad absurdum one of the premises of which appeared to be that Leibniz is a genius and he cited Luther basically the same way as Steve Ray did.

Leaving many of the important issues aside, we should point out that Leibniz's usage is quite likely simply taken from Bellarmine. Leibniz cites:

- Luthurus, praef. in psalmos

- Luthurus, lib 1. contra Zwinglium et Oecolampadium

- Brentius, prolegomenis contra Petrum a Soto

These citations are basically a shortening and reordering of citations that Bellarmine uses in

De Verbi Dei, Interpretatione, Book 3 (Liber Tertius), Chapter 1 (Caput I), towards the end of the chapter (p. 98 in this edition of Bellarmine's works). Bellarmine places the contra Zwinglium et Oecolampadium citation first, lists several other citations from praef. in psalmos and provides several additional citations. In short, it looks like Leibniz copied down his citations from Bellarmine. Thus, we have no reason to think Leibniz ever considered the context (in the original - though he probably considered the context of Bellarmine's own discussion) of the quotation that he provides.

Armstrong had noted some textual variations between a quotation from Bellarmine (which is not the quotation observed above) and the quotation from Leibniz. Actually, Leibniz uses essentially the version found at page 98, except that for "atque" he has "et" and he has removed some of the irregular capitalization. The change in sense between "atque" and "et" is rather nuanced in this case, and we could reasonably consider that Leibniz considered "atque" to be a typographic error. After all, "et" makes slightly better sense the way the rest of the sentence is presented at page 98. Furthermore, "sacrae" has been inserted, which could have simply been instinctive, as Scripture is frequently called "Holy Scripture."

Since all of the other times we have found the quotation in Latin, we have seen "atque", we may reasonably blame Leibniz for the change, rather than speculate that he had the "original" Latin (obviously, the original was ultimately the German of 1527, not the Latin of 1556). My opinion here would change if I discovered that the "original Latin" used "et" (or included "sacrae"), but I do not expect that to be the case.

The ease with which minor textual variations can occur can be seen from the differences between the quotations at pages 76 (identified by Armstrong) and 95.

The differences are:


p. 76 capitalizes "Si" and "Scripturae"
p. 98 capitalizes "Si", "Mundus", "Fidei", and "Conciliorum"

p. 76 breaks up the quotation with "inquit". This is not an important difference. "Inquit" is simply a word that translates to "he says" (link). Likewise, that it is not part of the quotation be seen from the fact that it is printed in plain face, not italics, like the remainder of the quotation. Armstrong seems to have missed this fact, although he noted the word as different from the presentation in the other instances he located.

p. 76 uses "erit" instead of "fore". This is a slight semantic difference. Fore is the future infinitive of "to be" whereas "erit" is future active indicative.

p. 76 uses "ut" before "propter" rather than before "ad conservandum". This seems simply to be matter of syntactic preference. (interestingly, Armstrong's transcription misplaces the "propter diversas" in the reading from p. 76)

Mellini quotes from Bellarmine, p. 98, and gives Bellarmine credit (link).
Audisio generally follows Bellarmine's p. 76 version (link).
Brunati generally follows Bellarmine's p. 76 version (link).
Hallinen may have followed Bellarmine's p. 76 version (link).
It's a little hard to be sure, but Balmes may have obtained his version from page 76 of Bellarmine (link), via Audisio (note the same quotation from Beza is used by Balmes as was used by Audisio).

de Sales was a contemporary of Bellarmine, thus it is hard to make a definitive statement regarding derivation. de Sales quotation is more similar to Bellarmine p. 76 than to Bellarmine p. 98 (link). On the other hand de Sales' editor seems to have located an "original" and added a footnote to it. Thus, de Sales' editor may have corrected de Sales' quotation to match the editor's original.

At the end of the day, not a single Catholic apologist provided the context of the quotation, and it is entirely possible that only Bellarmine ever actually read the original (with the others copying more or less faithfully from the original) (also de Sales' editor may have read the original, or may simply have located a copy of the original).

Is that exactly what Steve Ray did? I think we can say with assurance that Steve had not read either the original or any translation of the work from which his quotation. If he obtained it from Balmes, he may have obtained it third hand (not counting translations) from Balmes, via Audisio, via Bellarmine.

Hopefully eventually the Latin/German originals will be available.

Dave has posted this "German original" of the quotation in question, but it contains at least some errors:

"Und wo die wellt solt lenger stehen, wird man widderumb, wie die alten gethan haben, umb solche zwitracht willen auch menschliche anschlege suchen und abermal gesetze und gebot stellen, die leute ynn eintracht des glaubens zuerhalten, das wird denn auch gelingen, wie es zubor geungen ift."

For example, it seems likely that the last word is "ist" not "ift."

Interestingly, I found a secondary source in German that states:

Luther erflärte schon in einem seiner bessern Momente, das menn es mit der Zmentracht und der Anarchie aller Doctrinen so sortgebe, man am Ende zur Erhåltung der Einbeit der Glaubens zu den Beschlüssen der Concilien merde zurüeffehren můssen:

(link) (this work, as it turns out, is by a Catholic ... I'm guessing he translated Bellarmine back into German for the purposes of providing this "quotation" rather than actually having read Luther's original comments. The reverse translation is useful in demonstrating how far "off" the Latin translation is, whether that was an official or unofficial translation.)

In any event, the German original is rather hard to find, so we'll have to wait and see if either the Latin or German contexts are provided by those who have promoted Luther's comment as being an admission of the failure of sola scriptura.

We're still waiting. Let's what comes of the matter.


UPDATE: Paul Hoffer has kindly identified another usage that I had not addressed in the article above, namely the reference in the preface to the 1582 edition of the Rheims New Testament. Paul suggested that this year pre-dates Bellarmine, which Paul seems to think is a problem for my discussion above.

In answer: (a) Bellarmine's printing actually appears to have begun 1581, with the first complete work being finished in 1586, but more importantly (b) his works were based on previous lectures, and (c) those lecture notes were widely disseminated according to the contemporary witness, Whittaker (see comments below). So, although Gregory Martin (the lead translator of the Rheims Bible) may not have gotten his quotation directly from Bellarmine's printed works as such, a Bellarminic derivation may still be maintained.

Finally, of course, whether or not Bellarmine is the main or only source of the quotation for Catholic apologists is not the important issue. It is nifty to see that Leibniz apparently poached from Bellarmine, but the important thing to note is that not a single person who has quoted Luther has provided any more context than a reference to the treatise in which the quotation is alleged to be found.

Did any of them know the context? Is it a fair quotation or not? We are waiting to see.

FURTHER UPDATE: I notice that Armstrong has identified a further document that confirms Whitaker's report that Cocholaeus first used the Luther quotation in question, and provides support for the theory that Bellarmine himself may have got his quotation from Cocholaeus rather than from an original document by Luther (which would explain the lack of context). Unfortunately, all we have so far on that investigation is Chrismann citing Cocholaeus (link), and not Cocholaeus' original work. Armstrong has some textual musings, but his explanations regarding derivation fall short. If anyone needs a more detailed explanation, I could provide. Otherwise, I'll just let my judgment stand as a bare assertion.

Apparently now with the help of Whitaker and Chrismann we have pushed a possible decontextualization back to Cocholaeus - with Bellarmine deriving his quotations from Cocholaeus. In order to verify or discredit that theory, we need to see Cocholaeus' original (apparently the book cited at footnote 31, here), to determine whether Chrismann cited verbatim or whether Chrismann paraphrased Cocholaeus.

There's more to be said on the Coch/Bell connection, but time does not permit at present.

FURTHER UPDATE: Ok, so there is evidence from Bellarmine's own works that he used Cochlaeus' work from which Chrismann quotes, see page 32 of the same "Works of Bellarmine" to which the p. 76 and p. 98 quotations refer. This seems to confirm that Bellarmine himself may have piggybacked on Cochlaeus' work, rather than reading Luther's original statement in context.

ADDITIONAL UPDATE: Here's a Cochlaeus original, in "snippet." (link) This suggests that Chrismann may have copied badly from Cochlaeus.

Cochlaeus writes: "Si diutius steterit mud, iteru erit necessariu, ut, ppter diversas Scripture interpretationes, q nunc sunt, ad coservandum fidei unitatem, Concilioru ..." (the snippet view fails at this point ... some more clever person can find a way to get the rest of Cochlaeus' quotation) There's also a bit before the quotation, which would seem to demonstrate that Cochlaeus provided a citation of some sort, which would explain why others might cite piggybacking on Cochlaeus' citation. (By the way, note that I write: "a" Cochlaeus original, as Cochlaeus may have recycled this quotation in multiple works.)

YET A NEW UPDATE: Should one wish to obtain a copy (link).


Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Turretinfan, Your article was very interesting. The only problem with it is that the underlying premise concerning Bellarmine or de Sales is that the quote appears in the preface of the Rheims Testament of 1582 in English which predates the works of both of these saints and Doctors of the Church. Thus, there has to be another source for the quote.

Thank you for your thoughts which have added to this discourse, especially the German quotation which is the first time I have seen the "Catholic/Anglican/Leibniz" version of the quote in German.

~Paul H.

Turretinfan said...


Thanks for your comments.

Gregory Martin (lead on the Rheims NT) wrote, of course, in English.

Thus, I would not consider him as a very likely source for any of the Latin quotations/paraphrases identified (or even for the alternate German reading).

It's true that his preface was published four years before Bellarmine's work in question, but - of course - that would not rule out collaboration. I'm not sure whether GM could read German, though he doubtless could read both Latin and English.

Furthermore, since GM does not identify his source and has a shorter reading, we would not presume the opposite, namely that deSales and/or Bellarmine copied from him, without doing some research of their own.

In short, GM's reference adds to the discussion, but it does not take away anything serious from the various discussions above.

If that doesn't make sense to you, I'd be happy to explain in greater detail.

The bottom line is that to decide many of these things it would be helpful to have an early latin translation (such as the 1550's translation Amstrong mentioned) and the original 1527 German treatise. The latter is available in the U.S. at least on microfiche/film, as far as I can tell.


Turretinfan said...

And, as well "Disputationes de Controversiis Christianae Fidei" was originally presented as lectures at the Roman College from 1876 onward. Although we know GM died the year his NT was published, I am simply unaware of whether he or any of his translation team may have studied under Bellarmine at the Roman College and picked up the quotation that way.

If there were no undergirding work by Luther, we might accept such a hypothesis.

At this point, though, we are simply speculating. We could construct a tree in which only Bellarmine ever actually read Luther's words in context, and all the others simply borrowed from him.

No one gives more context than Bellarmine does, which is simply to cite a work in which the quotation allegedly can be found.

What should happen, if we are ever to resolve the issue of whether Luther was being quoted properly, is to identify the context of the quotation to see whether the gloss is correct.


Turretinfan said...

I should add that we see Protestants responding to Bellarmine's use of Luther's quotation as early as the 1580's (see this work to which the editor wrote a preface in 1588)

He says he never heard that Luther said it, and says that it was promulgated as a Luther quotation by "the slanderous Cochlaeus."

One problem is that the attribution to Cochlaeus cannot be substantiated, at least by me. Cochlaeus (died in the 1550's) would be a possible source chronologically.

Again, though, if we are able to produce the work by Luther, who originally grabbed the quote out from its context (whether that be Cochlaeus, Bellarmine, or de Sales) becomes a matter of relative insiginificance.

The key question, and one that has not yet been answered, is whether Luther's words are properly contextualized.


Turretinfan said...

While I'm at it, I should note that Whittaker himself notes that Bellarmine's lecture notes were widely disseminated before his De Disp.... was pulished (the first tome apparently leaving the presses in 1581, with the first complete copy in 1586).

That provides a reasonable basis upon which to suggest that Bellarmine may be the main "culprit" in terms of popularizing the Luther quotation sans context.


James Swan said...

He says he never heard that Luther said it, and says that it was promulgated as a Luther quotation by "the slanderous Cochlaeus."One problem is that the attribution to Cochlaeus cannot be substantiated, at least by me. Cochlaeus (died in the 1550's) would be a possible source chronologically.

Wow, how ironic. I wrote to Steve Ray a while back and stated,

"One last point, and I'm heading out. In regard to the Luther quote, there is a possibility, and a strong possibility, that if you do recover a Latin version, the quotes still will not match up. That is, it is quite possible the Latin version that has circulated throughout history is rather the result of a paraphrase from an earlier secondary source like Cochlaeus. I've checked my copies of Eck and Cochlaeus, and haven't found anything."

There are some Cochlaeus sources here:

Also, the work I checked in regards to this was the recent English translation of a Cochlaeus work. The title of the book is "Luther's Lives" - though I only checked the work via the years 1526-1530 or so, as Cochlaeus wrote a history of Luther. The work is fairly large- if Cochlaeus used it elsewhere in the text, it could take me a while to find. In fact, I think Google books has a limited preview of this book available.

For more on Cochlaeus, see my link here:

It is for his writings against Luther that Cochlaeus is remembered. Even with such a great output of works against Luther, the Catholic Encyclopedia goes on to state that “Almost all of these publications, however, were written in haste and bad temper, without the necessary revision and theological thoroughness, consequently they produced no effect on the masses.”

Cochlaeus, in essence, became one of Luther’s most influential opponents. His biography “deeply influenced the image of Luther held by Catholics for more than two centuries.”

“There can be no doubt of the sincerity and conviction of Cochlaeus, but neither can there be any doubt that it was he who poisoned the well of historical studies. Roman Catholic historians have drawn their prejudice against Luther from this polemical source, which in its animosity has an almost total disregard for objective truth and historical facts. Denifle, Grisar, Cristiani, Paquier, and Maritain (to cite the most famous and influential) have all drunk deep of this poisoned well-too deeply- and lesser historians have adopted their position.”

“Through the centuries, generation after generation of Catholic priests were brought up on church histories, encyclopedias, world-chronicles, and histories of heresy all of which, deliberately or unknowingly, accepted Cochlaeus's verdict on Luther. Only in the Age of Enlightenment did the Commentaria temporarily lose some of its hold on Germany, though not on France; and even then the revival of confessionalism in the nineteenth century renewed the old influences and continued to do so right into modern times.”

James Swan said...

That provides a reasonable basis upon which to suggest that Bellarmine may be the main "culprit" in terms of popularizing the Luther quotation sans context.

This is what I've felt all along, and what has really bothered Mr. Armstrong- a Catholic source poinsoned the well a long time ago. Maybe it was Bellarmine, maybe it was Cochlaeus.

Armstrong should at least admit, many Catholic scholars prior to the 20th Century were very poor on handling luther. It really did start with Cochlaeus, and really wasn't stopped that much until Lortz's work.This would include Grisar, whose books were one of the keys to Armstrong's conversion to the RCC.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says that “His greatest work against Luther is his strictly historical "Commentaria de Actis et Sciptis M. Luther" (extending to his death), an armoury of Catholic polemics for all succeeding time.” The Encyclopedia also states that Cochlaeus is “in the main followed by Catholic investigators” doing research on Luther.

btw,Commentaria de Actis et Sciptis M. Luther is the book I have in English.

Turretinfan said...

Thankfully, most of Joh. Coch.'s works seem to have perished. Surprisingly, though, someone recently republished his life of Luther in "Two Lives of Luther," or something to that effect.


James Swan said...

Fourthly, as to Luther, I do not know whether he said this
or not. The slanderous Cochlseus hath affirmed it of him. It is a
matter of no moment. Such then are Bellarmine's arguments.

Very interesting. Thank you. This would not surprise me at all.

Oh but wait, I thought, according to Armstrong, Hoffer, and Ray, that the quote was universally accepted throughout history, and surely no one questioned it before James Swan and his laziness started "chirping" (to use DA's term) about it. You know Swan- just trying to bash Catholics...and also the great LUTHERAN Leibniz (you know, Leibniz, the guy who repudiated most of Luther's theology).

Turretinfan said...

There's at least one more datum that should be added. As reported by Whitaker, (page 6 of his dedicatory epistle), Bellarmine's Lectures were "epitomized" by "a certain Englishman" prior to their being published. It's very dubious that I will be able to locate the "Epitome of Bellarmine" or whatever it may be called. If I were to find it, and it were to contain something like what GM produces, that would more or less end the dispute, I think.
On the other hand, if it were absent, it would raise more questions.


James Swan said...

though, someone recently republished his life of Luther in "Two Lives of Luther," or something to that effect.

"Luther's Lives"- it is an interesting text. I've written about it on my blog. Part one is Melanchthon's treatment of Luther, and then Cochlaeus (which comprises most of the volume).

I've had the book for quite sometime- I've read portions of it, but not all the way through- it is a long text.

Paul Hoffer said...

Mr. Swan, you need to be fair here. I believe that I said at some point that to my knowledge noone seriously challenged the accuracy of the quote these past 400 years. Dismissing it by calling someone names is not a scholarly challenge. Of course back then, apologists were called controversialists so name-calling may have been a proper method for refuting someone's viewpoint. It appears during the course of my research that Fr. Luther and the other reformers (as well as some of their Catholic opponents) were accustomed to calling each other derisive names in their treatises and letters.

It would be interesting to see if you folks could find more than one or two people who challenged the propriety of the quote as it would be helpful for us all to get to the bottom of this historical mystery. As for me, I have been focused on finding the source of the quote so I may have missed someone with a contrarian opinion concerning the quote. Again, thank you both for providing some additional pieces to the puzzle. Hopefully, we will all be able to contribute more to that effort.

Turretinfan said...

I'm not sure what you'd consider a serious, scholarly challenge. Saying, "I don't think Luther ever said that," and "it sounds like the work of the slanderer Cocholaeus" (coupled with the fact that Cocholaeus did in fact slander Luther, recall Swan's early note about how Cocholaeus falsely accused Luther of gluttony, in other words "slanderer" is an objective characterization, not "name-calling") would seem to be a fairly reasonable challenge to the quotation. If Bellarmine produced a reply to Whitaker's source challenge, I'm unaware of his reply. That would actually mean that the shoe is on the other foot, Whitaker's challenge has gone unanswered for four centuries.

There's another point that ought to be mentioned. Luther's works were condemned, and reading Luther was forbidden on penalty of automatic excommunication. This tends to decrease the likelihood that Catholic apologists were out there reading Luther independently and stumbling across this "gem" of an admission in Luther's works. Of course, undoubtedly there was some way to avoid the automatic excommunication, and I'm not suggesting that noone ever read Luther, simply because a pope insisted that no one do so, in the strongest possible terms.
Nevertheless, such an action by the pope does tend to increase the likelihood of Catholic apologists over the years locating materials attributed to Luther through secondary sources.


James Swan said...

There's another point that ought to be mentioned. Luther's works were condemned, and reading Luther was forbidden on penalty of automatic excommunication. This tends to decrease the likelihood that Catholic apologists were out there reading Luther independently and stumbling across this "gem" of an admission in Luther's works.

This is a good point, and I've been meaning to write about this. We always assume Catholics had Luther's books. I'm sure some had a few- but in actuality, they weren't spending a lot of time reading Luther.

It was fairly understood that Luther was a heretic, thus not worthy to be read. Maybe today's Catholic apologists/historians will read Luther, but this wasn't as common. He was someone to be avoided.

James Swan said...

the propriety of the quote as it would be helpful for us all to get to the bottom of this historical mystery.

Paul, no offense, but this really isn't a mystery to me. I've studied stuff like this for a long time. Catholics today, in many respects, are not like Catholics from other generations in their treatment of Luther. I know you and Dave are trying to justify all of Catholic apologetics on Luther, for all generations...but it can't be done- even good Catholic historians will tell you that.

James Swan said...

I know you and Dave are trying to justify all of Catholic apologetics on Luther, for all generations...but it can't be done- even good Catholic historians will tell you that.

I made this comment with sarcasm and with rhetoric intended. Yet, Mr. Armstrong interpreted it literally and composed an entire blog entry evaluating it. My apologies to Mr. Armstrong for making an ambigious comment and provoking him.

I've actually entertained the idea of providing audio MP3 responses on my blog to Mr. Armstrong's blog articles. It would save me a lot of time, and would avoid such communication breakdown's, I think.

I now have an MP3 hosting site, and well... I can't do video responses yet (since remember, I am a "James White wanna-be..."...this is sarcasm btw), but I could take one of Mr. Armstrong's blog entry and talk through it.

I'm confident Mr. Armstrong will read this comment. It's up to him as to whether he will do the right thing with the information and clarification provided.

Turretinfan said...

BSF: Thanks for you comment.