Extended Review of Peter Lampe’s “From Paul to Valentinus”

Lampe, Peter. From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries Trans., Michael Steinhauser Ed., Marshall G. Johnson (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003).

This review is an attempt to show Peter Lampe’s entire argument for fractionated Roman Christianity. This “fractionation” that Lampe argues for is that through the end of the second century Roman Christianity was divided between many small cells that lacked central coordination.[1] This basic thesis informs every part of Lampe’s book and each of the six sections seeks to further demonstrate why Roman Christianity is fractionated and how fractionation impacted Roman Christianity. The reason such a lengthy review is going to be undertaken is because in order to understand one section or sub-section adequately requires familiarity with all of the various pieces of evidence. Lampe himself states about the evidence:

We face a tour through a variety of material: literary materials, above all, but also epigraphical and archaeological ones are at hand, which often only become illuminating in combination.[2]

Analyzing one part of Lampe’s argument in isolation (particularly concerning church government) risks an unbalanced assessment of Lampe’s work. My friend, Dr. Bryan Cross, believes that he has shown that Lampe’s argument does not undermine the Roman Catholic position.  Cross interacts particularly with Chapter 41 (pg. 397-408) of Lampe’s 41 chapter book, but I believe that Dr. Cross’s response to Lampe is deficient because he does not place Lampe’s arguments in the broader context of the book.  Chapter 41 is the conclusion of 40 other meticulous chapters of scholarship. What I will do here is summarize each of Lampe’s sections and then explain how the traditional Roman Catholic position fails to account for all of the data.

What follows is a limited exploration through Lampe’s book. I won’t detail every part of his argument, so I recommend that you read Lampe himself for his fuller argument.  What I hope to do is show how this holistic approach contextualizes Lampe’s literary interpretations and therefore presents a more compelling presentation than the one-sided approach of various Catholic apologists who have interacted with Lampe.

Section I- Trade Routes & Separation from the Synagogue

In this first section, Lampe describes how Roman Christianity arose in the empire: through the trade routes of Puteoli-Rome. This followed the same pattern as Judaism and Christianity actually arose out of the synagogue structure. We know this based upon biblical evidence throughout Acts but also through the “Edict of Claudius” (Suetonis, Claud. 25.4; Orosius, Hist. 7.6.15f; cf. Cassius Dio 60.6.6f). The dating of the Edict is not very clear, but Orosius tells us that the event occurred in CE 49.  Lampe notes that this fits in surprisingly well with what we have recorded in Acts 18. When one considers Paul’s statement in Romans that the Roman church had existed, “for a number of years” (Rom. 15:23), it seems almost certain that Christianity had existed in Rome since at least 49, with some scholars dating it as early as 41 CE (Lampe believes the evidence from Dio’s writings is not reliable for verifying this claim).[3] The bottom line is that by 64 AD Nero distinguishes between Christians and Jews (Cf. Tacitus Ann. 15.44).

Of particular importance in this brief introduction to Roman Christianity is that Christianity came from the synagogue but by 49 CE disputes between Jews and Christians caused the two groups to cease meeting at the Roman synagogues.

 

Section II- Topography

With the date for separation from the synagogue being set, Lampe sets out to understand the make-up of Roman Christianity.  Who were the Christians and what are some of the common characteristics of the people who identify as Christians? The first thing Lampe focuses upon is the geographic location of Roman Christians.

In an attempt to answer this question Lampe lays out five criteria: Local traditions, earliest Christian graves, Jewish quarters[4], concentration of tituli, and contemporary literary information concerning Christians that can be localized. For the sake of time we won’t go over each criteria, but an example from the earliest Christian graves will suffice.  Lampe states,

“Cemeteries on the radical roads outside of the city can give clues to where their users lived in the city. The catacomb was used as a cemetery by the entirety of urban Roman Christians. Rather, as we can demonstrate from the 4th century on, each of the catacombs was assigned to one of the ecclesiastical regions of the city…It is common to the examples [listed in footnote 17] that the residents of a section of the city naturally maintained their tombs on the radial streets that lay nearest to their quarter of the city.”[5]

Using this methodology moving forward, Lampe is able to show that there is a proportionally high number of Christians living in the Via Appia, Via Lata Faminia, & Trastevere. If these areas contained the highest density of Christians, what information do we possess about those areas?

With the location of Christians situated primarily in Trastevere & the Via Appia along with small sample sizes from the other regions, Lampe goes on to identify the cultural make-up of those regions.  What Lampe finds is that the area is known for its bad stench[6] and very high population density and low income in comparison to the other regions of Rome.[7]  The conclusion is that the Christians in Rome lived in the lowest social strata in the city of Rome. At the same time, there is evidence of Christian communities existing in more affluent areas like Mars Field and the Aventine (we know that Trajan lived in the Aventine). The data set is significantly smaller for these regions, but Lampe points out that 4 of the 5 criterion for identifying Christian activity exist in the wealthier region of Aventine (the one missing is Jewish living quarters).[8]

To corroborate Lampe’s thesis, he makes some interesting observations about the burning of Rome under Nero.  He cites Tacitus’s description of the damage in the fire from Ann. 15.40,

“Rome is divided into fourteen regions, among which only four remained intact. Three were burned to the ground and the other seven there were only a few houses left, which were severely damaged and half-burnt.”[9]

Lampe then goes on to explain the significance,

“Certainly Trastevere—on the other bank of the Tiber—was one of the four quarters spared. Spared also were some perimeter quarters like the VIIth, Vth, and XIIth regions. That means that if Christians also lived on the Via Lata, on Mars Field, or somewhere outside the Porta Capena, then they got off relatively lightly.”[10]

In other words, the areas that were densely populated with Christians escaped the fires with little to no damage. There are certainly other factors that could explain why Nero blamed Christians for the fire, but Lampe’s analysis provides gives even greater insight. This is a further corroborating piece of evidence to show the residency of early Christianity and social setting of Roman Christianity.

To summarize this section, we are able to ascertain the social setting of Roman Christianity rather clearly.  Most Christians in Rome were poor and lived in the poor areas of Rome, but there is clear evidence that there were also pockets of Christian’s living in the “upscale” regions of Rome. Building upon this, Lampe wants to go on to see what evidence for fractionation exists in Roman Christianity between groups from the various regions. In the third section he seeks to show how the topographical diversity and proximity impacted the social situation of Roman Christianity.

Section III: General Information about Urban Roman Christianity

In the third section Lampe wants to begin to work on the evidence he has unearthed from the first two sections.  The city of Rome had Christians and Jews both worshipping at synagogue but after a dispute, certain Christians were expelled from Rome in 49 CE. The separation of Jews and Christians had social consequences on early Christian societies.  One the one hand, we see that Judaism exerted a formative and very important influence over Christianty, yet Roman Christianity became less Jewish and more Gentile. Various pieces of evidence are evinced to demonstrate this fact. Name analysis of the many names listed in Romans 16 as well as Paul’s explicit statement that three individuals in particular were “my kinspeople,”  (Rom 16:7) serve to substantiate that most of the names in the list are of Gentile Christians.[11]

At the same time, Lampe does not want to minimize the importance of Judaism on the social structure of Roman Christianity. For example, even post-canonical Jewish literature shapes Christian thinking and writing (cf. 1 Clement 23:3; 46:2; 17:6; 7:6; 43:2 31:3, etc). It is clear, based upon the assumption of NT books such as Romans where large Gentile readership is explicitly stated, that the Jewish tradition was still vitally important to these Christian communities. What Lampe concludes from this is as follows:

Once integrated into the Christian life, the synagogal tradition was carried by people who themselves were no longer rooted in the synagogue. Clement & Hermas [whom Lampe also discusses being influenced by Judaism] serve as early examples of this borrowing.[12]

Such findings are significant for the early structure of Roman ecclesiology. One of the things that Lampe (and other scholars)[13] note is that the Roman synagogues were loosely federated in the city of Rome.  This was not the case in every city in the Diaspora (cf. Antioch) however; Lampe dedicates Appendix 4 to the fractionation of Roman Jewry.  After documenting and listing all of the separate synagogue structures Lampe concludes,

These are individual communities, independently organized, each with its own assembly, its own council of elders, and its own community officials…The background of Roman Jewry serves as a foil to the fractionation of Roman Christianity.[14]

One needs to be careful to force too much into the fractionation of Roman Jewry, but it is an important piece of corroborating evidence for Lampe’s argument concerning fractionation which cannot be ignored. Lampe does not force correlation as causation[15], but in terms of inductive observations a few things are indisputably clear:

  1. Christianity arose from Judaism
  2. While Roman Christianity quickly became dominantly populated by Gentiles, Judaism played an exceedingly important foundation for Christian belief and practice.
  3. Judaism in Rome was not centralized and operated with separation governmental structures in loose confederation with one another.

Moving forward, chapters 6-14 shows precisely what he means when he talks about fractionation among Roman Christianity. To give a very brief overview, Romans (12:13; 15:24, 28) and Acts (28:30) attest to the fact that there were some Christians who were wealthy and others who were in need. This is confirmed by writings from Justin Martyr (we see clear evidence of social stratification in things like Apology 2.10.8). Ignatius’s letter to the Romans presupposes that some in Rome would be able to advocate for him and prevent his eventual execution in Rome while Clement records some Christians even selling themselves into slavery in order to help the poor in the city (1 Clement 55.2). Lampe also has an interesting analysis of the Shepherd of Hermas, but the primary conclusion is that the Shepherd clearly shows there was a problem with distribution to the poor in the city.[16]

One other particularly interesting fact that Lampe discusses is what can be discerned from the Neronian persecution. We know that there were a large number of Christians in Rome from Tacitus and we also know that the Christians persecuted were crucified, something that was not allowable for Roman citizens.[17] The implication of this is that a large number of the Christians were not Roman citizens. All of this points to the social reality of the first and early second century Christians; most were poor but there were some who had resources to assist those in need.  It seems that the need was great enough however, as mentioned in Clement, that people were selling themselves into slavery to provide assistance to the marginalized in the community.[18]

To highlight this fractionation most clearly, Chapter 12 is worthy of particular examination. In this chapter Lampe addresses the social setting of Roman Christianity as well as Catholic claims about the grave of Peter in Rome.[19]

Lampe begins by noting that the grave stretches back at least the time of Gaius in 200 CE (Hist Ecc. 2.25.7). This is evidence that the excavation which took place in the 1950’s was in fact the site which possessed the so called grave of Peter. The evidence shows, conclusively according to Lampe, that this grave site could not possibly be the body of Peter and that the earliest grave dates no later than 100 CE.

The builders of the Christian edicula, or small shrine, at the grave site had to deal with a construction called the “red wall.” As Lampe notes, the Christian edicula leans against the red wall, which was a burial ground for pagans.[20] The fact that the edicula is oriented (awkwardly)[21] around the red wall is an indication that the two places were constructed at the same time and the stamps on the tiles of the clivus (basically the piping) for the Red Wall creates a definitive period of construction between 146-161 CE.

The archaeological artifacts from the mausoleums show that the owners of them were very wealthy (the stucco, frescoes, and mosaics are indications of wealth) and the names of the dead are all freepersons and their families. Pagan inscriptions confirm what the social data would cause us to suspect—the owners of the red wall are pagans.  The archaeological evidence pointing towards non-Christian ownership also seems to make sense of the aforementioned awkward construction of the mausoleum with the inconspicuous Christian edicula. This corresponds to Lampe’s thesis about the social strata of Roman Christianity & makes sense of the orientation of the edicula in relation to the red wall.

The results of the excavation of the surrounding graves by the edicula confirm that the individuals buried in that place were poor and that the earliest grave did not exist before 100 CE.[22] In that particular grave (Grave iota) the corpse was laid in a naked hole in the ground, without flooring or sidings for protection. On top there were merely three brick tiles laid out flatly.[23] The excavation showed a basic principle; the later the grave the “better” the burial. Up through the second century the burials are clearly from poor individuals, however, the graves only become incrementally more ornate. The question then arises, why did this particular location become a place of pilgrimage as early as 200 CE? What could have caused the grave of poor Christians to become identified as Peter’s? Lampe provides this potential explanation

It is interesting to note that the Christians of area “P” first put up a monument—however modest—at ‘Peter’s Grave’ only when the building activities of the owners of Q,R’, and of the clivus came precariously near to this grave and finally cut across a portion of it. Then the Christians were forced to save what they could and to compensate for what was lost by decorating this grave with a small monument. In other words, before all this happened, there had not been any wealthy church members who on their own initiative had come forward to donate money for any kind of monument to Peter.  Only external forces compelled the Christians to act.[24]

The fact that the earliest grave near the edicula is no earlier than 100 CE is conclusive evidence that Peter’s bones are not at the site contra Pope Paul VI’s pronouncement on June 26th, 1968.[25] Instead, the site at the Vatican was the burial ground for the poor Christians in the city.  As Lampe goes on to state,

How does the result of this chapter fit in with the clear descriptions, e.g., of Hermas and Justin, that in the first half and middle of the second century there were already many rich among the urban Roman Christians, indeed, that at Sunday worship services considerable funds were gathered into cash funds? The following conclusion seems to me certain when we compare the preceding chapters with the result of this one. The idea that urban Roman Christianity as a unified whole (with one bishop at its head) around 160 CE set up on the Vatican a monument to Peter is untenable (details on this in Section 5). What sort of circle of Christians was it, then? We remember that the Christians of the various city quarters each cared for their own burial sites.  If we compare the sociology of the grave area “P” with the sociology of the city region attached to the Vatican, Trastevere (Part 2, above) both parts fit together seamlessly. The Christians of Trastevere, most likely cared for the grave area “P.” [26]

Christians from the more well-to-do regions did not assist in this endeavor which seems to once again corroborate Lampe’s thesis that Roman Christianity was fractionated. Some of the wealthier grave sites that we do possess from the second century do not seem to be concerned with the Vatican site and were buried elsewhere.[27]

While Lampe goes on to garner further evidence from the time of Commodus and from Hippolytus’s “Apostolic Traditions,” the general argument of the passage along with the substantiation for it have been summarily described. Roman Christians were primarily poor, but there were some rich among their numbers. These two socio-economic groups had some loose interaction, yet they do not appear to have a strong centralized governmental structure. In order to explore his initial findings further he begins with a prosopographic investigation, looking at the individuals we know from the first two centuries and seeing if what we know about those individuals can shed new light or further corroborate Lampe’s thesis regarding fractionation.

Section IV: Prosopographic Investigation

Section IV is the most extensive chapter, consisting of 170+ pages. What Lampe is attempting to do in this section is work through the information that we possess for all of the individual Christians in the first two centuries and draw conclusions about those individuals. The information about the individuals can then be situated with the other data that we possess to present a more holistic picture.

To begin this section Lampe wants to begin with the earliest piece of information we have about Roman Christians—the list of names in Romans 16. Using name analysis based upon what we know from inscriptions and other extant writings which names were most commonly associated with slaves, freedpersons, and nobility. For the sake of simplicity I will quote Lampe’s conclusions after his analysis of the 28 names given in Romans 16,[28]

We can say that most probably four persons are freeborn and at least nine are of slave origin. That means, of the thirteen persons, about whom it was possible to make a statement, over two-thirds with a great degree of probability shows indications of slave origin.[29]

We again see a multiplicity of Christians of lower strata with a few individuals from a wealthier class which is consistent with Lampe’s three previous sections.  In chapters 17-20 we learn of some of the more noble members of the Roman community as well as a character like Pomponia Graecina who is not explicitly labeled a Christian but who was tried for “superstition” and whose behavior seemed consistent with other Christian customs, particularly her unassuming dress.  A similar unclear situation is addressed in Chapter 20 where Lampe explores the possibility that Flavius Clemens and Flavia Domitilla were Christians.  Lampe determines that Clemens was not a Christian, but a Flavia Domitilla of the senatorial rank was almost certainly executed for being a Christian.[30] These chapters continue to reinforce the notion of social stratification in Roman Christianity. What Lampe will turn his attention to next, however, is the prosopographic data on the major Christian writers of the second century: Clement, Hermas, Justin, as well as Marcion and other figures in Gnosticism.

What Lampe attempts to do with the Christian writers is ascertain something about their education & social status from their writing. The writers and readers of Christian literature to and from Rome wrote and read in Greek as opposed to Latin. While not a certain conclusion, Lampe points out that this seems to indicate, once again, that the Christians were from lower social strata.[31] In terms of the prosopographic investigation Lampe looks at a number of criteria, but I’ll simply summarize Lampe’s assessment of important Christian writer’s educational background.

Clement

As one would imagine a definitive determination of the author’s education and social status from their writing is not an ironclad way of determining one’s social status.  With Clement, Lampe is cautious to note that while there are echoes of Stoic and Platonic thought in Clement, it remains unclear how these motifs arrive in 1 Clement. Two things are clear, however, first is that Clement possesses a large dependence on biblical literature (see above in Section II) and second, that the author of Clement at least possesses an elementary education (and almost certainly more than that).[32]  Lampe ultimately concludes,

“What above all is of importance for us is the collective process of education that is visible behind 1 Clement: the transmitting of educational elements that came from the Hellenistic synagogues and were passed on in Roman Christianity of the first century (see Ch. 5).”[33]

Clement had formal training in Hellenistic schooling and also shows heavy influence of Jewish thinking.  Clement’s writing appears to substantiate the importance of Judaism on Christian theology and also shows similar educational material as Roman Judaism.

Hermas

Regarding Hermas, we learn something more about the social landscape.  Lampe addresses the autobiographical portions of Hermas and concludes that while some of it is clearly prosaic, that there is still important information to be gleaned about Hermas.[34] In the opening section Hermas attests to the fact that he is a freed slave born outside of Rome (i.e. not a Roman citizen) and his subsequent mention of his oikos (Vis 1.3.1;2.3.1; etc.),[35] his property on the Via Campana (Vis. 4.1.2), and his multiple business ventures (Mand. 6.2.5) seems to confirm Lampe’s previous findings about early Roman Christianity. Such upward mobility attests to the economic climate of Rome in the second century: upward mobility for slaves was a common occurrence. Such upward mobility is also attested by Hermas’s brother, Pius, also a former slave, being a presbyter at the church of Rome.[36] Lampe also shows that Hermas’s influences (pagan literature and some influence of canonical Scripture) while also noting that his literary style has been identified by experts as “awkward,  not in control of the material, clumsy, disorderly, contradictory, childish inexperience, crude, and odd.”[37]

So what do these conclusions mean about Hermas and Roman Christianity? Hermas’s social setting seems to fit in with the broader Christian movement.  Slave origins, which in the second century are upwardly mobile to gain freed person status. Hermas’s popularity with the broader Christian community and the continued relegation of this book in ecclesiastical documents (Canon Muratori, Eusebius Ecc. Hist 3.3.6) demonstrate the connection that Hermas connected with the broader Christian community. Thus, Lampe concludes, “Hermas clearly represented in his ideas a broad section of Christianity not only in Rome but in other Christian communities as well.”[38]

Justin Martyr

The final Christian apologist that Lampe investigates in his prosopographic investigation is Justin Martyr, from whom we have the most personal information. Justin lived in Rome as an immigrant from Flavia Neapolis in Samaria as a free man. Justin was a student of philosophy who was interested in Stoicism, Platonism, & Pythagorean[39] philosophy before his conversion to Christianity. It appears that Justin’s philosophical background is well read, but his more crass literary form makes it unlikely that he received formal training in rhetoric. While the repetition of these conclusions can appear tedious (particularly for the person attempting to figure out if Jesus founded the RCC), they are important to reinforce Lampe’s analysis of Roman Christianity. Roman Christianity consisted largely of Gentile immigrants, typically in lower social strata living in the poorer sections of the city. In the second century we begin to see upward mobility in Roman Christianity, yet, the social stratification of Roman Christianity retained its character.

The foundational importance of Justinus that his occupation as a philosopher begun a shift in the perception of Christianity in the eyes of Romans. [40]  While it was commonly called a superstition in the first century, in the later second century there is growing acceptance of Christianity as a philosophy, which made it more amenable to higher classes of Christians.

Gnosticism

This development of Christianity as a philosophical school (and thus as upwardly mobile) seems to also provide the fertile soil for Gnosticism to thrive in Rome.  Men such as Marcion (Ch. 24) and Valentinus (Ch. 27) were socially upward individuals who demonstrate advanced learning. Marcion shows familiarity with textual criticism while Valentinus shows advanced knowledge of Plato. Inscriptions found along the Via Latina (the wealthy section of Rome) seem to corroborate that Valentinians existed in the wealthier regions of Rome.[41] Lampe does note that Marcion’s material does not appear quite as sophisticated as Valentinus, but the Valentinians were noted, even by the orthodox as being particularly eloquent and persuasive.[42] While the founders of the Gnostic movements show signs of sophistication and high education, Tertullian and Irenaeus point out that many in the “multitude of the simpliciores” were “seduced” by these teachers.[43] Such reports indicate to Lampe that fractionation was also present in Gnostic sects.[44]

Summary of Section IV

I’ll conclude the fourth section with a summary of Lampe’s summary. Of particular importance however, is to consider what Lampe says at the beginning of his summary,

In the [Prosopographic] section our task was not to generalize from individual cases (what method would one use for this?) but to illuminate concretely the generalizations that the sources themselves made in the first section.[45]

The discoveries of the prosopographic investigation, therefore, are not determinative in themselves, but they help to paint a broader picture with more nuance while simultaneously confirming the analysis of the first three sections of Lampe’s argument. In the final section, Lampe begins to bring the previous 350 pages into sharper focus. Here, Lampe will begin to describe in detail the implications of fractionation and what it means for the Roman Christianity.

Section V- The Fractionation of Roman Christianity

This final section will be dealt with in the most detail because it brings all over the various chapters to a conclusion.  All of the disparate pieces of information begin to coalesce in a clearer picture.

In the 36 Chapter Lampe makes an interesting observation about Romans 16, the entirety of Roman Christianity is never mentioned—not even in Romans 1:7 where you would expect it.[46] Given what Lampe has argued in the previous section, Lampe notes the interesting way in which Paul works his greetings.  He doesn’t greet the entire church instead he greets the household of Aristobulus (v.10), Those in the household of Narcissus (v.11), Asyncritus…and the other brothers and sisters with them (v.14), Philologus…and all the Lord’s people who are with them (v.15). This leads Lampe to conclude,

There is nowhere any indication of a central location for the different groups scattered over the city.  Each circle of Christians may have conducted worship services by itself in a house or apartment, so that it can be referred to as a house community.[47]

The next piece of information that Lampe uses to corroborate his reading of Romans 16 is the origination of titular churches. Lampe discusses titular churches in various parts of his study, but it is helpful to understand what a titular church is. Lampe describes it thusly,

The Christian usage of the term ‘tituli’ is often seen to originate in the pre-Constantine period when Christian communities assembled in private homes. A titulus would have been the inscription of the name of the host. This inscription would have been located above the entrance of the house or apartment and visible to everyone who entered the assembly on Sunday…”titulus” was a concept of property rights and indicated the legal basis for ownership of material goods.[48]

In many cases all that was known about the titular church was the name it retained from antiquity. Lampe believes that we can have an accurate construction of the existence of these titular churches for the following reasons:

  1. Testimony of the synods (particularly the Roman synods of 499 & 595 and the list of 40 churches given by Optatus of Mileve in 312 CE)
  2. Cornelius (in Eusebius, Hist Ecc. 6.43.11) records 46 presbyters in Rome. If 2-3 presbyters served in a titular church as indicated in the above lists, than this brings us to 15-23 titular churches, which is roughly the number of titular churches which claim existence before Constantine.
  3. Fifth and sixth century Christians believed that the titular churches dated before Constantine.
  4. The names fit the general social situation where Christians met in private residences and before canonization occurred.
  5. The change in the sixth century for titular churches from unknown titular names to the names of recognized saints shows that the unknown names were exchanged for recognized names.

The existence of the titular churches causes Lampe to state, “In principle, there exists, therefore, a continuity between the structure presupposed in Rom. 16 and the later net of titular churches in Rome.”[49]

Finally, Lampe notes other pieces of important affirming what is seen in Romans and in the origin of titular churches. I will just point out his mention of the trial transcripts of Justin Martyr’s trial. Justin states that his circle met in a lodging “above the bath of Myrtinus.” To the question “Where do you assemble?” Justin responded, “There, where each one will and can. Or do you mean that we all are accustomed to assemble in the same place? It is by no means so.” Lampe states that Justin claims he does not even know where other assemblies meet (cf. Act. Just. 3). Furthermore, Justin states in Dial. 47.2 that Christians met in private dwellings. The implication is that while Justin also talks about Sunday liturgy “in one place,” a central assembly of Christianity is not envisioned.[50]  He is instead describing the assembly of a typical house-church community that takes place on Sundays.[51]

The data from Chapter 37 fits in nicely with what we know of Christian property rights in the first and second century. There is no evidence of a Christian building or of areas of worship being described as such in literary or epigraphic data until the third century. The concurrence of archaeological and literary evidence leads us to believe that there were no specific rooms permanently set aside for worship in secular houses.[52] What we read instead is that Christian circles met in the private houses of wealthy Christians or on the third floor of an insula (Acts 20:7ff), in a rented lodging “over the bath of Myrtinus” (Justin, Acta 3, or in a suburban villa on the Via Latina (see Ch. 27).

The reason for private property being so prevalent is no surprise; Christians were being persecuted and would not be able to legally hold property.[53] As Christianity became recognized less as a superstition and more as a philosophy, however, 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). Ultimately Lampe concludes,

A house-church community consists only of as many members as there is room for in a private home. This means that the lower the social level of the Christians, the smaller the dwellings and the smaller the house-church communities, and the greater the number of house-church communities that are necessary. And the great the number is, the more fractionated is the entire Christianity in the city.[54]

At this point the meaning of fractionation in Christianity comes into greater focus as it relates to church government.  Lampe had elsewhere argued that (cf. Titular churches and Justin’s testimony about worship in Rome) each house church worshiped often with their own clergy and leadership. 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. The fact that Christians met (by necessity) in house churches for worship scattered throughout the city causes Lampe to propose that each private dwelling in Rome had its own liturgical officers who operated in the church.[55] As this review is becoming exceedingly long, I’ll forgo analysis of Chapter 38, but this chapter supplements 36 & 37 by exploring the way first and second century people viewed house churches—in a word, suspiciously.[56]

Chapter 39 brings to the forefront further evidence of theological differences in the city of Rome which existed along the fractionated lines outlined by Lampe. The Quartodeciman controversy is particularly illustrative of this theological multiplicity & the impact of fractionation of Roman Christianity. Lampe notes,

Most of the theological tendencies represented in Rome did not originate there but were imported into the capital city.  With the word “promoted” is meant that the fractionation made possible for a long period of time the survival of the theological multiplicity that inundated Rome…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.[57]

A number of points of convergence meet here.  First, we remember in the first section that Roman Christianity was an immigrant religion in Rome.  Much of it came through trade routes and a number of the Christian communities in Rome were not only fractionated by socio-economic factors but also by ethnic factors. Lampe is careful to not draw this correlation in a one-way causal manner (ethnic origin as determinative of theology or vice-versa), yet Lampe points out that Judaism shared this same ethnically fractionated dynamic—which Lampe’s thesis would expect to see.[58]

Interestingly, Lampe points out that with all of this fractionation there is a rather vast tolerance of people with other theological opinions. Lampe credits one of these reasons on fractionation.  Because these churches were not frequently interacting because of their geographic proximity, the less necessary it becomes to argue to be distinguished.[59] Irenaeus reports that no one severed ties from the various individuals in Rome about the date of Easter prior to Victor (c. 190).[60] These independent churches operated separately but in communion with one another way for over a century in the same city.

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.[61] Even the heretic Marcion received initial acceptance in Rome until he asked to dispute with the presbyters of the Roman Church concerning his theological views.  It was this friction that prompted the loosely federated churches to respond with excommunication. At the same time, 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. Fractionation in the Christian community allowed this theological diversity to continue until the later portions of the second century and early portions of the third century when fractionation in Rome dissipated. With all of this evidence of fractionation before us, Lampe concludes with the ramifications of fractionation on Roman ecclesiology and the monarchical episcopate in particular.

Lampe sets out his thesis about the monarchical episcopate: “Before the second half of the second century there was in Rome no monarchical episcopacy for the circles mutually bound in fellowship.”[62]

Lampe takes pains to make it clear that the house congregations were aware of other churches in the city and were in spiritual fellowship with one another being united by common bonds. Paul, after all, writes his letter to the collective Roman Church as a unity.  Ignatius and Dionysius of Corinth do likewise while 1 Clement was composed in Rome and sent as a letter representing the mind of the church.[63] We learn from Hermas in Vis 2.4.3 that someone was in charge of this external communication.[64]  Hermas knew him as Clement, but Clement is not a monarchical bishop. Hermas goes on to describe that this director of external communication made the communication known to the presbyters presiding over the church. Later, in Vis. 3.9.7, Hermas again refers to the leaders of the church in the plural. As a matter of fact, Hermas mentions that the presiders quarrel over status “proteia” and honor. Lampe notes however, that Hermas nowhere sees any of these individuals exerting control or authority over the others.  Instead, he always speaks in the plural (Vis 2.4.2f; 2.2.6; 3.1.8).

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.[65] Every account of the dispute with Marcion mentions that Marcion faced the “presbyterys and teachers” in Rome, not a monarchical bishop. Clement likewise mentions leadership in the plural at the city in Rome.

A particular point of interest is that in Clement and Hermas, episcopos and presbuteroi are used virtually interchangeably. Lampe explains the potential difference between them with two options.  The first is that the bishops belong to the group of presbyters; they are one part of it, but not all presbyters care for the poor—a task that was an important part of being a bishop. The second is that all presbyters are at the same time “bishops” and the latter designation specifies one of their special duties.[66] Based upon Apology 1.67.6 we know that the worship leader was also in charge of taking care of the poorer members of the liturgical assembly. The previously established fact that the worship that occurred happened in various house churches leads Lampe to believe that each individual group was presided over by its own presbyter-bishop.[67] The information we know about the Theodotian and Montanist structures testifies to this (see Chapters 33 & 30 respectively).

So if each house church was monitored by a presbyter-bishop and those presbyter-bishops did meet and have fellowship with one another without strong centralization, how did the development of the episcopate occur?

The minister of “external affairs”, as noted in Vision 2.4.3, was responsible for the external correspondence and coordinating aid. This individual began to exert growing influence in the church and managed the fund for the poor. Lampe notes that the “transitional” figures to the episcopate held this role (Soter, Anicetus, and Eleutherus).[68] The minister of external affairs began to exert growing influence. We even know that Marcion donated 200,000 sesterces (the value of a small independent farm) and after his excommunication the church was able to return that money to him.[69] We know that there was a struggle for power among the presbyters, so the trajectory to monarchy was incipient very early, yet at the time of Hermas no one man is identified as being above any other.

Section VI.  Lampe & Cross Interact

What one must deal with, however, the bishop lists of Irenaeus (c.180) and Hegesippus (160). First, at the outset, it is at this point that I’ll mention Dr. Bryan Cross’s interaction with Lampe.[70] Cross argues that Lampe and other scholars interpretation of Lampe is “speculation.” At the outset, Dr. Cross only mentions Lampe’s exegetical conclusions and does not mention the contributing factors to Lampe’s exegesis and beliefs about the credibility of Irenaeus and Hegesippus.  Bringing this review to a conclusion we will look at Lampe’s interaction with Irenaeus & Hegesippus, then look at Cross’s response, and finally offering a response of our own by way of summary of the entirety of Lampe’s work.

First, the list of Hegesippus was compiled by the (Jewish?) apologist around 160 CE and we possess Hegesippus’s writing from Eusebius. Eusebius, recounting Hegesippus’s account says, “During time in Rome I drew/made/created a “diadoxen” up until Anicetus.” The meaning of diadoxen is rather significant here because this word could be used to mean a succession of bishops, or it could mean a succession of teaching (diadoxe). Lampe concludes that Hegesippus’s writing provides evidence that he is concerned with pure doctrine (4.22.2) as it was passed down uninterrupted from the Apostles until the present.  “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.”[71] A forthcoming article will show that this is the standard interpretation of this passage as well.

Irenaeus’s lists is more complete (Hegesippus’s list does not go back to Peter or past Anicetus) and stretches back to Peter. In terms of linguistic structure, Lampe makes a number of interesting observations. He points out that the bare catalogue of names is in the present while the historical and literary comments in the imperfect. According to Lampe, this is sufficient evidence to conclude that the list does not originate with Irenaeus, but is drawn from another tradition. The grammatical distinctions provide a rather simple way to distinguish the tradition from the redaction.[72]

In addition to the source material, Lampe mentions that the numbers used by Irenaeus illuminate our interpretation of his statements.  The fact that Sixtus is the sixth member of the list is not an immediate sign to Lampe that the list is deceptive, but rather, that the framework of twelve was intentional in the construction of the list which simultaneously provides information that the list does not come before the bishopric of Eleutherus. Yet another piece of interesting literary evidence is that Irenaeus does not begin his list with Peter, but instead with Linus.  Technically, there have been 13 bishops since Peter, but to maintain the aesthetic number of 12, the list starts with Linus.

Lampe suggests that what happened is that when the list was created the monarchical episcopate was “projected back into the past.” This would presumably be easy to see this development take place, particularly if the office of bishop had developed from the manager of external affairs. Lampe also notes however, that Irenaeus could have listed a ‘bundle’ of chains before the middle of the second century but this would have been a complex representation badly suited for the purposes of upholding the teaching of the Church.[73] What Lampe believes is that the names were not made up (or deceptively fabricated), but rather that they were names borrowed from the tradition of the city of Rome. While they were Roman leaders, they would not have understood themselves as monarchical leaders.[74]

It bears pointing out at this juncture that Lampe’s presentation is far more than “speculation.” Dr. Cross argues,

“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”

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.

Cross continues,

“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.”

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. Cross has not addressed any of the evidence provided up to this point, but he continues in point 3,

“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.”

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

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.

Cross concludes by saying,

“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…Actually, [Lampe] 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 all due respect (and I do have much respect for Dr. Cross), Dr. Cross demonstrates his ignorance of Lampe’s book throughout this entire comment.[75] 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). Yet, Dr. Cross does not interact with any of the arguments that Lampe sets forth.

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.

Summary

There is incredibly good evidence to demonstrate that Christianity came out of the synagogues and appealed to the poorer Gentile immigrants in the city while retaining significant portions of its Jewish heritage. We know from archaeological information that Christians were geographically dispersed through Rome with a heavy centralization of Christians in the poorer areas of the city. In addition to this socio-economic fractionation, we also witnessed strong evidence of ethnic fractionation as well impacted by the large number of immigrants. This fractionation impacted the theological plurality in Rome of which we are able to witness a striking tolerance of varying theological opinions until the fractionation of Rome was dissipating (due to several social, political, & even theological factors).

Given that we know Christianity began in the synagogues, it is fascinating that what we know of Roman Jewry is that it is fractionated, much like other evidence suggests for Christianity. There is no centralized power structure, but the independent synagogues have a loose connection with one another. Apologists may be tempted to use such facts to insist that correlation demands causation, but Lampe is more reserved in his assessment.  It does not demand fractionation, but it is a further contributing piece of evidence to show the loose affiliation of house churches in Rome.

All of the extant literary sources show fractionation to seem degree Romans, Justin, and Hermas all do so explicitly while Clement and Ignatius refer to a plurality of leaders in Rome. The fact that Roman Christianity was loosely organized is a rather safe conclusion given the great deal of data considered.

Now, one may be inclined to suggest that this does not mean that there could have possibly been a monarchical bishop in Rome. It is a possibility, but there is literally no piece of evidence that exists to suggest such a thing existed. The strongest piece of data that we have is that the church did possess an affiliation with the disparate house churches, but this is exactly what we would expect to find in a presbyterial form of government.

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.

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


[1] See Jewett’s Foreword in xiii for a similar statement of Lampe’s thesis.

[2] From the Introduction & on the books back cover.

[3] Lampe 15

[4] Building on Section 1, since the Jews and Christians shared a common heritage, finding the geographic location of the Jewish quarters would give an idea of Christian locations as well.

[5] Lampe, 24.

[6] Lampe 64. Cf. Martial 6.93

[7] Lampe, 52-54.

[8] For a breakdown of the evidence see Lampe’s pictorial on pages 44-45.

[9] Lampe, 47.

[10] Lampe, 47

[11] For a perspective that sees more Jewish influence that Lampe consult A.B. du Toit “The ecclesiastical situation of the first generation Roman Christians” Hervormde Teologieses Studies 53/3 (1997): 498-512.

[12] Lampe, 78.

[13] For a list of work done by scholars in this field consult Appendix 4 where Lampe lists the primary sources to validate his claims as well as the relevant secondary literature in the footnotes.

[14] Lampe, 432.

[15] In commenting on the disparity between the low number of Christians and the high number of Jews who were citizens Lampe states, “Of course, this comparison does not yet prove that citizenship was found more frequently among urban Roman Jews than in the Chrisitanity of the city.  But we may take it as another warning against transferring sociohistorical discoveries about urban Roman Judaism directly to urban Roman Christianity.” Lampe, 83.

[16] Lampe attempts to offer a socio-historical analysis of Hermas’s doctrine of postbaptismal repentance.  Lampe notes that he is not trying to offer a single explanation for the documents doctrine, but he is attempting to explain how the social reality may have impacted Hermas’s theology. See Chapter 10 for more detail

[17] While Nero was notoriously capricious, he is never criticized for doing something as heinous as punishing Roman citizens in a way that would have been completely circumvented Roman law.

[18] Lampe, 85. Lampe does note there are various reasons that people would sell themselves into slavery. Clement tells us that they were doing it selflessly (and Lampe seems to take Clement at his word), but there are also sociological and economic benefits if you can win your freedom and also find a benefactor.

[19] Lampe does not explicitly deal with any Papal statements, but he implicitly addresses them.  For our purposes, it is worthwhile to point out such a connection.

[20] Lampe, 105.

[21] For the sake of space and simplicity I will not go into all of the detail in this review but I will point those interested to consult the full chapter as well as Figures 6-15.

[22]For more information on the methodology and certainty of these conclusions consult page 109.

[23] Lampe references Kirschbaum as bricks being the cheapest material for burial in footnote 33.

[24] Lampe, 114.

[25] One could possibly argue that while the burial took place C. 100 CE, that the bones may have been kept elsewhere and therefore the bones are Peter’s but they were not buried until C. 100. Such a supposition is a possibility, but there is no evidence to argue in its favor.

[26] Lampe, 115.

[27] Lampe, 116, lists Callistus and Zephyrinus.

[28] For more detail on the criterion for classifying names see Lampe 170-173.

[29] Lampe, 183.

[30] This is based on the corroborating testimony of Bruttius (as reported in Eusebius)

[31] Lampe, 143. Care needs to be taken in making too much of this fact, but it does seem to point out something about the educational level of the individuals writing and the social setting of those receiving the letter.

[32] Lampe 216-217.

[33] Lampe 217.

[34] Lampe records that Hermas’s audience would have known his personal history/status making such a fabrication in the story unlikely.

[35] Lampe reservedly believes that Hermas managed a house of slaves and freemen.

[36] See Lampe, 224. Lampe does not give extended conversation to the mention of Pius and whether or not the Muratorian Fragment is accurate in describing Hermas and Pius as brothers. In footnote 27 Lampe appears to believe that the Muratorian fragment is not as valuable as some have argued because 1. The Muratorian fragment is attempting to discredit the canonicity of the Shepherd 2. The monarchical episcopate mentioned in the fragment did not exist and is not referenced in Hermas, as Lampe says he will continue to show.

[37] Lampe 231.

[38] Lampe, 236.

[39] Lampe, 258. Justin notes that he was not able to attend the Pythagorean school because he lacked the knowledge to do so, Dial 2.4ff.

[40] It is not so much that Justin created this shift on his own, but rather that we witness that the climate of second century Rome created spaces for Christianity to be taken more seriously as a philosophy even as many Romans regarded it as foolish philosophy.

[41] See Lampe’s discussion for why the inscription in the Capitoline Museum is a Valentinan artifact on pages 298-313.

[42] Lampe, 296. Particularly noteworthy among sophisticated Valenintians are Ptolemy and Heracleon.

[43] Lampe, 298, footnote 30.

[44] Lampe. 312-313.

[45] Lampe, 351.

[46] Lampe, 359.

[47] Lampe, 360.

[48] Lampe, 362.

[49] Lampe 364. For Lampe’s nuance on how the titular churches did not have to meet in the exact same location, see page 364 footnote 19.

[50] Identifying the “proestos” as a bishop is “to read into the passage things that are not there.” Lampe, 365.

[51] Lampe, 365.

[52] Lampe, 369.

[53] Lampe also notes however, that Rom law governing organizations, the community treasury was also not considered property of a corporation but as the undistributed property of the individual members, Lampe 370.

[54] Lampe, 372.

[55] Lampe, 377.  He says that he will momentarily explain this more fully in his final chapter.

[56] Lampe, 380.

[57] Lampe 382. Lampe notes however, that there was not only a faction of those from Asia Minor that held this position, there was a faction with a man named Blastus who opposed Victor.

[58] Lampe, 383.

[59] Lampe, 385.

[60] Ecc. Hist 5.24.14ff.

[61] See Lampe 393-396. These groups ranged from Cerdo, those with affinities for Ebionism, and Montanists.

[62] A forth-coming article will emphasize this more clearly, but it is important to see here that Lampe agrees that there are “circles mutually bound in fellowship.” Lampe does not explicitly address the current discussion of Christianity or Christianities but Lampe in various places notes that “orthodoxy” was the predominant movement (he mentions Celsus’s claim about the size of orthodox Christianity) and that the government (though not of the episcopal variety) starts very early.

[63] Lampe, 398.

[64] On pages 400-402 evidence for the relationship between the various house communities is explored, but Lampe admits “we unfortunately know little of this convention level above the individual house communities.”

[65] Lampe does not find Ignatius’s position as wide spread as one may believe from reading Ignatius.  Rome stands out as one example, but also Ancyra has no bishop but only a group of presbyters according to Eusebius Ecc. Hist. 5.16.5. Also, even in Ignatius’s letter to the Philadelphians presupposes Christians who do not wish to be under a bishop.  See Lampe 399 footnote 5.

[66] Lampe, 400.

[67] Lampe, 400.

[68] Lampe, 402.

[69] Lampe, 245.

[71] Lampe 404.

[72] See Footnote 17.

[73] Lampe, 406.

[74] 406.

[75] Please note this is not meant in a pejorative sense.  Because Dr. Cross has not represented anything that I have encountered in Lampe I believe that Dr. Cross had either not read Lampe carefully enough or he had forgotten the nuance of Lampe’s arguments when he posted this comment.

About Brandon Addison

Licentiate in the Pacific Presbytery (PCA). Employee at Blackboard Inc. Husband. Sports fanatic. Crossfit dabbler. Theology nerd.
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75 Responses to Extended Review of Peter Lampe’s “From Paul to Valentinus”

  1. John Bugay says:

    Thanks for the work here Brandon — I’ve been wanting to do this for some time, but you’ve done a masterful job.

  2. david9492 says:

    Thanks for the review. Its definitely on my “to buy” list.

  3. Erick Ybarra says:

    None of this appeals to those read the trustworthy witnesses. What it looks like from a Catholic’s end is that these modern day “scholars”, who were just infants about 35-150 years ago, which to “correct” men of genius intelligence that actually lived in the 1st two centuries of the church. That some deception of a monarchical episcopacy at Rome would spread in the east, west, and throughout Africa within just a few years makes Lampe’s argument extremely doubtful.

    • John Bugay says:

      Erick – and who are the “trustworthy witnesses”? Have you considered Hermas, who lived during that time, who complained about “this city [Rome], along with the elders (presbuteroi) who preside (proistamenoi – plural leadership) over the church…” This young wipper-snapper, Lampe, also discusses these “trustworthy witnesses” at length. Which you might know about if you had decided to read it instead of just simply share your uninformed opinion.

  4. Bryan Cross says:

    Thanks for this Brandon. I’ll try to take a look at this over the weekend. This is the last day of the January term, and I’m prepping for Spring semester classes that start Tuesday, so I may not be able to respond right away (to a 20 page document). But if I do, I’ll post it at CTC. Also, just so you know, we’re limiting combox comments at CTC until the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which ends tomorrow, so that we can devote more time to prayer. Thanks again for the work you did here.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  5. Erick,

    Thanks for the comment.

    Lampe is attempting to ascertain an adequate interpretation of the “trustworthy” sources that you mention while also doing justice to all of the data that we possess. I don’t see Lampe or any critical scholar attempting to “correct” the Fathers, but to interpret them properly and in conversation with one another. For example, Irenaeus, as great a man as he was, was wrong about basic historical details like Jesus’s age(Against Heresies, 2:22:4-6). That doesn’t make Irenaeus less of a saint, but it does mean that he could be wrong about certain historical facts.

    Furthermore, you are prejudicial using the word “deceiving” to describe the development of the monarchical episcopate. I certainly do not believed it developed deceptively and Lampe never speaks in that manner. I just believe that it developed and in many places for very good social, political, and theological reasons . Additionally, for a Presbyterian like myself, I view episcopacy as a particular development or form of collegiality & catholicity that has much in common with presbyterianism.

    Finally, you give the time frame of “just a few years” but that is a vague time table which must take account for over a centuries worth of time. This development was neither quick nor was it universal, and there are arguments to substantiate that claim (see Lampe). There is no dogma of the Church that requires you to believe everything that a Church father says is correct and so you should defend the reliability of the witnesses. More importantly and to the point however (Lampe does not spend time trying to “correct” the sources), Lampe is offering a reading of the Fathers that actually respects them just as much, if not more, than the Catholic. He wants to know what the Fathers are saying and why are saying it. He is not attempting to deconstruct what Irenaeus says, he is attempting to exegete it.

  6. Bryan,

    No rush on a response! Any interaction with what I’ve written would be great :)

  7. Andrew Preslar says:

    Brandon, I also would like to thank you for taking the time to summarize Lampe’s book. He seems to be an excellent example of contemporary historiography, which has a tendency to eschew meta-narratives and nourish suspicion of texts (e.g., Irenaeus) that underwrite any “essentialist” understanding of a religion (etc), particularly if that understanding turns out to be traditional. Instead, these historians look to the margins of society, ruminating upon non-textual data so to glean strands of “difference” and understand history from new points of view, especially with reference to those who did not leave written records or whose record is preserved only in the annals of their enemies (the poor, heretics, etc). Peter Brown does something similar, in his work on Late Antiquity.

    This approach can be valuable for its ability to turn up (literally) evidence and suggest alternative approaches to long-standing assumptions based upon such evidence, but the very nature of the project makes the lines of inquiry oblique, with the historian’s interests (not excluding ideology), assumptions, and surmises filling up a lot of the silent space left over by the kinds of evidence on which he is focused. Also, the latent post-modernism of this approach, while not entirely without value, is open to criticism, especially if one believes that ecclesial history in particular is not simply an amalgam of stuff that “just happened”. In short, you would be well advised to exercise as least as much critical care in interacting with Lampe as you do when interacting with Christian tradition.

    Fr. John Erickson of St Vladimir’s Seminary asks some critical questions of the new historiography in the following lecture, entitled “Does Christian Tradition Have a Future?”:

    http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/svsvoices/does_christian_tradition_have_a_future_fr._john_meyendorffs_questions_revis

    (If I recall correctly, the substance of the lecture begins at about the twenty minute mark.)

    I would like to add one observation, regarding the evidence of diversity in early Roman Christianity: The “fractionation” of Christianity in Rome seems to mean that Christians lived in various parts of the city, worshiped in various houses with various bishop/presbyters presiding, and experienced doctrinal discord among themselves. Of course. This is perfectly consistent with, and indeed what we would expect, given the letter of St Paul to the Romans, along with Acts and the Epistles and indeed the entirety of Church history, up to and including the present day.

    Notice, however, that Paul address his letter to “all God’s beloved in Rome”, which suggests that “fractionation” is not the whole story. There is a distinct sense of Christian unity (particularly with regard to (a) justification by faith [3:29-30] and (b) ecclesial life [12:4-5] pervading the Epistle. Furthermore, in addressing the Roman Christians, Paul refers to “another man’s foundation”, singular. So the multiplicity of house churches, bishop-presbyters, social and economic strata, etc, among the Christians in Rome is perfectly compatible with there a being a single foundation, which Paul clearly associates with a person, whereby Christ is named and the Gospel preached in Rome.

    Lampe’s explanation of the transition to the monarchical episcopate (as summarized in this post) is actually helpful for the Catholic case, since it (1) provides a plausible structural mechanism (i.e. a manager of external affairs) whereby the singular and personal “foundation” of Roman Christianity is perpetuated during the time that there is no clear indication of a monarchical episcopate in Rome, and (2) concedes the historicity of key personages (namely, those referred to in the bishop lists) who were latter understood to have fulfilled a role (bishop, singular, of Rome) which itself came to be understood as essential, in connection with the personal, Apostolic foundation of Roman Christianity.

  8. Andrew Preslar says:

    In the final paragraph, I should have written “whereby the singular and personal “foundation” of Roman Christianity could have been perpetuated”; the use of “is” makes my point appear more assertoric than I had intended.

  9. Thanks for your comment, Andrew.

    What from the review gives you the suspicion that Lampe nourishes suspicion of texts? I believe that he is attempting to understand the text on its own terms though I won’t deny the other aspects of his argument contribute to his interpretation. This is to be expected in any historical work, right?

    I’m also note sure you’ve properly identified Lampe’s methodology. Lampe views various types of data from different sources. It’s not a “history from below” or a “history from above.” Lampe takes all of the data of Rome in the first and second century and attempts to methodically piece together the evidence wherever it may appear. He deals with the wealthy as well as the poor; the orthodox as well as the heterodox. I don’t want to say that his approach is philosophically neutral, but I’m not sure I understand precisely what you mean when you describe it as postmodern.
    You continue by saying

    the very nature of the project makes the lines of inquiry oblique, with the historian’s interests (not excluding ideology), assumptions, and surmises filling up a lot of the silent space left over by the kinds of evidence on which he is focused.

    Do you think you could provide an example of where this impacts Lampe’s analysis of the data? I know that in theory your statements are true of any historical writing, but I’d be interested to see what in Lampe’s work causes you to sense the problems that arise with postmodern historical studies.
    Also, with regard to your point, I want to make as clear as possible Lampe believes that the church in Rome conceived of itself as one church. Even though they met separately, the Roman churches saw themselves as part of the Church in Rome and throughout the world. Lampe concedes this and cites the passages you’ve mentioned as evidence of this unity.
    I have a feeling we will continue to see the sort of language that you say with “it is perfectly compatible with their being a single foundation.” It really depends what you mean by this statement. It’s true enough to give false impressions about what is meant by the statement. It is true in the sense that it *could* be possible, but all of the available evidence really favors the position of multiple leadership in Rome.
    Based on your statements, I’m not sure that anything short of a statement from the early church that there was definitely no pope in Rome would suffice for evidence that it did not exist. This may be a difficult question to answer, but what sort of criteria would falsify your belief that Jesus founded the RCC? Even if I show you that the early church functioned in a Presbyterian manner you claim that this does not contradict that Jesus founded the RCC, because [this is my understanding, feel free to clarify/correct] it’s possible one of the presbyters held a distinguished place among the others even though he did not exercise that authority or even understand it completely. I think this is demonstrated in your final paragraph.
    You claim Lampe’s proposal for the development of the episcopate provides clarity for the Roman Catholic position that Jesus founded the RCC. Such a statement truly confuses me. How could Lampe’s proposal that no episcopate existed until the formation of the minister of external affairs eventually developed into a role of monarchical bishop? Such evidence as Lampe and other scholars understand it is persuasive evidence against a monarchical episcopate, and yet you use the same evidence to arrive at the conclusion that this is helpful for the RCC. In what way is it helpful and how is it consistent with the claim that Jesus founded the RCC?

  10. Andrew Preslar says:

    Hey Brandon,

    (I have added numbers to this comment at the points where I pick up a distinct topic or aspect of the discussion.)

    1. First of all, I want to apologize for using the second person singular in the following remark: “…you would be well advised to exercise as least as much critical care in interacting with Lampe as you do when interacting with Christian tradition.” That was wrong. I should have used “we”, because what I was going for was a general exhortation (myself included) towards exercising due critical thinking with regard to arguments, in addition to the deference due to notable persons.

    The reason that this seemed worth mentioning is that the scholarly acclaim for Lampe’s book is sometimes put to rhetorical use, as though that acclaim in itself justified, or were a presumptive reason for, agreeing with his conclusion on the specific point of Apostolic headship (monarchical episcopate) in the Church in Rome before the middle of the second century.

    By analogy, I imagine that Reformed folk would want to point out that the scholarly acclaim with which the work of men such as James Dunn, EP Sanders, and NT Wright has been greeted does not in itself constitute a reason for rejecting the classical Protestant doctrine of justification, even though their impressive research into and analysis of the period of Second Temple Judaism quite naturally and intentionally stands behind, in justification of, their specific conclusions regarding the nature of justification.

    2. My remarks about contemporary historiography were intended as generalizations, not descriptions of Lampe’s book, which I have not read. If you listen to the podcast to which I linked, it should be evident why Lampe’s work, as summarized above, seems to be an example of this type of scholarship. I did not intend to imply that my stance towards this sort of work in general, or Lampe’s work in particular, is fundamentally adversarial. In fact, your summary was the first thing that I have seen in the blogosphere which made me interested in the book, even though the overriding point of your post is to use this work by way of providing a defeater for Catholic ecclesiology (more on that below). I have long been a “fan” of Wright, et al, when it comes to the history of Christian origins in the context of Second Temple Judaism, and I have recently come to admire the historian Peter Brown, who focuses on Late Antiquity. Perhaps Lampe’s work can help to supplement these historians and/or fill in the gap between origins and late antiquity.

    3. You asked “what what sort of criteria would falsify your belief that Jesus founded the RCC?” That is a difficult question, but I think that I can answer it in way that is relevant first of all to the matter at hand, and then more broadly. Lampe’s argument concerning the monarchical episcopate (Apostolic headship) in Rome before the middle of the second century, as summarized in your post, would not provide a defeater for my belief, because even if that argument is successful the conclusion would be compatible with the position taken by scholars such as Raymond Brown, Francis Sullivan, and Eamon Duffy (and also, perhaps, Klaus Schatz), all of whom are Catholics, and presumably faithful Catholics (believing everything that the Catholic Church teaches). Now, I think that are problems with some of the historical reconstructions provided by these men, regarding the relationship between bishops and Apostles and the emergence of the monarchical episcopate. But their reconstructions of the historical details are pretty similar to Lampe’s, and they obviously believe that there are still principled reasons to hold to Catholic ecclesiology. So, one would have to provide a defeater for those reasons, instead of merely appealing to their historical conclusions. (I think that the situation is analogous to scholars who conclude that the Bible is contains historical errors but is nevertheless the word of God. Simply pointing out the errors would not be a defeater for their position.)

    Beyond that, I would cease to believe that Christ founded the Catholic Church if I were presented with conclusive evidence that (a) Jesus Christ did not exist, or (b) he did not found a Church. Not many scholars go for (a), but there are top-notch New Testament scholars who hold (b), maintaining that Matthew 16 and 18 are later interpolations of the Christian community, who projected the “Church” back into the past, namely, into the words (and putative intentions) of Jesus. Beyond this, if Jesus were not the Christ, the Son of the living God, and/or if he were not risen from the dead, or if God does not exist, then the question of whether or not Christ founded a Church would, it seems to me, be of theoretical interest at most. So there are a number of possible defeaters (or deflaters) for my view, at the foundational level.

    On a more personal and perhaps more palpable level, if someone could dissuade me from the biblical theological vision that I developed from reading Sacred Scripture in the years before I converted to Catholicism, providing in its place a more compelling vision, that could be constitute a defeater for my position. Something like a compelling argument for the biblical theological vision of Dispensationalism would do the trick. In my case, Presbyterianism, followed by Anglicanism, was actually a stepping stone towards Catholicism, as it helped me develop an “anticipation / fulfillment” hermeneutic in place of the dichotomous reading of the Bible (Israel versus Church, Law versus Gospel, even Gospels versus Epistles) that I had previously employed. Once I came to see the Church as liturgical and sacramental kingdom, the present fulfillment of the hope of Israel, the road inevitably led to the fork of either Catholicism or Orthodoxy. If you could persuade me that Christ instead founded a classroom or Platonic idea, I might have occasion to revisit matters.

    4. You might be able to show me that the early church functioned in a “Presbyterian manner”, but you would have to disambiguate the sense in which the EC was “Presbyterian”. And of course you would have to reckon with St Ignatius. The better option, or the easier course, would be to stick with Rome, where you are correct in pointing out that there are no references to a monarchical bishop before the middle of the second century. Elsewhere, it is otherwise, as you also point out in reference to six of St Ignatius’s letters. You will have to make a case for Rome being the exception to the rule of Apostolic foundation > Apostolic succession > Episcopal administration. Given that rule, the silences (noted by Lampe) regarding the bishop of Rome are peculiar and noteworthy, but that leaves the questions of whether they are explicable in terms of the general rule in the early church and the positive evidence which states that there have been bishops in the Church in Rome from the beginning. Obviously, as we have gone through this before, I believe that the answer to these questions is yes.

    5. Finally, Lampe’s proposal is helpful for the Catholic position because he provides what I referred to as a “structural mechanism” but might more simply be called a “distinctive activity” or “role” whereby the Apostolic headship / monarchical episcipate might be recognized (albeit indistinctly) in the early Church in Rome, namely, “minister of external affairs”. Insofar as there was a sense of unity in the Christian community, and insofar as this unity was expressed in some concrete ministry to some practical end, then we could very well have an activity that evidences the existence of the principle of episcopal headship in that local Church. The ministry of Clement (c. 90-100 AD) would be an apropos example if he indeed wrote the letter to the Corinthians on behalf of the Church in Rome. This activity is apropos to the principle of headship, in that it is similar to the activity of St James the Just at the Jerusalem Council, in drafting the communication to Antioch on behalf of the Apostles and elders. It is commonly acknowledged that James’s place in the Church in Jerusalem was a clear precedent for the monarchical episcopacy. By analogy, then, Clement’s similar activity in the Church in Rome (in writing to Corinth) would indicate a similar role in that community.

  11. Bryan Cross says:

    Hello Brandon,

    I was able to read through your article, and write up a reply, which I’ve posted in comment #97 in that Modern Scholarship thread at CTC. Thanks again for the interaction, and for all your work.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  12. John Bugay says:

    Bryan — I’ve left the following as a response to your comment #97. I don’t believe you will allow my comment to pass, however, because it very clearly demonstrates your methodology in a very poor light. I will, however, look forward one way or another to your response to this:

    * * *

    Bryan, in comment #97, you say:

    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.

    This is a mischaracterization of the Brandon’s entire piece. It is a subtle mischaracterization, though, and it coheres with my claim that it is your method to selectively utilize the tactic of “mental reservation” to make your points for you.

    My thought is that you are portraying it this way so that someone unthinkingly will read your response (without reading Brandon’s treatment) and thus come away with the thought, “Bryan has resoundingly refuted Brandon”.

    However, I believe Brandon is correct when he states “In all due respect (and I do have much respect for Dr. Cross), Dr. Cross demonstrates his ignorance of Lampe’s book throughout this entire comment.”

    You appear to miss the whole thrust of the work.

    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”.

    Here is how Brandon puts it, right at the beginning:

    This review is an attempt to show Peter Lampe’s entire argument for fractionated Roman Christianity. This “fractionation” that Lampe argues for is that through the end of the second century Roman Christianity was divided between many small cells that lacked central coordination. This basic thesis informs every part of Lampe’s book and each of the six sections seeks to further demonstrate why Roman Christianity is fractionated and how fractionation impacted Roman Christianity. The reason such a lengthy review is going to be undertaken is because in order to understand one section or sub-section adequately requires familiarity with all of the various pieces of evidence. Lampe himself states about the evidence:

    We face a tour through a variety of material: literary materials, above all, but also epigraphical and archaeological ones are at hand, which often only become illuminating in combination.

    Analyzing one part of Lampe’s argument in isolation (particularly concerning church government) risks an unbalanced assessment of Lampe’s work.

    In reality, for you to address Lampe’s argument (and he makes just one argument through the course of the book), you would have to deal with the entire work, and debunk the various historical points he makes not by argument (“therefore, this one piece of evidence is not incompatible with there being a monarchical bishop in Rome, and therefore is not evidence that there was no monarchical bishop of Rome”), but by addressing specifically the literary and historical information he presents. You fail to do this throughout.

    Instead, you look at each individual puzzle piece and say “no, that’s not what ancient Rome was like … no, that’s not what ancient Rome was like”.

    You look at each individual tree and saying, “no, that’s not a forest … no, that’s not a forest …”

    Either you do this intentionally or unintentionally. It can’t be because you are lazy. You clearly are not.

    And if you were genuinely as intelligent as everyone thinks you are, you would know that you are doing this, and you would, in fact, avoid doing such a thing. Unless doing so would force you to come to the conclusion that Lampe really is correct in his conclusion.

    Thus, your response does precisely the thing that is cautioned against in the beginning of Brandon’s article.

    Therefore, I’m led to believe you are being intentionally deceitful.

  13. Bryan Cross says:

    Hello John,

    You are correct that I will not approve that comment, but not because “it very clearly demonstrates your methodology in a very poor light,” but rather only because it engages in *personal attack,* (i.e. your accusation that I engage in “mental reservation,” your calling into question my my intelligence, and your accusing me of being “intentionally deceitful). We do not allow personal attacks at CTC. If you’d like to remove the personal attacks, and resubmit it, I’d be glad to approve it and discuss it.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

    • John Bugay says:

      Bryan — It is not “personal attack” to point out certain consistencies in the way you make responses. Nor do I “call into question” your intelligence. Rather, I affirm it, and in doing so, I deductively reach the conclusion that you are being “intentionally deceitful.

      I’m not going to retract what I’ve said, and I’m not going to have a discussion on your terms. Your terms are fairly ridiculous, and they lead to the kind of chipmunks-like politeness over at CTC that is totally false. And further, I do have the ability to conduct the discussion in other venues, where one may feel free to have a more honest discussion without the constraints that you put on discussions.

  14. Bryan Cross says:

    John,

    If in order to defend your position you have to resort to accusing me of being intentionally deceitful, because the evidence from history isn’t sufficient to make your case, I understand. This is your site, and you can run it as you wish. But I will not participate proactively or fully in a forum where impoliteness and incivility are allowed free reign, because, among other things, I believe in the interdependence of truth and love. So I won’t be participating in the discussion here on this site. But thanks very much for hosting Brandon’s article, and may you have blessed Lord’s Day.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

    • John Bugay says:

      I’m not “accusing [you] of being intentionally deceitful, because the evidence from history isn’t sufficient to make your case”. I’m accusing you of being intentionally deceitful because you are seemingly making mistakes which are patzer mistakes, and you are not a patzer.

      I’ve got your last paragraph on “picking and choosing” among the fathers as being “ad hoc”. In reality, reading the fathers requires discernment — Eusebius relates some real whoppers as history (i.e., Jesus’s letter to Abgar — and surely you must acknowledge that is a whopper) — while at the same time being one of our most complete sources for the early church.

      So being “critical”, being “discerning” is mandatory if one is to truly understand.

  15. This was in response Bryan’s comment at CtC:

    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.

  16. SWR says:

    Is Lampe’s book the seminal work discrediting the mono episcopate of Rome until the mid 2nd century or are there earlier works? If there are earlier works, could you name a few?

    • John Bugay says:

      Hi SWR, what would you say your level of interest is? I don’t think Lampe set out to “discredit” anything. I think he shed an incredible amount of light on the church at ancient Rome.

      To be sure, the papacy has made incredible claims for itself over the centuries, and people just want to know “what’s the real story with earliest Christianity”.

      I think in that vein, Hurtado’s “Lord Jesus Christ” is exceptional.

      Regarding early church leadership, Oscar Cullmann does an exceedingly thorough job of both history and exegesis. Andrew Clarke’s “Serve the Community of the Church: Christians as Leaders and Ministers (First-Century Christians in the Graeco-Roman World)” is exceptional.

  17. John Bugay says:

    Roger Beckwith “Elders in Every City”

  18. SWR says:

    “Hi SWR, what would you say your level of interest is?”
    Apostolic succession is absolutely essential to RCC, so any material, especially RC (I know Lampe is not RC), is helpful in understanding how Rome “has made incredible claims for itself.” I have read many of your blogs at Triablogue and some of the posts under the “Historical Roots of the Reformation” and found them very helpful. I just wasn’t sure if Lampe’s work was seminal in getting the whole debate really rolling.

    “I don’t think Lampe set out to “discredit” anything. I think he shed an incredible amount of light on the church at ancient Rome.”
    Thank you for the clarification. I should have written, the result of his work demonstrates the unlikely existence of a mono episcopate.

    By chance, do you know of any books dealing with the Papacy that predate Lampe’s written by RC’s? Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

  19. swruf says:

    By chance, do you know of any books dealing with the development of the Papacy that predate Lampe’s written by RC’s? Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

  20. John Bugay says:

    SWR: This is probably a very good link showing how things developed in the second century:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2012/06/kruger-vs-ratzinger-2-apostolic.html

  21. Hi SWR!

    If you are considering Rome, I think you are asking the most important questions. Speaking biographically, I was initially intrigued by the notion that Jesus founded the RCC. I was reading some of the theological/philosophical problems posed at various conservative Catholic blogs where they pressed that Sola Scriptura only allowed us to have an opinion with no principled means to distinguish my opinion from someone else’s. The principle means proposed was to follow the Church that Jesus founded–and he founded a visible church after all. As a disciple of Christ it made perfect sense to join the institution that Jesus founded, and it would make it much easier to know that the Church could not err.

    But then I started digging into the major premise of these claims. Did Jesus really found the RCC? To be honest, I wanted to be persuaded. The evidence was staggering. I started digging into the academic literature. What did Roman Catholic scholars have to say about the early episcopate? I read Raymond Brown, Eamon Duffy, Allen Brent, and Edward Schillebeeckx. All of them rejected the notion that there was an episcopate in Rome from the time of Peter.

    I continued reading scholarship from Protestants from various positions (Episcopal, Prebysterian, Congregational). I read Oscar Cullmann, John Crocker, Peter Lampe, Roebrt L. Williams, Eric G. Jay, Robert Jewett, and Larry Hurtado to name some of the different people I consulted. All of them agreed there was no monarchical bishop in Rome.

    Take this statement from Larry Hurtado at his blog (http://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/peter-conference-edinburgh-2013/):

    As reflected in most scholarly studies on the subject, there is no evidence that Peter was ever “bishop” in/of Rome. All the earliest texts, e.g., 1 Clement (ca. 90 CE) mention Peter and Paul together as martyrs in Rome, but make no claim about Peter as first bishop or any indication that a succession-line was in operation. The earliest such claim is from mid-3rd century CE, and that claim was disputed at that time…There is no claim that Peter was the first bishop of Rome and that subsequent bishops inherited his authority before the third century CE.

    This is representative of the scholarship in the field. Earlier Roman scholarship is exemplified in Gergory Dix’s essays on early literature (though Dix was oddly an Anglican working for reconciliation with Rome). You can also see things by people like Dom Chapman, Felix Cirlot, and Adrienne Fortescue for older takes on Roman scholarship. To be honest, the field has developed so much since these men wrote that there works are not very useful when asking about the first two centuries of Christianity–particularly Roman Christianity.

    Modern scholarship I’ve seen cited is [admitted child-molester--which I note not to discredit his work, but because I think that someone who commits such heinous crimes needs to have these despicable actions noted about them] Bernard Green’s book on Roman Christianity. It really is a good book overall. Green is not as persuaded by Lampe’s discussion of fractionation of Roman Christianity. Green’s work, however, also approvingly cites Eric G. Jay’s article on presbyter-bishops where Jay concludes that the monarchical episcopate developed in the second century. The other work which I have recently been pointed to (and which I have not read) is Chrys Caragounis’s chapter on first century Rome. I hope to read that today actually and report on it in a forthcoming article.

    To summarize, Lampe’s work is the most thorough and is recognized as the definitive work by his peers because he interacts with so much of the evidence. But Lampe’s view is not new. Even John Crocker, committed to episcopal church government stated,

    If to believe in the Apostolic Succession it is necessary to hold that there was always conformity to the threefold ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons, without development through a period of inchoate beginnings and widespread diversity; if it is necessary to hold that there were Bishops everywhere in the later sense of the word from the Apostles’ time to this, and that the immediate successors of the Apostles enjoyed the same authority as the Twelve, the surely the doctrine must be recognized as one which historical investigation has decisively discredited.

    That was written in 1936. As John stated, Lampe is not setting to discredit anything, his study is to sketch what we know of early Roman Christianity. One of the things we learn through his study is that Roman Christianity had a presbyterian form of government and that the existence of a monarchical episcopate is unheard of until the later part of the second century. This also happens to corroborate what scholars like Crocker had believed for half a century before Lampe’s study.

  22. Andrew Preslar says:

    Brandon,

    Each of the modern scholars you mention with approval works under the same flawed assumption that is articulated by John Crocker; namely, that AS requires that “there were Bishops everywhere in the later sense of the word from the Apostles’ time….” The flaw in that assumption is that it takes something that is not essential for Apostolic headship (residence in one city by a person with a distinct title, “bishop”, among his fellow ministers) as though it were essential for Apostolic headship. And the reason that this operating assumption is flawed is that we know that there were men, from the beginning, who exercised Apostolic headship in the churches, yet who were not (permanently) resident in any one Church; the Apostle Paul is the most obvious example. The monarchical episcopate, defined as permanent residence in one city by a Christian minister in a distinct position of authority (to whom, eventually, the term “bishop” was universally applied) could only develop after the time of the Apostles itinerant ministry.

    Apostolic headship survived in the church by means of the monarchical episcopate. What we have after the Apostles began to pass from this life (by martyrdom, as related by tradition) is a transitional period, which all acknowledge to be such, in which men ordained by the Apostles, but not themselves Apostles, began to fill the role of headship in the churches in a given city or area. This development can be seen in the Pastoral Epistles, the Ignatian Epistles, and in Rome, as evidenced by the distinctive role that some bishop-presbyters (such as Clement) held in that community. (Clement, in fact, explicitly refers to “succession” from the Apostles.)

    The terminology eventually sorted itself out, in some places sooner than others, such that the three-fold designation of “bishop, presbyter, deacon” became the standard way to denote the Apostolic structure of the Church, carrying on the principle of headship and corresponding three-fold ministerial structure in the churches that was there from the beginning, namely, Apostle, bishop-presbyter, and deacon. The transition from Apostles to bishops does not negate the succession; this transitional period is exactly what we would expect if the Church were to retain its original and essential structure in spite of the deaths of the Apostles.

    I cannot help but note that with one breath you dismiss scholarship from the early to mid twentieth century, and in the next you cite with approval a scholar from precisely this period. If one’s conclusions were driven by his assumptions, this is exactly what he would do. But if one’s conclusions were based upon evidence and reasoned argument, then he would not be thus inconsistent, it seems to me. I have read all of the Catholic scholars whom you cite in support of the your conclusions; what is more, I have read Cirlot, Chapmen, Fortescue, and George Edmundson, who come to different conclusions. Cirlot’s study is meticulous, and, in my opinion, having read both sides, his arguments more than suffice to counter the claims, directly relevant to the matter of AS and Apostolic headship/monarchical episcopacy, made by those scholars whom you approve (whether they wrote before or after Cirlot).

    I have an anecdote of my own: The arguments in favor of AS and the Roman claims were sufficiently strong to persuade me to abandon Presbyterianism as a non-Apostolic innovation, and to embrace the historical Church. Restorationism has many advocates, some scholarly and some otherwise, but in going that way one pays a heavy price, not least in the association with the cults and the disassociation with the Church of the first 1,500 Christian years. In my opinion, the supporting arguments are far too thin to justify the Restorationist thesis.

  23. SWR says:

    Brandon,
    Thanks for taking the time to provide some more sources. The ones provided by John were helpful, and I had already read most of them. One point John has made a couple of times about “mental reservation” being used to create just enough doubt and question as to the veracity of the RC claims, has helped me understand some of the cognitive dissonance I experience when assessing the arguments. Like you, I wish the RC claims were true, then life would be a bit easier(?). But Apostolic Succession, and the authority derived from that belief, are post-Apostolic developments. That much I have gleaned from John’s articles on Kruger and Ratzinger and from Frances Sullivan’s book “From Apostles to Bishops.” Now Lampe’s work helps reinforce that understanding. I look forward to reading more or your reviews. Thanks again.

  24. SWR says:

    John,
    Thank you for taking the time to post those links. I had read your articles on Kruger and Ratzinger, and found them very helpful. I always look forward to reading your posts.

    • John Bugay says:

      Hi SWR — I’m sorry I haven’t been able to provide something new to you (other than recycled links)!

  25. Andrew Preslar says:

    Brandon,

    Just in case it wasn’t clear, I am using “apostolic headship” as synonymous with “monarchical episcopate”. My reason for doing so is to highlight what I take to be the essence of the latter, and to avoid the anachronism of folks such as Francis Sullivan, which point of confusion (which apparently goes back at least to John Crocker!), is unfortunately not isolated. This has been recently pointed out by Oswald Sobrino in his “Was the Peter the First Bishop of Rome?” which is still available for direct download in word format (a google search by author and title should bring up the link).

  26. Andrew,

    Thanks for the interaction. I really do appreciate it because I think you always help keep things balanced. Seriously, thank you.

    You note:

    I cannot help but note that with one breath you dismiss scholarship from the early to mid twentieth century, and in the next you cite with approval a scholar from precisely this period. If one’s conclusions were driven by his assumptions, this is exactly what he would do. But if one’s conclusions were based upon evidence and reasoned argument, then he would not be thus inconsistent, it seems to me. I have read all of the Catholic scholars whom you cite in support of the your conclusions; what is more, I have read Cirlot, Chapmen, Fortescue, and George Edmundson, who come to different conclusions. Cirlot’s study is meticulous, and, in my opinion, having read both sides, his arguments more than suffice to counter the claims, directly relevant to the matter of AS and Apostolic headship/monarchical episcopacy, made by those scholars whom you approve (whether they wrote before or after Cirlot).

    My point (in being anecdotal and brief) was that none of those writers does much work on the first and second century. It is usually very brief and weak on engaging with critical discussion of the first and second century. Generally what happens is that those older works spend much time after the third century. This is particularly true of Chapman and Fortescue

    The reason I cite Crocker is because Crocker is someone who identifies that scholarship in 1934 had duly chastened the crass understandings of episcopal government that existed within Anglicanism and particularly in Vatican I Catholicism. Whether or not it is an irreformable teaching of the church there were large numbers of Catholic academics and parishioners who staunchly believed that the episcopate existed in its current form since the Apostles.To be clear, Crocker himself wanted to argue for episcopal church structure, but only as a divinely guided, providential development. He acknowledged that the threefold division did not occur immediately because it is not historically defensible.

    Even you mention the threefold division of ministry developing. Well, that is sort of the point, it took until the middle of the second century for this three-fold division of ministry to develop. There was no distinction between presbyters and bishops in Rome. Even Ignatius, who talks about this threefold division is silent about it in writing to Rome (and Ignatian scholars dispute how much Ignatius’s conception of episcopacy and Apostolic Succession fit with later catholic understandings of the two).

    If you think Cirlot offers strong counter-evidence to Lampe then I’d love to take another look at him. Do you have any citations or quotes in mind that you think could help me re-think my assessment of Cirlot?

    Regarding the Resotrationist theory,I eschew it as well. That’s what I also learned from every professor at Westminster Seminary California and from every Reformed and Prebsyterian influence I have had in my life. If you are implying that the Reformed position, I am not willing to concede that.

    As a matter of fact, I was at my presbytery this past weekend and one of the ordination exams had a the question “Were there Christians between 400-1500?” The obvious and expected answer was “of course.” Maybe that’s just because Californians are laid back, but I’ve had that same experience in the Mid-West. In the modern spirit, even those from the Restorationist tradition like Stanley Hauerwaus would be hard-pressed to be described as “Restorationists.”

    • Andrew Preslar says:

      Brandon,

      I appreciate the exchange. On the one hand, I am glad to learn more about the details of social and ecclesial conditions in Rome during the first christian centuries. On the other, I do not see this wealth of detail adding much if anything to the arguments from silence, which are not bad arguments as far as they go, which have long been available without it. So, again, my overall response to your review of Lampe is, “fascinating, but the debate is pretty much right where it has long been.”

      One thing that might cause you to revise your assessment of Cirlot is that, contrary to your claim that “none of those writers does much work on the first and second century”, in his book on Apostolic Succession Cirlot analyzes in great detail, over some six hundred pages, the data from the first and second centuries pertaining to the Christian ministry.

      Over at the Orthodox blog, Energetic Procession, there is (if memory serves) a good deal of interaction with Cirlot’s work in the four part series on Apostolic Succession.

      An extended review of that book, in its own right, would be worthwhile, especially since the book itself is out of print. Its something I’ve been meaning to do for years, but as with many other such things…

      Development may be said in two ways: (1) A process whereby one thing becomes something else (as in the evolution of the species); (2) a process whereby one thing changes while remaining itself (as in the growth of the body). It seems to me that the difference between us is basically this: you take the data to indicate (1), while I take it as indicating (2); e.g., the terms “presbyter” and “bishop” were once used descriptively and to some extent interchangably of one office, but the existence of two distinct offices (over and above whatever names might be used to describe those offices) is primitive and indeed original, and over time these distinct offices or grades of holy orders, which always existed, came to be denoted by the terms “bishop” and “presbyter”–now used in a technical or official and not merely a descriptive manner. Thus we have development (in the use of terms and in other respects) in essential continuity (the structure of the ordained ministry). Its seems to me that you affirm the development but deny the essential continuity, which is precisely why you reject hierarchical episcopal church polity (in the process losing the principle of apostolic headship in the local church), even while acknowledging the obvious, i.e., that this was the universal polity of the church from sometime during the patristic period onward.

      I realize that various Protestant communities repudiate the “restorationist” label, but the question remains whether they are restorationist in fact. In the case of Presbyterians, the answer is undoubtedly “yes” with respect to ecclesiology, as evidenced by the rejection of the episcopal polity that prevailed in the Church from at least the late second / early third century onward, and the adoption of a supposedly original presbyterian polity which the catholic church had not observed for at least the past 1,300 years (out of 1,500). You can claim, and even believe, that the individual christians or even the true church existed prior to the reformation, but the church that existed was manifestly not presbyterian in polity, and had not been for a long time.

      I go into more detail on the nature of development in the church, and the Reformed claim to stand in continuity with the church of history (disavowing restorationism) in my response to Scott Clark and Robert Godfrey on “the lure of Rome“. Understanding the difference between accidental and essential or substantial change is crucial for any analysis of development, including development of the Christian ministry during the early centuries (or at any other time), so I spend some time on that point, with specific reference to Godfrey’s and Clark’s claims re the protestant reformation and the church of prior history.

      This is of course relevant to the matter of church polity, in that catholics believe that tradition, handed down through time, is itself a crucial piece of evidence when it comes to answering questions about Christian faith and practice. We have no problems engaging at the level of scholarly opinion, but usually feel it worth while to point out that that is not, or ought not be, the only tool in the belt of anyone who believes that the church is something founded and preserved by Christ.

  27. Hey Andrew,

    In response to your comment on Jan 24th here are my thoughts:

    1. Ya, I didn’t take the second person as pejorative and I agree that it is important in being duly critical of arguments and I think you are right about the rhetorical uses of Lampe’s work. Just because other scholars laude the work doesn’t validate every conclusion. They need to be evaluated. If I’ve given the impression that Lampe’s work is vindicated *because* other scholars say it’s the seminal work on the topic, let this be me expressly rejecting that sort of idea.
    That said, I do think it is important for people to understanding that this is not some fringe piece of scholarship. Most scholars view this as the point of departure for all other works on Roman Christianity. Thus, it is important to interact with it appropriately.

    2. I’ve listened to the lecture (which is superb, thanks!) and I’m not sure if I see Lampe in Dr. Erickson’s proverbial crosshairs. Lampe is working from what we know about Roman Christianity and what was said about Roman Christianity to draw conclusions about Roman Christianity. Lampe doesn’t really take a study of the lives of the poor Christians or rich Christians. He isn’t trying to get behind the sources or prioritizing archaeological evidence in an inappropriate manner.

    3. In terms of falsifying your belief, (a) is clearly historical problematic and I think the same is true for (b). It would seem though if those are the only two criterion to falsify your belief in Catholicism that you have stacked the deck. Nearly every Christian affirms those two things in a way that does not undermine any of their other principles.

    I do think that it is possible to believe in Catholicism without believing Jesus actually established an episcopate for the very reason you point out—others do it. But if those men are right, can you really attempt to claim that Jesus founded the RCC? The men you’ve mentioned deny such a historical thesis. Why they remain Catholic is certainly not connected to their belief in the historicity of the episcopate or succession from Peter.

    4. When speaking about the church being Presbyterian I was referring to the Roman church in particular—though the ministry of presbyter-bishops existed throughout the empire. Furthermore, whether or not Rome is the exception or the rule is not of particular importance to me in my dialogue with RCC’s because Rome is supposedly the principle of unity for the church.

    I think we should also make sure to point out that Lampe’s argument is *not* an argument from silence. It is an aggregate argument moving from what we do know about Roman Christianity from various sources and combining that with the direct statements of people in the first and second century. The silence of sources is not the foundation for his argument against an episcopate, it is the explicit mention of leadership by presbyters. The argument concerning Ignatius is not strictly speaking an argument from silence because he corroborates what we know from every other source—plurality of leaders. The actual argument from silence comes from the Roman Catholic who argues that his silence could be for any number of reasons. But those reasons are conjectural and arguing from silence.

    5. I’m still unclear how having a structural mechanism for the development of an Apostolic head serves to substantiate the claim that Jesus founded the RCC. You state,
    <blockquote Insofar as there was a sense of unity in the Christian community, and insofar as this unity was expressed in some concrete ministry to some practical end, then we could very well have an activity that evidences the existence of the principle of episcopal headship in that local Church. </blockquote

    At no point does this minister of external affairs show any signs of being the principle of unity for the church. It does explain how it could develop in this manner (given the upward mobility of Christians and the money being administered in one place. There is no indication that this manager believed himself to be above the others in the city and there is no indication that Justin, Clement, Hermas, or Ignatius knew of such a figure in Rome. It *could* be, but the evidence that Lampe presents would relegate such a hypothesis to the realm of improbable speculation.

  28. Andrew,

    I can only respond briefly (and I will be on a self-imposed commenting hiatus as I work on another article) but here are my thoughts in response:

    1. The evidence Lampe presents from the social history of Roman Christianity sheds light on the structure of the church. You may believe that this remains consistent with developments in the future, but I think that it makes the arguments from silence for the papacy less likely. I know that there is the assumption that Protestants are the one’s arguing from silence, but the Catholic arguments are very much arguments from silence.

    2. I’m not sure how presbyter-bishops to presbyters & and bishops is not one thing becoming something else. From no Petrine leader in Rome to a Petrine leader in Rome is a “Type 1″ development in my eyes.

    3. I think you have jure divino Presbyterians in mind, but Presbyterians don’t believe Presbyterianism is of the essence of a true church.in the PCA Book of Church (my denomination) Order 1-7 we read,

    “The Scriptural doctrine of Presbytery is necessary to the perfection of the order of the visible Church, but is not essential to its existence.”

    The OPC BCO states in 1-3,

    “while such scriptural government is necessary for the perfection of church order, it is not essential to the existence of the church visible.”

    This means that the true church continues to exist in Congregational as well as episcopal churches. The RCC and EO have a different position, suggesting that episcopal government is of the essence of the church, but we disagree.

    4. I agree that scholarly opinion is not the only tool in the belt of one who believes that Jesus founded a church. When Rome claims to be the principle of unity for the Church and that Christians are not in perfect unity with Christ until they submit to her, however, that claim requires rigorous substantiation. We both come to different conclusions about what the data means, but those listening to our exchange should consider the large number of scholars who, like RC Eamon Duffy call such historical reconstructions “pious fiction.”

  29. Andrew Preslar says:

    Brandon,

    I appreciate the concision of your reply and respect the need to attend to other matters. I will try to be brief in response (the second point is concerned to clarify my own position, and so is a bit longer):

    1. You raise a new claim here (Catholics are the ones arguing from silence). I have no idea what this means, especially since the non-silence, in fact the explicit claims, of Ignatius and Irenaeus regarding bishops in the early church, and bishops of Rome in particular, factor so largely in Catholic (as well as Orthodox and some Anglican) arguments about early Roman Christianity.

    2. My thesis is that among the bishop-presbyters ordained by the Apostles, some were, as Christ and the Apostles intended, chosen to fill the role of Apostolic headship in the churches once the Apostles passed away. Over time, the term “bishop” came to be used exclusively of these ministers, and “presbyter” was used of ordained ministers (other than deacons) not chosen to fulfill this role. By leaving out the office of Apostle, you have not accurately framed my understanding of this development, which is in fact from (1) Apostles and bishop-presbyters to (2) bishops and presbyters, the later bishops being those bishop-presbyters who succeeded to the place of the Apostles in the leadership structure of the church.

    Fluidity in terminology, the multiplicity of ordained leaders in any given city (neither Christ [cf. the seventy] nor the Apostles stinted in ordaining ministers), and the all-too-natural tendency for there to be disputes (or at least deliberations) among these ministers concerning which bishop/presbyter should exercise this headship (which remains the case to this day; cf. College of Cardinals voting multiple times to elect a Pope), and how it should be exercised (which is still to some significant degree an open question), are all exactly what we would expect to find in this early period of transition, as the church organized her common life after the deaths of the Apostles.

    Your second sentence (“From no Petrine leader in Rome to a Petrine leader in Rome”) begs the question, since it assumes that no one fulfilled, in some way (e.g., serving as minister of external affairs), the role of Apostolic headship in the Roman church after the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul.

    3. This doctrine that the episcopal ministry is non-essential, along with the absence of the episcopal ministry itself, is one of the things that differentiates Presbyterianism from historical Christianity.

    4. I am not sure what you mean by “rigorous substantiation”. Is that different from “a reasonable account of the state of the evidence”? If so, do you believe that every article of the faith requires the former? Finally, I suppose that the historical reconstruction provided by Duffy (Lampe, et al) could be described as “impious fiction”, but I think it sufficient to point out that they are fiction, or better yet, highly speculative, since “fiction” would beg the question. One’s piety or lack thereof, as I have already indicated, can of course significantly impact one’s conclusions. If anyone wants to discuss the merits of Catholic belief/piety generally, as a sort of prolegomena to particular points of dispute such as this, there are forums for doing that.

  30. John Bugay says:

    Andrew: You raise a new claim here (Catholics are the ones arguing from silence). I have no idea what this means, especially since the non-silence, in fact the explicit claims, of Ignatius and Irenaeus regarding bishops in the early church, and bishops of Rome in particular, factor so largely in Catholic (as well as Orthodox and some Anglican) arguments about early Roman Christianity.

    I’ve been following your discussion here out of the corner of my eye, and I can’t believe that you have no idea what this means.

    Start from the beginning: 33 AD, and ask yourself “what did they know, and when did they know it? Where is genuine evidence for a “papacy” or anything like a “successor of Peter” that is any source that we have, that’s not the Newman “assumption” (discussed here: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/12/newman-roman-catholic-hermeneutic-and.html)

    Aside from the New Testament (where there’s specifically silence about a “successor of Peter”., you’ve got Irenaeus saying something to the effect that “the church at Rome “presides in the district of the Romans”. It’s a big church. We know that Ignatius doesn’t mention a bishop there, that he’s afraid someone there will somehow save his life. We know that he’s given to exaggeration in his rhetoric. We know that he views himself (supposedly a bishop) as nowhere near having the status of the Apostles. Specific silence about “successor of Peter” and “apostolic succession”.

    (I don’t mention Clement because it’s a peer-to-peer letter, and of course, the Apostles wanted godly men to lead the churches they planted, but there is specific silence about a “successor of Peter” as well as “apostolic succession”.

    Shepherd of Hermas: Clement is the secretary, and the “presbyters” fight among one another as to who is greatest. Specific silence about “successor of Peter” and “apostolic succession”.

    We are 150 years down the pike (before getting to Irenaeus in 180), and there has been a “Kingdom of Heaven” in place without a whiff of anything like “succession” or “a successor of Peter”.

    Irenaeus brings this up, but he is specifically talking about a succession of doctrine, and men who were faithful to hand on that doctrine. There is a “list” of these men, but Irenaeus has passed along such legends as Simon Magus as being the source of all heresies, that Jesus lived to old age, that Paul was a founder of the Roman church — he is demonstrably not a great reporter of the facts. We know as well that men like Irenaeus and Eusebius looked around at the world around them, and they had no comprehension that it was different 150 years ago, or 300 years ago.

    If you don’t make Newman’s assumption, and if you look at genuine evidence, along the vector of “what they knew, and when they knew it”, and how we can demonstrate that”, there is clearly silence for a very long time, that Roman Catholics can’t fill.

    Roman Catholicism’s story about its own authority is genuinely an argument from silence.

  31. Andrew Preslar says:

    John,

    First off, I appreciate the opportunity to comment on your blog. Thank you.

    Regarding arguments from silence, I think that we might be talking past one another. You are referring to times when the extant record is silent on points which you believe would have been explicitly mentioned in those records at those times, if the papacy were something willed by Christ. Responding to such arguments from silence, as Catholics have often done, does not constitute arguing from silence.

    To be clear, what I am arguing from are the explicit accounts (not the silences) that we do have from those early times, which constitute a picture of the universal church in its early stage of development, is quite consistent with later stages of development, beginning with the Gospel accounts of the call of the Apostles and the various commissions given them and others (cf. the seventy) by Christ, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (where we can see how the Apostolic ministry was exercised in its first stages), Clement (who specifically mentions Apostolic succession), Ignatius (who specifically mentions the monepiscopacy), and Irenaeus (who specifically mentions the bishops of Rome going back to the first century).

    The record from these times is not exhaustive, but it is sufficient to give us some idea of how the sacramental kingdom of God began to spread and grow throughout the world (Mt 13:31-32).

    Obviously, a tree is going to look different at earlier stages of development (growth) than at later stages. Certain properties that are of the essence of the organism remain latent in earlier stages, and gradually become manifest (or explicit). But the nature of the thing does not change, and the nature of the Church can be discerned in the Gospels: an Apostolic, sacramental kingdom in which Peter plays a unique role. Any genuine development that occurs must be a development in accordance with this nature. It is evident that the Catholic Church has remained distinctively sacramental, Apostolic, and Petrine, which constitutes good reason to believe that she is the sacramental, Apostolic, and Petrine church which Our Lord established.

    • John Bugay says:

      Andrew –

      First off, I appreciate the opportunity to comment on your blog. Thank you

      If you are truly grateful, I would appreciate it if you would make some attempt to honestly respond to my questions below.

      Regarding arguments from silence, I think that we might be talking past one another. You are referring to times when the extant record is silent on points which you believe would have been explicitly mentioned in those records at those times, if the papacy were something willed by Christ. Responding to such arguments from silence, as Catholics have often done, does not constitute arguing from silence.

      Of course we are talking past each other. I am not just referring to something that “may have been willed by Christ”. Or let me ask you, how can you know what is “willed by Christ”?

      Outside of that, however, I am talking about history which actually existed, and which we can re-visit. We know from writings (both inside and outside of the church) what that world was like. We have the ability to understand the reality and the brutality of that world.

      “Willed by Christ” is not something you can know outside of what the Scriptures say, and the Scriptures testify to Christ – not to “the Church”. (“i.e., Peter’s “commissioning” is actually a demonstration of Christ’s forgiveness rather than a statement about a future church. But, as I’ve said, it very much seems as if Rome is all about aggrandizing Rome, and in doing so, it fails to see that the Gospels were establishing Jesus’s authority vis-à-vis the Jews – but Rome only see a mirror in the Scriptures).

      I think the Roman Catholic tendency (one you have exhibited here with quite a bit of ennui) to call Protestant analyses of the early church an “argument from silence” is evasive and frankly an excuse not to have to examine the evidence that we do have.

      What we know of “the earliest church” – of all the things we know, we should have known more about a papacy if such a thing existed. (Or even, as it is called now, in what I’d consider to be a backpedalling move, a “successor of Peter”). If such a thing existed, it must have been important. And as such, it is inconceivable that we don’t know more about it in the first two centuries (than the four very weak items that you bring up and which I discuss below).

      To be clear, what I am arguing from are the explicit accounts (not the silences) that we do have from those early times, which constitute a picture of the universal church in its early stage of development, is quite consistent with later stages of development, beginning with the Gospel accounts of the call of the Apostles and the various commissions given them and others (cf. the seventy) by Christ, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (where we can see how the Apostolic ministry was exercised in its first stages), Clement (who specifically mentions Apostolic succession), Ignatius (who specifically mentions the monepiscopacy), and Irenaeus (who specifically mentions the bishops of Rome going back to the first century).

      The record from these times is not exhaustive, but it is sufficient to give us some idea of how the sacramental kingdom of God began to spread and grow throughout the world (Mt 13:31-32).

      First of all, I know we are abbreviating things for brevity here. But in the first 200 years of church history – that is a long time – you have four points to which you refer: Apostolic ministry (of which we can only know via written documents – specifically the New Testament) – Clement, Ignatius, and Irenaeus.

      Of these four things:

      • In the NT references to Peter, I would counter that Christ is talking about himself and not “the Church” (“i.e., Peter’s “commissioning” is actually a demonstration of Christ’s forgiveness rather than a statement about a future church); that is, the New Testament writers were still making the claim that Jesus was the Messiah, not that “the Church” has Christ’s authority (which, speaking of “Christ’s authority”, was still being established in the first century world).

      • The “approved men” I 1 Clement is a natural thing to say, when the author’s concern is that some “approved men” had been deposed. This has absolutely nothing to do with later RC views of succession.

      • Ignatius’s mention that Rome is somehow important pales in comparison with the rest of his rhetoric, which is widely recognized to be reflective of his time and place (“the Second Sophistic”) and thus exaggerated.

      • And Irenaeus, who, while defending the church, “does not contemplate a special sacramental ‘character’ of the episcopate, nor does he ever stress the authority of bishops as opposed to that of the laity” (von Campenhausen); indeed “ideas bound up with office and succession” “take up very little space in Irenaeus’s writings” and which “have an apologetic and polemical intention” and don’t look forward to an “unbroken succession” for two thousand years. In addition, you have Irenaeus’s passing on of such mistakes as that Simon Magus was the source of all heresies, that Jesus lived to old age, and that Paul (counter to what is written in Romans) somehow “founded and established” the church at Rome.

      There are other considerations, but you should know of all of these various Protestant considerations, which, in my estimation, are far more than an “argument from silence”, but rather, portray a very clear image of the NON-“sacramental” structure of the church up to that point – and in no way reflect later Roman Catholic views of things.

      And yet you and Roman Catholics from your group simply, with (ironically) the “wave of a hand” (i.e., “begging the question” or “argument from silence”) , refuse even to consider the Protestant considerations contra the Roman “interpretation” of these things.

      However, these four, highly-contested points, for Roman Catholics, represent “explicit accounts” that are “sufficient” to somehow verify the Roman Catholic account, which used to hold a 25-year bishopric of Peter in Rome (which also has been greatly whittled down and even forgotten in “official” Roman accounts, but which were highly present in Roman polemics up through the 18th century).

      These you say that these four (in our opinion, highly deficient reasons) are “sufficient” “to give us some idea of how the sacramental kingdom of God began to spread and grow throughout the world”.

      But aside from these four highly deficient reasons – there is nothing but silence concerning a successor of Peter. Does that not strike you in any way? In the space of 200 years’-worth of the most important history of the church, and there is NO central leadership, either in Rome, and especially not in the wider church. There is good evidence that the Persian churches of that period had no idea that Rome even existed.

      I am not simply saying “Lampe” here, but I am reflecting a huge tide of scholarship, which includes Roman Catholic commentators [except for admitted child molester Bernard Green] and even a pope in search of “a new situation” for the once-and-forever papacy is moving in the same direction.

      Obviously, a tree is going to look different at earlier stages of development (growth) than at later stages.

      A little tree and a big tree have certain very definite and unchanging characteristics, however, and if you want to apply this metaphor, the shape of the trunk remains the same throughout the life of a tree. If it is straight as a small tree, it is straight as a large tree; if it is crooked in some way as a small tree, it remains crooked throughout the life of the tree.

      Certain properties that are of the essence of the organism remain latent in earlier stages, and gradually become manifest (or explicit).

      Which “properties” of an organism are there that “remain latent”? In a human organism, everything at birth is there and fully functional. Do you want to say that “the Church” at Pentecost was only “embryonic” there?

      Or do you want to say that at birth, the church had its eyes, ears, mouth, hands, feet, etc.? All fully manifest (explicit) as with a human child. Or do you want to say it’s a different type of organism?

      To use this metaphor again, which strains credulity when talking about the Roman Catholic Church, what are some of those “latent” traits in organisms that “gradually become manifest”?

      In a tree, the trunk remains either straight or crooked from very early on. Newman’s “stream” even retains the same shape, even though the stream bed becomes deeper and more pronounced later.

      Eyes retain the functionality of eyes, lungs of lungs, hands of hands – from birth through the end of life.

      Rome uses “development” as a kind of duck-and-cover for such “latent” things as the adoption of images, which didn’t exist in the first centuries, but which came about later, the cult of Mary and the saints, which didn’t exist in the first centuries, but which came about later, the change from presbyterial government in the New Testament to a firm structure several centuries later. From the non-existent early papacy to the Imperial papacy (and now back down again in Francis-style, eh?)

      That metaphor genuinely strains credulity.

      But the nature of the thing does not change, and the nature of the Church can be discerned in the Gospels: an Apostolic, sacramental kingdom in which Peter plays a unique role. Any genuine development that occurs must be a development in accordance with this nature. It is evident that the Catholic Church has remained distinctively sacramental, Apostolic, and Petrine, which constitutes good reason to believe that she is the sacramental, Apostolic, and Petrine church which Our Lord established.

      What “nature”? Could you pick a term more vague than “nature”? From our perspective, this is really loaded, “begging-the-question”-type of language. Just a couple of more quick points.

      Looking at the some of the mawkish language from guys like von Balthasar and de Lubac, and projecting it back on the earliest church (“sacramental, Apostolic, and Petrine”), of course it looks to you as if “essence” has never changed.

      But looking at it from the beginning, the concept of “sacrament” was several hundred years down the road, “Apostolic” meant “Apostolic teaching”, not in the “hand-off of power” sense, but in the sense that the Apostolic message was guarded. And as I mentioned above, “Petrine” in the sense that Peter was a foil to project an image of Christ’s forgiveness (think “man born blind” in John 9), not in the sense of an office that was put into place and held there by Roman adoption laws (and figured out only several hundred years after-the-fact).

      First century Palestine was a brutal time and place; and first and second century Rome were also brutal for the church. Christians of that era had no sense of the quiet, contemplative lives of 20th century Jesuits walking around with hands folded and all their physical needs cared for, imagining what “nearness to Christ” must have meant for those in earlier centuries.

      In the case of the “development” of earliest Christianity to Roman Catholicism, we see nothing of a papacy evolve into an imperial papacy (non-eyes evolving into eyes), prohibition of images into mandatory use of images (non-eyes evolving into eyes), not really a second thought about Mary (see Paul, who himself claims to be the model, modeling Christ) to the point where she is “the model” (and mandatorially so). What “essence” do you see in Paul (or Jesus, for that matter) which says “give your allegiance to an institution, a “visible hierarchy” other than God alone through Christ alone in the power of the Holy Spirit alone?

      Those early Christians weren’t missing out on “the fullness”. They had the riches of Christ. Most of what later passed for “developments” are unneeded and even harmful accretions.

  32. Andrew Preslar says:

    John,

    I am truly grateful, and I will attempt to interact with your comment, not so as to prove or underwrite my gratitude, but because I think it is good for Christians to try to resolve their differences, even though in some sense we are like ships going in opposite directions (you from the Catholic Church to Protestantism, me from the latter to the former).

    It both interests and concerns me that you think my comments manifest “quite a bit of ennui”. That suggests, by definition, that my motive here is simply to pass the time and that I am not truly engaged in the matter at hand. In response, I must say that I do not feel at all antagonistic towards you or Brandon or any other Protestant who goes to some lengths to offer defeaters for the Catholic position (though at times I do fall into a kind of “tit-for-tat” habit of exchange; forgive me). As you are aware, a good bit of the material at “Called to Communion”, my own contributions included, either directly or indirectly attempt to pose certain defeaters for Protestantism. I look at such forums as an opportunity to have a conversation. This conversation involves claims and arguments of course, but need not be, should not be, impersonal or hostile in nature. If there is any actual ennui on my part, I of course must ask your forgiveness, and I do ask your forgiveness for giving that impression.

    Concerning the substance of the discussion, I will try to respond to your remarks, making efforts to discern and describe various aspects of the matter at hand. After carefully reading your comment, it seems that, in addition to going into specifics, I should try to highlight two key, fundamental differences between us. One of these differences is epistemological, the other is exegetical. Thirdly, and also on the general level, I will also provide a reference point for ecclesiology, neither Catholic nor Protestant, that might help us overcome this particular impasse by way of articulating a vision of the Church as mystery. In this way, I will try to move the lens back a bit, to gain a larger picture of the field that we both occupy in seeking to understand the nature of the Church that Christ founded. In so doing I hope to show that there is a sense in which that field is common ground. Finally, I will try to engage in a more specific way with your various claims. All of that sounds like a thesis in the making, but I will make every effort to be brief, and might decide to write up my full response elsewhere, simply providing a link, so as not to co-opt your blog by a series of perhaps relevant but over-lengthy comments.

    Here, I will only try to engage with the very first part of your comment.

    You wrote:

    Of course we are talking past each other. I am not just referring to something that “may have been willed by Christ”. Or let me ask you, how can you know what is “willed by Christ”?

    Outside of that, however, I am talking about history which actually existed, and which we can re-visit. We know from writings (both inside and outside of the church) what that world was like. We have the ability to understand the reality and the brutality of that world.

    “Willed by Christ” is not something you can know outside of what the Scriptures say, and the Scriptures testify to Christ – not to “the Church”.

    This “how do you know” question is very important because it implicitly involves fundamental, disputed questions about the nature of divine revelation in relation to history, the church, and Christ himself. Our different understandings seem to mirror the differences that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger describes in his memoir, Milestones, between the Council Fathers (along with their theologian advisers) concerning divine revelation, particularly in relation to tradition. Here is the gist of it:

    It was now asserted that the inevitably consequence of this realization [of the putative "material completeness" of the Bible] was that the Church could not teach anything that was not expressly contained in Scripture, since Scripture was complete in matters of faith. And, since the interpretation of Scripture was identified with the historical-critical method, this meant that nothing could be taught by the Church that could not pass the scrutiny of the historical-critical method. With this Luther’s sola scriptura (“Scripture alone”), which had been the main focus in Trent, was completely overshadowed. This new theory, in fact, meant that exegesis now had to become the highest authority in the Church; and since, by the very nature of human reason and historical work, no agreement among interpreters can be expected in the case of such difficult texts (since here acknowledged or unacknowledged prejudices are always at work), all of this meant that faith had to retreat into the region of the indeterminate and continually changing that characterizes historical or would-be historical hypotheses. In other words, believing now amounted to having opinions and was in need of continual revision. The Council, naturally, had to oppose a theory developed in this manner … (pp. 124-25).

    You appeal to history as though it were something that we could literally walk through, like a garden (interestingly, this is exactly how I feel related to past events in the context of the church’s liturgy). This seems rather blithe as compared to what is actually involved in historical scholarship–pain-staking analysis of scraps of evidence (infinitesimal as compared to the actual events!) and consequently speculative (to one degree or another) reconstructions of past events and circumstances. Beyond that, you move from history to Scripture, but it is unclear to me how Scripture functions for you as anything more than historical or quasi-historical documents that record various (historically-disputable) accounts of human origins, the Nations, Israel, Christ, and the Church. I assume that you believe that the Bible is or contains divine revelation, and that there is consequently some sense in which you accept its deliverances even if they cannot all be independently proven by the means available to the historical-critical analysts. If so, then here we have common ground, which brings me to the matter of revelation, as such.

    I will quote Cardinal Ratzinger again, this time articulating an understanding of divine revelation that is not reducible to inert historical or quasi-historical material which the historical-critical method alone is competent to understand (thus becoming an alternative magisterium):

    Revelation, which is to say, God’s approach to man, is always greater than what can be contained in human words, greater even than the words of Scripture. As I have already said in connection with my work on Bonaventure, both in the Middle Ages and at Trent in would have been impossible to refer to Scripture simply as “revelation”, as is the normal linguistic usage today. Scripture is the essential witness of revelation, but revelation is something alive, something greater and more: proper to it is the fact that it arrives and is perceived–otherwise it could not have become revelation. Revelation is not a meteor fallen to earth that now lies around somewhere as a rock mass from which rock samples can be taken and submitted to laboratory analysis. Revelation has instruments; but it is not separable from the living God, and it always requires a living person to whom it is communicated. Its goal is always to gather and unite men, and this is why the Church is a necessary aspect of revelation. If, however, revelation is more than Scripture, then the “rock analysis”–which is to say, the historical-critical method–cannot be the last word concerning revelation; rather, the living organism of the faith of all ages is then an intrinsic part of revelation. And what we call “tradition” is precisely that part of revelation that goes above and beyond Scripture and cannot be comprehended within a code of formulas. (pp. 126-27)

    So, to your question of how I can know what is willed by Christ, I respond that I know this by hearing his voice and following him. This of course, in light to the distinction drawn by Ratinger regarding the nature of revelation, brings up the question of the relation of Scripture, the Church, and Christ. In my next comment, I will address this with specific reference to the Gospels, which I believe depict that relation not in terms of contrast, but participation, including but not reducible to Christ’s delegation of divine authority to the Apostles, St Peter in particular. Looking back on the length of this one comment, I do now think it is advisable to work up the whole of my response into something that can be posted as a whole elsewhere. I think that is what I will do, when I get the chance. Thanks again for the opportunity to post here, and I will read whatever response to this “opening statement” you might care to offer.

  33. Andrew Preslar says:

    I messed up the italics in the above quotations. I was trying to include original italics in Ratzinger’s text, not provide emphases of my own.

    • John Bugay says:

      Andrew, if you let me know where you’d like to end the italics, I’ll fix it in the comment.

  34. Andrew Preslar says:

    John, thanks. The only bit that should be italicized in the first quote is the latin phrase sola scriptura. The only italics in the second quote should be the words “arrives” and ” is perceived”.

  35. John Bugay says:

    Andrew, the particular template I’m using here does its own italicizing of blockquotes — I believe I’ve fixed the emphasis in the two quotes, and I’ll try to have a response shortly.

    I don’t mind to have the discussion here — there’s no moderation, and we can get updated as soon as there are updates.

  36. Andrew Preslar says:

    Okay, that looks good on the reformat. I tried to add the italics myself and that must be what messed things up. I have been thinking about the rest of my intended response, and don’t see that it will take as much space as I had originally believed. These conversations are thought-provoking, but it would take a very long time for me to get the thoughts provoked into reasonable order, so I’ll whittle it down to the bare basics, as I see it, and post that in the meantime. But not tonight!

  37. John Bugay says:

    Andrew –

    I am truly grateful, and I will attempt to interact with your comment, not so as to prove or underwrite my gratitude, but because I think it is good for Christians to try to resolve their differences, even though in some sense we are like ships going in opposite directions (you from the Catholic Church to Protestantism, me from the latter to the former).

    Well, you know who I am and I know who you are. I don’t think we’ll resolve any differences – but I’ve taken my son to a Mass recently, and he asks me, “how can people continue to believe Roman Catholicism given what you understand about it?” The short answer is that Rome has had centuries in which to craft its apologetic in such a way that it seems not to have any internal contradictions (or, from my perspective, at least they have an answer for anything – not necessarily good ones).

    Of course, not everyone has seen my story, and I haven’t related completely everything that I know. I’m not foolish enough to think I have all the answers, but I have more answers at this point in my life than most people I know – genuine answers, gained by hard effort to understand.

    And of course, the arguments on both sides are long and not easily addressed, and they do come down, as you said, to issues of authority and epistemology. But in addressing those things, wide swaths of other things must be discussed, and at a fairly detailed level.

    So I’ve felt compelled to learn everything I can on as many of the possible topics that can up. And I’ve also learned how to look things up.

    The site at Called to Communion seems to be a big self-protection set-up for Roman Catholics.

    The way the Called to Communion site is run, the claim “that’s sola scriptura or “that’s begging the question is an automatic “get out of jail free” card, meaning, I don’t have to answer the question.

    [It’s funny, because whereas CTC has someone like Bryan and Bryan’s rules as the gatekeeper, the “real-world” Roman Catholic Church gets surprised by someone like “Pope Francis” – a true “son of the Church”, but he seems to be house-cleaning in a big way. First, you don’t know where he’s going, and beyond that, you don’t know where all the people he’s putting in place will be going].

    If I am going to be grateful, it would be that you honestly address some of the issues, without trying to hide behind something like “The CIP offers a principled way to distinguish between divine revelation and mere human opinion, and that’s ‘preferable’ to the CPIP because it offers a “unity of faith” and a certainty that Protestantism doesn’t offer.”

    I’ve been over there discussing that with all of you, and the “talk-to-the-hand” approach gets really old.

    At some level, that approach falls back on the traditional Roman Catholic approaches, which automatically seem to fall back on “where is Sola Scriptura in the Bible? The Bible doesn’t teach Sola Scriptura, so Protestantism is fundamentally inconsistent.

    Here are two recent articles that discuss why that approach is fundamentally wrong (and yet it always comes to it – often in the form of “you can’t show us where the canon is in the Bible, so you can’t know what the extent of ‘divine revelation’”:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-question-where-is-sola-scriptura-in.html
    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2014/01/finding-sola-scriptura.html

    I don’t want to make this longer than it needs to be, but this basically is the Roman Catholic approach vs Protestantism. It’s the main complaint against Protestantism, but Sola Scriptura when considered in its historical context – namely, the rejection of the Roman Catholic authority paradigm, is the option that is left.

    On the other side of the coin, you have the Roman Catholic approach, which in the CTC schema looks like this:

    The Catholic, while in the same boat up to the point of locating the source of divine magisterial authority in the world, leaves that boat (for the solidity of dry land) after having located such a divine source. For the Catholic discovers a divine magisterial authority, thereby placing a divinely authorized, living, personal, voice at the center of his epistemic paradigm. And the ability of such a voice to provide clarifying responses to second, third, forth (and so on) order questions over time, removes the requirement for the Catholic to continue utilizing his fallible intellect to define or determine the orthodox content of revelation, a job description for which fallible human intellect has no competency

    For all the Tu Quoque articles that you guys publish, this is still the conclusion being tied up in the premise. This is the very question. And I think reams and reams have been written on why Roman Catholicism is not and cannot be that “divine source”.

    In any event, these things get long, and I would like to give you an opportunity to focus on saying the most important things you would like to say to me, but I want to comment on one more thing:

    It was now asserted that the inevitably consequence of this realization [of the putative "material completeness" of the Bible] was that the Church could not teach anything that was not expressly contained in Scripture, since Scripture was complete in matters of faith. And, since the interpretation of Scripture was identified with the historical-critical method, this meant that nothing could be taught by the Church that could not pass the scrutiny of the historical-critical method. With this Luther’s sola scriptura (“Scripture alone”), which had been the main focus in Trent, was completely overshadowed.

    Once you (like the Reformers) step aside from the notion that the Roman Catholic Church is what it says it is, and once you accept (as in the two links I provided above) that Sola Scriptura is the way that God communicates with man (in such times when He is not effecting more divine revelation), then this complaint about the “historical-critical” method is like saying, “the only way you can get to the moon is by studying and implementing rocket science”. Well, of course. God provides texts. The “historical-critical method” itself is not a fixed science. Conservative Protestant exegetes are learning how to understand. But common people can understand what needs to be understood. God is faithful. God is trustworthy. He does not speak his word in such a way that it returns to him void. God has given us minds. As the Reformers said with the “due use of ordinary means”, the revelation given in the bible is sufficient.

    One last comment:

    Revelation, which is to say, God’s approach to man, is always greater than what can be contained in human words, greater even than the words of Scripture. … the living organism of the faith of all ages is then an intrinsic part of revelation. And what we call “tradition” is precisely that part of revelation that goes above and beyond Scripture and cannot be comprehended within a code of formulas.

    This too is what one would call “begging the question”. But I won’t dismiss it as that. I’ll challenge you – asking “where is this ‘living organism’ located?” How can you tell? I’ve already looked at these questions and found them wanting. I’m willing to let you make your case and I doubt that you could say anything that I haven’t already considered and dismissed.

  38. Andrew Preslar says:

    John,

    I want to pick up the thread of my last comment and finish that line of thought before responding to your most recent comment.

    You had asked how do I know that something is willed by Christ, and I responded that I this by hearing his voice and following him. My concern in the bulk of that comment was to distinguish between revelation, in Ratzinger’s sense of being addressed by God, and the deliverances of historical-critical scholarship. The former is of a different order than the latter, though historical-critical scholarship obviously addresses itself to data within the ambit of revelation, because (Christian) revelation has an historical character–the one whom we worship as Lord and Christ, together with his Father and the Holy Spirit, is Jesus of Nazareth, of the lineage of David, a son of Abraham, a son of Adam. Nevertheless, Cardinal Ratzinger is, I believe, correct to maintain that this revelation cannot be reduced to whatever human reason can independently verify, either by way of natural science, philosophy, historical inquiry (including historical-critical exegesis), etc. Whether the content of divine revelation is isomorphic with the content of Sacred Scripture is a further question, and I was not quoting Ratzinger in order to make a point on that question, but simply to highlight two different approaches to divine revelation in general.

    But yes, for me, the Church, in her integral life though time, as “the living organism of the faith of all ages”, is indeed “an intrinsic part of revelation” in Ratzinger’s sense of that term. Interestingly, historical-critical scholarship of Christian origins, including what we commonly refer to as historical-grammatical exegesis of Sacred Scripture, seems to bear this out. It is all but impossible to have even a cursory familiarity with the texts of Scripture and not to be aware that they are addressed to a specific community of persons with a peculiar set of circumstances in mind. These are, in an intimate way that is quite open to historical inquiry, the writings of Israel and the Apostolic Church.

    The exegetical point that I was going to raise regarding the promissory Petrine passages in the Gospels is general, and very familiar, and I will not elaborate on it. In sum, we have a pretty good idea that the Gospels were written anywhere from twenty (on some conservative estimates) to seventy (or more, on some liberal estimates) years after the events. We also have a pretty good idea, from the texts themselves and early accounts of the circumstances of their composition, that the Gospels are not mere chronicles (though in my opinion they are, on the whole, historically reliable) but are theological documents the peculiar shape of which depends not only on the events themselves (though these are fundamental), but on the authors’ choices is composing, selecting, and arranging materials. The point I am making, following the observations of some scholars, is that it seems natural to suppose that the Petrine texts are included in the Gospels precisely because they have ongoing relevance in the communities to which the Gospels are addressed. They do not read like the account of doubting Thomas, which explicitly makes a general application to future readers. Their continuing relevance seems to be both more of a ministerial character (binding and loosing, feeding the sheep, strengthening the brethren), describing precisely the kind of ministry that has been handed on in the Church: governing, celebrating the Eucharist, teaching. But of course, of historical-grammatical grounds alone, these are mere opinions and are widely debated.

    Which brings me back to divine revelation: It is a dogma of the faith that the Scriptures are the inspired word of God. Many people, myself included, (and rightly so, given the premise) feel themselves to be directly addressed by God when reading these texts. We do not merely do things to the text (analysis, etc), it does things to us that no other writings can do, at least, not in the same direct way (2 Tim 3:15 comes to mind). Once we comes to have faith, we rightly accept whatever the Scriptures say, not on condition of independent verification, but because of the authority of divine revelation–we are being addressed by God. As Ratzinger points out, an essential part of this “being addressed”, of this divine self-communication, is the living person to whom it is communicated. What is empirically evident in the biblical texts is that they are addressed to Israel and the Church, and in real sense they are communications of the Israel and the Church, of Moses, Isaiah, Matthew, John, Paul, and so forth. The key thing our Catholic (and Orthodox) ecclesiology, in this regard, is that this living person is still alive, is still the bearer of divine revelation, such that she is both addressed by the word of God and proclaims the word of God, with full Apostolic authority. That last bit is a doozy, but without it, as I now believe (and have tried to explain, in various CTC posts), revelation cannot continue to function as revelation throughout the ages, as new circumstances arise, to which we can give the assent of faith. Instead, the word of God becomes like “a meteor fallen to earth that now lies around somewhere as a rock mass from which rock samples can be taken and submitted to laboratory analysis.”

    That is enough for one comment. In my next, I will try to go into more detail, citing an article by Alexander Schmemman on the topic of ecclesiolgy, on the nature of the Church. Here, I hope that we can find common ground. That will be my last bit of “prolegomena” before turning directly to your various questions about Apostolic Succession in the one hundred years between the martyrdoms of Sts Peter and Paul and the first clear references to something like a monarchical bishop of Rome. The reason that I want, in fact need, to go through this preliminary material is not to instruct you, but to clear some of the cobwebs from my own mind, which quickly collect around discussions of historical details. I need to be refreshed by stepping out into the wider world in which such difficult matters, fine distinctions, and seemingly small details can be seen in their greater significance, rather than being simply a hobby for singular enthusiasts or a career for specialists.

  39. John,

    I have divided this comment into two parts, the first finishing the train of thought that I began in response to your initial comment to me and responding to the specific points you raised in that comment, the second interacting with your most recent comment.

    I.

    In response to your first comment, I have tried to highlight (1) the difference between the deliverances of historical-critical scholarship and divine revelation and (2) how the Church is intrinsic to divine revelation as the bearer of that revelation. I now want to briefly consider (3) the nature of the Church, particularly what it is for the Church to be the bearer of divine revelation, and what Apostolic Succession has to do with this.

    I wanted to say something along the lines of (1) and (2) first, because it is misleading to talk about the Church apart from divine revelation, but sometimes when debating the nature of the Church she can seem, like those debates, to take on a life of her own, in isolation from more fundamental things. My point, however, is that, for the Catholic, the Church does not have a life of her own. Her life depends entirely upon the Holy Spirit, as the life of the body depends upon the soul. And this is of course the Holy Spirit of revelation, “who has spoken by the prophets”. The past tense indicates the once and for all, unchanging, nature of the faith delivered to the saints. The next phrase in the Creed (“in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church”), still under the aegis of “I believe in the Holy Spirit” (the creed is trinitarian from beginning to end), indicates, to revert to Cardinal Ratzinger’s words, “the living organism of the faith of all ages”.

    The essay that I was thinking of might simply help us get out bearings was written by the Orthodox priest Alexander Schmemann. It is called simply “Ecclesiological Notes” and is available online:

    http://www.schmemann.org/byhim/ecclesiological-notes.html

    This essay helps to explain what I was getting at by claiming that the Church is a mystical, i.e., sacramental, kingdom. Schmemann notes that the bishop is organ of unity in the Church, but this role cannot be understood outside of the context of the life of the Church. The bishop represents the whole, but he is also a part of the whole. The bishop has authority, but it is authority received from another, ultimately from God the Father, and so he cannot set up on his own and teach and do what he will. (I also recommend “Lumen Gentium” the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church from the Second Vatican Council, by way of seeing Apostolic Succession and the monepiscopate in ecclesial context).

    That, to me, is the gist of Apostolic Succession. No true pastor enters the sheepfold by another door. The true pastor receives and passes on what he has received from another. In this way, the Christian ministry remains a gift, received from above to be sure, but also received in and through time, from another who has this gift to give in the economy of salvation inaugurated by Christ. The Christological and Pneumatological, dimensions of Holy Orders are inseparable (John 15:26-27; 16:7-15). By means of Holy Orders in Apostolic Succession, the teaching Church retains both (1) the historical link to Jesus and the Apostles and (2) the immediacy of divine revelation as the subject to which that revelation is given, being both addressed by God (and hence subordinate to him) in revelation and established by God for the purpose of proclaiming and celebrating revelation. All the people of God are included in this revelation, but not to the exclusion of right order in the Church (cf. Ephesians 4:11-16).

    You say that I have four reasons or points from the first and second centuries AD in support of the notion that the Church is a sacramental kingdom, featuring Apostolic Succession in the role of visible headship in the churches. I could of course add more points, drawing mainly from the New Testament (I have in mind particularly Luke 22), but I will just briefly respond to your remarks on the points already raised:

    1. I have already made some remarks on the Petrine passages in the Gospels. 2. I do not understand your point about Clement. Just to clear, I have in mind his claims that the Apostles appointed other persons, once they had been approved, to succeed them in the ministry. He says this explicitly in Chapter 44. 3. Clearly some of the Fathers used rhetorical devices for controversial and polemical ends in their writings. Many of the biblical authors do the same. We should interpret them accordingly, even while understanding that using rhetorical devices is consistent with making truth claims. 4. This applies of course to Irenaeus as well. The concept of the sacrament “‘character” (sphragis) was developed later partly in an effort to discern why the Church does not administer certain sacraments more than once (baptism, chrismation, order). I quite agree that Irenaeus did not have the relatively narrow question in mind when he discussed “the successions of bishops”. At face value, Irenaeus’s remarks about Simon Magus and Paul are not particularly damning for his competence as a historian given what we know about those persons from the NT, but I would have to see them in context. Regarding the age of Jesus, I have read that passage in context and the claim is simply that Jesus lived after his thirtieth year, that is, he had entered the stage of life that comes after thirty.

    Concerning the principle of development, you asked what properties remain latent in a young organism (I used the example of a tree). Staying strictly with the biblical metaphor, we can say that the property of being able to host all the birds of the air is only latent in the sapling. First, the tree must grow, its branches shoot forth into a complexity of sub-branches, twigs and leaves that were not “there” in the sense of being manifested in the earlier stages of the tree’s life. Color, texture, size, are all subject to variations within limits specified by nature, and of course a tree is subject to “unnatural” modifications as well, which observation is particularly relevant in light of Romans 11:16-24. So the tree changes, yet remains the same; i.e., it retains the nature of being a tree.

    In this connection, you had said that “nature” is a vague, loaded, question-begging word. By nature I am simply referring to that property of an organism in virtue of which it is the kind of thing that it is, and remains what it is through change over time. Nature, in this sense of the word, is not a physical property, as evidenced by the fact that several things, physically distinct, can be the same kind of thing, have the same nature (e.g., you and I are two different beings but we have the same nature, i.e., we are both human).

    II.

    I do not want to distract from the main topic, but I would like to briefly respond to some of your criticisms of Called to Communion, before returning to the remarks about divine revelation made towards the end of your most recent comment.

    It seems to me that, on the one hand, you think that the “begging-the-question” card is overplayed, and on the other hand you think that we beg the critical question of the locus (and by implication the nature) of ecclesial authority.

    It seems to me that this sort of frustration is an inevitable feature of ecumenical dialogue in which each participant is committed (by faith and/or as a point of intellectual integrity) to his own position. I think that in general we could do more to find common ground, but not at the cost of ignoring our sincere convictions that are mutually exclusive. Naturally, we think that the particular points, including the controversial ones, of our own theology make best sense in light of other points of that same theology; conversely, those points make less sense (even no sense) in a different dogmatic context. So when challenged on one point or area of theology, it makes sense to respond by referring to the broader context.

    At CTC, this “referring to the context” has been practiced and discussed under the rubric of “interpretive paradigms”. I do not often use that language, but I do understand the approach to be a helpful way of addressing our differences at the foundational level. What you see as evasive I see as an attempt to get at the root of the problem, rather than focusing on symptoms. Focusing on paradigms is one way to take into account all the differences and points in common, and so keep things in context. Ecumenical dialogue then proceeds by comparing whole to whole.

    But that is not the only fruitful approach to ecumenical dialogue. Another way, one which you will also find in evidence at CTC, is to start with particulars and show how particulars distinctive to one tradition make sense in light of common ground shared across traditions. The “common ground” then becomes the primary point of reference rather than the distinctive paradigms. There are undoubtedly other fruitful paths of conversation, from sharing our personal stories to sharing in the fruits of scholarly insight into the sources, history, and meaning of the Christian tradition.

    Scholarship, in my view, is common ground to the degree that it depends upon evidence and reason. Based precisely on reason, however, I hold that it is irrational to expect reason alone to be the arbiter in matters of divine revelation. And this is precisely because divine revelation springs from a a supernatural source and is ordered to a supernatural end (cf. 1 Corinthians Chapter 2). This is why I cannot agree with the following (from your comment):

    Once you (like the Reformers) step aside from the notion that the Roman Catholic Church is what it says it is, and once you accept (as in the two links I provided above) that Sola Scriptura is the way that God communicates with man (in such times when He is not effecting more divine revelation), then this complaint about the “historical-critical” method is like saying, “the only way you can get to the moon is by studying and implementing rocket science”. Well, of course. God provides texts. The “historical-critical method” itself is not a fixed science. Conservative Protestant exegetes are learning how to understand. But common people can understand what needs to be understood. God is faithful. God is trustworthy. He does not speak his word in such a way that it returns to him void. God has given us minds. As the Reformers said with the “due use of ordinary means”, the revelation given in the bible is sufficient.

    The difference between us on this point, it seems, is precisely the difference between the moon and Heaven. In my view, on can get to the former by human effort, by reason alone, but not the latter. But divine revelation is ordered to Heaven, that is, to the end that we might have eternal life, which is to know God and Jesus Christ whom he sent. God has given us minds; he has, furthermore, given us the Holy Spirit and the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, which is the mystical Body of his Son, Jesus Christ, the pillar and foundation of truth, endowed with Apostles and prophets and pastors and teachers among other spiritual gifts.

    This leads me to the challenge at the end of your last comment:

    I’ll challenge you – asking “where is this ‘living organism’ located?”

    This living organism is located in Heaven and on Earth, being

    … the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as “the pillar and mainstay of the truth”. This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity. (Lumen Gentium, 8.)

    I can tell that this organism subsists in the Catholic Church because she has the marks of oneness, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity.

  40. Andrew Preslar says:

    In my point about Irenaeus and the sacramental character I left out a key word:

    “The concept of the sacrament[al] “‘character” (sphragis) was developed later partly in an effort to discern why the Church does ***not*** administer certain sacraments more than once (baptism, chrismation, order).”

    • John Bugay says:

      Andrew, thanks for your comment here. I’ve fix that sentence for you, and I’ll respond as soon as I have the time to do so.

  41. Hey Andrew,

    In responding to Paul Hoffer at CtC I noticed that I never responded to your comment along the same lines. I quoted John Crocker here:

    If to believe in the Apostolic Succession it is necessary to hold that there was always conformity to the threefold ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons, without development through a period of inchoate beginnings and widespread diversity; if it is necessary to hold that there were Bishops everywhere in the later sense of the word from the Apostles’ time to this, and that the immediate successors of the Apostles enjoyed the same authority as the Twelve, then surely the doctrine must be recognized as one which historical investigation has decisively discredited.

    You responded,

    Each of the modern scholars you mention with approval works under the same flawed assumption that is articulated by John Crocker; namely, that AS requires that “there were Bishops everywhere in the later sense of the word from the Apostles’ time….” The flaw in that assumption is that it takes something that is not essential for Apostolic headship (residence in one city by a person with a distinct title, “bishop”, among his fellow ministers) as though it were essential for Apostolic headship.

    If you’ll notice, your response is actually not an accurate restatement of Crocker’s position. Crocker is referring to the threefold office of bishop-presbyter-deacon and never mentions anything about residency in one city. His point is that there was no original apostolic threefold division of offices. Furthermore, Crocker’s point is that the immediate successors of the Apostles did not share the same authority as the Twelve.

    The notion that modern scholarship has en toto adopted a notion of a monarchical bishop in one city need substantiation because I have not detected this in any of the literature I’ve consulted outside of the definition of Sullivan. It seems your assumption comes from the article you’ve referenced before from Oswald Sobrino.

    Sobrino’s piece is deeply flawed in its own right (and I interact with him in my forthcoming article), but more narrowly in focus here, he only interacts with Sullivan who defines the episcopate in this manner. It is a major leap for Sobrino to acknowledge that Sullivan is the only person to state his definition this way (bottom of page 1) and then think he has represented or refuted the rest of modern scholarship. At best he has interacted with Sullivan (even here I’m not willing to concede that Sobrino has really interacted with Sullivan).

    Summarily, your characterization of Lampe, Crocker, and other critical scholars is not consistent with what they have actually written.

  42. Andrew Preslar says:

    Brandon,

    Sobrino’s article is narrow in focus, as indicated by the title. Whether it is deeply flawed is a further question. He is mainly drawing from an article published in Blackfriars (which he references), but unfortunately I cannot find access to that article.

    My own comment about anachronism did conflate two things, (a) the general anachronism evidenced in the quoted portion from Crocker and (b) the specific anachronism identified by Sobrino with reference to Sullivan. My criticisms of Crocker and Sullivan, however, do not depend upon that particular bit of confusion (thanks for pointing it out, by the way), but upon the claim made by Crocker, as quoted by yourself, which is anachronistic on its own terms, regardless of the question of residency. That is, the hypothetical argument that he presents would be anachronistic granted the affirmation of the antecedent. Fortunately, episcopal polity by no means depends upon that affirmation.

    The particular anachronism regarding residency applies specifically to Sullivan, who is (according to Sobrino) one of the few modern scholars who actually provides a definition of a bishop in the course of arguing that there were no bishops in the earliest churches. The application of Sobrino’s criticism to scholars who deny the historical Apostolic origin of the episcopacy would then be their failure to define the episcopacy, or else, at least by implication, working from an anachronistic definition.

    Regarding the three-fold office: I have made the point several times now, but it bears repeating: The three-fold structure of ordained ministry is Apostolic, including these levels of ministry: (1) Apostle, (2) Bishop-presbyter, and (3) Deacon. This three-fold structure is retained after the deaths of the Apostles via Apostolic Succession as certain Bishop-presbyters ordained by Apostles or Apostolic men (themselves ordained by Apostles) were elected to serve at the level of Apostolic headship, or monepiscopacy, in the local churches.

    (NB: The monepiscopacy, like the ordained Christian ministry in general, depends upon Apostolic Succession but is not to be conflated with Apostolic Succession; i.e., sacramental ordination to the fullness of Holy Orders by the laying on of hands of one who himself possesses the fullness of Holy Orders in unbroken continuity with the Apostles is not the same thing as election to the primacy in a local Church, though of course one cannot serve as mon-episcopos until he has been ordained as an episcopos. For reasons that I will not go into here, this distinction is important to bear in mind.)

    Finally, as regards your summary: I don’t see how you draw any inference about my characterization of Lampe from your analysis of my comments on Crocker. With reference to the latter, I hope that the above clarifications will suffice to distinguish (a) my objection to (affirming the antecedent of) Crocker’s hypothetical argument from (b) my objection to Sullivan’s anachronistic definition.

    As for the generalization from Sullivan to other scholars, Sobrino refers to the former’s express claim to be in agreement with the majority critical opinion regarding the episcopate in the first century. He (Sobrino) then claims that the majority view at least implicitly rest upon an anachronistic definition of bishop in the course of arguing that the episcopate did not originate with Christ and the Apostles. All that is needed, then, to confirm or falsify this claim, are some representative samples from those critical scholars showing how they define the episcopate and how their arguments depend upon this definition. Admittedly, Sobrino does not provide this; neither have you; nor have I. So at this point, for purposes of this conversation, that is a matter requiring further exploration.

  43. Andrew,

    It remains unclear what a bishop is in your mind (EDIT: if you believe the definition of the academic community is anachronistic). How would you define it. The definition used in the academic literature refers to the threefold office as is commonly conceived of in an Ignatian/traditional RCC sense. This is not anachronistic because the basic point is that there was no distinction between presbyters and bishops, there were instead bishop-presbyters. As Lampe, notes, each house church was ruled by a bishop-presbyter. As a matter of fact your very claim below is what the literature explicitly disputes,

    This three-fold structure is retained after the deaths of the Apostles via Apostolic Succession as certain Bishop-presbyters ordained by Apostles or Apostolic men (themselves ordained by Apostles) were elected to serve at the level of Apostolic headship, or monepiscopacy, in the local churches

    This is actually the point of contention. it is true that there was an apostolic office, but the question is whether or not there was any notion of the bishop-presbyters carrying on that office. The argument of Sullivan, Crocker, Lampe, et al., is that this did not occur. They may be wrong, but they are not being anachronistic.

    I do think it is important to conceptually distinguish Apostolic Succession and the monarchical episcopate. For example, Apostolic Succession in the sacramental sense of the word could be true even if the monarchical episcopate is not. I’m not convinced that is the case, but I agree with you theoretically.

    Finally, I don’t want anyone to simply take my word for it, but I feel like it would be a waste of my time to respond to Sobrino’s claim. It’s fine (probably even advisable) if you remain agnostic, but I’ve not seen anything substantive from Sobrino or anyone else that the wide range of scholars is being anachronistic in their definition of bishop. I believe that for the reasons stated in the previous comment and you’ll notice that nothing of its sort exists in the 22 pages above from Lampe. I just don’t have the time to invest energy into something like that until counter examples are provided.

    • John Bugay says:

      Hi Andrew — While there is a discussion going on here, I wanted to let you know that I’m intending to respond to your last comment to me — I’ve just been very busy with work and other things.

  44. Andrew Preslar says:

    John,

    I understand. Please take your time.

    Brandon,

    You wondered what a bishop is in my mind, and how I would define it. The vastly more important things to consider are (a) what a bishop is in the mind of the Church, (b) how the Church defines the office of bishop (in itself and in relation to the Holy Trinity, the presbyters and deacons, and all Christ’s faithful flock), and (c) who these bishops are, here and now, and (d) how they can be identified as such. The first two points have been addressed in Luman Gentium, Chapter 3. The third point is literally addressed by the post office, and the fourth is touched upon in Lumen Gentium 3 (namely, Apostolic Succession). To those sources, I will add a few observations of my own regarding details:

    1. Lexically, a bishop is, of course, an overseer, one who exercises supervision. All presbyters, at least all those to whom it is given to care for a house church or (in today’s language) parish, are overseers, or bishops in this sense of the word.

    2. Sacramentally, a bishop is a man who has by the laying on of hands (in Apostolic Succession) and the invocation of the Spirit to this end been given the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders, including the authority to ordain others. In the earliest period of Church history, sacramental bishops were referred to as both bishops and presbyters. Aidan Nichols (Holy Order) refers to these ministers as “presbyters with episcope”.

    It is possible that all presbyters were originally presbyters with episcope in the sacramental sense, that is, all ministers other than deacons were ordained to the full degree of Holy Orders, while only some among these (the Apostles and select associates such as Titus and Timothy) exercised a distinctive juridical “oversight” and so were precursors of the monepiscopate. In which case, the presbyterate as a distinct office (and not merely a descriptive or collective term), that is, presbyters without (sacramental or juridical) episcope, developed out of the episcopate (rather than vice versa).

    3 A bishop in the juridical sense, which is closely related to the lexical sense (which explains why this word, rather than “presbyter” was used to denote this office), is one to whom particular authority has been given in a particular area / city / set of house churches (or parishes). Presbyters, in this relation, are ministers ordained by these bishops to assist them, most distinctively in celebrating the Eucharist, in their respective “dioceses”.

    Because it was the Apostles themselves who originally had headship or distinctive episcope over the churches, and because they ordained multiple elders and bishops in these churches and occasionally addressed these ministers as a group (cf. Phil. 1:1), and because there continued to be multiple ordained ministers in each city after the Apostles passed away, it is natural that in the time immediately after the Apostles this usage, i.e., the plural form of either bishop or presbyter, would continue to be used in addressing the churches. It is also natural that particular address and / or reference to one bishop (i.e., one as having distinctive jurdical episcope or oversight in a particular city / area) would come into use, granted that the principle of headship, and Apostolic headship in particular, would continue to apply in the churches; i.e., that these churches did not alter their fundamental constitution (which Catholics believe comes from Christ and is essential rather than adiaphora) after the deaths of the Apostles but retained a “visible principle and foundation of unity” even at times and in places where this principle can be seen only indistinctly. Thus, Ignatius and Irenaeus need not be taken as anomalies, breaking from earlier tradition, but can be received as faithful witnesses in and to the mystical, hierarchical Kingdom of God on Earth, i.e., the Church that Christ founded.

  45. Thanks for the response.

    Just to reorient where we are—I’m responding to your claim that the problem with modern scholarship is their definition of the episcopate being anachronistic. At first you had claimed it was about geography, but I think you’ve since acknowledged that is limited to Francis Sullivan. But you still wanted to press the idea that,

    The application of Sobrino’s criticism to scholars who deny the historical Apostolic origin of the episcopacy would then be their failure to define the episcopacy, or else, at least by implication, working from an anachronistic definition.

    My interest in asking your definition of a bishop is to see where overlap exists between you and the academic community. It seems to me that your three criteria are precisely the things in question. Allow me to give me understanding of the scholarly response to all three:

    1. The lexical definition is not disputed. Here there is complete agreement

    2. The notion of a sacramental bestowal where some were ordained with the power to ordain whereas other presbyter-bishops were not invested with this authority would is particularly the sort of thing that Lampe disputes. Each of the presbyter-bishops oversaw there house churches and all of those in the city possessed equal “authority” in the presbytery—there was no sacramental distinction between presbytery & bishop.

    3. You are again proposing a distinct office (the threefold office view) which is the very point of critique from modern scholars. To describe presbyters as “ministers ordained by bishops to assist the bishop” is =diametrically opposed to Lampe’s proposal of churches being run by independent presbyter-bishops who share communion in the presbytery. According to Lampe, there is no distinction between presbyterys and bishops,

    All presbyters are at the same time “bishops” and the latter designation specifies one of their special duties. (Lampe, 400)

    My immediate focus is not to interact with *why* you believe this about the episcopate, but to show you that scholars are addressing *precisely* what you believe about the episcopate. Lampe’s definition may be wrong, but it is not an anachronism.

    • Andrew Preslar says:

      Brandon,

      Regarding the definition of bishop, my (clarified) claim regarding anachronism with respect to those who deny the existence of bishops in early Christianity in general or Rome in particular is three-fold:

      (1) Crocker’s hypothetical argument is anachronistic.
      (2) Sullivan’s definition of a bishop is anachronistic.
      (3) Sobrino claims that the critical literature consistently limits the term bishop to a quite narrow and anachronistic definition–at least implicitly–and that this definition is “usually” construed along the lines of Sullivan’s (explicit) definition of a bishop. In other cases, according to Sobrino, critical scholars do not offer an explicit definition of a “bishop”.

      You are disputing the third point, based upon your reading of the critical literature. Without going into matters extensively, can you at least provide a quote or two from critical scholars in which they define the episcopate or the term “bishop”? For myself, I have flipped through a few books this morning, and find some justification for Sobrino’s claim in the case of Raymond Brown (Priest and Bishop, p. 52), whereas in other instances I could not find a clear definition of “bishop”.

      Regarding the “scholarly response” to the three senses I gave of bishop, I did not limit myself to undisputed senses of the word, and we already knew (roughly) which points are disputed, so I am not sure why you are reminding me that these points are disputed.

      I still have not seen, or else cannot recall, Lampe’s definition of a bishop, so cannot say if it is anachronistic or overly narrow, thus falling prey to Sobrino’s criticism.

  46. Hey Andrew,

    1. Crocker’s hypothetical statement is that the threefold office of bishop was not universally widespread. You’ve yet to demonstrate how this is anachronistic so far as I can see.

    2. Sullivan’s definition of a bishop may not be perfect, but you notice how your own definition would be subject to the same criticism when you say a bishop is, “one to whom particular authority has been given in a particular area / city / set of house churches (or parishes).”

    3. Sobrino’s argument is that Sullivan’s definition (of which your definition shares particular affinity) does not take the NT evidence into account. Sobrino decides that he’ll try to take the biblical evidence into account to provide a definition of a bishop. What is his definition?

    a good first century definition of bishop would be that of a shepherd especially charged to forcefully protect the sound doctrine and peace of the local church

    Compare that to the definition of Sullivan again:

    A ‘bishop’ is a residential pastor who presides in a stable manner over the church in a city and its environs

    All the definitions (yours, Sobrino’s and Sullivan’s) contain some localized concept of a bishop which completely undermines Sobrino’s criticism. In fact, it is essential to your claim because if the office of Peter existed somewhere other than in Rome then the claims to supremacy would be meaningless.

    This is important because Sobrino’s claim is particularly focused not on the question of the later episcpoacy, but on whether or not Peter was a bishop.

    In terms of my response, my whole point in showing you where the discussion was centered was that scholars are not missing you because they are using an anachronistic definition. They know exactly what you are saying and if your definition is not anachronistic then neither is theirs because the debate is centering on whether or not the episcopate functioned the way you claim. You say bishops were distinct from presbyters [NB: You have also left open the possibility that there could have been multiple presbyter-bishops in one locale that had the full sacramental powers transferred to them through the laying on of hands in Apostolic Succession with only one of those particular bishops maintaining the Petrine office. There is no evidence for such a course of events, but this is the sort of thing that I think you’ve advocated.] while the academy says presbyter-bishops without distinction between one another.

    Finally, I’ve decided not to include Sobrino in my article so I just want to briefly provide me thoughts on Sobrino’s article which are not necessarily directed at you but which I figured would be appropriate to append here:

    To put it rather bluntly, Sobrino’s exegesis is tortuous. Word studies are valuable in understanding the use of a word but Sobrino is guilty of illegitimate totality transfer and other fallacies in his essay.

    For example, the use of episcopos in Acts 1:20 and the fact that 1 Tim uses episcopos to refer to church leaders means that there is a connection between apostles and bishops. Of course, as anyone familiar with linguistics knows, you cannot take the use of a word in one context and import it into another context. [i.e. He ran the meeting. He ran the track. Therefore, the person running on the track is in charge of the track because we know in sentence 1 that “run” meant he was the one leading.] Just because you can use the same word about different referents does not mean that the referents are equivalent [Apostle=Bishop (Acts 1:20); Church leader (1 Tim)=Bishop; Ergo, Apostle=Bishop. This is clearly fallacious and if consistently applied we would get this: Jesus (1 Peter 2:25)= Church Leader (1 Tim].

    He sees the use of the verbal form of episcopos in Hebrews 12:15 (which is an imperative to the entire community) to conclude,

    Although a general charge to all Christians, it is a charge especially suitable to the mission of bishops to maintain “sound doctrine” and “to confute those who contradict it,” as described in Titus 1:7-15

    The connection between Hebrews and Titus is not made explicit and the reader is left wondering what this means. The only clear thing that it shows is that episcopos has a broader semantic range than simply a formal office or authority, making the rest of Sobrino’s flawed argument even more internally inconsistent.

    Sobrino also appeals to 1 Peter 2:25 where Christ is referred to as the “episcopos” and shepherd of our souls. Sobrino suggests this shows that the word *could* be used for more than just low-level administrators. This moves him to confidently state,

    Calling Christ a bishop is significant, because in John 21:15-17, Christ commissions Peter to feed and tend his sheep. Accordingly, it would be natural to view the same Peter that succeeds Christ as shepherd of the sheep as also succeeding Christ as episkopos. This natural connection is unavoidable given that 1 Peter 2:25 calls Christ both Shepherd and Bishop of souls.

    Similar arguments pervade the article and the leaps in logic and exegesis are unfortunate & unhelpful. For someone looking to get a better handle on this discussion Sobrino’s argument is something that you’d do better to stay away from.

    • Andrew Preslar says:

      Brandon,

      1. Here is Crocker’s hypothetical argument (as quoted by you):

      If to believe in the Apostolic Succession it is necessary to hold that there was always conformity to the threefold ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons, without development through a period of inchoate beginnings and widespread diversity; if it is necessary to hold that there were Bishops everywhere in the later sense of the word from the Apostles’ time to this, and that the immediate successors of the Apostles enjoyed the same authority as the Twelve, the surely the doctrine must be recognized as one which historical investigation has decisively discredited.

      The part of this argument that is anachronistic is the part I’ve placed in bold print. That is, this argument depends upon the denial of development of the episcopal ministry, which by implication insists that later forms of the ministry exist in earlier times.

      2. Your analogy here would hold if that were the only sense of bishop that I gave in my definition or if oversight were equivalent to residency in one city. But I have indicated another sense of the word, namely, the sacramental, and have explained the overseer aspect of the juridical sense of bishop such that this does not require residency. For example: The Apostles were bishops in the sense of having oversight among multiple house churches and even multiple regions, and Titus and Timothy were bishops in the sense of having oversight among multiple churches in a given region; neither example requires residency in the sense stipulated by Sullivan. So your analogy does not hold.

      3. You are overlooking important differences between Sobrino’s definition of a bishop, my descriptions, and Sullivan’s definition. In particular, both Sobrino’s and my own definition allows that bishops may be itinerant ministers, while Sullivan’s does not.

      Your paragraph beginning “in terms of my response” simply asserts that critical scholarly opinion has not generally, explicitly (Sullivan) or implicitly employed an anachronistic (begging the question re development) or overly narrow definition of bishop. You then go on to claim that there is no evidence for the development of the simple presbyterate (presbyters without the fullness of sacramental orders or episcope in their own right), but the evidence is precisely that cited by those who argue the converse, that the episcopate developed out of the presbyterate. The difference is not one of evidence versus no evidence, but how the evidence is interpreted. We already clear evidence, of course, that their were presbyters with distinctive episcope along with the Apostles during the time of the Apostles, namely, Timothy and Titus. This alone establishes a distinction among bishop-presbyters and sets the stage for the development of the monepiscopate, whether or not the presbyterate, as a distinct grade of holy orders separate from the (sacramental) episcopate, was of Apostolic or post-Apostolic origin.

      I’ll pass over your remarks on Sobrino’s word study, as this does not affect his claims about how critical scholars define (or fail to define) the term “bishop”. Again, if you would like to provide an example of such a definition (besides Sullivan’s, which we already have), that would be helpful. As a said, I have perused some of my books, and not found much in that way, with the exception of a remark by Brown that seems to corroborate Sobrino’s claim.

  47. Andrew:

    1. What is anachronistic about stating that the threefold division developed from inchoate beginnings and diversity? That is not an anachronistic definition of a bishop.

    2. I have not provided an analogy that I can find nor is my point that your definition suggested residency in one city. What I did do though is point out that jurisdiction is part of your definition and in this sense, Sullivan’s definition can be understood as expressing that the bishop in a particular city had jurisdiction over the church there. I point out that your claim even presupposes that Peter was a localized bishop in Rome where he passed on his authority. You may believe that Sullivan’s definition does not allow for jurisdictional authority of people like Paul who founded different churches, however, I believe that Sullivan’s definition would accommodate it because while he can accurately be said to be their “residential pastor” (i.e. his city of “origin” or “sending” would be his residence) who minister to the church in that city and “its environs” which clearly allows for the extension of his ministry beyond his locale.

    3. Regarding my assertion, we can trade the accusation of “assertion,” but you are attempting to prove that scholars use an anachronistic definition. I’ve shown you exactly why that is not true, citing Lampe in particular (see my quote just a few comments above), and you have yet to cite anything that you believe is vague or anachronistic. I’ve actually tried to show by how the debate takes place that the definition of bishop is being evenly applied. If you can provide any evidence that the scholarly community is being anachronistic in defining the episcopate as the development of the distinct threefold offices then we explore that. Even Sullivan’s comments, however, are not substantial different than your or Sobrino’s definition.

    Also, to be clear, I nowhere denied that the episcopate did not originate out of the presbyterate—it did. That is the (perceived) problem with the traditional position. The contention of the academic community is that the distinction between presbyter and bishop did not come into effect until the middle of the second century. It seems you want to argue that it came about earlier. [While not the substance of my point, it is worth noting that scholars and commentators reject the idea that Timothy and Titus were bishops. At best the commissioning of Timothy and Titus is vague. There is nothing about their work that entails the difference between episcopos and presbuteros.]

    You can argue that the development was earlier and even Apostolic, but that does not show that the definition of bishop is being anachronistically applied. It just means that there is disagreement about when the development occurred—which we already knew. You were arguing though that the conversion is prejudicially skewed by the definition of episcopos from critical scholars. I think you need to drop that argument though because we don’t disagree about what a bishop *is*, we disagree about* how and when* the episcopate developed. If we focus our energy there I think it will be more fruitful.

    • Andrew Preslar says:

      Brandon,

      1. That is not what Crocker’s argument is stating. The argument is stating that if such development occurred, then the doctrine of Apostolic Succession is discredited.

      2. You provided an analogy by claiming that Sobrino’s definition and my definition of a bishop are similar to Sullivan’s, which is true, but the similarity will not work the way you want to (i.e. to undermine Sobrino’s criticism of Sullivan) because of the differences between these definitions, that is to say, they are not similar in the way required for your argument to work.

      3. Your citation from Lampe is not a definition of a bishop (person or office) but rather is a claim about the function of a presbyter, namely, it “specifies one of their [the presbyters'] special duties”. Obviously, the words “episcopate” and “bishop”, like “presbyterion” and “presbyter”, are used as titles denoting office and the person holding that office in the NT and other early Christian literature, so Lampe’s “definition” is clearly inadequate given the usage of the term.

      There is nothing vague about what Paul commissioned Titus and Timothy to do. And of course not all scholars deny that these men functioned as bishops, i.e., presbyters with distinct episcope (oversight / authority) in the early church.

      I am not arguing that the episcopate developed out the of simple presbyterate at any time, early or late. I am suggesting that it is possible, as in consistent with the evidence, that the latter developed out of the former, though in my view it is more likely that the Apostles from the beginning ordained simple presbyters along with presbyters with episcope.

      Finally, I do not know whether or not we agree about what a bishop is, because you have not yet stated what you believe a bishop is, unless the citation from Lampe (p.400) is supposed to encapsulate your understanding of what a bishop is, in which case we do disagree, and what is more that understanding of what a bishop is is very obviously inadequate.

  48. Andrew,

    1. Crocker is talking about the threefold division of ministry not existing from the time of the Apostles. I don’t know how Crocker or myself could it make any clearer. I don’t even understanding what could be considered anachronistic about its discussion. He’s saying if it is required that the threefold division of ministry arose from the Apostles then it’s been historically discredited, but he goes on to argue that even though it wasn’t Apostolic it was a natural development.

    2. I provided a comparison of your definitions and I’ve showed how Sullivan’s argument is virtually identical to yours and Sorbino’s. They are similar in that all three definitions require that the bishop have a connection to the city in which they preside over which is sufficient to show Sobrino’s argument against Sullivan is quibbling over semantics.

    3. My citation of Lampe shows you exactly how they understand the definition of the episcopate: there was no threefold office. A presbyter-bishop is one who is a leader in the church with a commission to oversee the people of God in discipline and in the diaconate.

    We agree that a bishop is someone who is distinct from a presbyter. The difference is that you claim that this is apostolic but I and the academic community claim this is a second century development. There is no semantic slight of hand here, just disagreement about who these presbytery-bishops were in relation to one another and the churches in the cities they served.

    • Andrew Preslar says:

      Brandon,

      1. If Crocker denies the antecedent of the conditional argument posed in the quote, then he is not guilty of anachronism. Only be affirming the antecedent is one enmeshed in anachronism, which I pointed out in the second paragraph in my comment on February 12, 2014 at 4:48 pm. The anachronism involved (granted that the antecedent is affirmed) was pointed out immediately following the quoted argument in my comment on February 13, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

      2. Having a connection to a city is a far cry from “a residential pastor who presides in a stable manner over the church in a city and its environs”. So you are not even close on this point.

      3. What I was asking for is a definition of a bishop. The quote from Lampe did not provide that. Your own definition comes closer, but it hedges by defining “presbyter-bishop” rather than “bishop”. In other words, you do not specify what it is that makes a bishop a bishop, rather than a presbyter. Because you go on to affirm this distinction (while denying its apostolicity), I think that you ought to state what a bishop is, along with what a presbyter or presbyter-bishop is.

  49. Andrew Preslar says:

    Brandon,

    Since my last comment, I have been trying to figure out why we seem to be talking past one another. One thing that I have come up with is that, on my end, I have not laid out my case clearly, in succinct and systematic fashion, but have instead responded point by point to your comments, clarifying, distinguishing, and defending my views on those same points. I like the exercise in applying logic, but I do not like the (unintended) side-effects of honing in on a few isolated points, I mean, the bullet-like or Fisk-like way this conversation is developing (at least, that is how it feels to me). With that in mind, I will hold off on further responses until John has had opportunity to rejoin the conversation. In the meantime, I will try to set aside time to formulate my own position more clearly, and will then try to respond to whatever further comments you care to make on the points over which we have been arguing or on any related matters concerning the development of the Christian ministry in the first two centuries A.D.

    • John Bugay says:

      Gentlemen: I’ve been working late, and watching the responses pop in here, and I’ve had a couple of thoughts that I would like to throw into the mix here.

      What any one individual scholar argues is less important than what the actual texts say – and the context in which such things are said. In that respect, it is very important to understand definitions – and especially definitions that are temporally accurate.

      In this regard, Lampe’s analysis of Shepherd of Hermas and 1 Clement is very telling. (Not Lampe’s argument per say, but what he points out about what the second century writers are saying)

      Couple of things:

      The word “bishop” is in the plural in both documents: in both 1 Clement as it is in Hermas in several places – and keep in mind that both of these writers have the city of Rome in view.

      In 1 Clement 44, the πρεσβυτέροι [elders] exercise ἐπισκόπή [oversight]. Similarly in 1 Clement 54, multiple πρεσβυτέροι also exercise ἐπισκόπή.This, by the way, runs counter to the first of the three reasons that Caragounis gives for thinking that there is a single leader in Rome: “there was but one church for each city”.

      In Hermas (Vis. 3.5.1), the two terms are also interchangeable.

      So in Rome, during the years 100-150, from first hand witnesses, we see multiple descriptions of multiple πρεσβυτέροι [elders] who exercise ἐπισκόπή [oversight], seemingly in tandem.

      Andrew, you may say “this is not inconsistent with having one person in charge”. But neither is it inconsistent with there not being blue men on Mars. And on the other side of that, neither does it show where one person is in charge.

      In fact, neither in Paul’s letter to the Romans, nor in 1 Clement, nor in Ignatius, nor in the Shepherd of Hermas, nor in Justin, (nor in Marcion, c. 150 AD), do we see a single “bishop” in charge in Rome.

      Where, is the history in favor of such a thing? If such a thing actually existed (much less, if such a thing were so important as you say it is), we should expect to see not only mention of it, but very bold evidence of it. Instead, that’s not what we see.

      What we see is a very loose construction – Peter was important … we know the apostles sought to put worthy men in charge of the churches … in the third century there was evidence of sacramental ordination (or was there?), and therefore all of these lacunae are filled in with a “Bishop of Rome”.

      But there is no positive evidence of such a thing.

      • Andrew Preslar says:

        John,

        The final paragraph in my comment on February 12, 2014 at 8:40 pm addresses the issues you raise here (plurality of bishops / positive evidence), with the exception of Paul’s address to Rome. In that case, the positive evidence for a monarchical type of ministry in the Roman Church consists of St Paul’s reference to the single “foundation” of that Church, which in context is clearly associated with a person.

  50. Andrew,

    One final comment and I’ll be stepping away for a bit so we can both gain some perspective :)

    You said,

    Your own definition comes closer, but it hedges by defining “presbyter-bishop” rather than “bishop”. In other words, you do not specify what it is that makes a bishop a bishop, rather than a presbyter. Because you go on to affirm this distinction (while denying its apostolicity), I think that you ought to state what a bishop is, along with what a presbyter or presbyter-bishop is.

    I think this quote encapsulates the root of the misunderstanding. For myself and the academic community a presbyter *is* a bishop and a bishop *is* a presbyter. If we adopt your definition of a bishop, which is the general consensus, “bishops” as distinct from presbyters did not exist until the second century. I (and the academic community) are using the definition you’ve provided of a bishop and responding that this conception of a “bishop” developed in the second century. This is why the debate is certainly *not* semantic and why Sobrino’s claims are incorrect (and why it is so ironic that his definition of a bishop is so similar to Sullivan’s).

  51. Andrew Preslar says:

    Brandon,

    Seriously, I totally get that in your view the original state of affairs in the NT and continuing for some time in the early churches, including and most notably the Church in Rome, bishop = presbyter and presbyter = bishop. Unfortunately, I have not made it sufficiently clear what I am asking / trying to discover about your view. But there is something in the above comment that indirectly answers the question I was asking, and this should help move things along.

    You claim that, on my definition of bishop, bishops as distinct from presbyters only began to exist in the second century. You also seem to think that the definition of a bishop that I have provided (in my comment on February 12, 2014 at 8:40 pm) is generally acceptable (as representing the consensus) as a definition of the office of bishop as distinct from the office of presbyter. This answers my question, because I was asking you to offer a definition of a bishop as distinct from a presbyter, regardless of whether this distinction is Apostolic (in fact, I explicitly acknowledged that you do not think it is Apostolic).

    Going with my working definition of a bishop, then, we can assess whether such a thing existed before the second century (in Rome or elsewhere) by looking to see if any Christian ministers did “episcopal” type things in distinction from other Christian ministers; specifically, we should look for such a distinction between those ministers who are referred to as bishops / presbyters. If we find something distinctively “episcopal” (according to my definition) marking the ministry of some but not all bishop-presbyters in the first century, then we have good reason to question the thesis that the episcopate (in my sense / the Catholic sense of the word) did not exist until the second century. I have already cited some pieces of evidence to that end in this thread.

  52. Andrew,

    Awesome :)

    I hope to take up some of these pieces of evidence in the article that I’m currently writing. I’m trying to make it as comprehensive as possible so it is taking some time for me to write, rewrite, and rewrite some more. In that article I’ll address the evidence which includes a few of the pieces you’ve brought up here.

    So long as we (you, me, & the scholarly world) recognize that we are using the same definition of bishop, this allows us to move on and examine the evidence without talking past one another or misunderstanding one another.

    Thanks again for your interaction and demeanor, Andrew.

  53. Pingback: “Divine Revelation” in Roman Catholic and Protestant Polemical Discussions, Part 1 | Reformation500

  54. John Bugay says:

    Andrew, I’ve responded to the first part of your comments to me, in a post up above, on “Divine Revelation”.

    http://reformation500.com/2014/02/17/divine-revelation-in-roman-catholic-and-protestant-polemical-discussions-part-1/

    I’ll have more to say (regarding “the church” and “The Church”) coming up, but I thought that this part was important enough, first of all, to define for myself, and second, to define (or begin to define) for others. That’s why I put it in a new blog post instead of burying it down here.

    Let me know if you have questions; I”m going to continue to respond as I have time, first of all to your comment to me, and then to some of your other comments here. But I do think it’s important to put definitions on the table.

  55. Pingback: “Divine Revelation” in Roman Catholic and Protestant Polemical Discussions, Part 2 | Reformation500

  56. Dear Brandon,
    I’d like to thank you for your superb work on “The Quest for the Historical Church: A Protestant Assessment.” Would you post that work somewhere else, on a protestant blog-site like this one, so that we don’t have to link people to a Roman blog? I think that would be very helpful! :)

    God bless you,
    Miroslav

    • John Bugay says:

      Hi Miro – I’ll mention that to him as well. Where are you located? Thanks for your comment.

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