“Divine Revelation” in Roman Catholic and Protestant Polemical Discussions, Part 2

Archaeological evidence for King David, and his time and place

Archaeological evidence for King David, and his time and place

What follows is a part of an ongoing discussion I am having with Andrew Preslar, who is linked down below. I think it is vitally important to define our terms, and what follows is my attempt to define what “divine revelation” is. Of course this definition will not be accepted on both sides, but the definitions given here will help a lot of people understand what actually is being discussed during these discussions. Part 1 of my response is here.

Andrew – I’m aware of the CTC “paradigm” – Succinctly stated, it is this: “The Catholic ‘interpretive paradigm’ is preferable to the Protestant ‘interpretive paradigm’ because the former, unlike the latter, supplies a principled distinction between divine revelation and human theological opinions.”

There are a lot of things wrong with this. One of the components of defining what “divine revelation” “is”, is also excluding that which may be termed “divine revelation”. For example, I think you would agree with me that false statements can in no way constitute “divine revelation”.

And when talking about the relationship of “historical criticism” and “divine revelation”, I’d say firmly that “historical criticism” won’t and can’t say what is “divine revelation”, but it can work to exclude it. It can find true and false things in history. I would agree with you that the true things don’t necessarily prove anything. Although they provide support for biblical accounts, for example, as in this recent Biblical Archaeology article that lists 50 Old Testament persons whose existence has been confirmed by archaeology – including, famously, King David:

According to the Bible, David ruled in the tenth century B.C.E., using the traditional chronology. Until 1993, however, the personal name David had never appeared in the archaeological record, let alone a reference to King David. That led some scholars to doubt his very existence. According to this speculation David was either a shadowy, perhaps mythical, ancestor or a literary creation of later Biblical authors and editors. In 1993, however, the now-famous Tel Dan inscription was found in an excavation led by Avraham Biran… Written in ninth-century B.C.E. Aramaic, it was part of a victory stele commissioned by a non-Israelite king mentioning his victory over “the king of Israel” and the “House of David.” Whether or not the foreign king’s claim to victory was true, it is clear that a century after he had died, David was still remembered as the founder of a dynasty.

Now, while a lack of mention of King David did not “disprove” his existence, this archaeological find certainly provides strong confirmation for the truth of the accounts given in the Bible. (I would consider archaeology to be a component of “historical criticism”. In the same way that “grammar” and “other historical sources” lend credibility to an account and help us to understand “what the text actually says” and “what it meant for the writer and the original audience”, so too does this kind of archaeological confirmation provide key information for us as we seek to understand how “divine revelation” works).

But on the other hand, “historical critical” methods can work to oppose an account as well. I’ve written in several places about both sides of this coin. While “historical criticism” as a methodology over the last 200 years has failed to exclude the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but have only strengthened the veracity of the New Testament accounts.

These same kinds of methods, however, have not only worked to exclude things like an “early papacy” (especially the kind of “early papacy” that I grew up believing in, and which was prevalent in Roman Catholicism for hundreds and hundreds of years), but it is also enabling us to reconstruct what the actual early church was like in its beliefs, worship, leadership structure, and more. That is the whole point behind Brandon Addison’s excellent article outlining Peter Lampe’s work.

While this phenomenon does not in and of itself confirm or deny “divine revelation”, it certainly comports with how most normal people, with a good understanding of how the world around them works, would tend to view things.

I admit, that in itself is not enough. But there is more.

END OF PART II

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26 Responses to “Divine Revelation” in Roman Catholic and Protestant Polemical Discussions, Part 2

  1. John Bugay says:

    There will likely be a Part 3 on its way as well.

  2. Andrew Preslar says:

    John,

    You wrote:

    While “historical criticism” as a methodology over the last 200 years has failed to exclude the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but have only strengthened the veracity of the New Testament accounts.

    That is painting with a pretty broad brush. Many NT scholars would disagree. One of the points that I want to highlight in this regard is that critical scholarship (whether of Apostolic or post-Apostolic church history) is not free from assumptions that function as methodological parameters (e.g., regarding what counts as knowledge in general and / or for purposes of discourse in secular societies / universities) which assumptions affect their conclusions. This is true of virtually every academic field and theological / exegetical line of inquiry. It is essential to evaluate those parameters in order to discover whether they are more reasonable than not. As you have noted, that is one of the things we do at CTC.

    Of course, arguments can also and at the same time be taken one by one. I suggest that if you start counting, you’ll find that historical critics have not by and large concluded that their discipline tends to confirm the veracity of [all or perhaps even most] of the NT accounts of Christian origins. At the very least, many critical scholars will claim that their findings should significantly weaken our confidence in the NT record, e.g., since they claim to able to show that most of the NT (with the exception of some letters of Paul) was not written by persons who were contemporary with the Apostles, and perhaps none of it was written by first hand witnesses to the words and deeds of Jesus.

    Most of what I would like to go on to say at this point would tie back into your previous post about divine revelation. I suppose that your convictions about the Bible influence how you receive and interact with the results of critical scholarship. And if your convictions concerning the Bible are more reasonable than the methodological parameters of most critical scholars, then you would have prima facie grounds for rejecting the consensus of such scholarship if and when it purports to have excluded things that you believe to be essential to the Bible’s trustworthiness. The same goes for Holy Tradition, granted the Catholic / Orthodox understanding of that witness to divine revelation. If that understanding is more reasonable than secular and Protestant understandings of Tradition, then it will not suffice to note that scholarship working within those parameters has “excluded” the papacy (along with the monepiscopate and whatever else is essential to the Catholic position) from history. And that brings us back to the content of your previous post: the nature and locus of divine revelation. I will try to get back to that when I have the chance.

    For now I will leave off by noting when it comes to critical scholarship, what’s sauce for Tradition is also sauce for Scripture. Critical scholars claim to tell us what the church depicted in the NT was really like in its beliefs, worship, leadership structure (or lack thereof), and more. That’s the point behind their work. Again, we can evaluate the arguments one at a time (as Bryan and I have done with Brandon’s synopsis of Lampe’s case against monepiscopacy in Rome), but because, as Blessed Newman reminds us, “time is short, eternity is long”, we must also find some means of cutting to the chase, so to speak, in order to prepare the way for, strengthen, guard, and celebrate the faith in this life, in hope of the life to come.

  3. John Bugay says:

    Andrew, you wrote:

    That is painting with a pretty broad brush. Many NT scholars would disagree. … Of course, arguments can also and at the same time be taken one by one.

    Of course.

    One of the points that I want to highlight in this regard is that critical scholarship (whether of Apostolic or post-Apostolic church history) is not free from assumptions that function as methodological parameters (e.g., regarding what counts as knowledge in general and / or for purposes of discourse in secular societies / universities) which assumptions affect their conclusions. This is true of virtually every academic field and theological / exegetical line of inquiry. It is essential to evaluate those parameters in order to discover whether they are more reasonable than not.

    It is easy to speak in generalities; and I’m aware that there are many who take a skeptical approach toward Scripture. There is no end to the various positions that have been taken.

    What I’m referring to, however, is a rich vein of scholarship within the evangelical traditions that all point in the same direction. I’m referring specifically to those writers in the last 50 years, those who draw upon the conservative work of those like J.B. Lightfoot, for example, and continuing with scholars like Cullmann, Westminster, Carl Henry, George Eldon Ladd, leading to today’s very broad school of “biblical interpretation”, all of whom observe the same or a very similar hermeneutic in their work. The over-riding theme of their work has been described this way:

    I don’t believe our goal as Bible or theology scholars is to be deemed among the finest of scholars or to find a place at the table, but to be faithful to Jesus Christ and to the gospel and to orthodox theology and to academic rigor. Yes, we are to work to discover and to be creative, but the driving passion to prove ourselves at the feet of others falls short of a true Christian telos. I’d put it this way: we are called to be faithful, whether we are accepted or not.

    For everyone, “our assumptions affect our conclusions”. However, “being faithful” and “letting the text speak” (as I’ve written in another recent comment), enables all of these current writers from this “evangelical” tradition to create a body of work that puts upward pressure on the system “from below”. It is having an effect. I’ve recently shared this summary from Dan Wallace:

    “I can speak to issues in New Testament studies at Dallas Seminary, which I know best. Our NT faculty have degrees from Oxford, Cambridge, Aberdeen, Sheffield, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Dallas Seminary, and Glasgow. We teach a historical-critical method of interpretation, tempered by our presuppositions that the universe is not a closed-system but one in which God has been active. [JB note: and that’s the limit of the “hermeneutical assumption” going in.] Our students are trained extensively in exegesis of the New and Old Testament, are conversant with the secondary literature, and are able to interact with various viewpoints. Something like 80% of our doctoral dissertations are now getting published—and in prestigious, world-class series no less. (The same, by the way, is true of our master’s students who earn their doctorates elsewhere.)”

    Wallace also complained, “so many so-called liberal scholars have already predetermined that DTS students get an unacceptable education. They are closed-minded themselves, thinking they know what is taught at the seminary.”

    But it’s a big and competitive world, and these evangelicals, at least, have the humility to admit that they can’t control everything. That’s a key difference from historical Roman Catholicism. God can be in charge; we don’t have to be.

    You wrote:

    I suppose that your convictions about the Bible influence how you receive and interact with the results of critical scholarship. And if your convictions concerning the Bible are more reasonable than the methodological parameters of most critical scholars, then you would have prima facie grounds for rejecting the consensus of such scholarship if and when it purports to have excluded things that you believe to be essential to the Bible’s trustworthiness. The same goes for Holy Tradition, granted the Catholic / Orthodox understanding of that witness to divine revelation. If that understanding is more reasonable than secular and Protestant understandings of Tradition, then it will not suffice to note that scholarship working within those parameters has “excluded” the papacy (along with the monepiscopate and whatever else is essential to the Catholic position) from history. And that brings us back to the content of your previous post: the nature and locus of divine revelation. I will try to get back to that when I have the chance.

    For now I will leave off by noting when it comes to critical scholarship, what’s sauce for Tradition is also sauce for Scripture.

    I think Roman Catholics equivocate on the word “tradition”. You here, for example, capitalized the word, but in doing so you use it as a code word, essentially, for “That which Roman Catholicism authoritatively teaches”. I have a thing or two to say about what you have called “the mind of the Church”, but this is a different “mind” from that of the Eastern Orthodox, who adhere to “tradition” which is almost a wholly different thing from that “Tradition” to which Roman Catholics adhere.

    Just to address this point and take it off the table here, I’d like to describe what Meyendorff said:

    In Jesus Christ, therefore, the fullness of Truth was revealed once and for all. To this revelation the apostolic message bears witness, through written word or oral tradition; but, in their God-given freedom, men can experience it to various degrees and in various forms (“Byzantine Theology”, (c)1974, 1979, New York: Fordam University Press, p. 10.

    No “infallible interpreter” is either needed or presented here, and “divine revelation” is “experienced”. This much, at least, is consistent with the Reformed and evangelical views.

    You wrote:

    Critical scholars claim to tell us what the church depicted in the NT was really like in its beliefs, worship, leadership structure (or lack thereof), and more. That’s the point behind their work.

    I think this is not an accurate characterization. It is not the “critical scholars” who tell us these things. Rather, it is the expanded body of work to which all scholars of this genre are turning (and those among you who espouse the work of N.T. Wright do so without considering the larger picture) that is broadening the horizon of “what the church depicted in the NT was really like”.

    “Critical scholars” (as well as the evangelical scholars I described above) have opened themselves up to a whole new body of literature, beyond the New Testament. This work encompasses such things as “2nd Temple Literature”, ancient Greek, Roman and Jewish histories and studies, “biblical archaeology” (as I’ve related above — studying the Old Testament, “2nd Temple”, and New Testament periods and beyond). The writings of the Apostolic fathers, and early church writers, too, are being compared with and situated within the broader world of that day. It’s not enough to take the quip, “what has Athens to do with Jerusalem”, and be content with it. One studies “Athens” and “Jerusalem”, and everything in between. Trade routes and military practices within the empire give us clues as to how and when and where various theologies came from.

    ALL OF THESE WRITINGS, across the board, are enabling all modern scholars, (critical, Roman Catholic, and evangelical) to see and reconstruct what the period was like, and all of these folks alike are able to trace the beliefs, worship, and leadership structures. This is why Roman Catholic writers like Brown and Fitzmeyer and Sullivan and others are able to say the kinds of things they do with such confidence. They are all relying upon this expanded body of literature, which “official, conservative Roman Catholicism” seems not to take into account, and which those of you who believe they are being faithful to it seem to reject.

    This is why it is possible to look at a writer from the 1930’s or 1940’s (like Dix, for example), and say “the account he is presenting is missing some important information”. Because it is.

    Close-up analyses of these things will continue to clarify the picture (while individual scholars disagree) of where and when the mono-episcopacy first appeared, and what various authorities they had. How and when various forms of worship developed. What they drew upon.

    But what’s becoming clearer all the time in this picture is that what we identify now as “Roman Catholicism” specifically draws, for its worship forms and leadership structures, upon the 4th and 5th century Roman Empire. It is very clear that the Eastern churches rejected this when it first imposed itself, and it is very clear that many within its own “Tradition” reject this notion as well (not only the Protestants of the 16th century and beyond, but even those from within, such as the ressourcement movement and the Vatican II liberals, all of whom want to step away from that Roman Imperial understanding of things, in their various and diverse ways. Even JPII was looking for “a new situation” for the papacy. The old one was quite flawed.

    From the perspective of the Reformers, within the context of the longer history of the church, all of this new information is simply confirmation of what they believed: the Roman authorities of their time had over-stepped biblical boundaries of authority; in doing so, they had adopted many non-biblical beliefs and practices, and in fact, had supplemented that (cemented, and proved their faulty doctrines) by the character of their lives.

    Much of what you call “development” from the third and fourth and fifth centuries, may have been useful to the church of the day. But it all needs to be scrutinized again, because much of what you call “development” from the third and fourth and fifth centuries, can be “sourced” in places other than Scripture, and not only have those from the Eastern churches of the 5th, 6th, and 10th centuries rejected it, but the Reformers rejected it, and we, too, may feel confident in rejecting it.

    “Being faithful to the Scriptures”, as contemporary evangelical scholarship does, and imposing a Roman Catholic Hermeneutic from the outside, as Roman Catholics do (at various levels), are two different things, and for you to say, basically, “none of us is free from our assumptions” is to fail to distinguish precisely how much these different assumptions affect the work that is being done. Between evangelicals of today and those who continue to call themselves “conservative” Roman Catholics, the difference seems to be basically the difference between “listening to what the text says” and “mining the text for proof-texts, in support of a 4th century imperial structure, without paying attention to the overall story of the text”.

  4. Andrew Preslar says:

    John,

    The first part of your comment, describing Evangelicals’ efforts to interpret the Bible in the light of faith and reason, is excellent. That is very much what I have in mind when it comes to the Catholic approach to Tradition.

    I am not sure, however, what you mean by the following:

    But it’s a big and competitive world, and these evangelicals, at least, have the humility to admit that they can’t control everything. That’s a key difference from historical Roman Catholicism. God can be in charge; we don’t have to be.

    Would you identify what Evangelicals claim to be able to control, what the Catholic Church claims to be able to control, noting the difference and why the former leaves God in charge, while the later does not?

    You claimed that I am using “Tradition” as a code word. Again, I am not sure that I understand what you mean. I provided a working definition of Tradition in the thread under Brandon’s post, citing Cardinal Ratinger to the effect that “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.” Tradition, in this view, cannot be reduced to “That which Roman Catholicism authoritatively teaches”, though it certainly includes that teaching.

    Again, this goes back to the fundamental nature of divine revelation: Is it fundamentally (1) a collection of texts, (2) an oral tradition, or (3) a Person–the Word made flesh? I believe that the third is the correct answer, though not to the exclusion of the other two, which are authentic witnesses to the third. And, importantly, (1) and (2) are in a real sense witnesses of the Church as well as witnesses to the Church. The Church is bound up in divine revelation, not as interposing herself between men and Christ, but precisely as the mystical Body of Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, continues in existence as the witness of the things of God revealed in Christ. Tradition is the life of the Church as the bearer of divine revelation, as the mystical Body of Christ, sustained by the Holy Spirit.

    Anyway, that gives you some sense of my understanding of revelation, how the Church is related to revelation, and what Tradition is.

    The quote you gave from John Meyendorff is excellent and perfectly acceptable from my point of view. Orthodox Christians do believe that there is a sense in which the Church is infallible (e.g., the dogmatic decrees of an ecumenical council), they simply disagree with Catholics over the role of the pope in the Church and consequently the relation of the papacy to the principle of ecclesial infallibility. I also agree with the Orthodox, Pope John Paul II, and many others that it would be well for the papacy to find a new situation, hearkening back to the first millennium, so to better serve the church and better express the servant-nature of ecclesial headship, i.e., what it means to have authority in Christ’s kingdom, as a testimony to the Gospel.

    Pope Francis, along with his predecessors (though Francis has gained much more attention along this line), has been doing this in a personal way. I eagerly await the day when Church of Rome begins to do this in a more official way, e.g., by lifting some of the unjust and (it seems to me) almost perfidious impositions she has made upon the Eastern Churches in full communion with Rome (such as requiring our presbyters in the “diaspora” to be celibate). I accept, in a general way, subject to correction and nuance, the views that the papacy ought to be reformed along the lines of the first millennium in its relation to sister churches (i.e., the Eastern Catholics and Orthodox), and that it is always good for the Church on earth to evaluate its relation to temporal power (actual and potential), discerning whether and to what degree the Church has become worldly in its aspirations and aims, and whether and to what degree the Church can best serve the world in temporal matters as a witness to the Gospel.

    Finally, I am not sure what to make of the last part of your comment. On the one hand, I join you in your appreciation of and interest in the larger world of Second Temple Judaism. But I do not understand your parenthetical comment about NT Wright, nor what it is you think that conservative Catholics reject. If you mean that we reject conclusions that are not consistent with the Church’s teaching, then yes of course we reject such conclusions, for much the same reasons (or same kind of reasons) that you reject conclusions from the same field that are not consistent with your interpretation of the Bible and / or your understanding of the nature of the Bible as divine revelation.

    This brings me to your concluding paragraph, in which you try to pinpoint the principled difference between how an Evangelical relies upon his convictions as regards Scripture, and how a Catholic relies upon his faith as regards the Church. It seems to me that your claim is that this amounts to the difference between exegesis and eisegesis. I think that I can understand why it seems that way to you, but I trust you will understand why it seems to me that the Evangelical Christian does much more than simply “listen to the text” and why the proper context for that “much more” is quite simply the Catholic Church.

  5. Hey Andrew,

    You said,

    Again, we can evaluate the arguments one at a time (as Bryan and I have done with Brandon’s synopsis of Lampe’s case against monepiscopacy in Rome)

    I have not encountered anything where either you or Bryan have interacted with the evidence presented by Lampe in my review. You’ve asked meta-level questions about the value of historical investigation and Bryan has invented “12 pieces of evidence” which he goes on to show are “not inconsistent with a monarchical episcopacy.” In order to actually evaluate the arguments one at a time you would have to accurately state them and proceed to point out points of agreement and disagreement. To my knowledge nothing you or Bryan has written has interacted with any arguments, but if you could point me in the direction of a comment that you believe engages with Lampe’s arguments “one at a time” I would like to revisit it.

    P.S. I’m not trying to be prickly or combative, but I just found this characterization of our conversations odd because I have not understood them to be in the manner that you described them.

  6. Andrew Preslar says:

    Brandon,

    You presented both evidence and an argument (i.e., the evidence suggests, or even strongly suggests, that there was no bishop of Rome prior to the mid-second century) in your post summarizing Lampe’s book. The evidence has to do with state of the Church in Rome before the middle of the second century as indicated in written records and archaeological finds from that time, the inference or argument being that this evidence supports the thesis that there was no monarchical bishop in Rome (i.e., a presbyter with distinctive episcope, or oversight) during that time. Reasoned interaction with this argument, including the evidence adduced in its support, should involve logical analysis of the “do the premises support the conclusion” variety as well as meta-level questions of the “what philosophical / theological assumptions inform this argument” variety. We have offered both. My interaction with with your post, including specific bits of evidence you cite, can be found on the thread following that post beginning January 24, 2014 at 1:51 pm. Anyone who cares to do so can cull through the comments to see which pieces of evidence I address in those comments. Bryan’s interaction with your post, including the pieces of evidence you cite (I am not sure what he is supposed to have invented), can be found in comment #97 of the “Modern Scholarship, Rome, and a Challenge thread at CTC [link].

    Nor am I trying to be prickly, but I am indeed puzzled as to what you might mean by “interacting with evidence /arguments” if you cannot find such interaction in what Bryan and I have written in response to your post!

  7. John Bugay says:

    Andrew — I don’t think Bryan’s response got anywhere near to touching what Brandon said, and I noted that in this comment.He seems to have missed the forest (completely) through the trees.

  8. Andrew Preslar says:

    John,

    To have a forest, you need some trees. It seems to me that Bryan’s response was along the lines of looking for trees.

  9. Andrew,

    Regarding your interaction, if we go back and trace it your general response has been, well Lampe says things consistent with what we (Rome) can affirm. The problem is you have not begun to show how fractionation means that there was a monarchical episcopate. Your argument has primarily been that you question my utilization of critical sources and my methodology. You suggested that Lampe’s work falls under the criticism (or at least corrective appeal) by the lecture given and St. Vladimir’s. The other thing we’ve recently been engaged in discussing is the definition of a bishop, but that is surely not Lampe’s concern.

    Bryan’s interaction speaks for itself. Nowhere does Lampe list “12 pieces of evidence.” That is Bryan’s odd invention. Bryan has badly misread some things and curiously excluded others as I noted in response to him. For example, neither Bryan nor yourself have interacted with the incredibly important fact that Judaism was fractionated the same way as Christianity and did not have a centralized authority. This is a very important corroborating piece of Lampe’s argument and neither you nor Bryan have even explored it. Moreover, Bryan’s whole approach is riddled with methodological problems–the types of methodological problems Lampe wants to preempt in his Introduction.

    You would think that a proper methodological way to approach the evidence would be to follow Lampe’s argument through his six sections and explain how Lampe’s argument fails in certain regards in those sections. No such response has been made. As such, you have helped us move forward with prolegomena, but because Bryan has so badly misdiagnosed the argument his response does not meet the requirement for “evaluating arguments one at a time.”

  10. Andrew,

    It is a verifiable fact that Bryan is the only one seeing 12 pieces of evidence. The case is *far* more expansive than this. Furthermore, pieces of evidence do not make an argument. For example, just because a lawyer uses a character witness does not mean that he is innocent because his neighbor said he was an upstanding person. But it is a piece of evidence that the defense uses to corroborate a certain portion of their case which fits into the overall argument.

    Bryan wants to look at one piece of evidence and say, “Well, his neighbor saying he is a good guy is compatible with him committing the crime.” Well, ya, that’s true. But it completely misses the point.

  11. John Bugay says:

    AndrewTo have a forest, you need some trees. It seems to me that Bryan’s response was along the lines of looking for trees.

    This really doesn’t address the issue that I raised in my earlier comment, and that Brandon is raising here. To throw in another metaphor, think of cooking soup. You may look at the individual ingredients: water, chicken, carrots, celery, noodles, and of each one, you may say, “nope, that’s not soup, nope, that’s not soup”. That is essentially the method that Bryan followed in (mixing metaphors here) examining the individual trees.

  12. Andrew Preslar says:

    Brandon,

    I am genuinely puzzled by your response. Why in the world would I want or need to “show how fractionation means that there was a monarchical episcopate”? My reasons for believing that there was a monarchical episcopate in Rome from the beginning include the authority of the Church, the witness of Scripture regarding the nature of the Church, and the witness of Tradition regarding Peter’s presence in Rome and the episcopal ministry in Rome.

    Citing Lampe, you have described what is meant by the fractionation of early Roman Christianity, and I have responded with gratitude, since that is very interesting and helpful for understanding the state of things in the first century, quite apart from the point that is in dispute. Regarding that point, I have pointed out that Lampe’s analysis is helpful for the Catholic claims, by way of picking out a distinctive activity (minister of external affairs) that could help evince the presence of a presbyter with distinctive episcope (which is surely required for the monarchical episcopate) in the early Church in Rome. But I find it curious, given that you believe Lampe mounts a successful argument against the Catholic understanding of the episcopate, that you believe that the definition of the episcopate is “surely not Lampe’s concern”. In that case, given that he does raise the issue of the episcopate, we would are left to conclude that either he does not know what he is talking about (since he is not concerned to define it) or he is not talking about what he knows. Either way, he would be of no help towards the end for which you are making use of his book.

    If the pieces of evidence that Bryan lists are indeed given by you (whether or not you numbered them) in your summary of Lampe’s book, then Bryan’s list is by no means his own invention. He is simply citing the points you raised in support of your (and Lampe’s) thesis that the monepiscopate did not exist in Rome prior to the mid-second century. I think that you are claiming, in reresponse, that none of those points is supposed to stand on its own, but that each is part of a cumulative case, rather than a deductive, argument against Catholic ecclesiology. So far as I can tell, you then expect readers to just “see” the force of this cumulative case. Let me know if this is an accurate characterization of your argumentative strategy. If so, then I will try to say what is my response to that sort of argument.

    I have to note that the following from your comment is but a list of assertions. I cannot see the truth of a single one of them, but would be happy for you to reveal your reasoning, so that I could consider your case:

    Bryan has badly misread some things and curiously excluded others as I noted in response to him. For example, neither Bryan nor yourself have interacted with the incredibly important fact that Judaism was fractionated the same way as Christianity and did not have a centralized authority. This is a very important corroborating piece of Lampe’s argument and neither you nor Bryan have even explored it. Moreover, Bryan’s whole approach is riddled with methodological problems–the types of methodological problems Lampe wants to preempt in his Introduction.

    Finally, I have, and I am sure that Bryan has, followed Lampe’s methodologial approach, at least as outlined by yourself in your extended review. What I fail to see is an argument from which the conclusion follows from the premises, or else a presentation of evidence the cumulative effect of which is simply too much for the Catholic position to reasonably withstand. Instead, I see interesting details about the life of the early church in Rome, some of which are helpful for the Catholic case, none of which, individually or taken as a whole, hurt the Catholic case.

    Finally, in response to your follow-up comment: If you have other pieces of evidence, besides those which Bryan cited, which you would like to bring forward, then please do so. You cannot reasonably blame someone for missing a point that you have not made.

  13. Andrew Preslar says:

    John,

    To have soup you need some ingredients.

  14. Andrew,

    I guess when we enter dialogue from different perspectives we are bound to be puzzled at one another. I hope not to attribute bad motives to you (or you to me), but if we can agree on anything right now, it’s that we are both deeply confused by one another :)

    The reason you should interact with claims of fractionation is because….that is the point of Lampe’s book. He shows that fractionation exists and then he concludes that this has implications for ecclesiology.

    If you want to return to the whole issue of defining “bishop” I don’t have the energy for it. Lampe understanda the word “bishop” the way everyone involved in this discussion does. If you don’t know what I mean, go back and read what I wrote in the comments under my post on Lampe for a full explanation.

    You continue by saying,

    I think that you are claiming, in reresponse, that none of those points is supposed to stand on its own, but that each is part of a cumulative case, rather than a deductive, argument against Catholic ecclesiology. So far as I can tell, you then expect readers to just “see” the force of this cumulative case. Let me know if this is an accurate characterization of your argumentative strategy. If so, then I will try to say what is my response to that sort of argument.

    This is of course, not what I’m saying. As I have pointed out though multiple times, and as you have yet to acknowledge, Bryan haphazardly picks certain pieces of evidence and identifies them as “12 pieces of evidence.”. As I pointed out to him, he mentioned one of the 12 pieces of evidence as a sub-point of a sub-point. The other pieces of evidence he lists are either badly misconstrued or treated like my analogy above, where Bryan assumes that Lampe is trying his entire case with one piece of evidence. Such an approach is unhelpful when engaging of pretty much any kind of dialogue, but specifically with historical arguments.

    Instead, I see interesting details about the life of the early church in Rome, some of which are helpful for the Catholic case, none of which, individually or taken as a whole, hurt the Catholic case.

    I’d ask you to consider this, Andrew, why is it that the academic community thinks Lampe’s conclusions point to no episcopate existing in Rome while you believe that it actually helps your case? Does that not trouble you in the least?

    You finally say,

    Finally, in response to your follow-up comment: If you have other pieces of evidence, besides those which Bryan cited, which you would like to bring forward, then please do so. You cannot reasonably blame someone for missing a point that you have not made.

    I’m not going to go through and re-write the 22 pages wherein I tried to be painstakingly precise and show how the various pieces connected to one another. I will, however, point out one piece of evidence that I have pointed out ***numerous*** times (in the comment just above, actually) and which continues to be ignored–Roman Jewry was fractionated [NB: With this piece of evidence you can say, well Judaism being fractionated is fully compatible with a monarchical bishop, Christianity arising from Judaism is fully compatible with there being a monarchical episcopate, etc., but this is mischaracterizes how the various pieces of evidence are situated in the argument] . Given the other evidence about the influence of Judaism on Christianity (see my review for the voluminous evidence explored by Lampe), this is very significant. How do you account for it?

  15. Andrew Preslar says:

    Brandon,

    If your case against Catholic ecclesiology is neither a deductive argument nor a cumulative case argument, I cannot tell what it is. You say that fractionation has implications for ecclesiology. I suppose that your review and Lampe’s book are supposed to show what those implications are, re monepiscopacy. Yet not one piece of evidence cited is incompatible with monepiscopacy, nor does the evidence taken as a whole constitute an argument with premises from which the conclusion that there was no bishop (presbyter with distinctive episcope) in Rome prior to the mid-second century follows, nor (as you now say in response to my question) is all of this supposed to constitute a cumulative case argument against Catholic ecclesiology. So I have no idea what might be the way in which you are supposed to have accomplished your goal.

    You claimed that Lampe is not concerned to discuss the definition of a bishop. My response is that, insofar as addresses the subject of bishops, this lack of concern is detrimental to his case.

    I did not say that Lampe’s conclusion helps my case. I said that his evidence helps my case. Many secular, Protestant, and Catholic academics who follow a secular (reductive higher-critical) method do indeed share Lampe’s view on the monepiscopate in Rome. If there arguments are no better than his or yours, why should I be concerned? Neither am I concerned about the majority scholarly opinion concerning the reliability of the Bible, in the sense that it seems to me more reasonable to hold to the traditional view, i.e., that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.

    Finally, concerning the fractionation of Roman Jewry: This indeed can help explain the phenomenon of fractionated Roman Christianity, if house churches are supposed to have grown out of the synagogues, as believers in Christ separated themselves from the latter. But if the fractionation of early Roman Christianity is no evidence against monepiscopacy (and it is not), then the fractionation of Judaism is no evidence against monepiscopacy (a fortiori). You are appealing from the greater to the lesser, which does not strengthen your case.

  16. Andrew,

    It is a cumulative case. What I object to is that people are just supposed to “see it.” Lampe lays out how each piece interacts with the others. And the conclusions that we come to from Lampe’s argument do cause us to come to the conclusion that there was no episcopacy in Rome. I don’t even know what you know about Lampe’s argument because you’ve yet to interact with any of the evidence (which is why I commented in the first place).

    Regarding Lampe’s definition of bishop, it is the definition that literally every academic in the world uses (the threefold distinction of office)…I thought we had reached some sort of consensus on this.

    Let’s retrace how you’ve utilized Lampe’s investigation. Lampe, utilizing the evidence (primarily from Hermas and Clement), tells us that there is a “minister of external affairs” that is also a presbyter-bishop. This provides you a transitional figure from the presbyter-bishop to the monarchical bishop…but how does that give you anything like a bishop in the threefold division or a Petrine successor? Nothing in the evidence Lampe presents warrants this conclusion. I’d be interested to actually see you interact with Lampe on this account.

    Regarding Roman Jewry, you’ve again, either have not remembered or not read what I have written. Here is the section (after footnote 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 separate [edited] governmental structures in loose confederation with one another.

    When basic arguments like this continue to be misconstrued and ignored, it reinforces my notion that proper care and attention have not been giving to the reading of the review.

  17. Andrew Preslar says:

    The following post on cumulative case arguments might help clarify things, re the argumentative strategy in Lampe’s case against the monepiscopate in the early church in Rome:

    http://sententias.org/2013/02/08/how-to-construct-a-cumulative-case-argument/

    Its a bit abstract, but at least shows that one need not simply rely on intuition (just “seeing” that a bunch of evidence makes the conclusion more likely than not) to appreciate the force of a cumulative case argument.

    The problem, however, as Bryan (and I, more briefly) have pointed out, is that many of these situations, or else analogous situations, described by Lampe with respect to the fist and early second century church in Rome, which constitute his evidence, obtain in the modern Roman Catholic Church, which clearly is shepherded by monarchical bishops. So the probability of Lampe’s conclusion relative to his evidence would seem to be very low, if his argument is intended as a cumulative case argument. As I said previously, I am not sure how else to construe it.

  18. Andrew Preslar says:

    Brandon,

    I posted my previous comment before I saw your most recent. It is good to see we are somewhere on the same page here, regarding the kind of argument being employed.

    Also, I most definitely went back and read your remarks on Judaism in Rome. Again, if fractionation among Christians is not evidence against the monepiscopate, then fractionation among religious Jews is not evidence against the monepiscopate. The latter might help explain the former, but it does not strengthen (or weaken) the case against monepiscopacy.

  19. Andrew Preslar says:

    I want to add one more point, regarding the analogy between Judaism and Christianity that you are drawing, in which you correctly point out the formative influence that Judaism had upon Christianity, thus suggesting that whereas the former had no central authority it would not be reasonable to expect the latter to have such an authority (I think that this is the particular argument that you are, correctly, claiming that I have not yet responded to):

    First, Judaism did have a central authority, centered upon the Temple in Israel, up to 70 A.D. So did the Church, though because of Calvary (and the Eucharist) the central authority and primary cultic activity had been transformed by and transferred to Christ and, upon his ascension, to the Apostles. The destruction of the Temple and subsequent Jewish diaspora did not affect the Christian authority structure precisely because the latter no longer depended upon the cult and religious authorities in Jerusalem, but upon the Apostles and Apostolic Succession. So the Christian ministry, though obviously patterned on the Jewish, was not isomorphic with it in structure; rather, the Christian ministry was Apostolic, i.e., having single, personal authority figures who had primary responsibility for the well being of the churches.

  20. Andrew,

    RE: Roman Jewry

    If the Roman synagogues were fractionated in the way that Lampe suggests Christianity was and they were independently run with loose organizational ties (but with no monarchical leader) then that is very significant for the development of Christianity. Your assertion,

    Again, if fractionation among Christians is not evidence against the monepiscopate, then fractionation among religious Jews is not evidence against the monepiscopate.

    is simply not true. Christian fractionation speaks against centralization of leadership as it does in Judaism. Jewish fractionation most certainly strengthens the idea that Christianity is fractionated. It is not a monocausal situation (where Christianity is this way because Judaism is as well), but it certainly an important piece of evidence that strengthens the case of fractionation.

    Jews synagogues did not have centralized authority. Other territories did have an ethnarch to unify the synagogues but Rome did not. Each of the synagogues operated independently though they of course centered their religious life around the Temple–but these synagogues were separate entities from the Temple.

    Regarding the authority structure, of course the destruction of the Temple didn’t impact the church because by that time the Christians had been sent out from their synagogues per the reports form Cassius Dio and Orosius (as well as Luke in Acts).

  21. Andrew Preslar says:

    Brandon,

    Well, at this point we both seem to have a grievance, re others not interacting with our own argument. Fractionation does not speak against monepiscopacy, for the simple reason that we observe fractionation of the sort described by Lampe in places where there was (and is) clearly a monarchical bishop. So, my claim is, simply speaking, … true!

    Also, you either missed or intentionally bypassed my point about the relation of Jewish and Christian authority structures as it pertains to the likelihood of a monarchical bishop in Rome (hint: it has to do with the Apostles).

  22. Andrew,

    This will be my last comment as I’ve sort of hijacked John’s thread (sorry, John!).

    Andrew, where are you thinking about fractionation described by Lampe in places where there was a monarchical bishop? I don’t see any location suggested or any evidence to substantiate it.

    And again, I’ll side with the entire academic community that fractionation gives significant problems for Roman Catholicism. To reiterate why would be draining and I’m afraid superfluous because you’ve yet to even ask clarifying questions about the evidence presented but summarily dismissed it all as being compatible with a monarchical episcopate.

    Also, I did intentionally bypass your mention of the Apostles because it says nothing about monarchical episcopacy in Rome. We are agreed, of course, that the Apostles exerted special authority in the church. The question is whether that authority was continued in monarchical bishops. In relation to this, Rome was not established by the Apostles–it was founded in Jewish synagogues. That is why the synagogue structure is particularly important for the ecclesiology of Roman Christianity.

  23. Andrew Preslar says:

    Brandon,

    If this is your last comment on this thread, that leaves me the last word (for now). I will try not to abuse the privilege. First, the answer to your question (where is this fractionation?) is all around us. Bryan pointed this out in his reply to your article. Second, the entire academic community does not agree on the implications of fractionation re monepiscopacy. Many do, but beware of siding with academic consensus sans good argument based on sound principles–it could be harmful to your faith. Focus on the principles, the evidence, and the arguments. Third, I think that it is all too common to have to repeat oneself in these sorts of discussions, and that is indeed tiring. But I must object to your account of my modus operendi. In fact, I am quite familiar with the evidence and arguments given by critical historians re monepiscopacy, and I have asked clarifying questions about the argument that you presented in your review of Lampe. Finally, the Apostolic ministry does indeed say something about episcopacy in Rome. I have already explained how and why. Your penultimate sentence poses a false dilemma: Roman Christianity was both founded by Apostles (as implied by Paul and explicitly maintained by Tradition) and it was founded in Jewish synagogues–which is exactly where the Apostles went first in the course of their mission to various locations in the Roman Empire.

  24. John Bugay says:

    Gentlemen – I’ve got a few thoughts here. Got busy with work today, and I tend to get brain-dead after that, so I’ll check back in the early morning.

  25. Pingback: “Divine Revelation” Part 3: Methodological Considerations When Discussing “the Church” and “the mind of the Church” | Reformation500

  26. John Bugay says:

    Andrew, I’ve added a response to our orignal set of questions, that began in Brandon’s thread on Lampe. That may be found here: http://reformation500.com/2014/02/24/divine-revelation-part-3-methodological-considerations-when-discussing-the-church-and-the-mind-of-the-church/

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