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Origins of Papal Infallibility, 1150-1350: A Study on the Concepts of Infallibility, Sovereignty and Tradition in the Middle Ages (Studies in the H)

By Brian Tierney (Author)
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Item description for Origins of Papal Infallibility, 1150-1350: A Study on the Concepts of Infallibility, Sovereignty and Tradition in the Middle Ages (Studies in the H) by Brian Tierney...

Origins of Papal Infallibility, 1150-1350: A Study on the Concepts of Infallibility, Sovereignty and Tradition in the Middle Ages (Studies in the H) by Brian Tierney

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Item Specifications...


Studio: Brill Academic Publishers
Pages   327
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.6" Width: 6.4" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   0.9 lbs.
Binding  Library Binding
Release Date   Aug 1, 1997
Publisher   Brill Academic Publishers
ISBN  9004088849  
ISBN13  9789004088849  


Availability  0 units.


More About Brian Tierney


Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Brian Tierney is Professor of Medieval History at Cornell University.

Brian Tierney has an academic affiliation as follows - CORNELL UNIVERSITY-ITHACA CORNELL UNIVERSITYITHACA CORNELL UNIVERSITYI.

Brian Tierney has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Emory University Studies in Law and Religion (Eerdmans)
  2. Medieval Academy Reprints for Teaching


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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > World > Medieval
2Books > Subjects > Home & Garden > Interior Design > General
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General
4Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > Interior Design > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Roman Catholicism
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Leadership
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Catholic
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Ecclesiology
9Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General



Reviews - What do customers think about Origins of Papal Infallibility, 1150-1350: A Study on the Concepts of Infallibility, Sovereignty and Tradition in the Middle Ages (Studies in the H)?

Excellent History  Feb 21, 2008
Brian Tierney is smart. Anyone who can write a book about the papacy in the middle ages and make it a page-turner is a pretty bright guy. His book "Origins of Papal Infallibility" came out originally in 1972, shortly after Hans Kung published his "Infallible? An Inquiry", which eventually cost him his position as Professor of Catholic Theology when John Paul II came into power. Anyway, Tierney gives a compelling history of the origins of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. Vatican I claimed that the doctrine had "always been believed," whereas the minority bishops at the same council claimed that the doctrine grew out of medieval forgeries. Neither view, Tierney says, is correct.

Tierney begins his narrative around the year 1150. At the time, canon law was being compiled by canonists, led by John Gratian. The canonists believed that the pope was supremely sovereign, but not that his judgements were infallible or irreformable. Further, they understood "indefectibility" as applying to the whole church, that some remnant would always preach the faith, not that no statement of a pope could ever be wrong. "It is clear that the canonists' doctrine of papal sovereignty did not lead them to set up the pope as a second fount of divine revelation, the exponent of a Tradition of revealed truth as authoritative as or more authoritative than Scripture." (p. 29) So where did the doctrine of Papal Infallibility come from? Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure came close to formulating, but stopped just short of defining any kind of infallibility like that of Vatican I. Rather, the catalyst was a Franciscan, Pietro Olivi. Olivi was a member of the spiritual Franciscans, who among many bizarre doctrines, believed that Christ and his disciples owned nothing individually or in common, and so neither should religious orders. In 1279, Nicholas III approved the doctrine of "Apostolic Poverty" in the bull Exiit, and Olivi said that this was infallible. Of course the Franciscans owed their existence to the Pope, since the local bishops usually resented their presence, so they felt obliged to exult his authority. Then in 1322, John XXII revoked Exiit. The Spirituals protested, saying that since Exiit had been defined with the "key of knowledge," it was infallible. The Pope called this a "pestiferous doctrine," since it limited his sovereignty. At the time infallibility and sovereignty were considered mutually exclusive, since infallibility would imply that popes were absolutely bound by their predecessors' decrees. Eventually, the idea of papal infallibility found acceptance to counter conciliarism and the Reformation.

I especially enjoyed how Tierney points out the real problems in the doctrine. "If the popes have always been infallible in any meaningful sense of the word- if their official pronouncements as heads of the church on matters of faith and morals have always been unerring and so irreformable- then all kinds of dubious consequences ensue. Most obviously, twentieth century popes would be bound by a whole array of past papal decrees reflecting the response of the Roman church to the religious and moral problems of formal ages...To defend religious liberty would be `insane' and to persecute heretics commendable. Judicial torture would be licit and the taking of interest on loans a mortal sin. The pope would rule by divine right `not only the universal church but the whole world.' Unbaptized babies would be punished in Hell for all eternity. Maybe the sun would still be going round the Earth." (p. 2) Another one of his insights is that theologians tend to confuse the prejudices of their culture with unchanging truths, and sardonically notes that "every infallible statement is certainly true, but no statement is certainly infallible." He compares 2 statements, one from the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 on how secular authorities are obliged to exterminate heretics, and the Vatican II declaration on religious liberty "that in matters religious no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs. Nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his own beliefs." One can dismiss both statements as "not infallible." However, Tierney notes, "To present the second statement as a `development' of a single unchanging Catholic truth that was implicit in the first one is surely to strain human credulity too far. A man who believes that will believe anything. If the morality of the Fourth Lateran Council is true the morality of the Second Vatican Council is false; and vice-versa." (P. 277)

So in sum, Tierney gives an excellent, readable history. He succeeds in showing how a doctrine, far from being a didactic, divine ultimatum, developed in very specific historical circumstances (as dogmas do). "The main points can be summarized very briefly. There is no convincing evidence that papal infallibility formed any part of the theological canonical tradition before the thirteenth century; the doctrine was invented in the first place by a few dissident Franciscans because it suited their convenience to invent it; eventually, but after much initial reluctance, it was accepted by the papacy because it suited the convenience of the popes to use it. The doctrine of papal infallibility no longer serves anyone's convenience- least of all the pope's. The papacy adopted the doctrine out of weakness. Perhaps one day the church will feel strong enough to renounce it." (p. 281)
 
Much To Chew On!  Jan 18, 2003
Tierney is quite the scholar. I have to say, however, that the reviewer who sees a few flaws in the book is correct, although I wouldnt say that the thesis is undermined.

For those of us who are seeking to overcome the east-west division in Christianity (note that I did not say "Church") and who find the role of the papacy as a crucial element to that union, I recommend: Brian Tierney's "Origins of Papal Infallibility" and "Foundations of the Conciliar Theory"; Heft's "John xxii and Papal Teaching Authority"; "THeir Lord and OUrs" ed by Santer; "The Unity of the Churches of God" ed by Sherwood; "Byzantium and the Roman Primacy" by Francis Dvornik; "WHat Will Doctor Newman Do?" by John Page; "Towards Christian REunion" by Bermejo; "Ecumenism" ed by Cunningham; "Catholicity and the Church" by John Meyendorff (everything he writes is insightful and scholarly); COngar's "Diversity and Communion" (read everything he writes!); "Peter and Paul in teh CHurch of Rome" by Farmer and Kereszty; and "Rome and the Eastern Churches" by that great scholar Aidan Nichols. There are, of course, so many others, so if you know of any that I need to read, email me via the "about me" page! Thanks!

 
Much To Chew On!  Jan 18, 2003
Tierney is quite the scholar. I have to say, however, that the reviewer who sees a few flaws in the book is correct, although I wouldn't say that the thesis is totally undermined at all.

For those of us who are seeking to overcome the east-west division in Christianity (note that I did not say "Church") and who find the role of the papacy as a crucial element to that union, I recommend: Brian Tierney's "Origins of Papal Infallibility" and "Foundations of the Conciliar Theory"; Heft's "John xxii and Papal Teaching Authority"; "THeir Lord and OUrs" ed by Santer; "The Unity of the Churches of God" ed by Sherwood; "Byzantium and the Roman Primacy" by Francis Dvornik; "WHat Will Doctor Newman Do?" by John Page; "Towards Christian REunion" by Bermejo; "Ecumenism" ed by Cunningham; "Catholicity and the Church" by John Meyendorff (everything he writes is insightful and scholarly); COngar's "Diversity and Communion" (read everything he writes!); "Peter and Paul in teh CHurch of Rome" by Farmer and Kereszty; and "Rome and the Eastern Churches" by that great scholar Aidan Nichols. There are, of course, so many others, so if you know of any that I need to read, email me via the "about me" page! Thanks!

 
Good but flawed work  Sep 30, 2001
The other on-line reviewer seems unaware of scholarly rebuttals to Tierney's book. Tierney's book is indeed a scholarly work and has many merits. However, his central thesis about Pope John XXII
has been refuted in James Heft's "John XXII and Papal Teaching
Authority" (1986). I strongly recommend that all readers of Tierney's book also read the critical reviews of it by A.M. Stickler (and the exchange between Stickler and Tierney) in the Catholic Historical Review (Oct.,1974 and April, 1975) along with J.A. Watt's insightful comments in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History (Jan., 1974). Both Stickler and Watt are
renowned scholars. As you will see Tierney is hardly the last
word on this issue.
 
Good but flawed work  Sep 30, 2001
The other on-line reviewer seems unaware of scholarly rebuttals to Tierney's book. Tierney's book is indeed a scholarly work and has many merits. However, his central thesis about Pope John XXII
has been refuted in James Heft's "John XXII and Papal Teaching
Authority" (1986). I strongly recommend that all readers of Tierney's book also read the critical reviews of it by A.M. Stickler (and the exchange between Stickler and Tierney) in the Catholic Historical Review (Oct.,1974 and April, 1975) along with J.A. Watt's insightful comments in the Journal of Ecclesiastical History (Jan., 1974). Both Stickler and Watt are
renowned scholars. As you will see Tierney is hardly the last
work on this issue.
 

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