Archive for the ‘German’ Category

A Quick Footnote to the Luther Citation Dialogue

January 13, 2008

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

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

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

– Luthurus, praef. in psalmos

– Luthurus, lib 1. contra Zwinglium et Oecolampadium

– Brentius, prolegomenis contra Petrum a Soto

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

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

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

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

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

The differences are:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopefully eventually the Latin/German originals will be available.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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