Eric Eve wrote:
> Dear Leonard (and John),
> It wasn't and isn't my intention to become embroiled
> in denominational or
> confessional polemics, and I certainly apologize for
> any offence I may have
> unwittingly caused.
Don't worry about it. No offense was ever taken by
anyone, I am sure.
When I read John Lupia's
> reference to the 'Roman
> Catholic Church' it struck me that this *could* have
> been a reference to a
> later entity than I had in mind, and I was merely
> intending to clear up any
> potential confusion. Indeed, far from intending any
> polemical denominational
> point scoring, my 'not... but...' was intended as a
> distancing from any
> possibility of my use of the word 'monolithic' being
> read as polemic against
> the present-day Roman Catholic Church. (I
> nevertheless maintain my right to
> a different historical opinion - would a third or
> fourth century bishop of
> Alexandria or Jerusalem have thought of themselves
> as *Roman* Catholic? -
> but that's a different matter).
This is a matter of semantics. Let me clarify ths.
When the term *Roman Catholic* is used it
differentiates between those who call themselves
*Catholic* but who are in fact schismatic, meaning not
in union with the bishop of *Rome*.
The examples you draw of 3rd-4th century bishops of
Alexandria or Jerusalem depends on *which* bishops you
refer to since there were bishops in union with the
bishop of Rome as well as schismatic bishops who were
not. My point is that this has always been the case.
What muddles the historical picture for some
researchers less informed is that some of these clergy
were ambivalent being schismatic one day and then
recanting the next and then going back to being
schismatic again. The best example I can think of
offhand is Eusebius Historicus, but there are many.
The case for documented evidence from the 3rd century
is provided by Jungmann, that the bishop of Rome was
the determining factor for legal jurisdiction of
bishops and real property ownership which extant
documents show that by 200 AD the Church owned real
estate and buildings. Eusebius provides details of the
case involving Paul of Samosata, bishop of Antioch
when he became schismatic the Roman Catholic Church
brought a lawsuit against him to vacate the building.
Emperor Aurelian (272) recognized the Roman Catholic
Church as a legal corporation and ruled in the
Church's favor. (See Joseph Andreas Jungmann, SJ, The
Early Liturgy (Notre Dame, 1962):14).
As for the acceptance of the historical reality of the
Roman Catholic Church even K. Aland and B. M. Metzger
admit that it is clearly attested to by AD 100. This
seems to be the academic position of the majority of
non-Catholic scholars. Clarifying what was the
condition within the first century seems to be where
the heated debate lies, not the second century on.
The thesis I developed is easy to reject by those who
deny that the Roman Catholic Church today was the one
and the same as that instituted by Jesus and
perpetuated by apostolic succession by simply denying
it. Of course, proof, strong convincing arguments, or
strong evidence will *always* be lacking and
*evidence* that contradicts them will *always* be
available and presented. This will come down to a
This whole approach will be non-productive to find a
solution to the Synoptic Problem. The alternate
position is to simply acknowledge that the Roman
Catholic Church has *always* taught that it was
founded by Jesus and perpetuated by the apostles; the
paper trail going back to the first century clearly
demonstrates this. There is no need to "maintain
one's right to a different historical opinion" when a
theory that employs the claim of the Roman Catholic
Church's antiquity dating back to Jesus himself is
offered since the theory itself is comprised of
alternative and disjunctive syllogistic propositions.
Any researcher would immediately see that "if it is
the case then" and take it at face value. As with any
theoretical solution the value is in it's ability to
completely satisfy and answer all of the problems
associated with the Synoptic Problem. If it does then
it will be hard to refute regardless of one's views of
the Roman Catholic Church really existing in the first
century or not. If the theory stands up to testing
then the latter will be self-evident.
With warm regards,
John N. Lupia, III
501 North Avenue B-1
Elizabeth, New Jersey 07208-1731 USA
Phone: (908) 994-9720
Editor, Roman Catholic News
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