Friday, January 23, 2009

The Augustana Graeca and the Correspondence between the Tubingen Lutherans and Patriarch Jeremias II

I was knocking about on Orrologion's blog, and I came across some entries with regard to the Lutheran correspondence with Patriarch Jeremias II in the 16th Century.

It is a fascinating episode in history, and the Augsburg Confession in Greek merits its own study.

For two important sites on the Internet in this regard, see:

and (Which gives the Augustana Graeca in facsimile)

If you know of other sources and essays on the net on this subject, please link to them in the combox. I would be especially interested in an English translation of the full correspondence between the two parties.

My only comment here and now about the whole episode is that the fact that not only the Romans but the Greeks as well saw the Augsburg Confession as a heterodox statement of the Christian faith, should have caused the Confessors then (and their heirs today) to question their assurance that "That in doctrine and ceremonies nothing has been received on our part against Scripture or the Church Catholic".

Joshua, for instance (in an earlier comment), reacted in horror to the rejection of the intercession of the saints. He was not alone in this. Patriarch Jeremias II had a similar reaction.
The Patriarch was especially shocked by the twenty-first and last article, which says that, while congregations should be told of the lives of the saints as examples to be followed, it is contrary to the Scriptures to invoke the saints as mediators before God. Jeremias, after citing the special powers given by Christ to the disciples, answers that true worship should indeed be given to God alone, but that the saints, and above all, the Mother of God, who by their holiness have been raised to heaven, may lawfully and helpfully be invoked. We can ask the Mother of God, owing to her special relationship, to intercede for us and the archangels and angels to pray for us; and all the saints may be asked for their mediation. It is a sign of humility that we sinners should be shy of making a direct approach to God and should seek the intervention of mortal men and women who have earned salvation. [Source]


At Friday, January 23, 2009 10:17:00 pm , Anonymous Dixie said...

A complete English translation of the entire correspondence is not on the web but can be purchased. It is one of my favorite books.

At Friday, January 23, 2009 11:16:00 pm , Anonymous Schütz said...

Thanks, Dixie. I might try to get a hold of that.

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 12:22:00 am , Anonymous Past Elder said...

So, it's news that the syncretism between old and new Imperial religion had its Eastern Empire version as well as its Western?

Ya wanna see some horror at all this "invoking" of the saints? Wait until you get to talk to the "saints" about it!

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 1:03:00 am , Anonymous William Weedon said...

Perhaps most telling is a book that St. Vlad's put out a couple years ago about The Cult of the Saints: St. John Chrysostom in which it is observed that the fourth century adaptation of the cult was precisely that - adaptation: "Few of the elements of the cult are unique to Christianity. Many, in fact, were already present in the society out of which Christianity grew and were familiar to people of all religious backgrounds." (p. 12) The striking thing on the cult is its near total absence before the imperialization of the faith in the 4th century. As Poiroit would say, "It gives one furiously to think..."

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 1:16:00 am , Anonymous William Weedon said...

P.S.S. One notes that strictly speaking the Roman Canon does NOT invoke the saints; and some have argued that this a mark of its antiquity over against the anaphorae of the East that contain such invocation.

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 1:10:00 pm , Anonymous Christine said...

One notes that strictly speaking the Roman Canon does NOT invoke the saints; and some have argued that this a mark of its antiquity over against the anaphorae of the East that contain such invocation.

Actually quite right, Pastor Weedon. During the prayers the saints are remembered before God as being part of the Communio Sanctorum, that fellowship of the Church of the ages the bonds between whom cannot be destroyed by death; the Church militant relies on their prayers as heavenly intercessors (not mediators) but the Holy Sacrifice is offered strictly to God alone.

Nor is Mary "invoked" during the prayers of the Mass. The church simply expresses her hope that she will one day share eternal life in the company of the Virgin Mary, the angels and saints.

Lutherans certainly make the same claim if not in those exact words, showing forth our common catholicity.

Wal-Mart blue light special EP1

Mein Himmel, wait until that hits E-Bay!!!!

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 2:32:00 pm , Anonymous Christine said...

I'll pass on Benny Hinn but toss that Benny Hill at me when you're done!

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 2:44:00 pm , Anonymous Christine said...

"Few of the elements of the cult are unique to Christianity. Many, in fact, were already present in the society out of which Christianity grew and were familiar to people of all religious backgrounds." (p. 12) The striking thing on the cult is its near total absence before the imperialization of the faith in the 4th century. As Poiroit would say, "It gives one furiously to think..."

I would make a couple of observations here, though. The Roman/Greek society in which Christianity implanted itself certainly had its plethora of gods and goddesses, but they were often petulant and sullen. They were more feared than loved and the pagan mind was obsessed with placating them at all costs.

The lives of the martyrs and confessors were rooted in actual, historical persons who had given their lives for Christ before the legalization of Christianity and it is not surprising that their names were inserted into the liturgy and honored.

The nascent Church under Imperial persecution was careful to hide her beliefs and practices from the unitiated. Remember the famous pagan inscription scratched on a stone in a guard room on Palatine Hill near the Circus Maximus that translates "Alexomenos worships his god", portraying an man with the had of an ass crucified. Thus were the early Christians regarded.

It seems almost unbelievable in our time that the early Christians sometimes received instruction for almost three years before being baptized.

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 3:25:00 pm , Anonymous Christine said...

Sounds good to me. A three year inquiry class would make for much better Voter's Meetings later on.

Yeah, not to mention giving the catechumens plenty of time to check out the quality of the potlucks!

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 6:42:00 pm , Anonymous orrologion said...

Well, but the point is that these churches in their development - especially through the patristic and conciliar periods, which is where we all agree - represented numerous cultures beyond 'Roman' or 'Greek'. My contention would be that Protestantism was essentially an Anglo-Saxon creation - many subcultures, but a single, broad cultural reality. Lutheranism in particular was almost wholly created in a German context, with Scandinavian assent later.

I would be curious as to what you (and the 'fairly cluey bloke' would see as being any Lutheran "carrying over with them from the culture that is at best in tension with and at worst a corruption of the faith for which they gladly shed their blood" - both in style and substance.

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 7:12:00 pm , Anonymous orrologion said...

Were there bishops that became Lutheran (or any other type of Protestant)? I don't know the story for the Continent. I believe only one, senile old bishop was confused into ordaining other bishops for the Anglicans, if I am not mistaken.

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 7:12:00 pm , Anonymous William Weedon said...

Oh, and one more thought: with the canon, I think the one thing the Lutherans could not and would not have compromised on was the public chanting of the Verba. I see V2 in part as a vindication of that being a truly catholic practice.

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 7:19:00 pm , Anonymous William Weedon said...

Dr. Tighe has the goods on this. Yes, the Lutherans had access to a bishop, but Luther rather singularly ignored him and putting him to use. Though the Swedes boast of their succession, it had enough irregularities in the 16th century to raise grave doubts in the minds of those who believe canonical polity is divinely ordered. The pity of it, though, was that in both Germany and in Scandinavia, the possibility existed for something else. The political reality, however, was that if the prince was going to stick his neck out for the Reformation, he was going to grab control of the churches too. Luther's rather sad tract on the Christian Nobility of the German Nation more or less opened the floodgates to this. I can't help but think he had to rue it a bit by the end of his life.

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 7:20:00 pm , Anonymous William Weedon said...

AND if he didn't rue it, Lutherans in the centuries since have had plenty of opportunities to! Especially when the princes began to turn REFORMED.

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 7:24:00 pm , Anonymous William Weedon said...

"instead of putting him to use" - where do those words disappear to between the time I think them, type them and dispatch them???

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 8:21:00 pm , Anonymous Past Elder said...

Digital Judas on Facebook, the whole deal is this: nobody, absolutely nobody, apart from excesses of popular piety, thinks the bishop/priest/deacon thing existed from Day One exactly as it is seen and understood now. So there is no argument whether there was a change; rather, was the change a development of something already there, or was it a departure from what was already there? For example, if bishop and priest are roughly equivalent terms early on, do they nonetheless reflect a distinction in function already there but later more explicit, or does it indicate an essentially same office whose later distinctions are human but not divine, and, if they are human, is the later making of such distinctions a function given by Jesus to them to do, a human exercise of a divinely given authority, or not.

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 8:36:00 pm , Anonymous orrologion said...

There is a danger in discussions about the early Church to replace a real, flesh and blood (Body of Christ) Church with a platonic ideal. What I mean by that is we prefer our own reconstructions of what the early Church 'must' have been based on our understanding and valuation of what has come down to us.

That is, I take only the Bible to be authoritative, therefore all this other stuff must be dross. Or, I take only the Bible and ante-Nicene tradition as authoritative and this other stuff is bunk. Or, I take only the Bible and Church tradition through Chalcedon as authoritative and all this other stuff is bunk. Or, since x is the doctrine upon which the Church stands or falls, I will accept anything at anytime in Church history that is in accord with x - this touchstone can also be a person and his/her theological 'key' - and all this other stuff is bunk.

We only know the early Church by its continuity with the later Church through time up until today. We can't arbitrarily skip over all those centuries - or those 'wrong' particulars within centuries held in tandem with doctrines we agree with - and think that we are doing anything other than picking and choosing according to our own preferences.

Unless we are in continuity with a Body that has a visible, known presence back into the mists of time, then we are more than likely projecting onto and editing history into our own image using history's unrecorded gaps as blank canvass (like the 19th Century Romantics making the Celts into something quite other than what they were, for instance).

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 8:39:00 pm , Anonymous orrologion said...

The point being that whatever the origins of the distinction between episcopos and presbyter, the entire Church across cultures and borders and languages, etc. all agreed that they were different and had different roles. To argue that the 'real' offices are to be returned to regardless of the broad, deep consensus patrum of centuries is to argue that we should also 'return' to the 'more pure' triadology, christology and eschatology of the ante-Nicene Church.

At Saturday, January 24, 2009 9:40:00 pm , Anonymous Past Elder said...

Interesting that what Pastor offered above is pretty much what I was taught in the pre-Vatican II RCC re the Reformation. Something like this:

Had we (the RCC) not allowed catechesis to decay to the miserable extent it had in both seminary and parish school, and had we not allowed liturgy to decay to the miserable extent it had, both rightfully protested by the Reformers, there would have been no Reformation. The Reformation is then our fault, not theirs, who were as unfortunately limited by their defective Catholicism as we were and unable to find the right way out.

So far so good, but it gets different now: So thank God for Trent, which restored, really rather imposed at is should have always been, doctrinal and liturgical integrity to the Church, correcting the legitimate claims of the Reformers and not admitting their errors.

With the new Catholicism of the 1960s this was flushed down the toilet. Trent was now a late nediaeval dark alley of over reaction to things to which we need no longer react, s straight jacket of Counter Reformation discipline from which thank God Vatican II is now freeing us as we should have always been.

As to the rest though, it simply replaces three solas with one, sola ecclesia, by church alone.

There is no such broad, deep consensus, and no agreement among those who think there is.

The Romans say the EO are "church" despite some doctrinal irregularities because they have the same validity of ordination by which Rome validates itself, the EO sees doctrinal irregularities and therefore despite the ordinations says they cannot be sure Rome is "church", except for those who say they can, it is, except for those who say they can, it isn't, that is, when they're not similarly hurling same at each other.

Sola ecclesia thus has no real consensus on what exactly it is, how exactly it works, and who exactly has it. So, no less than the "Protestant" it condemns for doing so, one picks and chooses according to one's own preferences, past or present, with the Rome offering yet another selection to chose from lately.

At Sunday, January 25, 2009 4:29:00 am , Anonymous Lucian said...

nobody, absolutely nobody, thinks the bishop-priest-deacon thing existed from Day One exactly as it is seen and understood now

So.. I'm an "absolute nobody" now, huh? :-\ So let me get this straight (no homophobic pun intended) :

1) the seventy elders that were with Moses had him as fore-man. Then, after his death, Joshua, the son of Nave, followed in his shoes.
2) the elders became Judges of the cities in the Promised Land and had the King of Jerusalem as their fore-man, the first of these being Saul, David, and Solomon.
3) the Priests had an Arch-Priest, the first of whom was Aaron, Moses' brother.
4) the Twelve had Peter.
5) the Seventy had Paul.
6) the Seven had Stephen.
7) every Diaconate in every city had a Proto-Deacon or Arch-Deacon.
8) but NO Presbyterate in ANY city had EVER an Arche above them. (sag das wem du willst).

Protestantism was essentially an Anglo-Saxon creation

Every schism took place throughout certain cultural and/or national borders: Orientals outside the Empire vs. the Ecumene; East vs. West; Germanic Protestant North vs. Latin Catholic South; Old Protestant Europe vs NeoProtestant America.

And yes, no Catholic bioshops ever joined the ranks of the then-emergent Protestant movement, that's why they had to re-invent the wheel and Luther called on Noble-men to suppliment the ranks of what he named Emergency-Bishops.

At Tuesday, January 27, 2009 4:26:00 pm , Anonymous orrologion said...

So our only hope is continuity with this visible body in broad consensus

Broad consensus is simply the way the Church has provided to ensure that what we are teaching is not simply of our own devising. Consensus is a witness, not an authority. The Church is not a democracy. It is important to note that while saints like Athanasius stood 'alone', they did not stand alone literally ((it was far from Athanasius contra mundi) or for very long. Athanasius and Maximus (and Mark of Ephesus, for the Orthodox) were vindicated by the Church Universal.

At Wednesday, January 28, 2009 10:02:00 pm , Anonymous Joshua said...

A very enjoyable discussion - sorry, I've been on holiday (as David has mentioned on other posts) and haven't been party to it.

At Saturday, January 31, 2009 10:46:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

Wow! Right out of the archeological archives, that one, Bill! 1970... "Spirit of Vatican II"...

What optimism is shown by this document! I know the study to which it refers very well, I re-read it during my conversion year. But the early excitement was unjustified and the Church has since clarified quite clearly on numerous occasions that the customary assessment of Lutheran (and other protestant) orders holds, as does the argument concerning the lack of sacramental validity of the eucharistic celebrations.

Sorry, ol' boy. That's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.

At Saturday, January 31, 2009 1:09:00 pm , Anonymous William Weedon said...

Yes, David, I quite agree that Dominus Iesus and other clarifications reject where these folks were headed. I simply found it amazing that some of them were willing to head there at all - and thought it maybe significant that the patristic scholars and the NT scholar were among those who agreed.

At Saturday, January 31, 2009 6:59:00 pm , Anonymous Joshua said...

Well, PW, you know the parlous state of Catholic scripture scholarship - all criticism, not much else.

A Dominican friend of mine for his degree defended the thesis 'The Dogmatic Theologian is the Catholic Exegete of Scripture" - quite right I would say: Aquinas would certainly have thought himself such first and foremost and even only, and to be a student of the Fathers to boot.

At Sunday, February 01, 2009 1:08:00 am , Anonymous Joshua said...

Unfortunately I don't believe in the literal Creation of the world in six 24-hour days...

Thanks for the compliment, which I take as it was intended. FWIW, I do wish you were a Catholic priest!

At Sunday, February 01, 2009 3:24:00 am , Anonymous William Weedon said...

Dear Joshua,

What a kind thing to say. God bless!


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