History of Catholic dogmatic theology
- 1 Patristic period (about A.D. 100–800)
- 2 Middle Ages (800–1500)
- 3 Modern times (1500–1900)
- 3.1 First epoch: to the Council of Trent (1500–1570)
- 3.2 Second epoch: late Scholasticism at its height (1570–1660)
- 3.3 Third epoch: decline of Scholasticism (1660–1760)
- 3.4 Fourth epoch: at a low ebb (1760–1840)
- 3.5 Fifth epoch: restoration of dogmatic theology (1840–1900)
- 4 Notes
- 5 References
Patristic period (about A.D. 100–800)
The Fathers of the Church are honoured by the Church as her principal theologians. Tertullian (b. about 160) died a Montanist, and Origen (d. 254) showed a marked leaning towards Hellenism. Some of the Fathers, e.g. St. Cyprian (d. 258) and Gregory of Nyssa, were unorthodox on individual points; the former in regard to the baptism of heretics, the latter in the matter of apocatastasis.
It was not so much in the catechetical schools of Alexandria, Antioch, and Edessa as in the struggle with the great heresies of the age that patristic theology developed. This serves to explain the character of the patristic literature, which is apologetical and polemical, parenetical and ascetic, with a wealth of exegetical wisdom on every page; for the roots of theology are in the Bible, especially in the Gospels and in the Epistles of St. Paul. It was not the intention of the Fathers to give a systematic treatment of theology; Möhler called attention to the variety found in their writings: the apologetic style is represented by the letter of Diognetus and the letters of St. Ignatius; the dogmatic in pseudo-Barnabas; the moral, in the Pastor of Hermas; canon law, in the letter of Clement of Rome; church history, in the Acts of the martyrdom of Polycarp and Ignatius. After the recovery of lost manuscripts may be added: the liturgical style, in the Didache; the catechetical, in the Proof of the Apostolic Preaching by Irenæus.
Although the different epochs of the patristic age overlap each other, it may be said in general that the apologetic style predominated in the first epoch up to Constantine the Great, while in the second epoch, that is to say up to the time of Charlemagne.
Christian writers against paganism and Judaism, had to explain the truths of natural religion, such as God, the soul, creation, immortality, and freedom of the will; at the same time they had to defend the chief mysteries of the Christian faith, as the Trinity, Incarnation, etc., and had to prove their sublimity, beauty, and conformity to reason. The list of those against pagan polytheism is long: Justin, Athenagoras, Tatian, Theophilus of Antioch, Hermias, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Cyprian, Minucius Felix, Commodianus, Arnobius, Lactantius, Prudentius, Firmicius Maternus, Eusebius of Cæsarea, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Cyril of Alexandria, Nilus, Theodoret, Orosius, and Augustine of Hippo. The most prominent writers against Judaism were: Justin, Tertullian, Hippolytus of Rome, Cyprian, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Epiphanius of Salamis, Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, Isidore of Seville, with attacks on Jews who refused to recognize the prophetic Christian interpretation of the Old Testament.
The efforts of the Fathers to define and combat heresy brought writings against Gnosticism, Manichæism, and Priscillianism, with the focus on principles of faith and the Church's authority. In the struggles against Monarchianism, Sabellianism, and Arianism the emphasis was on the true meaning of the dogma of the Trinity. When the contest with Eunomianism broke out, theological and philosophical criticism turned to the doctrine of God and our knowledge of Him. The Christological disputes began with the rise of Apollinarianism, reached their climax in Nestorianism, Monophysitism, and Monothelitism, and were revived once more in Adoptionism. In this long and bitter strife, the doctrine of Christ's person, of the Incarnation, and Redemption, and in connection with that Mariology also, was placed on an orthodox foundation. Eastern Christian in this dispute on the Trinity and Christology included: the Alexandrines, Clement, Origen, and Didymus the Blind; Athanasius and the three Cappadocians, Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa; Cyril of Alexandria and Leontius of Byzantium; finally, Maximus the Confessor and John Damascene. In the West the leaders were: Tertullian, Cyprian, Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Fulgentius of Ruspe, Pope Leo I and Pope Gregory I. As the contest with Pelagianism and Semi-pelagianism clarified the dogmas of grace and liberty, providence and predestination, original sin and the condition of our first parents in Paradise, so also the contests with the Donatists brought codification to the doctrine of the sacraments (baptism), the hierarchical constitution of the Church her magisterium or teaching authority, and her infallibility. Augustine here was the leader, and next to him came Optatus of Mileve and disciples. A culminating contest was decided by the Second Council of Nicæa (787); it was in this struggle that, under the leadership of John Damascene, the communion of saints, the invocation of the saints, the veneration of relics and holy images were placed on a basis of orthodoxy.
These developments left the dogmatic teachings of the Fathers as a collection of monographs rather than a systematic exposition. Irenæus shows attempts at synthesis; the trilogy of Clement of Alexandria (d. 217) marks an advance in the same direction; but the most successful effort in Christian antiquity to systematize the principal dogmas of faith was made by Origen in his work De principiis, which is unorthodox. Gregory of Nyssa (d. 394) then endeavoured in his "Large Catechetical Treatise" (logos katechetikos ho megas) to correlate in a broad synthetic view the fundamental dogmas of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Sacraments. In the same manner, though somewhat fragmentarily, Hilary (d. 366) developed in his work "De Trinitate" the principal truths of Christianity.
The catechetical instructions of Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386) especially his five mystagogical treatises, on the Apostles' Creed and the three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist, contain an almost complete dogmatic treatise, Epiphanius (d. 496), in his two works Ancoratus and Panarium, aimed at a complete dogmatic treatise, and Ambrose (d. 397) in his chief works: "De fide", "De Spiritu S.", "De incarnatione", "De mysteriis", "De poenitentia", treated the main points of dogma in classic Latinity, though without any attempt at a unifying synthesis. In regard to the Trinity and Christology, Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444) was a model for later dogmatic theologians. Augustine of Hippo (d. 430) wrote one or two works, as the "De fide et symbolo" and the "Enchiridium", which are compendia of dogmatic and moral theology, as well as his speculative work De Trinitate. His disciple Fulgentius of Ruspe (d. 533) wrote an extensive and thorough confession of faith under the title, "De fide ad Petrum, seu regula rectæ fidei".
Towards the end of the Patristic Age Isidore of Seville (d. 636) in the West and John Damascene (b. ab. 700) in the East paved the way for a systematic treatment of dogmatic theology. Following closely the teachings of Augustine and Gregory the Great, Isidore proposed to collect all the writings of the earlier Fathers and to hand them down as a precious inheritance to posterity. The results of this undertaking were the "Libri III sententiarum seu de summo bono". Tajus of Saragossa (650) had the same end in view in his "Libri V sententiarum". The work of John Damascene (d. after 754) not only gathered the teachings and views of the Greek Fathers, but reduced them to a systematic whole; he deserves to be called the first and the only scholastic among the Greeks. His main work, which is divided into three parts, is entitled: "Fons scientiæ" (pege gnoseos), because it was intended to be the source, not merely of theology, but of philosophy and Church history as well. The third or theological part, known as "Expositio fidei orthodoxæ" (ekthesis tes orthodoxou pisteos), is a combination of positive and scholastic theology, and aims at thoroughness.
After John Damascene, Greek theology went through the Photian schism (869). The only Greek prior to him who had produced a complete system of theology was Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, in the fifth century; but he was more popular in the West, at least from the eighth century on, than in the East. Although he openly wove into the Catholic system neo-Platonic thoughts and phrases, nevertheless he enjoyed an unparalleled reputation among the scholastics of the Middle Ages. For all that, Scholasticism did not take its guidance from John Damascene or Pseudo-Dionysius, but from Augustine. Augustinian thought runs through the whole progress of Western Catholic philosophy and theology.
The Venerable Bede (d. 735), a contemporary of John Damascene, had solid education in theology,[further explanation needed] and extensive knowledge of the Bible and of the Fathers of the Church. He is the link which joins the patristic with the medieval history of theology.
Middle Ages (800–1500)
The beginnings of Scholasticism may be traced back to the days of Charlemagne (d. 814). Thence it progressed in ever-guickening[clarification needed] development to the time of Anselm of Canterbury, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Peter the Lombard, and onward to its full growth in the Middle Ages (first epoch, 800–1200). The most brilliant period of Scholasticism embraces about 100 years (second epoch, 1200–1300), and with it are connected the names of Alexander of Hales, Albertus Magnus, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, and Duns Scotus. From the beginning of the fourteenth century, owing to the predominance of Nominalism and to the sad condition of the Church,[further explanation needed] Scholasticism began to decline (third epoch, 1300–1500).
First epoch: beginning and progress of Scholasticism (800–1200)
In the first half of this epoch, up to the time of Anselm of Canterbury, the theologians were more concerned with preserving than with developing the writings of the Fathers. Theology was cultivated nowhere with greater industry than in the cathedral and monastic schools, founded and fostered by Charlemagne.
The earliest signs of a new thought appeared in the ninth century during the discussions relative to the Last Supper (Paschasius Radbertus, Ratramnus, Rabanus Maurus). These speculations were carried to a greater depth in the second Eucharistic controversy against Berengarius of Tours (d. 1088), (Lanfranc, Guitmund, Alger, Hugh of Langres, etc.). The only systematic theologian of this time, Scotus Eriugena (d. after 870), was an avowed pantheist.
Anselm of Canterbury (d. 1109) was the first to bring a sharp logic to bear upon the principal dogmas of Christianity, and to draw up a plan for dogmatic theology. Taking the substance of his doctrine from Augustine, Anselm, as a philosopher, was not so much a disciple of Aristotle as of Plato, in whose dialogues he had been schooled.
Another pillar of the Church was Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153), the "Father of Mysticism". Though for the most part the author of ascetic works with a mystical tendency, he used the weapons of scientific theology against Abelard's Rationalism and the Realism of Gilbert de La Porrée. It is upon the doctrine of Anselm and Bernard that the Scholastics of succeeding generations took their stand, and it was their spirit which lived in the theological efforts of the University of Paris. Less prominent, yet noteworthy, are: Ruprecht of Deutz, William of Thierry, Gaufridus, and others.[who?]
The first attempts at a theological system may be seen in the so-called Books of Sentences, collections and interpretations of quotations from the Fathers, more especially of Augustine. One of the earliest of these books is the Summa sententiarum, an anonymous compilation created at the School of Loan some time after 1125. Another is The Sacraments of the Christian Faith written by Hugh of St. Victor around 1135. His works are characterized throughout by a close adherence to Augustine and, according to the verdict of Scheeben, may serve as guides for beginners in the theology of Augustine. The similar work of Robert Pulleyn (d. 1146) is careless in arranging the matter and confuses the various questions of which he treats. Peter the Lombard, called the "Magister Sententiarum" (d. 1164), on the other hand, stands above them all. What Gratian had done for canon law the Lombard did for dogmatic and moral theology. He sifted and explained and paraphrased the patristic lore in his "Libri IV sententiarum", and the arrangement which he adopted was, in spite of the lacunæ, so excellent that up to the sixteenth century his work was the standard text-book of theology. The work of interpreting this text began in the thirteenth century, and there was no theologian of note in the Middle Ages who did not write a commentary on the Sentences of the Lombard. Hundreds of these commentaries are still unprinted; no other work exerted such a powerful influence on the development of scholastic theology.
Neither the analogous work of his disciple, Peter of Poitiers (d. 1205), nor the important "Summa aurea" of William of Auxerre (d. after 1230) superseded the Lombard's "Sentences" Along with Alain of Lille (d, 1203), William of Auvergne (d. 1248), who died as bishop of Paris, deserves special mention. Though preferring the free, unscholastic method of an earlier age, he yet shows himself at once an original philosopher and a profound theologian. Inasmuch as in his numerous monographs on the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Sacraments, etc., he took into account the anti-Christian attacks of the Arabic writers on Aristoteleanism, he is the connecting link between this age and the thirteenth century.
Second epoch: Scholasticism at its zenith (1200–1300)
This period of Scholasticism was marked by the appearance of the theological Summae, as well as the mendicant orders. In the thirteenth century the champions of Scholasticism were to be found in the Franciscans and Dominicans, beside whom worked also the Augustinians, Carmelites, and Servites.
Alexander of Hales (d. about 1245) was a Franciscan, while Albert the Great (d. 1280) was a Dominican. The Summa theologiæ of Alexander of Hales is the largest and most comprehensive work of its kind, flavoured with Platonism. Albert was an intellectual working not only in matters philosophical and theological but in the natural sciences as well. He made a first attempt to present the entire philosophy of Aristotle and to place it at the service of Catholic theology. The logic of Aristotle had been rendered into Latin by Boethius and had been used in the schools since the end of the sixth century; but his physics and metaphysics were made known to Western Christendom only through the Arabic philosophers of the thirteenth century. His works were prohibited by the Synod of Paris, in 1210, and again by a Bull of Pope Gregory IX in 1231. But after the Scholastics, led by Albert the Great, had gone over the faulty Latin translation once more, and had reconstructed the doctrine of Aristotle and its principles.
Bonaventure (d. 1274) and Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), mark the highest development of Scholastic theology. St. Bonaventure follows Alexander of Hales, his fellow-religious and predecessor, but surpasses him in mysticism and clearness of diction. Unlike the other Scholastics of this period, he did not write a theological Summa, but a Commentary on the Sentences, as well as his Breviloquium, a condensed Summa. Alexander of Hales and Bonaventure represent the old Franciscan Schools, from which the later School of Duns Scotus essentially differed.
Thomas Aquinas holds the same rank among the theologians as does Augustine among the Fathers of the Church. He is distinguished by wealth of ideas, systematic exposition of them, and versatility. For dogmatic theology his most important work is the Summa theologica. Pope Leo XIII in his Encyclical "Æterni Patris" (1879) restored the study of the Scholastics, especially of St. Thomas, in all higher Catholic schools, a measure which was again emphasized by Pope Pius X.
Richard of Middleton (d. 1300) is a classical representative of the Franciscan School. Among the Servites, Henry of Ghent (d. 1293), a disciple of Albert the Great, deserves mention; his style is original and rhetorical, his judgments are independent, his treatment of the doctrine on God attests the profound thinker. Thomas's pupil Peter of Tarentaise became Pope Innocent V. (d. 1276). Ulric of Strasburg (d. 1277) islittle known, though his unprinted Summa was held in high esteem in the Middle Ages. Ægidius of Rome (d. 1316) differed in detail from the teaching of Aquinas. But the attempt of the Augustinian Gavardus in the seventeenth century to create a distinctly "Ægidian School" proved a failure.
On the other hand, adversaries of Aquinas sprang up even in his lifetime. The first attack came from England and was led by William de la Mare, of Oxford (d. 1285). Duns Scotus (1266—1308) by bold and virulent criticism of the Thomistic system was to a great extent responsible for its decline. Scotus is the founder a new Scotistic School, in the speculative treatment of dogma. Where Aquinas likens the system of theology and philosophy to the animal organism, which the soul unifies, in Scotus's own words, on the other hand, the order of things is rather symbolized by the plant, the root shooting forth branches and twigs which have an innate tendency to grow away from the stem.[further explanation needed]
Scotism won a s[further explanation needed] victory over Thomism by its doctrine concerning the Immaculate Conception. Later Franciscans, among them Constantine Sarnanus (Costanzo Torri) (1589) and John of Rada (Juan de Rada) (1599), set about minimizing or even reconciling the doctrinal differences of the two.
Third epoch: gradual decline of Scholasticism (1300–1500)
The following period showed both consolidation, and disruption: the Fraticelli, nominalism, conflict between Church and State (Philip the Fair, Louis of Bavaria, the Avignon Papacy). The spread of Nominalism owed much to two pupils of Duns Scotus: the Frenchman Peter Aureolus (d. 1321) and the Englishman William Occam (d. 1347). Marsilius of Padua and John of Jandun opposed the primacy of the pope. The principle "Concilium supra Papam" was important to the times of the Council of Constance and Council of Basel. Pierre d'Ailly (d. 1425) and Jean Gerson (d. 1429) embraced doctrines which they abandoned after the Western Schism was healed.
Prominent later nominalists were the general of the Augustinians, Gregory of Rimini (d. 1359), and Gabriel Biel (d. 1495), who has been called the "last Scholastic". Nominalist subtleties, coupled with an austere Augustinism, made Gregory of Rimini the precursor of Baianism and Jansenism. Gabriel Biel praised Occam and commented on his writings.
Nominalism had less effect on the Dominican theologians. With the possible exceptions of Durand of St. Pourçain (d. 1332) and Holkot (d. 1349), its members were as a rule loyal Thomists. Most prominent among them during the first half of the fourteenth century were: Hervæus de Nedellec (d. 1323), an opponent of Scotus; John of Paris (d. 1306); Peter of Palude (d. 1342); and especially Raynerius of Pisa (d. 1348), who wrote an alphabetical summary of the doctrine of Aquinas. A prominent figure in the fifteenth century is Antonine of Florence (d. 1459), a compiler and versatile author of a "Summa Theologiæ". A powerful champion of Thomism was John Capreolus (d. 1444), the "Prince of Thomists" (princeps Thomistarum). In his adamantine "Clypeus Thomistarum", he repelled the adversaries of Thomism with the very words of Thomas.
It was only in the early part of the sixteenth century that commentaries on the "Summa Theologica" of Aquinas began to appear, among the first to undertake this work being Cardinal Cajetan of Vio (d. 1537) and Konrad Köllin (d. 1536). The philosophical Summa contra Gentiles found a masterly commentator in Francis of Ferrara (d. 1528).
The Franciscans partly favoured Nominalism, partly adhered to pure Scotism. Among the latter group were: Francis Mayronis (d. 1327); John of Colonia; Peter of Aquila (d. about 1370), who as abbreviator of Scotus was called Scotellus (little Scotus); Nicolaus de Orbellis (ca. 1460), and Franciscus Lichetus (d. 1520), a famous commentator of Scotus. William of Vorrilong (about 1400), Stephen Brulefer (d. 1485), and Nicholas of Niise (Nicolaus Denyse) (d. 1509) belong to a third class which is characterized by the tendency to closer contact with Bonaventure.
Splits are discernible in the schools of the other orders. While the Augustinians James of Viterbo (d. 1308) and Thomas of Strasburg (d. 1357) attached themselves to Ægidius of Rome, Gregory of Rimini, mentioned above, championed an undisguised nominalism. Alphonsus Vargas of Toledo (d. 1366), on the other hand, was an advocate of Thomism in its strictest form. Among the Carmelites, also, divergencies of doctrine appeared. Gerard of Bologna (d. 1317) was a staunch Thomist, while John Baconthorp (d. 1346) delighted in trifling controversies against the Thomists, and endeavoured to found a new school in his order. Generally speaking, however, the later Carmelites were followers of Aquinas.
The Order of the Carthusians produced in the fifteenth century a prominent and many-sided theologian in the person of Dionysius Ryckel (d. 1471), surnamed "the Carthusian", a descendant of the Leevis family, who set up his chair in Roermond, (the Netherlands). From his pen we possess commentaries on the Bible, Pseudo-Dionysius, Peter the Lombard, and Aquinas. He was equally conversant with mysticism and scholasticism. Albert the Great, Henry of Ghent, and Dionysius are representative of German theology of the Middle Ages. The anonymous German Theology, edited by Martin Luther, is distinct from the German Theology of bishop Berthold of Chiemsee (d. 1543).
Outside the religious orders were many other. The Englishman Thomas Bradwardine (d. 1340), was the foremost mathematician of his day and Archbishop of Canterbury. His sombre work De causa Dei contra Pelagianos was later used by Calvinist Anglicans. Richard Radulphus, Bishop of Armagh (d. 1360), in his controversy with the Armenians, paved the way for Wyclif. (The Carmelite Thomas Netter (d. 1430), surnamed Waldensis, stands out as a controversialist against the Wyclifites and Hussites.) Nicholas of Cusa (d. 1404) inaugurated of a new and unorthodox speculative system in dogmatic theology. A thorough treatise on the Church was written by John Torquemada (d. 1468), and a similar work by St. John Capistran (d. 1456). Alphonsus Tostatus (d. 1454) was a scholar, the equal of Nicholas of Lyra (d. 1341) in Scriptural learning; he interspersed his Biblical commentaries on the Scriptures with dogmatic treatises. His work "Quinque paradoxa" is a treatise on Christology and Mariology.
Modern times (1500–1900)
The Protestant Reformation brought about a more accurate definition of important Catholic articles of faith. From the period of the Renaissance the revival of classical studies gave new vigour to exegesis and patrology, while the Reformation stimulated the universities which had remained Catholic, especially in Spain (Salamanca, Alcalá, Coimbra) and in the Netherlands (Louvain), to intellectual research. Spain, which had fallen behind during the Middle Ages, now came boldly to the front. The Sorbonne of Paris regained its lost prestige only towards the end of the sixteenth century. Among the religious orders the newly founded Society of Jesus probably contributed most to the revival and growth of theology. Scheeben distinguishes five epochs in this period.
First epoch: to the Council of Trent (1500–1570)
It was only by a slow process that Catholic theology rose again. The whole literature of this period bears an apologetical and controversial character and deals with those subjects which had been attacked most bitterly: the rule and sources of faith, the Church, grace, the sacraments, especially the holy Eucharist. Numerous defenders of the Catholic faith were Germans: Johann Eck (d. 1543), Cochlæus (d. 1552), Staphylus (d. 1564), James of Hoogstraet (d. 1527), John Gropper (d. 1559), Albert Pighius (d. 1542), Cardinal Hosius (d. 1579), Martin Cromer (d. 1589), and Peter Canisius (d. 1597). The last-named gave to the Catholics not only his world-renowned catechism, but also a most valuable Mariology.
In England John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester (d. 1535), and Thomas More (d. 1535) championed the cause of the Catholic faith with their pen. Cardinal Pole (d. 1568), Stephen Gardiner (d. 1555), and Cardinal William Allen (d. 1594) placed their learning at the service of the Catholic Church, while the Jesuit Nicholas Sanders wrote one of the best treatises on the Church. In Belgium the professors of the University of Louvain opened new paths for the study of theology, foremost among them were: Ruardus Tapper (d. 1559), John Driedo (d. 1535), Jodocus Ravesteyn (d. 1570), John Hessels (d. 1566), Johannes Molanus (d. 1585), and Garetius (d. 1571). To the last-named we owe an excellent treatise on the holy Eucharist.
In France Jacques Merlin, Christopher Chefontaines (d. 1595), and Gilbert Génebrard (d. 1597) rendered great services to dogmatic theology. Sylvester Prierias (d. 1523), Ambrose Catharinus (d; 1553), and Cardinal Seripandus are the boast of Italy. But, above all other countries, Spain is distinguished: Alphonsus of Castro (d. 1558), Michael de Medina (d. 1578), Peter de Soto (d. 1563). Some of their works have remained classics, such as "De natura et gratia" (Venice 1547) of Dominic Soto; "De justificatione libri XV" (Venice, 1546) of Andrew Vega; "De locis theologicis" (Salamanca, 1563) of Melchior Cano.
Second epoch: late Scholasticism at its height (1570–1660)
After the close of the Council of Trent (1545–1563), Catholic theology was an active field.
Controversial theology was the speciality of Cardinal Bellarmine (d. 1621), who defended almost the whole of Catholic theology against the attacks of the Reformers. Other defenders were the Spanish Jesuit Gregory of Valencia (d. 1603) and his pupils Adam Tanner (d. 1632) and James Gretser (d. 1625), who taught in the University of Ingolstadt. Thomas Stapleton (d. 1608) wrote on the material and formal principle of Protestantism. Cardinal du Perron (d. 1618) of France entered the arena against James I of England and Philip Mornay, and wrote a treatise on the holy Eucharist. The pulpit orator Bossuet (d. 1627) attacked Protestantism from the standpoint of history.
The Præscriptiones Catholicae was a voluminous work of the Italian Gravina (7 vols., Naples, 1619–39). Martin Becanus (Martin Verbeeck) (d. 1624), a Belgian Jesuit, published his handy Manuale controversiarum. In the Netherlands the defence of religion was carried on by the two learned brothers Adrian (d. 1669) and Peter de Walemburg (d. 1675), both auxiliary bishops of Cologne and controversialists, who easily ranked among the best. The Eastern Church was represented in the two Greek converts, Peter Arcudius (d. 1640) and Leo Allatius (d. 1669).
The development of positive theology went hand in hand with the progress of research into the Patristic Era and into the history of dogma. These studies were especially cultivated in France and Belgium. A number of scholars, thoroughly versed in history, published in monographs the results of their investigations into the history of particular dogmas. Joannes Morinus (d. 1659) made the Sacrament of Penance the subject of special study; Isaac Habert (d. 1668), the doctrine of the Greek Fathers on grace; Hallier (d. 1659), the Sacrament of Holy orders, Jean Garnier (d. 1681), Pelagianism; Étienne Agard de Champs (d. 1701), Jansenism; Tricassinus (d. 1681), Augustine's doctrine on grace.
Unorthodox voices were Baius, Jansenius the Younger, Launoy, de Marca, Dupin, and others. Pierre Nicole and Antoine Arnauld were Jansenists, who wrote a monumental work on the Eucharist, "Perpétuité de la foi" (Paris, 1669–74).
At the head of the Thomists was Domingo Bañez (d. 1604), the first and greatest opponent of the Jesuit Luis Molina (d. 1600). He wrote a commentary on the theological Summa of Aquinas, which, combined with a similar work by Bartholomew Medina (d. 1581), forms a harmonious whole. Under the leadership of Bañez a group of scholarly Dominicans took up the defence of the Thomistic doctrine on grace: Alvarez (d. 1635), Tomas de Lemos (d. 1629), Pedro de Ledesma (d. 1616), Antoine Massoulié (d. 1706), Reginaldus (Antonin Reginald or Regnault) (d. 1676), John Paul Nazarius (d. 1646), John a St. Thoma (d. 1644), Xantes Mariales (d. 1660), Jean Baptiste Gonet (d. 1681), Antoine Goudin (d. 1695), Vincent Contenson (d. 1674), and others. The Carmelites of Salamanca produced the Cursus Salmanticensis (Salamanca, 1631–1712) in 15 folios, as commentary on the Summa (the names of the authors of this work are not known).
Outside the Dominican Order, also, Thomism had supporters: the Benedictine Alphonsus Curiel (d. 1609), Francis Zumel (d. 1607), John Puteanus (d. 1623), and the Irishman Augustine Gibbon de Burgo (d. 1676), who laboured in Spain and at Erfurt in Germany. The Catholic universities were active in the interest of Thomism. At Louvain William Estius (d. 1613) wrote a Thomist commentary on the "Liber Sententiarum" of Peter the Lombard, while his colleagues Johannes Wiggers and Francis Sylvius (d. 1649) explained the theological Summa of the master himself. In the Sorbonne Thomism was represented by Gammaché (d. 1625), Andrew Duval (d. 1637), and Nicholas Ysambert (d. 1624). The University of Salzburg also furnished the Theologia scholastica of Augustine Reding, who held the chair of theology in that university from 1645 to 1658, and died as Abbot of Einsiedeln in 1692.
The Franciscans of this epoch maintained doctrinal opposition to the Thomists, with steadily continued Scotist commentaries on Peter the Lombard. Irish Franciscans who promoted theological activity: Mauritius Hibernicus (d. 1603), Anthony Hickay (Hiquæus, d. 1641), Hugh Cavellus, and John Ponce (Pontius, d. 1660). The following Italians and Belgians also deserve to be mentioned: Francis de Herrera (about 1590), Angelus Vulpes (d. 1647), Philip Fabri (d. 1630), Bosco (d. 1684), and Cardinal Brancatus de Laurea (d. 1693). Scotistic manuals for use in schools were published about 1580 by Cardinal Sarnanus and by William Herincx, this latter acting under the direction of the Franciscans. The Capuchins, on the other hand, adhered to Bonaventure, as, e.g., Peter Trigos (d. 1593), Joseph Zamora (d. 1649), Gaudentius of Brescia, (d. 1672), Marcus a Baudunio (Marc de Bauduen) (d. 1673), and others.
The Society of Jesus substantially adhered to the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, yet at the same time it made use of an eclectic freedom. Luis Molina (d. 1600) was the first Jesuit to write a commentary on the Summa of St. Thomas. He was followed by Cardinal Toletus (d. 1596) and by Gregory of Valencia (d. 1603), mentioned above as a controversialist.
A leading Jesuit group are the Spaniards Francisco Suárez, Gabriel Vasquez, and Didacus Ruiz. Francisco Suárez (d. 1617), the most prominent among them, had the title "Doctor eximius", which Pope Benedict XIV gave him. In his colleague Gabriel Vasquez (d. 1604), Suárez found a good critic. Didacus Ruiz (d. 1632) wrote on God and the Trinity, subjects which were also thoroughly treated by Christopher Gilles (d. 1608). Harruabal (d. 1608), Ferdinand Bastida (d. about 1609), Valentine Herice belong to the history of Molinism.
During the succeeding period James Granado (d. 1632), John Præpositus (d. 1634), Caspar Hurtado (d. 1646), and Anthony Perez (d. 1694) wrote commentaries on Aquinas. Theological manuals were written by Arriaga (d. 1667), Martin Esparza (d. 1670), Francis Amicus (d. 1651), Martin Becanus (d. 1625), Adam Tanner (d. 1632), and finally by Sylvester Maurus (d. 1687), who is clear and a philosopher.
Major monographs were:
- against Baius and his followers, Martínez de Ripalda (d. 1648), work on the supernatural order;
- Leonard Lessius (d. 1623), treatises on God and His attributes;
- Ægidius Coninck (d. 1633), on the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the sacraments;
- Cardinal John de Lugo (d. 1660), a moralist, wrote on the virtue of faith and the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist;
- Claude Tiphanus (d. 1641), on the notions of personality and hypostasis.
Cardinal Pallavicini, (d. 1667), known as the historiographer of the Council of Trent, won repute as a dogmatic theologian by several of his writings.
Third epoch: decline of Scholasticism (1660–1760)
Other counter-currents of thought set in: Cartesianism in philosophy, Gallicanism, and Jansenism. Italy was least affected. Theology within the schools of the old religious orders was not unchanged; almost all the theological literature of this period and the revival of Scholasticism are due to them.
A product of the Thomistic school, widely used, was the standard work of the Dominican Charles René Billuart (d. 1757), a skilled explanation and defence of the Thomistic system in scholastic form. The dogmatic theology of Vincent Louis Gotti was a rival. Other Thomists produced monographs: Drouin on the sacraments and Bernard de Rubeis (d. 1775) on original sin. More eclectic in their adherence to Thomism were Celestine Sfondrato (d. 1696) and José Saenz d'Aguirre (d. 1699); the latter's work "Theology of St. Anselm" is in three volumes. Among the Franciscans Claudius Frassen (d. 1680) issued his elegant Scotus academicus, a counterpart to the Thomistic theology of Billuart. Of the Scotistic School also were Gabriel Boyvin, Crescentius Krisper (d. 1721), and Dalmatius Kick (d. 1769). Eusebius Amort (d. 1775), the foremost theologian in Germany, combined conservatism with due regard for modern demands.
Jesuits were still active: Edmond Simonet, Joannes de Ulloa (d. about 1723), and Marin were the authors of voluminous scholastic works. Textbooks of theology were written by Platel (d. 1681), Antoine (d. 1743), Pichler (d. 1736), Sardagna (d. 1775), Erber, Monschein (d. 1769), and Gener. The "Theologia Wirceburgensis" was published in 1766–71 by the Jesuits of Würzburg.
The new school of Augustinians, who based their theology on the system of Gregory of Rimini rather than on that of Ægidius of Rome. Because of the stress they laid on the rigoristic element in Augustine's doctrine on grace, they were for a time suspected of Baianism and Jansenism; but were cleared of this suspicion by Pope Benedict XIV. To this school belonged the scholarly Lupus (d. 1681) at Louvain and Cardinal Noris (d. 1704). Its best work on dogmatic theology came from the pen of Giovanni Lorenzo Berti (d. 1766). His fellow-workers in the same field were Fulgentius Bellelli (d. 1742) and Joseph Bertieri.
The French Oratory took up Jansenism, with Pasquier Quesnel, Lebrun, and Gaspard Juenin. The Sorbonne of Paris also adopted aspects of Jansenism and Gallicanism; leaders were Louis Habert (d. 1718), du Hamel (d. 1706), Nicolas L'Herminier, Charles Witasse (d. 1716). Exceptions were Louis Abelly (d. 1691) and Martin Grandin, who were papal loyalists, as was Honoratus Tournély (d. 1729), whose "Prælectiones dogmaticæ" are numbered among the best theological text-books.
Against Jansenism stood the Jesuits Dominic Viva (d. 1726), La Fontaine (d. 1728), Lorenzo Alticozzi (d. 1777), and Faure (d. 1779). Gallicanism and Josephinism were also pressed by the Jesuit theologians, especially by Francesco Antonio Zaccaria (d. 1795), Alfonso Muzzarelli (d. 1813), Bolgeni (d. 1811), Roncaglia, and others. The Jesuits were seconded by the Dominicans Giuseppe Agostino Orsi (d. 1761) and Thomas Maria Mamachi (d. 1792). Another champion in this struggle was Cardinal Gerdil (d. 1802). Alphonsus Liguori (d. 1787) wrote popular works.
Fourth epoch: at a low ebb (1760–1840)
In France the influences of Jansenism and Gallicanism were still powerful; in the German Empire Josephinism and Febronianism spread. The suppression of the Society of Jesus by Pope Clement XIV occurred in 1773. The period was dominated by the European Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and German idealism.
De Lamennais (d. 1854) and Ignaz Heinrich von Wessenberg (1774–1860), were both unorthodox. There were standard manuals of Wiest (1791), Klüpfel (1789), Marian Dobmayer (1807), and Brenner (1826). The ex-Jesuit Benedict Stattler (d. 1797) tried to apply to dogma the philosophy of Christian Wolff, Zimmer (1802), even that of Friedrich Schelling. Liebermann (d. 1844), who taught at Strasburg and Mainz, produced a more traditional dogmatic theology, but concealing his dislike for the Scholastics. It appeared in the years 1819–26 and went through many editions.
Georg Hermes (d. 1831) of Bonn attempted to treat Catholic theology in a Kantian spirit, as did Anton Günther (d. 1863) in Vienna, who sought to unravel the mysteries of Christianity by means of a modern Gnosis and to resolve them into purely natural truths.
Fifth epoch: restoration of dogmatic theology (1840–1900)
Harold Acton remarked on the large number of histories of dogma published in Germany published in the years 1838 to 1841. Joseph Görres (d. 1848) and Ignaz von Döllinger (d. 1890) intended that Catholic theology should influence the development of German states.
Johann Adam Möhler advanced patrology and symbolism. Both positive and speculative theology received a new lease of life, the former through Heinrich Klee (d. 1840), the latter through Franz Anton Staudenmaier (d. 1856). At the same time men like Joseph Kleutgen (d. 1883), Karl Werner (d. 1888), and Albert Stöckl (d. 1895) supported Scholasticism by thorough historical and systematic writings.
In France and Belgium the dogmatic theology of Cardinal Gousset (d. 1866) of Reims and the writings of Jean Baptiste Malou, Bishop of Bruges (d. 1865) exerted great influence. In North America there were the works of Francis Kenrick (d. 1863); Cardinal Camillo Mazzella (d. 1900) wrote his dogmatic works while occupying the chair of theology at Woodstock College, Maryland. In England Nicholas Wiseman (d. 1865), Cardinal Manning (d. 1892), and John Henry Newman (d. 1890) advanced Catholic theology.
In Italy, Gaetano Sanseverino (d. 1865), Matteo Liberatore (d. 1892), and Salvator Tongiorgi (d. 1865) worked to restore Scholastic philosophy, against traditionalism and ontologism, which had a numerous following among Catholic scholars in Italy, France, and Belgium. The pioneer work in positive theology fell to the Jesuit Giovanni Perrone (d. 1876) in Rome. Other theologians, as Carlo Passaglia (d. 1887), Clement Schrader (d. 1875), Cardinal Franzelin (d. 1886), Domenico Palmieri (d. 1909), and others, continued his work.
Among the Dominicans was Cardinal Zigliara, an inspiring teacher and fertile author. Germany, where Franz Xaver von Baader (d. 1841), Günther, and Jakob Frohschammer (d. 1893) continued to teach unorthodox views, produced a number of prominent theologians, as Johannes von Kuhn (d. 1887), Anton Berlage (d. 1881), Franz Xaver Dieringer (d. 1876), Johann Heinrich Oswald (d. 1903), Albert Knoll (d. 1863), Heinrich Joseph Dominicus Denzinger (d. 1883), Constantine von Schäzler (d. 1880), Bernard Jungmann (d. 1895), Johann Baptist Heinrich (d. 1891), and others. Germany's leading orthodox theologian at this time was Joseph Scheeben (d. 1888).
The First Vatican Council was held (1870), and the Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on the value of Scholastic, especially Thomistic, philosophy and theology was issued (1879). Both these events were landmarks in the history of dogmatic theology.
- Adversus haereses, III–V.
- Owen Chadwick (29 May 1987). From Bossuet to Newman. Cambridge University Press. p. 225, note to p. 102. ISBN 978-0-521-33676-5. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
- Mark A. Noll (2006). The Civil War As a Theological Crisis. Univ of North Carolina Press. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-8078-7720-3. Retrieved 24 August 2013.