vendredi 21 juillet 2017

When Are Implicit Citations Licit?


Short answer : when they are explicit.

CIRCA CITATIONES IMPLICITAS IN S. SCRIPTURA CONTENTAS
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/pcb_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19050213_cit-implicitas_lt.html


Fr. David Fleming, O.F.M. (Franciscan, Ordo Fratrum Minorum, Order of Friars Minor) penned a response by the Pontifical Biblical Commission on 13.II.1905, 112 years ago and some months.

Here is my personal translation from Latin of Q and response (not trying to make this an official translation of whole document):

Q (anon.)
Whether in order to untie the difficulties which occur in many texts of Sacred Scripture, which seem to relate historic facts, it is licit for a Catholic exegete to assert it is here question of a tacit or implied citation of a document written down by a non-inspired author, whose every assertion the inspired author does not at all intend to approve or make his own, which therefore cannot be held immune from error?

R (Fr Fleming)
In the negative, except the case in which, saving the sense and judgement of the Church, it be proven with solid arguments:

  • 1° That the Hagiographer (holy author) is really citing the words or documents of someone else;

  • and 2° That he is neither approving them, nor making them his own, so that he can be rightly considered as not speaking in his own name.


What does the phrase "saving the sense and judgement of the Church" mean? It means the proof or supposed such must not contradict the sense of the Church or the judgement of the Church. A judgement can come later, but cannot go against the sense of the Church. The sense of the Church is however already there, it is Tradition. If it is traditional that Moses was not citing some fun but unserious spoof on Canaanean mythology and adding tacitly "take it for what it is worth, it's a joke!" obviously even the Church cannot judge that Moses was doing that, since such a judgement would be going against the sense of the Church. Therefore there can be no solid argument actually proving this was the case to a Catholic exegete, since he must abide by sense and judgement of the Church.

What do "solid arguments" mean?

Some philosopher has "made proofs" by radiometric dating that the account given by Moses cannot stand together with sound reason? No, that is not a solid argument, like it is not a solid argument is some philosopher by Hegelian dialectic has proven God is not personal.

Or, there is a Canaanean text or a Sumerian text, which looks suspiciously like the account of Moses, but which he cannot have approved since it involves idolatry and polytheism? No, that is not a solid argument, like it is not a solid argument to dismiss a canonical Gospel just because it involves some suspicious similarity to a Gnostic one.

Or, we find exactly one Syriac manuscript with a verse inserted between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 stating the following is an opinion? No, it is not a solid argument, that manuscript could be a fake.

So, the one solid argument one could be dealing with is when the "implicit" and "tacit" citation is not so.

Suppose a Catholic exegete has been singing a psalm from a corrupted manuscript, in which the words "the unwise hath said in his heart" are lacking, and been singing the words "there is no God", he would indeed be right to consider King David must have tacitly cited someone else he did not approve of. A very solid argument would be to go out into the wide world and find a lot of editions in which the words "The fool said in his heart:" are not lacking.

Hence my summary of the answer : they are licit to assume when they are explicit.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St. Praxedis, Virgin*
21.VII.2017

* I take it St Laurence of Brindisi was not today any earlier than under "John XXIII", so is really tomorrow, his heavenly birthday. He is however a saint, canonised by Pope Leo XIII.

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