15.08.35, Blasco et al., eds. and trans., Guiu Terrena, Confutatio Errorum Quorundam Magistrorum

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Henry Berlin

The Medieval Review 15.08.35

Blasco, Almudena, Alexander, Fidora, and Celia López Alcalde, eds. Guiu Terrena, Confutatio Errorum Quorundam Magistrorum: Text llatí amb traduccions catalana i anglesa / Latin text with Catalan and English translations. Bibliotheca Philosophorum Medii Aevi Cataloniae, 3. Santa Coloma de Queralt: Obrador Edèndum, 2014. pp. 179. ISBN: 9788493916909 (hardback).

Reviewed by:
Henry Berlin
University at Buffalo, SUNY

On the 23rd of October, 1327, Pope John XXII promulgated his bull Licet iuxta doctrinam, condemning Marsilius of Padua and John of Jandun for five errors found in the former's Defensor pacis (the bull attributed co-authorship of Marsilius's tract to John). The bull was based on texts by three counselors who had been personally consulted by John XXII: William Amidani of Cremona's Reprobatio errorum, Sibert of Beek's Reprobatio sex errorum, and Guido Terrena's Confutatio errorum quorundam magistrorum. The present volume represents an excellent and long-overdue edition, translation, and study of this last text, which had remained unedited since its discovery by Josep Perarnau in 1974.

The volume, which is part of an ongoing research project studying Marsilius of Padua's impact on the Iberian Peninsula, contains an introductory study by Alexander Fidora; an edition of the Latin text by Almudena Blasco, Fidora, and Celia López Alcalde; a Catalan translation by the latter two and Josep Batalla; and a comprehensive English translation by Robert D. Hughes. The Latin text is based on manuscript Vat. lat. 10497. As the editors note, this text contains numerous errors, but all emendations are clearly marked, along with the manuscript's original reading, in footnotes, thus producing what the editors correctly call "a philologically defensible text, as well as one that is intelligible." (81)

Fidora's introduction begins with a brief account of the 1324 appearance of Marsilius's Defensor pacis and its immediate consequences. He then sketches the life and works of Guido Terrena (Catalan: Guiu Terrena; Latin: Guido Terreni). Terrena was born around 1270, entered the Carmelite monastery in Perpignan at a young age, and went on to study and eventually teach at the University of Paris in the early fourteenth century, a period from which some largely unedited Questions, along with commentaries on Aristotle's De anima, Nicomachean Ethics, and Physics, survive. Terrena was Prior General of the Carmelite order from 1318 until 1321, when he was named Bishop of Majorca, serving in the latter capacity until being transferred, again as bishop, to Elne in 1332. Throughout his ecclesiastical career, Terrena made frequent trips to Avignon, where he died on the 21st of August, 1342. As Fidora notes, it was two anti-heretical works that assured Terrena's fame in and beyond the Middle Ages: the Concordia Evangeliorum (1328-1334), which mentions the errors of Marsilius, and the Summa de haeresibus (1342), an effort to catalogue and refute all known heresies. The introduction also contains a thoughtful summary of the Confutatio's arguments and sources, a helpful comparison with the aforementioned companion texts by William Amidani of Cremona and Sibert of Beek, and a clear explanation of editorial criteria.

Vat. lat. 10497 is incomplete, containing only Terrena's response to the first of the errors identified by John XXII; it is nevertheless a rich source for those interested in the medieval debate regarding spiritual and temporal sovereignty. This richness is the result of the variety of approaches woven together by Terrena in his effort to disprove, first, the claim that the Holy Roman Emperor has authority over all of the Church's temporal goods, and then this claim's exegetical underpinnings, drawn from Matthew 17: that Christ paid tribute to Caesar by obligation, "rather than from the condescension and generosity of his compassion" (146; I cite Hughes's English translation). In seeking not only to disprove this claim, but to mark it as heretical and prove its opposite, Terrena--who, like William Amidani and Sibert, had not read the Defensor pacis--marshals theological arguments that emphasize, in Fidora's categorization, the question's historical, logical, legal, and exegetical aspects (37). All of these forms of argumentation, and the various authorities to whom Terrena appeals (Aristotle, Ambrose of Milan, Augustine, Gratian), will be familiar to medievalists, but they are notable here for the clarity and concision with which they are deployed.

The surviving portion of the Confutatio is already brief, so a detailed summary is not called for; suffice it to say Terrena returns persistently to the idea that it is heretical to claim that the emperor can confiscate all of the Church's temporal goods, since it would then be impossible to carry out divine worship. Regarding the exegetical question of Christ's tribute to Caesar, Terrena joins his own reading of Scripture to the authority of John Chrysostom and Augustine, who both argue that Christ paid the didrachm not out of obligation, but in order to avoid a scandal. In this context, Terrena also constructs a clever argument based on Aristotle's claim in Book Two of the Nicomachean Ethics that "The man who performs just deeds yet does not delight in this is neither just nor does he act voluntarily." (1104b) Terrena reasons that if it was just for Christ to pay the tribute (as Marsilius has argued in the case of the emperor and the pope), but he acted under compulsion and therefore without delight, then his actions were not virtuous--"a heretical affirmation." (170)

One of the most accomplished features of this edition of the Confutatio is its comprehensive effort to make the text intelligible and useful to a broad community of scholars. This effort is reflected in Fidora's introduction, in the careful edition of the Latin text, and in the translation of the text into both Catalan--Terrena's native language, and an important mode of written expression for some of Terrena's opponents in the early theological debates in which the Carmelite engaged--and English. The footnotes to the translations clearly identify sources, but go further in explaining the thorny points encountered by the translators and offering stimulating interpretive possibilities. To give just one of several possible examples of this last point, the translators explain that Terrena's Latin titulus can be understood as a "motto or emblem (especially in an inscription)," a heading, and "the legal argument justifying the possession of a right," and they suggest that Terrena is in fact playing with this ambivalence for rhetorical purposes. (141-142 n. 3)

Terrena's text will thus be of interest to scholars of Marsilius of Padua, his Defensor pacis, and the Avignon Papacy; of the medieval Church and its relation to secular power more broadly; of medieval canon law; and, most broadly, of the medieval techniques of political, philosophical, theological, and exegetical disputation. In this last connection, I believe that the Confutatio, with its combination of argumentative variety and concision, would also make an excellent teaching tool as an undergraduate introduction to medieval disputation writ large. The scholars behind this edition and translation have therefore made an important contribution to both the study and teaching of one of the defining debates of the late Middle Ages, and of medieval debate as such.

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