Friday, January 23, 2015

A Jesuit Challenge

Back on January 7th, 2015, I published a thread (here) that linked to ten separate posts at Shameless Popery which were based on Edmund Campion's book, Rationes Decem /Ten Reasons (link to PDF copy).

[Edmund Campion (sainted by the Catholic Church), was a Jesuit priest who was imprisoned, tortured numerous times, hanged and then drawn-and-quartered, in late 16th England during the of reign of Queen Elizabeth I—for a online biography in a PDF format, see THIS LINK.]

After finishing Joe Heschmeyer's provocative series, I then read the 1914 edition of Campion's, Ten Reasons (English text by Joseph Rickaby; Introduction by John Hungerford). Rickaby's translation, with Hungerford's introduction, created a yearning in my mind for more. A prior Google search had yielded a number of related works that I ended up either downloading or purchasing. It is James V. Holleran's, A Jesuit Challenge (Google Preview)—which I finished reading yesterday—that I would now like to comment on.

I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I knew nothing about Campion, prior to my reading of Joe's ten part series. I was, of course, aware of the religious turmoil that permeated 16th century England; but this knowledge had come primarily via more general works on Christian history (e.g. González, Latourette, Sheldon, et al.). Important figures such as Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary Tudor and Sir Thomas More immediately come to mind when I think about 16th century England; however, if any of the numerous general histories I have read mentioned Campion, possible impressions left on me at the time were not retained. As such, I felt compelled to remedy this void in my knowledge of the period.

The late Dr. Holleran's contribution has proven to be an invaluable resource in filling in this void. His 81 page introduction is excellent. The previously unpublished manuscripts  of the four Tower of London debates between Campion and a number of Protestent divines (written by Catholics who had attended the debates), which Holleran provides in the book, gives one a fuller account than the highly edited 'official' version of 1583. Note the following: historical documents, these Catholic accounts of the debates allow us to revisit the past and decide for ourselves whether or not official documents, endorsed and published by the government, are entirely trustworthy. These previously unpublished Catholic accounts, for example, supply us with information that was deliberately deleted from the government account of the same debates. (Page xi.)

Dr. Holleran has also given us a new edition of Campion's, "Challenge", a document he had written, "in less than half an hour", and sent to "Elizabeth's Council." This document spells out Campion's goals/purposes, and, "acknowledges that he was a Jesuit priest who had been ordered by his superior to go to England on a religious mission, not a political one." (See page 25 for quotes; pages 179-181 for the document.)

All in all, I highly recommend Holleran's book; it is informative, has a very useful bibliography, and is written in a balanced style that will appeal to both academic and lay audiences.

Grace and peace,


Friday, January 16, 2015

THE PRINCIPLE...Are We Listening?

I am putting—what is sure to be quite controversial—the following movie on my 'to-do-list':

From the movie's website:

One Of The Most Heated Debates In History, Coming 2015

Simply put, the upcoming documentary, “The Principle,” is likely to become one of the most controversial films of our time.

Conventional wisdom dictates that the idea of Earth being at the center of the universe is a ridiculous holdover from an ancient, superstitious age. Modern science has long maintained that the human species is nothing special in the context of the cosmos.

We inhabit, in Carl Sagan’s words, “…. an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.” His words reflect the Copernican Principle; the foundational assumption underlying the modern scientific world view.

Prepare to re-examine that assumption.

The Principle,” brings to light astonishing new scientific observations challenging the Copernican Principle. The film brings before the public eye astonishing results from recent large-scale surveys of our Universe which disclose surprising evidence of a preferred position in the cosmos, aligned with our supposedly insignificant Earth. The film explores from all sides the question of Earth’s station in the universe and whether it could, in fact, have a unique importance among planets.

“The Principle” features narration by Kate Mulgrew (“Star Trek Voyager”, “Orange Is The New Black”, and “Ryan’s Hope”), stunning animations by BUF Compagnie Paris (“Life of Pi”, “Thor”), and commentary from the most prominent scientists of our time, including George Ellis, Michio Kaku, Julian Barbour, Lawrence Krauss, and Max Tegmark.

Interviews with leading cosmologists are interspersed with the views of dissidents and mavericks, bringing into sharp focus the implications of an alternative explanation for our place in the universe.

These shocking new discoveries of Earth-oriented alignments in our visible cosmos bring us face-to-face with the challenging question … what does this mean for the soul and the future of humankind?

Grace and peace,


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

An interesting (provocative) series and book

While engaged in some online research last night, I happened upon a ten part series at the blog, Shameless Popery. The series is based on a book I had not read, nor was even aware of: Ten reasons, proposed to his adversaries for disputation in the name of the faith and presented to the illustrious members of our universities, by Edmund Campion (PDF link below).

Given the recent activity here at AF, I felt compelled to provide links to the entire series:

Reason #2

Reason #3

Reason #4

Reason #5

Reason #6

Reason #7

Reason #8

Reason #9

Reason #10

Campion's entire book, Ten reasons, proposed to his adversaries for disputation in the name of the faith and presented to the illustrious members of our universities, is available in a free PDF version for reading and download at:

I read the last installment last night, and plan to read the entire series (and then the book), right after I publish this opening post.

I suspect a few other folk will join me in this endeavor, and hope that those who do so, will share their reflections...

Grace and peace,


Friday, January 2, 2015

Ken Temple and the perpetual virginity of Mary

Yesterday, I noticed that Ken Temple posted a new thread at Beggars All with the title:

The heos hou / ἕως οὗ construction in the New Testament proves the RC Perpetual Virginity of Mary dogma wrong  (LINK)

Ken's post relies heavily on Eric Svendsen's book, Who Is My Mother?, and he ends the thread with:

Svendsen also goes through all the LXX constructions; but this is enough to prove you wrong.

I own, and have read Mr. Svendsen's book. I remembered that the book contained a good deal of useful material, including a number of pages which the author intends to serve as proof that the New Testament cannot be used to support the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary. However, I also remembered that the book actually ends up doing the exact opposite when one important piece of information is added.

Mr. Svendsen wrote:

As we have already noted in the previous chapter, an examination of the NT usage of the phrase, ἕως οὗ (ὅτου) has yielded little support for the understanding of this phrase in Matt. 1:25 as it relates to the perpetual virginity of Mary. This in itself does not thereby exclude the interpretation in question, for if evidence in support of this understanding can be found in the literature outside the NT, we may be able to preserve the meaning here as well. (Eric Svendsen, Who Is My Mother?, pp. 56.)

And a few pages later:

The purpose of this inquiry has been to see whether in fact there exists any clear example of either of these phrases that may be taken in such a way as to offer support for the meaning of ἕως οὗ in Matt. 1:25 as it pertains to the perpetual virginity of Mary. (Ibid., p. 77.)

Interestingly enough, Mr. Svendsen states that there are "seven such instances in the LXX" (p. 77), and then adds:

...if this usage for this phrase can also be found in the literature contemporaneous to Matthew's gospel (i.e., the first century AD), then there can be little objection to seeing this same usage in the passage in question, and Mary's perpetual virginity becomes a strong exegetical option. (Ibid., p. 77.)

[In a footnote (#75, p. 291), Mr. Svendsen, "assumes the dating of Matthew after Mark's gospel (AD 50-65) and before the destruction of the temple.".]

Using a what he termed a, "searchable format (i.e., on an electronic database)", Mr. Svendsen came to the following conclusion:

While we do find support for this usage in the LXX, there are nevertheless no clear examples of this usage for at least a century and a half before Matthew wrote his Gospel; nor up to half a century afterwards. (Ibid., p. 77.)

But, such an example does in fact exist in a Greek text that a number of scholars believe to be, "contemporaneous to Matthew's gospel". Note the following:

And, when Joseph had left the house, Pentephres also and all his kindred departed to their inheritance, and Asenath was left alone with the seven virgins, listless and weeping till the sun set ; and she neither ate bread nor drank water, but while all slept she herself alone was awake and weeping and frequently beating her breast with her hand. (E. W. Brooks, Joseph and Asenath - the confession and prayer of Asenath, daughter of Pentephres the priest, 1918, pp. 34, 35.)

Clearly, Asenath did not cease weeping after the sun set. This text was originally written in Greek, and the following is the portion which contains the heōs hou clause:

καἰ κλαίουσα, ἕως οὗ ἔδυ ὁ ἥλιος (Ľ Abbė P. Batiffol, Studia Patristica, 1889, p. 50)

So, if we take Mr. Svendsen at his word, one should then conclude that, "there can be little objection to seeing this same usage in the passage in question, and Mary's perpetual virginity becomes a strong exegetical option."

I sincerely wonder if Ken will adjust his position...

Grace and peace,