Début book

posted 9 Oct 2010, 01:56 by Martin Ossikovski   [ updated 29 Mar 2013, 12:46 ]
Shelters of Faith: The Council of the Church in the Writings of Marsilius of Padua and William of Ockham (Sofia: Sofia University Press, 2010) [ISBN 978-954-07-3074-5; 60x84/16 paperback; 280 pp.]


The study offers a systematic comparison of the ecclesiological views of two of the most prominent intellectuals of the fourteenth century: the secular theoretician Marsilius of Padua (1290-1342) and the Franciscan theologian William of Ockham (1285-1348). The study focuses on the authors’ significant disagreement with regard to the question of the infallibility of the general council of the Church. In his Defensor pacis, Marsilius considered the council to be an inerrant authority of faith and argued that its decisions were to be accepted by all faithful Christians equally to Holy Scripture. By contrast, William claimed that the council, like any other institutional doctrinal authority, could not be entirely immune to error. The study attempts to examine the authors’ positions in detail and, further on, critically assess them within different historical and theoretical contexts (see Table of Contents below). Comparing William’s criticism with the writings of some other contemporary opponents of Marsilius, the study finally claims that it was the Invincible Doctor, not the Paduan, who supported truly uncompromising and innovative views with regard to the problem of conciliar infallibility.

Analytical Table of Contents


Two classic interpretations – Two modern interpretations – Plan of this study

Chapter 1: On the road to Bavaria

Franciscan poverty and the conflict with John XXII – From Avignon to Pisa – John XXII, Ludwig IV, and the William-Marsilius link

Chapter 2: Lines of argumentation: Defensor pacis, Dialogus, and Defensor minor

Marsilius: The infallibility of the council – Convocation and composition of the council – The council and the pope; William’s criticism in III Dialogus I: Refutation of Marsilius’ arguments – William’s view of the validity of conciliar decisions; Marsilius’ response in the Defensor minor

Chapter 3: The problem of the council in the context of the political programme of the Defensor pacis

The legislator humanus – Context: the idea of consensus as the foundation of government in the fourteenth century – Marsilius’ problematic reception of Politics III, 11 – The doctrine of the council and the doctrine of the lawgiver

Chapter 4: The problem of the council and Ockham’s quest for an infallible doctrinal authority

Who can err in faith? – Context: Ockham, the canonists, and the infallibility of the Church – Ockham’s specific approach to the problem of infallibility – The conflict of faith and reason – The council’s statements on matters of fact

Chapter 5: Ockham’s criticism and the contemporary reactions against the Defensor pacis 

Marsilius’ opponents and the conciliar issue – John XXII and the curialist “infallibilists” – Guido Terreni, O.F.C. – The problem of conciliar infallibility

Appendix One: Illustrations to Chapter One

Appendix Two: Source Texts in Bulgarian Translation