Reassessing Reform

Reassessing Reform

Christopher M. Bellitto
David Zachariah Flanagin
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt284zvx
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  • Book Info
    Reassessing Reform
    Book Description:

    Now, in celebration of the fiftieth anniversaries of the publication of The Idea of Reform and the Second Vatican Council, Reassessing Reform explores and critiques the enduring significance of Ladner's study, surveying new avenues and insights of more recent reform scholarship, especially concerning the long Middle Ages.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2000-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    JOHN HOWE
  4. 1 INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-14)
    CHRISTOPHER M. BELLITTO and DAVID ZACHARIAH FLANAGIN

    At the conclusion of his groundbreaking study, The Idea of Reform: Its Impact on Christian Thought and Action in the Age of the Fathers, Gerhart Ladner stated that “the idea of reform … was to remain the self-perpetuating core, the inner life spring of Christian tradition through lesser and greater times.”¹ Ladner himself sought to explore the content of such a statement in the age of patristic theology and early Christian monasticism, while at the same time pointing forward to the many developments in reform ideology in the medieval period and beyond. His insights laid the foundation for a half...

  5. PART I. GERHART LADNER’S THE IDEA OF REFORM AFTER 50 YEARS
    • 2 MY DEBT TO GERD: His Legacy as Teacher of History and Historian of Ideas, Fifty Years after The Idea of Reform and in Light of Present Research
      (pp. 17-30)
      LESTER L. FIELD JR.

      What did I learn from Ladner? Having taken his last course on “The Medieval Idea of Reform,” a course that he taught as an emeritus in 1980, and having served many years as his research assistant, I learned much from him both in class and in gathering material for his various projects, including his second and uncompleted volume on reform. I learned even more when he read the manuscript of my first book, on the patristic idea of libertas.¹ In research not very far removed from that book, or more precisely its subtitle, I am now working on a book-length...

    • 3 GERHART LADNER’S THE IDEA OF REFORM: Reflections on Terminology and Ideology
      (pp. 31-41)
      LOUIS B. PASCOE

      After the Bible and The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the book that has probably most influenced me is Gerhart B. Ladner’s The Idea of Reform.¹ I first met Ladner during the 1956–1957 academic year at Fordham University, when, as a young Jesuit scholastic in philosophical studies, I was also pursuing a master’s degree in medieval history. Ladner later was a reader for my master’s thesis on “St. Bernard of Clairvaux: The Doctrine of the Imago and Its Relationship to Cistercian Monasticism.” While I was doing theological studies from 1961 to 1965, Ladner accepted a teaching position...

    • 4 THE CONTINUING RELEVANCE OF THE IDEA OF REFORM
      (pp. 42-58)
      PHILLIP H. STUMP

      In 1999, on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the publication of The Idea of Reform, I wrote about the multifaceted influence of Gerhart Ladner’s classic book.¹ Since that time I have become even more convinced of the continuing relevance of his study for scholars investigating reform and related ideas of renewal in all eras. Those who have come to love The Idea of Reform have frequently lamented that Ladner was not able to complete his goal of publishing subsequent volumes that would trace the story through the rest of the Middle Ages. However, in recent years two fine...

  6. PART II. MODELS AND CASE STUDIES OF MEDIEVAL AND REFORMATION REFORM
    • 5 “HE DOES NOT SAY, ‘I AM CUSTOM’ ”: Pope Gregory VII’s Idea of Reform
      (pp. 61-83)
      KEN A. GRANT

      It is by no means an accident that the old statement, formulated by Tertullian and then used by Cyprian and Augustine, that Christ had not said, “I am custom,” but that he had said, “I am truth,” was now taken up again. The principle that truth is superior to custom was of the greatest importance for the Gregorian reform movement; but so was the rejection of untraditional innovation enunciated against Cyprian by Pope Stephen I in the baptismal controversy of the third century, and never forgotten since: Nihil innovetur nisi quod traditum est, “Let nothing be innovated except that which...

    • 6 ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGE IN THE FOURTEENTH-CENTURY DOMINICAN ORDER: A Case Study in Partial Reforms and Incomplete Theories
      (pp. 84-104)
      MICHAEL VARGAS

      Over the course of the thirteenth century the followers of Dominic of Guzmán fashioned something new, productive, and vigorous, an Order of Preachers that at its prime Innocent IV called Christianity’s “public workhorse” and that friar historians in our time have called “the most perfect of the monastic organizations produced in the Middle Ages.”¹ Into the 1300s, however, convents in the Order of Preachers housed lying, cheating thieves, wanton seekers of pleasure, gamblers, wanderers, and womanizers—a state of affairs evinced not only in anti-mendicant literature but also in the friars’ own records. If we accept the standard accounts, the...

    • 7 THE SIX ERRORS: Hus on Simony
      (pp. 105-123)
      C. COLT ANDERSON

      One of the most fascinating characters in the Catholic Church’s long history of reform is the hero of the Czech people, John Hus. Hus was burned at the stake for heresy at the Council of Constance in 1415. Five hundred and eighty-four years later, Pope John Paul II apologized on behalf of the Catholic Church for this murderous act. Prior to Vatican II, one could easily point to Hus’s advocacy for allowing the laity to receive both the body and blood during the Eucharistic celebration, for vernacular liturgies, and for encouraging the laity to read the Bible as evidence of...

    • 8 CHURCH, BIBLE, AND REFORM IN THE HUSSITE DEBATES AT THE COUNCIL OF BASEL, 1433
      (pp. 124-148)
      GERALD CHRISTIANSON

      A penetrating insight into the Hussite reform program comes to us from a remark by Prokop Holý, the Táborite military leader and head of a Hussite delegation to the Council of Basel in early 1433. As he walked and talked in private one evening with the papal legate and council president, Cardinal Giuliano Cesarini, they agreed to speak frankly. Prokop declared: “You have regard for the authority of the early church, but are far removed from conversation with the Holy Spirit…. We regard the early church and discover that it held our Four Articles.”¹

      It is noteworthy that the warrior...

    • 9 IN SEARCH OF UNITY: Reform and Mathematical Form in the Conciliarist Arguments of Heymeric de Campo’s Disputatio de potestate ecclesiastica (1433)
      (pp. 149-169)
      DAVID ALBERTSON

      In his well-known 1433 treatise De concordantia catholica, Nicholas of Cusa makes arguments for conciliarism that do not yet draw upon the distinctive concepts of his later philosophical writings. He draws upon Dionysian hierarchies, yet without the Dionysian negative theology accented in De docta ignorantia; he seeks the unity of the church in its plurality, yet without the henological dialectics he would later borrow from Thierry of Chartres and Meister Eckhart. Indeed, the attempt to understand how Nicholas’s 1433 treatise leads toward his breakthrough philosophical works of 1440 continues into the present.¹

      The Cusan instance is a helpful touchstone for...

    • 10 PREMONSTRATENSIAN VOICES OF REFORM AT THE FIFTEENTH-CENTURY COUNCILS
      (pp. 170-189)
      WILLIAM P. HYLAND

      It is reasonable to expect that conscientious members of particular religious orders will attempt in their own time and place to live according to the example of their founder and the spirit of the rule they profess, and when appropriate bring the perspective and insights of their order’s charism or rule to deliberations affecting the wider church. The fifteenth-century general councils held at Constance (1414–1418) and Basel (1431–1449), called to deal with a variety of complex problems including church unity, heresy, and reform, certainly would qualify as fora for such theological discussions. The role of the Premonstratensians, or...

    • 11 “MEMORIAM FECIT”: The Eucharist, Memory, Reform, and Regeneration in Hildegard of Bingen’s Scivias and Nicholas of Cusa’s Sermons
      (pp. 190-213)
      ANN W. ASTELL

      Two Christian sacraments—Baptism and the Eucharist—figure prominently in the argument of Gerhart Ladner’s classic 1959 work, The Idea of Reform. Ladner notices a shift in emphasis in Christian spiritual formation from prebaptismal conversion (during the times of Roman persecution) to postbaptismal conversion (beginning in the fourth century), the latter, whether monastic or “secular,” having to do with penitential practice and Eucharistic reception.¹ In an important passage early in the book, Ladner distinguishes sharply between baptismal regeneration, which is “instantaneous” in its effect and “nonrepeatable,”² and the idea of reform, which “on the contrary contains as an essential element...

    • 12 VISIONS OF REFORM: Lay Piety as a Form of Thinking in Nicholas of Cusa
      (pp. 214-231)
      INIGO BOCKEN

      One of the leading ideas in Gerhart Ladner’s work is the observation that the idea of reform belongs to the very center of Christian experience and thinking from its earliest beginnings. The idea of reform is a genuine Christian idea, enabling us to understand the proper significance of Christian thinking in comparison with the Greek ideal of cyclical renewal or of the modern “institutional” conception of reform.¹ In the view of Ladner, the Christian idea of reform is indissolubly connected with the notion of man being the image of God. The idea of reform necessarily contains the attempt of the...

    • 13 CARTHUSIANS AS PUBLIC INTELLECTUALS: Cloistered Religious as Advisors to Lay Elites on the Eve of the Protestant Reformation
      (pp. 232-253)
      DENNIS D. MARTIN

      Recent scholarship has begun to reinvigorate our understanding of reform along Ladnerian lines in the century before the Protestant Reformation. Scholars of the German Protestant Reformation from Bernd Moeller to Berndt Hamm have, over a period of nearly fifty years, pointed to the rise of educated administrative elites in the cities and at princely courts as central carriers of the reform impulse. Where once the Reformation was explained against the background of sets of ideas, for example late scholastic theology and Renaissance humanism, for the past several decades we have focused on those who applied these ideas in public chanceries...

    • 14 BLACK AND WHITE AND RE-READ ALL OVER: Conceptualizing Reform across the Long Sixteenth Century, 1414–1633
      (pp. 254-278)
      WILLIAM V. HUDON

      Succeeding his 1959 treatment of the idea of reform in the age of the Fathers, Gerhart Ladner (1905–1993) planned for volumes that would cover the development of Christian reform throughout the early and later Middle Ages.¹ He seemed to envision analysis of this history at least up until the emergence of Martin Luther. While in some ways his hope for the analysis was fulfilled, his vision of companion volumes to his own was not. Scholars in the next two generations studied the idea of reform extensively, if not—as some social historians have suggested to me—ad nauseam. When...

  7. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 279-280)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 281-289)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 290-291)