Marcil George ,
Recensione: JUNIPER B. CAROL, The Absolute Primacy and Predestination of Jesús and His Virgin Mother. Chicago,
Antonianum, 58/2-3 (1983) p. 500-502
This is a difficult book to read and to review. In a sense it was not written to be read straight through. The book has an encyclopedic character. It is loaded with information for the scholar to consult. Recently this reviewer worked on the edition of Bishop John R. H. Moor-man's Medieval Franciscan Houses (New York: The Franciscan Institute, 1983). The two books have much in common. They are both loaded with important information, both unreadable in the sense given above and both subject to the same flaws (problem of completeness, mistakes in detail, adequacy of índices, etc.). More about that later.
First it is necessary to say a word about the author. Fr. Carol is a first class Franciscan scholar, The prefatory note by William H. Marshner refers to him rightly as the deán of American Mariologists. Since his doctoral dissertation on Mary as coredemptrix published in 1950, he has continued to contribute in the área of serious Mariological studies, first on the theme of coredemption, but also on such topics as the immaculate conception, the assumption and mediation. He has been head of the Mariological Society of America and editor of Marian Studies. During a recent visit at the Franciscan Curia in Rome, Fr. Carol proudly confided to this writer his being partly responsible for the phrases on coredemption etched in stone on the ceiling of the Curia chapel.
The present book shows how much alive Fr. Carol's mind still is. Not only has he shifted his attention from Marian topics. He has endeavo red to treat a speculative and quite controversial Christological theme in a very broad historical manner.
The book can be divided into three sections. At the beginning the author discusses the reasons for the incarnation of the Son of God and
explains the debated issues. He then embarks on a survey of the related views of John Duns Scotus' predescessors, the views of the great Franciscan master himself and the almost endless list of his followers. In the middle section, the list of 880 names of writers who have espoused Scotus' view, namely that in God's creative plan Christ had absolute priority, that his incarnation was not occasioned by anything else, certainly not the sin of Adam. Fr. Juniper Carol has already published such a list in his recent publication on The History of the Controversy over the Debitum Peccati. The present list has the same quality, but it also has the same difficulties.
The list is certainly important; it is large and imposing. But someone still has the right to interject: is the list complete? Indeed it is not. But one would not want to fault the author. What has been achieved is already Herculean in dimension.
But some names are worth adding. In the 14th century, some writers are only available in manuscript form: William of Alnwick, Hugh of Newcastle, John of Reading, Landolph Caracciolo, James of Ascoli. But these are important since these are among the first disciples of Scotus. And there are others, even available in 16th century editions: Anthony Andrea, William of Rubio, John of Cologne.
In the 15th century, William Vaurouillon, Stephen Brulefer. In the 16th century, Mathurin Lebret. In the 17th, Hugh Cavellus, John Merinero. In the 18th, Joseph Anthony Ferrari, Anthony Cavello, Wolter Schopen, Barnaby Underberger, Joseph Cuellar, Charles-Marie Angeletti, Bartholomew Sarmentero. Not all of these are of first rate importance, but Vaurouillon and the 17th century writers are. They are Scotists and they have written on the subject of the present thesis.
Still on the subject of names, this reviewer is glad to see the long line of Scotistic followers get a bit of publicity. But he wonders whether in the printing or in the presentation some of the writers could not have been accentuated a bit more. Some of the writers, such as Bartholomew Mastrius of Meldola, Lawrence Brancatus of Laurea, Claude Frassen, Bernard Sanning, are giants; so many others are just students attentive to their immediate masters.
In the conclusion, the author does just what he should, he brings together the theological points that these 880 writers ave been struggling over on this debated and debatable topic. The meaning, however, of the summarizing chart on p. 147 remains quite unclear. There isn't any doubt
that there was a growth in Scotistic discipleship up through the 17th century. The decline of the 18th century is due, I believe, to extraneous causes and not to the flagging of Franciscan enthusiasm for Scotus. The enlightenment and the French revolution crippled religious Orders generally. At the beginnig of the 19th century there were far less Franciscans to make into Scotists. And then the new proliferation of the 20th century may be due in large part to the explosion in the printing industry. Much lesser lights are able easily to get their writing put into print.
We turn now to the first part of the book. The introduction does show the kind of man the author is. Not only does he analyze the primacy of Christ theme in terms of the 20th century discussion, he also makes a serious attempt at advancing the discussion by outlining the William H. Marshner view, which he considers to be somewhat novel and not very much known.
All in all this is a very serious book giving a good deal of information. It was written with the professional theologian in mind. It was meant to remind the theologian of the weight of this opinion and also to put him in contact with a great deal of the theology of the past. The author has given the theologian a whole arsenal of material to refer to. I know for a fact that the author has been collecting copies of a great amount of the material referred to in this book. In the future, if his strength holds up, we can expect Fr. Carol to be more analytical of the content of this material.