Peace be with you!
Ok, so for our final paper in my “Holy War in the Middle Ages: Christian and Muslim Perspectives” class, we were given the assignment of writing a critical book review of The Invention of the Crusades by Christopher Tyerman. My teacher typed me up an extra page of comments about some things I had in my paper. I’ll share those and see what suggestions you guys could give me of the best way to respond to him. I guess it would be best to explain the thesis of Tyerman’s book–he says that the crusades were not a movement, only a reflection of society (a thesis I disagreed with in my review).
Some things that I addressed in my paper were:
“The chroniclers and agents of John XXIII” were cited by Tyerman. Now as we all know, this John XXIII (1410-1415) was an antipope and never validly elected. I pointed this out and stated that by Tyerman citing him it doesn’t help his thesis because that John XXIII was never actually a legitimate Church authority, therefore whatever decrees he issued were not representative of what the Church teaches.
Tyerman inaccurately defines indulgences and states that they forgave sins. I pointed this out and accurately defined what they are.
Tyerman cites John Wyclif, Geoffrey Chaucer, and William Langland as people who were speaking out against crusade. I pointed out that all three were extremely anti-clerical (because Tyerman a few pages earlier asserted that crusade was criticized by “some who were otherwise by no means anti-papal”…and yet he cites none of those people). And John Wyclif was, of course, a precurser to Protestantism.
My teacher said this:
“Indeed, you went out of your way to suggest he was simply giving false information about Church doctrine, esp. on your comments on p. 2 re: Pope John XXIII and the business with indulgences. Your response here also correlates to comments you occasionally made in class about Church doctrine re: the assumption of Mary and relics. As a Catholic, obviously a devout one, you seem at pains to represent Catholic doctrine and theology as they are held today. This is fine. BUT–and this is a big “but”–to assert that such doctrines are timeless (exist from the beginnings of the church), unchanging, were imparted by God, revealed by God’s grace, or the product of an infallible papal authority is a faith statement that is (a) unnecessary as far as I am concerned, unless class discussion actually is dealing with 21st century Catholic theology (which it will usually not); (b) anachronistic as far as the historical church is concerned–and that is the institution we are dealing with; and © fundamentally ahistorical.”
He uses John XXIII and indulgences as examples, stating that it was only “one side” during the Schism that viewed him as illegitimate and "that he is not on modern lists of legitimate popes has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on his legitimacy historically."
Then he says, in regards to indulgences, "if the doctrine were so crystal clear, why was there such mass confusion and debate, even among church intellectuals (ditto on confession, by the way, which was doctrinally clarified at 4 Lateran but still remained quite confusing in application)?"
He also says, “Indulgences were granted for the remissions of both guilt and penences (plenary indulgences were the full on remissions of guilt).”
What would be the best way to respond to this? He was a good teacher for the rest of the term, but all of a sudden, I get all these comments on our last paper. I know that someone has to have gone to confession before recieving an indulgence, so what does he mean by the remission of guilt? One cannot simply recieve an indulgence in the place of confession!
Thanks for any help you can give me (and sorry about the long post:))!