Why is the Canon of Scripture missing from Ludwig Ott's book "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma"?

I bought this highly recommended book, with the understanding that it contained a descriptive list of every dogma proposed for belief by the Catholic Church. At first glance it seems to meet my expectations, and not only does it seem to describe all the dogmas, but it gives considerable attention to many prominent, “not yet defined as dogma” doctrines as well. Very exciting for a nerd like me.

However I noticed that the book doesn’t seem to say anything about the canon of scripture. I was under the impression that the canon of scripture was a dogma (defined at the Council of Trent), and that it therefore deserves a mention and discussion in this book.

This makes me curious. What other dogmas are missing from this book? I was really hoping to get a complete list of them from somewhere, and I was told that this book was the place to look… The preface does mention that it is an “Introduction” to Catholic Dogma, does this imply that it does not aim to exhaustively cover all the dogmas? In that case, where should I go if I want to find such a list (preferably with some elaboration)?

Thanks for any help you can provide

I don’t have an answer but, as a fellow book/Catholic theology and doctrine nerd, I just wanted to say thanks for the recommendation!! I can’t wait to read this!

Um, not to be obvious about it but the canon of Scripture is listed in any Catholic Bible. :wink: Why did Ott need to include it in his book about theology?

Besides this, there have been plenty of books written about the canon of Scripture–how it came about, etc. He probably felt he didn’t need to cover the same ground. Every author writes with certain goals in mind. His was not to discuss that topic, but rather the fundamentals of Catholic doctrine. The books of the Bible are not doctrine, per se, but rather a determination that these sacred writings, and not others, are to be used for the Church’s liturgies. So, he didn’t need to cover it in his book.

Why did Ott make such a mistake? To teach us he wasn’t infallible. :smiley:

Mistake? No. Infallible, also no. :slight_smile:

Ludwig Ott’s book covers the subject area of “dogmatic theology”. It does not attempt to list all dogmas. Dogmatic theology covers matters of faith. Moral theology covers matter of ethics. As Ott says in his book (page 3)

“only the theological truths of Revelation concerning God and His activity are dealt with in dogmatic theology… while the practical teachings of Revelation regulating the activity of men are the object of moral theology…”

You might want to consider getting Denzinger, Sources of Catholic Dogma, which contains many magisterial documents with infallible as well as non-infallible teachings.

There is no list of infallible teachings anywhere, as any attempted list would be somewhat speculative. It is not always certain whether a teaching is infallible or non-infallible.

@Ron Conte, thanks so much for this very helpful response

Not gonna lie, that makes me uncomfortable. Dogmas are supposed to be well-defined, which would imply that we know what they are. My understanding is that as Catholics we are supposed to give full assent of faith, intellect and will to the Dogmas. I do believe that this “full assent” does not have to be explicit (ie. You have to believe that everything the Catholic church proposes as Dogma is true, but you don’t necessarily have to know/understand/comprehend all the details of the Dogmas).

However I still feel that if someone is seeking to know all the dogmas proposed up to now, then this information should be readily available somewhere. And not only should it be readily available, it should be clearly presented, because dogmas are concrete definitions. This is why I can’t read Denzinger: while it is very comprehensive, it doesn’t indicate the theological grades of certainty or provide clear and concise dogmatic definitions. It’s all a bit messy.

TIK #7
Dogmas are supposed to be well-defined, which would imply that we know what they are. My understanding is that as Catholics we are supposed to give full assent of faith, intellect and will to the Dogmas.

There has been clarification issued by the then Cardinal Ratzinger, and it is not only “dogmas” which need assent.

This is the clearest summation of the requirements for both dogma and doctrine:
The three levels of teaching from *Ad Tuendam Fidem *(ATF), which gives examples, are:
1) Dogma – infallible (Canon #750.1) to be believed with the assent of divine and Catholic faith.
2) Doctrine – infallible (Canon #750.2) requires the assent of ecclesial faith, to be “firmly embraced and held”.
3) Doctrine – non-definitive (non-infallible) and requires intellectual assent (“loyal submission of the will and intellect”, Vatican II, *Lumen Gentium 25), not an assent of faith. See the Explanatory Note on ATF by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 29, 1998, the Solemnity of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.

  • Joseph Card. Ratzinger

  • Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.
    Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli
    [This commentary was issued coincident with the promulgation of “Ad tuendam fidem” by Pope John Paul II, modifying the Oriental and Latin codes of canon law.]

Thus no dogma has to be affirmed, nor anyone anathematized, nor the word “define” or “definition” be used for an infallible papal teaching – only that the Pope is handing down a certain, decisive judgment for the whole Church, that a point of doctrine on faith or morals is true and its contrary false. The words ex cathedra are never included.

In the time when Ott was writing this book, the canon of the New Testament, at least, was a given, not challenged in any real way. If he were writing his book today, when various groups are trying to add certain books to the familiar 27, or even to omit certain passages from St. Paul’s epistles, perhaps he would explicitly explain the canon.

For most people, the Catechism explains as much as they need of the dogma context, with footnotes to more specifically expand on given topics. I am guessing Ott might not have explained the rules of logic, either, in his book; yet he relies on them throughout, as does the Church’s explanation of dogma. Some things are always assumed when a book is written. Seeing as how we live in a world where the “educated” often defy all logic and reason, maybe Ott would have to explain logic and reason more now (if he were alive) than he did in the 1930s.

TIK #7
Dogmas are supposed to be well-defined, which would imply that we know what they are. My understanding is that as Catholics we are supposed to give full assent of faith, intellect and will to the Dogmas.
end quote

The problem is that the Church can only define what she knows. Some things she does not know. For instance, I would prefer if Pope Pius XII had specifically stated that Mary had, or had not died, prior to her assumption into Heaven. That lack of definition seems like a loose end. But I think he did not define it, because God did not intend it to be defined to that extent, at least not in his lifetime.

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