2008-12-31

References to "Sola Fide" Prior to Luther

In his commentary on Romans, Fitzmyer comments that Luther was not the first to invoke sola fide in his translation of Romans. Others used the term in a broader context as well. Below the atericks is what Fitzmyer states on pp. 360-361 of Romans, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993).

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At 3:28 Luther introduced the adv. “only” into his translation of Romans (1522), “alleyn durch den Glauben” (WAusg 7.38); cf. Aus der Bibel 1546, “alleine durch den Glauben” (WAusg, DB 7.39); also 7.3-27 (Pref. to the Epistle). See further his Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen, of 8 Sept. 1530 (WAusg 30.2 [1909], 627-49; “On Translating: An Open Letter” [LuthW 35.175-202]). Although “alleyn/alleine” finds no corresponding adverb in the Greek text, two of the points that Luther made in his defense of the added adverb were that it was demanded by the context and that sola was used in the theological tradition before him.

Robert Bellarmine listed eight earlier authors who used sola (Disputatio de controversiis: De justificatione 1.25 [Naples: G. Giuliano, 1856], 4.501-3):

Origen, Commentarius in Ep. ad Romanos, cap. 3 (PG 14.952).

Hilary, Commentarius in Matthaeum 8:6 (PL 9.961).

Basil, Hom. de humilitate 20.3 (PG 31.529C).

Ambrosiaster, In Ep. ad Romanos 3.24 (CSEL 81.1.119): “sola fide justificati sunt dono Dei,” through faith alone they have been justified by a gift of God; 4.5 (CSEL 81.1.130).

John Chrysostom, Hom. in Ep. ad Titum 3.3 (PG 62.679 [not in Greek text]).

Cyril of Alexandria, In Joannis Evangelium 10.15.7 (PG 74.368 [but alludes to Jas 2:19]).

Bernard, In Canticum serm. 22.8 (PL 183.881): “solam justificatur per fidem,” is justified by faith alone.

Theophylact, Expositio in ep. ad Galatas 3.12-13 (PG 124.988).

To these eight Lyonnet added two others (Quaestiones, 114-18):

Theodoret, Affectionum curatio 7 (PG 83.1001; ed. J. Raeder [Teubner], 189.20-24).

Thomas Aquinas, Expositio in Ep. I ad Timotheum cap. 1, lect. 3 (Parma ed., 13.588): “Non est ergo in eis [moralibus et caeremonialibus legis] spes iustificationis, sed in sola fide, Rom. 3:28: Arbitramur justificari hominem per fidem, sine operibus legis” (Therefore the hope of justification is not found in them [the moral and ceremonial requirements of the law], but in faith alone, Rom 3:28: We consider a human being to be justified by faith, without the works of the law). Cf. In ep. ad Romanos 4.1 (Parma ed., 13.42a): “reputabitur fides eius, scilicet sola sine operibus exterioribus, ad iustitiam”; In ep. ad Galatas 2.4 (Parma ed., 13.397b): “solum ex fide Christi” [Opera 20.437, b41]).

See further:

Theodore of Mopsuestia, In ep. ad Galatas (ed. H. B. Swete), 1.31.15.

Marius Vicorinus (ed. Pauli ad Galatas (ed. A. Locher), ad 2.15-16: “Ipsa enim fides sola iustificationem dat-et sanctificationem” (For faith itself alone gives justification and sanctification); In ep. Pauli Ephesios (ed. A. Locher), ad 2.15: “Sed sola fides in Christum nobis salus est” (But only faith in Christ is salvation for us).

Augustine, De fide et operibus, 22.40 (CSEL 41.84-85): “licet recte dici possit ad solam fidem pertinere dei mandata, si non mortua, sed viva illa intellegatur fides, quae per dilectionem operatur” (Although it can be said that God’s commandments pertain to faith alone, if it is not dead [faith], but rather understood as that live faith, which works through love”).

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Other citations:

To this above that Fitzmyer listed in his commentary, I add the following data, some (or most) of which I’ve posted here before...

Clement of Rome: Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words. ANF: Vol. I, The Apostolic Fathers, First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, Chapter 30. In other words, Clement is simply affirming that declaring our selves to be justified by “our words,” is not the proof of our justification, but our works; because here it is our works contrasted with our words, not our faith. He says, “Let us clothe ourselves, etc., i.e. demonstrate in deed that what we believe concerning ourselves is true, rather than merely claiming it. Otherwise, what he goes on to say two chapters later is utterly meaningless. For he goes on to say...

Clement of Rome: Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognize the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, “Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven.” All these, therefore, were highly honored, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. ANF: Vol. I, The Apostolic Fathers, First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, Chapter 32.

It’s clear, then, that Clement denies in no uncertain terms that our works, performed in a state of grace, serve meritoriously in any sense as the grounds on which we’re justified, and declares that faith, not our works, has always been the means by which God justifies all men.

Mathetes to Diognetus: As long then as the former time endured, He permitted us to be borne along by unruly impulses, being drawn away by the desire of pleasure and various lusts. This was not that He at all delighted in our sins, but that He simply endured them; nor that He approved the time of working iniquity which then was, but that He sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness, so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able. But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors! Having therefore convinced us in the former time that our nature was unable to attain to life, and having now revealed the Savior who is able to save even those things which it was [formerly] impossible to save, by both these facts He desired to lead us to trust in His kindness, to esteem Him our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counselor, Healer, our Wisdom, Light, Honor, Glory, Power, and Life, so that we should not be anxious concerning clothing and food. Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, Mathetes to Diognetus, Chapter 9.

Chrysostom (349-407): The patriarch Abraham himself before receiving circumcision had been declared righteous on the score of faith alone: before circumcision, the text says, “Abraham believed God, and credit for it brought him to righteousness.” Fathers of the Church, Vol. 82, Homilies on Genesis 18-45, 27.7 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1990), p. 167.

Chrysostom (349-407): For if even before this, the circumcision was made uncircumcision, much rather was it now, since it is cast out from both periods. But after saying that “it was excluded,” he shows also, how. How then does he say it was excluded? “By what law? of works? Nay, but by the law of faith.” See he calls the faith also a law delighting to keep to the names, and so allay the seeming novelty. But what is the “law of faith?” It is, being saved by grace. Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only. NPNF1: Vol. XI, Homilies on the the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Homily 7, vs. 27.

Chrysostom (349-407): For a person who had no works, to be justified by faith, was nothing unlikely. But for a person richly adorned with good deeds, not to be made just from hence, but from faith, this is the thing to cause wonder, and to set the power of faith in a strong light. NPNF1: Vol. XI, Homilies on the the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Homily 8, Rom. 4:1, 2.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), wrote while commenting upon 1 Cor. 1:4b: God has decreed that a person who believes in Christ can be saved without works. By faith alone he receives the forgiveness of sins. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VII: 1-2 Corinthians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 6. Migne’s latin: Datam dicit gratiam a Deo in Christo Jesu, quae gratia sic data est in Christo Jesu; quia hoc constitutum est a Deo, ut qui credit in Christum, salvus sit sine opere: sola fide gratis accipit remissionem peccatorum. In Epistolam B. Pauli Ad Corinthios Primam, PL 17:185.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 1:11: For the mercy of God had been given for this reason, that they should cease from the works of the law, as I have often said, because God, taking pity on our weaknesses, decreed that the human race would be saved by faith alone, along with the natural law. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 23. Migne’s latin: Nam misericordia Dei ad hoc data est, ut Lex cessaret, quod saepe jam dixi; quia Deus consulens infirmitati humanae, sola fide addita legi naturali, hominum genus salvare decrevit. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:53.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 2:12: For if the law is given not for the righteous but for the unrighteous, whoever does not sin is a friend of the law. For him faith alone is the way by which he is made perfect. For others mere avoidance of evil will not gain them any advantage with God unless they also believe in God, so that they may be righteous on both counts. For the one righteousness is temporal; the other is eternal. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 65. Migne’s latin: Si enim justo non est lex posita, sed injustis; qui non peccat, amicus legis est. Huic sola fides deest, per quam fiat perfectus quia nihil illi proderit apud Deum abstinere a contrariis, nisi fidem in Deum acceperit, ut sit justus per utraque; quia illa temporis justitia est, haec aeternitatis. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:67.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 3:24: They are justified freely because they have not done anything nor given anything in return, but by faith alone they have been made holy by the gift of God. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 101. Migne’s latin: Justificati gratis per gratiam ipsius. Justificati sunt gratis, quia nihil operantes, neque vicem reddentes, sola fide justificati sunt dono Dei. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:79.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 3:27: Paul tells those who live under the law that they have no reason to boast basing themselves on the law and claiming to be of the race of Abraham, seeing that no one is justified before God except by faith. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 103. Migne’s latin: Ubi est ergo gloriatio tua? Exclusa est. Per quam legem? factorum? Non, sed per legem fidei. Reddita ratione, ad eos loquitur, qui agunt sub lege, quod sine causa glorientur, blandientes sibi de lege, et propter quod genus sint Abrahae, videntes non justificari hominem apud Deum, nisi per fidem. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:80.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 4:5: How then can the Jews think that they have been justified by the works of the law in the same way as Abraham, when they see that Abraham was not justified by the works of the law but by faith alone? Therefore there is no need of the law when the ungodly is justified before God by faith alone. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 112. Migne’s latin: Hoc dicit, quia sine operibus legis credenti impio, id est gentili, in Christum, reputatur fides ejus ad justitiam, sicut et Abrahae. Quomodo ergo Judaei per opera legis justificari se putant justificatione Abrahae; cum videant Abraham non per opera legis, sed sola fide justificatum? Non ergo opus est lex, quando impius per solam fidem justificatur apud Deum. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:82-83.

Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 4:6, ‘righteousness apart from works’: Paul backs this up by the example of the prophet David, who says that those are blessed of whom God has decreed that, without work or any keeping of the law, they are justified before God by faith alone. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 113. Migne’s latin: Hoc ipsum munit exemplo prophetae. Beatitudinem hominis, cui Deus accepto fert justitiam sine operibus. Beatos dicit de quibus hoc sanxit Deus, ut sine labore et aliqua observatione, sola fide justificentur apud Deum. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:83.

Theodore of Mopsuestia (350-428), commenting on Rom. 3:28: Paul did not say we hold because he was himself uncertain. He said it in order to counter those who concluded from this that anyone who wished to could be justified simply by willing faith. Note carefully that Paul does not say simply without the law, as if we could perform virtue by wanting to, nor do we the works of the law by force. We do them because we have been led to do them by Christ. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), pp. 104-105.

Oecumenius (6th century), commenting on James 2:23: Abraham is the image of someone who is justified by faith alone, since what he believed was credited to him as righteousness. But he is also approved because of his works, since he offered up his son Isaac on the altar. Of course he did not do this work by itself; in doing it, he remained firmly anchored in his faith, believing that through Isaac his seed would be multiplied until it was as numerous as the stars. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 33. See PG 119:481.

Pope Boniface to Caesarius: [Phil. 1:29]--it appears obvious that our faith in Christ, like all good things, comes to individuals from the gift of divine grace and not from the power of human nature. We rejoice that your brotherhood perceived this truth in accordance with catholic faith, when a council of some bishops of Gaul was held. As you have indicated, they decided unanimously that our faith in Christ is conferred on men by the intervention of divine grace. They added that there is absolutely nothing good in God’s eyes that anyone can wish, begin, do, or complete without the grace of God, for as our Savior said, “Without me you can do nothing” [John 15:5]. For it is both a certainty and an article of catholic faith that in all good things, the greatest of which is faith, divine mercy intervenes for us when we are not yet willing [to believe], so that we might become willing; it remains in us when we are willing [to believe]; and it follows us so that we remain in faith. William E. Klingshirn, trans., Caesarius of Arles: Life, Testament, Letters, Letter 20 - Pope Boniface to Caesarius, §2 (Liverpool: University Press, 1994), p. 125.

Bede (672/673-735), commenting on Paul and James: Although the apostle Paul preached that we are justified by faith without works, those who understand by this that it does not matter whether they live evil lives or do wicked and terrible things, as long as they believe in Christ, because salvation is through faith, have made a great mistake. James here expounds how Paul’s words ought to be understood. This is why he uses the example of Abraham, whom Paul also used as an example of faith, to show that the patriarch also performed good works in the light of his faith. It is therefore wrong to interpret Paul in such a way as to suggest that it did not matter whether Abraham put his faith into practice or not. What Paul meant was that no one obtains the gift of justification on the basis of merits derived from works performed beforehand, because the gift of justification comes only from faith. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament XI: James, 1-2Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 31. Quoniam Paulus apostolus praedicans justificari hominem per fidem sine operibus, non bene intellectus est ab eis qui sic dictum acceperunt, ut putarent, cum semel in Christum credidissent, etiam si male operarentur, et facinorose flagitioseque viverent, salvos se esse per fidem: locus iste hujus epistolae eumdem sensum Pauli apostoli quomodo sit intelligendus exponit. Ideoque magis Abrahae exemplo utitur, vacuam esse fidem si non bene operetur, quoniam Abrahae exemplo etiam Paulus usus est, ut probaret justificari hominem sine operibus posse. Cum enim bona opera commemorat Abrahae, quae ejus fidem comitata sunt, satis ostendit apostolum Paulum, non ita per Abraham docere justificari hominem per fidem sine operibus, ut si quis crediderit, non ad eum pertineat bene operari, sed ad hoc potius, ut nemo arbitretur meritis priorum bonorum operum se pervenisse ad donum justificationis quae est in fide. Super Divi Jacobi Epistolam, Caput II, PL 93:22.

Hilary of Poitiers (c 315-67) on Matthew 9: This was forgiven by Christ through faith, because the Law could not yield, for faith alone justifies. Migne’s latin: Et remissum est ab eo, quod lex laxare non poterat; fides enim sola justificat. Sancti Hilarii In Evangelium Matthaei Commentarius, PL 9:961.

Basil of Caesarea: Let him who boasts boast in the Lord, that Christ has been made by God for us righteousness, wisdom, justification, redemption. This is perfect and pure boasting in God, when one is not proud on account of his own righteousness but knows that he is indeed unworthy of the true righteousness and is (or has been, dedikaiwmevnon) justified solely by faith in Christ. See Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part 1, p. 505. Text: oJ kaucwvmeno" ejn kurivw/ kaucavsqw, legwvn o{ti Cristo;~ hJmi`n ejgenhvqh sofiva ajpo; qeou`, dikaiosuvnh te kai; aJgiasmo;" kai; ajpoluvtrwsi": i{na kaqw;" gevgraptai, JO kaucwvmeno", ejn Kurivw/ kaucavsqw. Au{ ga;r dh; hJ teleiva kai; oJlovklhro" kauvchsi~ ejn Qew/`, o{te mhvte ejpi; dikaiosuvnh/ ti~ ejpaivretai th/` eJautou`, ajll j e[gnw me;n ejndeh` o[nta eJauto;n dikaiosuvh~ ajlhqou`~, pivstei de; movnh/ th/` eij~ Cristo;n dedikaiwmevnon. Homilia XX, Homilia De Humilitate, §3, PG 31:529. In context, Basil appealed to the example of the Apostle Paul as a regenerate man in Philippians 3:8-9.

Hilary on Matthew 9: "This was forgiven by Christ through faith, because the Law could not yield, for faith alone justifies." Or see the translation in Aquinas, Thomas. Catena Aurea: A Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected out of the Works of the Fathers, 4 Volumes. Translated and edited by John Henry Cardinal Newman (London: The Saint Austin Press, reprinted 1997), which reads: “the sins of his soul which the Law could not remit are remitted him; for faith only justifies. Migne latin: Et remissum est ab eo, quod lex laxare non poterat; fides enim sola justificat. Commentarius in Evangelium Matthaei, Caput VIII, PL 9:961

Jerome (347-420) on Romans 10:3: God justifies alone by faith. Ignorantes enim justitiam Dei, et suam quaerentes statuere: justitiae Dei non sunt subjecti. Ignorantes quod ***Deus ex sola fide justificat***: et justos se ex legis operibus, quam non custodierunt, esse putantes: noluerunt se remissioni subjicere peccatorum, ne peccatores fuisse viderentur, sicut scriptum est: Pharisaei autem spernentes consilium Dei in semetipsis, noluerunt baptizari baptismo Joannis. Item quia sacrificia legis, et caetera, quae umbra erant veritatis, quae per Christum perfici habebant, praesentia Christi cessaverunt: cui credere noluerunt: In Epistolam Ad Romanos, Caput X, v. 3, PL 30:692D.

Thomas Aquinas: The sacraments of the New Law however, although they are material elements, are not needy elements; hence they can justify. Again, if there were any in the Old Law who were just, they were not made just by the works of the Law but only by the faith of Christ “Whom God hath proposed to be a propitiation through faith,” as is said in Romans (3:25). Hence the sacraments of the Old Law were certain protestations of the faith of Christ, just as our sacraments are, but not in the same way, because those sacraments were configured to the grace of Christ as to something that lay in the future; our sacraments, however, testify as things containing a grace that is present. Therefore, he says significantly, that it is not by the works of the law that we are justified, but by the faith of Christ, because, although some who observed the works of the Law in times past were made just, nevertheless, this was effected only by the faith of Jesus Christ. St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galations, trans. F. R. Larcher, O.P. (Albany: Magi Books, Inc., 1966), Chapter 2, Lecture 4, (Gal. 2:15-16), pp. 54-55.

Augustine: Are all those who are called justified? Many are called but few are chosen. But since the elect have certainly been called, it is obvious that they have not been justified without being called. But not everyone is called to justification; only those who are called according to his purpose. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 237. This is taken directed from his commentary on Romans according to the editor.

(provided courtesy of a friend)

2 comments:

Matt said...

Hi Mr. Bugay,

I'm a Thomist. I think that your set of quotations is very, very useful. Thanks for putting it out there.

The interesting thing, though, is that I don't think that these quotations contradict Trent. I have been working on a book on the Council of Trent for years now. At any rate, I was wondering if you'd be interesting in having a discussion about certain acceptable soteriological positions which were considered orthodox in post-Tridentine Roman Catholicism but which were also attractive within the Reformed heritage.

The delegates at Dordt would frequently quote from Domingo Banez, Medina, Alvarez, and others who held to radically Augustinian positions on predestination but also developed attractive ways of explaining the Pauline teachings on justification in that light.

Anyway, if you're interested let me know. I would develop these views here, but you have enabled comment moderation, and I don't want to spend time on something which might remain in the ether. :-)

Pax!

John Bugay said...

Matt, I doubt that I'm capable of having that discussion with you, though I'd be interested in watching it. I'd be happy to look at your thoughts.