Theodore Letis on Richard Simon

Christopher Thomas Doctrine of Scripture Leave a Comment

The Age of Reason was generally hostile to how the Reformation determined the text—and soon Rome perceived this apparent weakness in the Protestant armor, as well. In 1689, a Roman Catholic priest named Richard Simon began undermining the Protestant pope with his Critical History of the Text of the New Testament, in which

 [t]he study of the New Testament was divorced for the first time from the study carried on by the ancients. More than that, by extensive employment of the critical observations of the Church Fathers and by the use of all {34} manuscripts available to him, Simon was the first to employ critical methods in a historical study of the origin of the traditional form of the text of the New Testament.50

For this work Theodore Zahn dubbed him “the founder of the science of New Testament introduction.”51 Nor was Simon just another Curcellaeus bowing to the goddess of Enlightenment reason—his true allegiance can be found in his own Criticial History. Kümmel tells us:

To be sure, Simon expressly declared that he wished only to serve the truth, but he also carried on his work in order that it might prove useful to the Catholic Church, and he believed that he would be able to achieve that goal by demonstrating that in opposition to the Protestant doctrine of the Bible as the only source of revelation, this Bible was so unreliably transmitted and so incapable of being clearly understood by itself alone that the tradition of the Catholic Church was needed if the Bible were to yield reliable teaching for faith.52

From p. 44 of JCR Vol. 12 No. 02: Symposium on the Biblical Text and Literature – Confessional Bibliology

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