Wendelin's "Christian Theology": The Adjuncts of Sacred Scripture

Thesis I: The Adjuncts of Scripture are enumerated at seven.

Thesis II: The authentic edition.

Explanation: 1. It is proven, that only the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New are authentic. 2. It is proven, that the Vulgate version is not authentic. 3. The arguments of the Papists on behalf of the Latin Vulgate are refuted.

Thesis III: A vernacular version.

Explanation: 1. It is proven, that Sacred Scripture ought to be translated into vernacular languages. 2. The contrary argument of the Papists is refuted.

Thesis IV: Authority.

Explanation: 1. The opinion of the Orthodox concerning the divine authority of Scripture, with respect to us. 2. It is proven against the Papists, that the divine authority of Sacred Scripture, with respect to us, does not depend principally upon the Church. 3. The contrary arguments of the Papists are refuted.

Thesis V: Perspicuity.

Explanation: 1. It is proven, that the Scripture is perspicuous in those things that are necessary to be known for salvation. 2. The arguments of the Papists for the obscurity of Scripture are refuted.

Thesis VI: Interpretation.

Explanation: 1. It is proven, that the consummate right of interpreting the Scriptures belongs to the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scriptures. 2. It is proven, that the Roman Pope is not the ultimate judge in Theological controversies. 3. The contrary arguments of the Papists are refuted. 4. The office of the Church concerning the decision of Theological controversies. 5. The means of searching out the true sense of Scripture. In the same place, Is the sense of Scripture manifold? 6. What is to be thought of allegorical interpretations of Scripture?

Thesis VII: Perfection.

Explanation: 1. It is proven, that the Scripture is perfect. 2. The contrary arguments of the Papists are refuted. 3. The arguments of the Papists for the necessity of traditions are refuted. In the same place, opposition is made to the Socinians.

Thesis VIII: Necessity.

Explanation: 1. The Necessity of Scripture is distinguished and proven. 2. The contrary arguments of the Papists are refuted. 3. The Augsburg Confession.


THESES I: Hitherto the subject of Sacred Scripture: Its adjuncts follow, which, seven in number, come into consideration. 1. The authentic edition. 2. The vernacular version. 3. Authority. 4. Perspicuity. 5. Interpretation. 6. Perfection. 7. Necessity.

EXPLANATION: These individual adjuncts are controverted between us and the Papists.


THESIS II: There is an authentic edition, to which, as a norm, all other editions are to be compared. Of this sort is only the Hebrew edition of the Old Testament, and the Greek edition of the New Testament.

EXPLANATION: I. The reason why these editions are alone authentic is this: That they alone were set forth by those that were not able to err in the writing of heavenly truth according to the intention of the Holy Spirit: namely, by Prophets and Apostles: whose minds, tongues, and pens were so governed by the Spirit of God, that they were not able to err.

This is the reason that, before the birth of Christ, in the Church of God there was no authentic edition of the Old Testament except the Hebrew alone: after the birth of Christ, until the springing forth of the mystery of iniquity, there was no authentic edition except the Hebrew of the Old Testament, and the Greek of the New.

But, why God willed the Old Testament to be written in Hebrew characters, and the New in Greek, this is the reason: Because under the Old Testament, after the writing of the sacred and Prophetic books, the Church, being confined to Judea, had Hebrew as the vernacular tongue. But under the New Testament, since the borders of the Church were to be extended far and wide through the solemn calling of the Gentiles, and the world was to be called through the preaching of the Gospel, no tongue was able to do that more suitably than the Greek, which at that time was most widely known. Whence Cicero, in his pro Archia: Greek is read in almost all nations, but Latin is contained within its own narrow borders. Therefore, Hebrew was the language of the Jews; Greek, of the Gentiles: which is the reason that Scripture also distinguishes all into Jews and Greeks, Acts 6:1; Romans 2:10;[1] 3:9; 1 Corinthians 1:24; Galatians 3:28. Whence it is evident that contrary to the mind and intention of the Holy Spirit the reading of the Scriptures has been prohibited to the common people of the Church by the Papists.

II. The Papists commend to us the Latin Edition as authentic, which is called the Vulgate version: these are the reasons why we do not hold it as authentic:

1. Because it had neither a Prophet, nor an Apostle, as its author, but, as they commonly believe, Jerome: although its genuine author appears to have been far more rude than Jerome: since he was not sufficiently skillful in the Hebrew tongue. But it is evident that Jerome was the more learned of the two.

2. Because Jerome himself acknowledges that he translated otherwise than the Hebrew verity was requiring.

3. Because in a great many place it is clearly barbarous, and departs a great way from the Hebrew verity, as it is demonstrated in the think volumes of our men. Among the more recent men, let Sixtinus Amama[2] appear, in his Antibarbaro Biblico; formerly Isidore Clario of Brescia[3] observed eight thousand errors in the Vulgate edition.

4. Because the Roman Papists themselves affirm in Canon law: the trustworthiness of the old books is to be examined according to the Hebrew volumes; and that of the new requires the norm of the Greek language.

III. In favor of the Vulgate version, the Papists take exception against the Hebrew edition of the Old Testament, and the Greek of the New.

1. The latin Vulgate version is very ancient, and has been used in the Church for more than a thousand years.

Response: I deny the consequence: because, 1. Antiquity of itself does not make the edition authentic: but rather the testimony of infallibility in the author of the edition. 2. Because the Hebrew and Greek editions are far more ancient: therefore, by superior right they are to be held as authentic.

2. The Hebrews had authentic Scripture in their tongue: the Greeks also in their tongue, the Old Testament from the Septuagint translation, and the very first fountains of the New. Therefore, the Latin Church also ought to have an authentic version in the Latin tongue: which is none other than the Vulgate.

Responses: 1. The Antecedent is not true in a simple manner: the Hebrews did not have an authentic New Testament in the Hebrew tongue: neither did the Greeks have an authentic version in their own tongue; this dignity does not belong to the Interpretation of the Seventy Elders.

2. The Consequence is also denied: For, by the same reasoning it could also be inferred that an authentic German version is necessary for the Germans, an authentic Italian version for the Italians, French for the French, Hungarian for the Hungarians, Polish for the Poles, etc. And what end would there ever be of authentic versions?

3. The Hebrew Text of the Old Testament, and the Greek of the New, has been corrupted.

Therefore, it is not authentic.

They prove the Antecedent from the diverse readings of many words, marginal readings, and some whole sentences omitted.

Response: First, I deny the Antecedent: If that corruption be understood, that perverts the sense. For, even if in the letters of many Hebrew words some diversity occurs, which begets suspicion of graphic errors, yet for that reason nothing is detracted from the sense; Since those σφάλματα/errors do not even give pause to novices. In the Greek text of the New Testament, even if some variety of readings occurs, yet it is not densely packed, nor does it introduce a sense alien to the heavenly doctrine: I pass over in silence that a collation of the readings by an accurate hand easily removes the scruple here, whether adhering in words, or in sentences.

Then, if the consequence is solid, the Vulgate version will not be able to be considered and admitted as authentic, because it is by the the most defective and corrupt.

That the Hebrew text of the Old Testament was not corrupted by the Jews, is proven in this manner.

The Hebrew text was corrupted by the Jews, neither before, nor after the birth of Christ.

Therefore, never.

The Antecedent is proven, because neither Christ in His time, nor the Apostles and pious Fathers and Bishops after the removal of Christ from this world, pinned this crime on them, which nevertheless, even especially, they would have done, if the Jews had been guilty of it. The corruption of the founts, Hebrew and Greek, troubling the sense, would be incompatible with the end of Sacred Scripture, which is the preservation of heavenly doctrine in the Church, and would render the whole heavenly doctrine suspect; neither would the Church be able to be at rest, until the corruptions be removed extraordinarily and by authority clearly divine.


THESIS III: A vernacular Version is a translation of Sacred Scripture into the language commonly known and native to whatever nation, made unto this end, that it might be able to be read by all.

EXPLANATION: I. The reasons, wherewith we prove that Sacred Scripture ought to be translated into vernacular languages, are these.

1. That Scripture was formerly set forth, by Prophets and Apostles, in those tongues that were native to the hearers of them.

Therefore, it also also now to be translated into vernacular languages, so that it might be able to be read by all.

2. That the Scriptures are the arms of the faithful, whereby they defend themselves against Satan and heretics: In temptations they are, as it were, an apothecary of all efficacious medicines for driving away whatever diseases of the soul. Beautiful are the words of Basil[4] here on Psalm 1: πᾶσαγραφὴ θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος, διὰ τοῦτο συγγραφεῖσα παρὰ τοῦ πνεύματος, ἵνα ὥσπερ ἐν κοινῷ τῶν ψυχῶν ἰατρείῳ ἅπαντες ἄνθρωποι τὸ ἴαμα τοῦ οἰκείου πάθους ἐκλεγώμεθα, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable, through the one writing by the Spirit, so that we might choose from it, as from all men from a common dispensary, the remedy of our own malady. Therefore, they ought to be translated into those languages, in which also they might be able to be understood by all.

3. The reading of the Scriptures is prescribed to all.

Therefore, they are to be translated into those languages in which they might be able to be read and understood by all.

The Antecedent is proven: John 5:39, Search ye the Scriptures. This command is also inculcated in Deuteronomy 31:11.

4. In the Apostolic Churches, of old the reading of the Scripture in a language commonly known was not only permitted and commended to all, but also commanded, by the Apostles: in this respect the Apostles were followed by all the Fathers and pious Bishops of the ancient Church.

Let the Scriptures be brought in testimony: Acts 17:11, where the Bereans are commended for this reason: Colossians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 1:13, 2 Peter 1:19. There is not one of the Fathers that kept the common people of the Church from the reading of the Scripture: The first one that wanted to wrest the Scripture from the hands of the faithful labored under the mystery of iniquity.[5]

II. The Papists press contrary things: that the Scripture is not to be translated into vernacular languages, and the reading of it is not to be permitted to the common or vulgar people: and this they prove:

The reading of the Scriptures is dangerous for the common people.

Therefore, they are not to be translated into vernacular languages.

The Antecedent is proven: 1. Because from them, not rightly understood, a great many heresies have arisen. 2. Because in them many sentences occur, that appear to make GOD the author of sin: also many histories of things done occur, that could furnish occasion of evil thoughts. 3. Because there are in the sacred books a great many things that are not able to be understood by the Laity.

Response: I deny the Antecedent. To the first proof I respond: Because of the abuse of a good and necessary thing, the thing itself, and its use, ought not to be taken away: Hence we see, with this abuse not withstanding, the word of GOD was written in the vernacular languages by the Prophets and Apostles, Hebrew to the Hebrews, and Greek to the Greeks.

To the second proof: From a diligent reading and contemplation of the Scriptures it is sufficiently evident that GOD is not the author of sin: Whoever attentively reads the Sacred Scriptures readily understands that not all examples and deeds are set forth for imitation, but a great many for caution. Whence examples are to be examined by precepts, but precepts are not to be undone by examples.

To the third proof: Therefore, if the Scripture is not to be read, because many things in them are not able to be understood: the reading of it should not be permitted even to clerics: since they also fail to understand many things. Therefore, not to be prohibited is the reading of those things that are able to be understood, and are necessary to be known, because of some things that are not able to be understood, and are clearly not necessary to be known. Neither did this rationale deter the Prophets and Apostles from the use of vernacular languages.


THESIS IV: There is an Authority, wherein the Scripture is held by us as Canonical and divine, both on account of the internal persuasion of the Holy Spirit, and also Scripture’s ingrafted characters of divinity: and on account of the external testimony of the Church.

EXPLANATION: I. It is a question between us and the Papists: Upon what does the authority of Scripture depend, with respect to us? Or, Whence is the authority of Scripture evident, with respect to us? Or, Whence is it evident that Scripture is divine, or is inspired by God?

We ourselves have determined that this is principally evident:

1. From the persuasion of the Holy Spirit, who makes us certain concerning the divinity of Sacred Scripture: because it testifies that the Spirit, that is, the doctrine of the Spirit, is truth, 1 John 5:6. Because He leads us into all truth, John 16:13. Because He excites faith in use by the word: Romans 10:17, faith cometh by hearing: but hearing by the word of GOD. Finally, because He is the author of Scripture: 2 Peter 1:21.

2. From the Scripture itself, which asserts its own divine authority:

1. By the majesty and sublimity of the matters of which it treats, which things were not able to be revealed except by GOD alone.

2. Its efficacy in converting men to GOD, and in overcoming the temptations of Satan, and also and rousing the courage of the Martyrs among the cruellest tormests and filling them with the most well-grounded hope.

3. The universal consent of all the parts.

4. The altogether certain prediction of future events, the causes of which were not able to be seen by men.

To these two principal testimonies a third is added, less principal, whereby the authority of Scripture is commended to us: It is the testimony of the Church. For, what books written by the Prophets and Apostles were of old received by the Church of the Jews and of the Greeks, those it has most faithfully delivered by hand, as it were, to its posterity: Whence they have come to us, and are thus commended by antiquity. Others add their divinity of method and style, differing greatly from human writings.

II. The Papists suspend the divine authority of the Scripture solely upon the Church, to which alone, they say, Scripture owes that it is held as divine. Against which opinion the Orthodox fight with the following arguments.

(1.) The Church is built upon the Scripture as its foundation, Ephesians 2:20.

Therefore, Scripture does not receive its authority from the Church.

The rationale of the consequence: That by the metaphor of a foundation is signified that there is no Church, except to the extent it rests upon the foundation of Scripture, and so Scripture obtains authority among us before the Church.

(2.) Christ, so that He might be believed as of that sort which ought to be believed does not borrow His authority, with respect to us, from men.

Therefore, neither is the doctrine of Christ borrowed from the Church. The Antecedent is proven: John 5:34, I receive not testimony from man: that is, in order to assert my authority I am not solicitous of the testimony of man, either do I need it.

The rationale of the consequence: That, with respect to us, equal is the esteem of the authority of Christ and of His doctrine, consigned to the written word.

(3.) Scripture was received of old, before the judgment of the Church.

Therefore, its authority, with respect to us, does not depend upon the judgment of the Church.

The Antecedent is proven by the example of the Law promulgated by GOD; which was read alone and received by the people, in such a way that the suffrages of all, or of select individuals, was not sought: Exodus 34; Deuteronomy 28, where, with no judgment of the Church going before, we read that the words of the Law were placed in the ark of the covenant, and were held as Canonical.

(4.) The doctrine of the faith does not have its authority, with respect to us, from the testimony of the Church.

Therefore, neither does Sacred Scripture.

The rationale of the consequence: that Sacred Scripture is the doctrine of the faith.

The Antecedent is proven: Because of all the doctrine of the Prophets and Apostles was received without any hesitation or human suffrage: Indeed, those that did not immediately receive the word of God when heard were grievously punished: 1 Samuel 15:26; 1 Kings 20:35, 36; Matthew 10:14.

(5.) The Church proves its authority from Scripture:

Therefore, the authority of Scripture, with respect to us, is far more illustrious than the authority of the Church, and so is prior/superior.

The Antecedent is proven: Because it is not able to prove its authority from itself, nor from human testimony: it is able to proffer nothing suitable, nothing truly divine, except the Scripture.

(6.) If the authority of Scripture, with respect to us, should depend upon the determination of the Church, its whole authority would certainly be precarious.

But the consequent is false: Therefore, the antecedent is also.

(7.) In matters of faith, we are no more bound to believe the Church, than she is able to prove out of Sacred Scripture:

Therefore, the authority of Scripture, with respect to us, does not depend upon the Church in the way that the Papists maintain.

The Antecedent is proven: because Scripture alone is the external foundation of our faith. Whence Christ and the Apostles appealed so many times to the writings of the Prophets: They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them, Luke 16:29. Search the Scriptures; they are they which testify of me, John 5:39. Hence believers are said to be Built upon the foundation of the Prophets and Apostles, Ephesians 2:20. And Paul wants his Gospel to be of such authority, that not even the testimony of an Angel coming from heaven against it is to be heard, Galatians 1:8.

(8.) The Church is inferior to Scripture.

Therefore, Scripture does not have its authority from the Church.

The rationale of the consequence: Because the authority of the superior does not rest on the inferior.

(9.) The law of a prince does not have its authority from the judgment of the people:

Therefore, the divine Law will not have its authority from the people of GOD, or the Church, certainly not in that sense in which the Papists maintain, namely, uniquely, principally, magisterially, fundamentally, and dictatorially. Otherwise, as with good reason we attribute to the Church its functions in promoving our salvation: so we do not repudiate its work in persuading of the authority of the Scriptures; only let it not depart from the Scripture, nor lead us from it.

III. The Papists take exception to the contrary opinion.

(1.) Besides the authority of the Church, no authority is able to remove all doubt from consciences concerning the divine authority of Scripture.

Therefore, the authority of Scripture depends upon the authority of the Church alone.

The Antecedent is proven: Because GOD does not teach us without the Church.

Response: The Antecedent is false: That is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit alone: For it is the Spirit, who for the Church also removes every scruple of doubt concerning the authority of the divine word. The proof is false: most wisely does GOD teach, extraordinarily, without the Church, by revelation, through internal inspiration, by Scripture. Neither is the Church able to remove for us the scruples of doubting, except out of Scripture and by Scripture. Because in the matter of faith the Church is believed only as much as it is able to prove out of the Scripture. Next, it does not follow that the authority of the Scripture depends upon that through which GOD teaches us. No one would say that the authority of Imperial laws depends upon their interpreters or heralds.

(2.) The Church is more ancient than the Scripture.

Therefore, the authority of Scripture depends upon the Church.

The Antecedent is proven: Because the Church was in the time of the Patriarchs, before the giving of the law, when the word of GOD was not yet written.

Response: I deny the consequence: the reason is, that not all more ancient things bestow authority on the more recent: sometimes more ancient things receive authority from the more recent. Next, the antecedent is not true in a simple way. For, in Sacred Scripture two things are to be considered and distinguished, namely, the matter, which is the word of GOD, and the external, accidental form, which it has from writing. Therefore, even if the Church is perhaps more ancient than the Scripture with respect to its external form; yet it is not more ancient with respect to matter: For, the word of GOD is seed, as it were, from which the Church is begotten. For there never was a true Church without faith: But faith is not able to be, unless the word of GOD is, to which faith is to be afforded.

(3.) That some books were of old received into the Canon, and others removed from the Canon, was done by the authority of the Church alone.

Therefore, the whole authority of the canonical Scripture depends upon the Church.

Response: I deny the Antecedent: For the Church had most weighty reasons for its judgment, as a result of which it made its pronouncement concerning the divine authority of certain books, and distinguished them from those not divine: namely, the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit, the innate character of the books, whether human or divine. If it had been without these arguments, the authority of the Church would not have been of sufficient weight. We, having now also been persuaded by the same arguments concerning the divine authority of the Scripture, do not appeal to the authority of the Papal Church.

(4.) Many have the Holy Spirit, who nevertheless are not certain of the canonical authority of certain books. Therefore, the authority of the Scripture does not depend upon the testimony of the Holy Spirit.

Response: I deny the Consequence: the reason is, that not all have the Spirit in the same measure: For in some the gifts of the Spirit are more and more illustrious; but in others, fewer.

(5.) Augustine says, libro contra epistolam fundamenti, chapter 5:

I would not believe the Gospel, unless the authority of the Catholic Church should move me.

Therefore, Sacred Scripture has its authority, with respect to us, from the Church.

Response: We deny the Consequence: the reason is, 1. That the authority of Augustine is not at all sufficient to prove a doctrine of faith. 2. That Augustine speaks of himself, to the extent he was formerly a Manichæan, and had denied the Scriptures, and teaches that he was persuaded of the authority of the Scripture by the Church. Therefore, to Augustine I would not believe is I had not believed, and it should move is it had moved. But hence it does not at all follow that the authority of Scripture, with respect to us, principally depends upon the testimony of the Church: for there are other, far more principal, testimonies.

[1] Romans 2:10: “But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile (Ἕλληνι/Greek)…” [2] Sixtinus Amama (1593-1629) was Professor of Hebrew at Oxford (1613) and at Franeker (1618), succeeding John Drusius. He is remembered for his skill in Oriental languages and his defense of the ultimate authority of the original texts of Scripture. [3] Isidore Clario (1495-1555) was an Italian Benedictine monk. He served as the Prior of the Monastery of St. Peter in Modena, in northern Italy (1537), and as the Bishop of Foligno, in central Italy (1547). He was present at the Council of Trent. Clario wrote Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum, and produced an emended edition of the Vulgate. [4] Basil the Great was a fourth century Church Father and stalwart defender of Nicean Trinitarianism. [5] See 2 Thessalonians 2:7.

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