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William of Ockham and Guido Terreni

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This paper is intended to offer an analysis of William of Ockham's and Guido Terreni's discourses on papal authority; it illuminates how their polemical use of the same authority -- Thomas Aquinas -- resulted in two diametrically opposed views. Guido Terreni's precarious understanding of Aquinas' commentary on the gospel of Luke stretched papal authority on doctrinal definition to the point of papal infallibility. Whereas, William of Ockham's use (and transformation) of Aquinas' idea of the object of explicit faith resulted in a demand that every ecclesiastical authority should have thorough knowledge of the Christian faith and take every caution in doctrinal decision making. The paper shows that, in the context of polemics, Aquinas' ecclesiology was dissolved and different aspects of it were exaggerated by Terreni and Ockham. Thus, the paper also highlights Ockham's polemical skill in turning Aquinas -- the papalists' favourite authority -- against them.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Clare Hall, Herschel Road, Cambridge, CB3 9AL.

Publication date: January 1, 1998


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