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Der Jansenismus--eine "katholische Haresie"? Das Ringen um Gnade, Rechtfertigung und die Autoritat Augustins in der fruhen Neuzeit.

Der Jansenismus--eine "katholische Haresie"? Das Ringen um Gnade, Rechtfertigung und die Autoritat Augustins in der fruhen Neuzeit. Edited by Dominik Burkard and Tanja Thanner. Munster: Aschendorff, 2014. Pp. viii + 464. 56 [euro].

This collection of 18 essays belongs to a revival of scholarly interest in Jansenism gathering momentum in recent years after a heyday of publications in the 1960s and 1970s. The essays began as papers given at a symposium in Wurzburg in 2011 that queried Jansenism as a "Catholic heresy." The published format evinces several deficiencies. The brief two-page preface is inadequate on several counts. It makes no effort to explain the oxymoronic concept of a "Catholic heresy," to point out the significance of the essays, or to argue for their cohesion. The volume's title alone asserts cohesion, but the contents do not deliver. Not all essays do or can weave together Jansenism as a Catholic heresy, grace and justification, and Augustine's authority.

The first four essays provide historical background to the Jansenist controversy: the development of Augustine's thinking on freedom and grace until the composition of the Confessions (Cornelius Petrus Mayer), Luther's reading of Augustine (Otto Hermann Pesch), Calvin's convergences with and divergences from Augustine (Karin Schreiber), and the De auxiliis controversy: the vexatious quarrel between Dominicans and Jesuits in the late 16th and early 17th centuries on the relationship between divine grace and human free will (Karlheinz Ruhstorfer).

The authority of Thomas Aquinas is more prominent than that of Augustine in Ruhstorfer's brief but helpful analysis. This is even more the case in Sylvio Hermann De Franceschi's essay on the contest between Dominican Thomists and Jesuit Molinists. Presenting themselves as defenders of Tridentine orthodoxy, the latter branded the former as Calvinist, and consequently Jansenist, sympathizers. If anything, Thomism was a candidate to be a "Catholic heresy" among the anti-Thomist Molinists.

Only at the end of the volume do readers encounter an engagement with Jansenism as a heresy. And the verdict is that it was no such thing. Catherine Maire, an established authority on Jansenism and French political culture, calls Jansenism "a curious, dogmatically empty heresy" (375). In her essay on Unigenitus (1713), the papal bull that condemned 101 propositions taken from the Jansenist theologian Pasquier Quesnel (1634-1719), Maire maintains that Jansenism was condemned on account of its association with Gallicanism. Jan Roegiers addresses the collection's theme at the outset of his essay on the political dimensions of Jansenism and anti-Jansenism. He begins with Jean Carreyre's definition from 1924 in the Dictionnaire de theologie catholique--"a unique heresy that always wanted to remain within the Church despite repeated condemnations by the Holy See"--and rehearses other scholarly appraisals that are inclined toward interpreting Jansenism as a Catholic reform movement (389). Roegiers agrees with most other historians that Jansenism cannot be described as "a uniform doctrine." He prefers to conceptualize Jansenism in political terms: "'conspiracies,' 'alliances' and especially 'parties'" (390). The essays by Maire and Roegiers reveal in short order the implausibility of Jansenism as a "Catholic heresy" and thus undermine the Fragestellung of the volume.

Three essays approach the problem of divine grace and human free will from decidedly theological angles. Giovanna D'Aniello shows how Francisco Suarez moved from rejection to acceptance of a divine scientia media although not in the manner of Molina. Suarez insisted that God's knowledge could not be reduced to a causal effect "because causality intrinsically affects human freedom" (80). The Jesuit theologian read Augustine's Ad Simplicianum against the Dominican doctrine of God's physical predetermination. Diana Stanciu observes that in his Augustinus (1640) Cornelius Jansen saw Aristotelian notions of human nature and virtue as underpinning the resurgent Jesuit Pelagianism that he aimed to refute. The interpretation by three Louvain theologians--William Hessels van Est, Jansen, and Libertus Frommondus--of biblical passages relating to efficacious grace and predestination in the light of Augustine's writings is the focus of a study by Wim Frantjois. Van Est anticipated Jansen's view that Christ died only for the elect, while Frommondus, a colleague of Jansen, rather differently recognized sufficient grace bestowed on all human beings, who contributed to "the execution of good works" (142).

The remaining essays are historical. We meet personalities in various relations to the Jansenist controversies: Christian Lupus (1611-1681) and Enrico Noris (1631-1704), two Augustinian Eremites; Fabio Chigi, apostolic nuncio in Cologne (1639-1651) and the future Alexander VII; and Sebastian Knippenberg, Dominican inquisitor in Cologne (1693-1733), a "victim of the anti-Jansenists" (407). Els Agten offers a detailed study of the Jansenist commitment to the vernacular Bible in France and the Low Countries, while Nicole Reinhardt points out the Jansenist determination to depoliticize and privatize the princely conscience in opposition to the influence of the Jesuit confessors on French kings. Volker Reinhardt argues for the "fundamental opposition" (449) between an aesthetically simple and ethically frugal Jansenism and the baroque papacy dedicated to hierarchy, opulence, and dynastic politics. In separate studies, the editors reveal the value of the archives of the Roman Inquisition, opened to researchers in 1998, for understanding the background to and genesis of the papal bull Cum occasione (1653), a condemnation of five propositions supposedly taken from Jansen's Augustinus.

An eclectic volume of essays about multifaceted Jansenism comes as no surprise. The difficulty in offering a historically accurate, as distinct from a tendentious, characterization of Jansenism, allows for the rich variety of perspectives on offer here. The volume would not have the effect of a miscellany and would make a greater contribution to theology and history of Jansenism, however, if the variety existed within a framework of deliberate conceptual organization.

DOI: 10.1177/0040563915593486

Hilmar M. Pabel

Simon Fraser University, British Columbia
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Author:Pabel, Hilmar M.
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2015
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