History of the christian church



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His Works are very few. Perhaps the horrible confusion of the period hindered authorship, or like many another scholar he may have shrunk from the labor and the after criticism. In his collected works the first place is occupied by his

1. Letters,2one hundred and thirty in number. They prove the high position he occupied, for his correspondents are the greatest ecclesiastics of his day, such as Raban Maur, Hincmar of Rheims, Einhard, Radbert, Ratramn and Gottschalk. His letters are interesting and instructive. 1333

2. The Canons of Verneuil, 844.4 See above.

3. The Three Questions, in 852. 1335 They relate to free will, the two-fold predestination, and whether Christ died for all men or only for the elect. It was his contribution to the Gottschalk controversy in answer to Charles the Bald’s request. In general he sides with Gottschalk, or rather follows Augustin. In tone and style the book is excellent.

4. Life of St. Maximinus, bishop of Treves. 1336 It is in fifteen chapters and was written in 839. It is only a working over of an older Vita, and the connection of Lupus with it is questionable. 1337

5. Life of St. Wigbert, in thirty chapters, written in 836 at the request of Bun, abbot of Hersfeld.8 It tells the interesting story of how Wigbert came from England to Germany at the request of Boniface, how he became abbot of Fritzlar, where he died in 747, how he wrought miracles and how miracles attended the removal of his relics to Hersfeld and were performed at his tomb.


§ 172. Druthmar.
I. Christianus Druthmarus: Opera omnia, in Migne, Tom. CVI. col. 1259–1520.

II. Ceillier, XII. 419–423. Hist. Lit. de la France, V. 84–90. Bähr, 401–403.


Christian Druthmar was born in Aquitania in the first part of the ninth century. Before the middle of the century he became a monk of the Benedictine monastery of old Corbie. 1339 About 850 he was called thence to the abbey of Stavelot-Malmédy, in the diocese of Liège, to teach the Bible to the monks. 1340 It is not known whether he died there or returned to Corbie.

He was a very superior scholar for his age, well versed in Greek and with some knowledge of Hebrew. Hence his epithet, the "Grammarian" (i.e. Philologist). His fame rests upon his Commentary on Matthew’s Gospel, 1341a work distinguished for its clearness of statement, and particularly noticeable for its insistence upon the paramount importance of the historic sense, as the foundation of interpretation. 1342 To such a man the views of Paschasius Radbertus upon the Lord’s Supper could have no attraction. Yet an attempt has been persistently made to show that in his comments upon Matt. 26:26–28, he teaches transubstantiation. Curiously enough, his exact language upon this interesting point cannot be now determined beyond peradventure, because every copy of the first printed edition prepared by Wimphelin de Schelestadt, Strassburg 1514, has perished, and in the MS. in possession of the Cordelier Fathers at Lyons the critical passage reads differently from that in the second edition, by the Lutheran, Johannes Secerius, Hagenau 1530. In the Secerius text, now printed in the Lyons edition of the Fathers, and in Migne, the words are, 26:26, "Hoc est corpus meum. Id est, in sacramento" ("This is my body. That is, in the sacrament," or the sacramental sign as distinct from the res sacramenti, or the substance represented). Matt. 26:28, Transferens spiritaliter corpus in panem, vinum in sanguinem ("Transferring spiritually body into bread, wine into blood"). 1343 In the MS. the first passage reads: "Id est, vere in sacramento subsistens" ("That is, truly subsisting in the sacrament"); and in the second the word "spiritaliter "is omitted. The Roman Catholics now generally admit the correctness of the printed text, and that the MS. has been tampered with, but insist that Druthmar is not opposed to the Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist.

The brief expositions of Luke and John 1344are probably mere notes of Druthmar’s expository lectures on those books, and not the works he promises in his preface to Matthew. 1345
§ 173. St. Paschasius Radbertus.
I. Sanctus Paschasius Radbertus: Opera omnia, in Migne, Tom. CXX.

II. Besides the Prolegomena in Migne, see Melchior Hausher: Der heilige Paschasius Radbertus. Mainz 1862. Carl Rodenberg: Die Vita Walae als historische Quelle (Inaugural Dissertation). Göttingen 1877. Du Pin, VII. 69–73, 81. Ceillier, XII. 528–549. Hist. Lit. de la France, V. 287–314. Bähr, 233, 234, 462–471. Ebert, II. 230–244.


Radbertus, surnamed Paschasius,6the famous promulgator of the doctrine of Transubstantiation, was born of poor and unknown parents, about 790, in or near the city of Soissons in France. His mother died while he was a very little child, and as he was himself very sick he was "exposed" in the church of Soissons. The nuns of the Benedictine abbey of Our Lady in that place had compassion upon him and nursed him back to health. 1347 His education was conducted by the adjoining Benedictine monks of St. Peter, and he received the tonsure, yet for a time he led a secular life. His thirst for knowledge and his pious nature, however, induced him to take up again with the restraints of monasticism, and he entered (c. 812) the Benedictine monastery at Corbie, in Picardy, then under abbot Adalhard. There he applied himself diligently to study and to the cultivation of the monastic virtues, and so successfully that he soon won an enviable reputation for ascetic piety and learning. He was well read in classical literature, particularly familiar with Virgil, Horace and Terence, and equally well read in the Fathers. He knew Greek and perhaps a little Hebrew. His qualifications for the post of teacher of the monastery’s school were, therefore, for that day unusual, and he brought the school up to a high grade of proficiency. Among his famous pupils were Adalhard the Younger, St. Ansgar, Odo, bishop of Beauvais, and Warinus, abbot of New Corbie. He preached regularly and with great acceptance and was strict in the observance by himself and others, of the Benedictine rule.

In the year 822 he accompanied his abbot, Adalhard, and the abbot’s brother and successor, Wala, to Corbie in Saxony, in order to establish there the monastery which is generally known as New Corbie. In 826 Adalbard died, and Wala was elected his successor. With this election Radbertus probably had much to do; at all events, he was deputed by the community to secure from Louis the Pious the confirmation of their choice. This meeting with the emperor led to a friendship between them, and Louis on several occasions showed his appreciation of Radbertus. Thus in 831 he sent him to Saxony to consult with Ansgar about the latter’s northern mission, and several times asked his advice. Louis took the liveliest interest in Radbertus’s eucharistic views, and asked his ecclesiastics for their opinion.

In 844 Radbertus was elected abbot of his monastery. He was then, and always remained, a simple monk, for in his humility, and probably also because of his view of the Lord’s Supper, he refused to be ordained a priest. His name first appears as abbot in the Council of Paris, Feb. 14, 846. He was then able to carry through a measure which gave his monastery freedom to choose its abbot and to govern its own property. 1348 These extra privileges are proofs that the favor shown toward him by Louis was continued by his sons. Radbertus was also present in the Council of Quiercy in 849, and joined in the condemnation of Gottschalk. Two years later (851) he resigned his abbotship. He had been reluctant to take the position, and had found it by no means pleasant. Its duties were so multiform and onerous that he had little or no time for study; besides, his strict discipline made his monks restive. But perhaps a principal reason for retiring was the fact that one of his monks, Ratramnus, had ventured to criticize, publicly and severely, his position upon the Eucharist; thus stirring up opposition to him in his own monastery.

Immediately upon his resignation, Radbertus went to the neighboring abbey of St. Riquier, but shortly returned to Corbie, and took the position of monk under the new abbot. His last days were probably his pleasantest. He devoted himself to the undisturbed study of his favorite books and to his beloved literary labors. On April 26, 865, 1349he breathed his last. He was buried in the Chapel of St. John. In the eleventh century miracles began to be wrought at his tomb. Accordingly he was canonized in 1073, and on July 12th of that year his remains were removed with great pomp to St. Peter’s Church at Corbie.

The fame of Paschasius Radbertus rests upon his treatise on The body and blood of the Lord, 1350which appeared in 831, and in an improved form in 844. His arguments in it and in the Epistle to Frudegard 1351on the same subject have already been handled at length in this volume. 1352 His treatise on The birth by the Virgin, 1353i.e. whether Christ was born in the ordinary manner or not, has also been sufficiently noticed. 1354

Besides these Radbertus wrote, 1. An Exposition of the Gospel of Matthew.5 He explained this Gospel in his sermons to the monks. At their request, he began to write out his lectures, and completed four of the twelve books before his election as abbot, but was then compelled to lay the work aside. The monks at St. Riquier’s requested its continuance, and it finally was finished. The special prefaces to each book are worth attentive reading for their information concerning the origin and progress of the commentary, and for the views they present upon Biblical study in general. As the prologue states, the principal sources are Jerome, Ambrose, Augustin, Chrysostom, Gregory the Great, and Bede. 1356 Of these, Jerome was most used. His excerpts are not always literal. He frequently alters and expands the expressions. 1357 Radbertus was particular to mark on the margin of his pages the names of the authors drawn upon, but in transcribing his marks have been obliterated. His interpretation is rather more literal than was customary, in his day, and he enlivens his pages with allusions to passing events, dwelling especially upon the disorders of the time, the wickedness of the clergy and monks, the abuses of the confessional, and the errors of the Adoptionists, Claudius of Turin and of Scotus Erigena. He also frequently quotes classic authors. 1358

2. An Exposition of Psalm XLIV9 It was written for the nuns of Soissons, to whom he owed his life, and the dedication to them is an integral part of the first of its four books. It is allegorical and very diffuse, but edifying.

3. An Exposition of the Lamentations of Jeremiah. 1360 This was the fruit of his old age, and once more, as in his early manhood, he deplored the vices, both lay and clerical, which disgraced his times. His allusion to the Norman incursions in the neighborhood of Paris, 1361which took place in 857, proves that he must have written the work after that date. In his prologue, Radbertus states that he had never read a commentary on Lamentations written by a Latin author. Hence his information must have been derived from Greek sources, and he was unacquainted with the similar work by Rabanus Maurus. He distinguished a triple sense, a literal, spiritual, and a moral, and paid especial regard to types and prophecies, as he considered that there were prophecies in Lamentations which referred to his own day.

4. Faith, Hope and Love. 1362 This work is preceded by an acrostic poem, the first letters of each line forming the name "Radbertus Levita." Each of the three books is devoted to one of the Christian virtues. Radbertus wrote the treatise at the request of abbot Wala, for the instruction of the younger monks. The book on faith is remarkable for its statement that faith precedes knowledge, thus antedating the scholastics in their assertion, which is most pregnantly put in the famous expression of Anselm, Credo ut intelligam. 1363 The third book, On Love, is much later than the others on account of the author’s distractions.

5. Life of Adalhard, 1364the first abbot of New Corbie. It is a panegyric rather than a strict biography, but contains much interesting and valuable information respecting the abbot and the founding of the German monastery of Corbie. The model for the work is the funeral oration of Ambrose upon Valentinian II. Its date is 826, the year of Adalhard’s death. It contains much edifying matter.

6. Life of Wala, 1365the brother of Adalhard at Old Corbie, and his successor. It is in the peculiar form of conversations. In the first book the interlocutors are Paschasius, as he calls himself, and four fellow Corbie monks—Adeodatus, Severus, Chremes, Allabicus; and in the second, Paschasius, Adeotatus and Theophrastus. These names are, like Asenius, as he calls Wala, manifestly pseudonyms. He borrowed the idea of such a dialogue from Sulpicius Severus, who used it in his life of St. Martin of Tours. The date of the book is 836, the year of Wala’s death.

7. The Passion of Rufinus and Valerius, 1366who were martyrs to the Christian faith, at or near Soissons, in the year 287. In this work he uses old materials, but weakens the interest of his subject by his frequent digressions and long paraphrases.


§ 174. Patramnus.
I. Ratramnus, Corbeiensis monachus: Opera omnia, in Migne, Tom. CXXI. The treatise De corpore et sanguine Domini was first published by Johannes Praël under the title Bertrami presbyteri ad Carolum Magnum imperatorum, Cologne, 1532. It was translated into German, Zürich 1532, and has repeatedly appeared in English under the title, The Book of Bertram the Priest, London 1549, 1582, 1623, 1686, 1688 (the last two editions are by Hopkins and give the Latin text also), 1832; and Baltimore., U. S. A., 1843. The best edition of the original text is by Jacques Boileau, Paris, 1712, reprinted with all the explanatory matter in Migne.

II. For discussion and criticism see the modern works, Du Pin, VII. passim; Ceillier, XII. 555–568. Hist. Lit. de la France, V. 332–351. Bähr, 471–479. Ebert, II. 244–247. Joseph Bach: Dogmengeschichte des Mittelalters, Wien, 1873–75, 2 parts (I. 193 sqq.); Joseph Schwane: Dogmengeschichte der mittleren Zeit, Freiburg in Br., 1882 (pp. 631 sqq.) Also Neander, III. 482, 497–501, 567–68.


Of Ratramnus 1367very little is known. He was a monk of the monastery of Corbie, in Picardy, which he had entered at some time prior to 835, and was famed for his learning and ability. Charles the Bald frequently appealed to his judgment, and the archbishop of Rheims gave over to him the defense of the Roman Church against Photius. He participated in the great controversies upon Predestination and the Eucharist. He was an Augustinian, but like his fellows he gathered his arguments from all the patristic writers. In his works he shows independence and ingenuity. One of his peculiarities is, that like Bishop Butler in the Analogy, he does not name those whom he opposes or defends. He was living in 868; how long thereafter is unknown.

He was not a prolific author. Only six treatises have come down to us.

1. A letter upon the cynocephali. 1368 It is a very curious piece, addressed to the presbyter Rimbert who had answered his queries in regard to the cynocephali, and had asked in return for an opinion respecting their position in the scale of being. Ratramnus replied that from what he knew about them he considered them degenerated descendants of Adam, although the Church generally classed them with beasts. They may even receive baptism by being rained upon. 1369

2. How Christ was born.0 In this treatise Ratramnus refutes the theory of some Germans that Christ issued from the body of the Virgin Mary in some abnormal way. 1371 He maintains on the contrary, that the birth was one of the ordinary kind, except that his mother was before it, during it, and after it a Virgin 1372because her womb, was closed. He compares Christ’s birth to his issuing from the sealed tomb and going through closed doors. 1373 The book is usually regarded as a reply to the De partu virginis of Radbertus, but there is good reason to consider it independent of and even earlier than the latter. 1374

3. The soul (De anima). It exists in MS. in several English libraries, but has never been printed. It is directed against the view of Macarius (or Marianus) Scotus, derived from a misinterpreted sentence of Augustin that the whole human race had only one soul. The opinion was condemned by the Lateran council under Leo X. (1512–17).

4. Divine predestination.5 It was written about 849 at the request of Charles the Bald, who sought Ratramnus’ opinion in the Gottschalk controversy. Ratramnus defended Gottschalk, although he does not mention his name, maintaining likewise a two-fold predestination, regardless of the fact that the synods of Mayence (848) and of Quiercy (849) had condemned it, and Gottschalk had been cruelly persecuted by Hincmar of Rheims. In the first book Ratramnus maintains the predestination of the good to salvation by an appeal to the patristic Scriptural quotations and interpretations upon this point, particularly those of Augustin. In the second book he follows the same method to prove that God has predestinated the bad to eternal damnation. But this is not a predestination to sin. Rather God foresees their determination to sin and therefore withholds his help, so that they are lost in consequence of their own sins.

5. Four books upon the Greeks’ indictment of the Roman Church. 1376 Like the former work, it was written by request. In 967 Photius addressed a circular letter to the Eastern bishops in which he charged the Roman Church with certain errors in faith and practice: e.g., the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the celibacy of the clergy, the Sabbath and Lent fasts. Nicholas I. called upon his bishops to refute this charge. Hincmar of Rheims commissioned Odo of Beauvais to write an apologetic treatise, but his work not proving satisfactory he next asked Ratramnus. The work thus produced is very famous. The first three books are taken up with the doctrine of the Holy Spirit; but in the fourth he branches out upon a general defense of the ecclesiastical practices of the Latin Church. He does this in an admirable, liberal and Christian spirit. In the first chapter of the fourth book he mildly rebukes the Greeks for prescribing their peculiar customs to others, because the difference in such things is no hindrance to the unity of the faith which Paul enjoins in 1 Cor. i. 10. This unity he finds in the faith in the Trinity, the birth of Christ from a Virgin, his sufferings, resurrection, ascension, session at God’s right hand, return to judgment, and in the baptism into Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 1377 In the first three chapters of the book he proves this proposition by a review of the condition of the Early Church. He then passes on to defend the Roman customs. 1378

6. The Body and Blood of the Lord.9 This is the most valuable writing of Ratramnus. It is a reply to Paschasius Radbert’s book with the same title. 1380 It is dedicated to Charles the Bald who had requested (in 944) his opinion in the eucharistic controversy. Without naming Radbert, who was his own abbot, he proceeds to investigate the latter’s doctrines. The whole controversy has been fully stated in another section. 1381

The book has had a strange fate. It failed to turn the tide setting so strongly in favor of the views of Radbertus, and was in the Middle Age almost forgotten. Later it was believed to be the product of Scotus Erigena and as such condemned to be burnt by the council of Vercelli (1050). The first person to use it in print was John Fisher, bishop of Rochester, who in writing against Oecolampadius quotes from it as good Catholic authority.2 This called the attention of the Zwinglian party to it and they quickly turned the weapon thus furnished against the Catholics. In the same year in which it was published at Cologne (1532), Leo Judae made a German translation of it (Zürich, 1532) which was used by the Zürich ministers in proof that the Zwinglian doctrine of the Lord’s Supper was no novelty. 1383 But the fact that it had such a cordial reception by the Reformed theologians made it suspicious in Catholic eyes. The Council of Trent pronounced it a Protestant forgery, and in 1559 it was put upon the Index. The foremost Catholic theologians such as Bellarmin and Allan agreed with the Council. A little later (1571) the theologians of Louvain (or Douay) came to the defense of the book. In 1655 Sainte Beuve formally defended its orthodoxy. Finally Jacques Boileau (Paris, 1712) set all doubt at rest, and the book is now accepted as a genuine production of Ratramnus.

It remains but to add that in addition to learning, perspicuity and judgment Ratramnus had remarkable critical power. The latter was most conspicuously displayed in his exposure of the fraudulent character of the Apocryphal tale, De nativitate Virginis, and of the homily of Pseudo-Jerome, De assumptione Virginis, both of which Hincmar of Rheims had copied and sumptuously bound.


§ 175. Hincmar of Rheims.
I. Hincmarus, Rhemensis archiepiscopus: Opera omnia, in Migne, Tom. CXXV.-CXXVI., col. 648. First collected edition by Sirmond. Paris, 1645.

II. Prolegomena in Migne, CXXV. Wolfgang Friedrich Gess: Merkwürdigkeiten aus dem Leben und Schriften Hincmars, Göttingen, 1806. Prichard: The life and times of Hincmar, Littlemore, 1849. Carl von Noorden: Hinkmar, Erzbischof von Rheims, Bonn, 1863. Loupot: Hincmar, évêque de Reins, sa vie, ses oeuvres, son influence, Reims, 1869. Auguste: Vidieu: Hincmar de Reims, Paris, 1875. Heinrich Schrörs: Hincmar, Erzbischof von Reims, Freiburg im Br., 1884 (588 pages).



III. Cf. also Flodoard: Historia ecclesia, Remensis, in Migne, CXXXV., col. 25–328 (Book III., col. 137–262, relates to Hincmar); French trans. by Lejeune, Reims, 1854, 2 vols. G. Marlot: Histoire de Reims, Reims, 1843–45, 3 vols. F. Monnier: Luttes politiques et religieuses sous les Carlovingiens, Paris, 1852. Max Sdralek: Hinkmar von Rheims kanonistisches Gutachten über die Ehescheidung des Königs Lothar II. Freiburg im Br., 1881. Du Pin, VII. 10–54. Ceillier, XII. 654–689, Hist. Lit. de la France, V., 544–594 (reprinted in Migne, CXXV. col. 11–44). Bähr, 507–523. Ebert, II. 247–257. Hefele: Conciliengeschichte, 2d ed. IV. passim.
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