medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
From: Thomas Izbicki <[log in to unmask]>
> Ambiguity in the use of Heresy is not confined to the late Middle Ages.
Whether Simony was Heresy was debated in the 11th.
of course, "Words mean whatever I say they mean" [was that The Red Queen or
The Caterpillar who said that?], but i fail to see how, in any precise sense,
simony (or nepotism, or clerical marriage, or any other violation of canon
law) could, *_per se_*, be called heretical.
unless such actions were an integral part of a "Theological or religious
**opinion or doctrine** maintained in opposition, or held to be contrary, to
the 'catholic' or orthodox doctrine of the Christian Church, or, by extension,
to that of any church, creed, or religious system, considered as orthodox."
as per the OED, whose interesting entry for HERESY i append below.
[a. OF. eresie, heresie (12th c.), mod.F. hérésie, ad. L. type *heresia
(whence also It. eresia, Pg. heresia), for L. hæresis school of thought,
philosophical sect, in eccl. writers, theological heresy, a. Gr. taking,
choosing, choice, course taken, course of action or thought, ‘school’ of
thought, philosophic principle or set of principles, philosophical or
religious sect; f. to take, middle voice to take for oneself, choose.
The Gr. word occurs several times in N.T., viz. Acts. v. 17, xv. 5, xxiv. 5,
xxvi. 5, xxviii. 22, where Eng. versions from Tindale render ‘sect’ (i.e.
of the Sadducees, Pharisees, Nazarenes or Christians, considered as sects of
the Jews); Acts xxiv. 14, where all versions from Wyclif to 1611 have
‘heresy’, R.V. ‘a sect (or heresy)’; in 1 Cor. xi. 19 Wyclif, Genev.,
Rhem., and 1611 have ‘heresies’, Tind. and Cranm. ‘sectes’, R.V.
‘heresies (or factions)’; in Gal. v. 20, Wycl., Tind., Cranm., Rhem. have
‘sectes’, Genev. and 1611 ‘heresies’, R.V. ‘heresies (or
parties)’; in 2 Peter ii. 1 Wyclif, Tind., Cranm., Rhem. have ‘sectes’,
Genev. and 1611 ‘heresies’, R.V. ‘heresies (or sects)’. The earlier
sense-development from ‘religious sect, party, or faction’ to ‘doctrine
at variance with the catholic faith’, lies outside English.]
1. a. Theological or religious opinion or doctrine maintained in
opposition, or held to be contrary, to the ‘catholic’ or orthodox doctrine
of the Christian Church, or, by extension, to that of any church, creed, or
religious system, considered as orthodox.
a1225 Ancr. R. 82 Eresie, God beo ioncked, ne rixle nout in Engelond. c1290 S.
Eng. Leg. I. 279/36 Swuch manere fals bi-leue: Men cleopenden heresie. c1380
WYCLIF Serm. Sel. Wks. I. 35 Aens is eresie shulde trewe preestis crye fast.
1388 Acts xxiv. 14 Aftir the secte which thei seien eresie, so y serue to God
the fadir. 1494 FABYAN Chron. IV. lxix. 48 He fyll into the heresy called
Aryannys heresy. 1535 STEWART Cron. Scot. II. 300 Fuill arrosie..That he
leirit fra kirkmen of the Britis. 1583 WINET Four Scoir Thre Quest. Wks. 1888
I. 71 All hæresie that euir hes bene in the Kirk. 1596 DRAYTON Leg. iv. 909
What late was Truth, now turn'd to Heresie. 1689 tr. Locke's 1st Let. on
Toleration 61 Use, which is the Supream Law in the matter of Language, has
determined that Heresie relates to Errors in Faith, and Schism to those in
Worship or Discipline. a1694 TILLOTSON Serm. I. xxxiv. (R.), Deluded people!
that do not consider that the greatest heresie in the world is a wicked life.
1855 MILMAN Lat. Chr. III. v. (1864) II. 2 Heresy, or dissent from the
dominant religion..had been introduced into the criminal jurisdiction. 1862
STANLEY Jew. Ch. (1877) I. ix. 186 There are always theologians keen-sighted
to see heresy in the simplest orthodoxy. 1885 Catholic Dict. s.v., Such
Protestants as are in good faith and sincerely desirous of knowing the truth
are not heretics in the formal sense..Their heresy is material onlyi.e. their
tenets are in themselves heretical, but they are not formal heretics: i.e.
they do not incur the guilt of heresy.
b. with a and pl. An instance of this; a heretical opinion or doctrine.
(For N.T. use, see note to etymology.)
1303 R. BRUNNE Handl. Synne 9671 an ys a wykkede erysye. c1340 HAMPOLE Prose
Tr. (1866) 17 Errours and herysyes. 1479 Eng. Gilds (1870) 417 Heresies and
errours, clepid openly lolladries. 1556 Chron. Gr. Friars (Camden) 20 Pecocke
that was byshoppe of Chechester..was apeched of dyvers poynttes of eryses.
1557 N.T. (Genev.) 2 Pet. ii. 1 There shalbe false teachers among you: which
pryuely shal brynge in damnable heresies [WYCL. sectes of perdicioun, TIND.,
CRANM. damnable sectes, R.V. destructive heresies (or sects of perdition)],
euen denying the Lord, that hath boght them. 1611 BIBLE Transl. Pref. 3 The
Scripture..is..a Physions-shop..of preseruatiues against poisoned heresies.
1852 C. M. YONGE Cameos (1877) IV. xii. 143 Cardinal Farnese declared there
were seven heresies in it.
2. By extension, Opinion or doctrine in philosophy, politics, science,
art, etc., at variance with those generally accepted as authoritative. Also
with a and pl.
c1385 CHAUCER L.G.W. Prol. 330 (Fairf.) That is an heresye ageyns my lawe.
1559 W. CUNINGHAM Cosmogr. Glasse 66 Bycause I will not have you to erre with
Poëtes..I will take the more diligence to drive this Heresie out of your
heade. 1616 B. JONSON Devil an Ass II. i, Against the received heresy That
England bears no dukes. 1711 SWIFT Examiner No. 40 5 All the heresies in
politics profusely scattered by the partizans of the late adminstration. 1843
MISS MITFORD in L'Estrange Life (1870) III. x. 176, I..prefer Bristol to
Bath..which I suppose, is a great heresy. 1877 E. R. CONDER Bas. Faith v. 209
The doctrines of Evolution..which it is intellectual heresy..to question.
3. In sense of Gr. (see etym.): Opinion or doctrine characterizing
particular individuals or parties; a school of thought; a sect.
1382 WYCLIF 1 Cor. xi. 19 It bihoueth heresies for to be. 1387 TREVISA Higden
(Rolls) III. 359 Aristotle gadrede meny disciples into his heresie [in suam
hæresim]. 1611 BIBLE 1 Cor. xi. 19 For there must bee also heresies [TINDALE,
CRANMER, sectes; R.V. margin, factions] among you. 1679 HOBBES Behemoth (1840)
174 Heresy is a word which, when it is used without passion, signifies a
private opinion. So the different sects of the old philosophers, Academians,
Peripatetics, Epicureans, Stoics, &c., were called heresies. 1870 W. GRAHAM
Lect. Eph. 230 The word heresies was the common name for the different
philosophical sects, as the Stoics, the Epicureans [etc.].
4. attrib. and Comb., as heresy-ferret, -hunt, -hunter, -hunting, -monger,
mongering; heresy-stained adj.
1765 A. MACLAINE tr. Mosheim's Eccl. Hist. (1844) I. xiii. 344 This new set of
heresy-hunters. 1814 W. TAYLOR in Monthly Rev. LXXIII. 533 Mad. Genlis, and
other heresy ferrets, are here censured. 1831 CARLYLE in Edin. Rev. LIII. Mar.
168 Scenting out Infidelity with the nose of an ancient Heresy-hunter, though
for opposite purposes. 1872 SPURGEON Treas. Dav. Ps. lxxiii. 15 If the
consciences of heresy-mongers were not seared. 1882 J. PARKER Apost. Life I.
140 One of the earliest instances..of heresy-hunting. 1891 FROUDE Divorce of
Cath. 186 More's chancellorship had been distinguished by heresy-prosecutions.
1894 Westm. Gaz. 2 Apr. 2/1 The heresy hunt of Mr. Smith..was one of the most
protracted and determined of modern times. 1902 Westm. Gaz. 7 May 12/1 A
proceeding quite in harmony with the usual methods of heresy-hunters. 1906
Daily Chron. 16 Oct. 3/3 The heresy-hunter made him his quarry.
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