- The Report of the Paris Lecture, Reportatio IV-A by John Duns Scotus
In 2008, the late Allan B. Wolter, OFM worked with Oleg V. Bychkov, Ph.D. to publish a ‘safe’ version of the Reportatio IA of Franciscan Master John Duns Scotus (1266-1308). The publication of this first book of Scotus’s Commentary on the Sentences from his Paris teaching offered scholars an opportunity to follow the Subtle Doctor’s reasoning throughout his entire teaching career: from the earliest Lectura texts, through the Ordinatio teaching, to what many consider his final say on certain matters when he taught in Paris, between 1302 and 1304.
While the Ordinatio claims to have been re-worked by Scotus himself, and Reportatio IA to have been ‘examined’ by Scotus, similar claims to definitive status do not appear beyond Book I. In this publication, Bychkov has joined forces with R. Trent Pomplun and, following the hermeneutic he developed with Allan Wolter, has provided a similar volume set for Book IV of the Reportatio, Distinctions 1-17. As with Reportatio IA, these volumes have the Latin text with English facing translation. The choice of manuscripts from the version marked ‘A’ by the editors of the Vatican edition assures the stylistic continuity to those used for Book I. This version appears in the Wadding-Vivès edition and is the basis for the Vatican edition of the Ordinatio. While focusing on the five manuscripts from A (Vat. Lat. 883), the editors check against other versions, namely B (Vat. Borgh. 317), C (Vat. Latin 4290), L (Oxford, Lincoln college, cod. 6), R (Rome AFR 421) as well as the Wadding-Vivès edition). Together these textual sources help to provide a clear Latin text upon which the English translation is based.
This two volume set contains Distinctions 1-17 only, so it is not the complete Book IV. This is to be the work of later publications. The distinctions found here deal with Sacramental theology. After two distinctions on sacraments in general and the efficacy of the sacraments of the New Law, Scotus moves through each of the sacraments in turn, with four distinctions on baptism, two distinctions on confirmation, five distinctions on the Eucharist (including a treatment of transubstantiation) [End Page 402] and four distinctions on penance. Throughout the discussion, issues of causality, sacramental efficacy, role of the believer and the role of minister are all brought to bear as the questions reveal Scotus’s particular perspective on how divine and human causality work together and on how divine presence in the sacraments is made manifest in the created order.
Bychkov and Pomplun have chosen to take up Book IV rather than Book II because this is the order in which the Books were taught. Moving from Book I to Book IV provides a conceptual whole and frame within which to consider the closing distinctions of the Sentences over against the opening distinctions from Book I that we already have in hand.
The presentation of the Latin text is clear, with helpful notes to aid the reader in understanding why a certain reading was chosen rather than another. The English is highly accessible, with felicitous rephrasing of complex arguments that conveys the sense of the argument if not the literal wording.
Like the earlier Reportatio IA publication, these volumes do not claim to be a critical text. The scholarly world still awaits the completion of that project. In the meantime, the use of the various manuscripts to establish the base Latin text and the helpful translation continues the project of making Scotist thought available to scholars in a ‘safe’ version that allows for comparison and contrast with earlier formulations from the Lectura and Ordinatio. The value of this third version of Scotist teaching cannot be overstated. For many scholars, like myself, who attempt to understand how Scotus is developing as a thinker and a teacher...