Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe: Documents in Translation

By Edward Peters | Go to book overview

Testament as of faith, but they learn only certain passages from it, in order to attack us and defend themselves, saying that, when the gospel came, all the old things passed away. And similarly they pick out the words of Sts. Augustine, Jerome, Gregory, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Isidore, and short passages from their books, in order to prove their illusions and to resist us. And they very easily lead simple people astray, by dressing up their sacrilegious doctrine with fair passages from the saints; but they pass over in silence those passages of the saints which seem to contradict them, and by which their error is refuted. They teach their docile and fluent disciples to repeat the words of the Gospels and the sayings of the apostles and other saints by heart, in the vulgar tongue, so that they may know how to teach others and lead the faithful astray.... All their boasting is about their singularity; for they seem to be more learned than other men, because they have learnt to say by heart certain words of the Gospels and Epistles in the vulgar tongue. For this reason they esteem themselves superior to our people, and not only to lay people, but even to literate people; for they are fools, and do not understand that a schoolboy of twelve years old often knows more than a heretical teacher of seventy; for the latter knows only what he has learnt by heart, while the former, having learnt the art of grammar, can read a thousand Latin books, and to some extent understand their literal meaning.


27
The Passau Anonymous: On the Origins of Heresy and the Sect of the Waldensians

ON THE CAUSES OF THE HERESY

There are six causes of heresy. The first is vainglory. Since [heretics] see learned men honored in the Church, they wish to be honored for learning themselves.

The second cause is that men and women, great and lesser, day and night, do not cease to learn and teach; the workman who labors all day teaches or learns at night. They pray little, on account of their studies. They teach and learn without books. They even teach in the houses of

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