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The Origins of Marulić's Teaching on Falsehood
The article concentrates on Marulić's interpretation of some biblical examples on the basis of which he concluded that falsehood was acceptable, when it was motivated by humanity or employed in the defence of higher interests. Yet, this interpretation was never accepted by official Church and his work De institutione bene vivendi per exempla sanctorum, because of some formulations of the kind in the fourth chapter of the fourth book (De veritate colenda mendacioque fugiendo), ended in the Index of proscribed books, classified into the category of the less noxious works, labeled as nisi repurgetur.
Hitherto, the aforementioned words on the permissibility of lie were ascribed solelyto Marulić, who was regarded their author. As a consequence, different authors who championed similar ideas referred to Marulić as their source. Yet, knowing that in religious matters Marulić was never an innovator or reformer, but only popularizer and propagator of the Doctrine, the author of this article dismissed this assertion as false, and set out in search of the real authors of this controversial interpretation.
In order to identify the originators of such an interpretation of the sinfulness of falsehood, the author investigated Marulić’s favorite authorities from Patrology, reaching the following conclusions: Bernard of Clairvaux, pseudo-Bernard, Lactantius, Cyprian, John of Damascus, John Chrysostom, Pope Gregory the Great and particularly Saint Augustine, retain falsehood sinful and impermissible even when its motives are generous; yet, the examples brought in its defence should not be considered as lies, but as picturesque expressions and prophetic words veiled in mystery.
The position of other authors, like Saint Ambrose, Jerome and particularly John Cassian, is less rigid. These authors retain that lie is acceptable in the cases in which the confession of truth brings about even worse perils.
From the complete analysis of the proposed examples we can conclude that here, asin case of some other religious dilemmas, Marulić acts as a typical eclectic, selecting and then developing on his own the interpretation which he considers more probable. Although in some controversial actions of biblical personalities he inclines towards mystical interpretations of Saint Augustine, who claimed that these were not lies but picturesque expressions and prophetic announcements of evangelic events, he prefers the easier and more rational explanation that lie is welcome when higher interests are at stake. The only inconvenience was that the original creator of this utilitarian interpretation was the famous Origen whose teaching was never accepted by official Church. Yet, his presence remained strong, as witness the works of the influential John Cassian and, in some cases, even those of Saint Jerome, who otherwise disassociated himself from Origen‚s teaching. Marulić proved still more uncompromising, qualifying even some milder biblical examples as pure lies, which probably contributed to the relative mildness of the censorial verdict, which, however, could not check the triumphant march of his bestseller throughout Europe.
Hrčak ID: 9833
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