See Through the Chatter

Joseph C. McLelland’s Legacy


  • Maurice Boutin McGill University



Peter Martyr Vermigli’s Oxford Treatise and Disputation on the Eucharist, a formal explication of the sacrament of the Eucharist (by Martyr) and a debate on the Eucharist that took place between Martyr and three Catholic theologians in 1549, are fraught by rhetoric concerning the doctrine of transubstantiation as “entirely alien to the phraseology of holy Scriptures.” One finds a great deal of chatter in the Oxford Treatise and the Disputation about “holding to the scriptures and deferring to all who speak and will speak to them.” And yet it can be shown that Vermigli is quite selective about what it means to proceed from the Scriptures. He relies, for instance, on Chalcedonian Christology to dismiss what he considers to be the condemnatory innovation of transubstantiation. He also relies on categorizations pertaining to anthropology that contradict his hermeneutical principle. Moreover, these categorizations reflect views as St. Thomas Aquinas’s to curtail a common enemy: Docetism (with respect to the Eucharist). Incidentally, and ironically, Aquinas relies on biblical passages Vermigli himself does not consider, which indicate that a new concept of the Messiah was then emerging. Scriptura sola solum Scriptura numquam est. In sum, Vermigli authorizes his own system of words, extraneous to holy Scripture, unnecessarily at cross-purposes with some of his disputants. As an editor of The Peter Martyr Library, Joseph C. McLelland, advises, to see what we are truly looking at, we need to see through to that which is deeper still. This paper is offered with that aim in view: to see through Vermigli’s chatter.

Author Biography

Maurice Boutin, McGill University

McConnell Professor of Philosophical Theology and Philosophy of Religion

Fields of Specialization: Hermeneutics; Language and Theories of Religion; Philosophy and Theology of History; Contemporary Religious Movements




How to Cite

Boutin, Maurice. 2020. “See Through the Chatter: Joseph C. McLelland’s Legacy”. Journal of the Council for Research on Religion 1 (2). Montreal, QC, Canada:67-78.