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Lower than God but higher than man: papal infallibility in the thought of Nicholas of Cusa and Juan de Torquemada

Hanley, Joshua (2018) Lower than God but higher than man: papal infallibility in the thought of Nicholas of Cusa and Juan de Torquemada. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The Roman Catholic Church’s claim of infallibility for the pope has a long and complicated history. This thesis reviews the scholarly literature on the origins of the doctrine. It also details how infallibility formed a crucial part of the thought of two medieval intellectuals: Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464) and Juan de Torquemada (1388-1468). Both Cusa and Torquemada were distinguished churchmen. However, their careers followed different trajectories. Cusa began as a staunch papal opponent, but his desire for Church unity overrode his loyalty to the pope’s opposition. So, he reversed course and became a papal supporter who theorized a notion of infallibility based upon the political theories, like representation, with which he, as a canon lawyer, was familiar. Torquemada started and ended his career as a papal defender. He developed a theory of papal infallibility that was based upon a close reading of theological sources rather than political theories. These two theorists’ convergence of thought on papal infallibility represents a surprising deviation from what one might expect from two men of such different backgrounds. However, this study attempts to highlight how the political and ecclesiastical necessities of the day influenced the development of infallibility, a doctrine that is still believed by multitudes of Catholics around the world.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hanley, Joshuajah266@pitt.edujah266
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGreenberg, Janellejanelleg@pitt.edujanelleg
Committee MemberVenarde, Brucebvenarde@pitt.edubvenarde
Committee MemberArchibald, ElizabethEPA10@pitt.eduEPA10
Committee MemberParker,
Date: 26 April 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 30 March 2018
Approval Date: 26 April 2018
Submission Date: 20 April 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 74
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: infallibility, Juan de Torquemada, Nicholas of Cusa, catholic, theology
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2018 15:18
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2018 15:18


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