Chapter 4

Student: You have spent too much time on this first argument. Therefore complete the other ones, for we shall be examining papal authority more extensively in the second treatise, which will deal with the doctrine of the Lord Pope [John XXII].

Master: Here is the second argument proving that the emperor or some other secular prince or people is the normal judge of the pope. The pope is not more exempt from the emperor's jurisdiction than Christ was in his capacity as mortal man. But Christ in so far as he was a mortal man was subject to the jurisdiction of the emperor, therefore the pope is similarly subject, and consequently the emperor is the normal judge of the lord pope. The major of this argument hardly seems to require proof, since a vicar is not greater than the one whose vicar he is, just as a servant is not greater than his lord nor a disciple greater than his master. The minor is proved by the authority of Christ who states to Pilate in John 19[:11]: "thou couldest have no power at all against me except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin". [Marsilius, II.iv.12] From these words we gather that Pilate had coercive jurisdiction over Christ, because Christ's statement must be understood as referring to coercive power, since he is replying to the utterance of Pilate who had said [John 19:10]: "speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and I have power to release thee?" But it is plain that Pilate spoke of coercive power, therefore so did Christ.

Student: The power to coerce is twofold, namely lawful and usurped. And Christ conceded that Pilate possessed the latter. It is possible indeed that Pilate may have believed his power to be lawful, but he was mistaken on this point.

Master: They attempt to exclude this response. First by the authority of blessed Augustine who, commenting on the cited words, states: "Let us therefore understand what Christ said, which he also taught the Apostle, that 'there is no power but of God' and that someone who maliciously delivers to authority an innocent to be killed commits a greater sin than the man in authority, who put such an innocent to death because he feared another's stronger power, inasmuch as God gave him the kind of power that would also maintain him under the power of Caesar". [Marsilius, II.iv.12] We infer from these words that Christ as a mortal man was under the very power of Caesar and Pilate of which the Apostle speaks in Romans 13[:1] when he says "there is no power but of God". Yet the Apostle does not speak of usurped but of lawful power, since he clearly states "whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God"[Romans 13:2]. These words must be understood of a power which is legitimate and not usurped. For one who resists usurped power by no means resists the ordinance of God, since he would then according to the Apostle "receive" to himself "damnation"[Romans 13:2], which is untrue. Under such circumstances one would not be allowed to resist a usurper of the papal office, nor indeed any tyrant. Therefore the Apostle does speak of legitimate and not of usurped power. Therefore Christ [also] spoke of power in this way and thus conceded that Pilate possessed normal authority over him. But when Christ states "he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin" he implies that Pilate was misusing this normal authority, as if he were saying "you are sinning in condemning me when I have neither confessed nor been legitimately convicted of a crime worthy of death. But because you are doing this out of fear, while others have delivered me to you out of malice and envy, theirs is the greater sin". And thus Pilate possessed normal authority over Christ in so far as the latter was a mortal man.

Theophilus appears to hold this opinion. Commenting on the text of John 18[:34] "Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?" he states: "it is as if Christ were saying 'if you are uttering this of yourself, reveal the evidence of my rebellion, but if you have been informed by others, proceed to a normal inquisition'". [Marsilius, II.iv.5] From these words we gather that Pilate possessed a normal authority to investigate the crimes imputed to Christ. But he who possesses a normal power of investigation with respect to someone who has been slandered in this way, has coercive jurisdiction over him. Therefore Pilate had coercive jurisdiction over Christ. Furthermore: Bernard in his letter to the archbishop of Sens states: "since", he says, "Christ acknowledges that the authority of the Roman ruler over him has likewise been legitimized by heaven etc." [Marsilius, II.iv.12] From these words we deduce that the power of Pilate was not usurped but legitimized by heaven. And he thus possessed coercive jurisdiction over Christ, which, however, he could not have justly exercised over Christ unless Christ were legitimately convicted of a crime in his presence, as far as this could have been apparent to a judge. For if Christ had been convicted of a crime most worthy of condemnation in the context of a formally correct trial, and on the basis of evidence given by witnesses unimpeachable under the laws, Pilate would not have sinned in pronouncing a sentence of condemnation against Christ, since he would have been deceived by false witnesses. And a judge who rules on the basis of the evidence and is motivated by the love of justice does not sin even if he condemns an innocent person.