Origin of the Waldenses

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by dean198, Jul 27, 2004.

  1. dean198

    dean198
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    I am in the process of writing a book on Apostolic Faith through history, and am studying the Waldenses. Before I began, I tried to stay open on the issue of whether they began with Peter Waldo, or whether they are more ancient. My studies seem to overwhelmingly point to the latter. I would like to speak to anyone who believes the former - that they began with Peter Waldo, in order to see if there is still an argument for it.

    Dean
     
  2. rsr

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    The former, I think. Comba, a Waldensian historian, in the last century abandoned an older origin, as did Philip Schaff.

    The American Waldensian Society also will go back no further than Peter.

    Now, given the paucity of records, this is not to say that the movement (or its precursor) is not older, but one must be very careful with such "proofs."
     
  3. DHK

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  4. HankD

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    Most historians make a connection between the “Vaudois” or “Piedmont” non-Catholic Christians of northern Italy/France and the Waldenses. Here is a partial list of authors with the JA Wylie book on-line.

    History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piedmont, by Sir Samuel Morland, 1658

    The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont, and of the Albigenses, Dr. Peter Allix, 1690.

    History and Theology of the Ancient Vallenses and Albigenses Dr. George S. Faber, 1838.

    Excursion to the Mountains of Piemont William S. Gilly 1826.

    The Waldenses: Sketches of the Evangelical Christians of the Mountains of Piedmont A. W. Mitchell, 1853.

    History of the Vaudois Church Antoine Monastier, 1849.

    General History of the Vaudois Churches by Jean Leger, 1669.

    The History of the Waldenses J. A. Wylie (1808-1890), London: Cassell and Company, c1860.

    This one is found online at http://www.reformedreader.org/history/wylie/toc.htm

    HankD

    [ July 28, 2004, 10:33 AM: Message edited by: HankD ]
     
  5. dean198

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    Thanks Hank. Those are the books which certainly make a strong case that the Waldenses are ancient. I need to read more from the other view. Some Catholic websites really attack Morland, since he actually had the ancient manuscripts of the Waldensians, and deposited them in the British Museum. He was an English Ambassodor to the Waldenses under Oliver Cromwell.

    Many of the above works are available for free download at

    http://www.christianhospitality.org/archives.htm
    I am reading through Faber's work - it is excellent....those Anglicans certainly produced some learned men.


    Dean

    PS to the moderators- Sorry for posting this in two threads.
     
  6. rsr

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    On the other hand, a couple of books from Waldensian pastors that reject the antiquity of the Waldensians:

    Waldensian historian Emilio Comba, "History of the Waldenses of Italy"(London, Truslove & Shirley, 7 St. Paul's Churchyard: 1889) 1978 reprint.

    Waldensian historian Giorgio Tourn, "The Waldensians : The First 800 Years" tr. C.P. Merlino (Torino, Italy: Claudiana Editrice, 1980).

    From Philip Schaff's "History of the Christian Church," Vol. X:

    "The Waldenses derive their origin and name from Peter Waldus or Valdez, who died before 1218, as all the contemporary writers agree. They were also called Poor Men of Lyons, from the city on the Rhone where they originated, and the Sandalati or Sandalled, from the coarse shoes they wore.

    The name by which they were known among themselves was Brethren or the Poor of Christ, based probably upon Matt. 5:3, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit.' According to the Anonymous writer of Passau, writing in the early years of the fourteenth century, some already in his day carried the origin of the sect back to the Apostles. Until recently all Waldensian writers have claimed for it Apostolic origin or gone at least as far back as the seventh century. Professor Comba, of the Waldensian school in Florence, has definitely given up this theory in deference to the investigations of Dieckhoff, Herzog, and other German scholars."
     
  7. HankD

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    You're welcome Dean,

    Every issue has two sides.

    HankD
     
  8. mioque

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    dean198
    You might want to look for some primary sources (contemporary medieval documents) instead of 19th century history books.
    Or at least if your Occitane and Latin are a bit rusty find out how much primary source material exist on the Waldenses and only use books that take in consideration all of it.
    I know most works written about the Albigensians (a group completely different from the Waldenses by the way) in the 19th century are completely outdated because several important religious texts written by the Albigensians were found in the 20th century.

    I know Gabriel Audisio is something of an expert in this field. Amazon has a translation of one of his books on the subject that I have read.
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0521559847/qid=1091047095/sr=1-14/ref=sr_1_14/002-3392192-6667222?v=glance&s=books

    On a personal note.
    The fact that the modernday Waldenses believe their form of Christianity started with Peter Waldo and not earlier suggests that it is the most likely position.
    So does the fact that many strong proponents of the Waldenses are very ancient school, have strong ideological reasons (say Landmarkism) for holding to that view.
     
  9. dean198

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    I found a library near me that has Comba's book, and I plan to do a similar search for Tourn. I still find it interesting that the first Waldensian historian to believe in the medieval origin was not until the late nineteenth century. That doesn't invalidate the idea though. All of their original documents were given to Morland by Leger in the seventeenth century, so I am not sure how relevant their ideas are.

    I don't have access to Dieckhoff's work. Do you have access? If so, I wonder if it is true that on pages 147-9 of his Die Waldenser im Mittelalter (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1851 he acknowledges that the twelfth century origin idea relies upon spurious Catholic sources?


    I can see that my research is going to take a long time!

    Dean
     
  10. dean198

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    Thanks. Is Audisio persuasive? Does he believe that the Albigensians were Manicheans? Prebendary George Stanley Faber writes about the Albigensians and Paulicians in his history of the Waldenses, and it is very revealing.

    I don't find that a strong argument myself, just because they didn't hold to this view 150 years ago. Had it been consistent, I would consider it a valid argument. As I understand it, many modern Waldensians are liberal in theology as well.

    Dean
     
  11. rsr

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    While it is true that much of what is known about the Waldenses came from there opponents, it also is true that there was a good deal of early Protestant historiography bent on proving that the Waldenses were just good proto-Protestants, some of them going so far as prove they were, in fact, indistinguishable from Presbyterians in theology and practice.
     
  12. Link

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    You should be able to find websites about this group.

    I've read that the Waldensians traced their apostolic succession back to a certain bishop who was in their area in the 300's--probably during a time before the papacy had really evolved. Maybe their group started through his missionary efforts. 'Waldo' may be named after the same region this group is named after. One web site had an old confession of theirs, which you could compare to the Protestants.

    As far as I know, they were paedobaptists when the Protestants met them. If you find anything to the contrary, I'd be interested in hearing it.
     
  13. HankD

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    The Waldensian origin(s) remains a debatable issue.

    Personally, I reject the idea of successionism of any identifiable Christian "body".

    They were not "Baptist (distinctives)" Christians.

    I carefully chose the word connection to older generaions of non-Catholic Christians in relation to their origin because I don't see clear evidence that Peter Waldo evangelized the Piedmont area in his own generation.

    IMO, the most negative evidence suggests that they were first severed from the Church of Rome because of the barrier of the Alpine mountains and possibly not because they were champions of the faith, although some still maintain (at least by inference) a direct apostolic connection.

    Milton's On the late Massacre in Piedmont

    Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughter'd saints, whose bones
    Lie scatter'd on the Alpine mountains cold;
    Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
    When all our fathers worshipp'd stocks and stones,

    Forgot not: in thy book record their groans
    Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
    Slain by the bloody Piedmontese that roll'd
    Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans
    The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
    To Heav'n. Their martyr'd blood and ashes sow
    O'er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway
    The triple Tyrant; that from these may grow
    A hundred fold, who having learn'd thy way
    Early may fly the Babylonian woe.

    HankD
     
  14. mioque

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    " Is Audisio persuasive?"
    Yes. He does not go into great detail on this issue, but his explanation for why the Waldenses 'extended' their history backwards sounds very plausible.

    "Does he believe that the Albigensians were Manicheans?"
    I don't recall. In case I was unclear Audisio's field is the Waldenses not the Albigensians.
    Personally having read what survived of the Albigensians own writings I wouldn't call them Christians. There are certainly Manicheanlike qualities to the Albigensian religion.
    What is certain is that the Waldenses and Albigenses weren't friendly towards another.

    " don't find that a strong argument myself, just because they didn't hold to this view 150 years ago."
    ''
    In the eyes of most it's a lot cooler to belong to a church that extends all the way back to the dawn of Christendom, than to belong to a church that started out in the middle ages as wannabee Franciscans that didn't make it as an official order inside the RCC and got kicked out. The official historians of a movement don't give up a most illustrious origin for something more humble without a very good reason.
     
  15. mioque

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    "You should be able to find websites about this group."
    ''
    Rule one when doing serious research. Don't blindly trust websites.
     
  16. HankD

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    But mioque, every person born of God is member of that Church.

    [​IMG]

    HankD
     
  17. mioque

    mioque
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    Hank
    Sure.
    But belonging to a human institution that goes back just as long is a nice egoboost. That's why Baptist Bridism and Landmarkism are so popular.
     
  18. Major B

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    There is certainly no lock step successionism, as in extreme landmarkism. However, there are also no periods in church history without some dissident group that insisted upon a converted membership, believer's baptism, and adherence to the scriptures, as well as protesting the hierarchy, transubstantiation, etc. The Catholic polemicists would have us believe that these folks were all heretics against orthodoxy, but we often can't be sure of that, given that all we have is the testimony of their enemies.
     
  19. HankD

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    Didn't some one say "trust but verify"? [​IMG]

    HankD
     
  20. rsr

    rsr
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    Yeah, but I prefer "verify, then trust."
     

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