Samuele Bacchiocchi and the Gregorian controversy

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The late Samuele Bacchiocchi is well known for his book “From Sabbath to Sunday : A Historical Investigation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity”.  Regarding this book and his degree, he claims the following:

  • That he was the first non-Catholic to attend and obtain a doctorate at Gregorian University
  • That he received a gold medal from Pope Paul VI
  • That he received his degree summa cum laude
  • That his thesis was published by the Pontifical Gregorian University Press
  • That his thesis received an imprimatur from Fr Herve Carrier, SI
  • That all of the above validate his claims about the Sabbath

A controversy arose, initiated by me, disputing his claims.  The Gregorian University initially disputed all of the above.  Later they were shown to be wrong on some important points, but several matters still remain unresolved, and unfortunately are perpetuated in Adventist / Sabbatarian circles, and in copies of his book.

This is an important topic for the Seventh-day Adventist church, and so I am maintaining its history here.  Since I am moving to a new blog, I wish to consolidate these links into a single post.  The history of my blog posts has been moved to this blog, and are listed below sequentially, with the oldest at the top.

In summary, Bacchiocchi’s claims were partly in error, and the Gregorian’s claims were partly in error.  Incorrect claims by Bacchiocchi marked in orange; correct claims by Bacchiocchi marked in green.

  • He did indeed attend the university, and was the first non-Catholic to do so
  • He did obtain a gold medal from the pope, but was not present to receive it in person from the pope
  • He obtained his Licentia summa cum laude, but only magna cum laude for the Doctoratus (still a good achievement)
  • At least part of his thesis was published by the Pontifical Gregorian University Press.  It is not clear which parts these were, and how long they were.  However, subsequent editions of the book claiming to be published by them were actually privately published by Bacchiocchi.  Bacchiocchi gives conflicting evidence on different occasions as to what exactly was published, and his later writings still refer to certain sections as not being published by Gregorian.
  • He received an Imprimi Potest for what he published.  He never received an Imprimatur.  These two are very different things.  He could only receive an Imprimi Potest, basic permission to print (like a phone book), because the content was not in keeping with Catholic teaching.  For both Imprimi Potest and Imprimatur, the permission only applies to the edition of the book (or whatever parts were published) for which it was initially given.  In spite of this, he changed the words “Imprimi Potest” to “Imprimatur” on subsequent editions of his book.
  • None of the truth, and certainly the falsehoods, support his claim that this validates his claims about the Sabbath.  Doctrinal agreement with the contents was never recognised.  Obtaining a degree and a summa/magna cum laude simply means the scholarship was good, not that the conclusions were realistic or accurate.

An important discussion on the matter, including a timeline, can be found on the Internet Archive for the old XCG blog.

These are the posts from my old blog, moved to the new blog.

Bacchiocchi’s thesis – the Gregorian Controversy, May 6, 2006
Allegations regarding Bacchiocchi’s dissertation, October 26, 2006
Bacchiocchi’s current crisis, October 27, 2006
Which chapter did Sam publish?, October 28, 2006
Bacchiocchi – images of his diploma and medal, October 31, 2006, 10:27 pm
Bacchiocchi’s response to the Gregorian debate, November 14, 2006, 10:37 pm
Second part of Bacchiocchi’s response, December 7, 2006, 8:36 pm
Latest update on Bacchiocchi, December 24, 2006, 2:35 am
If Gregorian is wrong, December 24, 2006, 4:06 am
Detailed Bacchiocchi analysis on the XCG blog, January 1, 2007, 7:47 pm
The Gregorian responds, March 9, 2007, 10:46 pm

Bacchiocchi’s own defence can be found in the Internet Archive here – part 1, part 2.
Due to his website having all this data removed, the pages are archived here as PDF: Part 1 [6.8MB] and Part 2 [5.2MB]

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