Allegations regarding Bacchiocchi’s dissertation

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It looks like the controversy surrounding Adventist scholar Samuele Bacchiocchi’s claims regarding his credentials and his thesis have once again sparked discussion.

As most people familiar with Bacchiocchi know, he claims the following for his degree and thesis:

  • He claims to have obtained his PhD summa cum laude from the Gregorian University in Rome
  • He claims that the Gregorian University Press printed the first edition of his thesis
  • He claims to have been given an imprimatur for that printing
  • He claims to have received a silver and gold medal from Pope Paul VI

These claims can be found on his website on the From Sabbath to Sunday page, and on the About Author page.

Not so many people familiar with Bacchiocchi know that the Gregorian University seems to deny this:

  • No summa cum laude
  • No printing of the full thesis, rather only one chapter – the minimum requirement
  • No imprimatur
  • No medals

Relevant discussion and quotes from Gregorian’s letter can be found here, here, and now also on a blog called Hobbes’ Place – An Exploration of Adventist History and Culture.

Bacchiocchi mentions this denial of his credentials in his Endtime Issues newsletters no. 124 and 146.

In the interview I mentioned the recent attempts of the Pontifical Gregorian University to discredit my academic achievements, because of the controversy sparked by From Sabbath to Sunday in Catholic circles.Endtime Issues 124

Over a year ago I received a document issued by the Academic Dean office of the Gregoriana, which negates my academic achievements, such as the reception of the gold medal donated by Pope Paul VI for earning the summa cum laude distinction.Endtime Issues 146

Now some further correspondence has been posted at Hobbes’ blog:

Ever since the Academic office of the Pontifical Gregorian University attempted to discredit my academic achievements two years ago, it has been on my heart to prepare a formal refutation of their false allegations and place it in my website.

… At this point I feel that an official documented response is needed in order to silence the false accusations that are increasingly circulating against me. Today I plan to begin the process by going to Andrews University Architecture Department to scan my three diplomas, which are too big for my scanner. Their scanner scans up to 24 x 36′. I have on hand three magnificent diplomas, all in parchement, decorated and written by skilled Vatican scribes. They were hand-written for me because I refused to accept the standard diplomas which say that the student has subscribed to the Catholic profession of faith. – source: Hobbes

That makes it a bit harder to authenticate, if they are not standard Gregorian certificates.  Did he shoot himself in the foot by requesting that?

In order to receive the diploma of the DOCTORATUS, a student is required to publish a significant portion of the dissertation (at least 120 pages) and deposit 50 copies at the Academic Office. The TESINA must be published with the official IMPRIMATUR to be acceptable by the Academic Office. I submitted for publication 150 pages of my dissertation, mostly taken from chapter 7 of my dissertation. The manuscript was published in 1975 under the title ANTI-JUDAISM AND THE ORIGIN OF SUNDAY. – source: Hobbes

This single chapter, now admitted to by Bacchiocchi, is what Gregorian calls “the minimum requirement to receive the doctoral degree at the Gregorian.” [source]

Gregorian’s letter states: “Due to extensive problems with the text, he was only allowed to publish one chapter of his work and this only after extensive revision.” [source]

I would hardly call this the “approval” he claims to have from the Vatican for his dissertation.  Even an imprimatur from an individual bishop in no way indicates acceptance by the Church.  And considering the difficulty he had obtaining the imprimatur, it was not an easy job to find someone who would issue his personal approval.

My professor Vincenzo Monachino was responsible for obtaining the imprimatur, that is, the approval from the Rector of the Gregoriana and the Vicariate of Rome. – source: Hobbes

With some difficulty, he admits.  Obviously the text was not in agreement with Catholic teaching – one only has to read it to see that.  Choosing the chapter that conformed to Catholic thought the most would be the logical way to go.  Even then, it was a difficult task to obtain the imprimatur.

You may be interested to know that US Catholic authorities at the Ave Maria Press of Notre Dame University, refused to grant me the imprimatur to publish the dissertation.  The publication of the dissertation was a requirement to obtain the diploma. So finally I was forced to go back to Rome and work with the authorities of the Gregoriana.  It took a lot of efforts, especially on the part of my Jesuit  Professor Vincenzo Monachino, S.I., to obtain the imprimatur. – source: e-mail from Bacchiocchi

Anyone who wants a description of the original 1977 edition can find it there as well, posted by someone who thinks he may have a copy of that edition.

I also have what appears to be an original 1977 hard-cover copy of Dr. Bacchiocchi’s book, with cloth cover printed in gold lettering on a black background. – source: Hobbes

Bacchiocchi describes the first edition this way:

The cover of the original dissertation printed by the Gregorian Press is light blue and it was typset manually with a linotype. This can be readily recognized because of the pressure of the letters which left  some fine marks, known as “beard.” – source: e-mail from Bacchiocchi

The dissertation was published in 1977 with the imprimatur that Prof. Monachino had already obtained in 1975 for the research. – source: Hobbes

That sounds like he used the imprimatur for the original one-chapter printing as if it applied to the whole dissertation.  That is not a valid use of an imprimatur, which needs to be re-issued with each edition.

Ever since the Academic office of the Pontifical Gregorian University attempted to discredit my academic achievements two years ago, it has been on my heart to prepare a formal refutation of their false allegations and place it in my website.

… At this point I feel that an official documented response is needed …   – source: Hobbes

So, finally, after more than 2 years, Bacchiocchi is going to make a formal statement.  It will certainly be interesting.  Will he be able to provide verification for any claims he makes in his statement, any images he produces?  Will the authenticity of any documentation he produces remain in question, or be resolved?  Will Gregorian respond, or will they relegate him to the long list of thorns in their side that they simply ignore … which, amusingly, includes a dozen or so people claiming to be the real pope.

Will it remain his word against that of an internationally recognised university?

A question I look forward to having answered.

The Gregorian Controversy series is listed in full here.  Click here to go to the next post in the series.  And here for the previous post.

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