Modern History Sourcebook:
On the Sacrament of Communion
Wyclif's Trialogus is a long treatise in the Scholastic style
on various subjects which he believed were being wrongfully taught
in the Catholic Church. He cast the argument in the form of a
classical dialogue between three people called Alithia, Pseudis
and Phronesis. The argument, a small part of which follows, denies
transubstantiation, a doctrine which stated that the bread and
wine of the Eucharist literally turned into flesh and blood.
ALITHIA. I must request you, brother, to show still farther, from
reason or Scripture, that there is no identification of the bread
with the body of Christ... For I am no means pleased with the
spurious writings which the moderns use, to prove an accident
without a subject, because the church so teaches. Such evidence
should satisfy no one.
PHRONESIS. As to identification, we must, in the first place,
agree on what you mean by the term. It signifies, God's making
natures, which are distinct in species or number, one and the
same - as though, for instance, he should make the person of Peter
to be one with Paul... For if A is identical with B, then both
of them remain; since a thing which is destroyed is not made identical,
but is annihilated, or ceases to be. And if both of them remain,
then they differ as much as at first, and differ consequently
in number, and so are not, in the sense given, the same...
PSEUDIS. In the first place, you cannot escape from this expository
syllogism: First, This bread becomes corrupt, or is eaten by a
mouse. Second, The same bread is the body of Christ. Third, Therefore
the body of Christ does thus become corrupt, and is thus eaten;
- and thus you are involved in inconsistency.
From: Tracts and Treatises of John de Wycliffe, ed. Robert
Vaughan. London: Blackburn and Pardon, 1845, pp. 150, 152.
Scanned in by Belle Tuten
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(c)Paul Halsall April1998