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In Raymundi Martini's Pugio Fidei, there is a section entitled, De Consistorio. While it seems he is using it in reference to Judaism, it also appears there is an equivalent in Catholicism. So, what is a Constitorio (Consistory) in Catholicism?

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Is this Spanish or Italian? Or Latin? – Andrew Leach Jan 7 '13 at 9:16
I think that's a yearly meeting with some bishops and the pope. A "consistirory" at least. – Peter Turner Jan 7 '13 at 14:17
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I looked this up on Google Books - Pugio fidei, page 14.

This section comes from the introduction written by Joseph de Voisin, the editor. It is one of a series of notes that touch on the major points of Jewish law, with the overall aim of equipping the reader (presumed to be a Catholic preacher wanting to convert Jewish people) with an understanding of Jewish tradition and of how the Catholic faith could be best described in relation to it.

The section De consistorio is about the Sanhedrin - principally the "Great Sanhedrin" of 71 judges, deriving from the council instituted by Moses (Numbers 11). It simply describes the nature and procedure of the original Sanhedrin, with reference to Jewish texts such as the Mishneh Torah. The authority of the Sanhedrin to expound and interpret the written and oral Law, and its succession from the days of Moses, is traced forward to the Catholic Church and the Pope in a later section (titled Traditiones legis Christi conformes sunt Antiquae, et legitimae Synagogae traditionibus, p144). The idea is that if you accept the role and succession of the Sanhedrin, then you cannot reject out of hand the similar magisterial authority and apostolic succession of the Church and her Pope. They interpret tradition and execute judgements in the same way, and the Old Testament priesthood prefigures that of the New.

The word "consistory" is used in Catholicism to mean "the ecclesiastical senate in which the Pope, presiding over the whole body of Cardinals, deliberates upon the affairs of the church" (OED), or "the assemblage of the Cardinals in council around the Pope" (letter of Innocent III quoted in the Catholic Encyclopedia), or a specific meeting of this body. The Church regularly holds consistories. The most familiar kind is for creating new cardinals - see for example the official information about one in November 2012. Other meetings may be held for private consultation. The earliest known document to relate this body to the assembly of Moses is a constitution of Pope John VIII (872-882), De jure cardinalium 1.

Meanwhile, in the main text by Raymond, he argues (part 2, chapter 4) that the coming of the Messiah is related to the meeting-place of the Sanhedrin, the "Chamber of Hewn Stone" (camera dolata). This is attributed to Jewish tradition regarding Genesis 49:10, "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes". According to this idea, the exile of the Sanhedrin from that chamber (forty years prior to the destruction of the Second Temple) was linked to their inability to inflict capital punishment, and was a signifier of the coming Messiah. This matches the New Testament account, where Jesus had to be handed over to the Romans for crucifixion, about forty years before the Temple was destroyed.

Reference: Daggers of Faith: Thirteenth-Century Christian Missionizing and Jewish Reponse. Robert Chazan. University of California Press, 1989. Chapter 7 discusses the Pugio fidei and its Sanhedrin-Messiah connection.

1. "Quippe cum sicut nostram mansuetudinem Moysi, ita et vestram fraternitatem septuaginta seniorum, qui sub eodem causarum negotia dijudicabant, vicissitudinem gerere, certum habeamus." De jure cardinalium, in Migne's Patrologia Latina vol 126, John VIII Epistolae et decreta no. 346.

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Well done James T! Very insightful and informative. – Simply a Christian Jan 7 '13 at 17:37

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