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Gonet, Jean Baptiste


Dominican theologian; b. Béziers, in southern France, c. 1616; d. there Jan. 24, 1681. After receiving his early education in his native Languedoc, he entered the Toulouse province of the Dominicans at the age of 17. He received his doctorate in theology from the University of Bordeaux, where he was to spend the major portion of his life as professor of theology and where he became famous as a champion of Thomistic theology. He retired from teaching in 1677 and spent his remaining years in Béziers, where he corrected his writings.

In 1660 Gonet was one of three professors who, free of Jansenism themselves, declared Blaise pascal's Lettres provinciales exempt from the heresy of Jansenism. When some bishops and the University of Paris found heresy in the work, it was condemned, and the King suspended Gonet and his companions from teaching for three years. They had not approved the contents of Pascal's work, but had merely stated that the work contained no heresy. In 1663 Gonet joined his colleagues in signing the six Gallican articles promulgated by Louis XIV. This did not imply a denial of papal authority, however, for in 1665 Gonet and the others signed Alexander VII's formulary demanding acceptance of papal condemnations of Jansenism.

Gonet is best known for his Clypeus theologiae thomisticae contra novos ejus impugnatores (Bordeaux 165969; Lyons 1681, contains corrections made by the author and is his definitive work; Paris 1875, six volumes). In this work Gonet was especially indebted to his contemporary Peter Godoy (d. 1677), a Dominican professor at Salamanca until his elevation to the See of Osma. Even before Godoy's commentaries were published, manuscript copies of his lectures spread his fame as a theologian throughout Spain, France, and Italy. One of these manuscripts reached Gonet, who was then composing Clypeus. Finding agreement with his own ideas, he incorporated Godoy's works into his own. Gonet was most conscious of his debt to Godoy and in his prologue he had the highest praise for him. Without the stimulus provided by the incorporation of his works into Gonet's writings, perhaps Godoy would never have published his Disputationes theologicae (Venice 1686).

Gonet was one of the Neo-Thomists who preferred to compose theological treatises on various subjects rather than to comment upon each article of St. Thomas. His work was intended to shield Thomism from the charge of Calvinism, to reply to the questions raised by jansenism, and to defend probabiliorism against what he took to be the laxities of certain casuists who were probabilists.

Bibliography: r. coulon, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 6:148789. QuétifÉchard 2.2: 692693. j. finkenzeller, Die Lehre von den Sakramenten der Taufe und Busse nach J.B. Gonet, O.P. (Munich 1956).

[r. p. stenger]

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