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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Degrees

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(French degre, from Lat. gradus, a step), titles of rank to which are annexed privileges, conferred upon students in colleges and universities, or upon members thereof, as a testimony of their proficiency in the arts and sciences. The term "Arts," or "Liberal Arts," as technically applied to certain studies, came into use during the Middle Ages, and on the establishment of universities, the term "Faculty of Arts" denoted those who devoted themselves to science and philosophy as distinguished from the faculty of theology, and afterwards of medicine and law. The number of" arts" embraced in the full mediaeval course of learning was seven: Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric (constituting the Trivium), Music, Arithmetic, Geometry, and Rhetoric (the Quadrivium). The terms master and doctor were originally applied synonymously to any person engaged in teaching. In process of time, the one was restricted to the liberal arts, the other to divinity, law, and medicine. When regulations were established to prevent unqualified persons from teaching, and an initiatory stage of discipline was prescribed, these terms became significant of a certain rank, and of the possession of certain powers, and-were called gradus, "steps" or "degrees." The passing of the initiatory stage, said to have been first instituted by Gregory IX (1227-41), conferred the title of bachelor (q.v.), and an additional course of discipline and examination was necessary to obtaining that of master. The title of Master of Arts originally implied the right, and even the duty of publicly teaching some of the branches included in the faculty of arts; a custom which is still retained, to some extent, in the German universities, but has fallen into disuse in other countries. The degrees of D.D. (doctor divinitatis), S.T.D. (sacrce theologice doctor), and LL.D. (doctor utriusque legum), are conferred, honoris causa, by colleges and universities, upon persons held to be worthy of them, whether members of the said institutions of learning or not. The see of Rome claims a universal academical power, and the Pope confers the doctor's degree at pleasure. See Kirkpatrick, Historically received Conception of the University; Newman, Office and Work of Universities, p. 241; Tholuck, in Herzog's Real-Encyklopadie, 16:722; and the article (See DOCTOR).

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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Degrees'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/d/degrees.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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