History of Literature, Fhilosophy and Religions

(contents)


Part III

A Brief History of Western Philosophy

Introduction Phylosophy

The nature of Western philosophy

Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy
 

Medieval philosophy
 

Renaissance philosophy

Modern philosophy

Contemporary philosophy


 

Western Philosophy
 

 

 




 

 
 

 

 


Western philosophy

Encyclopaedia Britannica
 

 
 


Western philosophy


History of Western philosophy from its development among the ancient Greeks to the present.




Medieval philosophy

 



Medieval philosophy » The early Middle Ages » The Greek Fathers of the Church and Erigena

Another stream from which Greek philosophy, especially Neoplatonic thought, flowed into the Middle Ages was the Greek Fathers of the Church, notably Origen (c. 185–c. 254), St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335–c. 394), Nemesius of Emesa (flourished 4th century), Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (flourished c. 500), and St. Maximus the Confessor (c. 580–662). In the 9th century John Scotus (810–c. 877), called Erigena (“Belonging to the People of Erin”) because he was born in Ireland, a master at the Carolingian court of Charles II the Bald (823–877), translated into Latin some of the writings of these Greek theologians, and his own major work, De divisione naturae (862–866; On the Division of Nature), is a vast synthesis of Christian thought organized along Neoplatonic lines. For Scotus, God is the primal unity, unknowable and unnameable in himself, from which the multiplicity of creatures flows. He so far transcends his creatures that he is most appropriately called superreal and supergood. Creation is the process of division whereby the many derive from the One. The One descends into the manifold of creation and reveals himself in it. By the reverse process, the multiplicity of creatures will return to their unitary source at the end of time, when everything will be absorbed in God.

 



Origen
Christian theologian
Latin in full Oregenes Adamantius
born c. 185, probably Alexandria, Egypt
died c. 254, Tyre, Phoenicia [now Ṣūr, Lebanon]

Main
the most important theologian and biblical scholar of the early Greek church. His greatest work is the Hexapla, which is a synopsis of six versions of the Old Testament.

Life
Origen was born of pagan parents, according to the Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry, but of Christian parents, according to the ecclesiastical historian Eusebius of Caesarea, whose account is probably more accurate. Eusebius stated that Origen’s father, Leonides, was martyred in the persecution of 202, so that Origen had to provide for his mother and six younger brothers. At first he lived in the house of a wealthy lady. He then earned money by teaching grammar and lived a life of strenuous asceticism. Eusebius added that he was a pupil of Clement of Alexandria, whom he succeeded as head of the Catechetical school under the authority of the bishop Demetrius. Eusebius also alleged that Origen, as a young man, castrated himself so as to work freely in instructing female catechumens; but this was not the only story told by the malicious about his extraordinary chastity, and thus it may merely have been hostile gossip. Eusebius’ account of Origen’s life, moreover, bears the embellishments of legends of saints and needs to be treated with this in mind.

According to Porphyry, Origen attended lectures given by Ammonius Saccas, the founder of Neoplatonism. A letter of Origen mentions his “teacher of philosophy,” at whose lectures he met Heraclas, who was to become his junior colleague, then his rival, and who was to end as bishop of Alexandria refusing to hold communion with him. Origen invited Heraclas to assist him with the elementary teaching at the Catechetical school, leaving himself free for advanced teaching and study. During this period (from c. 212), Origen learned Hebrew and began to compile his Hexapla.

A wealthy Christian named Ambrose, whom Origen converted from the teachings of the heretical Valentinus and to whom he dedicated many of his works, provided him with shorthand writers. A stream of treatises and commentaries began to pour from Origen’s pen. At Alexandria he wrote Miscellanies (Stromateis), On the Resurrection (Peri anastaseos), and On First Principles (De principiis). He also began his immense commentary on St. John, written to refute the commentary of the Gnostic follower of Valentinus, Heracleon. His studies were interrupted by visits to Rome (where he met the theologian Hippolytus), Arabia, Antioch, and Palestine.

Because of his reputation, Origen was much in demand as a preacher, a circumstance that provoked the disapproval of Demetrius, bishop of Alexandria, who was anxious to control this free lay teacher and especially angry when Origen was allowed to preach at Caesarea Palestinae. In about 229–230 Origen went to Greece to dispute with another follower of Valentinus, Candidus. On the way he was ordained presbyter at Caesarea. The Valentinian doctrine that salvation and damnation are predestinate, independent of volition, was defended by Candidus on the ground that Satan is beyond repentance; Origen replied that if Satan fell by will, even he can repent. Demetrius, incensed at Origen’s ordination, was appalled by such a doctrinal view and instigated a synodical condemnation, which, however, was not accepted in Greece and Palestine. Thenceforth, Origen lived at Caesarea, where he attracted many pupils. One of his most notable students was Gregory Thaumaturgus, later bishop of Neocaesarea.

From Caesarea, Origen continued his travels. In 235 the persecution of Maximinus found him in Cappadocia, from which he addressed to Ambrose his Exhortation to Martyrdom. During this period falls the “Discussion with Heracleides,” a papyrus partially transcribing a debate at a church council (probably in Arabia) where a local bishop was suspected of denying the preexistence of the divine Word and where obscure controversies raged over Christological issues and whether the soul is, in actuality, blood. During the persecution under the emperor Decius (250), Origen was imprisoned and tortured but survived to die several years later. His tomb at Tyre was held in honour, and its long survival is attested by historians of the period of the Crusades.


Writings
Origen’s main lifework was on the text of the Greek Old Testament and on the exposition of the whole Bible. The Hexapla was a synopsis of Old Testament versions: the Hebrew and a transliteration, the Septuagint (an authoritative Greek version of the Old Testament), the versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion and, for the Psalms, two further translations (one being discovered by him in a jar in the Jordan Valley). The purpose of the Hexapla was to provide a secure basis for debate with rabbis to whom the Hebrew alone was authoritative.

Origen’s exegetical writings consist of commentaries (scholarly expositions for instructed Christians), homilies for mixed congregations, and scholia (detached comments on particular passages or books). All extant manuscripts of the commentary on St. John, which extended to 32 books, depend on a codex preserved in Munich containing only a few of the books. This codex and a related manuscript at Trinity College, Cambridge, are the sole witnesses for the Greek original of books 10–17 of his commentary on St. Matthew. Greek fragments of this, as of most of Origen’s exegetical works, survive in writings known as catenae (“chains”; i.e., anthologies of comments by early Church Fathers on biblical books). Commentaries on the Song of Solomon and on Romans survive in a drastically abbreviated Latin paraphrase by the Christian writer Tyrannius Rufinus (c. 365–410/411). The homilies on Genesis through the Book of Judges (except Deuteronomy) and Psalms 36–38 survive in a Latin translation by Rufinus. Jerome, the great Christian scholar (c. 347–c. 420), translated homilies on the Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Luke. These Latin homilies were widely read in medieval monasteries and have a rich manuscript tradition. The Greek original of homilies on Jeremiah survives in a single manuscript in the Escorial (Spain), and that of a homily on the witch of Endor (which provoked early criticism for its thesis that Samuel really was conjured up) in a manuscript in Munich and on papyrus.

Prior to 231 Origen wrote De principiis, an ordered statement of Christian doctrine on an ambitious scale, based on the presupposition that every Christian is committed to the rule of faith laid down by the Apostles (the Creator as God of both Old and New Testaments, the incarnation of the preexistent Lord, the Holy Spirit as one of the divine triad, the freedom of rational souls, discarnate spirits, the noneternity of the world, judgment to come) but that outside this restriction the educated believer is free to speculate. Origen was writing long before the conciliar definitions of Chalcedon (451) concerning the Trinity and the Person of Christ and at a period when a far larger area of doctrine could be regarded as open for discussion and argument than was the case by 400. De principiis diverged in its speculations from later standards of orthodoxy. The original was consequently lost and can only be reconstructed from the Philocalia (an anthology compiled by Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus illustrating Origen’s biblical interpretation), from Rufinus’ Latin paraphrase (which avowedly rewrites heterodox-sounding passages), and from later writers, notably Jerome and Justinian I (who quote especially compromising passages to prove Origen a heretic). The polemical anti-Origenists, however, need to be read with care since they were not above misquoting Origen and ascribing to him the words of later Origenists.

Origen’s great vindication of Christianity against pagan attack, Contra Celsum, written (probably in 248) at Ambrose’s request, survives in its entirety in one Vatican manuscript, with fragments in the Philocalia and on papyruses. Paragraph by paragraph it answers the Alēthēs logos (“The True Doctrine” or “Discourse”) of the 2nd-century anti-Christian philosopher Celsus and is therefore a principal source for the pagan intelligentsia’s view of 2nd-century Christianity as well as a classic formulation of early Christian reply. Both protagonists agree in their basic Platonic presuppositions, but beside this agreement, serious differences are argued. Celsus’ brusque dismissal of Christianity as a crude and bucolic onslaught on the religious traditions and intellectual values of classical culture provoked Origen to a sustained rejoinder in which he claimed that a philosophic mind has a right to think within a Christian framework and that the Christian faith is neither a prejudice of the unreasoning masses nor a crutch for social outcasts or nonconformists.

The tract On Prayer, preserved in one manuscript at Cambridge, was written in about 233; it expounds the Lord’s Prayer and discusses some of the philosophical problems of petition, arguing that petition can only be excluded by a determinism false to the experience of personality, while the highest prayer is an elevation of the soul beyond material things to a passive inward union with Christ, mediator between men and the Father.


Theological System
Origen’s experience as a teacher is reflected in his continual emphasis upon a scale of spiritual apprehension. Christianity to him was a ladder of divine ascent, and the beginner must learn to mount it with the saints in a never-ceasing advance.

Everything in Origen’s theology ultimately turns upon the goodness of God and the freedom of the creature. The transcendent God is the source of all existence and is good, just, and omnipotent. This omnipotence is never mere power emptied of moral quality; one cannot appeal to it to rationalize absurdity or the extraordinary. In overflowing love, God created rational and spiritual beings through the Logos (Word); this creative act involves a degree of self-limitation on God’s part.

In relation to the created order, God is both conditioned and unconditioned, free and under necessity, since he is both transcendent to and immanently active in it. In one sense, the cosmos is eternally necessary to God since one cannot conceive such goodness and power as inactive at any time. Yet in another sense, the cosmos is not necessary to God but is dependent on his will, to which it also owes its continued existence. Origen was aware that there is no solution of this dilemma. The rational beings, however, neglected to adore God and fell. The material world was created by God as a means of discipline (and its natural catastrophes such as earthquakes and plagues remind man that this world is not his ultimate destiny). Origen speculated that souls fell varying distances, some to be angels, some descending into human bodies, and the most wicked becoming devils. (Origen believed in the preexistence of souls, but not in transmigration nor in the incorporation of rational souls in animal bodies.) Redemption is a grand education by providence, restoring all souls to their original blessedness, for none, not even Satan, is so depraved and has so lost rationality and freedom as to be beyond redemption. God never coerces, though with reformative intention he may punish. His punishments are remedial; even if simple believers may need to think of them as retributive, this is pedagogic accommodation to inferior capacity, not the truth.

The climax of redemption is the incarnation of the preexistent Son. One soul had not fallen but had remained in adoring union with the Father. Uniting himself with this soul, the divine Logos, who is the second hypostasis (Person) of the triad of Father, Son, and Spirit (subordinate to the Father but on the divine side of the gulf between infinite Creator and finite creation), became incarnate in a body derived from the Virgin Mary. So intense was the union between Christ’s soul and the Logos that it is like the union of body and soul, of white-hot iron and fire. Like all souls Christ’s had free will, but the intensity of union destroyed all inclination for change, and the Logos united to himself not only soul but also body, as was apparent when Jesus was transfigured. Origen, influenced by a semi-Gnostic writing, the Acts of John, thought that Jesus’ body appeared differently to different observers according to their spiritual capacities. Some saw nothing remarkable in him, others recognized in him their Lord and God. In his commentary on St. John, Origen collected titles of Christ, such as Lamb, Redeemer, Wisdom, Truth, Light, Life. Though the Father is One, the Son is many and has many grades, like rungs in a ladder of mystical ascent, steps up to the Holy of Holies, the beatific vision.

The union of God and man in Christ is pattern for that of Christ and the believer. The individual soul, as well as the church, is the bride of the Logos, and the mystery of that union is portrayed in the Song of Solomon, Origen’s commentary on which was regarded by Jerome (in the period of his enthusiasm for Origen) as his masterpiece. Thus, redemption restores fallen souls from matter to spirit, from image to reality, a principle directly exemplified both in the sacraments and in the inspired biblical writings, in which the inward spirit is veiled under the letter of law, history, myth, and parable. The commentator’s task is to penetrate the allegory, to perceive within the material body of Scripture its soul and spirit, to discover its existential reference for the individual Christian. Correct exegesis (critical interpretation) is the gift of grace to those spiritually worthy.

Origen viewed both the biblical revelation and the spiritual life of the believer as progressive processes. The church is the great “school of souls” in which erring pupils are disciplined: elementary education in this life, higher education in the world to come, where the atoning and sanctifying process will continue in a purging baptism of fire. Hell cannot be an absolute since God cannot abandon any creature; because of his respect for freedom it may take time, but God’s love will ultimately triumph. Christ’s work remains unfinished until he has subdued all to himself. Heaven is not necessarily absolute because freedom is an inalienable characteristic of the rational creature. “If you remove free will from virtue, you destroy its essence.” Because the redeemed remain free, when all souls have been restored the whole drama may begin again. The Stoics believed in world cycles determined by fate. Origen thought them possible for the opposite reason, because freedom means that there is no ultimate finality.


Influence
If orthodoxy were a matter of intention, no theologian could be more orthodox than Origen, none more devoted to the cause of Christian faith. His natural temper is world denying and even illiberal. The saintliness of his life is reflected in the insight of his commentaries and the sometimes quite passionate devotion of his homilies. The influence of his biblical exegesis and ascetic ideals is hard to overestimate; his commentaries were freely plagiarized by later exegetes, both Eastern and Western, and he is a seminal mind for the beginnings of monasticism. Through the writings of the monk Evagrius Ponticus (346–399), his ideas passed not only into the Greek ascetic tradition but also to John Cassian (360–435), a Semi-Pelagian monk (who emphasized the worth of man’s moral effort), and to the West. Yet he has been charged with many heresies.

In his lifetime he was often attacked, suspected of adulterating the Gospel with pagan philosophy. After his death, opposition steadily mounted, respectful in the Greek Christian Methodius of Olympus’ criticism of his spiritualizing doctrine of the Resurrection (c. 300), offensive in Epiphanius’ (375), a refuter of Christian heresies, violent in Jerome’s anti-Origenist quarrel with Rufinus (c. 393–402). Origen had his defenders, especially in the East (Eusebius of Caesarea; Didymus the Blind, the head of Catechetical School of Alexandria; Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, to some degree; and especially the Cappadocian Fathers—i.e., Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa); but in the West Rufinus’ translation of De principiis (398) caused scandal, and in the East the cause of Origen suffered by the permanent influence of Epiphanius’ attack.

In the 6th century the “New Laura” (monastic community) in Palestine became a centre for an Origenist movement among the monastic intelligentsia, hospitable to speculations about such matters as preexistent souls and universal salvation. The resultant controversy led Justinian I to issue a long edict denouncing Origen (543); the condemnation was extended also to Didymus and Evagrius by the fifth ecumenical council at Constantinople (553). Nevertheless, Origen’s influence persisted, such as in the writings of the Byzantine monk Maximus the Confessor (c. 550–662) and the Irish theologian John Scotus Erigena (c. 810–877), and, since Renaissance times, controversy has continued concerning his orthodoxy, Western writers being generally more favourable than Eastern Orthodox.

The chief accusations against Origen’s teaching are the following: making the Son inferior to the Father and thus being a precursor of Arianism, a 4th-century heresy that denied that the Father and the Son were of the same substance; spiritualizing away the resurrection of the body; denying hell, a morally enervating universalism; speculating about preexistent souls and world cycles; and dissolving redemptive history into timeless myth by using allegorical interpretation. None of these charges is altogether groundless. At the same time there is much reason to justify Jerome’s first judgment that Origen was the greatest teacher of the early church after the Apostles.

The Very Rev. Henry Chadwick

 





 
 



Saint Gregory of Nyssa
Byzantine philosopher and theologian
Latin Gregorius Nyssenus
born c. 335, Caesarea, in Cappadocia, Asia Minor [now Kayseri, Turkey]
died c. 394, ; feast day March 9

Main
philosophical theologian and mystic, leader of the orthodox party in the 4th-century Christian controversies over the doctrine of the Trinity. Primarily a scholar, he wrote many theological, mystical, and monastic works in which he balanced Platonic and Christian traditions.

A younger son of a distinguished family, Gregory was educated in his native province but was more deeply influenced by his philosophical training than by the other two Cappadocian Fathers of the Church, his brother Basil of Caesarea and their friend Gregory of Nazianzus. He began his adult life as a teacher of rhetoric and may have been married—although several references that suggest this are capable of a different interpretation, and the strictures on marriage in his treatise On Virginity seem to imply the contrary. In the 360s he turned to religious studies and Christian devotion, perhaps even to the monastic life, under Basil’s inspiration and guidance. As part of Basil’s struggle with Bishop Anthimus of Tyana—whose city became the metropolis (civil and therefore ecclesiastical capital) of western Cappadocia in 372—Gregory was consecrated as bishop of Nyssa, a small city in the new province of Cappadocia Secunda, which Basil wished to retain in his ecclesiastical jurisdiction. In 375, however, Gregory was accused of maladministration by the provincial governor as part of the Arianizing campaign of the Roman emperor Valens (an attempt to force the church to accept the views of the heretic Arius, who denied the divinity of Christ). He was deposed in 376 by a synod of bishops and banished. But on Valens’ death in 378 his congregation welcomed him back enthusiastically.

Though Basil had considered Gregory unsuited for ecclesiastical diplomacy, after his return to his diocese he was active in the settlement of church affairs in the years that followed. In 379 he attended a council at Antioch and was sent on a special mission to the churches of Arabia (i.e., Transjordan); his visit to Jerusalem on this occasion left him with a dislike for the increasingly fashionable pilgrimages, an opinion he expressed vigorously in one of his letters. In 381 he took part in the General (second ecumenical) Council at Constantinople and was recognized by the emperor Theodosius as one of the leaders of the orthodox communion in Cappadocia, along with Basil’s successor at Caesarea. Gregory declined election to the important bishopric of Sebaste; however, the care of his small diocese left him free to preach at Constantinople on such special occasions as the funerals of Theodosius’ wife and daughter. Under the unlearned Nectarius, the successor of Gregory of Nazianzus at Constantinople, Gregory of Nyssa was the leading orthodox theologian of the church in Asia Minor in the struggle against the Arians.

Gregory was primarily a scholar, whose chief contribution lay in his writings. Besides controversial replies to heretics, particularly the Arians—in which he formulated the doctrine of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) that emerged as a clear and cogent answer to Arian questioning—he completed Basil’s Hexaëmeron (“Six Days”), sermons on the days of the Creation, with The Creation of Man, and he produced a classic outline of orthodox theology in his Great Catechesis (or Address on Religious Instruction). The latter work is especially notable for developing systematically the place of the sacraments in the Christian view of restoration of the image of God in human nature—lost through sin in the fall of Adam. His brief treatise On Not Three Gods relates the Cappadocian Fathers’ theology of three Persons in the Godhead (i.e., the Trinity) to Plato’s teachings of the One and the Many. As a Christian Platonist, Gregory followed the great Alexandrian theologian Origen, though not slavishly; most notably, he shared Origen’s conviction that man’s material nature is a result of the fall and also Origen’s hope for ultimate universal salvation. In imitation of Plato’s Phaedo, Gregory presented his teaching on resurrection in the form of a deathbed conversation with his sister, the abbess Macrina.

Platonic and Christian inspiration combine in Gregory’s ascetic and mystical writings, which have been influential in the devotional traditions of the Eastern Orthodox church and (indirectly) of the Western church. His Life of Macrina blends biography with instruction in the monastic life. On Virginity and other treatises on the ascetic life are crowned by the mystical Life of Moses, which treats the 13th-century-bc journey of the Hebrews from Egypt to Mount Sinai as a pattern of the progress of the soul through the temptations of the world to a vision of God. A notable emphasis of Gregory’s teaching is the principle that the spiritual life is not one of static perfection but of constant progress. His greatest achievement is his remarkably balanced synthesis of Hellenic (Greek) and Christian traditions, in an age when both were represented by vigorous and acute minds.

Gregory did not, however, neglect his practical and pastoral duties, as is attested by his preserved letters and sermons. Many of the latter were written in praise of the saints venerated in Cappadocia or to celebrate the great days of the church year. Others, such as Gregory’s attacks on usury and on the postponement of Baptism, deal with ethical problems of the church in his time. His more intimate discourses on the Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3–12) combine ethical and devotional interests, as does his commentary on the Song of Solomon. Gregory disliked attending gatherings of bishops but was periodically invited to preach at such occasions. His last public appearance was at a council at Constantinople. Gregory’s ecclesiastical career was less successful than those of Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus, but his work as scholar and writer was creative, and in the 20th century it was rescued from undeserved neglect.

Edward R. Hardy

 





 
 



Saint Maximus the Confessor
Byzantine theologian

born c. 580, Constantinople
died Aug. 13, 662, Lazica

Main
the most important Byzantine theologian of the 7th century, whose commentaries on the early 6th-century Christian Neoplatonist Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and on the Greek Church Fathers considerably influenced the theology and mysticism of the Middle Ages.

A court secretary of the Eastern Roman emperor Heraclius I, Maximus became a monk c. 613 at a monastery near Chrysopolis in Bithynia. Fleeing to North Africa because of the Persian invasion of 626, he took part at Carthage (near modern Tunis) in the Monothelite controversy over the doctrine that Christ, while having two distinct natures, divine and human, in his one Person (a doctrine firmly established) nonetheless had only one will and one operation. Arguing for a dual-will faculty in Christ, Maximus was called to Rome, where he supported the condemnation of Monothelitism by a regional church council under Pope Martin I in 649. Maximus and Martin were arrested by the emperor Constans II in an intricate theological–political tactic, and, after imprisonment from 653 to 655, Maximus was later tortured and exiled; he died in the wilderness near the Black Sea.

Throughout his approximately 90 major works Maximus developed a Christocentric theology and mysticism. His Opuscula theologica et polemica (“Short Theological and Polemical Treatises”), Ambigua (“Ambiguities” in the works of Gregory of Nazianzus), and Scholia (on Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite), mostly authentic, express Maximus’ teaching on the transcendental, nonpredicable nature of the divinity, his intrinsic Trinitarian existence, and his definitive communication in Christ. In his 400 Capita de caritate (“Four Hundred Chapters on Charity”), Maximus counselled a Christian humanism, integrating asceticism with ordinary life and active charity.

Maximus’ attempt to achieve balance in spiritual theory and practice was not always furthered by later theologians; he thus remains an independent and original thinker in the history of Christian speculation.

 





 
 



John Scotus Erigena
Irish philosopher
also called Johannes Scotus Eriugena
born 810, Ireland
died c. 877

Main
theologian, translator, and commentator on several earlier authors in works centring on the integration of Greek and Neoplatonist philosophy with Christian belief.

From about 845, Erigena lived at the court of the West Frankish king Charles II the Bald, near Laon (now in France), first as a teacher of grammar and dialectics. He participated in theological disputes over the Eucharist and predestination and set forth his position on the latter in De predestinatione (851; “On Predestination”), a work condemned by church authorities. Erigena’s translations of the works of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Epiphanius, commissioned by Charles, made those Greek patristic writings accessible to Western thinkers.

Erigena’s familiarity with dialectics and with the ideas of his theological predecessors was reflected in his principal work, De divisione naturae (862–866; “On the Division of Nature”), an attempt to reconcile the Neoplatonist doctrine of emanation with the Christian tenet of creation. The work classifies nature into (1) that which creates and is not created; (2) that which creates and is created; (3) that which does not create and is created; and (4) that which does not create and is not created. The first and the fourth are God as beginning and end; the second and third are the dual mode of existence of created beings (the intelligible and the sensible). The return of all creatures to God begins with release from sin, physical death, and entry into the life hereafter. Man, for Erigena, is a microcosm of the universe because he has senses to perceive the world, reason to examine the intelligible natures and causes of things, and intellect to contemplate God. Through sin man’s animal nature has predominated, but through redemption man becomes reunited with God.

Though highly influential upon Erigena’s successors, notably the Western mystics and the 13th-century Scholastics, De divisione naturae eventually suffered condemnation by the church because of its pantheistic implications. The works of Erigena are in J.-P. Migne’s Patrologia Latina, Vol. 122.

 





Medieval philosophy » The early Middle Ages » Anselm

Although the Carolingian empire collapsed in the 10th century and intellectual speculation was at a low ebb in western Europe, signs of revival appeared almost contemporaneously. Political stability was achieved by Otto I, who reestablished the empire in 963, and Benedictine monasteries were revitalized by reform movements begun at Cluny and Gorze. In the next century, reformers such as Peter Damian combined the ascetic and monastic traditions and laid the foundation for the vita apostolica. Like Tertullian, a Christian writer of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, Damian mistrusted secular learning and philosophy as harmful to the faith. Other monks showed a keen interest in dialectic and philosophy. Among the latter was Anselm, an Italian who became abbot of the French monastery of Bec and later archbishop of Canterbury.

Like Augustine, Anselm used both faith and reason in his search for truth. Faith comes first, in his view, but reason should follow, giving reasons for what human beings believe. Anselm’s monks asked him to write a model meditation on God in which everything would be proved by reason and nothing on the authority of Scripture. He replied with his Monologium (1077; “Monologue”). It contains three proofs of the existence of God, all of which are based on Neoplatonic thought. The first proof moves from the awareness of a multiplicity of good things to the recognition that they all share or participate more or less in one and the same Good, which is supremely good in itself, and this is God. The second and third proofs are similar, moving from an awareness of a multiplicity of beings that are more or less perfect to the recognition of that through which everything exists, which itself is supremely perfect.

Anselm’s later work, the Proslogium (1077/78; “Allocution” or “Address”), contains his most famous proof of the existence of God. This begins with a datum of faith: humans believe God to be the being than which none greater can be conceived. Some, like the fool in the Psalms, say there is no God; but even the fool, on hearing these words, understands them, and what he understands exists in his intellect, even though he does not grant that such a being exists in reality. But it is greater to exist in reality and in the understanding than to exist in the understanding alone. Therefore it is contradictory to hold that God exists only in the intellect, for then the being than which none greater can be conceived is one than which a greater can be conceived—namely, one that exists both in reality and in the understanding. Philosophers still debate the meaning and value of this so-called ontological argument for God’s existence.


 



Saint Anselm of Canterbury
archbishop and philosopher

born 1033/34, Aosta, Lombardy
died April 21, 1109, possibly at Canterbury, Kent, Eng., canonized 1163?; feast day April 21

Main
founder of Scholasticism, a philosophical school of thought that dominated the Middle Ages; he was recognized in modern times as the originator of the ontological argument for the existence of God (based on the idea of an absolutely perfect being, the fact of the idea being in itself a demonstration of existence) and the satisfaction theory of the atonement or redemption (based on the feudal theory of making satisfaction or recompense according to the status of a person against whom an offense has been committed, the infinite God being the offended party and man the offender). Incomplete evidence suggests that he was canonized in 1163.

Early life and career.
Anselm was born in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. His birthplace, Aosta, was a town of strategic importance in Roman imperial and in medieval times, because it stood at the juncture of the Great and Little St. Bernard routes. His mother, Ermenberga, belonged to a noble Burgundian family and possessed considerable property. His father, Gondolfo, was a Lombard nobleman who intended that Anselm would make a career of politics and did not approve of his early decision to enter the monastic life. Anselm received an excellent classical education and was considered one of the better Latinists of his day. His early education impressed on him the need to be precise in his use of words, and his writings became known for their clarity.

In 1057 Anselm left Aosta to enter the Benedictine monastery at Bec (located between Rouen and Lisieux in Normandy, France), because he wanted to study under the monastery’s renowned prior, Lanfranc. While on his way to Bec, he learned that Lanfranc was in Rome, so he spent some time at Lyon, Cluny, and Avranches before entering the monastery in 1060. In 1060 or 1061 he took his monastic vows. Because of Anselm’s reputation for great intellectual ability and sincere piety, he was elected prior of the monastery after Lanfranc became abbot of Caen in 1063. In 1078 he became abbot of Bec.

In the previous year (1077), Anselm had written the Monologium (“Monologue”) at the request of some of his fellow monks. A theological treatise, the Monologium was both apologetic and religious in intent. It attempted to demonstrate the existence and attributes of God by an appeal to reason alone rather than by the customary appeal to authorities favoured by earlier medieval thinkers. Moving from an analysis of the inequalities of various aspects of perfection, such as justice, wisdom, and power, Anselm argued for an absolute norm that is everywhere at all times, above both time and space, a norm that can be comprehended by the mind of man. Anselm asserted that that norm is God, the absolute, ultimate, and integrating standard of perfection.

Under Anselm, Bec became a centre of monastic learning and some theological questioning. Lanfranc had been a renowned theologian, but Anselm surpassed him. He continued his efforts to answer satisfactorily questions concerning the nature and existence of God. His Proslogium (“Address,” or “Allocution”), originally titled Fides quaerens intellectum (“Faith Seeking Understanding”), established the ontological argument for the existence of God. In it he argued that even a fool has an idea of a being greater than which no other being can be conceived to exist; that such a being must really exist, for the very idea of such a being implies its existence.

Anselm’s ontological argument was challenged by a contemporary monk, Gaunilo of Marmoutier, in the Liber pro insipiente, or “Book in Behalf of the Fool Who Says in His Heart There Is No God.” Gaunilo denied that an idea of a being includes existence in the objective order and that a direct intuition of God necessarily includes God’s existence. Anselm wrote in reply his Liber apologeticus contra Gaunilonem (“Book [of] Defense Against Gaunilo”), which was a repetition of the ontological argument of the Proslogium.


Appointment as archbishop of Canterbury.
William the Conqueror, who had established Norman overlordship of England in 1066, was a benefactor of the monastery at Bec, and lands in both England and Normandy were granted to Bec. Anselm made three visits to England to view these lands. During one of those visits, while Anselm was founding a priory at Chester, William II Rufus, the son and successor of William the Conqueror, named him archbishop of Canterbury (March 1093). The see had been kept vacant since the death of Lanfranc in 1089, during which period the King had confiscated its revenues and pillaged its lands.

Anselm accepted the position somewhat reluctantly but with an intention of reforming the English Church. He refused to be consecrated as archbishop until William restored the lands to Canterbury and acknowledged Urban II as the rightful pope against the antipope Clement III. In fear of death from an illness, William agreed to the conditions, and Anselm was consecrated Dec. 4, 1093. When William recovered, however, he demanded from the new archbishop a sum of money, which Anselm refused to pay lest it look like simony (payment for an ecclesiastical position). In response to Anselm’s refusal, William refused to allow Anselm to go to Rome to receive the pallium—a mantle, the symbol of papal approval of his archiepiscopal appointment—from Urban II, lest this be taken as an implied royal recognition of Urban. In claiming that the king had no right to interfere in what was essentially an ecclesiastical matter, Anselm became a major figure in the investiture controversy; i.e., over the question as to whether a secular ruler (e.g., emperor or king) or the pope had the primary right to invest an ecclesiastical authority, such as a bishop, with the symbols of his office.

The controversy continued for two years. On March 11, 1095, the English bishops, at the Synod of Rockingham, sided with the King against Anselm. When the papal legate brought the pallium from Rome, Anselm refused to accept it from William, since it would then appear that he owed his spiritual and ecclesiastical authority to the king. William permitted Anselm to leave for Rome, but on his departure he seized the lands of Canterbury.

Anselm attended the Council of Bari (Italy) in 1098 and presented his grievances against the King to Urban II. He took an active part in the sessions, defending the doctrine of the Filioque (“and from the Son”) clause in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed against the Greek Church, which had been in schism with the Western Church since 1054. The Filioque clause, added to the Western version of the Creed, indicated that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and Son. The Greek Church rejected the Filioque clause as a later addition. The Council also reapproved earlier decrees against investiture of ecclesiastics by lay officials.


The satisfaction theory of redemption.
When Anselm left England, he had taken with him an incomplete manuscript of his work Cur Deus homo? (“Why Did God Become Man?”). After the Council of Bari, he withdrew to the village of Liberi, near Capua, and completed the manuscript in 1099. This work became the classic treatment of the satisfaction theory of redemption. According to this theory, which is based upon the feudal structure of society, finite man has committed a crime (sin) against infinite God. In feudal society, an offender was required to make recompense, or satisfaction, to the one offended according to that person’s status. Thus, a crime against a king would require more satisfaction than a crime against a baron or a serf. According to this way of thinking, finite man, since he could never make satisfaction to the infinite God, could expect only eternal death. The instrument for bringing man back into a right relationship with God, therefore, had to be the God-man (Christ), by whose infinite merits man is purified in an act of cooperative re-creation. Anselm rejected the view that man, through his sin, owes a debt to the devil, and placed the essence of redemption in individual union with Christ in the Eucharist (Lord’s Supper), to which the sacrament of Baptism (by which a person is incorporated into the church) opens the way.

After completing Cur Deus homo? Anselm attended a council at the Lateran (papal palace) in Rome at Easter 1099. One year later, William Rufus died in a hunting accident under suspicious circumstances, and his brother Henry I seized the English throne. In order to gain ecclesiastical support, he sought for and secured the backing of Anselm, who returned to England. Anselm soon broke with the King, however, when Henry insisted on his right to invest ecclesiastics with the spiritual symbols of their office. Three times the King sought an exemption, and each time the Pope refused. During this controversy, Anselm was in exile, from April 1103 to August 1106. At the Synod of Westminster (1107), the dispute was settled. The King renounced investiture of bishops and abbots with the ring and crosier (staff), the symbols of their office. He demanded, however, that they do homage to him prior to consecration. The Westminster Agreement was a model for the Concordat of Worms (1122), which settled for a time the lay-investiture controversy in the Holy Roman Empire.

Anselm spent the last two years of his life in peace. In 1163, with new canons requiring approvals for canonization (official recognition of persons as saints), Archbishop Thomas Becket of Canterbury (1118?–1170) referred Anselm’s cause to Rome. Anselm was probably canonized at this time, for the Canterbury records for 1170 make frequent mention of the pilgrimages to his new shrine in the cathedral. For several centuries he was venerated locally. Clement XI (pope from 1700 to 1721) declared Anselm a doctor (teacher) of the church in 1720.

The Rev. John Arthur Kemp, S.J.

 






Medieval philosophy » The early Middle Ages » Bernard de Clairvaux and Abelard

Anselm’s inquiry into the existence and nature of God, as also his discussion of truth, love, and human liberty, aimed at fostering monastic contemplation. Other monks, such as the Cistercian St. Bernard de Clairvaux (1090–1153), were suspicious of the use of secular learning and philosophy in matters of faith. Bernard complained of the excessive indulgence in dialectic displayed by contemporaries such as Peter Abelard (1079–1142). He himself developed a doctrine of mystical love, the influence of which lasted for centuries. The monks of the Parisian abbey of Saint-Victor were no less intent on fostering mystical contemplation, but they cultivated the liberal arts and philosophy as an aid to it. In this spirit, Hugh of Saint-Victor (1096–1141) wrote his Didascalicon (c. 1127; “Teaching”; Eng. trans., Didascalicon), a monumental treatise on the theoretical and practical sciences and on the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, dialectic) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, music, geometry, astronomy). During the same period the School of Chartres, attached to the famous Chartres Cathedral near Paris, was the focus of Christian Neoplatonism and humanism.

Urban development in the 12th century shifted the centre of learning and education from the monasteries to the towns. Abelard founded and taught in several urban schools near Paris. A passionate logician, he pioneered a method in theology that contributed to the later Scholastic method. His Sic et non (1115–17; Yes and No) cites the best authorities on both sides of theological questions in order to reach their correct solution. In philosophy his main interest was logic. On the question of universals, he agreed with neither the nominalists nor the realists of his day (see nominalism and realism). His nominalist teacher Roscelin (c. 1050–c. 1125) held that universals, such as “man” and “animal,” are nothing but words, or names (flatus vocis). Abelard argued that this does not take into account the fact that names have meaning. His realist teacher William of Champeaux (c. 1070–1121) taught that universals are realities apart from the mind. For Abelard, only individuals are real; universals are indeed names or mental concepts, but they have meaning because they refer to individuals. They do not signify an essence common to individuals, as the realists maintained (e.g., the essence “humanity” shared by all human beings), but signify instead the individuals in their common condition, or status, of being in a certain species, which results from God having created them according to the same divine idea.

 



Saint Bernard de Clairvaux
French abbot

born 1090, probably Fontaine-les-Dijon, near Dijon, Burgundy
died Aug. 20, 1153, Clairvaux, Champagne; canonized Jan. 18, 1174; feast day August 20

Main
Cistercian monk and mystic, the founder and abbot of the abbey of Clairvaux and one of the most influential churchmen of his time.

Early life and career.
Born of Burgundian landowning aristocracy, Bernard grew up in a family of five brothers and one sister. The familial atmosphere engendered in him a deep respect for mercy, justice, and loyal affection for others. Faith and morals were taken seriously, but without priggishness. Both his parents were exceptional models of virtue. It is said that his mother, Aleth, exerted a virtuous influence upon Bernard only second to what Monica had done for Augustine of Hippo in the 5th century. Her death, in 1107, so affected Bernard that he claimed that this is when his “long path to complete conversion” began. He turned away from his literary education, begun at the school at Châtillon-sur-Seine, and from ecclesiastical advancement, toward a life of renunciation and solitude.

Bernard sought the counsel of the abbot of Cîteaux, Stephen Harding, and decided to enter this struggling, small, new community that had been established by Robert of Molesmes in 1098 as an effort to restore Benedictinism to a more primitive and austere pattern of life. Bernard took his time in terminating his domestic affairs and in persuading his brothers and some 25 companions to join him. He entered the Cîteaux community in 1112, and from then until 1115 he cultivated his spiritual and theological studies.

Bernard’s struggles with the flesh during this period may account for his early and rather consistent penchant for physical austerities. He was plagued most of his life by impaired health, which took the form of anemia, migraine, gastritis, hypertension, and an atrophied sense of taste.


Founder and abbot of Clairvaux.
In 1115 Stephen Harding appointed him to lead a small group of monks to establish a monastery at Clairvaux, on the borders of Burgundy and Champagne. Four brothers, an uncle, two cousins, an architect, and two seasoned monks under the leadership of Bernard endured extreme deprivations for well over a decade before Clairvaux was self-sufficient. Meanwhile, as Bernard’s health worsened, his spirituality deepened. Under pressure from his ecclesiastical superiors and his friends, notably the bishop and scholar William of Champeaux, he retired to a hut near the monastery and to the discipline of a quack physician. It was here that his first writings evolved. They are characterized by repetition of references to the Church Fathers and by the use of analogues, etymologies, alliterations, and biblical symbols, and they are imbued with resonance and poetic genius. It was here, also, that he produced a small but complete treatise on Mariology (study of doctrines and dogmas concerning the Virgin Mary), “Praises of the Virgin Mother.” Bernard was to become a major champion of a moderate cult of the Virgin, though he did not support the notion of Mary’s immaculate conception.

By 1119 the Cistercians had a charter approved by Pope Calixtus II for nine abbeys under the primacy of the abbot of Cîteaux. Bernard struggled and learned to live with the inevitable tension created by his desire to serve others in charity through obedience and his desire to cultivate his inner life by remaining in his monastic enclosure. His more than 300 letters and sermons manifest his quest to combine a mystical life of absorption in God with his friendship for those in misery and his concern for the faithful execution of responsibilities as a guardian of the life of the church.

It was a time when Bernard was experiencing what he apprehended as the divine in a mystical and intuitive manner. He could claim a form of higher knowledge that is the complement and fruition of faith and that reaches completion in prayer and contemplation. He could also commune with nature and say:

Believe me, for I know, you will find something far greater in the woods than in books. Stones and trees will teach you that which you cannot learn from the masters.

After writing a eulogy for the new military order of the Knights Templar he would write about the fundamentals of the Christian’s spiritual life, namely, the contemplation and imitation of Christ, which he expressed in his sermons “The Steps of Humility” and “The Love of God.”


Pillar of the church.
The mature and most active phase of Bernard’s career occurred between 1130 and 1145. In these years both Clairvaux and Rome, the centre of gravity of medieval Christendom, focussed upon Bernard. Mediator and counsellor for several civil and ecclesiastical councils and for theological debates during seven years of papal disunity, he nevertheless found time to produce an extensive number of sermons on the Song of Solomon. As the confidant of five popes, he considered it his role to assist in healing the church of wounds inflicted by the antipopes (those elected pope contrary to prevailing clerical procedures), to oppose the rationalistic influence of the greatest and most popular dialectician of the age, Peter Abelard, and to cultivate the friendship of the greatest churchmen of the time. He could also rebuke a pope, as he did in his letter to Innocent II:

There is but one opinion among all the faithful shepherds among us, namely, that justice is vanishing in the Church, that the power of the keys is gone, that episcopal authority is altogether turning rotten while not a bishop is able to avenge the wrongs done to God, nor is allowed to punish any misdeeds whatever, not even in his own diocese (parochia). And the cause of this they put down to you and the Roman Court.

Bernard’s confrontations with Abelard ended in inevitable opposition because of their significant differences of temperament and attitudes. In contrast with the tradition of “silent opposition” by those of the school of monastic spirituality, Bernard vigorously denounced dialectical Scholasticism as degrading God’s mysteries, as one technique among others, though tending to exalt itself above the alleged limits of faith. One seeks God by learning to live in a school of charity and not through “scandalous curiosity,” he held. “We search in a worthier manner, we discover with greater facility through prayer than through disputation.” Possession of love is the first condition of the knowledge of God. However, Bernard finally claimed a victory over Abelard, not because of skill or cogency in argument but because of his homiletical denunciation and his favoured position with the bishops and the papacy.

Pope Eugenius III and King Louis VII of France induced Bernard to promote the cause of a Second Crusade (1147–49) to quell the prospect of a great Muslim surge engulfing both Latin and Greek Orthodox Christians. The crusade ended in failure because of Bernard’s inability to account for the quarrelsome nature of politics, peoples, dynasties, and adventurers. He was an idealist with the ascetic ideals of Cîteaux grafted upon those of his father’s knightly tradition and his mother’s piety, who read into the hearts of the crusaders—many of whom were bloodthirsty fanatics—his own integrity of motive.

In his remaining years he participated in the condemnation of Gilbert de La Porrée—a scholarly dialectician and bishop of Poitiers who held that Christ’s divine nature was only a human concept. He exhorted Pope Eugenius to stress his role as spiritual leader of the church over his role as leader of a great temporal power, and he was a major figure in church councils. His greatest literary endeavour, “Sermons on the Canticle of Canticles,” was written during this active time. It revealed his teaching, often described as “sweet as honey,” as in his later title doctor mellifluus. It was a love song supreme: “The Father is never fully known if He is not loved perfectly.” Add to this one of Bernard’s favourite prayers, “Whence arises the love of God? From God. And what is the measure of this love? To love without measure,” and one has a key to his doctrine.

St. Bernard was declared a doctor of the church in 1830 and was extolled in 1953 as doctor mellifluus in an encyclical of Pius XII.

John Richard Meyer

 





 
 



 


Peter Abelard
French theologian and poet
French Pierre Abélard, or Abailard, Latin Petrus Abaelardus, or Abeilardus

born 1079, Le Pallet, near Nantes, Brittany [now in France]
died April 21, 1142, Priory of Saint-Marcel, near Chalon-sur-Saône, Burgundy [now in France]

Main
French theologian and philosopher best known for his solution of the problem of universals and for his original use of dialectics. He is also known for his poetry and for his celebrated love affair with Héloïse.

Early life
The outline of Abelard’s career is well known, largely because he described so much of it in his famous Historia calamitatum (“History of My Troubles”). He was born the son of a knight in Brittany south of the Loire River. He sacrificed his inheritance and the prospect of a military career in order to study philosophy, particularly logic, in France. He provoked bitter quarrels with two of his masters, Roscelin of Compiègne and Guillaume de Champeaux, who represented opposite poles of philosophy in regard to the question of the existence of universals. (A universal is a quality or property that each individual member of a class of things must possess if the same general word is to apply to all the things in that class. Redness, for example, is a universal possessed by all red objects.) Roscelin was a nominalist who asserted that universals are nothing more than mere words; Guillaume in Paris upheld a form of Platonic realism according to which universals exist. Abelard in his own logical writings brilliantly elaborated an independent philosophy of language. While showing how words could be used significantly, he stressed that language itself is not able to demonstrate the truth of things (res) that lie in the domain of physics.

Abelard was a peripatetic both in the manner in which he wandered from school to school at Paris, Melun, Corbeil, and elsewhere and as one of the exponents of Aristotelian logic who were called the Peripatetics. In 1113 or 1114 he went north to Laon to study theology under Anselm of Laon, the leading biblical scholar of the day. He quickly developed a strong contempt for Anselm’s teaching, which he found vacuous, and returned to Paris. There he taught openly but was also given as a private pupil the young Héloïse, niece of one of the clergy of the cathedral of Paris, Canon Fulbert. Abelard and Héloïse fell in love and had a son whom they called Astrolabe. They then married secretly. To escape her uncle’s wrath Héloïse withdrew into the convent of Argenteuil outside Paris. Abelard suffered castration at Fulbert’s instigation. In shame he embraced the monastic life at the royal abbey of Saint-Denis near Paris and made the unwilling Héloïse become a nun at Argenteuil.


Career as a monk
At Saint-Denis Abelard extended his reading in theology and tirelessly criticized the way of life followed by his fellow monks. His reading of the Bible and of the Fathers of the Church led him to make a collection of quotations that seemed to represent inconsistencies of teaching by the Christian church. He arranged his findings in a compilation entitled Sic et non (“Yes and No”); and for it he wrote a preface in which, as a logician and as a keen student of language, he formulated basic rules with which students might reconcile apparent contradictions of meaning and distinguish the various senses in which words had been used over the course of many centuries. He also wrote the first version of his book called Theologia, which was formally condemned as heretical and burned by a council held at Soissons in 1121. Abelard’s dialectical analysis of the mystery of God and the Trinity was held to be erroneous, and he himself was placed for a while in the abbey of Saint-Médard under house arrest. When he returned to Saint-Denis he applied his dialectical methods to the subject of the abbey’s patron saint; he argued that St. Denis of Paris, the martyred apostle of Gaul, was not identical with Denis of Athens (also known as Dionysius the Areopagite), the convert of St. Paul. The monastic community of Saint-Denis regarded this criticism of their traditional claims as derogatory to the kingdom; and, in order to avoid being brought for trial before the king of France, Abelard fled from the abbey and sought asylum in the territory of Count Theobald of Champagne. There he sought the solitude of a hermit’s life but was pursued by students who pressed him to resume his teaching in philosophy. His combination of the teaching of secular arts with his profession as a monk was heavily criticized by other men of religion, and Abelard contemplated flight outside Christendom altogether. In 1125, however, he accepted election as abbot of the remote Breton monastery of Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys. There, too, his relations with the community deteriorated, and, after attempts had been made upon his life, he returned to France.

Héloïse had meanwhile become the head of a new foundation of nuns called the Paraclete. Abelard became the abbot of the new community and provided it with a rule and with a justification of the nun’s way of life; in this he emphasized the virtue of literary study. He also provided books of hymns he had composed, and in the early 1130s he and Héloïse composed a collection of their own love letters and religious correspondence.


Final years
About 1135 Abelard went to the Mont-Sainte-Geneviève outside Paris to teach, and he wrote in a blaze of energy and of celebrity. He produced further drafts of his Theologia in which he analyzed the sources of belief in the Trinity and praised the pagan philosophers of classical antiquity for their virtues and for their discovery by the use of reason of many fundamental aspects of Christian revelation. He also wrote a book called Ethica or Scito te ipsum (“Know Thyself”), a short masterpiece in which he analyzed the notion of sin and reached the drastic conclusion that human actions do not make a man better or worse in the sight of God, for deeds are in themselves neither good nor bad. What counts with God is a man’s intention; sin is not something done (it is not res); it is uniquely the consent of a human mind to what it knows to be wrong. Abelard also wrote Dialogus inter philosophum, Judaeum et Christianum (“Dialogue Between a Philosopher, a Jew, and a Christian”) and a commentary on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, the Expositio in Epistolam ad Romanos, in which he outlined an explanation of the purpose of Christ’s life, which was to inspire men to love him by example alone.

On the Mont-Sainte-Geneviève Abelard drew crowds of pupils, many of them men of future fame, such as the English humanist John of Salisbury. He also, however, aroused deep hostility in many by his criticism of other masters and by his apparent revisions of the traditional teachings of Christian theology. Within Paris the influential abbey of Saint-Victor was studiously critical of his doctrines, while elsewhere William of Saint-Thierry, a former admirer of Abelard, recruited the support of Bernard of Clairvaux, perhaps the most influential figure in Western Christendom at that time. At a council held at Sens in 1140, Abelard underwent a resounding condemnation, which was soon confirmed by Pope Innocent II. He withdrew to the great monastery of Cluny in Burgundy. There, under the skillful mediation of the abbot, Peter the Venerable, he made peace with Bernard of Clairvaux and retired from teaching. Now both sick and old, he lived the life of a Cluniac monk. After his death, his body was first sent to the Paraclete; it now lies alongside that of Héloïse in the cemetery of Père-Lachaise in Paris. Epitaphs composed in his honour suggest that Abelard impressed some of his contemporaries as one of the greatest thinkers and teachers of all time.

David Edward Luscombe


 

 

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