Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Stephen Brown: The Use of St. Augustine's Texts on 'sapientia' and 'scientia' in the Prologues to Mediaeval Commentaries on the Lombard's Sentences

The arrival of Aristotle’s philosophical works in the West in the thirteenth century presented a new challenge to Christian studies of the Bible.  The Philosopher’s works seemed intellectually well-organized and consistent in comparison to the more specific and concrete treatises of the Church Fathers which aimed at defending the Christian faith against heresies.  Aristotle’s discussion of the intellectual virtues, especially ‘wisdom’ and ‘science’, in the Book VI of the Nicomachean Ethics and his special treatise on ‘science’ in the Posterior Analytics suggested a new direction in studying the teachings of the Scriptures.  Since Augustine had often spoken of ‘wisdom’ and ‘science’, and because he was the most influential Church Father in the structure of the chief book dealing with the difficult doctrinal questions, Peter Lombard’s Sentences, it was quite reasonable that commentators on this book would compare the Aristotelian and Augustinian views of ‘wisdom’ and ‘science’.  Such a comparison allowed them to show how the ‘wisdom’ of the sacred Scriptures was superior to the ‘wisdom’ of Aristotle’s collection of writings.  In this paper we will view this comparison in the commentaries of Alexander of Hales, Albert the Great, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, William of Ware, Durandus of Saint-Pourcain, Hervaeus Natalis, Gerard of Bologna, John Duns Scotus, Peter Aureoli, William of Ockham and Gregory of Rimini.  Augustine’s important place in this debate is brought out best by Gregory’s criticism of Peter Aureoli, when Gregory says quite simply: “Go back and reread his [Augustine’s] words; they are not as you say.”

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