The Two-Fold Knowledge: Readings on the Knowledge of Self and the Knowledge of God

The Two-Fold Knowledge: Readings on the Knowledge of Self and the Knowledge of God

The Two-Fold Knowledge: Readings on the Knowledge of Self and the Knowledge of God

The Two-Fold Knowledge: Readings on the Knowledge of Self and the Knowledge of God

Excerpt

What would make the writings of a monk who died 850 years ago attractive still today? And, no doubt, he is an attractive author. His attractiveness lies in his insights into spiritual matters as a 'pre-critical' scholar of the Scriptures. However, Bernard is of great interest also for philosophers of the caliber of Maurice Blondel (1861-1949). What makes Bernard of Clairvaux 'present to the centuries,' is the 'total integrity and practicality,' the 'depth and sublimity' of his spirituality, exemplified by a life journey which he was able to communicate in his 'exceptionally beautiful writings'. However, 'the exquisite beauty of his carefully crafted Latin is largely lost in translation'. Indeed, it was his elegant literary Latin that has guaranteed his effectiveness as a theological and spiritual author. He was a man of letters, a great writer by any standard. Bernard the monk did not renounce the art of good writing on important matters. 'He writes about things that are at the very heart of human and Christian experience.'

His literary production began when he was about thirty years of age. Between 1120 and 1125, he wrote four Homilies in Praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Around 1125, he wrote the treatises on the Steps of Humility and Pride and his Apologia to Abbot William. In 1127/28, were written some of his so-called letters, actually treatises such as Letter 42 on the duties of bishops and Letter 77 on baptism. In 1130, he expanded on his Letter 11 on the steps toward loving God and made it the treatise On the Necessity of Loving God. His letters were collected and circulated by his secretaries. The earliest letter is Letter 441, probably written to the prior of Clairvaux, on accepting a young man into the monastery. In 1128, he wrote On Grace and Free Choice and In Praise of the New Knighthood.

In mid-career so-to-speak (about 1135) he started his Sermons on the Song of Songs and realized some twenty four of them. His Letter 190 on the errors of Peter Abelard was written in 1139. In 1139/40, he wrote his Sermons on Psalm 90, his Sermon to Clerics on Conversion, and, in 1141 or later, On Precept and Dispensation. The Sermons 25 to 79 were added to his Song commentary in these years. The First Sermon on the Annunciation was written probably in 1141, and the Third in . . .

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