Philosophy and Theology in the Middle Ages

Philosophy and Theology in the Middle Ages

Philosophy and Theology in the Middle Ages

Philosophy and Theology in the Middle Ages

Synopsis

In the ancient world being a philosopher was a practical alternative to being a christian. Philosophical systems offered intellectual, practical and moral codes for living. By the Middle Ages however philosophy was largely, though inconsistently, incorporated into Christian belef. From the end of the Roman Empire to the Reformation and Renaissance of the sixteenth century Christian theologians had a virtual monopoly on higher education. The complex interaction between theology and philosophy, which was the result of the efforts of Christian leaders and thinkers to assimilate the most sophisticated ideas of science and secular learning into their own system of thought, is the subject of this book. Augustine, as the most widely read author in the Middle Ages, is the starting point. Dr Evans then discusses the classical sources in general which the medieval scholar would have had access to when he wanted to study philosophy and its theological implications. Part I ends with an analysis of the problems of logic, language and rhetoric. In Part II the sequence of topics - God, cosmos, man follow the outline of the summa, or systematic encyclopedia of theology, which developed from the twelfth century as a text book framework. Does God exist? What is he like? What are human beings? Is there a purpose to their lives? These are the great questions of philosophy and religion and the issues to which the medieval theologian addressed himself. From 'divine simplicity' to ethics and politics, this book is a lively introduction to the debates and ideas of the Middle Ages.

Excerpt

This is a book mostly about the Western tradition of study of philosophy and theology in the Middle Ages. That is partly for reasons of space. It is necessary to be heavily selective even in giving an account of this geographically limited area of growth in the relationship between philosophy and theology. But we should need to concentrate on the West in any case, because that was where the main stream of philosophical development now flowed. After the centuries which immediately followed the fall of the Roman Empire, Byzantine Christianity developed its own branch of the tradition in terms of theological scholarship. the two were not easily able to keep in touch, because few scholars knew both Greek and Latin after the sixth century; and after 1054 the Greek and Latin Churches were divided and ceased to be in communion with one another. the Byzantine style of Christian scholarship placed an emphasis on mysticism. It drew more heavily and more directly on late Platonism than the West was able to do, while the West made substantial use of Aristotle. Without diverging doctrinally except over the question of the Procession of the Holy Spirit and some lesser matters such as the use of leavened or unleavened bread in the Eucharist and whether purgatory purged by fire, the two Churches came to have subtly but undeniably different intellectual flavours. At the Council of Florence (1438-45), when a serious attempt was made to reunite the two Churches, it was dramatically evident that they spoke not only two languages, but also two languages of thought.

If we must limit ourselves to only a few glances at the Greek East, we can take in the much broader range of themes in which philosophy interested itself in our period than was the case even in the late antique world. in the twelfth century, the Canon Hugh of St Victor (c.1096-1141), who taught at Paris, made a distinction between those aspects of theology which are concerned with the being and nature of God, his

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.