Gottschalk and a Medieval Predestination Controversy: Texts Translated from the Latin

Gottschalk and a Medieval Predestination Controversy: Texts Translated from the Latin

Gottschalk and a Medieval Predestination Controversy: Texts Translated from the Latin

Gottschalk and a Medieval Predestination Controversy: Texts Translated from the Latin

Synopsis

The question of predestination and its nature, which drew strong protests from the monks of Provence in the early fifth century against the teaching of Augustine of Hippo, was initially settled by the Council of Orange in 529. But in the Carolingian renaissance in the ninth century, the Benedictine monk, Gottschalk of Orbais, brought the teachings of the late Augustine to the forefront of theological debate and greatly disturbed the clergy and faithful with his doctrine of double predestination of some to the joy of heaven and of others to the eternal punishment of hell—a doctrine that he claimed was that of Augustine and the Catholic faith. The present volume provides for the first time an English translation of Gottschalk’s key writings on predestination and various reactions and comments from leading theologians of the ninth century, as well as a learned introduction to Gottschalk’s life and controversies.

Victor Genke holds an advanced degree from the Lobachevsky State University of Nizhni Novgorod and is the author of Ancient Church from Apostolic Times to Augustine (in Russian).

Francis Gumerlock, PhD, teaches at Providence Theological Seminary and is the author of six books including Fulgentius of Ruspe on the Saving Will of God.

Excerpt

Tous les passés n’ont pas eu d’avenir.
Maurice Godelier

Gottschalk was an important figure in the social and political history of Germany, France, Italy and the Balkans. He was the first to use the expression gens teudisca, which is equivalent to deutsche Volk. Moreover, he is among the major witnesses for the formation of the independent Croatian state in Dalmatia. However, his place in the history of ideas is even more eminent. Between the Council of Orange in 529 and the sixteenth century, very few people dared to apply so radically the predestinarian theology of Augustine as Gottschalk did.

This introductory essay will briefly review current scholarship on Gottschalk, present the need for this book, and give an overview of Gottschalk’s life. It will then trace the course of events of the theological controversy over twofold predestination that he sparked, introducing the key persons involved the controversy and the literature they produced. Finally, it will summarize Gottschalk’s doctrine of predestination and offer suggestions for further study.

SCHOLARSHIP ON GOTTSCHALK

In the aftermath of the Reformation James Ussher (1581-1656), the archbishop of Armagh, wrote the first significant account of Gottschalk’s life and teaching.

1 Lambot, 195.

2 German people.

3 Others include Thomas Bradwardine (c. 1290-1349), Gregory of Rimini (d. 1358) and John Wycliffe (c. 1330-1384). However, they are separated from Gottschalk by almost five hundred years.

4 James Ussher, Gotteschalci, et praedestinatianae controversiae ab eo motae, historia (Dublin: ex typographia Societatis Bibliopolarum, 1631; Hannover: Lasche, 1662).

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