Bernard of Clairvaux

Bernard of Clairvaux

Bernard of Clairvaux

Bernard of Clairvaux

Synopsis

Renowned medievalist G.R. Evans here provides a concise introduction to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), a figure of towering importance on the twelfth-century monastic and theological scene. After a brief overview of Bernard's life, Evans focuses on a few major themes in his work, including his theology of spirituality and his theology of the political life of the Church. The only available introduction to Bernard's life and thought, this latest addition to the Great Medieval Thinkers series will appeal to a wide audience of students and scholars of history and theology.

Excerpt

Many people would be surprised to be told that there were any great medieval thinkers. If a great thinker is one from whom we can learn today, and if "medieval" serves as an adjective for describing anything which existed from (roughly) the years A.D. 600 to 1500, then--so it is often supposed--medieval thinkers cannot be called 'great'.

Why not? One answer often given appeals to ways in which medieval authors with a taste for argument and speculation tend to invoke 'authorities', especially religious ones. Such invocation of authority is not the stuff of which great thought is made--so it is often said today. It is also frequently said that greatness is not to be found in the thinking of those who lived before the rise of modern science, not to mention that of modern philosophy and theology. Students of science are nowadays hardly ever referred to literature earlier than the seventeenth century. Students of philosophy in the twentieth century have often been taught nothing about the history of ideas between Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) and Descartes (A.D. 1596-1650). Modern students of theology have often been frequently encouraged to believe that significant theological thinking is a product of the nineteenth century.

Yet the origins of modern science lie in the conviction that the world is open to rational investigation and is orderly rather than chaotic--a conviction which came fully to birth, and was systematically explored and developed, during the Middle Ages. And it is in medieval thinking that we find . . .

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