Academic journal article Magistra

Letters of Peter Abelard: Beyond the Personal

Academic journal article Magistra

Letters of Peter Abelard: Beyond the Personal

Article excerpt

Letters of Peter Abelard: Beyond the Personal Jan Ziolkowski (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2007) 232 pages, paperback, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-8132-1505-1.

The most important thing about this new collection of Abelard letters is that they are not the ones with which people are most familiar. Ziolkowski, a noted translator who is professor of medieval Latin at Harvard, has turned his skills to a group of twelve other "non-personal letters" or "letter-like texts" for this new volume.

Those of most interest to readers of this journal will probably be those written for Heloise and the nuns of the Paraclete. They include Letters Nine and Sixteen as well as writings relating to Abelard's other writings. These are the prefaces to three volumes of his Paraclete Hymnal and a dedicatory letter attached to his Commentary on the Six Days of Creation.

As with more familiar writings, he preaches and encourages the women in a way that assumes they are intellectually and spiritually capable. Letter Nine expounds at length on the women of the circle of St. Jerome and their study of Scripture. …

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