Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Robert Grosseteste

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Robert Grosseteste

Article excerpt

Robert Grosseteste. By James McEvoy. [Great Medieval Thinkers.] (New York: Oxford University Press. 2000. Pp. xx, 219. $35.00.)

James McEvoy surely knows Robert Grosseteste better than anyone has since the thirteenth century. Which makes McEvoy the natural choice to write the volume on Grosseteste in the new Oxford series, "Great Medieval Thinkers." Fully up to expectations, he has produced a splendid book, the best single piece on the great English scholastic to appear to date.

Especially nice are the sections (chapters 1 to 3 and 6 to 11) zeroing in on the fundamentals-the life, that is, and the works. Since the early twentieth century Grosseteste has been largely the preserve of historians of philosophy. While there is no gainsaying his place in the history of philosophical speculation in the European West, that certainly provides too narrow a perspective for us to seize either the man in his time or his importance in the grand scheme of things. McEvoy puts the emphasis instead on Grosseteste the theologian and, in the astoundingly productive last two decades of his life, bishop and pastor to his flock. Not only would Grosseteste have wanted to be seen this way, but it also affords a more honest appreciation of his many accomplishments, all of them driven by compelling theological and religious aims. Moreover, McEvoy convincingly argues that Grosseteste's theology was special even in his day for its reliance on the Greek tradition. Unusual enough is the fact that Grosseteste took the time to learn Greek in order to confront his sources directly in their original form. But by proposing that Grosseteste's first efforts in this regard date quite early, perhaps even to the mid-1220's, McEvoy suggests how pervasively the Greek influence permeated his theological imagination. This, in turn, allows McEvoy to highlight a pronounced turn toward mystical and affective themes in Grosseteste's most mature work, where the noetic rhythms of Pseudo-Dionysius make themselves particularly apparent.

Of course, followers of the history of philosophy will still make up a good part of the audience for McEvoy's book. …

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.