Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Making of the Historia Scholastica, 1150-1200

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Making of the Historia Scholastica, 1150-1200

Article excerpt

The Making of the Historia scholastica, 1150-1200. By Mark Clark. [Studies and Texts, 198; Mediaeval Law and Theology, volume 7.] (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. 2015. Pp. xvi, 322. $95.00. ISBN 978-088844-198-0.)

The Historia scholastica of Peter Comestor, Chancellor of Notre-Dame until around 1178, has been unjustly neglected as an exegetical masterpiece of the later twelfth century. Clark seeks to overturn an assumption made by Martin Grabmann and others that Peter Comestor should be bracketed more with so-called "biblicalmoral" teachers like Peter the Chanter than speculative theologians like Peter Lombard. Such a dichotomy, Clark argues, does a profound disservice to Peter Comestor, who he argues was a close and loyal disciple, not just of Peter Lombard, but of the Magna glosatura on the Bible, which Peter Lombard played a key role in establishing. Given the wide influence of the Historia scholastica, the task of editing and contextualising this work of exegetical synthesis is no easy task.

Clark has two principal goals: to examine the literary influences that shape the way in which Comestor identified historia that he saw as the foundational narrative of Scripture and always aimed at students in the schools, and the way in which Stephen Langton used, lectured on, and revised the Historia from before 1176 until around 1193. He argues that the Historia scholastica, dedicated by Comestor to William of Whitehands, Archbishop of Sens, sometime between 1168 and 1173, implements a Victorine conception of historia as a foundation for both allegorical and tropological readings, while selecting from a mass of glosses on Scripture that a succession of masters had compiled, following the pioneering achievements of Anselm of Laon and his immediate disciples in the early twelfth century. In particular, Clark places great emphasis on Comestor's reliance on the Magna glosatura on most books of Scripture as it stood after the death of Peter Lombard in 1160. While only Lombard's glosses on the Psalter and the Epistles of St. …

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