IMC 2005: Sessions

Session 1218: Eternity, Maturity, and the Ages

Wednesday 13 July 2005, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Frans van Liere, Department of History, Calvin College, Michigan
Paper 1218-aThe Commentary Tradition on Aristotle's De iuventute et senectute during the Middle Ages
(Language: English)
Anja Inkeri Lehtinen, Department of History, University of Helsinki
Index terms: Learning (The Classical Inheritance), Philosophy
Paper 1218-bEternal Youth?: Time and Eternity in Medieval Theology
(Language: English)
Lesley-Anne Dyer, Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge
Index terms: Philosophy, Theology
Paper 1218-cThe Spiritually Mature Reader: Bernard of Clairvaux
(Language: English)
Duncan Robertson, Department of Languages, Literature & Communication, Augusta State University
Index terms: Language and Literature - Latin, Monasticism, Religious Life, Sermons and Preaching

Abstract Paper a) I have been working for many years on editions and interpretations of medieval commentaries on Aristotle’s De iuventute et senectute, De inspiratione et respiratione, and De vita et morte. Many ancient, medieval and Renaissance commentators wrote commentaries on these works. So far, they remain probably the least studied among Aristotle’s treatises on natural philosophy. During the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries, approximately thirty authors, known by name, wrote glosses, commentaries and questions on these works, and the number of interesting anonymous texts is about the same. Among the known authors were famous names like Iohannes de Ianduno, Iohannes Buridanus, Henricus de Alemannia, Siger de Brabantia (uncertain), Petrus de Alvernia, Marsilius de Inghen, and so on.

Paper b) The concepts of youth and old age imply a deeper philosophical concept of time. They show the Augustinian notions of coming to be and passing away in contrast with a rest from change implied by the concept of eternity. From the moment Augustine recounted his search for the eternal within a temporal frame work (The Confessions), medieval theologians such as Boethius and Aquinas asked what this rest was that transcended youth and old age. In order to better understand medieval concepts of youth and old age, this paper will demonstrate the philosophical/theological foundations of time and eternity.

Paper c) In the first of the Sermons on the Song of Songs, Bernard develops a concept of spiritual maturity inherited from Origen and the New Testament epistles. Origen had conceived the Songs as ‘solid food’ rather than ‘milk’, fit reading for adult minds, but dangerous for novices, i.e. readers not yet freed from the vexations of the flesh. Bernard goes further: where Origen’s reader remains, even in full maturity, somewhat detached from the text, Bernard suggests that only by direct, participatory experience – sola experientia – can the poem be read at all. Bernard’s qualified adult reader is one endowed with a kind of sexual maturity of spirit, enabling reading as mystical consummation.