IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 604: Nature, the Bible, and Jews: From Eriugena to the 12th Century

Tuesday 8 July 2008, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Eyal Poleg, Centre for the History of the Book, University of Edinburgh
Paper 604-aBiblical Exegesis as Conclusion: Some Particularities of J.S. Eriugena's Commentary of the Fourth Gospel
(Language: English)
Dan Batovici, Società Internazionale Tommaso d'Aquino (SITA), Romania / University of Bucharest
Index terms: Biblical Studies, Language and Literature - Latin, Philosophy
Paper 604-bThe Impact of Roman Sources on John of Salisbury's Views of Nature
(Language: English)
Irene A. O'Daly, Gonville & Caius College, University of Cambridge / Trinity College, Dublin
Index terms: Learning (The Classical Inheritance), Political Thought
Paper 604-cThe Salvation of Ancient Jews and the Condemnation of Modern Theologians in the 12th Century
(Language: English)
Sean Murphy, Department of Liberal Studies, Western Washington University
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Mentalities, Theology

Paper -a:
Johannes Scottus Eriugena (present at the court of Charles the Bald around 851) is well known for his philosophical work De Divisione Naturae. However, the lesser known Commentary on the Gospel of John, written after De Divisione, is of particular importance due to the fact that it is Eriugena’s last work. The present paper will discuss some features of this latter work, focussing on the usage of the sources and on particularities of his exegetical method, as well as on the place of the Biblical exegesis in Eriugena’s work, motivating his choice for John’s Gospel. Finally, I will conclude describing the Commentary’s relation to the De Divisione.
Paper -b:
An endeavour for 12th-century scholars was to utilise an expanding array of available texts from the antique period to understand patterns of political and social interaction. The concurrent availability of Christian views, Platonic interpretations, and Stoic quasi-pantheistic texts engendered a new vision of nature.

John of Salisbury (c. 1120-1180) believed that nature played a dual role: it was, at once, a generative force which endowed man with reason and eloquence and, secondly, a guiding principle which provided a blueprint for virtuous living. I consider that this view was heavily dependent on Roman sources: especially the Stoic elements of the works of Seneca and Cicero. This paper shall consider the manner in which John used Roman sources to develop his views and further elaborate the degree to which nature was significant in his political reasoning.
Paper -c:
Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, and Isaiah: Exactly how much – their latter-day judges ask – did these ancient notables, and countless other men and women grouped with them under the heading ‘the Jews’, have to know about Christianity before Christ in order to be counted as Christians after Christ? Such knowledge (as well as the people who are supposed to have had or not have had it in sufficient degree) is, of course, fictive. In the early 12th century, it exists only in the imaginations and writings of Christian intellectuals exercised by such questions. But such fictive knowledge has a fictive power of salvation in the past world’s academics imagined. And it is precisely this power of salvation that makes questions about the knowledge of Christianity attained by past Jews so pressing and problematic in the entirely real world of 12th-century academic discourse on Judaism and salvation. There is a tendency, as I will show, among those 12th-century theologians who are distinctly anti-judaizing in some respects, to limit the knowledge of Christ attainable before the advent of Christ, and so to limit access to salvation among imagined ancient Jews. In doing so, they attempt to assert their own power – intellectual, moral, and doctrinal – over contemporary academics: the denial or limitation of knowledge with the power to save in an imagined past functions as a denial of authoritative knowledge with the power to compel assent in an ideologically contested present.