A very important increase in our knowledge about Durand’s life and career is due to the foundational study by J. Koch, published in 1927: Durandus de S. Porciano, Forschungen zum Streit um Thomas von Aquin zu Beginn des 14. Jh. One of the most important goal of Koch was to investigate the manuscript tradition of Durandus’ Sentences Commentary.The results of Koch’s investigation were at least three. Durand produced three versions of his Sentences Commentary. Each version is different from the other and was written in a different period of Durandus’s long career: the first version was written as Durandus was still a student in some provincial studium of the Dominican Order between 1303-1308, the second as he was lector in Paris between 1310-1312, the third as he was Bishop between 1317-1325. The first version comprises open and vehement criticisms against the doctrines of Thomas Aquinas, the second was a Verlegenheitsprodukt, i.e. A product of embarassment, characterized by retractations of the polemical places against Thomas, the third was a return to many positions that Durand had held in the first redaction and later dropped from the second one. The three versions are not transmitted in the same way for all 4 books. Whereas the manuscript tradition of the third redaction was quite clear, the situation of the first and second redaction was really complicated. About the first Book, Koch was convinced that there never existed a second version of the first Book. For this reason no manuscript has ever been found containing Durandus’s Commentary, Book 1, second redaction. For the second and forth Books Koch admitted the existence of two different versions, even if Koch had never access to the manuscripts of Book 2, first redaction. For the third book the situation is complicated because of the lack of copies of Durandus’s Commentary, Book 3, second redaction. Koch’s results were and are brilliant. They need, however, some corrections. There was, indeed, a gap in Koch’s research: Koch worked mainly on the basis of the indirect tradition of Durandus’s Text. He had at disposal just few manuscripts.
The purpose of this paper is to offer an overview on the manuscript tradition of Durand’s work by analising the extant manuscripts of the first two versions (A and B) and bringing to the public attention the results of the more recent studies on this topic, with particular reference to the critical editions published and planned within the ‘Durandus-Projekt’ at the Thomas-Institut in Cologne.
Durandus of St. Pourçain’s theology/philosophy is characterised by a combination of Aristotelian and Augustinian elements. On the one hand, Durandus was influenced by the new way of doing theology and philosophy, which Thomas Aquinas introduced and which the Dominican Order wanted to impose on all his members; on the other hand, he was still influenced by the old, traditional way, which was mostly influenced by Augustine. One can exemplify this combination by looking at Durandus’ theory of the soul. Following Thomas Aquinas’s interpretation of Aristotle, he identifies e.g. the soul as unique substantial form and sole bearer of personal identity and therefore opposes the Franciscan tradition of a plurality of forms in man. Yet, when it comes to explain knowledge, Durandus deviates from Aquinas’s adoption of Aristotle and his agent/possible intellect and adheres to a more Augustinian/Franciscan view, which understands the soul/the intellect as an active potency, its objects merely as causa sine qua non. In his general account of psychology, namely whether the soul and its potencies are the same or differ, he clearly follows both traditions and, in fact, is a predecessor of Ockham, whose position becomes the fundamental anti-thomistic view in the 14th and 15th century. In that perspective, Durandus is a pivotal figure of the beginning 14th century and his theory of the soul is paradigmatic for that time.
Among the theological views of Durandus of Saint-Pourçain censured by a commission of theologians in 1314 one finds also the following two highly unorthodox and controversial opinions which the censors qualify as bold and dangerous (temerarium et periculosum): Unlike the entire previous theological tradition, Durandus holds that the Old Testament patriachs did not need a special divine permission to marry multiple wives but could do so with the sole consent of their first wife. Equally he maintains that the pope can grant a dispensation from monogamy if the first wife agrees. The paper will trace the development of Durandus’s unconventional views on polygamy from the first to the third redaction of his Sentences Commentary and put them into the context of the 12th and 13th-century polygamy debate.