As Archbishop of Canterbury and the architect of Magna Carta, Stephen Langton has been celebrated for his political achievements, but only a small sample of his theological writings have been edited and examined. This paper attempts to shed some light on Langton’s considerable body of pastoral work, and delineate the contours of his thought on repentance and forgiveness. It focuses on one work, De poenitentia sub persona Magdalenae, a work which George Lacombe dismissed as a ‘tiresome treatise’ and which has not hitherto been deemed worthy of serious academic scrutiny. The paper discusses whether this is truly the work of Stephen Langton, or whether it is better attributed to his brother, Simon. It will examine Langton’s engagement with a number of themes typical of the 13th-century schools of theology: the role of tears in pastoral care and their significance for the repenting sinner, asking what, in particular, Mary Magdalene could teach both the priest and the penitent.
In this work, I shall argue that a detailed understanding of Anselm’s endeavor in the Proslogion requires us to move away from the configurations that govern the ordinary understanding of our concepts of faith and understanding. I begin by detailing the works used tin teaching the trivium at Bec according to 12th century library lists, and provide a brief justification for thinking that these same works would have been used slightly earlier, in Anselm’s time. Next, I show how the terms fides and intellectus functioned in the these works: focusing for the latter on Boethius’s Isagoge and Peri Hermenias commentaries, and for the former on his commentary on Cicero’s Topics and his de differentiis topics. Finally, I turn to the Proslogion and the exchange with Gaunilo to show how these considerations illuminate Anselm’s aims as presented therein.