ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

191. The Argumentative Theologians. School of Abelard and St Victor. -- The reasoned or dialectic theology, which constitutes scholastic theology proper, was developed mainly in two great schools, that of Abelard and that of St. Victor.

Abelard's Introductio ad Theologiam seems to be the first scholastic treatise to co-ordinate Catholic teaching. Its division of theology into three parts (faith and mysteries -- incarnation and sacraments -- charity) was faithfully retained in all the productions of the theological school of Abelard. Fr. Denifle, who has recently thrown considerable light on this school, has discovered four Summae directly inspired by the Introductio ad Theologiam: (1) the Epitome Theologiae, heretofore attributed to Abelard himself, but really the work of a disciple who closely follows the master's guidance; (2) the Sententiae Rodlandi Bononiensis magistri auctoritatibus rationibus fortes, by Roland Bandinelli (Alexander III.), published by Gietl; (3) a Summa by Ognibene, a contemporary of Roland; (4) another anonymous Summa. Abelard, with his characteristic combativeness, turned to dialectic for weapons to fight the tritheism of Roscelin. But his zeal carried him too far: he fell into error in regard to the sphere of mystery -- in good faith, according to many of his historians (174). This aroused the suspicions of the ecclesiastical authorities and fostered an excessive distrust of all philosophy in the minds of the more timid theologians. The school of Abelard survived the condemnation of its founder in 1141 (195), for the Summa of Roland is posterior to that date.

Fortunately the school of St. Victor knew how to avail of Abelard's didactic and constructive methods in theology without allowing them to transgress the limits of the most exact orthodoxy. It thus contributed no less powerfully than Abelard himself towards marking out the path which scholastic theology was destined to follow. Its wholesome influence is traceable in the works of Roland and Ognibene. HUGH OF ST. VICTOR is the leading representative of the school which takes its name from the famous home of medieval mysticism. His treatise De Sacramentis is superior to Abelard's Introductio ad Theologiam, but it dates from a somewhat later period. As for the Summa Sententiarum, which is more directly inspired by Abelard's method, its authorship is vigorously disputed; but its exact reproduction of Abelard's teaching, and even of his errors, forbids us to attribute it to the author of the De Sacramentis.{1}

Abelard and Hugh of St. Victor were both theologians and philosophers. That is more than can be said for some other theologians of their time.

{1} PORTALIÉ, École théolog. d'Abélard (Dict. théol. cath., col. 54).

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