The question of the eternity of the world

Christians were confronted, just as the ancient philosophers had been, with the problem of explaining how a God of absolute goodness and simplicity could be the Creator of a universe so different from himself, so various and full of multiplicity and corruption how a God who is eternal and unchanging can have begun at some time to do that which he had not eternally done, and bring the world into being. Christians would point to the Genesis account as a true history of the manner in which the...

The Classical Sources Of Mediaeval Philosophy

The influence of Greek and Roman philosophical texts upon the Christian theology of the Middle Ages was both direct and indirect. In many cases the books were available to be read for themselves. But there were also layers upon layers of intermediate influence. Macrobius, for example, commented upon Cicero's Dream of Scipio and provided his mediaeval readers with material on Pythagorean mathematics, Platonic cosmology and much else in the process. Christian patristic authors were themselves a...

Sustaining The World

The Creator's work is not deemed by philosophers or by Christian theologians to be finished when he has made the world. He sustains it in being. Divine work here is discussed on two levels in both traditions. The PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY IN THE MIDDLE AGES first is that of the divine plan for the world, with all the concomitant questions about providence, divine omnipotence, and the problem of evil, together with the issues of divine foreknowledge, predestination, grace and the free will of...

The Idea Of Philosophy

Christians who spoke of 'philosophy' did not mean the same thing in the fifth century as they were to do a thousand years later. Mediaeval readers were drawing upon much the same body of textbooks as were already regarded as the classics of the subject in Augustine's time. But they no longer lived in a world where 'being a philosopher' was a practical alternative to being a Christian, and where one might meet and talk with men who had made that choice. Philosophy in the Middle Ages was largely...

Trinity And Divine Simplicity

Christianity inherited the fastidiousness of a philosophical system which cannot countenance the notion of any plurality in God, and regards anything but the utmost simplicity as unworthy of him. That was also a position highly congenial to Islamic monotheism, and Giles of Rome notes that Averroes gives that reason for insisting that there can be no Trinity in God Errores Philosophorum IV.7 . But for Christians the doctrine of the Trinity presented a challenge here which had to be taken up. The...

The Soul

Genesis 2.7 describes how God breathed life into Adam. That accorded with the consensus of the ancient philosophers that the soul is the animating principle of living beings. That is to say, it is the presence of the soul which makes it possible for the matter of which the body is composed to act as a living thing. Augustine thought the soul was something more. In man the soul is more than mere animator even vegetables have life . It is more than the power of sensation which animals also have...

Theology And Philosophical Method

We have touched already on the question of the use theologians felt it proper to make of the methods developed by classical philosophers. There were fundamental problems here to do with the ways in which human understanding comes by what it knows, and conveys it to others. Christians recognised two gifts which did not come into the philosophers' reckoning revelation in Holy Scripture and the gift of faith which is inseparable from trust on the part of the believer. 'I believe' is not identical...

The Idea Of Theology And The Conflict Of Interests

The term theologia was not normally used in Christian writers for what we should now call 'theology' until the thirteenth century. Until the twelfth century it was more usual to speak of 'the study of Holy Scripture'. Even Aquina s, late in the thirteenth century, speaks of sacra doctrina in the Summa Theologiae in preference to theologia. The notion of a discipline which PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY IN THE MIDDLE AGES amounted to the systematic study of the Christian faith by rational methods grew...