Historical Dictionary of Medieval Philosophy and Theology focuses on the philosophy of the Middle Ages, but this is a philosophy so wrapped up in questions of religion that it must also deal with theology. Although covering mainly Christianity and the West, it also spreads to Judaism and Islam and their centers beyond (and, at times, often within) Europe. Finally, while concentrating on the medieval period, it cannot help reaching back to Augustine, many centuries before, and then beyond him to the great ancient philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. What is most interesting, however, is that while usually almost contemptuously relegated to the past, medieval philosophy and theology look into problems and adopt approaches that are not so remote in certain areas from those of the present day and, with the emerging fundamentalism in the three major religions of the Book and a growing clash of civilizations, may become even more important tomorrow.
This volume, like the others in the series, consists mainly of a dictionary section that includes brief entries on important philosophers and thinkers, among many others the leading Christian ones of the period, such as Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Peter Abelard, John Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham, and also—although primarily as concerns their influence on the period—predecessors such as Augustine, Plato and Aristotle, Avicenna and Averroes. The remainder describes the major concepts and issues, institutions and organizations, conflicts, and other events of the period. The overall context in which an amazingly intense and lively debate was played out is considered more broadly in the introduction and traced in the chronology. The bibliography, a rather extensive one, can help readers learn more about all of the various persons and aspects.
Given the unusually broad spread of this volume, it is certainly appreciated that, although there are only two authors, they combine an unusually broad range of backgrounds and interests. One, Stephen F.
Brown, comes from Philadelphia and the other, Juan Carlos Flores, from San Salvador, although both pursued their doctoral studies at the University of Louvain in Belgium. Both graduated as doctors of philosophy, but both have extensive theological backgrounds. Dr. Brown, who did his undergraduate studies at St. Bonaventure University, has been teaching in the Theology Department of Boston College for over two decades. Dr. Flores, who did his doctoral dissertation on the doctrine of the Trinity and Henry of Ghent, now teaches philosophy at Providence College. Aside from teaching, both have written extensively and are also editors of medieval Latin philosophical and theological texts. This was a rather substantial preparation for one of our broadest volumes, on a subject that—while apparently rooted in the past—will certainly be of use at present.
Jon Woronoff Series Editor
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