The Development Of Scholastic Theology In The 12th Century

In the discussions of lectio, quaestio, and disputatio it should have become clear that these traditional methods of study had developed in significant new ways. Anselm of Canterbury and Peter Abelard were asking questions aimed at deepening the understanding of the articles of the Christian creed. Furthermore, even those who ignored Anselm and those who criticized Abelard were organizing their study of the Bible into summae, or collections of questions following a logical order of integration. Schools that ignored the new rational or "understanding" approach to the study of Scripture had trouble competing for students. The school of Laon lost its influence; and the school of Saint-Victor, despite its strengths, eventually lost out to the cathedral school at Paris.

Among the logically ordered collections of questions related to the truths of the Christian faith, the most respected 12th-century summa quaestionum was what came to be called the Sentences of Peter Lombard. This work, in four books, drew many marginal commentaries to its various copies, and even those who developed their own separate summae often followed Lombard's manner of organization. Peter was so respected that he gained the title Magister or Master. Until the 17th century, it was by this honorific title that he was referred to in the hundreds of commentaries written on his Sentences.

The principal text in regard to scriptural teaching in the 12th century was the Bible itself. Many of the commentaries on Scripture were done according to the model of moral interpretation, especially guided by the Moralia on Job of Gregory the Great and the medieval moral tradition following him. More complicated discussions of doctrinal issues, such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, and other truths of the Christian Bible, were set aside for later disputations in afternoon sessions. It is only in the 13 th century, under Alexander of Hales at the University of Paris and Richard Fishacre at the University of Oxford, that the Sentences of Peter Lombard was made an official textbook and moved to the morning hours to help deal with "the difficult doctrinal questions." The Historia Scholastica [Scholastic History] of Peter Comestor was also introduced at Paris as an official text to help give a narrative overview of the whole of biblical history while individual biblical texts were being studied.

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