One of the significant developments in scholarship in the latter half of the twentieth century was the awareness among historians of ideas, historians of theology, and medievalists of the importance of the Christian scriptures in the Latin Middle Ages. In contrast to an earlier generation of scholars who considered the medieval period as a ’Bible-free zone’, recent investigations have shown the central role of scripture in literature, art, law, liturgy, and formal religious education. Indeed, to understand the Latin Middle Ages one must understand the value they placed upon the Bible, how they related to it, and how they studied it. However, despite the new emphasis on the Bible’s role and the place of exegesis in medieval thought, our detailed understanding is all too meagre - and generalisations, often imagined as valid for a period of close to a millennium, abound. How the Scriptures were used in one pursuit (formal theology for example relied heavily on ’allegory’) was often very different to the way they were used in another (e.g. in history writing was interested in literal meanings), and exegesis differed over time and with cultures. Similarly, while most medieval writers were agreed that there were several ’senses’ within the text, the number and nature varied greatly as did the strategies for accessing those meanings. This collection of fifteen articles, concentrating on the early Latin middle ages, explores this variety and highlights just how patchy has been our understanding of medieval exegesis. We now may be aware of the importance of the Bible, but the task of studying that phenomenon is in its infancy.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface; Introduction; Part 1 Processing the Patristic Inheritance: ‘Aquae super caelos (Gen 1:6-7): the first faith-science debate?; The controversy over Methuselah’s death: proto-chronology and the origins of the western concept of inerrancy; Adam’s burial at Hebron: some aspects of its significance in the Latin tradition; A woman’s plight and the western fathers. Part 2 Developing New Exegetical Strategies: Julian of Toledo’s Antikeimenon and the development of Latin Exegesis; The exegetical purpose of Adomnán’s De Locis Sanctis; The symbol gives life: Eucherius of Lyons’ formula for exegesis; Biblical contradictions in the Periphyseon and the development of Eriugena’s method; The plan of the New Jerusalem in the Book of Armagh. Part 3 Exegesis as a Practice: Adam’s Rib and the equality of the sexes: some medieval exegesis of Gen 2:21-22; The waters above the heavens, Isidore, and the Latin tradition; Seeking the early medieval view on the Song of Songs; The gates of Hell: from metaphor to fact; The mysticism of number in the medieval period before Eriugena; Individual anonymity and collective identity: the enigma of early medieval Latin theologians; Indexes.
Thomas O'Loughlin is Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Nottingham, UK.