Semiotic Theory and Sacramentality in Hugh of Saint Victor  book cover
1st Edition

Semiotic Theory and Sacramentality in Hugh of Saint Victor

ISBN 9781138033481
Published August 18, 2019 by Routledge
264 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book offers Hugh of Saint Victor’s early scholastic thoughts on sacrament in order to re-discover the pre-modern theological understanding of ontological signification. The Christian understanding of sacrament through the category of ‘signs’ results in a theology that inherently shares in the philosophical notion of semiotics. Yet, through the advent of post-structuralism, current sign-theory is effectively shaped by post-Kantian, ontological foundations. This can lead to misinterpretations of the sacramental theology that predates this intellectual turn.

The book works within a context of Christological, realist mysticism. Such an approach allows mutually informing debates in semiotic development and studies on sacramental theology to sit side-by-side. In addition, as a work of ressourcement, influenced by the methodology and concerns of the historical, French Ressourcement, this study seeks to continue an engagement with some of the most promising sacramental positions that have emerged throughout twentieth-century theology, particularly with the revival of interest in Victorine theology.

By providing an examination of sacramentality and theories of signification in the early scholastic theology of Hugh of Saint Victor, this book gives fresh impetus to the theology surrounding sacrament. As such, it will be of great interest to scholars of mysticism, theologians of sacrament, philosophical theologians, and philosophers of religion.

Table of Contents


1 Pedagogy, Lectio, and Vera Philosophia

2 The Signification of The Sign: Creation And Incarnation

3 The Christ-Centred Opus Restaurationis

4 The Berengarian Controversy and Sign-Theory

5 The Realist Character of Hugh of Saint Victor’s Mystical Sacramentality

6 Sacramentality, Signification, and Poiesis


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Ruben Angelici is a graduate of the University of Cambridge. He is a priest in England and holds degrees and expertise in theology, philosophy, biology, and music. He is a member of the Internationale Gesellschaft für Theologische Mediävistik, and has been a sessional lecturer in Theology and Church History at University of Manchester, Nazarene Theological College, UK. His areas of academic interests include philosophical and sacramental theology, scholastic theology and philosophy (particularly the XII century and the school of Saint Victor), the Nouvelle Théologie, semiotics, post-structuralism, and the philosophy of language. This is his second book on Victorine, philosophical theology.


‘In this ground-breaking and beautifully-wrought study of the semeiopoietics of Hugh of St Victor (1096-1141), Ruben Angelici offers a detailed exposition of his ontological, cosmic and sacramental theory of signification which anticipates and criticises in advance contemporary theories of the sign. Angelici shows Hugh’s true radicalism in building a theory of post-Fallen meaning, rooted in the embodied salvific semeiopoiesis of Christ.’ – Catherine Pickstock, Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge, UK


‘Hugh of St Victor was one of the most formidable intellectual presences in the exceptionally creative theological world of the twelfth century, but he has all too often been misread and used to support views which he did not hold. Angelici’s excellent discussion convincingly shows how he weaves together themes from Dionysius and Augustine to create a new theory of signs, and so the beginnings of a fresh approach to language - an approach that foreshadows some of what Aquinas says on the subject.

Hugh’s theology of the sacraments and the sacramentality of the whole creation is the basis for a distinctive understand of the literal sense of the Bible and also for a unique interest in the ‘intelligence’ that is involved in physical work as well as traditional intellectual labour. Angelici establishes Hugh’s importance not only for the Middle Ages but for a number of contemporary theological discussions. This is a comprehensive, original and engaging study of a thinker whose stature is more fully recognised now than it has been for a long time.’ – Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, University of Cambridge, UK, and Archbishop Emeritus of Canterbury