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Peter Lombard, Church Philosopher

Drawing partially from Abelard's contribution to philosophy was Peter Lombard (1100-60), another scholastic theologian. Lombard became a subdeacon at the age of 47. Then he was ordained priest. At 50 he became a deacon, and at 56 an archdeacon.

In Paris, like Abelard, Lombard wrote commentaries on the Psalms and the Pauline epistles. His most famous work was Libri Quatuor Sententiarum, or the Four Books of Sentences. It was an attempt to put knowledge into a coherent whole – without consideration of how little or limited that knowledge was.

Here are a few lines from the beginning of his first book of the Four Books:

Among things, therefore, it must be considered, that as (St.) Augustine says in the same (book), there are some things, which one is to enjoy, others, which one is to use, others, which enjoy and use. Those, which one is to enjoy, make us blessed; by those others, which one is to use, as ones tending towards beatitude we are helped and, as it were [quasi], propped up, so that we can arrive at those things, which make us blessed, and cleave to them. But between both things, which are enjoyed and used, we have been constituted, as it were, as both Angels and Saints. Moreover “to enjoy” is to cleave to any thing by love on account of its very self; but “to use” (is) to refer that which has come to be used to obtain that, which one is to enjoy; otherwise it is abusing, not using.

In the twenty-first century many find such discourse vacuous. But in the thirteenth century it was well received. Lombard's work became a standard textbook at the medieval universities. According to Wikipedia, "From the 1220s until the 16th century, no work of Christian literature, except for the Bible itself, was commented upon more frequently."


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