Transcending Language Boundaries: The Reception of Greek Christian Texts in the Twelfth Century Latin West
These sessions aim to explore the reception of theological knowledge across linguistic borders, by focusing on the way in which twelfth century Latin medieval readers made use of the works of Greek Christian authors available to them in Latin translations produced from late antiquity onwards. The twelfth century has long been recognized as an important period in the Latin reception of Greek classical knowledge with modern scholars paying attention especially to the medieval consumption of Greek works of philosophy, law, medicine and science. Despite widespread evidence for the reading of Greek Christian authors in the twelfth century, the reception of religious texts has received less scholarly attention, although they were considered highly important by medieval readers. By drawing attention to the twelfth century Latin reception of Greek Christian texts, this session seeks to better understand what role played the Greek theological thought in shaping the Latin Christian medieval tradition.
Our papers address the following topics:
- The reception of Greek Christian texts/authors in twelfth century individual authors
- Reading Latin translations of Greek texts in cloister, schools and in the communities of the regular canons.
- The presence of Greek texts in Latin translation in the western twelfth century libraries
- Twelfth century Latin translations of Greek Christian texts
- New theories and methods for assessing and detecting the presence of translated Greek texts in the works of western twelfth century authors
Moderator : Laurence Mellerin
Speaker: Patrícia Joanna de Nascimento Calvário
Title: The Reception of the Greek Father's Vocabulary on the Beatific vision in Hugh of St. Victor through the Lens of Eriugena
One agent responsible for the meeting of the West Latin Christian and Byzantine traditions was Eriugena, which introduced the works of Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus
the Confessor and Gregory of Nyssa into the Latin’s theological milieu. However, from early on, the differences between the two traditions on certain theological positions came to light. I highlight the theories on the beatific vision, which seemed to have opposite formulations in the West and in the East. The Greek Fathers emphasized the unknowability of God’s essence. In Latin world there was a long tradition, which goes back to Augustine, that stated that the ultimate end of human beings is the vision of God’s essence.
Erigena built his theory on the beatific vision relying on the vocabulary of the Greek Fathers, such as Dionysius, Maximus and Gregory of Nyssa. Later his theory was particularly criticized by Hugh of Saint Victor. I will expose how this author received Eriugena’s position and consequently the Greek Father’s vocabulary, such as theoria, theosis, ousia and theophaneia.
Speaker: F. Tyler Sergent
Title: William of Saint-Thierry’s Greek “Sources” and Influences
The source materials for William of Saint-Thierry, 12th century Benedictine abbot who became a Cistercian monk, has been debated for six decades or more. The early period of this debate, involving most notably, Jean Marie Déchanet, focused on William’s eastern Greek sources and assertions—often with little evidence—of William’s knowledge of Greek language and eastern theology. Later argumentation, especially by David N. Bell, curbed enthusiasm for William’s direct access to Greek sources and demonstrated instead his vast reliance on western Latin sources, including Augustine of Hippo, as foundational to William’s thought. This paper will provide a brief overview of the debate on William and his reception of Greek sources and then delve into recent scholarship and my own analysis of William’s sources and influences, including Greek writers, e.g., Origen of Alexandra and Gregory of Nyssa, plus other lesser known Latin writers between the Patristic period and the 12th century.
Speaker: Carmen A. Cvetkovic
Title : The Wisdom of the Greeks : Peter Abelard as a Reader of Greek Patristic Sources
Peter Abelard is commonly known for his fascination for Greek ancient philosophy. However, in his theological and literary writings not only did he quote from an array of Greek Christian texts available in Latin translation, but he also went so far as to identify himself repeatedly with Greek authors, such as Origen and Athanasius of Alexandria. This paper investigates an aspect neglected in modern scholarship, namely Abelard’s use of Greek patristic sources. It will look at which Greek Christian texts were used by Abelard, at the way in which he used them and at the purposes for which he used them with the aim to understand to what extent these texts shaped Abelard’s theological work.
Moderator: Carmen-Angela Cvetkovic (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)
Speaker: Jan Reitzner
Title: Apophthegmata Patrum in 12th century France: Manuscript traditions, Interpretations and Significance.
The paper investigates the reception and reuse of probably the most influential collection of Eastern wisdom for Benedictine Monasticism intwelfth-century century France. During this time of the so-called "renaissance" or "renewal" two major groups can be separated: the traditional monasteries, among which Cluny is the most famous, and the reform movement, where the Cistercians are of special interest. The analysis of hundreds of manuscripts and exemplary literature in our Goettingen project shows those two groups also made different use of the apophthegmata: In Cluniac monasteries those Greek traditions are simply copied from older manuscripts and quoted with special reference to their geographical and historical “otherness”. In the reform movement the apophthegmata are newly arranged and even their text is changed but there seems to be no special awareness of their "otherness" at all.
Speaker: Joel Kalvesmaki
Title : Detecting the Translation Technique of Burgundio of Pisa through CLIO, CLIMO, and TAN
In 2000 Fernand Bossier relied upon translation technique to chronologically arrange the ten known translations of Burgundio of Pisa (1110-1193), covering theology, philosophy, and medicine. We assess and expand that study through Chrysostomus Latinus in Iohannem Online (CLIO) and Chrysostomus Latinus in Mattheum Online (CLIMO), which make available multiple Latin translations of those two works. CLIO and CLIMO are ideal for testing Bossier’s hypotheses: (1) he did not consult the Johannine homilies; (2) the two works are lengthy and stem from very different points in Burgundio’s life (Matthew: 1151; John: 1173); and (3) patterns in Burgundio can be compared to the same phenomena in other translations of the same work. CLIO and CLIMO texts will be analyzed for token distribution and lexical complexity via Text Alignment Network (TAN) tools to identify significant patterns in Burgundio’s technique—tentative observations preliminary to a larger study of all his translations.
Speaker: Laurence Mellerin
Title: William of St Thierry's Greek Sources in the De natura corporis et animae
Abstract: The importance of Greek sources in William of St Thierry’s work is still today, in the wake of J. Déchanet and D. Bell’s very opposite works, a subject of debate. In his treatise The Nature of the Body and the Soul however, the influence of Gregory of Nyssa, The Creation of Man, quoted at length and verbatim in the second part, and to a lesser extent that of Nemesius of Emesa, The Nature of Man are undeniable. We want to examine here in detail what clues these quotations and reuses give about the way William accessed these texts, and to study how he combines them with other western sources to construct his theological anthropology.