Medieval Theologians. All Material Written By Thomas Perez

Written By Thomas Perez. May 6, 2010 at 6:36PM. Copyright 2010.


1. Boethius (480-524)

Major work

• The Consolation of Philosophy


• Bridged gap b/t ancient and medieval eras

• Known as “the last of the Romans and the first of the scholastics”

• Explained Trinity in Aristotelian categories

• God is one with the three persons viewed as internal relations

• Attempted to translate Plato and Aristotle into Latin

2. Dionysius the Areopagite (Pseudo) (500)

Major work

• Celestial Hierarchy


• Was a vessel by which the Christian Platonism of the early church was transmitted to the Middle Ages

• Paved the way for Christian mysticism

• His writings became authority for the Eastern church

• Argued for a hierarchical pattern of the universe

• Believed in humanity’s eventual deification

3. Benedict of Nursia (480-550)

Major work

• The Rule of St. Benedict


• Theologian of monastic life

• Patriarch of Western monasticism

• Created a manual for the spiritual and administrative life of a monastery; discusses prayer, spiritual readings and work

4. Gregory the Great (540-604)


• Gregory is the Pope whose papacy is generally considered the beginning of the medieval period

• Is ranked with Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine as one of the four great leaders of the Latin church

• He increased the authority and power of the papacy

• Believed the Roman pope was Peter’s sole successor and was the supreme head over the universal church

• Asserted political authority for the papacy

• Had a deep pastoral and evangelistic concern

5. Maximus the Confessor (580-662)


• Father of Byzantine theology

• Dominant figure in the development of Christian doctrine in the East

• Greek theologian and ascetic writer

• Last independent thinker among the theologians of the Byzantine church

• Taught deification–the view that man can become like God

• Said the purpose of history was the incarnation of the Son and the deification of man

• Wrote on exegetical and liturgical subjects

6. Bede (The Venerable)

Major work

• De Temporum Ratione


• A scholar, exegete, and historian

• The most important Christian scholar and writer of his era

• Wrote commentaries on the Bible

• Known as “Father of English History”

• Also known as the “Venerable”

• Wrote on many issues including hymnology, geography, and natural phenomena

7. John of Damascus (655-750)

Major work

• Fount of Wisdom


• Important Eastern theologian

• He summed up thought for Eastern church; not much original thought after him

• Had a fully developed Mariology and Trinitarian theology

8. Radbertus (790-860)

Major work

• De Corpore et Sanguine Domini (first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist)


• Maintained the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist (this was flesh born of Mary and crucified on the cross)

• Was attacked by Ratramnus who took a more spiritual approach to the Eucharist

9. Ratramnus (9th cent.)


• Held Augustine’s view that Christ’s presence in the Supper is spiritual(contra Radbertus)

• Radbertus’s view won out over Ratramnus’s

• Defended double procession of the H.S.

10. Gottschalk (804-869)


• Held to extreme doctrine of predestination; held to double predestination

• Studied under Ratramnus

• Was good at missionary activity

11. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Major works

• Proslogion

• Monologion


• Archbishop of Canterbury, was one of the greatest of all the medieval theologians

• “Father of Scholastic Theology”

• Gave first serious attempt to give a rationale for the atonement

• Held to satisfaction theory of the atonement

• Tried to establish the being of God on purely rationalistic grounds with his ontological argument

• Encouraged Marian piety but opposed immaculate conception

• Known for statement, “Faith seeking understanding”

12. Peter Abelard (1079-1142)

Major work

• Sic et Non


• Philosopher, theologian, and teacher

• Pioneer of medieval scholasticism

• Held to moral influence theory of the atonement

• Held to moderate realism—universals are concepts in the mind that have an objective Reality derived from a process of mental abstraction

• Said reason plays as large a role as revelation and tradition in determining truth

• Known for his tragic love affair with Heloise

13. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)


• Wrote mystical, theological and devotional works

• Was the official preacher of the 2nd crusade

• Helped heal papal schism of 1130

• Known as “the hammer of heretics”

• Wrote hymns

14. Peter Lombard (1100-1160)

Major work

• Book of Sentences


• Organized patristic and medieval citations into a coherent statement of Christian belief

• One of the first to mention seven sacraments

• A student of Peter Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux

• Some questioned his Christology and his view of the Trinity but 4th Lateran Council of 1215 declared his works orthodox

• Book of Sentences used in academic circles until Aquinas’s Summa came out

15. Albertus Magnus (1193-1280)

Major work

• Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard


• Dominican scholar, theologian, and churchman

• Tried to synthesize Aristotle’s philosophy with Christianity

• Thomas Aquinas was his student

• Stressed the importance of the physical sciences

16. Bonaventure (1221-74)

Major work

• Commentary on Sentences of Peter Lombard


• Franciscan scholastic theologian who was a Platonist

• Believed in journey of the human soul toward God

• Held that creation could be explained by human reason

• Believed mystical illumination better than human wisdom

• Denied doctrine of Immaculate Conception

17. Thomas Aquinas (1225-74)

Major work

• Summa Theologica (systematic presentation of Christian doctrine)

• Summa contra Gentiles


• Most important theologian of the Medieval era

• Said there were five proofs for God’s existence (including cosmological and teleological arguments)

• Brought Aristotelian philosophy to Christianity

• Argued for a close connection between faith and reason; nature reveals much about God’s existence and attributes (matters such as Trinity, though, must be revealed through special revelation)

18. Meister Eckhart (1260-1328)

Major work

• Opus Tripartitum


• German Dominican mystical theologian

• Offered a mystical theology

• Said God transcends human knowledge

• John XXII condemned 28 of Eckhart’s propositions as heretical

• Had a tendency toward pantheism

19. Duns Scotus (1266-1308)

Major works

• His teachings are preserved in a Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, glosses on Aristotelian texts, and disputations about various subjects


• Most distinguished Oxford scholar

• Held to priority of the will over the intellect

• Contributed to Roman Catholic view of the Immaculate Conception

• Believed in possible worlds

• Said God’s attributes not provable by reason

• Known as the ‘subtle doctor’

• The term “dunce” comes from him and was invented by his detractors

• Opposed Aquinas on almost every point

20. William of Ockham (1280-1349)

Major work

• Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Abelard


• Medieval English theologian

• Held to nominalism

• Famous for “Ockham’s Razor” in which he claims that hypotheses should not be multiplied endlessly. Thus, the simplest solution for a matter is better than complicated ones.

• Had conflict with Pope John XXII

• Believed in priority of divine will over divine intellect

• Contributed to discussions of divine omnipotence

• Influenced by Duns Scotus

• Died of Black Death

21. Thomas Bradwardine (1295-1349)

Major work

• De Causa Dei contra Pelagium


• Known for his mathematics and theology

• Insisted on the necessity of grace and the ‘irresistible’ efficacy of the Divine Will, which lies behind all action

• Paved the way for the predestinarian thought of John Wycliff

• Influenced by Augustine and Duns Scotus

• Contributed to geometry and physics

22. John Wycliff (1330-84)

Major works

• Summa de Ente (vindicated realism against nominalism)

• Translation of the Vulgate into English


• Was known as the Morning Star of the Reformation because of his writings against transubstantiation and the pope

• Denied efficacy of the mass as well as rituals and ceremonies

• Saw church as predestined body of believers

• Said salvation is by grace

• Known as the author or inspirer of the first complete translation of the Bible into English

• Known as Evening Star of scholasticism.

• Was the last of the Oxford scholastics

• His followers were called Lollards

• Hus adopted his teachings

23. John Hus (1372-1415)

Major work

• De Ecclesia


• Early Czech reformer

• Attacked clerical abuses and immorality in the church

• Excommunicated by Pope Alexander V in 1410

• Held a blend of Protestant and Roman Catholic doctrines—argued against veneration of pope but accepted Purgatory; held to view similar to consubstantiation

• Stressed preaching and a pure life

• Was also a Bible translator

• Was influenced by Wycliff’s ideas

24. Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)

Major work

• Imitation of Christ


• Ascetical writer

• Gave practical methods to achieve devotion and true observance of the monastic life

• Emphasized withdrawal from distractions of the world

25. Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498)

Major work

• Triumphus Crucis


• Italian preacher and reformer

• Called for radical moral and social reform after the death of Lorenzo de Medici

• Sought a Christian culture based on the Bible and asceticism

• Was hanged and burned as a heretic

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