A formerly banned work: Peter Abelard's "Sic et Non" (in English, please)

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Mar 5 2013 12:03 AM

Because he was was pronounced a heretic by the Catholic Church, this work lay in obscurity until the 19th century. It is hard to find in English translation, but available in print (translated by Priscilla Throop), apparently directly from the self-published translator -- she lives in Charlotte, VT, so this must be her own imprint:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/priscilla-throop/yes-and-no-peter-abelards-sic-et-non/paperback/product-14856111.html

This would be awesome to have in Logos, to accompany The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise.

Summary from the book description:

Peter Abelard's SIC ET NON lay in obscurity until the 19th century, when Victor Cousin discovered a full manuscript and a fragment. Since then, another full MS and eight fragments have come to light. Abelard's SIC ET NON presents 158 theological questions, followed by citations from various Church fathers, councils, and creeds. These conflict in their discussion of the matter at hand, some SIC (YES) others NON (NO). Abelard includes the "Gelasian Decretals", showing that all of his citations are from approved works. Abelard was condemned as a heretic and sentenced to perpetual silence (1141), and his writings were included on the list of prohibited works (1563). SIC ET NON is a gem of theological education.

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Peter Abelard (1079 – 1142) was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian and preeminent logician. He also was a music composer. The story of his affair with and love for Heloise has become legendary. The Chambers Biographical Dictionary describes him as "the keenest thinker and boldest theologian of the 12th Century." [from Wikipedia]

Abelard's works in general have not received enough attention; this from the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies: "For whatever reason, we have no Benedictine edition of the works of Abelard, and indeed no critical edition of his complete works at all. His works have been edited piecemeal by various scholars, and some have not been properly edited at all. David Luscombe has written: '. . . future generations of philosophers were not much aware of Abelard's writings or ideas. The reasons for this still await elucidation.' One reason is surely that Abelard lacked any support group to push his cause. The Benedictines did not rally round. I have found that when I mention this to Benedictines, they generally respond 'I didn't know Abelard WAS a Benedictine.'"

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 5 2013 12:10 AM

Yes

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 5 2013 12:26 AM

Rosie Perera:
Because he was was pronounced a heretic by the Catholic Church, this work lay in obscurity until the 19th century.

er... ah... then how was it so influential in the development of medieval logic?

"He is, arguably, the greatest logician of the Middle Ages and is equally famous as the first great nominalist philosopher. He championed the use of reason in matters of faith (he was the first to use ‘theology’ in its modern sense), and his systematic treatment of religious doctrines are as remarkable for their philosophical penetration and subtlety as they are for their audacity." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

Or how come we didn't know he was declared a heretic?

"More subtle and more learned than ever", as a contemporary (Otto of Freising) describes him, he took up the former quarrel with Anselm's pupils. Through their influence, his orthodoxy, especially on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, was impeached, and he was summoned to appear before a council at Soissons, in 1121, presided over by the papal legate, Kuno, Bishop of Praneste. While it is not easy to determine exactly what took place at the Council, it is clear that there was no formal condemnation of Abelard's doctrines, but that he was nevertheless condemned to recite the Athanasian Creed, and to burn his book on the Trinity." (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 5 2013 12:55 AM

MJ. Smith:
Or how come we didn't know he was declared a heretic?

I didn't know it until I read it in that book description: "Abelard was condemned as a heretic and sentenced to perpetual silence (1141), and his writings were included on the list of prohibited works (1563)." Maybe that was in error.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 5 2013 1:32 AM

Rosie Perera:
"Abelard was condemned as a heretic and sentenced to perpetual silence (1141)

must be referring to:

"Accordingly, a council was held at Sens (the metropolitan see to which Paris was then suffragan) in 1141. On the eve of the council a meeting of bishops was held, at which Bernard was present, but not Abelard, and in that meeting a number of propositions were selected from Abelard's writings, and condemned. When, on the following morning, these propositions were read in solemn council, Abelard, informed, so it seems, of the proceedings of the evening before, refused to defend himself, declaring that he appealed to Rome. Accordingly, the propositions were condemned, but Abelard was allowed his freedom. St. Bernard now wrote to the members of the Roman Curia, with the result that Abelard had proceeded only as far as Cluny on his way to Rome when the decree of Innocent II confirming the sentence of the Council of Sens reached him. The Venerable Peter of Cluny now took up his case, obtained from Rome a mitigation of the sentence, reconciled him with St. Bernard, and gave him honourable and friendly hospitality at Cluny. There Abelard spent the last years of his life, and there at last he found the peace which he had elsewhere sought in vain. He donned the habit of the monks of Cluny and became a teacher in the school of the monastery. He died at Chalôn-sur-Saône in 1142, and was buried at the Paraclete." Catholic Encyclopedia

Rosie Perera:
and his writings were included on the list of prohibited works (1563)."

I would expect this to be true for some of his works but I can't verify it at http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/ILP-1559.htm although I may have simply missed it.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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fgh | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 6 2013 5:34 AM

MJ. Smith:

Rosie Perera:
and his writings were included on the list of prohibited works (1563)."

I would expect this to be true for some of his works but I can't verify it at http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/ILP-1559.htm although I may have simply missed it.

Didn't find him when I looked for him, but I did find him when I looked for someone elseBig Smile:

"The Christian way of life isn't so much an assignment to be performed, as a gift to be received."  Wilfrid Stinissen

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Blair Laird | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 6 2013 5:57 AM

I attempted to take sic et non and translate it using google translate, hoping I would come up with something close enough that I would only have to look up a couple references that did not correlate. However, that was not the case. Latin is in google translates alpha stage, but I am still not sure even if it was not, that I could get it translated that way. It was a hope..

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Blair Laird | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 16 2013 8:44 PM

bump Big Smile. Sorry, found myself thinking about Abelard's work in english on logos, and got excited..

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fgh | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 27 2013 4:16 PM

For those of you who haven't yet found out, there is now a Medieval suggestion at Logos' new Uservoice site for prepubs: Add more Medieval works. Please go add your vote[s ]. And then add the remainder of your votes to other suggestions -- preferably mine.Big Smile

There is also a new Uservoice site for CP's, with another ten new votes for you to spend. It too has a Medieval suggestion: Add more Medieval works to CP

"The Christian way of life isn't so much an assignment to be performed, as a gift to be received."  Wilfrid Stinissen

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