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Letters of Peter Abelard, Beyond the Personal

Peter Abelard

Publication Year: 2012

Comprehensive and learned translation of these texts affords insight into Abelard's thinking over a much longer sweep of time and offers snapshots of the great twelfth-century philosopher and theologian in a variety of contexts.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press


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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Although I alone hold blame for the present book, Peter Dronke has responsibility for having proposed it to me fifteen years ago, and I thank him for both that initial incitement and for his meticulous reading of a recent draft. For their thoughtful attention to the same ...


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p. xi-xi

Map of Abelard’s France

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p. xii-xii

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General Introduction: Life and Works

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pp. xiii-lii

The twelfth century has benefited from a disproportionate share of the curiosity, romantic attraction, and even daydreams and fantasies that have been elicited by the extraordinarily vibrant and variegated millennium to which the label the “Middle Ages” has been affixed. Attempts ...

Part I. Heloise and the Nuns of the Paraclete

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1. Letter Nine . To the Nuns of the Paraclete

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pp. 3-33

Toward the end of the Historia calamitatum Peter Abelard complains of having been cornered into a “damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t” stance. Specifically, he tells of the criticisms he endured first for not having been more solicitous of Heloise and her nuns and then for having ...

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2. Prefaces to the Three Books of The Paraclete Hymnal

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pp. 34-51

Why should a few excerpts from a hymnal by Abelard be accommodated in this volume alongside letters of his? The answer is that Abelard presented many of his nonepistolary works with introductions that are either explicitly letters or else dedications that he and his contemporaries ...

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3. Dedication Letter to The Commentary on the Six Days of Creation

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pp. 52-63

The Expositio in Hexameron (The Commentary on the Six Days of Creation) delivers an explanation of the opening of Genesis that Abelard wrote at Heloise’s request. It appears to have been composed before at least one of The Sermons (Sermon 29), and it has been dated to the early ...

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4. Letter Sixteen. Prologue to The Sermons

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pp. 64-72

Near the close of the Historia calamitatum Abelard avers that he began frequenting the Paraclete after the neighbors faulted him for not having helped the nuns in the hard times after they took up residence in his former hermitage. He specifies that these unnamed detractors carped ...

Part II. Bernard of Clairvaux

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5. Letter Ten. To Bernard of Clairvaux

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pp. 75-98

In the last two years of his life Abelard found himself under mounting criticism from Bernard of Clairvaux and his allies for allegedly heretical writings and teachings. The aspersions escalated rapidly into full-scale attacks. Both of them egged on by their respective camps, Abelard ...

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6. Letter Fifteen. To His Comrades, against Abbot Bernard

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pp. 99-110

The present letter relates to the famous collision between Peter Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux at the Council of Sens, which was ostensibly concerned with Abelard’s Theologia but which had motivations and implications that transcended this one treatise and the teachings ...

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7. Apologia against Bernard of Clairvaux

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pp. 111-129

The work discussed and translated here has been known in Latin both after its intended target as the Apologia contra Bernardum (Apologia against Bernard) and after its opening words as the Apologia “Ne iuxta Boethianum” (Apologia [with the Opening Words] “In Keeping with That ...

Part III. Other Controversies

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8. Letter Eleven. To Abbot Adam and the Monks of St. Denis

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pp. 133-146

Letter Eleven is addressed to the abbot and monks of St. Denis (whose name in Latin is Dionysius), the royal abbey to which Abelard had withdrawn not long after his defeat at the Council of Soissons in March 1121. It must have been written between then and 19 February 1122, when ...

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9. Letter Twelve. To a Regular Canon

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pp. 147-174

The practice of canonical life had taken root long before the twelfth century, but during Abelard’s time it grew up and ramified in directions and fashions that inevitably occasioned tensions between canons and monks. Viewed from afar, the two groups as they were then constituted may ...

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10. Letter Thirteen. To an Ignoramus in the Field of Dialectic

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pp. 175-187

The most common and fundamental schema of learning in the Middle Ages was the seven liberal arts, which comprehended the trivium of the verbal or logical arts (grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic or logic) and the quadrivium of the so-called mathematical arts (arithmetic, geometry ...

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11. Letter Fourteen. To Bishop G[ilbert] and the Clergy of Paris

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pp. 188-196

Addressed to a bishop who is identified only by the initial G and to the clergy of Paris, Letter Fourteen deals with the rivalry between Abelard and Roscelin of Compiègne, his former teacher, a logician and theologian.1 Roscelin is not named outright in the letter, but there has ...


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pp. 197-217

General Index

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pp. 219-230

Index of Scriptural References

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pp. 231-232

E-ISBN-13: 9780813217079
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813215051

Page Count: 285
Publication Year: 2012