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FATHER GEDEON GAL ANAPPRECIATION It was in January, 1965 that I first met Father Gedeon. We were to work together on the Opera Philosophica et Theologica of William of Ockham. I had just finished my doctorate in medieval philosophy at Louvain under the direction of Fernand Van Steenberghen the previous December. The vacation called graduate school was over. It was now the time to get serious. Fr. Gedeon was for me, at that time, a name, not a legend. He was, seemingly, just looking for someone who could read Latin manuscripts with him, so he could get on with the Ockham project. I was a young person who at least had edited a Latin philosophical text of Peter Aureoli's as part of the requirements for my doctoral degree. On neither side, I imagine, were there great expectations. He was, I was told, a person who had done editing work in Italy that well demonstrated that he could edit the texts of William of Ockham. I was an eager learner. I felt sure that I would be welcomed, since eager Latin paleographers who could also teach four courses a semester, chair a Department of Philosophy, and work for the glory of God were not bountiful in number. Working with Father Gedeon was always enjoyable—calm and enjoyable. He is a very unassuming man, who, as he might say, preferred editing philosophical or theological texts to pumping gas. It was a job; but some jobs are better than others. He never imagined, and even less claimed, that he was doing something earth-shaking. He created an atmosphere of relaxed seriousness. As a Latin paleographer, I cannot imagine one who is better. I remember, years later, telling Girard Etzkorn that there were two great theological paleographers in North America: Father Gedeon 2 STEPHEN BROWN Gal at St. Bonaventure and Father Joseph Wey, C.S.B. at Toronto. If I were rating a global paleography class, I would give both of them an A; the rest of us deserved a C. I did not mean to demean the rest of us. Quite simply, they were in a class of their own. Father Wey spent an hour each day of his adult life reading St. Augustine's Latin works. It showed. Father Gedeon spent his recreation hours reading histories of philosophy and theology. It also showed. Medieval authors often spoke of theologians who studied the realities of the Christian faith in a wise or sapiential way. These authors pointed to the Latin root of sapientia: it is anchored in the word sapor ('taste'). They "tasted" that of which they spoke. I never found among the medievals a parallel word for people who could "smell" the words of a Latin philosophical or theological text. If they had such a word, then there must have been a medieval "smeller" who was the ancestor of Gedeon Gal. If Gedeon were reading the most blurred, distorted, or almost invisible, manuscript , he could smoke out the three or four possible Latin words that should be in the location of the baffling text. And if you were a gambler, you could bet with utter confidence that if another manuscript of the same text were found, Gedeon's conjectures would be there. And if they weren't there, they should have been! I mentioned that our work together was calm and enjoyable. The calm at times was broken, however. We would read for two hours each morning, and then take a break. During the break, we listened to classical music and, in lieu of coffee, drank Ockham sources at another machine. Patiently going up and down columns of authors known to live just before or during William's time, we would come across whole manuscript paragraphs from John of Reading, Richard of Conington, Robert Cowton, or William of Alnwick , and break into raucous hurrahs. Generally, nonetheless, ours was a quiet, calm, serious atmosphere that nothing could disturb. One day, at the 10 A.M. break, we turned on the local classical music station and were told that the programming was being interrupted for an important newsbreak : "Some escaped prisoners in an automobile are being chased around the St. Bonaventure University campus...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 1-5
Launched on MUSE
2013-07-03
Open Access
No
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