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JOHN DE BASSOLIS, O. F. M. I. THE LIFE OF JOHN DE BASSOLIS John de Bassolis was a disciple of the great John Duns Scotus. He is one of the many students of that great Franciscan whose lives and works have been obscured until modern times. As with the many other writers of the XIVth century, it is difficult to cull any definite and precise knowledge about John de Bassolis. There exists perhaps more controversy concerning him than about all other students of the "Doctor Subtilis". To show that this is not a gratuitous statement, it is enough to cite the following facts. To Luke Wadding1 and the editors of his Co nmentary on the Sentences ,2 JoIm de Bassolis is the "chosen disciple, the faithful, even the most faithful disciple of Scotus". But to Michalski3 and to André Callebaut,4 de Bassolis is simply the precursor of John Mirecourt and a diligent reproducer of the teaching of Ockham. Hauréau5 and the editors of the Bassolis' Commentaries in the sixteenth century8 claim that de Bassolis is an "outstanding theologian and philosopher" and that his Commentaries "can be considered as the richest treasury of Scholastic erudition and subtility". But Michalski,7 among others, thinks that John de Bassolis is not an original author. Others say that he is. Hence, beyond question, he is a controversial figure. A further point might be mentioned here. De Bassolis is reputed to be one of the more important pupils of Duns Scotus. How then can one explain the utter dearth of material and sources concerning his life? Of course, this condition is not peculiar to de Bassolis alone, for the same fate affects most of the lesser personages of the XIVth century. 1 Wadding, Luke, Annales Minorum, Quaracchi, 1931, VI, 153. 2 Opera Joannis de Bassolis . . . in Quatuor Sententiarum Libros . . . Paris, 1516—17, verso of the title page. 8 Michalski, K., "Les Courants Critiques et Sceptiques dans la Philosophie du XIVe siècle". Bulletin International de l'Académie Polonaise, Cracovie, 1926, 228. 4 Archivum Franciscanum Historicum, XVII (1924), 581. 5 Hauréau, B., Histoire de la Philosophie Scolastique, Paris, 1880, II, 309. 3 Opera Joannis de Bassolis . . . in Quatuor Sententiarum Libros, Paris, 1516—-17, verso of the title page. 7 Loc. cit. 59 6oM. PASIECZNIK A. Biographical Sources As has been pointed out, there exists very little information concerning the life of the "favorite" disciple of Duns Scotus. Even the cited references have little critical and historical value since they are grounded mostly on conjecture. First of all, official documents contain no mention of John de Bassolis. If one were to admit that John de Bassolis is to be identified with John de Basóles, a prominent medical doctor of Paris, then he is mentioned in the Chartularium Universitatis Parisiensis.8 Among the non-official sources of information concerning his life are his Commentaries on the Sentences. In the Commentaries edited in 1516—17 the year 1313 is to be found in the "Explicit"; this simply designates the year in which he completed or lectured on his Commentaries at Rheims.9 In all probability this date was found on the original manuscripts of John de Bassolis and it is one date generally accepted by later writers. Another important document is the fifteenth-century Chronicle of Nicholas Glassberger.10 In this document the author notes that in 1313 John de Bassolis had completed his lectures on the fourth book of the Sentences, and at the same time cites the Collatio, the solemn lecture inaugurating the explanation of the Sentences; this begins with the words: Melior est finis orationis quam principium.11 This is a highly acceptable testimony, for Glassberger is known for his disinterested, faithful and objective chronicling. He is the nearest witness to de Bassolis. Possibly Glassberger gathered this information from de Bassolis ' Commentaries which were edited at that time. Thus, the Commentaries of de Bassolis and the editors' introduction to them remain almost the sole source of information not only of his doctrine but also of his life. In the years 1516—17 Orontius Fine carefully edited the Commentaries of de Bassolis "from a very spotted and ragged manuscript". This manuscript was...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 59-77
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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