The Making of the Historia scholastica, 1150–1200

Clark, Mark (2016) The Making of the Historia scholastica, 1150–1200. Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto. ISBN 978-0-88844-198-0

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The Making of the Historia scholastica, 1150–1200
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Abstract

In the theological landscape of the later twelfth and early thirteenth centuries,
Peter Comestor’s Historia scholastica stands out as a conspicuous yet strangely
overlooked landmark. Like the Sentences of Peter Lombard, the History towers
over the early scholastic period, and it was the extraordinary success of these
twin towers that ensured the joint ascendancy of the reputations of the two
masters. Indeed, we find one medieval writer after another testifying to the
greatness of the man whose nickname had become synonymous with a voracious
appetite for knowledge, and the encyclopedic work whose extraordinary
dissemination and influence over several centuries made it the medieval popular
Bible.
Based on wide and insightful reading of the manuscripts and printed texts
not only of Peter Comestor but also of his master, Peter Lombard, and his student,
Stephen Langton, this study offers a persuasive new argument about the
genesis and formation of the Historia scholastica. At the same time it harnesses
new evidence from biblical glosses and from Langton’s lecture courses to analyze
the development and reception of the History at Paris in the decades
between the 1160s and the 1190s.
In the course of this analysis, the History is revealed as a living, prototypically
scholastic text, changing constantly at the hands of the magistri who, in
adding to and altering the text, readily and anonymously placed their stamp on
Comestor’s masterwork even as they used it in their teaching. That the History
proved so malleable is a testament to Comestor’s genius, for he invented a novel
method for introducing the Bible to students. Unlike the Gloss, the History presented
just the historical/literal tradition and did so in a format that offered students
both the scriptural text and the tradition of literal glosses in a single, unified
historical narrative. Additionally, Comestor chose a felicitous narrative
structure for the History, organizing its chapters into discrete topics that could
be easily adapted to a master’s individual courses. By reorganizing biblical history
in cogent fashion, and by establishing the narrative coherence of the
salvific events related in the Old and New Testaments, Comestor charted a
course in scholastic biblical education that was as fresh as it was to prove
durable.

Keywords:Historia scholastica, theology, The Bible
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V330 History of Religions
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V340 Intellectual History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:42637
Deposited On:14 Oct 2020 14:33

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