§ 131. The Paulicians.
I. Petrus Siculus (imperial commissioner in Armenia, about 870): Historia Manichaeorum, qui Pauliciani dicuntur ( JIstoriva peri; th'" kenh'" kai; mataiva" aiJrevsew" tw'n Maniccaivwn tw'n kai; Paulikianw'n legomevnwn). Gr. Lat. ed. Matth. Raderus. Ingolst., 1604. Newly ed. by J. C. L. Gieseler. Göttingen, 1846, with an appendix, 1849. Photius (d. 891): Adv. recentiors Manichaeos, lib. IV. Ed. by J. Chr. Wolf. Hamburg, 1722; in Gallandii "Bibl. PP." XIII. 603 sq., and in Photii Opera ed. Migne, Tom. II., col. 9–264 (reprint of Wolf). For the history of the sect after a.d. 870 we must depend on the Byzantine historians, Constantine Porphyrogenitus and Cedrenus.
II. Mosheim: Century IX., ch. V. Schroeckh: vols. XX. 365 sqq., and XXIII. 318 sqq. Gibbon: Ch. LIV. (vol. V. 534–554). F. Schmidt: Historia Paulicianorum Orientalium. Kopenhagen, 1826. Gieseler: Untersuchungen über die Gesch. der Paulicianer, in the "Studien und Kritiken," 1829, No. I., 79 sqq.; and his Church History, II. 21 sqq., and 231 sqq. (Germ. ed. II. 1, 13 and 400). Neander, III. 244–270, and 586–592. Baur: Christl. K. im Mittelalter, p. 22–25. Hergenröther, I. 524–527. Hardwick, Middle Age, p. 78–84. Robertson, II. 164–173 (revised ed. IV. 117–127). C. Schmidt, in Herzog2 XI. 343–348. A. Lombard: Pauliciens, Bulgares et Bons-hommes en Orient et Occident. Genève, 1879.
The Monothelites, the Adoptionists, the Predestinarians, and the Berengarians moved within the limits of the Catholic church, dissented from it only in one doctrine, and are interwoven with the development of’ catholic orthodoxy which has been described in the preceding chapter. But there were also radical heretical sects which mixed Christianity with heathen notions, disowned all connection with the historic church, and set themselves up against it as rival communities. They were essentially dualistic, like the ancient Gnostics and Manichaeans, and hence their Catholic opponents called them by the convenient and hated name of New Manichaeans; though the system of the Paulicians has more affinity with that of Marcion. They appeared first in the East, and spread afterwards by unknown tracks in the West. They reached their height in the thirteenth century, when they were crushed, but not annihilated, by a crusade under Pope Innocent III.
These sects have often been falsely represented 753as forerunners of Protestantism; they are so only in a purely negative sense, while in their positive opinions they differ as widely from the evangelical as from the Greek and Roman creed. The Reformation came out of the bosom of Mediaeval Catholicism, retained its oecumenical doctrines, and kept up the historic continuity.
The Paulicians 754are the most important sect in our period. They were confined to the territory of the Eastern church. They flourished in Armenia, where Christianity came in conflict with Parsism and was mixed with dualistic ideas. They probably inherited some traditions of the Manichaeans and Marcionites.
I. Their name is derived by their Greek opponents 755from two brothers, Paul and John sons of a Manichaean a woman Kallinike, in Samosata; but, more probably, by modern historians 756from their preference for St. Paul whom they placed highest among the Apostles. They borrowed the names of their leading teachers from his disciples (Sylvanus, Titus, Timothy, Tychicus, Epaphroditus), and called their congregations after his (Corinth, Philippi, Achaia, etc.). They themselves preferred simply the name "Christians" (Cristianoiv, Cristopoli'tai), in opposition to the professors of the Roman state-religion ( JRwmaivou").
II. The founder of the sect is Constantine a Syrian from a Gnostic (Marcionite) congregation in Mananalis near Samosata. Inspired by the epistles of St. Paul and pretending to be his genuine disciple, he propagated under the name of Sylvanus dualistic doctrines in Kibossa in Armenia and in the regions of Pontus and Cappadocia, with great success for twenty-seven years, until the Emperor Constantine Pogonatus (668–685) sent an officer, Symeon, for his arrest and execution. He was stoned to death in 684, and his congregation scattered. But Symeon was struck and converted by the serene courage of Constantine-Sylvanus, revived the congregation, and ruled it under the name of Titus. When Justinian II. heard of it, he condemned him and the other leaders to death by fire (690), according to the laws against the Manichaeans.
But in spite of repeated persecution and inner dissensions, the sect spread throughout Asia Minor. When it decayed, a zealous reformer rose in the person of Sergius, called Tychieus, the second founder of the sect (801–835). He had been converted by a woman, visited the old congregations and founded new ones, preached and wrote epistles, opposed the antinomian practices of Baanes, called "the Filthy" (oJ rJuparov"), and introduced strict discipline. His followers were called Sergiotes in distinction from the Baanites.
The fate of the sect varied with the policy of the Greek emperors. The iconoclastic Leo the Isaurian did not disturb them, and gave the leader of the sect, Gegnaesius, after a satisfactory examination by the patriarch, a letter of protection against persecution; but the wily heretic had answered the questions in a way that deceived the patriarch. Leo the Armenian (813–820) organized an expedition for their conversion, pardoning the apostates and executing the constant. Theodora, who restored the worship of images, cruelly persecuted them, and under her short reign one hundred thousand Paulicians were put to death by the sword, the gibbet, or the flames (844). Perhaps this large number included many iconoclasts.
Provoked by these cruelties, the Paulicians raised the standard of revolt under the lead of Karbeas. He fled with five thousand to the Saracens, built a strong fort, Tephrica, 757on the Arab frontier, and in alliance with the Moslems made successful military invasions into the Byzantine territory. His son-in-law, Chrysocheres, proceeded as far as Ephesus, and turned the cathedral into a stable (867), but was killed by the Greeks in 871, and the sect had to submit to the Emperor Basil the Macedonian. He sent among them the monk Petrus Siculus, who thus became acquainted with their doctrines and collected the materials for his work.
After this the sect lost its political significance, and gradually disappeared from history. Many were transferred to Philippopolis in Thrace about 970, as guards of the frontier, and enjoyed toleration. Alexius Comnenus (1081–1118) disputed with their leaders, rewarded the converts, and punished the obstinate. The Crusaders found some remains in 1204, when they captured Constantinople.
III. The doctrines and practices of the Paulicians are known to us only from the reports of the orthodox opponents and a few fragments of the epistles of Sergius. They were a strange mixture of dualism, demiurgism, docetism, mysticism and pseudo-Paulinism, and resemble in many respects the Gnostic system of Marcion.
(1) Dualism was their fundamental principle. 758 The good God created the spiritual world; the bad God or demiurge created the sensual world. The former is worshipped by the Paulicians, i.e. the true Christians, the latter by the "Romans" or Catholics.
(2) Contempt of matter. The body is the seat of evil desire, and is itself impure. It holds the divine soul as in a prison.
(3) Docetism. Christ descended from heaven in an ethereal body, passed through the womb of Mary as through a channel, suffered in appearance, but not in reality, and began the process of redemption of the spirit from the chains of matter.
(4) The Virgin Mary was not "the mother of God," and has a purely external connection with Jesus. Peter the Sicilian says, that they did not even allow her a place among the good and virtuous women. The true theotokos is the heavenly Jerusalem, from which Christ came out and to which he returned.
(5) They rejected the Old Testament as the work of the Demiurge, and the Epistles of Peter. They regarded Peter as a false apostle, because he denied his master, preached Judaism rather than Christianity, was the enemy of Paul (Gal. 2:11) and the pillar of the Catholic hierarchy. They accepted the four Gospels, the Acts, fourteen Epistles of Paul, and the Epistles of James, John and Jude. At a later period, however, they seem to have confined themselves, like Marcion, to the writings of Paul and Luke, adding to them probably the Gospel of John. They claimed also to possess an Epistle to the Laodiceans; but this was probably identical with the Epistle to the Ephesians. Their method of exposition was allegorical.
(6) They rejected the priesthood, the sacraments, the worship of saints and relics, the sign of the cross (except in cases of serious illness), and all externals in religion. Baptism means only the baptism of the Spirit; the communion with the body and blood of Christ is only a communion with his word and doctrine.
In the place of priests (iJerei'" and presbuvteroi) the Paulicians had teachers and pastors (didavskaloi and poimevne"), companions or itinerant missionaries (sunevkdhmoi), and scribes (nwtavrioi). In the place of churches they had meeting-houses called "oratories" (proseucaiv); but the founders and leaders were esteemed as "apostles" and "prophets." There is no trace of the Manichaean distinction between two classes of the electi and credentes.
(7) Their morals were ascetic. They aimed to emancipate the spirit from the power of the material body, without, however, condemning marriage and the eating of flesh; but the Baanites ran into the opposite extreme of an antinomian abuse of the flesh, and reveled in licentiousness, even incest. In both extremes they resembled the Gnostic sects. According to Photius, the Paulicians were also utterly deficient in veracity, and denied their faith without scruple on the principle that falsehood is justifiable for a good end.
§ 132. The Euchites and other Sects in the East.
I. Michael Psellus (a learned Constantinopolitan, 11th cent.): Diavlogo" peri; ejnergeiva" daimovnwn, ed. Gaulmin. Par. 1615; also by J. F. Boissonade. Norimbergae, 1838. Cedrenus (in the 11th cent.): Histor. Compend. (ed. Bonn. I. 514).—On the older Euchites and Messalians see Epiphanius (Haer. 80), Theodoret (Hist. Eccl. IV. 10), John of Damascus (De Haer., c. 80), Photius (Bibl. cod. 52), and Walch: Ketzer-Historie, III. 481 sqq. and 536 sqq.
II. Schnitzer: Die Euchiten im elften Jahrh., in Stirm’s "Studien der evang. Geistlichkeit Würtemberg’s," vol. XI., H. I. 169. Gieseler, II. 232 sq. Neander, III. 590 sqq., comp. II. 277 sqq.
The Euchites were mystic monks with dualistic principles derived from Parsism. They held that a demon dwells in every man from his birth, and can be expelled only by unceasing silent prayer, which they exalted above every spiritual exercise. Hence their name. 759 They were also called Enthusiasts by the people on account of their boasted ecstasies, in which they fancied that they received special revelations. Psellus calls them "devil-worshippers." They despised all outward forms of worship. Rumor charged them with lewdness and infanticide in their secret assemblies; but the same stories were told of the early Christians, and deserve no credit.
They appear in the eleventh century in Mesopotamia and Armenia, in some connection with the Paulicians. They were probably the successors of the older Syrian Euchites or Messalians of the fourth and fifth centuries, who in their conceit had reached the height of ascetic perfection, despised manual labor and all common occupations, and lived on alms—the first specimens of mendicant friars.
From the Euchites sprang towards the close of the eleventh century the Bogomiles (the Slavonic name for Euchites), 760and Catharists (i.e. the Purists, Puritans), and spread from Bulgaria into the West. They will occupy our attention in the next period.
Another Eastern sect, called Thondracians (from the village Thondrac), was organized by Sembat, a Paulician, in the province of Ararat, between 833 and 854. They sprang from the Paulicians, and in spite of persecution made numerous converts in Armenia, among them a bishop, Jacob, in 1002, who preached against the corruptions in the Armenian church, but was branded, exposed to public scorn, imprisoned, and at last killed by his enemies. 761
Little is known of the sect of the Athingians who appeared in Upper Phrygia.2 They seem to have been strongly Judaistic. They observed all the rites of the law except circumcision, for which they substituted baptism. Neander conjectures, that they were the successors of the Colossian errorists opposed by St. Paul.
§ 133. The New Manichaeans in the West.
I. The chief sources for the sects of the Middle Age belong to the next period, namely, the letters of Pope Innocent III., Honorius III., Bernhard of Clairvaux, Peter the Venerable; the acts of Councils; the chronicles; and the special writings against them, chiefly those of the Dominican monk Reinerius Sacchoni of Lombardy (d. 1259), who was himself a heretic for seventeen years. The sources are collected in the "Maxima Biblioth. Patr." (Lugd., 1677, Tom. XXII., XXIV.); in Martene and Durand’s "Thesaurus novus anecdotorum" (Par., 1682); in Muratori’s "Rerum Italic. Scriptores" (Mediol., 1723 sqq.); in Bouquet’s "Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France" (Par., 1738 sqq.), etc. See the Lit. in Hahn I. 23 sqq.
II. J. Conr. Fuesslin: Neue unparth. Kirchen-und Ketzerhistorie der mittleren Zeit. Frankf, 1770. 2 Parts.
Chr. U. Hahn: Geschichte der Ketzer im Mittelalter, besonders im 11., 12. und 13. Jahrh., nach den Quellen bearbeitet. Stuttgart, 1845–’50, 3 vols. The first vol. contains the History of the New Manichaeans.
C. Schmidt: Histoire et doctrine de la secte des Cathares. Paris, 1849, 2 vols.
Razki: Bogomili i Catareni. Agram, 1869.
Neander, III. 592–606. Gieseler, II. 234–239. Hardwick, p. 187–190. Robertson, II. 417–424.
The heretical sects in the West are chiefly of three distinct classes: 1) the dualistic or Manichaean; 2) the pantheistic and mystic; 3) the biblical (the Waldenses). Widely differing among themselves, they were united in hatred of the papal church and the sacerdotal system. They arose from various causes: the remains of heathen notions and older heresies; opposition to the corruptions of the church and the clergy; the revolt of reason against tyrannical authority; and popular thirst for the word of God. They spread with astonishing rapidity during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries from Bulgaria to Spain, especially through Italy and Southern France, and called forth all the energies of the papacy at the zenith of its power (under Innocent III.) for their forcible suppression. One only survived the crusade, the Waldenses, owing to their faithful adherence to the positive truths of the Scriptures.
In the West the heretical tendency in organized form made its first appearance during the eleventh century, when the corruption of the church and the papacy had reached its height. It appeared to that age as a continuation or revival of the Manichaean heresy. 763 The connecting link is the dualistic principle. The old Manichaeans were never quite extirpated with fire and sword, but continued secretly in Italy and France, waiting for a favorable opportunity to emerge from obscurity. Nor must we overlook the influence from the East. Paulicians were often transported under Byzantine standards from Thrace and Bulgaria to the Greek provinces of Italy and Sicily, and spread the seed of their dualism and docetism and hatred of the ruling church. 764
New Manichaeans were first discovered in Aquitania and Orleans, in 1022, in Arras, 1025, in Monteforte near Turin, 1030, in Goslar, 1025. They taught a dualistic antagonism between God and matter, a docetic view of the humanity of Christ, opposed the worship of saints and images, and rejected the whole Catholic church with all the material means of grace, for which they substituted a spiritual baptism, a spiritual eucharist, and a symbol of initiation by the imposition of hands. Some resolved the life of Christ into a myth or symbol of the divine life in every man. They generally observed an austere code of morals, abstained from marriage, animal food, and intoxicating drinks. A pallid, emaciated face was regarded by the people as a sign of heresy. The adherents of the sect were common people, but among their leaders were priests, sometimes in disguise. One of them, Dieudonné, precentor of the church in Orleans, died a Catholic; but when three years after his death his connection with the heretics was discovered, his bones were dug up and removed from consecrated ground.
The Oriental fashion of persecuting dissenters by the faggot and the sword was imitated in the West. The fanatical fury of the people supported the priests in their intolerance. Thirteen New Manichaeans were condemned to the stake at Orleans in 1022. Similar executions occurred in other places. At Milan the heretics were left the choice either to bow before the cross, or to die; but the majority plunged into the flames.
A few men rose above the persecuting spirit of the age, following the example of St. Martin of Tours, who had vigorously protested against the execution of the Priscillianists at Treves. Wazo, bishop of Liège, about 1047, raised his voice for toleration when he was asked for his opinion concerning the treatment of the heretics in the diocese of Châlons-sur-Marne. Such doctrines, he said, must be condemned as unchristian; but we are bound to bear with the teachers after the example of our Saviour, who was meek and humble and came not to strive, but rather to endure shame and the death of the cross. The parable of the wheat and the tares teaches us to wait patiently for the repentance of erring neighbors. "We bishops," he tells his fellow-bishops, "should remember that we did not receive, at our ordination, the sword of secular power, the vocation to slay, but only the vocation to make alive." All they had to do was to exclude obstinate heretics from the communion of the church and to guard others against their dangerous doctrines.5
THE STATE OF LEARNING.
§ 134. Literature.
Comp. the list of works in vol. II. 621 sqq.
I. The ecclesiastical writers of this period are collected for the first time by Migne, the Greek in his Patrologia Graeca, Tom. 90 (Maximus Confessor) to 136 (Eustathius); the Latin in his Patrologia Latina, Tom. 69 (Cassiodorus) and 75 (Gregory I.) to 148 (Gregory VII.).
II. General works: Du Pin, Ceillier, and Cave, and the bibliographical works of Fabricius (Biblioth. Graeca, and Bibl. Latina); especially the Histoire Générale des auteurs sacrés ecclésiastiques by the Benedictine Dom Remy Ceillier (1688–1761), first ed., 1729–63, in 23 vols.; revised ed. by Abbé Bauzon, Paris, 1857–’62, in 14 vols. 4to. This ed. comes down to St. Bernard and Peter the Lombard. Tom. XI., XII. and XIII. cover the 6th century to the 11th.
A. H. L. Heeren (Prof. in Göttingen): Geschichte der classischen Literatur im Mittelalter. Göttingen, 1822. 2 Parts. The first part goes from the beginning of the Middle Age to the 15th century.
Henry Hallam: State of Europe in the Middle Ages. Ch. IX. (New York ed. of 1880, vol. III. 254 sqq.); and his Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the 15th, 16th and 17th Centuries. Part I., Ch.1 (N. York ed. of 1880, vol. I., p. 25–103).
Hermann Reuter: Geschichte der relig. Aufklärung in Mittelalter. Berlin, 1875, 2 vols.
III. Special works.
(1) Learning and Literature in the East: Leo Allatius: Graeciae orthodoxae Scriptores. Rom., 1652–’59, 2 vols. The Byzantine Historians, ed. by Niebuhr and others, Gr. and Lat. Bonn, 1828–’78, 50 vols., 8vo. Monographs on Photius, especially Hergenröther (the third volume), and on John of Damascus by Langen (1879), etc.; in part also Gass: Symbolik der griech. Kirche (1872).
(2) Literature in the Latin church: Johann Christ. Felix Bähr: Geschichte der römischen Literatur. Carlsruhe, 1836 sqq.; 4th revised ed., 1868–’72, 4 vols. The 4th vol. embraces the Christian Roman literature to the age of Charlemagne. This formerly appeared in three supplementary vols., 1836, 1837 and 1840, the third under the title: Gesch. der röm. Lit. im karolingischen Zeitalter (619 pages).—Wilhelm S. Teuffel: Geschichte der römischen Literatur. Leipzig, 1870, 4th ed. edited by L. Schwabe, 1882. Closes with the middle of the eighth century. Adolph Ebert: Geschichte der Literatur des Mittelalters im Abendlande. Leipzig, 1874–’80, 2 vols.
Comp. also Léon Maitre: Les écoles episcopales et monastiques de l’occident depuis Charlemagne jusqu’ à Philippe-Auguste, 1866. H. Jos. Schmitz: Das Volksschulwesen im Mittelalter. Frankf a. M., 1881.
(3) For Italy: Muratori: Antiquitates italicae medii aevi (Mediol., 1738–’42, 6 vols. fol.), and Rerum italicarum Scriptores praecipui ab anno D. ad MD. (Mediol., 1723–’51, 29 vols. fol.). Tirabsoschi (a very learned Jesuit): Storia della letteratura italiana, antica e moderna. Modena, 177l-’82, and again 1787–’94; another ed. Milan, 1822–26, 16 vols. Gregorovius: Geschichte ’der Stadt Rom. im Mittelalter. Stuttgart, 1859 sqq., 3rd ed. 1874 sqq., 8 vols.
(4) For France: the Benedictine Histoire litteraire de la France. Paris, 1733–’63, 12 vols. 4to., continued by members of the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres, 1814 sqq.—Bouquet: Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France. Paris, 1738–1865, 22 vols. fol.; new ed. 1867 sqq. Guizot: Histoire générale de la civilisation en Europe et en France depuis la chute de l’empire romain jusqu’ à la revolution française. Paris, 1830, 6 vols., and many editions, also two English translations.—Ozanam: La civilisation chrétienne chez les Francs. Paris, 1849.
(5) For Spain: The works of Isidore of Seville. Comp. Balmez: European Civilization, in Spanish, Barcelona, 1842–44, in 4 vols.; transl. into French and English (against Guizot and in the interest of Romanism).
(6) For England: The works and biographies of Bede, Alcuin, Alfred. Monumenta Historica Brittannica, ed. by Petrie, Sharpe, and Hardy. Lond., 1848 (the first vol. extends to the Norman conquest). Rerum Britannicarum medii xvi Scriptores, or Chronicles and Memorials of Great Britain. London, 1858–1865, 55 vols. 8vo. Comp. J. R. Lumby: Greek Learning in the Western Church during the Seventh and Eighth Centuries. Cambridge, 1878.
(7) For Germany: The works and biographies of Bonifacius, Charlemagne, Rabanus Maurus. The Scriptores in the Monumenta Germaniae historica, ed. Pertz and others, Han., 1826 sqq. (from 500 to 1500); also in a small ed. Scriptores rer. Germ. in usum scholarum, 1840–1866, 16 vols. 8vo. Wilhelm Wattenbach: Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter his zur Mitte des 13. Jahrhunderts. Berlin, 1858, 4th ed., 1877–’78, 2 vols.
(8) On the era of Charlemagne in particular: J. J. Ampere: Histoire littéraire de la France avant Charlemagne (second ed., 1867, 2 vols.), and Histoire litteraire de la France sous Charlemagne et durant les Xe et XIe siècles. Paris, 1868.—Bähr: De litter. studiis a Carolo M. revocatis ac schola Palatina. Heidelb., 1856.—J. Bass Mullinger: The Schools of Charles the Great, and the Restoration of Education in the Ninth Century. London, 1877.—Ebert: Die liter. Bewegung zur Zeit Karls des Gr., in "Deutsche Rundschau," XI. 1877. Comp. also Rettberg: Kirchengeschichte Deutschlands, I. 427 sqq., and the works quoted on p. 236. The poetry of the Carolingian age is collected in two magnificent volumes by E. Dümmler.: Poëtae Latini Aevi Carolini. Berlin, 2 vols. in 3 parts, 1880–’84 (in the Scriptorum series of the Mon. Germania).
§ 135. Literary Character of the Early Middle Ages.
The prevailing character of this period in sacred learning is a faithful traditionalism which saved the remains of the ancient classical and Christian literature, and transferred them to a new soil. The six centuries which intervene between the downfall of the West Roman Empire (476) and the age of Hildebrand (1049–1085), are a period of transition from an effete heathen to a new Christian civilization, and from patristic to scholastic theology. It was a period of darkness with the signs of approaching daylight. The fathers were dead, and the schoolmen were not yet born. The best that could be done was to preserve the inheritance of the past for the benefit of the future. The productive power was exhausted, and gave way to imitation and compilation. Literary industry took the place of independent investigation.
The Greek church kept up the connection with classical and patristic learning, and adhered closely to the teaching of the Nicene fathers and the seven oecumenical councils. The Latin church bowed before the authority of St. Augustin and St. Jerome. The East had more learning; the West had more practical energy, which showed itself chiefly in the missionary field. The Greek church, with her head turned towards the past, tenaciously maintains to this day the doctrinal position of the eighth century; the Latin church, looking to the future, passed through a deep night of ignorance, but gathered new strength from new blood. The Greek church presents ancient Christianity at rest; while the Latin church of the middle ages is Christianity in motion towards the modern era.
§ 136. Learning in the Eastern Church.
The Eastern church had the advantage over the Western in the knowledge of the Greek language, which gave her direct access to the Greek Testament, the Greek classics, and the Greek fathers; but, on the other hand, she had to suffer from the Mohammedan invasions, and from the intrigues and intermeddling of a despotic court.
The most flourishing seats of patristic learning, Alexandria and Antioch, were lost by the conquests of Islam. The immense library at Alexandria was burned by order of Omar (638), who reasoned: "If these writings of the Greeks agree with the book of God (the Koran), they are useless and need not be preserved; if they disagree, they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed."6 In the eighth century, however, the Saracens themselves began to cultivate learning, to translate Greek authors, to collect large libraries in Bagdad, Cairo, and Cordova. The age of Arabic learning continued about five hundred years, till the irruption of the Moguls. It had a stimulating effect upon the scholarship of the church, especially upon the development of scholastic philosophy, through the writings of Averroës of Cordova (d. 1198), the translator and commentator of Aristotle.
Constantinople was the centre of the literary, activity of the Greek church during the middle ages. Here or in the immediate vicinity (Chalcedon, Nicaea) the oecumenical councils were held; here were the scholars, the libraries, the imperial patronage, and all the facilities for the prosecution of studies. Many a library was destroyed, but always replaced again. 767 Thessalonica and Mount Athos were also important seats of learning, especially in the twelfth century.
The Latin was the official language of the Byzantine court, and Justinian, who regained, after a divorce of sixty years, the dominion of ancient Rome through the valor of Belisarius (536), asserted the proud title of Emperor of the Romans, and published his code of laws in Latin. But the Greek always was and remained the language of the people, of literature, philosophy, and theology.
Classical learning revived in the ninth century under the patronage of the court. The reigns of Caesar Bardas (860–866), Basilius I. the Macedonian (867–886), Leo VI. the Philosopher (886–911), who was himself an author, Constantine VII. Porphyrogenitus (911–959), likewise an author, mark the most prosperous period of Byzantine literature. The family of the Comneni, who upheld the power of the sinking empire from 1057 to 1185, continued the literary patronage, and the Empress Eudocia and the Princess Anna Comnena cultivated the art of rhetoric and the study of philosophy.
Even during the confusion of the crusades and the disasters which overtook the empire, the love for learning continued; and when Constantinople at last fell into the hands of the Turks, Greek scholarship took refuge in the West, kindled the renaissance, and became an important factor in the preparation for the Reformation.
The Byzantine literature presents a vast mass of learning without an animating, controlling and organizing genius. "The Greeks of Constantinople," says Gibbon, 768 with some rhetorical exaggeration, "held in their lifeless hands the riches of the fathers, without inheriting the spirit which had created and improved that sacred patrimony: they read, they praised, they compiled; but their languid souls seemed alike incapable of thought and action. In the revolution of ten centuries, not a single discovery was made to exalt the dignity or promote the happiness of mankind. Not a single idea has been added to the speculative systems of antiquity; and a succession of patient disciples became in their turn the dogmatic teachers of the next servile generation. Not a single composition of history, philosophy or literature has been saved from oblivion by the intrinsic beauties of style or sentiment, of original fancy, and even of successful imitation .... The leaders of the Greek church were humbly content to admire and copy the oracles of antiquity, nor did the schools or pulpit produce any rivals of the fame of Athanasius and Chrysostom."
The theological controversies developed dialectical skill, a love for metaphysical subtleties, and an over-estimate of theoretical orthodoxy at the expense of practical piety. The Monotheletic controversy resulted in an addition to the christological creed; the iconoclastic controversy determined the character of public worship and the relation of religion to art.
The most gifted Eastern divines were Maximus Confessor in the seventh, John of Damascus in the eighth, and Photius in the ninth century. Maximus, the hero of Monotheletism, was an acute and profound thinker, and the first to utilize the pseudo-Dyonysian philosophy in support of a mystic orthodoxy. John of Damascus, the champion of image-worship, systematized the doctrines of the orthodox fathers, especially the three great Cappadocians, Basil, Gregory of Nazianzum, and Gregory of Nyssa, and produced a monumental work on theology which enjoys to this day the same authority in the Greek church as the "Summa" of Thomas Aquinas in the Latin. Photius, the antagonist of Pope Nicolas, was the greatest scholar of his age, who read and digested with independent judgment all ancient heathen and Christian books on philology, philosophy, theology, canon law, history, medicine, and general literature. In extent of information and fertility of pen he had a successor in Michael Psellus (d. 1106).
Exegesis was cultivated by Oecumenius in the tenth, Theophylact in the eleventh, and Euthymius Zygabenus in the twelfth century. They compiled the valuable exegetical collections called "Catenae." 769 Simeon Metaphrastes (about 900) wrote legendary biographies and eulogies of one hundred and twenty-two saints. Suidas, in the eleventh century, prepared a Lexicon, which contains much valuable philological and historical information 770 The Byzantine historians, Theophanes, Syncellus, Cedrenus, Leo Grammaticus, and others, describe the political and ecclesiastical events of the slowly declining empire. The most eminent scholar of the twelfth century, was Eustathius, Archbishop of Thessalonica, best known as the commentator of Homer, but deserving a high place also as a theologian, ecclesiastical ruler, and reformer of monasticism.
§ 137. Christian Platonism and the Pseudo-Dionysian Writings.
I. Best ed. of Pseudo-Dionysius in Greek and Latin by Balthasar Corderius (Jesuit), Antwerp, 1634; reprinted at Paris, 1644; Venice, 1755; Brixiae, 1854; and by Migne, in "Patrol. Gr.," Tom. III. and IV., Paris, 1857, with the scholia of Pachymeres, St. Maximus, and various dissertations on the life and writings of Dionysius. French translations by Darboy (1845), and Dulac (1865). German transl. by Engelhardt (see below). An English transl. of the Mystical Theology in Everard’s Gospel Treasures, London, 1653.
II. Older treatises by Launoy: De Areopagiticis Hilduini (Paris, 1641); and De duabus Dionysiis (Par., 1660). Père Sirmond: Dissert. in qua ostenditur Dion. Paris. et Dion. Areop. discrimen (Par., 1641). J. Daillé: De scriptis quo sub Dionys. Areop. et Ignatii Antioch. nominibus circumferuntur (Geneva, 1666, reproduced by Engelhardt).
III. Engelhardt: Die angeblichen Schriften des Areop. Dion. übersetzt und mit Abhandl. begleitet (Sulzbach, 1823); De Dion. Platonizante (Erlangen, 1820); and De Origine script. Dion. Areop. (Erlangen, 1823). Vogt: Neuplatonismus und Christenthum. Berlin, 1836. G. A. Meyer: Dionys. Areop. Halle, 1845. L. Montet: Les livres du Pseudo-Dionys., 1848. Neander: III. 169 sqq.; 466 sq. Gieseler: I. 468; II. 103 sq. Baur: Gesch. der Lehre v. der Dreieinigkeit und Menschwerdung Gottes, II. 251–263. Dorner: Entw. Gesch. der L. v. d. Pers. Christi, II. 196–203. Fr. Hipler: Dionys. der Areopagite. Regensb., 1861. E. Böhmer: Dion. Areop., 1864. Westcott: Dion. Areop. in the "Contemp. Review" for May, 1867 (with good translations of characteristic passages). Joh. Niemeyer: Dion. Areop. doctrina philos. et theolog. Halle, 1869. Dean Colet: On the Hierarchies of Dionysius. 1869. J. Fowler: On St. Dion. in relation to Christian Art, in the "Sacristy," Febr., 1872. Kanakis: Dionys. der Areop. nach seinem Character als Philosoph. Leipz., 1881. Möller in "Herzog"2 III. 617 sqq.; and Lupton in "Smith & Wace," I. 841 sqq. Comp. the Histories of Philosophy by Ritter, II. 514 sqq., and Ueberweg (Am. ed.), II. 349–352.
The Real and the Ficitious Doinysius.
The tendency to mystic speculation was kept up and nourished chiefly through the writings which exhibit a fusion of Neo-Platonism and Christianity, and which go under the name of Dionysius Areopagita, the distinguished Athenian convert of St. Paul (Acts 17:34). He was, according to a tradition of the second century, the first bishop of Athens. 771 In the ninth century, when the French became acquainted with his supposed writings, he was confounded with St. Denis, the first bishop of Paris and patron saint of France, who lived and died about two hundred years after the Areopagite. 772 He thus became, by a glaring anachronism, the connecting link between Athens and Paris, between Greek philosophy and Christian theology, and acquired an almost apostolic authority. He furnishes one of the most remarkable examples of the posthumous influence of unknown authorship and of the power of the dead over the living. For centuries he was regarded as the prince of theologians. He represented to the Greek and Latin church the esoteric wisdom of the gospel, and the mysterious harmony between faith and reason and between the celestial and terrestrial hierarchy.
Pseudo-Dionysius is a philosophical counterpart of Pseudo-Isidor: both are pious frauds in the interest of the catholic system, the one with regard to theology, the other with regard to church polity; both reflect the uncritical character of mediaeval Christianity; both derived from the belief in their antiquity a fictitious importance far beyond their intrinsic merits. Doubts were entertained of the genuineness of the Areopagitica by Laurentius Valla, Erasmus, and Cardinal Cajetan; but it was only in the seventeenth century that the illusion of the identity of Pseudo-Dionysius with the apostolic convert and the patron-saint of France was finally dispelled by the torch of historical criticism. Since that time his writings have lost their authority and attraction; but they will always occupy a prominent place among the curiosities of literature, and among the most remarkable systems of mystic philosophy.
Who is the real author of those productions? The writer is called simply Dionysius, and only once. 773 He repeatedly mentions an unknown Hierotheos, as his teacher; but he praises also "the divine Paul," as the spiritual guide of both, and addresses persons who bear apostolic names, as Timothy, Titus, Caius, Polycarp, and St. John. He refers to a visit he made with Hierotheos, and with James, the brother of the Lord (ajdelfovqeo"), and Peter, "the chief and noblest head of the inspired apostles," to gaze upon the (dead) body of her (Mary) who was "the beginning of life and the recipient of God;" on which occasion Hierotheos gave utterance to their feelings in ecstatic hymns. It is evident then that he either lived in the apostolic age and its surroundings, or that he transferred himself back in imagination to that age. 774 The former alternative is impossible. The inflated style, the reference to later persons (as Ignatius of Antioch and Clement of Alexandria), the acquaintance with Neo-Platonic ideas, the appeal to the "old tradition" (ajrcai'a paravdosi") of the church as well as the Scriptures, and the elaborate system of church polity and ritual which he presupposes, clearly prove his post-apostolic origin. He was not known to Eusebius or Jerome or any ecclesiastical author before 533. In that year his writings were first mentioned in a conference between orthodox bishops and heretical Severians at Constantinople under Justinian I. 775 The Severians quoted them as an authority for their Monophysitic Christology and against the Council of Chalcedon; and in reply to the objection that they were unknown, they asserted that Cyril of Alexandria had used them against the Nestorians. If this be so, they must have existed before 444, when Cyril died; but no trace can be found in Cyril’s writings. On the other hand, Dionysius presupposes the christological controversies of the fifth century, and shows a leaning to Monophysitic views, and a familiarity with the last and best representatives of Neo-Platonism, especially with Proclus, who died in Athens, a.d. 485. The resemblance is so strong that the admirers of Dionysius charged Proclus with plagiarism. 776 The writer then was a Christian Neo-Platonist who wrote towards the close of the fifth or the beginning of the sixth century in Greece or in Egypt, and who by a literary fiction clothed his religious speculations with the name and authority of the first Christian bishop of Athens. 777
In the same way the pseudo-Clementine writings were assigned to the first bishop of Rome.
The Fortunes of Pseudo-Dionysius.
Pseudo-Dionysius appears first in the interest of the heretical doctrine of one nature and one will in the person of Christ.8 But he soon commended himself even more to orthodox theologians. He was commented on by Johannes Scythopolitanus in the sixth century, and by St. Maximus Confessor in the seventh. John of Damascus often quotes him as high authority. Even Photius, who as a critic doubted the genuineness, numbers him among the great church teachers and praises his depth of thought. 779
In the West the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius were first noticed about 590 by Pope Gregory I., who probably became acquainted with them while ambassador at Constantinople. Pope Hadrian I. mentions them in a letter to Charlemagne. The Emperor Michael II. the Stammerer, sent a copy to Louis the Pious, 827. Their arrival at St. Denis on the eve of the feast of the saint who reposed there, was followed by no less than nineteen miraculous cures in the neighborhood. They naturally recalled the memory of the patron-saint of France, and were traced to his authorship. The emperor instructed Hilduin, the abbot of St. Denis, to translate them into Latin; but his scholarship was not equal to the task. John Scotus Erigena, the best Greek scholar in the West, at the request of Charles the Bald, prepared a literal translation with comments, about 850, and praised the author as "venerable alike for his antiquity and for the sublimity of the heavenly mysteries" with which he dealt.0 Pope Nicolas I. complained that the work had not been sent to him for approval," according to the custom of the church" (861); but a few years later Anastasius, the papal librarian, highly commended it (c. 865).
The Areopagitica stimulated an intuitive and speculative bent of mind, and became an important factor in the development of scholastic and mystic theology. Hugo of St. Victor, Peter the Lombard, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Robert Grosseteste, and Dionysius Carthusianus wrote commentaries on them, and drew from them inspiration for their own writings. 781 The Platonists of the Italian renaissance likewise were influenced by them.
Dante places Dionysius among the theologians in the heaven of the sun:
"Thou seest next the lustre of that taper,
Which in the flesh below looked most within
The angelic nature and its ministry." 782
Luther called him a dreamer, and this was one of his heretical views which the Sorbonne of Paris condemned.
The Several Writings.
The Dionysian writings, as far as preserved, are four treatises addressed to Timothy, his "fellow-presbyter," namely: 1) On the Celestial Hierarchy (peri; th'" oujraniva" iJerarciva"). 2) On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy (peri; th'" ejkklhsiastikh'" iJerarciva"). 3) On the Divine Names (peri; qeivwn ojnomavtwn). 4) On Mystic Theology (peri; mustikh'" qeologiva"). To these are added ten letters addressed to various persons of the apostolic age.3
The System of Dionysius.
These books reveal the same authorship and the same system of mystic symbolism, in which Neo-Platonism and Christianity are interwoven. The last phase of Hellenic philosophy which heretofore had been hostile to the church, is here made subservient to it. The connecting ideas are the progressive revelation of the infinite, the hierarchic triads, the negative conception of evil, and the striving of man after mystic union with the transcendent God. The system is a counterpart of the Graeco-Jewish theology, of Philo of Alexandria, who in similar manner mingled the Platonic philosophy with the Mosaic religion. The Areopagite and Philo teach theology in the garb of philosophy; both appeal to Scripture, tradition, and reason; both go behind the letter of the Bible and the facts of history to a deeper symbolic and allegoric meaning; both adulterate the revealed truths by foreign elements. But Philo is confined to the Old Testament, and ignores the New, which was then not yet written; while the system of the Areopagite is a sort of philosophy of Christianity.
The Areopagite reverently ascends the heights and sounds the depths of metaphysical and religious speculation, and makes the impression of profound insight and sublime spirituality; and hence he exerted such a charm upon the great schoolmen and mystics of the middle ages. But he abounds in repetitions; he covers the poverty of thought with high-sounding phrases; he uses the terminology of the Hellenic mysteries;4and his style is artificial, turgid, involved, and monotonous.
The unity of the Godhead and the hierarchical order of the universe are the two leading ideas of the Areopagite. He descends from the divine unity through a succession of manifestations to variety, and ascends back again to mystic union with God. His text, we may say, is the sentence of St. Paul: "From God, and through God, and unto God, are all things" (Rom. 11:36).
He starts from the Neo-Platonic conception of the Godhead, as a being which transcends all being and existence 785and yet is the beginning and the end of all existence, as unknowable and yet the source of all reason and knowledge, as nameless and inexpressible and yet giving names to all things, as a simple unity and yet causing all variety. He describes God as "a unity of three persons, who with his loving providence penetrates to all things, from super-celestial essences to the last things of earth, as being the beginning and cause of all beings, beyond all beginning, and enfolding all things transcendentally in his infinite embrace." If we would know God, we must go out of ourselves and become absorbed in Him. All being proceeds from God by a sort of emanation, and tends upward to him.
The world forms a double hierarchy, that is, as he defines it, "a holy order, and science, and activity or energy, assimilated as far as possible to the godlike and elevated to the imitation of God in proportion to the divine illuminations conceded to it." There are two hierarchies, one in heaven, and one on earth, each with three triadic degrees.
The celestial or supermundane hierarchy consists of angelic beings in three orders: 1) thrones, cherubim, and seraphim, in the immediate presence of God; 2) powers, mights, and dominions; 3) angels (in the narrower sense), archangels, and principalities. 786 The first order is illuminated, purified and perfected by God, the second order by the first, the third by the second.
The earthly or ecclesiastical hierarchy is a reflex of the heavenly, and a school to train us up to the closest possible communion with God. Its orders form the lower steps of the heavenly ladder which reaches in its summit to the throne of God. It requires sensible symbols or sacraments, which, like the parables of our Lord, serve the double purpose of revealing the truth to the holy and hiding it from the profane. The first and highest triad of the ecclesiastical hierarchy are the sacraments of baptism which is called illumination (fwvtisma), the eucharist (suvnaxi", gathering, communion), which is the most sacred of consecrations, and the holy unction or chrism which represents our perfecting. Three other sacraments are mentioned: the ordination of priests, the consecration of monks, and the rites of burial, especially the anointing of the dead. The three orders of the ministry form the second triad. 787 The third triad consists of monks, the holy laity, and the catechumens.
These two hierarchies with their nine-fold orders of heavenly and earthly ministrations are, so to speak, the machinery of God’s government and of his self-communication to man. They express the divine law of subordination and mutual dependence of the different ranks of beings.
The Divine Names or attributes, which are the subject of a long treatise, disclose to us through veils and shadows the fountain-head of all life and light, thought and desire. The goodness, the beauty, and the loveliness of God shine forth upon all created things, like the rays of the sun, and attract all to Himself. How then can evil exist? Evil is nothing real and positive, but only a negation, a defect. Cold is the absence of heat, darkness is the absence of light; so is evil the absence, of goodness. But how then can God punish evil? For the answer to this question the author refers to another treatise which is lost. 788
The Mystic Theology briefly shows the way by which the human soul ascends to mystic union with God as previously set forth under the Divine Names. The soul now rises above signs and symbols, above earthly conceptions and definitions to the pure knowledge and intuition of God.
Dionysius distinguishes between cataphatic or affirmative theology)9and apophatic or negative theology. 790 The former descends from the infinite God, as the unity of all names, to the finite and manifold; the latter ascends from the finite and manifold to God, until it reaches that height of sublimity where it becomes completely passive, its voice is stilled, and man is united with the nameless, unspeakable, super-essential Being of Beings.
The ten Letters treat of separate theological or moral topics, and are addressed, four to Caius, a monk (qerapeuvth"), one to Dorotheus, a deacon (leitourgov"), one to Sosipater, a priest (iJereuv"), one to Demophilus, a monk, one to Polycarp (called iJeravrch", no doubt the well-known bishop of Smyrna), one to Titus (iJeravrch", bishop of Crete), and the tenth to John, "the theologian," i.e. the Apostle John at Patmos, foretelling his future release from exile.
Two legends of the Pseudo-Dionysian writings have passed in exaggerated forms into Latin Breviaries and other books of devotion. One is his gathering with the apostles around the death-bed of the Virgin Mary. 791 The other is the exclamation of Dionysius when he witnessed at Heliopolis in Egypt the miraculous solar eclipse at the time of the crucifixion: 792"Either the God of nature is suffering, or He sympathizes with a suffering God." 793 No such sentence occurs in the writings of Dionysius as his own utterance; but a similar one is attributed by him to the sophist Apollophanes, his fellow-student at Heliopolis. 794
The Roman Breviary has given solemn sanction, for devotional purposes, to several historical errors connected with Dionysius the Areopagite: 1) his identity with the French St. Denis of the third century; 2) his authorship of the books upon "The Names of God," upon "The Orders in Heaven and in the Church," upon "The Mystic Theology," and "divers others," which cannot have been written before the end of the fifth century; 3) his witness of the supernatural eclipse at the time of the crucifixion, and his exclamation just referred to, which he himself ascribes to Apollophanes. The Breviary also relates that Dionysius was sent by Pope Clement of Rome to Gaul with Rusticus, a priest, and Eleutherius, a deacon; that he was tortured with fire upon a grating, and beheaded with an axe on the 9th day of October in Domitian’s reign, being over a hundred years old, but that "after his head was cut off, he took it in his hands and walked two hundred paces, carrying it all the while!"5
§ 138. Prevailing Ignorance in the Western Church.
The ancient Roman civilization began to decline soon after the reign of the Antonines, and was overthrown at last by the Northern barbarians. The treasures of literature and art were buried, and a dark night settled over Europe. The few scholars felt isolated and sad. Gregory, of Tours (540–594) complains, in the Preface to his Church History of the Franks, that the study of letters had nearly perished from Gaul, and that no man could be found who was able to commit to writing the events of the times.6
"Middle Ages" and "Dark Ages" have become synonymous terms. The tenth century is emphatically called the iron age, or the saeculum obscurum.7 The seventh and eighth were no better. 798 Corruption of morals went hand in hand with ignorance. It is re-ported that when the papacy had sunk to the lowest depth of degradation, there was scarcely a person in Rome who knew the first elements of letters. We hear complaints of priests who did not know even the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed. If we judge by the number of works, the seventh, eighth and tenth centuries were the least productive; the ninth was the most productive; there was a slight increase of productiveness in the eleventh over the tenth, a much greater one in the twelfth, but again a decline in the thirteenth century. 799
But we must not be misled by isolated facts into sweeping generalities. For England and Germany the tenth century was in advance of the ninth. In France the eighth and ninth centuries produced the seeds of a new culture which were indeed covered by winter frosts, but not destroyed, and which bore abundant fruit in the eleventh and twelfth.
Secular and sacred learning was confined to the clergy and the monks. The great mass of the laity, including the nobility, could neither read nor write, and most contracts were signed with the mark of the cross. Even the Emperor Charlemagne wrote only with difficulty. The people depended for their limited knowledge on the teaching of a poorly educated priesthood. But several emperors and kings, especially Charlemagne and Alfred, were liberal patrons of learning and even contributors to literature.
Scarcity of Libraries.
One of the chief causes of the prevailing ignorance was the scarcity of books. The old libraries were destroyed by ruthless barbarians and the ravages of war. After the conquest of Alexandria by the Saracens, the cultivation and exportation of Egyptian papyrus ceased, and parchment or vellum, which took its place, was so expensive that complete copies of the Bible cost as much as a palace or a farm. King Alfred paid eight acres of land for one volume of a cosmography. Hence the custom of chaining valuable books, which continued even to the sixteenth century. Hence also the custom of erasing the original text of manuscripts of classical works, to give place to worthless monkish legends and ascetic homilies. Even the Bible was sometimes submitted to this process, and thus "the word of God was made void by the traditions of men."0
The libraries of conventual and cathedral schools were often limited to half a dozen or a dozen volumes, such as a Latin Bible or portions of it, the liturgical books, some works of St. Augustin and St. Gregory, Cassiodorus and Boëthius, the grammars of Donatus and Priscianus, the poems of Virgil and Horace. Most of the books had to be imported from Italy, especially from Rome.
The introduction of cotton paper in the tenth or eleventh century, and of linen paper in the twelfth, facilitated the multiplication of books.1
§ 139. Educational Efforts of the Church.
The mediaeval church is often unjustly charged with hostility to secular learning. Pope Gregory I. is made responsible for the destruction of the Bibliotheca Palatina and the classical statues in Rome. But this rests on an unreliable tradition of very late date.2 Gregory was himself, next to Isidore of Seville (on whom he conferred the pall, in 599), the best scholar and most popular writer of his age, and is lauded by his biographers and Gregory of Tours as a patron of learning. If he made some disparaging remarks about Latin grammar and syntax, in two letters addressed to bishops, they must be understood as a protest against an overestimate of these lower studies and of heathen writers, as compared with higher episcopal duties, and with that allegorical interpretation of the Bible which he carried to arbitrary excess in his own exposition of Job. 803 In the Commentary on Kings ascribed to him, he commends the study of the liberal arts as a useful and necessary means for the proper understanding of the Scriptures, and refers in support to the examples of Moses, Isaiah, and St. Paul. 804 We may say then that he was an advocate of learning and art, but in subordination and subserviency to the interests of the Catholic church. This has been the attitude of the papal chair ever since. 805
The preservation and study of ancient literature during the entire mediaeval period are due chiefly to the clergy and monks, and a few secular rulers. The convents were the nurseries of manuscripts.
The connection with classical antiquity was never entirely broken. Boëthius (beheaded at Pavia, c. 525), and Cassiodorus (who retired to the monastery, of Viviers, and died there about 570), both statesmen under Theodoric, the Ostrogothic king of Italy, form the connecting links between ancient and mediaeval learning. They were the last of the old Romans; they dipped the pen of Cicero and Seneca in barbaric ink,6and stimulated the rising energies of the Romanic and Germanic nations: Boëthius by his "Consolation of Philosophy" (written in prison), 807Cassiodorus by his encyclopedic "Institutes of Divine Letters," a brief introduction to the profitable study of the Holy Scriptures. 808 The former looked back to Greek philosophy; the latter looked forward to Christian theology. The influence of their writings was enhanced by the scarcity of books beyond their intrinsic merits.
Boëthius has had the singular fortune of enjoying the reputation of a saint and martyr who was put to death, not for alleged political treason, but for defending orthodoxy against the Arianism of Theodoric. He is assigned by Dante to the fourth heaven in company with Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Gratian, Peter the Lombard, Dionysius the Areopagite, and other great teachers of the church:
"The saintly soul that maketh manifest
The world’s deceitfulness to all who hear well,
Is feasting on the sight of every good.
The body, whence it was expelled, is lying
Down in Cieldauro, and from martyrdom
And exile rose the soul to such a peace." 809
And yet it is doubtful whether Boëthius was a Christian at all. He was indeed intimate with Cassiodorus and lived in a Christian atmosphere, which accounts for the moral elevation of his philosophy. But, if we except a few Christian phrases,0his "Consolation" might almost have been written by a noble heathen of the school of Plato or Seneca. It is an echo of Greek philosophy; it takes an optimistic view of life; it breathes a beautiful spirit of resignation and hope, and derives comfort from a firm belief in God; in an all-ruling providence, and in prayer, but is totally silent about Christ and his gospel. 811 It is a dialogue partly in prose and partly in verse between the author and philosophy in the garb of a dignified woman (who sets as his celestial guide, like Dante’s Beatrice). The work enjoyed an extraordinary popularity throughout the middle ages, and was translated into several languages, Greek, Old High German (by Notker of St. Gall), Anglo-Saxon (by King Alfred), Norman English (by Chaucer), French (by Meun), and Hebrew (by Ben Banshet). Gibbon admires it all the more for its ignoring Christianity, and calls it "a golden volume not unworthy of the leisure of Plato or Tully, but which claims incomparable merit from the barbarism of the times and the situation of the author. The celestial guide whom he had so long invoked at Rome and Athens, now condescended to illumine his dungeon, to revive his courage, and to pour into his wounds her salutary balm .... From the earth Boëthius ascended to heaven in search of the Supreme Good; explored the metaphysical labyrinth of chance and destiny, of prescience and freewill, of time and eternity; and generously attempted to reconcile the perfect attributes of Deity with the apparent disorders of his moral and physical government." 812
Greek And Hebrew Learning.
The original languages of the Scriptures were little understood in the West. The Latin took the place of the Greek as a literary and sacred language, and formed a bond of union among scholars of different nationalities. As a spoken language it rapidly degenerated under the influx of barbaric dialects, but gave birth in the course of time to the musical Romanic languages of Southern Europe.
The Hebrew, which very few of the fathers (Origen and Jerome) had understood, continued to live in the Synagogue, and among eminent Jewish grammarians and commentators of the Old Testament; but it was not revived in the Christian Church till shortly before the Reformation. Very few of the divines of our period (Isidore, and, perhaps, Scotus Erigena), show any trace of Hebrew learning.
The Greek, which had been used almost exclusively, even by writers of the Western church, till the time of Tertullian and Cyprian, gave way to the Latin. Hence the great majority of Western divines could not read even the New Testament in the original. Pope Gregory did not know Greek, although he lived several years as papal ambassador in Constantinople. The same is true of most of the schoolmen down to the sixteenth century.
But there were not a few honorable exceptions.3 The Monotheletic and Iconoclastic controversies brought the Greek and the Latin churches into lively contact. The conflict between Photius and Nicolas stimulated Latin divines to self-defence.
As to Italy, the Greek continued to be spoken in the Greek colonies in Calabria and Sicily down to the eleventh century. Boëthius was familiar with the Greek philosophers. Cassiodorus often gives the Greek equivalents for Latin technical terms. 814
Several popes of this period were Greeks by birth, as Theodore I. (642), John VI. (701), John VII. (705), Zachary (741); while others were Syrians, as John V. (685), Sergius I. (687), Sisinnius (708), Constantine I. (708), Gregory III. (731). Zachary translated Gregory’s "Dialogues" from Latin into Greek. Pope Paul I. (757–768) took pains to spread a knowledge of Greek and sent several Greek books, including a grammar, some works of Aristotle, and Dionysius the Areopagite, to King Pepin of France. He provided Greek service for several monks who had been banished from the East by the iconoclastic emperor Copronymus. Anastasius, librarian of the Vatican, translated the canons of the eighth general Council of Constantinople (869) into Latin by order of Pope Hadrian II.5
Isidore of Seville (d. 636) mentions a learned Spanish bishop, John of Gerona, who in his youth had studied seven years in Constantinople. He himself quotes in his "Etymologies" from many Greek authors, and is described as "learned in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew."
Ireland was for a long time in advance of England, and sent learned missionaries to the sister island as well as to the Continent. That Greek was not unknown there, is evident from Scotus Erigena.
England derived her knowledge of Greek from Archbishop Theodore, who was a native of Tarsus, educated in Athens and appointed by the pope to the see of Canterbury (a.d. 668).6 He and his companion Hadrian, 817an Italian abbot of African descent, spread Greek learning among the clergy. Bede says that some of their disciples were living in his day who were as well versed in Greek and Latin as in their native Saxon. Among these must be mentioned Aldhelm, bishop of Sherborne, and Tobias, bishop of Rochester (d. 726). 818 The Venerable Bede (d. 735) gives evidence of Greek knowledge in his commentaries, 819his references to a Greek Codex of the Acts of the Apostles, and especially in his book on the Art of Poetry. 820 In France, Greek began to be studied under Charles the Great. Alcuin (d. 804) brought some knowledge of it from his native England, but his references may all have been derived from Jerome and Cassiodorus. 821 Paulus Diaconus frequently uses Greek words. Charlemagne himself learned Greek, and the Libri Carolini show a familiarity with the details of the image-controversy of the Greek Church. His sister Giesela, who was abbess of Challes near Paris, uses a few Greek words in Latin letters, 822in her correspondence with Alcuin, though these may have been derived from the Latin.
The greatest Greek scholar of the ninth century, and of the whole period in the West was John Scotus Erigena (850), who was of Irish birth and education, but lived in France at the court of Charles the Bald. He displays his knowledge in his Latin books, translated the pseudo-Dionysian writings, and attempted original Greek composition.
In Germany, Rabanus Maurus, Haymo of Halberstadt, and Walafrid Strabo had some knowledge of Greek, but not sufficient to be of any material use in the interpretation of the Scriptures.
The Course of Study. 823
Education was carried on in the cathedral and conventual schools, and these prepared the way for the Universities which began to be founded in the twelfth century.
The course of secular learning embraced the so-called seven liberal arts, namely, grammar, dialectics (logic), rhetoric, music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. The first three constituted the Trivium, the other four the Quadrivium.4 Seven, three, and four were all regarded as sacred numbers. The division is derived from St. Augustin, 825and was adopted by Boëthius and Cassiodorus. The first and most popular compend of the middle ages was the book of Cassiodorus, De Septem Disciplinis. 826
These studies were preparatory to sacred learning, which was based upon the Latin Bible and the Latin fathers.
The Chief Theologians.
A few divines embraced all the secular and religious knowledge of their age. In Spain, Isidore of Seville (d. 636) was the most learned man at the end of the sixth and the beginning of the seventh century. His twenty books of "Origins" or "Etymologies" embrace the entire contents of the seven liberal arts, together with theology, jurisprudence, medicine, natural history, etc., and show familiarity with Plato, Aristotle, Boëthius, Demosthenes, Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, Anacreon, Herodotus, Cicero, Horace, Virgil, Ovid, Terence, Juvenal, Caesar, Livy, Sallust.7 The Venerable Bede occupied the same height of encyclopaedic knowledge a century later. Alcuin was the leading divine of the Carolingian age. From his school proceeded RABANUS MAURUS, the founder of learning and higher education in Germany. 828 Scotus Erigena (d. about 877) was a marvel not only of learning, but also of independent thought, in the reign of Charles the Bald, and showed, by prophetic anticipation, the latent capacity of the Western church for speculative theology. 829 With Berengar and Lanfranc, in the middle of the eleventh century, dialectical skill was applied in opposing and defending the dogma of transubstantiation. 830 The doctrinal controversies about adoptionism, predestination, and the real presence stimulated the study of the Scriptures and of the fathers, and kept alive the intellectual activity.
The literature of the Latin church embraced penitential books, homilies, annals, translations, compilations, polemic discussions, and commentaries. The last are the most important, but fall far below the achievements of the fathers and reformers.
Exegesis was cultivated in an exclusively practical and homiletical spirit and aim by Gregory the Great, Isidore, Bede, Alcuin, Claudius of Turin, Paschasius Radbertus, Rabanus Maurus, Haymo, Walafrid Strabo, and others. The Latin Vulgate was the text, and the Greek or Hebrew seldom referred to. Augustin and Jerome were the chief sources. Charlemagne felt the need of a revision of the corrupt text of the Vulgate, and entrusted Alcuin with the task. The theory of a verbal inspiration was generally accepted, and opposed only by Agobard of Lyons who confined inspiration to the sense and the arguments, but not to the "ipsa corporalia verba."
The favorite mode of interpretation was the spiritual, that is, allegorical and mystical. The literal, that is, grammatico-historical exegesis was neglected. The spiritual interpretation was again divided into three ramifications: the allegorical proper, the moral, and the anagogical 831corresponding to the three cardinal virtues of the Christian: the first refers to faith (credenda), the second to practice or charity (agenda), the third to hope (speranda, desideranda). Thus Jerusalem means literally or historically, the city in Palestine; allegorically, the church; morally, the believing soul; anagogically, the heavenly Jerusalem. The fourfold sense was expressed in the memorial verse:
"Litera Gesta docet; quid Credas, Allegoria;
Moralis, quid Agas; quo Tendas, Anagogia."
St. Eucherius, bishop of Lyons, who was first (like Cyprian, and Ambrose) a distinguished layman, and father of four children, before he became a monk, and then a bishop, wrote in the middle of the fifth century (he died c. 450) a brief manual of mediaeval hermeneutics under the title Liber Formularum Spiritalis Intelligentiae (Rom., 1564, etc., in Migne’s "Patrol." Tom. 50, col. 727–772). This work is often quoted by Bede and is sometimes erroneously ascribed to him. Eucherius shows an extensive knowledge of the Bible and a devout spirit. He anticipates many favorite interpretations of mediaeval commentators and mystics. He vindicates the allegorical method from the Scripture itself, and from its use of anthropomorphic and anthropopathic expressions which can not be understood literally. Yet he allows the literal sense its proper place in history as well as the moral and mystical. He identifies the Finger of God (Digitus Dei) with the Spirit of God (cap. 2; comp. Luke 11:20 with Matt. 12:28), and explains the several meanings of Jerusalem (ecclesia, vel anima, cap. 10), ark (caro Dominica, corda sanctorum Deo plena, ecclesia intra quam salvanda clauduntur), Babylon (mundus, Roma, inimici), fures (haeretici et pseudoprophetae, gentes, vitia), chirographum, pactum, praeputium, circumcisio, etc. In the last chapter he treats of the symbolical significance of numbers, as 1=Divine Unity; 2=the two covenants, the two chief commandments; 3=the trinity in heaven and on earth (he quotes the spurious passage 1 John 5:7); 4=the four Gospels, the four rivers of Paradise; 5=the five books of Moses, five loaves, five wounds of Christ (John 20:25); 6=the days of creation, the ages of the world; 7=the day of rest, of perfection; 8=the day of resurrection; 10=the Decalogue; 12=the Apostles, the universal multitude of believers, etc.
The theory of the fourfold interpretation was more fully developed by Rabanus Maurus (776–856), in his curious book, Allegoriae in Universam Sacram Scripturam (Opera, ed. Migne, Tom. VI. col. 849–1088). He calls the four senses the four daughters of wisdom, by whom she nourishes her children, giving to beginners drink in lacte historiae, to the believers food in pane allegoriae, to those engaged in good works encouragement in refectione tropologiae, to those longing for heavenly rest delight in vino anagogiae. He also gives the following definition at the beginning of the treatise: "Historia ad aptam rerum gestarum narrationem pertinet, quae et in superficie litterae continetur, et sic intelligitur sicut legitur. Allegoria vero aliquid in se plus continet, quod per hoc quod locus [loquens] de rei veritate ad quiddam dat intelligendum de fidei puritate, et sanctae Ecclesiae mysteria, sive praesentia, sive futura, aliud dicens, aliud significans, semper autem figmentis et velatis ostendit. Tropologia quoque et ipsa, sicut allegoria, in figuratis, sive dictis, sive factis, constat: sed in hoc ab allegoria distat quod Allegoria quidem fidem, Tropologia vero aedificat moralitem. Anagogia autem, sive velatis, sive apertis dictis, de aeternis supernae patriae gaudiis constat, et quae merces vel fidem rectam, vel vitam maneat sanctam, verbis vel opertis, vel apertis demonstrat. Historia namque perfectorum exempla quo narrat, legentem ad imitationem sanctitatis excitat; Allegoria in fidei revelatione ad cognitionem veritatis; Tropologia in instructione morum ad amorem virtutis; Anagogia in manifestatione sempiternorum gaudiorum ad desiderium aeternae felicitatis. In nostrae ergo animae domo Historia fundamentum ponit; Allegoria parietes erigit; Anagogia tectum supponit; Tropologia vero tam interius per affectum quam exterius per effectum boni operis, variis ornatibus depingit."
§ 140. Patronage of Letters by Charles the Great, and Charles the Bald.
Comp. §§ 56, 90, 134 (pp. 236, 390, 584).
Charlemagne stands out like a far-shining beacon-light in the darkness of his age. He is the founder of a new era of learning, as well as of a new empire. He is the pioneer of French and German civilization. Great in war, he was greater still as a legislator and promoter of the arts of peace. He clearly saw that religion and education are the only solid and permanent basis of a state. In this respect he rose far above Alexander the Great and Caesar, and is unsurpassed by Christian rulers.
He invited the best scholars from Italy and England to his court,—Peter of Pisa, Paul Warnefrid, Paulinus of Aquileia, Theodulph of Orleans, Alcuin of York. 832 They formed a sort of royal academy of sciences and arts, and held literary symposiacs. Each member bore a nom de plume borrowed from the Bible or classic lore: the king presided as "David" or "Solomon"; Alcuin, a great admirer of Horace and Virgil, was "Flaccus" Angilbert (his son-in-law) was "Homerus"; Einhard (his biographer), "Bezaleel," after the skilful artificer of the Tabernacle (Ex. 31:2); Wizo, "Candidus"; Arno, "Aquila"; Fredegisus, "Nathanael"; Richbod, "Macarius," etc. Even ladies were not excluded: the emperor’s sister, Gisela, under the name "Lucia"; his learned cousin, Gundrad, as "Eulalia;" his daughter, Rotrude, as "Columba." He called Alcuin, whom he first met in Italy (781), his own "beloved teacher," and he was himself his most docile pupil. He had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and put all sorts of questions to him in his letters, even on the most difficult problems of theology. He learned in the years of his manhood the art of writing, the Latin grammar, a little Greek (that he might compare the Latin Testament with the original), and acquired some knowledge of rhetoric, dialectics, mathematics and astronomy. He delighted in reading the poets and historians of ancient Rome, and Augustin’s "City of God." He longed for a dozen Jeromes and Augustins, but Alcuin told him to be content since the Creator of heaven and earth had been pleased to give to the world only two such giants. He had some share in the composition of the Libri Carolini, which raised an enlightened protest against the superstition of image-worship. Poems are also attributed to him or to his inspiration. He ordered Paul Warnefrid (Paulus Diaconus) to prepare a collection of the best homilies of the Latin fathers for the use of the churches, and published it with a preface in which he admonished the clergy to a diligent study of the Scriptures. Several Synods held during his reign (813) at Rheims, Tours, Chalons, Mainz, ordered the clergy to keep a Homiliarium and to translate the Latin sermons clearly into rusticam Romanam linguam aut Theotiscam, so that all might understand them.
Charles aimed at the higher education not only of the clergy, but also of the higher nobility, and state officials. His sons and daughters were well informed. He issued a circular letter to all the bishops and abbots of his empire (787), urging them to establish schools in connection with cathedrals and convents. At a later period he rose even to the grand but premature scheme of popular education, and required in a capitulary (802) that every parent should send his sons to school that they might learn to read. Theodulph of Orleans (who died 821) directed the priests of his diocese to hold school in every town and village, 833to receive the pupils with kindness, and not to ask pay, but to receive only voluntary gifts.
The emperor founded the Court or Palace School (Schola Palatina) for higher education and placed it under the direction of Alcuin. 834 It was an imitation of the Paedagogium ingenuorum of the Roman emperors. It followed him in his changing residence to Aix-la-Chapelle, Worms, Frankfurt, Mainz, Regensburg, Ingelheim, Paris. It was not the beginning of the Paris University, which is of much later date, but the chief nursery of educated clergymen, noblemen and statesmen of that age. It embraced in its course of study all the branches of secular and sacred learning. 835 It became the model of similar schools, old and new, at Tours, Lyons, Orleans, Rheims, Chartres, Troyes, Old Corbey and New Corbey, Metz, St. Gall, Utrecht, Lüttich. 836 The rich literature of the Carolingian age shows the fruits of this imperial patronage and example. It was, however, a foreign rather than a native product. It was neither French nor German, but essentially Latin, and so far artificial. Nor could it be otherwise; for the Latin classics, the Latin Bible, and the Latin fathers were the only accessible sources of learning, and the French and German languages were not yet organs of literature. This fact explains the speedy decay, as well as the subsequent revival in close connection with the Roman church.
The creations of Charlemagne were threatened with utter destruction during the civil wars of his weak successors. But Charles the Bald, a son of Louis the Pious, and king of France (843–877), followed his grandfather in zeal for learning, and gave new lustre to the Palace School at Paris under the direction of John Scotus Erigena, whom he was liberal enough to protect, notwithstanding his eccentricities. The predestinarian controversy, and the first eucharistic controversy took place during his reign, and called forth a great deal of intellectual activity and learning, as shown in the writings of Rabanus Maurus, Hincmar, Remigius, Prudentius, Servatus Lupus, John Scotus Erigena, Paschasius Radbertus, and Ratramnus. We find among these writers the three tendencies, conservative, liberal, and speculative or mystic, which usually characterize periods of intellectual energy and literary productivity.
After the death of Charles the Bald a darker night of ignorance and barbarism settled on Europe than ever before. It lasted till towards the middle of the eleventh century when the Berengar controversy on the eucharist roused the slumbering intellectual energies of the church, and prepared the way for the scholastic philosophy and theology of the twelfth century.
The Carolingian male line lasted in Italy till 875, in Germany till 911, in France till 987.
§ 141. Alfred the Great, and Education in England.
Comp. the Jubilee edition of the Whole Works of Alfred the Great, with Preliminary Essays illustrative of the History, Arts and Manners of the Ninth Century. London, 1858, 2 vols. The biographies of Alfred, quoted on p. 395, and Freemann’s Old English History 1859.
In England the beginning of culture was imported with Christianity by Augustin, the first archbishop of Canterbury, who brought with him the Bible, the church books, the writings of Pope Gregory and the doctrines and practices of Roman Christianity; but little progress was made for a century. Among his successors the Greek monk, Theodore of Tarsus (668–690), was most active in promoting education and discipline among the clergy. The most distinguished scholar of the Saxon period is the Venerable Bede (d. 735), who, as already stated, represented all historical, exegetical and general knowledge of his age. Egbert, archbishop of York, founded a flourishing school in York (732), from which proceeded Alcuin, the teacher and friend of Charlemagne.
During the invasion of the heathen Danes and Normans many churches, convents and libraries were destroyed, and the clergy itself relapsed into barbarism so that they did not know the meaning of the Latin formulas which they used in public worship.
In this period of wild confusion King Alfred the Great (871–901), in his twenty-second year, ascended the throne. He is first in war and first in peace of all the Anglo-Saxon rulers. What Charlemagne was for Germany and France, Alfred was for England. He conquered the forces of the Danes by land and by sea, delivered his country from foreign rule, and introduced a new era of Christian education. He invited scholars from the old British churches in Wales, from Ireland, and the Continent to influential positions. He made collections of choice sentences from the Bible and the fathers. In his thirty-sixth year he learned Latin from Asser, a monk of Wales, who afterwards wrote his biography. He himself, no doubt with the aid of scholars, translated several standard works from Latin into the Anglo-Saxon, and accompanied them with notes, namely a part of the Psalter, Boëthius on the Consolation of Philosophy, Bede’s English Church History, Pope Gregory’s Pastoral Theology, Augustin’s Meditations, the Universal History of Orosius, and Aesop’s Fables. He sent a copy of Gregory’s Pastoral Theology to every diocese for the benefit of the clergy. It is due to his influence chiefly that the Scriptures and service-books at this period were illustrated by so many vernacular glosses.
He stood in close connection with the Roman see, as the centre of ecclesiastical unity and civilization. He devoted half of his income to church and school. He founded a school in Oxford similar to the Schola Palatina; but the University of Oxford, like those of Cambridge and Paris, is of much later date (twelfth or thirteenth century). He seems to have conceived even the plan of a general education of the people. 837 Amid great physical infirmity (he had the epilepsy), he developed an extraordinary activity during a reign of twenty-nine years, and left an enduring fame for purity, and piety of character and unselfish devotion to the best interests of his people. 838
His example of promoting learning in the vernacular language was followed by Aelfric, a grammarian, homilist and hagiographer. He has been identified with the archbishop Aelfric of Canterbury (996–1009), and with the archbishop Aelfric of York (1023–1051), but there are insuperable difficulties in either view. He calls himself simply "monk and priest." He left behind him a series of eighty Anglo-Saxon Homilies for Sundays and great festivals, and another series for Anglo-Saxon Saints’ days, which were used as an authority in the Anglo-Saxon Church.9