Medieval Supposition Theory in Its Theological Context

Medieval Supposition Theory in Its Theological Context

Brown, Stephen F.

Medieval Philosophy and Theology, vol. 3 (1993)


In his Historia calamitatum Abelard recalls a dramatic confrontation between Alberic of Rheims and himself. During the Council of Soissons (1121) Abelard’s Theologίa ‘Summi boni\ at Alberic’s insistence, was being examined for doctrinal errors. Alberic, carrying a copy of the work, approached the combative Abelard and declared how startled he was by something he found in the book: since God begot God and there was only one God, how could Abelard deny that God had begotten Himself? Alberic didn’t want any rational justification the suspected Abelard might want to provide for such a denial. Nor did he even want to know what the wandering teacher from Palais meant. He sought solely the words of the authority on which Abelard based himself. The undaunted Abelard told Alberic to turn over the folio of the work he was carrying. He would find there what he wanted. There indeed, to the consternation of Alberic and the disciples who accompanied him, the words from the opening chapter of Augustine’s De Trinitate both justified Abelard’s denial and undermined the thesis Alberic had taught for years.

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