Peter Lombard: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peter Lombard or Petrus Lombardus; (c. 1100 — July 20, 1160 in Paris) was a scholastic theologian and bishop and author of Four Books of Sentences, which became the standard textbook of theology, for which he is also known as Magister Sententiarum.



Peter Lombard was born in Lumellogno[1] (then a rural commune, now a quartiere of Novara, Piedmont), to a poor family.[2] His date of birth was likely between 1095 and 1100.

His education most likely began in Italy at the cathedral schools of Novara and Lucca. The patronage of Otto, bishop of Lucca, who recommended him to Bernard of Clairvaux, allowed him to leave Italy and further his studies at Reims and Paris. Petrus Lombardus studied first in the cathedral school at Reims, where Magister Alberich and Lutolph of Novara were teaching, and arrived in Paris about 1134[3], where Bernard recommended him[4] to the canons of the church of St-Victor. In Paris, where he spent the next decade teaching at the cathedral school of Notre Dame, he came into contact with Peter Abelard and Hugh of St. Victor, who were among the leading theologians of the time. There are no proven facts relating to his whereabouts in Paris until 1142 when he became recognized as writer and teacher. Around 1145, Peter became a "magister", or professor, at the cathedral school of Notre Dame in Paris. Peter's means of earning a living before he began to derive income as a teacher and from his canon's prebend is shrouded in uncertainty.

Peter Lombard's career

Lombard's style of teaching gained quick acknowledgment. It can be surmised that this attention is what prompted the canons of Notre Dame to ask him to join their ranks. He was considered a celebrated theologian by 1144. The Parisian school of canons had not included among their number a theologian of high regard for some years. The canons of Notre Dame, to a man, were members of the Capetian dynasty, relatives of families closely aligned to the Capetians by blood or marriage, scions of the Ile-de-France or eastern Loire Valley nobility, or relatives of royal officials. In contrast, Peter had no relatives, ecclesiastical connections, and no political patrons in France. It seems that he must have been invited by the canons of Notre Dame solely for his academic merit.

He became a subdeacon in 1147, and was ordained priest some time before 1156. At the Council of Reims (1148)[5] and possibly at the consistory of Paris the year before, he took part as a theological expert. At some time after 1150 he became a deacon, then an archdeacon by 1156, or maybe as early as 1152. In 1159, he was named bishop of Paris: a hostile witness, Walter of St Victor accused Peter of obtaining the office by simony,[6] though he had no sources of income; the more usual story is that Philip, younger brother of Louis VII. and archdeacon of Notre-Dame was elected by the canons but declined in favor of Peter, his teacher. Peter was consecrated at the feast of SS. Peter and Paul, 28 July 1159.

His reign as bishop was brief.[7] He died on either July 21 or 22, 1160. Little can be ascertained about Lombard's administrative style or objectives because he left behind so few episcopal acta. He was succeeded by Maurice de Sully, the builder of the Cathedral of Notre Dame.[8] His tomb in the church of Saint-Marcel in Paris was destroyed during the French Revolution, but a transcription of his epitaph survives.



Peter Lombard wrote commentaries on the Psalms and the Pauline epistles; however, his most famous work by far was Libri Quatuor Sententiarum, or the Four Books of Sentences, which became the standard textbook of theology at the medieval universities. From the 1220s until the 16th century, no work of Christian literature, except for the Bible itself, was commented upon more frequently. All the major medieval thinkers, from Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas to William of Ockham and Gabriel Biel, were influenced by it. Even the young Martin Luther still wrote glosses on the Sentences and John Calvin quoted from it over 100 times in his Institutes.

Though the Four Books of Sentences formed the framework upon which four centuries of scholastic interpretation of Christian dogma was based, rather than a dialectical work itself, the Four Books of Sentences is a compilation of biblical texts, together with relevant passages from the Church Fathers and many medieval thinkers, on virtually the entire field of Christian theology as it was understood at the time. Peter Lombard's magnum opus stands squarely within the pre-scholastic exegesis of biblical passages, in the tradition of Anselm of Laon, who taught through quotations from authorities.[9] It stands out as the first major effort to bring together commentaries on the full range of theological issues, arrange the material in a systematic order, and attempt to reconcile them where they appeared to defend different viewpoints. The Sentences starts with the Trinity in Book I, moves on to creation in Book II, treats Christ, the savior of the fallen creation, in Book III, and deals with the sacraments, which mediate Christ's grace, in Book IV.


Peter Lombard's most famous and most controversial doctrine in the Sentences was his identification of charity with the Holy Spirit in Book I, distinction 17. According to this doctrine, when the Christian loves God and neighbor, this love literally is God; he becomes divine and is taken up into the life of the Trinity. This idea was never declared unorthodox, but few theologians have been prepared to follow Peter Lombard in his audacious teaching. Compare Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Deus Caritas Est, 2006.

Also in the Sentences was the doctrine that marriage was consensual (and need not be consummated to be considered perfect, unlike Gratian's analysis). Lombard's interpretation was later endorsed by Pope Alexander III, and had a significant impact on Church interpretation of marriage.


  1. ^ Hödl, in Biograficsh-Bibliografisches Kirchenlexikon.
  2. ^ The few known facts of Peter's life are presented in Philippe Delhaye, Pierre Lombard: sa vie, ses œuvres, sa morale (Paris/Montreal) 1961.
  3. ^ Hödl
  4. ^ In a surviving letter, Ep. 410, Opera omnia viii.391, noted by Hödl
  5. ^ Pope Eugenius III was present at the synod, which examined Gilbert de la Porrée and Eon de l'Estoile. Peter was among the signers of the act condemning Gilbert's teachings (Hödl).
  6. ^ In his polemic Contra quatuor labyrinthos Franciae II.4.
  7. ^ His successor, Maurice de Sully, was bishop by the end of 1160.
  8. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Peter Lombard". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.  
  9. ^ This is a central point of Delhaye 1961, who sees Abelard, rather than Peter, as the founder of scholasticism.

External links


  • Colish, Marcia L., Peter Lombard Volume One (New York: E.J. Brill, 1994).
  • Rosemann, Philipp W. Peter Lombard (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
  • Philipp W. Rosemann, The Story of a Great Medieval Book: Peter Lombard's "Sentences" (Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2007).
  • Herlihy, David Medieval Households (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985).

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PETER LOMBARD (c. I Ioo - c. 1160), bishop of Paris, better known as Magister sententiarum, the son of obscure parents, was born about the beginning of the 12th century, at Novara (then reckoned as belonging to Lombardy). After receiving his education at Bologna, he removed to France, bearing a recommendation to Bernard of Clairvaux, who first placed him under Lotolf at Reims, and afterwards sent him to Paris with letters to Gilduin, the abbot of St Victor. He soon became known as a teacher, and obtained a theological chair in the cathedral school. His famous textbook, the Sententiae, was written between 1145 and 1150. On the 29th of June 1159 he became bishop of Paris. The accounts of his bishopric are satisfactory. There is a charge that he was guilty of simony, having received his office through the favour of Philip, brother of Louis VII., his former pupil. The date of his death is uncertain. According to one account he died on the 10th of July 1160, and as Maurice de Sully became bishop that year the statement seems probable. Yet there is evidence for a later date, and he may have been set aside for simony.

His famous theological handbook, Sententiarum libri quatuor, is, as the title implies, primarily a collection of opinions of the fathers, "sententiae patrum." These are arranged, professedly on the basis of the aphorism of Augustine, Lombard's favourite authority, that "omnis doctrina vel rerum est vel signorum," into four books, of which the first treats of God, the second of the creature, the third of the incarnation, the work of redemption, and the virtues, and the fourth of the seven sacraments and eschatology. The Sententiae show the influence of Abelard, both in method and arrangement, but lack entirely the daring of Sic et Non. Compared with that book they are tame. Gratian's Concordia discordantium canonum, as he called his Decretum, was another strong influence, Lombard doing in a sense for theology what Gratian did for the canon law. The influence of Hugh of St Victor is also marked. The relation to the "sentences" of a Gandulph of Bologna (still unpublished) has not been established. The, most important thing in the book was its crystallization of the doctrine concerning the sacramental system, by the definite assertion of the doctrine of the seven sacraments, and the acceptance of a definition of sacrament, not merely as "a sign of a sacred thing," but as itself "capable of conveying the grace of which it is the sign." The sentences soon attained immense popularity, ultimately becoming the text-book in almost every theological school, and giving rise to endless commentaries, over 180 of these being written in England. In 1300 the theological professors of Paris agreed in the rejection of sixteen propositions taken from Lombard, but their decision was far from obtaining universal currency.

Besides the Sententiae, Lombard wrote numerous commentaries (e.g. on the Psalms, Canticles, Job, the Gospel Harmony, and the Pauline Epistles), sermons and letters, which still exist in MS. The Glossae commentarius in psalmos Davidis, were first published at Paris in 1533.

Lombard's collected works have been published in J. P. Migne's Patrologie latine, Tome 191 and 192. See also Denifle and Chatelain, Chartularium universitatis parisiensis, Tome i. (Paris, 1889); Protois, Pierre Lombard, son époque, sa vie, ses ecrits, son influence (Paris, 1881); Kogel, Petrus Lombard in seiner Stellung zur Philosophie des Mittelalters (Leipzig, 1897); A. Harnack, Dogmengeschichte, Bd. iii. (1890; Eng. trans. 18 9418 99); and the article in Herzog-Hauck's Realencyklopadie, Bd. xi. (Leipzig, 1902).

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Theologian, b. at Novara (or perhaps Lumello), Italy, about 1100; d. about 1160-64. He studied first at Bologna, later on at Reims and Paris. St. Bernard, who had provided for his wants at Reims, gave him a letter of recommendation to the Abbot of St. Victor, Gilduin (1114-55). To judge from this letter, his stay at Paris was to be short: "per breve tempus usque ad Nativitatem Virginis". There is no evidence of his having gone back to Italy. We learn from John of Cornwall, his pupil, that he assiduously studied the works of Abelard, whose lectures he had probably followed about 1136. His own writings show the influence of his master. In 1148, he was at Reims in company with Robert of Melun, both being called "magistri scholares" by Otto of Freisingen; and he joined Adam du Petit-Pont, Hughes of Amicus, and others, in theological discussions with Gilbert de la Porrée. About the same time (1145-51) he wrote his "Book of Sentences". He was then professor at the school of Notre Dame.

He was acquainted before this date with the works of Gratian the canonist, for he utilizes the "Decretum" in his "Sentences". About the same time he had in his hands the newly-finished translation of St. John Damascene by Burgundio of Pisa: all these details show the care he had to enlarge the circle of his knowledge. In 1152 Eugene III had a prebendaryship conferred on him by the Archbishop of Beauvais (Jaffé-Wattenbach, 9534). In 1158 or 1159 he was appointed Archbishop of Paris; but held the office for a short time only, being succeeded by Maurice de Sully, the builder of the present Cathedral of Notre Dame, in 1160 or 1161. He died some time after, but the exact date is unknown; it could not have been later than 1164; in the years that follow we sometimes meet his name in the cartulary of Notre Dame of Paris: the house he lived in is put up for sale; his original copy of the "Sentences" is bequeathed by Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, to the library of Notre Dame. The old legend that makes him the brother of Gratian of Bologna and of Peter Comestor has no foundation whatever.

The works of Peter Lombard include: (1) "Commentaries on the Psalms and St. Paul" which have come down to us in quite a number of manuscripts. They are chiefly a compilation of patristic and medieval exegesis, after the manner of the professors of the age and of the old "Catenae"; (2) "Sermons", which are also found in quite a number of manuscripts; they are rather dry, often allegorical, and always very methodical in their divisions; several of them are printed among the works of Hildebert du Mans and others; extracts of others have been published by Protois (cf. infra); (3) The "Sentences" ("Quatuor libri Sententiarum"). It is this theological work above all that made the name of Peter Lombard famous, and gives him a special place in the history of theology in the Middle Ages. Henceforth he is called the "Magister Sententiarum", or simply the "Magister". The work is divided into four books. In a long series of questions it covers the whole body of theological doctrine and unites it in a systematized whole. Towards the thirteenth century, the various books were divided into distinctiones (an old Latin word that first meant a pause in reading, then a division into chapters), though the author had done nothing more than to have the questions follow one another; in the manuscripts, these questions do not always bear the same title.

The first book treats of God and the Blessed Trinity, of God's attributes, of Providence, of predestination, and of evil; the second, of the creation, the work of the six days, the angels, the demons, the fall, grace, and sin; the third, of the Incarnation, the Redemption, the virtues, and the Ten Commandments; the fourth, of the sacraments in general, the seven sacraments in particular, and the four last things, death, judgment, hell, and heaven. The "Book of Sentences" was written about 1150. In any case it was subsequent to the composition of the "Decretum" of Gratian of Bologna, which dates from about 1140 and contains pages that bear a striking likeness to the "Sentences". A careful examination of the texts cited in each author, in the same order, with the same inaccuracies or the same changes, Peter Lombard's citation of some "Dicta Gratiani", and his opposition to some of Gratian's opinions (e.g. on the question of the essence of marriage) -- all these facts prove the priority of the "Decretum" to the "Sentences"; the old view of the canonist Schulte has been abandoned for that of P. Fournier, who has demonstrated Peter's dependence on Gratian. A manuscript of the "Sentences" written in 1158 still exists, but there is every reason to believe that the work was finished some eight years earlier.

On the other hand, Gandulph of Bologna, who has been credited with having inspired Peter, is later than the Lombard; he utilized, transcribed, or synopsized parts of the work of the "Magister Sententiarum". The method and purpose of the book found their explanation in the intellectual movement of the times: arguments from authority laying down the doctrine, and dialectics which reasons about dogma or conciliates the "Auctoritates" (as Abelard advised), are the most striking features in its composition. This work may be looked upon as the result of the two tendencies of the period: the one indulging, sometimes too much, in speculation, the other recurring to authority. It must be confessed that Peter Lombard tried to steer a middle course between these opposing tendencies. From Abelard, whose work had hardly lost its fascination in spite of the condemnations of Soissons and Sens, he borrows freely; but he is on guard against Abelard's errors. He has no desire to make Christian doctrine a matter for controversy after the manner of the "garruli ratiocinatores" against whom he has to defend himself. But he has no hesitation in exposing in a reasoned way the different points of doctrine: it is but the method followed with still greater success and depth by St. Thomas. He makes full use of the Bible and the Fathers, but he never goes to the point of refusing reason its due rôle. It is here that the works of the School of St. Victor are especially serviceable to him: he borrows considerably from Hugo's "De Sacramentis", as well as from the "Summa Sententiarum", which, though not written by Hugo, is very much indebted to him. In addition to the foregoing, mention must be made of Abelard, Gratian, Ivo of Chartres, and Alger of Liège as the chief sources of the "Liber Sententiarum".

Among the Fathers of the Church Augustine is quoted about ten or fifteen times as often as Ambrose, Jerome, or Hilary; the Greek Fathers, with the exception of John Damascene, who is quoted about twenty-five times, are scarcely represented; the ante-Nicene writers, except Origen, are mentioned on no more than five or six occasions; nevertheless, one may say that the "Sentences", with Gratian's work, are the chief sources whence many theologians of the Middle Ages drew their knowledge of the Fathers. Peter's work is mainly a compilation. Whole "distinctions" have been traced in detail to their sources; scarcely more than ten lines have been found to be original. He makes no secret of this; his plan was to write a kind of Corpus which would save the trouble of looking up many different volumes. But this fact cannot blind us to the merits of his work; he opposed the excesses of the dialecticians and at the same time found a via media to calm the fears of those who advocated a complete separation of reason and dogma. He arranged traditional doctrines and theories in a system and summarized the controversies of the time and the opinions involved in the different questions. Besides, his attempted solutions of many questions roused the students' curiosity and led the professors to comment on him. On the whole and in spite of his connection with Abelard, he is orthodox; a proposition of his on "Christological nihilism" was condemned by Alexander III; other theses were abandoned in the century that followed; St. Bonaventure mentions eight of them and the University of Paris later added others. But the success of the book was incontestable; down to the sixteenth century it was the textbook in the university courses, upon which each future doctor had to lecture during two years.

The want of originality and the refusal of the "Magister" to decide upon many points between two solutions were very favourable to the work of the masters who commented upon him. But the success of Peter Lombard was not immediate. Attacked sometimes during his lifetime, as Maurice of Sully among others relates, after his death he was bitterly inveighed against, especially by Gautier of St. Victor and by Joachim of Flora. This opposition even went so far as to try to get his writings condemned. In 1215 at the Lateran Council these attempts were baffled, and the second canon began a profession of faith in these words: "Credimus cum Petro [Lombardo]". The exegetical work and the "Sentences" of Peter Lombard have often been printed: the commentaries upon the Epistles of St. Paul in 1474, etc.; the "Sentences" were printed in 1472 and for the last time in 1892 (Paris). Migne contains these three works (P.L., CXCI, CXCII). The best edition of the "Sentences" is that which is found in the commentary of St. Bonaventure (Opera S. Bonaventurae, Quaracchi, 1885, I-IV).

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.
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