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The Scholastic Turn (1100–1500): Penitential Theology And Law In The Schools

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Chapter Summary

The major development in the history of penitential thought during the years between 1100 and 1500 is not the dismissing of rigid penitential tariffs, nor is it "the discovery of the individual" or the "re-birth of conscience". Older histories of penance have, instead, generally chosen to present their subject as a series of battles over doctrine. This chapter asks what it is that theologians thought they were trying to do when they discussed questions of penance in the schools. The old answer was that they were trying to define doctrines, remove apparent contradictions in the received authorities, and reconcile any ambiguities. It imagines instead that they were not defining or establishing doctrines but, rather, were attempting to introduce a long and rich tradition to students who wanted to master it.

Keywords: Gratian; penitential theology; Peter Lombard



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