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Biblical Liars And Thirteenth-Century Theologians

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Chapter Summary

In On Lying, Augustine argued that every lie (regardless of the circumstance) is a sin. Writers of popular medieval religious handbooks explicitly accepted Augustine's pronouncements. The liars are counterfeiters and thieves exchanging the valuable coin of truth for worthless fakes, they are traitors who do great harm not only to themselves, but to the church and to society at large. According to William Peraldus, the thirteenth-century Dominican pastoral writer, there are any number of reasons why a person ought to detest lies. In all the cases of apparent Biblical deception, Augustine will therefore find it necessary to argue that either the alleged lie is no lie at all or that, if it clearly is a lie, that the lie itself is not approved, not held up as a model for behavior. The thirteenth-century reception of Augustine's prohibition against lying was anything but a passive rehearsal of forever repeated truisms.

Keywords: Augustine; Biblical Liars; Thirteenth-Century Theologians; William Peraldus



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