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The poetics of biblical tragedy in Abelard's Planctus

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Chapter Summary

One of the difficulties in mapping out medieval exegesis is that medieval theology and medieval exegesis are often seen as overlapping, if not synonymous terms. The chapter focuses on one of the more creative and structural features of medieval exegesis, namely the desire to actualize the human reality underlying the biblical text. It then turns to the case of Peter Abelard, who is the subject of the exegetical reflections. On the whole the problem with twelfth century thought, which his works typically exemplify, is that it shows us an era in which the rise of scholasticism appears to have severely diminished the role of the Bible. As a concrete example of contrary exegetical positions based on the same biblical text and presented with equal dramatic temerity, one can point out how both Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux have used the image of David battling Goliath.

Keywords: Bernard of Clairvaux; Bible; David-Goliath analogy; medieval exegesis; medieval theology; Peter Abelard; Planctus; Poetics of Biblical Tragedy



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