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3 The Theology of the Cosmographia

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Chapter Summary

Twelfth-century scholars inherited, from the Church Fathers, two distinct ways of describing the compatibility of Platonic and Mosaic cosmology. Bernard's cosmology took the form of a pagan fable similar to those of the auctores in whom northern French scholars of the previous two decades had been looking for prefigurations of Christianity. Just like its principal models and sources, the Timaeus, the Commentarii in somnium Scipionis and the Asclepius, the Cosmographia contains passages that suggest a correspondence between Platonic and biblical cosmology. One of the areas where the Cosmographia displays an integumental approach to theology is in its treatment of creation itself. For running in counterpoint to the main fable are several biblical motifs drawn from the Book of Genesis. This chapter discusses that Bernard Silvestris adopted an integumental approach to theological questions, whereby Christian doctrine was 'clothed' in the garments of philosophy and allegory.

Keywords: Bernard's cosmology; Church Fathers; Cosmographia; Genesis; Mosaic cosmology; Platonic cosmology; Timaeus



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