Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Abelard’s Rib: Dialectics of a Twelfth-Century Monastic Marriage and the Historical Epistemology of Spirituality

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Journal of Religion in Europe

This article proposes to describe the oxymoronic aspect of twelfth-century ascetic life, as it is couched in the semantics of marital ‘love-talk.’ By extending Christian asceticism to the field of marital semantics, I hope to come closer to a more intellectual kind of spirituality, situated in the philosophical discourse of the ars dialectica. While it is commonplace to state that affective speech in the twelfth century is a constitutive element of Western ‘spirituality’—up to the point that this period is sometimes credited with being the founder of an individual love-talk—the nature of a ‘matrimonial’ love-speech firmly located within monastic walls is far from self-evident. Furthermore, there is the issue of physical desire in both Christian worship (hymns, liturgy) and reflective, religious language. This ‘incarnation’ of love inside the history of Christianity was coined by the twelfth-century reformer and intellectual Bernard of Clairvaux in the most tangible terms possible, especially in his Sermons on the Song of Songs and in his devotional texts on Mary. However, it is not a broad claim with regard to the status of ‘spirituality’ within history that dominates the present article. If anything, this contribution could be characterized as exploring the opposite of the common semantics of spirituality: the argumentative and dialectical speech on the one hand and the fragility of poetry on the other, glooming beneath the surface of a meandering Christian tradition. My analysis of the work of Peter Abelard (1079–1142)—a fierce opponent of Bernard—will demonstrate a rather radical view of ‘spirituality’ as a sometimes veiled (integementum) and sometimes shattered specimen of medieval love-talk.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Medieval History, University of Groningen,


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Journal of Religion in Europe — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation