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The Sacred Cosmos: Theological, Philosophical, and Scientific Conversations in the Twelfth Century School of Chartres


The Sacred Cosmos: Theological, Philosophical, and Scientific Conversations in the Twelfth Century School of Chartres Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The School of Chartres was a bold intellectual movement of the twelfth century that introduced the World Soul and the Chartrian cosmology to Christendom. In his controversial book, The Sacred Cosmos, theologian Peter Ellard analyzes the most radical aspects of Chartrian thought and traces their relation to classical and late-antique philosophers such as Boethius and Plato. In addition, Ellard investigates the Cathedral of Chartres as an important proof and example of Chartrian theology in this essential volume for anyone interested in the intersection of spirituality and philosophy.

About the Author


 Peter Ellard is associate vice president of academic affairs and professor of religious studies at Siena College.





Table of Contents


Introduction: The Scope of this Book

   The Lives and Writings of Two Chartrian Masters

     The Life of Thierry of Chartres

     The Life of William of Conches

     The Writings

   Chapter Outlines


Part I: The School of Chartres: Context, Sources, and Methods of Interpretation 

Chapter 1: The School of Chartres and Its Historical Context in the First Half of the Twelfth Century

   Introduction: A Renaissance by Any Other Name

   The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

     The Schools of the Twelfth Century and the School at Chartres

     The School of Chartres

   The Love of Learning and the Desire for God

     Natural Philosophy: The Changing Face of Science in the Twlefth Century

     Philosophy: The Study of Everything and the Value of Reason

     Theology: The Study of God

   Conclusion: The Milieu of the First Half of the Twelfth Century


Chapter 2: Plato and Chartrian Neoplatonism

   Introduction: Platonisms of the Twelfth Century

   Plato and the Timaeus in the Twelfth Century

     Philosophical and Theological Implications of the Timaeus

     The Timaeus among the Chartrians

   Neoplatonic Influences on the School of Chartres




     Hermetic Literature

     Additional Influences

   Conclusion: Chartrian Christian Neoplatonism


Chapter 3: Chartrian Methods of Interpretation: Integumentum

   Introduction: Everything Means Something


     The Senses of Scripture in the Twelfth Century

     The Interpretation of Scripture within the School of Chartres

     Reading Christian and Pagan Authors

     Reading the Cosmos

   Conclusion: Integument and Theological Truth


Summary and Conclusion of Part I

Part II: Exemplarism: God, Eternal Ideas, and the Cosmos 

Chapter 4: God the Creator in Chartrian Thought

   Introduction: Theological Speculation in the Early Twelfth Century

   Chartrian Theology: God as Metaphor

     God the Creator in Plato's Timaeus

     Plato's Creator Through Christian Eyes

     God as the Good: Divine Motivation for Creation

     The Creating Trinity

   Conclusion: Cosmological Theology


Chapter 5: The Archetypal Model: Eternal Exemplar, Mind, Wisdom, and Son of God

   Introduction: The Debate over Universals

   The Divine Archetype in Plato and the Neoplatonists

     The Archetypal Model in the Twelfth Century and among the Chartrians

     Platonic and Neoplatonic Understanding of the Ideas of the Divine Mind

     The Ideas in the Twelfth Century

     The Ideas in the Thought of William and Thierry

     The Divinity of the Ideas

     The Unity of the Divine Ideas and the Unity of the Godhead

   Conclusion: The Eternal Exemplar and Christian Faith


Chapter 6: The Cosmos: An Orderly Gathering of Creatures Made in the Image of God

   Introduction: A Theological and Exemplaristic Cosmology

   The Cosmos as an Image of God: William's Exemplaristic Cosmology

     The Cosmos as an Image of Divine Wisdom

     The Divine Ideas and Their Images in the Cosmos

   Plurality of the Cosmos Grounded in the Unity of God: Thierry's Theology

     The Enfolding of the Cosmos and the Unfolding of God

   Conclusion: One Existence with Two

   Interwoven Parts


Summary and Conclusion of Part II

Part III: The World Soul 

Chapter 7: The Cosmos Animated by Its Anima

   Introduction: A Fluid Idea

   The World Soul and the Lens of Integument

     The World Soul of Plato's Timaeus

     The Nature of the World Soul in Neoplatonic Thought

     The Patristic View of the World Soul

     The Conversation about the World Soul in the Twelfth Century

   The Cosmological Function of the World Soul in Chartrian Thought

   Natural Energy of Life, Growth, Sense, and Discernment Inherent in the Cosmos

   Conclusion: The Spirit of the World


Chapter 8: The World Soul and the Holy Spirit: Two Metaphors for the Same Reality

   Introduction: The Divine Woven Naturally in the Cosmos

   Thierry of Chartres on the Divine Status of the World Soul

   William of Conches on the World Soul, Divine Love, and the Holy Spirit

   Conclusion: The Soul of the World


Chapter 9: The Condemnation of an Idea, and the Aftermath

   Introduction: Perilous Times

   The Condemnation

   The Fate of the World Soul in the Twelfth Century

     The World Soul as Nature

     The World Soul as Divine Love

   Conclusion: What Happened to the World Soul?


Summary and Conclusion of Part III

Part IV: Humanity and the Sacred Study of the Sacred Cosmos 

Chapter 10: A Twelfth-Century "Scientific" Understanding of the Cosmos

   Introduction: The Study of the Natural World in the Early Twelfth Century

   Natural Science among the Chartrians


     The Elements

   Nature and Its Twelfth-Century Detractors

     The Dignity of Secondary Causes

     Nature and the Activity of the Cosmos as an Image of God's Creativity

     Evolution of Chartrian Natural Science

   Conclusion: Science as the Basis of Theology


Chapter 11: Illumination: The Soul's Journey into God

   Introduction: Science and Spirituality

   Ecce Homo: The Human as Microcosm

     The Relationship of the Human Body and Soul

     Bodily Health, Sin, and the Soul's Abilities

   The Powers of the Human Soul

     The Power of Sense

     The Power of Imagination

     The Power of Reason

     The Power of Intellect/Intelligence

     The Power of Intelligibility

   Conclusion: The Spiritual Journey


Chapter 12: The Cosmos: The Path That Leads to God

   Introduction: The Book of Creation

   Revelation in the Ongoing Act of Creation

     The Cosmos Reveals Divine Existence, Causality, and Continuing Presence

     The Cosmos Reveals the Trinity

   Conclusion: The Revelation of the Cosmos


Summary and Conclusion of Part IV








Product Details

Ellard, Peter
University of Scranton Press
Church History
Chartres (france)
Christian Theology - Catholic
Christian Theology - History
Ecole de Chartres
Chartres (France) Church history.
Christianity-History of Theology
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
9.00 x 6.00 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Western Civilization » Medieval
History and Social Science » World History » Medieval and Renaissance
Religion » Christianity » History

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