Stephen F. Brown (essay date 1976)
SOURCE: Brown, Stephen F. “Peter of Candia's Sermons in Praise of Peter Lombard.” In Studies Honoring Ignatius Charles Brady, Friar Minor, edited by Romano Stephen Almagno and Conrad L. Harkins, pp. 141-76. St. Bonaventure, N.Y.: The Franciscan Institute, 1976.
[In the following excerpt, Brown analyzes Peter of Candia's sermons extolling Lombard as an appropriate personal model for theologians—one who points beyond himself to Christ.]
The mid-fourteenth century statutes at the University of Paris demanded that every graduate student in the faculty of theology offer a solemn introduction to their commentaries on each book of Peter Lombard's Sentences.1 These solemn introduction or principia, if the Bologna pattern can serve as a model, were made up of a collatio or sermon in praise of theology or the Sentences of Lombard, a disputatio or theological question which would be carefully presented, and a profession of faith.2 In some cases the first two elements were split in time: the sermon was given in the morning and the theological discussion took place after the noon meal.3 The discussion at times was a real disputatio with prepared counter arguments given by another bachalarius,4 or the original position could be challenged by any members of the theological audience.5 Although the principium formally was a generic term including both the collatio and the disputatio, copyists of the Middle Ages sometimes use the expression principium either for one or the other, with the result that when one finds the notation principium super Sententias in modern catalogues, he may find either the collatio, or the disputatio (sometimes along with its replicatio) or both together.6 The principia of Peter of Candia7 are especially significant because they are one of the rare instances where we have both the collationes and the disputationes for all four books of the Sentences.8 In the present article we will edit his collationes or sermons for all four books, along with providing a general introduction to them.
A. THE NATURE AND STYLE OF THE COLLATIONES
The Bologna statutes tell us that the introductory sermon to each Book of the Sentences should be in praise of theology or of Peter Lombard's Sentences. Msgr. A. Combes, in the introduction to his edition of John of Ripa's Lectura super Primum Sententiarum, has traced the history of this type of sermon from its known beginning in Peter Aureoli's Prooemium, through Alphonsus Fernandi of Toledo and Ascensius of Sainte-Colombe, to his own author.9 With Peter Aureoli, Alphonsus and John of Ripa the sermons are either a praise of theology or of Lombard's Sentences, whereas in the mouth of Ascensius the collationes become a praise of Sacred Scripture to such an extent that Combes wonders if they are an introduction to the Sentences or rather an introduction to the Bible given by Ascensius as a bachalarius biblicus. In Peter of Candia's sermons there is also a slight change: instead of being a praise of theology or the Sentences, they become a praise of Peter Lombard personally who can, as author of the Sentences, serve as a model for all members of the theology faculty.
The style itself of the collatio continually develops from Aureoli to John of Ripa. Already in Aureoli we have the divisions à rimes léonines10 which will play such an important part in the collationes of future commentators on the Sentences:
Magister studiosissime laborando, librum istum Sententiarum composuit:
In rudimentum respectu agendorum, In fulcimentum respectu credendorum, In argumentum respectu perfidorum, In iuvamentum respectu provectorum, In tutamentum respectu infirmorum.(11)
as well as:
Respectu Magistri diligentem visum, Respectu nostri congruentem stylum, Respectu libri continentem sinum.(12)
Explicativus respectu agibilium, Roborativus respectu credibilium, Confutativus respectu horribilium dictorum haereticorum, Elevativus respectu docibilium, Manuductivus respectu imbecillium, de quibus scriptum est: Erunt omnes docibiles Dei.(13)
By the time of John of Ripa's Lectura on Book I in 1357 we already have the basic structure for this type of introductory sermon set as far as the style in concerned. It is precisely this format which Peter of Candia will follow. Here is John of Ripa's sermon format:
a) First, there are the divisions patterned after Aureoli:
Ut ex sacris codicibus colligere possumus: Ingens scrutinium promens trisagium de summo numine, Clarum ingenium distendens radium in toto germine, Fulgens eloquium decernens osculum Dei cum homine, Fervens preconium trahens ad lavacrum depulso crimine, Supremum solium velut stipendium petit in cardine.(14)
b) Secondly, there is the linking of the fourfold division of Lombard's Sentences back to the Scripture citation with which the sermon began (Amice, ascende superius: tunc erit tibi gloria, Luke 14, 10):
Ut sic concludendo dicamus quod, quia Magister Petrus Lumbardus in suis Sententiis declaravit: De primis entibus et suis gradibus dicta sublimia, upote in primo, De nostris orbibus et fixis legibus vera iudicia, utpote in 2°, De sacris nexibus et pulsis sordibus mira prodigia, utpote in 3°, De largis ymbribus et claris dotibus summa stipendia, ut in 4°, ideo non immerito: Amoris tractibus et vivis gressibus scandit pro gloria, ut sic dicatur sibi a Deo: Amice, ascende superius, et erit tibi gloria. in quo quidem verbo luculenter exponitur tota continentia istorum librorum. Ostenditur enim primo, qualiter scilicet Iunguntur germina per nodum validum, quia per amorem: amice, inquit, ut in primo; Pandutur semina per verbum stupendum,(15) quia dicit et facta sunt, ut in 2°; et ideo ascende puta de non esse ad esse; Monstrantur federa per datum osculum, quia per summum pretium, in 3°; et ideo dicitur superius; Purgantur scelera per sacrum lavacrum, ut in 4°, et ideo consequenter: tunc erit tibi gloria.(16)
c) Finally, there is the poetic outline of each book which is being introduced by the sermon:
Et ut breviter et in summa recolligam continentiam huius libri, que tota exprimit firmum nodum et colligationem divinorum suppositorum, dico quod prius tractat de divina essentia, scilicet de Deo:
Qualiter excolitur et quibus culturis, ut in prima distinctione, de fui et uti; Qualiter distinguitur trinus in personis, ut a secunda usque ad septimam; Qualiter concluditur simplex ex figuris, ut in octava distinctione; Qualiter producitur in fixis mensuris, ut in nona, de eterna Verbi generatione; etc.(17)
Peter of Candia does not simply recopy John of Ripa's sermon, but into its general structure or mould he pours his own individual content. His personal contribution is evident, first of all, because even though John of Ripa speaks of the Lombard in a certain personal way, he in no way accents the example of Peter Lombard as a personal model for the theologian to the extent that Peter of Candia does. Secondly, Peter of Candia's opening scriptural citation is different and he adjusts his sermons accordingly. Despite the similar structure the content is dramatically different. Even the outline of each book takes on a personal stamp. Thirdly, Peter of Candia goes back to the Fathers and Ancient authors to sustain his argument in all four sermons, unlike John of Ripa. There is no doubt that John of Ripa's sermon is the model; but neither is there any doubt that our text is the fruit of a very personal meditation by the Cretan lecturer.
B. THE GENERAL ARGUMENT OF PETER OF CANDIA'S SERMONS
At a solemn convocation of the faculty of theology at the University of Paris in 1378, and as the prelude to his lectures on Peter Lombard's Sentences, Peter of Candia chose to show his scholarly audience18 how the Lombard could serve as the model for all the members of the faculty—for the beginning undergraduates (the discipuli or scholares), for the graduate students who already had completed their preparatory studies and first theological degree (the bachalarii or bachelors in theology), for those wisened with tested and tried learning (the doctores or magistri), and finally even for those in the audience who have gone on to the realm of crowned wisdom (the episcopi or bishops).
He began the first sermon in a series of four with a theme which he carried through the next three semesters.19 The theme our late 14th century bachalarius sounded focused on the Magister himself and began with this very apt and also quite personal vision of the author of the Sentences: “Behold a man stood before me clothed in a white garment.” The quote is taken from the 10th chapter of the Act of the Apostles where God's messenger leads Cornelius to visit St. Peter. How apt a quote it is, since Peter of Candia envisioned the Magister as a divine messenger who stood before him (and now stands before his memory's eye) as a teacher of theology. The Magister is a bright shining example for him and for his listeners. He is like the man in St. Luke's scriptural story: a messenger from heaven appearing in the shiny white apparel of a divine herald. It is an apt quote for introducing his audience to the text of a man who will stand before them for the next two years and perhaps their whole lives.
But the citation is also good choice for personal reasons. It is from a story about St. Peter and is applied to Peter Lombard by Peter of Candia. And further, when you look at the latin text of the Scripture quotation it betrays an even more personal ring, for “He stood before me clothed in a white garment” becomes “Stetit ante me in veste candida.” How much more personal a quote could one find? It is a story about Peter and speaks of a messenger clothed in veste candida. The scriptural incipit of the sermon is also Peter of Candia's signature. After the anonymity of the thirteenth and earlier centuries our preacher is a 14th century man who inaugurates his Commentary on the Sentences with his own signature hidden in the opening Scripture citation.20
“A man stood before me clothed in a white garment.” If we go back and examine the Scriptures, our speaker tells us, we will find that the phrase “a white garment” (veste candida) has four meanings. It stands for:
I. The possession of acknowledged truth.
II. The revelation of truth which is still uncertain.
III. The acknowledgment of outstanding character or value.
IV. The anointing or crowning of established excellence.
First, it stands for the possession of acknowledged truth. In the 7th chapter of the Book of Daniel we read of the Ancient of the days whose garment was white as snow. Now according to the Scriptures old age (the Ancient of days) is a sign of wisdom or the possession of acknowledged truth. Thus the white garment of the Ancient of days symbolized this possession of acknowledged truth.
Secondly, a white garment stands for the revelation of truth which is still uncertain. For doesn't St. Mark tell us that when the disciples went to the tomb to see if Christ was truly risen, they found a young man clothed in a long white garment who told them that Christ was risen? He revealed to them a truth which was to the apostles still uncertain.
Thirdly, a white garment in scripture signifies the acknowledgment of outstanding character or value. The author of the Book of Machabees tells us that Machabeus and his small army were sent a divine leader of superior power or character to lead them: “A rider attired in white appeared at their head.”
Fourthly or finally, a white garment stands for the crowning of established excellence. Ecclesiastes correctly argues: “Let thy garment be always white and let thy head lack no ointment.”
These four scriptural meanings of white garment fit in very well with Peter of Candia's view of his audience. For the faculty of theology, like other scientific faculties, has beginners, advanced students, and those who have approached perfection. Or to put it more technically: scholares (scholars), bachalarii (bachelors), and magistri (masters or doctors). For good measure we can add a fourth group—those who have passed on to the level of episcopi, those men whose honored wisdom has been recognized...
(The entire section is 5513 words.)