Gerard of Abbeville, Secular Master, on Knowledge, Wisdom and Contemplation

Doctoral Dissertation


The thirteenth-century secular Master of Theology Gerard of Abbeville († 1272), who taught at the University of Paris for well over a decade, was on the wrong side of history. Although the history of the University of Paris during the thirteenth century has received much scholarly attention, the contribution of secular masters to that history during the middle of the thirteenth century has been largely overlooked. It has become a generally agreed upon assumption that soon after their arrival in Paris, Dominican and Franciscan theologians made the most significant contributions to the development of Scholastic philosophy and theology, especially Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure. This dissertation challenges this assumption by presenting the life, career and writings of the leading secular master of the third quarter of the thirteenth century.

This study originates from a close examination of two of Gerard’s manuscripts that were included among the more than three hundred books that he donated to the College of Sorbonne. In addition to preserving the content of his thought, these books contain important evidence concerning the nature of Gerard’s scholarly career and the manner in which he taught. After a preliminary examination of his will, which reveals his social and ecclesiastical position, this dissertation probes Gerard’s manuscripts for what they reveal about the way in which secular masters taught theology as well as the content of that teaching. Gerard was an ardent advocate and defender of the theologia communis of the University of Paris. By means of his donation to the Sorbonne he ensured the legacy of this tradition among Parisian thinkers. In order to elucidate how Gerard embodied the official Scholasticism of the thirteenth century, this thesis examines his conception of the continuity of cognition from faith through contemplation to the vision of God at the general resurrection and presents for the first time editions of several of Gerard/s writings.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-04182013-123021

Author Stephen M Metzger
Advisor Kent Emery, Jr.
Contributor Kent Emery, Jr., Committee Chair
Contributor John Van Engen, Committee Member
Contributor Stephen D. Dumont, Committee Member
Contributor Andreas Speer, Committee Member
Contributor Bernd Goehring, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Medieval Studies
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2013-04-03

Submission Date 2013-04-18
  • United States of America

  • contemplation

  • University of Paris

  • wisdom

  • manuscripts

  • mystical theory

  • Gerard of Abbeville

  • knowledge

  • thirteenth century

  • College of Sorbonne

  • secular masters

  • Scholasticism

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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