Natural theology in the middle ages

In J. H. Brooke, F. Watts & R. R. Manning (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology. Oxford Up. pp. 350--57 (2013)
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The development of natural theology in the Middle Ages was driven by the rebirth experienced by Western Europe beginning in the 1000s owing to the emergence of stable monarchies and reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula. This expansion gave scholars access to the vast libraries of scientific and philosophical literature held in Arabic cultural centres – libraries that contained Aristotelian works on natural, ethical, and metaphysical sciences, which had for centuries been lost to the Latin West. The new texts fed the growth of universities, where secular interests helped shape the curriculum, as the centre of intellectual gravity shifted from the monastery to the town. This chapter examines the figures that represent various moments in the medieval tradition, during and after these developments. Anselm and Abelard immediately predate the universities and recovery of Aristotle. Aquinas and John Duns Scotus write on either side of the Condemnations of 1277. Raymonde of Sabunde's work first applies the expression ‘natural theology’ to Christian practice, and Yves of Paris seeks late into the seventeenth century to revitalize this project. The chapter begins with a brief discussion of Aquinas' thought and influence.



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