Reading Anselm: Context and Criticism

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Monday, 19 November 2012

Recent Publications - November 2012


S. Niskanen, The Letter Collections of Anselm of Canterbury. Instrumenta Patristica et Mediaevalia, 61, Brepols, Turnhout 2011.


D. Whidden, 'The Alleged Feudalism of Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo and the Benedictine Concepts of Obedience, Honor, and Order' in Nova et Vetera, English Edition, 9 (2011) 1055–87.


R. Koopmans, 'Review of S. Niskanen, The Letter Collections of Anselm of Canterbury. Instrumenta Patristica et Mediaevalia, 61, Brepols, Turnhout 2011' in The Medieval Review 12.09.21.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Report on 'St Anselm of Canterbury and His Legacy' at Blackfriars, Oxford, 15 November 2012

Report by Ian Logan

An audience from across the UK attended the launch of the new book on Anselm, St Anselm of Canterbury and His Legacy, a collection of essays by an international group of Anselm scholars.

The host was Fr Simon Gaine OP, the Regent of Blackfriars. The speakers were the editors of the volume, Dr Giles Gasper, Durham University, author of St Anselm of Canterbury and his Theological Inheritance, and Dr Ian Logan, Blackfriars Hall, Oxford University, author of Reading Anselm’s Proslogion: the history of Anselm’s argument and its significance today.

Fr Simon Gaine OP - Welcome address
Fr Simon spoke of the origins of the volume in the international conference held at Canterbury in 2009 to commemorate the 900th anniversary of Anselm's death. He went on to ask: ‘Who was St Anselm of Canterbury?’ An Italian who became a monk and abbot in Normandy then an archbishop in England. A respected teacher, a defender of church rights, but also a church reformer, a powerful spiritual writer of an influential collection prayers and meditations, a theologian and philosopher of brilliant originality. He left no lasting school of thought in the way that Augustine and Thomas did, but nevertheless his influence has been and continues to be great as the wide-ranging set of essays in this volume indicates. It is this influence, this legacy, that the volume captures.

Anselm has an important place in Christian thought, summed up in the phrase 'Faith seeking understanding' - a phrase he invented and which is always used whenever there is discussion of the relationship of faith and reason. Anselm is one the greatest exponents of the application of reason to faith.

 In this set of essays the editors first set out a picture of Anselm, who is 'refracted', as they put, it in the various essays presented in this volume. One of the intentional merits of the volume is that it contains much fresh scholarship from both established and young, up and coming scholars. From this volume, it is clear that Anselm studies are in a vibrant state. Interest in Anselm continues to grow apace. This volume will only serve to facilitate that growth.

Dr Giles Gasper - Anselm and the Bible: Narratives of Exile 
Anselm of Canterbury is famous for his insistence that he would establish positions of argument without reference to authorities and to the Bible as seen in the Monologion, Proslogion and Cur Deus Homo. What place then does Anselm give to biblical quotation within his theological scheme?

In his third Prayer to the Virgin Mary Anselm focuses on the role of the Virgin in carrying and bearing the creator of the world. Anselm alludes to the creation of light and the darkness that precedes it in the book of Genesis. To darkness, demons and sin, Mary’s child is the solution and salvation.

The opening chapter of the Proslogion is based around a compelling biblical narrative of exile. The chapter moves through a sequence of quotations from Matthew, Exodus, and Psalms, in which the consequences of the sin of Adam are explored. The desperate state of mankind and the need for grace is evoked. Anselm ends his opening with Genesis 1.27 ‘And God created man to his own image’, to reinforce the point that the image remains, but with a need for God to renew and redeem it. He then invokes Isaiah 7.9 on faith and understanding.

This ‘lyrical’ introduction, to use von Balthasar’s terminology, is important in setting up Anselm’s dialectical argument. Anselm provides biblical support for his statements, occasionally counter-posing the dialectical and the lyrical or biblical. Dialectic identifies what the argument is and how best to address it. The lyrical and biblical provide a reminder of both the reasons why this is beneficial, and of the limitations of human reason.

Dr Ian Logan - Some suggestions concerning the origin of the phrase, ‘than which nothing greater can be thought’ 
The phrase ‘than which nothing greater can be thought’ is central to Anselm’s argument for God in the Proslogion. Ian suggested that it is possible, even likely, that this phrase was derived by Anselm from the Roman Stoic philosopher, Seneca, who uses the identical phrase in his Natural Questions to describe the magnitude of the world. The fact that the phrase is used by Anselm as he addresses the unbeliever (the ‘fool’ of the Psalms, ‘who says in his heart, There is no God’) supports this view. Anselm was a dialectician, and in dialectical argumentation one of your first tasks is to get your opponent to agree to the terms you are using. In using this term, Anselm is inviting the unbeliever to accept a term an unbeliever uses, which he is therefore unlikely to identify with God as understood in Catholic thought, whose existence Anselm is seeking to prove.

The difficulty with this line of thought is that there are no known extant manuscripts of Seneca’s Natural Questions predating the early 12th century and Anselm wrote the Proslogion in the last quarter of the 11th century. Similar phrases can also be found in Cicero, Augustine and Boethius. However, the fact that Anselm uses exactly the same words as Seneca and that Anselm rarely uses quotations, suggests that this is an explicit quotation from Seneca and is supposed to be recognised as one. As such it throws light on Anselm’s intentions in his little book, the Proslogion, and indicates that Seneca’s work was known prior to the early 12th century.

After a stimulating question and answer session, the editors of the volume announced their intention to facilitate the establishing of a society or association for Anselm scholarship and that they are inviting expressions of interest from potential supporters and members. With this in mind, a one day conference at Blackfriars, Oxford, in 2013 is being planned, followed in 2014 by a full conference.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Anselm Event - Update

'Saint Anselm of Canterbury and His Legacy'
The Aula, Blackfriars Hall, St Giles, Oxford
Thursday, 15 November, 2012 at 5 p.m.

Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, is holding a special event to launch the book, Saint Anselm of Canterbury and His Legacy, edited by Giles E. M. Gasper and Ian Logan, and published by the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, Toronto, and the Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Durham University.

The editors will give two short papers -
Dr Giles Gasper, Durham: Anselm and the Bible: Narratives of Exile
Dr Ian Logan, Blackfriars: Some suggestions concerning the origin of the phrase, 'that than which nothing greater can be thought'

Followed by a wine/soft drinks reception.
Copies of the book will be available at discounted prices.
If you would like to attend the event, please let me know by clicking on the 'contact me' button above and completing the form.

Follow this event on twitter #AnselmEvents

Friday, 19 October 2012

Advance notice

‘Saint Anselm of Canterbury and His Legacy’
The Aula, Blackfriars Hall, St Giles, Oxford
Thursday, 15 November 2012, 5.00 p.m. 

To launch the book of the same title, commemorating the 900th anniversary of Anselm’s death, with an update on some of the current developments in Anselm studies.
Followed by a wine/soft drinks reception.

Speakers will be the editors of the volume:
Giles Gasper - Durham University
Ian Logan - Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford

All the welcome. 

Recent Publications - October 2012


R. Hofmeister Pich, Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109): Philosophical Theology and Ethics, Brepols, Turnhout 2012.
Papers from the Third International Conference of Medieval Philosophy in Port Alegre, Brazil, 02-04 September 2009.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Recent Publications - September 2012


G.E.M. Gasper & I. Logan (edd), Saint Anselm of Canterbury and His Legacy, Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Durham University/Pontifical Institute for Medieval Studies, Toronto 2012:
  • G.E.M. Gasper & I. Logan, Anselm: A Portrait in Refraction, pp. 1-25
  • S. Schenk, Queen Matilda and Anselm's Mary Magdalene, pp. 29-39
  • S. Niskanen, The Evolution of Anselm's Letter Collections until ca. 1130, pp. 40-60
  • V. Gazeau, From Bec to Canterbury: Between Cloister and the World, the legacy of Anselm, a personne d'autorite, pp. 61-72
  • S.N. Vaughn, The Students of Bec in England, pp. 73-91
  • J. Diehl, Harmony between Word and World: Anselm of Canterbury, Aelred of Rievaulx and Approaches to Language in Twelfth-Century Monasticism, pp. 95-113
  • J. Dunthorne, Anselm and Hugh of St Victor on Freedom and the Will, pp. 114-132
  • M. Clavier, "Oro, Deus cognoscam te, amem te, ut gaudeam de te": Rhetorical Theology and the Influence of Anselm on Richard of St Victor, pp. 133-152
  • M. Robson, Odo Rigaldi and the Assimilation of St Anselm's Cur Deus homo in the School of the Cordeliers in Paris, pp. 155-173
  • B. Goehring, Truth as Rightness in Anselm of Canterbury and Henry of Ghent, pp. 174-202
  • J.T. Slotemaker, The Development of Anselm's Trinitarian Theology: The Origins of a Late Medieval Debate, pp. 203-221
  • V. Leppin, Praying and Thinking with Anselm: The Tractatus de primo principio of Duns Scotus, pp. 222-235
  • M. Healey-Varley, Anselm's Afterlife and the Middle English De custodia interioris hominis, pp. 239-257
  • E. Hauwaerts, The Middle English Versions of Saint Anselm of Canterbury's Prayers and Meditations, pp. 258-275
  • I. Logan, Was Karl Rahner and Anonymous Anselmian?, pp. 279-298
  • B.Goebel, The Myth of the Eleventh Century: Hans Blumenberg's Anselm, pp. 299-317
  • E. de Gaal, The Rediscovery of Anselm's Appeal to Beauty in Hans Urs von Balthasar's Theology, pp. 318-340
  • G.E.M. Gasper, Tractarian Echoes: Michael Ramsey and the Anglican Responses to Anselm of Canterbury, pp. 341-359
  • M.M. Adams, St Anselm on the Goodness of God, pp. 360-384
  • E.C. Sweeney, Anselm and the Phenomenology of the Gift in Marcel, Sartre and Marion, pp. 385-404
  • S.L. Uckelman, The Reception of Saint Anselm's Logic in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, pp. 405-426
  • M. Lembke, The Cosmontological Argument for the Existence of God, pp. 427-444

M. Lembke, 'Whatever it is better to be than not to be' in International Journal for Philosophy of Religion. Pre-publication at

K.A. Rogers, 'Anselm on the Ontological Status of Choice' in International Philosophical Quarterly, 52 (2012) 183-198.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Recent Publications - June 2012


E.C. Sweeney, Anselm of Canterbury and the Desire for the Word, Catholic University of America Press, Washington DC 2012.  


K.A. Rogers, 'Anselm against McCann on God and Sin: Further discussion' in Faith and Philosophy, 28 (2011) 397-415.

M.Sultana, 'Anselm's Argument: On the Unity of Thinking and Being' in New Blackfriars, 93 (2012) pp.276-291.


H.J. McCann, 'Review of Katherin Rogers: Anselm on Freedom' in Faith and Philosophy, 28 (2011) 456-459.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Coming soon

... Saint Anselm of Canterbury and His Legacy, edited by Giles Gasper and Ian Logan.

Born out of the 2009 Canterbury conference, this volume, published jointly by the Pontifical Institute for Medieval Studies, Toronto, and the Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Durham University, will be out shortly. It's taken longer than a Hollywood blockbuster to produce, but it will have been worth the wait.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Recent Publications - March 2012


James McSherry, 'Anselm: In the Steps of the Fathers' in Outreach and Renewal A First-Millennium Legacy for the Third-Millennium Church, Cistercian Studies Series 236, 2011, pp.203-212.


C.M. Kaufmann, 'New Images for Anselm's Table Talk: an Illustrated manuscript of the Liber De Similitudinibus' in Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 74 (2011) 87-120.