Faith and the intellectuals I

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The history of medieval thought could be written in terms of limitations demanded from reason to make room for faith. The church would be depicted as an inherently thought-curbing institute that constantly and efficiently exerted pressure on intellectuals for the defence of orthodoxy. The oppressed intellectuals exposed to threats of ecclesiastical or university condemnations could easily become the heroes of this story. But at the same time faith was subtly employed to make room for reason. From the twelfth century onwards, it became natural for scholars immersed in an academic environment (school or university) to employ reason to probe into subject areas that had not been explored before, as well as to discuss possibilities that had not previously been seriously entertained.Surely, those who applied reason to the solution of problems in theology knew that, when it came to determining the answer, reason was subordinate to faith. Yet the very idea that questioning certain articles of faith could endanger one's salvation, that vain curiosity (vana curiositas) particularly among theologians was undermining the academic vocation of theologians, created the need for due legal/judicial procedures that would limit or even abolish such dangerous dynamics and save faith (salvare fidem). The efficacy and the impact of ecclesiastical censorship apparatus (from simple verbal intimidations to condemnations, book burning and imprisonment) are still debated.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of Christianity
Subtitle of host publicationChristianity in Western Europe c. 1100-c. 1500
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781139056021
ISBN (Print)9780521811064
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2008, 2009.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


Dive into the research topics of 'Faith and the intellectuals I'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this