The manuscripts and text of Lanfranc of Bec's commentary on St. Paul

Ann Ryan Collins, University of Pennsylvania


The learned culture of Western Europe in the eleventh century promoted significant developments in monastic education. The methods used in a monastic classroom, the texts studied, and the format and function of glossed books were all undergoing a shift. Lanfranc wrote his commentary on St. Paul in the mid-eleventh century in preparation for assuming his role as prior of the Norman monastery of Bec and, accordingly, the commentary's text provides a critical opportunity to investigate the new attitudes and methods under evaluation in monastic curricula at this time. Examining the extant manuscripts of the commentary yields information regarding the production of glossed Bibles in the eleventh century, Lanfranc's stance toward authoritative theological sources, and his judgments regarding the application of classical sources to exegetical inquiry. These issues contribute to a reevaluation of the facts of Lanfranc's life and career, the date of the commentary's composition, and Lanfranc's place in eleventh century discussions concerning the role of the trivium arts in theological enterprise. Specifically, the commentary indicates a monastic curriculum that was both modern, as it combined classical methods and theological inquiry, and conservative, by strictly limiting the scope of classical methods to the precepts of Ciceronian rhetoric and by highlighting the use of dialectic as the method most detrimental to theological truths. Lanfranc's methodology contributes to a broader discussion of the emergence of new methods in the schools of northern France and the possible competition among disputatious masters and their conflicting curricula.

Subject Area

Religious history|Bible|Literature|Middle Ages

Recommended Citation

Collins, Ann Ryan, "The manuscripts and text of Lanfranc of Bec's commentary on St. Paul" (2002). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3043861.