Anselm and the Augustinian tradition: Deference and innovation in the eleventh century

Felix Baffour Asare Asiedu, University of Pennsylvania


Anselm, Prior and Abbot of the abbey of Bec in Normandy, and later Archbishop of Canterbury (1093-1109), stood at the crucial turning point leading to the renaissance and renewal of Christian thought in the twelfth century. This dissertation studies Anselm's place among his contemporaries of the later half of the eleventh century, his sense of the Christian past and his appropriation of Augustine's thought. Anselm's Augustinian appropriations can be divided into three distinct phases. First, the period prior to 1076 when Anselm wrote the Monologion the work which put his Augustinianism at the center of his disagreements with Lanfranc his former teacher. Second, the period which covers the writing of the Monologion, the Proslogion and Anselm's response to Gaunilo, a monk of Marmoutier near Tours, who objected to some of Anselm's arguments in the Proslogion. And third, the period beginning in the mid 1080s during which Anselm wrote his De veritate, De libertate arbitrii, and De casu diaboli, and appears to have taken to Augustine's anti-Pelagian works for further elaborations of his own thought. While it is generally assumed that Anselm sought to respond to current debates in the schools of northern France, I argue that Anselm may in fact have been ahead of the schools in addressing difficulties which had not been of much interest to his contemporaries, most of whom recognized the eucharistic controversy as the most paramount theological problem of the day, a controversy about which Anselm is silent. Anselm, for his part, took up themes in his later works which became important topics for the early twelfth century theologians. The Augustinianism of the twelfth century theologians may owe something, then, to Anselm's influence, even when the twelfth century theologians adopt positions which are not Anselm's.

Subject Area

Middle Ages|Religious history|Theology

Recommended Citation

Asiedu, Felix Baffour Asare, "Anselm and the Augustinian tradition: Deference and innovation in the eleventh century" (1997). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9814813.