Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Pain and Suffering in Medieval Theology

Pain and Suffering in Medieval Theology: Academic Debates at the University of Paris in the Thirteenth Century

Donald Mowbray
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 204
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Pain and Suffering in Medieval Theology
    Book Description:

    Questions of pain and suffering occur frequently in medieval theological debate. Here, Dr Mowbray examines the innovative views of Paris's masters of theology in the thirteenth century, illuminating how they constructed notions ofpain and suffering by bui

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-751-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Bertrand Russell’s paraphrase of the theory of the cosmic will advanced by Schopenhauer is a reminder that pain and suffering are not only fundamental to humanity, but also to its knowledge and understanding. Describing and understanding pain and suffering has influenced many areas of modern research from philosophy and theology to medicine and analgesics and as a subject for philosophical and phenomenological investigation, pain has produced many interesting modern studies which have focused specifically on its inexpressibility and concentrated on the breakdown of language when it is described as a personal experience.² There have also been numerous valuable contributions demonstrating...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Thirteenth-Century Theological Ideas about Human Pain and Suffering and the Passion of Christ
    (pp. 13-42)

    During the twelfth century, there was much speculation by intellectuals about the nature of the body and its relationship to the soul. Indeed, the relationship between soul and body has been called ‘one of the fundamental issues in medieval thought’.¹ The scholastic Peter Abelard, for example, was interested in the resurrection of the body and the suffering in hell caused to souls when separated from the body. These pains he dismissed as mystical or spiritual, rather than literal or physical.² Other theological inquiries explored the reasons for God’s Incarnation, a tradition which was inspired by Anselm in his Cur Deus...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Gendering Pain: Theological Ideas about Female and Male Suffering
    (pp. 43-60)

    As the previous chapter showed, pain and suffering were key topics of discussion in theological treatises. Understanding them was essential to explaining the complex relationship of body and soul. Pain was a human experience but, according to thirteenth-century theological perceptions, did it pertain to both sexes equally? This chapter examines three areas of theology in which masters of theology discussed the nature of males and females: creation, the state of innocence and the Fall. In each context, it is to be determined to what extent the masters linked pain and gender. It must also be discovered whether the links between...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Pain as a Restorative Power: Voluntary Suffering and Satisfaction for Sin
    (pp. 61-80)

    The importance which theologians attached to painful means of redemption from sin was, it seems, immense. Christ as a model of suffering to be imitated is most often associated with the fifteenth century and most particularly with Thomas à Kempis.¹ However, the links between human and divine suffering were of especial interest to theologians in the thirteenth century. A framework of explanation was required which would encompass the suffering of humans, on the one hand, and the divine on the other. Where Christ was concerned, theologians performed a delicate balancing act to resolve apparent contradictions within his human and divine...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The Intellectual Development of Limbo: Pain, Children and Original Sin
    (pp. 81-103)

    Some types of pain and suffering were related to the presence of sin and guilt, as was highlighted in the previous chapter. Much of this hinged on the presence of the human will and the suffering which the will deserved for its misguided actions. But how were the masters to understand the suffering of those who lacked free will? The masters turned their attention to the fate of children who had died only with the stain of original sin. This caused problems for them on two levels. First, original sin did not involve the use of the individual’s free will...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Anima Separata: Masters of Theology and the Controversy surrounding the Suffering of the Separated Soul
    (pp. 104-130)

    In previous chapters the pain experienced in and by the soul has been considered in terms of the embodied soul, that is, the soul as part of the human composite. However, masters of theology followed the widely held belief that when the body died, soul and body were separated until resurrection. The suffering of the resurrected body is the focus of the following chapter. This chapter examines the period between death and resurrection, during which the separated souls of the damned reached hell and experienced its torments. As has been seen in earlier chapters, sense perception and the reception of...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Defining the Corporeal: Suffering in Hell according to Masters of Theology at Paris, c.1230–c.1280
    (pp. 131-158)

    The previous chapter explained how masters of theology grappled with the suffering of the disembodied soul in the afterlife. However, pain and suffering in hell also involved corporeal suffering after resurrection. Defining the nature of corporeality in hell and its relation to eternal suffering was thus an important concern for the masters. What prompted the masters to debate specific questions about corporeal suffering in hell? One reason they asked questions about the bodies of the damned was because certain passages of scripture were traditionally held to be significant where the suffering of the body in hell was concerned. Furthermore, in...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 159-164)

    Ideas about pain and suffering were developed by masters of theology into a coherent technical language supported by a conceptual framework, which helped them to elucidate important areas of discussion within their theological treatises. This was achieved in various ways: the attention to and interpretation of a discrete group of biblical, classical and patristic authorities; their use of new theories which affected theology; and the framing of specific questions about pain and suffering within important areas of theology concerned with this life and the afterlife. The language which the masters developed was common to a variety of contexts within their...

  13. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 165-186)
  14. Index
    (pp. 187-192)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 193-193)