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Saints and Scholars: Twenty-five Medieval Portraits Hardcover – May 16, 1988

ISBN-13: 978-0313262197 ISBN-10: 0313262195

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (May 16, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313262195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313262197
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,570,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


?Some of these sketches present figures of importance who are little known, and who might easily be overlooked even by the serious student of the period. Herein lies the book's chief value, plus the over-all picture it gives of the monastic age as represented by diverse saints and scholars. The book is well written, and will best serve as collateral reading to a more thorough study.?-Kirkus

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By S. Pactor VINE VOICE on July 12, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
***EDITED 1/19/10*****

This book is a concise introduction to the development of medieval thought. Specifically it discusses the thinkers themselves and the institutions that birthed them. The main word to keep in mind here is that this an "overview" of medieval thought.

Still, making your way through it requires considerable intellectual work. Knowles gives you a page or two of biographical summary (easy going) followed by three or four pages of text about the particular thinkers' attempt to square neo-platonism with Christian aristotlianism. I can't say that I got all the finer points in the text-- far from it.

That aside, the basic evolution is clear, with the high point coming in the thirteenth century as the complete works of Aristotle were rediscovered and absorbed by various thinkers, leading up to the work of Thomas Aquinas. Thereafter, there was a retreat from the project of synthesizing theology with philosophy.

I recently had the occasion to re-read this book after a trip to Italy. I found it much easier sledding the second time through, and it def. helped to have in mind the Italian Renaissance for context... Most of the activity here precedes the Quattrocentro, and most of the action takes place in France, not Italy (though Italy does play a strong role.) I advanced my rating from four to five stars to reflect the fact that I liked this book enough to read it again five years later.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Nawfal on November 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is essential for the student of Medieval Philosophy. It is the best, I prefer it even over E. Gilson's introductory Medieval works. It is not superficial, it is rigorous and yet not boring. The serious undergraduate's thirst will be quenched. His history is accurate. This is the standard by which the rest of the Medieval texts for undergraduates will be judged.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. Lange on July 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
David Knowles's fine book is a great survey of the intellectual struggles of the medieval period. He places these developments in historical context, and shows the rise of the modern university systems in Europe and England as perhaps the greatest achievement of the period. I appreciated his discussions of how the better minds of the age, such as Boethius, Albert the Great, St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham, developed their own ideas in the context of Church dogma, and grappled with, and found ways to reconcile Christian thought with the ancient teachings of Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus, who came to their attention through ongoing, erratic discoveries and transmission of writings by Arab sources and Islamic philosophers like Avicenna and Averroes.

These developments, and ultimately the work of William of Ockham, set the stage for the Renaissance, Reformation, and Age of Reason that were soon to unfold, and Knowles suggests how the well-demarked positions of leading thinkers manifested in those movements.

Also of tremendous value is his suggestions for further study, with source materials in English, French, and German. He cautions that intensive study of the medieval period really cannot be done without a good reading knowledge of French. No doubt German is also helpful, but more so for the study of mysticism than the medieval scholars he concentrates on in this work. Even so, David Knowles has done a splendid job of giving the general reader a well-informed overview of this subject.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James E. Egolf VINE VOICE on January 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
Father Knowles' (1896-1974)book titled THE EVOLUTION OF MEDIEVAL THOUGHT was first published in 1962 by Vintage Press. The book should encourage readers who are not familiar with Medieval thought and scholarship. This book is a well written concise summary of Medieval teaching/learning and scholarship which was impressive and surprisingly diverse.

Father Knowles began this book with a brief explanation of the work of Plato (427-347 BC) who was a mystic and Aristotle (384-322 BC) who was more "practical and logical." The influence of their work on Medieval scholars and theologians cannot be overestitmated. Knowles' book traced their influence from late Ancient History through the High Middle Ages which showed just how important the Ancient Greek philosophers were.

The section re St. Augustine (354-430 AD)was well written. St. Augustine was influenced by Plato's mysticism, and St. Augustine was an authority during the Middle Ages. Readers may be interested that St. Augustine and St. Jerome (346-420 AD), who translated the Vulgate Bible, had sharp exchanges and serious differences. Yet, the Catholic Church authorities canonized both men as saints. St. Augustine wrote THE CITY OF GOD in which he argued that the City of Man was to be shunned and that men should aspire to God and His realm. As an aside, Father Knowles wrote that St. Thomas Aquinas' (1225-1274)work would have no place in St. Augustine's scheme of things.

The next sections of the book dealt with Boethius (480-525) and Dionysus (c. 550). Boethius wrote the CONSOLATION OF PHILOSPHY while in prison awaiting execution. Boethius cited both the work of Plato and Aristotle as means of obtaining divine wisdom and a closer realization of God. Dionysis was confused with the person mentioned by St. Paul.
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