Date(s) - 27/03/2014
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
In Book 1 of the Sentences Lombard wrote that ‘the Jews willed by an evil will something that God willed by a good will, namely that Christ should suffer and die; yet they willed something else which God did not will, namely to kill Christ, which was an evil action and a sin.’ Here, as elsewhere in the Sentences, the role of Jews within the crucifixion of Christ offers a point for Lombard to reflect upon the nature of the will, and its relation to culpability. Within this frame, Jews and their historical circumstances, register as necessary, intractable and contingent, in contrast to the ineffable perfection of God’s perfect will towards Christ.
Peter Lombard’s Sentences, written in 1156, was the dominant textbook in theology throughout the Middle Ages. In many ways, this textbook defined the theological project in Western Christendom for centuries to come. Despite the importance of this work, however, there has been no examination of the purposes to which Jews were put in this work. I will argue, partially following the recent work of David Nirenberg, that the abjection of Jews that we see in the Sentences is actually foundational to the work. That is, alongside Lombard’s treatment of women, heretics and slaves in the Sentences, Jews provide the space against which the rational Christian subject position was articulated, and reified.