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Studies in the Sacred Page: Encounters with Medieval Manuscripts, Texts, and Exegesis



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PIMS Publications

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Toronto, Canada


Though they were at the core of monastic prayer and a staple of contemplative practice, the Psalms also lent themselves extraordinarily well to addressing the dangers and temptations of the active life. In this short essay I would like to explore scholastic exegesis of the Psalms as a means of addressing social and moral issues in the context of Paris in the early 1200s. The real-life context of medieval scholastic commentaries on the Psalms is something of which few modern scholars make note, and one might argue that these commentaries are not even "scholastic," as they lack significant "rational organisation" (commentaries are, naturally, constrained to the order of the text they comment). Still, the phrase "scholastic Psalms commentary" is not an oxymoron. These commentaries were generated in the cathedral schools, embedded in their urban context, and as the Parisian schools developed into the University, traditional commentaries on the Psalms changed as they continued to reflect the real-life environment and the immediate concerns of their scholarly authors and audiences. The range of emotions and human experience that fill the Psalms provided opportunity to connect to the spiritual lives of clerics in training as well as the urban laity; the immediacy and intimacy with which the Psalms text is applied can provide us with a vivid portrait of a commentary's moment in time, its sense of place.




Author Posting © PIMS Publications, 2022. This chapter is posted here by permission of PIMS Publications for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in Studies in the Sacred Page: Encounters with Medieval Manuscripts, Texts, and Exegesis, Pages 140-168, November 2022,

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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