The gothic cathedrals eventually gave birth to medieval universities. The universities revealed an intense hunger to understand the truth of God received from any land, and reason became the servant of faith. This era gave rise to a distinctive method of scholarship and a unique Middle Age theology emerged. The aim of the Schoolmen was twofold: to reconcile Christian doctrine and human reason, and to arrange the teachings of the church in an orderly system. A free search for truth was never in view since the chief doctrines of the Christian faith were regarded as fixed. Scholars sought to "live studiously in a religious way, and religiously in a studious manner".

The event that marked the flowering of the universities was the grouping of students and masters into guilds. Scholars banded together for mutual interest and protection, and called themselves a "universitas", the medieval name for any corporate group. In Italy such guilds came to exercise great power. Students hired and paid teachers, determined the courses to be given, and fined any lecturer who skipped a chapter in expounding his subject. At French and English universities, where students were younger, masters’ guilds had the upper hand. They forbade students to swear or gamble, fined them for breaking curfews and prescribed table manners. Unencumbered with athletic stadiums, libraries, or other equipment, universities could pick up and move elsewhere at any time if they found themselves at odds with local citizens.

In addition to lectures, the method of teaching was the disputation — employing Abelard’s question-and-answer approach. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Students were learning to think.

[tags]Abelard, BlogRodent, church-history, ChurchRodent, history, Scholasticism[/tags]


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