Volume 1 considers some of the key theological influences on Dante. The contributors discuss what ‘doctrine’ might have meant for Dante and consider the poet’s engagement with key theological figures and currents in his time including: Christian Aristotelian and scholastic thought, including that of Thomas Aquinas; Augustine; Plato and Platonic thought; Gregory the Great; and notions of beatific vision. Each essay offers an overview of its topic and opens up new avenues for future study. Together they capture the energy of current research in the field, test the limits of our current knowledge and set the future study of Dante’s theology on firm ground.
Simon A. Gilson Dante and Christian Aristotelianism
Thirty years ago a collection of essays on Dante’s theology would probably have placed a major, if not a central, weight upon Thomas Aquinas, the theologian who is often taken as the supreme representative of a tradition that attempted to incorporate concepts and terminology derived from the Aristotelian corpus into Christian theology. This essay attempts to examine why this is no longer the case and why – more significantly – the Dante–Aquinas relationship is now better conceived within a broader nexus of questions concerning the impact of the Aristotelian revival upon scholastic theology, Dante’s contact with, and relationships to, this herit- age, and the wider implications of his treatment of related matters in his poetry. The essay begins by mapping and reviewing critically some of the ways in which Aquinas has been aligned with Dante. It then moves on, in the second section, to consider more narrowly the value and limitations of a category such as Christian Aristotelianism, before outlining, in the final section, its usefulness to the study of how poetry and theology are integrated in the Commedia. Dante and Aquinas The tendency to view Aquinas as a (if not the) primary motivating force for Dante’s own theological concerns has a long and complicated his- tory. It is one that is closely interwoven with the reception of Aquinas, and the burgeoning of, and f luctuations in, his authority across the 66 Simon A. Gilson centuries.1 A preoccupation with using Thomas’ theological works (and, to a lesser extent, his Aristotelian commentaries)...
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