Should Christians be a philosopher

Summary of Conversation between a philosopher, a Jew and a Christian

Ecclesiastical and secular power in the Middle Ages

As Henry III. When he came to Rome in 1046 to be crowned emperor by the Pope, he faced a serious problem: which of the three rival popes had the power and legitimacy to crown him? It was clear to Heinrich that canon law had to be thoroughly reformed. The strenuous church reform was directed primarily against simony, i.e. the purchase of church offices, the maintenance of celibacy and the outlawing of priestly marriage. The reform package brought the Roman Church, which articulated its claim to power more and more clearly, on a course of confrontation with the secular rulers. Especially the aspirations of Pope Gregory VII, who was known as "holy Satan" even in church circles, were provocative. Gregory VII wanted with his writing Dictatus papae Establish the absolute uniqueness and special position of the Pope and the Church. He even reserved the Pope the right to absolve subjects of allegiance to a secular ruler.

The power of the church had to expand Henry IV recognized in 1076 when the Pope excommunicated him and deposed him as King of the Germans. The stumbling block was the appointment of several bishops in Milan and in the Papal States by Henry. The Pope no longer wanted to tolerate this so-called lay investiture. Henry IV set out for Canossa in December 1076 to request that he be accepted back into the church. Although he succeeded in regaining his office, the Canossagang ultimately strengthened the pope's power. The investiture dispute, which had been smoldering for decades, was only possible between the Pope in 1122 Calixtus II. and Henry V. within the framework of the Worms Concordat.


For a long time it was assumed in research that conversation was written as a late work in the last year of Abelard's life, when he was in cloister custody in Cluny. This also explains the missing conclusion: death prevented the author from completing his manuscript. Since the mid-1980s, however, it has been certain that the work was created as early as 1125/26, at the height of Abelard's creative period. The mention of the Council of Soissons, at which Abelard had to burn his own writings as part of a car dairy, speaks for this chronological order. By 1125 Abelard already owned the Paraklet Monastery in Champagne. Here he taught and wrote or edited many of his most important writings. The conversation originally had no title - now it has two: The better known (Conversation between a philosopher, a Jew and a Christian) was awarded to him by its first editor, who edited the so-called Viennese manuscript of the work in 1831. The second title (Collationes) probably goes back to Abelard himself.

Impact history

Only six manuscripts of the Conversation are preserved. If one measures the distribution of a work on the basis of the traditional manuscripts, Abelards must conversation be forgotten relatively quickly after the author's death. No wonder: that was always in the spirit of the Church. As recently as 1140, two years before his death, Abelard left a council under protest, offended the Pope and his accusers, and sought an appeal procedure in Rome. He was banned by the Pope and punished with silence and imprisonment in a monastery. Although he was formally reconciled with his opponents shortly before his death, his writings remained banned and were burned by the Pope. However, the persecutors could not get hold of all the works. So said Abelard's accuser Bernhard of Clairvaux the wish: "Hopefully his perishable folios will remain hidden in boxes and will not be read publicly." However, some texts could actually be saved via winding paths. Authors like the English theologian John of Salisbury, the great medieval historian Otto von Freising and last but not least, the Doctors of the Church Thomas Aquinas carried Abelard's teachings on. Often it was only his findings (e.g. the application of logic to questions of faith in Thomas Aquinas), but not his name, that prevailed in the history of literature and science. Abelard only experienced a renaissance in the 19th century. Today he is considered the second great philosopher of the twelfth century, alongside Anselm of Canterbury.

Abelard's eventful life inspired many artists to work on literary works. Already 100 years after his death, the love affair between him and Heloise in Roman de la Rose (1230) des Guillaume de Lorris described. One of the most famous adaptations is the successful letter novel Julie orThe new Héloïse of Jean-Jacques Rousseau from 1761.