Contra fatalitatis errorem
D.N. Bell (ed.)
XXXVI+180 p., 155 x 245 mm, 1996
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The Contra fatalitatis errorem of Bartholomew of Exeter was written
c. 1180-82 and is one of the bishop's last works (he died in 1184). It
survives in three manuscripts, though there is evidence that other copies
have been lost. The work is dedicated to Bartolomew's friend and colleague
Baldwin, who at the time was bishop of Worcester and was undertaken at
Baldwin's suggestion. The purpose of the work is twofold: firstly, to
launch a determined attack on the belief in and practice of astrology and
prediction, which was clearly wide-spread in twelfth-century England; and
secondly to attempt to reconcile human free-will with divine predestination.
Bartholomew bases his work primarily on Basil the Great (in the Latin
translation of Eusthatius), Ambrose of Milan, Boethius, Anselm of Canterbury,
and, above all, Augustine, and his careful and logical discussion is the
longest and most comprehensive attempt at resolving the problem of free-will
and predestination to come from the twelfth century. It is a monument of
pre-scholastic scholasticism, and has been too long ignored by students of
medieval theology and philosophy.