Book Series Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis, vol. 286

Petrus Abaelardus


L. J. Engels, Chr. Vande Veire (eds)

  • Pages: cxxv + 503 p.
  • Size:155 x 245 mm
  • Language(s):Latin
  • Publication Year:2021

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57701-2
  • Hardback
  • Available


"The present edition is the work of L. J. Engels, skilfully brought to completion after his death by Christine Vande Veire. It is based on all the known evidence and the editors have succeeded brilliantly in reconstructing the transmission history and in repairing the faults that the sources contain." (David Luscombe, in Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 73, 2022, p. 139-140) 

"The great gift of Engels' edition of the complete sermon collection of Abelard is that it will allow Abelard's Sermons to become more widely known. The introductory letter alone, no more than 17 lines in this edition, is a masterpiece of Abelard's rhetorical skill as he expresses his concern for the nuns of the Paraclete which he helped establish, and farewells Heloise by acknowledging their one-time connection in the world but hoping that their new spiritual partnership will be the more fruitful." (Juanita Feros Ruys, in TMR 22.01.06)

"Summa summarum: zum ersten Mal sind Abaelards Predigten nun in einer Ausgabe zu benutzen, die einen zuverlässigen, editorisch über (fast) jeden Zweifel erhabenen Text bietet. Nicht nur die Predigtforschung wird zukünftig mit großem Gewinn darauf zurückgreifen." (Ralf Lützelschwab, in SEHEPUNKTE, 1.22, 2022)

“The originality of these sermons, delivered not just to Heloise and her sisters, but to a range of different communities deserves close attention. Christine Vande Veire is to be congratulated for bringing to completion the project to which Louk Engels devoted so much of his life.” (Constant J. Mews, dans Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique, 116/3-4, 2021, p. 945-947)

« Parvenir à dater les sermons (à la fois la collection et chacun des sermons de façon individuelle) de façon relativement fiable est une entreprise d’une redoutable difficulté. (...) C’est ce que permet le texte remarquable dont nous disposons désormais grâce à Engels et Vande Veire, et qui ouvre des perspectives nouvelles aux médiévistes intéressés par Abélard et le XIIe siècle. » (Christophe Grellard, dans Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie Médiévales, 88/2, 2021, p. 494)

« C’est avec beaucoup d’émotion que l’on ouvre  ce volume qui a été l’œuvre d’une vie, celle du  professeur Lodewijk Josef Engels, qui n’a malheureusement pas pu achever cette édition, menée à  son terme par Christine Vande Veire. Atteint d’une  grave maladie, il avait confié tous ses documents  préparatoires aux éditions Brepols. L’équipe qui a  soutenu le travail minutieux de C. Vande Veire avait  pour objectif de respecter au mieux le projet initial  du professeur Engels. Objectif semble-t-il largement  atteint par cette magistrale édition. » (Marie Anne Polo de Beaulieu, dans Cahiers de civilisation médiévale n°262, April-June 2023, p. 194)


The late Lodewijk Jozef (Louk) Engels (d. 2017), emeritus professor of medieval Latin at the University of Groningen from 1972 till 1994, has published on Paul Diacre and on many other texts, including the Sermones of Peter Abelard. He has been rector magnificus of his alma mater from 1981 till 1984, and again from 1988 till 1991. Professor Engels was a great supporter of the critical edition, a particular métier which he has taught with enthusiasm to his students.


The present volume provides the first critical edition of the sermons of Peter Abelard gathered by the author on behalf of the nuns of the Paraclete, as Abelard’s dedicatory letter to Heloise makes clear. The collection contains 35 sermons, 33 of which were edited in 1616 by François d’Amboise and André Duchesne. Unfortunately the manuscript kept at the Sorbonne, used for the editio princeps, has disappeared. Only 6 out of the 33 sermons have survived in three recently discovered manuscripts. A supplementary sermon (s. 34) of the same collection and a fragment of an extra sermon (against the Cistercians) turned up respectively in one of those manuscripts.

Modern scholars have provided editions of the eight sermons that survived in the manuscripts. Well acquainted with Peter Abelard’s writing skills and style, the present editor investigated and compared the six sermons of the editio princeps that are also present in the manuscripts. After this profound research, he took on the immense job of re-editing the entire collection. Where necessary he intervened on the basis of his knowledge of the language and ideas of Abelard.