Ulrich (Engelbert) of Strasbourg (fl. 1248–1277)

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ULRICH (ENGELBERT) OF STRASBOURG
(FL. 12481277)

Ulrich (Engelbert) of Strasbourg was a scholastic philosopher and theologian, priest, and author. A member of the Dominican priory at Strasbourg in the German province, Ulrich studied under Albert the Great at Cologne, together with Thomas Aquinas and Hugh of Strasbourg, between 1248 and 1254. During those years Ulrich heard Albert expound the Dionysian corpus and the Ethics of Aristotle. As a lecturer in theology at Strasbourg, Ulrich acquired considerable fame for his learning; among his illustrious disciples was Lector John of Fribourg.

The ancient catalogs attribute to Ulrich commentaries on Aristotle's Metheora and De Anima, Peter Lombard's Sentences, and the book of Ecclesiastes. His only extant work, however, is a remarkable compendium of theology titled De Summo Bono, planned and probably written in eight books. Only the first book and fragments of others have been published, and the known manuscripts end with Book VI, tr. 5. This compendium was composed between 1262 and 1272 and marks a notable advance over the earlier summas of William of Auxerre, Alexander of Hales, and Albert the Great. It is divided into (1) introduction to theology, (2) essence of the supreme Good, (3) Trinity in general, (4) the Father and creation, (5) the Son and incarnation, (6) the Holy Spirit and sanctification, (7) sacraments, and (8) ultimate beatitude.

The doctrinal framework of Ulrich's thought is predominantly Augustinian and Neoplatonic, depending largely on Pseudo-Dionysius, Avicenna, Liber de Causis, and Albert. For Ulrich man has a rational predisposition for knowing the existence of God as the supreme cause. This knowledge is rendered more precise, although not comprehensive, by the traditional three ways: (1) negating imperfections found in creatures (for example, as creatures are finite, God is infinite); (2) seeing God as the ultimate cause of all perfections; and (3) recognizing the transcendence of those perfections in God. God created the universe in a hierarchical order ranging from the first luminous intelligence through lesser intelligences, man, animals, plants, elements, and material principles. In all creatures there is a real distinction between essence and existence, and in all material substances there is only one substantial form. Created intellectual substances, seeing the eternal Ideas in God, illuminate lesser intelligences to know truth. The human mind has four immediately evident (per se nota ) rules by which it can investigate theology, the science of the faith: God is the supreme Truth and cause of all truth; primary Truth can neither deceive nor be deceived, therefore his Word should be believed; we should believe everything clearly revealed by God through his spokesmen; Scripture is true precisely because God gave it to us in that way. Unlike these rules, the articles of faith are not immediately evident, but in the light of faith and these rules, the articles of faith become objects of scientific study.

For five years (12721277) Ulrich was provincial of the German province before the General Chapter of Bordeaux assigned him to Paris to lecture on the Sentences and to obtain his degree in theology. He died, probably in 1278, before becoming a master; in the manuscripts he is designated a bachelor in theology.

See also Albert the Great; Alexander of Hales; Aristotle; Augustinianism; Avicenna; Medieval Philosophy; Neoplatonism; Peter Lombard; Pseudo-Dionysius; Thomas Aquinas, St.

Bibliography

Daguillon, Jeanne. Ulrich de Strasbourg, O.P., la "Summa de Bono," Lib. I. Paris, 1930. Bibliothèque Thomiste, Vol. XII.

Glorieux, Palémon. Ulrich de Strasbourg au XIIIe siècle, 2 vols. Paris, 19331934. Vol. I, pp. 145151.

Grabmann, Martin. "Studien über Ulrich von Strassburg." In Mittelalterliches Geistesleben; Abhandlungen zur Geschichte der Scholastik und Mystik, 3 vols. Munich: Hueber, 19261956. Vol. I, pp. 147221.

Quétif, Jacques, and Jacques Échard. Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum Recensiti, 2 vols. Paris: Lutetiæ Parisiorum, apud J.-B.-C. Ballard, and N. Simart, 17191721. Vol. I, p. 256.

Théry, Gabriel. "Originalité du plan de la Summa de Bono d'Ulrich de Strasbourg." Revue Thomiste 27 (1922): 276297.

James A. Weisheipl, O.P. (1967)