Peter Lombard

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PETER LOMBARD (c. 11001160), also known as Peter the Lombard, was a Christian theologian and teacher. There is little precise knowledge of Peter Lombard's origin except that he was born in northern Italy at Lumellogno in Novarre before 1100. Peter was a student at Bologna (or perhaps Vercelli) before he went to France to study, first in Reims and then in Paris and its environs (c. 1134). While it is believed that he returned to Italy, visiting Rome in 1154, all of Peter Lombard's professional life and work is associated with a career in northern France, especially Paris, where he taught at the Cathedral School of Notre Dame. By 1143 his reputation was widespread. Sometime in 1144 or 1145 he became a canon at Notre Dame, and his teaching continued to influence students, among whom were Herbert of Bosham and Peter Comestor.

Peter Lombard participated in two significant ecclesiastical investigations concerning the orthodoxy of the teachings of Gilbert of Poitiers; the first was held in Paris on April 21, 1147, the second at the Council of Reims on March 21, 1148. By 1156 Peter was archdeacon of Paris, and on June 29, 1159, he was consecrated its bishop. He died the following year.

Today only four works attributed to Peter are considered authentic: a collection of sermons, two biblical commentaries, and the Book of Sentences. The thirty-three sermons were composed by Peter during the twenty years that he exercised leadership in Paris (c. 11401160). Until recently, many of these were attributed to Hildebert of Lavardin. Peter begins each sermon with a scriptural citation, and his homilies, although clear and precise, give little evidence of the academic interest in exegesis as a science that was developing at the time. Instead, Peter's instructions emphasize a moral and spiritual exposition.

The same approach to exegesis appears to characterize the Lombard's first biblical commentary, on Psalms (Commentarius in psalmos Davidicos ), completed by 1138. Peter follows the method of the teachers at Laon (northern France), glossing the biblical word with a series of patristic teachings. The prologue to the commentary, however, does include the accessus ad auctores formula (author, text, subject matter, intention, and modus tractandi) that had only recently been appropriated to scriptural exposition in some of the school works. But because this work shows no influence of the anonymous Summa sententiarum, which dates from circa 11371138, it is usually seen as an early writing of the Lombard.

Peter Lombard's Commentary on the Pauline Epistles (11391141) brings a new dynamic to his teachings. Although composed shortly after his work on the psalter these glosses reflect the doctrine and exegetical methods from the schools. For example, he includes a wider variety of patristic sources; and the contemporary teachings of both the Summa sententiarum and of Gilbert of Poitiers appear as well. In addition, the Commentary shows some influence of the discursive inquiry associated with the new theological method, which brought questions to the text in an effort to discern meaning. However, Peter Lombard remained a cautious theologian, and although this work is more didactic than its predecessor he continued to stress spiritual exegesis.

It is the Lombard's last major work, the Book of Sentences, that sets his teachings apart in the twelfth century. The text provided his students with a systematic and comprehensive presentation of Christian doctrine in an orderly and accessible format: book 1 examines the Trinity; book 2 discusses creation, grace, and sin; book 3 presents the doctrines of incarnation and redemption; and book 4 considers the sacraments and eschatology. Although the work is a concise synthesis, Peter's citations of authorities provided a vast range of critically selected resources on distinctions and questions that were pertinent and timely. Understandably, Augustine was favored; but accepted contemporary works were also included, such as the Glossa ordinaria, the Decretum of Gratian, and the Lombard's own scriptural commentaries. Peter also confronted the vigorous inquiry of the school theologians, such as Hugh of Saint-Victor, Peter Abelard, and Gilbert of Poitiers. Peter's responses to the issues offered a moderate, orthodox position and met the needs of the times more adequately than the numerous other collections available. The final form of the Sentences was completed by 1157 or 1158.

The significance of Peter Lombard for the development of theology is due to the place of the Sentences in the medieval curriculum. What the Glossa ordinaria did for scripture, and what Gratian's Decretum did for law, the Sentences did for Christian doctrine. Peter would, in fact, be remembered as the "Master of the Sentences." His student Peter of Poitiers continued to use the Sentences for teaching his own classes in theology, and in about 1222 Alexander of Hales officially incorporated the text into the course of studies at the University of Paris. Thenceforth all students were required to comment on the Sentences for a degree in theology. In this way, all medieval theologians became disciples of the Lombard, and the format, method, and distinctions of the Sentences continued to shape theology for more than four hundred years.


Critical editions of the Lombard's writings can be found in volumes 191 and 192 of J.-P. Migne's Patrologia Latina (18791880; reprint, Turnhout, 1975). His sermons, attributed to Hildebert of Lavardin, are edited in volume 171 of that series (1854; reprint, Turnhout, 1978). However, the best text of the Sentences is Sententiae in IV libris distinctae, 3d ed. (Rome, 1971).

A comprehensive and critical study of Peter Lombard's writings remains to be done. One standard reference for his life and teaching is the extensive essay by Joseph de Ghellinck, "Pierre Lombard," in the Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (Paris, 19031950). Several more recent studies have brought precision to this essay. For example, Philippe Delhaye's Pierre Lombard: Sa vie, ses œuvres, sa morale (Montreal, 1961) summarizes the major themes of the Lombard's writings: human nature, grace, freedom, the theological and cardinal virtues, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, sin, and penance. Ignatius Brady's major essay "Pierre Lombard" in the Dictionnaire de spiritualité (Paris, 1985) continues these scholarly efforts. Brady's article includes an extensive, up-to-date bibliography. Another significant resource is the journal Pier Lombardo: Revista di teologia, filosofia e varia cultura (Novarre, 19531962).

John van Dyk's study of the Sentences, "Thirty Years since Stegmüller: A Bibliographic Guide to the Study of Medieval Sentence Commentaries since the Publication of Stegmüller's Repertorium (1947)," Franciscan Studies 39 (1979): 255315, updates previous bibliographies and compiles the best research on this text and its influence. Van Dyk's study includes many articles in English and organizes information into significant categories: texts and editions; philosophy, theology, history; and two indexes.

Eileen F. Kearney (1987)

Peter Lombard

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Theologian; b. Lumellogno (Novara), c. 1095; d. Paris, Aug. 21 (22), 1160. After studies at Bologna, or possibly Vercelli, he went to France, according to St. Bernard [Epist. 410; Patrologia Latina, ed. J. P. Migne (Paris 187890), 182:618], about 1134 to visit the schools of Reims and Paris. He then decided, or was persuaded, to remain at Paris, where he finished a commentary on the Psalms before 1138 and a gloss on St. Paul from 1139 to 1141, and began his teaching career in the school of Notre Dame. By 1143 he was known as a "celebrated theologian" (Metamorph. Goliae Episc. 197), and while in minor orders, he became a canon of Notre Dame in 1144 to 1145. Meanwhile, he had begun the composition of his Book of Sentences, which attained final form c. 1157 to 1158. He took part in the Paris consistory of Eugene III, April 21, 1147, and again in the Council of Reims, March 21, 1148, both of which concerned errors attributed to gilbert de la porrÉe. By 1156 he was one of the archdeacons of Paris, and perhaps as such made a journey to Rome, likely with Bishop Theobald in late 1154. He was elected bishop of Paris in 1159 and consecrated about June 29; he died the following year.

Sermons and Exegetical Works. Some 30 sermons at least are acknowledged as Lombard's, many of them published among those of Hildebert of Lavardin [Patrologia Latina 171:339964]. Most likely, however, the list is far from complete. An English disciple, Heribert of Bosham, later secretary of St. Thomas Becket, related that Peter himself told him he had begun his scriptural commentaries as private works designed to clarify the brevity and obscurity of the glosses of anselm of laon, and only later were they used in the schools. The text of Lombard reveals that he also used the glosses of Gilbert de la Porrée. Recognizing this mutual dependence, the scholastics named Anselm's work the Glossa ordinaria; Gilbert's, the Glossatura media; and Lombard's, the Major (or Magna ) Glossatura [B. Smalley, The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages (New York 1952) 64].

The commentary or gloss on the Psalter (ibid. ) must have been written immediately after Lombard's arrival at Paris, for there is no influence evident of the anonymous Summa Sententiarum (c. 113738). Doctrinal development proves that it antedates the gloss on St. Paul, while extant manuscripts show the author did not apparently subject it to a later revision. In content, like all 12th-century glosses on the Psalms, it offers primarily a moral and spiritual exegesis, to render the Divine Office more intelligible and fruitful. Only occasionally does it touch on theological doctrine.

By contrast, the Collectanea (a title used only since the edition of 1535) on the Epistles of St. Paul (ibid. ) presents many literary and doctrinal problems. Since the Summa Sententiarum is an important source, and since the commentary on Philippians is cited by Gerhoch of Reichersburg in 1142, the Collectanea was very likely composed between 1139 and 1141. Yet this must have been only a primitive redaction, as Heribert of Bosham indicates Lombard constantly revised it while using it in teaching. It is rather evident that Lombard began his course in theology with a commentary on the Apostle, then transferred much material from this and the gloss on the Psalter to a more systematic summa, the Book of Sentences, and continued to rework both the latter and the Pauline gloss. An early redaction of this gloss is found in the MS Vat. Lat. 695, which contains many questions that reappear in the Sentences but are not to be found in the printed text of the gloss. The latter represents rather the final redaction, but fails to distinguish between the body of the text and Lombard's later marginal additions. The gloss was later used as a standard text in the schools. It seems doubtful that Lombard wrote any of the other scriptural works attributed to him [F. Stegmüller, Repertorium biblicum medii aevi, 7 v. (Madrid 194961), 662536, 663953].

Book of Sentences. Partly in reaction to the extreme use of dialectic in theology, partly in keeping with the trend of medieval teaching after Peter abelard, the Sentences presents the whole of Christian doctrine in one brief volume on the basis of Scripture, the Fathers, and the Doctors, with speculation held in firm control. This work is divided into four books and chapters (the grouping of chapters into distinctions was introduced most likely by alexander of hales).

The work is largely a compilation from older and contemporary sources: Augustine, whose thought and spirit is evident throughout; Ambrose (and Ambrosiaster); Hilary; Julian of Toledo (on the Last Things); the older Glossa ordinaria (especially for the first part of book 2); Lombard's own glosses; Hugh of St. Victor; the Summa Sententiarium; and the Decretum of Gratian; as well as the canons of Ivo of Chartres. Yet such was Lombard's genius in organizing this material, in relating it to all the questions and controversies of the day without digressing into the merely curious or engaging in useless polemics, and in presenting a sound, brief, objective summary of doctrine, that the Book of Sentences was quickly recognized both for its contents and for its didactic qualities as the best of its kind. It influenced medieval thought also by its defects and omissions: little or nothing is said of the Church or the role of the Roman pontiff; while certain aspects of the Redemption and of the doctrine of grace in it leave much to be desired.

Long before Alexander of Hales introduced it in Paris (c. 1222) as the manual of his theological course, whence it passed into the curriculum of the university and eventually to other schools, the Liber Sententiarum had gained renown throughout Europe (as the number of early manuscripts attests) and had become the subject of numerous glosses and abbreviations (details in Landgraf, Einführung 96102; Introducción 167176). On the other hand, the work did not meet complete acceptance. Within Lombard's lifetime certain doctrines were attacked by Maurice de Sully and robert of melun. In particular, his apparent acceptance of so-called Christological nihilism (Quod Christus secundum quod est homo non sit aliquid ) implicated him in the censures of Alexander III (1170, 1177). At the same time he was unmercifully and stupidly attacked for this and other teachings by Walter

of St. Victor in his violent diatribe Against the Four Labyrinths of France (117778). At the end of the century, Lombard's Trinitarian doctrines were opposed by followers of Gilbert de la Porrée as well as by joachim offiore. This last polemic carried over to the Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215), which, instead of condemning the Book of Sentences, anathematized Joachim and in an extraordinary move acknowledged Lombard's orthodoxy (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum, ed. A. Schönmetzer [32 ed. Freiburg 1963] 804).

Nonetheless, not every position of Lombard found adherents among the scholastics. The 13th and 14th centuries produced lists of "articles in which the Master of the Sentences is not commonly held by all." The number grew with the years. Despite such mild disagreement, however, the Sentences continued to be used and commented on in all the schools of Western Christendom until well into the 17th century, though it was often replaced by St. Thomas after the work of cajetan (tommaso de vio).

Bibliography: j. de ghellinck, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 12.2:19412019; Le Mouvement théologique du XIIesiècle (2d ed. Bruges 1948); "La Carrière de Pierre Lombard: Nouvelle précision chronologique," Revue d'historie ecclésiastique 30 (1934) 95100. d. van den eynde, "Essai chronologique sur l'oeuvre de Pierre Lombard," Miscellanea Lombardiana (Novara 1957) 4563. a. m. landgraf, Einführung in die Geschichte der theologischen Literatur der Frühscholastik (Regensburg 1948), revised as Introducción a la historia de la literatura teológica de la escolástica incipiente (Barcelona 1956). p. delhaye, Pierre Lombard: Sa vie, ses oeuvres, sa morale (Paris 1961). n. espenberger, Die Philosophie des Petrus Lombardus (Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters 3.5; Münster 1901). j. schneider, Die Lehre vom dreieinigen Gott in der Schule des Petrus Lombardus (Munich 1961). j. schupp, Die Gnadenlehre des Petrus Lombardus (Freiburg 1932). e. f. rogers, Peter Lombard and the Sacramental System (New York 1917). v. doucet, Commentaires sur les Sentences (Quaracchi-Florence 1954).

[i. c. brady]

Peter Lombard

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Peter Lombard

The Italian theologian Peter Lombard (ca. 1095-1160) wrote "The Sentences, " a work that became the standard textbook on theology in European universities for 400 years.

Peter Lombard was born at Lumellogno in the region of Novara in northern Italy. After a period of study at Bologna or Vercelli, he crossed the Alps to France in 1134 and went to Reims to study under a fellow countryman, Lutolph of Novara, who held a prominent position in the cathedral school at Reims. Lutolph had previously been a student of Anselm of Laon, and in his teaching he continued the exegetical traditions of the school of Laon, which concentrated on the interpretation of Scripture through the sayings of the Church Fathers.

After studying under Lutolph for 2 or 3 years, Lombard moved to Paris, where he may have attended at SteGeneviève the lectures of Peter Abelard, a long-standing enemy of Lutolph. During the next 5 years Lombard wrote his commentaries on the Psalms and on the Letters of St. Paul, both of which were soon used in the schools. About 1140 Lombard received his license to teach and he probably remained in Paris, where in 1144 he became a canon of the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

Lombard's reputation as a theologian grew rapidly, and he seems to have developed a friendship with Bernard of Clairvaux. At the Council of Reims in 1148, Pope Eugenius III named Lombard to a commission to study the writings of the leading theologian of the school of Chartres, Gilbert de la Porrée, who was then the bishop of Poitiers. Although Lombard seems to have favored a condemnation, one was not forthcoming, and he continued in his writings the struggle against what he considered suspicious doctrine. Following a journey to Rome in 1153 and the reward of a prebend at Beauvais, he continued his teaching at Paris, where, before 1156, he became the archdeacon of the Cathedral.

Lombard's greatest theological work, The Sentences, was completed in 1157 or 1158. It not only was a summary of Christian doctrine but was critical of positions taken by Gilbert de la Porrée. The work is a compilation of the sayings of the Fathers, especially of St. Augustine, on the major aspects of Christian dogma. However, it is not a mere collection of authorities but an attempt to group the most important theological statements from the sources around particular problems. Lombard made an effort to harmonize seemingly conflicting statements and constructed the outlines of a solution. But the solutions offered were not of a kind to end discussion but rather to stimulate it and to channel it within orthodox and, hopefully, fruitful lines. The form of Lombard's work was not unique but was based on De fide orthodoxa of St. John of Damascus and the Sentences of St. Isidore of Seville, and it was similar to Gratian's Decretum.

The content of Lombard's Sentences covers most of Christian theology, moving from the nature of God and the Trinity at the beginning, through the doctrine of creation and Christology, to the Church, the Sacraments, and the Final Judgment. The theological bias is Augustinian, and Lombard was particularly concerned with the question of man's salvation and the nature of the moral act. He tried to maintain a strong concept of the freedom of man while stressing the omnipotence of God and the absolute need for grace.

Within 2 years after its completion, students were writing commentaries on the Sentences, and the work was made a major theological source by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. In 1159, after the death of Bishop Thibault, Lombard was elected bishop of Paris. He died there the following year on August 21.

Further Reading

There is no full-length study of the life and thought of Lombard in English. Lombard's teaching on the Sacraments is examined in Elizabeth Frances Rogers, Peter Lombard and the Sacramental System (1917). □

Lombard, Peter

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Lombard, Peter

Peter Lombard (c. 1555–1625), theologian and historian, archbishop of Armagh, was born in Waterford the son of a city merchant. He attended the grammar school of Peter White at Kilkenny and studied with the historian William Camden in London. He moved then to Louvain, where he studied theology and graduated in 1575 as "primus universitatis," the leading scholar of his year. Having attained a doctorate in 1594 and taught with distinction at Louvain, Lombard went to Rome in 1598 to represent the interests of his university at the papal court. He was to spend the rest of his life there.

In his early years at Rome he became deeply involved as the agent of Hugh O'Neill, earl of Tyrone, who was championing the defense of Roman Catholicism in Ireland. To further O'Neill's campaign he wrote De insulae Hiberniae commentarius (Commentary on the island of Ireland) in 1600 (unpublished until 1632) to contextualize for Pope Clement VIII O'Neill's rebellion and to argue the case for the excommunication of those who refused to help him. Unlike the majority of his fellow Old Englishmen, he urged strenuously the transfer of the sovereignty of Ireland from Queen Elizabeth to a Catholic monarch, ideally a Spanish Habsburg. In constructing his case, Lombard presented a most persuasive vision of Ireland as a potentially rich and viable Catholic nation. It was due to his closeness to O'Neill that Lombard was appointed archbishop of Armagh in 1601, a post he held until his death in 1625, though he never resided in his diocese.

Thereafter, Lombard's interests centered on theological issues and the advocacy of Tridentine renewal in Ireland. As a leading Vatican theologian, he adjudicated on matters concerning grace, the heliocentric theories of Galileo, the Roman church and churches of the eastern rite, and the question of church-state relations. In respect to the last, his position had changed since 1600: in 1616 he was prepared to countenance a heretic as monarch as long as tolerance of Catholicism was assured. This was particularly relevant to Ireland as he became reconciled to the monarchy of James I. Lombard played a crucial role in promoting the Counter-Reformation in Ireland. He advised the Curia on the appointment of Irish bishops, arguing strongly for a resident episcopacy. His foresight is demonstrated by his concern for the establishment of an Irish College at Rome, though this was not fully accomplished until after his death.

SEE ALSO Council of Trent and the Catholic Mission; English Political and Religious Policies, Responses to (1534–1690)


O'Connor, Thomas. "Peter Lombard's Commentarius (1600): Ireland as a European Catholic State." In Irish Migrants in Europe after Kinsale, 1602–1820, edited by Thomas O'Connor and Marian Lyons. 2002.

Silke, J. J. "Later Relations between Primate Peter Lombard and Hugh O'Neill." Irish Theological Quarterly 22 (1955): 15–30.

Silke, J. J. "Primate Lombard and James I." Irish Theological Quarterly 22 (1955): 124–150.

Colm Lennon

Peter Lombard

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Peter Lombard (c.1100–60). Christian theologian. Born in Lombardy, after studying in Italy, he went to Reims, and then to Paris where he taught from c.1134. In 1159 he became bishop of Paris. His chief work, the Sentences, was written 1155–8. It became the standard textbook of theology during the Middle Ages, commented on by nearly every theologian of repute.