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Clarenbaud of Arras


French scholastic, representative of the school of Chartres; fl. 1130 to 1170. He studied at Paris under hugh of saint-victor and thierry of chartres probably in the late 1130s. From at least 1152 until 1156 he was provost of the church of Arras. "Summoned" to direct the schools by Walter II of Mortagne, Bishop of Laon from 1155 to 1174, he went to Laon, probably in 1160. He did not teach there for long, but returned to Arras, where he was made archdeacon by Andrew, bishop of Arras (116173). He is known to have been alive in the 1170s, for he possessed some relics of St. Thomas becket, who died in 1170.

Although Clarenbaud taught philosophy, he is best known for his theological writings. Many monks turned to him, complaining that they were unable to understand the commentary on Boethius's De Trinitate written by gilbert de la porrÉe. At their repeated and "sacred requests" he agreed to write a commentary of his own, relying mainly on the lectures of his two "venerable teachers." In his lucid and polished commentary on De Trinitate, he severely criticized abelard and Gilbert de la Porrée. He accused Abelard of sabellianism and claimed that he had read "many childish, ridiculous and damnable things" in Abelard's Theologia (De Trin. 1.38). More frequently he criticized Gilbert not only for errors and heresies, but also for a deliberately involved and obscure style. He strongly rejected Gilbert's assertion that the divine persons "differ by number," and admitted only a certain "otherness" among the persons (De Trin. 3.3536).

At a later date Clarenbaud wrote a commentary on the third of Boethius's tracts, De hebdomadibus, and a Tractatulus on the opening chapter of Genesis. In all his writings he relied heavily on Thierry of Chartres without simply plagiarizing him. In addition to a polished style and lucid presentation of doctrine, Clarenbaud's writings reveal a vast knowledge of Christian and non-Christian literature.

Since for Clarenbaud ignorance of creation leads to heresies, he carefully analyzed the notion of creation as a transition from nonbeing to being. The first movement of created being marks the beginning of time. Creatures are composed of primeval matter and seminal causes. Primeval matter is absolute potency (possibilitas absoluta ), itself formless, containing every nature in a possible state. A seminal cause is a hidden power implanted by God in the four elements. Only God, or "Absolute Necessity," can operate on primeval matter, giving it forms that determine the nature of "defined potency" (possibilitas definita ). From Absolute Necessity descends "the necessity of combination or concatenation" (necessitas concatenationis ). Thus all things existed in the divine wisdom in undeveloped simplicity. They unfold and descend from the eternally One in a predetermined order and are, as it were, produced in concatenated and interwoven steps. He points out that St. augustine and pythagoras present the same doctrine in different terms.

Bibliography: n. m. haring, Life and Works of Clarembald of Arras (Studies and Texts 10; Toronto 1965). w. jansen, Der Kommentar des Clarenbaldus von Arras zu Boethius 'De Trinitate' (Breslauer Studien zur historischen Theologie 8; Breslau 1926) 26105. É. h. gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (New York 1955) 149150, 623. a. tognolo, Enciclopedia filosofica (Venice-Rome 1957) 1:1074.

[n. m. haring]

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