Durandus of Saint-Pourçain
DURANDUS OF SAINT-POURÇAIN
Dominican bishop and scholastic theologian; b. Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule, Auvergne, France, c. 1275; d. Meaux, France, Sept. 10, 1334.
Life. At the age of 19 he entered the Dominican Order at Clermont for the province of France. By 1303 he was assigned to Saint-Jacques, Paris to study theology at the university. The first version of his commentary on the Sentences of peter lombard was written when he was a bachelor (1307–08), possibly under the influence of james of metz. In these lectures he strongly opposed certain views of thomas aquinas, whom the Dominican Order had in 1286 commanded its members to study, promote, and defend. In 1309 the general chapter of the order insisted more strongly that all lectors, assistants, and students adhere faithfully to Thomistic teaching. At Paris the views of Durandus were immediately attacked by harvey nedellec and peter of la palu. Consequently between 1310 and 1313 Durandus revised his commentary, mitigating many previous statements and omitting the most offensive passages; this was neither satisfactory to the order nor in accord with his own convictions. Nevertheless in 1312 he obtained permission to incept in theology as master, succeeding Yves of Caen (fl. 1303–14). Before completing his first year of teaching, 1312–13, he was called to Avignon by clement v to lecture in the papal Curia, succeeding william of peter of godin, who was created cardinal. Toward the end of 1313 the Dominican Master General, Berengar of Landorra (c. 1262–1330), appointed a theological commission headed by Harvey Nedellec to examine the writings of Durandus. Out of 93 questionable propositions extracted from the first and second redactions of Durandus's commentary on the Sentences, 91 were censured by the commission. Writing from Avignon in 1314, Durandus replied in his Excusationes. Between 1314 and 1317 he was continuously attacked in Paris by Harvey Nedellec. john of naples, James of Lausanne (fl. 1303–22), Guy Terreni (c. 1260–1342), and Gerard of Bologna (d. 1317). Durandus replied to these attacks in three series of disputations De quolibet [Quodlibet avenionensia tria (ed. P. T. Stella, Rome 1965)], held at Avignon, inveighing against "certain idiots" who charge him with Pelagianism (see pela gius and pelagianism).
On Aug. 26, 1317, Durandus was appointed first bishop of Limoux, formerly a part of the Archdiocese of Narbonne; this diocese was suppressed on Feb. 13, 1318, when Durandus was named bishop of Le Puy en Velay, a diocese under the immediate jurisdiction of the pope. When Durandus attempted to enforce certain disciplinary decrees on the cathedral canons, whom he eventually excommunicated, he exceeded his jurisdiction. john xxii then appointed him bishop of Meaux.
Although he was appointed to a commission of six theologians to examine 56 propositions taken from the commentary on the Sentences by william of ockham, Durandus's name is absent from the final document censuring 51 of these propositions. Earlier historians saw in this absence proof of sympathy for Ockham and a refusal to participate in the condemnation. J. Koch, however, has given a simpler explanation: Durandus had left for Meaux before the process was completed.
Between 1317 and 1327 Durandus, free from jurisdiction of the Dominican Order, prepared a third and final version of his commentary of the Sentences. In the conclusion (Venice 1571, fol. 423r) he expressed regret that the first version had been circulated outside the order against his wishes, "before it had been sufficiently corrected" by him. He added that only this new version was to be recognized as edited and approved by him. Nevertheless, although he came closer in parts of this version to the "common teaching" of the schools, much was taken verbatim from the first draft and from the first Avignon Quodlibet. The final version, completed in 1327, abounded in compromises and contradictions.
In the jurisdictional dispute between John XXII and Philip VI of France, Durandus sided with the pope. For the parley at Vincennes between the two factions (1328) he composed a treatise of three questions, De origine potestatum et jurisdictionum quibus populus regitur. It was used extensively by the pope's spokesman for the occasion, Peter Bertrandi, Bishop of Autun, who published it with an additional question as his own composition after the death of Durandus.
Consulted by John XXII concerning the beatific vision for the just prior to the Last Judgment, Durandus composed his reply in 1333, De visione Dei quam habent animae sanctorum ante judicium generale. Displeased with the reply, John promptly submitted it to a theological commission, which found 11 objectionable statements (Chart UnParis 2:418). Although John retracted his private opinion on his deathbed and benedict xii vindicated Durandus in two treatises explicitly relating to him, Durandus did not live to see the vindication. He was buried in his cathedral church of St. Martin of Tours, his tomb being marked only with three bells on a Gothic shield.
Characteristic Teaching. In general Durandus was an orthodox theologian, although he was far from being a Thomist. In philosophical questions he manifested an independence of spirit more influenced by augustine and bonaventure than by aristotle and Aquinas. He has often been called a nominalist and precursor of Ockham, but the similarities are only incidental. At least there was no direct influence of one on the other.
Besides denying the real distinction between essence and existence in creatures, as did also Harvey Nedellec, Durandus rejected the reality of mental species and any real distinction between agent and possible intellect (see essence and existence; intellect). For Durandus, the mind is essentially active and necessarily related to things as they physically exist without the mediation of impressed or expressed species (see species, intentional). For him only individuals exist, receiving their individuality not from matter, but from the efficient cause exclusively (see individuation). Since the human intellect directly perceives individual realities, the apparent universality of ideas is a deceptive fabrication. Striving to avoid idealism and exaggerated realism, he emphasized the direct perception of individual existents (see universals).
Durandus insisted, as did many of his contemporaries, that theology could not be a true science (scientia ) in the strict sense of the term, for this would detract from the merit of faith, which adheres to revealed truths even though their contradictories cannot be proved false. In discussing the question of free will and grace, Durandus refused to acknowledge the universal causality of God's efficacious grace in human actions: God "is the cause of free actions only insofar as He creates and conserves free will" (In two sent. 37.1). The sacraments, according to Durandus, produce grace only as occasions and not as instrumental efficient causes; nor do they produce any real or permanent quality in the soul (In four sent. 4.5). He considered it probable that matrimony is not a Sacrament in the true sense of the word, but only an institution of natural law (In four sent. 26.3). Concerning the eucharist he believed that by God's absolute power (potentia absoluta ) Christ could be present in the Eucharist together with the substance of bread and wine (In four sent. 11.1; see transubstantiation).
Influence. The prestige of Durandus was considerable in the later Middle Ages. In the 15th and 16th centuries theologians continued to read him and quote him, favorably and unfavorably. Many later Thomists, notably John capreolus, attacked the doctrines of Durandus vigorously. However, many editions of his commentary on the Sentences (3d version) were printed, beginning with the Paris edition of 1508. At some universities, Salamanca for example, "the chair of Durandus" rivaled that of St. Thomas and that of duns scotus. His was the chair of nominalism. At some late date an unknown quipster penned an epitaph for Durandus's tomb: "Here lies the hard Durandus beneath this hard slab. Should he be burned? I don't know nor do I care." Some historians believe that Durandus influenced Gabriel biel, Martin lu ther, and later Reformers.
Bibliography: j. quÉtif and j. Échard, Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum (New York 1959) 1.2:586–587. j. koch, Durandus de S. Porciano, O.P. (Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters 26.1; 1927); "Jakob von Metz, O.P., der Lehrer des Durandus de S. Porciano, O.P.," Archives d'histoire doctrinale et littéraire du moyen-âge 4 (1929–30) 169–233. p. fournier, "Durand de saint Pourçain," Histoire littéraire de la France 37 (1938) 1–38. p. glorieux, Répetoire des maîitres en théologie de Paris au XIII e siècle (Paris 1933–34) 1:214–220; La Litterature quodlibétique (Paris 1935) 2:70–75. É. h. gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages Copleston 3. j. mÜller, "Quaestionen der ersten Redaktion von I und II Sent. des Durandus de S. Porciano in einer Hs. der Biblioteca Antoniana in Padua," Divus Thomus 19 (1941) 435–440. e. bettoni, Enciclopedia filosofica 1:1767–68. b. decker, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (Freiburg 1957–65) 3:612. f. stegmÜller, Repertorium commentariorum in Sententias Petri Lombardi (Würzburg 1947) 1:192–198. h. a. oberman, The Harvest of Medieval Theology: Gabriel Biel and Late Medieval Nominalism (Cambridge, Mass. 1963).
[j. a. weisheipl]