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Gilbert Crispin


Benedictine monk at bec, abbot of westminster, 1085; d. c. 1117. Gilbert was in frequent contact with St. anselm and, while maintaining his intellectual independence, was deeply influenced by him. While in London with Anselm, probably during the winter (109293), he met a Jew of Mainz. This meeting occasioned the writing of the Disputatio Iudaei et Christiani, his most important work. He wrote also various other historical and doctrinal works, particularly De simoniacis, De Spiritu Sancto, De casu diaboli, De anima, and the Disputatio Christiani cum gentili. He is the author also of a sermon for Palm Sunday, two conferences on The Three Marys of the Gospel, and another on The Monastic Life and Profession. He was a skilled writer, more at ease in Biblical exegesis and in the handling of commonsense argumentation than in philosophical speculation. We are indebted to him for a better understanding of Anselm's influence on his environment, his friends, and disciples. In his De anima, Gilbert tried to complete the ideas of his master on a subject that Anselm had hoped one day to elaborate. His writings, especially those in which he intervened in controversy with the Jews, give an ideaand this is their principal interestof the intellectual milieu in which Anselm wrote the Cur Deus homo, as well as of the kind of problems he wished to resolve.

Bibliography: Gilbert Crispin's works are in part unedited. Critical ed. of Vita Herluini in j. a. robinson, Gilbert Crispin (Cambridge, Eng. 1911) 87110; Patrologia Latina 150:695714; De nobili Crispinorum genere, Patrologia Latina 150:735744; Disputatio Christiani cum gentili, ed. c. c. j. webb, Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies 3 (1954) 5577; Disputatio Iudaei et Christiani, ed. b. blumenkranz (Utrecht 1956). Minor works ed. in part or completely by Robinson, op. cit. and r. w. southern, in Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies 3 (1954) 99115. The letter on monastic life, ed. j. leclercq, Analecta monastica 2 (1953) 118123. Literature. r. w. southern, Saint Anselm and His Biographer (New York 1963). j. leclercq, "Une Doctrine de la vie monastique dans l'école du Bec," Spicilegium Beccense 1 (1959) 477488. s. g. a. luff, "Norman Sense and Sensibility: Abbot Gilbert Crispin at Westminster," Wiseman Review 235 (1961) 374384.

[j. leclercq]

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