John Peckham (Pecham)

views updated


English Franciscan theologian, archbishop of Canterbury, known as Doctor ingeniosus; b. Patcham, Sussex, c. 122025; d. Mortlake Manor, Surrey, Dec. 8,1292. Peckham received his early schooling probably at Lewes, then studied at Paris in the faculty of arts (124550), possibly under roger bacon; he completed these studies at Oxford. Peckham entered the order in c. 1250 and returned to Paris, where he studied theology, becoming a master in 1269. If not an immediate disciple of bonaventure, Peckham was at least strongly influenced by his doctrines. With thomas aquinas, he took an active part in the poverty controversy.

While at Paris he wrote Tractatus pauperis (1270) and some of his quodlibets. Among his disciples was thomas of cantelupe, later bishop of Hereford. Peckham left Paris c. 127172 for Oxford, where he is said to have introduced the disputatio de quolibet. Chosen minister provincial of England in 1275, he participated in the general chapter of Padua (1276) and was made the first Franciscan Magister S. Palatii at Rome in 1277. During these years he tried to prevent "the spread of Averroism and thomism" [A. B. Emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 v. (Oxford 195759)].

On Jan. 28, 1279, he was elected archbishop of Canterbury and primate of England by nicholas iii, succeeding robert kilwardby. Peckham was noted for his zeal for ecclesiastical discipline and the rights of the Church. At Oxford on Oct. 29, 1284, he renewed the prohibitions issued by Kilwardby in 1277; on April 30, 1286, he condemned a number of opinions of richard knapwell. In 1290 he preached the Crusade.

Among Peckham's more than 50 writings are those on science and philosophy: Perspectiva communis, Summa de esse et essentia, and Tractatus de anima; on the Bible: Collectarium S. Bibliae IIV, Postilla Threnorum; on theology: In 1 sent. and Tractatus de Trinitate; numerous Quaestiones disputatae; and four quodlibets. On Franciscan spirituality Peckham is noted for three treatises on poverty: Tractatus pauperis, Tractatus de paupertate contra R. de Kilwardby OP, and Defensio fratrum mendicantium, a satiric poem of dubious authenticity. His liturgical and pastoral writings include Constitutiones provinciales of Reading and Lambeth; Acta episcopatus; Officium SS. Trinitatis, a poetic composition; and some religious hymns.

Peckham was one of the best representatives and defenders of augustinianism against the rising forces of aristotelianism. He taught the immediate evidence of the existence of God, approved the argument of anselm of canterbury, and denied the possibility of eternal creation. In psychology he accepted only a virtual distinction between the soul and its faculties, and held that immortality can be proved by irrefutable arguments. In addition, he accented the autodeterminism of the will and its primacy over the intellect. Peckham also disputed Thomas's notion of the unicity of the substantial form in man. In theology he taught the absolute primacy of Christ, a twofold real sonship in Christ, and the real identity of grace and charity. His Perspective communis was used as a textbook in optics in many universities, and his Office of the Trinity was widely adopted.

Bibliography: i. brady, "John Peckham and the Background of Aquinas' De Aeternitate Mundi," in Saint Thomas Aquinas 12741974 (Toronto 1974) 141178. d. l. douie, Archbishop Pecham (Oxford 1952). a. p. estevez, La Materia, de Avicena a la Escuela Franciscana (Avicena, Averroes, Tomas de Aquino, Buenaventura, Pecham, Marston, Olivo, Mediavilla, Duns Escoto) (Maracaibo, Venezuela 1998).

[a. emmen]