Thomas Bradwardine

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English theologian, mathematician, and precursor of modern science, honored under the scholastic title of Doctor profundus; b. Bradwardine?, near Hertford, c. 1300; d. Lambeth, Aug. 26, 1349. He received his training in the arts and theology at Oxford, earning the B.A. before Aug. 2, 1321, and the M.A. c. 1323. First a fellow of Balliol College, he transferred to Merton College where he remained fellow from 1323 to 1335, when he joined the learned circle of richard of bury. He was proctor of the university from 1325 to 1327. In 1337 he was made chancellor of St. Paul's, London, and from 1339 served as chaplain and confessor to Edward III. In 1348 he was elected archbishop of canterbury, but Edward refused to ratify the election. When the new incumbent died shortly after taking office, Bradwardine was consecrated archbishop at Avignon, July 19, 1349.

During his regency in arts, Bradwardine's interests were chiefly mathematical and scientific. From this period come his Arithmetica speculativa (Valencia 1503), Geometria speculativa (Paris c. 1530), and the Tractatus de proportionibus (Paris 1481; new text and tr. by H. L. Crosby, Madison, Wisconsin 1955).

But Bradwardine's chief claim to fame rests upon his theological works, which include De futuris contingentibus [partial ed. B. M. Xiberta in Festschrift für M. Grabman (Münster 1935) 116980], Sermo Epinicius, and the famous De causa Dei contra Pelagium et de virtute causae causarum ad suos Mertonenses (ed. H. Savile, London 1618). The De causa Dei, Bradwardine's chief work covering nearly 900 folio pages, is a kind of summa, but it lacks the comprehensiveness of its antecedents, being concerned mostly with the burning issues of the day: grace, merit, predestination, God's knowledge of future contingents, and man's freedom. It is a sustained attack directed principally against the views of some influential 14th-century theologians whom Bradwardine calls the "modern Pelagians" (tentatively identifiable as durandus of saint-pourÇain, william of ockham, robert holcot, thomas of buckingham, and adamwodham).

In his fight against these theologians, Bradwardine takes up the cause of God's sovereignty. He opposes the exaggerated independence granted to man, stating that "God is the necessary coproducer (coeffector ) of every act of the created will" (De causa Dei 540). In all created activity, the action or movement of God is "naturally prior"; "in a sense, God necessitates every created will to elicit its own free act" (ibid. 646), yet the will remains free. "God wills," he says, "that man's will should not be forced or impeded by any necessity in its willing and not willing" (637). Throughout the work Bradwardine stresses the necessity of created grace: for him, the habit of grace and the will are the efficient cause of every good and meritorious work (364). He stresses too the need of good works (318). In the quarrel over future contingents, he defends the certainty and immutability of God's knowledge and human freedom (685). He regards Holcot's suggestion that Christ could have been deceived about the future as blasphemous (785787).

Bradwardine is generally regarded as a theological determinist; this view has yet to be proved. Even more precarious is the thesis that he was a prereformer.

Bibliography: a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500 (Oxford 195759) 1:244246. g. leff, Bradwardine and the Pelagians (Cambridge, Eng. 1957). h. a. oberman, Archbishop Thomas Bradwardine, a 14th-Century Augustinian (Utrecht 1957). m. clagett, The Science of Mechanics in the Middle Ages (Madison, Wis. 1959).

[j. j. przezdziecki]

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Thomas Bradwardine

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