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week2.Thakkar - Math in Theology.pdf

week2.Thakkar - Math in Theology.pdf - T H E OX FOR D H A N...

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THE OXFORD HANDBOOK OF THE HISTORY OF MATHEMATICS Edited by Eleanor Robson and Jacqueline Stedall 1
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A ll would-be historians of medieval mathematics must ask themselves where to look for their subject matter. One obvious place to start would be in works with promising titles; approaching the Latin fourteenth century in this way, one might investigate Bradwardine’s Arithmetica speculativa , Geometria speculativa , and De proportionibus velocitatum in motibus , Swineshead’s Liber calculationum , Oresme’s De proportionibus proportionum , and so on. 1 But this method, for all its initial merits, has limited scope. is chapter explores a less obvious source of material: commentaries on a theological textbook called the Sententiae in quat- tuor libris distinctae , ‘Sentences divided into four books’. e ‘Sentences’, a compilation of authoritative opinions from the Church Fathers and later theologians, was put together in the 1150s by Peter Lombard, a master at the cathedral school of Notre Dame. 2 Its originality lay solely in its 1. ere is a brief dramatis personae at the end of this chapter; basic biobibliographical information on almost all of these characters can be found in Gracia and Noone (2003). On obviously mathematical works like those just mentioned, see the chapters by Mahoney (145–178) and Murdoch and Sylla (206–264) in Lindberg (1978), and the new studies in Biard and Rommevaux (2008). 2. Lombard divided the Sententiae into short chapters but in the 1220s it was divided thematically into lar- ger sections called distinctiones ‘distinctions’ (Lombard 1971, I 137–144). e Latin text is edited in Lombard (1971); Books I and II are now translated in Lombard (2007; 2008); for an overview, see Rosemann (2004). On the sententiae genre, see Teeuwen (2003, 336–339). On the commentary tradition, see the studies in Evans (2002); for its development into the fourteenth century, see Friedman (2002b). CHAPTER 7.2 Mathematics in fourteenth-century theology Mark akkar
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interactions and interpretations 620 selective arrangement of extant material, but its importance for the history of Western thought can scarcely be overstated. It is not simply that it became an enormously popular textbook, or that it earned its author a portrayal as one of Beatrice’s crowning lights in Paradiso X (106–108). It is rather that in the thir- teenth century it was increasingly used by theologians as a matrix for their own lectures, giving rise to a proli c commentary tradition that lasted for over three hundred years. Still, the reader might be forgiven for thinking that little of interest to his- torians of mathematics could possibly be found in commentaries, however original, on a theological textbook. It would be as well to address such misgiv- ings with some preliminary remarks on the context in which such works were produced.
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