Introduction and Translation by Aaron Gies
Alexander of Hales, called “the irrefutable doctor and prince of theologians” by Pope Alexander IV, taught theology at Paris from ca. 1220-21 until his death in 1245. Upon his conversion to the Order of Friars Minor in 1236, he became the first Franciscan to hold a theology chair at the University of Paris, teaching influential friars such as Odo Rigaldus, William of Middleton, John of Parma, and probably Bonaventure, who called him “my master and father.”
This volume contains the first English translation of Alexander’s short treatise on biblical interpretation. Probably written in the later 1220s or early 1230s for the use of advanced theology students, On the Significations and Exposition of the Holy Scriptures reveals the hermeneutical methods of the first Franciscan Master, who was renowned for his biblical lectures. Gathering interpretative tools from the works of Augustine, Tyconius, Gregory the Great, Jerome, Hugh of St. Victor, Peter Comestor, Aristotle, Boethius and others, the work offers a concise introduction to the art of theological interpretation as practiced in the early university.
On the Significations is known to survive in only two manuscripts, and was only authenticated and edited in 2009, by Aleksander Horowski. Yet its influence in the medieval period may have been broader than its survival suggests. Denis the Carthusian, writing about 1434, quotes extensively from it. Now that it has been rediscovered by specialists, Aaron Gies’s introduction and extensive notes aim to make the text accessible to any reader interested in medieval ways of reading and interpreting Scripture.
Aaron Gies holds a PhD in historical and systematic theology and an MA in medieval studies from The Catholic University of America. His research focuses on early Franciscan theology, especially in exegetical contexts. His dissertation, “Alexander of Hales on the Gospel of John: An Epitome of Sacra Doctrina” (2017), concerns the nature of theology in Alexander’s unpublished John commentary. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife and son.
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