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Peter the Lombard 1100

Peter Lombard (c. 1100 Lumellogno Italy – d. July 20, 1160 in Paris) was a scholastic theologian and bishop of the 12th century.

Peter Lombard was born in Lumellogno, near Novara, Italy, to a poor family. His date of birth was likely between 1095 and 1100. Nothing is known for certain in regard to his origins, his social background, or his education as a youth. The first thirty years of Peter's life continue to be a blank in terms of history.

His education most likely began in Italy at the cathedral schools of Novara and Lucca. The patronage of Otto, bishop of Lucca, and of St. Bernard allowed him to leave Italy and further his studies at Reims and Paris. Lombard arrived in Paris in 1136.

There are no proven facts relating to his whereabouts in Paris until 1142 when he became recognized as writer and teacher. In Paris, he came into contact with Peter Abelard and Hugh of St. Victor, who were among the leading theologians of the time. Around 1145, Peter became a "magister," or professor, at the cathedral school of Notre Dame in Paris. Peter's means of earning a living before he began to derive income as a teacher and from his canon's prebend is shrouded in uncertainty.

Lombard's teaching gained quick acknowledegment. It can be surmised that this attention is what prompted the canons of Notre Dame to ask him to join their ranks. He was considered a celebrated theologian by 1144. The Parisian school of canons had not included among their number a theologian of high regard for some years. The canons of Notre Dame, to a man, were members of the Capetian house, relatives of family closely aligned to the Capetians by blood or marriage, scions of the Ile-de-France or eastern Loire Valley nobility, or relatives of royal officials. In contrast, Peter had no relatives, ecclesiastical connections, and no political patrons in France. It seems that he must have been invited by the canons of Notre Dame solely for his academic merit.

The date of Lombard's ordination to the priesthood is uncertain. He became a subdeacon in 1147. At the council of Rheims, and possibly at the consistory of Paris the year before, he took part as a theological expert. At some time after 1150 he beacame a deacon, then an archdeacon by 1156, or maybe as early as 1152. In 1159, he was named bishop of Paris. Peter was consecrated at the approximate time of the feast of SS. Peter and Paul, July 28, 1159.

His reign as bishop was brief. He died on either July 21 or 22, 1160. Little can be ascertained about Lombard's administrative style or objectives because he left behind so few episcopal acta. His epitaph and tomb lay in the church of St. Marcellus in Paris before it was destroyed during the French Revolution. The epitaph menitioned his fame as the author of the Four Books of Sentences and glosses on the Psalms and the Pauline epistles.

Peter Lombard's most famous work was "Libri quatuor sententiarum, the Book of Sentences. This served as the standard textbook of theology at the medieval universities, from the 1220s until the 16th century. There is no work of Christian literature, except for the Bible itself, that has been commented upon more frequently. All the major medieval thinkers, from Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas to William of Ockham and Gabriel Biel, were influenced by it. Even the young Martin Luther still wrote glosses on the "Sentences."

The Four Books of Sentences is a compilation of biblical texts, together with relevant passages from the Church Fathers and many medieval thinkers, on the entire field of Christian theology. Peter Lombard's genius consisted in the selection of passages, his attempt to reconcile them where they appeared to defend different viewpoints, and his arrangement of the material in a systematic order. Thus, the "Four Books of Sentences" starts with the Trinity in Book I, then moves on to creation in Book II, treats Christ, the savior of the fallen creation, in Book III, and deals with the sacraments, which mediate Christ's grace, in Book IV.

Peter Lombard's most famous and most controversial doctrine in the Sentences was his identification of charity with the Holy Spirit in Book I, distinction 17. According to this doctrine, when we love God and neighbor, this love literally is God; we become divine and are taken up into the life of the Trinity. This idea was never declared unorthodox, but few theologians have been prepared to follow Peter Lombard in his audacious teaching. Compare Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Deus Caritas Est, 2006.

Also in the Sentences was the doctrine that marriage was consentual (and need not be consummated to be considered perfect, unlike Gratian's analysis). Lombard's interpretation was later endorsed by pope Alexander III, and had a significant impact on Church interpretation of marriage.