Simon of Tournai, On the Incarnation of Christ: Institutiones in sacram paginam 7.1–67

Edited and translated by
Christopher P. Evans

Studies and Texts 211, Mediaeval Law and Theology 9. 2017. xiv + 188 pp. ISBN 978-0-88844-211-6 • Cloth • $80

Simon of Tournai was a theological master who flourished in the Paris of the 1160s and enjoyed considerable renown. Composed between 1160 and 1165, Simon’s Institutiones in sacram paginam is among the earliest treatments of the Incarnation after the Sentences of Peter Lombard (ca. 1157/8). In it, Simon provided precise and lucid treatments of fundamental topics regarding the person of the incarnate Christ. Indeed, the Institutiones has proved an important witness to the development of Christology in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries and had a strong and lasting influence on the theology of the Middle Ages.

According to the chronicles of Matthew Paris, Simon was an outstanding teacher gifted with a remarkable memory; after teaching the liberal arts for ten years, he lectured in theology and quickly amassed a large audience. Scribes in three thirteenth-century manuscripts declare him “a celebrated doctor of Paris” and his work “very famous.” Simon’s theological insights found their way into the writings of William of Auxerre, Peter of Poitiers, Alan of Lille, Radulphus Ardens, Peter of Capua, and Albert the Great among others. Modern masters have corroborated this legacy: in his study of scholastic method, Martin Grabmann believed Simon showed great individuality of thought, and Jacques Le Goff considered him one of the pioneers in the development of the concept of purgatory.

This first critical edition with translation of the questions on the incarnate Christ from the Institutiones aims to make Simon’s Christology accessible to a range of readers. The introduction surveys the life and writings of Simon, details the theological debates of the twelfth century and Simon’s place in them, and analyzes the sources and reach of his rich treatment of the union of human and divine natures in the person of Christ. The extensive and detailed notes to the text bring to bear a wealth of additional Latin materials, much of it still unedited, with a view to situating Simon’s theories within their historical and doctrinal contexts. The volume will be of interest to scholars and students interested in early scholastic theology, and in particular in the deepening Christological controversies that came to animate the period.


Christopher P. Evans is Professor of Theology and Dean in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of St Thomas in Houston, Texas. His publications include an edition and translation of The Questions on the Sacraments from the Speculum uniuersale of Radulphus of Ardens (2010) and editions of Vita sancti Ruperti confessoris and Vita sancti Dysibodi episcopi in Hildegard of Bingen, Two Hagiographies (2016). He is a member of the editorial board of Victorine Texts in Translation, and also editor of the seventh volume in the series, Victorine Christology: A Selection of Works of Hugh of St Victor, Achard of St Victor, and Robert of Melun (forthcoming).


“While studies and translations of Peter Lombard and the Victorines of the twelfth century abound, there are few studies and even fewer reliably edited and translated texts of the other speculative minds of the period. This gap has only served to impoverish our understanding of the development of theology in the high Middle Ages. While it builds on earlier scholarship on the subject, much of it also published by the Pontifical Institute, Christopher Evans’s study goes further by providing us for the first time with an edition, translation, and historical introduction to a key section of the Institutiones in sacram paginam of Simon of Tournai. While this section of Simon’s twelfth-century summa examines a range of theories and controversies, its central concern is an analysis of Peter Lombard’s three opinions regarding the hypostatic union in the third book of his Sentences. Evans’s introduction guides us through the intricacies of the discussion as well as its wider historical context, and provides a formidable array of textual sources and analogues, many of them previously unedited and largely inaccessible. The volume as a whole is a fitting successor to seminal studies by Nicholas M. Häring and Lauge Olaf Nielsen of twelfth-century Christology and of its elaboration in the early thirteenth century as detailed in the work of Walter Principe.” — Joshua C. BensonThe Catholic University of America


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