His commentary exists in several versions. The standard version is the Ordinatio also known as the Opus oxoniense , a revised version of lectures he gave as a bachelor at Oxford. The initial revision was probably begun in the summer of — see the remarks in the Prologue, question 2, alluding to the Battle of Wadi al-Khazandar in , news of which probably reached Oxford in the summer of It was still incomplete when Scotus left for Paris in The original lectures were also transcribed and recently published as the Lectura.
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He served as the primary translator-conduit for ideas from the great Greek Christian minds of the Middle-East and Near-East to come into Europe. This mystical panentheism allows God to be truly God, utterly free of all limiting human notions of space-time, distinct entities, finite relationships and other constraints which have more to do with ignorant human conceptions than the actual Divine nature. No souls including the souls of animals and the demon-souls would be left out of this grand return, no one would be damned to suffer forever in hell or wither away into oblivion, as too many Christian theologians and ministers have taught then and now.
This view is also radically nondual. God is that from which all things originate, that in which all things participate, and that to which all things eventually return. Periphyseon III. Eriugena illustrates this conception of God as the source of all division and the end of all resolution using the example of the monad the number one as the source of all numbers The apparent duality of all natura [nature, in the broadest sense of God, souls, world] is the result of deficient human understanding In God, there can be no duality; beginning and end have no temporal reality but are simultaneous and can, therefore, be reduced to a unity.
Eriugena makes one further bold step The whole of reality, then, is God since God is source, sustainer, and end God remains transcendentally above all things. Augustine bishop of Hippo, North Africa, d. Anselm archbishop of Canterbury, d.
Almost everything we can say about Eriugena [regarding the facts and details of his life] can be questioned: we do not know precisely when he was born, and he is no longer heard of after Eriugena was likely fleeing the destructive Viking raids ravaging his homeland from around the turn of the 9th century onward. After first working as a teacher of liberal arts grammar, dialectics, etc.
Under his leadership, the Palatine School flourished and grew famous. One tradition has it that toward the end of his life he went to Britain to become Abbot of Malmesbury in southern England. William of Malmesbury, who makes this claim, goes on to say that his students stabbed him fatally with their pens. Scholars wonder whether this is to be taken literally or figuratively. But this bizarre story probably pertains to another "John of Ireland" entirely.
It is much more likely that Eriugena stayed in France and died, according to some evidence, around Eriugena was either a simple monk or a lay deacon he wrote at least one sermon that we know about , but he was of no special rank in the church hierarchy. Nevertheless, while in France during the productive period of his life, through his erudition he led a colony of a dozen Irish scholars and monks, most of them refugees, among a group of fifty or so international scholars who had come to the imperial court of Charlemagne and his heirs.
To read his De Divisione Naturae The Division of Nature [also called the Periphyseon] after immersion in the [European] folk literature we have been reading is a shocking experience: one is back in the world of Plato. Here is a mind that could grasp the most rarefied distinctions of the Greek philosophical tradition and, far more important, could elaborate a new system of thought, one that is balanced and internally consistent.
In Scotus there is no useful distinction between natural and supernatural Some, obviously, escaped the bonfire. But in the age of John Scotus Eriugena, Christian churchmen did not burn books. Only barbarians did that. In this work he apparently articulated the idea that the Eucharist was merely symbolic or commemorative, a view for which later theologians were censured and condemned.
Alas, it pleased neither side of the debate and was condemned by two Church councils in and as not fully expressing the orthodox view.
Eriugena had dared to disagree with Augustine, denying the heavenly predestination of the elect souls. Yet the work contains beautiful theology, and it begins by claiming that true religion and true philosophy are one and the same.
The only hell, a temporary one though it may last aeons for some souls , is ignorance. God alone is the ever-lasting Real, the eternal Reality.
Around , Eriugena was invited by his good friend King Charles and Byzantine Emperor Michael to attempt a new and better translation of the key writings of Dionysius the Areopagite—the pseudonym of an anonymous Christian Neoplatonist monk writing hugely important tracts circa , probably in Syria, taking the name of a 1st century disciple of Paul.
Pseudo-Denys had also written some tracts on the via positiva or kataphatic way of praising God with positive attributes, but it was his apophatic works that were so mystically provocative. Pseudo-Dionysius claims that God is the affirmation of all things, the negation of all things, and beyond all affirmation and denial…. While that characterization is not entirely false, it could be said that Eriugena was simply trying to bring the diverse strands of Christian theology into agreement Eriugena often takes the side of a Greek father in preference to the priority of Augustine Despite the very powerful and formative influence of Augustine, Eriugena was more Greek than Latin in his approach to created reality and its relationship with Divine reality The concept of deification of human being becoming God , which Eriugena notes is more difficult for the Latins with the exception of Ambrose , is a very powerful Greek thematic in [his work] The ideas he drew on from the great Eastern [Christian] fathers opened a new window onto a fresh understanding of human and divine reality Few Western thinkers have dared to conceive of a metaphysical or theological analysis of reality that combines elements of both East and West The ideas elaborated in [his work] can be understood as a very powerful alternative to the views elaborated by Augustine and later by Aquinas.
A fragmentary Commentary on the Gospel of St. Eriugena also seems to have been very interested in music and medicine.
At times the alumnus is confused, shocked, surprised, bored, restless or doggedly questioning the nutritor until the point of discussion has been clarified to his satisfaction.
He had almost no contact with pagan Neoplatonism in general. Thomas Aquinas. God, the One, creates by self-emanation. Creation is a timeless, and hence on-going and always contemporary, event. Human nature is originally a Platonic Idea in the mind of God: human nature is a certain intellectual concept formed eternally in the mind of God Periphyseon, IV. It is to be found in Greek in St Irenaeus, in St. Augustine, e. There are several passages where Eriugena following St. Eriugena follows the Greek formulation of the Council of Nicaea NB: not the Latin version and the Greek Christian tradition specifically Maximus Confessor [c] in occasionally distinguishing between inhumanatio Greek: enanthropesis —the relation between the Second Person of the Trinity and human nature—and incarnatio Greek: sarkosis —the temporal becoming flesh of the Verbum in Jesus see for instance Periphyseon I.
Eriugena refers to the theosis or deification of human nature at Periphyseon I. God creates out of himself a se and all creation remains within him. According to Eriugena—who in this respect is following a tradition which includes Augustine and Boethius as well as Dionysius and other Greek authors—the Aristotelian categories are considered to describe only the created world and do not properly apply to God I.
Indeed Maximus Confessor had also commented on it…. He develops what I have elsewhere called the hyperphatic way of speaking about God so familiar from the words of Pseudo-Dionysius.
Since what can be said of God cannot be said properly, either affirmatively or negatively, Eriugena suggests that we use the prefixes super or plus quam. God is truth; God is not truth; God is more than truth.
Periphyseon IV. When Eriugena denies something of God, he is not saying that God is not that thing or is [merely] nothing but is saying that God is the no-thingness that, paradoxically, is everything The relentless and insistent manner in which Eriugena questions and casts suspicion on all linguistic and cognitive processes leads both word and thought to the very edge of their meaning before a further negation casts them into a new matrix of meaning, which itself will be subject to subsequent transformation He moves from darkness into the light, from self-ignorance [i.
The divine self-creation or self-manifestation I. Eriugena stresses both the divine transcendence above and immanence in creation. The immanence of God in the world is at the same time the immanence of creatures within God. Creatures however, as fallen, do not yet know that they reside in God. For both the creature, by subsisting, is in God; and God, by manifesting himself, in a marvelous and ineffable manner creates himself in the creature Human self-ignorance mirrors the divine self-ignorance; human incomprehensibility mirrors divine incomprehensibility.
This makes human nature share in infinity. In the thirteenth century, expressions such as these led to the accusation of heresy, i. Since God cannot be said to be anything, God cannot be simply identified with any or every creature either.
This is a Divine Reality so entirely Absolute not relative , so purely Subject-ive not an object or object-oriented , and so utterly paradoxical in qualities and capacities that the object-conditioned human mind, a product of relativity and dualistic logic, cannot satisfactorily conceptualize or grasp this True Nature.
Only the purest, non-objective Intuition, a nondual Knowing-by-Being, suffices here. But this corporeal body is not essential to human nature and in the return of all things to God, the body will be absorbed back into the spiritual body spirituale corpus and the spiritual body back to the mind mens.
The corporeal world will return to its incorporeal essence … as a definition in the mind V. There is a general return of all things to God. Corporeal things will return to their incorporeal causes, the temporal to the eternal, the finite will be absorbed in the infinite. The human mind will achieve reunification with the divine, and then the corporeal, temporal, material world will become essentially incorporeal, timeless, and intellectual.
God shall be all in all omnia in omnibus, V c. Eriugena as does Nicholas of Cusa gives a unique place to Christ in the outgoing and return of all things. Christ is the coming together of the divine and the created orders. Christ possesses all the perfections of human nature, since vir autem perfectus est Christus IV.
Eriugena recognizes that Christ is unique and that the individual is not collapsed into the universal, even in the return. However, a case can also be made for saying that Eriugena really intends his perfected human nature to possess divine attributes in a genuine way.
The argument turns on an answer to the following question: To what extent is man made in the image and likeness of God? From this we may conclude that man differs from God in subiecto, that is, there is solely a difference in number. But difference in number does not mean that God and man stand apart from each other as two identical billiard balls would occupy different places.
Neither God nor man is in space or time; both are incorporeal, and hence numerical difference, or difference in subject, can only have the Neoplatonic meaning that the first will always differ from what comes after the first. God is first, and hence man comes after. A second answer he gives is that God is creator and man is created, but since creation is self-manifestation, that amounts to saying no more than that God manifests himself fully in man.
God is the source of both dona [gifts of grace] and data [what are given in nature], both are revelations of the divine nature.
John Scottus Eriugena
In the manuscripts of the tenth and subsequent centuries the forms Eriugena, Ierugena, and Erigena occur. Of these, the oldest and most acceptable, philologically, is Eriugena, which, as it was perhaps sometimes written Eriygena, was changed into Erigena. It means "a native of Ireland ". The form Ierugena is evidently an attempt to connect the first part of the name with the Greek word hieros, and means "a native of the Island of Saints"; the combination Joannes Scotus Erigena cannot be traced beyond the sixteenth century.
John Scotus Eriugena
The form of exposition is that of dialogue ; the method of reasoning is the syllogism. The first is God as the ground or origin of all things; the second, Platonic ideas or forms; the third, phenomena , the material world; and the last is God as the final end or goal of all things, and that into which the world of created things ultimately returns. Just as He reveals Himself to the mind and the soul in higher intellectual and spiritual truth, so He reveals Himself to the senses in the created world around us. Creation is, therefore, a process of unfolding of the Divine Nature. The Division of Nature has been called the final achievement of ancient philosophy, a work which "synthesizes the philosophical accomplishments of fifteen centuries. Eriugena anticipates Thomas Aquinas , who said that one cannot know and believe a thing at the same time. Eriugena explains that reason is necessary to understand and interpret revelation.
John Scotus Erigena
He served as the primary translator-conduit for ideas from the great Greek Christian minds of the Middle-East and Near-East to come into Europe. This mystical panentheism allows God to be truly God, utterly free of all limiting human notions of space-time, distinct entities, finite relationships and other constraints which have more to do with ignorant human conceptions than the actual Divine nature. No souls including the souls of animals and the demon-souls would be left out of this grand return, no one would be damned to suffer forever in hell or wither away into oblivion, as too many Christian theologians and ministers have taught then and now. This view is also radically nondual. God is that from which all things originate, that in which all things participate, and that to which all things eventually return.