Alex J. Novikoff, The Medieval Culture of Disputation. Pedagogy, Practice, and Performance. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia 2013, 336 pp. ISBN 9780812245387. US$ 89.95; £ 58.50.In this fresh and ambitious study of the medieval practice of disputation, Alex J. Novikoff seeks to shed light on an ancient custom that became entrenched in medieval thought and culture. While there have been books on medieval disputatio before, the present work offers a welcome and more appreciative tone than many earlier and more negative perspectives. Still pervading within many segments of scholarship is the myth that scholastic debate was preoccupied with useless forays into the abstract, as seen in its most familiar caricature of a disputant engaging the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin—a caricature likely of early modern and humanist origin. Into this quagmire, The Medieval Culture of Disputation comes and redresses such myths of Renaissance and Enlightenment promulgators that are frequently reasserted in popular lore. Novikoff does this by tracing the ancestry of disputatio to the ancient Greek and Socratic traditions through to the refinements and Christianization of such thinkers as Anselm of Bec to the irrefutable legacy of Thomas Aquinas and thirteenth-century Jewish-Christian debate culture. In
Church History and Religious Culture (formerly Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis) – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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