Wayne J. Hankey

title.none: Hopkins and Richardson, transs., The Complete Philosophical and Theological Treatises of Anselm of Canterbury (Hankey)

identifier.other: baj9928.0106.004 01.06.04

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Wayne J. Hankey, Dalhousie University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2001

identifier.citation: Hopkins, Jasper and Herbert Richardson, transs. The Complete Philosophical and Theological Treatises of Anselm of Canterbury. Minneapolis: The Arthur J. Banning Press, 2000. Pp. vii, 560. $11.00. ISBN: 0-938-06037-6.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 01.06.04

Hopkins, Jasper and Herbert Richardson, transs. The Complete Philosophical and Theological Treatises of Anselm of Canterbury. Minneapolis: The Arthur J. Banning Press, 2000. Pp. vii, 560. $11.00. ISBN: 0-938-06037-6.

Reviewed by:

Wayne J. Hankey
Dalhousie University

Scissors and paste have made this volume. Translations by Hopkins and Richardson published earlier, five of which started as student assignments for a seminar at Harvard in the 1960s, and an introduction lifted from The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy have been put together. The translators claim that some of their work has been revised for this printing, but there is no other added value: no commentary or notes, no bibliography or index. Nor is it merely the contents which are only a result of addition. The title, and thus the concept, of the volume is of the same kind.

The book is presented as the complete philosophical and theological treatises of Anselm. But Hopkins admits (p. viii) "that Anselm made no express distinction between philosophy and theology". We can be certain that Anselm would be greatly puzzled to find himself described as a "philosopher" (p. xxxiii) and I can find nothing in the distinction between the two disciplines as it is made by Hopkins. For example, he describes the Proslogion as a "philosophical work" and the Cur Deus Homo as a "theological" one, apparently on the basis of the difference between their subjects. We may grant that a treatise which endeavours to demonstrate the necessity of the Incarnation is theological. However, a treatment of the existence, goodness and "whatever else we believe about the Divine Substance" would seem on the face of it to have at least an equal claim to be called theology. This is how the Proslogion describes its own content (p. 88). Both works proceed sola ratione, and "by necessary reasons" so it is not method which might distinguish them.

Further because "he endeavours to show that revealed truths can be established on a independent rational basis," Hopkins insists that Anselm is the "Father of Scholasticism" (p. xiii). But, as Hopkins recognises in respect to Aquinas, the Schoolmen did distinguish what reason could show and what must be revealed, and thus divided what philosophy can and cannot demonstrate from what revealed theology knows. This is exactly what Anselm does not do. Perhaps he is their "Father" but he is not a Scholastic. However, Hopkins makes nothing of that distinction. Far more useful than the categories of philosophy and theology when considering the relation between Anselm and his medieval successors is the difference between the kind of reflection which belongs within the monastic cloister and that which lives in the city and the university. Anselm exemplifies the first, as the prefaces to the Monologion and the Proslogion show. But Hopkins gives no indication of being acquainted with this commonplace of the study of medieval theology and spiritual life. Another confusion dogs the Introduction. Hopkins seems not to be able to decide whether he thinks Anselm's arguments are Platonic or Aristotelian, and, if Platonic whether they are more or less Platonic than Augustine's. His treatment of Anselm's biography and especially of his relations to William II over investiture are naive.

Nonetheless, except for the introduction to the Monologion, which suffers from the indecision about how Anselm's reasoning stands to Plato, Neoplatonists (whose positions on analogy are, with outrageous simplification and inaccuracy, reduced to a single sentence!), Aristotle and Augustine, the introductions to the individual treatises are useful. Summaries of their arguments go to the quick of the matter and will serve readers greatly.

The translations are not without problems also. Many are excellent but if, as a whole, they were revised for this printing, it was not for the sake of elegance, nor so as to make the language, grammar or style accessible to contemporary students, nor yet was it for consistency and accuracy. Translating Cur Deus Homo is not easy, but "Why God Became a [God]man" is one of the least elegant solutions. Hopkins' A New Interpretive Translation of St. Anselm's Monologion and Proslogion reproduced here does not begin well. This clause from the Preface will be unintelligible to those not immersed in Latin: "by which in some way they would issue to anyone into whose hands they came an invitation to read them" (p. 89). Indeed, the translation would be misleading if it were used independently of the Latin text. For example, argumentorum is translated as "arguments", but several words later unum argumentum has become "a single consideration" (p. 88). However, Anselm was moved to the search which resulted in the Proslogion precisely because he wanted one reasoning rather than a concatenation of many. Using two different words obscures this. In the next lines (I use Schmitt's text), indigeret, whose subject is unum argumentum, is translated "would require", but indigens, which modifies summum bonum, is rendered "needing no one else". Crucially, Anselm's quest is for a reasoning which has the same character as the divine being and goodness, and this desire is the interpretative key to the whole work. Again, Hopkins' translation obscures this. A useful survey of problems in interpreting the Proslogion is introduced by the true remark that all the translations of the problematic passages "will be interpretative". But, what help in interpretation is provided by adding "i.e. really" in square brackets after "truly" when translating deus vere est in the Preface and elsewhere? One could go on to the same effect at length, but since we are informed that this is the final revision of these translations (p. iii) there seems little point in doing so.

Gathering a translation of these treatises into one volume provides a convenience especially to those who do not have the Richardson volumes from which most of them are taken. However, many of them cannot and should not be used without constant comparison with the Latin text. The Introduction is not reliable. The basis on which these texts have been collected and classified is most unclear. The volume is useful but is for those with Latin and is to be recommended with cautions.