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Logic (reloaded) and Bible Exegesis at the Early University of Vienna: Henry of Langenstein on Genesis

Friday, June 9, 2017, 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Henry of Langenstein, one of the University of Vienna’s first theologians, is best known for having rejected the possibility of dialogue with the Jewish community shortly before his death. The philosophical evidence of Langenstein’s stance is contained in a lecture, in which he denied the validity of Aristotelian logic in Trinitarian doctrines of the Christian faith, contrary to the position he had adopted earlier at Paris. But what if Langenstein’s rejection of syllogisms to explain the nature of Trinity is in reality part of an argumentation directed against the English Dominican Robert Holcot and his hypothesis of the deceived Christ? What if this volte-face was read as part of the lecture series given on Genesis? And finally, what if it is already foreshadowed in Langenstein’s early Viennese lectures? In this talk, I intend to demonstrate that the answers to these questions show Langenstein’s about-turn in an entirely new light and an unexpected complexity; they allow us to revisit a central thesis regarding religious intercommunity discourse at Vienna by the end of the fourteenth century and add to a significant chapter in the largely unknown history of late medieval Bible exegesis.