04 March, 2011

Abelard on the Authority of Scripture

"If, in Scripture, anything seems absurd, you are not permitted to say, 'The author of this book did not hold to the truth' - but rather that the codex is defective or that the interpreter erred or that you do not understand. But if anything seems contrary to truth in the works of later authors, which are contained in innumerable books, the reader or auditor is free to judge, so that he may approve what is pleasing and reject what gives offense, unless the matter is established by certain reason or by canonical authority (of the Scriptures)"

Peter Abelard (1079-1142), Sic et Non, in Great Issues in Western Civilization, 3rd ed., 1976, (ed. Tierney et al), pp. 397-398.

Note - Abelard may not ordinarily be considered a church father, but he is undoubtedly a brilliant and seminal early medieval thinker. Here he provides attestation to the belief of his age in the primacy of scripture over tradition.
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