Hugh of Saint Victor held the belief that philosophy was divided into four parts: theoretical, practical, mechanical and logical. This differed from the predominant view of St Augustine, a major influence for Hugh, who argued before Hugh's time that there were three schools of philosophy. Philosophy and reason, Hugh believed, were useful tools to understanding the divine, and Hugh used reason to argue on behalf of and to defend faith.
In the Didascalicon (or Didascalion), Hugh outlines three types of philosophy. The first three philosophies, Hugh said, help us mortals become better beings, through truth, which comes from theoretical philosophy, virtue, which comes from practical philosophy, and from physical relief, which comes from mechanical philosophy. The final philosophy, logic, exists to ensure clear and proper conclusions in the first three.
Hugh’s early book, the Didascalicon, was an elementary, encyclopedic approach to God and Christ. He purposefully avoided any controversial subject and stuck with the core stuff of Catholicism. Hugh had a fascination with mysticism and believed heavily in the spiritual, mysterious side of God, despite his belief that philosophy was a useful tool in understanding the divine.
Hugh believed divine Wisdom was the archetypal form of creation. He was heavily influenced by Augustinian exegesis of Genesis. Hugh believed that the creation of the world in six days was a mystery for man to contemplate, perhaps even a sacrament. God forming order from chaos to make the world was, to Hugh, a message to mortals telling them they need to rise up Ifrom their own chaos of initial unlearned ignorance and become a creature of Wisdom and therefore beauty. Hugh also found other aspects of Genesis interesting for moral lessons rather than the literal interpretation of events.
Hugh was quite a mystic. On the sacraments, Hugh believed that these, along with Jesus, were divine gifts that God gave man to redeem himself. Hugh believed that God had other options he could have used to save mankind. Hugh also separated everything along the lines of opis creationis and opis restaurationis. Opis Creationis was the works of the creation, referring to the works of man, while opis restaurationis was that which dealt with the reasons for God sending Jesus and the consequences of that. Hugh believed that God did not have to send Jesus and that He had other options open to Him. Why he chose to send Jesus is a mystery we are to meditate on and is to be learned through revelation, with the aid of philosophy to facilitate understanding.
Hugh’s works have survived in hundreds of libraries all across Europe. The very survival of these works—-and their commonness—-show how influential Hugh’s writing was. Hugh wrote several influential works from the 1120s on. Among these are his masterworks On the Sacraments of the Christian Faith and The Didascalicon of Hugh of St Victor. The work Sacraments of the Christian Faith is Hugh’s most celebrated masterpiece and presents the bulk of Hugh’s thoughts on theological and mystical ideas, ranging from God and angels to natural laws. The Didascalicon of Hugh of St Victor is written as an introductory guide to Christianity, reflecting Hugh’s desire to be an elementary teacher of Christianity. The Didascalicon reflects a very philosophical side of Hugh, in which he reflects on what basic elements of learning a Christian should focus on.
De arca Noe morali (On the Moral Interpretation of the Ark of Noah), De arca Noe mystica (On the Mystic Interpretation of the Ark of Noah) reflect Hugh’s fascination with both mysticism and his interest in Genesis.
Hugh was influenced by many people. Chief among his influences is Saint Augustine. Augustine and Hugh both submitted that some of the arts and philosophies can be used to help understand God, but beyond that the two begin to differ.Hugh’s legacy is rather impressive. He is quoted in many other publications after his death, and Bonaventure praises him in De reductione artium ad theologiam. Hugh also taught his ideas of mysticism to the influential Andrew and Richard of Saint Victor. He was also a founding member of the Victorine movement. One of Hugh’s ideals that did not transmit into the Victorine movement, however, was his embracing of science and philosophy as tools for approaching God.
Hugh's teaching on memory-training and his view of the liberal arts as roads leading the reader toward God have the aim of preparing students for scriptural reading and its three subdisciplines — historia, allegory, and tropology. This pedagogical program both draws on and diverges from the thought of Augustine. For Hugh, the fallen human being begins to be restored to the image of God through a program of ordered reading in the liberal arts and Sacred Scripture; this restoration continues at the fundamental level of historia even as the student advances through reading's higher disciplines. In responding to and concretizing the moral teaching found in the scriptural text, the reader comes to participate in the ongoing history of salvation.
Excerpt: Sometime during the early 1120s, an Augustinian canon regular and master named Hugo began his teaching and writing career at the School of St Victor in Paris.' Very little is known about the origins and early life of Hugh of St Victor. Indeed, Jerome Taylor has rightly observed that "the primary evidences which tell us of Hugh's life are few, enigmatic, [and] sometimes contradictory." The earliest sources offer three different views of Hugh's origin. First, the oldest extant document (Robert of Torigny's De Immutatione Ordinis Monachorum, 1154), states that Hugh was from Lorraine in northeastern France. Secondly, two Benedictine manuscripts, which provide the next oldest account of his birthplace, testify that Hugh was from Ypres in Flanders. Finally, the account of Alberic de TroisFontaines (d. 1241) maintains that Hugh was of Saxon origin. Though Alberic's account was the latest, by the end of the thirteenth century the community of canons regular at the Abbey of St Victor had accepted Hugh's Saxon origin.
In what is the most thorough examination of the evidence conducted during the last century, Jerome Taylor derives an account of Hugh's origin and early life by combining the traditional Victorine view with that of Johann Winningstedt, a sixteenth-century Augustinian canon in the episcopal city of Halberstadt in Saxony. According to Taylor, Hugh of St Victor was born Hermann, the son of Conrad, the Count of Blankenburg, probably in the Blankenburg castle in the diocese of Halberstadt toward the end of the eleventh century (between 1096 and 1100). When Hermann passed from boyhood to youth, his parents sent him sixteen miles northeast of the castle of Blankenburg to the Augustinian house of St Pancras (established by Bishop Reinhard in r z) in the village of Hamersleben, where he began his education. Attracted to study, Hermann chose, against his parents' wishes, to stay at St Pancras and eventually became a novice in the order there.
Because the Emperor Henry V began to war against the Saxon nobles around 1115, Bishop Reinhard decided to send Hugh away from Hamersleben to Paris. He was accompanied by his uncle and namesake, archdeacon Hugh of Halberstadt, who shared his nephew's desire for flight from the world.5 The pair traveled to Marseilles and obtained precious relics of the martyr Victor, which they presented to the Parisian Abbey of St Victor on June 17 in a year shortly after its founding (probably between 1115 and 1118).6 Hugh's uncle financed the building and furnishing of a new abbey church at St Victor. This version of Hugh's arrival at St Victor is supported by twelfth-century documentation that the Victorine community celebrated the "Feast of the Reception of the Relics of Saint Victor" on June 17 and offered the Mass on this feast for the soul of "Magister Hugo," giver of the relics.?
Whereas Taylor's historical reconstruction accounts for much of the twelfth-century data, it has failed to gain wide scholarly acceptance largely because of its employment of later traditions. Indeed, in his more recent consideration of Hugh's beginnings, Joachim Ehlers critiques the common historiographical use of Winningstedt's sixteenth-century evidence by Taylor and others. Additionally, Ehlers largely discounts the theory of Hugh's Flemish origin by virtue of the fact that it depends mainly on a single isolated source from the twelfth century. Ehlers concludes that the earliest evidence seems to support the Saxon theory, although he acknowledges that the data can be (and, indeed, occasionally are) read as suggesting Hugh's origin in the Flanders-Lorraine boundary region.
While much about Hugh's origin and early life still remains shrouded in mystery, it is certain that Hugh was at the Abbey of St Victor by 1118.11 Ten years prior, in 1108, William of Champeaux (c. 1069--1122) had resigned as archdeacon of Paris and retired from his teaching post at the cathedral in order to establish a small community on the left bank of the Seine just outside the city walls. The abbey received its charter from King Louis VI in 1113 and was consecrated by Pope Paschal II in 1114. The community that was established and grew at St Victor consisted of canons who lived according to the Rule of St Augustine. Thus, they united clerical status with a full common life.
From the time of the abbey's inception, young men from all over Europe were attracted to St Victor by the educational opportunities its school offered. Indeed, the School of St Victor began humbly with William of Champeaux teaching his students who had followed him to the new abbey just outside the city walls. He offered free instruction to all corners, a policy continued in the school until around mid-century. William and the School of St Victor exemplify the transformation of education that was taking place in the first half of the twelfth century. In this period the place of teaching became subordinate in importance to the person of the teacher. The most significant and distinctive teaching of the period became deinstitutionalized (i.e., detached from the cathedral and monastic schools of the past) and attached to "masters" (magistri) who taught wherever they could find a place to do so. The magistri constituted a new social category that began to appear outside the traditional structures of ecclesiastical education. By the first few decades of the twelfth century, the title "master" not only designated an officially recognized position and status in the new schools (e.g., Master No of Chartres,`Master Anselm of Laon, Master Bernard of Chartres, Master Abelard, Master Peter Lombard), but also certified the teachings and pronouncements of these men."
The great masters of the early twelfth century taught
of reading, analyzing, and organizing traditional legal, medical, and theo-
logical texts. These particular skills, which were necessary for the highest
positions in government and ecclesiastical administration, were rare, diffi-
cult, and brought great rewards to students who mastered them.'? Thus,
students enthusiastically sought out masters from whom to learn these new techniques, and masters, in turn, sought a critical mass of students to teach.
Both students and masters found what they needed in the urban centers
of northern Europe, particularly in Paris and the surrounding area."
Around 110o Paris began a period of very rapid growth, both geographic
and economicn Such growth meant that there was not only sufficient room
for schools and lodgings, but also an abundance of readily accessible food
and wine. Furthermore, Paris offered wide freedom for independent
masters to establish and operate their own schools. The educational monopoly that the cathedral school and the chancellor of Paris formerly had broke down early in the twelfth century in part because it was difficult for him to supervise the ever-growing urban area. As a result, the number of schools in Paris and its surrounding area increased rapidly. Indeed, at least twenty-five well-known twelfth-century schools can be counted within 10o miles of Paris. Because the educational dominance of Paris rested on the presence of many independent masters rather than on the fame of a single school, students continued to flock to the Paris area. According to R.W. Southern, by 1140 there were no fewer than 2,000 to 3,000 students in Paris. And by the end of the century, there were about 4,00o students, roughly ten percent of the city's population, attached to about 15o different masters.'° Quite clearly, then, in this premiere educational center students were easily able to find a number of learned teachers in many different disciplines, from grammar and logic to philosophy and theology.
By 1125, one such teacher who was particularly successful in attracting students was Hugh of St Victor. Hugh was helped in this regard by the fact that, in contrast to traditional monastic schools, St Victor was an "external" or "open" school — that is, in addition to providing formation for its own novices, it offered education to young men who were not members of the religious community at the abbey. This more outward-looking approach to education was surely a function of the vocation of the new Augustinian canons regular, who intended themselves and their ministry as more pastoral and active than that of traditional monks.
Beginning with William of Champeaux, the community at St Victor understood itself as a new form of religious life that "remained open to the currents of intellectual life stirring in the Parisian schools while maintaining a steadfast fidelity to the ancient tradition of monastic spirituality." Thus, under the leadership of Hugh, the School of St Victor placed a premium not only on the reading and interpretation of Scripture, but also on applying the new knowledge and techniques of liberal arts education (i.e., secular learning) to Scripture toward the end of knowing and loving God more profoundly. In his pedagogy and theology, as we will see, Hugh subordinates the liberal arts to sacred knowledge in the development of a single salvific philosophia. In this project Hugh relies heavily on and aims to complete the project of Christian education begun centuries earlier in Augustine's De doctrina Christiana. Indeed, because of important similarities between his theological thought and that of Augustine, Hugh was known even in his own lifetime as "a second Augustine" (secundus Augustinus).
The profound influence of Augustine on the theology and pedagogy of Hugh of St Victor is perhaps most clearly seen in the twelfth-century master's basic understanding of history. Indeed, Roger Baron has rightly noted that "in the author of the City of God the author of De sacramentis discovered the reality and the sense of history in the unfolding of Scripture, and it is a temporal order that Hugh follows in his theological account." That Hugh generally structured his theological, exegetical, and spiritual program according to the fundamental narrative of deeds done in time (i.e., the history) that constitutes Sacred Scripture owes much to Augustine. As the Victorine's conceptualizations of history and their dependence on those of Augustine are central to this monograph, we now turn to an overview of them by way of introduction.
In his great work, De sacramentis christianae fidei, Hugh divides history in three major ways, indicating his reception and adaptation of Augustine's understanding of historia. First, in the Prologue to Book I, Hugh affirms that all of history falls under the two general rubrics of opus conditionis and opus restaurationis, the work of creation or foundation and the work of restoration.27 While secular literature treats the first, which concerns God's work of creating and sustaining the world, Sacred Scripture treats the second, which concerns the incarnation of Christ and all of Christ's sacraments, both those that came before the incarnation itself and those that came after it.
Hugh's concept of the sacraments of Christ that were given before the actual advent of Christ himself leads him to formulate another important conception of history. Hugh's second way of dividing history, which is indebted to Augustine's two cities, is that of the two families or two armies of humankind throughout history. In the Prologue to the First Book and throughout Book I of De sacramentis, Hugh teaches that all of humankind throughout history is divided into two camps, namely, that of Christ and that of the devil. In contrast to Augustine's civitates, however, these two armies are formed not by two loves, but rather by two cosmic acts, namely, God's devising and giving his sacraments to his people, on the one hand, and the devil's giving his sacraments to the people whom he wishes to bind forever to himself, on the other. Even before Christ, then, God gave the sacramenta of Christ to his faithful people; and after Christ, different sacramenta were again given to God's single people. Hugh discusses God's people as an army consisting of those faithful pagans and Jews who marched before their King (sive praecedentes), as well as those believing Christians who have marched and continue to march after Christ their King (sive subsequentes). This single people of God is constituted by one faith, the contents of which are belief in God as creator and redeemer. Hugh points out that throughout time, the content of the faith has remained constant, though the cognition of that faith has varied — e.g., faithful Jews knew that a Messiah was to come but didn't know who exactly it was to be, whereas Christians know both that a Messiah has come and that this Messiah is Jesus Christ.
Hugh treats the differences among pagans, Jews, and Christians in his third conceptualization of history and its divisions, namely, the Pauline-Augustinian notion of the tria tempora, which Hugh sets forth as tempus naturalis legis, tempus scriptae legis, and tempus gratiae. The time under the natural law is the time before the Old Testament including the pre-Sinaitic giving of the Law; the time of the written Law extends from the giving of the Mosaic law to the incarnation of Christ; and the time of grace is from the incarnation to the second coming. Where Hugh makes a significant original contribution to this schema that is, by his time, eleven centuries old is in his addition of an anthropological component. That is, unlike either the Apostle Paul or Augustine, Hugh explicitly links each of these tempora to a type of human. We will consider the ways in which Hugh adopted and adapted this threefold Augustinian understanding of history in greater detail in Chapter Four of this work.
Finally, it must be mentioned that Hugh adapted the scheme of the sex aetates historiae as he had received it from Augustine. Hugh's outlining of the six ages of history is almost exactly the same as that formulated by the late-antique North African bishop, with identical divisions and correspondences with both the days of creation and the stages of human life. The one difference from Augustine is Hugh's sub-division of the first five aetates into four "successions," namely, the patriarchs (from Adam to Moses), the judges (from Moses to David), the kings (from David to the exile), and the high priests (from the exile to the incarnation). Rebecca Moore has pointed out that Hugh provides the four "successions" in the place of the lists and divisions of secular rulers that some patristic and medieval theologians included as a supplement to their formulations of biblical history. Such a substitution highlights Hugh's particular concern with Jewish history, which was an interest of the Victorines in general.
Marie-Dominique Chenu's 1957 La théologie au douzième siècle has been perhaps the single most important work in outlining the emerging importance of history in the twelfth century, particularly in the theology and pedagogy of Hugh of St Victor. And Patrice Sicard stands out as a notable exception to the general rule that Chenu's work on history in Hugh has had minimal influence on his French-speaking contemporaries. Indeed, Sicard, who is part of a French-language school of Victorine scholars that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s, demonstrates a keen awareness of Hugh's historicism and its impact on his theology in general. For example, in Part II of Hugues de Saint-Victor et son école, Sicard explains that salva tion history provides the principle according to which Hugh organizes his entire theological system.
The German school of Hugh research has also focused on the canon's historical outlook, most notably in the context of church-state relations. W.A. Schneider, for example, has a chapter on Hugh's treatment of pope and king in his 1933 Geschichte and Geschichtsphilosophie bei Hugo von St. Victor.35 In his published dissertation, Joachim Ehlers considers the influence of the French monarchy on Hugh's understanding of history. Friedrich Merzbacher treats Hugh's conceptions of authority and justice. Heinz R. Schlette, in an article published in 1957 — concurrently with Chenu's seminal work — argued that Hugh combined universal history with an emphasis on the divine work of human restoration to produce a missionary thrust that represents the very essence of Hugh's theology.
Recent scholarship in English has furthered the study of historia as a central theme throughout Hugh's corpus. For example, Grover Zinn has shown that "history is the foundation" of both the regular canon's exegetical and mystical works.39 Based on an analysis of Hugh's conception of history in the two Ark treatises, as well as in his hermeneutic and in the De sacramentis, Zinn argues that "Hugh's theology unites in an intimate manner that which is most inward, the renewal of the imago Dei at the innermost core of the human person, and that which is preeminently outer, namely the succession of deeds done in time (ordo rerum gestarum) which comprises the divine 'work of restoration.' Furthermore, William Green, in his article on Hugh's Chronicon, has illustrated that the learning of historical events was the first stage in the master's program of education at the School of St Victor and the prelude to the literal reading of the scriptural text, which Hugh also calls historia. Although other such studies treat Hugh's understanding of history in certain select works or from a particular and limited perspective, there has been no full-length study of the role of historia in the processes of reading and formation toward restoration in Hugh's theology and pedagogy in general. Furthermore, scholarship has paid too little attention to the patristic and early medieval sources of Hugh's understanding of history and reading, particularly his reception of Augustine.
The present monograph seeks to fill this lacuna in current scholarship by offering a thoroughgoing treatment of historia, reading, and the work of restoration in the thought of Hugh of St Victor. By providing a close reading of the Victorine master's most important writings, we seek to demonstrate both that and how history, reading, and restoration constitute the guiding principles of Hugh's theological and pedagogical program. Our consideration of the convergence of these seminal themes throughout Hugh's corpus will provide a window onto his holistic and integrated understanding of reading, Christian education and formation, and the spiritual life. Indeed, we will see that, according to Hugh, it is particularly in reading, internalizing, and living in accordance with the biblical account of the history of God's deeds that the student is re-ordered and restored to the image of God in which he was created. That is, in reading and responding to the work of restoration revealed in Scripture, the student comes to participate in the ongoing history of the divine work of restoration.
The thesis of this monograph is twofold. First, we will argue that, according to Hugh, the fallen and dis-ordered human being begins to be reordered and restored to the image of God by engaging in a detailed program of ordered reading, first in the liberal arts and subsequently in Sacred Scripture. Secondly, we seek to show that Hugh understands the reader's re-ordering, restoration, or transformation as beginning at the level of historia and as continuing at this level even as the reader advances through the disciplines. Furthermore, throughout the work and at each of Hugh's pedagogical levels, we will pay particular attention to how the Victorine adopts and adapts the thought of Augustine in his twelfth-century context.
In its general outline, this work will follow the pedagogical program of Hugh of St Victor. We begin, in Chapter One, with a consideration of Hugh's teaching on memory-training, a prerequisite for the student beginning to read. Here we treat the way in which Hugh, in both the Chronicon and the Libellus de formatione arche, teaches his students to order their minds for organizing, storing, and recalling what they read. The Victorine master's approach draws not only on techniques that were central to the ars memorativa of classical antiquity, but also on Augustine's Christian appropriation of the mnemonic tradition. Finally, we investigate how Hugh instructed his students in the mental visualization of history in his treatises on the Ark of Noah. We will see that the memorization and internalization of history is the sine qua non of all theological education and spiritual reformation, according to Hugh.
Having considered the necessary precondition of Hugh's pedagogical program, Chapter Two investigates the master's teaching on reading in the liberal arts. Here we will see that Hugh understands properly ordered reading in the arts as the real beginning of the process whereby the human person is restored to the image of God. The Victorine's view of restoration by reading is inextricably bound up with the foundational Christian narrative (i.e., the historia) of creation, fall, and redemption. As such, we preface our consideration of reading in the liberal arts with a treatment of Hugh's understanding of the original order (ordo) of human creation, on the one hand, and the disorder caused by original sin and the fall, on the other. In different ways, the various branches of philosophy and the arts within each serve as initial roads leading the reader toward the knowledge of God, the love of God, and the immortality that were lost as a result of the fall. Hugh's reception of the ancient tradition of Christian thinking about and use of the arts, particularly as propounded by Augustine, constitutes an integral part of our treatment in this chapter.
Chapter Three investigates Hugh's theology and pedagogy of scriptural reading in general, for which liberal arts study prepares the pupil. According to Hugh, the student moves ever closer toward the Wisdom in whose image he was created by reading Sacred Scripture. Here we concern ourselves principally with what Hugh understands as the first level or discipline of scriptural reading, namely, historia, which instructs the mind with knowledge. As a prelude, we look at Hugh's teaching on the distinctiveness of Scripture as set forth in the Didascalicon and De scripturis et scriptoribus sacris, and on ordered scriptural reading and restoration. As Hugh's understanding of the nature and purpose of Scripture depends heavily on the thought of Augustine, we also consider the latter on Scripture's twofold signification by way of background.
In Chapter Four, we treat the second discipline of scriptural reading, namely, allegory, and the way in which Hugh envisions it as contributing to the student's continued restoration. It is in reading biblical texts allegorically — i.e., according to the mysteries of the Christian faith — that the student erects the edifice of faith in his mind. The successive sacraments that Christ has given to his faithful people throughout history provide, according to Hugh's teaching, a kind of second foundation (after the first foundation of history) on which the student builds. Here we analyze carefully the master's understanding of sacred history as set forth in De sacramentis, and compare it with that of Augustine. Hugh's understanding of sacraments throughout history represents a development of Augustinian thought which generally determined the way subsequent scholastic theologians — with ever increasing nuance and in ever more detail — conceived of "sacraments" both before and after the advent of Christ. In his infinite mercy, God, according to the Victorine, has provided fallen humankind with ample time and a suitable place for repentance and restoration. Indeed, the entire history of the world serves as the context for human salvation. Hugh seeks to teach his students how this particular view of history is to be found in the allegorical reading of the scriptural narrative.
Finally, Chapter Five considers Hugh's understanding of tropology, the third discipline of scriptural reading, and how it serves to move the reader further toward restoration and final beatitude. Here we seek to understand and elucidate not only Hugh's theoretical teaching concerning tropology, but also his practical teaching as revealed in De institutione novitiorum. We will see that the Victorine master is thoroughly informed by the ancient conviction that the love of wisdom — i.e., philosophy — is and must be a way of life into which one is formed by reading and practicing other spiritual exercises. For Hugh, Sacred Scripture is the Christian philosopher's most important authoritative text, of course. Taking his cue from Augustine, the Victorine master maintains that the scriptural narrative is not merely to be read, memorized, and meditated on. Rather, the historia that recounts God's loving works of creation and restoration exhorts the reader to become a participant in this ongoing narrative of salvation history by living a life that imitates the divine love. By utilizing the traditional "list of circumstances" — namely, who, what, when, where, why, and how — as a means of ordering nearly every aspect of the student's behavior and speech, Hugh connects tropologia back to the foundation of historia and its basic persons, places, and times. In making this pedagogical move, the Victorine master makes clear that the personal and spiritual transformation that appears to take place at the higher level of tropology is firmly rooted in and depends on the fundamental scriptural narrative of deeds done in time. Thus, as the following monograph seeks to elucidate, historia is, for Hugh, the sine qua non of both sacred reading and the restoration to the divine image toward which such reading finally aims.