Original Research

Neoplatonism in the Cologne tradition of the later Middle Ages: Berthold of Moosburg (ca. 1300–1361) as case study

Johann Beukes
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6281 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6281 | © 2021 Johann Beukes | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 July 2020 | Published: 19 March 2021

About the author(s)

Johann Beukes, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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Abstract

The objective of this article is to present an overview, based on the most recent specialist research, of Neoplatonist developments in the Cologne tradition of the later Middle Ages, with specific reference to a unique Proclian commentary presented by the German Albertist Dominican, Berthold of Moosburg (ca. 1300–1361). Situating Berthold in the post-Eckhart Dominican crisis of the 1340s and 1350s, his rehabilitating initiative of presenting this extensive (nine-volume) commentary on the Neoplatonist Proclus Lycaeus’ (412–485) Elements of Theology in his Expositio super Elementationem theologicam Procli, the only of its kind from the Middle Ages, is contextualised with reference to Berthold’s discursive indebtedness to his Dominican predecessors, Albert the Great (ca. 1200–1280), Ulrich of Strasbourg (ca. 1220–1277) and Dietrich of Freiberg (ca.1250 – ca.1310), as well as two Dutch-Cologne successors, the Albertist Heymeric of Camp (1395–1460) and the Carthusian Thomist Denys de Leeuwis (1402–1471). Berthold’s unique contribution to the philosophical discourse of the Middle Ages is indicated therein that the Expositio provided a synthesis of the late Medieval version of Neoplatonism and contemporaneous German–Dominican theories. By contextualising the work of his Cologne predecessors and successors in the broad idea-historical landscape of antiquity and Neoplatonism, the article argues that Berthold succeeded in linking the Neoplatonic legacy with Cologne Albertism and provided an impetus for the overall consolidating ability of the Cologne tradition. By juxtaposing Berthold and his Expositio with the more conventional legacies of Ulrich, Dietrich, Heymeric and Denys, this exceptional Latin-Western intellectual tradition from Cologne is expanded and enriched with regard to its notable Neoplatonic contributions to philosophy in the later Middle Ages.

Contribution: This article contributes to scholarship in Medieval philosophy by presenting an overview of Neoplatonist developments in the Cologne tradition of the later Middle Ages, with specific reference to the Proclian commentary presented by the German Albertist Dominican, Berthold of Moosburg (ca. 1300–1361). By contextualising the work of Berthold’s Cologne predecessors and successors in the broad idea-historical landscape of antiquity and Neoplatonism, the article indicates that Berthold succeeded in linking the Neoplatonic legacy with Cologne Albertism and provided an impetus for the overall consolidating ability of the Cologne tradition during the later Middle Ages.


Keywords

Albert the Great (ca. 1200–1280); Albertism; Berthold of Moosburg (ca. 1300–1361); Denys de Leeuwis (1402–1471); Dietrich of Freiberg (ca.1250–ca.1310); Dominican studium generale Cologne; Expositio super Elementationem theologicam Procli; Heymeric of Cam

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