Translations From Anselm -- By: J. S. Maginnis

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 008:31 (Jul 1851)
Article: Translations From Anselm
Author: J. S. Maginnis


Translations From Anselm

J. S. Maginnis

Proslogion Of Anselm

[The author of the following Article was one of the founders of the scholastic Philosophy, and was regarded as the Metaphysician par excellence of the eleventh century. Piety and good sense everywhere characterize his writings. Such were his reputation and influence that he was denominated the Second Augustine.1 His philosophical labors constituted an epoch in the history of the human mind. In theology, he did more than any other author from the days of the apostles up to his own times, to vindicate the object of the death of Christ as a vicarious sacrifice for sin. He was the first who effectively broke the spell of that absurd theory which had prevailed for so many centuries, both with the Greek and the Latin Fathers, and had been advocated even by such men as Ambrose and Augustine, and which represented the death of Christ as a ransom paid to Satan to redeem men from his power. His views on this subject are expressed in his tract, Cur Deus Homo; i.e. as he himself explains the title, Qua ratione vel necessitate Deus homo factus sit.

The Proslogion, a translation of which is here presented to the reader, is one of the most celebrated of his productions on account of the ontological argument it contains in proof of the existence of a

God. It has obtained an honorable notice from every history of philosophy which has appeared since the age in which it was written. The argument it contains has been analyzed by Tennemann, Rixner, Reinhold and Hitter, and has commanded the respect of such thinkers as Descartes, Leibnitz, and Stillingfleet. In the progress of the discussion there may occur what may seem to us quaint expressions, absurd paradoxes, puerile illustrations; objections may be raised where none are needed, and difficulties started which may arise only from the form of expression in which they are stated. All this may be offensive to modern taste, and to a superficial judgment may create the necessity of some apology for introducing the Article into the pages of a literary or religious Review. No such apology, however, will be required by those who feel any interest in tracing the various steps by which the human mind has been advanced to its present strength and attainments. Such will recognize here and in the Monologion the movements of a great and vigorous intellect, the first awakenings of human thought after a slumber of ages — the first ripe fruit borne by the tree of knowledge after the desolating scourge of barbarism had swept away all that was fair and beautiful in the literature of the old world. The Proslogion is here inserted for the purpose of convenient reference ...

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