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Title: Political ideas in the New Testament commentaries of Peter the Chanter (d.1197)
Author: Chambers, Katherine Rebecca
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis uses Peter the Chanter’s New Testament commentaries to explore two aspects of his political thought: namely his explanation of how political power was distributed in his society; and the related question of what he saw as the function of lordship or domination among men. This thesis makes an original contribution to our understanding of twelfth century political thought by using unmediated manuscript sources to examine the Chanter’s ideas on these issues. It also revises our understanding of the character of the Chanter’s political thought by showing that he remained within the ‘Augustinian’ tradition, but argues that our understanding of the Augustinian position on these issues must be revised. This thesis finds the Chanter did not identify just grounds for the distribution of political power in the post-lapsarian world: he held that all men were equals by nature, with the consequence that there were no natural rulers or natural subjects among them. It also finds that the Chanter’s position on this issue was closely related to his conception of the kind of power which one man legitimately exercised over another. Although he held that there was no reason for one particular man to be placed in a position of power, while another was made his subject, he did not conclude that the reason for the existence of divisions in power was thereby beyond human comprehension. He appreciated that it was essential for certain men to ‘dominate’, even though God’s reason for making one man the ‘lord’ of another were not transparent. Nevertheless, he distinguished what was involved in the domination of men over men purely for the purposes of punishing sinful conduct and repressing evil actions. In contrast, the domination of a woman by a man, for example, involved the exercise of a kind of ‘directive’ power: as the moral superiors of women, men directed them in the conduct of their lives. This was, in one sense, similar to the power of a master over a slave: masters had the right to instruct slaves in ‘what to do’, and slaves were under a duty to obey them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available