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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The body-soul metaphor in the papal-imperial polemic on eleventh century church reform Roberts, James R.


An interest in exploring the roots of the Gregorian reform of the Church in the eleventh century led to the reading of the polemical writings by means of which papalists and imperialists contended in the latter decades of the century. It became apparent that argumentation from both sides substantially relied for expression on the metaphorical usage of the terms body and soul and their pertinent synonyms such as flesh and spirit. In examining the use of these terms—which is the burden of this thesis—it is necessary to study their pre-history. Firstly, as the eleventh century writings examined here (the Libelli de Lite, vols, one and two) abundantly show, the polemicists very often cite body/soul metaphorical usage from the Fathers of the Church as well as from the New Testament, particularly from Paul. Since these authorities in turn rest upon a Jewish basis in the context of a Hellenistic Jewish background these formative influences had to be studied. In this way, exploring the roots and subsequent formation of the medieval mentality as it grasped the meaning of body and soul and their mutual relationship one could understand the force of the eleventh century polemical use of the metaphor.^ The purpose of this thesis then is to explore the use of the body/soul metaphor in order to see specifically to what extent the contending parties agreed in their acceptance of the body/soul relationship as well as disagreed. From this understanding one might gauge the effectiveness of the polemical use of the metaphor in the social and political cause for which it was used. Since the metaphor underlies the major issues of simony, Nicolaitism, lay investiture and finally the struggle for supremacy between the Empire and the Papacy, the thesis examines it as cutting across these individual contentions and as representing the core issue, i.e. the essentially theological problem of the right relationship between the spiritual and the temporal or material orders.

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