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Theology, Rhetoric, Manuduction
Reading Scripture Together on the Path to God
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In Theology, Rhetoric, Manuduction, Peter Candler re-reads a number of medieval texts and demonstrates that they were intended as vehicles not for the transmission of data, but for the leading of readers to contemplation of God. Like medieval maps with their intricate illustrations, skewed proportions and omissions of details that to us today seem crucial, medieval works of theology were designed not to depict an objective overview for disinterested study, but were meant to provide an itinerary for individuals traveling a specific route. To read was to be taken by the hand, in a process called manuduction, and to join fellow travellers on a journey to a particular goal. Candler is recovering this understanding of reading and doing theology and illustrates how it can enrich our present understanding of great works of medieval scholarship. He begins with the invention of printing in the 16th Century and the change of the bible from liturgy in worship and community to a physical object, a book and with it the birth of our modern understanding of scripture. He then turns to Augustine's understanding of rhetoric, examined in a critique of the Confessions. Then 2 texts, Glossa Ordinaria (a 12th C glossed bible) and Aquinas' Summa Theologiae are read in terms of the concepts of memory and itinerary. The former Candler believes is an "iconic illustration of the mutual indwelling of Christ and the Church", rendering the notion of separating Scripture from tradition absurd and the latter he views as a "curriculum of persuasion" which leads readers by manuduction along a path towards union with God.
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Dr Peter Candler is assistant Professor of Theology at the Honors College, Baylor University Texas.