Jean Gerson - Apostle of Unity: His Church Politics and Ecclesiology


The first part of this study on the famous chancellor of the Paris University, contains a chronological survey of Gerson's position in the development of the church-politics of his days. It is shown how he became a convinced adherent of a conciliar solution of the Western schism, without betraying the idea of the Church as hierarchical entity.
In the second part his ecclesiological ideas are treated more systematically. Gerson's critical attitude towards canon lawyers and papal absolutism is examined, followed by an analysis of the background of his ideas about the Church as hierarchy and as mystical body, his conciliar thought, his concept of tradition, and his sources. The author tries to make clear that Gerson, far from being a radical, rather should be considered as a careful and conservative theologian. The book comprises a revised and extended version of an originally in Dutch written thesis, for which the author was awarded the Mallinckrodt-prize of the University of Groningen.

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Guillaume H.M. Posthumus Meyjes, D.D. (1963), University of Leiden, is emeritus Professor in Church History at the same University. He is a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, and hon.dr. of the University of Geneva. He has published on Gerson, the Leiden University, the Walloon Church in the Netherlands, on Irenicism and Hugo Grotius.
'There is no doubt that this is […] an extremely important contribution to Gerson scholarship and to the history of ecclesiology in the conciliar epoch.'
Margaret Harvey, Journal of Theological Studies, 2000.
'…a magnificent achievement.'
Brian Patrick McGuire, Speculum, 2001.
'…Posthumus Meyjes's study is a sound contribution to the literature of medieval ecclesiology.'
James Ginther, Ecclesiastical History, 2001.
List of illustrations


1. Gerson and the ecclesiastical policy of the University of Paris until 1395
2. First years as Chancellor of the University, 1395-1398
3. On the basis of substraction, 1398-1403
4. Obedience restored, 1403-1406
5. On the way to the Council of Pisa, 1406-1408
6. Gerson and the Council of Pisa, 1409
7. From Pisa to the Council of Constance, 1409-1418

8. Church and Law
9. Church, Hierarchy, and General Council I: The treatise De potestate ecclesiastica et de origine iuris et legum
10. Church, Hierarchy, and General Council II: The essentials of Gerson's ecclesiology
11. Church, Scriptures, andTradition
12. The Sources of Gerson's ecclesiology


I. The author of the treatise De concilio unius oboedientiae
II. The dating of the Liber de vita spirituali animae
III. Whom did Gerson hold up to Benedict XIII as a warning example in his sermon Apparuit gratia Dei
IV. The dating of the sermon Vade in pace

Index of Biblical texts
Index of legal texts
Index of works of Gerson
Index of persons
Index of subjects, terms, and expressions
All those interested in the history of the Church, in intellectual history, medievalists, as well as scholars in constitutional and canon law.
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