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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Wilhelm Levison Memorial Lecture

Wilhelm Levison, born in Düsseldorf in 1876 of a Jewish family, was one of the greatest historians of the early middle ages. Lecturer at Bonn in 1903 and professor in 1909, the Nuremberg laws of 1935 forced him as a Jew to resign his chair, and in November 1938 he was debarred from the use of libraries. In early 1939, Durham University, which had in 1931 awarded him an honorary doctorate, offered him a fellowship. In April 1939 he and his wife Elsa moved to Durham where he continued his research until his death in 1947 and prepared for publication his most important work, England and the Continent in the Eighth Century. He and his wife are buried in the Bow Cemetery.

This lecture series was inaugurated in 2008 in order to celebrate the scholarly vision and achievements of Professor Levison. Each year a speaker is invited to build upon the foundations of cross-Channel cooperation and understanding in medieval history which Professor Levison did so much to establish.

9th Annual Wilhelm Levison Memorial Lecture: Odo of Tournai's Disputation with a Jew and Some Other Interreligious Dialogues in the Wake of Anselm's Cur Deus Homo

2nd November 2016, 17:30, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library, Professor Bernd Geobel

The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception in the cafe, Palace Green Library and optional three course dinner. The lecture and reception are free and open to all, however, booking is essential.

Please click here to register for this event. If you would like to attend the dinner, please book your place by Thursday, 27th October.

Professor Bernd Goebel has been Professor of Philosophy and the History of Philosophy at Fulda Theo-logy Faculty since 2003. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Bonn and the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes Paris. He was a guest professor at the University of Notre Dame and the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes Paris, a visiting fellow of Magdalen College Oxford and the University of Durham’s IAS, and has been elected to a Visiting Fellowship at St Ca¬therine’s College Oxford in 2017. Amongst his most recent publications are an edition and translation of Ralph of Battle’s dialogues on philosophical theology (with Samu Niskanen and Sigbjørn Sønnesyn, Freiburg: Herder, 2015), and a German translation of, and commentary on A.C. Ewings book “Ethics” (Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 2014).

Abstract: I will commence by presenting Anselm’s critique of the Augustinian soteriology revived by the masters at Laon, and by analyzing his own rather groundbreaking theory of the Incarnation put forward in his dialogue Why God became man. I will suggest that the main argument of that dialogue is meant to be a rational proof for the necessity of the Incarnation from logical and moral premises, and that Anselm’s a priori theology is, at least in part, a reaction to the challenges posed to Latin Christianity by the propagation of Jewish and Muslim objections in the late eleventh century. After a survey of the seven extant dialogues between Christians and non-Christians written in the early aftermath of Why God became man, taking up, in some form or another, Anselm’s argument and rational method, I will focus on one of them – Odo of Tournai’s disputation with a Jew. I will discuss some intellectual and literary aspects of this relatively unknown, yet intriguing work and propose a novel interpretation. While Odo appears to be, and generally is, closely following Anselm’s lead, I will expose one or two deviations which may also shed new light on Anselm’s case.

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Past Lectures