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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hugh of Balma, also known as Hugo of Palma or Hugh of Dorche was a Carthusian theologian,[1] generally acknowledged to be the author of the work which is generally entitled Viae Syon Lugent (The Roads to Zion Mourn), after its opening line, but is also known as De Mystica Theologia, De Theologia Mystica and De Triplici Via. It is a comprehensive treatment of the Mystical Theology of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. The work was attributed to Saint Bonaventure in medieval and early modern times, but this attribution was firmly rejected and attributed to Hugh by the editors of the critical edition of Bonaventure's work, the Franciscans of Quarrachi, in 1895.[2]

The identity of Hugh is unclear. Since the seventeenth century, he has typically been identified with Hugh of Dorche, prior of the Carthusian Charterhouse of Meyriat in Bresse, between Geneva and Lyon, from 1293–95 and 1303–05.[3] More recently, Harald Walach has argued that this identification is flawed. He thinks it unlikely that the prior of an out-of-the-way charterhouse like Meyriat would have had the detailed knowledge of scholastic philosophy and theology that he detects in Viae Syon Lugent. Instead, he suggests that Hugh of Balma (or, better, Hugh of Palma) should not be identified with Hugh of Dorche, but was instead an Englishman, educated in Oxford, who studied in Paris in the 1250s, and was not a Carthusian. However, this alternative theory has not found wider favour in recent works.[4] The 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia cites a tradition now discredited that Hugh of Balma was a 'Franciscan theologian, born at Genera' who died in 1439, and the confessor of St Colette.[5] The most likely theory remains that which sees him as a Carthusian prior of Meyriat, identifying him with Hugh of Dorche.

Although the work Viae Syon Lugent is likely to have been written in the second half of the thirteenth century, it is hard to date more precisely. It is likely to have been written subsequently to Thomas Gallus’s Explanatio Mysticae Theologiae (ca.1241?), from which Hugh quotes, but was composed before the death in 1297 of the Frenchman Guigo of Ponte, who in his De Contemplatione alludes to Hugh’s work.[6] Walach argues that Hugh's writing is influenced by certain works by Bonaventure, written around 1260, but it is possible that both Hugh and Bonaventure were simply drawing on the same sources of the Dionysian tradition. Therefore, it is hard to be more precise than stating that the work was probably written between around 1240 and 1297.

Hugh has generally been identified with the assertion that one can rise to God by love alone, without any cognition accompanying or leading the way.[7] However, it has been suggested that this arose in particular because of a misreading of Hugh in the 1450s, during controversy over the definition of mystical theology involving the Carthusian Vincent of Aggsbach, Nicholas of Cusa and the abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Tegernsee, Bernard of Waging.[8]

Viae Syon Lugent may well have had impact on subsequent late medieval writers: more than one hundred full or partial manuscripts of Viae Syon Lugent survive.[9] It received many Latin printings from the fifteenth century onwards, generally within collections of Bonaventure's works. In large part because it was understood to be by Bonaventure, it was partially translated into German in the fifteenth century. It was also printed in Spanish in Toledo in 1514 as Sol des contemplativos, an edition which influenced Francisco de Osuna's The Third Spiritual Alphabet, and perhaps subsequent Spanish Carmelite spiritual writing.[10] It has been suggested that its thought may have influenced the author of The Cloud of Unknowing.[11]

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References

  1. ^ The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia states that Hugh of Balma was a Franciscan - but, as pointed out below, this is now acknowledged not to have been the case.
  2. ^ The Cloud of Unknowing, ed James Walsh, (New York: Paulist Press, 1981), p.19.
  3. ^ Some works give the dates as 1289-1304, for reasons unclear.
  4. ^ Jasper Hopkins, Hugh of Balma on Mystical Theology: A Translation and an Overview of His De Theologia Mystica , (Minneapolis, MN: Banning, 2002), p. 2; Carthusian spirituality: the writings of Hugh of Balma and Guigo de Ponte trans by Dennis D. Martin, (New York: Paulist Press, 1996), p. 9.
  5. ^ "Henry Balme (Or Balma; also called Hugh)". Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent. Retrieved 2014-07-23.
  6. ^ Jasper Hopkins, Hugh of Balma on Mystical Theology: A Translation and an Overview of His De Theologia Mystica , (Minneapolis, MN: Banning, 2002), p. 2.
  7. ^ Carthusian spirituality: the writings of Hugh of Balma and Guigo de Ponte trans by Dennis D. Martin, (New York: Paulist Press, 1996), p. 18.
  8. ^ Carthusian spirituality: the writings of Hugh of Balma and Guigo de Ponte trans by Dennis D. Martin, (New York: Paulist Press, 1996), p. 22.
  9. ^ Carthusian spirituality: the writings of Hugh of Balma and Guigo de Ponte trans by Dennis D. Martin, (New York: Paulist Press, 1996), p. 12.
  10. ^ Carthusian spirituality: the writings of Hugh of Balma and Guigo de Ponte trans by Dennis D. Martin, (New York: Paulist Press, 1996), pp13-4, 58.
  11. ^ Carthusian spirituality: the writings of Hugh of Balma and Guigo de Ponte trans by Dennis D. Martin, (New York: Paulist Press, 1996), p. 56.

Further reading

  • Jasper Hopkins, Hugh of Balma on Mystical Theology: A Translation and an Overview of His De Theologia Mystica , (Minneapolis, MN: Banning, 2002)
  • Carthusian spirituality: the writings of Hugh of Balma and Guigo de Ponte trans by Dennis D. Martin, (New York: Paulist Press, 1996)
  • Francis Ruello, Théologie mystique, 2 vols, Sources Chretiennes, (Paris: Cerf, 1995-6) [The Latin text with a French translation]
This page was last edited on 23 September 2019, at 00:02
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