Translations and the Wildlands of the SQO

To translate Henry of Ghent is like translating Augustine. Or, to translate Henry of Ghent is to translate Augustine. As some medievalists know, Henry was much more of a modern author than other scholastics in the sense that he typically cites chapter and verse and gives full quotations (or interestingly edited versions) of the cited text.

Here is what Roland Teske said about translating Article 1 of Henry's SQO. [Henry of Ghent’s Summa of Ordinary Questions: Article One: On the Possibility of Human Knowledge, St. Augustine’s Press, South Bend, IN, 2008, xxii]:
Henry’s Latin is difficult, and the Latin of the authors he cites is often far more difficult and cryptic. Another problem stems from the many Latin words that Henry used in referring to knowledge and knowing, such as scientia, apprehensio, notitia, cognitio, and their verbal forms. For example, at times Henry uses scientia in the sense of Aristotelian science or the knowledge of demonstrated conclusions. At other times the term seems to have a more general connotation.



I have been studying the theological writings of Henry of Ghent for a few years, and with the New Year I have thought it fitting to begin a blog devoted to all things pertaining to the Solemn Doctor.

My intentions for this blog is firstly to make the theological and philosophical teachings of Henry of Ghent available to a wider audience. It would be fair to say that mostly academics who study medieval theology or medieval philosophy have read Henry's texts. There are several English translations of small representative passages by folks like Roland Teske and Jos Decorte. As representative examples these translations are indeed to be appreciated; nonetheless in order for a willing person to come to understand Henry's cathedral of philosophical and theological teachings, much much more work needs to be done on several fronts (e.g., the production of critical editions, translations, rigorous explanation and analysis of Henry's teachings). Secondly, I aim to post things such as translations of and commentaries on passages from Henry's writings (e.g., on what it means to be a 'person', what 'mutual love' is, and various interesting and delicate issues in his Trinitarian theology.)

One of the most well-known medieval theologians is St. Thomas Aquinas. There are various reasons for Thomas's popularity. Thomas's teachings are fascinating in and of themselves. Thomas was a Dominican and was made the doctor of that religious order - this entailed that many students were institutionally required to study Aquinas's writings and encouraged to agree with them. Furthermore, there are many English translations of Aquinas's writings. A person who does not know Latin could read massive amounts of Thomas's writings and so this person could be informed about many topics that Thomas wrote on. Not so for Henry of Ghent. Who was Henry of Ghent? (For a full biography, see Pasquale Porro's article at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.)