A Most Mysterious ‘Angelic’ Manuscript Fragment

The Cultural Collections Unit


A Most Mysterious 'Angelic' manuscript: Peter Lombard's Libri Quattuor Sententiarum (Four Books of Sentences) Book 2 Distinction 7 Englished by Dr Rhona Beare


With Assistance from

Professor Harold Tarrant and Emeritus Professor Godfrey Tanner

Prepared by

Gionni Di Gravio

On the Occasion of Dr Rhona Beare’s Retirement
from the University of Newcastle

2nd Edition



Dr. Beare has been very much part of the Department of Classics for longer perhaps than she cares to remember. Her career at Newcastle began in early 1966 and has been characterised by long devotion to her subject and to her students, and an inquiring mind that devotes itself naturally to the minutiae–not only of Classics but also of other subjects including Tolkien. Her interests in the classical world continue well into medieval times, and in these circumstances she has been an invaluable source of answers to the thorny questions that the public have directed (launched, even) at the Department. She has survived many changes in the shape of the Department and in the needs and demands of the students, and she has emerged from it all in surprisingly good shape. She retains an agile mind, capable of retaining anything other than the names of her students, and, so far from being moulded by the necessities of life into a recognisable pattern; she remains, like her long-term colleague Godfrey, sui generis. She will be missed for her intellectual gifts, for the colour she has brought to the Department, and for her generosity towards it. We wish her every happiness back in England.

Prof. Harold Tarrant,
Dept. of Classics


Solution to the Authorship of the

Mysterious “Angelic” Manuscript Fragment

In early September 2000, the Archives, Rare Books & Special Collections Unit of the University of Newcastle purchased a manuscript fragment dating from the 13th to 15th centuries. The purchase of the fragment was made at an auction sale for the sum of $66.00AUS. It became the University’s oldest manuscript, and most treasured ‘bargain’.

The small fragment was described as being from a medieval work, inscribed on vellum in two columns, with 18 lines remaining per column. There were also marginalia present in another hand. It has highlighted initials, was of European origin, and was recovered from a binding.

Mystery surrounded the provenance of the manuscript, and the author and title of the work from which it was taken. Upon arrival of the fragment on the 11th October, Dr Rhona Beare of the Dept of Classics (Ancient History), after an initial examination, said that the fragment was from a theological work on angelology and demonology, concerning the nature of angels and whether they can sin. With the assistance of Professor Harold Tarrant, Head Department of Ancient History (Classics), and Emeritus Professor Godfrey Tanner, Dr Beare began a careful analysis of the fragment, and prepared a transcription and translation.

On Monday 23rd October, Mr Gionni di Gravio, Senior Clerk in Archives, Rare Books & Special Collections, after a number of afternoon ‘angelic’ discussions with Dr Beare on the 100 bus to Newcastle, and a weekend at home in his library, successfully sourced the fragment. Working with only a partial transcription of the text, and with a microfiche copy of the Patrologia Latina (without access to an online database version) he was able to locate the fragment’s source. It came from a work by the 12th century scholastic theologian Peter Lombard (ca.1100 – ca.1160) entitled Libri Quattuor Sententiarum. The fragment comes from Book 2 [Distinction VII], where Lombard dedicated ten sections of the Sententiae (or sentences) [dist. ii-xi] to the subject of good and evil spirits, a discussion concerning angels, demons, the Fall, grace and sin, the peccability of angels and the relation of demons to the magical arts.

”]Peter Lombard at work

Peter Lombard (c.1100-60), was an Italian theologian and bishop of Paris, whose Libri Quattuor Sententiarum (Four Books of Sentences) became the standard theological work of the Middle Ages. As textbook for two years in the course of theology, the work was essential for a student of the time, (if he could afford one) along with the Bible. The work’s popularity was such that by 1338, the Library of the Sorbonne possessed 50 copies of it and 118 volumes of commentaries upon its contents.

He was born in Novara, Lombardy, into a poor family, and through the patronage of St Bernard, studied in Bologna, Rheims, and Paris, where he was the student of the French philosopher Peter Abelard. Lombard taught theology in the cathedral school of Notre Dame in Paris, from 1136 to 1150. In 1159 he became bishop of Paris, but he died the following year.

Lombard’s style stood in contrast to that of his teacher. His temperament towards his authorities was conservative and harmonising, rather that provocative and questioning as that of Abelard. Lombard sought to reconcile and soften the disagreements, rather than enflame them. By 1205 the Sentences had been glossed by Peter of Poitiers, and by 1215 they were stamped with the approval of the 4th Lateran Council.

The Four Books of Sentences was probably composed between 1147 and 1150, and earned for him the title Magister Sententarium or “Master of the Sentences”. It was a compilation of the teachings of the Fathers of the Church and opinions of earlier theologians, and remained the chief theological textbook in European universities up until the 16th century. Many of the greatest western philosophers and theologians, such as Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas de Strasbourg, Duns Scotus and Bonaventura lectured and wrote commentaries on it.

This fragment, therefore, comes to us from a very important germinal period in the intellectual history of the West. As the late mythologist Joseph Campbell stated in a radio interview, the period from 1150 to 1250 marked a time of a profound formulation and statement of ideas in the post gothic world. It was the period of the troubadours, the Arthurian legends and the construction of the great cathedrals. Indeed, its importance in the medieval world is comparable to the importance of the Homeric epics to the classical world, and the stock exchange to the modern world.

It is with great pleasure that we welcome this small fragment to the rare book collection of the University and present (to the best of our knowledge) the first ever translation of it and its source from Book 2 Distinction VII. The English translation was prepared by Dr Rhona Beare. The areas of text coinciding with our manuscript are in bold.

Archives Rare Books & Special Collections
October 2000

Latin-English Translation

[The areas of text coinciding with our manuscript fragment are in bold.]



Patrologia Latina (ed. J.P. Migne)

Vol. 192 pp.664-667



Patrologia Latina (ed. J.P. Migne)

Vol. 192 pp.664-667

Translated from the Latin


Dr Rhona Beare,

Department of Ancient History (Classics)

University of Newcastle





1. Supra dictum est quod angeli qui perstiterunt, per gratiam confirmati sunt; et qui ceciderunt, a gratia Dei deserti sunt. Et boni quidem in tantum confirmati sunt per gratiam, quod peccare nequeunt. Mali vero per malitiam adeo sunt obstinati, quod bonam voluntatem habere, sive bene velle non valent, et si bonum sit quod aliquando volunt. Volunt enim aliquando aliquid fieri quod Deus vult fieri et utique illud bonum est et justum fieri; nec tamen bona voluntate illud volunt. [3] 1. It has been said above that the angels who stood were confirmed through grace; and those who fell, were deserted by God’s grace. And the good indeed have been so confirmed by grace that they cannot sin. But the bad have been so hardened by malice that they are not able to have good will or to wish well, even if the thing which at some time they wish is a good thing. For sometimes they want a thing to happen which God wants to happen, and certainly that thing is good and it is right that it should happen; but they do not want that thing with good will.

Quod utrique liberum arbitrium habent, nec tamen ad utrumque flecti possunt.[4]

That each group have free will but they cannot be turned to either.

2. Sed cum nec boni peccare possint, nec mali bene velle, vel bene operari, videtur quod iam non habeant liberum arbitrium, quia  in utrumque partem flecti non possunt, cum liberum arbitrium ad utrumque se habeat. Unde Hieron. in tractatu de prodigo Filio, dicit: Solus Deus est in quem peccatum cadere non potest; caetera cum sint liberi arbitrii in utramque partem flecti possunt. Hic videtur dicere quod omnis creatura in libero arbitrio constituta flecti potest ad bonum et ad malum. Quod si est, ergo et boni  angeli et mali ad utrumque flecti possunt; ergo et boni possunt fieri mali, et mali boni. Ad quod dicimus quia boni tanta gratia confirmati sunt, ut nequeant fieri mali; et mali in malitia adeo obdurati sunt, ut non valeant fieri boni; et tamen utrique habent liberum arbitrium, quia et boni non aliqua cogente necessitate, sed propria ac spontanea voluntate per gratiam quidem adjuti bonum eligunt, et malum respuunt, et mali similiter spontanea voluntate a gratia destituti, bonum vitant, et malum sequuntur; et mali habent liberum arbitrium sed depressum atque corruptum, quod surgere ad bonum non valet. 2. But since the good cannot sin, and the bad cannot wish well or act well, it seems that now they do not have free will, because they can not be turned in both directions[5], since free will has itself to both. Therefore St Jerome[6] in his tractate on the Prodigal Son says: God is the only one on whom sin cannot fall; other things since they are of free will can turn in either direction.[7] Here he seems to say that every creature constituted in free will can be turned both to good and to evil. If this is so, therefore both good angels and bad can be turned to either; therefore both the good can become bad and the bad can become good. To which we say that the good have been confirmed with so much grace that they cannot become bad; and the bad have been so hardened in malice that they are not able to become good; yet each group has free will, because the good angels, not with some necessity compelling them, but out of their own spontaneous wish, choose the good, being indeed helped by grace, and reject the evil, and the bad similarly of their spontaneous will, being deserted by grace, avoid the good and follow the bad; and the bad have free will but lowered and corrupted because it cannot rise to the good.

Quod boni post confirmationem liberius arbitrium habent quam ante.[8]

That the good after confirmation have freer will than before.

3. Boni vero arbitrium habent multo liberius post confirmationem quam ante. Ut enim Aug. tradidit in Ench., c. 105, non ideo carent libero arbitrio quia male velle non possunt; multo quippe liberius est arbitrium quod non potest servire peccato. Neque culpanda est voluntas; aut voluntas non est, aut libera dicenda non est, quia beati esse sic volunt, ut esse miseri non solum nolint, sed nec prorsus velle possint. Non possunt itaque boni angeli velle malum vel velle esse miseri; neque hoc habent ex natura, sed ex gratiae beneficio. Ante gratiae namque confirmationem potuere peccare angeli, et quidam etiam peccaverunt, et demones facti sunt. Unde Aug., tom. 6, in lib. 3 contra Maximinum, c.12: Creaturarum natura coelestium mori potuit, quia peccare potuit. Nam angeli peccaverunt, et demones facti sunt; quorum diabolus est princeps: et qui non peccaverunt peccare potuerunt; et cuicumque creaturae rationali praestatur ut peccare non possit, non est hoc naturae propriae, sed Dei gratia. Ideoque solus Deus est qui non gratia cujusquam, sed natura sua non potuit, nec potest, nec poterit peccare.  Ecce hic insinuatur quod angeli ante confirmationem peccare potuerunt, sed post confirmationem non possunt. Quod potuerunt fuit eis ex libero arbitrio, quod est eis naturale; quod vero modo non possunt peccare, non est eis ex natura, id est, libero arbitrio, sed ex gratia, ex qua gratia etiam est ut ipsum liberum arbitrium iam non possit peccato servire.”[9] 3. The good indeed have will much freer after confirmation than before. For as Augustine said in Encheiridion Ch.105[10], they do not lack free will because they cannot wish badly: for the will that cannot serve sin is much freer. Nor is will to be blamed; either ‘it is not will’ or ‘it is not to be called free’, because they so much want to be happy that they not only don’t want to be miserable but are not even able to want to. Therefore good angels cannot wish evil or wish to be miserable. They do not have this from nature but from the benefit of grace. For before the confirmation of grace the angels were able to sin, and some even sinned and became demons. Therefore Augustine, Tome 6, in Book 3 Against Maximin, Chapter 12 (says): “The nature of celestial creatures could die since it could sin. For the angels sinned and became demons; of whom the devil is prince. And those who did not sin were able to sin. And to whatever rational creature it is granted that he cannot sin, this is not of his own nature but by God’s grace. Therefore it is God alone who not by anyone’s grace but by his own nature neither was able nor is able nor will be able to sin. See, here is implied that angels before confirmation could sin but after confirmation cannot. That they were able was from their free will, which is natural to them; that now they cannot sin is not to them from nature, that is, from free will, but from grace, by which grace it is even that free will itself cannot now be a slave to [serve] sin.”
Quod post confirmationem angeli non possint ex natura peccare sicut ante; non quod debilitatum sit eorum liberum arbitrium sed confirmatum.
That after confirmation angels cannot by nature sin as before; not because their will has been weakened but because it has been strengthened.
4. Non ergo post confirmationem angeli de natura sicut ante peccare potuerunt; non quod liberum arbitrium eorum debilitatum sit per gratiam sed ita potius confirmatum, ut iam per illud non possit bonus angelus peccare; quod utique non est ex libero arbitrio, sed ex gratia Dei. Quod ergo Hieronymus ait: Caetera cum sint liberi arbitri possunt flecti in utramque partem, accipi oportet secundum statum in quo creata sunt. Talis enim et homo et angelus creatus est, qui ad utrumque flecti poterat; sed postea boni angeli ita per gratiam sunt confirmati, ut peccare non possint; et mali ita in vitio obdurati, ut bene vivere nequeant. Similiter etiam illud Isid. intelligendum est: Angeli mutabiles sunt natura, immutabiles sunt gratia; quia ex natura in primordio suae conditionis mutari potuerunt ad bonum sive ad malum, sed post per gratiam ita bono addicti sunt, ut inde mutari nequeant. Ad hoc enim repugnant gratia non natura. 4. Therefore after confirmation the angels were not able to sin of their own nature as before; not because their free will has been weakened by grace, but rather because it has been strengthened so that through it a good angel cannot sin; which certainly is not from free will but from the grace of God. Therefore what Jerome says: “Other things since they are of free will can be turned into either direction” ought to be understood in accordance with the state in which they have been created. For both human being and angel was created such that he could be turned to either; but afterwards the good angels have been so confirmed by grace that they cannot sin; and the bad ones have been so hardened in vice that they cannot live well. Even that remark of Isidore must be understood in a similar way: Angels are changeable by nature, unchangeable by grace; because by nature in the beginning of their condition they could be changed to good or to evil, but afterwards by grace they have been so dedicated to good that afterwards they cannot be changed. For they resist this by grace, not by nature.
Quod angeli mali vivacem sensum non perdiderunt, et quibus modis sciant.[11]
That bad angels have not lost keen senses and by what ways they know.
5. Et licet mali angeli ita per malitiam sint obdurati vivaci tamen sensu non sunt penitus privati. Nam, ut tradit Isidorus, lib.1 de summo Bono[12], triplici acumine scientiae vigent daemones: scilicet, subtilitate naturae, experientia temporum, revelatione supernorum spirituum. De hoc etiam Aug., lib 2. Super Gen., c:17, in fine, ait[13]: Spiritus mali quaedam vera de temporalibus rebus noscere permittuntur; partim subtilitate sensus, partim experientia temporum, callidiores propter tam magnam longitudinem vitae; partim sanctis angelis quod ipsi ab omnipotenti Deo discunt iussu ejus sibi revelantibus. Aliquando iidem nefandi spiritus et quae facturi sunt, velut divinando, praedicunt.” 5. And although bad angels have become so obdurate through malice, yet they have not been utterly deprived of their senses. For, as Isidore says, book one, On the Highest Good: demons are strong with triple acuteness of knowledge: that is, with subtlety of nature, with experience of times, with revelation from heavenly spirits. Of this even Augustine, Book 2 on Genesis Chapter 17 at the end, says: “Bad spirits are allowed to know some true things about temporal matters; partly by the subtlety of their senses, partly by experience of times, being more cunning on account of so great a length of life; partly because the holy angels reveal to them by God’s command what they themselves learn from God the omnipotent. Sometimes the same evil spirits predict what they are about to do, as if by divination.”
Quod magicae artes virtute et scientia diaboli valent; quae virtus et scientia est ei data a Deo vel ad fallendum malos, vel ad monendum, vel exercendum bonos.[14]

That magic arts are effective by the power and knowledge of the Devil; which power and knowledge has been given to him by God either to deceive bad men or to warn or test good men.

6. Quorum scientia atque virtute etiam magicae artes exercentur; quibus tamen non tam[15] scientia quam potestas a Deo data est, vel ad fallendum fallaces, vel ad monendum fideles, vel ad exercendam probandamque justorum patientiam. Unde August., in lib. 3 de Trin., c.7: Video, inquit, infirmae cogitationi quid possit occurrere; ut scilicet ista miracula etiam magicis artibus fiant. Nam et magi Pharaonis serpentes fecerunt, et alia. Sed illud est amplius admirandum, quomodo magorum potentia quae serpentes facere possit, ubi ad muscas minutissimas, scilicet ciniphes ventum est, omnino defecit, qua tertia plaga Egyptus caedebatur. Ibi certe defecerunt magi dicetes [dicentes]: Digitus Dei est hic. Unde intelligi datur nec ipso [ipsos] quidem transgressores angelos, et aereas potestates in imam istam caliginem tamquam in sui generis carcerem ab illius sublimis aethereae puritatis habitatione detrusos, per quos magicae artes possunt quidquid possunt, non autem aliquid valere possunt, nisi data desuper potestate. Datur autem vel ad fallendum fallaces sicut in Aegyptios, et in ipsos etiam magos data est, ut in eorum spirituum operatione viderentur admirandi, a quibus liebant [fiebant], a Dei veritate damnandi; vel ad monendum fideles, ne tale aliquid facere pro magno desiderent, propter quod etiam nobis in Scriptura sunt prodita: vel ad exercendam, probandam, manifestandamque justorum patientiam. 6. By their knowledge and power even magic arts are practiced; to whom however not only the knowledge but also the power has been given by God, either to deceive the deceitful, or to warn the faithful, or to try and test the patience of the righteous. Therefore Augustine in Book 3 On the Trinity Chapter 7 says[16]: “I can see what can occur to one of limited intelligence; obviously, that those miracles are done even by magic arts. For even Pharaoh’s magicians made serpents and other things. But this is more to be wondered at, how the power of the magicians, which was able to make serpents, when it came to tiny flies, that is, lice, altogether failed, lice, with which third plague Egypt was being chastised. There certainly the magicians failed, saying ‘The Finger of God is here’[17]. Hence we are given to understand that not even the sinning angels and powers of the air who had been thrust down into the lowest darkness as if into the prison of their race from a home in that sublime heavenly purity, they by whom magic arts have whatever power they have, not even they can have any power unless the power has been given from above. Moreover, it is given either to deceive the deceitful, as it was given in the case of the Egyptians, and against the magicians themselves, in order that in the operation of those spirits they should seem admirable, by whom they were being done, but by God’s truth damnable; or in order to warn the faithful that they should not desire to do such a thing as a great thing because even to us they have been reported in scripture; or to try, test, and to make evident, the patience of the righteous.”
Quod transgressoribus angelis non servit ad nutum materia rerum visibilium.
That the matter of visible things does not serve the sinful angels at their will.
7. Nec putandum est istis transgressoribus angelis ad nutum servire hanc visibilium rerum materiam: sed Deo potius, a quo haec potestas datur quantum incommutabilis judicat.

7. It is not to be thought that this visible material universe serves those sinful angels at their will: but rather serves God, by whom this power is given, as much as the Unchangeable judges.

Quod non sunt creatores, licet per eos magi ranas et alia fecerunt, sed solus Deus.
That they are not creators, though through them magicians have made frogs and other things, but God alone.[18]
8. Nec sane creatores illi mali angeli dicendi sunt, quia per illos magi ranas et serpentes fecerunt; non enim ipsi eas creaverunt. Omnium quippe rerum quae corporaliter visibiliterque nascuntur, occulta quaedam semina in corporeis mundi hujus elementis latent, quae Deus originaliter eis indidit. Ipse ergo Creator est omnium rerum qui Creator est invisibilium seminum; quia quaecunque nascendo ad oculos nostros exeunt ex occultis seminibus accipiunt progrediendi primordia et incrementa debitae magnitudinis, distinctionesque formarum ab originalibus, ut ita dicam, regulis sumunt. 8. Those bad angels are certainly not to be called creators because through them magicians have made frogs and serpents; for they did not themselves create them. For of all things which are corporally and visibly born, certain hidden seeds hide in the bodily elements of this world, seeds which God originally put into them. Therefore he himself is the creator of all things, he who is creator of the invisible seeds; for whatever things by being born come out to our eyes, from hidden[19] seeds receive the beginnings of progress and increase to proper size, and they take differences of shape(s) from, so to speak, the original rules.[20]
Sicut parentes non dicuntur creatores filiorum, nec agricolae frugum, ita nec boni angeli nec mali, etsi per eorum ministerium fiant creaturae.
Just as parents are not called creators of their children, and farmers are not called creators of the crops, so neither good angels nor bad ones are, though creatures are made through their service.
9. Sicut ergo nec parentes dicimus creatores hominum, nec agricolas creatores frugum; quamvis eorum extrinsecus adhibitis motibus ad ista creanda Dei virtus interius operetur; ita non solum malos, sed nec bonos angelos fas est putare creatores. Sed pro subtilitate sui sensus corporis semina istarum rerum nobis occultiora noverunt, et ea per congruas temperationes elementorum latenter spargunt, atque ita et gignendarum rerum et accelerandorum incrementorum praebent occasiones. Sed nec boni haec nisi quantum Deus jubet, nec mali haec injuste faciunt nisi quantum juste ipse permitit. Nam iniqui malitia voluntatem suam habent injustam, potestem autem non nisi juste accipiunt sive ad suam poenam, sive ad aliorum; vel poenam malorum, vel laudem bonorum. 9. Therefore just as we do not call parents creators of human beings, or farmers creators of crops: although when their movements have been applied from outside, the power of God works inside to create them: so, it is not right to consider angels – not only bad ones but even good ones – as creators. But because of the subtlety of their sense, they know the seeds of body of those things, seeds hidden from us, and they scatter them secretly through suitable temperings of elements, and thus they provide occasions for things to come into existence and for speeding up their growth. But the good angels do not do this except as far as God commands, and the bad do not unjustly do this except as far as himself (God) justly permits. For the unjust in malice have their will unjust, but do not have power unless they justly receive it either for their own punishment or for the punishment of others or for the punishment of the bad human beings or for the praise of the good human beings.
Sicut justificationem mentis, ita creationem rerum solus Deus operatur; licet creatura extrinsecus serviat.
Just as God alone works justification of mind, so only God works the creation of things: although externally a creature serves.
10. Sicut ergo mentem nostram justificando formare non potest nisi Deus, praedicare autem extrinsecus Evangelium etiam homines possunt, non solum boni per veritatem, sed etiam mali per occasionem; ita creationem rerum visibilium Deus interius operatur. Exteriores autem operationes atque contemplationes, sive occasiones, ab angelis tam bonis quam malis, vel etiam ab hominibus adhibentur. Sed haec ab hominibus tanto difficilius adhibentur, quantum eis desunt sensuum subtilitates et corporum mobilitates in membris terrenis et pigris. Unde qualibuscumque angelis vicinas causas ab elementis contrahere quanto facilius est, tanto mirabiliores in hujusmodi operibus eorum existunt celeritates; sed non est creator nisi qui principaliter ista format, nec quisquam hoc potest nisi unus creator Deus. Aliud est enim ex intimo ac summo causarum cardine condere ac ministrare creaturam quod facit solus creator Deus; aliud autem pro distributis ab illo viribus ac facultatibus aliquam operationem forinsecus admovere, ut tunc vel tunc, sic vel sic, exeat quod creatur. Ista quippe originaliter et primordialiter in quadam textura elementorum cuncta jam creata sunt, sed acceptis opportunitatibus postea prodeunt. 10. Therefore just as no one but God can by justifying form our mind, but even humans can proclaim the gospel from outside, not only good men through the truth but even bad men on occasion; so God inside works the creation of visible things. But exterior operations and contemplations, or occasions, are applied by angels, both good and bad, or even by human beings. But humans apply these things with great difficulty because they lack the subtleties of sense(s), and the mobility of body, in their earthly sluggish bodies. Therefore the easier it is for angels of whatever sort to draw together proximate causes from the elements, the more wonderful in works of this sort is their speed; but no one is creator except he who first formed those things, and no one can do this except the one creator God. For it is one thing from the inmost and highest hinge of causes to found and govern the [creature, creation?], a thing which only God the creator does; but it is a different thing, because of the powers and faculties distributed by him, to apply some operation from outside, so that at one time or another, in this way or in that, what is created emerges. For those things have all of them already been created originally and primordially in a certain structure of elements, but come forth afterwards when receiving an opportunity.
Quod angeli mali multa possunt per naturae vigorem, quae non possunt propter Dei vel bonorum angelorum prohibitionem, id est quia non permittuntur.
That bad angels can do many things through the vigour of their nature, which they cannot do because God or good angels forbid, that is, because they are not permitted to.
11. Illud quoque sciendum est quod angeli mali quaedam possunt per naturae subtilitatem, quae tamen non possunt propter Dei vel bonorum angelorum prohibitionem, id est, quia non permittuntur illa facere a Deo, vel ab angelis bonis; possent utique fecisse ciniphes qui ranas serpentesque fecerunt. Quaedam vero non possunt facere, etiam si permittantur ab angelis superioribus, quia non permittit Deus. Unde Aug. in lib.3 de Trin., cap. 9: ex ineffabili potentatu Dei fit ut quod possent mali angeli si permitterentur, ideo non possunt quia non permittuntur. Neque enim occurrit alia ratio cur non poterant facere ciniphes qui ranas serpentesque fecerunt, nisi quia major aderat dominatio prohibentis Dei per Spiritum sanctum; quod etiam magi confessi sunt, dicentes: Digitus Dei est hic. Quid autem per naturam possint, nec tamen possint propter prohibitionem, et quid per ipsius naturae suae conditionem facere non sinantur, homini explorare difficile est imo impossibile. Novimus hominem posse ambulare, et neque hoc posse si non permittatur. Sic et illi angeli quaedam possunt facere si permittantur ab angelis potentioribus ex imperio Dei; quaedam vero non possunt, etiam si ab eis permittantur, quia ille non permittit a quo est illis talis naturae modus, qui etiam per angelos suos illa plerumque non permittit quae concessit ut possint. 11. This also must be known, that bad angels can do some things through subtlety of nature, which however they cannot do because of the prohibition of God or good angels, that is, because they are not permitted to do them by God or by good angels; certainly they who made frogs and serpents would have been able to make [fleas? lice? stinging insects? bed bugs?]. Some things indeed they cannot do, even if they were permitted by superior angels, because God does not permit. Therefore Augustine in Book3 On the Trinity Chapter 9: “From the unutterable power of God it happens that what bad angels could do if they were permitted they cannot do because they are not permitted. For no other reason occurs why they who made frogs and serpents could not make [lice? fleas?], except that there was present the greater power of God forbidding through the Holy Spirit; which even the magicians admitted, saying ‘The finger of God is here’ What by nature they could do, but because of the prohibition could not do, and what by the condition of their own nature itself they are not allowed to do, is hard for a human being to explore – indeed, impossible. We know that a human can walk, and cannot do this if not permitted to; but he cannot fly, even if he were permitted to. In the same way angels can do some things if permitted by more powerful angels on God’s command; but some things they cannot do, even if permitted by them, because he does not permit, he by whom such a type of nature was given to them, he who even by his angels does not permit frequently those things which he has allowed them to be able to do.”


[1] The title of this first chapter differs in the St Bonaventura edition (1916) of Peter Lombard’s work. It reads “Utrum boni Angeli possint peccare, vel mali recte vivere” (“Whether good angels can sin, or bad angels can live well.”) See Petrii Lombardi Libri IV Sententiarum studio et cura P.P. Collegii S. Bonaventurae in lucem editio 2nd edition Ad Claras Atques prope Florentiam 1916 p.333 (Copy in the Bodley Library.)

[2] Chapters 1 and 2 are said by the editor of the Bonaventura edition to be based upon Hugo of St Victor  Summa Sententiarum Tractate 1 capitula 4 (Patrologia Latina tome 176 p.84 – 85) which says:

“One must also know that good angels have been so confirmed by grace that they cannot sin; but bad angels have been made so obstinate by malice that they cannot do good.

To this is opposed the argument that they have free will; therefore they can be turned in either direction. But it is not called free will from that, as we shall show in its own place, but is voluntary; and the good angels abstain from evil by free will, not with necessity compelling them; similarly also the bad angels abstain from good. Likewise what Jerome says is opposed to this: “God is the only one on whom sin cannot fall; other things since they are of free will can turn their will in either direction.” How this is to be understood, we can guess from these words of Isidore: Angels are changeable by nature, unchangeable by grace. Whence it seems necessary to admit that good angels can sin of their own nature, that is, their nature does not prevent this, yet it is not to be agreed that good angels can sin. Rather, they cannot sin, that is, the grace by which they have been confirmed prevents this. And although bad angels have been made obstinate by malice, yet they have not lost their lively senses: Because, as Isidore says, they are strong with threefold acuteness of knowledge: with subtlety of nature, with experience of times, with revelation of superior powers. Augustine says: Bad spirits are allowed to know some things about temporal matters, partly by their experience of times, more cunning because of such great length of life; partly by holy angels revealing to them what they learn from all-powerful God at his command. Sometimes too the same wicked spirits predict as if by divination even things which are of the author himself”.

[3] The manuscript fragment adds: nec bene illud volunt (and they do not want that good thing). These four extra words are present in the Bonaventura edition (1916) but not in Migne’s text. The word ‘bene’ (or bonum) is abbreviated in our fragment to ‘bn’. We have read this as ‘bonum’; the Bonaventura editor has read it as ‘bene’. If the abbreviation is taken as ‘bene’, then we translate as “and they do not want it well.”

[4] The Bonaventura edition has a slightly different title, which reads: Quod cum utrique habeant liberum arbitrium, non tamen ad utrumque flecti possunt. (That though each group have free will, yet they cannot be turned to either). The editor also adds that Jerome’s tractate on the prodigal son is Jerome’s Epistle 21 to Damasus. See note 6 below.

[5] This sentence was accidentally omitted by the scribe of our fragment and added in the margin.

[6] St Jerome (Eusebius Hieronymus) c.347 – c420. For complete works see Migne P.L. v.22-30.

[7] Jerome’s Epistle to Damasus on the Prodigal Son, Epistle XXI, Ad Damasum de duobus filiis (To Damasus on the two sons ). Jerome says that the elder son was jealous, just as the ten apostles were jealous of James and John, Matthew 20:24. God sees faults even in angels, so it is impossible that the prodigal son’s elder brother was faultless, even though in Luke 15:29 he says, “I never transgressed a commandment of thine”. Peter Lombard shortened the following section from Jerome that states: “God is the only one on whom sin does not fall: since the other things are of free will, just as man too was made in the image and likeness of God, they can turn their will in either direction.”

[8] Chapter 3 contains the quotation from Augustine Against Maximin. The Bonaventura editor explains that this passage comes from Book 2 Chapter 12 and will be found in the Patrologia Latina Tome 42. Migne calls this Book 2 as ‘Book 3’. The Bonaventura text merely has “in libro contra Maximinum” which is exactly what our fragment contains: “in the book Against Maximin” without any numerals. Did J.P.Migne have access to a more complete manuscript version with the numerals included, or did he add them in?

[9] At the end of Chapter 3, the Bonaventura text reads: ex qua gratia est etiam. The J.P.Migne version  reads: et qua gratia etiam est. Since ‘ex’ is better latin than ‘et’, there is the suspicion that the ‘et’ in Migne is a misprint.

[10] Augustine refers to humans, Peter Lombard applies Augustine’s ideas to angels.

“105. Thus it was fitting that man should be created, in the first place, so that he could will both good and evil – not without reward, if he willed the good; not without punishment, if he willed the evil. But in the future life he will not have the power to will evil; and yet this will not thereby restrict his free will. Indeed, his will be much freer, because he will then have no power whatever to serve sin. For we surely ought not to find fault with such a will, nor say it is no will, or that it is not rightly called free, when we so desire happiness that we not only are unwilling to be miserable, but have no power whatsoever to will it.

And, just as in our present state, our soul is unable to will unhappiness for ourselves, so then it will be forever unable to will iniquity. But the ordered course of God’s plan was not to be passed by, wherein he willed to show how good the rational creature is that is able not to sin, although one unable to sin is better. So, too, it was an inferior order of immortality – but yet it was immortality – in which man was capable of not dying, even if the higher order which is to be is one in which man will be incapable of dying.” Augustine, Enchiridion, Chapter 28: 105 pp.402-403.

[11] Chapter 5 has a different title in the Bonaventura edition: Quibus modis mali angeli noscant veritatem temporalium rerum (How bad angels know the truth of temporal matters). Lombard’s source for this section was Hugh of St Victor’s Summa Sententiarum (see J.P. Migne, Patrologia Latina tom. 176 pp 84-85).

[12] Isidore, On the Highest Good, (or, Sentences) 1.10.17, writes of bad angels: Non tamen amiserunt vivacem creaturae angelicae sensum. Triplici enim modo praescientiae acumine vigent, id est, subtilitate naturae, experientia temporum, revelatione superiorum potestatum. (However, they have not lost the lively senses of the angelic nature. For in a triple manner they are strong with acuteness of foreknowledge, by subtlety of nature, by experience of times, by revelation of superior powers). Isidore stated similar ideas in his Etymologies Book 8 Chapter 11 Section 15-17: “They are called demons by the Greeks; demons = daemons = skilled and knowing things. For they know many future things beforehand, and therefore are accustomed to give some oracular responses (prophecies). For in them is knowledge of things, knowledge greater than human weakness, partly from the acuteness of more subtle sense(s), partly from experience of very long life, partly by angelic revelation at God’s command. These are strong with the nature of airy bodies. Before sin indeed they had celestial bodies. But after falling they were changed into airy quality, and were permitted to occupy not the purer spaces of that air but those dark places, which are their prison until the day of judgement. These are the false angels, whose prince is the Devil.” Compare this with Lactantius, Divine Institutes, Book 2 Chapter 16, pp.157-158.

[13] Augustine De Genesi Ad Litteram Book Two, Chapter XVII, 37 (XIII). The following translation is from the end of Chapter XVII. It includes a passage quoted or paraphrased by Peter Lombard. The context of this section is that Augustine has been calling astrology nonsense. He says that astrologers claim that if you tell them the day and hour at which a child is conceived, they can tell you what will happen to that child. But twins are conceived at the same time and do not lead identical lives. Astrology, therefore, is nonsense, yet the predictions of astrologers sometimes come true. Section 37 (XIII) [Translation by Dr Rhona Beare]  begins (the section quoted by Lombard is in italics): “Since by those people true things are said, one must admit that they are said by some mysterious instinct which human minds experience unconsciously. Since this happens in order to deceive humans, it is the work of spirits who are seducers. It is permitted to them to know certain true things about temporal matters, partly by the acuteness of their more subtle senses because they enjoy more subtle bodies, partly by their more cunning experience because of their so great length of life, partly because the holy angels reveal to them what they learn from all-powerful God, even at the command of Him who distributes human merits by the purity of most hidden justice. Sometimes however the same wicked spirits, as if divining the future, predict even what they themselves are about to do. Therefore a good Christian must beware of astrologers or any of those impiously diving the future, especially those that say true things, lest by association with demons they ensnare the soul deceived by a certain pact of alliance.” Augustine, in the next chapter goes on to talk of the heavenly lights (i.e. the sun, moon, etc) as to whether they are wholly material, or whether they have guiding spirits. [ From Bibliotheque Augustinienne Oeuvres de Saint Ausgustin 48 septiene serie La Genese au sens litteral en douze livres De Genesi ad Litteram libri duodecim tradution, introduction et notes par P. Agagesse et A. Solignac Desclee de Bronwen 1972 p.208. Copy in Bristol Library BR 65.A5]

[14] The title is longer in the Migne edition than in Bonaventura: Quod magicae artes virtute et scientia diaboli valent, quae est eis a Deo (That magic arts are effective by the power and knowledge of the devil, which they have from God)

[15] Both our fragment and the Bonaventura version have tamen tam instead, reading “however both the..”

[16] Peter Lombard begins quoting Augustine here in Section 6 and continues until the end of Distinction VII, while omitting some parts of it.

[17] Exodus 8.15

[18] Bonaventura edition title reads: “That they are not creators, though through them magicians have made frogs and other things; in the same way, good angels are not creators, even if through their ministry creatures are made”.

[19] In our fragment ‘hidden’ is crossed out and ‘most hidden’ (occultissimis) substituted. Bonaventura in the text printed occultis, and at the bottom of the page added a note that Manuscript D has occultissimis. This means that our copy of Peter Lombard was not originally copied from Manuscript D, but was (at this point) later “corrected” from D, (or a manuscript related to D).

[20] Both ‘seed’ and ‘beginning’ are words Lucretius uses for the atoms of which everything is made.


Postscript February 2001

From her retirement Rhona has continued her research into the sources of our fragment. The results of this new research have been included in the endnotes to the text. In addition, she has located another published edition of Lombard’s work by Bonaventura entitled Petrii Lombardi Libri IV Sententiarum studio et cura P.P. Collegii S. Bonaventurae in lucem editio 2nd edition Ad Claras Atques prope Florentiam 1916 located at the Bodley Library to compare with the Migne edition.

In January 2001 a Sydney bookseller located another piece of our fragment which had been separated at some time and framed for display purposes. He was able to negotiate the sale with the owner and it now resides with our fragment.

Postscript March 2001

Thankyou to Bro. Alexis Bugnolo, editor of The Franciscan Archive, who has sent me a link to an ongoing English translation of Lombard’s Sentences from the Quarrachi edition of 1882. At the present time only selected distinctions from Lombard’s first book, in Latin & English, have been completed.

Postscript May 2002

Denis Muzerelle (via email dated 25.5.02) from the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (Section de paléographie latine) 40 avenue d’Iéna, F-75116 Paris believes the origin of our manuscript fragment is undoubtedly Northern France (presumably Paris), 2nd quarter of the 13th century. We thank him for his expert opinion.



Postscript October 2004

According to Associate Professor Wanda Zemler-Cizewski from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin our fragment has been identified as forming part of another that binds one of the rare books held at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Associate Professor Zemler-Cizewski who has examined and compared their vellum leaves with our online ones, believes that they are from the same manuscript. The book is a 1526 printing from the Parisian press of Johannes Petit of Thomas Aquinas’ lectures on the epistles of St. Paul entitled Sancti Thome de Aquino Ordinis Predicatorum Super epistolas Pauli commentaria preclarissima : cum tabula vel indice alphabetico. She says that “the boards of the original binding are missing, but there are two full vellum leaves attached, one in front and the other at the back. They contain the text of Peter Lombard’s Sentences lib. 2, dist. 8 and 9. The text is in a 13th c. north French hand, in two columns 5.1 cm. wide with a 1cm. space between the columns. The average height of the letters is .5 cm. Each column is 39 lines. Capital letters are done in blue ink with fine red penned decoration around them and subheadings within the text are done in red ink.”

I was also contacted by the donor of the Aquinas volume, Mr. William Throckmorton Warren, who thanked us for the work we had done on the manuscript fragments. He said that the work he donated to Marquette University has been in his family for centuries. Written in Latin, the book is missing its cover but is still extremely valuable, as only two other copies are known to exist in all the world. In the binding of this book are the 8th and 9th distinctions from Book 2 of Lombard’s work. We hold the manuscript fragments of distinction 7.

The book was published and found its way into Mr Warren’s family in the 17th century, when it was acquired by his ancestor, Sir Robert Throckmorton, 1st Baronet of Coughton, Warwickshire, in England. This distant relative, who signed the book in 1627, along with others in the family had a history of religious persecution. Mr Warren is unclear concerning the book’s provenance between the years 1627 and 1938, when it was purchased in England by a friend, who subsequently returned it to the family when Mr Warren was born. In July of this year he donated the volume to the Marquette University library. There is a further Australian connection in that he was educated at Footscray Institute of Technology in Melbourne.

The Marquette University’s connection to our University’s Dr. Rhona Beare is yet another coincidence. They own the original manuscripts for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and later this week they’ll be hosting an international conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of LOTR, and so they are very familiar with Dr. Beare’s scholarship on J.R.R. Tolkien.


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[Manuscript] A small fragment from a medieval book, a manuscript of the Libri Quattuor Sententiarum Book 2 Distinction VII by 12th century scholastic theologian Peter Lombard, on vellum, two columns with 18 lines remaining, highlighted initials, worn, recovered from a binding, Europe, 13th to 15th century. [Recto].

Click on fragment for 770 x 351 pixels image.

Click on fragment for larger 1500 x 684 pixels image.

[Manuscript] Two small fragments from a manuscript of the Libri Quattuor Sententiarum Book 2 Distinction VII by 12th century scholastic theologian Peter Lombard, highlighted initials, worn, recovered from a binding, Europe, 13th to 15th century. [Recto].

Click on fragment for 640 x 513 pixels image.

Click on fragment for 1275 x 1022 pixels image.

Click for a larger image

Click here for a larger image

[Manuscript] A small fragment from a medieval book, a manuscript of the Libri Quattuor Sententiarum Book 2 Distinction VII by 12th century scholastic theologian Peter Lombard, on vellum, two columns with 18 lines remaining, highlighted initials, worn, recovered from a binding, Europe, 13th to 15th century. [Verso]

Click on fragment for 770 x 351 pixels image.

Click on fragment for larger 1500 x 684 pixels image.

[Manuscript] Two small fragments from a manuscript of the Libri Quattuor Sententiarum Book 2 Distinction VII by 12th century scholastic theologian Peter Lombard, highlighted initials, worn, recovered from a binding, Europe, 13th to 15th century. [Verso].

Click on fragment for 640 x 530 pixels image.

Click on fragment for 1275 x 1055 pixels image.


To the best of our knowledge no complete English translation exists of the Sententiae. For the complete works of Peter Lombard, see the Patrologia Latina (ed. J.P. Migne) Vol. 191-192. For other printed editions of the Libri Quattuor Sententiarum see the one prepared by the Franciscans of Quaracchi. 2 vols. (1916) and Bonaventura’s edition Petrii Lombardi Libri IV Sententiarum studio et cura P.P. Collegii S. Bonaventurae in lucem editio 2nd edition Ad Claras Atques prope Florentiam 1916. See also an ongoing online English translation of Peter Lombard’s Sentences from the Quarrachi edition of 1882.

De Ghellinck, J. “Peter Lombard” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI, 1911 online version located at: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11768d.htm (1 of 3) [22/10/2000 19:08:44]

Haskins, C. H. The Renaissance of the 12th Century. New York: Meridian, 1957 pp.357-358

Hastings, J (ed.) Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. Edinburgh : Clark, 1908-1926. Vol.4 pp 582a-b.

Kibre, Pearl The Library of Pico Della Mirandola. New York: Ams Press, 1966.

Article: Peter Lombard (1095 – 1160) from The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy located at: http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/l/lombard.htm [22/10/2000 19:00:27]

Keck, K. R. Peter Lombard article from The Ecole Glossary located at: http://cedar.evansville.edu/~ecoleweb/glossary/plombard.html (1 of 2) [22/10/2000 19:07:41]

Peter Lombard Article from internet location: http://www.fwkc.com/encyclopedia/low/articles/l/l015001245f.html [22/10/2000 19:04:52]

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