Peter Comestor’s Historia Scholastica: Pursuing the veritas historiae Through the Works of Josephus
Petrus Comestor’s Historia Scholastica is a broad biblical rewriting composed ca. 1160 in the milieu of the cathedral school of Paris and the abbey of St. Victor. Also known as the ‘popular Bible’, it was considered a pivotal biblical manual until the mid-16th century, as the over 800 extant manuscripts show. For his wide-raging work, Comestor uses a variegated pool of sources, among which one of the most important is Flavius Josephus, known to Comestor through its Latin translation. The use of Josephus in the Historia is unique in its extent and has received some scholarly attention, but further research ought to be made. This article highlights how Comestor not only uses the Jewish Antiquities to fill in the gaps in the biblical narrative, for example integrating the account of the Binding of Isaac with indirect speech between father and son extrapolated from the Antiquities, but also compares them with the Vulgate and the Septuagint, granting them the same authority to establish the historical truth of biblical history. Passages from the Historia Genesis and Exodi are analyzed to show how Comestor goes out of his way to reconcile Josephus’ account and the Vulgate, showing the remarkable authority which the Jewish historian has in his eyes.
Copyright (c) 2022 Sara Moscone
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