TRANSLATION: Peregrinatio Animae

Preface to the translation

The work is found in MS Paris B.N. lat.3236A, fol.85v-87r, among a clerical collection including Biblical studies by Richard de Saint-Victor, sermons, a table of correspondences between the 7 gifts of the spirit, the 8 beatitudes and the 7 petitions of the Lord’s Prayer etc.

I have made my translation of this anonymous and untitled little work from the edition published in the Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du moyen âge, vol.13 (Paris 1940-42), pages 280-299.  The Latin text was edited by Marie-Thérèse d’Alverny, who gave it the title Peregrinatio Animae.  It is her erudition that is being used in most of my footnotes, and particularly in those which refer directly to ‘the editor’.

Whenever I am unsure of the best translation, or when I think the reader might be unsure, from my translation, what word was used in the original for some key concept, I have put the Latin word or phrase in a footnote.  Also in the footnotes are a great number of references to texts from the Bible, as these are constantly being quoted, alluded to or paraphrased.

Any words that appear in square brackets [ ] are not in the text: I have added them in an attempt at elucidation.  Please note that the division into sections is not in the text: I am responsible for all the sub-headings; I apologise to any reader who finds them unhelpful.  The paragraph structure of the translation, however, reproduces almost exactly that of the printed Latin text.

There are no titles or sub-titles in the original, except that the names of the planetary spheres have been added in the margin of the section on the 10 grades of misery.

This little book may not have any claim to be a classic piece of religious literature.  I find it of considerable interest, nevertheless, as it shows that some of the teachings associated with Islamic and Jewish Avicennism made a religious, as well as a philosophical, impact on at least one group of Latin Christians.  This may be a key text in the transference to the West of a more inclusive religious tradition, which emphasised inner personal experience of the divine, and saw all religious teachings as fundamentally in agreement.




[Prefatory quotation]

“Man, although he was [held] in honour, did not understand: equipped like the foolish beasts of burden, he has become like them.”[2]

[The threefold nature of man]

According to the works of the Fathers, ancient and modern, as well as the writings of all the experts in law and philosophy, man can be said to be threefold: the inner man, the outer man and, the two put together, the whole or composite man.[3]

The inner man, which is called divine, is not called ‘inner’ because it is inside anything, or covered over by anything, but because it is hidden from sense perception.  It can be found in the text: “for I rejoice in the law of God after the inner man.”[4]  This means, in my opinion, that the law of God and the observation of his commands bring the greatest joy to the soul.

The outer man, which could also be called the natural or perceptible man, is not called ‘outer’ because it is outside anything, or because it is keeping anything else inside it, but because it is manifest to, and understood by, the senses.  We refer to this outer man – which is the body – when we say that a man is healthy or weak, white or black.

The composite man, as the dialecticians and categorists might call him,[5] is a combination of the inner and the outer man, and is, I think, summed up in: “as the rational soul and the flesh is one man;”[6]  or in: “man, although he was held in honour, did not understand”…etc.[7]

[The inner man: the soul]

And man was indeed made in honour, inasmuch as his body has a better composition and a more balanced constitution than any other, and is ruled and animated by a soul that is nobler than any other, because it is created in the image and likeness of God.[8]  As Aristotle says in Of Pure Goodness:

“because the noble, that is to say rational, soul is created by God through the medium of the Intelligence, God placed it, as it were, on a pallet of intelligence,”[9]

so that intelligence affects everything it does.  To put it another way, the noble, rational soul, created by God first after the angels, receives its goodness and its effectiveness from God by means of the Mediating Angel.[10]

About the outer man, the body, it is not our task in this work to say much, inasmuch as it is natural and belongs to the physicians.  This discussion will similarly ignore the composite man, who is subject to regulation by the law.  To the inner man alone, which could be called hidden and divine, shall we direct our attention.  This discourse will consider the different dispositions of the inner man.  We need to find out what states our souls may come to, when they are drawn out of the body,[11] according to what can be read in the writings of the prophets, the most expert philosophers, the doctors of law and the teachers of the Church.[12]  Nothing, however, will be definitively proved, just by reading these descriptions.[13]

It is important to know that sometimes we are influenced by our bodily natures, at others by our souls, and at others by the angelic substances or the divine essence.[14]  We use comparisons drawn from processes in the corporeal world to elucidate things happening on the spiritual plane.  As one of the wise said:

“This lesser world is in its ordering the copy of the greater world;”[15]

and I think even Paul seems to touch on this, when he says that “the invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.”[16] (The text here is very corrupt, but may read: The secondary and artificial makes known the original [and ideal].[17])  Elsewhere the same Apostle says that, through faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.[18]  From the invisible were made the visible.  Anyone who wants to be saved must first understand the functions of his body, and then he will be able to distinguish those from the workings of his soul.

[Health and sickness of the soul: those on the right and those on the left]

Let him therefore realise that his body is in one of three conditions: namely, health, sickness and what may be called indifference.[19]  Health is when the body keeps itself well, and its life is conducted with moderation and lived in accordance with its nature.  Sickness is when it wavers, slips below its required standard of moderation and temperance, and sinks into lassitude, affliction and ruin.[20]  Indifference is when the body is neither really in health nor in sickness but between the two, midway between its most and its least healthy condition.[21]

Similarly there are three conditions of the soul: namely, right, left and centre.  The ‘right-hand’ disposition of the soul is called by many names in the books of divine knowledge.[22]  Those on the right can be called sheep, while those on the left are called goats, as it is written: “he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.”[23]  The right-hand condition can be called felicity, and the left-hand one misery.  Also the right one can be called beatitude and paradise, and the left one torture and hell; and each can be called by many other names, which I shall not go into now.

While the soul is with the body, it is well known that the latter can assume any of its conditions at any time, constantly changing between health, sickness and indifference.  Similarly the soul can change at any time, from doing good to doing evil, or to a middle position between the two.  Without its soul, the body naturally tends to decompose and to break down into its component parts, because anything that has been begotten is naturally liable to corruption, unless something is added to it, which maintains it in its functions.  Similarly, when the soul has divested itself of the body, it naturally tends towards wholeness and union with its own self, because every created being naturally seeks to return to union and completeness.  Any occurrence of evil would, however, prevent such integration.[24]

[The 10 grades of felicity for the souls on the right]

It is time to consider the states that human souls can reach, according to what can be learned from the divine sciences.  First to be studied will be the right-hand side, which is called paradise or felicity.  The felicities of the denuded life of the soul,[25] – i.e. when it has freed itself from corporeal concerns, – are found to be ten in number, and can be arranged, as follows, in ascending order, from the first and lowest to the last and highest.

The first and least felicity, to which the rational soul can come, is to be master over this corporeal and corruptible world, so that the soul can act according to its own will.  The soul should be in charge, considering that it comes from the soul of nature,[26] which is placed high up in the order of creation.  Because of this and because of the goodness that it has acquired, the soul must direct the natural movements and workings of the body.  Thus the soul, in its first and least felicity, has the power, – thanks to its control over the body, – to cause generation and decay, to make some things increase and others decrease, to control [all types of] movement and change.  It is able to distribute the life and the nourishment, which it receives from our God (whose reputation is sublime[27]), as from a Higher Cause.  And who can doubt that the soul is as great as this, since it can contemplate the divine and the angels, without a veil, and can receive what it wants from them without any hindrance?  If that is granted to the soul, even when it is hidden under the garment of the body, unable to see clearly the face of the supreme Majesty, then there can be no doubt that those who are good have the power “to cast out demons, speak in new tongues, take up serpents,”[28] cleanse lepers, raise the dead and undertake many other such actions.

The second felicity, more sublime than the first and coming above it in order, is for the soul to have a sure and certain knowledge of everything that is below it.  It must know the truth about all the things that exist in this lower world, namely, the irrational soul,[29] the vegetable soul, nature, the celestial and terrestrial worlds, the elements and all that is made from them.[30]  If men can know such things in this life, in which their souls’ perception is obscured by much ignorance, it must follow that in the life of beatitude, they will perceive things even more acutely.  From this fact, I think, comes the saying: “Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face.”[31]  Those who are in this felicity can also do whatever is done at the first level of felicity, but can now order others to do such things, and so they are called archministers and princes.[32]

The third felicity, which is greater and therefore comes above these two, is for the virtuous soul to be pleased with itself and with its actions.  It will then be refashioned, taking its form from those virtues, which it found peculiarly appropriate and suitable to its nature, when it was in the body.  For that reason, it will rejoice with a great joy.  I expect this is why statements are often made about the souls of the saints rejoicing in heaven.[33]  Virtues that are suitable for the soul are: pity, forbearance, humility, joy and so forth.

The fourth felicity is for the soul to be filled with light, of such clarity that it can see into the depths of itself, and recognise in itself and in others all the impressions and consequences of everything it has ever said or done.  I think that is why Paul said that “we must all come before the judgement seat of Christ”[34] in our own consciences, so that each may receive justice, according to how well or badly he has behaved in his body.  Since the righteous soul not only perceives the miseries of others, but sees why they are in torment, it has been said that “the righteous will see, and fear and laugh,”[35] etc; and that “the righteous man will stand in great boldness before those who have afflicted him.”[36]  Of the brightness of the souls of the righteous, I think it has been said, – although I do not know whether it was said on account of their light, – “that the righteous will shine forth as the sun;”[37] and the Church says: “light eternal light them”[38] etc.

The fifth felicity is for the soul to be at rest, firmly settled, that is to say, free from all labour, not needing to obtain anything at all, because it has been laid open and made manifest to itself, and knows that it has everything it needs.  It knows what it can attain by its own efforts, and it has calculated the total of its merits.  This state of sufficiency and quietude[39] is, I believe, what the Church asks for when it says: “Give us eternal rest, O Lord.”[40]  With regard to this stability and firm foundation, it has been said that the just sit “on the right hand of the power of God,”[41] and that “many shall come from east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”[42]

The sixth felicity is for the soul to control its own self and to obey its own self, so that the commanded is one with the commander.[43]  That is to say, it desires what it possesses, and its inclinations are the same as its abilities.  It wants to have only what it can have, and it wants to do only what it can do (and vice versa).  Consequently there will be no decrease in its essence, actual or potential, because its essence is equal to its forms, and its forms are the same as it.[44]  Nobody can attain to such total self-control and perfect integration in this life; on the contrary, we are all diminished, by wanting more than is in our power.  I think it is in recognition of this fact that we have the texts: “whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist;”[45] and: “when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall vanish away.”[46]

The seventh felicity is for the soul to feel (in an intellectible sense)[47] the flow of light from the divine Being.  The pleasure that God takes in that soul is the same as the pleasure that the soul takes in God.  It is like the ‘mind and intention’ of a diligent king, which are said to be in his loyal knight and to rest on him.  Similarly the ‘mind and intention’ of God, and the illumination of his light, descend upon the righteous soul, rest on it and remain with it.  In this way God is in the soul and the soul in God, and so it is exalted above the souls of the multitude, and passes judgement on them, saying whether they should be damned or blessed.  Therefore it is said: “you also will sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”[48]  Abraham was in such a position when he said to the rich man: “Son, remember…”etc.[49]  According to this story in scripture, two souls are definitely known to have their seat here: Lazarus among the lesser and Abraham among the greater.[50]

The eighth felicity is for the soul to be depicted, shaped and formed into all the shapes and forms of all the substances and accidents, both of things above and of things below.[51]  It contemplates the ordering of all truth, and feels the impress and image of Being on itself.[52]  In contemplating all this, it is set on fire and becomes impassioned, filled with an unalterable and never-ending love, for it beholds him “with whom there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning,”[53] – on whom the angels desire to attend.[54]

The ninth felicity is for the soul to delight in all the shapes and forms and images that are impressed upon it.  It loves every substance and accident that exists, whether superior or inferior to it; it takes delight in the order of goodness in [the hierarchy of] being.[55]  The soul is pleased with the placing of every thing in order, counts itself among the totality of all things, considers itself to be equal to every other thing, and knows the joy of complete integration,[56] in which nothing is lacking.  For the rest of eternity, the soul will play on the harp and praise God above, and bless Him for the ordering of all things.  Let us bless the Lord of our fathers, and bless the Lord for all his works, and give many other such blessings, because his strength “reaches from one end to the other” and his sweetness affects all things.[57]

The tenth felicity is for the soul, not so much to perceive and understand the infinite being within its own being, but to embrace it and take possession of it.[58]  Just as a man can realise that the infinite and unquenchable Will is within him, although he is wholly finite, so he can understand with his intellect the primacy and necessity of infinite Being, and that it is the cause of all causes.  The first cause and origin of life is the Father; the fount of knowledge is the Son; and the primal will is the Spirit.[59]  These three are said to be one: they are that Being; it is them.[60]  When the soul has fully comprehended that Being, it will attach itself to it and unite with it.  From this attachment and union, the soul will become filled with light, satiated with the coming of all it could wish for, sanctified and strengthened by the one who is the greatest strength of all, the virtue behind all virtues.  Of this perhaps the prophet spoke, when he said that he would be satisfied “when your glory appeared;”[61] and the poet said the same thing in the line:

“Nothing will be lacking there, for God will become all in all.”[62]

[The 10 grades of unified being: the ascent through the hierarchy of the angels]

Now it is time to distinguish the grades of unified being.  Once again there should be 10 grades, to accord with the 10 levels of superiority above the rational soul,[63] as any beatitude or felicity for that soul depends, to a great extent, upon higher beings and the soul’s relationship with them.[64]  The higher grades of unified being[65] can be divided into 10 ranks, according to their degree of self-control,[66] and they can be symbolised by the heavens.[67]

The first and lowest rank, which is good, fortunate and pure, is the heaven of the Agent Intelligence, that active and effective substance, that angel who looks after all created things.  When the soul has come into partnership with the Agent Intelligence,[68] and has been assimilated to it, it becomes one with the angels.  This is, I think, what is meant by the text that we shall be “as the angels of God in heaven.”[69]

The second rank contains all that is in the first, but is more fortunate, purer, more powerful in action, more luminous, more knowledgeable, more virtuous and more certain.  When the soul has come into this fellowship, it is already with the Archangels and in the second felicity.

The third rank is higher than the previous two, and its purity, its effectiveness, its knowledge and all its gifts are even greater.  It takes particular joy and delight in staying true to its original merits.  The soul that has worked hard to reach this level participates in the order of the Virtues.

The fourth rank is greater yet; it is illumined by a brighter splendour, and it is more blessed with all other gifts and more aware of its own merits.  This is the felicity of the souls in the order of the Powers.

The fifth rank is greater than all the aforementioned in all its forms and felicities, and especially in its stability and its freedom from all necessity and toil.  When the soul has come to this stage, it is already in the order of the Principalities; that is to say, it participates in their felicity, although it is not made equal to them.

The sixth rank is higher, purer and more everlasting than all these, richer in all the gifts that have been described, particularly in the integration of the self with itself, so that it finds total sufficiency in itself.[70]  This order, to which the rational soul that is going to be blessed will come, is that of the Dominions.

The seventh rank includes the preceding six, both in their essence and in their particular qualities.  Most importantly, God’s presence alone is now enough to fill the soul, fulfilling all its prayers and wishes.  This soul has reached the state corresponding to that of the Thrones.

The eighth is higher than all these, and exists within all of them in their essence; it is diffused through them, just as it is the nature of any simple substance to be diffused through things inferior to it.[71]  This is the next to last substance: it is more universal, more perfect in its forms and qualities, more fulfilled in its contemplation of the whole of truth and being, and closer to pure infinity, than all the preceding.  It is on fire with love and longing: it delights in its effortless and uninterrupted knowledge of its universal essence.[72]  This is the order of the Seraphim, which the soul here can come to resemble.

The ninth is raised up even higher: it is the farthest throne, the limit of substance and of form, the final boundary of the finite.  This is the first created substance, which loves the order of goodness in universal being[73] with an infinite love, and loves what it has created with a uniting love,[74] in which there can be no separation.  It is full of light and knowledge; it is perfect in every way up to the very limit of possibility.  It is the most blessed rank of all, that of the Cherubim.  If the soul can attain to this level of felicity, it is said to be among the most beatified, the Cherubim.

The tenth rank is not a substance: it is first essence.[75]  This is our God, whose name is the Most High and whose reputation is sublime.[76]  He is seated above the high and lofty throne already mentioned, filling, with his being[77] and his light, whatever is below him down to the centre of the earth, which is the abyss.  He sees and knows everything, because his essence is in everything.[78]  Nothing is empty of his being or hidden from his power.  He is the first cause, the power of powers, the first creator, the primal light, pure to the highest degree of purity, the end of all things without end himself, and the beginning of all things without any beginning himself.  He is the good and the true to the uttermost bounds of goodness and truth, one to the limits of unity, the unlighted light of illumination,[79] necessary to the highest degree of necessity.  Anything that comes after him contains a certain measure of possibility and contingency, but he does not; he brings forth whatever is, from himself, with no mediating help.[80]  He is the principle of life, as the Father; he is the principle of knowledge, as the Son; and he is the principle of will as the Holy Spirit.  Nevertheless there is no division[81] or plurality in him; however much he may appear as three persons to the creatures of this world, he is utterly and completely one.

Certain Jewish philosophers say that the soul of Moses attained to something akin to this felicity.[82]   Up to this time I have not discovered, in any scriptures, any soul that has reached the oneness of this state of beatitude except that of Christ, of whom the Church sings that, ascending above all the heavens, “he sits at the right hand of God on high.”[83]  I think this is what he meant, when he said that he and the Father were one, and that he was glorified by the glory, which was with God before the world was made.[84]  Christ’s felicity surpasses the state of all angelic being.  Thus it has been written: “since he has been made so much greater than the angels, he has inherited a more pre-eminent name.”[85]  But these few words must suffice for this topic.

[The 10 grades of misery for the souls on the left: the descent through the planetary spheres to the abyss]

It is now time to go back and consider where the left-hand dispositions of the soul will lead.  This can be called hell or torment, and can also be divided into ten.

First heaven or ninth sphere:

The first torment is for the soul not to be able to do what it wishes, because it does not have the means to obey itself, nor to take orders from anyone else.  It cannot fulfil its proper functions as a creature, and when it desires something and cannot have it, it is tormented.  In this way the soul falls down one step below the level of the Agent Intelligence and the Angels.  It is left between the first heaven and the world of nature.  Because the soul is thus prevented from carrying out its activities and from doing those things which it very much wants to do, it is said to be bound hand and foot, as a man is said to be, when he is held back from doing what he wants.

Heaven of the stars:

The second torment is for the soul not to be certain about truth, because it despises the second commandment, which prohibits falsehood and establishes truth, saying: “do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”[86]  This soul discovers falsehoods in itself and, like the credulous and those of bad faith, it perceives false forms which do not signify real things, but imprint empty impressions on to the essence of its soul, which do not accord with the true state of its being.  This is the second deterioration, corresponding, but in the opposite direction, to the Archangels.  These souls are in the sphere of the stars and they have not been set free by the truth,[87] because they did not desire it enough.  They are condemned to the falsity to which they cling.  As the Apostle said, those who choose to ignore, will be ignored;[88] they will hear God, who is pure truth, say to them: “verily I can say to you, I do not know you.”[89]

Sphere of Saturn:

The third misery is a yet greater decline, so that the soul is situated in the third [heavenly] body, the sphere of Saturn, corresponding, as it were, to the Virtues.  Here the soul is full of hatred, anger and envy, disgusted with itself and its actions, because it has despised the third commandment which forbids servitude[90] and love of worldly things: “remember to keep the Sabbath day holy.”[91]  This soul will be cursing itself, its actions and the day of its birth, with weeping and gnashing of teeth,[92] and other such marks of sorrow.

Heaven of Jupiter:

In the fourth misery, in the heaven of Jupiter, the essence of the soul is obscured and darkened.  Nevertheless, in spite of the darkness, it can perceive the forms of everything that it has ever thought, said or done; and in this is greater torment than if it had lost its memory, because it is aware that it must be held in utter and universal contempt.  Such souls are thrown into the outer darkness, in opposition to the Powers.

Heaven of Mars:

In the fifth, the soul descends as far as the heaven of Mars.  It can discover nothing in which its striving can find rest; it is unable to have anything that it wants or needs; it is never still, never finds comfort and never ceases its wandering.  This sphere is opposed to that of the Principalities.

Heaven of the Sun:

In the sixth torment, the soul cannot control itself, nor obey itself, nor find equanimity.[93]  It always wants more than it can have.  The imagination is constantly stirring up improper desires, yearning to possess all the possibilities of the heaven of the Sun, particularly its mastery and its power, although it can enjoy none of them.  This corresponds, in the opposite direction, to the Dominions.

Heaven of Venus:

In the seventh torment, it perceives that the light of God has been withdrawn from it, and that it is not loved, but hated.  It knows that God is angry, and so it wishes to be hidden from him, – if only it could flee.  This is like the robber, who has to decree that all thieves will be hanged, and who is then sought, found and condemned to death, all from his own words.[94]  Such are the shackles that restrain this soul among the pleasures of the heaven of Venus, which is in opposition to that of the Thrones.

Heaven of Mercury:

The eighth torment is for the soul to be embellished with the hypocrisies, anxieties, subtleties and similar consequences of following the values of this world,[95] with all its cheating and its deceptions.  The soul passionately desires things that it cannot have, as it languishes in the heaven of Mercury, which is in opposition to that of the Seraphim.

Heaven of the Moon:

The ninth torment is for the soul to hate its own image, and any substance connected with it.  Its own forms seem to devour it, as a moth among clothes or worms in the wood.[96]  It hates the hierarchy of being and goodness;[97] it hates everything that is; it sees itself excluded from the fellowship of the blessed.  It remains silent, wrapped in its utter worthlessness, in the heaven of the Moon, which is at the opposite end of the scale from that of the Cherubim.

Immersed in the Four Elements, Fire, Earth, Air and Water: this is the Abyss:

The tenth level of torment, the deepest of all, is to be imprisoned at the bottom of the globe.  Here the soul’s state is like that of a body cremated in the fire, or smoked and suffocated by fumes, or frozen by ice, or overwhelmed and weighed down by a mound of earth and rocks, or buried in a dark dungeon.  This soul is in the lowest depths of hell, calling for water to relieve the torture of the fire, for fire to use against the ice, for air to breathe to prevent the choking, and finally calling for the mountains to fall in and put an end to everything.  But it cannot die, nor can it receive water or fire or anything else that it might need.  Every form of suffering is brought together for this soul.  Nothing satisfies it; it will wander restlessly for ever, without respite and without the slightest hope of escape.  This is the farthest removed of all from our most blessed God, in whose gift alone is true beatitude.

[Guidance for the soul: 10 precepts and 10 prohibitions]

It is my judgement and sincere belief, if what we can read is true, that the aforementioned ten states of felicity and misery have been acknowledged by all the just lawgivers and by all those extremely wise men who have worked for the salvation of others.  On them has shone the light and knowledge of God.  They have had his word on their tongues.  This was the case for Moses, Mahomet and particularly for Christ, who was greater than the other two, and whose teachings were even more powerful.  They have instituted 10 negative prohibitions and they have decreed 10 positive precepts.  The former will prevent souls from being dragged off to torment; the latter will enable them to attain beatitude.

The first of the ten negative commands is this, as God said to Moses: “you will have no other gods but me.”[98]  This keeps the soul away from the 10th degree of punishment.  The first of the positive commands is a saying of Christ’s: “love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your might.”[99]  This raises the soul to the 10th felicity.

The second of the prohibitions is: “you may not worship any graven image of anything that is in heaven or on earth.”[100]  This prevents the soul from suffering in the 9th [circle of] pain.  The second of the precepts is: “worship the Lord your God; pray to your Father who is in secret;”[101] and much else of that sort, which will lift the soul to the 9th felicity.

The third forbidden thing is to take the name of the Lord your God in vain.[102]  That prevents the soul from incurring the 8th punishment.  The third of the precepts is to fear God and keep his commandments,[103] for “the man who fears God does good things.”[104]  In this way, the soul ascends to the 8th felicity.

The fourth prohibition is: “remember to keep the Sabbath day holy; six days you shall labour, but on the seventh you shall rest.”[105]  This steers the soul away from the 7th punishment.  The fourth precept is: “do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures forever” etc.[106]

The fifth negative command is: “he who curses his father or mother, let him die the death.”[107]  This keeps the soul away from the 6th punishment.  The fifth positive command is: “honour your father and mother,” cherish your parents,[108] for which the soul will be called to the 6th beatitude.

The sixth prohibition is: “you must not kill.”[109]  This saves the soul from the 5th punishment.  The sixth precept, which must be observed, is that we must all love others as we love ourselves, loving our enemies as much as our friends, and putting our souls at each other’s service.[110]  This will lead to the 5th state of glory.

The seventh prohibition is that you must not [make deals for your own profit].[111]  Thus is the soul prevented from dropping to the 4th level of wretchedness.  The seventh admonition, which is given equally to men and women, is always to repay your debts to each other, and not to defraud anyone.[112]  This raises the soul to the 4th level of rest and peace.

The eighth prohibition is: “you shall not steal.”[113]  This allows the soul to avoid the 3rd torment.  The eighth precept is to give alms, so that the more a man labours with his hands, the more he has to give to those who are in need.[114]  By doing this, the soul is called to the 3rd beatitude.

The ninth is: “do not bear false witness.”[115]  This prevents the soul from succumbing to the 2nd punishment.  The ninth precept is: “speak the truth to one another,”[116] as this takes the soul up to the 2nd felicity.

The tenth way of escaping from evil desires is not to covet anything that is your neighbour’s,[117] so that the soul is saved from the 1st torment.  The positive counsels here are to bear each other’s burdens, and to desire as many good things for others as for yourself.[118]

[Finally: the soul in the centre, neither healthy nor sick]

By the grace of God, we have spoken about man in his three categories, namely, the inner, the outer and the composite.  We have defined the 10 states of felicity and the 10 levels of torment of the inner man.  It is time to mention the soul which reaches a state midway between the two, and can be said to be neutral.[119]  It should at length attain to the first grade of felicity.  If a soul is in a state of indifference when it is separated from the body, this can only be a finite situation.  Since it was created knowing naturally what is good, it must tend rather to that which is of its own nature than to the opposite, – as long as nothing has interfered with that tendency.[120]

[A concluding prayer]

Now may the God of hope and trust, who is a liberal benefactor, giving in abundance and without reproach, fill us all with joy and blessing, answer our prayers, and cause us – and all men – to remain in the honour in which we have been created, that is, in his own image and likeness.[121]  May he make us recognised friends of his blessed angels, and prevent us from becoming like foolish beasts of burden.  May we not be cast out, broken and tortured; but may he clothe us in the armour of light[122] and take us to live with him, and rejoice with him, without interruption and without end, for ever and ever, Amen.



[1] Square brackets [  ] indicate that something is not in the original text.  This must apply to any title given to this untitled work.  I have put in first place the title given to the work by its editor, but I have added the title suggested by M.D. Chenu (Chenu: Nature, Man and Society… (B.58) pp.89-90).
[2] This introductory quotation comes from Psalm 49:12.  This psalm was numbered 48 in the Latin Vulgate Bible, from which the author was quoting.  This text was sometimes used in the Middle Ages to illustrate the human situation of having a divine soul in an animal body.  All modern Bibles have a different sentence with a very different meaning.
[3] The distinction between the inward and the outward man is common in Christian writing, beginning with Paul (2 Cor.4:16: “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day”). In Islam, the Brethren of Purity made this into three divisions:  “Know, O brother, that the knowledge of one’s own self is the key to every science and this is threefold”:  the body and its economy, the soul and its qualities, and their joint action (tr. Sprenger (B.82) part.2, p.183 from Tract 26: On the Microcosm (Sprenger’s numbering makes it Tract 25).
[4] Rom.7:22.
[5] “et dialeticus et predicamentalis dicitur” (text p.281): literally ‘which may be called dialectical or according to the Aristotelian categories (predicamenta).’
[6] The editor (p.281 n.2) suggests that this is a reference to the symbol of Athanasius.
[7] See note 2.
[8] Referring to Gen.1:26.
[9] Liber de Causis (S.48) III, pp.165-6.  This book was believed, by both the Arabs and the Europeans of the 12th century, to have been written by Aristotle.
[10] This is very Avicennist: all souls depend upon the Mediating Angel, who is presumably the Agent Intelligence of Avicenna.
[11] “postquam a corporibus exuuntur”: this will be taken to mean: when the soul leaves the body after death; but does it have to be restricted to the afterlife?  Might the author conceive of the soul liberating itself from the body on occasions during its life on earth?  The editor (p.282 n.2) points out the closeness of this passage to Avicenna’s Metaphysics 9:7.
[12] The editor notes that these 4 categories of authority are the same as those used in the De Immortalitate Animae (S.40) p.1.
[13] Does this suggest that reading is not enough; that there is more that has to be taught through experience, which will not be written down here; that the practice of this type of religion has to be learned through oral instruction in their meetings?
[14] “que de naturis et que de animabus et que de angelicis substantiis et de essentia divina scire et confiteri tenemur”: these correspond to the 4 main divisions, in ascending order, of the hierarchy of being in the work of the Brethren of Purity: matter, soul, intelligence – connected by Avicenna to the angelic hierarchy – and God.
[15] Ibn Gabirol: Fons Vitae (S.26) 3:2, p.77.
[16] Rom. 1:20.
[17] “artificiosus (?) secundus mundus a primo cognoscitur” (text p.283).
[18] Heb.11(XI):3.
[19] “neutralitas” (text p.283).
[20] I realise I have not done justice to the word used in the original, dispertemperantia, which I think the author has made up himself.
[21] The editor (p.283 n.6) finds this threefold distinction expounded in Gundissalinus’ chapter on medicine in his De Divisione Philosophiae.
[22] “in scientie divine libris”: is he thinking of the different scriptures of the different religions?  There is an interesting note (p.284 n.1) from Georges Vajda that a similar idea of the 3 conditions of the soul can be found in Abraham bar Hayya.
[23] Matt.25:33. The Qur’ān 56:26-56 (pp.560-1) also makes the distinction between everlasting pleasure for the Companions of the Right and everlasting pain for the Companions of the Left.
[24] The editor (p.284 n.3 & n.4) makes several references to different works by Avicenna for the background to this paragraph and to the following section.
[25] denudata, i.e. without the clothing of the body: a separated or liberated soul.
[26] This is usually called the world-soul.
[27] The author here translates a little Arabic doxology, which a Muslim writer would use after mentioning God by name.  This is not unusual in the work of the translators working in northern Spain in the 12th century.
[28] Mark 16:17-18.
[29] i.e. the animal soul.
[30] “elementa et elementata,” as used by Gundissalinus in his De Processione Mundi (S.32) pp.38, 43-44 and 54.  The whole sentence, with its Avicennist hierarchy of being, reminds the editor (p.287 n.2 & 3) of Gundissalinus’ De Unitate (S.33) p.8.
[31] 1 Cor.13:12.
[32] “archiministri et principes.” The editor (p.287 n.5) wonders if this is referring to the ‘archonts’ of the Hermetic Asclepius.
[33] An example in the Catholic liturgy would be the Entrance Antiphon for the Heroes of the Faith, according to the editor.
[34] 2 Cor.5:10.
[35] Ps. 52:6.  In the Vulgate Bible the reference is Ps.51:8.
[36] Wisdom of Solomon 5:1.  (This book forms part of the Apocrypha to the Old Testament.)
[37] Matt.13:43; etc.
[38] This is taken from the funeral service.
[39] “de hac sufficientia et quiete” (text p.288).
[40] This is also taken from the funeral service.
[41] Taken from Matt.26:64 and Mark 14:62.
[42] Matt.8:11.
[43] “ut dominans et dominatum sint idem” (text p.288).
[44] “sic non erit diminutio in sua essentia, actu nec potentia, quia sua essentia eadem est suis formis et sue forme eedem cum ea;” the editor points out (p.288 n.9) that the source for this seems to be Fons Vitae, 3:56.
[45] Matt.11:11.
[46] 1 Cor. 13:10.
[47] This rare neologism, probably deriving from Boethius, is also found in the Tractatus de Anima, attributed to Johannes Toletanus (S.46) chap.10, p.96, line 8, on the illumination of the prophets.
[48] Matt.19:28.
[49] Luke 16:25.
[50] Luke 16:19-31, the story of Dives and Lazarus, the rich man and the beggar (after their deaths).
[51] The editor suggests Fons Vitae, 5:35 as the source for this (p.289 n.7).
[52] “et esse in seipsa impressum et simulacratum” (text p.290).
[53] James 1:17.
[54] 1 Peter 1:12.
[55] The text (p.290) just has: “diligat ordinem bonitatis in esse.”  Similar sentiments can be found in Avicenna’s Metaphysics, 8:7 and 9:4 (p.290 n.4).
[56] literally: the joy of being identical: “gaudium equatum” (p.290).
[57] Quotations from the office of Lauds; from Ps. 103:22; and from the Wisdom of Solomon 8:1.  The latter text actually talks about “her strength” and “her sweetness”, referring to Divine Wisdom.
[58] “non comprehendens sed apprehendens in esse suo esse infinitum” (text p.290). The English meaning could almost use the Latin words but reversed: not apprehending (from the outside) but comprehending (from the inside).  However, I think the distinction that the author is trying to make here is on a higher mystical level: between understanding something, and becoming part of it.
[59] “causa prima et vita prima sive pater, et scientia prima sive filius et voluntas prima sive spiritus” (text p.291).
[60] “ipsa sunt illud esse et illud esse est illa” (text p.291).
[61] perhaps thinking of Psalm 17:15 (in the Vulgate Bible: Ps.16:15).
[62] This has been traced to a poem which begins “Ierusalem civis, fragili dum corpore vivis” (p.291 n.3), which was at one time falsely attributed to Bernard de Clairvaux. It is quoting 1Cor.15:28: “that God may be all in all.”
[63] i.e. the human soul.
[64] “a superioribus essentiis et in existentia sua cum illis” (text p.291).
[65] “esse simplex” (text p.291), – presumably meaning unified or integrated, rather than single.
[66] “secundum continentiam” (text p.291): according to their degree of continence.  This presumably refers to their level of resistance to temptation.
[67] “ad similitudinem celorum” (text p.291), presumably referring to the celestial hierarchy, i.e. the 9 choirs of angels.  Ranged in ascending order, they are: angels, archangels, virtues, powers, principalities, dominions, thrones, seraphim and cherubim.  They were believed to inhabit the different circles of heaven.  For a typical 12th-century example, see Bernardus Silvestris: Cosmographia, part 1, beginning of chap.3 on the stars, the heavens, the zodiac etc. (tr.Wetherbee (B.63) pp.75-6).  To find the source for the names of the middle ranks , see Paul’s epistles, e.g. Col.1:16.
[68] “intelligentia agens” (text p.291). (See Avicenna’s Metaphysics, 9:3 for his ideas on this subject.)
[69] Matt.22:30.
[70] “et precipue in equatione sui ad se ipsam et sufficientia sui ipsius in se.” (text p.292).
[71] See Fons Vitae, 3:16: “The power of simple substances are diffused through, and penetrate into, all things.”  (Vires substantiarum simplicium infusae sunt et penetrant per totum.)  Also 3:27: “The forms of a compound substance flow down from the forms of a simple substance.”  (Formae substantiae compositae defluxae sunt a formis substantiae simplicis.)
[72] “ardet et concupiscit in delectatione essentie universalis et eius scientie absque cessatione et meditatione” (text p.292).  Essence (essentia) is, in this case, ‘being a person’.
[73] “diligens ordinem bonitatis in esse universo” (text p.292).  Being (esse) is universal and eternal.
[74] “diligens causam suam dilectione unita” (text pp.292-3).
[75] “essentia prima” (text p.293).
[76] More Islamic doxologies.
[77] “sua essentia” (text p.293).
[78] “videt totum et scit totum scientia essentiali” (text p.293).
[79] “simplex in fine simplicitatis, lumen inluminans non inluminatum” (text p.293).
[80] For much of this description of Necessary Being, the editor sees sources in Avicenna’s Metaphysics, 8: 4 -7.
[81] “alietatem” (text p.293) literally ‘otherness’.
[82] Like the scientific and philosophical translators in Spain, the author seems to have been in close contact with Jews as well as Muslims.
[83] Heb.1:3; as used in the Preface to the Whitsun Service.
[84] John 10:30; and John 17:5.
[85] Heb. 1:4.
[86] Exodus 20:7; this is usually considered as the 3rd commandment.
[87] A reference to John 8:32.
[88] 1 Cor.14:38. In the MS, there is then a quotation from Luke 9:25, which has been crossed out.
[89] Matt. 25:12.
[90] The text (p.295) has “servile opus,” literally: villein’s work.
[91] Exodus 20:8; this is usually considered to be the 4th commandment.
[92] Ecclesiasticus (in the Apocrypha) 23:14.  Then Luke 13:28 et al.
[93] The text (pp.295-6) has “nec equari sibi.”
[94] I have just had to do my best here, as the text (p.296) reads: “hec est dispositio latronis iudicat ad suspensione mlatitantis in angulo, et queritur, et invenitur, et iudicatur ad mortem, se audiente.”
[95] Here I have found it difficult to translate “curis extimabilibus.”
[96] Isaiah 51:8.
[97] “ordinem bonitatis in esse” (text p.296).
[98] Exodus 20:3.
[99] Matt.22:37.
[100] Exodus 20:4-5.
[101] Matt.4:10 and Luke 4:8Matt 6:6.
[102] Exodus 20:7.
[103] Ecclesiastes 12:13.
[104] Ecclesiasticus (in the Apocrypha: otherwise known as the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach) 15:1.
[105] Exodus 20:8-10.
[106] John 6:27.
[107] Mark 7:10.
[108] Exodus 20:12 and Ephesians 6:1 or Colossians 3:20.
[109] Exodus 20:13.
[110] See Matt.5:44; Mark 12:33; Luke 6:27; and 1 John 3:16.
[111] I have taken “Non mechaberis” (text p.298 and MS folio 86v col.2) to be a mistake for “Non mercaberis.”
[112] 1 Cor.7:5.
[113] Exodus 20:15.
[114] Luke 11(XI):41 and Luke 12:33; Ephesians 4:28.
[115] Exodus 20:16.
[116] Zechariah 8:16; Ephesians 4:25.
[117] Exodus 20:17.
[118] Galatians 6:2.
[119] I.e. neither to the right nor to the left, neither in ‘health’ nor in ‘sickness,’ but in the middle.
[120] The editor refers to Avicenna’s Metaphysics 9:7, for a similar view (p.299 n.3).
[121] Using texts from Romans 15:13, James 1:5 and Genesis 1:26.
[122] Romans 13:12.

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