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Amalric of Bena

AMALRIC, ɑ-mal´rik (Fr. Amaury), OF BENA AND THE AMALRICIANS, ɑ-mal-rîsh´ɑns: A notable representative of pantheism in the Middle Ages and his followers. Amalric was born at Bena, near Chartres, and toward the end of the twelfth century lectured in Paris on philosophy and theology. He enjoyed the reputation of a subtle dialectician, and the favor of the Dauphin, afterward King Louis VIII. How far he carried his pantheism in the public teaching can not now be determined; but his doctrine of the membership of believers in the body of Christ was so pantheistic in tendency that it aroused suspicion, and he was accused of heresy by the chancellor of the diocese, who exercised an official oversight over the schools of Paris. In 1204 he was summoned to Rome to give an account of his teaching before Innocent III., who decided against him. Returning to Paris, he was forced to recant. Soon afterward he died, and received churchly burial at St.-Martin-des-Champs (1 m. e. of Morlaix, Finistère). After his death traces of a sect formed by him were discovered, and a synod was called in Paris in 1209 to take measures for its suppression. Amalric’s teaching was condemned, and he himself was excommunicated; nine ecclesiastics together with William the Goldsmith, one of the seven prophets of the sect, were burned at the stake. At the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, Innocent III. renewed the condemnation of Amalric’s teaching.

There is no doubt that Amalric took up the teaching of Johannes Scotus Erigena, and developed it into a thoroughgoing pantheism. Only three propositions can certainly be ascribed to Amalric himself: (1) that God is all things; (2) that every Christian is bound to believe himself a member of Christ, and that none can be saved without this faith; and (3) that no sin is imputed to those who walk in love. The teaching of his disciples is an expansion of these theses. God, they said, has revealed himself thrice, and each time more completely. With the incarnation in Abraham the epoch of the Father begins; with the incarnation in Mary, that of the Son; with the incarnation in the Amalricians, that of the Holy Spirit. As the coming of Christ set aside the Mosaic law, so the sacraments and ordinances of the second dispensation were now abolished. The sect called the veneration of the saints idolatry; the Church, the Babylon of the Apocalypse; the pope, Antichrist. The revelation of the Holy Ghost in the hearts of the believers takes the place of baptism, and is indeed the resurrection of the dead and the kingdom of heaven; no other is to be expected; nor is there any hell but the consciousness of sin. Their doctrine, that the spirit, which is God, can not be affected by the deeds of the flesh, or commit sin, became a cover for manifold excesses, proven not only by contemporary records, but also by numerous testimonials as to the Brethren of the Free Spirit, who were the direct successors of the Amalricians.

(A. Hauck).

Bibliography: Sources are: G. Armoricus, De gestis Philippi Augusti, in Bouquet, Recueil, xvii. 83; B. Guido, Vita Innocentii papæ, in Mansi, Concilia, xxii. 801-809, 988; C. Bäumker, Ein Traktat gegen die Amalricianer aus dem Anfang des XIII. Jahrhunderts, Paderborn, 1895. Consult 147 C. Hahn, Geschichte der Ketzer im Mittelalter, iii. 178 sqq., Stuttgart, 1845; Krönlein, Amalrich von Bena und David von Dinart, in TSK, xii. (1847) 271 sqq.; W. Preger, Geshichte der deutschen Mystik im Mittelalter, i. 166 sqq., 173 sqq., Leipsic, 1874; A. Jundt, Histoire du panthéisme populaire au moyen âge, p. 20, Paris, 1875; H. Reuter, Geschichte der religiösen Aufklärung im Mittelalter, ii. 218 sqq., Berlin, 1877.

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