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The deadly sins and contemplative politics: Gerson's ordering of the personal and political realms

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Jean Gerson adapted the pastoral and monastic deadly sins traditions in order to create an authoritative voice for himself in his court sermons. He did this by identifying the University of Paris with the Holy Spirit or the embodiment of virtue and the university's enemies with the seven deadly sins. This strategy reflected his understanding of the university's role as the fountain of truth for Christian Europe. It also, however, invited his audience to consider the university closely for the purpose of discerning whether it served sin or virtue. The relationship between the evolution of Gerson's understandings of the deadly sins and the political and intellectual contexts in which he deployed the deadly sins tradition demonstrates how Gerson simultaneously crafted his arguments to fit the needs of particular audiences while constantly revising a seemingly coherent theological understanding of the relationship between intellectual authority and the anatomy of the soul.

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