Throughout the Middle Ages priests and theologians pondered the great questions about the Christian faith and this is a compilation one of the major thinkers of the time. The Major Works of Anselm of Canterbury brings together all of the important works—and some fragments of miscellaneous writing—of this Doctor of the Church on numerous issues to make sense of his faith.
Containing 11 works, this volume explores such questions as relating to the Christian faith. However except for Anselm’s first major work, “Monologian” in which he sets out to prove God exists through reason than faith, almost everything in this book is either bordering on heretical or barely comprehensible at best. Such works as “De Grammatico”, “The Truth, and “Free Will” quickly make no sense in their dialogue form while “On the Fall of the Devil” appears to indicate that God created evil which is frankly should have resulted in a one-way ticket bonfire for Anselm. Anselm’s attempt to better articulate his thoughts of the “Monologian” in the “Proslogion” were a disaster of incomprehensibility. The three works “On the Incarnation of the Word”, “Why God Became Man”, and “On the Virgin Conception and Original Sin” were insightful in a few spots though exposed the fallacy of original sin even though Anselm might have thought he had validate it. The two other major pieces were so disappointing that it is best not to mention them by name.
After reading St. Augustine’s City of God, I hoped for a clear understanding of medieval theological thought in this book as well. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, in fact even though “Monologian” was tougher than I expected I wasn’t discouraged but as I continued reading it became harder to read. On top of that, the rise of so many unbiblical theological statements that Anselm “proves” through reason then “backs up” through scripture was getting hard to take. In fact, the worst part of “Monologian” was Anselm attempting to prove the immortality of the soul and failing completely. The only other positive thing I can say, except for my general liking of “Monologian”, is that any notes of the text were put in the footers and not in the back of the book like other Oxford World’s Classics editions I read have done.
The Major Works contains serious theological and philosophical works by Anselm of Canterbury that the honest reader will find barely comprehensible and at times almost heretical. Do not waste your time with this book unless you are a very serious scholar.