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Albertus Magnus

1193-1280. Dominican theologian. Born in Swabia of noble parents, he entered the Dominican Order (1223) and lectured in Dominican schools in Germany (1228-45). He then taught at Paris (1245-48) and Cologne (1248-55), after which he was successively provincial governor of the order in Germany and bishop of Regensberg until 1262, when he retired to the Dominican convent at Cologne. Albert was the first medieval Christian scholar to master the whole corpus of Aristotle.* During his active and varied career he wrote twenty-one massive volumes consisting mainly of commentaries on Aristotle's works and theological books based on Aristotelian philosophy. His main interest lay in the natural science of Aristotle and the problem of reconciling philosophy and Christianity. In natural science he did not blindly follow the teaching of Aristotle. He stated clearly that he did not believe that Aristotle was a god but that he was a man who was liable to error as are others. Albert was such a careful student of nature that he was accused of neglecting sacred studies, and a host of incredible legends were circulated about his miraculous power. Although his theological work was not so successful as that of Aquinas,* Albert did defend the distinction between the realm of revelation and that of human reason. He maintained that no truth could contradict revelation. At the same time, he taught the superiority of revelation and the right of scholars to use all of human knowledge in the investigation of divine mysteries.

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