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Eriugena, John Scottus (c.815–877)

  1. Donald F. Duclow

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc1541

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Duclow, D. F. 2011. Eriugena, John Scottus (c.815–877). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


Irish philosopher, theologian, grammarian, and poet. John's name Eriugena (or Erigena) proclaims that he was born in Ireland, but he emigrated to the court and school of King Charles the Bald in northern France. Here he taught the liberal arts, and composed glosses on Martianus Capella's Marriage of Mercury and Philology. His poetry in Latin and Greek includes theological poems and several honoring Charles. Commissioned to refute Gottschalk's doctrine of “double predestination” to heaven and hell, John's On Predestination (851) was itself condemned as heretical for focusing so intently on God's eternity and goodness that it rejected the notions of pre-destination and divine punishment. At a time when few in the west knew Greek, John translated into Latin writings by the Greek Fathers Gregory of Nyssa, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, and Maximus the Confessor. These translations immersed John in theology of the Eastern Church and transformed his speculative vision. The outcome was On Nature (Periphyseon) or On the Division of Nature (864–866), his vast synthesis of Dionysius and Augustine, East and West. Eriugena also wrote a Commentary on Dionysius' Celestial Hierarchy, and two works on the Gospel of John: an incomplete Commentary and a beautiful Homily on the Gospel's prologue.


  • eriugena, john scottus (c.815–877);
  • irish philosopher, theologian, grammarian, and poet;
  • martianus capella's marriage of mercury and philology;
  • on nature, eriugena's masterwork