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Canon law and theology were not distinct, well-developed fields in the twelfth century. In theory, many if not all scholars recognise this, and yet, in practice, much scholarship on the intellectual and institutional history of the century operates as if the contrary were true. Often labeled as canonists or theologians, the intellectual figures of the century frequently devoted attention to the church's law and to the Bible, to issues of ecclesiastical structure and discipline as well to theological questions. One way of gauging the scholarly world of the century is to examine the reception of a particular text by various intellectual figures. This article surveys the historiographical problem, explores the reception of Gratian's Tractatus de penitentia from ca 1150 to ca 1200, and attempts to reformulate the nature of the intellectual climate in the period.