The fact that the education received by most of the higher-educated members of the Augustinian Order (and equally so of the other mendicant orders) was “in house” in their studia generale was an important bonus in the creation of an Order’s self-identity, spirituality and its promotion of intellectual achievement.
Furthermore, it was a fillip to the promotion of Augustinian aspects in those areas of theology where different schools of thought evolved, although academic freedom allowed contrary ideas to be respected.
There was an internal factor in the success of the Augustinian studium generale in Paris.
It was that the number of Augustinian members and applicants with intellectual ability was high, and the quest for learning was great.
The Franciscans, who like the Augustinians began predominantly as a movement of lay persons, came to recognise the important link between academic preparation and effective ministry on behalf of the church by their members.
Without, however, any Franciscan tradition about "holy ignorance," the Order of Saint Augustine moved to educate its members.
It proceeded energetically to equip its members for the transition from lay eremitical (hermit) community life to community living as priests who were educated to the best advantage of their Christian ministry.
When the Order of Saint Augustine was officially made a mendicant order by the Pope in 1256, there was instantly a pool of an estimated 2,400 members from which men could be chosen to undertake studies.
Each of the original seventeen provinces of the Order was directed to form its own studium provinciale (regional house of studies) for the training of applicants to the Order - and from 1256 to 1300 there was in Europe a surge of numbers into mendicant orders.
As well as the studium (and sometimes more than one) in each province, there came to be general study houses, i.e., inter-province ones directly under the international leader of the Order, the Prior General.
The studium generale (the general study house) begun in Paris in 1259 was the first one of them. It was followed by similar houses in Bologna, Padua, Florence, the Roman Curia and Naples very soon afterwards.
The Augustinian studium generale (general study house) in England at Cambridge and at Oxford are first mentioned in 1318 as by then being in full operation.
By 1318 they had already been given the same privileges as had over the years been granted to the Paris study house.
As explained in 2002 by contemporary historian and medieval scholar, Eric Saak, in 1327 the first work of Jordan of Saxony O.S.A. (also called Jordan of Quedlinburg) was published. It contained his ten lectures on verses 9-13 of Chapter 6 of Matthew’s Gospel, and was entitled Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer. Fifty-seven manuscripts of it have survived.
Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer is of special interest to scholars of Augustinian theology and history because it gives a unique first-hand exposure to the type and level of Scriptural and theological instruction in an Augustinian studia generalia by a teacher (i.e., Jordan himself) who himself had graduated as a lector of a studia generalia (in his case, the one in Bologna and then the one in Paris), but who had not gone on to study additional theology to the masters or doctoral level at a university.
In other words, it shows the lecture content in a studia generalia by a teacher who himself had advanced no further academically than a studia generalia himself. In this achievement, if the Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer can be taken as a sample of the theology typically taught in an Augustinian studia generalia of that time, it offers valuable insights.
Other Augustinian studia generalia subsequently began at Bruges, Cologne, Lyons, Mainz, Metz, Milan, Montpellier, Siena, Toulouse and Vienna.
These general study houses offered official ecclesiastical degrees, and on the strength of their good reputation received the best graduates of the Province study houses for postgraduate education.
(Continued on the next page.)