Regere animas : Bernard of Clairvaux's ways of handling heresy as a technology of power

Title: Regere animas : Bernard of Clairvaux's ways of handling heresy as a technology of power
Source document: Religio. 2019, vol. 27, iss. 1, pp. [43]-67
  • ISSN
    1210-3640 (print)
    2336-4475 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license
Bernard of Clairvaux's engagement in the struggle against heresy in the 12th century has so far been understood as a logical result of his ecclesiology. In his effort to defend the unity of Christianity, the abbot fought against heresy, as, for him, it represented a major threat to the Church. However, the reverse question of what Bernard's anti-heretical writing brings to the understanding of his ecclesiology has remained almost entirely unexplored, despite the importance of these polemical writings for the "discovery" of Bernard. This article seeks to fill this gap by placing Bernard's anti-heretical discourse at the centre of inquiry in order to understand a crucial aspect of his ecclesiology and to follow how this ecclesiology was realized through specific means against heresy, these functioning as disciplinary practices. Using the theoretical works of Michel Foucault and Talal Asad and insights of modern sociology, the goal is to examine both the way in which the means against heresy operated and the logic behind them. In this way, the article demonstrates the process through which a discourse is articulated and imposed on society and, at the same time, through which a specific subjectivity is shaped and regulated.
  • This text was finalized under the project NOVYMREV – Nové výzkumné metody v religionistickém výzkumu (MUNI/A/1053/2018), carried out by the Department for the Study of Religions, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, in 2019. I am profoundly grateful to Mette Birkedal Bruun, Rachel Ernst, and David Zbíral, who critiqued earlier versions of this article and generously provided comments and corrections. – Abbreviations used: SBOp = Bernard of Clairvaux, Sancti Bernardi Opera, ed. Jean Leclercq – Charles H. Talbot – Henri Rochais, Rome: Editiones Cisterciences 1957- 1977. In this article, the volumes II, III, VII, and VIII (published in 1958, 1963, 1974, and 1977, respectively) are cited as SBOp II, SBOp III, SBOp VII, and SBOp VIII.