Hugh FEISS O.S.B., Ed. ON LOVE. Victorine Texts in Translation. Exegesis, Theology and Spirituality from the Abbey of St Victor. New York: New City Press, 2012. pp. 330. $39.95 pb. ISBN 978-1-56548-434-4. Reviewed by Jonathan J. YEGGE, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY 11201 and Catholic University Leuven, BE
For the student of Victorine literature the real gem in this text is Feiss' eighty page general introduction which provides a tutorial on the subtle differences in the approaches to love mysticism by the Victorine authors. Hugh, Adam, Achard, Richard and Godfrey of St Victor are the primary sources, with Hugh represented most strongly in the first five chapters.
Feiss presents each of the authors alternately as systematicians, mystics and liturgists. Hugh and Richard are counterpoised as proponents of external and internal mystical experience. Hugh emphasizes experience in the world as a prototype for later formulations of an analogia entis, while Richard is concerned with the inner experience of his four degrees of violent love. Departing from systematics and explicit mysticism, Adam's texts are intended for liturgical use. Hugh and Richard interpret the Song of Songs as a metaphor of the mutual love of God and soul, whereas Adam interprets the text as the love between Christ and the community of believers (73). Achard deepens an analogia entis interpretation of love mysticism, intended for liturgical use, emphasizing the dual command of loving God through the love of neighbor. Godfrey continues this incarnational theme arguing that love reaches its apogee in the incarnation and the unity of soul with body (99).
Feiss' concern is to get out of our contemporary ways of seeing in order to open to the possibility of a mysticism of love that the Victorine's wrote on. He contrasts the reductionism of Enlightenment reason with the expanded possibilities of a world view based on love.
Lastly, Feiss' meticulous scholarship is laid out in his copious notes, extensive bibliography and scripture references. However, the most useful for the student or researcher is his Index of Ancient and Medieval Authors. This is a comprehensive index of all of the Victorine writings, assuredly referencing the previous research from the Franco-Belgian teams of scholars. While this volume presents nine selections, the index directs the reader to hundreds of primary sources that may be accessed in the original Latin or the translated modern French via Brepols publishing house. Advanced students and researchers will find this work to be a useful instrument for further research with the affiliated institutions and scholars.