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Julian of Toledo
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A printed ed. XVI c.
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Saint Jiulian of Toledo* (A.D. 642 – 690)
Cathedral of Toledo, Chapterhouse
Author: Juan de Borgoña - (XVI c.)

(By courtesy of the Archdiocese of Toledo)

An important Theologian of Visigothic Spain, before the Arab invasion, Julian of Toledo was of probable Jewish descent but already of a Christian family. He was educated with a profound and vast culture in the Cathedral School of Toledo, under the wise guidance of Bishop Eugene II, a famous spanish poet. Not able to fulfill his desire to devote himself to the monastic life, he became a clergyman and then a priest of the Church of Toledo, deepening his biblical, theological, philosophical, historical, grammatical and poetic knowledge. An expert in Latin patristic literature, he also knew the Greek Fathers, which was rare in the western world of his time. In 680, he was elected and consecrated Bishop of Toledo, exercising for a decade a pastoral office of notable theological, moral, spiritual and political intelligence, in line, therefore, with that of great Spanish Bishops such as Ildephonse of Toledo and Isidore of Seville, but significantly above that of the Catholic hierarchy of his time. He increased the already rich patrimony of the Episcopal Library of Toledo.

In the history of Visigothic Spain his name is closely linked with the figures of two Visigothic monarchs, Wamba and Ervig. Julian had a part in King Wamba's unclear deposition. In the history of theology the figure of Julian of Toledo is noteworthy for his role as President at the celebration of four important National Councils of the Church of Spain (the XII to the XV Council of Toledo), but also and above all for his theological production, particularly of dogmatic theology (Christology and Eschatology). During his bishopric he was also involved in animated polemics with the theologians of the Roman Curia who perceived some ambiguities in his formulation of some refined Christological theses. To defend himself from these accusations, Julian composed two consecutive works bearing the same title, Apologeticum, in which with strength and a notable dose of sarcasm, he successfully defended himself from the attacks of the Roman theologians, but without ever questioning the Roman Apostolic See and its role in the Catholic Church. The XIV and the XVI Councils of Toledo, in sign of total adhesion to their Primate, integrated the first and the second Apologeticum in their official Acts. The bitter controversy ended with congratulations being offered by the new Pope. Julian was also an important liturgical reformer of the Hispanic-Visigothic Church, as well as author of various liturgical texts for the Primatial Church of Toledo. He was the author of many works, 17 according to his contemporary biographer, Bishop Felix, covering biblical studies, theological-dogmatic questions, liturgical theology, history and grammar.

His greatest merit, however, was his composition in 688, two years before his death, of what is rightly considered the first or the most ancient systematic study of Christian Eschatology: the Prognosticum futuri saeculi, which in three books addresses respectively the subjects of death, the situation of souls before the final Parousìa of Christ, and the resurrection of the dead. In his work, making him the true Father of Christian systematic Eschatology, Julian of Toledo makes ample use of Sacred Scripture, with an exegesis closely following its literal meaning, the writings of the Fathers of the Church (both Latin and Greek), considering them already as an important patrimony of authority and source of theology for the elaboration of a theological treatise, and a notable series of personal theological reasoning. It is very probable that the work was composed for the theological formation of the clergy of Toledo. The Prognosticum was greatly appreciated for its brevity and completeness and consequently had an extraordinary diffusion throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. Scholars hypothesize that there were 1500/2000 manuscripts of the Prognosticum diffused in the libraries of the monasteries and the medieval Scholae from the IX to the XII centuries. Moreover, the Prognosticum exerted a notable influence upon the elaboration of the Eschatological theology of  the Carolingian age and of the first Scholasticism, especially upon the Sententiae of Peter Lombard, (distinctiones XXI, cc. 1-5 and XLIII-L). It was a text of absolute reference for theological medieval Scholasticism, commented by all great Masters of the Universities of the XIII century. The work of Julian is repeatedly used and its author directly quoted by the Magister Sententiarum. The most interesting contribution of the Prognosticum consists in the important structural distinction of a double phase of Christian Eschatology: the intermediary phase or Eschatology of the soul or individual, and the final one, or collective Eschatology, of the final eschatological events of the history of salvation. Such an original distinction, methodologically and epistemologically planned by Julian of Toledo eventually reached medieval Scholasticism and the texts of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Not without historical and theoretical confrontations, it has arrived to the eschatological renewal of Vatican II and the documents of the contemporary Catholic Church, including the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Julian of Toledo died in Toledo, in the first days of March 690 A.D.

 Bibliography

Sancti Iuliani Toletanae Sedis Episcopi Opera, pars I, (= Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina, CXV), Turnholti, Brepols, 1976. See the important Introduction (VIII-LXXIV) to life and works of the Spanish Theologian by J.N. HILLGARTH, Editor of the critical edition of some works of Julian of Toledo; POZO, C. La doctrina escatológica del "Prognosticum futuri saeculi" de San Julián de Toledo, in Est. Ecl. 45 (1970), pp. 173-201; STANCATI, T., Alle origini dell'Escatologia Cristiana sistematica: Il Prognosticum futuri saeculi di San Giuliano di Toledo (sec. VII), in Angelicum LXXIII (1996), pp. 401-433.

    T. Stancati O.P.

 *  See the entry Giuliano di Toledo (by T. Stancati) in Lexicon, Dizionario Enciclopedico dei Teologi, Casale Monferrato (To.), Piemme, 1998, pp. 579-580 By courtesy of the Publisher.


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