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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 79, Issue 4, Fall 2005

John Scottus Eriugena

Paul Edward Dutton
Pages 549-566

The Short History of One of Eriugena’s Inventions

The ninth-century Irish philosopher, theologian, and speculative grammarian Eriugena invented a number of words, chiefly in order to accommodate Greek terms in Latin. Filiolitas or “sonship” was one of these and a particularly distinctive new word, which almost no one but Eriugena seems to have used. Indeed it appears in all the works ascribed to him and serves both as a word for adoptive sonship in a theological context and as a relative noun in grammatical references. The appearance of the word in a letter of King Charles the Bald may also suggest Eriugena’s authorship of that letter.