Origin of Universities is the Church

The Apostles believed in focused and thorough biblical studies for ministerial excellence (Act_6:4; Act_18:24-28; 2Ti_2:15), so the Cathedrals and Monastries had always had schools (Scholae Monasticae) since the earliest times, for their diocesan priests and monks to be educated in ecclesiastical studies (theology, liturgy, canon law, logic, homiletics, administration and accounting). From the 11th century AD, these cathedral and monastic schools evolved into the Studia Generalia (schools for general studies) or Universitas Magistrorum et Scholarium (guild/corporation of teachers and scholars). These scholars’-cum-teachers’ unions for general studies devoted themselves to the acquisition and advancement of encyclopaedic knowledge. The Church protected Studia scholars with the same legal privileges accorded to the clergy. The first of these Universities started at Bologna in 1088 AD. Others are Paris 1150 AD, Oxford 1167 AD, Cambridge 1209 AD.

The Studia or Universitas were given the charter of international accreditation by the Church and organised as academic guilds for the advancement of knowledge. Sometimes temporal authorities also gave local special recognition. They awarded degree academic honours to those who attained the all-round knowledge of the Liberal Arts (i.e. advanced encyclopaedic humanities) which certified them as internationally rated all-round teachers of higher learning. The hierarchy of degrees awarded were for mastery in the seven Liberal Arts and the higher professional studies or utilitarian specialties as follows:
Bachelor of Arts (i.e. baccalaureate after 3yrs in the communication and oration Liberal Arts called the Trivium: grammar/literature, logic/dialectic, and rhetoric/oratory);
Master of Arts (on completion of further 4yrs in the calculation and mensuration Liberal Arts called the Quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and Church music);
Masters and Doctorate (7 to 10yrs in any of the higher utilitarian or professional faculties: theology, canon/civil law and medicine. Other faculties like architecture, philosophy, agriculture, sciences, pharmacy, politics, sociology and so on, came along with time).
• Professors were either appointed and paid by the Church or sometimes elected and paid by the students depending on the circumstances that led to the formation of each university.
• Bachelor of Arts was seen as intermediate or preparatory degree for humanistic eloquence knowledge awarded by the Faculty Professors without involving the Diocesan Chancellor’s Board and so bachelors were not usually qualified to be international encyclopaedic teachers as masters, doctors or professors.
• There were other schools and institutions like Secular Gymnasia, Technical Academies, Professional Colleges and Religious Seminaries, for advanced religious studies and advanced apprenticeship training. These did not offer the higher encyclopaedic humanistic education of the seven Liberal Arts mandatory in the university studia, and so did not qualify to award degree honours. At the best their certificates could be said to be diplomas.
• Modern day universities and degree awarding colleges still pay lip service to some basic encyclopaedic knowledge through the mandatory General Studies covering Basic Library Science (Use of the Library), Basic Natural Sciences, General Humanities, Basic Social Sciences and Grammar (Use of English). This basic general knowledge requirement distinguishes a degree from a diploma and distinguishes a university from other academies and tertiary institutions.

In the 18th century, the university studia in protestant Germany began to brake away from the Church’s control to become secular institutions (pursuing rational objectivism and scientific empiricism regardless of any spiritual or philosophical authority), but they still retained the over 400yr old pattern inherited from the Church. The academic vestments and offices (e.g. chancellor, dean, rector, provost) of today still bear semblance to cathedral vestments and offices, despite the secularization of the academia. All those who prefix “Professor” and “Doctor” to their names, owe such honorific ultimately to the Church which originated them. The records in historical literature and encyclopaedias confirm these facts.



Ordained Gospel Minister and practicing Physician
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One Response to Origin of Universities is the Church

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