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In memoriam Prof. C. H. J. M. Kneepkens (1944-2023)

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

On November 13, 2023, C. H. J. M. Kneepkens, formerly professor of Medieval Latin at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands), passed away at the age of 79.



Onno, as he was known to many, leaves behind an impressive legacy of scholarship on the philosophy of the European High Middle Ages, specialising in the development of logical and grammatical thought during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

As co-founder and editor of the series Artistarium, professor Kneepkens helped to make key texts in the fields of medieval dialectic, grammar and semantics available to a scholarly audience. He himself published critical editions of two grammatical and logical works of Ralph of Beauvais (vol. 2 [1982] and vol. 8 [1991]) and contributed to collected volumes in the Supplementa subseries: Artistarium Supplementa, vol. 1 (1979) and vol. 10 (2003). Between 1989 and 1996, he co-edited three volumes for the series Instrumenta Patristica et Mediaevalia: vol. 19 (1989), vol. 24 (1991) and vol. 28 (1996), the last of which marked the occasion of the retirement of his friend and mentor L. J. Engels.

Throughout his long scholarly career, he also made contributions to numerous journals and publications, including: CIVICIMA, vol. 3 (1990) and vol. 8 (1995); Semiotic and Cognitive Studies, vol. 4 (1997); Bulletin de philosophie médiévale, vol. 45 (2004); Rencontres de Philosophie Médiévale, vol. 13 (2007); Textes et Études du Moyen Âge, vol. 65 (2013).

Professor Kneepens lent his expertise to the wider scholarly community as a member of the Advisory Board of the journal Sacris Erudiri and as a member of the international committee of the Société d’histoire et d’épistémologie des sciences du langage.

Since 2006, he directed a project to edit for the Continuatio Mediaeualis subseries of Corpus Christianorum the world chronicle of the influential twelfth-/thirteenth-century Cistercian scholar and preacher Hélinand of Froidmont, a work that originally comprised no fewer than forty-nine books and constituted an important source for the Speculum historiale of Vincent of Beauvais. An article on the complex manuscript transmission of this work was published by professor Kneepkens in Sacris Erudiri, vol. 52 (2013).


As a dissertation advisor, Onno Kneepkens applied the highest scholarly standards. Under the motto amicus Plato, magis amicus veritas, he urged his PhD students to pursue true progress, not simply progression. He managed to combine this demanding attitude with a friendly demeanour, even going so far as to extend invitations to share meals at his private home in Haren. His treatment of students, first in Nijmegen and later in Groningen, was characterized by a striking combination of formality and a warm engagement on a human level.

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