contributor.author: Constance Brittain Bouchard

title.none: Waddell, ed., Narrative and Legislative Texts

identifier.other: baj9928.0503.012 05.03.12

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Constance Brittain Bouchard, University of Akron, cbouchard@uakron.edu

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2005

identifier.citation: Waddell, Chrysogonus, ed. Narrative and Legislative Texts from Early Citeaux: Latin Text in Dual Edition with English Translation and Notes. Series: Studia et Documenta vol. 9. Citeaux: Comentarii Cistercienses, 1999. Pp. 524. (hb). ISBN: 90-805439-1-8. Waddell, Chrysogonus, ed. Cistercian Lay Brothers: Twelfth-century Usages with Related Texts. Series: Studia et Documenta volume 10. Citeaux: Comentarii Cistercienses, 2000. Pp. 232. (hb). ISBN: 90-805439-3-4. Waddell, Chrysogonus, ed. Twelfth-Century Statutes from the Cistercian General Chapter: Latin Text with English Notes and Commentary. Series: Studia et Documenta vol. 12. Citeaux: Comentarii Cistercienses, 2002. Pp. 928. (hb). ISBN: 90-805439-4-2.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 05.03.12

Waddell, Chrysogonus, ed. Narrative and Legislative Texts from Early Citeaux: Latin Text in Dual Edition with English Translation and Notes. Series: Studia et Documenta vol. 9. Citeaux: Comentarii Cistercienses, 1999. Pp. 524. (hb). ISBN: 90-805439-1-8.

Waddell, Chrysogonus, ed. Cistercian Lay Brothers: Twelfth-century Usages with Related Texts. Series: Studia et Documenta volume 10. Citeaux: Comentarii Cistercienses, 2000. Pp. 232. (hb). ISBN: 90-805439-3-4.

Waddell, Chrysogonus, ed. Twelfth-Century Statutes from the Cistercian General Chapter: Latin Text with English Notes and Commentary. Series: Studia et Documenta vol. 12. Citeaux: Comentarii Cistercienses, 2002. Pp. 928. (hb). ISBN: 90-805439-4-2.

Reviewed by:

Constance Brittain Bouchard
University of Akron
cbouchard@uakron.edu

Chrysogonus Waddell has done medievalists an enormous service. In three volumes, he has reedited the earliest statutes and narrative texts of the Cistercians, texts vital for understanding the origins and development of this highly influential twelfth-century monastic order. His editions have become at once the definitive versions of these texts, to which all historians of monasticism must now refer.

The texts have mostly been printed before, but not nearly so well. For example, Joseph Canivez published the twelfth-century statutes of the Cistercian chapter general back in the 1930s, as part of a project to publish all of the proceedings of the chapters general up to the time of the French Revolution. While his edition gave a great impetus to scholarly study of the early Cistercians, he did not use all the manuscript sources that are now available and, in an effort to create a single normative text, often overlooked major variants in the manuscripts he did have. In addition, in the last generation or so scholars have raised serious doubts about the dates he assigned to many of the statutes. A completely new edition, incorporating modern conventions for editing medieval texts, a much broader range of manuscripts, and seventy years of scholarship on the early Cistercians was thus necessary.

These three large volumes are ambitious in their coverage. Each starts with a description of the manuscripts and an introduction to the editing conventions used, before proceeding to a scholarly edition. The volume on the statutes of the chapter general is completed with multiple indexes, including people, places, and liturgical formulae. Even though not every manuscript ended up being used (and the introductions explain why certain ones were rejected, usually for being late and derived from other manuscripts that still exist), the sheer size of the apparatus in all three volumes is evidence of years of painstaking work.

The volume on the early narrative and legislative texts (the various versions of the Exordium cistercii and the Carta caritatis, which recounted the origins of Cîteaux and the house's relations with its daughter-houses) is completed by what Brother Waddell calls a "practical" edition, one stripped of most of the apparatus and given modern spelling and punctuation and provided with a facing English translation. This "practical" edition seems aimed especially at the modern Cistercian monasteries which still consider themselves part of a tradition that reaches back to 1098 and Cîteaux's foundation. Editing the "usages" that governed the lives of the Cistercian lay brothers seems to have been especially challenging, even though the volume that contains them is the shortest of the three here under review. The usages went through three separate recensions in about a fifty-year period, requiring three separate editions in order to show the text's evolution. The material in this volume is also that least well represented by earlier printed editions, even though it continues to be a living concern at modern Cistercian houses.

The volumes are, as the editor notes rather ruefully, less user-friendly than the editions they replace. This is because, unlike earlier editors, Brother Waddell did not start with the assumption that there was ultimately a single text of each of the statutes or accounts of early Cistercian history, and that the editor's job was principally to find it among the various manuscript readings and print it. Rather, these new editions make it very clear that these texts were far from static in the twelfth century, and that the different manuscripts give widely variant readings not because the copyists were inattentive, but because the texts had different meanings at different times and places, even within the first few generations of the Order's existence. New situations led not only to new challenges but also to efforts to rework the Order's defining texts to help meet those challenges. Passages from one set of texts would often be incorporated--in somewhat revised or abbreviated form--into another set of texts. The scholar using these new editions thus loses the deceptive sense that one can read the twelfth-century Cistercian statutes and narratives as a transparent window into what the Order's leadership sought and ordained at any particular time, but in return one gains an appreciation of how the monks were constantly trying to redefine their own mission and position within the church.

The biggest gap in all three volumes, one of which Brother Waddell is acutely aware, is the lack of an extensive scholarly introduction, discussing the impact that his reediting and redating will have on our understanding of twelfth-century Cistercian history. But the size that his volumes had already reached and the economics of book production (at one point he seriously considered having three volumes on the early narrative and legislative texts alone) precluded such introductions. He does, however, provide a very closely-argued redating of a number of the texts, especially the Carta caritatis and Exordium cistercii, texts whose dates have been contentious topics. Armed with these extremely careful and reliable editions, future scholars should be able to develop their own arguments about the nature and development of the twelfth-century Order.

Here it is regrettable that Constance H. Berman was not able to use Waddell's editions in her research on the twelfth-century development of the Cistercian Order (The Cistercian Evolution: The Invention of a Religious Order in Twelfth-Century Europe [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000]). Her argument, that the early history of the Order was created from scratch in the 1160s, was based on her own self-described "whirlwind" trip to the European archives to examine some of the manuscripts containing the early narrative and legislative texts, none of which she believed could have been written before the 1160s. But she did not look at nearly as broad a collection of manuscripts as did Waddell (she did not note Paris, BNF 15292, which contains the earliest version of the pope's confirmation of the Carta caritatis, and she did not examine any thirteenth-century or later manuscripts, even though they may have reproduced earlier versions of texts than late twelfth-century manuscripts), and her own arguments for the dates of some of the manuscripts that Waddell places a generation earlier are rather simplistic in comparison. For example, she dates a manuscript from Slovenia (Ljubljana 31) to c. 1180, based on her superficial reading of Natasa Golob's survey of Cistercian manuscripts from Slovenia, whereas Waddell, who appears to have read Golob far more carefully, dates the manuscript to c. 1147. The nearly simultaneous appearance of Berman's book and Waddell's edition, of course, also prevented him from commenting on her choices of dates.

Discussion of the manuscripts and their dates will doubtless continue; but Waddell's careful study has given all scholars an excellent place from which to begin. His thoughtful, thorough, and meticulous editions should mark the beginning of a new wave of studies of twelfth-century Cistercian organization and ideals.