James A. Brundage

title.none: Boutry, ed., Petri Cantoris (James A. Brundage)

identifier.other: baj9928.0602.024 06.02.24

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: James A. Brundage, University of Kansas,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2006

identifier.citation: Boutry, Monique, ed. Petri Cantoris Parisiensis Verbum Adbreviatum: Textus Conflatus. Series: Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Medievalis, vol. 196. Turhout: Brepols Publishers, 2004. Pp. lxxiv, 990. 395EUR 2-503-04961-3. ISBN: .

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 06.02.24

Boutry, Monique, ed. Petri Cantoris Parisiensis Verbum Adbreviatum: Textus Conflatus. Series: Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Medievalis, vol. 196. Turhout: Brepols Publishers, 2004. Pp. lxxiv, 990. 395EUR 2-503-04961-3. ISBN: .

Reviewed by:

James A. Brundage
University of Kansas

Peter of Hordenc, a renowned theologian, preacher, biblical scholar, and social critic, served as cantor at the cathedral of Notre- Dame in Paris from 1183 until his death in 1197. Peter had arrived in Paris in 1173 after studying at Reims and quickly secured a following as a teacher of theology. His students included Robert of Courson, who became a cardinal, Stephen Langton, who became archbishop of Canterbury as well as a cardinal, and in all likelihood Lothario dei Segni, who became Pope Innocent III. When he became chanter at Notre- Dame Peter not only took on responsibility for the music at the cathedral's daily liturgical services, but also served as master of the cathedral's choir school. As an influential and prominent theologian it was inevitable that Peter should have been a prime candidate for higher ecclesiastical dignities, but in the event no such promotion occurred and he remained a deacon and chanter at Paris until his death. He was actually elected bishop of Tournai, but due to an irregularity in the electoral process the canonist Stephen of Tournai was named in his place. Peter was also proposed as a candidate for the bishopric of Paris in 1196, but that position, too, went to another. Shortly thereafter he was elected dean of the cathedral chapter at Reims, but this time he died before he could take up the position.

Peter the Chanter produced a substantial body of written work of which his Biblical commentaries constitute the largest part. These consist of student notes (reportationes) on his lectures in theology and include glosses on every book in both the Old and New Testaments. Although numerous manuscripts of his Biblical lectures survive, only a selection from his glosses on Genesis have yet appeared in print. [1] In addition to lecturing, Peter, like other twelfth-century teachers of theology, participated regularly in disputations. His Summa de sacramentis contains the collected record of his questiones and this has been published. [2] Peter was reputed to have been a stirring preacher, but only two sermons attributed him are known to survive in manuscript. A prayer book thought to be by him has also been published.[3]

The most wide-ranging of Peter's writings was his work on the virtues and vices composed in 1191/92, known from its opening words as the Verbum adbreviatum. It was also the most frequently copied and widely read of them all. The Verbum adbreviatums a work of dazzling scholarship, an astonishingly rich and diverse storehouse of erudition. It is stuffed with allusions and quotations, not only from the Scriptures, the church Fathers, and liturgical texts, as might be expected from a theologian who was also a cathedral cantor, but also from an impressive array of classical authors, historians, legal writers, speeches, and proverbial sayings. Boutry's indices of citations to scriptural and other sources take up 125 pages of her edition and there are undoubtedly others that are not listed--a matter to which I shall return later.

The textual history of the Verbum adbreviatum is bewilderingly complex. John Baldwin in his magisterial study of the social thought of Peter and his circle at Paris presented the fullest account of the manuscript tradition and Boutry relies heavily upon it in her introduction. Baldwin located some 85 manuscripts altogether and these contain a bewildering variety of texts. [4] He identified four families of the text: a long recension in two variant forms; a short recension in three different forms, some with marginal additions and some without; a set of abridged versions, of which there are two groups; and a transformed, or reorganized, form, of which two types survive, in addition to a handful of manuscripts that contain fragments of the work. The obvious question is which of these families most nearly represents the original form of Peter's text. Since the abridged and transformed texts clearly do not do so, the real choice would seem to be between the long and the short versions.

The Verbum adbreviatum was first published by Georges Galopin, a Belgian Benedictine monk, in 1639. Migne reprinted Galopin's edition (with added typographical errors) in volume 205 of his Patrologia Latina and these were the only two printings of the work available until the present one appeared in 2004. Galopin's study of the manuscripts persuaded him that the short version came first and that the long version represented a later expansion of the original work, perhaps by another hand or possibly many of them. Baldwin makes a strong argument for the opposite view, namely that the long version came first and that the short version and the various abridged versions resulted from a process of abbreviating the original to make it more manageable and less costly to copy. The work, he adds, did circulate, after all, under the title "The Abbreviated Word."

Boutry in her introduction discusses all of these problems and, after comparing passages from the long and short versions, concludes that Galopin reached essentially the right conclusion. She finds it difficult to believe that the Verbum adbreviatum in its primitive form could have been such a diffuse and sprawling work as that presented in the long version. Instead, she maintains, the short version, which survives in at least 40 manuscripts, must have been the original. Marginal notes, she believes, were added to that version over the course of time to produce an intermediate form of the original that survives in only four manuscripts, two of which are incomplete. She labels this the textus alter. Further paragraphs, as well as marginal notes and interlinear additions, were then inserted into the textus alter to produce the long version, which she prefers to describe as the conflated text.

Four manuscripts of the textus conflatus survive. Two of these (Vatican Library MS Reg. lat. 106 and Arras, Bibliothèque municipale 571, which is incomplete) resemble each other so closely that Boutry concludes that they must be copies from a common source, now apparently lost. Boutry adopted the two other manuscripts, both now in Paris (Bibliothèque Ste-Geneviève 250 and Bibliothèque Mazarine 772, the oldest of the four) as the fundamental basis for her edition on the grounds that they present the most consistently grammatical and comprehensible readings.

Boutry has done an extraordinarily impressive job of identifying the sources of well over six thousand of the quotations and allusions that pepper the pages of the textus conflatus. I trust it will not seem ungenerous to note that it would be possible to locate at least a few further references in the text that remain unidentified. Since I have worked for many years with legal sources, I was especially struck by the large number of references to the Decretum of Gratian and other canonistic works that Boutry managed to track down--aided, I presume, by the wonderfully useful concordance to Gratian's work put together by the late Timothy Reuter and Gabriel Silagi. [5]

It became clear early on that Peter must have had access to at least one decretal collection, quite likely I suspect to the Breviarium extravagantium that Bernard of Pavia completed around 1191. [6] I casually noted that references to at least three decretals that appear in that collection occur within the space of two pages of Boutry's edition, and there are probably more. I likewise noticed at least one allusion to Justinian's Digest 1.1.10 and again there may well be others. Although comparable tools for locating other parts of the Corpus iuris canonici have not appeared, a searchable version of the standard edition of the Liber Extra is available on line. [7] While the Liber Extra was not promulgated until 1234, long after Peter's death, it incorporated nearly all of the decretals in Bernard of Parma's Breviarium and these are identified in the footnotes. Further, if a search of the Liber Extra were to turn up decretals issued after Peter's death, this would help to settle some questions about which passages in the textus conflatus not included in the short version may have been added by Peter and which by the hand(s) of others.

Boutry also located five references in the textus conflatus to the Panormia of Ivo of Chartres. For these she relied on the highly defective edition reprinted in the Patrologia Latina. [8] It may well be that an electronic search in the provisional edition of the Panormia by Martin Brett and Bruce Brasington, which is available on the World Wide Web, might pick up some others. [9]

Medievalists of all kinds have reason to be grateful for the appearance of this editio princeps of the long (or conflated) version of Peter the Chanter's most important work. It is a pity that its cost should be so high that it is likely to be available only in major research libraries, although given the economics of scholarly publishing and widespread retrenchment in university library budgets that is probably inevitable.


[1] Glossa super Genesis, Prologues et capitula 1-3, ed. Agnate Sylvan (Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, 1992). On Peter's biblical commentaries see also Beryl Smalley, The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages (Oxford: Blackwell, 1952; repr. Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 1964), pp. 196-263.

[2] Summa de sacramentis et animae consiliis, ed. Jean-Albert Dugauquier, 3 vols. in 5 (Louvain: Nauwelaerts, 1954-1967).

[3] Richard C. Trexler, The Christian at Prayer: An Illustrated Prayer Manual Attributed to Peter the Chanter (d. 1197) (Binghamton, NY: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1987).

[4] Masters, Princes and Merchants: The Social Views of Peter the Chanter and His Circle, 2 vols. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970), Appendix II, 2:246-65.

[5] Wortkonkordanz zum Decretum Gratiani, 5 vols., MGH, Hilfsmittel 10.1-5 (Munich: Monumenta Germaniae Historica, 1990).

[6] The collection was taught in the schools of canon law during the later years of Peter the Chanter's lifetime. It was also known to contemporaries as Compilatio prima; an analytical edition appears in Quinque compilationes antiquae, ed. Emil Friedberg (Leipzig: Tauchnitz, 1882; repr. Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsangsalt, 1956), pp. 1-65.

[7] It can be found at

[8] See especially Peter Landau, "Die Rubriken und Inskriptionen von Ivos Panormia: Die Ausgabe Sebastian Brants im Vergleich zur Löwener Edition des Melchior de Vosmédian und der Ausgabe von Migne," Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, Kanonistische Abteilung 65 (1979) 120-48, and repr. in his Kanones und Dekretalen: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Quellen des kanonischen Rechts (Goldbach: Keip, 1977), pp. 97*-*115*

[9] A printable and searchable version is available at