15.05.18, Berndt, ed., Eure Namen sind im Buch des Lebens geschrieben

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Charles Hilken

The Medieval Review 15.05.18

Berndt, Rainer, S. J., ed. Eure Namen sind im Buch des Lebens geschrieben: Antike und mittelalterliche Quellen als Grundlage moderner prosopographischer Forschung. Erudiri Sapientia, 11. Münster: Aschendorff Verlag, 2014. pp. 528. ISBN: 9783402104385 (hardback).

Reviewed by:
Charles Hilken
Saint Mary's College of California

The Hugo von Sankt Viktor-Institute for the Study of the Middle Ages, housed at the Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt am Main, has produced a collection of twenty-two essays written by an impressive group of veteran and younger scholars and edited by Rainer Berndt, S.J., the director of the Institute. This is the fruit of a symposium in 2011 funded by the German Research Institute. The book has three parts with essays gathered under three topics: names and naming; books that carry names and name-lists; and scribes and authors of name-lists. Added to this is a preliminary piece by the editor on traces of the Vetus Latina wording of the biblical verse used in the title of the conference and present volume. The author's rigorous martialling of textual evidence of the use of particular words and phrases is characteristic of a number of other essays. In Part One, Hans-Winfried Jüngling, "Name and Naming through Adam: The Beginning of Science" found 113 instances of "name" and 111 of "call" in the book of Genesis and gives a detailed exegesis of the use these words. In Part Two, Ralf M. W. Stammberger, "The One Book and the Many Books: Reading and Writing as Divine Worship," has a thorough review of scriptural passages with "the book of life" and equivalents, and a review of theological commentary on the same from Augustine to Aquinas. The author observes that the writing of libri vitae was not meant to remind God of anything but rather as an expression of the hope of humanity. Also in Part Two, José Luis Narvaja, "Prosopographical Models of the Ancient Church between the Second and Sixth Centuries," explores the meaning and use of "Christian" in the early church, especially as means of distinguishing true followers of Christ from heretics. He finds list-making, of popes, books of the Bible, and heresies, to be a characteristic of the early Christian centuries.

Rainer Berndt's essay, "'I have called you by name' (Is. 45:3-4): Forms of Individuation and Identity Formation in the Latin Middle Ages," begins the first section. After giving a call for more interdisciplinary work between historical studies and linguistics, he asks if the study of the underlying conditions of medieval society can shed light on prosopographical findings. Proceeding with an affirmative answer to the question, he reminds the reader of the biblical-liturgical context for the medieval way of thinking. Individuality given by God in the reception of a name always has a purpose. In this light, people are called to service. The medieval understanding of selfhood comes from an understanding of God who calls and names individuals for life and faith. The essay closes with an insight about the transition to modernity. There is a medieval dialectic of the incompatibility of quantities large and small. The medieval application of this dialectic is towards understanding the mysteries of the Incarnation, wherein God's greatness enters the confines of the Blessed Mother and is born as one of us. In a break with the Middle Ages, there is the shift of this application in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries toward understanding the greatness of the universe and smallness of the human person, with the divine reality fading into the background.

Stephan Winter, "Baptism in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: Considerations from the History of Liturgy and the Theory of Ritual on the Relationship between the Baptismal Act and Name-Giving," offers insight into what the acquisition of a baptismal name meant for early Christians. The author shows that naming is integral to baptism first in the calling upon the divine names in the epiclesis, which precedes water as the central ritual act. The initial expression of faith then becomes ritualized in the calling of the baptizand by name. This is necessary for identity as a communicating subject. For the remainder of the essay, the author gives an interesting history of name-giving, which follows a progression from theophoric names to names that express piety to names of martyrs and other saints. Winter's account at the end of the essay of the baptism of Paul in Acts of the Apostles neatly recalls many of the insights he has given.

Hanns Peter Neuheuser, "Memoria and Allegatio: The Function of Papal Naming in the Liturgy according to the Sacramental Theology of Hugh of Saint Victor," serves as a good bridge between the early church and the Middle Ages. The author argues that linking names of persons to sacred history serves the purposes of remembering, historicizing, and legitimizing. This practice, he notes, is already present in the biblical tradition of the line of the prophets. The proper subject of his essay is Hugh of Saint Victor's linking of papal names to the introduction of the parts of the mass ordo. Working from Hugh's Didascalicon, De sacramentis, and other titles, Neuheuser traces a consistency in Hugh's thoughts about papal authority in the development of the mass. A real strength of his essay is placing Hugh in a tradition of scholarship which began with the authors of the Liber pontificalis, was picked up by Carolingian-era scholars in monasteries around Lake Constance (the "Bodensee" scholars), and continues today in the critical study of the genre of historicizing the mass ordo.

Tilman Nagel, "Ninety-Nine Names has Allah: The Names of Allah in the Muslim Theology of the Middle Ages," concentrates especially on the works of al-Gazhali (d. 1111), a theologian of the Ash'ariyya school. The essay explores a range of uses of the tradition of the names of God from the pious practice of repetition to what Nagel calls the momentous (folgenreichste) theological exploration of al-Ghazali, who dealt with the paradox of two tenets: "no one except God knows God" and "I know only God, and nothing else." Respectful of the tradition that preceded al-Ghazali, the author described the near-magical repetition of the names of God as the desire for nearness to the Awesome in such way that does not try to decipher the riddle of God and creation, but proceeds towards a deeper personal knowledge (erkennen rather than lernen) of the divine. On the moral plane, the perfection and bliss of a servant of God is that he or she assume the characteristics of God enumerated in the divine names. This was first exemplified in the life of the prophet Muhammed himself. The doctrine of al-Ghazali moved toward philosophical theology exploring the various levels of existence (real, mental, and spoken) and finding that the multiplicity of names for God reflected the instability of spoken existence. Al-Ghazali's discussion of humanity's relationship to God turned to a consideration of "possible and necessary being" (möglich und notwendig Sein). Nagel finds that al-Ghazali's theology went beyond his conservative Ash'ariyya tradition, which exalted "the faith of the old housewife," and created a narrow but fruitful pursuit of meaning in and beyond the mere acquisition of names.

Two other essays complete Part One. Hideki Nakamura, "The Name of the Family of Jacob: Structures of the Anthropology of Richard of Saint Victor," serves the purposes of the volume well in giving an ideal moral profile of the Christian life drawn from Richard's Benjamin minor, which assigns a moral meaning to each of the names in the whole family of Jacob. The great number of extant manuscripts (70 to 100) shows the influence of Richard's work. Gesine Klintworth, "Towards the Identification of Crusaders--A Confusion of Abbots on the Fourth Crusade following the examples of Martin of Saint-Magloire and Adam of La Trappe," makes the case that more is needed than a name to be sure of the identity of a crusader. This is a good bit of detective work showing confusion not only by later sources but also by [near] contemporaries.

In perhaps the best of a very fine set of essays in Part Two, on the topic of books as sources of prosopography, Robert Gramsch, "Prosopographical Analysis of the Papal Register of Letters: Individual Biographies and Clerical Networks in the Late Middle Ages," provides an informative study of the characteristic background and network of social relations of German holders of church benefices in the later Middle Ages. Working with the German repertories from the Vatican registers from the Great Schism (1378) to the Reformation (1517), Gramsch covers a lot of territory including social background, age at time of appointment, education, and number of benefices held by individuals. He also sheds light on the mechanics and extent of dealings in the acquisition of benefices. Of particular interest to his investigation are the networks of social relations, both horizontal and vertical. He finds the following three benefits of social groups for the individual cleric: information, resources, and trust. At the end, he proposes the direction of future studies toward reconstructing the informal social networks of the German church in the later Middle Ages.

Uwe Ludwig, "Possibilities and Problems of Prosopographical Investigation of Early Medieval Libri vitae, serves as a good investigation of the problems and methods of analysis and transmission criticism, especially of the Saint Gall and Reichenau fraternity books. Ludwig has a fair treatment of the use of libri vitae with helpful guidelines for working with names in the earlier era when only single names are given without any accompanying information. His remark that copyists were not careful to preserve groupings from older books is noteworthy. There are plates from the more recent St. Gall fraternity book, pp. 49-51, and p. 74; the Reichenauer fraternity book, p. 47; and the older St. Gall fraternity book, p. 5.

Véronique Gazeau, "The Works of Robert of Torigni: A Source for the Building of a Prosopography of Norman Abbots," lives up to its title well. This is a continuation of the author's published two-volume work Normannia monastica. Gazeau studies Robert's compilations of the names of 155 abbots in the monasteries of Normandy. She finds four criteria for belonging to the elite network of abbots: social background and relations; geographical background and birthplace; patronage and clientage; and education, especially higher education.

Other essays complete Part Two. Meta Niederkorn-Bruck, "Prosopographicals in Martyrologies," weds architectural planning (placement of altars), preservation of relics, and transmission of martyrologies as medieval links to the traditions of the early church. Arnold Angenendt, "Prosopography in the Mass," gives a historical development of the practice and theology of the mass from the fourth century through the scholastic era. As the author sees it, the introduction of the names of those offering the mass or of those for whom the mass is being offered transformed the rite from an act of thanksgiving to one of bidding and atonement. The implications for prosopography, however, are largely unexplored.

The essays of Part Three, "Scribes and Writing: Instruments of Prosopographical Research," most consistently address prosopography. Franz Neiske, "Writing as an Instrument of Prosopographical Research," gives a thorough examination of how names and naming were handled in name lists. The essay is magisterial in scope and content and cannot be adequately described here. The author addresses the social, legal, historical, literary, and liturgical functions of writing names. The essay is divided into helpful sections. One can offer some highlights. Under "Names and Name-Lists," Neiske finds evidence for a medieval concern for the meaning of names, their proper translations, and pronunciations. Under "Names and Name-Etymologies," he describes the semantics of personal names as part of the history of mentality. In "Research Projects," the occasional evidence of unseemly nicknames points to a much wider phenomenon. In "Scribere nomina--Law and Liturgy," since name lists can be legal documents they are subject to forgery. The author returns to this point. Under "Names Not Written--Lost Names," Neiske finds formulas excusing scribes for incomplete lists. For "Errors and Forgeries," the author explores methods of textual criticism. Finally, in "False Memoria he considers the likelihood of new and still unrecognized sources of errors.

Brigide Schwarz, "The Corporations of Scribal Colleges at the Papal Curia," gives a genuine prosopography of scribes at the papal court. She describes the changes in common curial backgrounds from the thirteenth through the fourteenth centuries. She then treats the corporate concerns of the scribes. Included also is a model "biogram" that includes data on origin, education, service, and social relations.

Émilie Cottereau-Gabillet, "The French Copyists of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries: An Unknown Population. Challenges and Lessons of the Prosopographical Approach," presents fine statistical information on French scribes laid out in fifteen tables with ample commentary. The author observes that since scribes are mentioned for the most part only once or twice, detailed individual studies are not possible and therefore the scribes must be studied as a whole. Table 1 gives the number of manuscripts associated with copyists. Tables 2-6 deal with status (ecclesiastical, professional, and educational); tables 7-8 with chronology and geography; tables 9-12 with patronage; table 13-15 with script, language, and genre of text.

Michael Embach, "Colophons in Trier Manuscripts of the Middle Ages: Individual Minimal Prosopography and Religious Formulas of Profession," gives, in part, a report on a work in progress at the Municipal Library of Trier of cataloging and identifying scribes in the collection. A sampling, from names ending in L to O, is included. The author observes that the amount of information about scribes is directly related to the costliness of the production and the social status of donors and recipients. Like other colleagues in this collection, Embach acknowledges the need for the institutional context of the copyists.

Two more essays complete Part Three. Annette Löffler, "The Victorine Abbot Gaufridus Pellegay and His Concern for His Salvation," examines the entries in two necrologies of the abbey in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries regarding the death and the anniversary remembrance of the abbot. The essay is useful in showing the early and later waves of commemoration at the abbey and serves as notice of a volume of studies in preparation co-authored by Löffler on the necrology of Saint Victor. Britta Müller-Schauenburg, "'Failure to write law correctly:' The Parisian Manuscripts of the Tract Quia nonnulli of Benedict XIII, with the Responsa," explores the three copies of the tract handled by the anti-pope himself. The essay sheds light on the individual qualities of the pope.

The goal of the collection as set out by its title of exploring ancient and medieval texts related to "name" and "naming" is realized, while the further goal of relating these texts to prosopography is not addressed in all instances. Nevertheless, there is merit in each of the contributions. The work concludes with an extensive bibliography and indices of biblical passages, ancient and medieval authors, and personal names.

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