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Some Recent Work on Early Benedictine History

  • David Knowles (a1)


Thirty years ago a phase of monastic historical scholarship was drawing towards its close. For some forty years previously a group of scholars, who may fitly be considered the founders of critical monastic history of our century, had been actively at work. Almost all belonged to, or were connected with, three Benedictine abbeys: Maredsous in Belgium, Farnborough and Downside in England, belonging respectively to the Congregations of Beuron, France and England. Among them stood out Ursmer Berlière of Maredsous, creator and for long editor of the Revue Bénédictine and historian of medieval monasticism; his colleague Germain Morin, equally distinguished in the patristic and monastic fields; André Wilmart of Farnborough, unrivalled in our age in his knowledge of monastic literature and spirituality, and his colleagues Ferdinand Cabrol and Henri Leclercq; and at Downside Edmund Bishop and Cuthbert Butler. To these may be added John Chapman, originally of Maredsous and later of Downside who, though primarily a patristic and New Testament scholar, turned in his last years to the age of St Benedict; and Abbot Delatte of Solesmes who, though not an historian, distilled and presented to modern monks the wisdom of innumerable commentators of the past on the Rule of St Benedict. Taken as a group, these men had surveyed the history and literature of the Benedictine order between 540 and 1350, while Butler had produced a sound critical edition of the Rule and, together with others, had analysed the legislation and spiritual doctrine of Benedictine monasticism with a fulness that had not been achieved for any other medieval order, save perhaps that of St Francis.



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Page 36 of note 1 As this paper is in large part based on a longer account, with full references, of the Regula Magistri controversy, now published in Great Historical Enterprises, Nelson, Edinburgh 1963, I have felt it unnecessary to burden these pages with detailed notation.

Page 37 of note 1 Génestout, A., ‘La Règle du Maître et la Règle de saint Benoît,’ Revue d’Ascetique et de Mystique, XXI (1940), 51117: this article must always remain the cornerstone of the controversy.

Page 38 of note 1 Vanderhoven, H. and Masai, F., Aux sources du monachismi bénédictine: I. La Règle du Maître, in Publications de Scriptorium, Brussels-Paris, 111 (1953).

Page 41 of note 1 Mundó, A.;, ‘L’Authenticité de la Regula Sancti Benedicti,’ Studia Anselmiana, XLII (1957), 105-58.

Page 41 of note 2 Haliinger, K., ‘Papst Gregor der Grosse und der hl. Benedikt,’ Studia Anselmiana, XLII (1957). 231319 .

Page 44 of note 1 Paringer, B., ‘Le MS. de Saint-Gall 914 représente-t-il le latin original de la règle de s. Benoît?’, Revue Bénédictine, LXI (1951), 81140 .

Page 45 of note 1 Hanslik, R., Benedicti Regula, CSEL, LXXV (1960).

Page 45 of note 2 Mundó, , ‘ “Bibliotheca”: Bible et Lecture du Carême d’après saint Benoît’, Revue Bénédictine, LX (1950), 6592 .

Some Recent Work on Early Benedictine History

  • David Knowles (a1)


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