Penitentials of the Anglo-Saxon Church
(668-690, with later elements)
[THE IMPORTANCE of this work, emanating from Theodore of Tarsus (archbishop of Canterbury, 668-90) is generally recognized. Perhaps the most original and valuable part of Wasserschleben's essay on the history of the penitentials is that in which he determines the true penitential of Theodore.1 The tradition of Theodore's authorship of a penitential is attested by numerous references in authors of the eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries. The Liber pontificalis, compiled in the late eighth century, has usually been cited in this connection. In one manuscript of this work it is stated that Theodore "with wonderful consideration set forth the sentences of sinners or the number of years one ought to do penance for every sin."2 This passage, however, appears to be a late addition to the book.3 Yet it can hardly be later in origin than the Liber pontificalis, since it is also found in Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards, written about 790.4 Half a century later Raban Maur at least twice cited the penitential canons of Theodore, calling them "constitutions" and "capitula."5Regino of Prüm prescribes the Penitential of Theodore as one of the two from which choice may be made.6 In Irish penitential writings about the end of the seventh century Theodore was named and quoted.7 The penitential published by Albers as probably Bede's or of Bede's period, though regarded by others as somewhat later,____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Medieval Handbooks of Penance:A Translation of the Principal Libri Poenitentiales and Selections from Related Documents. Contributors: John T. McNeill - Author, Helena M. Gamer - Author. Publisher: Columbia University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1938. Page number: 179.