The Letters of Hildegard of Bingen - Vol. 3

The Letters of Hildegard of Bingen - Vol. 3

The Letters of Hildegard of Bingen - Vol. 3

The Letters of Hildegard of Bingen - Vol. 3

Synopsis

This is the third and final volume of the complete annotated correspondence of the extraordinary nun, Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). One of the most remarkable women of her day, Hildegard was, for more than 30 years, an unflinching advisor and correspondent of all levels of church and society, from popes and kings to ordinary lay persons, from Jerusalem to England. This present volume (letters 218-390) is noteworthy for its large collection of letters to a non-ecclesiastical audience, and because it contains letters not just to such high-ranking notables as Frederick Barbarossa, King Henry II of England, or Eleanor or Acquitaine, but also to common, ordinary individuals of no importance whatsoever, save that they received a letter from Hildegard of Bingen. Addressing matters as diverse as the "humors" and their relation to health and salvation, the fate of departed souls, the frequency and horror of homicide in her age, a means of exorcising malignant spirits, an effective kind of incantation to alleviate nightmares, the proper attitude and response to the fact of excommunication, and male infidelity in marriage, Hildegard provides a unique view of the twelfth century world. Here also are found compositions in epistolary style that are actually sermons, mediations, prayers, or treatises on a wide range of theological topics, such as prophecy, celebration of the Mass, the Lord's Prayer, the creation, and the fall of Adam. Like previous volumes, the translation follows the most recent definitive Latin text, in which the letters are organized according to the rank and station of Hildegard's correspondents.

Excerpt

At last, the task is completed. This is the third, and final, volume of The Letters of Hildegard of Bingen. At the time of this writing, early spring 2002, all the letters have been translated, and the manuscript of the final volume is being readied to send out to the publisher. All three volumes now, finished, ended, completed, at last. It has been a long road, with many unexpected delays along the way. When we first began this project in 1990, the year 2000 was for us, as, I suppose, for most people, still an unimaginable distance ahead, and we would have been astonished if we had been able to foresee that two years into the new millennium we would still be laboring on a work begun in more innocent times. In fact, at the very beginning of our work we felt quite confident of being ahead of the game, for even before the publication of Lieven Van Acker's edition of the first volume of the Latin letters, we had carefully prepared the way (like some struggling plant, as Hildegard might say, bravely sending forth its roots in search of viridity while awaiting the bursting-forth of the sun) by applying ourselves assiduously to the letters in the Patrologia, seeking to acclimate ourselves ahead of time to Hildegard's language and peculiar quirks of style. Thus when Van Acker's edition came out in 1991, we could aggressively begin devouring those definitive texts—which we did, as we vividly recall, on the very day the edition reached our office from Brepols. Yet, as it turned out, our aggressive beginning became part of the problem, for we had begun work on a work in progress, and we were, therefore, dependent on the regular appearance of the subsequent volumes. When Van Acker's second volume appeared in 1993, our own first volume was already in press (though it did not appear in print until 1994) . . .

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