Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Rule of Saint Benedict

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Rule of Saint Benedict

Article excerpt

The Rule of Saint Benedict. Edited and translated by Bruce L. Venarde. [Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, No. 6.] (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 2011. Pp. xxii, 278. $29-95. ISBN 978-0-674-05304-5.)

Under the auspices of the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, Bruce L. Venarde has given us a parallel-text Latin and English version of the Rule of St. Benedict. The general aim of the library is to produce facing-page translations and to create, in the words of the publisher,"accessible modern translations based on the latest research by leading figures in the field." How does this volume match up to these stated objectives?

The most problematic element here is the "latest research" element, as twenty or so pages of introduction plus "Notes on the Texts" are not really enough to bring us fully up to date.Venarde's summary of the transmission of the text of the Benedictine Rule in the early Middle Ages correctly highlights its popularity in areas of northern Europe in the seventh and eighth centuries. The translation and edition, however, are based on St. Gallen MS 914, which no longer enjoys the iconic status it once held in the history of textual transmission. Although Venarde follows Eugène Manning's view that this version does bring us close to what Benedict wrote, it would have been better to explain all this in a little more detail. …

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