Studien zu den Quellen der frubmittelalterlichen Bussbucher. By Ludger Korntgen. [Quellen und Forschungen zum Recht im Mittelalter, Band 7.] (Sigmaringen:Jan Thorbecke Verlag. 1993. Pp. xxiii, 292. DM 98,-.)
Since the middle of the nineteenth century the study of early medieval penitentials has, on the whole, been in a state of disarray. The editions of penitentials in Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents relating to Great Britain and Ireland' and in Wasserschleben's2 and Schmitz's3 volumes, excellent as they were for the nineteenth century, at times gave different names for the same penitential, presented only partial texts of some penitentials, and were based on what is now known to have been an inadequate number of manuscripts. The two major exceptions to the confusion in the editing of the penitentials were in Finsterwalder's edition of the Canones Theodori in 19294 and Bieler's excellent edition of the Irish penitentials in 1963.5 In 1978 Vogel published a useful introduction to the penitentials as a whole in the series Typologie des sources du moyen age occidental, but much of the confusion of the past remained, so much so that a few years later in the same series A. J. Frantzen made an attempt, not always successful, to clear up matters.6 In the late 1970's the situation regarding the large number of continental penitentials began to change. Raymund Kottje, who would publish his fundamental study of the penitentials of Halitgar of Cambrai and Rabanus Maurus in 1980,7 first announced the establishment of a major program, sponsored by the Volkswagen Stiftung, to study and edit the Continental penitentials.? The first volume to emerge from this program has now appeared in the Corpus Christianorum series, Paenitentialia minora Franciae et Italiae saeculi VIII-IX.9 During his work both at Augsburg and Bonn Kottje involved a number of his students, including Frantzen, who used material gathered in Augsburg for his own studies, and the author of the volume here under review, who soon distinguished himself with work such as that on the 'first' Roman penitential in the manuscript, Vatican, BAV Arch. S. Pietro H 58.' The study under review is in part the result of Korntgen's doctoral work at Bonn.
The volume is divided into three major sections, the first on the Paenitentiale Ambrosianum and its relation to the famous Irish Paenitentiale Cummeani, the second on the sources of the Paenitentiale Ps.-Romanum and related penitentials, including what Korntgen calls the Paenitentiale Oxoniense II, and the third an edition of the Paenitentiale Ambrosianum and an incipit-explicit 'edition' of the Paenitentiale in duobus libris.
The first section of the volume deals with the Paenitentiale Ambrosianum, so-called because it appears in a late ninth- or early-tenth-century Bobbio manuscript now in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, MS. G 58 sup. This text was edited as long ago as 1896 by O. Seebass,'" but he saw it in the context of the Carolingian Renaissance and did not realize its importance vis-a-vis the earlier Paenitentiale Cummeani. Then in 1990 Michele Tosi published an edition of this same penitential with commentary in the somewhat obscure Archivum Bobiense (12-13 [1990-91]), a work not cited in Korntgen's study. On the basis of a careful study of its sources and contents, Korntgen argues that the Paenitentiale Ambrosianum was compiled ca. 550-650 in a monastery in Ireland or Britain and provided the source of the Paenitentiale Cummeani. While the Paenitentiale Ambrosianum has a monastic character-related in an indirect way to the Regula Benedicti-it also has a secular or lay character for use by a priest hearing confessions, perhaps in Britain because British texts appear therein. The Paententiale Ambrosianum is constructed around the list of vices in John Cassian's work, which Cummean also used, and provides an extensive medical metaphor prologue, also found in Cummean but in a shorter form.
Korntgen's exciting discovery of a 'new' ancient Irish-British penitential studied in the first major section of his work is matched in the second section by an equally important discovery of the major source of the Paenitentiale Ps. …