Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Master of Penance

Master of Penance

Atria A. Larson
  • Book Info
    Master of Penance
    Book Description:

    This book presents the first full-scale study of the Tractatus de penitentia (C.33 q.3) in Gratian's Decretum, which became the textbook for canon law and served as the basis of the church's developing jurisprudence, in theory and in practice

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2169-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  2. Figures and Table
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Author’s Note
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-32)

    The pursuit of clarity often only muddies the waters. New discoveries often serve to complicate what had appeared to be a relatively simple picture. A wealth of new research does not always lead to consensus. These realities of the intellectual and academic world are exemplified currently in the field of the history of penance, so much so that the editor of the most recent volume devoted to penance from the early church to the early modern world has not attempted to present a unified collection of essays defined by historical and interpretive consensus; instead she has acknowledged the conflicts and...

  7. Part I. The Tractatus de penitentia of Gratian’s Decretum

    • 1 Distinctio 1: Contrition or Confession—What Remits Sins?
      (pp. 35-99)

      Of all the sections ofDe penitentia, the first distinction has attracted the most attention and debate. At first glance, the question (or the two versions of the question) posed seems innocuous enough. A perusal of the scholarly literature on the subject, however, bears witness to the fact that the question has evoked strong disagreement and varying interpretations. In addition to the specific issue at hand in this distinction, Gratian’s conclusion has elicited debate. Of the seven distinctions and the four which present extended arguments for and against a particular issue (DD. 1–4), D.1 stands out as the only...

    • 2 Distinctio 2: Regaining Love Like David or Losing Love Like Satan
      (pp. 100-135)

      The transition from the end of the first distinction to the beginning of the second highlights the difficulty with dividingDe penitentiainto distinctions but also the sensibility with which early scholars of theDecretum, perhaps Paucapalea chief among them, did impose those divisions. In some early manuscripts, the second distinction continues on from the end of theauctoritasattributed to Theodore of Canterbury’s penitential (D.1 c.90 in Friedberg) with only a small paraph but no enlarged initial; some manuscripts, including Fd, do not even include a paraph.¹ Cologne, Dombibliothek 127, from the mid-twelfth century, does begin the second distinction...

    • 3 Distinctio 3: Sin and the Nature of True Penance
      (pp. 136-167)

      If the early manuscripts of theDecretumdid not announce the start of the second distinction with much fanfare, they did so even less for the third distinction. Not only did the beginning of the third distinction usually lack a decorated or enlarged initial, it often (and far more often than was the case for the start of the second distinction) lacked even so much as a paraph.¹ This was the case in large part of course because Gratian himself did not label the distinctions as such (see the Introduction above), but this was the case especially here at the...

    • 4 Distinctio 4: When Forgiven Sins Come Back to Haunt You
      (pp. 168-203)

      After he spent considerable time demonstrating that penance can truly be celebrated and that sins can truly be forgiven, even when the penitent will fall again into sin, Gratian chose to investigate further one of the side issues mentioned in that discussion, specifically whether forgiven sins return. His choice of words made clear that he was moving on from the previous discussion and advancing a newquaestiowith the scholastic cue wordqueritur, and thus once again, even though many early manuscripts do not expressly divide D.4 out as a separate entity, the early teachers and students of the work...

    • 5 Distinctiones 5–7: True Penance, Proper Confessor-Priests, and Secure Death
      (pp. 204-236)

      As they appear in late medieval manuscripts, early print editions, and Friedberg, the final three distinctions of theTractatus de penitentiaare visually distinct in comparison with the other four. First of all, they are shorter, running from just over two columns (D.7) to four columns (D.5) in Friedberg’s edition. Second, at least half of each distinction consists of extended, uninterrupted quotations from Pseudo-Augustine’sDe uera et falsa penitentia. Third, the three distinctions combined contain only one extended section of Gratian’s own words, D.6 d.p.c.2. Fourth, a much larger percentage of the canons contain rubrics (in D.5, the final seven...

    • 6 Penance in Practice: Extra–De penitentia Texts on Penance in the Decretum
      (pp. 237-270)

      Gratian did not limit his treatment of penance in theDecretumto theTractatus de penitentia. As the previous chapters have demonstrated, the treatise presented Gratian’s thoughts on various theological aspects of penance, but it left an array of canonical questions about penance unanswered. As with any subject in theDecretum, canons anddictarelated to penance appear scattered throughout Gratian’s work. This scattering resulted from Gratian’s teaching methodology rooted incausaeinvestigated through variousquaestiones, a methodology that did not lend itself easily to systematic organization even though it may have been very effective from a pedagogical perspective. In...

    • 7 From Discipulus Anselmi to Magister clericorum
      (pp. 271-312)

      TheTractatus de penitentiahas always garnered attention for its uniqueness in theDecretumand its unusual placement within the thirty-thirdcausa, but until the mid-1990s the questionable attribution of it to Gratian himself stifled any attempts to draw conclusions about Gratian from it. The ambiguous thought process among modern scholars has run along the following lines: If Gratian was the author, then he was a theologian as well as a canonist, but we cannot be sure of this and such a dual identity is difficult to process.¹ If he was not the author, then he had no original theological...

  8. Part II. The Reception of Gratian’s Tractatus de penitentia

    • 8 From One Master to Another: Peter Lombard’s Usage of Gratian’s De penitentia
      (pp. 315-342)

      Gratian’s treatise on penance received a great amount of attention from numerous authors and masters in the first few decades after its composition. The extent of the usage ofDe penitentialikely would have been far less if Gratian had not incorporated it into hisConcordia discordantium canonum, but the fact of its inclusion there meant that any master who taught that work and any student who studied it in the middle and late twelfth century encountered it. What they did with it after such an encounter differed greatly. What did not differ was the respect with which it was...

    • 9 De penitentia in the Classroom (1): The Early Reception, 1140–1170
      (pp. 343-381)

      All of the masters roughly contemporary with Peter Lombard were also familiar withDe penitentia. Not all of them drew on it to such an extent, but they all respected the work for its theological presentation of matters related to penance. In Bologna and elsewhere on the continent from 1140 to 1170, the fate of the treatise in this period was one of usage or adaptation, not of commentary. As will become clear in the examination of the reception ofDe penitentiainsummaeand sentence collections on the continent in this chapter and, in chapter 11, theological works in...

    • 10 De penitentia in the Classroom (2): Paris and Bologna at the End of the Twelfth Century
      (pp. 382-410)

      The extensive usage of Gratian’sDe penitentiain Peter Lombard’sSentencesensured that the treatise would be treated and commented upon, albeit indirectly, in the theological schools for the remainder of the Middle Ages, even while, as shown in chapter 9, from the start the treatise garnered little attention in the lectures on canon law in Bologna and elsewhere. More than half a century after its composition, however,De penitentiastill exercised an influence independent of Peter Lombard’smagnum opusin the works produced by the new premier masters north of the Alps such as Peter the Chanter, and it...

    • 11 Moving beyond the Classroom: De penitentia in England and Southern France, 1160–1190
      (pp. 411-435)

      In the decades following Peter Lombard’s death and the height of the careers of men like Rolandus, Omnibonus, and Rufinus in Bologna,De penitentiabegan to exert influence outside the classroom. While masters still dealt with it, mentioned it in passing in theirsummae(e.g., Berthold of Metz in Cologne), drew on it substantially in their theologicalsententiae(e.g., Gandulphus), and created elaborate commentaries on it (e.g., Huguccio), other authors looked to it for guidance and assistance in the composition of different types of literary works. Bishop Bartholomew of Exeter found in Gratian’s work helpful content for a penitential in...

    • 12 De penitentia outside the Classroom: The Papal Curia, 1159–1215
      (pp. 436-486)

      By the timeDe penitentiawas exerting influence from Exeter to Montpellier, it had also extended its reach to Rome and the papal curia. Alexander III (1159–1181) implemented the spirit and principles ofDe penitentiaas he dealt with inquiries from bishops regarding penitential matters. Innocent III (1198–1216) continued this practice and additionally drew on the treatise in some of his sermons; his respect for Gratian’s work culminated in a decree of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. The influence is often subtle and not explicit. There are only glimpses ofDe penitentiain the popes’ decretals and...

    • Conclusion
      (pp. 487-500)

      In the second half of the twelfth century, Gratian’sDe penitentiaexercised a wide and varied influence. Its ideas and text made their way into all the intellectual centers of Europe in southern France, Paris, the Rhineland, and England, riding on the back of theDecretum. It influenced thesententiaein the schools of Bologna and Paris. Gratian’s successors in Bologna utilized it, and they followed in his footsteps as learned men prolific in what we call canon law as well as theology. It became the most important text in the treatment of penance for the greatest theological master of...

  9. Appendixes

    • Appendix A: The Progressive Formation of De penitentia D.7 cc.2–4
      (pp. 501-506)
    • Appendix B: Overlapping Texts between Peter Lombard, Sent. 4.14–22 and the Decretum
      (pp. 507-510)
    • Appendix C: Adaptatio ab Omnibono Tractatus de penitentia Gratiani
      (pp. 511-516)
    • Appendix D: De penitentia in Celestine III’s Decretal Cum non ab homine
      (pp. 517-518)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 519-542)
  11. Indexes