The Collectio Dionysiana

The Collectio Dionysiana is an aggregate of canonistic materials, combined over time, that came to constitute a “collection” often considered to be the prototype of a “codex” of canon law.1 The fundamental element is compilation of decrees of the oecumenical councils held before A.D. 500, augmented in a later version with additional canons from the African councils, and ultimately combined in some manuscripts with a selection of papal decrees from the same period, each part having been arranged and translated into Latin by Dionysius Exiguus in the early sixth century. It is noteworthy for its enduring status as a model of universal canon law, the quality of its texts, and its extensive use in subsequent collections of canonistic materials.

Following a remark by his contemporary and colleague Cassiodorus, scholarship almost invariably describes Dionysius Exiguus as “a Scythian monk,” but often fails to include Cassiodorus’s qualification, “but thoroughly Roman in manners.” (Institutiones divinarum et humanarum lectionum, I.23 2 ). Recent research emphasises this Romanitas, both because Dionysius’ natal region had long been Romanised, and many of its monasteries had close relations with the Roman see, and also because Dionysius worked primarily in Rome after his stay at Cassiodorus’ monastery, Vivarium. Reference to Dionysius’ Scythian background does, however, convey two salient facts: Dionysius had unusual facility in both Greek and Latin, which he turned to use as a translator, and he emerged from a lively intellectual atmosphere that produced both “Scythian monks” known for their orthodoxy and oecumenicity and “Scythian monks” known for exciting controversy after the Council of Chalcedon by proposing another Christological definition. 3 With only Cassiodorus and Dionysius’s translations as direct witnesses to his work, however, our knowledge of Dionysius Exiguus is limited; its generally hazy state is reflected in periodically recurrent debate over whether he should be identified with Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. 4

Dionysius Exiguus was first and foremost a translator, known for his accuracy. 5 It should be kept in mind that Cassiodorus’ description of Dionysius is in the context of a discussion of Christian authors to be read for their excellent prose as well as their piety. In the Institutiones, Cassiodorus devoted chapters to St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Cyprian, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and the abbots Eugipius and Dionysius Exiguus; the longest description is devoted to Dionysius, no doubt because of personal acquaintance. Cassiodorus’ comment on Dionysius’ canonistic work is that “At the request of Stephen, bishop of Salona (modern Split), he translated with brilliant eloquence the Greek texts of the ecclesiastical canons that matched his own manner of life, for he was a clear and good writer. Today the Roman Church makes continual use of them. You ought to read them eagerly so that you do not remain through your own fault ignorant of the salutary rules of the Church.” 6 Cassiodorus also reported that Dionysius “was strictly orthodox and completely and always attached to the regulations of old.” 7

Cassiodorus’ reference to bishop Stephen matches one of the prefaces Dionysius wrote to his collections of canon law, the preface to the collection of conciliar canons. 8 As noted above, the “Collectio Dionysiana” is actually a composite collection, generally held to have developed in three major efforts, traceable through the evidence of the three prefaces attributed to Dionysius, and thus credited wholly to his labours. The two main components of the conceptual “collection” are the canons of the oecumenical councils and the collection of papal decretals. The conciliar decrees were published first, and the decretals were collected later as a separate publication. The surviving manuscripts of Dionysius’ work reflect differing stages of compilation: a few contain a first edition of the conciliar canons; a greater number transmit a second edition of the conciliar canons, revised to include a larger number of African canons than was in the first edition and having a different arrangement of the components. 9 Three manuscripts combine the second edition of conciliar canons with the collection of papal decretals. The first edition of the collection of councils, survives in two early ninth-century manuscripts, plus an early eighth century fragment. 10 The second edition of the collection of conciliar decrees is witnessed in eight extant manuscripts: one sixth century fragment, a seventh century manuscript from Burgundy, three ninth-century manuscripts, two tenth-century manuscripts, and a thirteenth-century manuscript. A third recension of the conciliar canons does not survive: it is known only from the surviving preface as a parallel column Greek and Latin edition; this preface is preserved in one ninth-century manuscript. There is also a preface to the collection of decretals.

Oddly, although the prefaces Dionysius wrote for each of the editions of the conciliar canons have relatively good representation for a late antique text. they are usually transmitted in manuscripts of the ninth century or later that contain collections other than the Collectio Dionysiana, such as the Dionysio-Hadriana (q.v.), modified forms of the Collectio Dionysiana, the Collection of Cresconius, and other collections of canon law. 11 Only three manuscripts represent the “Collectio Dionysiana” as generally conceived by subsequent editors and scholars: Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, lat. 3837 (a ninth-century manuscript) contains the Preface to the Decretal Collection, the second (expanded) edition of the conciliar canons, and the collected decretals, as does a tenth-century manuscript, Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, lat. 5845. One other ninth-century manuscript has the second edition of the conciliar canons and the decretals, but no preface. 12 The second edition (second recension) of the collection was printed in 1628 and again in 1643 by Christophe Justel, but since the manuscript he seems to have used did not contain the decretals, it is thought that he reprinted them from the edition of the Collectio Dionysio-Hadriana (q.v.) printed in 1525 by Johannes Wendelstinus (Cochlaeus) or that of Pithou (1609). It is the Justel edition that is reprinted in J.-P. Migne’s Patrologia Latina, vol. 67. 13 Considerable confusion may arise from the fact that the prefaces, because they are preserved in different forms, are described by their editor as divisible into “Recensio A” and “Recensio B”, categories which do not relate to manuscripts of the first and second recensions of the collected conciliar canons; it should be recalled that the prefaces have an independent history of transmission that only occasionally coincides with the transmission of the collection in its various editions. [See below for a summative chart of the manuscript contents in this regard.]

“Collectio Dionysiana” : Summative chart of the manuscripts and their contents (based upon Kéry and Glorie)

Pref. to 1st Rec. (=Glorie Rec.A) First Recension of Councils Collection of Decretals Summary of Contents Notes
Köln, Dombibl. 212* *ms. contains Collectio Coloniensis
Paris, B.N., lat. 1451* *ms. contains Coll. St. Maur.
Paris, B.N., lat. 3846*   *ms. contains Dionysio-Hadriana
Vatican, Pal. lat. 577 Vatican, Pal. lat.577 Pref. to 1st Rec. + First Rec. Councils =Glorie beta text; Strewe text
Gotha, Landesbibl. Membr. I.75
Kassel, Landesbibl. 4o theol. I
Pref. to the 2nd Rec. of Councils (=Glorie Rec. B) Second Recension of Councils Decretals
Brescia, BCQ, B.II.13* *Coll. Novariensis, Abridg. Pseudo-Is.
München, SB, Clm 6288* *Cresconius
München, SB, Clm 14008* *Dionys.adaucta
Novara, BC, XXX (66) *Dionys.-Hadr., Coll.Vatic., Novar.
Paris, B.N., lat. 4280A* *Cresconius Gallicus
Paris, B.N., lat. 3838* *Dionys.-Hadriana
Vercelli, B.C., CXI* ”Special version” of Dionysiana; [to be verified: Pref. to 2nd rec.?] Dionysiana Bobbiensis;
?Oxford, Bodleian, e Mus. 103;cf. n.10 Oxford, Bodleian, e Mus. 103† Pref. to 2nd Rec? + 2nd Rec. Councils †in cat. as Dion.-Hadr.; saec. IX
Paris, B.N., lat. 1536 Paris, B.N., lat. 1536 Pref. to 2nd Rec. + 2nd Rec. Councils saec. X, Bobbio
Paris,B.N., lat. 3848 Paris, B.N., lat. 3848 Pref. to 2nd Rec. + 2nd Rec. Councils saec. XIII
Erfurt, Ampl. 2o 74
St. Petersburg F.v.II.3
Paris, B.N., lat. 3845 Paris, B.N., lat. 3845 2nd Rec.Councils + Decretals, no Pref.
Preface to the Decretals
Paris, B.N., lat 3837 Paris, B.N., lat. 3837 Paris, B.N., lat. 3837 Pref. to Decretals, +2nd Rec.Councils, + Decretals saec. IX
Vat. lat. 5845 Vat. lat. 5845 5845 Pref. to Decretals, +2nd Rec. Councils, + Decretals saec. X

The tendency to reduce the complexity of the evidence of the manuscripts to a single “Collectio Dionysiana” was not merely a convenience: it was also related to extensive debate over the authority of the conceptual collection and hence, to the authority of different forms of ecclesiastical legislation. Thus one finds an almost pro forma statement in many of the descriptions of the Collectio Dionysiana regarding its status as a “private” collection or a “codex”. 14 The terms go back to early modern debates, often confessional, over the history of a “universal” and “codified” legal heritage of the Roman Catholic Church, and also over the authority of papal declarations of law. 15

The Collectio Dionysiana could be seen as representing an early and definitive demonstration of universal church law in its selection of oecumenical councils, and as an affirmation of papal authority in its putative juxtaposition of papal decretals with those authoritative councils. Indeed, the Cochlaeus edition of the cognate Collectio Dionysio-Hadriana (q.v), which in effect represents the complete, imagined “Collectio Dionysiana”, had a treatise “de primatu Romanae ecclesiae” between the conciliar decrees and the papal decretals. 16 In short, the collection was invested with enormous symbolic value, in addition to its historical importance as a widely-consulted source of canon law.

The historical account that focusses on the juridical status of the collection is still the most common, but recent research raises new questions about the legal environment in which Dionysius worked and the significance of his compilations. While earlier attempts to situate Dionysius’ work in an historical context were oriented around the proposition of a “Gelasian Renaissance,” named for Pope Gelasius, who died shortly before Dionysius’ arrival in Rome, this construct is now perceived as tenuous. 17 Instead, current research probes the apparent increase in the activities of collecting and compiling legal, liturgical, and instructional materials across the empire in late antiquity, and places the Collectio Dionysiana in that framework. 18 The fifth and sixth centuries saw the compilation of major secular “codices”: the Theodosian and Justinianic Codes (A.D. 438, 529-534 respectively), the Lex Romana Visigothorum (Breviarium Alarici) (A.D. 506), the Lex Romana Burgundionum and the Lex Salica. The frequently cited Statuta ecclesiae antiqua, compiled in late fifth-century Gaul, attest both to the coalescence of generally recognised canonical statutes and also to interest in collecting them in a useful compendium. Earlier compilations, such as the Constitutiones Apostolorum (not to be confused with the Canones Apostolorum) seem to have been widely known, and their content recurred in varied arrangements and selection in other canonistic texts. Because of the dynamic replication of canonistic texts in late antiquity across a vast geographical extent, arguments for the antecedent forms of canonistic compilations rest upon deduction. Scholars have proposed reconstructions of texts such as the “Collectio Prisca” and the “Corpus canonum Africano-Romanum,” known also as the “Codex canonum ecclesiae Africanae” or the “Registri ecclesiae Carthaginensis excerpta,” depending upon the sense of its status, intent, and significance. 19 The effect of this broader purview is to disengage analysis from insistence upon papal authority for validation of canonistic material and to offer new views on the possible intentions of compilers, on the reception their collections found, and on the very meaning of “codification.” It suggests that the defining feature of a “codex” might be shifted from the act of public promulgation by imperial or papal authority to, instead, the process of reception, as compilers confirmed regulatory standards, and through repetition, determined which standards were “codified.”

In many of the late antique compilations and codifications, a central problem is how to present the material collected so that specific topics or opinions can be found in a large selection of historical sources. Just as the issue was signalled in the Theodosian Code, so is it evident in the prefaces to both the second conciliar and decretal collections that Dionysius strove to distinguish topics under titles, even as he organised the material chronologically. 20 The importance of Dionysius’ effort in this respect is often masked by the modern scholarly convention of classifying canon law collections as either “chronological” or “systematic”, with the Collectio Dionysiana being placed in the former category. Dionysius’ own words make clear that by the time he revised the collection of conciliar canons, he was trying to provide both sequential and topical presentation of the material. Two elements of his organising principles are noteworthy: the numeration of the conciliar canons in the second recension, and the topical rubrics (the tituli) he inserted as finding aids. 21 The version of the preface to the second edition of the Collection of Councils states that “we presented in numerical order, that is from the first canon up to the one hundred and sixty-fifth, just as it is in the Greek authority, the rules of the synod of Nicaea and successively of all councils, ... up to the synod... convened at Constantinople. Then adding on to the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon, with these we brought an end to the Greek canons... The statutes of the Council of Sardica and Africa, which were promulgated in Latin, are considered by us to be separate with their own numbers.” 22 The same plan for continuous numbering of the Greek canons is noted by Dionysius in his preface to the Collection of Papal Letters, with reference to his earlier work. 23 Dionysius’ intended numbering system of a continuous sequence, rather than discrete numbering of each council’s canons, was not exclusive to his collection, as his comment, “just as it is in the Greek authority” indicates: continuous numeration of the canons of the oecumenical councils had been used in earlier collections. Alternative systems are also attested: many subsequent collectors adopted the numeration of the Collectio Hispana. 24 The numeration described by Dionysius was not regularly used in the extant manuscripts of his collections; many retained the numbering used in the manuscript of the first edition, Vatican, lat. 577, in which each council’s canons receive distinct numbering, and which also transmits the version of the preface that does not detail the plan for continuous numbering,. Only one manuscript of the second recension of the Collection of Councils, Oxford, Bodleian Library, e Mus. 103 (saec. IX), has been reported as a witness to the unbroken numeration of the one hundred and sixty-five canons specified in the “B” recension of the preface to the first edition. 25 Many of the extant manuscripts do, however, contain in one form or another the integrated list of titles that Dionysius promised (in varying phrasing in different manuscripts) in the preface: “we put those things which were promulgated dispersedly in individual councils in one list so that we have provided a kind of compendium for searching out each subject.” 26 It appears that Dionysius’ attempt to provide an efficient, standardised citation format was not widely enough adopted to be counted as a real success, but that his strategy for ready identification of canons pertaining to specific topics enjoyed considerable popularity.

The content of Dionysius’ collections of conciliar decrees indicates an interest in preserving and promoting an oecumenical vision of canon law. The comprehensive and chronological presentation suggests a neutrality and academic interest, since there are no overt gestures of selection or omission on the basis of political intent, and no textual configurations that shape the canonistic legacy around particular issues, other than the concerns brought forward at the councils. Whatever interpretative guidance the reader obtains is embedded (as noted above) in the rubrication of the texts. The most substantive decisions concern the “Apostolic Canons” and the distinction between the canons of Nicaea and the canons of the the council of Sardica. The conciliar collection includes in both the first and second recensions 50 of the 85 canons known as the “Apostolic Canons”, canons which were transmitted in the very influential 8-book compilation known as the “Apostolic Constitutions”. 27 In his prefaces, Dionysius alerts the reader of his collection to the suspicions regarding their authenticity, suspicions which he shares, but justifies their inclusion in his compilation because “subsequently certain enactments of bishops seem to have been taken from those very canons” 28 . In the preface to the third, bilingual edition of the canons, he says, “But the canons which are called “of the Apostles” and those of the council of Sardica and the African province, which everyone has not accepted, I too omitted in this work, because (as I mentioned above). I included them in that first translation, and because you, father, sought to know the authorities by which the Eastern churches are bound.” 29 The common confusion of canons from the Council of Sardica (a. 343) and Nicea (a. 325), caused by early and widespread transcriptions that numbered them in a single sequence and omitted identification of Sardica as the source of the canons after the Nicene canons, was also corrected by Dionysius. 30

The contents of the two editions of the conciliar canons collected by Dionysius as represented in two manuscripts are as follows:

First Recension
(Strewe, Vat. Pal. lat.577)
Second Recension
(ms. Paris, BN, lat. 3837)

(Strewe, Vat. Pal. lat.577) (ms. Paris, BN, lat. 3837)1.Capitula canonum apostolorum [register of Dionysian titles] 1. Capitula canonum apostolorum[register of Dionysian titles] 49 capp. in Vat. Pal. lat. 577; 50 capp. in Paris ms.
2. Regulae ecclesiasticae sanctorum Apostolorum per Clementem prolatae [=Canones Apostolorum]= 2nd rec. #12, under different rubric; see note accompanying that entry 2. Incipiunt tituli canonum Niceni numero XX [register of 20 titles in the “versio ?Isidoriana”] = 1st rec. #3 in concept; different phrasing of titles Paris 3837 #2 titles neither Dionysian nor “versio Attici” attested in Vat. Pal. lat. 577
3. Incipiunt Capitula Nicaeni Concilii [register of 20 Dionysian titles] matches 2nd rec. #2 in concept but not in content 3. Incipiunt tituli Anquirani Concilii numero XXIIII [register of 24 titles of Conc. Ancyr.] = 1st rec. #4 in concept; different phrasing of titles
4. Incipit Capitula Canonum Concilii Ancyrani XXIIII [register of 24 Dionysian titles] matches 2nd rec. #3 in concept; different phrasing of titles 4. Incipiunt tituli canonum Neocaesarensem numero XIIII [register of 14 titles of Conc. Neocaes.] = 1st rec. #5 in concept; different phrasing and number
5. Item Capitula Canonum Sinodi Neocaesariensis XIII [register of 13 Dionysian titles] matches 2nd rec. #4 in concept; lacks one title and has different phrasing in titles 5. Incipiunt tituli canonum Gangrensis Concilii numero XX [register of 20 titles of Conc. Gangr.] matches 1st rec. #6 in concept; different phrasing of titles Vat. 577 lacks Paris 3837 cap. 13: de presbiteris agrorum
6. Item Capitula Gangrensis Concilii [register of 20 Dionysian titles] 6. Incipiunt tituli canonum Antioceni Concilii numero XXV [register of 25 titles of Conc. Antioch.] = 1st rec. #7, with some variant readings
7. Item Capitula Anthioceni Concilii [register of 25 Dionysian titles] = 2nd rec. #6, with some variant readings 7. Incipiunt Regulae apud Laodiciam Phrygiae expositae numero LVIII [register of 58 titles of Conc. Laod.] = 1st rec. #8 with some variant readings and one canon missing Paris 3837 lacks Vat. 577 cap. 55: Non congruere Christianis commissationibus interesse. See below, #18
8. Item Capitula Canonum Concilii apud Laudiciam Frigiae congregata [register of 59 Dionysian titles] = 2nd rec. #7 with some variant readings and one additional canon 8. Incipiunt tituli canonum Constantinopolitani numero III [register of 3 titles of Conc. Constant.] = 1st rec. #9 with variant readings
9. Item Capitula Constantinopolitani Concilii [register of 3 Dionysian titles] = 2nd rec. #8 with variant readings 9. Incipiunt tituli canonum Calcedonensem numero XXVII [register of 27 titles of Conc. Chalc.] = 1st rec. #12 in concept; different phrasing of titles
10. Incipit Capitula Synodi Serdicensis XX [register of 20 Dionysian titles] = 2nd rec. #10 less one title; some variant readings 10. Incipiunt Canones Serdicenses numero XXI [register of 21 titles] = 1st rec. #10 with an additional title; some variant readings Vat. Pal. lat. 577 lacks Paris 3837 cap. 2: item de hisdem episcopis ut si per ambitionem sedem mutaverint nec in exitu saltem communionem laicam consequantur
11. Item Capitula Canonum Concilii apud Carthaginem [register of 33 Dionysian titles] = first 33 tituli of 2nd rec. #11 11. Incipiunt tituli canonum Cartaginensem numero 138 [register of 138 titles]= first 33 tituli of 1st rec. #11, continued and enlarged to 138, Cap. 134 = 1st rec. #22; cap. 135= 1st rec. #23; cap. 136 = 1st rec. #24; cap. 137 = 1st rec. #25 rubric;cap. 138= 1st rec. #26 Second column of folio left blank in Paris 3837 after last titulus (138 of Carthag. sequence). Full text of canons begins on next page, with decorative lettering.
12. Incipit Capitula Calcedonensis Concilii XXVII [register of 27 Dionysian titles] ...Explicit Capitula diversorum = 2nd rec. #9; different phrasing of titles 12. Incipiunt Canones Apostolorum numero L. = 1st rec. #2, under different rubric. Paris 3837 has both rubrics (tituli) and canons; Vat. Pal. lat. 577 has canons only.
13. Incipit Canon Niceni [20 canons of Conc. Nicen., prefaced by poem]= 2nd rec. #13 13. Incipit Concilium Nicenum cap. XX [20 canons of Conc. Nicen.] = 1st rec. #13 Both the Paris and Vatican mss have both rubrics (tituli) and canons; Paris 3837 lacks the prefatory poem
14. Incipit Canon Ancyrani [24 canons of Conc. Ancyr.]= 2nd rec. #14 14. Incipit Regulae Ancyrani Concilii XXIIII [24 canons of Conc. Ancyr.]= 1st rec. #14 Paris 3837 notes before canons: Iste regulae priores quidem sunt Niceni sed ideo Nicenae praelatae sunt propter auctoritatem eiusdem magni sanctique congregati apud Nicenum.
15. <Incipit> prolati in Synodo Neocaesariensi XIIII [14 canons of Conc. Neocaesar.] = 2nd rec. #15 15. Incipit Regulae prolatae in Synodo Neocaesariensi XIIII [14 canons of Conc. Neocaesar.] = 1st rec. #15 Paris 3837 notes before canons: Et haec regulae post eas quidem probantur esse quae apud Ancram [sic] vel Caesaream expositae sunt sed Nicenis anteriores reperiuntur.
16. Incipit Canones Gangrensis. Haec Gangrenses Regulae post Nicaenam Synodum probantur expositae [20 canons of Conc. Gangr.]= 2nd rec. #16 16. Incipiunt Regulae Gangrensis quae post Nicenum Concilium expositae sunt XX [20 canons of Conc. Gangr.] = 1st rec. #16
17. Incipit Canones Antiocheni [25 canons of Conc. Antioch.]= 2nd rec. #17 17. Incipiunt Regulae expositae apud Antiochiam in Enceniis XXV [25 canons of Conc. Antioch.] = 1st rec. #17
18. Sancta Synodus quae apud Laodiciam Phrigiae Pacatinae convenit ex diversis regionibus Asiae, definitiones exposuit ecclesiasticas <quae> subter annexae sunt [59 canons of Conc. Laodic.]= 2nd rec. #18 18. Incipiunt Regulae apud Laodiciam Phrigiae exposite numero LVIII. Sancta synodus quae apud Laoditiam Phrigiae Pagatione convenit ex diversis regionibus Asiae defenitiones exposuit ecclesiasticas quae subter annixse sunt [58 canons of Conc. Laodic.; see note]= 1st rec. #18 Paris 3837 lacks leaf after (mod. hand num. 32, 1st ser.) and so loses text from the midst of can. 24 (Quod nullus ecclesiasticorum in tabernis comedere debeat) to the beginning of can. 37 (text begins Quod non oporteat a Iudaeis). Rubric (titulus) of can. 54 (Non licere clericis ludicris spectaculis interesse) is followed by text of can. 55 (Quod non oporteat sacerdotes aut clericos ex collatis vel commisatio...), thus reducing the number of canons by one. It appears that the table of tituli was drawn up with reference to the text of this manuscript (see above, 2nd rec. #7)
19. Incipit Canones Constantinopolitani Concilii qui ab episcopis centum quinquaginta prolati sunt, quos inclytae recordationis Theodosius imperator, pater Archadii et Honorii principum convocavit, quando beatus Nectarius Constantinopolitanae ecclesiae damnato Maximo sortitus est pontificatus officium [3 canons of Conc. Constantinop.]= 2nd rec. #19 19. Incipiunt Regulae Constantinopolitanae III sub Teodosio piissimo imperatore apud Constantinopolim expositae sunt canones. Hae definitiones expositae sunt ab episcopis CL qui in id ipsum Constantinopolim convenerunt quando beatus Nectarius episcopus est ordinatus damnatio Maximo Cynicho [3 canons of Conc. Constantinop.]= 1st rec. #19
20. Incipit Canon Sardicensis [19 canons of Conc. Sardic.]= 2nd rec. #23, less two canons, and in different version. See note on #23. 20. Incipit Synodus [interlinear: Ephesina] Prima ducentorum episcoporum habita adversus Nestorium Constantinopolitanum episcopum qui purum hominem ex sancta virgine Maria natum asseruit ut aliam personam carnis aliam faceret deitatis nec unum Christum in verbo Dei et carne sentiret sed separetim atque se iunctim alterum filii dei alterum hominis praedicaret. [Rubric regarding imperial and other data of convention; then inc. Religioso et domino amibili consacerdoti... Concluding with 12 canons] Not in 1st rec.; see note. Maaßen, Geschichte p. 429, notes that the inclusion of texts rubricated as Conc. Eph. in Paris 3837 is unique among the mss. of the 2nd rec. The Conc. Eph. material is not noted in tituli of Paris 3837. Maaßen identifies the text under the rubric as that of Cyrill and the Alexandrian Synod regarding Nestorius, in the version of Marius Mercator. Numbering of folia by modern hand in ms. disrupted and duplicated in this section.
21. Incipit Synodus apud Cartaginem Africanarum Provinciarum [long prefatory text of minutes; 35 canons; subscriptions]= first 33 canons of 2nd rec. #24, i.e., the canons of Carth. I (a. 419), with two additional divisions of the text, not reflected in the tituli (#11). 21. Incipit alia epistola ad eundem Nestorium de hereticis. Inc: Igitur sancta magna synodus ipsum qui est ex Deo patre naturaliter natus filium. Not in 1st rec. Paris 3837 #21 identified by Maaßen as letter of Cyrill to Nestorius in old version used by #21 divides canons 8 and 33 into two separate canons each, for a total of 35 canons, numbers displaced by 1 after canon 8.
22. Incipit epistula ab omni concilio Africano <ad> Bonifacium, urbis Romae episcopum, per Faustinum episcopum, Philippum et Asellum presbiteros directa= 2nd rec. #11 [Tit.] & 24 [text], cap. 134 22. Incipiunt Regulae promulgatae a Calcedonensi Sancto Concilio XXVII [27 canons of Conc. Chalced.] = 1st rec. #27
23. Incipit rescripta ad Concilium Africanum = 2nd rec. #11 [Tit.] and 24 [text] cap. 135 23. Incipiunt canones Serdicenses numero XXI [canons of Conc. Sardic.] = 1st rec. # 20, but in a different version, with a different order and number of canons. Vat. and Paris mss. differ considerably in headings, texts, and order of canons, as well as in number. Paris 3837 matches the material printed by Strewe in the apparatus, taken from Justel’s edition of the 2nd rec. (based upon Oxford, e Mus. 103) Transmission of the Sardican canons varies widely: see Hamilton Hess (note below) p. 210 for concordance of major versions.
24. Incipit epistula Attici episcopi Constantinopolitani = 2nd rec. #11 [Tit.] and 24 [text] cap. 136 24. Incipit Sinodus apud Chartaginem Africanarum quae constituit canones numero CXXXVIII [138 canons of African councils, comprising (can. 1-33) =1st rec. #21 (but numbered 1-33), then additional canons (34-127) from the “Registri eccl. Carthag. excerpta” (councils from 397-418), then (128-133) canons from 2nd session of Conc. Carthag. a. 419, then (134-138) 1st rec. #22, 23, 24, 25 (Creed only), 26 Paris 3837 inserts Nicene Creed between prefatory minutes and canons of Carthage 419; Creed not in 577.
25. Incipit Exemplaria Concilii Nicaeni directa sub die VI Kal. Dec. post consulatum glorios. imp. Honorii XII et Theodosii VIIII Agust. Bonifatio urbis Romae episcopo [Nicene Creed, 21 canons of Conc. Nicen. with headings, different than Dionysian headings: “versio Attici”] Explicit Canones Nicaeni Concilii. = 2nd rec. #24, cap. 137 (Creed only) 25. Preface of Dionysius to decretal collection, Inc. “Domino venerabili mihi Iuliano presbytero, Dionysius Exiguus. Sanctitatis tuae sedulis...” Edited by Glorie, pp. 43-47, from this ms. Paris 3837 places note after Creed: “Huic simbolo fidei etiam exemplaria statutorum eiusdem concilii Niceni a memoratis pontificibus annexa sunt sicut superius per omnia continentur quae nos hic ea iterum conscribi necessarium non esse credimus”
26. Unrubricated text, inc. Domino et dilectissimo et honorabili fratri Caelestino Aurelius... Optaremus, si quemadmodum sanctitas tua [Epistula Afrorum ad Caelestinum]= 2nd rec. # 24 cap. 138 26. and continuing: Decretal collection.
27. Incipit Regulae Ecclesiasticae a Chalcidonensi sancta Sinodo constitutae. [27 canons from Conc. Chalcedon.]= 2nd rec. #22 Vat. 577 lacks cap. number and rubric for first canon (Regulas sanctorum patrum per singula nunc usque concilia constitutas proprium robur obtinere decrevimus) but numbers next canon as II.
Colophon: Deo gratias fiat fiat pontificum veneranda cohors pro dogmate vero conveniens sancto indubie speramine plena limitibus sacris praefixit iura salutis.

As the above register of contents shows, the definition of the “Dionysiana” resides in the vision of a comprehensive transcription of oecumenical and important conciliar material, rather than in specific wording or arrangement of the material. The manuscripts show considerable variation in the titles, the descriptions of the councils, in some instances the translation and content of the canons, the numbers of the canons, and the use and placement of titles. Even this most “standard” compilation of canon law was a “living text”, the features of which fluctuated according to the transcriber’s understanding of its purpose, meaning, and quality. Appreciation of textual dynamism offers a different model of textual authenticity and validity, and accords authority to each version according to its particular historical context. It thus embraces both the universality of a widely circulated text and the local expressions of its significance and application.

Still to be resolved is the problem of how to classify the various representations of the text. In addition to the rough distinction between the recensions, there is a tradition of referring to “special” versions of the Dionysiana, such as the Dionysiana Bobbiensis, in which the order of the councils is altered and additional decretals (Innocent I to Gregory II) are added, as well as material from Roman councils until 743. 31 Given both the possibilities for variation in the form of the Dionysiana and the absence of clearly distinguishing features in some of the later transcriptions of the collection, it is not clear how to distinguish between a Dionysiana manuscript and one transmitting only the conciliar canons of the Collectio Dionysio-Hadriana (q.v.), a collection which also has variable features. 32 It may prove more useful to treat all manuscripts of these collections as representing a spectrum of variations upon Dionysius’ original compositions.

The Decretal Collection.

Dionysius seems to have compiled his collection of papal decretals during the pontificate of Symmachus (498-514), after he had compiled the second and third editions of his collection of the conciliar decrees. Hubert Wurm, whose studies of Dionysius’ decretal collection remain at present the most detailed and extensive, preferred a date of composition sometime around the end of Symmachus’ pontificate. He did, however, acknowledge the proposition advanced by other scholars that the collection should be dated earlier, because the dedicatee of the preface, one Julianus, usually held to be the priest of the titular church of S. Anastasius in Rome, is traceable only in the subscriptions of councils held at the beginning of Symmachus’ reign, between 499 and 502.33 The date of the collection of decretals has implications for the circumstances of its compilation, for it was during the pontificate of Symmachus that there erupted political disputes that scholars periodically examine for their possible influence upon Dionysius as he selected his materials. These were the Laurentian Schism and the “affair of the Scythian monks” noted above. Entangled in both these controversies was the continuing problem of the Acacian schism, that had begun in 484 and bedevilled popes, clergy, and the eastern imperial court for decades.

It is understandably tempting to try to situate Dionysius Exiguus’ work in the context of the extremely volatile politics both inside Rome and also between the papacy, the eastern emperor, and the eastern churches. It will be recalled that upon the death of pope Anastasius II in 498, two contenders for the papal throne were elected: the deacon Symmachus was elected at the Lateran basilica by clergy interested in reversing Anastasius’ conciliatory policies toward the eastern empire in the matter of the Acacian schism; the archpriest Laurentius was elected at the basilica of Santa Maria by a minority of the clergy, who had, however, the support of most of the Roman senators, who favored a continuation of Anastasius’ propitiations. The dispute was referred to Theodoric the Ostrogoth, king of Italy, who ruled in favor of the majority, and thus enthroned Symmachus. Three synods held early in Symmachus’s pontificate show the residual tensions ebbing and flowing. In the synod of 499, Symmachus and Laurentius agreed upon electoral procedures for the papacy, and Symmachus appointed Laurentius bishop of Nuceria in Campania. Laurentian supporters, however, accused Symmachus to Theodoric in 501 of liturgical, personal, and financial malfeasance, and when Symmachus failed to appear at Ravenna for the king’s judgment, Theodoric and many clergy severed communion with the pope. A judicial synod was convened in 502, and ultimately determined that the pope was not subject to the jurisdiction of a human court. Symmachus then convened a synod at St. Peter’s in November of 502, which passed legislation regarding lay authority over church affairs and regulation of church property. Theodoric then permitted Laurentius to return to Rome, claim the city churches and papal property, and assume the papal throne, while Symmachus resided in St. Peter’s, constrained by violent crowds. The schism was eventually resolved in 506 through diplomatic efforts, and Laurentius retreated. It was, however, not until the pontificate of Hormisdas (514-523) that the residual hostilities of both the Laurentian and Acacian schisms were calmed.

Although it is difficult to think that Dionysius was not concerned with such affairs, the evidence of his collections of conciliar decrees and papal decretals reveals little or nothing to suggest that they were compiled with polemical intent, or even was designed to contribute to juridical resolution of the various disputes.34 After thorough examination of the decretals in Dionysius’ collection, their previous circulation and other contextualizing evidence, Wurm concludes repeatedly that there is no reason to think that Dionysius had partisan motivations for his enterprise.35 In Wurm’s view, the canonistic works of Dionysius always had the same orientation: the synthesis of Greek and Roman doctrinal premises, and the establishment of clearly ordered, reliable translations of important documents, on which foundations the disputes and communication between the eastern and western churches all the more easily and expediently could be brought to truth and unity.36

Dionysius’ collections did respond, even if indirectly, to questions regarding both the authentic forms of canonistic documents, and also the recognition accorded by eastern as well as western churches to canonistic texts. Among the canonistic contributions to the Laurentian schism were the “Symmachan forgeries” and alternative versions, provided by both Symmachians and Laurentians, of the canonical letter issued by the bishops convened at the Council of Nicea.37 For Dionysius to have retrieved, identified, and published authentic texts in a format that permitted ready consultation, and hence verification when cited, was a tacit insistence upon the rule of recognized and received law. Dionysius’ efforts to clarify the documentation of the Council of Nicea were presented in the first edition of the councils, and he drew attention to this accomplishment in his preface: “...Next we presented the rules of the synod of Nicea and successively of all councils, whether held before or after that one... Furthermore, so that we are not believed to want to suppress something from your attention, the statutes of the Council of Sardica and of Africa, which were promulgated in Latin, are considered by us to be separate with their own numbers.”38 Dionysius’ continuing concern that the council of Nicea be reported accurately is expressed with a certain testiness in the preface to the bilingual edition prepared for pope Hormisdas, where he decried “the arrogance of certain people who fancy themselves most expert on the Greek canons but who, questioned about any ecclesiastical enactment, seem to respond from within themselves, just as from a hidden oracle”, and explains his own objective: “... I strive with what diligence I am able not to deviate in Latin from the Greek... This especially [is to be done] on account of those who believe with a certain temerity that they can violate the canons of Nicaea, and substitute for them certain other enactments.” His decision to omit the Canons of the Apostles in his later versions of the conciliar decrees was apparently reinforced by their irrelevance to oecumenical law: “I omitted them in this work, ... because you, father [pope Hormisdas] sought to know the authorities by which the Eastern churches are bound.”39

The project to collect the papal decretals was, naturally, less oecumenical in its conception than the collection of conciliar decrees. In this collection, it was not Dionysius’ skills as a translator that were needed (the decretals were written in Latin), but his competence in finding and organizing juridical materials. The principles of selection are still largely unknown to modern scholars, and are somewhat obscured by the difficulties in weighing the possible limitations of the corpus whence Dionysius drew against his possible decisions to omit decretals to which he had access. Scholarly consensus tends to the view that Dionysius was interested in decretals with juridical, rather than theological or liturgical content, and that he was trying to contribute to the representation of disciplinary norms in the Church.40 Such an interest would naturally include decretals that prescribed a vision of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and the powers vested in pope and clergy of various ranks.41 One of the great desiderata of research is a thorough examination of the content of the decretal collection; at present we have little more than excellent investigations of the transmission of its components.42

Dionysius’ collection of papal writings comprises almost wholly decretals, as distinguished from other types of papal letters. “Decretal” is the term applied to letters “containing a papal ruling, more specifically one relating to matters of canonical discipline, and most precisely a papal rescript in response to an appeal.”43 Although some descriptions of Dionysius’s decretal collection propose that Dionysius published only decretals, and not private letters, it has been observed that, on the contrary, at least three of the letters by pope Innocent included in the collection are private letters.44 Taken as a whole, the presentation of the papal letters and decretals as a particular genre of canonistic material was an interesting innovation; other canonical collections had mingled papal and conciliar opinions.45

Dionysius’ collection of decretals contains 38 papal texts, to which is added a rescript of the emperor Honorius, for a total of 39 components. The texts are arranged according to the chronology of the popes, from decretals of Siricius (384-399) to Anastasius II (496-498), with sequential numbering of the chapters for each author. There is at present no critical edition of the decretal collection, which survives in two manuscripts, one from the ninth century and one written in Capua between 915 and 934 (but see below for discussion of these witnesses).46 The texts are often cited from the edition of these decretals printed in Christophe Justel’s edition (1628, 1643) , reprinted in J.-P. Migne’s Patrologia Latina, and so widely available, but Wurm notes that the rubrics and protocols of Justel’s edition do not match those of the manuscripts of the “real” Dionysian collection.47 The information provided by Wurm regarding the identification, rubrication, incipits, Jaffé number, and Maaßen reference is reproduced in abbreviated form here:48

1. Rubric: Incipit epistola decretalis papae Siricii. [15 chapters] Siricius Himerio episcopo Tarraconensi salutem.

  • Incipit: Directa ad decessorem...

    Explicit: ...potuerit obstruatur.

    Modern Registers: JK 255. Maaßen 240.

2. Rubric: Incipit epistola regularis papae Innocenti. [8 chapters] Innocentius Decentio episcopo Egubino salutem.

  • Incipit: Si instituta...

    Explicit: ...imitari.

    Modern Registers: JK 311. Maaßen 246.

3. Rubric: Incipit eiusdem pp’ Innocenti. [chapters 9-20] Innocentius Victoritio epo’ Rotomagensi salutem.

  • Incipit: Etsi tibi...

    Explicit: saecula saeculorum. Amen.

    Modern Registers: JK 286. Maaßen242.

4. Rubric: Item alia eiusdem Innocenti pp’. [chapters 21-27] Innocentius Exsuperio episcopo Tolosano salutem.

  • Incipit: Consulenti tibi...

    Explicit: ...esse damnanda.

    Modern Registers: JK 293. Maaßen 244.

5. Rubric: Eiusdem pp’ Innocenti alia. [chapters 28-32] Innocentius Felici episcopo Nucerino [salutem].

  • Incipit: Mirari non possumus...

    Explicit: ...erubescere valeamus.

    Modern Registers: JK 314. Maaßen 246.

6. Rubric: Item alia eiusdem. [chapter 33] Innocentius Maximo et Seuero episcopis per Brittios.

  • Incipit: Ecclesiasticorum...

    Explicit: ... illicita iudicentur.

    Modern Registers: JK 315. Maaßen 247.

7. Rubric: Eiusdem alia. Quod post... admitti. (= tit. 34). Innocentius Agapito Machedonio et Marino episcopis Apulis.

  • Incipit: Multa in provincia...

    Explicit: ...removeatur officio.

    Modern Registers: JK 316. Maaßen 247.

8. Rubric: Incipit alia eiusdem pp XXXV. De Bubalio... curavit (= tit. 35). Innocentius Rufo Gerontio Sophronio Flauiano Macedonio Prosdotio et Aristeae episcopis per Macedoniam constitutis.

  • Incipit: Mora coepiscoporum...

    Explicit: ... talia sortiantur.

    Modern Registers: JK 304. Maaßen 246.

9. Rubric: Alia eiusdem Innocenti Papae XXXVI. De terminis minime transferendis. Innocentius Florentio episcopo Tiburtensi.

  • Incipit: Non semel...

    Explicit: ... habeat, requiramus.

    Modern Registers: JK 317. Maaßen 247.

10. Rubric: XXXVII. Si cuius uxor debet excludi. Innocentius Probo.

  • Incipit: Conturbatio...

    Explicit: ...esse legitimum.

    Modern Registers: JK 313. Maaßen 247.

11. Rubric: XXXVIII. Ad Aurelium... plena caritate. Innocentius Aurelio et Augustino epis’.

  • Incipit: Acceptissimi ...

    Explicit: ...aut priuatis.

    Modern Registers: JK 297. Maaßen 245.

12. Rubric: XXXVIIII Ad Iulianum nobilem eiusdem papae scripta exhortatoria.

  • Incipit: Singulare membrum...

    Explicit: ... clariorem.

    Modern Registers: JK 302. Maaßen 245.

13. Rubric: XL Ad Aurelium epm’ Carthaginensem de pascha. Innocentius Aurelio .

  • Incipit: Caritatis...

    Explicit: ...habere digneris.

    Modern Registers: JK 312. Maaßen 247.

14. Rubric: XLI De Antiochena ecclesia. Innocentius Bonifatio presbytero.

  • Incipit: Ecclesia Antiochena...

    Explicit: consuerunt.

    Modern Registers: JK 309. Maaßen 246.

15. Rubric: XLII [Cont.] Ad Alexandrum Anthiochenum episcopum de pace. Innocentius Alexandro episcopo.

  • Incipit: Quam grata mihi...

    Explicit: ...repensare.

    Modern Registers: JK 306. Maaßen 246.

16. Rubric: XLIII. De Attico Constantinopolitano episcopo. Innocentius Maximiano episcopo.

  • Incipit: Miramur ...

    Explicit: ... percepisti.

    Modern Registers: JK 305. Maaßen 246.

17. Rubric: [Incipit eiusdem papae.] XLIIII Item Alexandro episcopo Anthiochiae de pace.

  • Incipit: Apostolici fauoris ...

    Explicit: ... gratia prorogata. Et subscripserunt uiginti episcopi Italiae.

    Modern Registers: JK 305. Maaßen 246.

18. Rubric: Item alia Innocenti pp XLV Alexandro episcopo. Quod prima sedes beati Petri apud Anthiochiam esse memoretur.

  • Incipit: Et onus et honor...

    Explicit: ...seruentur.

    Modern Registers: JK 310. Maaßen 246.

19. Rubric: XLVIII Idem papa Acacio Beroeae episcopo de sco’ Iohanne Constantinopolitano epo’.

  • Incipit: Adgaudere ...

    Explicit: ...residere noscatur.

    Modern Registers: JK 307. Maaßen 246.

20. Rubric: XLVIIII De Bonosiacis quod Iudaeis sint comparandi. Innocentius Laurentio episcopo Seniensi.

  • Incipit: Diu mirati ...

    Explicit: ...rationem.

    Modern Registers: JK 318. Maaßen 247.

21. Rubric: L De suscipiendis clericis, quos Bonosus antequam damnaretur ordinasse cognoscitur. Innocentius Marciano episcopo Naissitano.

  • Incipit: Superiori tempore ...

    Explicit: ... retinere.

    Modern Registers: JK 299. Maaßen 245.

22. Rubric: [Incipit eiusdem papae]. [chapters 51-56] Innocentius Rufo et Eusebio et ceteris episcopis Machedonibus et diaconis in Domino salutem.

  • Incipit: Magna me gratulatio ...

    Explicit: ...connexa laetetur in Domino. Expl. decreta Innocenti papae.

    Modern Registers: JK 303. Maaßen 245.

23. Rubric: Incipit Constituta Zosimi papae. I.Quod monachi ... peruenire. [chapters 1-3]49 Zosimus episcopus urbis Romae Hesicio episcopo Salonitano.

  • Incipit: Exigit dilectio ...

    Explicit: ordine clericatus.

    Modern Registers: JK 339. Maaßen 249.

24. Rubric: [Incipit Bonifati papae.] I. Supplicatio papae Bonifatii, ut constituatur a principe quatenus in urbe Roma numquam per ambitum ordinetur antistes. [chapter 1]. Bonifatius episcopus Honorio augusto.

  • Incipit: Ecclesiae meae ...

    Explicit: ...ecclesiae consulatis.

    Modern Registers: JK 353. Maaßen 251.

25. Rubric: II [Incipit] rescriptum Honorii Augusti ad Bonifatium papam Romanum, quo statuit ut si denuo Romae episcopi ordinati fuerint duo, ambo de ciuitate pellantur. Victor Honorius inclytus triumphator semper Augustus sancto ac uenerabili Bonifatio papae urbis aeternae [Romae].

  • Incipit: Scripta beatitudinis...

    Explicit: ... profutura.

    Modern Registers: Maaßen 320. ed. Günther, Collectio Avellana I.83 ff.

26. Rubric: III Epistola Bonifati episcopi urbis Romae ad episcopos Galliae. De Maximo episcopo diuersis criminibus accusato. Bonifatius episcopus Patroclo Remigio Maximo Hilario Seuero Valerio Iuliano Castorio Leontio Constantino Iohanni Montano Marino Mauritio et ceteris episcopis per Gallias et septem prouincias constitutis.

  • Incipit: Valentinae nos...

    Explicit: ...firmetur.

    Modern Registers: JK 349. Maaßen 251.

27. Rubric: IIII Ut in unaquaque prouincia nemo contempto metropolitano episcopus ordinetur. Bonifatius episcopus urbis Romae Hilario episcopo Narbonensi.

  • Incipit: Difficilem50 quidem ...

    Explicit: ...semper exspectet.

    Modern Registers: JK 362. Maaßen 251.

28. Rubric: Incip’ Decreta Caelestini. I De Prospero et Hilario qui quosdam Galliae presbyteros accusant Pelagii sectatores. [chapters 1-13]51 Dilectissimis fratribus Venerio Marino Leontio Auxonio Arcadio Filtatio et ceteris Galliarum episcopis Caelestinus.

  • Incipit: Apostolici uerba ...

    Explicit: querela cessauerit. Deus uos incolumes custodiat fratres karrisimi.

    Modern Registers: JK 381. Maaßen 271.

29. Rubric: Caelestinus [eps] uniuersis episcopis per Biennensem et Narbonensem prouincias constitutis in Domino salutem. [chapters 14-19]

  • Incipit: Cuperemus quidem ...

    Explicit: ... collegio delegamus.

    Modern Registers: JK 369. Maaßen 252.

30. Rubric: XX Quod nulli sacerdoti canones liceat ignorare. [chapters 20-22] Caelestinus universis episcopis per Apuliam et Calabriam constitutis.

  • Incipit: Nulli sacerdotum ...

    Explicit: ...blanditus inludat.

    Modern Registers: JK 371. Maaßen 252.

31. Rubric: Incip’ decreta papae Leonis [chapters 1-5] Leo episcopus urbis Romae universis episcopis per Campaniam Picenum Tusciam et per uniuersas prouincias constitutis in Domino salutem.

  • Incipit: Ut nobis gratulationem ...

    Explicit:...nouerit denegari.

    Modern Registers: JK 402. Maaßen 257.

32. Rubric: Leo uniuersis episcopis per Italiae prouincias constitutis in Domino salutem. [chapter 6]

  • Incipit: In consortium nos ...

    Explicit: ...noluerit custodire.

    Modern Registers: JK 405. Maaßen 257.

33. Rubric: Leo uniuersis episcopis per Siciliam constitutis in Domino salutem.

  • Incipit: Diuinis praeceptis ...

    Explicit: ...instituta seruentur. [chapters 7-13]

    Modern Registers: JK 414. Maaßen 260.

34. Rubric: XIV Quod omnis ... sine promotione permaneat. Leo episcopus urbis Romae Ianuario episcopo Aquiliensi.

  • Incipit: Lectis fraternitatis tuae ...

    Explicit: ...adhibere medicinam.

    Modern Registers: JK 416. Maaßen 260.

35. Rubric: Leo Rustico Narbonensi. [chapters 15-30] Subditis responsionibus et ad eiusdem consulta rescriptis.

  • Incipit: Epistulas fraternitas ...

    Explicit: ...non oportet admitti.

    Modern Registers: JK 544. Maaßen 272.

36. Rubric: XXXI Quod semper Thessalonicenses antistites uices apostolicae sedis impleuerint. [chapters 31-41]. Leo episcopus urbis Romae Anastasio episcopo Thessalonicensi.

  • Incipit: Quanta fraternitati ...

    Explicit: ...qui se humiliat exaltabitur.

    Modern Registers: JK 411. Maaßen 259.

37. Rubric: Leo Nicetae episcopo Aquileiensi salutem. [chapters 42-48]52

  • Incipit: Regressus ad nos ...

    Explicit: ...prosit auctoritas.

    Modern Registers: JK 536. Maaßen 269.

38. [a decretal of Gelasius that is transmitted under different protocols in different manuscripts.]53

  • Rubric: Incipit generale decretum papae Gelasii ad omnes episcopos. De constitutis ecclesiasticis pro temporis qualitate moderandis.

    Incipit: Necessaria rerum ...

    Explicit: ...putauerit supprimenda.


    Rubric: [Incipit epistola papae Gelasi] Papae Gelasi generale decretum ad omnes episcopos de institutis ecclesiasticis moderate pro temporis qualitate dispositis.

    Incipit: Necessaria rerum dispositione ....

    Explicit: ...subprimenda.

    Modern Registers: JK 636. Maaßen 281. [38 chapters.]

39. Rubric: [Incipit] Epistola Anastasii papae urbis Romae ad imperatorem Anastasium pro pace [ecclesiae]. Gloriosissimo et clementissimo filio Anastasio augusto Anastasius eps.

  • Incipit: Exordium pontificatus ...

    Explicit: ... sine fine possitis. [subscriptio:] Omnipotens Deus regnum et salutem tuam perpetua protectione custodiat gloriosissime et clementissime semper auguste.

    Modern Registers: JK 744. Maaßen 285.

In sum, although the collection contains decretals from eight popes, there is considerable variation in the quantity of material represented for each. The opinions of Innocent I dominate, in the 21 letters (56 chapters) Dionysius transcribed, some of which are known from no other collections other than the Dionysian and those which took their decretals from it (see below).54 There are seven decretals by Leo I (48 chapters). Although there is only one decretal by Gelasius, it has 38 chapters; the three decretals by Celestine contribute 22 chapters; the single decretal by Siricius has 15 chapters. The Dionysian selection represents a larger pattern in the papal component of canon law over the centuries: the opinions of Innocent, Leo, and Celestine were widely transmitted and cited as fundamental rulings.55 After the pontificate of Leo I, only the single decretal of Gelasius transcribed by Dionysius, the “Generale decretum” of 494 (JK 636) enjoyed similar popularity.56

It is difficult to determine at what point Dionysius’ collection of decretals was combined with his collection of conciliar decrees. Writing in the mid-sixth century, Cassiodorus does not mention the decretal collection specifically; he refers only to the the collection compiled at the request of Stephen, bishop of Salona (Split) of translated Greek canons, of which he comments, “Today the Roman Church makes continual use of them.”57 A letter by pope John II written in 534 to Caesarius of Arles cites two chapters from the Canons of the Apostles, one chapter from the Council of Neocaesaria, and two chapters from the Council of Antioch from the Dionysian conciliar collection, and a passage from the letter of Siricius to Himerius of Tarragon that uses the Dionysian numbering system.58 Whether the pope was using a single manuscript codex or two manuscripts each containing one of Dionysius collections cannot be known, but the most economical hypothesis would be for a single codex. The next instance of citation of both collections is in a letter of 747 by pope Zacharias to Charlemagne’s predecessor Pippin III (“the short”).59 Zacharias’ citations are extensive, but it is noteworthy that he explicitly distinguishes between the two collections as different “books”, calling the conciliar collection “liber canonum” and the collection of decretals “liber decretorum.”60 By the eighth century, too, the Dionysian collections had been modified and supplemented in some manuscripts, and such modified manuscripts, known generally as the Dionysio-Hadriana version, would become enormously popular soon thereafter.61

By its very nature, Dionysius’ collection of decretals was subject to almost immediate modification by the addition of other decretals, both through insertion into the Dionysian order and by appending others after the Dionysian series. In some manuscripts of collections based upon the Dionysian collection, the order of the decretals shifted.62 Such continuing expansion and modification of the decretal corpus complicates any definition of the Dionysiana as a “codex” or code, because it does not represent a closed, limited corpus of law. It should be borne in mind that the content of the “pure” Dionysiana was determined by scholars, reasoning from the evidence of a wide range of manuscripts transmitting identical material, which indicates that the medieval scribes worked from exemplars containing that body of material.63 Those manuscripts, including one of the two identified as transmitting the “pure” Dionysiana, also transmit other decretals, and show the interest of medieval compilers in supplementing the Dionysian corpus.64 The modifications to the Dionysian collection have produced scholarly terminology and a taxonomic analysis that distinguishes a “pure” (“reine”) Dionysiana from, in particular, three well-known variant forms: the Dionysiana Bobbiensis, the Dionysiana aucta (“vermehrte”, “Dionysiana adaucta”, “Hadriana adaucta”, “Collectio additionum Dionysii”), and the Dionysio-Hadriana. All three of these collections combine the Dionysian conciliar decrees with the Dionysian collection of Decretals, and thus approach the conceptual “Collectio Dionysiana”, but also reflect its potential for growth and change.65 These collections are not “local” or “regional” in their orientation (although they can sometimes be traced to local or regional areas of transmission) because they sought to provide documents considered to have universal authority. As well as these collections in which the greater proportion of the material is that of the combined Dionysian collections, the Collectio Hispana (compiled in the late sixth or early seventh century) incorporated the Dionysian collection of decretals into its assembly of oecumenical councils in a different translation (known as the “Isidorian” version because of the collection’s putative ascription to Isidore of Seville), canons of African, Gallic, and Spanish councils, and papal decretals. The Collection Hispana, by juxtaposing the acts of councils that were not oecumenical to those that were, presented claims for the authority of other ecclesiastical bodies, including those convened by monarchs, and thus offered a somewhat different image of the composition of canon law than did the conciliar collection of Dionysius.

What all of these manuscripts indicate is that, perhaps largely due to the work of Dionysius, early medieval jurists recognised two major sources of law: the decrees of oecumenical councils -- and some manuscripts, including those of the Collectio Hispana, supplement the conciliar acta with a text discussing the number and history of the first six oecumenical councils -- and papal decretals. The former represented a finite body of law, for the few councils after Chalcedon considered oecumenical did not issue disciplinary canons until the late eighth century; the latter, as the additions to the Dionysian collection show, was a more readily expanded and clearly continuing source of legal opinion. The potential for such expansion found its most startling expression in the ninth-century composition of the Pseudo-Isidorian decretals, a large corpus of papal letters purportedly written by the early popes.66 Unwittingly or not, Dionysius had framed a corpus iuris canonici that both offered a vision of universality in the application of these legal authorities, and also placed them in tension with one another. That tension was known in Dionysius’ own time, as in the case of Apiarius, when it was argued that the proper court of appeal was not the papal curia, but a judicial synod. Over time, the question embraced the legislative as well as judicial authority of these two entities, and would result in the conciliarist movement of the later middle ages, and discussions about the extent of papal authority that continue to the present day.

A short version of this article will appear in the Diccionario General de Decrecho Canónico/General Dictionary of Canon Law, edd. Javier Otaduy and Juan González Ayesta. The author expresses her thanks to the editors for their permission to make this version available on the web.
 Cassiodorus, Cassiodori Senatoris Institutiones, edited from the manuscripts by R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford: The Clarendon press, 1937), 62: fuit enim nostris temporibus et Dionisius monachus, Scytha natione sed moribus omnino Romanus... For a new English translation of the Institutes, see Cassiodorus, [Institutiones. English] Cassiodorus: Institutions of Divine and Secular Learning and On the Soul, translated with notes by James W. Halporn, and introduction by Mark Vessey (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2003).
Nicolae Dura, “Denys Exiguus (465–550): précisions et correctifs concernant sa vie et son oeuvre,” Revista Española de Derecho Canónico 50 (1993): 280–84. Dura also notes other monks of apparently Scythian origin or training who were implicated in important compilations of canon law or other regulatory texts: Gennadius of Marseille, compiler of the Statuta ecclesiae antiqua , John Cassian, Martin of Tours, etc. (pp. 284-285). On the “Scythian monks” led by Maxentius in the post-Chalcedon controversy, see Hubert Jedin, [Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte. English] Handbook of Church History, ed. Hubert Jedin and John Dolan (New York: Herder and Herder, 1965), II.435–36, 489. For discussion of the likelihood of specific connections between the controversialists and Dionysius Exiguus, see Franca de Marini Avonzo, “Secular and Clerical Culture in Dionysius’ Exiguus’ Rome,” in Proceedings of the Sixth International Congress of Medieval Canon Law, Berkeley, California, 28-July-2 August 1980, ed. Stephan Kuttner and Kenneth Pennington, Monumenta Iuris Canonici, Series C: Subsidia, Vol. 7 (Città del Vaticano: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1985), 83–92.
 Most recently Dura, “Précisions,” 285–89, following Wilhelm Maria Peitz and Hans Foerster, “Dionysius Exiguus-Studien; neue Wege der philologischen und historischen Text-und Quellenkritik” (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1960).
 In addition to the canon law collections, he made translations of the De creatione hominis of Gregory of Nyssa, the Vita Pacomii, the Historia inventionis capitis S. Iohannis Baptistae, Proclus of Constantinople’s Tomus ad Armenos, and the Epistola Synodica S. Cyrilli et Concilii Alexandrini contra Nestorium. He was also important in the development of the ecclesiastical computus, and wrote three treatises on that subject. V. Loi, “Dionysius Exiguus”, Encyclopedia of the Early Church, vol. 1, p. 237; cf. B. Altaner, Patrologia, Turin 1981 pp. 513-514.
Cassiodorus, Institutions, 155.
 Cassiodorus, Institutions, 156.
 Fr. Glorie, “Dionysii Exigui Praefationes,” in Scriptores ‘Illyrici’ Minores, Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 85 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1972), 35–42. In one manuscript only, Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. lat. 577, the dedication of the work is to a “Petronius.” All other eleven manuscripts of both recensions read “Domino Stephano.” The identification by Linda Fowler-Magerl, Clavis Canonum: Selected Canon Law Collections Before 1140 : Access with Data Processing, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Hilfsmittel (Hannover: Hahnsche, 2005), 29 of Petronius as the intended recipient is, as she notes, based upon the 577 version of the preface. Her comment that the second edition of the collection was dedicated to Stephan (ibid. p. 30) differs from Glorie’s representation of the text, which shows that all manuscripts of the first recension, with the exception of 577, also have the dedication to Stephen. English translations (one partial) of the prefaces to the collections of Dionysius are in Robert Somerville and Bruce C. Brasington, commentary and translations by, Prefaces to Canon Law Books in Latin Christianity: Selected Translations, 500–1245 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 46–49.
 Cf. Jean Gaudemet, Les sources du droit de l’Eglise en Occident du IIe au VIIe siècle, Initiations au christianisme ancien ([Paris]: Editions du Cerf: Editions du C.N.R.S., 1985), 135–36; Friedrich Maaßen, Geschichte der Quellen und der Literatur des canonischen Rechts im Abendlande, erster Band: Die Rechtsammlungen bis zur Mitte des 9. Jahrhunderts (Graz: Leuschner und Lubensky; repr. Akademische Druck, 1870), 425–31.
 This recension was edited by A. Strewe, Die Canonessammlung des Dionysius Exiguus in der ersten Redaktion (Leipzig, 1931), who, like Cuthbert Hamilton Turner in the preparation of the EOMIA, used Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. lat. 577 (saec. VIII-IX; Mainz or region). The second complete manuscript of the first recension, Kassel, Gesamthochschul-Bibliothek: Landesbibliothek und Murhardsche Bibliothek, 4o theol. 1, is also ascribed to the Main River region.
 The popularity of the prefaces is suggested by their survival in more manuscripts than does the Collectio Dionysiana in all of its recensions combined. There are fifteen manuscripts of the prefaces reported to date. There are four manuscripts containing the prefaces without the canons, three of which are sixteenth or seventeenth century transcriptions. Three manuscripts transmit the preface to the first recension of the collection (the collected canons of the oecumenical councils) in manuscripts of other canon law collections; one manuscript transmits this preface with the first recension of Dionysius’ collection of conciliar canons (Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, lat. 577). There are nine manuscripts transmitting the preface of the second recension of the councils (oecumenical councils plus “Canones Apostolorum” and the African councils), and two manuscripts containing the preface to the decretals. There are only eleven manuscripts of the Collectio Dionysiana, with or without the decretals; of these, six contain a Dionysian preface. See Lotte Kéry, Canonical Collections of the Early Middle Ages (Ca. 400–1140): A Bibliographical Guide to Manuscripts and Literature (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1999), 9–13 for the register of editions, manuscripts, and bibliography on the Collectio Dionysiana. Kéry does not report Oxford, Bodleian Library, e Mus. 103 as containing a Dionysian preface, but Fowler-Magerl and the summary catalogue of Oxford manuscripts make clear that it has the preface dedicating the collection to Stephen, although Fr. Glorie neither used nor mentioned it in his edition.
 Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, lat. 3845.
 Gaudemet, Les Sources, 136 n.19. Justel is held to have used Oxford, Bodleian Library, e Mus. 103 and St. Petersburg F.V.II.3.
 So, for example, “Dionysius’ books never were thought of as official codifications” (Somerville and Brasington, Prefaces, 27); “Ganz allgemein wird als sicher hingestellt, daß alle Sammlungen, griechische wie lateinische, reine Privatarbeiten ihrer Verfasser ohne jeden amtlichen Auftrag irgend einer Autorität seien” (Peitz and Foerster, “Dionysius-Studien,” 4, recounting the standard view). On the other side of the question, cf. “[Dionysius] a ainsi formé le premier code de l’Eglise romain” (Gennadios Limouris, “L’oeuvre canonique de Denys le Petit [VIe s.],” Revue de Droit canonique 37 [1987]: 132), qualified later with the comment, “La collection de Denys le Petit ne fut pas faite sur l’ordre du pape, ni promulgée par son autorité. Elle n’eut donc pas de caractère officiel. L’Eglise romaine ne songeait point encore à fair pour le droit ecclésiastique ce que Justinien allait accomplir pour let droit romain. Pratiquement elle devint le code de l’Eglise romaine, et elle influença beaucoup le droit postérieur.” (idem, p. 135). The argument that Dionysius’ ventures should be seen as analogous to the Justinianic impetus to compilation and codification has been made, however, by Franca de Marini Avonzo, “Secular and Clerical Culture in Dionysius’ Exiguus’ Rome.” In Proceedings of the Sixth International Congress of Medieval Canon Law, Berkeley, California, 28-July-2 August 1980, edited by Stephan Kuttner and Kenneth Pennington. Monumenta Iuris Canonici, Series C: Subsidia, Vol. 7, 82, 87, 90–91. Città del Vaticano: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1985, who describes Justinian and Dionysius as “the two champions of ancient codification” (p. 82), refers to Dionysius’ compilations as the “Codex canonum” and “Codex decretorum” (p. 87), and sees stylistic and structural parallels between the Theodosian code and Dionysius’s stated principles and work (pp. 89-91). See also note 16, below.
 The group of scholars known as the Correctores Romani, who were appointed by the pope in the wake of the Council of Trent to prepare a new edition of canon law, explained in the “Admonition to the Reader” in the editio Romana of Gratian the priority they had given to the various sources they had collated against Gratian’s text. The Correctores stated that a collection now known as the Collectio Dionysio-Hadriana, a somewhat revised version of the materials compiled by Dionysius Exiguus, had a certain pride of place. “In the Church of Rome, the mistress of all churches, it is clearly acknowledged that the canons of the councils and the decretals of the popes are accustomed to be preserved and to be communicated to other Churches. And that collection which Pope Nicolas called “the Codex of canons” (in Gratian, the chapter “Si Romanorum”, Distinctio xix) seems principally to have been in use; in it those canons and rules which were reviewed by Leo IV (in Gratian, the chapter “De libellis”, Distinctio xx). Three manuscript exemplars of this Codex are held in the Vatican library. Furthermore, it was printed, at Mainz, in 1525.” (Emil Albert Friedberg, ed., Corpus Iuris Canonici [Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1955], I, col. lxxxiii; on the 1525 Cochlaeus edition, see the following note.) The special status of this collection they recognised not only because it was sanctioned by Popes Nicolas I and Leo IV, but because their researches established that the venerable “nomocanon” of Cresconius used it, and this confirmed its role as a “Codex”, in the sense of a codified anthology. “...Careful examination indicates clearly enough from Cresconius, that there was most frequent recourse to this collection [considered by the Correctores to be the Dionysio-Hadriana, actually the Dionysiana], and that this is the very one which, in the annotations which now are set forth, is to be called absolutely the Codex of Canons.” It sufficed, therefore, to refer to it simply as the Codex canonum. Distinct from this valorised Codex were the “private collections”, “ceterum inter privatos collectores”.
 Johannes (Wendelstinus) Cochlaeus, Canones Apostolorvm. Vetervm Conciliorvm Constitvtiones. Decreta Pontificvm Antiqviora. De Primatv Romanæ Ecclesiæ. Ex Tribus Uetustiss. Exemplaribus Transcripta Omnia, Quorum Catalogum Proxima Pagina Indicat., ed. Nicolaus Carbach (Mogvntiae: [Impressvm in aedibvs Ioan. Schoeffer], 1525).
 Cf. Gabriel Le Bras, “Un monument décisif dans l’histoire de l’Eglise et du Droit Canon: la Renaissance gélasienne,” Revue Historique de Droit, IV Ser. (1930): 506–24, and for expression of retreat from the construct of a Gelasian Renaissance in canon law, Gaudemet, Les Sources, 130–31. While Gelasius is noteworthy for the number of his letters, only one Gelasian decretal (Generale decretum of 494, JK 636) was widely circulated (Detlev Jasper and Horst Fuhrmann, Papal Letters in the Early Middle Ages, History of Medieval Canon Law [Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America, 2001], 59). Pope Gelasius has received extensive study because of the “Gelasian Doctrine” regarding the relationship of papal and imperial power (for a classic analysis, see Walter Ullman, The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages: A Study in the Ideological Relation of Clerical to Lay Power [London: Methuen, 1965], 18–28, 31–34 et passim), and also for the text circulated under his name determining which biblical books should be received as canonical (de libris recipiendis, JK †700; cf. Jasper and Fuhrmann, Papal Letters, 64–65). Gelasius attracts little attention, however, in non-canonistic histories of sixth-century Rome.
 Ralph Mathisen, “The ‘Second Council of Arles’ and the Spirit of Compilation and Codification in Late Roman Gaul,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 5 (1997): 511–54.
 Fowler-Magerl, Clavis Canonum: Selected Canon Law Collections Before 1140 : Access with Data Processing, 23–27; Gaudemet, Les Sources, 21–26, 73–86.
 de Marini Avonzo, “Secular and Clerical Culture,” 89–91. The passages cited by de Marini Avonzo (Cod. Theod. I.1.5 and I 1.6) specify that “the titles, which are the definite designations of the matters therein shall be so divided that, when the various headings have been expressed, if one constitution should pertain to several titles, the materials shall be assembled wherever each is fitting” and “all the edictal and general constitutions ... shall be distinguished by titles indicating their contents... If any of the constitutions shall be divided into several headings, each heading shall be separated from the rest and shall be placed under the proper title...” (Clyde Pharr, trans., The Theodosian Code and Novels and the Sirmondian Constitutions, in collaboration with Theresa Sherrer Davidson and Mary Brown Pharr, introd. by C. Dickerson Williams [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1952], 11, 12). As argued by de Marini Avonzo, these statements correspond to Dionysius’ explanations, “arranging concisely after this preface the titles of all the decisions, we put those things which were promulgated dispersedly in individual councils in one list so that we have provided a kind of compendium for searching out each subject” (Preface to the First Collection of Councils in the Second Redaction) and “I collected with what care and diligence I could the enactments of the former bishops of the apostolic see, and arranging them in order I divided them up by means of suitable titles. In this way I could encompass within one numerical sequence however many precepts I found of individual pontiffs and could append to the end of this preface all of the titles.” (Preface to the Collection of Papal Letters) Somerville and Brasington, Prefaces, 48.
 A large and unexplored area of research is the intertextual relationship of Dionysius’ titles and the texts he placed under them.
 Somerville and Brasington, Prefaces, 48; Glorie, “Praefationes,” 41: Deinde regulas Nicaenae synodi; et deinceps omnium concilorum... usque ad synodum ... apud Constantinopolim... sub ordine numerorum-- id est a primo capitulo usque ad centesimum sexagesimum quintum, sicut habetur in graeca auctoritate-- digesimus. Tunc, sancti Chalcedonensis concilii decreta subdentes, in his graecorum canonum finem esse declaramus... Statuta quoque Serdicensis concilii, atque Africani-- quae latine sunt edita-- suis a nobis numeris cernuntur esse distincta. [only in B recension]
 Somerville and Brasington, Prefaces, 48; Glorie, “Praefationes,” 45.
 It has been proposed that a collection of the Greek texts of the canons of oecumenical councils, compiled in Antioch, was sent to Rome, where it was translated into Latin; the canons were numbered consecutively, except for those of the Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381). The existence and development of this text is traced through the extant “Collection of the Freising manuscript” (Munich, Staatsbibliothek, 6243, saec. VIIIex; cf. Munich, SB, Clm 5508, saec. IX), a collection believed to have been the basis for the subsequent Collectio Hispana. Gaudemet, Les Sources, 77–78; Kéry, Canonical Collections, 2–3.
 Maaßen, Geschichte, 428–29. Fowler-Magerl, Clavis Canonum: Selected Canon Law Collections Before 1140 : Access with Data Processing, 30 notes that “copies similar to that in the Bodleian manuscript are found in the Mss Paris, BN lat. 1536 (10th century) and 3848 (13th century) and in the Ms St. Petersburg, Publicnaja Biblioteka im. M.E. Saltykova-Scedrina, F.v.II.3 (7th century, Burgundy).” The numeration in these manuscripts should be verified.
 Somerville and Brasington, Prefaces, 48; Glorie, “Praefationes,” 41–42, shows that one versions says that the tituli are placed after the preface so that they are all in one place, another says that they are placed before the statutes in their suitable places so that someone seeking can find them easily.
 Although the “Apostolic Constitutions” were later condemned at the Council of Trullo (a. 691), the “Apostolic Canons”, because of their separate transmission, escaped opprobrium. Gaudemet, Les Sources, 24–25.
 Somerville and Brasington, Prefaces, 47. “In principio itaque Canones qui dicuntur Apostolorum, de graeco transtulimus -- quibus quia plurimi consensum non praebuere facilem, hoc ipsum vestram noluimus ignorare sanctitatem; quamvis postea quaedam constituta pontificum ex ipsis Canonibus assumpta esse videantur.” Glorie, “Praefationes,” 40–41.
 Somerville and Brasington, Prefaces, 49 “Canones autem qui dicuntur Apostolorum, et Serdicensis concilii, atque Africanae provinciae, quos non admisit universitas, ego quoque in hoc opere praetermisi -- quia (ut superius memini) et hos in illa prima digessi translatione, ut et vestra paternitas auctoritate<m>, qua tenentur ecclesiae orientales, quaesivit agnoscere.” Glorie, “Praefationes,” 51.
 Maaßen, Geschichte, 50–65 for discussion of the varied transmission and varied numbering systems applied to the canons; Hamilton Hess, The Early Development of Canon Law and the Council of Serdica, Oxford Early Christian Studies (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002) for study of the council and translation of the canons. Cf. Gaudemet, Les Sources, 43 n.36.
 Gaudemet, Les Sources, 137; Maaßen, Geschichte, 471–76; Kéry, Canonical Collections, 13.
 The ease of confusion is illustrated by the identification of Oxford, Bodleian Library, e Mus. 103, in the summary catalogue as a manuscript of the Dionysio-Hadriana, whereas Maaßen regards the manuscript as the only representative of the “reine” second recension of the Dionysiana.
. Hubert Wurm, Studien und Texte zur Dekretalensammlung des Dionysius Exiguus, Kanonistische Studien und Texte, 16 (Bonn [repr. Amsterdam 1964], 1939), 19, 26 and n. 58. The identification of Julianus is not without its own problems: the identification “tituli S. Anastasiae” is not transmitted in Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, lat. 3837. It seems to have been introduced into the scholarly literature through the 1756 Florent edition, which used an unknown manuscript transcribed by Jacques Sirmond. That ascription was then replicated in the editions of J-P. Migne and Friedrich Maaßen. See Fr. Glorie, “Dionysii Exigui Praefationes,” in Scriptores ‘Illyrici’ Minores, Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 85 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1972), [44]-45. Wurm reported that it is in the second known surviving manuscript of the Preface, Città del Vaticano, Vat. lat. 5845; this manuscript appears not to have been consulted by Glorie; it was apparently used by Andreas Thiel, whose edition was then used by Maaßen. Wurm also finds the identification of Julianus as priest of St. Anastasius in the two codices of a later revision of the Dionysiana (the “Bobbio Dionysiana”) and in the subscriptions to the councils held under Symmachus. (Wurm, Studien, 20, n.41).
. An example of reading political significance into the Dionysian collections is attempted by Jeffrey Richards, The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages, 476–752 (London, Boston, and Henley: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979), 86–87, 109, 116. Richards proposes that Dionysius was a literary star in the Laurentian faction. His argument rests largely upon negative or uncertain evidence. First, he identifies Dionysius’ reference to a “carissimus frater noster Laurentius” in the preface to the conciliar collection as “almost certainly the soi-disant Pope Laurentius, for whose chancery Dionysius was providing a much-needed manual”, reasoning that “a work of such massive importance can only have been undertaken at the behest of somebody of significance” (p. 86). The existence, however, of other important and large collections of canonical material, such as the Collectio Quesnelliana, the collection of African canons, and whatever Greek exemplar Dionysius used undermines the perception of the singularity of Dionysius’ work. Further, not only are none of Dionysius’ collections actually dedicated to Laurentius, but it is unlikely that Dionysius, who addresses Pope Hormisdas in the preface to the third, lost edition of the councils as “dominus beatissimus papa” would address a putative bishop of Rome as “frater noster”. Richards’ further argument is that the Dionysiana “Significantly... was never officially promulgated by the Roman church, perhaps because of the Laurentian taint.” This argument shows misunderstanding of “promulgation”. The Roman Catholic Church promulgated no code of canon law until 1582 (or, arguably, 1917); even secular law in the west has, before the rise of the modern state, rarely achieved its authority from promulgation of a particular code. Third, Richards argues that because Dionysius included only a single letter by the prolific epistolographer Pope Gelasius (whom, it may be noted, Dionysius calls “beatus” in the preface to Julian and praises highly), “this may perhaps be taken as evidence of Dionysius’ partiality” [seemingly with respect to the Acacian schism, begun during the reign of Gelasius’ predecessor, Felix, who excommunicated Acacius in 484] (p. 86). Richards seems quite unaware of the extensive scholarly debate over Dionysius’s access to papal letters, especially in the papal archive. Limited access, rather than selection from fully available sources, is an important factor in assessing the content of the collection. Fourth, Richards observes that in his computational works, Dionysius favours Greek methods of calculating Easter. It is true that the first charge lodged against Symmachus by the Laurentians was that he did not celebrate Easter on the correct date. Establishing the method of calculating Easter, however, was a protracted process, and the computational quandaries were not limited to the Laurentian dispute. Finally, Richards notes that none of Dionysius’ works were undertaken at the behest of Symmachus, although Dionysius had done translation work for Anastasius II, Hormisdas, and John I (on the calculation of Easter, in 526). This negative evidence cannot stand as an indication of particular partisanship.
. Responding to the work of Eduard Schwartz and Erich Caspar, Wurm comments, “Daß er [Dionysius] aber deshalb zu der “Gebildetenpartei” des Presbyters und nachmaligen Gegenpaptses Caelius Laurentius und des Senators Festus gehört haben müßte, läßt sich nicht erweisen.” Wurm, Studien, 3. Wurm also distances Dionysius from the Scythian monks, despite the instances of shared opinions: “Daß er aber die Scythenmönche gelegentlich in der Verteidigung dieser Theopaschitenformel unterstützte ist ebenso sicher wie das, daß er dabei nichts als eigentlicher Vorkämpfer tätig war.” (p. 15) The possibilities for tracing partisanship in the Laurentian controversy are addressed by Wurm on pp. 16-20, where he reviews the arguments reviewed above (note 34), most of which were raised by Schwartz and Caspar before Richards’ work.
. Wurm, Studien, 20, 92.
. The Symmachan forgeries, written between 498 and 507, comprised the Constitutum Silvestri, the Gesta Liberii, the Gesta de Xysti purgatione, the Gesta de Polychronii accusatione, and the Synod of Sinuessa, as well allegedly papal letters. They are edited, translated (into German) and analysed in Eckhard Wirbelauer, Zwei Päpste in Rom: der Konflikt zwischen Laurentius und Symmachus (498–514). Studien und Texte, Quellen und Forschungen zur antiken Welt, 16 (Munich: Tuduv, 1993). The reception of these texts is studied by Salvatore Vacca, Prima sedes a nemine iudicatur: genesi e sviluppo storico dell’assioma fino al Decreto di Graziano, Miscellanea Historiae Pontificiae, 61 (Rome: Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 1993). Symmachians produced a letter ostensibly from the Nicean fathers to Silvester and a letter by pope Sylvester (314-345) JK † 174 (Gaudeo promptam), to which the Laurentians countered with another version of the Nicean fathers’ letter, another letter of Silvester (JK †175, Gloriosissimus), and a Roman council. See Detlev Jasper and Horst Fuhrmann, Papal Letters in the Early Middle Ages, History of Medieval Canon Law (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America, 2001), 69, n.293, where there are further details. One early tenth-century manuscript transmits all the texts of the Symmachan forgeries along with the second edition of Dionysius’ conciliar collection and his decretal collection and the preface to the latter: Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, lat. 5845. The Symmachan forgeries are also transmitted in a collection traced to Bobbio (related to the “Collectio Bobbiensis”, but known as the “Collectio Mutinensis”) that has an early transcription (late seventh or early eighth century) of the Dionysian decretals: Modena, Biblioteca Capitolare, O.I.12. See Lotte Kéry, Canonical Collections of the Early Middle Ages (Ca. 400–1140): A Bibliographical Guide to Manuscripts and Literature (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1999), 10, 22; Peter Landau, “Gefälschtes Recht in den Rechtssammlungen bis Gratian,” in Fälschungen im Mittelalter: Internationaler Kongreß der Monumenta Germaniae Historica, München, 16.-19. September, vol. 2, Monumenta Germaniae Historica Schriften 33 (Hannover, 1988), 19. Recent studies exploring the contexts and significance of the Symmachan forgeries are Kate Blair-Dixon, “Memory and Authority in Sixth-Century Rome: The Liber Pontificalis and the Collectio Avellana,” in Religion, Dynasty, and Patronage in Early Christian Rome, 300–900, ed. Kate Cooper and Julia Hillner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 59–76 and Kristina Sessa, “Domestic Conversions: Households and Bishops in the Late Antique ‘Papal Legends’,” in Religion, Dynasty, and Patronage in Early Christian Rome, 300–900, ed. Kate Cooper and Julia Hillner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 79–114.
. Robert Somerville and Bruce C. Brasington, commentary and translations, Prefaces to Canon Law Books in Latin Christianity: Selected Translations, 500–1245 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 48. The confused representation of the Nicean, Sardican, and African canons is represented in, among others, the Collection of the Freising manuscript (Munich, Staatsbibliothek, lat. 6234), where the Sardican canons have the erroneous inscription “Incipit concilium Nicaeum XX episcoporum”. The use of the Sardican and African canons was crucial in the fifth-century dispute between the pope and the bishops of Carthage over the appellate procedure to be followed in the case of Apiarius, an excommunicated African bishop. Jean Gaudemet, Les sources du droit de l’Eglise en Occident du IIe au VIIe siècle, Initiations au christianisme ancien ([Paris]: Editions du Cerf: Editions du C.N.R.S., 1985), 43, 77–79. For a summary account of the Apiarian controversy, see Hubert Jedin, [Handbuch der Kirchengeschichte. English] Handbook of Church History, ed. Hubert Jedin and John Dolan (New York: Herder and Herder, 1965), 260.
. Somerville and Brasington, Prefaces, 49. “Canones autem qui dicuntur Apostolorum, et Serdicensis concilii, atque Africanae prouinciae, quos non admisit universitas, ego quoque in hoc opere praetermisi-- quia (ut superius memini) et hos in illa prima digessi translatione, ut et uestra paternitas auctoritate<m>, qua tenentur ecclesiae orientales, quaesiuit agnoscere.” Glorie, “Praefationes,” [51].
. Wurm, Studien, 8; Jasper and Fuhrmann, Papal Letters, 18.
. “It is also possible that matters of content, e.g. the stress on the validity of papal directives and the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, played a role in Dionysius’ organizational scheme.” Jasper and Fuhrmann, Papal Letters, 28. So, e.g., the first decretal of the collection, that of pope Siricius addressed to Himerius, bishop of Tarragon, has been described as “the first decretal of absolute monarchy”, and the second, that of pope Innocent to Decentio of Gubbio, concludes with statements regarding Roman primacy. Cf. Wurm, Studien, 62, 63–64.
. For discussion of Dionysius’ source materials and their transmission, see Wurm, Studien, 108–231; for notes on the form of the protocols of the decretals recorded in other early collections of canon law, see the appendix, pp. 236-294.
. Charles Duggan, New Catholic Encyclopedia, cit. in Jasper and Fuhrmann, Papal Letters, 13. Cf. Gaudemet, Les Sources, 58–64.
. Gennadios Limouris, “L’oeuvre canonique de Denys le Petit (VIe s.),” Revue de Droit canonique 37 (1987): 87 argues for the selection of decretals only. Noting the inclusion of “private” letters by Innocent, Jasper and Fuhrmann, Papal Letters, 36 comment, “There is no obvious reason why Dionysius included these letters in his collection.”
. Wurm, Studien, 8. Gaudemet, Les Sources, 136 emphasises the significance of Dionysius’ distinction between conciliar canons and decretals, too, as something not seen in other surviving early canon law collections, such as the Collection of Freising and the Quesnelliana.
. Kéry, Canonical Collections, 11.
. Wurm, Studien, 61. See above on Justel’s sources, at note 12. Migne, PL vol. 67, cols. 230-316. The Migne rubrics are used by Linda Fowler-Magerl, Clavis Canonum: Selected Canon Law Collections Before 1140 : Access with Data Processing, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Hilfsmittel (Hannover: Hahnsche, 2005), 31.
. Wurm, Studien, 62–77. Philipp Jaffe, et al., Regesta Pontificum Romanorum ab condita ecclesia ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII (Leipzig: Veit, 1885–1888 [1956, Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt]). Jaffé numbers are now usually cited as JL for decretals written between 882-1198 (information compiled by S. Loewenfeld), JK for decretals written between ca. 64 and 599 (information compiled by F. Kaltenbrunner), and JE for decretals written between 590 and 882 (information compiled by P. Ewald). Friedrich Maaßen, Geschichte der Quellen und der Literatur des canonischen Rechts im Abendlande, erster Band: Die Rechtsammlungen bis zur Mitte des 9. Jahrhunderts (Graz: Leuschner und Lubensky; repr. Akademische Druck, 1870) provides information on the transmission history of each text.
. Wurm, Studien, 70, cites a “23a” (IIII Incipit epistola Zosimi epi’ ad pbos’ Ravennae directa, etc.) but states clearly that the text is not in the “pure” Dionysiana; it appears in the Bobbio revision of the collection, although not in that collection’s register of contents.
. Maaßen, Geschichte, 251, 433 cites the incipit as “Difficile”.
. Wurm, Studien, 72 notes a “28a”: “Incipiunt praeteritorum sedis apostolicae episcoporum auctoritates de gratia dei. Quia nonnulli ... contrarium. Expliciunt auctoritates praeteritorum sedis apostolicae episcoporum de gratia Dei et libero uoluntatis arbitrio.” This document is now usually attributed to Prosper of Aquitaine (ca. 390-ca. 455), although it is appended to the decretal of Celestine.
. Wurm, Studien, 75 cites after this decretal a text he calls “37a”, which is not in the “pure” Dionysiana: “XLVIIII In causa Lupicini episcopi. Leo uniuersis episcopis per Caesariensem Mauretaniam constitutis. Cum de ordinationibus... roborentur. Jaffé 410, Maaßen 258-259.
. See Wurm, Studien, 76–77 for details.
. Maaßen, Geschichte, 436 cites numbers 28 and 39 as unique to the Dionysiana and its derivatives. Jasper and Fuhrmann, Papal Letters, 35–36 seems to state that seventeen letters “are contained only in Dionysius”, but this is to be read in the light of the previous sentence, which explains that “these seventeen letters give the impression of having been inserted into a pre-existing decretal collection”, since they are witnessed in the Collectio Frisingensis, the Collectio Italica (“Collection of the manuscript of Sankt Blasien), and the Collectio Corbeiensis.
. Jasper and Fuhrmann, Papal Letters, 35–58.
. Jasper and Fuhrmann, Papal Letters, 59. It must be remembered that the most frequently transcribed “Gelasian” decretal, “Decretum de libris recipiendis et non recipiendis” (JK †700) is a pseudonymous work composed in the early sixth century in southern Gaul (ibid., pp. 22, 65).
. Cassiodorus, [Institutiones. English] Cassiodorus: Institutions of Divine and Secular Learning and On the Soul, translated with notes by James W. Halporn, and introduction by Mark Vessey (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2003), 155.
. The letter in question is Caritatis tuae literas, JK 888; the cited canons are appended to the letter under the rubric “de clericis criminosis”. Caesarius then circulated the letter in his province with his own appendix, which subsequently entered several southern Gallic canon law compilations. Maaßen, Geschichte, 437; Jasper and Fuhrmann, Papal Letters, 68 n.288.
. In 550 pope Vigilius cited a canon from the first session of the Carthaginian councils with the Dionysian rubric, but there is no instance of both decrees and decretals being cited between John’s and Zacharias’ letters. Maaßen, Geschichte, 437.
. Jaffé 2277, Gaudio magno; Maaßen, Geschichte, 437–38 lists the citations from the Dionysian collections. The letter is contained in the Codex Carolinus as Ep. 3. Jasper and Fuhrmann, Papal Letters, 105 argues that “one may conclude that these two canonical collections had not been fully merged into each other as they would be later in the Dionysio-Hadriana”; cf. Wurm, Studien, 44. On the other hand, the “Collectio Dionysiana Bobiensis”, although extant only in ninth- and tenth-century manuscripts, is often believed to have been compiled in the seventh century, and contains both conciliar canons and decretals. Notably, it was during the pontificate of Zacharias that “additions” were made to the collection, a fact that may reopen the question of its dates. Kéry, Canonical Collections, 13.
. There survive earlier manuscripts of modified versions of the Dionysiana than of the “pure” Dionysiana. Eighth-century manuscripts include Aosta, Biblioteca Capitolare, C. 103; Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Phill. 1749; Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 14517; Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, lat. 11711; Modena, Biblioteca Capitolare, O.I.12. See the registers of early collections in Kéry, Canonical Collections.
. A table of the order and location of the decretals in twelve manuscript witnesses to the Dionysian collection is in Wurm, Studien, 79.
. ”In keiner Hs ist die ursprüngliche D [die (reine) Dionysiana] ganz rein erhalten.” Wurm, Studien, 31 n.1.
. Two manuscripts have been privileged for their representation of the “pure” Dionysiana, because they also transmit the Dionysian prologue to the decretals, but Città del Vaticano, BAV, lat. 5845 also transmits other decretals and is cited as a witness to the “Dionysiana aucta”; that is, it is recognised as a manuscript in which the process of supplementation to the Dionysian core of decretals is evident. Kéry, Canonical Collections, 11, 21.
. As their names indicate, these collections were imagined as part of a Linnean system of genealogical descent applied to texts, that could be identified by genus and species. Because they were produced with recourse to a range of canonistic materials, however, their actual relations are so intricate that scholars have debated whether the Bobbiensis drew upon a Hadriana version of the text or simply resembles a Hadriana version in some respects, and whether the “aucta” or “adaucta” is a modified Dionysiana or a modified Hadriana version. The additional decretals of the “adaucta” are registered in Wurm, Studien, 77–78. For bibliography on these collections, see Kéry, Canonical Collections, 13–21.
. The Pseudo-Isidorian decretals are edited by Paul Hinschius, Decretales Pseudo-Isidorianae et Capitula Angilramni (Leipzig; repr. Aalen, 1863; repr. 1963). The fundamental study of their history and contents is Horst Fuhrmann, Einfluß undd Verbreitung der pseudoisidorischen Fälschungen, von ihrem Auftauchen bis in die neuere Zeit, MGH Schriften 24.1–3 (Stuttgart: Monumenta Germaniae Historica, 1972–74). Important recent scholarship is Klaus Zechiel-Eckes, “Zwei Arbeitshandschriften Pseudoisidors (Codd. St. Petersburg F.v.I.11 und Paris Lat. 11611),” Francia 27 (2000): 205–10; Klaus Zechiel-Eckes, “Ein Blick in Pseudoisidors Werkstatt. Studien Zum Entstehungsprozeß der Falschen Dekretalen (mit einem Exemplarischen Editorischen Anhang: Pseudo-Julius’ Brief an die Orientalischen Bischöfe, JK 196),” Francia 28 (2001). Texts and studies may be found at the websites of the ongoing project . and .

Abigail Firey. : 2008-07-28T10:26:00
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