New Hispana Interpolations

In 2016 I wrote that I’d continue my Pseudo-Isidore blogging here, on the new website I established for my edition-in-progress of the False Decretals.

Alas that never happened.

My position at Williams College proved too enormous for any serious research program, and so the professorship had to go. I am extremely happy to report, to my as yet nonexistent readers, that I have left Williams for a research position at the Monumenta Germaniae Historica in Munich–the institution that has supported my work from the very beginning.

So it’s back to blogging. The first order of business is a small project: For a long time now, I’ve wanted to systematically catalog Pseudo-Isidore’s interpolations to the Collectio Hispana. Six years ago, I wrote about fourteen especially clear instances of interpolation discussed by Friedrich Maassen. Because cursory work had failed to turn up other obvious instances of revision, I foolishly wrote that these fourteen cases really were, more or less, the extent of Pseudo-Isidore’s malicious alterations.

In fact there are more cases of fiddling than I imagined, and more than anyone has discussed. One of the things this blog can do is highlight each of these as I come across them. Pseudo-Isidore’s interventions are fairly discrete, and so I’m going to give each of them a number for ease of reference–beginning with I (for “interpolation,” naturally), and followed by Schon’s item number, and then the specific paragraph or canon that has been interpolated.

Only those alterations that change the force of a canon in some programmatic way will be cataloged here–minor corrections, clarifications or other apparently meaningless variants will be left out, unless they provide clues to Pseudo-Isidore’s agenda or his sources. Also, you can assume that all the Hispana interpolations noted are present across Pseudo-Isidore’s products (i.e, in the interpolated Hispana on V1341, as well as in codices of the False Decretals), unless the interpolation number has an asterisk–in which case its distribution is somehow unusual.

Our first interpolation is therefore I4.6, from which you can see that it is to be found in c. 6 of Pseudo-Isidore’s recension of the Ordo de celebrando concilio (Schon n. 004) from the interpolated Hispana. 


At issue is a brief speech that the presiding metropolitan is advised to deliver to the attending bishops. Herbert Schneider edits the authentic text in MGH Ordines de caelebrando concilio (1996) p. 180 l. 56-59:

Deinde simili vos obtestatione coniuro, ut nullus vestrum in iudicando aut personam accipiat aut quolibet favore vel munere pulsatus a veritate discedat, sed cum tanta pietate, quidquid coetui nostro se iudicantum intulerit, retractate…

And Pseudo-Isidore as edited from Vat. lat. 630:

Deinde simili vos obtestatione obsecro, ut nullus vestrum in iudicando aut personam accipiat aut quolibet favore vel munere pulsatus a iusto iudicio scienter avertatur aut discedat, sed cum tanta pietate…retractate…

It is not so much truth that worries our forger, as the idea of his bishops knowingly turning away from just judgment.


The authentic text from c. 11, after litanies over three days have been prescribed (ed. Schneider):

In reliquis tamen diebus cunctis adstantibus oratio colligenda est et sic consedentes causarum negotia colligant.

Pseudo-Isidore retouches only slightly:

In reliquis autem diebus cunctis adstantibus oratio colligenda est et sic consedentes causarum negotia iuste et religiose colligant.

Again the suggestion of trials or judgment (causarum negotia) prompts this intervention


The thirteenth canon of the Council of Neocaesarea from 314/5 prohibits priests from outside the city from offering Mass, unless they are invited.

Gonzalo Martinez Diez and Felix Rodriguez, ed. La Coleccion canonica Hispana 3 (1982) p. 108 l. 87-94, provide the authentic text from the Hispana:

Presbyteri, qui conregionales non sunt, in ecclesia praesentibus episcopis vel presbyteris civitatis offere non poterunt, nec panem dare; in oratione autem calicem dabunt. Quod si absentes sint civitatis sacerdotes et fuerit invitatus, in oratione solus poterit dare. Vicarii autem episcoporum, quos  Graeci chorpiscopos vocant, constituti sunt quidem ad exemplum LXX seniorum, sed tamquam consacerdotes propter sollicitudinem et studium in pauperes offerant et honorabiles habeantur.

The priests who are not conregionales cannot make the offering or give the bread; during Mass, however, they will give the cup. And if the city clergy are absent and the non-coregional priests have been invited, they can distribute communion at Mass only. Latin translation has done considerable violence to this canon. The original Greek makes clear that the “presbyteri, qui conregionales non sunt” are in fact priests from the countryside. When the responsible bishops or priests of that city are on hand, the Greek forbids these country priests from making the oblation, and from distributing the bread and the cup, while the Latin seems to demand that they distribute the cup only and abstain from the rest.

Pseudo-Isidore, who must have been confused by this canon, makes a variety of changes  has corrected it against the alternative translation available to him in the Collectio Dionyisio-Hadriana:

Dionysio-Hadriana (ed. Turner, EOMIA II.1137-9):

Praesbyteri ruris in ecclesia civitatis episcopo praesente vel praesbyteris urbis ipsius, offere non possunt nec panem sanctificatum dare calicemque porrigere. Si vero absentes hi fuerint et ad dandam orationem vocentur, soli dare debebunt. Corepiscopi quoque ad exemplum quidem et formam septuaginta videntur esse; ut comministri autem, propter studium quod erga pauperes exhibent, honorantur.

Pseudo-Isidore (with D-H variants in bold):

Presbiteri, qui conregionales non sunt, in aeclesia presentibus episcopis vel presbiteris civitatis offerre non possunt, nec panem dare sanctificatum, nec calicem porrigere. Quod si absentes sunt civitatis sacerdotes et fuerint invitati, ad dandam orationem soli debebunt dare. Vicarii autem episcoporum, quas Greci chorepiscopos vocant, constituti sunt quidem ad exemplum septuaginta seniorum, sed tamquam consacerdotes propter sollicitudinem et studium, quod in pauperes agunt, offerant et honorabiles habeantur.

He has clarified that it is the sanctified bread that that the priests are not to give; also these priests are not to offer the chalice–here Pseudo-Isidore has intuited the original force of the canon. The next interpolation change is somewhat garbled, but it seems that Pseudo-Isidore wants us to think that, upon invitation and in the absence of the clergy of the city, non-coregional priests can only say Mass and perhaps are not to distribute communion. Finally, the concluding remarks about chorbishops have provoked some minor fiddling from Pseudo-Isidore without changing the meaning in any clear way.

(This post revised after I remembered to collate Pseudo-Isidore’s changes against the Dionysio-Hadriana–always a helpful exercise. I am also grateful to Sergey Turkin for discussing this text with me.)

2 thoughts on “New Hispana Interpolations

  1. Just a brief note to say that your readers are very much existent! Following your progress with great interest…


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