The State of the Edition

I have not forgotten that I am Pseudo-Isidore’s editor, though I’m sure it seems that way. I have been proceeding, all along, with my plan for a preliminary edition from Vat. lat. 630, the most important manuscript of the A/B or – better – the Corbie version of the False Decretals.

To be useful and inform future work, this preliminary edition should include a complete accounting of Pseudo-Isidore’s sources. There is no point in building a simplified source apparatus that will simply have to be updated later on. Reconfronting the problem of Pseudo-Isidore’s sources from the ground up has made the edition slow-going, but now it is speeding up a bit.

I am pleased to include, finally, an edition of all five Ps.-Clement forgeries, as well as all the introductory material. Download the full file here, or find individual pieces on the Edition page. Beneath my edition lurks the fundamental work that Klaus Zechiel-Eckes and Karl-Georg Schon contributed towards a draft edition of Part I (the first 60 decretal forgeries) some years ago. The Latin text is now Vat. lat. 630 rather than their composite edition, and I have also revised the punctuation in ways major and minor. The source apparatus is also largely different. But there is a clear debt throughout to their work, as there will be for all of the first sixty forgeries. Errors remain entirely my own responsibility.

There are two aspects of the edition, as it has evolved to this point, that I’d like to explain here.

1. Paragraph numbers. The decretal forgeries need a good system of reference. Towards this end, I am assigning each forgery a system of paragraph numbers. Unfortunately, these numbers will have to differ from those in the marigns of Hinschius’s edition. Please don’t kill me, I know this is terrible, but I have good reasons. The Hinschius chapter numbers are borrowed from the A2 version of the forgeries, and they have two great flaws: The post-Damasus decretal forgeries in Part III don’t have these chapter numbers at all because the A2 version does not include these items; and they were not added by Pseudo-Isidore and often insert divisions at awkward moments. Occasionally they even interrupt sentences. They are bad.

In my unfinished introduction to the Pseudo-Isidorian forgeries, I explain that Pseudo-Isidore’s composition is most coherent at the level of paragraphs. Most of the False Decretals advance a series of ideas that are not necessarily that closely connected with each other, in successive sections. In each of these sections a single authentic source tends to predominate. I have tried to identify these natural units, insofar as they exist, and provide them with numbers. This is not always completely satisfactory, but I have done my best.

I would propose that each decretal forgery be referenced by its Jaffé number and paragraph number. J3 †30.5, therefore, points you to the penultimate paragraph of the fifth Ps.-Clement forgery. I have also assigned distinct numbers to the address and dating clause of each decretal, as these often have a distinct source basis and and stand apart from the rest of each document.

2. The Formulae Pseudoisidorianae. I’ve said before that the False Decretals in particular approach many issues of procedural law, and other items central to Pseudo-Isidore’s program, via verbal formulae. These formulae appear to have been developed first of all in the capitulary repositories, such as the False Capitularies of Benedictus Levita. Thereafter Pseudo-Isidore used them again and again with variations great and small. It is this phenomenon that caused Emil Seckel to write that all the forgeries appear to be verfilzt, or interwoven, with each other.

Whenever a decretal forgery resorts to one of these formulae, the source apparatus threatens to become unbelievably complex. It must account for a) the authentic, material sources behind Pseudo-Isidore’s words; b) the capitulary repository that seems to be Pseudo-Isidore’s model or most immediate source at this moment; and c) parallel passages elsewhere in the forgery corpus.

At one point, for example, Ps.-Gregory I (J3 †2467) laments that bishops shouldn’t be bothered or harassed, quia eorum vexatio sive detractio ad Christum pertinet, cuius vice in ecclesia legatione funguntur (Hinschius, Decretales p. 750). Here is what a semi-complete source apparatus accounting of this phrase looks like:

Cf. 2. Cor. 5, 20: …pro Christo ergo legationem fungimur … Also Jonas of Orléans, De institutione regia, c. 2 (Dubreucq, Sources chrétiennes 407, p. 182, 37f.): Adtedendum quod Christi sacerdotum spretio ad iniuriam Christi pertineat. Also Aachen a. 836, Capitula de honore episcopali, praef. (Werminghoff, MGH Conc. 2, 2, p. 718, 31f.): Quapropter adtendendum est, quod sacerdotum Christi spretio ad iniuriam Christi pertinent, cuius vicem et ministerium gerunt. Here used either via Ben. Lev. I, 322e–f: … quia detractio sacerdotum ad Christum pertinet, cuius vice legatione funguntur in ecclesia; or via the nearly identical Ben. Lev. II, 99 (Seckel, NA 31, p. 109; NA 34, p. 355f.). The false decretals yield many parallels: Ps.-Anacletus, J3 †2 and J3 †3; Ps.-Evaristus J3 †21; Ps.-Lucius, J3 †123; Ps.-Eusebius, J3 †165; Excerpta Sylvestri; Ps.-Damasus I, J3 †243 (Hinschius, Decretales p. 68, 77, 91, 175, 239, 450, 506).

Now, I suspect that users of the edition will find the above less than obvious. And because variations upon this ad Christum – funguntur formula occur many, many times throughout the forgeries, with all kinds of variations, some version of this entry would have to be reproduced over and over again in the apparatus fontium. What is worse, in some iterations, Pseudo-Isidore might innovate so much that all trace of the connection with Jonas is lost, save for a single word, like detractio. Normally a single word isn’t enough to demonstrate dependence on a source (a lot of people have used the word detractio), but in this case of course there is no doubt  that Jonas is in the air, given other instances of the formula. The source apparatus would have to explain all of this to a puzzled reader who merely wants to know why detractio has been italicised in the main text, and what is going on. And finally, one point that I think readers really do need to know – whether the decretals forger is using Benedictus Levita at this point, or the material sources; and how I know that – is an additional thing to explain and an additional complication on top of all the others.

My vision is that the edition should disentangle Pseudo-Isidore, rather than merely report on his entanglements. I have thought about how to do that, and I have developed a solution. The problem is that, in cases like this, Pseudo-Isidore is not really drawing on any of the sources I have listed. He is instead repeating phrases he has internalised. This world of internalised phraseology – the Formulae Pseudoisidorianae – are the actual source in passages like that from Ps.-Gregory.

To make this clear, I propose to print all formulaic words in the edited text in small caps. Like this:


Those portions of the formula that derive from some authentic source or other are also italicised. Those formulaic words that instead originate with Benedictus Levita or elsewhere, but not in an authentic source, are not italicised. I know this is fussy and looks terrible, but the overall effect is to highlight those ideas and words that Pseudo-Isidore repeats over and over again, because they are so important to him; and to make their derivation as graphically clear as I can.

The source apparatus, for its part, is radically simplified. The entry corresponding to the above passage is as follows:

55 – 59 Nullus … potest: cfr Form. Ps. Episcopus expoliatus.

Form. Ps. = Formula Pseudoisidoriana. In the side bar there is now a section, Formulae Pseudoisidorianae, where these are indexed. These are my working documents, reflect the current state of the edition, and will expand over time. There, you will find that Episcopus expoliatus has its own entry, which clarifies the material sources, adduces all occurrences in the capitulary repositories, and finally lists all related passages in the False Decretals that I have so far edited. (This final list is only complete through the Ps.-Clement forgeries, for now).

There are of course edge cases. Sometimes Pseudo-Isidore merely reuses a clause two or three times, and the associated issues do not rise to the level of a formula. I’ve demoted a few Formulae already and folded my accounting back into the apparatus fontium. By and large, however, formulaic usages are extremely clear. Already my small collection of Formulae Pseudoisidorianae reflects a good part of Pseudo-Isidore’s program. Over time, as it grows more complete, I hope it will bring more and more clarity to the forger’s most central concerns.

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