The Cambridge Modern History/Volume I/Chapter XVII
“Numberless portions of the wisdom of God are wanting to us. Many books of the Sacred Text remain untranslated, as two books of the Maccabees which I know to exist in Greek; and many other books of divers Prophets, whereto reference is made in the books of Kings and Chronicles. Josephus, too, in the books of his Antiquities, is altogether falsely rendered as far as concerns the chronological side: and without him nothing can be known of the history of the Sacred Text. Unless he be corrected, in a new translation, he is of no avail, and the Biblical history is lost. Numberless books, again, of Hebrew and Greek expositors are wanting to the Latins: as those of Origen, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, Damascene, Dionysius, Chrysostom, and other most noble Doctors, alike in Hebrew and in Greek. The Church, therefore, is slumbering. She does nothing in this matter, nor hath done these seventy years; save that my Lord Robert, Bishop of Lincoln, of holy memory, did give to the Latins some part of the writings of St Dionysius and of Damascene, and some other holy Doctors. It is an amazing thing, this negligence of the Church: for, from the time of Pope Damasus there hath not been any Pope, nor any of less rank, who hath busied himself for the advantaging of the Church by translations, except the aforesaid glorious Bishop.”
It would be difficult to find a better statement, in the same compass, of those gaps in the knowledge of Western Christendom which the Christian Renaissance was to fill. Roger Bacon, the author of the passage, and Robert Grosseteste, who is in part the subject of it, were the two men who, to all appearance, first realised the scientific needs of the Church. If they did not actually initiate the Christian Renaissance they at least stood very close to its beginnings,—as close, one may say, as Petrarch to the beginnings of the Classical Renaissance.
We shall see reason to believe that their influence upon their contemporaries and successors was very great in this respect: and it must also be said that their actual achievements in the way of preparing materials, and in work done, were far from inconsiderable. They merit a more detailed notice than has commonly been accorded to them. It is a matter of common knowledge that Grosseteste brought Greek books to England (probably most of them came from Sicily and South Italy), and that in conjunction with at least two other men whose names are known-Nicholas the Greek, and John of Basingstoke-he gave to the world Latin versions of certain Greek documents. Foremost among these were the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, a famous and early apocryphal book. The manuscript from which the Latin version was made is now in the University Library at Cambridge. Of the same character was a book whose existence in a Latin dress is almost certainly due to Grosseteste-though his name has not until recently been mentioned in connexion with it. This is the pretty Greek romance which treats of the life of Asenath, the patriarch Joseph's Egyptian wife. Though now forgotten, it was widely known to medieval men, owing to its inclusion in the great Speculum Historiale of Vincent commonly called "of Beauvais." The claim is sometimes set up in Grosseteste's behalf that he translated the Lexicon of Suidas into Latin; but when this very curious assertion is examined, we find that all he did was to render into Latin a few of the more important biographical articles in it. The principal one which has survived in his version is the article on Jesus Christ. This is in reality another apocryphon, containing the story of an enquiry into the priestly descent of our Lord. However, the undoubted fact that he possessed a manuscript of the Lexicon is a sufficiently interesting one.
Far more important in its bearings on Christian literature was the Latin version of that text of the Epistles of St Ignatius which is now accepted as presenting them in their most genuine form. This version, too, is reckoned as due to Grosseteste: but it seems to have been the one which attracted least attention of any. Not more than one ancient copy of it is known to exist, and the only medieval writers who show any knowledge of it are Oxford Franciscans, members of the House to which the Bishop bequeathed his library. Not until the seventeenth century were its merits and importance suspected, by Archbishop Ussher.
Of Dionysius the Areopagite, Latin versions were known and widely disseminated long before Grosseteste's day. It was presumably the unsatisfactory character of these that led him to undertake a new one; and it is improbable that he ever brought it to a conclusion. Versions of the treatise On the Divine Names, and of the Letters, are very definitely ascribed to him; and it is also likely that the detached Letter to Timothy on the Martyrdoms of St Peter and Paul was rendered into Latin by him or by his assistants. Yet, however much of the work he may have succeeded in finishing, it is certain that in the fifteenth century the need for a fresh translation of the whole was felt in Italy, and that the need was supplied by the indefatigable Camaldulite, Ambrogio Traversari.
The versions of works by John Damascene, of which Bacon speaks, seem upon examination to resolve themselves into a commentary upon the defective Latin version of the treatise De Fide orthodoxa, made a century before by Burgundio of Pisa.
Such is the list of Grosseteste's gifts to the Latin Church. If not very large in extent, it is assuredly very remarkable in quality. With the exception of the work of John Damascene, it consists entirely of writings for which a pre-Christian or an apostolic date was claimed. In other words, we see in Grosseteste the beginnings of that interest in the origins of Christianity which is usually regarded as characteristic of a later age. He is a collector of what claims to be ancient and primitive. Others will follow to whom Chrysostom and Basil will seem better worth translating: and their day will be a long one.
We have ample evidence of Grosseteste's knowledge of Greek. Less is known of his attainments in Hebrew: and yet evidence can be produced to show that they were not contemptible. A Franciscan writer of the next century-Henry of Costessey (circa 1336), to whom reference will be made hereafter-had before him, when writing an exposition of the Psalter, a copy of the text of that book in Hebrew with an interlinear translation into Latin. This had been the property, if not the work, of Grosseteste. Little positive proof beyond the common rumour of his contemporaries can be added to this fact; but even if it stands by itself, it is well worthy of note. It is clear that the Bishop's chief interest centred in his Greek studies: more than a respectable working knowledge of the other sacred tongue is not claimed for him here.
Thus much it has seemed right to say of the work of the earlier of the two men who have been commemorated at the outset of this chapter. Of the other, Roger Bacon to wit, we may speak in shorter compass.
Page after page in his works attests his clear perception of the needs of scientific theology, of the crucial importance of a knowledge of the "original tongues "-Greek, Hebrew, and "Chaldean,"—of the need for a revision of the Latin Bible by the help of the oldest manuscripts, and, as we have seen, of the necessity of re-introducing to the West the works of the great Greek Fathers. And perhaps his greatest service to the Church of his age may have lain in the statement of these needs. Something, it is true, he himself achieved towards supplying them. He wrote grammars of the Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic languages. The first two of these it appears that we possess, and a single copy of a Greek dictionary also survives, which there seems good reason to attribute to him. The third is not known to exist. We have, moreover, part of a series of letters which may with some confidence be regarded as Bacon's. In these he deals at length with points of Hebrew grammar for the benefit of a friend, himself evidently an accomplished Hebraist, who had sought his advice. It must be confessed that the fruit of these labours was not great: yet we shall see that it continued to be produced, if in scanty measure, up to the day of the fuller harvest.
That Grosseteste and Bacon had their precursors we must expect to find. Indeed, it is pretty certain that there was never a time when the knowledge of either Hebrew or Greek was altogether dead in the Latin Church. In almost every generation we can point to some document which bears witness to the possession of such knowledge by scholars scattered here and there. In the middle of the twelfth century, for example, Johannes Burgundio of Pisa executed-badly enough it seems -a whole series of versions from the Greek. Among these were the Homilies of Chrysostom on Matthew, the tract of Nemesius-then believed to be by Gregory of Nyssa-On the Nature of Man, and, above all, the treatise of John of Damascus On the Orthodox Faith, of which mention has been made already. Again, in the second half of the same century, an English Odo-his personality remains obscure-dedicates to Gilbert Foliot, Bishop of London, an Introduction to Theology in which long passages from the Old Testament are quoted in the original Hebrew. There were also in the latter half of this same century the makings of a Greek school at the Abbey of St Denis. The reason of this is not far to seek. The patron saint of that great House was a Greek, and, as all men believed, the author of a famous group of writings. As early as the eleventh century (in 1022) a copy of the Gospels in Greek had been written for the Abbey. In the twelfth century Odo de Deuil, who succeeded Suger as Abbot, sent one of his monks, William of Gap, to the East on a literary mission, as it seems. William brought Greek books back with him from Constantinople; and made a Latin version of a life of the philosopher Secundus, which was extensively copied. To him also we may assign a Latin version of a set of Greek Arguments to the Pauline Epistles. This last piece of work he did when Abbot of St Denis, between 1172 and 1186, at the request of Herbert de Bosham, the friend and biographer of St Thomas of Canterbury. A fellow-monk of William's, Johannes Saracenus, a correspondent of John of Salisbury's, and in after years Abbot at Vercelli, translated into Latin the greater part of the Pseudo-Dionysian writings. A second William, monk of St Denis, did the same for a Greek panegyric on their reputed author. Down to a late date part of the office on St Denis' Day was said in Greek at the Abbey; and the Bibliotheque Nationale possesses a couple of twelfth century Greek manuscripts which belonged to the same House, and may well have been among the spoils brought back by William of Gap.
Yet after all these were isolated phenomena. Bacon's estimate of the needs of his time remains the true one. It is amply confirmed by contemporary literature, and perhaps the readiest and most convincing demonstration of it is furnished by the catalogues of the great libraries which come from this period. The value of these documents for purposes of literary history is self-evident. They provide us in the directest way imaginable with a view of the resources of the learned communities of the time. It will be worth while, therefore, to discuss, in a summary fashion, one typical example.
The passage of Bacon which stands at the head of this chapter was written in or about the year 1271. The author survived the year 1292; and we possess a detailed catalogue of one of the largest libraries in England, which was drawn up within a very few years after the latter date. We may, then, fairly use it as illustrative of the condition of theological learning and of the range of theological literature at the close of Bacon's life. The library in question is that of Christ Church Priory at Canterbury. In extent it rivalled any of its time for it contained close upon two thousand volumes; and, without entering into details as to the method of its formation, we may assert generally that it is possible to a large extent to discriminate the earlier from the later acquisitions, and to arrange these latter in chronological order.
In that portion of the library which dates back to the days of Lanfranc and Anselm fragmentary survivals are traceable of a learning which had no attraction for the mass of clerics in Bacon's day. The best example of these is a copy of the treatise of Irenaeus Against Heresies-in all likelihood the only copy then in England. There are indications also of the influence of John of Salisbury in the list of the books bequeathed by St Thomas to his Cathedral; but, as we should expect, this influence is more clearly seen in the presence of certain classical Latin authors than in the province of sacred literature. Coming nearer to the period with which we are chiefly concerned, we notice that Grosseteste has left his mark on the Canterbury Library: copies of most of the texts which he restored to the Latins are to be found in the catalogue. Of Roger Bacon, however, and of his work there is no sign. Not a single Greek or Hebrew book is discoverable. All trace of the learning of Theodore has disappeared. The theologian par excellence is, as always, Augustine: and the other three Latin Doctors are present in great force. For the rest, the Divinity library is made up chiefly of glossed books of the Bible, of "Distinctions," sermons, the books of Anselm, Alexander Neckam, Peter Lombard, Richard of Preaux, Robert Cursun, Peter Comestor, and the like; while, among the latest accretions, are numbered the works of the great Schoolmen. Thus almost the only aid to the literal interpretation of the Biblical text which the monks of this great House possessed was what they could gather from the works of Jerome. Peter Comestor and Josephus were their teachers in Biblical history; and for the history of the Church they had to turn to Rufinus1 version of the History of Eusebius, to the Tripartite History, and to the numerous lives of Saints.
The state of this one great library must be taken as typical of that of others throughout Europe. Yet, if the darkness was thick, it was already beginning to lift. By means of a recent discovery the present writer has ascertained that in this very library a copy of the books of the Old Testament from Genesis to Ruth in Greek existed early in the fifteenth century. The manuscript, now at Oxford, is of Grosseteste's date, and was very probably brought by him to England.
There were younger contemporaries of Grosseteste and of Bacon, who carried on the work of the great teachers, and that in no unworthy fashion. At Ramsey Abbey (where the influence of the former may fairly be suspected, for it lay in his diocese) a small band of scholars were in possession of the whole of the Old Testament in Hebrew. They had bought up the libraries of the suppressed synagogues at Huntingdon and Stamford. One among them, Prior Gregory, had furthermore studied Greek: a bilingual Psalter remains to attest the fact. At a somewhat later date the stores of Hebrew manuscripts accumulated by his predecessors enabled Laurence Holbeach, a monk of the same House, to compile a Hebrew Lexicon.
Another great work was set on foot in the second half of the thirteenth century,—a work whose existence is hardly suspected now-a-days. This was nothing less than a literal translation from Hebrew into Latin of the greater part of the Old Testament-clearly a work of English scholars, for all the known manuscripts which contain any part of it are of English origin, and are preserved in English libraries. Of the originators of this enterprise, and of the character of their work, we may look to learn more; but even in our present state of knowledge we can very confidently predicate of them that they owed their inspiration to the influence of one or other of the two great champions of the "original tongues."
It must not be supposed that for England alone is claimed the honour of having attempted a scientific treatment of the Sacred Text at this time. The principal impulse to study seems to have been given by Englishmen, it is true; but work was also being done outre mer. Before the middle of the thirteenth century the Dominicans of Paris had attempted the task of systematically correcting the text of the Latin Bible. The results, however, were not happy, in the opinion of the man best qualified to judge of them. Bacon is, indeed, unsparing in his strictures. The work had been undertaken without adequate knowledge of the original tongues, and carried on without reference being made to the oldest and best manuscripts of the Vulgate. The consequence is that the Paris "correction," of which there were two editions, is "the worst possible corruption and destruction of the text of God." But Bacon was not merely a destructive critic. It was seemingly a friend and correspondent of his own, William de Mara, who eventually compiled a Correctorium based on a sound knowledge of Hebrew. On its composition he spent not less than forty years; and it is believed that he derived material assistance from Bacon himself in the course of his work. The critical labours of which we have been speaking were chiefly concerned with the text of the Old Testament; and it is a noteworthy circumstance that in the fourteenth century the knowledge of Hebrew, and the application of that knowledge to Biblical studies, was far commoner than the knowledge of Greek. It is not difficult to account , for this, so far as Western Europe is concerned. Teachers of Hebrew were, as Bacon tells us, very easily procurable. It is true that he adds that it was equally easy to acquire Greek; but it must be remembered that in the case of Hebrew, books in which the language could be studied, and on which critical and exegetical work could be done, were plentiful. Wherever a community of Jews existed, the Scriptures in Hebrew could be readily obtained. Not so with Greek. The few Greek manuscripts imported into England by Grosseteste, the Greek Gospels which the Byzantine Emperor had sent to St Louis, the two or three volumes at St Denis, were rarities of the first water. The stores of Greek literature in the Basilian monasteries of Southern Italy and Sicily, to say nothing of Greece and of Byzantium, were not yet unlocked. That ancient scholarship to which we owe the Graeco-Latin manuscripts of Southern France, the Laudian manuscript of the Acts that Baeda used, and the famous codices of St Gall, had altogether died. The eyes of a few far-sighted scholars were turned towards the Grecian lands; but as yet they could do no more than look and long.
Still, the truths to which Roger Bacon had given expression were not forgotten. Especially in the ranks of his own-the Franciscan- Order, men were found who realised and acted upon them. Scraps of Hebrew and Greek learning-alphabets, transcripts of the Lord's Prayer, and the like-are of not infrequent occurrence in manuscripts of Franciscan origin. These may be only straws showing which way the wind sets. More significant is the appearance among the Franciscans of the greatest exponent of the literal sense of Scripture whom the medieval world can show. This was Nicholas de Lyra, who died in 1340. It is not so much because of his learning that he is important, though his knowledge of Hebrew was highly notable; it is rather his attitude, his desire to ascertain what the words of the Sacred Text actually mean, which differentiates him from the ancient allegorists. The same tendency is seen in the work of a far less famous Franciscan of the same generation. Henry of Costessey is the author of a Commentary upon the Psalms which appears to exist in but one manuscript. In this the insistence upon the literal sense, the constant reference to the original Hebrew, and the independence of the writer's judgment, who is for ever canvassing and contradicting the opinions of Lyra, are such as would have rejoiced Bacon's heart. For a considerable time the Franciscan Houses at both Oxford and Cambridge must have kept alive the interest in this "New Learning." We are fairly well informed about the establishment at Oxford; and concerning the Cambridge House we can at least tell who were its teachers of divinity: Henry of Costessey was among them. The Oxford Friars did not, it is true, preserve the traditions of Grosseteste and of Bacon into the Reformation period, for Leland has a sorry tale to tell of the neglected condition of their once noble library. Yet the tradition of learning lingered in the Order; at the beginning of the sixteenth century Richard Brinkley, Provincial of the Grey Friars in England, was a student of Hebrew-he borrowed a Hebrew Psalter from the monks of Bury St Edmunds; and he was moreover the owner of more than one Greek Biblical manuscript: among them, of the Leicester Codex of the New Testament, well known to textual critics.
More is yet to be said of the Franciscans in England, and of their services to sacred literature. They did not confine their attention to the Bible. There is another great literary enterprise, the credit of whose initiation belongs to them, though its subsequent development must be assigned to a Benedictine. Described shortly, it was an attempt to discover and locate all the works of the principal known authors, both sacred and secular, which existed in England. At some time in the fourteenth century circulars were issued, or visits paid, to about one hundred and sixty monasteries. A list of some ninety authors was drawn up, and the writings of each enumerated. The list of libraries and that of books were then fused together in such a way that from the completed work it is possible to ascertain what books by each writer were to be found in England, and in what libraries each book existed. The name given to this compilation is the Catalogus or Registrum Librorum Angliae, and the indications that in this first form it, is the work of a member or members of the Franciscan Order are hardly to be mistaken. Early in the fifteenth century, the work received a most important expansion at the hands of a monk of Bury, John Boston by name. He added a score of names to the list of libraries, and raised to nearly seven hundred the number of authors whose works were enumerated. He gave, moreover, a short biographical sketch of each writer drawn from the best sources at his disposal: so that the book in its completed form might claim to be called a Dictionary of Literature. If this Catalogue of Boston's did not serve as a model to Trithemius and his successors (and there is no reason to suppose that it did), it was at least the legitimate ancestor of the later Bibliothecae. What is more to the point at present, it furnishes a key to the literary possessions and perhaps still more to the literary needs of England about the year 1400, the importance of which it would be difficult to exaggerate.
It may be necessary to return to the consideration of England's share in the movement; but we must now proceed to extend the range of our outlook. We have to ask whether, in the home of the Classical Revival, any consciousness existed of the needs of the Church corresponding to the feeling that we have seen stirring in the minds of Grosseteste and of Bacon. As far as we can judge, this question must be answered in the negative. Exceptional opportunities for the furthering of Christian scholarship lay ready to the hands of the Italians in the fourteenth century; yet there is strikingly little to show that advantage was taken of them. It has already been hinted that in Italy the knowledge of Greek as a spoken language was far from uncommon. Large portions of the South were, as Bacon says, "purely Greek"; on the Adriatic coast Greek was widely known. The Court of Rome had its relations with the Eastern patriarchates. The points at issue between the Greek and Latin Churches were productive of a long series of controversial writings on both sides; There was, in fact, no good reason why the knowledge of the Greek Bible and of the great Greek Fathers should not have continued to exist at the papal Court, and have been diffused from thence over the West. Yet we do not find that such knowledge existed in any appreciable degree. The thought of applying the knowledge of Greek to the study of the Bible seems hardly to have occurred to the Italian scholars of the fourteenth century. There are, it is true, examples dating from this period of Gospel-books and other parts of the Bible written in Greek and Latin, and emanating from Venice and Florence. It is commonly said, too, that an English Bishop -Adam Easton, Bishop of Norwich and Cardinal of St Cecilia-made a fresh version of the whole Bible from the original while in Italy. But this last assertion stands in need of corroboration; and at best it would indicate, not an activity of Italians in sacred studies, but the existence in Italy of materials by the aid "of which such studies could be prosecuted. The difficulty of discovering any symptom of consciousness that the field of theological study needed widening is of more weight than are the isolated examples of a wider learning which have been cited.
Before the fifteenth century has fairly opened we find nothing that can be called a decided current setting in the direction of wider learning or true sacred scholarship. It was not immediately that the rush of new discoveries involved those whose prime interest lay in things sacred. But when we hear of a Queen of Cyprus presenting a copy of the Gospels in Greek to a Pope, of a Greek prelate on his way to the Council of Florence giving another copy to a church at Verona, of a Cardinal (Cusanus) in the same year buying a third at Constantinople, and, within four years more, of copies being written in Italy itself, we feel sure that the movement is well in train.
Once begun, its development can be followed up along many lines. Three in particular suggest themselves as fruitful in indications not likely to be fallacious. First, we may take stock of what was done in the way of collecting ancient texts and forming libraries in which to preserve them. Secondly, we may review the work of the translators and copyists who made the new material accessible to their public; and, in the third place, we may trace the beginnings of criticism as applied to the documents which were already known, and to those which began now to be known for the first time.
Much has been written upon the first of these topics, but chiefly from the point of view of men interested in the Classical Revival. There is not a great deal that can suitably be added in this place to the story of the rediscovery of ancient literature. The work done by the collectors of Greek books was a wholly new work; we shall see the results of it most clearly in the course of our examination of the libraries. With the early literature of the Latin Church the case was different. There were but few Christian writers among those whom Poggio and his fellows rescued from an age-long obscurity; and the welcome accorded to these by the humanists was theirs as Latinists rather than as theologians. Tertullian and Lactantius are the leading names of this class. The first copy of the works of the former was found at Basel by Tommaso Parentucelli (afterwards Nicholas V). Lactantius, never a frequent author in medieval libraries, had hardly found a single copyist between the eleventh and the fourteenth century. A library at Bologna had preserved the earliest and best manuscript of his Institutions, and other tracts were yielded up by St Gall and the German abbeys. The most important Latin books apart from these were some of the early versions of Greek patristic works, such as that of Origen's Homilies on Luke, the finding of which, at St Cecilia's in Home, gladdened the heart of Ambrogio Traversari. However, it must be allowed that, upon the whole, the Latin finds of the earlier period were inconsiderable. The work of Irenaeus, though known to exist, attracted very little attention- chiefly, we may conjecture, because of its barbarous style; the Latin version of Hermas was hardly read; and the writings of Arnobius and Minucius Felix, which are of the kind that would have proved most pleasing to the humanists, were reserved for the explorers of the next century.
The libraries which received and preserved the stock of new material claim to be discussed at greater length. The natural centre for the formation of a great Christian library was the papal Court. Private amateurs like Niccolo Niccoli might, and actually did, accomplish much in the way of rescuing and bringing together books of all kinds; but it is a clear and familiar fact that what they prized most were the masterpieces of the pagan literature. It is the clergy, and above all the Pope, whom we expect to find caring for the archives of Christian antiquity. Fortunately, we are in a position to estimate very accurately, by the help of library catalogues, the measure of what was done in this line. The greatest of the early papal bibliophiles was Nicholas V (1447-55). It is not necessary to spend words here upon describing his activity as a collector or his munificence as a patron of letters. We shall run less risk of exaggeration if we draw from so unemotional a document as the inventory of his books, made at his decease. A short survey of the collection, if dry, will at least afford some basis of solid fact. In 1455, then, the library of Nicholas V consisted of 824 Latin and 352 Greek manuscripts. We must not expect to find in the Latin library any sign that the learning of the schools is losing its interest. The theology and the Canon Law of the later centuries are as fully represented here as in any Abbey library of them all. What we have to note as significant is the presence-partly in old copies newly brought to light, partly in new versions or in manuscripts written to order-of a number of writings whose existence or whose importance was but just beginning to be realised. Of these the most striking may be instanced here. The new version of Chrysostom's Homilies on Matthew, by Ambrogio Traversari, side by side with the old and faulty one of Burgundio of Pisa: Cyril of Alexandria upon John, translated by George of Trebizond: several copies of Origen upon Luke, to which allusion has already been made; then-a noteworthy item-a Latin version of Maimonides on the sense of the Scriptures. Later, and after masses of volumes of Augustine, Jerome, and Thomas Aquinas, appear, first, a translation of the Acts of the Ephesine Council, and then, disguised as "Nicenus Episcopus Lugdunensis," the work of Irenaeus Against Heresies. Worthy of mention also are the following: the Acts of the Five Great Councils; the Praeparatio Evangelica of Eusebius in George of Trebizond's version; Tertullian, Victor Vitensis, the Chronicon of Eusebius, Josephus Against Apion, and a version of Philo Judaeus by Lilio of Cittä di Castello.
Cyprian and Lactantius, and versions, either old or new, of works of Ephrem the Syrian, Athanasius, and Basil, are the remaining indications of the new movement which occur in the catalogue of Nicholas V's Latin library.
The inventory of his Greek books is, of course, in one sense, from end to end a list of novelties; and yet it is rather disappointing. The volumes are shortly and meagrely described. Their contents, if new to the scholars of that day, are just those which are most familiar to us. It is in part consoling to find that Nicholas possessed no great treasure that has since perished; but still the absence of any such entry robs the catalogue of an element of excitement. It is, in truth, somewhat commonplace. Chrysostom heads the list with forty volumes, and Gregory Nazianzen, Basil, Athanasius, and Simeon the Metaphrast, are largely represented. There is but one volume of Origen: there are two of Philo, and two copies of what may be the Clementine Homilies. The Bible is represented by some scattered portions of the Old Testament, a fair number of Gospel-books (Evangelistaria) and a few copies of the Acts and Epistles. No such thing as a complete Greek Bible occurs, though we know that at this date the famous Vatican Codex (B) was already in the Pope's possession.
The character of the collection did not alter materially during the remainder of the fifteenth century. At the death of Sixtus IV in 1484 it had grown considerably in bulk. Instead of 350 Greek manuscripts there were now about a thousand. Still, we note no specially striking additions to the list of early Church writers. Origen, for example, is just as poorly represented as he was under Nicholas V. One important section, however, shows a marked growth. The Bibles, or parts of Bibles, have swelled to the goodly number of fifty-eight.
The examination of this, the most important library of the West in the fifteenth century, teaches us that the main interest of Christian scholars was centred not on the literature of the first ages, but upon the works of the great doctors of the fourth and fifth centuries,—upon the definers and expositors of developed dogma. This was the natural outcome, perhaps, of the long period spent under the influence of Scholastic Theology. But it was also the inevitable result of the condition of things in the headquarters of Greek learning. The Eastern Church had herself forgotten Justin, Clement of Alexandria, and Irenaeus, and regarded Origen with suspicion. We know now that as late as the sixteenth century a Greek Irenaeus, and a copy of the Ecclesiastical Memoirs of Hegesippus were lurking in a Greek island. There they were destined to remain and to perish. Yet, had their existence been known in the time of Nicholas V, it is doubtful whether he and his contemporaries would have been much excited by the announcement. A couple of generations later the case would have been widely different.
The literary treasures of Italy were by no means confined to the Vatican; and, though it would be dreary work to investigate in detail the inventories of all the great collectors, a word must still be said about those of Venice and Florence. At the first-named place Bessarion's great library was deposited, among whose treasures was at least one volume of extraordinary value for the history of Christian beliefs,—our best copy of the treatise of Epiphanius Against Heresies. Florence was enriched, not only with the beginnings of the Medicean collection, but with the earlier and hardly less precious library of Niccolo Niccoli (d. 1437), which passed to the Convent of San Marco. In the list of the one hundred and eighty Greek manuscripts which that community owned in the last years of the century we note a few names, and only a few, that we did not meet at Rome, particularly that of Justin Martyr. From this Florence copy Pico della Mirandola must in all probability have made his translation of the Cohortatio ad Gentes.
In the Latin collection we find such items as three volumes of Tertullian, all of them copies on paper made from the ancient manuscript which had come into the hands of Cardinal Orsini. Cyprian, Lactantius, and Ignatius too, are there, with of course many of the freshly made versions of Greek books. That of the Letter of Aristeas, so-called, from the pen of Matteo Palmieri, is a welcome variation from the everlasting Chrysostoms and Basils. Literature owes much, indeed, to Niccoli; but Christian literature has specially to thank another of its friends, Lorenzo de' Medici, for the preservation of that inestimable monument, the unique manuscript of the Miscellanies (Stromateis) of Clement of Alexandria.
We turn now from Italy, the centre of light, to ask what was the condition of affairs in the outer darkness beyond the Alps. In France the work of collecting Greek books had hardly begun in the first half of the fifteenth century. There were; as we have seen, what may be called accidental deposits in two or three places, as at St Denis, and the Abbey of Corbie in Picardy. The papal library at Avignon, which owned more than a hundred and twenty Hebrew manuscripts in 1369, could muster only some half-dozen in Greek-another striking testimony to the statement made above that the former language was far more commonly known in that age than the latter. In 1416 one Greek book had found its way into the possession of the Duke of Berri; but his cataloguers cannot give us any notion of the character of its contents. The famous decree of the Council of Venice in 1311 that the Hebrew, Arabic, and Chaldean tongues should be taught at all the greater Universities of Europe had remained absolutely ineffective.
With the arrival of George Hermonymus at Paris in 1476 the work of collection and diffusion of Greek literature really began. Hermonymus himself worked as a copyist alike of the Sacred Text and of secular authors. Still it was nothing more than a beginning that the fifteenth century witnessed. The enormous accumulations, which have ended in making the Bibliotheque Nationale of Paris the depository of more Greek manuscripts than any other library outside Greece can show, were the work of the two centuries that followed.
Of England not much more remains to be said in the present connexion; and yet, as the history of our progress in this field has been but sparsely investigated, more may be said in this place than a consideration of proportion would perhaps seem to justify. We have rather frequent accounts of the importations of valuable collections of books from Italy. Adam Easton, Bishop of Norwich (who has already engaged our attention), was among the earliest of those who collected in this way. He died in the last quarter of the fourteenth century. Thomas Waiden gave many foreign manuscripts, notable for age and rarity, to the Carmelites of London. John Gunthorpe, Dean of Wells, deposited a precious collection formed in Italy at Jesus College in Cambridge. It is still possible to trace the greater part of the gifts made by William Gray, Bishop of Ely, to Balliol College. Another Oxford College-Lincoln-possesses a manuscript of the Acts and Catholic Epistles in Greek which was given to it in 1483 by Robert Flemmyng, Dean of Lincoln. Flemmyng was another of those who had travelled in Italy: and he is credited with having compiled a Greek dictionary. At Lincoln College is also a copy of the Gospels in Greek which was the gift of Edmund Audley, Bishop of Salisbury, in 1502.
Gone, alas! are the collections, amounting in all to nearly six hundred volumes, which Duke Humphrey of Gloucester gave at different times to the University of Oxford. Gone, too, for the most part is that imported by William Tilley of Selling, Prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, the friend of Politian and the patron of Linacre. During the two long visits that he paid to Italy, Selling had brought together a number of books. We have no list of them; but his contemporaries evidently accounted them very choice and precious. The tradition was even current (though we must gravely question its correctness) that among them was a copy of the De Republica of Cicero. They were deposited in the Prior's lodging on his return and, unfortunately, were never transferred to the main library of the monastery. On the eve of the Dissolution, a royal commissioner-Leighton-and his train were lodged in the building which contained the books: an accidental fire, the responsibility for which is laid by the monks upon Leighton's drunken servants, burst out> and the treasured library of Selling was consumed. A few survivors are enumerated by Leland-notably a copy of Basil's Commentary on Isaiah in Greek: a few which he does not name can be traced in our libraries now. Among them must in all probability be reckoned the first copy of Homer whose presence can be definitely traced in England since the days of Theodore of Tarsus.
That copies of the newly-recovered writings of the Latin Fathers and of the new translations from the Greek made their way to England among these various collections is not surprising. Both among Selling's books, and among those which Bishop Gray gave to Balliol College, we find translations by Aretinus and by Traversari. In Gray's list Lactantius and Tertullian are also represented. His copy of the Apology of the latter suggests a curious question. It is enriched with marginal notes, which in the opinion of the antiquaries of an older day were due to the pen of a twelfth century critic,—no less a person indeed than William of Malmesbury. But the manuscript which contains them is of the fifteenth century and is the work of a foreign scribe; and the notes themselves afford no clue to their author.
The library of St Augustine's Abbey at Canterbury, again, possessed the Apology of Tertullian; but we can only guess at the date of the manuscript; and a wide range is open to us, since the catalogue in which it is entered was drawn up in the last years of the fifteenth century. It is to be feared that this country did not contribute in any important degree to the stock of new material which was being made available for the world's use. Poggio's visit to England was a failure in this as in other respects. Had he been able to explore the libraries of the great monasteries of the West or of the North-Glastonbury, Worcester, and the scenes of Baeda's activity-he would not have returned empty-handed. Many books lay in hiding there which he would have been glad to secure. In after years we find the English scholars actively playing their part in the matter of accumulating books. At present we must leave them, in order to enquire, rather more briefly, into the records of the movement in Germany and Switzerland.
The Council of Basel (1431) had in one respect a remarkable and far-reaching influence on literature. A Dominican, John of Ragusa, afterwards Cardinal, who figured there, left in the Dominican convent of the city a collection of books which in later years acquired a peculiar importance. They included three manuscripts of parts of the New Testament in Greek: and others were subsequently added to their number by purchase by the brethren of the House. These manuscripts were not only the first Greek books to which Johann Reuchlin had access, but were in after years wellnigh the sole authorities used by Erasmus for the constitution of the first published text of the Greek Testament. Few cities outside Italy could at that time have supplied even such facilities as this to an intending editor of the Sacred Text; and we may be grateful for the accident on which their presence at Basel depended. Another of this Cardinal's books, which since his day has found a home at Eton College, is still the only known source of a tract of some celebrity, current under the name of Athanasius.
It seems not unfair to say that Germany-the country which in the middle of the fifteenth century gave to the cause of enlightenment its mightiest weapon, in the shape of the printing press-did little more for that cause, at least of her own initiative, in the course of that century. To the learning of the next her contributions were enormous; but for the moment she is conspicuous not by bringing to light her own hidden treasures but by parting with them to strangers. The number of ancient texts, both classical and patristic, which were exported from German Abbeys to Italy was very large: and scarcely less remarkable was the number and quality of those which remained undiscovered, until native scholars of a later generation scented them out. Yet there were German book-collectors before 1450: and to cue of them it may be well to devote a few words. In the letters of Poggio and his contemporaries there is not unfrequent mention of one Nicholas of Trier as a successful collector and discoverer. It is a probability, and indeed it has been accounted nearer a certainty, that he is identical with Nicholas of Cusa, afterwards Cardinal, who became famous as a politician, as a mathematician and reformer of the Calendar, and as a writer against Islam. Cusanus died in 1464, and bequeathed to a hospital he had founded at Cues on the Mosel, his native town, the books brought together by him during his residence in Italy and his journeys to the Greek lands. At Cues a good many of them still remain. The collection has, to some extent, suffered from an exchange of old lamps for new, which was effected in the last century to the advantage of the Harleian Library: but the books which are now at the Hospital of St Nicholas at Cues are both individually and collectively worthy of notice.
Two Graeco-Latin Psalters, of the eighth and ninth centuries, three other Greek manuscripts (one being an early and famous Catena on St John's Gospel), and two copies of most of the Old Testament in Hebrew are the striking features among the Biblical books. In the patristic section is a volume transcribed for the Cardinal which contains certain works then of very rare occurrence: Optatus of Milevis Against the Donatists, Origen De Principiis, Tertullian's Apology, and The Shepherd of Hernias. There are moreover two early Cyprians, and copies of the Latin versions, old or recent, of works of Athanasius, of Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelien, of Cyril, of Philo, of Aristeas, and of Dionysius. In addition to these, the presence of the earlier polemics against the Mohammadans, of works of Raymond Lull in great profusion, and of the new versions of Plato and Aristotle, gives a special character to this forgotten storehouse. In spite of the losses it has suffered, the library of Cues is to be reckoned among the most perfect and unadulterated examples that have survived of the collection of a single scholar of the middle of the fifteenth century.
So much as to the formation of libraries in various parts of Europe, and of its relation to the Christian Renaissance. We have designedly devoted a considerable space to this side of our subject, inasmuch as it has not as yet been adequately appreciated by the generality. To most men the study of inventories and catalogues seems dry work; but the evidence derivable from it is of a kind not easily to be upset. It must be remembered, besides, that the existence of these libraries did not affect their possessors only. Most of them were thrown open to students of all classes; so that they were centres not only for the preservation of literature, but for a wide and rapid diffusion of knowledge. We may have occasion to recur shortly to the topic of book-preservation. At present two other subjects intimately connected with the development of learning in the fifteenth century appear to require comment.
The first is the work of those who made translations of the newly imported Greek literature. The fact that very many of those who welcomed the fresh materials for study were unable to use them in their original forms needs little explanation. Petrarch himself never mastered Greek. But, whichever of several readily intelligible causes it was that gave rise to the demand for translations, it is certain that they were actually made in great numbers. There was, as we have noted, a considerable stock of them, of older date, already in circulation. Works of Origen, Athanasius, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, and Chrysostom were all available. Many of these, and particularly those by Burgundio of Pisa, were, or were accounted, obscure and barbarous: many other works of the same authors had never been current in Latin at all. There was thus room for a fresh translation of a whole literature. We have already encountered by the way the names of some of those who put their hands to the work. Probably the most important labourer in this field was Ambrogio Traversari, General of the Camal-dulite Order who died in 1438. To him the Church owed an improved version of the Homilies of Chrysostom on the Pauline Epistles, of other tracts by the same Father, of the Greek Vitae Patrum, of Dionysius the Areopagite, of Aeneas of Gaza, and not a few other books. His joy in his labour of translating, which was the great object of his life, appears over and over again in the hundreds of letters we possess from his pen. The interruptions in his work, which his appointment to the Generalship of his Order occasioned, were a constant grievance. Bitter were his regrets when he had yielded to the persuasions of Cosmo de' Medici, and undertaken to make a Latin version of Diogenes Laertius: not solely because the task distracted his attention from the holy Doctors, but because the lives of the pagan philosophers were not a subject upon which a Christian monk should spend his time. Of all the prominent translators, Traversari is perhaps the one who has most clearly before him the thought that it is a worthy task to reopen to the Latins the mines of Greek theology. We see of course in him the same rather disappointing want of interest in the writers of the very earliest Christian period that we have noticed in studying the library catalogues-disappointing, because the conviction can hardly be resisted that, had the scholars of the fifteenth century made special and definite enquiries, they would have been in time to recover writings which have since perished.
It is impracticable to discuss at any length the productions of the multitude of translators contemporary with or subsequent to Traversari. We may mention but one of the most notable among them. Next to the Stromateis of Clement of Alexandria, no patristic treatise is more remarkable for the number and value of the ancient authorities whom it quotes than the Praeparatio Evangelica of Eusebius. It therefore naturally attracted the attention of the lover of pagan antiquity as well as of the smaller band who desired to learn more of the origins of Christianity; and to the men of the Middle Ages it had been absolutely unknown. The Latin version of it, by George of Trebizond, was one of the most important additions to learning which that age could have seen. It opened up a whole realm of forgotten history. From it men first learned the names of such writers as Sanchoniathon, Manetho, and Berosus; indeed, the publication of the book may very probably have paved the way for the once famous forgeries of Annius of Viterbo. Translations of some part of Philo's works, and of the venerable Hellenistic forgery known as the Letter of Aristeas, were also produced before the middle of the fifteenth century.
Much, then, had been done towards reopening the ancient storehouses before the date at which it was long fashionable to say that the revival of Greek learning began-the taking of Constantinople in 1453; much, too, before the printing press had been set up. Great libraries had been formed, and translators had been at work, and to such good purpose that a very representative collection of Greek theology was readily accessible to any studious Western.
The next development that we look for is the rise of the critical instinct. The fifteenth century produced one critic who died before its close, Lorenzo Valla. He, though uninspired by any interest in the Christian religion, did a considerable service to the cause of truth by pointing out the falsity of certain documents which had long taken high rank among the archives of the Church.
One of these was the "Donation of Constantine," a forgery easy to detect when attention was once drawn to it, but yet a monument whose apparent importance was so great that the fate of Uzzah might have seemed likely to await the man who first laid hands upon it. The other was the group of works which passed under the name of Dionysius the Areopagite. We have seen something of the popularity of these books, as attested by the multiplicity of versions in which they were current; and indeed so important are they in themselves as a meeting-ground of Christian theology and Greek philosophy that they may be considered not unworthy of the pains lavished upon them by Erigena, Saracenus, Grosseteste, and Traversari. The last word has not yet been said as to their origin and history; but it is clear enough that the first word was spoken by Lorenzo Valla. No one before him had questioned the claim of these writings to be regarded as works of the Apostolic age. Hardly any one since his time has had a word to say in defence of that claim. The story of Grocyn's relation to them, of the high value he set upon them at first, and of his later conviction that Valla's estimate of them was the true one,—a conviction which, with characteristic honesty, he hastened to make public,—forms as good an illustration as any that could be found of the spirit that was abroad. New estimates of the old documents were being formed, as a direct result of the accession of new materials for study.
One question of the highest importance to our subject has been left out of consideration in the preceding remarks. What was the condition of things as regards the text of the Scriptures, the fountain-head of Christian science? Since 1455 the Church had had in its hands a printed Bible in Latin; and more than one vernacular version had seen the light. The Old Testament also had been printed in Hebrew by Italian Jews. But what was the quality of these texts? Had Roger Bacon's aspirations for a Latin Bible corrected according to the oldest copies, and for the multiplication and distribution among the clergy of the Scriptures in the original tongues, been satisfied? The question must be answered in the negative. Of the many printed Vulgates none offered a text constructed on critical principles; and it is probable that of the earliest Hebrew Bibles, such as that of Soncino, few copies made their way into Christian hands. The first important attempt to present the world with a complete Bible in the original was made in Spain:-a country which in after years contributed less than most to the cause of Christian science. The Complutensian Polyglot gave us the first printed Septuagint, and the first printed, though not the first published, New Testament in Greek. For the formation of the text of the Septuagint and of the Latin Vulgate, great pains were taken to collect early manuscript authorities. Two Septuagint manuscripts were borrowed from Rome. The Vatican Bible of the fourth century was not among them, probably because its age and importance were not known to Ximenes and his colleagues. For the Latin text Spain itself possessed authorities as early as could readily be found elsewhere. The Greek text of the New Testament was formed from less good sources: and not one of the manuscripts used can now be identified with certainty. No praise is too high for the design of Ximenes; and, as regards the execution, it is doubtful whether the best scholarship of all Europe, had it been mustered at Alcala for the work, could have produced a much better result. The science of textual criticism was scarcely born. At this time, and for years afterwards, scholars such as Erasmus had no hesitation as to printing a text from a single manuscript, and from sending that manuscript as "copy" to the press.
Though printed in 1514, the Complutensian New Testament was not published for some years. It seems indeed that copies of the whole work were not procurable earlier than 1522. The story of the preparation of the Greek New Testament which was actually the first in circulation is well known. Neither in its object, the anticipation of the Complutensian text, nor in the manner of its preparation, does it seem to us deserving of praise. Hurried through the press of Proben between September and March, it was formed on the authority of six manuscripts at most, the best of which Erasmus neglected almost entirely to consult. We have already traced the history of some of these manuscripts and have seen them in the hands of Johann Reuchlin. Four of them are still at Basel; a fifth, now in the Oettingen-Wallerstein Library at Mayhingen, was the one authority available for the Apocalypse. The last six verses of the last chapter are missing; and Erasmus was reduced to translating them into rather surprising Greek from the Latin Vulgate. The sixth authority was not a copy of the New Testament, but of Theophylacfs commentary on the Gospels, apparently still at Basel. It is this Theophylact, Archbishop of Bulgaria, who is designated in Erasmus' preface by the mysterious name Vulgarius.
Faulty as was the Erasmian edition, it was a truly epoch-making book. It was the ancestor of the textus receptus, and the channel by which the Greek text of the New Testament was most widely diffused. This was natural not only because Erasmus was first in the field, but because his text, in its many editions, was far cheaper and more convenient than the huge Polyglot, of which but six hundred copies in all were printed.
To trace the history of the printed Greek Testament through the various editions of Erasmus, of Aldus, of Simon de Colines, and of the Estiennes is beyond the scope of this chapter. We must be content with noticing that in Robert Estienne's third edition, that of 1550, known as Editio Regia, a considerable advance in textual criticism is perceptible. Estienne employed not less than fifteen manuscripts for the correction of his text. Most of these have been identified: eleven are at Paris, and two at Cambridge.
Since the original text of the New Testament had been allowed to remain so long unprinted, it was hardly to be expected that the older oriental versions should be very quick in making their appearance. Indeed it was not until just after the middle of the century that one of the most important-the Syriac-first saw the light. In 1555 the Austrian Chancellor of Ferdinand I, Johann Albrecht Widmanstetter, enabled a native Syrian priest, Moses of Mardin, to publish an edition of the Peshitta Version of the New Testament at Vienna. Widmanstetter had himself been interested in Syriac before this: a rather famous Syrian monk, Theseus Ambrosius, had been his teacher. It is commonly said that the eccentric and possibly insane Guillaume Postel had a hand in the production of this first Syriac New Testament, of which three hundred copies were sent to the Maronite patriarch and him of Antioch.
It is our task to deal chiefly with beginnings: but it is impossible to pass entirely unnoticed the Roman edition of the Septuagint Version which appeared in 1587. Its text was based mainly on the great Vatican manuscript, and the committee of scholars who superintended its production included the Cardinals Sirleto and CarafFa, as well as Latino Latini, and Pierre Morin. This was not an editio princepa, but to Biblical scholars it was of enormous importance. The version had been already twice printed, first in the Complutensian Polyglot, and next by Aldus in 1518; but in the Roman edition a manuscript of first class value was for the first time utilised. Until the nineteenth century, indeed, the text of the Vatican manuscript was only known by means of this book. The attempts of Sixtus V and Clement VIII to supply the Church with an authoritative text of the Latin Vulgate, were, as we know, not brought to a satisfactory issue; but the fact that the attempt was made deserves at least a passing notice.
With the translators and expounders of the Bible it is simply impossible to deal. With regard to the first, it can only be said broadly that the sixteenth century saw innumerable new versions of the Scriptures; many were in Latin (e.g. that of Sanctius Pagninus) and attempted either fidelity or elegance of style, or both. Others were in the vernacular of this or that country, and these were naturally in most cases the offspring of the reforming movement. The high standard of knowledge which was attainable can be most readily indicated to Englishmen by reference to the "Authorised Version" of 1611. The scholars whose work we see in this were essentially men of the sixteenth century. As to the commentators, it is even more hopeless to attempt to enter into detail. Lefevre d'Utaples, Colet, Sadoleto, Erasmus, were all of them men who advanced the cause of sacred learning by trying to ascertain the actual meaning of the words of Scripture, instead of presenting their readers with a r&chauffe of the Glossa Ordinaria or fashioning every sentence into a weapon of controversy. But besides these there were innumerable writers who contributed to the elucidation of both Testaments. They were confined to no one sect or country; but their names must not be sought here.
Something must now be said of the growth of Hebrew studies among Christian scholars. The thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries had produced a number of men who for the purpose either of Biblical study or of controversy had acquired a knowledge of Hebrew; and from time to time the Church had attempted to encourage and foster such students. The close of the fifteenth century saw a new development in this as in other branches of sacred learning. The brilliant young noble and scholar, Pico della Mirandola, may not unfairly be singled out as the beginner of the movement. His training in classical philosophy, coupled with his deep interest in theological study, made him eagerly seek and warmly welcome a system of learning which professed to be the fountain-head of both subjects. This system was the Jewish Cabbala. Ostensibly as old as the patriarch Abraham, its principal documents are now known to be productions of the thirteenth century; and intrinsically they are wholly unworthy of the reverence which has been paid to them by many great minds. The influence they exercised may be compared with that of the pseudo-Dionysian writings, though it was less widely felt, and less enduring. Pico saw no reason to doubt the claim of the Cabbalistic books to a reverend antiquity; and he did his best to impart to the world the treasure he thought he had found. His work is mainly important because of the effect it had upon Johann Reuchlin.
We have had occasion already to mention Reuchlin as a student of Greek; but in popularising the study of that language and literature he did little as compared with Erasmus and many others. In Hebrew, however, he was the teacher of the modern world. By personal instruction and by the compiling of grammars, reading-books, and a rudimentary lexicon, he became unconsciously the first who carried into effect the aspirations of Roger Bacon. And it is unquestionable that he owed the interest he felt in the sacred tongue in a large measure to the work of Pico della Mirandola. By this he was attracted to the study of the Cabbala; and in praise of the Cabbala his most voluminous works were written. Nor can his famous defence of the Rabbinic books be wholly dissociated from the consequences of Pico's influence, though in this respect the debt he owed to his Jewish instructors must evidently be taken into account.
Reuchlin, it should be further noted, was wellnigh the first German Hebraist. Though in England, France, and Italy it has been easy to name scholars throughout the medieval period who had more or less knowledge of the language, such has not been the case as regards Germany. Yet this slowness to receive the New Learning was more than compensated by the ardour and thoroughness with which it was utilised when once its value had been recognised.
If the beginnings of a revival in Christian learning can be traced to Bacon and Grosseteste in the thirteenth century, there can be little doubt that the central figure of the whole movement is Erasmus. This is a commonplace: and when it has been set down, the difficulty of deciding how much detail should be added to the bare statement is very great. His personality cannot be adequately set forth within the limits of a single chapter. His career has been shortly traced elsewhere in this volume. The most that can be done here is to summarise the work done by him in reopening the long-closed pages of the Church's early literature.
We have spoken already of what is usually accounted his greatest service in that department, the publication of the Greek text of the New Testament. But we have seen that his best work was not put into this. It was a hurried production; and the task of forming a really good Greek text of a set of documents, with so long and complex a history as the books which compose the New Testament, was a task beyond the powers of any individual. Many generations of textual critics were destined to collect materials and to elaborate theories before the principles on which the work must be done were formulated; and even in our own day perfection has not been attained.
Erasmus was far more at home, and far more successful, in dealing with patristic texts. His hero among Christian scholars was St Jerome. Before the close of the fifteenth century we find him giving expression to his desire that he might be enabled to improve the text of this Father's works, and, in particular, that of his Epistles. In these, as is well known, there is a multitude of Greek and Hebrew quotations. Any one who has looked at, say, a twelfth century manuscript of the Letters will remember what a scene of confusion is certain to take place when the scribe is confronted with one of these passages. The best that one can hope for is an unintelligent imitation of the Greek uncial characters, upon which conjecture more or less scientific may be founded. Too often the copyist's courage deserts him, and a blank is left. The earlier editions of Jerome were no better than the manuscripts. Erasmus is never tired of saying that before his time Jerome could not be read. Johann Amerbach the printer had set on foot the enterprise of a new issue of Jerome's writings, and had engaged the services of Reuchlin and others to emend the text. Reuchlin's work- which had to do more especially with the Greek and Hebrew quotations just mentioned-was, it seems, done more by conjecture than upon the authority of manuscripts. More successful was Johann Cono, a Dominican, of Nürnberg, who made use of such ancient copies as he could find. At Amerbach's death the edition was incomplete. It was continued by his two sons in conjunction with Johann Frohen; and at this point Erasmus1 services were called in. In 1016 the work was published, and dedicated by Erasmus to Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury. The prefaces to this and to the other editions of patristic texts which Erasmus superintended contain perhaps the most instructive expressions of his attitude as a Christian scholar which can readily be found. Irenaeus, Origen, Athanasius, Basil, Chrysostom among the Greeks, Cyprian, Hilary, Augustine, and Arnobius On the Psalms, among the Latins, all benefited by his critical care. He is the first, perhaps, who had a glimpse of the true greatness of Origen. One page of Origen, he says, is preferable to ten of Augustine: and yet such all-important books as the Commentary upon John and the tract On Prayer were unknown to him. Nothing is more conspicuous in him than the acuteness of his critical sense. In his preface to Hilary he dwells at some length upon the corruptions and interpolations of his manuscript authorities. His conjectural emendations are most noteworthy: one, the substitution of auxesin faciens for awes infaciens in the pseudo-Arnobius, is worthy of a Bentley. His sense of style is wonderfully keen: over and over again he detects and rejects tracts wrongly fathered on one or other of his authors. Not that he is free from error in these matters. He is not sure whether Irenaeus wrote in Greek or Latin: he identifies Arnobius, the author of a Commentary on the Psalms, with Arnobius the Apologist; and he is inclined to repudiate ChrysostonVs Homilies on the Acts, a genuine, though poor work of that Father's. En revanche, he rightly pronounces the Opus imperfectum in Matthaeum to be the production of an Arian; yet this work, by the irony of fate, had during the Middle Ages been far more widely disseminated under ChrysostonVs name among the Latins than anything that Chrysostom really wrote.
In the preface to Hilary is a passage which sums up the position of Erasmus towards the ancient and the scholastic learning far better than we could do it for ourselves. "We have no right to despise the discoveries or improvements which have originated in the minds of our contemporaries; yet it is an unscrupulous intellect that does not pay to antiquity its due reverence, and an ungrateful one that rejects those to whose industry the Christian world owes so much. What would sacred learning be without the labours of Origen, Tertullian, Chrysostom, Jerome, Hilary, and Augustine? I do not hold that even the works of Thomas (Aquinas) or Scotus should be entirely set aside. They wrote for their age, and delivered to us much that they drew from the writings of the ancients and expounded most acutely. On the other hand, I cannot approve the churlishness of those who set so much store by authors of this class, that they think it necessary to protest against the providential revival of good literature all over the world. There are many kinds of genius: each age has its different gifts. Let every man contribute what he can, and let none envy another who does his best to make some useful addition to the common stock of knowledge."
"To the ancients reverence is due, and in particular to those who are commended by holiness of life as well as by learning and eloquence; yet they are to be read with discretion. The moderns have a right to fair play. Read them without prejudice, but not without discrimination. In any case let us avoid heated contention, the bane of peace and concord."
Such was the spirit in which Erasmus strove to work: and some words of his good friend and fellow-worker, Beatus Rhenanus, tell us something of the effect of his work on his own age. "He was sufficiently outspoken on the subject of sacred learning: for, to use his own words in a letter to a friend, he saw that more than enough was made of scholastic theology, and that the ancient learning was quite set at nought. Theologians were so much occupied with the subtleties of Scotus that the fountain-head of Divine wisdom was never reached by them....We begin, God be thanked, to see the fruit of these warnings. Instead of Hales and Holcot, the pages of Cyprian, Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome are studied by our divines in their due season."
Only the briefest allusion has so far been made to the development of one great department of Christian learning-ecclesiastical history. The men of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries had in their hands not a few of the authorities which we account as of capital importance. They had the History of Eusebius in a Latin version: they had the Tripartite History, embodying Socrates, Sozomen, and Evagrius: they had Baeda, Gregory of Tours, and the Speculum HiMoriale of Vincent; and they had innumerable biographies of Saints. In spite of this, it will not be contended that a true and discriminating view of Church history, based on the best sources, was a possession of the Middle Ages. It is clear that highly incorrect views were current as to the development of doctrine, ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and liturgical usage. This could not fail to be the case when such documents as the False Decretals and the Donation of Constantine passed as genuine. And, on the other hand, when their spuriousness became an accepted fact, a reaction was inevitable. We have seen that the first attacks on them did not come from men who had broken with the Roman Church. It was Lorenzo Valla who exposed the Donation of Constantine; and Roman Catholics did not scruple to impugn the Decretals. Cusanus rejects the Epistles of Clement and Anacletus: Erasmus points out (in a Preface to Athanasius) the way in which a letter of Anteros was made up. Naturally, however, the attitude of the "Evangelical" critics towards the credentials of the Latin Church was a far more radical one. Everything, in their eyes, was corrupt. A return to primitive simplicity was essential: and the width of the chasm which separated the Roman usages of their day from those of the Apostolic age could easily be demonstrated by a categorical setting forth of the history and development of those usages from the beginning. With such an object the great compilation of the "Magdeburg Centuriators" was begun; and it has some claim to be looked upon as the first Church History compiled on critical principles. It was of course a Tendenzschrift; nothing else was possible; nevertheless, it brought together and laid before the world for the first time an enormous amount of information either dispersed or unknown before. A committee, whose composition varied from time to time, was responsible for the work. The period dealt with was divided into centuries, and the events, literature, doctrine, and other characteristics of each century were separately treated according to a regular plan. The twelfth century was the last that was reached. The moving spirit of the committee was Matthias Flacius Illyricus, who had already made himself a name as a controversialist on the Protestant side. His Clavis Sacrae Scripturae sums up the exegetical knowledge of his day. His book on the testimony of earlier ages against the papacy (Catalogus Testium Veritatls) gives proof of an enormous range of reading; and among our smaller debts to him may be reckoned the fact that he collected and printed as a supplement to that work a large mass of medieval Latin poetry, largely from a manuscript of English origin.
Whatever the merits or demerits of the Magdeburg History may have been, it speedily became a famous and influential book: so famous and so influential, indeed, that those whose position it attacked were compelled to issue a counterblast. A worthy champion was found in Cesare Baronio, Cardinal of the title of SS. Nereus and Achilleus. The twelve volumes of his Annexes Ecclesiastici, published between 1588 and 1607, cover the same period as the work of the Centuriators. The stores of the Vatican, of which after 1596 he was librarian, furnished an unrivalled stock of material, and his own previous studies, of which some fruit had already been seen in his edition of the Roman Martyrology, enabled him to use this material to advantage. That Baronius, like the Centuriators, was a partisan needs hardly to be said; his accuracy and critical instinct, moreover, leave much to be desired. Still, his erudition was enormous, his services to learning great, and his love of antiquity genuine and fervent. An eloquent witness of this love is the appeal to posterity inscribed in the Cardinal's own titular church, whose ancient arrangements he had himself restored, preserving with a reverence uncommon in his day all that he could find of its original furniture.
A brief parenthesis may be allowed at this point on the application of the science of archaeology to things Christian. For more than a century had the remains of classical art and architecture been studied and treasured before it occurred to scholars that the Church possessed antiquities which merited consideration. Probably the first book entirely devoted to the consideration of Christian monuments was that of Onofrio Panvinio on the older Roman basilicas, published in 1554. Rome was thus the parent of Christian as of classical archaeology. In 1578 the reopening of the Catacombs began, and the discoveries of ancient paintings and inscriptions excited a keen interest, though it was not until 1632 that the first great work on "Roma sotterranea"-that of Bosio-saw the light. The study was carried on and developed during the seventeenth century chiefly by Italians: it is probably fair to say that no work of real importance in this department was done outside Italy before 1700.
To return to the wider field of Church history. In this, the Centuriators and Baronius may be regarded as pioneers. Theirs were, of course, not the only works of the kind that appeared, but they deserve special prominence in view of their large design and the extent of the new ground they broke.
We ought to glance briefly at the progress made in two subdivisions of this great subject. One is the study of the lives of the Saints. Most people have some idea of the character of the popular medieval collections of such Lives. The Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de Voragine was, of all, the most widely diffused both in manuscript and print, and it was one which made no pretensions either to completeness or critical selection. The later collections, that of Mombritius, for example, or the Catalogus Sanctorum, were of the same character, though of larger compass. Criticism of these ancient documents other than stricture could not well be expected from the Protestant side; save perhaps in the case of the Acts of some of the earliest martyrs. The first man who attempted seriously the task of collecting the best accessible texts of the Lives of the Saints was probably Aloysius Lippomannus, who was assisted by such scholars as Gentianus Hervetus, and Cardinal Sirleto. His copious employment of Greek authorities is a principal mark of his superiority to his predecessors. His collection filled eight volumes, and was a worthy beginning of the work which in later centuries was continued by Bolland, Papebroch, Surius, Ruinart, and a host of others.
The other department of Church history of which it was our intention to speak was the bibliography of Christian literature. Jerome had set the fashion of compiling notices of Christian writers and their works. Gennadius had supplemented his book, and the tracts of both had been widely read. The Middle Ages had, as we have seen, done something towards continuing the tradition in such works as the Catalogus Scriptorum of John Boston. It was natural that it should occur to the men of the Renaissance period to take stock of the mass of writings newly brought to light; and very useful work was done by several in classifying and cataloguing the writers of all ages up to their own. Johann Trithemius (Trittenheim), Abbot of Sponheim, wrote a catalogue of Church writers about 1492. In 1545 Conrad Gesner printed his Bibliotheca, a far larger book, not confined to ecclesiastical authors. The Bibliotheca Sancta of Sixtus of Siena (1586) is rather an encyclopaedia of literature connected with the Bible. All three books are interesting and remarkable achievements. That of Trithemius is a guide—not always a safe one—to the literary possessions of dying medievalism. He knows less accurately than Gesner what books actually exist and are accessible; but he is invaluable as marking a stage in the period of rediscovery and revival. It is most interesting to compare his list of authors with that derivable from the more scientific Gesner. Sixtus of Siena's book, lastly, is still valuable, not only because it presents us with a comprehensive view of the standard of Biblical and patristic knowledge at a certain period, but because the author apparently had access to documents of early date which have since disappeared.
The greatest man who continued the work of Trithemius during the sixteenth century was no doubt Cardinal Bellarmin. His book on ecclesiastical writers, produced during his early years, gives evidence of his great power, and in particular of his critical ability; but though it may be intrinsically better than the works of Trithemius or Gesner, it does not occupy so important a place in the history of this special form of literature. Of more enduring value were the bibliographies devoted to particular countries, notably that of Bale, in which are embodied his own collections and those of Leland. It gives a really amazing conspectus of the literary history of medieval England.
The progress of the formation of libraries, which we traced roughly during the period preceding the invention of printing, demands our attention again in the earlier part of the sixteenth century. There is no need to dwell at length upon the obvious fact, that the possession of a library of reasonable extent was now within the power of nearly all students. In the fourteenth century a man might be proud of owning thirty manuscripts; he could now for the same money purchase one or two hundred printed books.
Most prominent scholars possessed in addition a certain number of manuscripts; but these were in most cases late in date, and, in proportion as the critical sense was developed, the productions of the fifteenth century scribes lost their value as compared with the correct and beautiful texts issued by Aldo or Froben, and supervised by Erasmus or Beatus Rhenanus. Still, a long time must needs elapse before complete editions of the greater Greek Fathers-Chrysostom, say, or Basil-could be produced; and for the purposes of studying these unprinted texts, manuscripts were still indispensable: nay, they continued to be multiplied. This was especially the case with Greek texts. Numberless are the sixteenth century manuscripts of Greek authors, pagan and Christian alike. The relics of Grocyn's library at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, afford a ready instance, or the books given by Cardinal Pole to New College. A glance at the Catalogue of the Greek manuscripts at Paris is yet more instructive in this respect. Vergecius, Darmarius, Valeriano of Forli, and a score of others were gaining great names as copyists in the service of princes, secular and ecclesiastical. Every noble and every prelate was in honour bound to be the owner of as brilliant a collection as he could. In these libraries the Greek classics were doubtless more prominent and more valued than the Greek Fathers; yet these latter held their place also, especially on the shelves of the princes of the Church. In England, for example, Warham, Pole, and Cranmer had no inconsiderable stores of such books; and there is no lack of similar instances on the Continent. Representative examples of the libraries of individual scholars of humbler position can also be cited. We have the catalogue of the books possessed by Grocyn at his death; and the library of Beatus Rhenanus forms the nucleus of the town library of Schlettstadt.
We have spoken incidentally of the work done by such men as Erasmus in the publication of patristic texts. Before we close this imperfect survey of the movement which we have called the Christian Renaissance, it will be right to ask what progress was made during the sixteenth century in the task of bringing together the literature of the early Christian centuries and making it accessible in print. It appears to us that the most effective way of answering this question will be to review the actual work done in certain selected instances; and we shall not shrink from entering upon bibliographical detail to a somewhat larger extent than we have hitherto done. Our survey will naturally not be complete; its aim will be to give an idea of the activity of those engaged, and to show in what quarters this activity was specially noticeable. It will be convenient to adopt an order mainly depending on the dates, supposed or real, of the writings concerned. A place apart may be assigned to the two great Jewish writers of the first century whose works have had so potent an influence on Christian learning, to wit, Philo and Josephus.
A tract by Philo in a Latin version was first printed at Paris in 1520 by Agostino Giustiniani. A further instalment, likewise in Latin, appeared at Basel in 1527. One of the Philonian writings in this volume-a fabulous chronicle of Biblical events from Adam to Saul-is a spurious book. In spite of its remarkably sensational con- tents, and of the fact that it was reprinted at least thrice during the century, this early apocryphon suffered the singular fate of being absolutely forgotten until a year or two ago, when attention was called to it once more.
Not until 1552 did any of Philo's works appear in Greek. It was Adrien Turnebe who produced the first collection. John Christopherson, afterwards Bishop of Chichester, Sigismund Gelenius, Frederic Morel, and David Hoeschel were the scholars who contributed most to the publication and elucidation of this author during the second half of the century; but no great collective edition of his works was brought out before the seventeenth century.
Josephus, as we have seen, was known during the medieval period through the medium of ancient Latin versions. As late as the year 1524, indeed, doubts were expressed by scholars as to whether the Greek originals of his writings were still in existence. Many editions in Latin were produced from about 1470 until 1544. One of these (that of Basel, 1537) had been superintended by Erasmus. In 1544 the first Greek Josephus appeared-also at Basel, and from Froben's press. The text was supplied mainly by a manuscript, then the property of Diego Hurtado Mendoza, which, with other of his books, found a home in the Escurial. An Orleans edition, printed in 1591 by de la Roviere, also gave the Greek text. Exactly a century later Thomas Ittig superintended a Leipzig edition, and Edward Bernard issued a portion of one at Oxford.
We may next say something of the apocryphal literature; and in so doing we will confine ourselves to that connected with the New Testament. The Old Testament pseudepigrapha, other than those which were circulated with the Vulgate or the Septuagint-the Fourth Book of Esdras, for example, or the Prayer of Manasses-were almost wholly unknown during our period; of the one really important exception, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, we have already spoken. On the other hand there were spurious Gospels, Epistles, and Acts of Apostles which continued to influence popular imagination and sacred art both in East and West. The Gospel of Nicodemus, so-called, the letters of Paul and Seneca, the correspondence of our Lord with Abgarus of Edessa, had never been forgotten. Narratives of the Infancy of the Virgin and of Christ enjoyed a certain repute; and the fabulous Passions of the Apostles were taken seriously by the mass of readers.
The first document of this class which had been previously unknown to the West was the important so-called Protevangelhim. This had been brought from the East by Guillaume Postel, who insisted that it was a genuine work of James, the brother of the Lord, and contained authentic history; for these assertions he was soundly castigated by Henri Estienne, who seems to have suspected, wrongly, that Postel himself was the author. The book was printed in Latin in 1552, and in Greek in 1563 by Michael Neander in the first collection ever made of Christian Apocrypha. Grynaeus1 Orthodoxographa of 1569, and Glaser's Apocrypha of 1614 are the only subsequent collections of texts which deserve mention before 1703. In that year appeared the Codex Apocryphus of John Albert Fabricius, eclipsing all previous attempts, and still an indispensable authority on the subject of the spurious Christian literature.
The next group of writings to be considered are those conventionally classed as the Apostolic Fathers; that is, the Epistles of Barnabas, Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp, and The Shepherd of Hermas. Occupying a place midway between them and the Apocryphal literature are the pseudo-Clementine Recognitions and Homilies, the Apostolic Constitutions, and the Liturgies current under the names of various Apostles. We will notice them in order.
It was long before the two first-named authors made their appearance at all: Barnabas, at Paris in 1645, in a posthumous publication of Hugues Menard superintended by Dachery; Clement, in 1633 at Oxford, edited by Patrick Young.
The letters of Ignatius-extant, as is well known, in two recensions, one copiously interpolated-were known in Latin versions in medieval times: and the Letter of Polycarp was preserved with them. The longer Latin version was first printed at Paris in 1498 along with the pseudo-Dionysian works. The editor was Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples. They did not appear in Greek until 1557, when Valentine Frid (Paceus) edited them at Dillingen. About a century later (in 1644) the first great critical exposition of the vexed Ignatian question was made by Archbishop Ussher.
The bulky allegory called the Shepherd of Hermas was current, like the last-named documents, in Latin versions. The Greek original, indeed, was only discovered in the middle of the nineteenth century. The Latin appeared first in 1513 at Paris. Lefevre d'Etaples was in this instance again the editor. He rather obscured the true character of his text by discarding its old name of Pastor, and substituting one apparently of his own devising: Liber trium virorum et trium spiritu-alium virginum.
Last come the important pseudonymous works associated with the name of Clement of Rome: the two romances, called the Recognitions, and the Homilies of Clement: and the manual of ecclesiastical usages known as the Apostolic Constitutions. The first of these had been early popularised in the Latin version of Rufinus, in which form alone it has survived complete. Lefevre d'Etaples printed it first at Paris in 1504: the Homilies, which we only have in Greek, were not given to the world until 1672. Bovius and Turrianus in 1563 produced editions of the Constitutions, the former in Latin, the latter in the original Greek. The whole series of documents which we have been describing was brought together and edited in a masterly manner by J. B. Cotelier of Paris in 1672.
The Greek Apologists form a convenient class, and we may survey their destinies next. The only one who was introduced to the West in the fifteenth century was one of the obscurest, Athenagoras. Large portions of his book On the Resurrection were rendered into Latin by Ficino and also by ,G. Valla, and printed in 1488. The Greek appeared in 1541. The Apology was edited by Gesner at Zurich and by Robert Estienne at Paris in 1557.
The first portion of Justin Martyr's works that saw the light was the Address to the Greeks, printed in the Latin version of Pico della Mirandola in 1507. In 1551 Robert Estienne brought out a corpus of this writer's works, genuine and spurious, which for most of them- notably the two Apologies and the Dialogue with Trypho-was the editio princeps.
Tatian and Theophilus first appeared at Zurich in 1546: the unimportant tract of Hermias in 1553 at Basel. The editor of the first two was Gesner, of the third Raphael Seiler.
All the extant works of Clement of Alexandria, with a few unimportant exceptions, were placed in the hands of scholars together, in the Florentine edition of 1550, superintended by Pietro Victorio. But the best work done on the text of this Father was that of Friedrich Sylburg, who brought out his writings at Heidelberg in 1592. The printer was Commelin.
The first nine editions of Irenaeus, ranging in date from 1526 to 1567, all give a text constructed by Erasmus, and improved to a certain extent by him in those which were published during his lifetime. The Erasmian text, however, never attained a very high pitch of excellence. A step forward was taken by Gallasius, who brought out an Irenaeus at Geneva in 1570, and more decided progress by Feuardent of Paris, whose best edition was printed at Cologne in 1596. Nothing of any great importance was done for the elucidation of this writer before the publication of Grabe's great work at Oxford in 1702.
The works of Origen, largely preserved in old Latin versions, were never wholly unrepresented in Western libraries. It is a curious fact that, in spite of the deep interest which this great thinker excited in the minds of men like Erasmus, no portion of his writings appeared in the original Greek during the sixteenth century. As early as 1475 some Homilies were printed in Latin, and the books Against Celsus, also in Latin, in 1481. A collective edition in the same language was brought out by Merlin at Paris in 1512. Erasmus was engaged on another when he died in 1536, and Beatus Rhenanus completed it in that year. Genebrard, Archbishop of Aix, produced a third in 1574. The first attempt at a complete edition in Greek and Latin was that of Peter Daniel Huet (afterwards Bishop of Avranches), which appeared at Rouen in 1668. It included only the exegetical works, and was never completed. Herbert Thorndike, of Trinity College, Cambridge, had made large preparations about the same period as Huet for a collective edition, no part of which was printed. His manuscripts, among which is the unique copy of the important treatise On Prayer, are preserved in the Library of his College. The first editor of one of the longer treatises in Greek was David Hoeschel, who published the books Against Celsus in 1605.
We have no right to inflict a complete patristic bibliography on our readers. One more Greek father only shall be mentioned, namely, Eusebius of Caesarea. His Praeparatio Evangelica has been mentioned more than once in the body of this chapter. George of Trebizond's Latin version of it-faulty as it was-was printed again and again before 1500. The Greek text appeared at Paris in 1544 from the press of Robert Estienne. The same indefatigable worker brought out in the same year the History of Eusebius in Greek for the first time, along with the later Greek ecclesiastical historians. In Latin the history had long been current, and the sixteenth century had seen at least two fresh Latin versions, made by Wolfgang Musculus and by Christopherson. It was reserved for Valesius (Valois), in 1659, to produce the first really great illustrative edition of this priceless record of Christian origins.
The Latin Fathers demand a briefer treatment than those of the Greek Church. A good deal has been said already as to the reappearance of those authors who had been forgotten, and as to the labours of scholars upon the text of some who had always been studied. We may, therefore, in this place confine ourselves to a select few of the earlier Latin writers. The Apology of Tertullian was printed in 1483; but the first edition of any considerable part of his works was supervised by Beatus Rhenanus in 1521. Gagnaeus of Paris added some eleven tracts to those previously known, in 1545; and Sigismund Gelenius improved the text. By 1625 the whole of the writings we possess had appeared in print, and the editions were numerous. Those of Rigault, of which the first appeared in 1633, did most for the text of this earliest of the great Christian Latinists. Rigault had access to all the principal manuscripts, whether preserved in France, as those of Pithou and Dupuy, with the famous "Agobardian" Codex, in Germany, as that of Fulda, or in Italy, as that of Fulvio Orsini.
Cyprian, in a gravely interpolated text, was read throughout the medieval period, and five editions of his works appeared between 1471 and 1500. He was one of the host of writers who profited by the scholarship of Erasmus; the first Basel edition came out in 1520, and was often reprinted. Latino Latini undertook to edit the works, but was prevented from completing them; the results of his labours, taken up by others, saw the light in 1563 at Rome. The same decade witnessed the appearance of Morel's Paris edition (1564), and of that of J. de Pamele (Antwerp, 1568); the former is said to have improved the text, the latter to have corrupted it by the use of interpolated manuscripts. An "epoch-making" edition was that of Nicholas Rigault in 1648.
The Latin Apologists alone remain to be discussed. Lactantius, first printed in 1465, was one of those writers who appealed most strongly to the humanists; and the number of reprints of his works, belonging to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, is correspondingly great. The first critical edition worth mentioning is probably that of Basel (1563) with the commentary of Xystus Betuleius.
Arnobius and Minucius Felix go together. The only two manuscripts of their writings which we possess have handed down the Octavius of the latter as if it were part of the Disputationes of the former; and two editions appeared before the mistake was detected. The first was that of Faustus Sabaeus of Brescia (Rome, 1543), librarian of the Vatican, to whom our oldest manuscript (now at Paris) belonged. The second was by Sigismund Gelenius, three years later, at Basel.
Of the great post-Nicene Fathers, Eastern or Western, we have decided not to speak in this place. It has already been said that they had attracted attention from the first moment of revival; and, though much notable work was done in collecting and publishing their writings during the sixteenth century, a review of that work would swell the present chapter to an undue size.
We prefer to notice the rise of those great collections of the minor Christian writings which are generically known as the Bibliothecae Patrum. It was the chief merit of these that they brought together, and put into the hands of a large circle, a number of brief tracts of the most diverse ages, which ran the risk either of passing unnoticed or dropping out of existence altogether. That the texts of the works thus published were uniformly good we neither expect nor find; but of their extreme value to the men of their time there can be no doubt. Even now they are the best available authorities for a good many writings.
The series is headed by a publication of Sichard of Basel (1528), called Antidotum contra diversas...haereses. It contains treatises by twenty authors, the earliest of whom is Justin Martyr.
The Microprestyticon of 1550, also a Basel book, numbers thirty-two writers. Aristeas, the fabulous Chronicle of "Philo," and the Letters of Ignatius and Polycarp, are among its contents. Five years later appeared the Orthodoxographa, edited by Herold, with seventy-six headings. The collection of Grynaeus, issued with the same title in 1569, includes eighty-five. The printer of these four was Henricus Petri. Basel, then, began the work with credit. Zurich produced somewhat similar publications, between 1546 and 1572, under the auspices of Conrad Gesner and Simler. But the productions of the two Swiss cities were surpassed, if not superseded, by the issue in 1575 of the first edition of the Paris Bibliotheca Veterum Patrum. Its editor was Marguerin de la Bigne, and the collection appeared in eight sections or classes arranged according to the character of the writings in each. In the first, for example, were Epistles, in the sixth Commentaries, and so forth. A supplementary volume was issued in 1579. Something over 220 writers of all ages, from the first to the sixteenth century, are represented altogether; and the whole work is in Latin. It was dedicated to Gregory XIII. In 1589 came a second edition, in nine volumes, increased by the addition of a good many treatises, but marked also by the omission of several which had called forth the censure of the authorities. Among these were the works of Nicholas de Clemanges, whose animadversions on ecclesiastical matters had seemed to surpass the bounds of fair criticism. So dangerous, indeed, did the collection appear to some minds that the Jesuit Possevin declares that it is impossible, salva conscientia, to keep either of the first two editions of the Bibliotheca on one's shelves, and more than one detailed censure of the book was issued. In the editions of 1610 and later, efforts were made to remedy the faults that had been noted; and in 1624 appeared the first of a series of publications in which the Greek texts of some of the authors hitherto only published in Latin were given. This first auctarium was edited by the Jesuit Fronton le Due (Ducaeus). The final and largest form of de la Bigne's Bibliotheca was issued in 1644, in seventeen volumes. It contained writings of about two hundred additional authors.
A rival to the Paris Bibliotheca soon appeared, in the shape of the Magna Bibliotheca of Cologne. The first fourteen tomes, with preface by Alard Wyel, were published in 1618: a fifteenth by Andreas Schott in 1622. Their appearance provoked the publication of an auctarium to the Paris collection by Gilles Morel at Paris in 1639. A noticeable point about the Cologne Bibliotheca is that its contents are digested in chronological order, each volume comprising the writers of a century. Similar arrangements were adopted in most of the subsequent Bibliothecae. Cologne did not continue the rivalry; and the last great work of the seventeenth century in this department was again the product of a French press. It was the Maxima Bibliotheca, issued at Lyons in 1677, in twenty-seven parts. The next century witnessed the appearance of a still more comprehensive corpus of patristic literature in the shape of Gallandi's Bibliotheca (Venice, 1766); but the publication of Migne's enormous Patrology-never likely to be surpassed in extent-in the middle of the nineteenth century has largely superseded the earlier collections which we have been reviewing. Let us attempt, in a few closing paragraphs, to sum up the results of an investigation which has covered, however incompletely, a wide range both in space and in time. We have seen reason to place the first symptoms of a revival of Christian learning as far back as the thirteenth century, and to connect the beginnings of the movement with England. In the fourteenth century the scene of activity is shifted to Italy, where the impulse given to classical studies reacts upon theology. Not until late in the fifteenth century are the effects of this awakening visible to much purpose in France or in Germany, in the Low Countries or in Switzerland; but throughout the succeeding centuries these countries continue to produce indefatigable workers and noble monuments of learning, while Italy, and more evidently Spain, gradually lose the predominance they had once held. The rapidity with which the light spread in Germany has been the subject of comment already: France's achievements are not less noteworthy. Lefèvre d'Etaples, François Vatable the Hebraist, Gentien Hervet the translator, the Estiennes, who cover the whole field of Greek and Latin literature, de la Bigne, Rigault, Dachery, Fronton le Duc, Combefis—all strenuous workers in the patristic and medieval departments—these form an imposing list, and one that might be largely increased without difficulty. Nor does the succession of scholars cease with them: it continues throughout the seventeenth century, and culminates in the noble erudition of the Congregation of St Maur.
It is dangerous to attempt to characterise the work of whole centuries in single phrases; but there are cases, and this seems to be one of them, where the progress of a movement can be marked out with approximate accuracy, and its stages defined, in such a way. The three centuries, from the fifteenth to the seventeenth, with which we have been principally occupied, had each its special form of contribution to the movement which we have called the Christian Renaissance. The fifteenth century was the age of collection: the documents were brought together, and the great libraries formed. The sixteenth century was the age of publication. What had been recovered was given to the world by the great scholar-printers. And the seventeenth century was the age of criticism: with the documents now before them, men settled themselves down to the improvement of texts and the elucidation of subject-matter, to an extent which had been impossible for their predecessors.
The names of Niccoli and Poggio, of Erasmus and de la Bigne, of Ussher and Valois, give a fair indication of the several activities which seem to us to have characterised the periods we have passed under review.