A compilation from Old Testament sapiential books in the Cathar manuscript of the Liber de duobus principiis: critical edition with commentary

Author: Zbíral, David
Source document: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2015, vol. 20, iss. 1, pp. [149]-173
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license
The manuscript J II 44, held by the National Central Library of Florence (Firenze, Bib¬lioteca nazionale centrale, Conventi soppressi, ms. J II 44, also known under the shelf mark I II 44), contains several theological treatises originating in the heterodox milieu of mid-thirteenth-century Lombard Cathars from the Desenzano Church who were also called Albanenses. The main works in the manuscript – The Liber de duobus principiis and the Florence Ritual – were competently edited by Antoine Dondaine and Christine Thouzellier in the 1930s and 1970s. However, smaller pieces, additions, and marginalia in the man¬uscript have attracted less attention. Some of them remain unpublished and have passed almost unnoticed in recent scholarship. Probably the most interesting of these unpublished parts is a compilation from Old Testament sapiential books on fol. 51v‒53r. This article provides an edition of this piece with an introduction and commentary explaining its interest. The compilation is by no means a result of the haphazard copying of biblical passages. Quite to the contrary, it shows careful and focused theological work. Albeit written down and most probably also compiled by the Cathar redactor of the Florence manuscript, this collection of quotes departs from what we know about Catharism, and serves as a warning against interpreting Catharism as a theological system limited to dualism, soteriology, and the criticism of the Catholic Church. No less importantly, however, this sapiential compilation and the Florence manuscript in general also help us to avoid the other extreme: interpreting Catharism merely as a popular movement with virtually no elements of theological learning.
  • This article is a result of the research project "Sources for the Study of Dissident Religious Movements in Medieval Western Christianity with a Special Focus on Catharism" financed by the Czech Science Foundation (grant No. P401/12/0657).
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