Canonical Collection before Gratian
CANONICAL COLLECTION BEFORE GRATIAN
Three main periods are distinguished in the history of the sources of Canon Law prior to the Code of canon law: (1) the collections prior to the corpus iuris canonici, (2) the formation of the Corpus Iuris Canonici, and (3) the collections between the Corpus Iuris Canonici and the Code of Canon Law. The first period extends from the beginnings of the Church to the Decretum of gratian (about 1140) and contains a great number of collections of the most varied sort and structure: those of universal and regional law; collections whose norms owe their origin and authority to councils, popes, secular legislators; those containing genuine and spurious statutes ascribed to their real or alleged authors; collections that arrange the material chronologically or systematically. All these are to be considered as private collections in the technical sense of the word.
Pseudoapostolic Collections. The exigencies of the first years of the Church's history gave rise to the pseudoapostolic collections that contain, together with other material, disciplinary decrees that in one way or another go back to the apostolic tradition or appeal to it. The content is to a large extent genuine, but the ascription to the apostles is spurious. Of particular significance among such collections are the didache, the didascalia apostolorum, the Constitutiones and the 85 Canones Apostolorum, and also the Tradito Apostolica of hippol ytus, all of which have been subjected to more or less numerous reworkings and imitations.
Regional Collections. A further group of collections came into existence from the fourth to sixth centuries in various regions: in the Orient, the syntagma canonum antiochenum, or Corpus Canonum Orientale, containing the norms of the general and local Oriental councils; in Africa, the Codex Canonum Ecclesiae Africanae (419); in Gaul, the statuta ecclesiae antiqua (in the last quarter of the fifth century, probably by Gennadius of Marseilles) and various translations of the canons of the Greek councils and collections of papal decretals (Arelatensis, quesnelliana collectio); in Italy, the various editions of the famous dionysiana collectio, containing canons and papal decretals, of the end of the fifth and early sixth centuries, as well as far less important ones such as the Coll. Frisingensis (after 495), Vaticana, etc. In Spain, there was a merging of the collections of Italy, Africa and Gaul. In all these collections, despite their regional variety, is expressed the uniform Catholic legal code.
Regional-National Collections. In the mid-sixth century, a political fragmentation and particularization began, bringing with it a variety of national and regional disciplines and a plethora of collections expressing regional particularism. This situation lasted until the end of the seventh century. In the East the individual churches developed their own codes which were used in conjunction with the latest edition of the Syntagma. Among these there were notable systematic collections, in particular the Collectio L titulorum (550–570) of John Scholasticus and the nomocanon (amalgamation of civil and ecclesiastical laws). In Africa there was the Breviatio Canonum Fulgentii Ferrandi (mid-sixth century) and the Concordia Canonum Cresconii (sixth–seventh century). The only Italian collection of substantial importance is the Avellana (c. 555), containing papal decrees. In the most widely scattered dioceses and provinces of Gaul, a plethora of libri canonum appeared. The penitentials (above all the Columbani, Cumeani, Theodori Cantauriensis ) gave expression to the discipline prevailing in the insular churches (Ireland and England); from these churches at this period came only a few collections in the wider sense, for example, the hibernensis collectio (c. 700). But the Church of Spain continued the ancient tradition of universal disciplinary norms especially in the continually supplemented Hispana (chronologica and later also systematica ), containing conciliar canons and papal decretals.
Collections of the Frankish Reform. Efforts at reform in the territory of the politically unified Frankish kingdom and its sphere of influence led to a compilation drive that initially effected the acceptance of the large ancient collections of universal and papal norms: the Dionysio-Hadriana (transmitted in 774 by Pope Adrian I to Charlemagne as an expression of the Roman discipline) and the hispana collectio, as well as the combination of the two, the dacheriana collectio (c. 800). There were also new penitentials of this sort and the episcopal capitularies. This authentic reform movement was partially successful. It was followed by the efforts of a group of reformers in France to use collections in order to assure the victory of a rather genuine ecclesiastical discipline. At this time there appeared the so-called false decretals (pseudo-isidorean forgeries) of mid-ninth century: the Hispana of Autun, the Capitula Angilramni, the Capitularia Benedicti Levitae, the Decretales Pseudo-Isidorianae (see benedict the levite).
Collections from the Frankish to the Gregorian Reform. In the transitional period of the late ninth century and the tenth century there were, aside from the smaller collections, in Germany the Libri duo de synodalibus causis of regino of prÜm (c. 906), in France the Collectio of abbo of fleury (988–996), in Italy the Collectio Anselmo dedicata (c. 882). In the wake of the reform of the first half of the 11th century, supported by bishops and princes, new collections were made; they included two of special importance: in Italy, the Collectio V Librorum (between 1015 and 1020); in Germany, the Decretum of burchard in 20 books (1020–25).
Gregorian Reform Collections. The Gregorian Reform based itself deliberately, as a disciplinary reform, on new collections that stressed the appropriate norms of the past and the prerequisite of a central ecclesiastical authority, the Roman primacy. The most important of these numerous collections were: in Italy, the Collection of seventy-four titles (c. 1175), the Collectio canonum of Anselm of Lucca (c. 1082), the collection of deusdedit in four books (between 1083 and 1086), the Liber de vita christiana of Bonizo of Sutri (c. 1090), the Coll. Britannica (c. 1090), the polycarpus of Cardinal Gregory (c. 1104–06); in France, the Liber Tarraconensis (between 1085 and 1090), and above all, continuing the reform in a manner aimed at compromise, the important Collection of ivo of chartres: Tripartita, Decretum, Panormia; in Spain was compiled the Collectio Caesaraugustana (between 1110 and 1120). This same period produced numerous compilations of lesser importance.
Collections Immediately before Gratian. The great number of the above-mentioned collections and especially the variety of the norms they contained occasioned canonical uncertainty that had inconvenient consequences. Efforts to harmonize the norms therefore became more and more pronounced. They expressed themselves not only in the elaboration of rules of interpretation and concordance, such as the Prologus of Ivo of Chartres and the Sic et Non of Abelard, but also in concordance treatises and collections such as that of bernold of constance (end of the 11th century), the Liber de misericordia et iustitia (c. 1105) of Alger of Liège and the Sententiae Sidonenses (between 1130 and 1135). All these prepared the way for Gratian's work, which not only brought together the past norms in one collection, but also harmonized them one with another and so became the terminus ad quem of the preceding and the terminus a quo of the subsequent canonical collections.
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[a. m. stickler]