Encyclopedias and Dictionaries, Catholic

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An encyclopedia is a comprehensive summary of the significant knowledge of an era. It may either embrace all fields of human interest or be limited to the coverage of a specific subject area. The modern encyclopedia, however, because of the massive volume of facts accumulated in all fields, is less ambitious than its ancient and medieval counterparts.

Ancient Works. To the Greeks, "encyclopaedia" meant "circle of knowledge" or "complete education," a concept exemplified by the extensive works of Aristotle, who attempted to assemble all knowledge available through human observation and thought. With a similar intention, Pliny the Elder claimed to treat in his Historia naturalis (A. D. 77) "the subjects included by the Greeks under the name of 'Encyclic Culture.' Naturally, when the Church in the early Middle Ages undertook to preserve and disseminate the knowledge and wisdom of the ancient world, her scholars had at hand ready models for their own compendia.

As early as 551, Cassiodorus, distinguished statesman and secretary to Theodoric, produced the Institutiones divinarum et humanarum lectionum after his retirement to his monastery of the Vivarium, later adding notes to his manuscript for the benefit of the "simple and unpolished brothers" of his community.

Medieval Compilations. The standard medieval encyclopedia was the Etymologiarum libri XX of Isidore of Seville, completed in 623. The first work to contain a printed map of the known world, the Etymologies is a primary source for the modes of thought and factual knowledge of the preceding centuries. Its influence on later encyclopedias can scarcely be overrated. The De universo two centuries later of Rabanus Maurus, Abbot of Fulda, was a rearrangement of the Etymologies that bowdlerized, as well as plagiarized, it. The greatest achievement of the Middle Ages was undoubtedly the Speculum maius of Vincent of Beauvais (11901264), written under the patronage of St. Louis of France, who supplied numerous copyists for the many extracts incorporated in it. The first vernacular encyclopedia was the work of Brunetto Latini (d. 1294), a Florentine statesman and friend of Dante who wrote Li livres dou trésor during his exile in France.

Other compilers and titles of importance in the medieval period were: Honorius of Autun, Imago mundi (1090); Lambert of Saint-Omer, Liber floridus (1120); and Alexander Neckham, an Augustinian of St. Albans (11571217), who compiled a De naturis rerum. The Abbess Herrad of Hohenburg (d. 1195) was the first woman to compile an encyclopedia: her Hortus deliciarum was one of the finest illuminated manuscript encyclopedias of which there is record. The Compendium philosophiae (c.1320), with traces of the influence of St. Albert the Great, has been attributed to the Dominican Hugh of Strassburg, author of the well-known Compendium theologiae. Pierre Bercheure, a Benedictine friend of Petrarch, compiled a three-part Reductorium, repertorium, et dictionarium morale utriusque testamenti (1340), and Gregor Reisch dedicated his Margarita philosophica to "ingenuous youth." Giovanni Balbi's Catholicon (1460), strongly influenced by the Etymologies, was printed, possibly by Gutenberg, "without help of reed, stylus or pen, but by the marvelous concord, proportion, and harmony of punches and types."

Before the late Middle Ages, nearly all these compilations of facts and conjectured facts were written in Latin, and their use was limited to the scholar. Translation into English began in 1480 with William Caxton's Myrrour of the World. This was the first illustrated book and one of the first encyclopedias to be printed in England, explaining "how moche the erth hath of heyght, how moche in circuyte, and how thycke in the rnyddle." The term encyclopedia, however, first appeared in English in Sir Thomas Elyot's The Governour (1531), which referred to the "circle of doctrine, whiche is in one worde of greke Encyclopaedia."

The Summas and the Mirrours of the Middle Ages and early Renaissance were followed by the Treasures and Tableaux of the 16th century. The latter were, in the main, collections of facts showing little or no mastery of the material and giving no evidence of critical research or basic plan.

Influence of Printing. The spread of printing accelerated the encyclopedic movement, yet there was little advance over Vincent's Speculum, first printed at Strasbourg (147376), then at Basel (1481), Nuremberg (147386), Venice (1484, 1494, 1591), and finally by the Benedictines at Douai in 1624. Raffaele Maffei included biographical sketches and an index in his Commentariorum urbanorum libri XXXVIII (1506). Francis Bacon was the first to base his work on the philosophy and inter-relation of the sciences. Although his Instauratio magna (162023) was never completed, its comprehensive and well-ordered plan greatly influenced Diderot and D'Alembert in their work on the controversial Encyclopedie two centuries later.

Louis Moréri's Le grand dictionnaire historique (1674) was deliberately designed as an apologia and defense of the Church. Noteworthy for its new emphasis on geographical and biographical material, it greatly influenced German, Spanish, and English encyclopedias of the period. The Biblioteca universale sacro-profano of the Franciscan Vincenzo Maria Coronelli would have been the largest alphabetically arranged encyclopedia in existence, but only seven volumes were completed (170106). It is important for its plan and for innovation of the practice of italicizing the titles of books cited in the text.

After Ephraim Chambers' Cyclopaedia (1728), "compiled from the best authors," had changed the pattern of encyclopedia publishing from single authorship to collaborative effort, two more Catholic contributions were compiled single-handed. Jacques Paul Migne was responsible for the Encyclopédie théologique (184466), a series of 168 special Dictionnaires covering dogmas, heresies, liturgy, symbolism, and many auxiliary sciences. Gaetano Moroni (184079) published his Dizionario di erudizione, which, though poorly organized, was rich in notes not found elsewhere. Wetzer and Welte's Kirchenlexikon (184760; 2d ed. 18821903) and Der Grosse Herder (185357; 5th ed. 195256), however, followed the pattern set by Chambers.

Modern Developments. With the 20th century, as knowledge became progressively specialized, practically every country began to produce well-edited encyclopedias for reference in special, as well as in general, fields. The U. S.-edited Catholic Encyclopedia (190714) was for more than half a century the most significant Catholic reference work in English. The New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967) replaced the older work for all practical purposes, but the earlier publication is still useful for historical material in some areas and for specific facts that can be located by means of its excellent index.

In France, Letouzey began (1903) publication of the great French series Encyclopédie des sciences religieuses, composed of the following individual works: Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie (eds.F. Cabrol and H. Le Clereq); Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques (eds. A. Baudrillart et al.); Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (eds. A. Vacant, E. Mangenot, and É Amann); Dictionnaire de la Bible (ed.F. Vigouroux); and Dictionnaire du droit canonique (ed.R. Naz). Since these works have been in progress for over half a century, some of the material is out of date, and some of the bibliographies have been superseded by later publications. The Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, however, is being brought up to date by elaborate indices, and the Dictionnaire de la Bible is being replaced by the Supplément (1928, ed. L. Pirot), so the series as a whole is still an essential source of information of vast proportions. Beauchesne's Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique, ed. M. Viller et al. (1932), includes many biographies. Catholicisme hier, aujourd'hui, demain (1948), now being issued by Letouzey under the editorship of G. Jacquemet, is the most recent French publication covering these subjects.

The Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. M. Buchberger (193038), has been replaced by a new work of the same title, ed. Josef Höfer and Karl Rahner. The Italian Enciclopedia cattolica, completed in 1954, covers historical and contemporary matters of concern to the Church. The Netherlands has produced De katholieke Encyclopaedie (1950) and the Encyclopaedie van het Katholicisme (195560); the Jesuits at Sophia University, in collaboration with the German publishing house of Herder, have published the Japanese Katolikku Daijiten (194053).

The Staatslexikon (6th ed. 195963) of the Görres-Gesellschaft, the Herder Lexikon der Pädagogik (3d ed.1962), H. Aurenhammer's Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie (1959), and the Handbuch Theologischer Grundbegrifle, ed. Heinrich Fries (196263), are typical of the many encyclopedias and dictionaries in special fields published under Catholic auspices.

Since the end of Vatican II in 1965 there have been additions to this list of the encyclopedias and dictionaries. The most extensive of these publications is Concilium: Theology in the Age of Renewal which began publication in 1964 and is still in process. With multiple issues per annum there are now more than 220 volumes. It appears in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch. Immediately following Vatican II the six volume Sacramentum Mundi and the three volume Sacramentum Verbi, both published by Herder and Herder, the former edited by Karl Rahner and the latter by Johannes Bauer, were published as encyclopedias, which brought the documents of the Council to bear on theology and biblical theology. One volume abridged versions of these encyclopedias appeared a few years later.

In the United States the short-lived Corpus Publications produced the three volume Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion and the one volume Corpus Dictionary of Western Churches. More recently there have been series of one volume encyclopedias on specific topics. Michael O'Carroll, C.S.Sp., has edited a series of five volumes entitled: Corpus Christi, an Encyclopedia of the Eucharist; Theotokos, a Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Trinitas, a Theological Encyclopedia of the Holy Trinity; Veni Creator Spiritus, a Theological Encyclopedia of the Holy Spirit ; and Verbum Caro, an Encyclopedia on Jesus. In addition Christopher O'Donnell, O. Carm., has edited Ecclesia, a Theological Encyclopedia of the Church for this series. These were published by Michael Glazier and The Liturgical Press. The Liturgical Press has also published an extensive series of one volume encyclopedias: The New Dictionary of Theology; The New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship; The New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality; The New Dictionary of Catholic Social Thought; Consecrated Phrases: A Latin Theological Dictionary; A Concise Dictionary of Early Christianity ; and The Liturgical Dictionary of Eastern Christianity. There is also the Dictionary of Christian Biography which is ecumenical in scope.

Mention must also be made of a number of one volume encyclopedias from various publishers. The Historical Dictionary of Catholicism, by William J. Collinge (Scarecrow Press, 1997) is no. 12 of the series Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies, and Movements. Michael Glazier and Thomas J. Shelley have published The Encyclopedia of American Catholic History, a vast and unique collection of information. There is the specialized Dictionary of the Liturgy, edited by J.P. Lang, OFM, published by Our Sunday Visitor. Three one-volume general encyclopedias complete our coverage of American publications. In 1987 Thomas Nelson Publishers gave us The Catholic Encyclopedia, edited by Robert C. Broderick. Two years later, Harper-San Francisco produced The Harper-Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism. In 1994 The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia was published by The Liturgical Press. These three publications approach Roman Catholicism from differing viewpoints and can be used in conjunction with one another. The multi-volume New Catholic Encyclopedia published updated volumes 16 through 19 along with the Jubilee Volume of 2000.

From Italy we have the Dictionary of Fundamental Theology (English edition edited by Rene Latourelle). Italy has also given us the multi-volume Dizionario degli Istituti di Perfezione, published by Edizioni Paolini beginning in 1973, and the two-volume Dizionario Patristico e di Antichità Cristiane, produced by the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum in 1991. An English translation came out in 1992 as Encyclopedia of the Early Church. In the 1990s Germany produced a completely revised edition of the Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche. The French continue the work of completing several of the vast encyclopedias mentioned above.

Bibliography: r. bÄumer, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiberg 195765) 6:9981001. "Dictionaires," Catholicisme 3 (1952) 742746. r. l. collison, Encyclopaedias: Their History throughout the Ages (New York 1964). g. a. zischka, Index lexicorum (Vienna 1959). r. balley, Guide to Reference Books (11th ed. Chicago 1996). a. j. walford, Guide to Reference Material (London 1961). l. m. malclÈs, Les Sources du travail bibliographique, 3 v. in 4 (Genève 195058). s. p. walsh, comp., General Encyclopedias in Print, 1965 (Newark, Del. 1965).

[m. c. carlen/

r.b. miller]