The Need for a Guide
to the Editors of Patristic Texts
in the 16th Century
THE purpose of this communication is to arouse the interest of some scholar less
aged than myself in the hope that he or she will provide a a guide to the editors
of patristic texts in the 16th century. I became aware of the need for such a work
in the course of an enquiry into the history of manuscripts since the Middle Ages,
a subject that has received less attention than that of the history of the trans-
mission of texts in the Middle Ages themselves.
You may well ask what is the connection between this enquiry and the need for a
guide to editors of patristic texts. Two independent events in the second half of
the 15th century and the first half of the 16th caused an upheaval in the world of
books greater than any since the supersession of the roll by the codex: the inven-
tion of printing and the religious upheavals which we know as the Reformation.
Handwritten manuscripts were replaced by printed books and became redundant. The
Reformation involved the dissolution of monasteries and the dispersion, if not
destruction, of their libraries. Happily there were other movements afoot which
counteracted these destructive forces. The advent of the printed book made possible
the preparation and diffusion of editions of works of authors on a scale that had
not been seen before. The danger to manuscripts did not go unobserved. There were
men who were anxious to preserve those they considered valuable, and placed them in
institutions where they could be safe and available for study. I mention only one
such, the library of the Kings of France, the growth of which was the subject of
Leopold Delisle's masterly study, published a century ago.1 But it is not libraries
and collectors of manuscripts which is my concern this morning. It is the editors
of texts, and their efforts to find new works or better manuscripts of works already
known that I wish to bring to your attention.
The work of some editors has been intensively studied. P.S. Allen's edition of
the letters of Erasmus2 is a shining example. It includes the prefaces which
[p.366] Erasmus wrote for his editions, and Allen's notes are an unexhaustible guide.
Paul Lehmann was directed by his master, Ludwig Traube, to the work of two men who
had been almost forgotten, Franciscus Modius (1908) and Johannes Sichardus (1911)3
Lehmann combined his study of the editorial work of these two men with an invest-
igation of the history of the manuscripts which they used and of the fate of the
libraries in which they found them. These are admirable studies, and if there were
more of them there would be no need for the guide I am pleading for. But they have
remained without successors.
I think that the best way I can show you the kind of need I see is to take a
single author and bring to your attention the editors who contributed most to the
establishment of the text in the 16th century. The author I have chosen is
Novatianus, the presbyter in Rome in the middle of the 3rd century. I remind those
of you who are a bit hazy about him, as I was when I began the enquiry, that
Novatianus took up the rigorist position on the question of the treatment due to
those who had lapsed in the Decian persecution. He became a schismatic, and his
works have not come down to us under his own name: They masquerade among the
works of Tertullian and Cyprian. It is with the works that circulated - though not
widely - in the Middle Ages under the name of Tertullian that I am concerned. Not
surprisingly they were first edited under the name of Tertullian.
Their first publication was a supplement to the edition of Tertullian by
Martinus Mesnartius at Paris in 1545. The main part of the edition is taken from
that of Beatus Rhenanus published in 1539. Mesnartius then gives ten works, six
now recognised as Tertullian's and four as those of Novatianus, including the
De Trinitate. 'The following opuscula', he says on the verso of the title-page,
'are now edited for the first time thanks to the help (beneficio) of Johannes
Gangneius the Paris theologian, and were taken from a very old manuscript (ex
vetustissimo ccdice desumpta)'. The manuscript of the De Trinitate has not
Five years later, Froben at Basel produced a second edition of these pieces by
Sigismundus Gelenius, who used a manuscript from England. Gelenius tells us (on
the verso of the title page) that it was communicated to him by John Leland, vir
antiquarius et feliciori dignus valetudine. The manuscript was vetustissimus and
it left nothing to be desired, such was its integritas, except that some books were
missing. Editors of some works of Tertullian have looked upon this claim with
suspicion, but as far as the De Trinitate goes its most recent editor, Professor
Diereks, has shown4 - and I must underline my debt to him - that Gelenius certainly
had an important manuscript. He fills in lacunae and corrects places where Mesnart
had smoothed the Latinity or had altered the text for theological reasons.
Leland had found the manuscript in Masburensi coenobio gentis eius vetustissimo.
M.R. James5 made the point that the 'ancient monastery of Masbury' is surely
[p.367] Malmesbury, where a library containing many unusual texts was built up by the
historian, William of Malmesbury. I want to stress the phrase used by Gelenius to
describe John Leland - vir antiquarius et feliciori dignus valetudine. 1550, the
date of publication, was the year in which Leland became insane: he died five
years later. The credentials of Gelenius's statements are reassuring. That he
did not get an English place name quite right is trivial. This manuscript also has
The next edition is that of Jacobus Pamelius, published by Christopher Plantin
at Antwerp in 1579. I have not found a copy of this in Oxford, and have used a
reprint of 1584, also published by Plantin. Pamelius was an acute critic, and it
was he who recognised that the De Trinitate was a work not of Tertullian but of
Novatianus. He had an English manuscript quem thesauri loco penes se adservabat
quondam Ioan. Clemens Anglus, 'a manuscript which the Englishman John Clement once
had in his possession as a treasure' (1584 ed., p. 8) - I cannot properly translate
thesauri loco. John Clement, as we shall see later, had died in 1572. This
manuscript also has not survived.
In fact, no manuscript of the De Trinitate has survived. We are dependent on
the three printed editions. In judging their reports the last word is with the
textual critic, and it would be impertinent in me to praise the judgment of
Professor Diercks in this respect. But it is surely also relevant to know some
thing about the 16th-century editors. What were their habits and credentials?
We have met Martinus Mesnartius, Joannes Gangneius, Sigismundus Gelenius,
Jacobus Pamelius and Joannes Clemens, the owner of one of the lost manuscripts.
Where does an editor go to find who they were? There is no list he can consult,
His best resources are the older biographical dictionaries like the Nouvelle
biographie générale, and where they exist the various national biographical
Martin Mesnart is not to be found in any of these sources and I know nothing
Joannes Gangneius is Jean de Gagny (d. 1549), who will be found in the Nouvelle
biographie générale6, which provides a starting point, as does J.H. Zedler's
Universal lexicon.7 The catalogue of printed books in the Bibliothèque Nationale8
gives the fullest list of texts he edited or was author of that I have found.
Among modern scholars it is his interest in typography that has drawn attention to
him and a notice will be found in F. Renouard's Répertoire des imprimeurs parisiens.9
He entered the College de Navarre in 1524 and studied theology, reading the
Sentences of Peter Lombard in 1529. He was Rector of the Universi±y in 1531. In
1533 he published a work on the Epistle to the Romans, which thanks to a patron
brought him to the notice of King Francis I, whose grand almoner he became.
The dedication to Francis I of Primasius' Commentary on the Pauline Epistles
[p.368] nunc uero primum Ioannis Gagneii theologi, ac doctoris regii opera in lucem emissi,
published at Lyons in 1537, tells us much of his aims. He begins with praise for
Francis's support of learning and continues (fols. α 3r-4r) 'I remember when I was
expounding at dinner one day the commentaries of Primasius ut antiquissimos, ita
doctissimus, which had been rescued from the darkness where they had lain hidden at
St. Thierry at St. Chef in Dauphiné, how gladly you received them. I said that
there were forests of material in your kingdom which their custodians did not allow
access to. You promised to help and gave me a letter (diploma publicum) which
empowered me to examine the libraries of your kingdom and gave me power to have
copies made of quotquot e re philologiae viderentur monimenta. I began to sweep
the libraries (librarias verrere) of the monasteries which I came near while
travelling in your company and found near a hundred volumes of no less worth (non
inferioris notae) than the Primasius. You conceived the plan not only of building
up a library but of publishing in commune philologiae bonum the most important, and
I chose Primasius.' He then goes on to speak of the Commentary and I will not
In fact, the Commentary he published is not the work of Primasius, but a revision
of the Commentary of Pelagius with the Pelagianism removed. The manuscript he used
is lost,, but Souter found at Grenoble a 12th-century manuscript from the Grande
Chartreuse which belongs to the same tradition.10
What is unusual about Jean de Gagny is that he says where he found some manu-
scripts11 - the works of Avitus at St.-Bénigne at Dijon, of Claudius Marius Victor
at l'Ile-Barbe, Lyons12, the Sermons of Guerric of Igny13 at Vauluisant, a
Cistercian house in the diocese of Sens. All the manuscripts he used are lost,
except that of the Homilies of Eusebius of Emesa14 (now known as Ps. Eusebius
Collectio Gallicana), which is Paris lat. 2169, and in this case he does not tell
us where he found the manuscript.
Turning back to Novatianus, it is in line with his known activities that he
should have discovered a manuscript of these rare treatises - on grounds of general
probability, a single manuscript.
Sigismundus Gelenius I pass over. He is well known and presents no problems,
but it would be useful to have the references conveniently brought together. Of
Jacobus Pamelius there is a good notice in the Belgian Biographie Nationale.15 If
there is a monograph on him I have not found it. He deserves one, but I do not
know if the material for it exists.
Finally, Joannes Clemens Anglus, John Clement. He will be found in the English
Dictionary of National Biographyl6, but it is only in the last 50 years that he
has had the attention he deserves. The best account is a remarkable paper by
Cardinal Giovanni Mercati which was first published in La Bibliofilia for 1926 and
is reprinted in his collected Opere minori, vol. 417, but unaccountably this paper
[p. 369] has escaped attention, and Clement is referred to as 'un certain Johannes Clemens'.18
Our first information about him is that he was educated at St. Paul's, London,
under William Lily and from there entered the household of Thomas More as servitor-
pupil. In February 1515 - the first certain date in his life - More took him on
his mission to Antwerp, and in the prefatory letter to Utopia, which is addressed
to Peter Gilles, More refers to him as 'my boy, who as you know was then present
with us, whom I suffer to be away from no talk wherein may be any profit or goodness'.
That he was especially applying himself to the study of Greek we learn from a letter
of More to Erasmus, written in the autumn, 1516, in which More says that Clement is
helping Colet with his Greek.19 In 1518 he moved to the service of Cardinal
Wolsey, who was then making preparations to found six public lectureships in
Oxford University. Clement was the first lecturer to be appointed, and he was
resident in Corpus Christi College.
Clement did not stay long in Oxford. He resigned at the end of 1519. He was
anxious to study medicine and to bring to bear on it his knowledge of Greek.
Probably in 1521 he went to Louvain and in the spring of 1522 to Italy and received
the degree of D.M. at Siena at the end of March 1525. By this time he was deeply
involved in the editing of volume V of the Aldine edition of Galen, the first,
edition of Galen in Greek, which was published in that year. After publication he
returned to England, and practised medicine. He married Margaret Giggs, the foster-
daughter of Thomas More, who taught her Greek and Latin along with his own daughter,
Margaret. Clement's practice flourished. He was elected fellow of the Royal
College of Physicians in 1528 and was president in 1544. The religious develop-
ments of the latter years of Henry VIII's reign and those of the reign of Edward VI
were, to say the least, distasteful to him and in 1549 he and his family went into
exile in the Low Countries, where he remained until the accession of Mary in 1553.
On Elizabeth's accession he and his family went again into exile and finally settled
at Malines, where he died in 1572.
We have evidence that he was a collector of books from 1531. For in that year
Simon Grynaeus visited England and on his return to Basel published an edition of
Proclus' de motu with a dedication to Clement who had provided the manuscript. In
the dedicatory preface Grynaeus praises the monumenta veterum which Clement
possessed: sought out with wonderful diligence, acquired with much labour and at
great cost, and kept like a rich treasure ac divitis demum thesauri instar
conservata (p. 3).
When he went into exile in 1549, he took at any rate three manuscripts with him,
the famous manuscript of the Greek Anthology known as the Palatine Anthology20,
a Hebrew Psalter that had once belonged to St. Augustine's, Canterbury (but which
had come into the possession of Humfrey, duke of Gloucester, and from him passed to
King's College, Cambridge), now at Leiden21, and a Greek Octateuch which is now in
[p. 370] Glasgow University Library.22 But he left most of his books in England. We have
a list of 180 books which is preserved with the records of a law suit for the
recovery of the house when he returned in 1553.23 The list is divided into Greek
(of which there about 40 books, 7 of them manuscripts) and Latin (of which 7 are
For his second exile he was probably better prepared, and was able to take his
library. There is evidence that he was compelled to sell some manuscripts. In
Christopher Plantin's journal for 1561 there is an entry of purchase from Dr.
Clemens Anglus 'cent livres pesant de parchemin' for 16 gulden.24 Does it mean
100 lbs weight of parchment books?
The fate of his library was miserable. Malines was sacked horribly in October
1572, two or three months after his death, by the troops of the Duke of Alva and
again in April 1580, this time by the troops of William of Orange. A single Greek
manuscript, now in the Royal Library, Brussels,25 remained in the hands of his
grandson Caesar Clement who gave it to a friend in 1607, and in the inscription of
gift it is referred to as the 'single manuscript out of many manuscripts Greek and
Latin' which had belonged to his grandfather.
In the time of his second exile he was in touch with scholars in the Low
Countries - among them Pamelius. Before he edited Tertullian Pamelius had produced
an edition of Cyprian. This was in 1568 while Clement was still alive. In the
Indiculus codicum (fol. δ 6v), under the siglum Angl., Pamelius gives Codex
anglicus Ms. Io. Clementis, qui ad me quasdam inde castigationes misit - 'the
English manuscript of John Clement who sent me some readings'. It is clear that
Pamelius had not seen the manuscript.
Had Pamelius been able to collate the manuscript of Tertullian/Novatianus him-
self? You remember the phrase he uses: that it was preserved thesauri loco, which
echoes that used by Grynaeus of Clement's collection: divitis thesauri instar
I hope that these examples will convince someone of the usefulness of drawing
up a guide to the editors of texts. I shall probably not live to see its accom-
plishment, but I hope it will not be too ambitious in the first place. Just as any
catalogue of manuscripts is better than no catalogue, so let it be with the guide.
* R.W. Hunt died on 13 Nov. 1979. The manuscript of this paper was prepared for
printing by E. A. Livingstone, C. Starks and B.C. Barker-Benfield. Apart from a few
minutiae, the main text is as drafted by Dr. Hunt, but the references have been added.
1. L. Delisle, Le cabinet des manuscrits, 3 vols. + plates vol., Paris 1868-81.
2. P.S. Allen et al., Opus epistolarum Des. Erasmi Roterodani, 12 vols., Oxford
3. P. Lehmann, Franciscus Modius als Handschriftenforscher and Johannes
Sichardus und die von ihm benutzten Bibliotheken and Handschriften (Quellen und
Untersuchungen zur lateinischen Philologie des Mittelalters, Band 3 Heft i and
Band 4 Heft i), Munich 1908 and 1911.
4. G.F. Diercks, ed., Novatiani opera (C.C.L. 4), Turnhout 1972, pp. 3-4.
5. M.R. James, Two ancient English scholars: St. Aldhelm & William of Malmesbury
(Glasgow University Publications 22), Glasgow 1931, p. 28.
6. Vol. 19, Paris 1857, cols. 165-6, under 'Gagni ou Gagnee, ou Guieni (Jean de)'.
7. Vol. 10, Halle 8 Leipzig 1735, cols. 64-5, under 'Gaigny oder Gagnee (Io.)'.
8. Vol. 56, Paris 1913, reprinted 1929, cols. 497-500, under 'Gagny (Jean de)'.
9. Reprinted, Paris 1965, p. 161, under 'Gaigny (Jean de)'.
10. Grenoble, Bibliothèque municipale, MS. 270; see A. Souter, Pelagius's
expositions of thirteen epistles of St. Paul, 1 (Texts and Studies, IX.1),
Cambridge 1922, pp. 318-326.
11. See Delisle, Le cabinet des MSS., vol. I, pp. 162-3.
12. Avitus and Claudius Marius Victor were published together at Lyons in 1535.
13. Published at Paris, 1547.
14. Published at Paris 1547; see J. Leroy and F. Glorie, eds., Eusebius
'Gallicanus' (C.C.L. 101-101B), Turnhout 1970-71.
15. Vol. 16, Brussels 1901, cols. 528-542.
16. Vol. 4, first published 1887, p. 489.
17. 'Sopra Giovanni Clement e i suoi manoscritti', La Bibliofilia 28 (1926), pp.
81-99 = Studi a testi 79 (1937), pp. 292-315.
18. Diercks, ed. cit., p. 2.
19. P.S. Allen, ed., Opus epistolarum Des. Erasmi Roterodami, vol. II, Oxford
1910, no. 468, lines 11-13; see also no. 388, lines 173-5.
20. Heidelberg, Universitätsbibliothek, Palat. gr. 33 (23) + Paris, Bibliothèque
Nationale, Suppl. grec 384.
21. Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Hebr. 8.
22. MS. Gen. 322, see J. Baldwin, 'Glasgow University Library's manuscripts: the
non-Hunterian collections', The Bibliotheck, 8 (1977), pp. 130, 135 (p1. 5), 147.
23. Printed by A.W. Reed, 'John Clement and his books', The Library, 4th Ser., 6
(1926), pp. 329-339.
24. See Mercati in La Bibliofilia 28 (1926), p. 92.
25. MS. 11337-41, 16th cent., containing works of Johannes Actuarius and Symeon