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The Authoritative Text: Raymond of Penyafort’s editing of the Decretals of Gregory IX (1234)

The Authoritative Text: Raymond of Penyafort’s editing of the Decretals of Gregory IX (1234)


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The Authoritative Text: Raymond of Penyafort’s editing of the Decretals of Gregory IX (1234)

By Edward Andrew Reno III

PhD Dissertation, Columbia University, 2011

Abstract: The Decretals of Gregory IX, promulgated in 1234, was the first collection of canon law for the Catholic Church invested with universal and exclusive authority, and was the culmination of a century and a half process by which the a now papal-led Church came to be the leading institution within medieval European society.

The Decretals, also known as the Liber extra – a compilation of 1971 papal letters, constitutions and conciliar canons drawn principally from the century prior to its issuance – has long been understood as a key text for the study of the medieval papacy, the rise of scholasticism within the universities, and the extension of the Church’s jurisdiction into almost every area of medieval life. The degree to which the man commissioned to edit the collection, the Dominican Raymond of Penyafort (1175-1275), actively shaped the legal content of the Decretals through eliminating, rewording, or supplementing the individual texts has remained elusive, in part because of the complicated manuscript tradition and in part because of our ignorance of all his sources.


This dissertation examines Raymond’s editing of the most recent material within the collection, the 195 capitula attributed to the commissioning pope Gregory IX (1227-1241), which in many cases provide definitive statements of the law.


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