Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Pierre Chambert-Protat, Franz Dolveck, Camille Gerzaguet (ed.), Les douze compilations pauliniennes de Florus de Lyon: Un carrefour des traditions patristiques au IXe siècle. Collection de l'École française de Rome, 524. Paris: École française de Rome, 2017. Pp. 222. ISBN 9782728312184. €29.00.

Reviewed by Scott G. Bruce, University of Colorado at Boulder (

Version at BMCR home site

Master of the cathedral school at Lyon and an active participant in the most contentious theological debates of his time, Florus of Lyons (c. 800-c. 860) was an industrious author and skilled poet with an unparalleled knowledge of patristic authors, especially Augustine. Despite his productiveness, Florus' literary Nachlass has not attracted much attention from modern scholars until recently. Ernst Dümmler edited many of his poems in the second volume of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica series Poetae latini aevi carolini (1884), but Florus' other works—theological treatises, a martyrology, a letter to Empress Judith—have only just begun to receive the critical textual treatment that they deserve.1 The author's most enduring work was a florilegium of thousands of extracts from the writings of Augustine on the letters of the apostle Paul (the Expositio epistolarum beati Pauli apostoli ex operibus sancti Augustini), which survives in dozens of manuscripts.2 He also compiled another, less successful florilegium of extracts from twelve other patristic authors who commented on Paul's epistles, which scholars have called the Collectio ex dictis XII patrum. Although it is extant in only two manuscripts, this second florilegium has attracted more critical attention than Florus' other works, most notably a recent three-volume critical edition.3 While this admirable edition represents a major work of textual scholarship, its laconic introduction does little to analyse which manuscripts of the Church Fathers Florus had at his disposal and what his choices can tell us about the workings of his mind as he braided together disparate strands of patristic teaching related to the letters of Paul. Fortunately for us, the volume under review addresses some of these questions.

Comprising eight essays in French, this slender book is an essential companion to the critical edition of Florus' Collectio ex dictis XII patrum. In his introductory essay, Pierre Chambert-Protat provides a detailed analysis of the Collectio as a whole, which comprises an astonishing 1081 extracts from twelve patristic authors ranging from the well-known to the obscure (Cyprian of Carthage, Hilary of Poiters, Ambrose of Milan, Pacianus of Barcelona, Theophilus of Alexandria, Gregory of Nazianzus, Ephrem the Syriac, Leo the Great, Cyril of Alexandria, Fulgentius of Ruspe, Paulinus of Nola, and Avitus of Vienne). Among many issues related to the structure and content of the Collectio, Chambert-Protat discusses the symbolic significance of the number twelve for Florus, his choice of these particular authorities (p. 48: "moines un projet concerté qu'une simple situation de fait"), and the organization of the work as a whole.

The six essays that follow each focus on a particular patristic author (Cyprian, Hilary, Ambrose, Fulgentius, and Paulinus of Nola) or, in one case, a cluster of authors ("les Pères grecs"). In general, these contributions delve after Florus' manuscript sources and seek to reconstruct the recensions of these patristic authorities that were available to him at Lyons, in some cases taking modern editors to task who do not account for the trove of evidence provided by the industry of the cathedral master of Lyon, whose florilegium might possibly preserve "un exemplaire antique perdu" (p. 84). Among these papers, Emanuela Colombi's essay on the Greek Fathers stands out, because so little work has been done on the tradition of Latin translations of Greek patristics and the influence of these eastern texts on western doctrine and devotion. The volume concludes with a departure from the Collectio. Shari Boodts offers a comparative perspective by showing what the Expositio can tell us about the decision-making behind Florus' selection of extracts through an examination of his use of Augustine's Sermones ad populum.

This collection deserves a place next to the recent critical edition of Florus' Collectio, which it complements so well, and represents an important contribution to the study of early medieval florilegia. In recent years, scholars have been wise to realize that compilations such as the Collectio (and the Expositio) have much to tell us about the manuscript resources available to early medieval scholars like Florus. They are also indicative of the intentions of those scholars by providing insights into the decisions that they made when constructing these edifices of patristic teaching. This volume comes equipped with helpful tools, such as a collective bibliography and an index of manuscripts cited in the papers. A full-color plate of reproductions of sample pages from the two surviving manuscripts of the Collectio is a nice touch, although the second of the two is a little too blurry to read. The best part about this book—aside from the erudition and insights of its contents—is the price: it is free to download through OpenEdition Books.4


1.   Most of Florus' works are available in J.-P. Migne's Patrologia Latina, vol. 119 (Paris, 1880), cols. 9-420, but new editions have begun to appear. See K. Zechiel-Eckes, "Florus von Lyon, Amalarius von Metz und der Traktat über die Bishofswahl," Revue bénédictine 106 (1996): 109-133, at pp. 129-133 (an edition of Florus' De electionibus Episcoporum); and Florus Lugdunensis, Opera polemica, ed. K. Zechiel-Eckes and E. Frauenknecht, Corpus Christianorum: Continuatio Mediaevalis (hereafter CCCM) 260 (Turnhout, 2014).
2.   Shari Boodts and Gert Partoens, "The Transmission of Florus of Lyons' Expositio epistolarum beati Pauli apostoli: State of the Art and New Results," in Commentaries, Catenae and Biblical Tradition: Papers from the Ninth Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, ed. H. A. G. Houghton (Piscataway, NJ, 2016), pp. 253-276. A critical edition of the Expositio is underway for the series CCCM, the first volume of which appeared in 2011: Florus Lugdunensis, Expositio in epistolas beati Pauli ex operibus sancti Augustini III: In epistolam secundam ad Corinthios, In epistolas ad Galatas, Ephesios et Philippenses, CCCM 220B (Turnhout, 2011).
3.   Florus Lugdunensis, Collectio ex dictis XII Patrum, ed. Paul-Irénée Fransen et al., 3 vols., CCCM 193, 193A, and 193B (Turnhout, 2002-2007).
4.   OpenEdition Books Publications de l'Ecole française de Rome.

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