Oswaldus de Corda
B.A. Egan (ed.)
CLIV+99 p., 155 x 245 mm, 2001
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The Opus pacis, a manual for Carthusian
copyists and correctors of Latin manuscripts, was written in 1417 by
Oswald de Corda, Bavarian-born vicar of the Grande Chartreuse; it is
the earliest known example of an attempt to formulate principles of
textual emendation. Although the Opus pacis includes discussions of
orthography, etymology, and grammar, it focuses on the practical
dilemmas of scribes faced with variant spellings, accents, and
pronunciations. The twelve surviving manuscripts of the treatise
testify to its popularity throughout the fifteenth and early sixteenth
centuries: it circulated also outside the Carthusian Order (to the
Cologne Crosiers, the Cologne Brethren of the Common Life, the
Benedictines of St. Matthias in Trier, and the reforming bishop,
Nicholas of Cues) and inspired the compilation of similar handbooks in
other religious orders (the Windesheim and Bursfeld Congregations).
This thesis offers the first complete critical edition of the text and
description of the manuscripts, two of which are autographs. The
accompanying study examines the Carthusian tradition of textual
uniformity, the biography of Oswald de Corda, the sources and structure
of the Opus pacis, and the use and influence of the work within and
outside the Carthusian Order. The study concludes by showing how
Carthusian piety fundamentally inspired and encouraged these monks'
concern for uniformity. Although the attitude of reverence toward the
written word could inhibit criticism of sacred texts, the Opus pacis,
recommends judicious emendation and looks forward to the work of
Erasmus and other religious humanists of the sixteenth century.