Book Series Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis, vol. 227

Alexander Neckam

Sacerdos ad altare

Christopher McDonough (ed)

  • Pages: 294 p.
  • Size:155 x 245 mm
  • Language(s):Latin, English
  • Publication Year:2010

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53349-0
  • Hardback
  • Available


"McDonough's edition is the first to print in full both the main text Sacerdos and its gloss (...) The edited text is meticulously presented, and is clear and easy to follow. (...) McDonough's account of the mammoth task faced in producing a readable edition of Neckam's text from the one surviving witness makes for interesting reading. (...) The care and attention to detail with which this task has been undertaken is evident throughout. (...) a very fine edition." (Helen Foxhall Forbes, in The Medieval Review, 22 August 2011)

"McDonough has given us a beautifully clarifying text (...). In its totality, this edition provides a new and surprisingly wide window through which we can see the thinking behind Neckam's extraordinary grammatical pedagogy. Scholars will be grateful for the erudition and accessibility of this edition." (Rita Copeland, in The Journal of Medieval Latin, 22, 2012, p. 321)

"Un texte foisonnant, preuve d’une curiosité boulimique, nous est désormais restitué comme témoin de la culture polymorphe du passage du xiie au xiiie siècle." (Pascale Bourgain, dans: Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale, 58.230, 2015, p. 185-187)


Alexander Neckam’s Sacerdos ad altare, which survives uniquely in Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College, ms. 385/605, was among the last works composed by the abbot of St Mary’s Abbey, Cirencester. Written in the early thirteenth century, it consists of texts on subjects ranging from sacerdotal vestments to scribal instruments, and includes chapters that recommend readings in the Bible, the liberal arts and medicine, as well as in civil and canon law. The texts are followed by glosses on selected lemmata that comment on points of grammar and lexicography, illustrated by classical and biblical quotations and enlivened with occasional observations on monastic life and practices. The work attests to the educational commitment of the Austin canons, an Order that was widely recognized for their contributions to scholarship on grammar, theological exegesis and law.      

Christopher J. McDonough is Professor Emeritus of Classics, University of Toronto.  


Alexander Neckam seu Nequam — Sacerdos ad altare — ed. Ch.J. McDonough