Knoebel, Thomas L., trans., Isidore of Seville: De Ecclesiasticis Officiis (New York: The Newman Press)
Text name(s): De Ecclesiasticis Officiis; On Ecclesiastical Offices
Number of pages of primary source text: 86
Dates: 580 - 630
- Translated into English.
Translation Comments: The translation is based on the Latin edition of Christopher Lawson (Turnholt: Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina 113, 1989).
- Treatise - Other
- Religion - Institutional Church
- Church Fathers
- Clergy - Priests, Bishops, Canons
- Theology - Ecclesiology
- Theology - Sacramental
Isidore, Archbishop of Seville and Doctor of the Church, was one of the most significant figures of Visigothic Spain, exerting a tremendous influence in his own time (through his vigorous participation in the various synods of the early seventh century) as well as on education throughout the Middle Ages (through his extensive writings). His vast learning and debt to the Latin classics has led him to be considered “the last scholar of the ancient world.” Composed at the request of his brother, Bishop Fulgentius, the De Ecclesiasticis Officiis of Isidore details the historical and scriptural origins of the various church offices (not only the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours, but also feast days and holy practices, in addition to personal functions and duties contributing to the proper operation of the church) as they were found in the local church of Visigothic Spain at the beginning of the seventh century. This manual, intended for clerics and bishops, not only draws heavily from the Bible and patristic sources, but also incorporates Isidore’s own judgment and thought. This volume represents one of the few translations of one of Isidore’s works into English that have been made.
The informative and accessible introduction of twenty-five pages provides background on the life of St. Isidore, a listing of his works with descriptions relating how each fits into his corpus as a whole, and an exposition of his influence as a Father of the Church on subsequent developments in Christian and intellectual history. Knoebel also lays out the topics discussed specifically within the De Ecclesiasticis Officiis and, since the liturgy is the most prominent among them, he gives an account of the development of the Hispano-Mozarabic rite. A listing of the sources used by Isidore in this work follows.