A New Translation of the Prologue and Book One
The Rationale Divinorum Officiorum is arguably the most important medieval treatise on the symbolism of church architecture and rituals of worship. Written by the French bishop William Durand of Mende (1230-1296), the treatise is ranked with the Bible as one of the most frequently copied and disseminated texts in all of medieval Christianity. It served as an encyclopedic compendium and textbook for liturgists and remains an indispensable guide for understanding the significance of medieval ecclesiastical art and worship ceremonies.
This book marks the first English translation of the prologue and book one of the Rationale in almost two centuries. Timothy M. Thibodeau begins with a brief biography of William Durand and a discussion of the importance of the work during its time. Thibodeau compares previous translations of the Rationale in the medieval period and afterward. Then he presents his translation of the prologue and book one. The prologue discusses the principles of allegorical interpretation of the liturgy, while book one features detailed descriptions of the various parts of the church and its ecclesiastical ornaments. It also features extensive commentary on cemeteries, various rites of consecration and dedication, and a discussion of the sacraments.
Thibodeau is a well-respected historian who has published extensively on the history of Christianity and the liturgy of the medieval Church. He is also coeditor of the critical edition of the Rationale in Latin. His translation is an indispensable guide for both scholars and general readers who hope to gain a richer understanding of medieval art, architecture, and culture.
"We are indebted to Thibodeau for making this accessible to students and scholars, and the more general reader, for a long time to come." — Kenneth Stevenson, Journal of Theological Studies
"[Thibodeau's] long and close engagement with the text is... unrivalled in undertaking an Enlgish translation of the prologue and first book." — John Harper, Journal of Ecclesiastical HistoryBangor University
"The work that Timothy M. Thibodeau has done with Père Davril has secured him high esteem in academic circles. The fact that Thibodeau has consecrated much of his professional career to this subject makes him one of the world class experts on Durandus. I cannot say enough about his scholarship." — Michael Driscoll, associate professor of theology, University of Notre Dame
"William Durand of Mende's Rationale Divinorum Officiorum is the most comprehensive source for our knowledge of worship in the late-medieval Western Church. It offers an engaging exposition of a complex and subtle semiotic system involving the personnel, gestures, ornamentation, and architecture of the ritual action. Easy access to the present sample of Durand's work will be useful not only to liturgical historians and theologians but to medievalists in general and all students of culture." — Geoffrey Wainwright, Cushman Professor of Theology, Duke University
"For most modern students and even most scholars of the Middle Ages, the symbolism of the liturgy and physical structure of the church and its fittings remain terra incognita. Yet these rites, arts, structures, and allegorical understandings were essential elements of that world. Timothy M. Thibodeau's book makes available a central text opening rich and complex fields to a broad range of readers." — Richard W. Kaeuper, professor of history, University of Rochester
Book 1. On the church building and ecclesiastical property and furnishings; On consecrations and the sacraments
1. On the church building and its parts
2. On the altar
3. On the pictures, curtains, and ornaments of the church
4. On the bells
5. On the cemetery and other sacred and religious places
6. On the dedication of a church
7. On the dedication of the altar
8. On consecrations and unctions
9. On the ecclesiastical sacraments