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Medieval Sourcebook:
Documentary Sources on Catholic Teaching

also available at American University Catholic file archives

by Paul Halsall

[Version 3. Revised 2/5/1996]

This document was created to list the documentary sources of Catholic teaching for members of the extremely contentious Internet maillist, the Free Catholic List. I hope it will be of use to others, perhaps less contentious.

Most of the documents listed here are fairly easily obtainable. For a few, access to a good Divinity library may be required. The important thing is always to consult the full text rather than books of excerpts. This document is an attempt to provide a guide to the various documents, where the documents are located, and how to get them.

For American scholars an excellent source for books such as those listed below is:-

Christian Book Distributors
PO Box 7000,
Peabody MA 01961-7000
orders: 1-508-977-5000
customer service: 1-508-977-5050

The prices I have given are the ones from their current catalogue. They will send the catalogue free to anyone who requests it.

The Bible

Free Catholic subscribers seem to use various Bible texts, but none of us is obsessed, as one sometimes finds on general Christian lists, with the King James Version of the Bible.

The standard Catholic Bible is the current Latin version, known as the New Vulgate. This is the:-

Nova Vulgata Bibliorum Sacrorum editio., Editio typica altera. (Civitas Vaticana: Libreria editrice vaticana, 1986)

See also:-

Biblia Sacra Vulgata, 4th edition, (Stuttgart: GBS; New York: American Bible Society, 1990) $54.95

The standard edition of the Jewish Scriptures, or Old Testament, in Hebrew is:-

Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, ed., K. Elliger (Stuttgart: GBS; New York: American Bible Society; 1977) $48.95

The standard New Testament comes in two versions, both identical in text:-

Novum Testamentum Graece, ed. Nestle-Aland, 27th edition, (Stuttgart: GBS; New York: American Bible Society, 1994 {check date}) $21.95 -this contains the textual varients for every variant reading, but does not give all sources for variations.

New Testament in Greek, 4th Ed., (New York: United Bible Societies, 1993), various formats, e.g. standard with dictionary $32.95 -this contains variant readings for fewer texts, but gives the sources in much more detail for the varients it does give. It is directed towards translators.

If you know some Greek (enough to understand the phrase "aorist participle", for example), even if you cannot remember very much, there is an excellent word by word grammatical analysis of the New Testament available, which can help you avoid simple grammer mistakes:-

Max Zerwick and Mary Grosvenor, A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament, unabridged 4th ed., (Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1993)

For those interested in the "majority text", which is at the base of the King James Version, there is:-

New Testament in Original Greek According to the Byzantine/Majority Textform, ed. Maurice Robinson and William Pierpont, (1991), $18.95

The standard Greek Version of the Old Testament and Apocrypha, which is some cases is preferable to the Hebrew text, is:-

Septuginta, ed., Alfred Rahlfs, (New York: American Bible Society, reprint of 1935 ed.) $47.95

An older version, but with a side by side English translation is:-

Septuagint with Apocrypha, trans. Sir Lancelot Brenton, (Hendrikson, reprint of 1851 edition) $24.95

Bible Translations

As far as I am aware there is no current translation of the modern Vulgate [Latin] version. This is because since the publication of the encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu in 1942 Rome has encouraged Catholic translations to derive from the original languages. For those who want a translation of the older Vulgate versions [not the current Vulgate, which is based on modern critical texts in the same was as modern English translations], the only real option is:-

The Douay-Rheims Bible. (NT in Rheims 1582, OT 1609 - but largely redone by the 18th-century English Roman Catholic leader, Bishop Challoner, in 1738 and 1749-52] - this is often available in second hand bookstores, but is also available in reprint from the traditionalist Catholic publisher, TAN Books with the following pub. information:- The Holy Bible, translated from the Latin Vulgate; diligently compared with the Hebrew, Greek, and other editions in divers languages, (Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books and Publishers, 1989). with the note that "This Bible has been photographically reproduced from the 1899 edition of the John Murphy Company, Baltimore, Maryland..."

But do not ignore:-

The King James Version. (1611) [known as the Authorised Version in British usage] - this is still widely available, primarily because of the beauty of some of its translations, because of its central importance as a work of English literature, and because of the insistance of some English-speaking Evangelicals that it is a uniquely authoratative translation. Although originally printed with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books, such editions are rare now. Unlike the Douay-Rheims, which is a translation of the Latin, the King James Version was from the original languages. Although modern scholarship has led to vastly improved Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic versions of these texts, the King James, more than any other commonly read version, preserves the exact wording and structure of the underlying text.

Modern Catholic Biblical scholarship is represented in two main modern translations:

The New Jerusalem Bible. (1985)- an English language utilization of the work of French scholars. This is widely used in Britain, Ireland and the former British Empire [!]. Some prefer the older Jerusalem Bible (1966) but the "New" version incorporates more recent scholarship. Famous for its use of "Yahweh" to refer to God.

The New American Bible (1970) [with revised New Testament 1989] - a translation by American Catholic scholars to replace the mixed origin Confraternity Bible of the 1950s. The second edition of the New Testament attempts some "inclusivity" in its language. In my opinion the NAB has raised banality to a translation principle!

Trustworthy ecumenical versions [Catholics should always make sure to buy versions with the "Apocrypha" or "Deutero-canonical books"] include:-

The Revised English Bible. (1989) - a recent revision of the New English Bible (NT 1961, Complete 1970). Basically a British version in modern serious English. This sounds well when read out loud.

The New Revised Standard Version. (1990) - the latest incarnation of the King James tradition. It is a redoing of the Revised Standard Version (NT 1946, OT 1952, Apoc. 1957) [probably the most cited of all modern versions], which itself was a revision of several earlier revisions. The NRSV adopts a very moderate "inclusive" language approach - it translates "masculine" words that unequivocally include males and females [such as St. Paul's "Brothers" as more inclusive English, for instance "Brothers and sisters"], but does not go out of its way to avoid "patriarchal" words, such as "kingdom" or "father", where these are used in the original. This is the current standard Bible for scholarly citation. Like most major modern translations, the NRSV is issued by a number of publishers. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version, edited by Bruce Metzger and Roland E. Murphy, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991) is especially useful. It contains for instance those books included in Greek and Russian Bibles but not in the standard Western "Deuterocanonica/Apocrypha".

The New International Version. (NT 1973, Complete 1978) Basically a Bible for Evangelical Christians who do not obsess on the King James Version [i.e. the vast majority]. Trustworthy, but willing to use Protestant theological buzz words.

The Tanakh (1985). This is a translation by the Jewish Publication Society of the *T*orah (1962) [the Law], the *N*evi'm (1978) [the Prophets], and the *K*ethuvim (1982)[The Writings]. Useful as a Jewish translation of what are, after all, Jewish Holy Books. This replaces the earlier 1917 JPS translation.

Serious students should avoid, in my opinion, the following versions:-

The Good News Bible. (NT 1966, OT 1976, Apoc 1979) - this translation is fun to read, but simplifies some underlying text, This is fine for telling a story but not for dogmatic discussion.

The Living Bible. (1971) - an admitted "paraphrase", redolent of middle class American sensibilities. Great for teenagers but that is all. I suppose the high point is its translation of I Samuel 24:3: the King James Version has Saul go into the cave to "cover his feet" [as so often in the KJV, the exact Hebrew words], the RSV has Saul go into the cave to "relieve himself". The Living Bible has Saul go into the cave to "use the bathroom". Avoid.

The New World Translation. (1961) - a Jehovah's Witness denominational translation, subtly done to support JW ideas, such as polytheism.

Schofield Reference Bibles - there are a number of editions of various translations with this title. They feature a "dispensationalist" method of interpretation - i.e. that there are a series of distinct "dispensations" in history. One effect is to marginalize modern Jewish history. The whole approach is, however, favoured by some American "fundamentalists" among whom "Schofield" versions have had a huge impact.

Bible Commentaries

I make no attempt to list sets of commentaries. The following are often referred to in Catholic discussions.

The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, eds. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Roland E. Murphy, (Englewood Cliffs, NJ : Prentice-Hall, c1990) -this replaces the earlier Jerome Biblical Commentary of of 1968. It is an essentially moderate approach, definitely not literalist, and takes account of modern scholarship.

The Navarre Bible, (Dublin: Four Courts Press, various dates). -This is a translation of a Spanish commentary done at the Opus Dei University of Navarre. It contains, with each book of the Bible in a separate volume, the New Vulgate Latin text, the Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition, translation (which had about 70 changes in the New Testament from the standard RSV), and an extremely conservative commentary.

The Oxford Companion to The Bible, ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, (New York: Oxford university Press, 1993) -not really a commentary, but contains lots of information, more easily available than elsewhere.

Early Councils

[Accepted by Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians]

There are a number of sources for Church Council degrees. The standard Latin references for Roman Catholics are:-

Denzinger, Heinrich, ed., Enchiridion Symbolorum Definitionem et Declarationum de Rebus Fidei et Morum. Editio 37. (Friburgi Brisgoviae : Herder, 1991) -often cited as just "Denzinger" this includes both conciliar and papal pronouncements. The new edition is easier to use than older versions.

For conciliar decrees in particular see:-

Conciliorum oecumenicorum decreta, ed. Josepho Alberigo et al, 3rd edition, (Bologna: Istituto per le scienze religiose, 1973) -this covers all Ecumenical councils including Vatican II. The older 1962 edition is useful for the councils before this.

For an English language version there is:

Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, 2 Volumes, edited by Norman P. Tanner., (London : Sheed & Ward ; Washington, DC : Georgetown University Press, 1990). v. 1. Nicaea I to Lateran V -- v. 2. Trent to Vatican II. -includes the documents in the original Greek and/or Latin text, a reproduction of Conciliorum oecumenicorum decreta, and English translations. Probably the best place to go.

Some libraries may not have this yet, in which case the much older Schroeder edition may be used:-

Disciplinary Decrees of the General Councils, Text, Translation, and Commentary, by Rev. H. J. Schroeder, O.P., (St. Louis, Mo.: London: B. Herder, 1937) -this gives the Greek and Latin texts and should be available in any Catholic university library, but may be a little hard to find elsewhere.

An easily available, and trustworthy, English translation of the various canons and decrees of the first seven councils usually called "ecumenical", along with the full texts of a number of other important early councils is available in:-

Henry R. Percival, ed., The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Unidivided Church, their canons and dogmatic decrees, together with the canons of all the local synods which have received ecumenical acceptance, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers 2nd Series, Vol. XIV, general editor Philip Schaff, (Edinburgh: T&T Clark; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, repr. 1988) -despite its long title and citation this book is easily available at a very reasonable $24.95, sometimes less.

-The following councils' documents are included:-

1. Nicea I 325AD
 Ancyra 314AD
 Neocaesarea c. 315AD
 Gangra c.325-381AD
 Antioch in Encaenis 341AD
 Laodicea c.343-383AD
2. Constantinople I 381AD
3. Ephesus 431AD
-- these three only accepted by the "monophysite" churches
4. Chalcedon 451AD
-- these four accepted by Anglicans [?]
5. Constantinople II 553AD
6. Constantinople III 680-681AD
*Council in Trullo/Quinisext 692AD
-This supplies canons missing from the 5th and 6th councils.
Its decrees were accepted at the 7th, and form the basis of
Orthodox canon law. Not strictly an "ecumenical" or "local"
 Sardica 343 or 344AD
 Code of African Church/
 Carthage 419AD
 Constantinople 394AD
 Carthage 257AD
 [Canons received by Quinsext
 and Ratified by Nicea II]
 Canon 2 of the Quinsext also
 accepted disciplinary rulings
 of a number of fathers - these
 also are printed.
7. Nicea II 787AD

Later Councils

[Only accepted by Roman Catholics]

See the references for all councils above. Specific standard sources are:-

For Lateran Councils I, II, III, IV, there is a very important French source:-

Raymond Foreville, Latran I, II, III et Latran IV, Vol 6 in Histoire des Conciles Oecume'niques, ed. G. Dumiege, (Paris: 1965)

For the 4th Lateran Council [the most important Medieval council]:-

English Historical Documents Vol III, (1189-1327), ed. D.C. Douglas (general editor), H. Rothwell (Vol III), Pages 643-676

For the Council of Trent

The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, trans. H.J. Schroeder, (Rockford IL: TAN, 1978) [the original 1941 edition, published by B. Herder contained Latin and English texts sided by side.

For the Second Vatican Council, there are two main versions, each with different virtues:

The Documents of Vatican II, with Notes and Comments by Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Authorities, edited by Walter M. Abbott and Joseph Gallagher, (New York: Guild Press, 1966) -The introductions are very informative about the background of each of the documents, including voting manoevres.

Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, edited by Austin Flannery, (Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1975) [A second edition has come out recently] -This contains not only the documents but the various documents issued in later years which attempted to put the decress into effect. There is no real commentary though. Some concerns have been raised about the translation of Gaudium et Spes in the area of marriage teaching.

All the Vatican II main documents are available on the Internet at the ftp/gopher site LISTSERV.AMERICAN.EDU

The Vatican II documents, with English title, (Latin title) and date of issue [and main discussion points for Free Catholic members - the documents marked with a * are MOST commonly read], are:-

*Constitution on Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) 12/4/1963 [Did or did not the Council mandate the liturgical reforms that have transformed Roman Catholic worship since 1965]

Decree on Means of Social Communication (Inter Mirifica) 12/4/1963

*Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) 12/4/1963 [position of bishops with respect to the pope. Nature of Church authority, and religious obedience. Final chapter addresses place of Mary in the Church]

Decree on the Churches of the Eastern Rite (Orientalium Ecclesiarum) 11/21/1964

*Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio) 11/21/1965 [Makes an explicit statement about a "heirarchy of truths"]

Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops (Christus Dominus) 10/28/1965

Decree on Renewal of Religious Life (Perfectae Caritatis) 10/28/1965 [Position of members of religious orders in the Church: are sisters "laity" for instance?]

Decree on Priestly Training (Optatum Totius) 10/28/1965

Declaration on Christian Education (Gravissum Educationis) 10/28/1965

*Declaration on the Relation to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate) 10/28/1965 [Church relationship with the Jewish people is main point here]

*Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) 11/18/1965 [Nature of Biblical revelation. Place of Tradition.]

Decree on Apostolate of Lay (Apostolicam Actuositatem) 11/18/1965

*Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae) 12/7/1965 [Does this represent a statement about conscience or Human freedom? Is this a change in Church teaching?]

Decree on Mission Activity of the Church (Ad Gentes Divinus), 12/7/1965.

Decree on Ministry of Priests (Presbyterorum Ordinis) 12/7/1965

*Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) 12/7/1965 [Huge variety of topics - from war and peace, to the nature of marriage]

Papal Documents

The official Latin record of papal and curial documents is the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, issued each year as a periodical. Note that note all Vatican documents are contained here, only those of a public nature:-

Acta Apostolicae Sedis, (Cittaá del Vaticano, etc.: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis) [Former title Acta Santae Sedis]

There is a collection of translations of all papal encyclical, but not other documents, in

The Papal Encyclicals, compiled by Claudia Carlen, (Wilmington, N.C.: McGrath Pub. Co., 1981), 5 Volumes: CONTENTS: [1] 1740-1878 -- [2] 1878-1903 -- [3] 1903-1939 -- [4] 1939-1958 -- [5] 1958-1981.

Note that this is only likely to be available in large libraries. It was reprinted in 1990 with the following publication information (Ann Arbor: Pierian Press, 1990).

A popular collection of extracts from encyclicals, still available in some second hand stores is:-

Anne Fremantle, The Papal Encyclicals in Their Historical Context, expanded edition, (New York: Mentor-Omega, 1963)

Current papal documents are issued in various forms. In Britain they are usually issued in pamphlets by the Catholic Truth Society, in the United States they are published in Origins, a regular publication of the US bishops. They are also available in pamphlet form, usually from St. Paul's Books & Media. Another useful collection is the second volume [not second edition] of Austin Flannery's Vatican II. Many, but not all, modern documents are available by gopher and ftp from the internet site LISTSERV.AMERICAN.EDU.

As a point of style, I recommend always citing a printed version of a text in scholarly writing - computer and internet based texts are still too vulnerable to alteration.

The most discussed papal and/or Vatican documents, with papal issuer, Latin title, and date of issue [and main discussion points for Free Catholic members - the documents marked with a * are MOST commonly discussed], are:-

Boniface VIII, *Unam Sanctam [Papal Bull], November 1302 [Explicates dogma that there is no salvation outside communion with the Bishop of Rome]

Benedict XIV, Vix Pervenit, 11/1/1745 [First pope to issue "encyclicals. This one states that usury is forbidden - all usury!]

Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos, 8/15/1832 [Attacks freedom of religion]

Pius IX, Quanta Cura 12/8/1864 [Accompanied the Syllabus of Errors] On the Immaculate Conception (1854).

Leo XIII, Aeterni Patris 8/4/1879 [Promoted Thomism in Catholic universities]

Leo XIII, Libertas 6/22/1888 [On the ending of slavery]

Leo XIII, Catholicae Ecclesiae 11/20/1890 [On African slavery]

Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum 5/15/1891 ["On the Condition of the Working Class" - this represents the beginning of modern Catholic Social Teaching]

St. Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis 9/8/1907 [Began the Modernist purge]

Pius XI, Quas Primas, (On the Feast of Christ the King) 12/11/1925

Pius XI, Quadragismo anni (On the Fortieth Anniversary) 12/23/1929 [Continued tradition of Catholic social teaching begun in Rerun Novarum]

Pius XI, Casti Connubii (On Chastity in Marriage) 12/31/1930 [On contraception]

Pius XI, *Mit Brennede Sorge, (On the Church and the German Reich) 3/14/1937 [Church response to Nazism]

Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris (On Atheistic Communism) 3/19/1937

Pius XII, Divini afflante Spiritu 9/30/1943 [Allowed Catholic scholars to undertake modern biblical criticism]

[Vatican Statement], Letter to the Bishop of Boston 1949 [Condemned Catholic priests who were preaching that only Roman Catholics could be saved.

Pius XII, *Humani Generis 8/12/1950 [Began a minor theological purge of the theologians who later dominated Vatican II. Discussed Catholic views on evolution]

John XXIII,Mater et Magistra (Christianity and Social Progress) 5/15/1961 [Catholic social teaching]

John XXIII, *Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) 1/10/1963 [Issues of peace]

Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei (On the Holy Eucharist) 1965 [Discusses meaning of "transubstantiation]

Paul VI, Populorum progresso (On the Development of Peoples) 1967 [More Catholic social teaching]

Paul VI, Celibacy of the Priest (1967).

Paul VI, ***Humanae vitae (On the Regulation of Birth) 1968 [The most famous encyclical ever. On contraception]

Paul VI, Credo on the People of God (1968).

[Vatican Statement] Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics 1975 [Addresses masturbation, divorce, and homosexuality]

[Vatican Statement] *Inter Insigniores, (On Admission of Women to the Priesthood) 1976 [First Vatican statement on the topic - in response to Anglican ordinations]

John Paul II [The current pope has a large output of documents of varying length and importance. The following are only a selection]

[Vatican Statement] On Liberation Theology 1984

[Vatican Statement] *On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons 1986 [Defined homosexuals as "objectively disordered"]

On Catholic Universities 1990 [On extent of academic freedom in Catholic universities]

[Vatican Statement], Regarding Legislation on Homosexuals, 1990 [Called on American bishops to oppose civil rights legislation for lesbian and gay people].

Centesimus Annus 1991 [On the anniversary of Rerum Novarum - the Pope's views on Capitialism]

*Ordinatio Sacerdotalis 1994 [On women priests]

Canon Law

The first ever Code of Canon Law was issued in 1917 as Acta Apostolicae Sedis vol9:pars 2, with the title Codex Iuris Canonici. A useful text for locating information about what was contained there is:-

Canon law; a text and commentary, by T. Lincoln Bouscaren, Adam C. Ellis, and Francis N. Korth., 4th rev. ed., (Milwaukee: Bruce Pub. Co., 1966)

In 1983 a new Code of Canon Law [Codex Juris Canonici] was issued. There are several versions in English. Note that the more recent one was commented on at the University of Navarre. This is the Opus Dei powerhouse in northern Spain - a notable center of extreme conservative thought and activity.

The standard Latin-English text is:-

Codex Juris Canonici (1983). English & Latin, Code of canon law, Latin-English edition : translation prepared under the auspices of the Canon Law Society of America, (Washington, D.C.: Canon Law Society of America, 1983)

See also:-

The Code of Canon Law : a text and commentary edited by James A. Coriden, Thomas J. Green and Donald E., (New York : Paulist Press, 1985) -Commissioned by the Canon Law Society of America. This contains a commentary, without which the Code is more or less opaque to the non-specialist.

Codex Juris Canonici (1983). English & Latin. Code of Canon Law annotated : Latin-English edition of the Code of Canon Law and English-language translation of the 5th Spanish-language edition of the commentary, prepared under the responsibility of the Instituto Martín de Azpilcueta; edited by E. Caparros, M. Thériault, J. Thorn, (Montréal: Wilson & Lafleur, 1993)

Sometimes people want to make comparisons with Eastern Orthodox canon law. For Eastern churches in communion with Rome there is a recent and new compilation called:-

Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium

An English version has recently become available:-

Codex canonum ecclesiarum Orientalium. English & Latin. 1992, (Washington, D.C. : Canon Law Society of America, c1992)

Also useful are:-

The Eastern Catholic churches : constitution and governance: according to the Code of canons of the Eastern churches, by John D. Faris, (New York : Saint Maron Publications, 1992) This is a commentary on Codex canonum ecclesiarum Orientalium, Canons 1-322. with English translation and (in an appendix) Latin text of the canons,

Eastern Catholic church law : according to the Code of canons of the Eastern churches, ed. Victor J. Pospishil, (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Saint Maron Publications, 1993)

For other Orthodox churches the situation is confused and complicated. Supposedly all ancient canons are still in force, but in practice this is not the case. Canon law in the "eastern" churches derives from canons of the Ecumenical councils, from decrees of the Synod Endemousa ["Standing synod"] during the Byzantine period, local councils, Roman Law [expressed in various compilations such as Justinian's Corpus Iuris Civilis and the late Byzantine Basilics, as well as certain Imperial edicts called Novels], and the later rulings made by canon lawyers and the governing authorities of various national Orthodox Churches. It is, frankly, a mess. Some of the above documents are available in English, such as Justinian's Code, others are available but rare, having been translated in various dissertations, and others are simply not available except in Greek, Russian, Arabic, Armenian, and so forth. There is available in English a translation of a compilation of Orthodox canon law known as the Pedalion [The "Rudder"]. This compilation, made in the late 18th century, is usually regarded with maximum distrust. This is, as yet, nothing to equal it in English.

The Rudder of the Orthodox Catholic Church: The Compilation of the Holy Canons by Saints Nicodemus and Agapius, first published in 1800, the fifth edition, published in Athens in 1908 by John Nicoledies, translated by D. Cummings, (Chicago IL: Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1957, repr. 1983)


The Roman Catholic Church has, as body issued very few official Catechisms. For discussion in modern times, four are of overwhelming importance.

Catechism of the Council of Trent: for parish priests, issued by order of Pope Pius V; translated into English, (New York: Joseph F. Wagner; London, B. Herder, 1923)

The Baltimore Catechism: There were multiple editions of this text. One of the latest, before Vatican II mandated a changed approach was:-

The new Confraternity edition, revised Baltimore Catechism no. 3. The text of the official revised version, (New York, Benziger Bros., 1949)

A New Catechism: Catholic Faith for Adults issued with Supplement, [New York: Herder and Herder, 1970] - this was issued after Vatican II by the Dutch bishops, and was widely read. Some Roman officials had questions and comments, so a Supplment was issued in later editions, dealing with such issues.

All previous official Catechism have been superceded by the new Cathechism of the Catholic Church, written in French, and made available recently in English.

Catechism of the Catholic Church. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana; Boston, Mass. ; Bronx, N.Y. : distributed by Alba House) [and a number of other publishers] $29.95 (hardback), $19.95 (pb) A mass market edition will soon be published by Doubleday.

Ecclesiastical Encyclopedias

Here is an annotated list of the main eccleisiastical encyclopeadias in English, Italian, and French. These texts are major works of scholarship. The French ones in particular are more like collections of academic articles arranged alphabetically than the expanded dictionaries we often call encyclopeadias in the English speaking world. It is often worth looking up the same subject in all the reference works, since different scholars address the same issue from different points of view. Although the English works are pretty good, the French ones are superb.

Bibliotheca Sanctorum, 12 vols., (Rome: Istituto Giovanni XXIII della Pontificia University Lateranense, 1961-69) Written in Italian, this is the largest reference work on saints, with almost all known saints having a distinct entry and bibliography. There are also some illustrations.

Dictionary of the Middle Ages, ed. Joseph Strayer, (New York: Scribner, 1982- ) Not exactly a "Catholic" work, nevertheless many major medievalists collaborated on this work, which includes up to date bibliographies on many major topics of interest to research in Church history.

Dictionnaire d'histoire et de geographie ecclesiastiques, ed. Alfred Baudrillart et al, (Paris: Letouzey et Ane, 1912- ) This is not yet finished, but is an exhaustive work on Christian buildings, art, relics and sites, as well as many historical topics.

Dictionnaire de droit canonique, 7 Vols.. ed. R. Naz (Paris:Letouzey et Ane, 1935-65) Immense discussion on the history of all aspects of canon law. But also see the DTC below.

Dictionnaire de spiritualite, ed. M. Viller et al, (Paris: Beauchesne, 1937- ) Looks at issues of prayer, sanctity, as well as theology.

Dictionnaire de theologie catholique, ed. A. Vacant et al, (Paris: Letouzey et Ane, 1909-50) The biggest and the best! Immensely erudite work on all aspects of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox history, theology, ritual and tradition (sometimes with a Roman Catholic confessional bias).

New Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. William McDonald et al., (New York McGraw-Hill, 1967) The most extensive English language work of its kind (although the older Catholic Encyclopeadia can still be consulted with much profit). Articles were written by leading Catholic historians, theologians, moralists, and scholars. There are a series of updated year books

See also:-

The Catholic Encyclopedia; an international work of reference on the constitution..., 15 vols. (New York, Robert Appleton company, 1907-12)


An important source for Catholic dogmatics, neatly, if somewhat misleadingly, dividing Church teachings as "de fide" and other wise, is the work of Ludwig Ott.

Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic dogma edited in English by James Canon Bastible, 4th ed., (St. Louis, Mo.: B. Herder, 1960) -Translation of Grundriss der Katholischen dogmatik.

Catholic Resources Network

It is also useful to know about Catholic Resources Network. CRNET has a huge collection of texts available on a BBS. It can be searched for free [and you can capture document texts with your software], but regular downloads are only possible with a subscription. The BBS can handle 14,400bps modems, so even with screen capture, you can get useful ammounts of information. CRNET is usually quicker to have new texts available than any printed mediu,. Here is the info :-

The Catholic Resource Network
 Trinity Communications
 PO Box 3610
 Manassas, VA 22110
 Voice: 1-703-791-2576
 Fax: 1-703-791-4250
 Data: 1-703-791-4336

The Catholic Resource Network is a Catholic online information and service system. To browse CRNET or join, set your modem to 8 data bits, 1 stop bit and no parity, and call 1-703-791-4336.


I hope this list of reference is useful to people. I may expand it a little in the future, and so please send any corrections or suggestions to me at

Paul Halsall

This version of the text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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(c)Paul Halsall Feb 1996