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Correctories are the text-forms of the Latin Vulgate resulting from the critical emendation as practised during the course of the thirteenth century. Owing to the carelessness of transcribers, the conjectural corrections of critics, the insertion of glosses and paraphrases, and especially to the preference for readings found in the earlier Latin versions, the text of St. Jerome was corrupted at an early date. About 550 Cassiodorus made an attempt at restoring the purity of the Latin text. Charlemagne entrusted the same labour to Alcuin, who presented his royal patron with a corrected copy in 801. Similar attempts were repeated by Theodulphus Bishop of Orléans [787(?)- 821], Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury (1070-1089), Stephen Harding, Abbot of Cîteaux (1109-1134), and Deacon Nicolaus Maniacoria (about the beginning of the thirteenth century). At this period the need of a revised Latin text of the Vulgate became more imperative than ever. When, towards the end of the twelfth century, the schools of Paris were organized into the university and its various faculties adopted the same reference texts, the faculty of theology, too, adhered to a uniform text of the Latin Bible. It cannot be ascertained at present whether this adoption was owing to the chance prevalence of a certain manuscript or to the critical work of theologians, whether it was the effect of an official choice of the university or of a prevailing custom; at any rate, the almost general adoption of this text threw into oblivion a great number of genuine readings which had been current in the preceding centuries, and perpetuated a text, uniform, indeed, but very corrupt. This is the so-called "Biblia Parisiensis", or Paris Bible; no copy is known to exist in our days. The thirteenth century reacted against this evil by a series of correctories. Father Denifle enumerates as many as thirteen groups, but it is more convenient to reduce then to three classes: the Dominican, the Franciscan, and the allied correctories.

Dominican correctories

The general chapter of the Dominicans held in 1236 connects a corrected text of the Latin Bible with the members of the province of France; it ordained that all Bibles should be conformed to this. Little more is known of this work but the following correctories are more noted:

Franciscan correctories

The great Franciscan writer, Roger Bacon, was the first to formulate the true principles which ought to guide the correction of the Latin Vulgate; his religious brethren endeavoured to apply them, though not always successfully.

  1. The "Correctorium Sorbonicum", probably the work of William of Brittany, derives its name from the fact that the thirteenth-century manuscript in which the emendations were made belonged to the Library of the Sorbonne, though at present it is kept in the National Library, Paris, Manuscript lat. 15554, fol. 147-253. The marginal and interlinear glosses are derived from the Paris Bible and the correctory of the Dominican Father Theobald; the make-up of the work imitates the Dominican correctories.
  2. The "Correctorium Vaticanum" owes its name to the circumstance that its first known manuscript was the Cod. Vaticanus lat. 3466, though at present eight other copies are known, belonging to the thirteenth or the beginning of the fourteenth century. Its author is William de Mara, of Oxford, a disciple of Roger Bacon, whose principles and methods he follows. Though acquainted with several Latin and Hebrew manuscripts, the Targum, the commentaries of Rashi, and the original texts, he relied more on the authority of the early manuscripts of St. Jerome's text. There are some faults in the correctory, resulting mainly from the author's limited knowledge of Greek.
  3. Gérard de Huy was a faithful follower of Roger Bacon's principles; the old Latin manuscripts and the readings of the Fathers are his first authority, and only when they disagree does he have recourse to the original texts. Unfortunately he knew no Latin manuscripts older than those of the ninth and tenth centuries containing a text of Alcuin's recension. But Gérard knew the history of the versions and the origin of the textual corruptions of the Sacred Scriptures. He corrected the Paris Bible and gave an account of his emendations in his marginal notes.
  4. Two more Franciscan correctories must be noted: Manuscript 61 (Toulouse), of the fifteenth century, reproduces the correctory of Gérard de Buxo, of Avignon, a work rather exegetical than critical in character; Manuscript 28 (Einsiedeln), of the beginning of the fourteenth century, contains the work of John of Cologne.

Allied correctories

Mangenot mentions six other groups of correctories which have not been fully investigated as yet. Two of them are allied to the Dominican correctory of the convent of Saint-Jacques; one is represented by the Manuscript lat. 15,554, fol. 1-146, National Library, Paris; the other by Cod. Laurent., Plut., XXV, sin., cod. 4, fol. 101-107 (Florence), and by Manuscript 131, fol. 1, Arsenal, Paris. Two other groups are allied to the Franciscan correctories; one, represented by Cod. 141, lat. class. I, fol. 121-390, Marciana (Venice), depends on William de Mara and Gérard de Huy; the other, found in Manuscript 82, Borges. (Rome), depends on Gérard de Huy. Finally two very brief correctories are to be found in Manuscript 492, Antoniana, Padua, and in Manuscript Cent. I, 47, fol. 127, Nürenberg.


MANGENOT in VIG., Dict. de la Bible, s.v. Correctoires; DENIFLE, Die Handschriften der Bibel-Correctorien des 13. Jahrhunderts in Archiv für Literatur und Kirchengeschichte des Mittelalters (Freiburg, 1888), IV, 263-311, 471-601; SAMUEL BERGER, Histoire de la Vulgate pendant les premiers siècles du moyen âge (Paris, 1893); IDEM, Quam notitiam linguæ hebraicæ habuerint Christiani medii ævi temporibus in Gallia (Paris, 1893); DÖDERLEIN, Von Correctoriis biblicis in Literarisches Musæum (Altdorf, 1778), I. 1; II, 177; III, 344; VERCELLONE, Dissertazioni academiche (Rome, 1864); KAULEN, Geschichte der Vulgata (Mainz, 1868), 244-278; GREGORY, Prolegomena (Leipzig, 1904), III, 973.

About this page

APA citation. Maas, A. (1908). Correctories. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Maas, Anthony. "Correctories." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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