Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Monday, January 01, 2007

To move forward better, try looking back. Way back.

Say, to 1746, when Lucius Ferraris, an Italian Franciscan, published the world's first Catholic encyclopedia, the Prompta Bibliotheca canonica, juridica, moralis, theologia, nec non ascetica, polemica, rubricistica, historica, in 7 hefty volumes. I first became interested in the Prompta as a resource for late decretal canon law, but one can open up to almost any of its nearly 700 article-length entries and find something interesting. Besides canon law, liturgy and sacraments figure prominently in the Prompta, as do systematics, morals, and legal philosophy.

There are plenty of copies of the Prompta Bibliotheca in libraries around the world, but their yellowing pages and densely printed, double-columned Latin text discourage many would-be researchers from even asking whether topics of interest to them might have been treated by Ferraris. For that unfortunality, I now offer a simple solution.

As part of my project to bring decretal law to a wider audience, I have just posted all of the title entries in Ferraris' Prompta Bibliotheca edition of 1844. Additionally, the several score topical headings that referred readers to various Prompta entries are also included. In short, one now need only search a single webpage to determine whether a given topic was treated in Ferraris' gift to the posterity.

Oh, Happy New Year, folks.