Sources of Confirmation: From the Fathers Through the Reformers (review)
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Reviewed by
Paul Turner. Sources of Confirmation: From the Fathers Through the Reformers. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1993. Pp. 94. $6.95 (Paper).

This collection of translated selections from various primary sources documenting the development of the sacrament of confirmation is a useful contribution to students (and teachers) in the area of liturgical studies. Paul Turner has authored other books on confirmation: The Meaning and Practice of Confirmation: Perspectives from a Sixteenth-Century Controversy (Peter Lang); and Confirmation: The Baby in Solomon's Court (Paulist). This volume, however, is intended to serve as a source book tracing "the course of confirmation from its patristic origins through the Reformation" (9).

It does this well. Despite the noticeable brevity of some of the selections (some are only two lines long) and of the book as a whole, Turner does present a wide variety of sources (some apparently newly translated) from Justin (d. 165) to Bellarmine (d. 1621), arranged chronologically in thematic sections. Texts are grouped in four major areas: "Rituals and Candidates"; "Theological Reflections" (subdivided into two parts, "The Effects" and "Irrepeatability"); "Ritual Means" (covering three specific topics, "The Minister," "Matter and Form," and "Chrism"); and finally, "The Reconciliation of Heretics." These thematic sections effectively clarify many of the complex issues in the historical development of the sacrament, and are a useful way to present the primary source material.

A few minor points need to be made. First, if the time period covered includes Bellarmine, it might be appropriate to include a translated selection from the rite itself as it appeared in the Roman Pontifical (1614). Second, while the early Christian sources and the Reformers of the 16th century are well represented, the medieval selections seem rather thin in some sections, and appear to represent the pre-scholastic period more thoroughly than the later Middle Ages. Third, a few orthographic issues arise: for example, the great medieval canonist and bishop of Mende should be referred to as William Durand or Durandus (as in the Storey/Rasmussen edition of Cyrille Vogel's Medieval Liturgy: An Introduction to the Sources) rather than "Duranti," to avoid confusing the student user of the book.

A more substantive question arises concerning the sources of some of the translated excerpts. Turner expresses the hope that the book will "place in the reader's [End Page 61] hands references not readily accessible in published books or in vernacular languages" (9). He accomplishes this objective well; especially valuable are the selections from various conciliar sources. However, the notation of source editions is especially important due to the abbreviated nature of many of the selections; in order to search out the complete context, the reader must know where to look further. Indeed, each translated selection is followed by a source reference in which the full text can be found. It is true that some of these are not available in English translations, or, in some cases, in modern critical editions at all (beyond PL, PG, or Mansi, for example). However, some of the references cited do seem to need reevaluation. For example, the French Sources chrètiennes (SC) edition of Hippolytus' Apostolic Tradition is listed at the end of one excerpt from the document (13); yet, the text is available in an English-language critical edition (Hippolytus: A Text for Students, edited by G. Cuming, Grove Liturgical Study 8). However, the note on the very next selection, from Eusebius, refers the reader to the Williamson English translation available through the Penguin Classics series (a rather more "popular" source than SC). The references to more technical, multi-lingual editions are certainly helpful for doctoral students and scholars, who need to be directed to the best available text. However, if the purpose of these references is to lead the monolingual reader to an accessible complete text, reference to English-language translations and editions whenever possible would be more useful. This is especially true for undergraduate and M.A.-level students (as well as for general readers) who would profit greatly from this book. Sources for several authors, e.g., Tertullian, Ambrose, and Pseudo-Dionysius, could be updated in this way. Providing such source references consistently would increase the value of the...