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BOOK REVIEWS701 Vom Apostelkonzil zum Ersten Vatikanum: Studien zur Geschichte der Konzilsidee. By Hermann Josef Sieben. [Konziliengeschichte, Reihe B-. Untersuchungen.] (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh. 1996. Pp. xii,600.) Although the author addresses issues covering nearly two millennia, the heart of this book is the study of issues arising in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In the first part, the focus indeed is on the councils of the Apostles and the Elders reported in the Acts of the Apostles and on the great councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon. An intriguing aspect of this part is the attention given the legends which grew up around the early councils . Sieben also addresses in this part, as he does throughout the book, the question of the reception of conciliar decrees throughout the Church. The second and third parts address at length, respectively, the Council of Basel and that of Ferrara-Florence. Here the studies have various points of departure , ranging from the influence of Aristotle on conciliar thought to Greek ideas about the role of a council in the Church. Here too the issue of reception looms large, involving not just disputes among ecclesiastics but the crucial role played by the princes of Europe in the reception of conciliar decrees. (The Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges [1438] is one of the most important among the examples of royal intervention which Sieben examines.) The fourth part, and much the most interesting to the reviewer, illustrates the continuity ofissues debated in the fifteenth century at the Council ofTrent and down to the First Vatican Council.Jesuit thinkers loom large in Sieben's discussion of Trent, and the continuity of Gallican thought—overlapping with Jansenist opinion—into the time of the French Revolution receives due attention . (The Synod of Pistoia [1786] receives particular mention in the next to the last of these studies.) Here too the idea of reception by the universal Church is of crucial importance. Throughout this volume, the depth of Sieben's research is notable. Alongside the usual sources for the history of councils and synods, he has employed texts like the Miraculum S.Euphemiae. Byzantine sources are permitted to speak for themselves, and Latin manuscripts have been consulted alongside printed texts. Moreover, the tone is irenic rather than polemical, a fault ofmuch which is written on the late medieval councils. Some of the material treated will be familiar, but the attention given to writers like the Jesuit Alphonso de Salmerón is welcome . The most welcome aspect ofthe book is the emphasis on reception. It is too easy to become focused on the internal workings of councils, disputing the relative importance of the pope's authority weighed against that of the assembled fathers. Sieben makes us look at the way these issues played themselves out far from the seat of a particular council, not just in the decisions of prelates and the arguments of learned men but in the actions ofprinces. Thomas M. Izbicki Johns Hopkins University ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
p. 701
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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