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Reviewed by:
  • The ‘Glossa Ordinaria’ on Romans
  • Toby Burrows
Woodward, Michael Scott, ed., The ‘Glossa Ordinaria’ on Romans (TEAMS Commentary Series), Kalamazoo, Medieval Institute Publications, 2011; paperback; pp. xxi, 248; R.R.P. US$18.00; ISBN 9781580441094.

The Glossa ordinaria (the Gloss) was the standard Biblical commentary of the later Middle Ages. Compiled in the first half of the twelfth century, it brought together an enormous amount of earlier material from a variety of Patristic and early medieval authors, and became the authoritative source for Biblical study in schools and universities. The numerous excerpts, annotations, and comments were arranged into two parallel commentaries – interlinear and marginal – around the Biblical text itself. The sheer size and complexity of [End Page 269] the Gloss and its manuscript tradition have tended to discourage modern editions and translations, but there are signs that this is beginning to change.

This volume is, first and foremost, a translation into modern English of the Gloss on Romans. The translation is based on the Latin text of the Strasbourg edition of the Biblia latina cum glossa ordinaria (1480/81), cross-checked against the 1498 Basel edition. Variants between the two editions are noted, though no explanation is normally given for preferring one reading over another as the basis for the translation. The translation itself is clear and accurate, and avoids both the obviously archaic and the excessively modern. The translations of the Vulgate Biblical text appear to be editor Michael Woodward’s own, rather than any existing translation. The layout distinguishes neatly between the marginal glosses and the interlinear glosses, so there is never any doubt as to which is which.

The Notes, for the most part, simply point to the sources or likely sources for quotations and paraphrases in the Gloss itself. Not every section receives a note, however, and exegetical questions and traditions are not usually discussed at all, with only a very small number of exceptions. Woodward provides a succinct Introduction, which gives a good overview of the various sources used in compiling the Gloss and discusses its relationship to the commentary on Romans by Peter Lombard, compiled at much the same time. Woodward mounts a convincing argument against the conventional view that the Lombard used the Gloss as the basis for his commentary; the Gloss on Romans should be seen instead as a slightly later abridgement of the Lombard’s commentary.

This volume joins Mary Dove’s earlier translation of the Gloss on the Song of Songs in the same series (2004). While they are aimed primarily at students, these translations can be used as a handy starting-point by scholars more generally. It is very much to be hoped that other volumes will be added in future, with the eventual aim of completing the first translation into English of the entire Gloss. [End Page 270]

Toby Burrows
School of Humanities
The University of Western Australia


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pp. 269-270
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