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Monseigneur Duchesne et les Bollandistes: Correspondance.

MONSEIGNEUR DUCHESNE ET LES BOLLANDISTES: CORRESPONDANCE. Presentation, commentary, and edited by Bernard Joassart. Tabularium hagiographicum 1. Brussels: Societe des Bollandistes, 2002. Pp. 252. 50 [euro].

FRIEDRICH VON HUGEL, CUTHBERT HAMILFON TURNER, ET LES BOLLANDISTES: CORRESPONDANCE. Presentation, commentary, and edited by Bernard Joassart. Tabularium hagiographicum 2. Brussels: Societe des Bollandistes, 2002. Pp. 157. 40 [euro].

ERUDITION HAGIOGRAPHIQIQUE AU XVIIIE SIECLE: JEAN LEBEUF ET LES BOLLANDISTES: CORRESPONDANCE. Presentation, commentary, and edited by Bernard Joassart. Tabularium hagiographicum 3. Brussels: Societe des Bollandistes, 2003. Pp. 212. 45 [euro].

For several years now Bernard Joassart has been rendering signal service in amplifying our knowledge of significant Bollandists, as well as illuminating and clarifying their relations with contemporaries. The first two of the volumes under review are natural extensions of his impressive Hippolyte Delehaye (2000): the third reaches back into an earlier period of Bollandist production. Together they inaugurate a new series devoted to hagiographic research, whose aim is "to exploit the archives not only of the Bollandists and some of their correspondents but also of scholars who in modern and contemporary times have been interested in hagiography" (publisher's insert).

The first of the volumes presents correspondence between the church historian Louis Duchesne (1843-1922) and a number of Bollandists. The majority of the 122 letters published here were exchanged with Charles de Smedt and Delehaye.

The 1880s through the early 1900s were perilous times for those who adopted historical critical methods in their research. The work of hagiographers, when joined to that of scriptural exegetes, was perceived by some churchmen as constituting a broad front corrosive of traditional Catholic teaching and ultimately threatening the foundations of Catholicism itself. Critical reviews by Duchesne of books championing the apostolic origins of certain French dioceses drew fire from ecclesiastics who had a stake in defending such traditional attributions. Similarly, the critical tenor of reviews in the Analecta bollandiana raised suspicions in the Society of Jesus and at the Vatican itself that led to an extraordinary regime of censorship being imposed on the periodical. Moreover, the appearance of Duchesne's work in the Analecta bollandiana and of Bollandist reviewers in his Bulletin critique gave tangible evidence of cooperative efforts among like-minded critics.

Against this larger backdrop, this correspondence gains interest, as it provides access not only to points of scholarly discussion, but also to the state of mind of these men, and to their reactions in the face of opposition. The subjects discussed in the letters are wide-ranging. The correspondents exchange their views on publications by their contemporaries, on controversies raised by their own work, on substantive matters of mutual interest; they proffer advice on how to conduct their research and its public expression, share news regarding sanctions applied to fellow scholars, and give mutual support. J.'s copious notes contextualize and clarify the matters discussed. His introduction provides the necessary background on the correspondents and is particularly helpful in shedding light on Duchesne's "Modernism" via a careful exegesis of a 1907 letter from Duchesne to Delehaye. Thus the interest of this initial volume is not limited to hagiographical concerns, or to the history of the Bollandists, but engages the personal reactions of men caught up in the renewal and unrest of those times, and who were seen as contributing to that renewal and unrest.

Volume 2 contains correspondence of Friedrich von Hugel (1852-1925) with De Smedt, Francois Van Ortroy, and Delehaye--though principally with the last--and between Cuthbert Hamilton Turner (1860-1930) and Delehaye exclusively.

Von Hugel may be considered a pivotal figure in the Modernist movement, in the sense that he sought out scholars who were contributing to the intellectual and institutional renewal of Catholicism through their work, put such scholars in contact with others of like orientation, took initiative to make their publications better known, and organized support when he saw them threatened with ecclesiastical sanction. His own research on St. Catherine of Genoa and on mysticism more broadly provided overlapping interests with Bollandist concerns. On Delehaye's part, beyond a specialist competence in Byzantine hagiography, there were larger issues of methodology in writings such as Les legendes hagiographiques (1905) that dovetailed with von Hugel's initiatives for renewal, but that heightened Roman suspicions of the Bollandists. Thus, beyond discussion of hagiographical matters, the correspondence--particularly from von Hugel's side--is filled with references to figures familiar to readers conversant with Roman Catholic Modernism. As with the previous volume in this series, the letters provide a window into that period and additional perspectives on some of the personalities involved.

The correspondence between Turner and Delehaye (51 letters spanning 1900 to 1929) centers more on their scholarly pursuits. Turner, a High Church Anglican and fellow at Magdalen College, developed competence in the history of the primitive Church: thus he was engaged in the serious study of biblical texts. Not least of interest in these letters is the ecumenical dimension of the relationship between the two scholars--a kind of "Malines Conversation" in miniature. As the correspondence proceeds, the warmth of friendship becomes apparent. Indeed, theirs are the most personal of all the letters in the first two volumes.

As a man of the 18th century, Jean Lebeuf (1687 1760) is perhaps less well known than the figures of the first two volumes. However, he was hardly an unknown in his own day. Expert in hagiography, local history, musicology, and numismatics, he was widely consulted on a variety of subjects. He is called the father of monumental archeology and could distinguish the chronological accretions to a building through visual inspection of its architectural features, statuary, etc. A seeker of texts scattered in libraries, and a proponent of the importance of his native Auxerre in the history of hagiography and of the French Church, his interest in the work of the Bollandists is not difficult to fathom.

The discovery among previously uninventoried Bollandist papers of documents emanating from Lebeuf and two letters to him augment knowledge of his relations with the Society. Combined with previously published (but unannotated) letters, this volume comprises 21 letters between Lebeuf and Bollandists spanning 1718-1739, principally with Jean-Baptiste Du Sollier; they are supplemented by three dossiers that center on hagiographical subjects relating to Auxerre.

The letters, which focus on often technical matters of hagiography, manifest a critical orientation to the legendary character of the sources, while preserving an awareness that the legendary has value for understanding the psychology of the period. The claimed apostolic origins of certain French dioceses, that will figure again in 19th-century controversy, is touched upon, along with difficulties in identifying saints of the same name that will later exercise Delehaye in Les legendes hagiographiques.

Just as Modernism forms part of the context of the Duchesne and von Hugel correspondence in the earlier volumes, so Jansenism's influence is present here, although more recessively. The additional documentation J. brings to light enables some nuancing of the characterization by Henri Leclercq of the relations between the Bollandists and their Jansenist correspondent over the question of the relics of St. Germain of Auxerre (Jean Lebeuf, 9). Once again, the value of this published material transcends the specifics of hagiographical discussion to open onto a historical period and vivify its figures.

Though volume 2 is marred by a few typographical lapses in Turner's letters, the series is marked by the erudition characteristic of Bollandist scholarship.

University of St. Thomas. Houston

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Author:Talar, C.J.T.
Publication:Theological Studies
Date:Mar 1, 2005
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