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The Rule of the Templars: The French Text of the Rule of the Order of the Knights Templar.

In the mid-twelfth century, Bernard of Clairvaux, praising the newly established Knights Templar, said that they might be considered both monks and soldiers. In the late-20th century, the Templars, rarely praised, are often considered more rogues than soldiers or monks. The publication of this English translation of their Rule will help explain Bernard's opinion.

Upton-Ward has translated the 1886 edition of the French text, which was based on 13th- and 14th-century manuscripts. The Rule has seven parts: the primitive rule of 1129; hierarchical statutes (from around 1165) outlining the duties and prerogatives of the order's officers and brothers; lists of penances (one from around 1165, the other from around 1265) to be imposed within the order; and sections (revised throughout the twelfth and 13th centuries) on conventual life, chapter meetings, and reception into the order. In all, there are six-hundred-eighty-six clauses or regulations, which collectively reveal a religious order self-consciously attempting to shape itself for the greatest possible service to God and neighbor. Whatever one's previous opinion of the Templars, these statutes reveal a daring experiment that took the ideal of Christian action in the world to a logical extreme.

In the Introduction, Upton-Ward devotes ten pages to the origins and development of the order and six to the dating and content of the Rule. While sufficient information is provided to give an historical context for the text, a more substantial introduction could have dealt with the moral and theological justifications for the order and its suppression in the early 14th century. Additional quotation of the French text in the footnotes would sometimes be helpful. But what Upton-Ward has provided is valuable indeed, for this translation gives greater access to an often misunderstood form of religious life.
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Author:Elkins, Sharon
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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