Alexander W.H. Evers

The Collectio Avellana: An 'Eccentric' Canonical Collection?

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This paper describes the structure and contents of the Collectio Avellana, presenting the many questions that it poses to modern scholars. It is, in point of fact, a precious collection, because it transmits a large number of documents that have not been kept elsewhere; it is eccentric in its kind, too, because it contains not only papal letters and ecclesiastical texts, but also imperial re-scripts and other legislative documents. Furthermore, it represents a mystery: the compiler is unknown and it is not possible to determine the precise historical moment of compilation, the "terminus post quem" being the middle of the sixth century, and the "terminus ante quem" five centuries later, when, in the eleventh century, the two oldest manuscripts that preserve the collection were created. Of the various opinions proposed for the possible late-antique physiognomy of the CA, and for the goals of its compiler, the author believes that the suggestions of its nineteenth-century editor, Otto Günther, are still those from which one must depart in order to try to solve the many problems that the collection poses.


  • Late Antiquity
  • Collectio Avellana
  • Canon Law


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