Gratian the Theologian shows how one of the best-known canonists of the medieval period was also an accomplished theologian. Well into the twelfth century, compilations of Church law often dealt with theological issues. Gratian's Concordia discordantium canonum or Decretum, which was originally compiled around 1140, was no exception, and so Wei claims in this provocative book. The Decretum is the fundamental canon law work of the twelfth century, which served as both the standard textbook of canon law in the medieval schools and an authoritative law book in ecclesiastical and secular courts. Yet theology features prominently throughout the Decretum, both for its own sake and for its connection to canon law and canonistic jurisprudence.
This book provides an introduction to and reassessment of three aspects of Gratian's theology: his use of the Bible and biblical exegesis; his penitential theology; and his handling of the other sacraments and the liturgy. The manuscript discoveries and methodological breakthroughs of the past few decades have rendered older accounts of Gratian's theology obsolete. This book reappraises Gratian's theological views and doctrines in light of recent scholarly advances, particularly the discovery of new theological sources that Gratian appears to have known and used and the discovery of the first recension of the Decretum, which differs in significant ways from the considerably longer vulgate text that scholars have traditionally relied upon. In the process, this book also uncovers new evidence concerning Gratian's intellectual background and milieu and provides new insights into the Decretum's composition, structure, and development.
Ultimately, this book does more than just enhance our understanding of Gratian the theologian. It also contributes significantly to our knowledge of Gratian the jurist and to the world of theology and law in which he worked.
"Lucidly written, extensively documented, and masterfully argued, Gratian the Theologian is an impressive work of scholarship that draws upon a wide-ranging, yet intimate knowledge of the relevant legal and theological sources to illuminate and contextualize the theological elements in Gratian's thought and, at the same time, to contribute substantively to the ongoing discussion of the textual history of the Decretum. Addressed to specialists and advanced students, this book belongs on the shelves of all academic libraries supporting programs in canon law, theology, and medieval history."~Thomas M. Dousa, Catholic Library World
"The granular detail Wei provides should complement and stretch recent scholarship on Gratian and the Drecretalists… a laudable contribution to the history of canon law and its deputed founder."~Patrick Hayes, Catholic Books Review
"Wei is a master of the sources and does a superb job not only of reviewing Gratian's own sources, both theological and canonical, but also of distinguishing different emphases of the first and second recension…This book admirably advances the study of both mediaeval law and mediaeval theology."~W Becket Soule OP, Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio, Ecclesiastical Law Journal
"This is an exceptionally well-argued book, one which holds tightly to its sources to draw its conclusions without getting bogged down in minutiae or losing the reader. For just this reason, Wei’s arguments are compelling and convincing, and his book is highly recommended reading for anyone with an interest in canon law, theology, or medieval religion."~Reviews in Religion and Theology
"Wei has already written extensively on Gratian, so the present work may be considered his crowning achievement. The footnotes and bibliography show his mastery of the primary sources as well as the relevant secondary literature in English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish."~Journal of Theological Studies
"Whether the current interest and controversy surrounding the Decretum’s compiler or his intent will be resolved in the near future remains uncertain. One can only guess. But whatever the outcome turns out to be, Wei’s book will have made a positive contribution to our understanding of Gratian and the nature of his place in the development of European law."~Journal of Ecclesiastical History
"This book is certainly a must-read for specialists in the field of medieval canon law, but even nonspecialists will find much in it that is useful and enlightening… Wei presents excellent context for the issues he discusses and clearly guides readers through the Decretum. The extensive footnotes display his deep knowledge of both the Decretum and twelfth-century intellectual culture. In sum, Gratian the Theologian is a deeply researched book that will be valuable for any student of the twelfth century."~Catholic Historical Review