Thomas of Ireland

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Thomas of Ireland (fl. 1295 before 1338), known as Thomas Hibernicus, not to be confused with the Franciscan friar Thomas de Hibernia (died c. 1270), [1] who was an Irish writer. Thomas Hibernicus's claim to fame is not as an original author, but as an anthologist and indexer.

Thomas de Hibernia was an Irish theologian.

Ireland Island in north-west Europe, 20th largest in world, politically divided into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (a part of the UK)

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.

An index is a list of words or phrases ('headings') and associated pointers ('locators') to where useful material relating to that heading can be found in a document or collection of documents. Examples are an index in the back matter of a book and an index that serves as a library catalog.



Thomas was a Fellow of the College of Sorbonne and a Master of Arts by 1295, and referred to as a former fellow in the first manuscripts of his Manipulus in 1306. He is believed to have died before 1338.


Manipulus florum

Thomas was the author of three short works on theology and biblical exegesis, and the compiler of the Manipulus florum ('A Handful of Flowers'). The latter, a Latin florilegium, has been described as a "collection of some 6,000 extracts from patristic and a few classical authors". [2] Thomas compiled this collection from books in the library of the Sorbonne, "and at his death he bequeathed his books and sixteen pounds Parisian to the college". [3]

Exegesis critical explanation or interpretation of a text

Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, particularly a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for work with the Bible; however, in modern usage "biblical exegesis" is used for greater specificity to distinguish it from any other broader critical text explanation.

In medieval Latin a florilegium was a compilation of excerpts from other writings. The word is from the Latin flos (flower) and legere : literally a gathering of flowers, or collection of fine extracts from the body of a larger work. It was adapted from the Greek anthologia (ἀνθολογία) "anthology", with the same etymological meaning.

The Manipulus florum survives in over one hundred ninety manuscripts, and was first printed in 1483. It was printed twenty-six times in the 16th century, eleven times in the 17th. As late as the 19th century editions were published in Vienna and Turin.

Although Thomas was apparently a member of the secular clergy, his anthology was highly successful because it was "well suited to the needs of the new mendicant preaching orders ... [to] ... locate quotations ... relevant to any subject they might wish to touch on in their sermons." [4] Indeed, Boyer has demonstrated that very soon after the Manipulus was completed a French Dominican used it to compose a series of surviving sermons. [5] However, Nighman has argued that, although it was surely used by preachers, Thomas did not actually intend his anthology as a reference tool for sermon composition, as argued by the Rouses, but rather as a learning aid for university students, especially those intending on a clerical career involving pastoral care. [6]

The term secular clergy refers to deacons and priests who are not monastics or members of a religious institute. A diocesan priest is a Catholic, Anglican, or Eastern Orthodox priest who commits himself or herself to a certain geographical area and is ordained into the service of the citizens of a diocese, a church administrative region. That includes serving the everyday needs of the people in parishes, but their activities are not limited to that of their parish.

Thomas was also among the earliest pioneers of medieval information technology that included alphabetical subject indices and cross-references. "In his selection, and in the various indexing techniques he invented or improved on, he revealed true originality and inventiveness." [4] Those finding tools are preserved, and electronically enhanced, in Nighman's online critical edition of the Manipulus florum.

Subject indexing is the act of describing or classifying a document by index terms or other symbols in order to indicate what the document is about, to summarize its content or to increase its findability. In other words, it is about identifying and describing the subject of documents. Indexes are constructed, separately, on three distinct levels: terms in a document such as a book; objects in a collection such as a library; and documents within a field of knowledge.

The term cross-reference can refer to either:

Other works

Thomas was also the author of three other works:

  1. De tribus punctis religionis Christiane ('On the three main points of the Christian religion'), on the duties of secular clergy; [1]
  2. De tribus hierarchiis ('On the three hierarchies'), which develops ideas about hierarchy expressed at the end of De tribus punctis; [1] and
  3. De tribus sensibus sacre scripture ('On the three senses of holy scripture'), on the four senses of Scripture. [1] The last two works survive in three and eight manuscripts respectively. [7]

References and further reading

  1. 1 2 3 4 Clarke (2004), "Hibernicus, Thomas (c. 1270 – c.1340)", ODNB.
  2. Richard Rouse and Mary Rouse, "Preachers, florilegia and sermons: Studies on the Manipulus Florum of Thomas of Ireland", Toronto, 1979.
  3. A New History of Ireland, volume one, p. 958. On Thomas' reception of Sorbonne manuscripts for excerpts from Peter of Blois, see Chris L. Nighman, "Editorial agency in the Manipulus florum: Thomas of Ireland’s reception of two works by Peter of Blois," in From Learning to Love: Schools, Law, and Pastoral Care in the Middle Ages – Essays in Honour of Joseph W. Goering, T. Sharp et al. (eds.), Papers in Mediaeval Studies 29, Toronto: PIMS Publications (2017), 224-48.
  4. 1 2 Rouses, Preachers
  5. Christine Boyer, "Un témoin précoce de la réception du Manipulus florum au début du XIVème siècle: le recueil de sermons du dominicain Guillaume de Sauqueville," Bibliothèque de l'École de Chartes, 163.1 (2006), pp. 43-70.
  6. Chris L. Nighman, "Commonplaces on preaching among commonplaces for preaching? The topic Predicatio in Thomas of Ireland's Manipulus florum", Medieval Sermon Studies 49 (2005), 37-57. See also, Marc Cels, "Anger in Thomas of Ireland’s Manipulus florum and in Five Texts for Preachers," Florilegium 29 (2012), 147-70; and Chris L. Nighman, "The Manipulus florum, Johannes Nider's Formicarius, and late medieval misogyny in the construction of witches prior to the Malleus maleficarum," Journal of Medieval Latin 24 (2014), 171-84.
  7. A recent study on these three minor works is Declan Lawell, "Thomas of Ireland, the Pseudo-Dionysius and the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy: A Study of the Three Opuscula", chp. 5, p. 74-87, in J. McEvoy & M. Dunne (eds), The Irish Contribution to European Scholastic Thought (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2009). See also James McEvoy, "Flowers from Ancient Gardens: The Lemma 'Amicitia' in the Manipulus florum of Thomas of Ireland", chp. 4, p. 60-73 in the same volume.

Histoire littéraire de la France is an enormous history of French literature initiated in 1733 by Dom Rivest and the Benedictines of St. Maur but it was abandoned in 1763 after the publication of volume XII. In 1814, members of the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres took over the project, which had stopped halfway through the 12th century, and continued where the Benedictines had left off. From 1865 to 1892, the first sixteen volumes were reprinted with only minor corrections in parallel with the regular series.

Digital object identifier Character string used as a permanent identifier for a digital object, in a format controlled by the International DOI Foundation

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