I have a question of the author. What does the following sentence mean? "This missal is also the oldest surviving extant copy of Western liturgy." Is he or she saying that it is older than the Verona (Leonine) or the Gelasian Sacramentary? -- Fr Lev
The Leonine text is 7th c. - the extant copy (Verona manuscript) likely later, the Gelasian Sacramentary is between 6th - 8th c. in origin, the oldest surviving copy being the Ms. Reginae 316 copy in Rome which is believed to date about 750 AD to Paris (around the same time or a little later than Stowe: they both share the same canon. The Leonine Sacramentary has neither Canon nor Ordinary of the Mass - so, it is not a copy of the liturgy, but simply the moveable parts. The Verona manuscript also does not have a solid dating yet that I know of - the title of Leonine was arbitrarily attached to it without tradition or evidence. The Gelasian and Stowe missals are the oldest copies of Western liturgy (ie, Ordinary and Canon) we have - the attribution of 'Gelasian' to the Merovingian text is also arbitrary: we have no solid tradition that it is his, and the text itself is far later. So, there is an opinion among some liturgical scholars that the Stowe missal is the oldest surviving extant copy of Western liturgy... the Gelasian Sacramentary would be close behind: both represent a Northwestern Gallo-Roman liturgy as well. We can also say that the text of the Stowe is also 6th c. in origin (500's) - older in text and most likely oldest copy. - Aristibule
I simply wanted to know exactly what is meant by saying it is the "oldest surviving extant copy of Western lilturgy." Apparently, what is being claimed is that the Stowe is the oldest copy of a Western text that contains the ordinary of the mass (including, of course, the eucharistic prayer as a part of the ordinary). Thank you for clarifying the statement. But that isn't exactly what the article says -- there is a lot of older "Western liturgy" extant, so the sentence should be changed to say what is intended. Having said that, I am not confident that the assertions made are entirely true. The Verona text was dated by A. Chavasse in 1984 to the pontificate of Pope John III (561-574). I don't know of any challenges to his work and therefore consider it to be solid. So the Verona manuscripts are roughly contemporaneous with the Stowe materials, if the Stowe in fact reflects 6th century texts and practices.
The Gelasian is most likely from the middle of the 7th century, although the Regin. 316 was a copy made in the 8th century. It is believed to authentically represent the 7th century original in that it does not include additions made by Pope Sergius I (687-701) and Pope Gregory II (715-731). -- Fr Lev
Fr. Lev, We can clarify that sentence then, and a paragraph about controversy over dating might be helpful. - Aristibule