The Old English Pastoral Care, edited by R. D. Fulk, is a new edition and facing-page translation of the Old English version of Gregory the Great’s Regula pastoralis. The original Latin text is, in Fulk’s words, “an account of the qualities required of a bishop and of the best methods to be employed in dealing with the diverse sorts of people under a bishop’s care.” The Old English version, produced in the late ninth century, was distributed with a prefatory letter, apparently written by Alfred the Great, which claims that the king translated the Latin himself, with the support of four advisors.
The elegant translation smooths out many of the awkward constructions in the Old English text, both grammatically and lexically, finding words and phrases which capture the rich sense of the Old English without sacrificing clarity or readability in Modern English: this is, of course, precisely what the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library series sets out to do. Ultimately, Fulk’s new translation of the Pastoral Care renders this often-overlooked text far more accessible for a whole range of readers. It is to be hoped that students, teachers, and researchers use Fulk’s new edition to go beyond the prefaces and epilogues, and turn their meticulous attention to the main text of this important and understudied Old English translation.
The Medieval Review