Document Type


Publication Date



The search for the earliest manuscripts of the Vulgate text of Gratian’s Decretum can be aided by two textual variants that are important guides to deciding which manuscripts are the earliest versions of his text. Undoubtedly with more research others will be found. The first was discovered more than 25 years ago. Gratian had included a small section of Justinian’s Institutes in his Tractatus de legibus, D.12 c.6:

Diuturni mores consensu utentium approbati legem imitantur.

In the earliest manuscripts of the Vulgate, the text remained intact. Early on, however, the canonist interpolated the phrase, ‘nisi legi sunt adversi’, after ‘mores’. Brendan McManus examined this textual addition in a short essay in 1988. It has proven to be a secure guide to dating the earliest manuscript texts.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.