Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Commentaries on the Rule Of St. Benedict

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Several Oblates have asked for suggestions on commentaries on the Rule of St. Benedict (RB). The list is too exhaustive to list. Commentaries can be broken into three primary groups; devotional, line by line (exegesis), and a combination of the two. But before listing various commentaries, please remember that there are also quite a number of books that teach the Rule and are a bit more palatable for the average Oblate. The works of Michael Casey, Demetrius Dumm, Joan Chittister, and Basil Pennington, to name just a few, teach the RB in terms that synthesize the concepts brought out in the commentaries but do not overwhelm the reader. Also, before moving on to a exegesis commentary it is strongly recommended that the Oblate consider purchasing:

Fry, Timothy, ed. RB 1980, The Rule of St. Benedict: 1980. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1981. ISBN 0-8146-1220-2.

This is the primary copy of the RB that is used in the Monastery. The book provides an excellent history of the RB and monasticism, scriptural indexes in the RB a thematic index and a general index in general.

Of the devotional commentaries of the RB, Oblates might consider some of the following works:

  • Böckmann, OSB, Aquinata. Perspectives on the Rule of St. Benedict, Ed. Marianne Bukhard, OSB, Trans. Matilda Handl, OSB and Marianne Bukhard, OSB. MN: The Liturgical Press, 2005. BX3004.Z5B6313.
  • Chittister, OSB, Joan. Wisdom Distilled from the Daily. Harper Collins, CA: San Francisco, 1991. BX3004.Z5C36
  • Simon, GA. Commentary for Benedictine Oblates. Trans. Leonard J Doyle. Wipf and Stock Publisher, OR: Eugene, 2009 (Originally pub. 1947). ISBN: 1606082663.
  • Vest, OlbSB, Norvene. Preferring Christ. Morehouse Publishing, NY: New York, 1990. BX3004.Z5V47.
  • de Vogüé OSCO, Adalbert, Reading Saint Benedict, Reflections on the Rule. Trans. Colette Friedlander, OSCO. Cistercian Publications, MI: Kalamazoo, 1994. ISBN 0-087907-751-4.
  • de Waal, Esther, A Life-Giving Way.  MN: The Liturgical Press, 1995. ISBN-13: 978-0814623589.

There are three exegesis commentaries that could be considered but again, they also may have more detail than most Oblates would prefer. It is suggested that Oblates take advantage of the Library at the Abbey if they need to reference these works:

  • Delatte, OSB, Dom Paul. The Rule of St. Benedict. Trans. Dom Justin McCann, OSB. Wipf and Stock Publisher, OR: Eugene, 2000. ISBN 1-57910-460-6. (This translation can also be found on-line at : http://www.archive.org/details/ruleofstbenedic00delauoft).
  • Kardong, Terrence G.. Benedict’s Rule. MN: The Liturgical Press, 2005. BX3004.Z5K35.
  • Smaragdus of Saint Mihiel. Commentary on the Rule of Saint Benedict. Trans. David Barry. Cistercian Publications, MI: Kalamazoo, 2008. ISBN-13: 978-0879072124.

One last “commentary” that should be noted and is a recently published collection of notes on the RB written by Thomas Merton. His notes are primarily directed toward novices but the book was edited with the average lay person in mind:

Merton, Thomas. The Rule of St. Benedict, Initiation into the Monastic Tradition 4. Ed. Patrick F. O’Connell. MN: The Liturgical Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-87907-019-9.

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