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Liturgical Press

Two Sixteenth-Century Premonstratensian Treatises on Religious Life

Jacob Panhausen; Translated and introduced by William P. Hyland

Two Sixteenth-Century Premonstratensian Treatises on Religious Life
Two Sixteenth-Century Premonstratensian Treatises on Religious Life

ISBN: 9780879072902, CS290P

Details: 176 pgs, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 3/8
Publication Date: 03/15/2021
Cistercian Publications

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Jacob Panhausen stands as a major but little-studied figure in the renewal of the Premonstratensian Order during the crucial decades of the sixteenth century when the very survival of religious life hung in the balance. His career (1540–1582) as abbot of Steinfeld in Germany spanned the whole era of the Council of Trent and its aftermath, and he died the same year that Saint Norbert was officially canonized.

This volume presents the first English translation of two Latin texts by Jacob Panhausen, A Loving Exhortation to Prelates and Those in Their Charge and Treatise on Monastic Life and Religious Vows. The introduction offers a biographical and analytical overview of this outstanding Norbertine reformer, illuminating a crucial time in the renewal of the Premonstratensian Order during and after the Council of Trent. Intended as they were for his confreres at Steinfeld and other abbeys, they show his zeal for reform, his dedication to the monastic tradition, and his humanistic and exegetical concerns.

William P. Hyland holds a BA from Emory University and an MA and PhD from Cornell University; he is a lecturer in church history in the School of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews. He has previously taught at several American universities, including Cornell University, Benedictine College, and St. Norbert College, where he was the first Director of the Center for Norbertine Studies and held the Clarence Heidgen Chair of Catholic Studies. He edited Custody of the Heart: Selected Spiritual Conferences of Abbot Martin Veth, OSB. He has had numerous journal articles and book chapters published on the medieval Premonstratensians, as well as a wide range of topics in medieval church history and Christian spirituality.


“How does one reform a German monastic community in the middle of the Lutheran Reformation? William Hyland’s insightful analysis of Jacob Panhausen and eloquent translation of two of his most important treatises brings to life the dynamics of monastic humanism and the efforts of a forgotten moderate who sought to bridge the growing divide between Catholic and Protestant.”
Howard Louthan, Professor of History, University of Minnesota

"Aided by the excellent Introduction, readers might find this learned Norbertine is indeed worth reading."
Cistercian Studies Quarterly

“Hyland’s volume is a welcome and significant contribution to sixteenth-century religious studies. Premonstratensian monk and moderate Catholic reformer Jacob Panhausen (c. 1500-82) lived at a time of both profound religious change across Europe and existential crisis for his order. His writings radiate a spirit of charity, conversation, and gentle exhortation to find common ground between Catholic and Protestant views. Hyland’s introduction does an excellent job placing Panhausen and his works in their historical moment, and his sensitive, fluid translations will bring this lesser-known monastic leader the attention that he deserves.”
Nancy Bisaha, Professor, History Department, Director of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Vassar College

“Reformation scholars owe William Hyland a considerable debt for his fine edition and translation of two of Abbot Jacob Panhausen’s treatises on the religious life. Written at a time of great upheaval, Panhausen’s texts reveal his deep roots in medieval monastic spirituality and devotion as well as his connections to new Christocentric currents of humanist reform. As Hyland’s excellent introduction suggests they thus provide a rare and invaluable view into the theology and devotion of a leading reforming Abbot and Catholic irenic, serving as a reminder of a rich stream of monastic reform which continued even amid the struggles of Reformers and Counter-Reformers alike. Abbot Panhausen deserves to be widely read and Hyland’s volume is the perfect companion for anyone venturing into his world and that of sixteenth-century Premonstratensian reform more generally.”
Simon J. G. Burton, John Laing Senior Lecturer in Reformation History, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

“We are indebted to William P. Hyland for his translation of two texts that illuminate how a reform-minded abbot grounded in church traditions and embracing humanism was able to navigate a path to renewal during distressing times. Hyland’s introduction and translations demonstrate how, in the crucible of early modernity, the moderate reformer Jacob Panhausen tried to find a bridge between Catholics and Protestants—defending his heritage while embracing criticisms and calls for renewal.”
Christopher M. Bellitto, Professor of History, Kean University