German priest and professor of dogmatic theology Heinrich Joseph Dominicus Denzinger first published in 1854 Enchiridion Symbolorum, definitionum et declarationum de rebus fidei et morum (handbook of creeds, definitions and declarations on matters of faith and morals). This compendium, commonly referred to as “Denzinger”, has since been updated and expanded, even after Denzinger’s death in 1883.
This review is of the English translation by Roy J. Deferrari from the 30th edition published in 1954 by Loreto Publications (NH, USA).
This edition contains over 650 pages of Church writings. It begins with the ancient forms of the Apostolic Creed before proceeding to a few others including the Athanasian Creed. This spans over 10 pages. What follows is the collection of papal and council writings, organized chronologically under the corresponding pope and council (when applicable).
It does not cite anything from Peter’s two epistles, presumably because they are part of Scripture and are easily available. It in effect begins with the writings of Clement I and finishes with Innocent XII who died in 1700.
In addition to page numbers, there are paragraph numbers on the outside margins for easy referencing. These are listed in the indexes. The General Index at the start serves as a table of contents. At the end is a Scriptural Index that spans about 6 pages, a Systematic Index of Dogmatic and Moral Matters (basically a topic index) that spans about 40 pages, and an Alphabetic Index of Proper Names and Things that spans about 16 pages.
It should be noted that this book does not contain every papal and council document. It also does not provide the complete document. Merely extracts are quoted but they are not just a few lines—the shortest is one paragraph and more sizable chunks are typically provided. These are not limited to dogmatic definitions and condemnations, it does include writings which are “strongly worded”.
The one weakness of the 30th edition is that it does not cite writings all the way up to 1954 but stops at 1700, thus missing out on quite a few documents that criticize modernist and progressivist errors. Also, without the complete document, there is even less context so it is somewhat “bare” in that regard, but the intent was presumably to quickly provide the pertinent details without getting bogged down so it is still an excellent reference book.
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