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Preface:

I have begun reading over some of the documents from the Vatican II council to familiarise myself with the material for when I talk with people that I know that are catholic, and I am having troubles understanding the footnotes.

Question examples:

The first footnote in the first constitution (Called "The Word of God") is as follows: cf. St. Augustine, "De Catechizandis Rudibus," C.IV 8: PL. 40, 316.

I have deduced some of this as meaning: confer to "De Catechizandis Rudibus," however, it is the rest that throws me for a loop. Primarily, PL. and I believe C. means circa.

THESE ARE SOME MORE EXAMPLES:

f. Council of Trent, session IV, loc. cit.: Denzinger 783 (1501).

cf. Second Council of Nicea: Denzinger 303 (602); Fourth Council of Constance, session X, Canon 1: Denzinger 336 (650-652).

Cf. Ibid. 33, 35.


Perhaps some of these require an understanding of various other catholic texts, but is there a list where I can find abbreviations and shorthands like these?

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  • It seems you might mean Catholic with a capital C rather than the lowercase catholic.
    – shoover
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 18:39
  • Well, it is an adjective. Doctrines pertaining to the Roman Catholic Church. Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 18:40

1 Answer 1

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I am not familiar with theological texts but I suppose that these abbreviations have the same meanings as in scientific documents. As I have noticed in my readings, content-independent abbreviated words are mostly in Latin or English (or in another language depends on the context) in these type of texts. I am using Wiktionary to solve such puzzles. You can find a collection of Latin abbreviated words or groups of words besides English abbreviations. I am not sure about the completeness of these collections.

I suggest below description about your examples, you can check their meanings in English on respective links;

  1. f. Council of Trent, session IV, loc. cit.: Denzinger 783 (1501).

    • f. folio, from Latin, link
    • loc. cit. loco citato, from Latin, link
  2. cf. Second Council of Nicea: Denzinger 303 (602); Fourth Council of Constance, session X, Canon 1: Denzinger 336 (650-652).

    • cf. cōnfer, from Latin, link
  3. Cf. Ibid. 33, 35.
    • ibid. ibidem, from Latin, link
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    'Cf' is short for 'confer' but means 'compare (the text referred to with the topic being discussed)'. 'Circa' is usually a small 'c' - I suggest 'C' may mean 'chapter'. A good dictionary should explain the main abbreviations, either in their alphabetical place or in a separate list. Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 9:20
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    "C" means *CAPUT" (Heading) in the given context: books.google.com/… Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 18:47

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