contributor.author: James W. Halporn

title.none: Gameson, ed., The Early Medieval Bible

identifier.other: baj9928.9503.002 95.03.02

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: James W. Halporn, Indiana and Harvard University

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 1995

identifier.citation: Gameson, R., ed. The Early Medieval Bible. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. $64.95. ISBN: ISBN 052144540.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: Bryn Mawr Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 95.03.02

Gameson, R., ed. The Early Medieval Bible. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. $64.95. ISBN: ISBN 052144540.

Reviewed by:

James W. Halporn
Indiana and Harvard University

Seven of the papers in this collection were first delivered at a conference at Oxford 1990; Seminar in the History of the Book to 1500; four others were written specifically for this volume, although no distinction is made in the presentation. In addition to the intrinsic interest of the varied subjects offered, it is most heartening to see how often the authors indicate that they have only made a modest beginning and that there is still much work to be done on their topic. This makes the volume especially important to both scholars and students of the medieval Bible, since it indicates areas in which much remains to be explored. As a group, the essays employ many disciplines: from palaeography to art-history with strong attention paid to codicology and to the history and production of the medieval book. The essays present Bible production chronologically, and I shall follow that order in my discussion.

Patrick McGurk, "The oldest manuscripts of the Latin Bible."

The author, well-known for his studies of early Bibles1 , presents the evidence for Bible MSS prior to A.D. 800 as presented in Codices Latini Antiquiores. He discusses the external characteristics of books: 1. size and appearance2. scripts in which they were written3. layout of text on page (formats)how texts were introduced and concluded4. changes that took place in their external appearance,and follows these points with a short discussion of decoration and illustration in early Bibles. He concludes with a brief survey of function and use of these Bibles.

The text of McGurk's essay follows this outline exactly, but the typography of the printed version does not distinguish the division of sections sufficiently to make the distinction of parts clear to the reader. I shall summarize his conclusions, while marking the divisions:

1. Size and Appearance (pp. 2-5)

Single volume Bibles (pandects) were not common before Carolingian period. Apart from Carolingian Bible before 800, there is only the Codex Amiatinus, fashioned at the monastery of Wearmouth- Jarrow (before 716).2

McGurk summarizes the result of the discussion of extant Biblical MSS before 600 by P. Petitmengin ("Les plus anciens manuscrits de la Bible litine," Le monde antique et la Bible, Paris 1985, 89- 123), with two additions and one deletion (see p. 3, fn. 12). Petitmengin has divided the material following the division shown by the titles on the books in the Erza painting in the Amiatinus (Octateuch, Kings-Job, Histories, Psalms, Solomon, Prophets, Gospels, Epistles, and Acts-Apocalypse).3 The tables on pp. 4 and 5 give a rough idea of the distribution of texts in the extant codices, but the figures must be used with caution since some items are counted several times and the contents of the volume does not always follow the arrangement of Cassiodorus.

There is wide variety in the actual contents of these codices and it iswclear that much work remains to be done in the analysis of these manuscripts.

2. Scripts (pp. 5-7)

As is well known, most Bible texts before 600 were written in uncial, both on the Continent and the British Isles. A few fragments in capitalis (unfortunately call "rustic" by McGurk) remain, and half- uncial appears sporadically before 600; after 600, the variety and level of the scripts are more varied, with texts in cursive minuscule and other scripts more suited to books for personal use appear. It is possible, says the author, that there were such books earlier, but they have disappeared.4

3. Formats (pp. 7-16)

The tables on p. 9 reveal that books remained about the same size in the fifth and sixth centuries, but increased in size noticeably in the seventh and eighth centuries. Of course, formats differed according to the nature of the individual Biblical books. Thus Psalters appear more often in long lines and in smaller sizes than Gospels.

There is an increase in the number of books which appear in two columns, but this is not true of Irish or South German books (Rhaetian and Allemannic scriptoria), where books continued to be written in long lines. Where there were two columns, they were often narrow.

The divisions of the text themselves fell into three categories. (1) most suited to the books of poetry, set out the verses as single lines. (2) showed the text laid out as blocks, offering a compressed appearance, but often with careful punctuation. (3) set the text out per cola et commata, with each clause and phrase set out on a new line (sometimes with corresponding right shifts of text).

This third method was most wasteful of space and later MSS merely punctuate the cola and commata within the block.

McGurk discusses other features such as bounding lines and the use of initial letters (normally decorated and larger than the regular script). At the same time there was a move from emphasizing the colophon to elaborating the incipit.

The discussion of illustration is merely a sketch of some of the features of early codices, with attention fixed on the major monuments of the period.

The section on function and use of these codices suggests that a good number of them were for liturgical use, but others were designed or came to be used for study and commentary. Still others, of course, were intended as major gifts or testaments to the power and purse of the monasteries and courts by whom they were commissioned. Like other works of art, they were intended for admiration and for the greater glory of God.

Richard Gameson, "The Royal 1.B.vii Gospels and English book production in the seventh and eighth centuries"

A modest volume, whose origin cannot be determined, is the object of this study to determine itsnplace among early gospel books of Insular type and what it can tell us about book production in England in the period under consideration. It is similar in the text and its arrangement as well as in content to the Lindisfarne Gospels, but with editorial revisions to bring it into line with the Italian textual recension found in the Durham Gospels (also probably from Lindisfarne). The general decoration is meager and comprises a small selection of standard features, which has led the book to be, in Gameson's words, "the Cinderella of Insular manuscript art" (p. 37).

But precisely these features, which this MS shares with other books of equally modest intentions, make it significant. The requirement of the many churches in Anglo-Saxon England for codices of the Latin Bible made it necessary to produce books in a shorter time than would have been required for such artistic monuments as the Lindisfarne Gospels. This volume probably offers us a truer picture of the kinds of MSS current in its period. As in the case of the possible cursive and other minuscule texts discussed by McGurk, so, here, too a large percent of the codices of this kind are only fragmentary, which attests to their serious use. These lower level gospel books reflect also the economic difficulties experienced by the English church in the seventh and eighth centuries. And finally, the distinction between the fine artistic products and these more modest books also reflects the hierarchical structure of the English church.

There follow three chapters on codicology and textual evidence for Biblical texts in the Carolingian period:

1. David Ganz, "Mass production of early medieval manuscripts: the Carolingian Bibles from Tours"

During the Carolingian period the scriptoria at Tours provided a steady and continued supply of Bibles, probably supplying two full Bibles each year for a period of over half a century. It needs to be emphasized, of course, that this book production was for export, that is, to supply the needs of a number of libraries.

From an economic standpoint this production of full Bibles, as can be seen from extant examples, was far less lavish than the Amiatine pandect. They usually contain approximately 450 leaves in contrast to the 1030 leaves of the Amiatinus. This more economical use of writing material also required a fully trained group of expert scribes. Such volumes were intended for church use in liturgical reading, which was considerably aided by the clear hands, careful divisions of the text, and a hierarchy of scripts. Alcuin describes the excellence of these codices in one of his poems (MGH, PAK 1.288- 92).5

Although scholars should not exaggerate the uniform nature of the Bibles from Tours, it is clear that these scriptoria, engaged as it were in what seems to be a Bible industry, were central to the development of the Carolingian scriptorium and, naturally, to the study of the Bible itself.

Ganz concludes his study with a list of Tour Bibles and fragments, but the list does not seem complete.

2. Rosamond McKitterick, "Carolingian Bible production: the Tours anomaly"

This is an important follow-up of Ganz's discussion. The Tours or Alcuin Bible was not intended to present an official text but a correct text of the Bible (the author properly refers to the work of Bonafatius Fischer, but her references in her first footnote need to be updated and corrected).

Influence of the Tours Bible: 1. in actual text;2. in order of the books, definition of the scriptural canon, chapter divisions and headings3. in the physical format and layout.These are the ways in which a scriptorium affects the textual version. In other words, codicology, palaeography, and study of the uext are mutually dependent. The views of R. Loewe, "The Medieval History of the Latin Vulgate," The Cambridge History of the Bible II, Cambridge 1969, 102ff. must be revised, although it represents current (though weak) views of Bible production in the Carolingian period.

What we need first is proper cataloguing of the MSS: that is, a clear identification of the recension to which the particular item belongs. What do we know of non-Alcuinian Bibles? Tours was not the only center to embark on production of a corrected, let alone edited, text of the Bible. There are the well-known version of Theodulf of Orleans as well as that produced by Maurdramnus of Corbie (for which he may have developed the so-called "Maurdramnus minuscule," the earliest datable Caroline minuscule). Many Bibles were produced in other areas and at other monasteries, all operating with the means at their disposal, mostly without much influence from the Tours (Alcuinian) version. Indeed, there were many local versions, and even the production of Old Latin texts as well.

All the same, the size and artistry of script led to a real sense of the superiority of the Tours Bible. McKitterick pursues the general nature of the Tours Bible production and what this meant for the general run of Carolingian Bibles.

Given the quantity of Bibles produced, it is obvious that most were intended for export. In addition to luxurious codices, there was attention also to the dissemination of a particular text. Yet, again, the format of these codices should not lead us to consider them as major influences on the texts.

Considerable attention was paid to the ease of reference in these books. The Bibles had a clear teaching function, with their careful organization of summaries, lists of Biblical books, use of various scripts for different parts, and the segregation of Biblical units by a carefully planned hierarchy of scripts. Although the Tours Bible was designed for communication, its context yet remains unknown to us. McKitterick thinks that the Tours Bibles were intended for public instruction, while the Bibles of Theodulf were more for private scholarship.

3. Margaret Gibson, "Carolingian Glossed Psalters"

The author distinguishes the gloss from marginal notes. The annotation is complete from moment of production; always in the set margins, never between the lines. It is "a learned embellishment to a volume which is distinguished by variety of ornament and elegance of script at least as much as by the quality of its text" (p. 79).

About two dozen MSS survive, either whole or in fragments. As Gibson remarks, these books are "technically innovative but exegetically conservative. The strict mise-en-page inhibits additions, clarifications, readers' comments; there is no scope for sesond thoughts or new material" (p. 79). She points out that these Psalters served as a kind of prototype for the Glossa Ordinaria.

In the construction of these books, the script of text and of the apparatus are clearly differentiated. The page is ruled to accommodate the marginal gloss. Each gloss begins with a lemma, linking it to the relevant passage in text, but there are no other means for identifying and placing individual glosses.

These Psalters contain additions as well: prefaces (from Augustine, Jerome, Cassiodorus, Isidore), but the list is not fixed,liturgical supplements: six OT Canticles followed by eight more recent Canticles and Creeds,an extended litany,a major collection of prayers. Italian Glossed Psalters include intercalated narrative drawings. The glossed Psalter became establishen as a luxury MS in France at the end of the tenth century, continuing to the mid-eleventh. The model of the mise-en-page may have been Byzantine. n

a The exegesis that appears in the gloss is mainly drawn from Augustine and Cassiodorus. In the seventh century this patristic inheritance was reworked in earliest of the medieval commentaries: Glosa ex traditione seniorum (first half of the seventh century), drawing principally on Augustine; the Breviarium of Ps.-Jerome (mid seventh century), using the Glosa and Cassiodorus. There is also a series of introductions to individual Psalms attributed to Bede (c. 700 +). This 'liber de titulis psalmorum' consists of excerpts from Cassiodorus' Psalm Commentary, abridged, slightly reordered and deployed as a continuous commentary with lemmata. All this material circulated well into eleventh century, both in its original form and as an element in a Glossed Psalter.

There is also the commentary in the Mondsee Psalter (before 778), for which Cassiodorus is again the prime source —another witness to the systematic study of the Psalter in pre-Carolingian Europe. Not only is the commentary textually indebted to Cassiodorus. The Mondsee MS opens with full-page illustrations of Christ and David manifestly in the same tradition as the two pictures of David in Durham B.II.30 (an abridged version of Cassiodorus' commentary, of the end of the eighth century, from an Insular foundation, probably Wearmouth-Jarrow).

As for the context of such Psalters, Gibson notes that valid prototypes do not survive. The mise-en-page of the Glossed Psalter is rarely applied to other Biblical books. The integrated glossed page does not seem to be found in texts that were routinely explicated in a Carolingian school (Donatus and Priscian, Vergil, Boethius, Martianus Capella); these contain marginal and interlinear annotation. On this point she differs from Guy Lobrichon.8 . Schoolmasters, however, were always reluctant to accept the constrictions of a mise-en-page that was too elegant to be emended.

Richard Marsden, "The Old Testament in late Anglo-Saxon England: preliminary observations on the textual evidence"

A study of the form in which OT books circulated and the texts which they transmitted during the monastic revival of the second half of the tenth century. Little material survives: one Bible (London BL Royal 1. E. vii-viii, lacking the first half of Genesis in the original script), single leaves from two others, to which can be added OT books or extracts copied into some othmr non-biblical MSS.

The evidence seems to favor two main formats, a larger one for pandects (e.g., the Amiatinus), and a smaller one for volumes containing a limited number of Biblical books, thus paralleling the Continental evidence (for which more evidence has survivew).

The surviving evidence of these three items suggests that in the late Anglo-Saxon period the text of the OT was mainly influenced by the Carolingian traditions of the Continent. But this Continental evidence has not yet been sufficiently studied. As an appendix, the author includes a list of surviving MSS, divided between Bibles and part-Bibles on the one hand, and the OT in non-biblical codices.

Larry M. Ayres, "The Italian Giant Bibles: aspects of their Touronian ancestry and early history"

A discussion of style of decorated initials in some Romanesque Bibles from Italy. These eleventh century Bibles used transalpine Carolingian models. The author sees these Bibles as part of a renewal of the monastic life. They foreshadow the development of Bible illustration in North European monasteries during the Romanesque period. The study suggests that the early history of these Bibles can be tied to a Roman scriptorium, perhaps related in some way to Desiderius of Monte Cassino.

Laura Light, "French Bibles c. 1200-30: a new look at the origin of the Paris Bible"

The author examines the contents of a small number of N. France Bibles, possibly from Paris. The textual study concentrates on the order of the biblical books, the prologues, the capitula lists and the chapters. It alters the current view of the Paris Bible by showing that this Bible of around 1230 does not present a new direction in the Vulgate transmission, but reflects features in the group of Bibles under discussion, which were copied in the period 1200-1230. In other words, the Paris Bible was not a thorough-going revision of the Vulgate, but involved only minor modifications of a Bible already in existence for some thirty years.

In discussing the order of Biblical books, the author surveys the orders suggested jy Jerome and Augustine, and explains why the order in these thirteenth century books was different. The prologues introduced several changes from earlier books, pointing to a second revision of the Vulgate. The capitula lists reflects the usage of the commentaries of the second half of the twelfth century.

All of this suggests that there was a revision of the Vulgate in Paris around 1200. "The Bible produced by this revision was characterized by a certain order of the Biblical books, a set of prologues which included six which were new to MSS of the unglossed Bible and a new series of capitula lists. Many of these Bibles also included indications of modern chapter divisions copied in the margins" (p. 172).

The long tradition of the Glossa Ordinaria seems to have influenced the new set of prologues. The new one-volume Bible may have been a convenient tool in the classroom, but it was also certainly an essentialareference tool for the working scholar, who was not only a teacher, but also a composer of sermons.

The author concoudes by calling this study only a sketch and urges that the topics should be investigated more thoroughly. As an appendix, she includes a list of early thirteenth-century Bibles related to the Paris Bible.

Elizabeth A. Peterson, "The textual basis for visual errors in French Gothic Psalter illustration"

The author has chosen for discussion some seven fully illustrated Psalm books and one MS of the commentary on the Psalms by Peter Lombard. They range in date from the late twelfth through the end of the thirteenth century. They contain historiated initials for most of the 150 Psalms. This wide variety of examples, from a range of workshops, show nevertheless that the initials to a particular Psalm reveal a high degree of "iconographic correspondence." The discussion centers on errors of understanding, often of the directions for the particular illustration. The most amusing, perhaps, is a comparison of Psalm 118.176: erraui sicut ovis... The legend in Cambridge UL, Ee.iv.24 reflects the ~egend in Manchester John Rylands UL, Latin 22, "quidam fert ovem" by writing "Uns home porte une oeille sus ses espaules ("A man carries a sheep on his shoulders"); the illustrator of Paris BN lat. 10435 misread the e of oeille as an r, thus changing the sheep (oeille) into an ear (orille). Sure enough, the illustration in the Paris codex depicts a man carrying an ear.

Erik Petersen, "The Bible as subject and object of illustration: the making of a medieval manuscript, Hamburg 1255"

The Hamburg Bible contains illustrations that refer to the production of a medieval book. This article focuses on aspects of these illustrations as organic to the entire book, with the purpose of explaining why they appear in this Bible. This involves some five factors, all laid out carefully in a well-organized discussion: description of the three volumes of the work, the 'licentia pictoria,' the free choices available in the construction of a book in this period, examination of some of the illustrations as well as their arrangement. This leads to some discussion of the dean Bertoldus who commissioned the book (he had also been a scribe), the scribe Karolus, and the unnamed painter. Finally, he presents a sketch of the main steps and intentions in the creation and production of this Bible.

The author argues that the illustrations of book production, all from the scribe's point of view, are not placed in a random fashion, but are part of a series that connects the three volumes. Although none of the information contained in the illustrations differs from that offeed in other books, as a whole the work represents another important document in medieval codicology.

Lesley Smith, "The theology of the twelfth- and thirteenth-century Bible"

This brief discussion turns on the point that for the medieval interpreters, "the Bible as a collection of words is a collection of signs which point, through different methods of interpretation, to various meanings, which separately and together point beyond themselves to the Creator God" (227).

One minor quibble: the author quotes (230) Peter the Chanter (Verbum Abbreviatum, PL 205n368) as addressing a brother who "wishes to become a librarian"; the Latin reads bibliothecam facere which suggests rather the creation of a library. This does not change the meaning of Peter's reply, however.

The volume concludes with a useful index of manuscripts, and a cursory index of people and places. All in all, a fitting second volume for the series of palaeographical and codicological studies from Cambridge. The copious illustrations also help the reader to understand the arguments of the papers, and are an important addition to the texts. What is most clear from this conference is how much work still remains to be done on the subject, and how important it is that Bernhard Bischoff's census of ninth-century MSS not remain unpublished. Scholarly cataloguing of Biblical MSS is also a major desideratum.

1 Latin Gospel Books from A.D. 400 to A.D. 800, Paris 1961.
2 There are other fragments from another Wearmouth-Jarrow Bible (Bede tells us that three pandects were fashioned at the order of Ceolfrid, abbot of the monastery): London BL Add 37777 + Add. 45025 [CLA II(sup)2.117] + Loan 81 [B. Bischoff and V. Brown, "Addenda to Codices Latini Antiquiores, Medieval Studies 47 (1985): 351-2] ), but this last item (also known as the Bankes leaf) may belong to the third pandect, according to Margaret T. Gibson, The Bible in the Latin West, Notre Dame, 1993, 4 and fn. 21; pl. 3 (24f.).
3 It should have been noted by McGurk that the titles have probably not been correctly transcribed and Job was not included in the section with Kings, thus agreeing more closely with Cassiodorus Institutiones I.1-9 (K. Corsano, "The First Quire of the Codex Amiatinus and the Institutiones of Cassiodorus", Scriptorium 41 (1987): 16; it seems odd that this important article with a fascinating thesis is ignored by McGurk and Gibson).
4 For reasons for this, see E. Dekkers-A. Hoste, "De la pénurie des manuscrits anciens des ouvrages le plus souvent copiés," "Sapientiae Doctrina" ... Méelanges offerts à ... Bascour, Louvain, 1980 [ = RechThéolMéd, numéro special}, 24-37.
5 I would offer an alternative to Ganz's translation of the last line of this poem (pp. 56 and 59). The word accentus most likely does not mean "accent" (I doubt that it ever has that meaning in this period), but rather pronunciation (one of its ordinary classical meanings as a Latin translation of Greek prosodia; for a definition see Cassiodorus, Institutiones II.1.2: accentus est vitio carens vocis artificiosa pronuntiatio [95.5f. Mynors], with the idea that the reader in his rendering of the text shows, by his knowledge of the text that he can express it properly in oral delivery.
6 See B. Fischer, "Die Alkuin-Bibeln," Lateinische Bibelhandschriften im frühen Mittalter, Freiburg 1985 [= Vetus Latina. Aus der Geschichte der altlateinischen Bibel, 11], 203-403.
7 The article "Bibeltext und Bibelreform unter Karl dem Grossen" is now more accessible in his Lateinische Bibelhandschriften im frühen Mittelalter, Freiburg 1985 [= Vetus Latina. Aus der Geschichte der altlateinischen Bibel 11] 101-202; for "Bibelausgaben des frühen Mittelalters," see the same volume, 35-100; the study Die Alkuin-Bibel is not the first volume of Vetus Latina, but the first volume of Vetus Latina. Aus der Geschichte der altlateinischen Bibel.
8 The author (p. 91 fn. 47) differs from the study of mise-en-page for the St. Bertin Psalter (s. x ex., Boulonge-sur-mer BM 20) presented by Guy Lobrichon, "Le Psautier d'Otbert," Mise en page et mise en texte du livre manuscrit, Pari{ 1990, 174-178. It would have been helpful, however, if she had been able to include in her study the illustrations of Psalter rulings that Lobrichon offers on 176-77.