James W. Halporn

title.none: Bischoff, Manuscripts and Libraries in the Age of Charlemagne (Halporn)

identifier.other: baj9928.9503.009 95.03.09

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

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

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 1995

identifier.citation: Bischoff, Bernhard. Manuscripts and Libraries in the Age of Charlemagne. Translated and edited by Michael Gorman. Cambridge Studies in Palaeography and Codicology, 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. ISBN: ISBN 0521383463.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: Bryn Mawr Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 95.03.09

Bischoff, Bernhard. Manuscripts and Libraries in the Age of Charlemagne. Translated and edited by Michael Gorman. Cambridge Studies in Palaeography and Codicology, 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. ISBN: ISBN 0521383463.

Reviewed by:

James W. Halporn
Indiana/Harvard University

Something over a decade ago, Michael Gorman conceived the idea of publishing a selection of the papers of the eminent German palaeographer, Bernhard Bischoff. The first volume of such a selection has now appeared, dealing with work mainly focused on ninth-century codices, the area of Bischoff's special interest.

Bischoff, who, as Gorman notes in his Foreword, held the chair for the study of medieval Latin philology at the University of Munich, was the third in a line of great palaeographers there. The tradition of palaeography at Munich began with Ludwig Traube, and after his untimely death, was continued by his pupil, Paul Lehmann.

Among Bischoff's many productions, probably none was greater than his contributions to the census of Latin manuscripts prior to A.D. 800 undertaken under the editorship of E. A. Lowe, himself a pupil of Traube (Codices Latini Antiquiores, 11 vols. + Supplement, Oxford, 1934-1971).1 Bischoff's own list of manuscripts from the ninth-century (some 6500 items) was still in progress at the time of his death in 1991. There is considerable doubt at this point, however, whether this work will ever be published, at least in any conventional way.

Unlike many other palaeographers Bischoff's major form of expression was not the book or the article, but the lecture. Indeed, even his palaeographical handbook, Palaeographie des römischen Altertums und des abendlaendlischen Mittelalters, 2nd ed. Berlin, 1986, began as an article in Deutsche Philologie im Aufriss and was then extended to become part of the series Grundlagen der Germanistik.2 This is what accounts for the innumerable repetitions of information found in his work, as well as the difficulty of understanding his arguments or even his technical vocabulary. One always has the sense that with a screen projecting examples from the manuscripts he is discussing, it would be easy for the audience to appreciate the points he is making.

Gorman worked especially hard at rendering Bischoff's terms into a suitable English, and, with the help of Bischoff himself, added two additional lists of manuscripts as appendices to chapters 5 and 6, a list of classical manuscripts copied at Tours (with corrections of the list of E. K. Rand), 113 and a list of ninth century grammatical manuscripts, 133. As Gorman noted in a letter to me, "there is no tradition of writing in English about ninth-century Latin manuscripts, [and so] it was difficult to create the language for the book." Gorman also expanded the brief references to articles in the footnotes and added shelf-list references to Bischoff's citations of CLA items and vastly improved the index of manuscripts at the close of the book. Gorman indicated that one of the intentions of his work was to acquaint students of medieval studies with a sense of the manuscript evidence for the Carolingian period and to "use the indices to find new material."

Because the vocabulary and the general thrust of Bischoff's essays is so difficult to grasp, Gorman must be congratulated on his successful effort to render the German into a strong and competent English style. The difficulties in doing this are obvious from the less successful attempt made in the English version of Bischoff's palaeographical handbook.3 If, in what follows, I question some of Gorman's renderings, this is done in the interests of making the work more precise and more intelligible. Gorman has also indicated that he is preparing two more volumes of Bischoff's essays (to which I have a contributed a rough draft of one essay -- so I am well aware of the traps involved in this kind of work), which he expects will appear in 1996 and 1998.

Now, to consider each essay in more detail. Essays 1 and 2,

"Manuscripts in the Early Middle Ages" and "Manuscripts in the Age of Charlemagne" are combined as "Centri scrittori e manoscritti mediatori di civilta dal vi secolo all'eta di Carlomagno," (the latter in a translation by Michele Sampaolo) in G. Cavallo, ed., Libri e lettori nel medioevo. Guida storica e critica, Rome-Bari: Laterza, 1983, 27-72, 239-264 [notes]).

The translation of the first essay often looks more like compendious lecture notes than a translation of the ipsissima verba of Bischoff. Thus, on p. 4 l. 13: Of the sentence, "La rapida diffusione generale di quasi tutta l'opera esegetica, ascetica, storica e enciclopedica di Isidoro pu(gv)o essere paragonata solo a quella delle opere di Gregorio Magno" becomes "Only the works of Gregory the Great were diffused as rapidly as those of Isidore." In the following paragraph, this compendious form has resulted in a misleading statement suggesting that only a single fragmentary codex of Isidore's was copied in Spain in the seventh century. The Italian more accurately states that from the seventh century, which was dominated by Isidore, only a single fragmentary codex of Spanish origin still exists. The omission of words in the translation often changes the sense of Bischoff's observations. Thus, although Bischoff, in speaking of the palimpsest of Visigothic law from Leon, suggests that palaeography tells us something of the area from which it came, the translation incorrectly remarks "palaeography tells us something about its origin" (4, line 1 f.b.). Finally, the Bobbio palimpsest of Cassian had its leaves erased, not cancelled (p. 5, l. 6). Bischoff is much more cautious than his translator in referring the Virgilian codices Romanus and Palatinus to around 500 or the beginning of the sixth century, rather than merely assigning them both to the "early years of the sixth century." On page 8, there are a series of errors, referring to early MSS, some errors those of the translator, others of Bischoff himself. Bischoff (line 4) certainly did not say there were manuscripts in Italy copied by Jerome; the Italian clearly speaks of "alcuni originali geronomiani" which means something quite different. A correct reading of Reifferscheid's essay would have eliminated this. So, too, in fn. 40, the MS reference given by Bischoff is incorrect: Paris lat. 9389 (CLA 5.578) is the Echternach Gospels (whose colophon has a reference to Eugippius, not to Jerome). The correct reference (from Reifferscheid, op. cit, p. 5) is to Verona XV (13) (CLA 4.486- 488), the Verona Gaius, whose upper script contains Jerome adv. Helvidium and the colophon "regonnovi (= recognovi) hieronimus bethleem meum tractatum." On page 18, the translator writes of "a colophon in the Echternach Gospels [that] mentions an exemplar which came from the library of Eugippius in Naples." Bischoff is more circumspect, writing that the colophon "fa menzione di un exemplar di discendenza eugippiana." On page 18, line 8, Gorman has made an unfortunate decision that affects many passages throughout the book. Bischoff in the palaeographical handbook and elsewhere made an effort to change the name of the canonical capital script used in classical Rome from the misleading name "Rustic capitals" to "capitalis." Gorman has returned to the earlier name for a script of which rusticitas is certainly not a quality.

The second essay, which already has appeared in an Italian translation is essentially a catalogue of MSS intended for the great exhibition on the world of Charlemagne held at Aachen in the 1960s. It is difficult to see the point of this translation at all. This laundry list of MSS, which made sense for the exhibition, makes no sense at all without the physical evidence which was available then. There are various places in this essay, too, where the translator has epitomized the text, and there are some minor errors that are listed below.

Although Gorman nowhere indicates the date at which he translated a specific essay (he indicates that a period of some six years was involved for the first six papers), the third and fourth essays show the reader a greater control of the language and thought of Bischoff, though there is still a tendency to flatten the metaphorical style of certain passages.

Outside of merely summarizing the opening paragraph of the German and flattening the metaphor of the second, the translation of the fifth essay, "Libraries and Schools in the Carolingian revival of Learning" is exemplary. The translation of "Palaeography and the Transmission of Classical Texts in the Early Middle Ages" is equally good.

The final essay, "Benedictine Monasteries and the Survival of Classical Literature" appeared both in German and in Italian. The Italian version, which appeared in the volume, "San Benedetto e la civilta monastica nell'economia e nella cultura dell'Alto Medio Evo: giornata lincea indetta in occasione del XV Centenario della nascita di S. Benedetto (Roma, 30 ottobre 1980," Atti dei convegni Lincei, 51 (1982), lacks annotation.

The index of manuscripts, of which Gorman is justly proud, does present one small, but irritating problem. It is difficult to see the system on which the names of the cities that contain the libraries are chosen. The names of the libraries are consistently in the language of the country; the names of the cities are sometimes Anglicized, sometimes not. Thus we find Kassel and Krakow and Wroclaw, but then Berne, Prague, Cologne, Lyons, and Copenhagen. I think it would have been better to follow the procedure used by Paul O. Kristeller in his Latin Manuscript Books Before 1600 and list the cities under the names of the national languages, with the English equivalents in parentheses. A few revisions are in order: under Bloomington, Indiana, read Lilly Library and Poole; under Montpellier, replace Bibliotheque municipale with Bibliotheque de la Ville; the library at Kassel is now the Gesamthochschulbibliothek; the Orleans library is now Bibliotheque Classee de la Ville; Marburg, Hessisches Staatsarchiv; Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana; Turin, Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria.

As an introduction to one of the most fruitful and important periods in the history of the Latin book this collection of essays deserves a wide audience. Scholars of the medieval book in all its aspects will find much here to consider and the materials for further study. We look forward to the prompt appearance of other essays of this prolific and influential German scholar.


pg 1. fn 2: for 40 read 4 .pg 4, l. 3: for "in" read "attached to"l. 5: for "bookshelves" read "bookcases"l. 8: after "had" add "other"fn. 19, l. 2: for "accademia" read "academia"pg 5, l. 2 f.b.: for "the Vetus Latina version" read "a Vetus Latina version" (Bischoff is equally incorrect in referring to the Itala version). pg 6, l. 13: for "scribal" read "calligraphic" and add "non-Benedictine" before "monasteries."l. 5 f.b.: for "the ideal" read "this ideal"fn. 28 after (Geneva, 1957) add ", p. 92f."fn. 31 for "who" read "which"pg 8, l. 12 before "Subscriptions" add "The unique"l. 5 f.b. after "Theodosius II" add "(O KALLIGRA/FOS"pg 9, l. 2 add "Gothic" before "Codex Argenteus"pg 12, l. 10 for "many" read "several"l. 11 add "voluntarily" before "somewhat"l. 17: for "lived" read "been educated"l. 18: add "probably" after "also" pg 13 l. 2 f.b.: for "unearthed" read "recovered"pg 15, l. 9 before "stands" add "in a true sense"l. 11 for "women" read "nuns"pg 17 l.3 for "at Laon" read "in the Laon script"l. 17 after "uncial" add "and half-uncial"l. 20 before "cursive" add "diplomatic"pg 18 l. 7 f.b. before "prophets" add "Vulgate"------ pg 20 l. 10 after "centres" revise to read "in which scribal culture was cultivated in a creative and self-conscious way began to multiply"fn. 1 after "Ages" add "can and"pg 21 l. 4 for "cultural products" read "monument of cultural life"l. 5 for "cases" read "places"pg 22 l. 5 add "the hands of" before "Godescalc" for "scribes active" read "hands found"l. 1 f.b. add "late" before "centre" fn. 5 l. 5 delete "recently" (a thirty year old article cannot be called recent)pg 24 l. 2 for "illuminated" read "illustrated"pg 25 l. 1 f.b. read "on" in place of "for"pg 27 l. 5 f.b. add "bifurcated" before "style" fn. 29 l. 2: for "younger" read "later" (problem of German idiom)l. 5: for "actually" read "most likely"pg 28 l. 6 for "active" read "visible"l. 4 f.b. for "massive" read "crude"pg 29 fn. 41 for "commentary" read "catena"pg 30 l. 15 for "religious" read "church"; for "as" read "in" fn. 47 for "younger" read "later"pg 31 l. 13 for "very small" read "in a reduced module" fn. 49 l. 3 the translation of "schnoerkelhaft wirkende" as "rather flamboyant" runs up against the fact that "flamboyant" is a technical term for a feature of certain Gothic scripts. From what follows in the text, Bischoff seems to mean nothing more than "having the effect of a flourish on certain letters," but I can't be 32 fn. 53c l. 3 f.b.: for "unfounded" read "unproven"pg 33 l. 3 f.b. add "of transmission" after "centres"pg 35 fn. 69 for "younger" read "later"pg 37 ll. 5, 6 and fn. 76 for "Winitharius" read "Winithar"pg 43 fn. 117 l. 7 correct from "University ... 265" to read "Lilly Library, Poole 265" (there are no MSS in the University Library)l. 5 f.b. for "bended" read "bent"pg 46 l. 5 for "adorned with symbols of the Evangelists" read "adorned with a picture of the symbols of the Evangelists"; for "younger" read "later"pg 49 fn. 148 for "remarkable" read "unusual"pg 50 l. 3 for "younger" read "later" for "mutilated bifolium" read "fragment of a commentary on the Book of Numbers"pg 51 l. 1 before "marginalia" add "contemporary"pg 53 last paragraph the translators passes over Bischoff's image of the veil over the period.l. 2 f.b. for "already" read "long since" -- -- -pg 57 fn. 7 l. 3 for "copy of" "passage in"l. 7 read "bibliothecario"pg 60 l. 3 "recent research" here again dates from 1963fn. 19 l. 2 read "Scaenicorum" (error already in the German)pg 62 para.2 Gorman removes Bischoff's mosaic metaphor to the detriment of the discussion of Cassiodorus Institutiones II. l. 16 for "selections" read "extracts"l. 19 (bis) I doubt that "Franken" can be translated as "France"pg 63 l. 14 "practically no manuscripts": the German says "keine Handschriften"l. 26 delete "the" before "letters"pg 65 fn. 46 l. 2 revise "users...later" to read "representatives of its system of writing could have given the style up later." A similar compression of the thought occurs in the sentences to which this footnote 66 l. 3 f.b. "Koehler, 1" appears as "Koehler, 2" in the German versionpg 67 fn 51 last line for "p." read "pl."pg 69 l. 3 f.b. add "a" before "grammatical"; after "grammatical" add "manuscript with"l. 2 f.b. for "The" read "This"pg 71 l. 21 for "remarkable" read "select"pg 72 apparatus criticus l. 2 for "(cc)" read "(cc form)"-- -- - pg 76 l. 13 after "educational" add "and cultural"l. 16 for "splendid" read "precious"pg 79 l. 17 for "portion" read "portions"pg 80 l. 6 f.b. and 3 f.b. for "Square capitals" read "monumental capitalis" for "Rustic capitals" read "capitalis" and delete the following parenthesisl. 1 f.b. delete "Square" fn. 27 l. 2 for "Square capitals" read "model alphabet"pg 82 l. 10 restore Bischoff's metaphor by replacing "an organic relationship" with "a family tree"pg 84 l. 2 f.b. for "sumptuous" read "deluxe"pg 85 l. 11 for "Square" read "monumental"; for "Rustic capitals" read "capitalis"pg 86 l. 9 for "work" read "corpus"l. 14 add "civil" before "law"l. 3 f.b. add "can" after "We"pg 89 l. 1 for "Square" read "monumental"pg 90 l. 9 replace the commas in the Carmen references with periodsl 22 for "a mystery" read "puzzling"l. 9 f.b. for "folio" read "leaf"pg 91 l. 10 for "7, 1-2" read "7.1-2"-- -- -pg 94 l. 2 for "early" read "first two-thirds of the"l. 13 add "also" after "have"pg 97 l. 7 for ""books" read "volumes" fn. 26 l. 2 for "237 ff." read "237-266" and add "= The Intellectual Heritage of the Early Middle Ages, ed. Chester G. Starr (Ithaca, NY, 1957), p. 117-149."pg 98 l. 10 after "Training in grammar" add "(however weak it still was)"l. 18 for "imagination" read "subtlety"l. 19 after "metre" add "also"l. 4 f.b. for "a very ancient" read "an early"pg 100 l. 1 for "youngest" read "latest"pg 102 l. 5 f.b. for "youngest" read "latest"pg 105 l. 18 for "tripping gait" read "dances"pg 106 l. 1 for "pompous" read "magnificent"l. 4 for "collections" read "corpora"l. 6 add "fine" before "arts"-- -- - pg 115 l. 2 f.b. for "majuscule cursive" read "cursive majuscule"pg 116 l. 2 for "careful" read "professional"l. 7 for "very" read "relatively"l. 10 for "disseminated" read "copied"l. 11 for "into" read "for"; for "process" read "considerations"pg 117 l. 4 for "Rustic capitals" read "capitalis"l. 5 add "presumably" before "more"ll. 10-11 Bischoff might have noted that the paucity of ancient texts in half-uncial or cursive is probably due to their being written on 118 fn. 9 l. 3 for "(CLA 12.*146)" read "(CLA 2 (sup) 2.146)"; alter the reference in the "Index of Manuscripts" to reflect this changepg 119 l. 12 for "scriptorium to scriptorium" read "place to place"pg 120 l. 7 add 'Classical" before "Latin"l. 2 f.b. delete "Only"pg 121 l. 16 before "The fragment" add "As the script indicates,"l. 5 f.b. for "genial" read "gifted"pg 123 ll. 4-5 for "the best manuscripts" read "better manuscripts than those"l. 5 f.b.: for the anachronistic "Brought up in France" I suggest "The West Frank"pg 124 l. 1 for "writings" read "treatises"l. 13 add "could have" before "transcribed"l. 14 delete "own"l. 22 for "writing" read "script"l. 2 f.b. for "a mathematical" read "an arithmetic"pg 125 l. 11 for "Square" read "monumental"; "imperial age" is ambiguous (the German is "Kaiserzeit") -- I assume Bischoff is referring to the Roman empire.last line for "meaning" read "reference"pg 126 l. 4 for "driven" read "goaded"l. 21 for "the Vatican" read "a Vatican"l. 22 for "the Paris" read "a Paris"l. 25 for "Two decades ago" read "In 1956"l. 1 f.b. for "Rusticus" read "Rusticius" (see PLRE 2.374- 5); my thanks to James J. O'Donnell for help with this entry (see below on pg 129.4-5) -- alter the "General Index" to reflect this changepg 127 l. 13 for "several" read "many"l. 3 f.b. for "gloss" read "produce commentaries on"pg 128 l. l. 15 add "lat." before "84"l. 17 for "were" read "is"l. 18 for "would have to be" read "was"l. 19 add "in the vicinity of" before "Brittany"l. 5 f.b. Gorman or Bischoff has added an editorial comment to the German here, which will necessitate a rewriting of the entire sentence. I suggest, "Three different collations appear one after the other; it must descend from a collation of three separate texts in this extraordinary manuscript." fn. 53 the word "iterum" should not be in italics; it refers to Mommsen's second edition of 129 l. 3 add "text-critical" before "notes"l. 4-5 Bischoff's compressed reference makes it difficult to understand what text is being referred to. As PLRE 2.374-5 makes clear, Fl. Rusticius Helpidius Domnulus 2 (5th/6th century) copied at Ravenna the epitome of Valerius Maximus made by Iulius Paris ("feliciter emendavi descriptum Ravennae Rusticius Helpidius Domnulus v.c."). -- -- -pg 136 l. 14 for "Rustic capitals" read "capitalis"l. l. 17 for "last known copy of the work which could have transmitted the complete text to" read "last MS of this work which could have reached"pg 137 l. 6 for "can be explained more simply" read "is more modest"l. 7 for "along with" read "in"l. 9 for "to commit Donatus to memory" read "with the teaching of Donatus."l. 24 for "knew of" read "reported"l. 2 f.b. for "Justinus" read "Justin" fn. 8 the misreading of "ernst" as "erst" led to a misunderstanding of the German. For "First" read "Taken too seriously" fn. 11 l. 2 after "266" add "= Intellectual Heritage of the Early Middle Ages, ed. Chester G. Starr (Ithaca, NY, 1957), 117-149"pg 139 l. 7 f.b. for "coincidence" read "witness"pg 140 l. 5 after "end" add " with the Arabic conquest"l. 6 add "first" before "included"l. 3 f.b. for "ancient" read "venerable"pg 141 ll. 17-18 for "is poetical and refers" read "slightly revised metri gratia,"l. 20 for "come into existence" read "be established"ll. 21-22 for "Rustic capitals" read "capitalis"pg 142 l. 23 after "lost" add "Carolingian copy of the"l. 7 f.b. for "grammars" read "grammarians"; before "The decisive" add "For the Frankish kingdom"pg 144 l. 2 f.b. for "copied" read "corrected"pg 145 l. 11 for "incomplete" read "lacunose"l. 23 for "being the copy of" read "derived or copied from"l. 6 f.b. for "fifth-century" read "mid-sixth-century"; for "Elpidius " read "Helpidius"pg 148 l. 7 f.b. after "in" read "an anonymous"pg 149 l. 19 after "ago" add "in Hesse"l. 24 after "monk" add "of Fulda"pg 152 l. 17 after "was" add ", as we have seen,"pg 153 l. 7 for "and competent" read "but also skilled"l. 15 for "Cassino" read "Cassinum"l. 4 f.b. for "Antiquity" read "antiquity"pg 154 l. 9 f.b. for "is also" read "should also be"pg 158 l. 20 the translator overlooked the subjunctive here; after "readers," add "she said,"l. 22 for "argument" read "polemic" fn. 118. There is an English translation: The Love of Learning and the Desire for God: A Study of Monastic Culture. Trans. C. Misrahi (NY 1961), 3rd ed. (NY 1982). pg 159 fn. 126 l. 4 for "transmissemum" read "transmissemus"l. 5 for "condedantur" read "concedantur"

1 Throughout the book, Gorman refers to the Supplement as vol. 12 of CLA, clearly against Lowe's specific wishes. He regarded the Supplement as directed to the entire series of 11 volumes, and not as an additional volume in the set.
2 The English translation of this work, by D. O Croinin and D. Ganz, appeared under the title, Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Cambridge, 1990. The French translation, in many ways superior to the English, by H. Atsma and J. Vezin, appeared under the title, Paleographie de l'antiquite romaine et du moyen age occidental, Paris, 1985. Gorman, ix et passim, persists in referring to the German book, as Lateinische Palaeographie, though he cites the correct title in his bibliography of Bischoff's work from 1981 on (162).
3 See the severe review by B.C. Barker-Benfield in Classical Review 41 (1991): 206-208 and my comments on this review, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2.3.6 (1991).