David Johnson

title.none: Pulsiano, ed., Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts (Johnson)

identifier.other: baj9928.9904.011 99.04.11

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: David Johnson, Florida State Univeristy,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 1999

identifier.citation: Pulsiano, Philip, ed. Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile, Vol. 5: Latin Manuscripts with Anglo-Saxon Glosses. Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, Vol 175. Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1997. Pp. 51. $120.00. ISBN: 0-866-98217-5.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 99.04.11

Pulsiano, Philip, ed. Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile, Vol. 5: Latin Manuscripts with Anglo-Saxon Glosses. Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, Vol 175. Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1997. Pp. 51. $120.00. ISBN: 0-866-98217-5.

Reviewed by:

David Johnson
Florida State Univeristy

Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile is one of those rare collaborative scholarly projects whose purpose and design are exceptionally well conceived and whose execution would appear to meet very high standards indeed. Its aim is to provide Anglo-Saxonists and other interested scholars with "a fundamental tool in the field of Anglo-Saxon studies (v)": microfiche facsimiles of the hundreds of surviving manuscripts that contain any Old English.

The sensible design of the series is underlined by the Editors' remarks in the Preface to the booklet accompanying each volume. No doubt in order to keep costs down and to have a realistic chance of bringing the endeavor to a close within the stated six-year period (volume 1 was published in 1994), the Editors have chosen to incorporate existing photographic stock rather than contracting to photograph each manuscript anew. The only exceptions to this rule are cases in which no microfilms or photographs exist, or in which the existing material is so poor in quality as to render them unusable.

Another laudable editorial decision is the one to reproduce manuscripts in toto. Had they edited the facsimiles to exclude all but the actual Old English parts, they maintain, material of unanticipated importance to scholars might have been lost, and it certainly would have eliminated the material contexts in which the Anglo-Saxon material is preserved. The Editors deserve praise as well for their decision to include some later manuscripts that were not considered Anglo-Saxon by Neil R. Ker. In their view, "these manuscripts have clear connections with or bearings on undoubted Anglo-Saxon texts" (v).

Anglo-Saxonists have long enjoyed exceptional advantages in the study of manuscripts in their field, thanks chiefly to the work of Neil Ker and Helmut Gneuss. This series promises to augment those advantages considerably, and not only in the rather obvious way in which it will provide access to the contents of the manuscripts themselves, as opposed to "just" data about them. Each manuscript described and reproduced in these volumes receives a catalogue number, which will be concorded with the catalogue numbers of Ker and Gneuss and published as a comprehensive list at a future date. This will allow for unparalleled ease in locating and cross-referencing manuscripts containing Old English. The final volume of the series is slated to contain a general index and index of incipits, and revised versions of the individual descriptions are also to appear as a separate publication. That this is an on-going project is emphasized by the Editors' invitation to all users to inform them of "any errors, omissions, or relevant new scholarship" (vi).

The volume under review is the fifth in this ambitious and important series of microfiche facsimiles. Each volume contains reproductions of about ten manuscripts, together with descriptions and bibliographies for each one. The information provided by the descriptions include the manuscript's history, codicological features, contents, and notes on any special features or problems.

Another well-thought out aspect of the project is the logically organized and informative system employed in the labeling of each microfiche. For example, the first fiche in this volume has the following information in its header:

109. Canterbury, Cathedral Library Additional 20 ASM#5.1 1 of 1 Ker 97 + Supp., Gneuss 206 Chrodegang: Regula canonicorum

The top line contains (1) the assigned number for the final catalogue, city, library and shelfmark of the manuscript; (2) Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts in Microfiche Facsimile packet and description number; (3) fiche number.

The second line notes (4) the Ker number (N.R. Ker, Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957; repr. with supplement 1990]); (5) Gneuss number (Helmut Gneuss, "A preliminary list of manuscripts written or owned in England up to 1100," Anglo-Saxon England 9 [1981]: 1-60); and (6) a short title or other indication of contents.

Besides the Ker and Gneuss numbers, descriptions may include "Lowe" numbers (E.A. Lowe, Codices Latini Antiquiores: A Palaeographical Guide to Latin Manuscripts Prior to the Ninth Century. Part II. Great Britain and Ireland [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1900]). None of the manuscripts contained in this volume carry the latter.

In addition to the booklet with its descriptions and other data (51 pages + Preface), this volume is comprised of 12 packets or envelopes containing a total of 34 fiches on which ten manuscripts are reproduced. Their contents are as follows:

109. Canterbury, Additional 20: "Bilingual Rule of Chrodegang" (fragment) [Ker 97, Gneuss 206]

110. Canterbury, Additional 25: Waerferth's translation of Gregory the Great, "Dialogues" (fragment) [Ker 96, Gneuss 207]

111. Canterbury, Additional 32: Gregory the Great, "Dialogues" (fragment) [Ker 97* (p.lxiii), Gneuss 208]

115. Dublin, Trinity College 114 (A.5.2): Clement of Llanthony: "Concordia quator evangelistarum" [Ker 152, Gneuss-]

116. Dublin, Trinity College 174 (B.4.3.): Lives of Saints [Ker 103, Gneuss 215]

117. Dublin, Trinity College 492 (E.2.23): "Bede's Death Song" [Ker 104, Gneuss-]

125. Edinburgh, National Library, Advocates' MS 18.7.7: Sedulius, "Carmen Paschale" [Ker 111, Gneuss 253]

187. BL, Cotton Domitian i: Part 1: Isidore, Abbo, Priscian, Bede; Part 2: Geraldus Cambrensis, "Annales Cambriae" [Ker 146 (Part 1), Gneuss 326 (Part 1)]

191. BL, Cotton Faustina A.v: "Bede's Death Song" [Ker 152, Gneuss-]

290. BL, Royal 7 C. iv: Defensor, "Liber scintillarum" with continuous OE gloss [Ker 256, Gneuss 470]

Those most interested in locating the glosses, passages or brief phrases in Old English will do well to have Ker and Gneuss to hand, for the descriptions are by no means limited to the Old English contained in the manuscripts, as the Preface makes clear. For example, item 191 BL, Cotton Faustina A.v, contains "Bede's Death Song" in Old English, but it is not until the fourth page of the description, buried almost in the description of the contents of item 10, that one finds mention of it. Again, the student or scholar wishing to go directly to the Old English will find Ker's listing of the folio numbers convenient for this purpose. Likewise, item 116. Dublin, Trinity College 174 (B.4.3.): Lives of Saints contains just one line of Old English, but one must work through 4 1/2 pages of description before one finds it. Repeating Ker's identifications of the Old English bits would have been impractical, but the user should be aware of the importance of having Ker nearby to facilitate locating those passages in the ample descriptions of long manuscripts like this one.

The quality of the microfiche reproductions lives up to the Editors' stated aim that they meet the "standards expected of a good microfilm reproduction" (v). Some of the manuscripts, however, are in places nearly illegible due to their fragmentary preservation (109, 110, and 111), and in others where the writing is difficult to make out, the scholars responsible for writing the descriptions provide notes explaining the causes of this, where discernible. Those used to working with microfilm in their study of manuscripts will hardly be shocked by smudges, stains, and other obscurities, of course.

Slightly odd is the sub-title given this volume: "Latin Manuscripts with Anglo-Saxon Glosses." Strictly speaking, only four of the ten contain glosses proper, either marginal or continuous (111, 125, 187, and 290). 109 is part of a bilingual copy of the Rule of Chrodegang, 110 is a fragment of Waerferth's Old English translation of Gregory the Great's Dialogi, whereas 117 and 191 contain the Old English "Bede's Death Song." The single Old English line found in item 116 was appropriately styled a "scribble" by Ker. Item 115 contains no Old English at all, and is presumably included here because it was once bound with item 191 (containing Bede's Death Song) but separated from that manuscript in the late 16th or early 17th century. This seems to stretch the limits of the Editors' policy to reproduce the "material contexts" of manuscripts containing Old English, yet one can hardly object to its inclusion here. Though its contents are written in two mid-15th century hands, they consist of Clement of Llanthony's (second half of the 12th century) Concordia euangelistarum, a text which according to Lapidge and Sharpe has yet to be printed [1].

Two very minor imperfections in the volume under review are an error on the label of the envelope containing all the fiches that might lead one to believe that only 9 manuscripts are reproduced; two mss have been labeled "5.", though this error is not repeated elsewhere. Finally, there is an apparent typographical error in the title of a reference work by W.H. James Weale (7, 3rd item in Bibliography): Bookbings and Rubbings of Bindings in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Any criticism of the project as a whole or of this volume in particular implied by the above is far outweighed by the detail and quality of the descriptions and amount of potentially significant information provided on each of the manuscripts. This is a tremendously important project that clearly involves the coordination of a considerable number of dedicated scholars in the field. When it is finished all those with an interest in Anglo-Saxon England and the manuscript context of its literature will have good reason to be grateful to everyone involved in its production. We may thank especially General Editor Phillip Pulsiano and Executive Director A.N. Doane for their role in conceiving the plan, and more particularly those who write the descriptions for the individual manuscripts, in the case of Volume 5, Peter J. Lucas, A,N. Doane, and I.C. Cunningham. This will surely become an indispensable tool for most serious students of the period and a must for every university library.


[1] A Bibliography of Celtic-Latin Literature, 400- 1200, ed. Michael Lapidge and Richard Sharpe (Dublin, 1985): 21, item 45.