contributor.author: Patricia Stirnemann

title.none: Smith, Masters of the Sacred Page (Patricia Stirnemann)

identifier.other: baj9928.0210.024 02.10.24

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Patricia Stirnemann, Institut de recherche et d'histoire des textes, stirnemann@irht.cnrs.fr

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2002

identifier.citation: Smith, Lesley. Masters of the Sacred Page: Manuscripts of Theology in the Latin West to 1274. The Medieval Book, vol. 2. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2001. Pp. ix, 190. $48.95. ISBN: 0-268-04213-6.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 02.10.24

Smith, Lesley. Masters of the Sacred Page: Manuscripts of Theology in the Latin West to 1274. The Medieval Book, vol. 2. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2001. Pp. ix, 190. $48.95. ISBN: 0-268-04213-6.

Reviewed by:

Patricia Stirnemann
Institut de recherche et d'histoire des textes
stirnemann@irht.cnrs.fr

Lesley Smith (Academic Bursar and Tutor in Politics at Harris Manchester College in the University of Oxford) is the second contributor to the series The Medieval Book, inaugurated in 1993 by Margaret Gibson's The Bible in the Latin West. The aim of the series is to address the "codicology of texts," an introduction to a type or category of book, illustrated with around thirty plates and commentaries that speak both to the textual content of the page and to the physical and historical aspects of the medieval manuscript as the conveyor of the text. In many respects, the format of the series resembles that of albums devoted to palaeography, layout (mise en page) or illumination. Here, however, the focus is not on the artisan but the transmitted text, and the intended audience is less the palaeographer or codicologist than the historian, whom the authors wish to sensitise to the adventures of the manuscript page.

As the title makes clear, Smith's book deals with theologians and manuscripts of theology up to the deaths of Saint Bonaventure and Saint Thomas Aquinas in 1274. It rapidly embraces along the way the major controversies and turning points and their relation to the development of the monastic and cathedral schools, then the university, and finally the advent of the mendicants, especially in France and Paris. The 34 pages of Introduction are thus divided into seven sections: 1) Learning in Medieval Europe up to 1100 (Cassiodorus and an evocation of Irish-Northumbrian and Carolingian schools); 2) The Early Curriculum to 1100 (Saint Augustine's De doctrina Christiana and the seven liberal arts, and the thorny question of whether the debates on the Eucharist were discussed at all in the schools); 3) The Context of Learning, 1100-1200 (the growth of the schools, especially in Paris, the condition of the students, how they were examined, the famous 'license to teach' and the moral problem of fees); 4) The Curriculum, 1100-1200 (the Church fathers, the new authors such as Bernard and Anselm, the new translations of Aristotle, Euclid, Ptolemy, the Decretum of Gratian for law, and, for theology, the glossa ordinaria, Peter Lombard, Peter Comestor, Peter the Chanter, Hugh of Saint Victor, whose Didascalicon would provide a sort of curriculum of what you need to know in order to understand sacred scripture, and of course Abelard and the growth of the dialectic discussion of problematic questions, as well as the opposition this method entailed); 5) The Context of Learning, 1200-1274 (the institutionalisation of the university, a sketch of university life for a theology student, the arrival of the mendicants); 6) Theology, 1200-1274 (the impact of Aristotle, theology as an academic discipline and the problems that that posed, the carping of Roger Bacon, speculative and moral/pastoral theology); 7) The Texts: Books as Reflectors of Change (an explanation of the grouping of the plates in the second half of the book, a short discussion of the Parisian book trade and innovations in layout and paratextual aides).

Providing an overview of a subject so vast in so small a space is no mean feat, and Smith's sketch is very readable, refreshing and informative. If a non-specialist of the history of the teaching of theology may be allowed a quibble or two, especially in the context of a book about books, I regret the absence of any discussion of libraries, their contents, and their role in transmission and consultation of texts. A nod at the libri scolastici, the school books or personal libraries of students and scholars, as a source of our knowledge of the curriculum before 1200, might also have been warranted.

The essay is based largely on works written in or translated into English, an obvious concession to American and English students, but it is regrettable that as the discussion becomes more focussed on Paris, that some of the abundant recent French literature is not included, notably the work of Olga Weijers and Jacques Verger. Some statements might be modified in light of their studies. For example, resistance to non-royal civil authorities or an interest in learning are inadequate explanations (9-10) for Philippe Auguste's charter of 1200, which states that scholars were immune from civil jurisdiction and subject only to the bishop, and that the city provost and civil authorities had to swear to uphold scholar's rights and to inform on anyone they saw harming a scholar or his interests. It would have been salutary to mention the direct cause of the edict: a bloody confrontation between students and a group of bourgeois led by the provost himself, in which several students were killed, as well as the bishop-elect of Liege, Henri de Jauche. Jacques Verger suggests that the charter had several implications: to calm the masters who threatened to leave Paris; to placate Philippe's ally Philip of Swabia who had supported the candidature of Henri de Jauche; to placate the bishop and the pope who had placed an interdict on the realm; to make the Church take direct responsibility for its students who were indeed clerks. Olga Weijers' contributions to the study of the university vocabulary and her work on teaching and manuals and the Faculty of arts may be beyond the range of many of today's college students, but such innovative work surely deserves a footnote somewhere. On the Anglo-Saxon side, I missed a favourite of mine, David Knowles' The Evolution of Medieval Thought (1962), in which problems of method, language, translation and history are set out with such simple eloquence.

The Plates: The commentaries are lively, giving a context for each work, the content of the book, often the number of surviving manuscripts, a thumbnail sketch of the author, and notes of varying length on the page displayed, most often with a transcription and translation of a well-chosen snippet (in future, much more transcription and translation would be desirable). A framed inset provides a physical description of the manuscript, notes on provenance and a list of contents. Bibliography relates to the text, not to the manuscript. Again, I am not a theologian or historian of theology, but I find Smith's theological comments extremely clear and synthetic, bringing to life the context of the reading of one text or another (an excellent example is no. 14), and the controversies are indexed. The passages chosen for comment are often well threaded with the commentary and are by turns zesty, touching, and sometimes quite profound. On p. 140 (no. 24), Peter the Chanter tells us that "Training in sacred scripture consists of three parts, reading, disputation and preaching; and prolixity, the mother of forgetfulness and stepmother of memory, is inimical to them all." Smith understands Peter all too well, which is one of the many reasons her book is so engaging.

As was said at the outset, this series is written and compiled more for the historian than for the palaeographer or codicologist, but as albums of plates, these books will necessarily attract the attention and remarks of practitioners of the visual disciplines, who will inevitably judge the selection from points of view and spheres of competence that one cannot expect the author to possess. For my part, I am a student of the dating and localisation of manuscripts and the history of libraries. The following notes are meant to add to the utility of Smith's book, not to imply that any great errors have been made. In some cases, I am stating my considered opinion, in others I am absolutely sure of my adjustment, and elsewhere I try to add a bit to our knowledge of the book or the manuscript tradition. I have repeated Smith's references to the number of surviving manuscripts, as quantity is one way of judging the diffusion or importance of a text or an author.

Smith chose her plates in order to illustrate "texts [that] cover all facets of Hugh of Saint Victor's description of the study of sacred scripture" even if some post-date Hugh's lifetime. The selection, divided into four groups, is meant to represent texts that a mid-thirteenth-century scholar would have had "at his fingertips" in Paris. For the first two sections, she has cast her palaeographic net widely both chronologically and geographically, and in the last two sections her plates evoke a spectrum of thirteenth-century scripts, from book hand to cursive.

1. The Bible as a theological tool: the Bible and its off-shoots 1. Glossed Luke, Princeton, UL, Grenville Kane Coll., ms. 2. The manuscript is of the mid-twelfth century, and was made in central France as indicated by the script and the bizarre forms of the initials E, Q and N. The line of text quoted simply by using the first letter of each word is quoted in full in the sacred text at the bottom of this folio and at the top of the next, and thus does not imply that the reader knew the line by heart. Mark Zier currently estimates the number of surviving glossed books at about 2000.

2. Herbert of Bosham, On Peter Lombard on the Psalms, Oxford, Bodl. Lib., ms. Auct. E inf.6. Probably the 1170s. Judging from the decoration, I am of the opinion that this manuscript was made in Sens. I do not believe that Herbert of Bosham wrote it himself.

3. Peter Comestor, Historia scholastica. New Haven, Yale Univ., Beinecke Library, ms. 214. Given to Mont Saint-Quentin, 1219. This manuscript is one of two surviving copies of the manuscript that must have been presented to Guillaume aux Blanches Mains. The other is Paris, BNF, latin 16943, a manuscript written in 1183 at Corbie by Johannes Monoculus. Agneta Sylwan, whose edition of Genesis will appear shortly with Brepols, has recorded over 800 manuscripts and fragments of Peter's work. For more on her edition, see Sacris erudiri 39 (2000), 345-382.

4. Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermons on the Song of Songs. Engelberg, Stiftsbibl., ms. 32. Engelberg, mid twelfth century. No comment.

5. Richard of Saint-Victor, Liber exceptionum. Paris, Arsenal, ms. 266 (element A). While indeed late-twelfth century, the script and decoration of this book indicate that it was definitely not made in Paris at Saint-Victor. Furthermore, as Smith notes, Richard's work was often attributed to Hugh, and this is the case with this manuscript. A manuscript of Richard's work would be attributed to Richard at Saint-Victor.

6. Pocket Bible Baltimore, WAG, ms. W 48 (in Masters of the Sacred Page manuscript is incorrectly cited by its serial number in Lilian Randall's catalogue). Paris, mid-thirteenth century. Given the several Germanic names inscribed in this manuscript, the monastery 'Sancte Maria in Olyva' to which the manuscript was given is most likely the Prussian Cistercian monastery in the region of Danzig bearing this name, founded in 1186. It is certainly not the monastery of Clairmont in France.

7. The Verbal Concordance of the Scriptures Oxford, Bodleian Library, ms. Canon. Pat. Lat. 7 Paris, second half of the thirteenth century. No comment.

8. [Hugh of Saint Cher], Postills on the Pauline Epistles. Durham, Cathedral Library, ms. A. I. 16 Probably French, written before 1258. This particular manuscript contains the postills on the Pauline epistles, which are attributed not to Hugh of Saint Cher but to Eudes de Chateauroux. The manuscripts of Bertram of Middleton are pecia books. T. Kaeppeli thought that they were Oxford pecia, but it is much more likely, as Dr Smith proposes, that they are French, indeed Parisian. They are among the earliest Parisian petia books. The textual tradition of the postills (whether by Hugh or his collaborators, whether the long or short version) numbers over 425 volumes at present count (personal research) and less than twenty of these are petia according to Giovanna Murano. B. Sources : non-biblical side of Hugh's sacred scripture: Fathers, canon law, moderni

9. Saint Augustine, De doctrina Christiana. Chicago, Newberry Library, ms. 12.1 English, mid-twelfth century. No comment

10. Saint Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job. Manchester, John Rylands UL, ms. 83 San Pedro de Cardena, 914. No comment.

11. Saint Ambrose, Letters. Oxford, Bodl. Lib., ms. Bodl. 866 S. France, eleventh century. Probably made at or near Saint-Martial, as it appears to be painted by the artist of the second Bible of Saint-Martial (see D. Gaborit-Chopin, La decoration des manuscrits a Saint-Martial de Limoges et en Limousin, Paris-Geneva, 1969, p. 215).

12. Isidore of Seville, Etymologies. London, British Library, ms. Harley 2686 French, late ninth century. The translation at the bottom of page 88 seems to have got garbled. Surely it should read "I have diligently inserted in this work many interpretations which were fit to be included, but many were omitted for the sake of brevity." The last sentence might better read: "For the definition of words clearly reveals what is meant to be understood". More than 1000 surviving manuscripts (L. Smith).

13. Defensor of Liguge, Liber scintillarum. London, British Library, ms. Royal 7 C. IV English, early eleventh century. By some quirk, the title reads Defensor of Liege, although Dr Smith correctly refers to Liguge in the second paragraph on p. 91. The same error is repeated on p. 36 in the list of manuscripts. 360 surviving manuscripts (L. Smith).

14. Compendium of Theology on the Eucharist. London, BL, ms. Royal 7.C.VIII. Certainly English, late-twelfth century. I am a little sceptical about the idea stated in the first sentence that in the mid-thirteenth century one could buy a series of work at a Paris stationer and have them bound together. We have yet to establish a series of books or booklets made on speculation. Considering the cost of parchment and copying, the stationer would have to be very well off, and it is doubtful that the university population ever made any thirteenth-century bookseller truly well off.

15. Andrew of Saint Victor, On the Vision of Ezechiel. Oxford, Bodleain Library, ms. e Mus. 62. English, surely first quarter of the thirteenth century rather than second half. I wonder, with only four surviving manuscripts, whether this text was at the fingertips of many Parisian theologians, but Andrew is important and the text can be seen as paradigmatic. The r for respice in the top right margin is not visible on the plate and I see only one in the left. I've seen this marking in Norman books.

16. Ivo of Chartres, Panormia. London, British Library, ms. Royal 10 A. VIII. Indeed, probably English, given the script and red and green initials; early thirteenth century.

C. Sentences to Summae: development of dogmatic theology, with texts that are issue or quaestio-based, ordering of biblical and extra biblical source material by problem rather than by text.

17.Hugh of Saint Victor, De sacramentis Christianae fidei. Oxford, Bodleian Library, ms Bodl. 773 English, mid to late twelfth century. No comment.

18. Peter Lombard, Sentences. Baltimore, WAG, ms. W. 809. On the basis of the painted and penwork decoration, and even the script, I consider this book to have been made in Sens or in the region of Sens. I have not been able to arrive at a proper explanation of why so many 'school' books were produced in Sens at the end of the twelfth century, but I feel reasonably sure that this is not a Parisian book.

19. Peter of Poitiers, Sentences. London, BL, ms. Royal 10 A. XIV. From the photo, I think this book is French; first quarter of the thirteenth century. On page 128, read 'the word straddling columns a and b on fol. 23v'.

20. William of Auxerre, Summa aurea. London, BL, ms. Royal 9 B. V English, 1231. I think this book should be looked at more closely for localisation.

21. Alexander of Hales, Disputed questions 'Antequam esset frater'. London, BL, ms. Royal 9 E. XIV. ?English, mid thirteenth century. The country of origin is not easy to determine from the plate. Small French and English hands are sometimes quite similar in the first half of the century. This particular folio is written 'above top line'.

22. Albert the Great, De unitate intellectus contra Averroem. Paris, BNF, latin 14557. Paris, late-thirteenth century. The plate is taken off a microfilm, which hardens and blurs the image, and leaves scratch lines; the fault, which lies with the library and not Smith, is unjustifiable in the context of a photo ordered for publication in an album of facsimiles. The book belonged to Saint-Victor but was probably made professionally.

23. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae. Oxford, Bodleian Library, ms. Lat. th. c. 27. Certainly English, mid to late thirteenth century. The penwork is typically English, as was the owner who drew a pointing hand (right margin) and running line of faces down the left column. To quote Pere Bataillon, "Faces and hands. It's English". 2591 extant manuscripts (L. Smith).

D. Theology made accessible: practical or moral theology

24. Peter the Chanter, Verbum Abbreviatum. Oxford, Bodleian Library, ms. Bodl. 373. English, second half of the thirteenth century. No comment. More than 90 extant manuscripts (L. Smith).

25. Bible moralisee. Vienna, Oesterreichische Nationalbibliothek, ms; 2554 Paris, 1220-1230. While the thirteenth-century copies of the Bible moralisee are amazing, the later books are not of 'greatly inferior quality', far from it. The copy made for Philippe le Hardi, for example, was painted (first four quires) by Paul and Jean de Limbourg. The name Hugh de Saint Cher has indeed been mentioned with regard to the text of the Bible moralisee, but Hugh's work was not yet available when this bible was made, and the texts in the Bible moralisee are notoriously poor and sloppy. As has been pointed out by many scholars, the painting is not by a single artist but by teams of artists. John Lowden has proposed, with interesting arguments, that the French version (shown in this plate) preceded the first Latin version (Vienna 1179), which was apparently translated from the French.

26. Anonymous, Sermon exempla. Vatican, BAV, ms. Ottob. lat. 522 Probably France, late thirteenth century. No comment.

27. Thomas Chobham, Summa confessorum. Oxford, UC, ms. 119 Probably English, mid-thirteenth century. No comment. Over 100 extant manuscripts (L. Smith).

28. Robert Grosseteste, Templum Dei. Oxford, Bodleian Library, ms. Bodl. 36. Certainly English, mid-thirteenth century More than 90 extant manuscripts (L. Smith).

29. William Peraldus, Sermons on the Sunday Epistles. Oxford, Trinity College, ms. 79. To my eye, this manuscript is Parisian, 1240-1250, and thus contemporary with the time of writing, given by Dr Smith as 1240-1245. A useful addition to the bibliography would be, La produciton du livre universitaire au moyen age: exemplar et pecia, actes du symposium tenu au Collegio San Bonaventura de Grottaferrata en mai 1983, textes reunis par L. J. Bataillon, B.G. Guyot, R.H. Rouse, Paris : CNRS, 1988.

30. Saint Bonaventure, Apologia pauperum. Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenzianon, ms. Plut. 27 dext. 9. Certainly Paris, late thirteenth century. The image has unfortunately been taken from a rather gritty microfilm and again, as with no. 22, the fault lies with the library.