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PSEUDO-DIONYSIUS AREOPAGITICA (c.525): De angelica hierarchia, Ecclesiastica hierarchia, De divinis nominibus, De mystica theologia, Epistola ad Tytum, all in the paraphrase of Thomas vercellensis; De divinis nominibus; De mystica theologia, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM.
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PSEUDO-DIONYSIUS AREOPAGITICA (c.525): De angelica hierarchia, Ecclesiastica hierarchia, De divinis nominibus, De mystica theologia, Epistola ad Tytum, all in the paraphrase of Thomas vercellensis; De divinis nominibus; De mystica theologia, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM.

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PSEUDO-DIONYSIUS AREOPAGITICA (c.525): De angelica hierarchia, Ecclesiastica hierarchia, De divinis nominibus, De mystica theologia, Epistola ad Tytum, all in the paraphrase of Thomas vercellensis; De divinis nominibus; De mystica theologia, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM.

[?Cologne, c.1300, and Cologne, 1352]
207 x 147mm. i + 177 + i leaves: 110-1610, 176(of 10, vii-x cancelled blanks), 1811(of 12, final blank cancelled), catchwords on final versos, two columns of 25-28 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between four verticals and on or between 26-27 horizontals ruled in light brown, justification: 128 x 39-8-39mm, rubrics in red, running headings lettered alternately in red and blue, text capitals touched with red, two-line initials and paragraph marks alternately in red and blue, one two-line initial in blue fourished in red, six large initials in red and blue with flourishing in both colours extending into the margin; added gathering: 46-48 lines written in brown ink in a small gothic bookhand between two verticals, double-ruled to the left for the initial, and two horizontals, justification 160 x 110mm, initials touched with red f.167, the same hand has foliated each work and lettered each column throughout the volume (slight wear to margins, repair to last, unwritten leaf). German late 15th-century calf stamped in blind with triple fillets forming lozenges within a double frame over wooden boards, remains of leather lettering pieces with shelf-marks on spine, index tabs, reused vellum documents as pastedowns, the lower with Ripuarian forms (lacking most of spine, 2 clasps). Red leather box, gilt.

PROVENANCE:

1. The Franciscan Convent in Cologne: the added gathering contains an index, with colophon on f.176 stating that it had been written by Brother Lupoldus of Frisia of the Friars Minor in Cologne in 1352.

2. The Charterhouse of St Barbara, Cologne: 'Liber domus Sancte Barbare in Colonia ordinis carthusiensis', with list of contents on first leaf; remains of 17th-century library number 0041 on spine. Founded in 1334, the Carthusians of Cologne had accumulated a notable library which was largely destroyed by fire in 1451. The library building was rapidly rebuilt and restocked with the help of other religious houses in Cologne. Since the ownership inscription is that most common in the second half of the 15th century and the late 15th-century binding is typical of those executed for St Barbara's, it is very likely that the volume was among those given by the Franciscans after the fire of 1451. Over half the manuscripts from the library have been identified: there are major holdings in the Historisches Archiv in Cologne, the Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek in Darmstadt, the Stattsbibliothek, Berlin and the Royal Library in Brussels (see R.B. Marks, The Medieval Manuscript Library of the Charterhouse of St Barbara in Cologne, 1974, this manuscript pp.372-3).

3. Leander van Ess (1772-1847): the Charterhouse was secularised in 1794 and the library dispersed; in 1821, van Ess, Professor of Theology at Marburg and famous book collector, bought 136 of its manuscripts from the Cologne auction house of Heberle and Lempertz.

4. Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872): his Middle Hill stamp and no.397 on first leaf and inscription on verso, remains of label on spine. Phillipps bought his mss 387-759, 4480, 6833-5 from Leander van Ess in 1824.

5. Phillipps Sale, Sotheby's, 6-9 July 1910, lot 261; cutting from catalogue pasted inside upper cover; to Ettinghausen.

6. Herbert Claiborne Pell Junior (1884-1961): armorial bookplate inside upper cover, with note of purchase from Belin, Paris, in 1923 (de Ricci, II, p.2136).

CONTENT:

Works of Pseudo-Dionysius in the Latin paraphrase of Thomas Gallo, Abbot of S. Andrea, Vercelli (120-1226) ff.1-109v: De angelica hierarchia, with prologue, ff.1-33; De ecclesiastica hierarchia ff.33-57; De divinis nominibus ff.58v-101; De mystica theologia ff.101-105; Epistola ad Tytum f.105-110; blank f.111; Latin translations of works by Pseudo-Dionysius: capitula list for De divinis nominibus ff.111-116; De divinis nominibus ff.116-155v; capitula list for De mystica theologia ff.155v; De mystica theologica ff.155v-159v; capitula list for De celestia [angelica] hierarchia ff.159v-163; capitula list for De ecclesistica hierarchia ff.163v-166; alphabetical index compiled by Brother Lupoldus of Frisia ff.167-176.

Despite their enormous influence on Christian thought, these treatises have remained anonymous (for a modern edition, see Corpus Dionysiacum, B.R. Suchla et al. eds, Berlin, 1990). From an early date they were attributed to Dionysius or Denis the Areopagite, converted to Christianity by St Paul and believed to have become bishop of Athens. When the texts reached the western church and were translated into Latin in the 9th century, their assumed author was conflated with St Denis, the martyred first bishop of Paris. The desire to claim their author for the West reflects the importance of these texts for the development of Christian thinking. They underlay the teachings of the great universities and were commented on by Hugh of St Victor and St Thomas Aquinas, among many others, as well as informing the writings of Dante. Their significance extended beyond the narrowly theological and is especially evident in the development of aesthetics and its practical manifestations in buildings such as Abbot Suger's St-Denis.

It is not surprising that Pseudo-Dionysius formed part of the Franciscan library in Cologne and that it was then thought essential to the rebuilding of the Carthusian library. The abstruse and difficult nature of the original Greek texts led to a series of Latin translations, as scholars reinterpreted its meanings, and it is not unusual to find, as here, more than one version within the same volume. Of the ten letters accepted as by Pseudo-Dionysius, only one, the letter to Titus, is included here. Dealing with the symbolism of the Bible and of Christian ritual and liturgy, it was of immediate relevance in its own right and for understanding subsequent thinking on these issues. The numerous annotations throughout the book, show that it was well used by both Franciscans and Carthusians: the Franciscans in preparation for preaching, as some notes make clear, and the Carthusians in private study.

This volume not only presents some of the most influential texts of the Middle Ages but also shows how they were used in two of the most prestigious religious foundations in Cologne.
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