BIBLE with the Prologues attributed to St Jerome and the Interpretation of Hebrew names, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[northern France, probably Paris, mid-13th century]
168 x 115mm. vi + 437 leaves, in 28 gatherings mostly of 18 leaves, six preliminary leaves foliated I-VI, of which I is a lifted pastedown, II is the conjoint endleaf and III-VI are 18th-century paper blanks, medieval foliation 2-cccc61 in upper right corner shows 22 folios lacking (numbered 1, 66-71, 135-139, 218, 226-230, 321, 395, 453-455) but skipping 131 and 188, followed here, a few catchwords and signature marks, two columns of up to 51 lines written in brown-black ink in a gothic bookhand between four verticals and up to 52 horizontals ruled in plummet, justification: 112 x 32-5-32mm, further pairs of verticals in outer, upper and lower margins, rubrics in red, running titles, chapter numbers and versals in Psalter in letters alternately red and blue, other versal initials touched red, two-line chapter initials alternately of red or blue with flourishing of the other colour, numerous four- to eight-line puzzle initials of red and blue with elaborate flourishing of the same colours extending the height of the margins, PAINTED INITIAL WITH ENTWINED DRAGONS opening Genesis (slight cropping of some flourishing, tears to folios 3, 7 and 452, a few others with minor tears or marginal losses, loss of most of f.22, blank lower margin excised from 436). French 18th-century red morocco gilt (very minor rubbing to extremities).
Both the contents -- the sequence and organisation of Books and Prologues that became standard in Paris from the second quarter of the 13th century -- and the style of illumination show that the manuscript was made in northern France, most probably in Paris. It has been suggested that many of these compact Bibles were made for the use of friars. The added list of lections and the subsequent -- 14th or 15th-century -- foliation to locate them suggests that by that date the Bible had a liturgical function.
Vulgate Bible with customary Prologues ff.1-423, lacking twenty-one leaves with Opening Prologue i-v, Genesis xlvi-xlvii, Deuteronomy xi-xxviiii, Kings II xiiii-xxiv, Psalms 118-121, Proverbs xxii-end of Ecclesiastes xii, Habbakuk iv-Zephaniah iii, Colossians iv-end of Thessalonians I; Interpretation of Hebrew Names, lacking one leaf with names from Thesbon to end ff.423-452; with near-contemporary added texts: Prologue to Joshua f.456, Book of Ruth ff.456-457v, Prologue to Kings I ff.457v-458v, Preface to Peter Lombard Commentarium in Psalmos (PL 191, 55-62) pp.458-460; later and more informally written later additions: liturgical instructions f.Iv; readings for masses for feasts from the Temporal ff.II-IIv and continued on ff.460v-461; Prologue to Hugh de St-Cher's commentary on Ecclesiastes opening 'Nota quod summa regis palatium' p.460.