BIBLE, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [probably Paris, c.1240s]
The epitome of 13th-century book-production, combining ultra-thin vellum and microscopic script with a standardised sequence of texts, including a guide to the meaning of biblical names in Hebrew, to produce a complete, yet portable, one-volume Bible, suitable for use by students of theology at the University of Paris.
(1) The gospels have added marginal concordances, suggesting academic study, perhaps at the University of Paris; a word of Greek is added in the margin of Acts 13:3 suggesting ownership by an exceptionally well educated scholar. (2) Erased 18th(?)-century ownership inscription (f.1, lower margin), perhaps contemporary with the binding. (3) MAURICE BURRUS, no 100. Purchased from Rossignol in 1936.
Bible with prologues and Interpretations of Hebrew Names, mostly following the usual ‘Paris’ selection and sequence, but lacking most of Esther and Job, the first leaf of I Samuel, and the last leaf of the Interpretations. Habakkuk has an extra prologue, marked ‘vacat’.
Stylistic attributions of the illumination in Bibles such as this are extremely problematic: even when styles are distinctive on a larger scale, they are often very difficult to discern confidently in small initials like those of the present manuscript. With that caveat, the illumination is similar to that named by Branner ‘The Soissons Bible atelier’, named after a folio-sized Bible, and to which he attributed 21 manuscripts.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION AND CONDITION:
203 x 135mm. ii + 482 + ii leaves, including two blanks after Revelation. 2 columns of 50 lines, ruled space: 135 x 90mm; the Interpretations in 3 columns of 52 lines, ruled space: 140 x 105mm. Pen-flourished initials throughout, SIXTY PAINTED FOLIATE INITIALS to the prologues, often with dragons, SEVENTY-EIGHT HISTORIATED INITIALS to the biblical books, Interpretations, and the divisions of the Psalms, many of them (Genesis, Ruth, Ezra, Proverbs, etc.) taller than the height of the text (the running titles somewhat cropped, some leaves missing, see Content, lower margin of one leaf in the Interpretations torn out). 18th(?)-century speckled brown leather, spine with gilt title ‘Biblia Sacra’, the edges of the leaves red (sound but worn).