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les Enluminures

Nicholas of Dinkelsbühl, Questiones in librum quartum sententiarum, d. 1-14 (Commentary on Book four of the Sentences by Peter Lombard)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on paper
Austria (Vienna?) or Southern Germany, c. 1425-50

TM 566


i (paper) + 168 + i (paper) folios on paper (watermark, five-petalled blossom, with pistil, no stem, and cross above, similar to Piccard XII, no. 1224, Reval, 1425, nos. 1227 and 1228, Frankfurt and Mainz, 1426, no. 1229, Fulda, 1427, nos. 1265 and 1266, Czaszlaw, Vienna, 1420-1, and to numerous others, the most recent, no. 1244, Marienburg, 1451), modern foliation in pencil top outer corner recto, quires 3 and 4 bound in reverse order as noted by a contemporary hand, correct order of the text: ff. 1-24v, 37-48v, 25-36v, 49-end, missing at least the final quire (collation, i-xiv12), horizontal catchwords, lower inside margin, no signatures, frame-ruled in ink with all rules full-length, prickings in three outer margins, (justification, 155-150 x 85-83 mm.), written below the top line in a vigorous running hybrida script in twenty-eight to twenty-six long lines, majuscules in text slashed with red, red headings, decorative two-line red initial, f. 18, four-line red initial, f. 1, with decorative void spaces within the initial and red pen decoration, very clean and in excellent condition, slight worming bottom outer corner ff. 1-4. Bound in early 20th-century marbled half cloth over pasteboard, with label on spine preserved from an earlier binding or endleaf, “Excerpta ex questionibus diuersibus. Super quartum Sententiarum, I 32”, modern parchment strips reinforcing the middle of each quire, in excellent condition, slight wear on edges. Dimensions 221 x 140 mm.

This unedited, unprinted, and under-studied text is by an important author, Nicholas of Dinkelsbühl, who was a prominent figure in the reform movements of the early fifteenth century and the author of a widely-disseminated sermon collection. In good condition, this copy preserves the first part of this text (at least one quire is missing at the end). This text has rarely been available for sale in the last century (two sales in 1987 and 1910 in the Schoenberg Database). Most copies are in Austrian and German public collections, with only one copy recorded in the United States.


1. Based on the evidence of the script and the watermark, the manuscript was most likely written in Germany or Austria c. 1425-50, a date that makes this an early copy of this text. The watermark was a common one between c.1425-1450, and although it is helpful in dating the manuscript, it is of less use in suggesting its place of origin. Given the author’s prominence at the University of Vienna, Vienna is certainly a possibility, but Southern Germany is also possible.

The paper is of high quality and the script was the product of a skilled scribe; nonetheless, two quires were reversed when the manuscript was first bound and this mistake was never corrected. It was, however, noticed immediately, since the note on f. 24v warning of the error is contemporary with the manuscript. The manuscript includes some minor contemporary corrections (for example, f. 108v), and a few nota marks and marginal comments (for example, ff. 96, 97, 101v, 102, 104v, 105 and 107) added soon after it was copied (and concentrated in this one section of the manuscript). Overall, its very clean, almost pristine condition does not suggest it was heavily used, and it seems unlikely that this was a copy made for a theology student, and it is possible that it was made for use in a monastic or university library.

2. The fifteenth-century label on the spine from an earlier binding or endleaf (see above), with shelfmark, suggests an early institutional ownership.


Note: the manuscript was bound in an incorrect order; the description follows the correct order, rather than the sequence found in the manuscript.

(ff. 1-24v, quires 1-2)

f. 1, incipit, “’Samaritanus enim wlnerato approprians curationi eius sacramentorum alligamenta … et que sit distantai inter sacramenta noue legis et veteris, etc. [Peter Lombard, Sententiae IV, d. 1 c. 1].’ Iste est quartus liber sententiarum magistri petri de lombardia in quo tractat de sacramentis et noue et veteris legis precipue tamen de sacramentis noue legis. de quarendum finali de priuelegiis[?] beatorum et penis dampnatorum. Et continent totus iste liber 50 distinctiones. Quarum prima 14tum continent conclusiones inter questiones est hec. ‘Prima sacramentum est sacrae rei signum. Dicitur tamen sacramentum etiam sacrum secretum …. [Sent. IV, d. 1. c. 2].’ …”;

ff. 2v-17v [Distinctio 1], incipit, “… Utrum sacramenta noue legis mediante aliqua virtute supernaturali et spirituali nata sunt causative gratiam in animam viam … Nulla sunt sacramenta noue legis …”;

f. 10v, Circa secundam partem huius distinctio queritur utrum circumcisio tempore legis nature in remedium originalis peccati instituta contulerit gratiam ratione operis operati …”;

f. 18, Distinctio 2, incipit, “’Iam ad sacramenta noue legis accedamus [Sent.IV, d. 2].’ Hoc est secunda distinctio que septem continent conclusiones quarum prima noue legis sunt septem sacramenta scilicet baptismo …; f. 19, … Utrum baptisati baptismo Johannis fuerunt baptismo christi rebaptisandi …”;

f. 20v, Distinctio 3, “’Post hoc uidendum est quid sit baptismus et que sit forma eius … [Sent. IV, d. 3].’ …; f. 21v, …Utrum baptismum sacramentum a christo in nouo testamento ante ipsius passionem institutam sit …”;

(ff. 37-48v, quire 4)

f. 42v, Distinctio 4, incipit, “’Hic dicendum est aliquos suscipere sacramentum et rem sacramenti …[Sent. IV, d. 4]’ …; f. 43v, … Utrum sicut omnes homines et adulti et paruuli non baptisati sunt ad baptismum obligati sicut ipsorum singuli sicut sacramenti sic et effectum eius equalitas sint preceptivi …”;

(ff. 25-36v, quire 3)

f. 29, Distinctio 5, incipit, “’Post hec sciendum est baptismi sacramentum a bonis et a malis ministris dari ….[Sent. IV, d. 5]’; f. 29v, .. Utrum sicut baptisati a malis ministris percipiant sacramentum et quinque eius effectum sicut et peccent mali baptismum …”;

f. 35v, Distinctio 6, incipit, “’Nunc quibus liceat baptisare addamus … [Sent. IV, d. 6]’ Hec est septima et ultima de baptismo …”;

(ff. 49-end, quires 5-14)

f. 49, Dubium primum, incipit, “Circa hanc distinctionem septimam pro complemento tocius materie de baptismo mouebunutur viginti et vnum dubia et dissoluentur integue est primum hoc, an soli sacerdotes possint baptisare …; f. 50, Secundum dubium an puer in utero matris baptisati possit …”;

The texts above are part of distinction six, rather than seven as noted incorrectly in the manuscript (the marginal headings, however, correctly note that it is distinctio 6).

f. 61v, De confirmatione, distinctio 7, incipit, “’Nunc de confimationis sacramento addendum est de cuius virtute queri solet [Sent IV, d. 7].’ Hec est septima distinctio que sex continent conclusiones. Prima est forma huius sacramenti …; f. 62, … Utrum sacramentum confirmationis baptismo nobilius debitam habens formam …”;

f. 68v, De sacramento Eukarista, distinctio 8, incipit, “’Post sacarmentum confirmationis …[Sent IV, d. 8]’; f. 69, … Utrum eukarista sacramentum noue legis existens sit unum sacramentum dimitae …”;

f. 82v, Distinctio 9, incipit “Et sicut due sunt res huius sacramenti …[Sent IV, d. 9]’; f. 82v, … Utrum sicut in mortali peccato existens hoc sacramentum manducans mortaliter peccatum sic et quiuis ad ipsum cum corporali inmundicia accedens grauiter delinquat …”;

f. 117v, Distinctio 10, incipit, “’Sunt autem alii precendencium …[Sent IV, d. 10]’; f. 117v, … Utrum corpus christus et eius sangwis vere et realiter secundum suam naturalem quantitatem …;”

f. 128v, Distinctio 11, incipit “’Si autem queritur quails sit illa conuersio an substancialis uel formalis uel alterius …[Sent IV, d. 11]’; f. 130, …. Utrum panis dum taxat in totum corpus christi et vinum solum in sangwinem ….”;

f. 145, Distinctio 12, incipit, “’Si autem queritur qualiter de accidentibus que remanent … [Sent IV, d. 12]’; f. 146, Quia hec distinctio plures in se continent spirituales materias ... … circa eam mouebuntur dubia, primum est an accidencia scramentalia habent potentiam quertendi alia in sacramentum ut gratie ...”;

f. 154, Distinctio 13, incipit, “’Solet etiam queri utrum alicui praui sacerdotes hoc sacramentum conficiant …[Sent IV, d. 13]’; f. 154v, … Utrum omnis sacerdos et solum talis posit consecrare hoc sacramentum …;”

f. 162v, Distinctio 14, incipit, “’Post hec de penitencia agendum est …[Sent IV, d. 14]’; f. 163, … Utrum ad deletionem peccati mortalis post baptismum conmissi requirantur penitentia .. non requeritur penitentia unctus necque//”

Nicholas of Dinkelsbühl composed at least three commentaries on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. The first two are products of his years teaching at the University of Vienna: the Questiones communes, read at Vienna in 1398 and 1399/1400, and in 1400-1402; and the Questiones magistrales, which probably date from 1409-1413, and which survive in at least two versions. His last version, the Lectura Mellicensis, reflects his lectures at the famous Benedictine Abbey of Melk from 1421-1424. This version also circulated in numerous shorter versions and as excerpts. We lack modern scholarly editions of all of these commentaries, and indeed, none of them has ever been printed. All versions of Nicholas’s commentaries are closely related to commentaries by his teacher, Henry of Langstein, and also to commentaries by contemporary theologians lecturing at the University of Vienna. Most of this material is largely unexplored. The result is a fascinating, but complicated, textual situation, and one that makes it very difficult to classify with confidence the text in this manuscript, since comparison with other manuscripts of Nicholas’s commentaries is necessary.

This text does have some points of similarity with the text of the Lectura Mellicensis, listed in Stegmüller, Repertorium (1947), no. 569, and analyzed in Madre, 1965, pp. 99-121. This version is a lengthy commentary on Book four of the Sentences; it was the most popular of Nicholas’s commentaries and may survive in as many as 200 manuscripts (see Madre; fewer are listed in Stegmüller). Compared with the outline of the Lectura Mellicensis provided by Madre, the text in our manuscript is much shorter, and it omits many questiones present in the full version, suggesting that the early label now preserved on the spine (see Provenance above) that describes the text as “Excerpta ex questionibus” was accurate.

There are also passages in this manuscript that are found in the Questiones magistrales reportatio A, as described in Stegmüller, Repertorium (1947), no. 565, and in Madre, pp. 87-88, which begins in a similar manner, and in the related text of his first version, the Questiones communes, Stegmüller, Repertorium (1947), no 651, and Madre, pp. 76-78 (especially nos. 7, 9, 11, and 12). These two versions survive in fewer manuscripts than the Lectura Mellicensis. There are six manuscript of the Questiones communes; four of which include the commentary on book four. The Questiones magistrales survives in twenty-four manuscripts, of which eight include the commentary on book four, reportatio A. Without a printed edition for actual comparison (or access to other manuscripts), it is impossible to characterize accurately the text in our manuscript; it is an attractive project for future research.

Nicholas of Dinkelsbühl (born in Dinkelsbühl in Bavaria c. 1360, died in Vienna in 1433), studied at the University of Vienna, where he earned his Master of Arts degree in 1389. He lectured on the Bible in 1396-8, and then the Sentences in 1398-1402 (his first Commentary, known as the Questiones communes). In 1409, he became a Master in Theology, and probably in 1409-13, lectured on the Sentences a second time (the Questiones magistrales). In 1421-1424, Nicholas lectured on the Sentences a third time, while staying temporarily at the famous Benedictine Abbey at Melk, the center of Austrian monastic reform. His career was an illustrious one, both within academic circles and among the broader movement of religious reform during his lifetime. He served as rector of University of Vienna, represented Duke Albert V of Austria at the Council of Constance (1414-1418), and is known for his involvement in the monastic reform movement centering around Melk. In addition to his Commentaries on the Sentences, he was the author of numerous works, including biblical commentaries, very popular and widely disseminated sermon collections, and numerous short theological and pastoral works (see Madre, 1965).

Despite the centrality of Commentaries on Peter Lombard’s Sentences in the intellectual history of the Middle Ages, they have often been neglected by scholars. Recent scholarship has begun to reverse this trend (see especially Evans and Rosemann, 2002, 2009), but fifteenth-century commentaries on the Sentences still represent a largely unexplored area of research. The commentaries by the so-called “Vienna group” – Nicholas of Dinkelsbühl, Peter of Pulkau, Arnold of Seehausen, and John Berwart, scholars that followed the first generation of thinkers at the University of Vienna, especially Henry Langstein (1325-1397) and Henry Totting von Oyta (c. 1330-1396) – are characterized by a particularly complicated and interrelated textual tradition. These authors borrowed heavily from each other, and they recycled each others ideas. Their commentaries deserve careful study (Madre, 1965, p. 93, and Schabel and Bakker, 2002, p. 462). Given Nicholas of Dinkelsbühl’s interest in church reform, it seems likely that his commentaries on the fourth book of the Sentences with their focus on the Sacraments may prove to be of particular interest.

Peter Lombard (c. 1100-c. 1160-4) wrote the Sentences in the mid twelfth century: the work is a theological compilation of different sententia (opinions or judgments) of the Church Fathers concerning difficult biblical passages. Often the authorities on a given question did not agree, and Peter tried to resolve the matter. The Sentences became the fundamental textbook for the study of theology, and as such it was required reading in theology faculties in the medieval Universities across Europe. Apart the Bible, there is no theological work more commented on than the Sentences. Every medieval theology student attended lectures on the Sentences, and most important medieval theologians left written commentaries on the text, ranging from Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas, to William of Ockham and even Martin Luther. This manuscript is a commentary on the fourth book of the Sentences, which discusses God, the Sacraments, and the Four Last Things (Death, Last Judgment, Hell, and Heaven).


Bakker, Paul J. J. M. and Chris Schabel. “Sentences Commentaries of the Later Fourteenth century”, in Evans and Rosemann, 2002, 2009, volume 1:425-464.

Colish, Marcia. Peter Lombard, Leiden and New York, Brill, 1994.

Evans, G. R. and Philipp W. Rosemann, eds. Mediaeval Commentaries on the Sentences of Peter Lombard: Current Research, 2 vol., Leiden, Brill, 2002, and 2009. 

Madre, Alois. Nikolaus von Dinkelsbühl: Leben und Schriften; ein Beitrag zur theologischen Literaturgeschichte, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters 40, Münster, Westfalen, Äschendorffsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1965.

Peter Lombard. Sententiae in IV libris distinctae, Spicilegium Bonaventurianum, 4, Grottaferrata (Rome), Collegii S. Bonaventurae ad Claras Aquas, 1971-1981.

Peter Lombard. The Sentences, tr. Giulio Silano, Toronto, Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 2007-2008.

Piccard, Gerhard. Die Wasserzeichenkartei Piccard im Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart: Findbuch, Stuttgart, Kohlhammer, 1961-1997.

Rosemann, Philipp. The Story of a Great Medieval Book: Peter Lombard’s Sentences, Peterborough, Ontario and Orchard Park, New York, Broadview Press, 2007.

Stegmüller, Friedrich. Repertorium Commentariorum in Sententias Petri Lombardi, Würzburg, 1947.

Online resources

A. Madre. “Nikolaus v. Dinkelsbühl”, in Lexikon des Mittelalters, Stuttgart, Metzler, 1977-1999, vol. 6, col. 1178, in Brepolis Medieval Encyclopaedias - Lexikon des Mittelalters Online

The Internet Guide to Master Peter Lombard

COMMBASE: An Electronic Database of Medieval Commentators on Aristotle and Peter Lombard’s Sentences

Bibliotheca Augustana, Sententiarum libri IV