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les Enluminures

[Bible]. Catholic Epistles, Acts of the Apostles and Apocalypse with Glossa ordinaria

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
[France, likely Paris, c. 1230-50]

TM 141

114 ff., on parchment, complete, mostly in quires of 12 (collation i-ii12, iii18, iv-ix12), written in a tight gothic liturgical bookhand, in black ink on up to 49 lines (gloss), justification for text including biblical text and gloss (125 x 200 mm.), classical layout with biblical text set in the central column copied in a larger script and glosses in the wide margins organized on up to 3 columns, with shorter gloss between the lines, very wide margins, ruled in plummet, some prickings still visible, catchwords, contemporary quire signatures starting at number 11 and finishing at 19, headings in red and blue, paragraph marks in alternating red and blue, chapter numbers in red and blue copied in the margin, painted initials in blue or red with opposing red or blue penwork, 13 LARGER PARTI-COLORED INITIALS marking the major textual divisions, painted in red and blue with elaborate penwork in red and blue (infill and springing marginal extensions), various contemporary supplementary annotations in a different cursive hand copied throughout manuscript (interlinear and marginal annotations). MEDIEVAL BINDING of fifteenth-century Germanic blind-stamped brown calf over wooden boards, back sewn on 4 raised thongs, covers divided by double fillets into a broad frame and an inner rectangle, with cross pattern traced by intersecting triple fillets, pasted pink inner leather tabs, later fore-edge catchplate (without clasp), seven brass bosses (out of original 10), two grooves from original catches and clasps (now missing), pasted illuminated initial on lower pastedown (16th c. from a large antiphonary or choir book, traced in pale pink on a bright red-orange ground with flowers and acanthus leaves in green and yellow tones, blue infill with again flowers and acanthus leaves in pink, green and yellow tones, extending acanthus leaves in pink and green ending with a red carnation) (Some wear, joints cracked, some wormholes on boards, never affecting text, generally sound original condition). Dimensions 220 x 350 mm.

Containing the biblical text for the Epistles, and the Acts of the Apostles, and Book of Revelations, along with the popular Glossa ordinaria, this large-scale example of a “glossed Bible” produced in a professional Parisian workshop in the second quarter of the thirteenth century must come from a multi-volume set that was, based on fifteenth-century inscription, in the library of the celebrated Monastery of Klausen near Trier, a member of the Windesheim Congregation.


1.Although this manuscript is not dated nor localized, it bears all the features of Parisian production of the second quarter of the thirteenth century (see Stirnemann, 1990, pp. 67-68, nos. 28-31). The large opening parti-colored initials with elaborate penwork (both infill and springing marginal extensions) point to a date c. 1230-1250 (Stirnemann, no. 28, Paris, BnF, MS lat. 2447, dated after 1233 ; no. 29, Paris, BnF, MS lat. 15239, Peter Lombard, Commentary on the Pauline Epistles, dated 1239 [see also Cat. mss. datés, III, p. 409]; no. 30, Paris, BnF, MS lat. 8884, dated 1233-1243 [see also Branner, 1977, no. 208, “Dominican“]). The smaller initials with more modest pen flourishing are also close to a manuscript dated circa 1240-1250 (Stirnemann, p. 68, no. 31: Paris, BnF, MS lat. 15756).

2.Fifteenth-century inscriptions on upper pastedown with contents of volume: “Epistolae / Jacobi / Petri / Johannes / Jude / glosati ; Actus apostolorum / Apocalipsis / glosati.” This hand is found in another manuscript containing a Glossed Job (see this site [Bible]. Book of Job with Glossa ordinaria) in which this inscription appears in the upper margin of the first folio, partially erased but still legible: “Liber Job cu[m] glosa et moralitatibus cum epistolas [Iacobi Petri Johanni Iude et Actibus apostolorum…]” (words placed in square brackets have been erased, but are still legible). Thus a Glossed Job was initially bound with the present Glossed Epistles, Acts and Apocalypse, which it prefaced. Codicological features corroborate the association of the two volumes: the presence of the same pink leather tabs; the fact that the quire signatures of both glossed books follow (the Glossed Job is copied on quires numbered 1 to 10 by a fifteenth-century hand; the present Glossed Epistles, Acts of the Apostles and Apocalyspe are copied on quires numbered 11 to 19 by a fifteenth-century hand); the wormholes on the first folios of the Glossed Job correspond to the wormholes of the pastedown of the present binding; finally an erased inscription is placed above the inscription on upper pastedown where the words “…Job glosat[us]…” can still be read. Thus, the inscription on the first folio of the Glossed Job equally applies to the present manuscript: “Codex b[ea]te marie v[ir]gi[n]is in Ev[er]hartzcluse[n] Tr[ecensis] dioces[is] ordi[ni]s cano[n]icor[um] r[e]gulariu[m]” (This book belongs to Our Lady of Everhardsklausen, diocese of Trier, order of the Canons Regular). In short, the present manuscript with the Glossed Job was once part of the library of the monastery of Eberhardsklausen also referred to as Klausen, near Trier. On this monastery of Canons Regular founded in 1449, that joined the Windesheim Congregation before 1464, and its library see Cottineau, I, 1018, Dohms (1968), Bushey (1996) and Schiel (1960). An important number of the manuscripts and books that once formed part of the library of Eberhardsklausen are now in the Stadtsbibliothek and the Priesterseminarbibliothek in Trier, others in the BnF in Paris, in Bonn, in Brussels. Many manuscripts once part of the monastic library of Klausen were seized between 1802 and 1804 during the French occupation of Rhineland (see B. Savoy, Patromoine annexé…, Paris, 2003).

3.Fifteenth-century ownership inscriptions on ff. 113v and 114: “Iste liber est P[aulo] […]” (ending scratched out); and “Iste liber est Guillermo [Hensey] et emit […] (ending scratched out)” [This book belongs to William [Hensey] (?) and was bought …] (price erased).


f. 1-9, Epistle of James with Glossa ordinaria ; Glossa ordinaria on Epistle of James treated as prologue to Epistle of James [Prothemata ad Epistula Iacobi]: “Iacobus cognomento iustus filius marie sororis matris domini post passionem…” ; Glossa ordinaria on prologue: “Quia in circumcisione ordinatus…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118466]; followed by “Huic operi Hieronymus praemittit prologum…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118461]; Glossa marginalis, incipit : “Iacobus Dei. Iacobus iste ecclesiae ierosolimitane…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 1184610]; Glossa interlinearis, incipit, “Luctator vel supplantator…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 1184614] [PL, 114, 671-680];

ff. 9v-17v, First Epistle of Peter with Glossa ordinaria : “Petrus apostolus…” ; Glossa ordinaria on prologue to First Epistle of Peter, with “Tempore quo cepit…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118472]; Glossa marginalis, incipit, “Electis. Ad hoc ut per dationem…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118473]; Glossa interlinearis, incipit, “Celebre nomen…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118476] [PL, 114, 679-688];

ff. 17v-23, Second Epistle of Peter with Glossa ordinaria : “Simon Petrus servus et apostolus Jhesu Christi…” ; Glossa marginalis, incipit : “Istam eisdem quibus et primam…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118481]; Glossa interlinearis, incipit, “Obediens s[cilicet] fidei…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118487] [PL, 114, 689-694];

ff. 23-32, First Epistle of John with Glossa ordinaria : ”Quod fuit ab initio quod audivimus…” ; Glossa marginalis, incipit: “Quod fuit ab initio. In vero esse deitatis…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118493]; Glossa interlinearis, incipit, “id est ab initiali…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118495] [PL, 114, 693-704];

ff. 32-33, Second Epistle of John with Glossa ordinaria: “Senior electe domine et natis …” ; Glossa marginalis, incipit, “Cum quidam dubitent…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118501]; Glossa interlinearis, incipit, “Proprium est. Tam natura quam fide…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118504] [PL, 114, 704-706];

ff. 33-33v, Third Epistle of John with Glossa ordinaria: “Senior Gaio karissimo…” ; Glossa marginalis, incipit, “Gaius fide Christi suscepta…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118511]; Glossa interlinearis, incipit, “Ego. Non temporalium bonorum gratia…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118513] [PL, 114, 705-706];

ff. 33v-36, Epistle of Jude with Glossa ordinaria : “Iudas Jhesu Christi servus frater aut Iacobi…” ; Glossa marginalis, incipit, “Iudas. Qui et Thaddaeus…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118521]; Glossa interlinearis, incipit, “Confitens tam verbo…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118525] [PL, 114, 705-710];

ff. 36v-87v, Acts of the Apostles with Glossa ordinaria : Bede, Prothemata ad Actus Apostolorum: “Lucas medicus antiochensis…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118311]; Glossa marginalis, incipit, “Primum quidem. Id [est] evangelium…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118315]; Glossa interlinearis, incipit, “Primum quidem. […] Id est scripsi…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118315] [PL, 114, 425-470];

ff. 87v-113v, Book of the Apocalypse and De duodecim lapidibus with Glossa ordinaria: [Prothemata], “Apocalysis hec inter reliquos novi testamenti…” ; “A principium est elementorum grecorum…”; Glossa ordinaria on the Prologue to Apocalypse: “Sicut in secularibus…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118531]; Glossa marginalis, incipit, “Apocalypsis. Preparat auditores benevolos et attentis…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 1185312]; Glossa interlinearis, incipit, “Apocalypsis. Haec est revelatio…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 1185317]; explicit, “Veni Domine Iesu [Apoc. 22, 20]” and Gloss interlinearis: ½Veni ad remunerandum. Veni Domine et noli tardere…½[Stegmüller, IX, no. 1185319] [PL, 114, 709-752]; Glossa ordinaria, De duodecim lapidibus: “Primus lapis est iaspis viridis…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 118541]; added in a slightly later hand: “[O]mnes qui pie volunt vivere in Christo persecutionem patiuntur…”; explicit, “[…] dicit fui in spiritum in dominica die.”(ff. 113-113v);

f. 114, Partial table of thematic contents for Acts and Epistles, preceded by Roman numerals found in upper righthand corner of manuscript (copied in a thirteenth-century hand).

This handsome manuscript contains the biblical text for the Catholic Epistles (James, Peter, John, Jude), the Acts of the Apostles and the Apocalypse, surrounded by the common gloss also referred to as Glossa ordinaria. Often erroneously attributed to Walafrid of Strabon (see Migne, PL 113-114 [reprint 1995]), the exact authorship of the Gloss is actually unknown. However, it is now thought to have originated with Anselm of Laon in the first half of the twelfth century. Anselm of Laon (died 1117) is credited with the Glossa interlinearis, which is part of the Glossa ordinaria (see Stegmüller, IX, who gives the incipits for the Glossa ordinaria, with on the one hand the Glossa marginalis and on the other the Glossa interlinearis). It is accepted that the gloss on the whole Bible had been completed by the time it was revised by Gilbert de la Porrée (c. 1080-1154) from about 1130. From this time on, the center for the perfection, copy and dissemination of glossed Bibles remained Paris and the circle of the Cathedral school (see C. de Hamel [1987], pp. 2-13; see also Lobrichon [1984], pp. 107-114). Smalley remarks that “the pre-history of the Gloss, later known as ‘Ordinaria,’ still bristles with question marks“(Smalley [1983], p. X) and although “the biblical Glossa Ordinaria is a tremendous work“ (Smalley [1983], p. 56), no one has yet made a critical edition of any part of the Gloss, with the exception of the very imperfect edition of Migne, which still proceeds on the assumption of Walafrid Strabo’s authorship (the only correct edition of the Glossa Ordinaria, is the anastatical reproduction of the Strasbourg, circa 1480 edition; see Biblia Latina, 1992).

Problems of authorship are enhanced when it comes to determining who might have compiled the present glosses on the Epistles, Acts, and Apocalypse. A scribal note connects a “Master Alberic,” who may have been a pupil of Gilbert the Universal, with the Gloss on Acts (Smalley [1983], p. 61). Lobrichon, who has studied the Gloss on the Apocalypse, cites an added prologue beginning “Omnes qui pie volunt vivere…” (copied in our manuscript by a different hand on ff. 113-113v), which dates c.1220 and, although once ascribed to Gilbert de la Porrée, can no longer be credited to him(see Lobrichon [1984], p. 113). In short, the authorship of these glosses also remains unknown.

Extremely popular in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, glossed books of the Bible were composed of a standard anthology of explanatory notes and digressions arranged on either side or between the lines of the Scriptures. From the Greek “glossa” (meaning tongue or organ of speech), a gloss compiles explanations of those words in the text that presented some semantic or grammatical difficulty, such as foreign, dialectical, obsolete, technical, or just unusual words. As these glosses consisted of a single explanatory word, they were easily written between the lines (glossa interlinearis) or in the margin of manuscripts (glossa marginalis). These linguistic glosses eventually developed into short running commentaries of a given book of Sacred Scripture, as the present Glossa ordinaria for the Catholic Epistles, Acts and Apocalypse.

Glossed books of the Bible were expensive and, given the complex layout, scribes often struggled with writing a central text and the variable-sized glosses. Stylistically datable circa 1230-50 and not an early example of the type, the present exemplar exhibits the influence of the growing mastery of this complex exercise, which eventually led to advances in textual layout (such as the text on up to five parallel columns, various sizes of scripts, gloss lined up in front of biblical text). Whereas many studies have concentrated on the origins of biblical glosses in the early twelfth century, studies on the actual fabrication and use of biblical glosses are scarce and could provide interesting material for further research (see Lobrichon [1984], p. 113).


Biblia latina cum Glossa Ordinaria. Anastatical reproduction of the first printed edition, Strasbourg, circa 1480, with an introduction by M.T. Gibson and K. Froelich, Turnhout, Brepols, 1992.

Branner, Robert. Manuscript Painting in Paris during the Reign of Saint Louis, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1977.

Bushey, Betty. Die deutschen und niederlandischen Handschriften der Stadtbibliothek Trier bis 1600, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 1996.

Cottineau, L.-H. Répertoire topo-bibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, Mâcon, Protat frères, 1935-1970.

De Hamel, C. Glossed Books of the Bible and the Origins of the Paris Booktrade, Woodbridge, D.S. Brewer, 1987 (2nd edition).

Dohms, Peter. Die Geschichte des Klosters und Wallfahrtsortes Eberhardsklausen an der Mosel von den Anfängen bis zur Auflösung des Klosters im Jahre 1802, Bonn, L. Röhrscheid, 1968 [Rheinisches Archiv, 64].

Lobrichon, Guy. “Une nouveauté: les gloses de la Bible”, in Le Moyen Age et la Bible [Bible de tous les temps], Paris, Beauchesne, 1984, pp. 95-114.

Migne, J.-P. Patrologia Latina. Saeculum IX. Walafridi Strabi Fuldensis Monachi Opera Omnia […], tomus 114, Turnhout, Brepols, 1992.

Savoy, B. Patrimoine annexé. Les biens culturels saisis par la France en Allemagne autour de 1800, Paris, Ed. de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 2003.

Schiel, H. “Die Auflosung der Trierer Kloster- und Stiftsbibliotheken und die Entfremdung von Trierer Handschriften durch Maugérard,” in Armaria Treverensia, Beiträge zur Trierer Bibliothekgeschichte, Trier, 1960, pp. 57-81.

Schiel, H. “Handschriften aus Trier und aus Klöstern und Stiften des Trierer Raumes in Brüssel und Gent,” in Armaria Treverensia, Beiträge zur Trierer Bibliothekgeschichte, Trier, 1960, pp. 83-92.

Smalley, Beryl. The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1983 (3rd edition).

Stegmüller, F. Repertorium Biblicum Medii Aevi. Commentaria. Auctores A-G, II, pp. 112, no. 1356.

Stegmüller, F. Repertorium Biblicum Medii Aevi. Supplementi Altera Pars Glossa ordinaria, IX, no. 11831-11853.

Stirnemann, P. “Fils de la vierge. L’initiale filigranée parisienne, 1140-1314,” Revue de l’Art 90 (1990), pp. 58-73.

Wielockx, R. “Autour de la “Glossa Ordinaria,” Recherches de théologie ancienne et médiévale 49 (1983), pp. 222-228.

Online resources

Digitalized images of glossed Sapiential Books, with very similar page layout