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[Bible]. Book of Job with Glossa ordinaria

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

TM 142

76 ff., on parchment, complete (collation i-ix9, x4 [quire of 8-4, last 4 cancelled]), written in a tight Gothic bookhand, in black ink on up to 49 lines (gloss), justification for text including biblical text and gloss (130 x 200 mm.), classical layout with biblical text set in the central column and glosses in the wide margins, with shorter gloss between the lines, some prickings still visible, catchwords, contemporary quire signatures, 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, 6-line high opening parti-colored initial in red and blue with elaborate penwork in red and blue, both infill and springing marginal extensions, some interlinear gloss, various contemporary annotations in a different cursive hand (interlinear and marginal annotations). Bound in a LATE FIFTEENTH-CENTURY GERMANIC BINDING of darkened pigskin over wooden boards, back sewn on 4 raised thongs, brass cornerpieces and central boss, central boss with engraved lettering that reads: ”SU/USPI/US/UP”, two fore-edge catchplates on front cover (without clasps), covers divided by triple blind fillets into a broad frame and an inner rectangle, which contains a cross of double blind fillets, intermediary compartment filled with blind-stamped tools (see comparable binding in F. Geldner, Bucheinbände aus elf Jahrhunderten…(1959), no. 31, Mainz, circa 1470; same engraved lettering on central boss), with thirteenth-century parchment pastedowns, reinforced with cut strips of parchment (simple script and a large painted initial in red, highlighted with purple penwork; rubric on front pastedown reads: De interdictis et relegatis et deportatis: excerpts from the Digest of Justinian, Liber XLVIII [48, 22]) (some minor rubbing, upper hinge a bit fragile with some leather cracking, but generally in well-preserved condition). Dimensions 225 x 305 mm.

Containing the biblical text for the Book of Job, along with the popular Glossa ordinaria, this large-scale example of a “glossed Bible” produced in a professional Parisian workshop in 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 or localized, it bears all the feature of Parisian production of the second quarter of the thirteenth century (see P. Stirnemann, 1990, pp. 67-68, nos. 28-31). The large opening parti-colored initials with elaborate penwork (both infill and springing marginal extensions) suggest the years 1230-1250 for this manuscript (Stirnemann,1990, 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, 1990, p. 68, no. 31: Paris, BnF, MS lat. 15756).

2.Later fifteenth-century inscription copied in bottom margin of first folio reads “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 is Eberhardsklausen (Everdi Clusa), often referred to as Klausen, a monastery of Augustinian Canons Regular near Trier founded in 1449 by a simple vintner called Everard and recognized by the archbishops of Trier in 1456. The convent joined the Windesheim Congregation before 1464 (see Cottineau, I, 1018; Gallia Christiana, XIII, 621; DHGE, XIV, 1304-1305). An important number of the manuscripts and books that once formed part of the library of Eberhardsklausen are now in the Stadtsbibliothek in Trier. Regarding the house and its members, see Clausen (1908), and particularly the study on the monastic library by Dohms (1968) who discusses the scribal and binding activities of the congregation and the dispersal of the monastic library in 1802. Many manuscripts were seized between 1802 and 1804 by French commissioners such as Jean-Baptiste Maugérard, during the French occupation of Rhineland (see B. Savoy, Patrimoine annexé…, Paris, 2003). Some manuscripts and incunables eventually went to the Stadtsbibliothek and the Priesterseminarbibliothek in Trier, others to the BnF in Paris, to Bonn, to Brussels (see studies on located manuscripts having belonged to Eberhardsklausen now in public collections by Schiel [1960] and by Bushey [1996]). Another fifteenth-century inscription is copied in the upper margin of the same first folio: “Liber Job cu[m] glosa et moralitatibus cum epistolas [Iacobi, Petri, Iohanni, Iude et actibus et apocalyspsum].” The words placed here in square brackets have been erased but are still legible. The present manuscript was once bound with a copy of Glossed Epistles (which accounts for the dangling but still legible “cum epistolas” in the inscription), Acts of the Apostles and Apocalypse, also described on this site. Codicological features corroborate this fact: the “sister” manuscript that contains the Glossed Epistles takes up the contemporary quire signatures where the present Job breaks off, presents the same pink leather tabs, and is unquestionably copied by the same hands with a similar page layout and the same contemporary interlinear and marginal cursive annotations.


ff. 1-2, Book of Job; Prologus Ieronimi in libro Iob: “Cogor per singulos scripture libros divine ad versariorum…”; explicit, “Explicit. Expliceat. Ludere scriptor eat [It is finished. Let it end. Let the scribe go to play!]. Explicit Job. Explicit.” (for this inscription see Drogin, Anathema… [1983], p. 112)).

ff. 2-76v, Book of Job and Glossa ordinaria with Glossa marginalis: “Vir erat – Moraliter: Per Job Christus id est caput et corpus… “[Stegmüller, IX, no. 11800, p. 486] and Glossa interlinearis: “Vir erat – In terra Hus. Quasi dicat: Bonus inter malos. In terra gentilium, ad laudem Job, qui bonus inter malos fuit…” [Stegmüller, IX, no. 11800, p. 486] [ed. in PL, 113, col. 747-840].

This handsome manuscript contains the biblical text for the Book of Job, surrounded by the gloss referred to as Glossa ordinaria, often attributed to Walafrid of Strabon (see Migne, PL 113-114 [reprint 1995]). The exact authorship of the Gloss is actually unknown but 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; the only modern edition of the Glossa is that of Gibson and Froelich, see Biblia Latina, 1992).

Glossed books of the Bible were extremely popular in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and 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 Book of Job.

Various authors trained at the School of Laon, and later in Paris, extracted and organized fragments of patristic exegesis around the biblical text. Anselm of Laon worked on the Psalter and the Pauline Epistles, but the complete gloss was not finished when he died in 1117. The present Gloss on Job was probably prepared quite early. By about 1130, the gloss on the whole Bible had been completed, and it was revised by Gilbert de la Porrée (c. 1080-1154). From this time on, the center for the perfection, copy, and dissemination of glossed Bibles remained Paris and in the circle of the Cathedral School (see De Hamel [1987], pp. 2-13; see also Lobrichon [1984], pp. 107-114).

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 c. 1230-40 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 & K. Froelich, Turnhout, Brepols, 1992.

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

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

Clausen, J. Eberhards-Clausen, Kloster und Wallfahrtsort, Trier, 1908.

Conzemius, V. “Eberhards-Clausen,” in Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, tome XIV, Paris, Letouzey et Ané, 1960 [DHGE].

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).

Drogin, M. Anathema ! Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses, Totowa, Allanheld, Osmun & Co., 1983.

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 113, Turnhout, Brepols, 1995, col. 747-840.

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, B. 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, p. 485-486, no. 11800.

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

On the Canons Regular of St-Augustine

Digitalized images of Glossed Sapiential Books, with similar page layout