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les Enluminures

Pauline Epistles with the Glossa Ordinaria

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Germany (?) (Middle-Rhine, or diocese of Trier), c. 1140-50

TM 519

i (parchment) + 138 + i (parchment) folios on parchment, well-prepared with a pronounced difference in color between the white flesh side and the dark hair side, with modern foliation in pencil top outer corner recto (collation, i-xvi8 xvii10), no catchwords or signatures, the central column of text is ruled in hardpoint with the top two horizontal rules full across and with full-length double vertical bounding lines on either side of the column, and with extra single bounding lines in the far inside and outside margins, glosses are copied without horizontal rules (justification, text: 170-168 x 70-67 mm; text and gloss: 190-170 x 150-123 mm.), written above the top ruled line with the biblical text copied in a single central column of twenty-two lines in a twelfth-century minuscule script, and with glosses copied in a smaller script, possibly by another scribe, between the lines, in the inner and outer margins, and occasionally in the top and bottom margins, running titles and modern chapters added in a late thirteenth- or fourteenth-century hand, prologues begin with four- to one-line red initials (most unfinished with blank spaces remaining), four six- to four-line red initials, three with simple red pen decoration, TEN EIGHT- TO THREE-LINE FOLIATE INITIALS (listed below) in brown or red outline, some with red highlights within the body of the initials or red dots, with curling vines terminating in simple stylized foliage, overall in very good condition, f. 1, darkened and worn, with some of the glosses in the top and inner margins partially illegible, and with damage to the initial, ff. 1-15, and 129-138v, some spotting and damage from mold, most noticeable on the opening and closing folios, ff. 1-16, and 132-138, top outer corner repaired with modern parchment, modern parchment repairs to inner margin, ff. 1-8v, section of bottom margin, f. 137 cut away, some glosses in outer margins slightly cropped. Bound in modern leather over wooden boards, spine with three raised bands, two clasps, fastening back to front; when the manuscript was described in 2001 it was bound in a 17th-century sheepskin binding over wooden boards (possibly original?) and the second bifolium of the first quire was reversed, so that ff. 2 and 7 were out of order; a note at the bottom of f. 1v in a 13th- or 14th-century hand noted the mistake; the error was corrected when the codex was rebound, and the text is therefore now in the correct order. Dimensions 218 x 155 mm.

The Glossa Ordinaria was one of the great achievements of the twelfth century – a combination of the scriptural text woven together with patristic and medieval commentaries used by students and teachers until the end of the Middle Ages. This early witness to the Pauline Epistles with the Ordinary Gloss from the Cistercian monastery of St. Mary at Himmerod in the diocese of Trier deserves careful study. Its attractive foliate initials were pricked at some point in the manuscript’s history; examples of this practice in manuscripts are rare.


The evidence of the script, codicology, and decoration suggest that the manuscript was copied around 1140-50. The script used to copy the biblical text includes a number of features that support a date before the middle of the century; there are no letter unions, both the round uncial “d” and straight “d” are used, “et” is abbreviated with an ampersand, and “ae” is often written e-cedilla. The hand used to copy the gloss is somewhat spikier, with similar letter-forms, apart from the frequent use of the tirionian-7 for “et”; the manuscript is ruled in hard-point, and the format used for the gloss is the earliest type (discussed below). The style found in the foliate initials was widespread, and can be found in numerous manuscripts throughout the first half of the twelfth-century (described in detail below).

The question of where this manuscript was copied is an important one. The manuscript was certainly in the library of the Cistercian Abbey of St. Mary at Himmerod in the dioceses of Trier by the fourteenth century (see below), but the question as to whether it was copied there should remain an open one that deserves more complete investigation. The monastery was the home of a flourishing scriptorium, probably from shortly after its foundation and continuing into the sixteenth century (see Schneider, 1952-3 and 1974, and Wagner, 2010), and there is nothing about the script or decoration that makes it impossible that the manuscript was copied at Himmerod. There may be similarities between this manuscript and Manchester, John Rylands MS 6, Peter Lombard, Super Psalmos (see Schneider, 1952-3, pp. 154 and 177), and there are similarities in the style of initials used here and in other manuscripts copied in Germany (see discussion of decoration below).

However, this is an early copy of the Pauline Epistles with the Glossa Ordinaria, and many manuscripts with this text were copied not in monastic scriptoria but rather in cities associated with secular cathedral schools. Laon, Chartres, and Paris are the most important centers for the copying of early manuscripts of the Gloss (see especially Stinemann, 1994); the decoration of this manuscript is certainly not comparable to that found in the early glossed manuscripts from these cities (see especially, Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, MS 125, mentioned in Stirnemann, 1997, p. 85, note. 5, copied at Laon after 1140; and Stirneman, 1994, 261-2, suggesting an earlier date; the initials are quite different, but the hand of the gloss in both manuscripts are similar). It is possible, therefore, that this manuscript was copied in Mainz or Trier, in circles associated with the Cathedral schools, or even that it was copied in Northern France, and decorated in Germany, and then brought to Himmerod.

2. Belonged to the Cistercian monastery of St. Mary at Himmerod in Germany in the diocese of Trier; Himmerod was founded in 1134 by monks from Clairvaux. The Abbey flourished, especially in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; it was suppressed in 1802 (Cottineau, volume 1:1420). Fourteenth-century ex libris note, lower margin, ff. 1 (treated by reagent and now mostly obscured), and 97v, “Liber monachorum Sanctae Mariae in Himmerode ordinis Cisterciensis Treuerensis diocesis.” Fifteenth-century signature from their library, “E iiii”, lower marign, f. 1. An impressive number of manuscripts have been identified that once belonged to Himmerod; Krämer lists approximately 142, eighty-five of which are now in Berlin, and eighteen in Trier (see Krämer, 1989-90, I:359-63, this manuscript on p. 361, when in the Doheny collection, and Fingernagel, 1991, I:16-20). Himmerod’s library and scriptorium were studied by Schneider and more recently by Wagner (Schneider, 1952-3 and Schneider, 1974, pp. 24-25, listing this manuscript as no. 18, when it was in the Doheny Collection; and Wagner 2010).

3. When Himmerod was suppressed in the nineteenth century about one hundred of their manuscripts were acquired by the German historian and journalist, Joseph Gorres (1776-1848); his manuscripts were sold by Karl Huck in Munich in 1902; lot 55 was a glossed Pauline Epistle, but there is no evidence that it was the manuscript described here (on Gorres’s collection, see Jacobs 1906).

 4. Belonged to the Countess Estelle Doheny (1875-1958), who purchased it from the New York bookseller, W. H. Schab (formerly with a pencil code “WS 3014” back pastedown); her gift to the Edward Laurence Doheny Memorial Library, St. John’s Seminary, Camarillo, California, MS 60 (6686), listed in Bond and Faye, p. 14, no. 60. Sale at Christe’s, London, 2 December 1987, lot 144, when it was bought by Kraus.

 5. H. P. Kraus Catalogue 188 (1991), no. 3.

 6. Belonged to Joost R. Ritman (b. 1941), the Dutch businessman and well-known collector of both art and books; sold for the Benefit of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, Amsterdam, Sotheby’s, June 19, 2001, lot 4.

7. Private European Collection.


ff. 1-26, First gloss, “//sit omnia aur[ ]no graece di <> ore. Comendatur person …”; Romans;

Romans lacks prologues; the first gloss begins in the top margin, with the top line partially cropped so the text now begins imperfectly.

ff. 26-51v, [prologue to 1 Corinthians] Corinthii sunt achaici … [Stegmüller 685], with Stegmüller 686 in the margin; f. 26, 1 Corninthians;

ff. 51v-68, [prologue to 2 Corinthians] Post actam [Stegmüller 699], with Stegmüller 703 in the margin; f. 52, 2 Corinthians;

ff. 68-76, [prologue to Galatians] Galathe sunt greci [Stegmüller 707], with Stegmüller 708 in the margin; f. 68v, Galatians;

ff. 76-84v, [prologue to Ephesians] Ephesi sunt asiani [Stegmüller 715], with Stegmüller 717 in the margin; f. 76, Ephesians;

ff. 84v-90, [prologue to Philippians] Philippenses sunt macedones [Stegmüller 728], with Stegmüller 729 in the margin; f. 84v, Philippians;

ff. 90-96, [prologue to Colossians] Colosenses et hii [Stegmüller 736]; with Stegmüller 740 in the margin; f 90v, Colossians;

ff. 96-101v, [prologue to 1 Thessalonians] Thessalonicenses sunt macedones [Stegmüller 747], with Stegmüller 750 in the margin; f. 96v, 1 Thessalonians;

ff. 101v-104v, [prologue to 2 Thessalonians] Ad thessalonicenses [Stegmüller 752], with Stegmüller 755 in the margin; f. 101v, 2 Thessalonians;

ff. 104v-111, [prologue to 1 Timothy] Tymotheum instruit [Stegmüller 765], with Stegmüller 768 in the margin; f. 104v, 1 Timothy;

ff. 111-116, [prologue to 2 Timothy] Item Timotheo scribit [Stegmüller 772], with Stegmüller 773 in the margin; f. 111v, 2 Timothy;

ff. 116-118v, [prologue to Titus] Titum commonefacit [Stegmüller 780], with Stegmüller778 in the margin; f. 116, Titus;

ff. 118v-119v, [prologue to Philemon] Phylemoni familiares [Stegmüller 783], with Stegmüller 782 in the margin; f. 118v, Philemon;

ff. 119v-138, [prologue to Hebrews] In primis dicendum [Stegmüller 793], with Stegmüller 789 in the margin; f. 120, Hebrews;

ff. 138rv, Epistle to the Laodiceans, without glosses.

Pauline Epistles with the Glossa Ordinaria; the Epistle to the Laodiceans is included at the end, without glosses; there is no modern edition of this text, nor has it been printed.

Although the editio princeps, which was printed in Strassburg in 1481 by Rusch (facsimile edition available, see Froehlich and Gibson, 1992; also available online) is useful as a working edition of the Ordinary Gloss for many of the books of the Bible, it is less useful for the Pauline Epistles and the Psalter, since the printed text for these books includes numerous interpolations from the later versions of the Gloss on these books by Gilbert de la Porée and Peter Lombard (the edition in Migne, Patrologia latina, volumes 113-114 is of no scholarly value). In particular, manuscripts of the Pauline Epistle with the Ordinary Gloss have many fewer prologues and other texts before Romans and generally include fewer marginal and interlinear glosses than Rusch’s edition (Zier, 2004, p. 169). When the text in this manuscript was briefly compared with another copy of the Pauline Epistle with the Ordinary Gloss, California, Huntington Library, HM 56, there was general agreement, although the text in our manuscript tended to be somewhat sparser (the glosses that are found in the manuscript also agree with Zier’s characterization; the glosses included are present in the Rusch edition, but many glosses found in the printed edition are not in this manuscript). Similarly the text outlined in Stegmüller, 11832-11845, does not correspond exactly with the text in this manuscript.

There is currently no census of manuscripts of the Gloss, although steps in that direction are being made. The Gloss was enormously popular, and may survive in more than 2,000 manuscripts; there are 400 manuscripts of the Gloss in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, and perhaps 600 in the French Departmental libraries alone (see Zier, 2004). Manuscripts of the Pauline Epistles with the Ordinary Gloss were not among the most commonly copied glossed books, however. There are fifteen to twenty copies in the BnF (compared, for example, with forty-nine copies of the Gloss on John and forty-seven of the Gloss on Luke), thirteen copies of Pauline Epistles with the Gloss survive from the Sorbonne, but none include the Ordinary Gloss (see Zier, 2004, p. 163, and note 165); these numbers no doubt reflect the popularity of the revisions of this text by Gilbert de la Porré and Peter Lombard which eclipsed the earlier version found in this manuscript.

The text known as the Ordinary Gloss on the Bible (or the Glossa Ordinaria), was one of the twelfth century’s greatest achievement, and one that had a lasting influence on the history of biblical exegesis, creating a text that was used as the standard school text to the end of the Middle Ages and even later. It consists of the biblical text, copied in a distinctive, larger script, accompanied by patristic and medieval commentaries on the text, copied in a smaller script on the same page. Texts by numerous authors are reflected in the commentary, including Patristic authors such as Jerome, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Isidore, and Bede, and, less commonly, Origen, John Chrysostom, and Ambrose, as well as later authors such as Rabanus Maurus, John Scotus Eriugena, Lanfranc and Berengar. The Bible and its Gloss gave readers – often teachers and students of the Bible – access to the most important commentaries on each passage in one convenient location.

The textual history of the Glossa Ordinaria is complicated and one that historians since Beryl Smalley, who published her first exploration of the topic in the 1930s, have pieced together bit by bit. The collection that we now know as the Ordinary Gloss originated at the Cathedral School of Laon c. 1100 with the teaching of the masters Anselm of Laon (d. 1117) and his brother Ralph (d. 1134); other masters teaching at Chartres and in Paris in the decades that followed also contributed. It was not a text written, or even conceived of, by a single author, but rather the result of a long process that gradually grew to include all the book of the Bible. Manuscripts of the Gloss were occasionally copied as complete sets, usually with ten or so volumes, and occasionally with as many as twenty, but more often single books of the Bible, or groups of books, such as the Pauline Epistles, were copied as needed.

The textual history of the Gloss on the Pauline Epistles, like the Psalter – two of the texts most important for commentary tradition and theology – is complicated. The Ordinary Gloss probably originated at Laon, probably by Anselm himself. It was subsequently revised in two commentaries – one by Gilbert de la Porrée (his commentary on the Pauline Epistles is being edited by Karlfried Froehlich; his Psalter commentary was studied by Gross-Diaz, 1996), and then Peter Lombard (begun c. 1135, but not complete until 1155 or even 1158-9, when Lombard became bishop of Paris).

Although the Ordinary Gloss originated c. 1080-1130, it is notable that most of the surviving manuscripts date from c. 1140 and later. This is certainly true of the Pauline Epistles, which are among the earliest books Glossed by Anselm at Laon. Patricia Stirnemann’s survey of Glossed manuscripts dating from the first half of the twelfth century identified three early copies, including one from Laon, Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, MS 125 (Stirnemann, 1997, p. 85, note. 5, copied at Laon after 1140; Stirnemann, 1994, 261-2, suggesting a slightly earlier date). The layout of the manuscript corresponds to that used in the earliest glossed manuscripts; the biblical text was copied first in a large script in one central column, leaving room between the lines and in all four margins for glosses; the glosses were added as necessary, in a smaller script, and ruled separately (see de Hamel, 1984, for the history of the format of glossed Bibles).


Ten eight- to three-line foliate initials, drawn in outline in brown or red, with decorative compartments within the initial, infilled with vines that curl around the body of the initial; done in brown with red highlights, in red, or in once case in brown infilled and with highlights in red, ending with simple stylized foliage. Initials in a similar style in the first half of the twelfth century were widespread in the Northern France, including Normandy, north-eastern France, and into Belgium and Germany, making it difficult to assign this manuscript a definite provenance.

Very similar initials are found in British Library, Harley, MS 2660, Germany, dated 1136 (Watson, 1979, cat. 687, plate 73a and b); Berlin, Staatsbibiothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Lat.qu.106, Mittelrhein, twelfth-century (Fingernagel, 1991, kat. 60, pl. 176), and Lat.qu.39, Maria Laach (?), around 1150 (Fingernagel, 1991, kat. 61, pl. 178).

Careful examination of the initials on ff. 76v, 84v, 90v, and 96v shows that they have been carefully pricked with tiny holes, following the outline of the initials, and that there are dark smudges on the reverse side of the initials on ff. 76 and 90. This is evidence that these initials were copied by a technique known as pouncing, where a design was transferred to another surface by pricking the outlines of the design, and then rubbing or blowing charcoal or another substance over the resulting holes. A few manuscripts survive with pricked initials, suggesting they were used in this way as patterns (discussed by Alexander 1992, pp. 50-51, listing about fifteen examples in note 94).

The foliate initials are found on f. 1, five-line (damaged and faint) Romans; f. 26, eight-line brown initial with red highlights, 1 Corinthians; f. 52, eight-line red initial, 2 Corinthians; f. 68v, six-line brown initial infilled and with highlights in red, Galatians; f. 76v, seven-line brown initial with red highlights (pricked), Ephesians; f. 84v, seven-line brown initial with red highlights (pricked) Philippians; f. 90v, seven-line brown initial with red highlights (pricked), Colossians; f. 96v, seven-line red initial (pricked), 1 Thessalonians; f. 111v, five-line red and brown initial, 2 Timothy; and f. 120, three-line red initial, Hebrews.

Plain red initials, three with simple pen decoration, also in red, are found on f. 101v, five-line red initial with simple pen decoration, 2 Thessalonians; f. 104v, four-line red initial with simple pen decoration, 1Timothy; f. 116, five-line red initial with simple pen decoration, Titus; and f. 118v, six-line red initial, Philemon.


Alexander, J. J. G. Medieval Illuminators and their Methods of Work, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1992.

Bond, W. H. and C. U. Faye. Supplement to the census of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts in the United States and Canada, New York, Bibliographical Society of America, 1962.

Cottineau, Laurent Henri. Répertoire topo-bibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, Mâcon, Protat frères, 1939-1970.

De Hamel, Christopher. Glossed Books of the Bible and the Origins of the Paris Booktrade, Woodbridge, Suffolk and Dover, N.H., D.S. Brewer, 1984.

Fingernagel, Andreas, Die illuminierten lateinischen Handschriften deutscher Provenienz der Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Kataloge der handscrhtenabteilung, Reihe 3, Illuminierte Handschriften, Wiesbaden, Otto Harrassowitz, 1991.

Froehlich, Karlfried and Margaret T. Gibson, eds. Biblia Latina cum Glossa Ordinaria : Facsimile Reprint of the Editio Princeps Adolph Rusch of Strassburg 1480/81, Turnhout, Brepols, 1992.

Gross-Diaz, Theresa. The Psalms Commentary of Gilbert of Poitiers: From lectio divina to the Lecture Room, New York, E.J. Brill, 1996.

Jacobs, Emile. “Die Handschriftensammlung Joeph Gorres”, Zentralblatt für Bibliothekswesen 23 (1906), pp. 189-204.

Krämer, Sigrid. Handschriftenerbe des deutschen Mittelalters, Munich, Beck, 1989-1990.

Schneider, Ambrosius. Skriptorium und Bibliothek der Abtei Himmerod: Ein Beitrag zur Geistesgeschichte des Eifelkosters Himmerod, Himmeroddrucke, 1974.

Schneider, Ambrosius. “Skirptorium”, in Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 35 (1952-3), pp. 155-205.

Smith, Lesley. The Glossa ordinaria: The Making of a Medieval Bible, Leiden and Boston, Brill, 2009.

Stegmüller, Fridericus. Repertorium biblicum medii aevi, Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1950-61, and Supplement, with the assistance of N. Reinhardt, Madrid, 1976-80.

Stirnemann, Patricia. “Gilbert de la Porrée et les livres glosés à Laon, à Chartres et à Paris”, in Monde médiéval et société chartraine : actes du colloque international organisé par la ville et le diocèse de Chartres à l'occasion du 8e centenaire de la Cathédrale de Chartres, ed. Jean-Robert Armogathe, Paris, Picard, 1997, pp. 83-95.

Stirnemann, Patircia, ““Où ont été fabriqués les livres de la glose ordinaire dans la première moitié du XIIe siècle?”, in Le XIIe siècle: mutations et renouveau en France dans la première moitié du XIIe siècle, ed. Françoise Gasparri, Paris, Le Léopard d'or, 1994, pp. 257-279.

Wagner, Fritz. “Bernhard von Clairvaux, Skriptorium und Bibliothek der Abtei Himmerod”, in Hic vere claustrum est beatae Mariae virginis : 875 Jahre Findung des Klosterortes Himmerod: Festschrift, ed. Bruno Fromme, Mainz, Selbstverlag der Gesellschaft für mittelrheinische Kirchengeschte, 2010, pp. 189-201.

Watson, Andrew G. Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts c. 700-1600 in the Department of Manuscripts: The British Library, London: British Library, 1979.

Zier, Daniel. “The Manuscript Tradition of the Glossa Ordinaria for Daniel and Hints at a Method for a Critical Edition”, Scriptorium 47 (1993) 3-25.

Zier, Daniel. “The Development of the Glossa Ordinaria to the Bible in the 13th Century: The Evidence of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris”, in La Bibbia del XIII secolo: storia del testo, storia dell esegesi, G. Cremascoli and F. Santi, eds. (Florence: SISMEL - Edizioni del galluzzo, 2004), pp. 155-184.

Online resources

Glossae.net: Glosses and Commentaries to the Bible in the Middle Ages (includes discussions, bibliography, and extensive links to sources):

Online editon of the Strassbourg 1481 edition of the Glossa Ordinaria: