TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Vulgate Bible

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Northern France, Paris, c. 1225-1235, likely before 1230

TM 527

i (parchment) + 550 + i (parchment) folios on thin parchment, modern foliation in pencil, top, outer corner recto, ff. 535-547, foliated bottom, outer corner, recto (collation, i14 ii11 [structure uncertain, no loss of text] iii16 iv18 v16 vi14 vii16 viii14 ix18 x16 xi14 xii-xvi16 xvii18 xviii14 xix17 [structure uncertain, no loss of text] xx-xxvi16 xxvii22 [through f. 430v] xxviii-xxxi16 xxxii-xxxiii18 xxxiv20), no catchwords or leaf and quire signatures, ruled lightly in lead with the top, middle, and bottom three horizontal rules full across, single full-length vertical bounding lines, inside, outside, and between the columns, with an extra set of double rules, in the top (used for running titles), bottom, and outer margins, (justification, 123-122 x 77 mm.), written above the top ruled line in a very small upright gothic book hand in two columns of forty-four lines, ff. 535-547v, ruling indiscernible, (justification, 143 x 110 mm.), copied by another scribe in a less formal gothic script in three columns of fifty to fifty-six lines, majuscules in text touched with red, red rubrics, red and blue running titles, now mostly trimmed, chapters begin with one-line alternately red and blue initials within the line of text, modern chapters numbered in the margins with red and blue Roman numerals enclosed in a paragraph mark, each psalm begins with two-line alternately red or blue initials with pen decoration in the other color, eight- to three-line parted red and blue initials with pen decoration in red and blue, most biblical books and prologues begin with handsome five- to fifteen-line parted red and blue initials (initial, f. 1, extends full column) with pen scrolls infilled with color wash in green with touches of blue, red and yellow on brown, on brown grounds which follow the shape of the initial and pen decoration, FOURTEEN HISTORIATED INITIALS, described below, Interpretation of Hebrew Names, ff. 535-547v, each entry begins with a one-line minuscule letter in red, two-line red initials at major divisions, alternately red and blue, with contrasting pen work, Canon Tables, ff. 548-549v, with simple red decorative frames, the manuscript has been severely trimmed, with consequent loss of the bottom of the Genesis initial, f. 4, most of the running titles in the top margin, and with some text in the top and outer margins of the Interpretation of Hebrew Names, generally in very fine condition, ff. 232v-260, Psalms, show more signs of use, ff. 393-395v, are stained, ff. 522-526, are darkened and have stains or other signs of water damage, ff. 548-549v, darkened and with rust hole, lower margin, with small loss of text. Bound in a modern light brown leather binding with two clasp and catch fastenings, fastening back to front, undecorated spine with two raised bands, edges gauffered and gilt, in excellent condition. Dimensions 170 x 113 mm.

This is an important manuscript in the history of the thirteenth-century Vulgate, which fits between the Proto-Paris Bibles from the first three decades of the century, and the mature Paris Bibles of after c. 1230. The inclusion of an early version of the Interpretation of Hebrew Names in a Bible of this date is of special interest and highlights the transitional nature of its text. The present codex includes historiated initials from one of the professional ateliers working in Paris in the early thirteenth century, perhaps the atelier associated with the Vienna Moralized Bibles.


1. The evidence of the script, decorative pen initials, and the illuminated initials, as well as details of its text, suggest that this Bible was copied c. 1225-1235 in Paris. The scribe begins each line of text above the top ruled line, a practice that is rarely found in professionally produced books from Paris after c. 1230. The decorative penwork initials found in the Psalms are similar to those found in some Parisian manuscripts dating from the 1230s, but may also be compared to those in Paris, BnF, MS lat. 12833, a Martyrology datable to 1216-20; see P. Stirnemann, 1990, cat. 25, p. 73, reproduced on p. 67, and cat. 21, p. 73, reproduced on p. 65. The style of the illuminated initials suggests that the Bible may have been painted by artists associated with the Vienna Moralized Bible atelier, active in the 1220s (see discussion of Illumination, below). Although textually this Bible includes the characteristic features of the Paris Bible, it also exhibits a number of early features that suggest it dates from the later 1220s, including the presence of both modern and older chapter divisions, and the early version of the Interpretation of Hebrew Names (discussed in detail below).

The script of the Bible, which is very small and controlled with rounded letter forms, is atypical of scribes from northern France of this period. Moreover, the very thin parchment resembles that found in some southern manuscripts. Neither of these features, however, outweighs the other factors that point toward a Parisian origin, especially since there are examples of southern scribes working in Paris. The script of the Canon Tables and the Interpretation of Hebrew Names, moreover, is more typical of a Parisian scribe.

Given the advanced nature of the text of this Bible and the inclusion of the Interpretation of Hebrew Names, it seems most likely that this book was copied for a professor from the theology faculty of the University of Paris, or perhaps for a theology student. It includes systematic corrections throughout, as well as cross references to other books of the Bible in a small, formal contemporary script (for example, ff. 260v, 273rv, 274, 431v, 441, and 450) and at least one variant readings (f. 478). It also includes numerous notes in crayon or lead point in an informal fairly large thirteenth-century hand, usually in the bottom margin. These notes generally seem to be focused on literal events in the text, for example on f. 69, Numbers ch. 20, there is a note about the water Moses produces from the rock, “Hic fluxit aqaum petra.”

2. Private European Collection.


ff. 1-534, Latin Bible, with prologues as follows: f. 1, [General prologue] Frater ambrosius [Stegmüller 284]; f. 3v, [prologue to Genesis] Desiderii mei [Stegmüller 285]; f. 4, Genesis; f. 25, Exodus; f. 43, Leviticus; f. 54v, Numbers; f. 71v, Deuteronomy; f. 86, [prologue to Joshua] Tandem finito [Stegmüller 311]; f. 86, Joshua; f. 96, Judges; f. 106v, Ruth; f. 108, [prologue to Kings] Viginti et duas [Stegmüller 323], f. 108v, 1 Kings; f. 123v, 2 Kings; f. 135, 3 Kings; f. 149, 4 Kings; f. 162, [prologue to Chronicles] Si septuaginta [Stegmüller 328]; f. 162, 1 Chronicles; f.174, 2 Chronicles, concluding with the Oratio Manasse; f. 189, [prologue to Ezra] Utrum difficilius [Stegmüller 330]; f. 189v, 1 Ezra; f. 193v, Nehemiah; f. 199v, 2 Ezra; f. 206, [prologue to Tobit] Chromatio et elyodoro ... Mirari non desino [Stegmüller 332]; f. 206, Tobit; f. 210v, [prologue to Judith] Apud hebreos [Stegmüller 335]; f. 210v, Judith; f. 216, [prologue to Esther] Librum hester; Rursum in libro [Stegmüller 341 and 343, copied as one prologue]; f. 216, Esther; f. 221, [prologue to Job] Cogor per singulos [Stegmüller 344]; f. 222, [prologue to Job] Si aut fiscellam [Stegmüller 357]; f. 222, Job [ends f. 232v, col a, followed by nine blank lines]; f. 232v, Psalms; f. 260, [prologue to Proverbs] Iungat epistola [Stegmüller 457]; f. 260, Proverbs; f. 269, [prologue to Ecclesiastes] Memini me [Stegmüller 462]; f. 269, Ecclesiastes; f. 272v, Song of Songs; f. 274, [prologue to Wisdom] Liber sapientie [Stegmüller 468]; f. 274, Wisdom; f. 280v, [biblical introduction to Ecclesiasticus, copied as a prologue] Multorum nobis; f. 280v, Ecclesiasticus, without the Prayer of Solomon; f. 298v, [prologue to Isaiah] Nemo cum prophetas [Stegmüller 482]; f. 299, Isaiah; f. 320v, [prologue to Jeremiah] Ieremias propheta [Stegmüller 487]; f. 320v, Jeremiah; f. 347, Lamentations; f. 349v, [prologue to Baruch] Liber iste [Stegmüller 491]; f. 349v, Baruch; f. 352v, [prologue to Ezechiel] Ezechiel propheta [Stegmüller 492]; f. 353, Ezechiel; f. 376, [prologue to Daniel] Danielem prophetam [Stegmüller 494]; f. 376v, Daniel; f. 385v, [prologue to Minor prophets] Non idem ordo est [Stegmüller 500]; f. 385v, [prologue to Hosea] Temporibus ozie [Stegmüller 507]; f. 385v, Hosea; f. 388v, [prologue to Joel] Sanctus ioel [Stegmüller 511]; f. 389, [prologue] Ioel fatuel filius [Stegmüller 510]; f. 389, Joel; f. 390, [prologue to Amos] Ozias rex [Stegmüller 515]; f. 390v, [prologue] Amos propheta [Stegmüller 512]; f. 390v, [prologue] Hic amos [Stegmüller 513]; f. 390v, Amos; f. 393, [prologue to Obadiah] Iacob patriarcha; Hebrei [Stegmüller 519 and 517 copied as one prologue]; f. 393, Obadiah; f. 393v, [prologue to Jonah] Sanctum ionam [Stegmüller 524]; f. 394, [prologue] Iona columba et dolens [Stegmüller 521]; f. 394, Jonah; f. 394, [prologue Micah] Temporibus ioathe [Stegmüller 526]; f. 395, Micah; f. 396v, [prologue to Nahum] Naum prophetam [Stegmüller 528]; f. 396v, Nahum; f. 397v, [prologue to Habakkuk] Quatuor prophete [Stegmüller 531]; f. 398, Habbakuk; f. 399, [prologue to Zephaniah] Tradunt hebrei [Stegmüller 534]; f. 399v, Zephaniah; f. 400, [prologue to Haggai] Ieremias propheta [Stegmüller 538]; f. 400v, Haggai; f. 401, [prologue to Zechariah] Anno secundo [Stegmüller 539]; f. 401v, Zechariah; f. 405, [prologue to Malachi] Deus per moysen [Stegmüller 543]; f. 405, Malachi; f. 406, [prologue to Maccabees] Domino excellentisimo …, Cum sim promptus [Stegmüller 547]; f. 406, [prologue] Reuerentissimo …, Memini me [Stegmüller 553]; f. 406v, [prologue] Machabeorum librum duo [Stegmüller 551]; f. 406v, 1 Maccabees; f. 419v, 2 Maccabees [ends f. 429, mid column a; remainder and f. 429v, column a blank]; f. 429v, [prologue to Matthew] Matheus ex iudea [Stegmüller 590]; f. 430, [prologue to Matthew] Matheus cum primo [Stegmüller 589; ends f. 430, column a; column b and f. 430v, blank]; f. 431, Matthew; f. 445, [prologue to Mark] Marchus evangelista [Stegmüller 607]; f. 445, Mark; f. 454, Quoniam quidem [Luke 1:1-4 treated as a prologue]; f. 454, [prologue to Luke] Lucas syrus natione [Stegmüller 620]; f. 454v, Luke; f. 468v, [prologue to John] Hic est Iohannes [Stegmüller 634] ; f. 469, John; f. 479v, [prologue to Romans] Romani sunt in partes ytalie … scribens eis a chorintho [Stegmüller 677]; f. 480, Romans; f. 485, [prologue to 1 Corinthians] Chorinthii sunt achaici [Stegmüller 685]; f. 485, 1 Corinthians; f. 490v, [prologue to 2 Corinthians] Post actam [Stegmüller 699]; f. 490v, 2 Corinthians; f. 493v, [prologue to Galatians] Galathe sunt greci [Stegmüller 707]; f. 493v, Galatians; f. 495v, [prologue to Ephesians] Ephesii sunt asiani [Stegmüller 715]; f. 495v, Ephesians; f. 497, [prologue to Philippians] Philippenses sunt macedones [Stegmüller 728]; f. 497, Philippians; f. 498, [prologue to 1 Thessalonians] Thessalonicenses sunt macedones [Stegmüller 747]; f. 498, 1 Thessalonians; f. 499v, [prologue to 2 Thessalonians] Ad thessalonicenses [Stegmüller 752]; f. 499v, 2 Thessalonians; f. 500 [prologue to Colossians] Colosenses et hii [Stegmüller 736]; f. 500, Colossians; f. 501, [prologue to 1 Timothy] Timotheum instruit [Stegmüller 765]; f. 501, 1 Timothy; f. 502v, [prologue to 2 Timothy] Item Timotheo scribit [Stegmüller 772]; f. 502, 2 Timothy; f. 503v, [prologue to Titus] Titum commonefacit [Stegmüller 780]; f. 503v, Titus; f. 504, [prologue to Philemon] Phylemoni familiares [Stegmüller 783]; f. 504, Philemon; f. 504v, [prologue to Hebrews] In primis dicendum [Stegmüller 793] ; f. 504, Hebrews; f. 508, [prologue to Acts] Lucas antiocenses natione syrus [Stegmüller 640]; f. 508, Acts; f. 521v, [prologue to Catholic Epistles] Non ita est ordo [Stegmüller 809]; f. 521, James; f. 522, 1 Peter; f. 524, 2 Peter; f. 525, 1 John; f. 536v, 2 John; f. 526v, 3 John; f. 526v, Jude; f. 527, [prologue to Apocalypse] Omnes qui pie [Stegmüller 839]; f. 527v, Apocalypse [ending f. 534, mid column a; remainder and f. 534v, blank].

ff. 535-547v, incipit, “Adam interpretatur homo vel terrenus vel indigena vel terra rubra vel rufa. Abel luctus vel vanitas vel vapor vel pavor vel miserabilis vel continens ... Asihel consilium, vel voluntas dei vel festivitas, de exodo, Aaron mons fortitudinis, vel mons eorum vel montanus vel cantor…. Zenas commotio eius vel commovens eum vel ipse requiescens vel meretrix vel consilium. [continues, with no break with Interpretation of the Hebrew alphatet] Aleph mille vel doctrina. Beth domus vel confusion vel filia ... Thau signum vel subter vel consummation vel consummavit vel erravit. [followed by additional entries for Caynam, Malaleel and Jareth] … Jareth descendens … uel continens.” Expliciunt interpretationes.

Interpretation of Hebrew Names, by an anonymous author; see Stegmuller, Repertorium biblicum 10278; cf. also Repertorium 10258, a slightly different version of the text, which concludes with the Interpretation of the Hebrew alphabet also found in this manuscript.

ff. 548-549v, Eusebian canon tables; f. 550rv, blank.

Paris in the thirteenth century was the center of the dissemination of a new text of the Vulgate known as the Paris Bible. The mature form of the Paris Bible dates from c. 1230 (the earliest dated example was copied in 1234). Most of the textual elements which distinguish the Paris Bible are also found in a small group of Bibles copied in Paris between c. 1200-30, known as the Proto-Paris Bibles. Small, portable Bibles which include the complete text of the Vulgate in one small, although often rather thick, volume are also an important development in the history of the Vulgate in the thirteenth century. The earliest examples of these portable Bibles were copied in Paris at the end of the 1220s or the early 1230s, and the format was adopted quickly throughout Europe. The Bible discussed here is important both as a very early example of a small portable Vulgate and as a textually transitional volume, which fits between the earlier Proto-Paris Bibles and the mature Paris Bible.

Copies of the mature Paris Bible are distinguished by a particular order of the biblical books closely resembling the order of modern Bibles, except in the New Testament where the Gospels are followed by the Pauline Epistles, Acts, the Catholic Epistles and then the Apocalypse. This, in fact, is a new order, found for the first time in the Proto-Paris Bible of c. 1200-30. The books of the Paris Bible are introduced by a characteristic set of sixty-four prologues (conveniently listed in N. R. Ker. Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, Oxford, 1969-, Vol. I, pp. 96-8, and in R. Branner, 1977, pp. 154-155). Paris Bibles also include characteristic textual variants.

The biblical books in the Bible discussed here are arranged according to the new order of the Paris Bible, except for the Pauline Epistles where Colossians follows, rather than precedes 1 and 2 Thessalonians; this order is found in other Bibles copied in Paris in the early decades of the thirteenth century, including Paris, BnF, MS lat. 15475, and the Bible last sold at Sotheby’s, June 22, 2004, lot 52. All of the prologues associated with the Paris Bible are also included in this Bible, except the prologue to 2 Chronicles beginning, “Eusebius ieronimus … Quomodo grecorum” (Stegmüller 327). Finally, an examination of selected passages of its text indicates that the text of this Bible includes the characteristic textual readings found in the Paris Bible.

Manuscripts of the proto-Paris Bible include chapter divisions which differ from those used today, and also include a series of summaries or capitula lists before most of the biblical books. One of the hallmarks of the mature Paris Bible is the presence of modern chapters and the disappearance of capitula lists. The Bible described here was copied with both older and modern chapters; older chapters are indicated with small one-line initials placed within the line of text, whereas modern chapters are marked in the margins with red and blue roman numerals. There are proto-Paris Bibles that also include both sets of chapters, but the capitula lists found in these earlier Bibles have been omitted here.

There are two texts included at the end of this Bible, the Canon Tables and a version of the Interpretation of Hebrew Names. Although they are copied by a scribe different than the scribe who copied the biblical text, they appear to be original parts of the Bible, copied in the final quire which also includes the end of the biblical text. The inclusion of the Eusebian Canon Tables at the end of the manuscript is interesting, since this is an archaic feature, found in virtually all Bibles and Gospel books up until c. 1200, but found only infrequently in Bibles from c. 1200-30, and rarely after that. The Canon Tables depend on the division of the Gospels into numerous small divisions known as Eusebian sections. Although this Bible includes Canon Tables, the Gospels are not divided into the Eusebian sections, which meant the Canon Tables were of little use. The format of the prologues used before Matthew suggests that the scribe was unsure of what to copy. Maccabees ends f. 429, mid column a; the remainder of the page and the first column on the following page are blank. The scribe copied two prologues to Matthew in the next two columns, and then left f. 430 column b, and f. 430v, blank; Matthew begins on f. 431. Perhaps he was leaving room for the Canon Tables? Alternatively, perhaps he was uncertain about which prologues to include.

It is very uncommon to find a Bible that includes the Interpretation of Hebrew Names before c. 1230; after c. 1230, in contrast, manuscripts of the Paris Bible and, indeed, Bibles copied across Europe end with the glossary beginning “Aaz apprehendens.”Jerome’s Liber interpretationem hebraicorum nominum, written around 390, is a glossary explaining the meaning of the Hebrew proper names in the Bible. Jerome’s text follows the order of the Bible; he begins with the names found in Genesis, listing those beginning with “a” first, but keeping these names in the order they are found in Genesis; after all the names in Genesis are listed, he lists the names in Exodus, and so forth. The expanded text found in the Paris Bible after c. 1230, in contrast, includes names from the entire Bible, arranged alphabetically from A (“Aaz apprehendens vel apprehensio”) to Z (“Zuzim consiliantes eos vel consiliantores eorum”).

Several new versions of Jerome’s Interpretation of Hebrew Names were compiled in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. These versions are usually found in non-biblical manuscripts. It is therefore of great interest that this Bible includes the version of the Interpretation of Hebrew Names beginning “Adam interpretatur homo.” In this version, all the names beginning with “a” in Genesis are followed by the names beginning with “a” from Exodus, continuing to the end of the Bible; these entries are then followed by names beginning with “b” from Genesis, again continuing to the end of the Bible, and so forth. I know of one other early thirteenth-century Bible which includes this text, Paris, Bibliothèque d’Arsenal, MS 65, which was also probably copied in Paris, but a decade or so earlier than the Bible discussed here; for a discussion of the Interpretation of Hebrew Names, see A. d’Esneval, 1981, p. 166, and G. Dahan, 1996, p. 488.


Fourteen biblical books in this manuscript begin with historiated initials; the initials are fourteen- to six lines (Genesis, full length of the page, with bottom trimmed away), pink and blue, or blue, with white highlights, some ending with dragons with long ears and fierce expressions, infilled and on polished gold grounds. The figures have large eyes, often with pupils placed so they stare upwards, large noses, and faces touched with white and with some shading; blue and dull pink are predominate, but the artists have also used dark red, green, and dark yellow.

The iconongrapy of the Genesis initial is distinctive since it includes roundels showing Original Sin with Adam, Eve, and the serpent, and the Expulsion from Eden, as well as creation scenes (compare Brussels, Bibliothèque royale, MS 8318-83189, which includes Original Sin and the Expulsion below the roundels, reproduced in Branner, 1977, fig. 56, and Appendix VB, p. 206), as is the use of a battle scene for 1 Maccabees (a scene rarely found in “later” Paris Bibles; Branner, p. 17). The style suggests that this manuscript may have been painted by artists associated with the Vienna Moralized Bible Atelier, active c. 1212/15-c. 1225; this atelier also painted the Brussels Bible mentioned above; see Branner, pp. 206-7, Appendix VB, Manuscripts associated with the Moralized Bibles, I, with the Atelier of the Vienna Moralized Bibles (ŐNB 1179, ŐNB 23554, Toledo III), especially figures 54, 56, and 57.

Initials include:

f. 4, (Genesis), nine roundels showing God creating i, the universe, ii, the land and sea, iii, the sun and the moon, iv, the stars (?), and v, the creation of Eve, vi, original sin, vii, the expulsion from Eden, viii, now rubbed, but possibly souls being received into heaven (?), and ix, God blessing creation (the face of God rubbed away);

f. 108v, (1 Kings), Hannah bringing Samuel to Eli;

f. 222, (Job), Job with his wife and two friends;

f. 232v, (Psalms), two compartment initial with David harping above, and David slaying Goliath below;

f. 299, (Isaiah), Isaiah being sawn by two men;

f. 406v, (1 Maccabees), crowded scene of mounted battle;

f. 431, (Matthew), Matthew’s angel, with wings, shown writing;

f. 445, (Mark), Elongated lion holding a scroll in his mouth, in blue with white shading;

f. 454v, (Luke) Luke’s ox, winged, with book; seven-line initial, extending full column, and ending with a dragon, with wings painted as a man’s face;

f. 469, (John), two-compartment initial with John holding a scroll, his eagle above him; initial ends with a dragon with the face of a bearded man;

f. 480, (Romans), Paul preaching;

f. 508, (Acts), Pentecost;

f. 521, (James) James standing;

f. 527v, Apocalypse) John seated on Patmos, writing, seven spires above him.


Berger, Samuel. Histoire de la vulgate pendant les premiers siècles du moyen âge, Paris, Hachette, 1893 (repr. Hildesheim, 1976).

Branner, Robert. Manuscript Painting in Paris during the Reign of St. Louis, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1977.

Dahan, Gilbert. “Lexiques hébreu/latin? Les receuils d’interprétations des noms hébraiques”, in Les manuscrits des lexiques et glossaires de l’antiquité tardive à la fin du moyen âge. Textes et études du moyen âge 4, Louvain-la-Neuve, Fédération internationale des instituts d’études médiévale, 1996, pp. 481-526.

d’Esneval, Amaury. “Le perfectionnement d’un instrument de travail au début du XIIIe siècle: les trois glossaires bibliques d’Etienne Langton”, in Culture et travail intellectuel dans l’occident médiéval, eds. Geneviève Hasenohr and Jean Longère, Paris, CNRS, 1981, pp. 163-175.

de Hamel, Christoper, The Book. A History of the Bible, London and New York, Phaidon Press, 2001, chapter 5, “Portable Bibles of the Thirteenth Century.”

Light, Laura, “French Bibles c. 1200-30: a New Look at the Origin of the Paris Bible”, The Early Medieval Bible: its Production, Decoration, and Use, ed. Richard Gameson, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 155-176.

Light, Laura. “Versions et révisions du texte biblique”, in Le Moyen Âge et la Bible”, eds. Pierre Riché and Guy Lobrichon, Bible de tous les temps 4, Paris, Éditions Beauchesne, 1984, pp. 55-93.

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. “Fils de la vierge. L’initiale à filigranes parisienne: 1140-1314”, Revue de l’Art 90 (1990), pp. 62-65.

Online resources

Latin Bible: