Lot 7
  • 7

[Bible Fragment]

10,000 - 15,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Bible fragment, in Latin. [England (Oxford?), 13th century, middle or second half]
  • vellum
Vellum (ca. 10 x 7 1/2 in.; 255 x 190 mm), i+41+i leaves, 2 columns, 40 lines (170 x 60-10-60 mm), collation: i–ii16, iii9, decorated with 8 large puzzle initials with very fine flourishing at the start of prologues and books, the first with two human profile heads in the lower margin, small flourished initials, with some water-staining and some rodent damage, modern marbled binding, red leather spine with gilt title


The chapter initials are typically English (they are all in blue with red penwork, rather than alternate red and blue initials, with penwork of the other color, as would be normal in France); this seems to adopt a feature first regularly found in Italian law books, so it may be that the practice was introduced to England by students travelling between the universities of Bologna and Oxford. The very high quality of script and decoration suggests that the book was produced in Oxford itself. If it was made for a Dominican, as suggested above, the Bible may have belonged to the Oxford Blackfriars; only three manuscripts, including a Bible (Bodleian Library, MS. Lat. bib. d. 9), are known to survive from the Oxford Dominican convent — The Endowment for Biblical Research, Boston, MS 4 (see J. Oliver, Manuscripts Sacred and Secular, 1985, no. 21, figs. 8-9); the collection was dispersed ca. 1998 — acquisition: Quaritch, Catalogue 1270 (2000), no. 20 (col.ills.)

Catalogue Note

This is probably the beginning of the second volume of a two-volume Bible; it consists of: Proverbs with prologue (f.1r); Ecclesiastes with prologue (f.10v); Song of Songs (f.14); Wisdom (f.16r); Ecclesiastes prologue (f.22v); Ecclesiastes (f.23r); although only a small portion of the entire Bible, the text is complete in itself, followed by a few blank lines at the end.

There are a significant number of contemporary marginalia apparently by the main scribe, but rather than supplying corrections and omissions, the great majority of them record textual variants, preceded by "vel" or "al." underlined in red; some specifically compare the text to other books, "alii libri" (e.g. f.3v). Many also include abbreviations such as "he" indicating variants in the Hebrew text, and "an" indicating variants in unspecified antiqui libri. In some cases the abbreviations apparently refer to authors including "Ra"(banus) and "Au"(gustinus). The book could perhaps have been commissioned by an Oxford Dominican, since the Order had a special interest in the Bible’s textual variants, and they compiled lists of them as separate lists of "correctoria."