This volume displays evidence of a very unusual production process; it would repay detailed study. Although not a ‘professional’ book in outward appearance, it must have been written somewhere where the work could be divided between several scribes, and they have left some clues to the unusual way in which they collaborated. For example, Psalms starts on a new quire, of 8 leaves, at the end of which is a note referring to ‘ex viii foliis … usque ad salvum me’ (f.148v); this is followed by a quire of six leaves, by a different scribe, with part of the last verso left blank; and then a third scribe writes the next quire, which starts at Psalms 68, whose incipit is ‘Salvum me …’ (f.155r).
There is also considerable evidence for the way in which the text was studied: the margins abound in varying systems of numbering, in roman and medieval arabic numerals, as well as notes, maniculae, and cross-references within the Bible or to other works (e.g. by Bernard, near the beginning of Song of Songs).
The books are in a very eccentric order, with some repeated: they are in the standard ‘Paris’ sequence as far as Nehemiah, but followed by I–II Maccabees, Esther, Tobit, Judith, Psalms (in Gallican and Hebraicum parallel versions, followed by Psalm 151); the six ferial canticles (which follow the Psalms in a Psalter) in two parallel versions; Isaiah, Lamentations, Baruch 1–5, Jeremiah; Lamentations and Baruch 1–5 repeated; Daniel, the Minor Prophets, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch 6 (added on f.294v), Esther 10:4–13 and 11–16 (added on ff.295v–296v); the Gospels, with Mark repeated after Luke; the Catholic Epistles, Acts, Pauline Epistles, and Apocalypse. Of the 54 prologues, only 27 are from the usual ‘Paris’ set. The medieval flyleaves have various notes, including a table of contents which prove that the present unusual sequence is medieval and that the Interpretation of Hebrew Names was once present.
Medieval Oxford and Cambridge had a system for providing interest-free loans to members of the university: an endowment would be provided to pay for a sturdy lockable chest and a sum of cash; the cash could be borrowed in exchange for collateral such as a manuscript or silverware, which would be locked in the chest until it was redeemed by the repayment of the loan. A back flyleaf of the present Bible is inscribed with a valuation of 20 shillings and the monogram of the stationer of Oxford University, John Dolle (f.376v), below which there is a pledge (‘caucio’) note recording that in 1452 William Ketyll deposited the Bible in exchange for a loan of 14s.; this is followed by six more similar notes recording repayments of the loan in installments of about 1s. 8d. each: in each case except the last, the previous note is crossed-through and replaced by the new note. Such notes in medieval manuscripts are rare. Most of those that survive record a single loan, and were thoroughly erased or effaced on redemption: it is extraordinarily rare (unique?) to find a series of seven such notes, none erased, all still legible.
N.R. Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, II, 1977, pp.409–10.
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