Bible: New Testament, Gospels, with gloss, in Latin thumbnail 1
Bible: New Testament, Gospels, with gloss, in Latin thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 8, The William and Eileen Ruddock Gallery

Bible: New Testament, Gospels, with gloss, in Latin

Illuminated Manuscript
ca. 1200-1250 (made)
Place of origin

This glossed volume was made in Bologna in the first half of the 13th century and contains the four Gospels. . Its pages display three columns. In the centre is the Biblical text and in the two marginal columns the glosses. A gloss, from the Latin glossa, is an addition or comment on the text that derived from authoritative sources such as the Church Fathers, eminent theologians that commented on the Holy Scriptures in the early years of Christianity. The manuscript also contains interlinear glosses in the middle column. All marginal glosses are introduced by a paragraph symbol, to facilitate the reading experience.
Some of the initials and paragraph marks extend into the margin, exploding into blue and red penwork flourishes or ending in playful ink drawings. The head of a man, for instance, can be found on f. 52r and a winged hybrid creature with bearded human head and hands seems to be crossing the page on f. 61v.
(Fantastical animals and humorous hybrids were a common feature of medieval manuscripts later termed ‘grotesques’ or ‘drolleries’).
Glossed Gospels such as this one served as teaching material at the University of Bologna, the first university founded in medieval Europe around 1088. Bologna was particularly famous for its teaching of civil and canon law and many glossed biblical and law manuscripts produced in Bologna during the first half of the 13th century have survived.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Ink, pigments on parchment. Parchment binding on wooden boards. Metal clasps and leather.
Brief description
Manuscript, Glossed Bible: New Testament, Gospels. Bologna, ca. 1200-1250.
Physical description
Foliation: parchment, i (19th-century paper) + 269 + ii (as f.i) ff.



Number of lines: 20 lines for main text, up to 64 lines for gloss.



Language: Latin.



Script: written in three scripts: (1) proto-gothic; (2) small glossing hand (same scribe) in the margins; (3) interlinear glossating hand with greater abbreviations, ascenders and descender, perhaps added later.



Textual content:

ff. 1r-79v: Gospel according to St Matthew.

ff. 81r-134r: Gospel according to St Mark, beginning with the prologue.

ff. 135r-231v: Gospel according to St Luke, beginning with the prologue.

ff. 233r-296v: Gospel according to St John, beginning with the prologue.



Decoration: The Gospels and prologues open with simple red and blue penwork ornaments in the margins as well as straight lines or ‘firework jets’ with small fleurons or roundels. The latter usually spring from a face or animal head and is joined with one of the lesser initials on the page (e.g. ff.1, 3, 12v., 82v., 137, 234v. etc.) or are directly connected with the coloured letters at the top of the page by means of a narrow border in red and blue (e.g. ff. 134, 233, etc.). There is a small number of grotesque drawings in the same red and blue ink, e.g. a "tadpole man" (e.g. f.52r), a wyvern-like creature with a bearded man's face (f.61v.).

The decoration at the beginning of the main sections is unfinished. The opening words of each Gospel and Preface are written in elongated, narrow letters, alternately red and blue. A space left for the first letter, presumably intended to be illuminated with gold, has never been filled in.



Binding: 19th century; boards covered with vellum. Five raised bands on spine. Two vellum clasps with catches on lower cover. Text on spine: "IV / EVANGELII / SAEC. XII".

Dimensions
  • Height: 345mm
  • Width: 220mm
  • Text block height: 240mm
  • Text block width: 70mm
  • Text block (including glosses) height: 240mm
  • Text block (including glosses) width: 164mm
Production typeUnique
Gallery label
NEW TESTAMENT, WITH GLOSS About 1200-50 The biblical text appears in large script. It is surrounded by a commentory, or 'gloss', that analyses philological, historical and theological aspects of the text. The owner who may have been following the teaching programme at the university in Bologna, probably intended to add further glosses. Italy, Bologna Ink on parchment Bequeathed by George Reid Museum no. MSL/1902/1697 (Reid 56) (24/03/2018)
Credit line
Bequeathed by George Reid in 1902.
Object history
Collection of George Reid, given to the V&A in 1902.
Summary
This glossed volume was made in Bologna in the first half of the 13th century and contains the four Gospels. . Its pages display three columns. In the centre is the Biblical text and in the two marginal columns the glosses. A gloss, from the Latin glossa, is an addition or comment on the text that derived from authoritative sources such as the Church Fathers, eminent theologians that commented on the Holy Scriptures in the early years of Christianity. The manuscript also contains interlinear glosses in the middle column. All marginal glosses are introduced by a paragraph symbol, to facilitate the reading experience.

Some of the initials and paragraph marks extend into the margin, exploding into blue and red penwork flourishes or ending in playful ink drawings. The head of a man, for instance, can be found on f. 52r and a winged hybrid creature with bearded human head and hands seems to be crossing the page on f. 61v.

(Fantastical animals and humorous hybrids were a common feature of medieval manuscripts later termed ‘grotesques’ or ‘drolleries’).

Glossed Gospels such as this one served as teaching material at the University of Bologna, the first university founded in medieval Europe around 1088. Bologna was particularly famous for its teaching of civil and canon law and many glossed biblical and law manuscripts produced in Bologna during the first half of the 13th century have survived.
Bibliographic references
  • F.S., E. 'The Reid Gift.-II'. The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs Vol. 2, No. 4 (1903), pp. 74-75.p. 74.
  • Ker, N.R. Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries I. Oxford: 1967.p. 383.
  • Watson, R. Illuminated manuscripts and their makers. An account based on the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum. London, 2003.p. 30, pl. 36
  • Watson, R. Western Illuminated Manuscripts.Victoria and Albert Museum. A catalogue of works in the National Art Library from the eleventh to the early twentieth century, with a complete account of the George Reid Collection. London, 2011.vol. 1, pp. 72-75, cat. 10
Other numbers
  • KRP.D.8 - NAL Pressmark
  • 56 - Reid Gift
Collection
Library number
MSL/1902/1697 (Reid 56)

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Record createdFebruary 25, 2017
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