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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Acts and Epistles book with catena

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript is an <i>Acts and Epistles book with catena</i>, probably copied in the 11th century. It was apparently intended for study rather than liturgical use, as it was not originally provided with notes indicating the lections to be read in church, but was equipped with a range of supporting information. Its ornament is simple, but retains the notable feature of small letters written by the scribe to indicate to the artist which decorative coloured initials should be placed at each point in the text.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>There appear to have been various changes in the scheme of supplementary materials in the course of the manuscript's production. One element appearing throughout was a prefatory hypothesis preceding each book, summarising the text and its context, a common feature of such manuscripts. A second supporting element was list of chapters (κεφάλαια) preceding each book, common in Gospel manuscripts but less usual in those of the Acts and Epistles. This was probably an afterthought introduced after copying had begun, as the first few books are not provided with a list. Still more unusual, and appearing even later in the copying process, were lists of each book's μαρτυρίαι, citations of books of the Old Testament. These begin to feature with the start of the Pauline Epistles, which here follow the Catholic Epistles, but this addition was abandoned after three books.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>A final supplementary element was the marginal catena of excerpts from commentaries, which is relatively sparse. Its inclusion was apparently part of the original plan, as the folios were ruled with an exceptionally large number of horizontal lines in their upper and lower margins, which were used as text-lines for the catena. However, its copying was never completed.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>At a later date, the manuscript evidently did enter liturgical use, as a later hand has added lection information in the margins. Numerous individual folios and whole quires have been lost in the course of its history, and repeated interventions were made to supply these losses. Two replacement folios (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(393);return false;'>225</a> and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(407);return false;'>232</a>) were probably added in the 13th century, and these were provided with lection information from the outset, indicating that the manuscript was being used for liturgical purposes at that time.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Later, further losses were corrected by the insertion of whole new quires, composed of paper rather than the original parchment and appearing at the beginning and end of the original manuscript (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(5);return false;'>1-16</a> and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(551);return false;'>305-307</a>). Two of these, replacing the lost first quire but requiring more folios because of their larger text, had perhaps become detached when the volume was acquired by Cambridge University Library, as their existence was not reflected in the library's first foliation, which was later cancelled and replaced by one including them. Presumably later than the original insertion of the paper quires, further losses were suffered which are reflected in the present state of the manuscript, both at various points within it and at the end, where the last few epistles are missing.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript retains a binding of a medieval Greek type, with wooden boards and partially surviving leather covers. At the time when this was added, the manuscript was presumably somewhere in the Levant or Mesopotamia, since the binding incorporates strips of reused manuscript waste, some of whose text is Greek but most is in Syriac script. Traces of a note in Syriac also survive <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(557);return false;'>inside the right board</a>.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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