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Western Medieval Manuscripts : John Klimakos, the Ladder of Divine Ascent and To the Pastor

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, probably copied in the 12th century, contains two works of <i>John Klimakos, the Ladder of Divine Ascent and To the Pastor</i>. The author was a monk of the Monastery of St Catherine on Mount Sinai in the 6th-7th centuries, who became a hermit and then served as abbot in his later years. His traditional name, meaning John "of the Ladder", is confected from the title of his principal work. The <i>Ladder</i> is a guide to the ascetic life, organised in thirty chapters presented metaphorically as steps on a ladder and each concerning particular virtues to be developed or vices to be overcome. It became one of the most influential works of spiritual guidance in Orthodox Christianity. The shorter work that follows it contains further advice, perhaps produced as a supplement to the <i>Ladder</i>. The texts are accompanied by marginal scholia, and followed by further scholia presented as continuous text, which are drawn from the 7th-century Life of the Saint by one Daniel, a monk of the monastery of Rhaithu on the Sinai Peninsula.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript was written on parchment of noticeably poor quality, containing many holes created by stretching in the process of making the parchment, many of which infringe on the written area. In mainstream Byzantine book production at this date such leaves would usually have been rejected, which may indicate that the manuscript was created in a peripheral area of the Greek-speaking world. The script, however, is elegant and ornate.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The early quires of the manuscript have been lost. A sequence of quire signatures probably dating to its original production begins on the second surviving quire with the number 12, indicating that there were originally a further ten quires. This corresponds well with the proportion of the <i>Ladder</i> which is missing. A second sequence of signatures survives from a subsequent rebinding, beginning on the second quire with the number 8. This indicates that at the time of this rebinding only six quires had been lost, and hence that the mutilation of the manuscript did not occur all at once.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The foliation of the manuscript follows former Cambridge University Library practice of marking folio numbers which were believed to represent the original form of the manuscript, omitting numbers corresponding to missing folios. The calculation of this sequence erroneously took the later signature sequence as its basis, conjecturing the loss of only six quires in total rather than ten. The manuscript's current classmark appears not only on the first surviving folio (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(11);return false;'>f. 50r</a>), but also on the first folio of the second quire (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(23);return false;'>f. 57r</a>). This suggests that the mark was added before the book's most recent rebinding and at that time this was its first folio, implying that the current first quire was previously detached or bound out of order.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript retains an early endleaf, a reused folio from a Greek Gospel book, probably copied in the 11th century.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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