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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Bible in Latin

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'> This manuscript is a composite volume and comprises a complete copy of the Bible in Latin made in England in the first half of the 13th century accompanied by four later quires of exegetical material that helped readers to understand the text of the Bible. These quires include Stephen Langton's <i>Interpretationes nominum hebraicorum</i> ('Interpretations of Hebrew names') and Peter of Poitiers' <i>Compendium historiae in genealogia Christi</i> ('Compilation of history in the genealogy of Christ'). They were probably copied in the late 14th or early 15th centuries in England and were presumably incorporated into the volume soon after their creation.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'> MS Dd.8.12 is one of the last examples of the 'Giant Bibles' produced in the Romanesque decorative style in England in the Middle Ages. The latter half of the 12th century was the high-point of Giant Bible production in England, and the surviving volumes are characterised by their generous dimensions, their preference for the pandect format (i.e., the whole text of the Bible in a single volume), and their exquisite decorative schemes, which made extensive use of opaque polychrome illustration, historiated initials with the figures and scenes typically enclosed in rounded frames, and frequent use of gold as a ground and as a decorative embellishment. Famous giant bibles include: <ul><li>The 'Bury Bible' (<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 2 (now bound in 3 parts)</a>)</li><li>The 'Dover Bible' (<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 3</a>)</li><li>The 'Lambeth Bible' (London, Lambeth Palace Library, MS 3)</li><li>The 'Winchester Bible' (Winchester, Cathedral Library, MS 17 and <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>New York, Morgan Library, MS M.619</a>)</li></ul> By the early 13th century, the highest grade of bible was still exquisitely decorated, but the fashionable format for bibles increasingly tended towards more compact volumes that prioritised comfortable consultation and transport over monumental effect. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This volume has one significant illuminated initial on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(25);return false;'>12r</a>, a historiated 'I' at the start of the Old Testament, the body of the letter filled with scenes illustrating the stages of the creation of the world as described in Genesis. Nigel Morgan noticed similiarities between the initial in MS Dd.8.12 and the programme of decoration in the Ashmole Bestiary (<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Oxford, Bodleain Library, MS Ashmole 1511</a>), and placed the production of MS Dd.8.12 among a group of scribes and artists active in either the north Midlands or the north of England in the first third of the 13th century (see N. Morgan, <i>Early Gothic Manuscripts (1) 1190-1250</i>).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Before becoming part of the UL collection in 1664, the manuscript belonged to Richard Holdsworth, who was the Dean of Worcester Cathedral at the time of his death in 1649. Holdsworth was a bibliophile, and by 1649 he had a personal collection of c. 10,000 manuscripts and printed books. After Holdsworth's death there was a great deal of legal disagreement as to the intended beneficiaries of the collection, but eventually, in 1664, probate was settled so that the majority of the collection passed to Cambridge University Library.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Sarah Gilbert<br /> Project Cataloguer, Curious Cures in Cambridge Libraries<br /> Cambridge University Library</p>

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