Pembroke College : Peter Lombard, Sententiarum libri IV

Pembroke College

<p style='text-align: justify;'> The <i>Four Books of Sentences</i> of Peter Lombard was the foundational text for the study of theology in the later medieval period. As his toponym suggests, Peter was an Italian by birth, though little is known of his early life. He was probably born in the last years of the 11th century and an annotation in a manuscript made in Florence in the 13th century states that he came from the village of Lemononium, modern-day Lumellogno, a small town on the outskirts of Novara, about forty miles to the west of Milan. He was most likely educated in Lucca: a Master Otto who taught there produced a <i>Summa sententiarum</i>, which was one of the main sources for Peter's own work; and it was Bishop Hubert of that city who recommended him to Bernard of Clairvaux as Peter left for France to continue his studies. After a period at Rheims in the 1130s, Peter went to Paris and became a master at the cathedral school of Notre Dame, where he established his reputation as a theologian. Towards the end of his life, he was consecrated Bishop of Paris, and died the following year in 1160.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>It was during his time at Notre Dame - specifically, in two phases in the mid-1150s - that he composed the <i>Sentences</i>: an attempt to provide a systematic theological investigation through the collection of patristic interpretations (or 'Sententiae') of Scripture. The importance of the <i>Sentences</i> to the study of theology is indicated by the surviving manuscripts, which number in excess of 600 and perhaps as many as 900 (no certain figure has yet been established). The copy shown here was probably made in Paris, in the late twelfth century, but ultimately came into the possession of the Benedictine abbey at Bury St Edmunds. The book may have been there from an early stage in its existence: a list of books at Bury was compiled in the late twelfth century and copied onto the leaves at the back of another Bury book, Pembroke College, MS 47, a glossed copy of Genesis and the Song of Songs from the first half of the 12th century. There is listed 'Sententie magistri Petri', against which a later annotator has added the number 'iii', indicating that the abbey came to own three copies of this work. This manuscript is presumably one of them; Pembroke College, MS 97 may have been one of the others. However, the inclusion of so many additional notes, apparently written by French hands, indicates that the manuscript must have come to Bury indirectly.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>As one would expect for such an important text, copies of the <i>Sentences</i> were often accompanied by a gloss, providing marginal explanations of and commentary upon Peter Lombard's text. The gloss in this manuscript appears to have been copied at or around the same time as the main text - though by a different hand and in a different script - perhaps as part of the main production of the book. There are further additions and annotations, however, some of which must have been added by the Bury monks themselves. One of these was Henry Kirkstede, who entered the monastery as a novice in the early 1330s and from 1338 to 1361 worked as custodian of the abbey's books (among other roles). He died at some point after 1378. Besides adding an ex libris and pressmark ('P. 64') on f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(15);return false;'>1r</a>, as is commonly found in surviving Bury books, Henry also added notes to f. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage();return false;'>217v</a>. The manuscript probably remained at Bury until its dissolution, passing subsequently - like so many others - into the hands of William Smart, who bequeathed it to Pembroke College.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr James Freeman <br />Medieval Manuscripts Specialist <br />Cambridge University Library</p>

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