Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Psalter

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript is a <i>Psalter</i>, probably copied in the second half of the 14th century. The Psalms are followed by the Odes, the sequence of hymns excerpted from various Biblical books, also known as canticles, which in the Orthodox tradition constitute a separate book of the Bible. The first nine of these are the basis for the canons which are a central component of Orthodox hymnography, and this manuscript contains only this basic set. At the end of the manuscript is a series of prayers, copied by a hand of similar date to the rest of the manuscript, but markedly less elegant than the flamboyant, calligraphic script of the main text.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript was evidently either produced in western Europe or brought there soon after its production, as indicated by an annotation left by Matthew Parker (1504-1575), Archbishop of Canterbury 1559-1575 (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(3);return false;'>f. [ii] recto</a>). Parker identified this manuscript, along with a number of other Greek manuscripts in his possession, as the former property of his 7th-century predecessor Theodore of Tarsus. This attribution is particularly absurd in this case, since the manuscript is written on paper. Parker's supposition suggests that it was either already in the archiepiscopal library before his appointment or was acquired by him in Canterbury. The source of his misconception has been conjectured to be the presence of the name Θεόδωρος on the title page of a manuscript of Homer (<a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='https://parker.stanford.edu/parker/catalog/zg752jp4185'>Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 81</a>), which, according to an annotation by Parker, he had acquired from a baker in Canterbury, who claimed it had previously belonged to the dissolved St Augustine's Abbey (James, 'Archbishop Parker's collection', p. 9). This may have encouraged the archbishop to suppose that any Greek manuscript found in Canterbury had been brought there from the eastern Mediterranean by his distinguished predecessor. A piece of parchment bearing a few lines of one of the Psalms in Latin has also been attached to the manuscript, with a note identifying it as the hand of Theodore, again erroneously, as its script dates it to the 13th or 14th century.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>


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