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MS 12: Four Gospels [Bible. Gospels], 11th century

Identifier: MS 12
Excerpt - Folio 19
Excerpt - Folio 19


The manuscript contains the text of the four Gospels according to the Vulgate.

Prologues: start on f. 1v. They consists of three prologues: the first is the letter Saint Jerome wrote to Pope Damasus and which acts as prologue to all four Gospels, starting with the words Novum opus facere me cogis (ff. 1v-4r); the second prologue, taken from Saint Jerome's 'Commentary to the Gospel of Saint Matthew', begins with the words Plures fuisse qui evangelia scripserunt (ff. 4r-6v); the third and last prologue is the Latin translation of the letter wirtten by Eusebius of Caesarea to a certain Carpianus in order to explain the system of the canon he devised for the Gosepels, it begins with Ammonius quidam Alexandrinus magno studio atque industria (ff. 6v-7v).

Verses on the Canons: start on f. 7v. They consist of two sections starting with the following opening words: In primo certe canone quatuor concordant ordinate (13 lines); and Quam in primis speciosa quadriga homo • leo • vitulus • et aquila • septuaginta duo per capitula • de domino colloquuntur paria (32 lines).

Capitula and prologues to each Gospel: start on f. 8v. For each Gospel there is a list of section headings followed by a prologue. Matthew: capitula, ff. 8v-10v; prologue, ff. 10v-11v, beginning with the words Matheus ex iudea qui et levi sicut in ordine primus ponitur). Mark: capitula, ff. 11v-12v; prologue, ff. 13r-13v, beginning with the words Marcus evangelista Dei electus et petri in baptismate filius. Luke: capitula, ff. 13v-15v; prologue, ff. 15v-16v, beginning with the words Est quidem Lucas antiocensis syrus • arte medicus • discipulus apostolorum. John: capitula, ff. 16v-17r; prologue, ff. 17r-18r, beginning with the words Iohannes Evangelista unus ex discipulis domini • qui virgo electus a domino est.

Gospel of Saint Matthew: it is preceded by a full-page illuminated title on f. 18v (see list of illuminations). It is introduced by the illuminated words Initium sancti evangeli secundum matheum. Liber generationis Ihesu Christi at the top of f. 19r. The text starts on f. 19r with the words Filii David • filii Abraham • braham (sic) genuit isaac.

Gospel of Saint Mark: it is preceded by a full-page illuminated title on f. 182v (see list of illuminations). It is introduced by the illuminated words Initium evangeli Ihesu Christi filii Dei at the top of f. 83r. The text starts on f. 83r with the words Sicut scriptum est in ysaia propheta • Ecce mitto angelum meum ante faciem tuam.

Gospel of Saint Luke: it is preceded by a full-page illuminated title on f. 121v (see list of illuminations). It is introduced by the illuminated words Prologus in Lucam. Quoniam quidem multi conati sunt at the top of f. 122r. The text continues with the words ordinare narrationem quae in nobis completae sunt rerum.

Gospel of Saint John: it is preceded by a full-page illuminated title on f. 191v (see list of illuminations). It is introduced by the illuminated words In principio erat verbum at the top of f. 192r. The text continues with the words et verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat verbum. At the end of the text, the passage John 6:56-59 has been copied on f. 238v by another hand.

Table of Gospels for the year: starts on f. 239r. It consists of a list of the readings of the Gospels for each day of the liturgical year.


The script is a fine, clear minuscule. The smaller initials are plain red Roman capitals, the rubrics and the first line of ordinary text of each book being semi-rustic capitals.


Each Gospel has an illuminated title and an illuminated page of text.

  1. S. Matthew (f. 18v) – 'Initium Ewangelii Jhu Xpi sancti filii Dei Vivi secundum Mattheum,' in alternate lines of Roman capitals in silver and gold on green and red grounds. The full-page initial 'I' is of gold and silver branch work edged with red, on a mixed background of red, blue, and green. The beginning of the Gospel is similarly executed, but upon a smaller scale.
  2. Saint Mark (f. 82v) – Very similar
  3. Saint Luke (f. 121v) – The backgrounds here are mainly red and brown, and the initial ' I ' is of silver edged with black surrounded with tracery of raised gold.
  4. Saint John (f. 191v) – Closely resembles the last described, with blue and brown backgrounds.


  • Creation: 11th century

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to all. The manuscripts can be consulted in the Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Main Library.


1 bound MS volume

Custodial History

German origin, from Abbey of Saint Matthias, Trier. The 13th century inscription on f. 1, now very difficult to decipher, appears to read Codex Sancti Eucharii sanctique [Matthiae] Apostoli extra muros [Trevi]renses, quem si quis abstulerit anathema sit in eternum ('Manuscript of Saint Eucharius and Saint Matthias Apostle, anyone who removes it, may he be cursed') . The words in brackets are quite illegible, but were suggested by Dr. James from the context. The Benedictine Abbey of Saint Matthias was founded in the 5th century and restored in 975. From 1015-92 it was known as the monastery of Saint Eucharius, and the inscriptions on its books prior to 1150 read, Codex Sancti Eucharii, while those inscribed between 1150 and 1250 read as above, Codex Sancti Eucharii Sanctique Matthiae Apostoli.

Of the subsequent history of the manuscript prior to its acquisition by David Laing there is little evidence. A 14th century title, together with the press-mark A. 18 and the number 290, are found on f. 1, the two last being probably quite modern. The books belonging to Saint Matthias' seem to have been widely scattered over Europe. One is reported to be at Cheltenham, but the B. M. manuscript (Egerton, 809), supposed to have belonged to this House, is really a book from Saint Maximin.

Previous reference

Laing 5

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum.

Binding: Early, stamped pigskin.

Collation: a8, b9 (+9), c8-o8, p7 (8 cut out), q8-x8, y6, z8-F8, G5 = 251.


19.37 cm x 13.34 cm


Secundo Folio: [clami]tans esse sacrilegum

Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 251, 22 lines to a page.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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