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MS 67: Robert Grosseteste's Latin translation of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, 15th century

Identifier: MS 67
  • Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, 15th century' />

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Manuscript of Robert Grosseteste's Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs produced in Italy in the 15th century. Robert Grosseteste was bishop of Lincoln 1235-1253. He is better known for his scientific treatises in Latin and French. The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs is a translation into Latin from the original apocryphal Greek text. According to Matthew Paris (Hist. Maj.,sub. anno 1242, R.S.V, 284ff), John of Basingstoke, Archdeacon of Leicester, told Grosseteste about the apocryphal work, and Grosseteste had a copy of it brought to him from Greece and in 1242 translated it into Latin. Grosseteste and other scholars at the time believed that the Greek version was a translation of original Hebrew, which recorded the genuine appeals that the twelve sons of Jacob made on their deathbeds. Grosseteste thought that this work would be a useful tool in convincing Jewish people to convert to Christianity, as he points to various passages that he believes prophesy the coming of Christ. Grosseteste's translation was very popular and was used for translations into many vernacular languages.
Writing The script is Italian.


  • 15th 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

The only mark of ownership is the book-plate of Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843). The manuscript is described in his catalogue (Bibliotheca Sussexiana [1827], vol.i, pt.i, p.clxii, No.108.

Previous title

Title given to the manuscript in Catherine Borland’s catalogue: Testamenta XII Patriarcharum

Previous reference

Laing 31.

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum.

Binding: Modern. The title, 'Rob. Grosthede Testamentum XII Patriarcharum MS. Saec. XV.' is stamped in gold on the outer cover spine.

Collation: a8, b8, c1=17.


24.77 cm x 17.78 cm


Secundo folio: ex ore ipsius
Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 17, double columns, 36 lines to a page.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
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