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MS 71: Commentaries on the Bible by Johannes de Indagine, 1460s

Identifier: MS 71


A 15th century autograph manuscript (the author of the work is also the scribe of the manuscript) from the Carthusian Charterhouse at Erfurt. The author and scribe is Johannes de Indagine, who was a Carthusian monk and prior connected to Erfurt Charterhouse and other Carthusian houses in Germany in the fifteenth century. The manuscript includes a collection of commentaries on parts of the bible, including Paul's letters, the Song of Songs, and other parts of the old and new testaments. Though the whole manuscript is by the same hand, that of the author Johannes de Indagine, some of the items seem to have been written at different times between 1460 and 1467. On f.47 of this manuscript Johannes de Indagine says that he gave other collections of his treatises to Carthusian Charterhouses at Frankfurt, Stettin, and and additional manuscripts to Erfurt. The commentaries within this manuscript are called 'anagogic' or 'quadruplex', which refers to the method of scriptural interpretation used. There were four methods: literal/historical, tropological, allegorical, and anagogical. Most of the commentaries in this manuscript are called 'quadruplex', meaning that they employ all four methods of interpretation. Included near the end of the mansucript is a treatise titled, "Tractatus de Modo Studendi", which according to Stegmüller (see bibliography) is an anonymous text, but is copied by Johannes de Indagine. The colophon on f.340, at the end of this treatise, puts the date in 1460, but it is curious that the treatise at the end of the manuscript would have an earlier date than that at the beginning (The commentary on the Song of Songs that ends on f.47, where the colophon there dates it to 1467).
Contenta: starts on f.1 recto. The original contents written by Johannes de Indagine. He lists eight works: The commentary on the Song of Songs, Paul's letter to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians (first and second), and the commentary on the old and new testaments.
Quaestiones super epistolam ad Gallatas: on f.1 verso - f. 2 verso and f.47 verso. ("Questions about Paul's Letter to the Galatians").
Anagogica expositio super Cantica Canticorum: on f.3 recto - f.47 recto. ("Anagogic exposition on the Song of Songs"). It begins, "Anagogica exposition super Cantica Canticorum...In nomine J. C. Incipit [...] contemplacionis super cantica canticorum..." and ends, "desiderium nostrum benedictum in sec." In the colophon on f.47 recto Johannes de Indagine clarifies that this is a completely anagogical interpretation of the Song of Songs ("Explicit octava expositio super cantica canticorum et est tota anagogica").
Quaestiones super epistolam ad Ephesios: on f.48 recto - 49 recto. ("Questions about Paul's Letter to the Ephesians").
Quaestiones super epistolam ad Philippenses: on f.49 recto - 49 verso. ("Questions about Paul's Letter to the Philippians").
Questiones super epistolam ad Colosenses: on f.49 verso - f.50 verso. ("Questions about Paul's Letter to the Colossians").
Expositio quadruplex super epistolam ad Gallathas: f.51 recto - f.124 verso. ("Four-fold exposition on Paul's Letter to the Galatians"). It starts, "Expositio quadruplex super epistolam ad Gallathas...In nomine D.N.J.C. incipit prologus..." and ends "Explicit per manum Jo. Indaginis seu Haghen Carthusiensis".
Expositio quadruplex super epistolam ad Ephesios: f.125 recto - f.183 recto. ("Four-fold exposition on Paul's Letter to the Ephesians"). It starts, "In nomine D.N.J.C. incipit expositio quadruplex super epistolam ad Ephesios..." and eads, "manet in sec. sec. in sanctis felicier. Amen".
Expositio quadruplex super epistolam ad Philippenses: f.183 recto - f.218 recto. ("Four-fold exposition on Paul's Letter to the Philippians"). It begins, "Expositio quadruplex super epistolam Philippenses..." and ends, "qui est benedictus in sec.sec.".
Expositio quadruplex super epistolam Colosenses: f.218 verso - f.252 verso. ("Four-fold exposition on Paul's Letter to the Colossians"). It starts, "Expositio quadruplex super epistolam Colosenses..." and ends" in sec. sec. benedictus feliciter. Amen".
Expositio quadruplex super epistolam I ad Thessalonicenses: f.252 verso - f.285 recto. ("Four-fold exposition on Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians"). It starts, "Expositio quadruplex super epistolam ad Thessalonicenses" and ends, "et pacem cum omnibus, quantum in se est, habeat, atque ad osculum eiusdem Christi in gloria per temporale osculum transeat feliciter. Amen".
Expositio quadruplex super epistolam II ad Thessalonicenses: f. 286 verso - f.308 verso. ("Four-fold exposition on Paul's Second Letter to the Thessalonians"). It ends, "ad quem perducat nos Xpe Jhesu feliciter. Amen. Explicit quadruplex expositio ad thess. et pertinet ad Carthusiam in Erffordia".
Declaratio quadruplicis expositionis super tota biblia veteri et novi testamenti: f.309 recto - f.316 verso. ("Declaration of the four-fold exposition on the whole old Bible and New Testament"). It ends, "laborem perducamus. Amen".
Tractatus de Modo Studendi: f.317 recto - f.340 verso. ("Treatise on the way of Learning"). It begins, "Jhesu Nazarene rex judeorum miserere mei doce me, adjuva me et salva me, Assiste nunc et in omni opere. Amen. Incipit in nomine ejusdem Domini Jhesu tractatum de studio parvulorum..." and ends, "qui cum patre et spiritu sancto regnat in sec. Amen. Explicit tractatus de modo studendi in libro vite qui est Jhesu Christe dominus noster benedictus in sec. Anno 1460 in [...]". This treatise is written in the same hand as the rest of the manuscript, but judging by the ink it was at a different time. The colophon at the bottom of f. 340 verso gives the date 1450. Friedrich Stegmüller (see bibliography) believes that the treatise was by an anonymous author, not by Johannes de Indagine.
Quaestiones super epistolam primam ad Thessalonicenses: on f.341 recto - f.342 recto. ("Questions about Paul's first Letter to the Thessalonians").
Quaestiones super epistolam secundam ad Thessalonicenses: on f.342 recto - f.342 verso. ("Questions about Paul's second Letter to the Thessalonians").
Writing This is an autograph manuscript, written entirely by Johannes de Indagine himself in a minute hand, very difficult to read, but familiar in the other Erfurt books. There are roughly executed red capitals and quotations, and titles are often underlined in red. The writing of the "Quaestiones" (f.1 verso - f.3 verso, f.47 verso - f.50 verso, f.341 recto - f.342 verso) is much smaller and crowded on the pages. The placement of the 'Questiones' also does not correpond clearly to the locations within the manuscript of the commentaries they refer to, and they are also not included in the original contents list. This may indicate that Johannes de Indagine added them in later, using black pages throughout the manuscript.


  • 1460s


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

There is abundant evidence in colophons and in inscriptions that this belonged to the Carthusians of Erfurt, and that it was written by the hand of Johannes de Indagine, the author of the treatises, in the 1460s. On f. 1 recto: Hic liber est ordinis Carth. et primo pertinet ad domum ejusdem ordinis quae est Erffordia ("This books is of the Order of the Carthusians and belongs to the house of that order which is in Erfurt"). On f. 125 recto, Carthusiensium prope Erffordiam ("Carthusians at Erfurt"). On f.308 verso, Pertinet ad Carthus. in Erffordia. On the end board, indicated with a manicule, Liber Carthusiensium prope Erffordiam ("The Book of the Carthusians at Erfurt").
Above the original contents on f.1 is written, scriptus per fratrem Jo. Indaginis Carth.. The colophon on f . 124 verso states that it was written by Johannes de Indagine: per manum Jo. Indaginis. A comparison between this and the other Erfurt books reveals that No. 109 is partly written by him, also that No. 153 has his signature and some notes by him, and that No. 147 has a Tabula and notes in his hand.
In the colophon on f. 47 Johannes de Indagine gives information as to the homes of certain other of his treatises. He says that this manuscript is his eighth commentary, which he placed at Erfurt in 1467. He wrote four other commentaries on the Song of Songs: the first was with a literal interpretation, the second moral, third allegorical, and fourth anagogical. These four, plus a treatise on the Virgin Mary (what he calls his fifth commentary), he gave to Erfurt Charterhouse in 1470. The sixth commentary was also on the Virgin Mary and this he gave to the Carthusians of Frankfurt in 1462. The seventh likewise was on the Virgin Mary and this he gave to the Carthusians in Stettin in 1464, at the request of the Carthusians at Rostock. The Latin colophon explaining this on f.47 recto reads, "Explicit octava expositio super cantica canticorum et est tota anagogica; primum posui expositionem litteralem, secundum moralem, 3rd allegorican, 4th anagogigan in Carthusia prope Erffordian circa annum dei 1470, et ibidem eodem ipse posui quintam de beata Virgine Maria, sextam iterum de beata Virgine posui in frankenfordiam anno 1462, septimam itaque sed aliter de b. Virgine in Stettin anno 1464 ad petitionem Carthusiensium prope Rostock, octavam posui hic juxta Erffordiam anno 1467". A 17th century note inserted here says that the sixth and seventh have perished with the monasteries in Frankfurt and Stettin. The colophon on f. 340, after the "Tractatus de Modo Studendi", has the date 1460.
The book seems to have been in Germany untill the early 19th century. It has a label on the back with the number 676.

Custodial History

Title given to the manuscript in Catherine Borland’s catalogue: Johannis de Indagine Expositiones Super Cantica, Epistolas Pauli et Tota Biblia


Stegmüller, F. 1977. Repertorium Biblicum Medii Aevi, vol. 9. (Available at Edinburgh University Library: Ref. .22016 Ste.)

Physical Facet

Material: Paper.

Binding: The original binding is preserved. Oak boards covered plain leather, 1 brass clasp (broken). A 14th century treatise in Latin in double columns has been used to line in the boards, and it seems that part of the same manuscript is used to guard the strings.

Collation: a2, b12-k12, l14, m12-B12, C4, D8, E12, F12, G2=342.


21.91 cm x 15.40 cm


Secundo folio: quod est
Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 342, irregular number of lines to a page.

Repository Details

Part of the Edinburgh University Library Special Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
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