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MS 4: Biblia sacra [Bible. Latin. Vulgate], 13th century

Identifier: MS 4
Biblia Sacra (MS 4)
Biblia Sacra (MS 4)

Scope and Contents

The manuscript contains the text of the Vulgate, but incomplete. It omits: the prologue to the Pentateuch, part of the first chapter of Genesis, sections of Isaiah (ch. 61:11-66:9), First Maccabees (ch. 14:48-16), Second Maccabees (1:1-14), and of Revelation (2:24 to the end of the book). The Book of Ezra is divided into seven chapters rather than ten.
Some of the pages have been damaged and consequently the manuscript does not contain part of Psalms (from 36:27 to 43:14; a whole page has been torn before the foliation), of Ecclesiasticus (f. 210 has been torn in half and parts of chapter 19, 29 and 22 are missing), of the Second Letter of Peter (3:10-18) and of the First Letter of John (2:3-11; f. 386 is damaged in the margin and part of the text has been lost).
The first two prologues to Maccabees included in the manuscript are by the Medieval theologian Rabanus Maurus (c. 780-856), Benedectine monk and disciple of Alcuinus. He was in charge of the abbey school of Fulda between 803 and 814, abbot of the same monastery from 822 to 842, and finally archbishop of Mainz from 847. The first prologue is a letter to Louis the Pious, king of France and begins with the words Domino excellentissimo et in cultu Christiane religionis strenuissimo, Ludovico regi, Rabanus vilissimus servorum dei in domino dominorum perpetuam optam (deleted) salutem. The second prologue is a letter to a certain Geroldus, arhcdeacon of the royal palace and begins with the words: Reverendissimo et omni caritatis officio dignissimo geroldo sacri palatii archidiacono, rabanus vilis dei servus servorum in christo salutem. At the end of Second Maccabees (f. 312r) the scribe has added the prologue by Rabanus Maurus to his commentary on the same book; it is written in a lighter ink and it begins with the words Secundus liber historie machabeorum licet brevior sit eiusdem priore operis libro. The verso of the same folio has been left blank.
Prologue to the Bible (Letter to Paulinus):: starts on f. 1r; this is the letter written by Jerome to Paulinus, bishop of Nola, placed at the beginning of the Vulgate as general preface.. It is introduced by the rubricated words Incipit epistula sancti ieronimi presbiteri ad paulinum de omnibus divine historie libris and begins with Frater ambrosius tua mihi minuscola perferens. The letter is incomplete and ends with the words phylemonem pro fugitivo famulo depre[...].
Pentateuch: starts on f. 3r. It is composed of: Genesis (starts on f. 3r with the words et preessent diei ac nocti et dividerent lucem ac tenebras, Gen. 1:18), Exodus (starts on f. 18r), Leviticus (starts on f. 31r), Numbers (starts on f. 40r), Deuteronomy (starts on f. 53r).
Historical Books:: start on f. 64v. They are composed of: Prologue to Joshua (starts on f. 64v), Joshua (starts on f. 65r), Judges (starts on f. 73r), Ruth (starts on f. 81v), Prologue to Kings (starts on f. 82v), First Kings (starts on f. 83v and corresponds to First Samuel), Second Kings (starts on f. 94v and corresponds to Second Samuel), Third Kings (starts on f. 103v and corresponds to First Kings), Fourth Kings (starts on f. 114r and corresponds to Second Kings), Prologue to First Chronicles (starts on f. 122r),. First Chronicles (starts on f. 122v), Prologue to Second Chronicles (starts on f. 131r), Second Chronicles (starts on f. 131v), Prologue to Ezra (starts on f. 142r), Ezra (starts on f. 142v), Nehemiah (starts on f. 145v), First Esdras (starts on f. 150r), Prologue to Tobit (on f. 151r), Tobit (starts on f. 151r), Prologue to Judith (on f. 154r), Judith (starts on f. 154r), Prologue to Esther (on f. 158v), Esther (starts on f. 158v).
Wisdom Books:: start on f. 162v. They are composed of: Prologue to Job (starts on f.162v), Job (starts on f. 163r), Psalms (starts on f. 171r; each psalm has a rubricated title), Prologue to Proverbs (on f. 190r), Proverbs (starts on f. 190r), Prologue to Ecclesiastes (on f. 197r), Ecclesiastes (starts on f. 197r), Song of Songs (starts on f. 199r), Prologue to Wisdom (on f. 200r), Wisdom (starts on f. 200r), Prologue to Ecclesiasticus (starts on f. 205r), Ecclesiasticus (starts on f. 205v).
Prophets: start on f. 218v. They are composed of: Prologue to Isaiah (starts on f. 218v), Isaiah (starts on f. 219r), Prologue to Jeremiah (on f. 233r), Jeremiah (starts on f. 233r), Lamentations (starts on f. 257r), Prologue to Baruch (on f. 252v), Baruch (starts on f. 252v), Letter of Jeremiah (starts on f. 234r), Prologue to Ezekiel (on f. 255r), Ezekiel (starts on f. 255r), Prologue to Daniel (starts on f. 271r), Daniel (starts on f. 271v).
Twelve Minor Prophets: start on f. 278r. They are composed of: Prologue to the Twelve Prophets (starts on f. 278r), Prologue to Hosea (on f. 278v), Hosea (starts on f. 278v), Prologue to Joel (on f. 281r; there are two prologues), Joel (starts on f. 281r), Prologue to Amos (on f. 282r; there are three prologues), Amos (starts on f. 282r),Prologue to Obadiah (on f. 284r), Obadiah (starts on f. 284r), Prologue to Jonah (on f. 284v; there are two prologues), Jonah (starts on f. 284v), (Prologue to Micah (on f. 285v), (Micah (starts on f. 285v), Prologue to Nahum (on f. 287r), Nahum (starts on f. 287r), Prologue to Habakkuk (starts on f. 287v), (Habakkuk (starts on f. 288r), Prologue to Zephaniah (starts on f. 288v), Zephaniah (starts on f. 289r), Prologue to Haggai (starts on f. 289v), Haggai (starts on f. 290r), Prologue to Zachariah (on f. 290v), Zachariah (on f. 290v), Prologue to Malachi (starts on f. 293r), Malachi (starts on f. 293v).
Maccabees:: starts on f. 294r. It is composed of Prologue to Maccabees (starts on f. 294r; there are three prologues), First Maccabees (starts on f. 294v), Second Maccabees (starts on f. 305r).
Gospels: start on f. 313r. They are composed of: Prologue to the Gospel of Matthew (on f. 313; there are two prologues), Gospel of Matthew (starts on f. 313r), Prologue to the Gospel of Mark (starts on f. 323r), Gospel of Mark (starts on f. 323v), Prologue to the Gospel of Luke (on f. 330r; the beginning of the Gospel itself has been placed as first prologue), Gospel of Luke (starts on f. 330r), Prologue to the Gospel of John (on f. 341r), Gospel of John (starts on f. 341r).
Pauline Epistles: start on f. 349v; each letter is preceded by its argumentum, a short text which records Paul's reason for writing the letter, the place and circumstances in which he wrote, and the people he entrusted the letter to. The letters are: Letter to the Romans (starts on f. 349v), First Letter to the Corinthians (starts on f. 353v), Second Letter to the Corinthians (starts on f. 357v), Letter to the Galatians (starts on f. 360r), Letter to the Ephesians (starts on f. 361v), Letter to the Philippians (starts on f. 363r), Letter to the Colossians (starts on f. 363v), First Letter to the Thessalonians (starts on f. 364v), Second Letter to the Thessalonians (starts on f. 365v), First Letter to Timothy (starts on f. 366r), Second Letter to Timothy (starts on f. 367r), Letter to Titus (starts on f. 368r), Letter to Philemon (on f. 368v), Letter to the Hebrews (starts on f. 368v).
Acts of the Apostles: starts on f. 371v and is preceded by a short prologue.
Catholic Epistles:: start on f. 383r. They are composed of: Letter of James (starts on f. 383r and is preceded by a prologue), First Letter of Peter (starts on f. 384v), Second Letter of Peter (starts on f. 385v), First Letter of John (starts on f. 386r), Second Letter of John (starts on f. 387r), Third Letter of John (on f. 387v) Letter of Jude (starts on f. 387v).
Book of Revelation (only 1-2:23): starts on f. 388r and is preceded by a prologue.
Writing The script is fair.
Illumination The majority of initials are purely decorative, blue and lake with white and scarlet ornament. There a few historiated initials.:
  1. Prologue (f. 1r) – Saint Jerome writing at desk.
  2. Judith (f. 154r) – Judith beheading Holofernes.
  3. Job (f. 163r) – Job, his wife, and one friend.
  4. Psalms (f. 171r) – David, crowned, playing harp.
  5. Proverbs (f. 190r) – Solomon teaching Rehoboam.
  6. Isaiah (f. 219r) – Isaiah kneeling in centre clad in white, two men saw his head with cross-cut saw.
  7. Jeremiah (f. 233r) – Two Jews stone Jeremiah kneeling.
  8. Ezekiel (f. 255r) – His vision. Ezekiel in bed, the four evangelistic emblems above him.


  • 13th century


Language of Materials


Physical Description

The book is a good deal stained and its margins badly cropped.

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

One of the small 13th century Paris Bibles. There are no early marks of ownership. The manuscript was presented to the Library by Reverend John Robertson, Minister of Old Greyfriars, in 1680.

Previous reference


Physical Description

The book is a good deal stained and its margins badly cropped.

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum

Binding: Modern

Collation: a18 (wants 3, 9, and 10), b20—e20, f19 (wants 20), g20-i20, k19 (wants 20), l20, m18, n19 (wants 20), 020-q20, r21 (wants 14), s20, t20, v16 = 388.


13.97 cm x 10.80 cm


Secundo folio: promittunt
Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 388, double columns, 50 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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Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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