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MS 5: Biblia sacra [Bible. Latin. Vulgate], 13th century

Identifier: MS 5
ff. 3v-4r
ff. 3v-4r

Scope and Contents

This manuscript contains the text of the Vulgate for the Old Testament and part of the Gospel of Saint Matthew (from the beginning to 18:34). It omits the Psalms, but it includes First Esdras, a different version of the canonical Book of Ezra, which was ultimately rejected by the Western Church since it is not present in the Hebrew Bible; it still survives in several copies of the Vulgate.

The order of the books is the usual one, except that Lamentations follows Baruch instead of preceding it.

F. 2 and f. 3 have been swapped.

The Book of Job is precedend by an argumentum, a short introductory paragraph that contextualise the content of the book itself (f. 202r). This text is taken from the Glossa Ordinaria, an extensive commentary on the Scriptures which was extremely popular in the Middle Ages (generally attributed to Walafrid Strabo, abbot of Reichenau, although scholars now believe that it was compiled by the twelfth century theologian Anselm of Laon).

A lacuna (i.e. omission) of the scribe in the Book of Ezekiel (42:2 to 45:14) has been filled thanks to the later addition of two folios (f. 308 and f. 309).

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 (f. 334r) 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 dominorum domino perpetuam optae salutem. The second prologue (starts on f. 324r) is a letter to a certain Geroldus, arhcdeacon of the royal palace and begins with the words: Reverendissimo et omni caritatis officio dignissimo gelaldo [sic] sacri palatii archidiacono, rabanus vilis servorum dei servus in christo salutem.

Prologue of Jerome 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 epistola sancti ieronimi presbiteri ad paulinum de omnibus divine historie libris and begins with Frater ambrosius tua mihi minuscola perferens.

Prologue of Jerome to the Pentateuch (Letter to Desiderius): starts on f. 2v. It is introduced by the rubricated words Incipit prologus sancti ieronimi presbiteri in pentateucum and begins with the words Desiderii mei desiderata accepi epistulas. Pentateuch is the name which collectively identifies to the first five books of the Bible.

Pentateuch: starts on f. 4r. It is composed of: Genesis (starts on f. 4r), Exodus (starts on f. 22v), Leviticus (starts on f. 38r), Numbers (starts on f. 48v), Deuteronomy (starts on f. 63v).

Historical Books: start on f. 76r. They are composed of: Tituli Libri Josue ('Headings to the Book of Joshua', in fact a short summary; start on f. 76r), Joshua (starts on f. 77v), Judges (starts on f. 87r), Ruth (starts on f. 98r), First Kings (starts on f. 100r and corresponds to First Samuel), Second Kings (starts on f. 112v and corresponds to Second Samuel), Third Kings (starts on f. 123v and corresponds to First Kings), Fourth Kings (starts on f. 136r and corresponds to Second Kings), Prologue to First Chronicles (starts on f. 147v), First Chronicles (starts on f. 148r), Second Chronicles (starts on f. 159r), Prologue to Ezra (starts on f. 172v), Ezra (starts on f. 173r), Nehemiah (starts on f. 177r), First Esdras (starts on f. 182r), Prologue to Tobit (on f. 188r), Tobit (starts on f. 188r), Prologue to Judith (starts on f. 191v), Judith (starts on f. 192r), Prologue to Esther (starts on f. 197r), Esther (starts on f. 197r).

Wisdom Books: start on f. 202r. They are composed of: Prologue to Job (starts on f. 202r; there are two prologues), Job (starts on f. 212rv), Prologue to Proverbs (starts on f. 213r; there are three prologues), Proverbs (starts on f. 212v), Ecclesiastes (starts on f. 221r), Song of Songs (starts on f. 223v), Wisdom (starts on f. 225r), Prologue to Ecclesiasticus (starts on f. 231r), Ecclesiasticus (starts on f. 231v).

Prophets: start on f. 248r. They are composed of: Prologue to Isaiah (on f. 248r), Isaiah (starts on f. 248r), Prologue to Jeremiah (on f. 266v), Jeremiah (starts on f. 266v), Baruch (starts on f. 287v), Lamentations (starts on f. 290r), Prayer of Jeremiah (starts on f. 291r), Ezekiel (starts on f. 292r), Daniel (starts on f. 311r).

Twelve Minor Prophets: start on f. 318v.They are composed of: Prologue to the Twelve Prophets (on f. 318v), Prologue to Hosea (on f. 318v), Hosea (starts on f. 318v), Prologue to Joel (on f. 321v), Joel (starts on f. 321v), Prologue to Amos (on f. 322v), Amos (starts on f. 322v), Prologue to Obadiah (on f. 324v), Obadiah (starts on f. 324v), Prologue to Jonah (starts on f. 324v), Jonah (starts on f. 325r), (Prologue to Micah (on f. 325v), (Micah (starts on f. 325v), Prologue to Nahum (on f. 327r), Nahum (starts on f. 327r), Prologue to Habakkuk (on f. 328r), Habakkuk (starts on f. 328r), Prologue to Zephaniah (on f. 328v), Zephaniah (starts on f. 328v), Prologue to Haggai (on f. 329r), Haggai (starts on f. 329r), Prologue to Zachariah (on f. 330r), Zachariah (starts on f. 330r), Prologue to Malachi (on f. 333r), Malachi (starts on f. 333r).

Maccabees: starts on f. 334r. It is composed of Prologue to Maccabees (starts on f. 334r; there are three prologues), First Maccabees (starts on f. 334v), Second Maccabees (starts on f. 347r).

Gospels: start on f. 356r. The manuscript only contains: Prologue to the Gospels (starts on f. 356r; there are two prologues, the first of which is the letter of Jerome to pope Damasus), Prologue to the Gospel of Matthew (on f. 357v), Gospel of Matthew (starts on f. 357v; the text is incomplete and ends at 18:34).


Script fairly good; more than one hand can be identified, and the ink varies in colour. There are marginal notes in various hands.


The usual red and blue filigree initials to chapters and decorative book initials are found, along with a few historiated initials.

  1. Prologue (f. 1r) – Saint Jerome writing at desk, head of Deity above.
  2. Genesis (f. 4r) – In the upper part of the decorative initial, Christ seated in glory, orb in left hand, an angel on either side.
  3. Daniel (f. 311r) – Daniel standing with his right hand held towards the ground and his left hand pointing to the sky.
  4. Hosea (f. 318v) – Two standing figures. Hosea (?) extending his arm towards Gomer (?), whose face is not visible anymore.
  5. Amos (f. 322v) – Amos standing with his left hand pointing to the sky and holding a crook in his right hand.
  6. Nahum (f. 327r) – Nahum standing with his hands raised.
  7. Habakkuk (f. 328r) – Habakkuk standing with his left hand held towards the ground and his right hand pointing to the sky.
  8. Matthew (f. 357v) – Seated apostle.


  • Creation: 13th 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

Probably one of the many small Parisian Bibles of the period. The first mark of ownership is the record of the gift of the book to the library by Humphrey Wanley, sub-librarian at the Bodleian, 11 December 1696.

Previous reference


Physical Facet

Material: Vellum

Binding: Modern. Inscription: Test. Vet. Ex dono Humph. Wanley 1696 ('Old Testament, donated by Humphrey Wanley, 1696').

Collation: a20, b20, c22, d14, e20-h20, i22-l22, m20-p20, q24, r16, s22 = 364.


15.49 cm x 10.80 cm


Secundo folio: cum exordio (ff. 2 and 3 have been misplaced).

Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 364, double columns, 48 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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