"Prologus"
from the Vulgate Bible

Jennifer Driesslein, class of 2007
Summer Research Program of 2005
under the supervision of Dean William A. Coulter

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Recto         Verso

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Summary:

Page from St. Jerome's Prologues, directly preceding the book of Genesis.

Origin:

English, monastic.

Date:

Circa mid- to late- 14th century.

Language:

Latin.

Script:

Gothic textura quadrata.

Illuminations:

One inhabited initial on each side.  The first side has a small painted basilisk in the shape of an S inside of a gilded P (in the name of St. Paul/Saul).  Also on the first page is a small gilded and painted H (in habes).  The second side has a large D inhabited by a manticore (with a woman's head wearing what appears to be a crown).  The D has a gilded background, flourished with some leaves and vines, and merges with the border beside it.

Borders run down three of the four columns of text; they are blue and pinky-red painted bars with white lead flourshes, as well as vines, leaves, and gilded spiny cusps.  The "Prologus" heading is inked in vermillion read and azurite blue Gothic capitals, as is the final "Ca p prim" (caput primus psalmus), and the VIII marking the eighth part of the prologue.

There is also a small face drawn into the side of the f at the top of the second page.

Provenance:

Unknown.

Format:

A large single sheet, vellum, likely cut from a lectern Bible.

Notes:

This page contains the end of the seventh and the whole of the eighth parts of St. Jerome's eight-part prologue to the Book of Genesis.  The script is a peculiarly high and narrow Gothic textura quadrata, footed with serifs, which is comparable to the scripts of England in the fourteenth century.  The Latin words of St. Jerome have been re-arranged in places to fit the English word order, another clue to the manuscript's origin.  There are many similar and hasty re-orderings of sentences, as well as inconsistent abbreviations, incorrect conjugation and declension endings, and misspellings that indicate that this manuscript was dictated to a slow or inexperienced scribe, who had to cut corners to keep up.  In comparison to the modern Latin Vulgate, nearly one third of the words are changed, misspelled, or missing from this manuscript.

Along with the characteristic grammar and abbreviations, the hand that it is written in is consistent throughout, indicating that a single monk worked on this page.  The inks used appear to be vermillion red, azurite blue, and charcoal black.  The borders and illuminations were painted rather than inked, using pinky-red, orange, and blue, with white lead designs over top.  Some graphite marks remain in the borders and along the bottom edges of the page marking out more vines and flourishes that were never inked.

The manuscript has been edited in the margins, in a similar hand and ink, and curiously notes only minor corrections (such as changing the spelling of epytome to "epitome") and adds a few skipped words.

Considering the number of errors in the text, it is surprising that this page passed an editor's inspection, yet the completed illuminations are proof that it did.  The modern version of this text can be found in the Latin Vulgate; in the Lipscomb Library the call for the Biblia Sacra Vulgatae is 220.47 B58.

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The work on this page was completed
during the Summer Research Program of 2005
by Jennifer Driesslein (07)
with Dean Coulter overseeing the project.

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This site is maintained by
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format of this page last revised April 6, 2012

http://library.randolphcollege.edu/special/vulgate.html

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graphics adapted from a 15th century French book of hours
by Frances Webb

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