Manuscript leaf, Parisian ”Pocket Bible”, c.1250 with a scribal correction.

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The Book of Jeremiah.

“afflict not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, nor oppress them unjustly”

Recto: Latin text written in black ink on fine vellum in an extremely precise gothic minuscule script in two columns of 47 lines. Ruled in red, versal initials touched in red. Heading ‘RE’ (half of the abbreviated running title of ‘IERE’ (IEREMIAS), and chapter numbers in red and blue. One five-line initial ‘H’ and one two-line initial ‘V’ in blue and red with intricate red and blue penwork embellishments extending the full length of the page. Interestingly, in the right margin are words that the scribe originally omitted and has added later.  (see Notes).

Verso:   As Recto with the heading ‘IE’ and one two-line coloured initial ‘V’. The decorative penwork from the initial extends the length of the page, as Recto.

Origin:  Northern France, doubtless Paris.

Date: Mid-13th century, c. 1250.

Content:  The text on Recto beginning Chapter 22 at the red initial ‘H’ reads:

Haec dicit Dominus descende in domum regis Iuda et loqueris ibi verbum hoc et dices audi verbum Domini rex Iuda qui sedes super solium David tu et servi tui et populus tuus qui ingredimini per portas istas.

(Thus saith the Lord: Go down to the house of the king of Juda, and there thou shalt speak this word, And thou shalt say: Hear the word of the Lord, king of Juda, that sittest upon the throne of David: thou and thy servants, and thy people, who enter in by these gates.

Thus saith the Lord: Execute judgment and justice, and deliver him that is oppressed out of the hand of the oppressor: and afflict not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, nor oppress them unjustly: and shed not innocent blood in this place.)

Condition:   This 770 year old leaf is excellent condition.  The script shows no ink loss and the vellum remains clean and unblemished.  Vibrant colours. The bottom margin has been slightly trimmed, perhaps for a later re-binding, but unusually and pleasingly, the top margin with the running title is untrimmed.   Archivally mounted. Unconditionally guaranteed genuine.

Size: Leaf: approx. 165x130 mm.

Notes:   Scribal correction.  Verse 17 of Chapter 21 should read:

Et post haec ait Dominus dabo Sedeciam regem Iuda et servos eius et populum eius et qui derelicti sunt in civitate hac a peste et gladio et fame in manu Nabuchodonosor regis Babylonis et in manu inimicorum eorum et in manu quaerentium animam eorum et percutiet eos in ore gladii et non movebitur neque parcet nec miserebitur.

However the scribe originally omitted the words quaerentium animam eorum et percutiet and returned later to add them in the margin, indicating the point at which they should be inserted  in the text with a small oblique line.

The production of small format bibles flourished in Paris in the 13th century. They were known as “pocket Bibles” because they could be carried in the folds of the habits of itinerant friars. Written on extremely thin parchment in an extraordinarily tiny script, the codices were highly portable.  In order to reduce the thickness of the parchment, these bibles used calf skin produced north of the Alps which was able to be processed on both sides, whilst retaining its white colouring and quality.     It was impossible to detect the hair side from the flesh side on this vellum, making it an ideal parchment for the exceptionally fine writing required on these codices.

The parent book of this leaf was a high quality bible of the Crusades period, used for preaching of the Gospel around the medieval countryside or in the study of theology. It may have been first owned by a Dominican priest from an academic milieu, as wealthy Flemish Dominicans studied at the Parisian college of Saint-Jacques.

St. Jerome’s many biblical, ascetical, monastic, and theological works profoundly influenced the early Middle Ages.The production of Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Bible (405 A.D.) changed the Roman Empire, helped unify medieval Europe, and imbued a biblical knowledge and Christian world view by making the Bible accessible in what was the common (Vulgate) Latin language for the late classical era.

Item No:  MBI054

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