Contents: Introduction* Noteworthy Commentaries* Noteworthy Commentary Manuscripts
Most manuscripts of the New Testament are straight-text manuscripts.The price of books being what it was, anything unnecessary was carefullyeliminated, since additional text required more writing material and morescribal time.
But while manuscripts with commentaries are not common, they are notrare, either. Many commentaries, such as those of Oecumenius (and hisimitator the pseudo-Oecumenius) andAndreas of Cæsarea, were intimately linked to the Bible text.Anyone who wanted to read those commentaries would need the textat hand. Why not combine them in a single volume?
The result is that some 20% of all New Testament manuscripts --nearly 600 all told -- include some sort of regular commentary. Somecontain commentaries from only one author (e.g. the dozens ofmanuscripts of the Apocalypse which also contain Andreas's commentary.)Others contain a catena, or chain commentary (from theLatin word for "chain, fetter"). Catena manuscriptscontain comments from several sources linked into the text;hence the title. In addition, a number of manuscripts are fittedwith commentaries which are not so closely associated with the text.An example is 1739,which has hundreds of comments from various sources in the margin.
Von Soden was of the opinion that commentary manuscripts formed aspecial class of manuscripts, and classified commentary manuscriptssolely on the basis of the commentary, without examining the text.Maurice Robinson, based on his examinationof manuscripts of John in the vicinity of the story of the Adulteress,agrees in part: "The interspersed type ofcommentary in my opinion should never be considered in the same ballparkas a 'continuous-text' MS, simply because it is not such, even if thecomplete biblical text can be extracted therefrom. Such interspersedcommentaries also stem directly from their archetype in almost allcopies, and the only item of text-critical importance is recovery of thearchetype text of that commentator... ([e.g.] Theophylact,Euthymius Zigabenus, or Niketas), and the many MSS of such a commentatorsay nothing much beyond what the patristic archetype was, so thus theyare not really 'NT' MSS even though counted as such in the list.
"Commentary MSS in which the catena or commentary surroundsthe biblical text are a different matter, and these should be counted ascontinuous-text MSS. In fact some of this category were in unfinishedstate as I examined them on microfilm, and it was clear how the processoperated: the biblical text was copied first in a centered portion of thepage; the complete biblical book was finished; and only then was thecatena or commentary added, often from another source MS in which thetext reflected in the commentary often differed from that in the biblicaltext of the new MS...."
Nonetheless, no detailed check has been performed on von Soden'sthesis (Wisse, e.g., did not profile commentary manuscripts).
Although almost any Father could be consulted for a commentarymanuscript, certain editions, such as those of Andreas and Oecumenius,became peculiarly linked with the Bible text. These text-plus-commentarymanuscripts seem to have circulated in their own special editions. This,at least, was the view of Von Soden, who created several special symbolsto for groups of commentary manuscripts. These include (some minorcommentaries are omitted):
Von Soden's detailed summary of commentary manuscripts is,of course, badly out of date. So at present we can only list which manuscripts have commentaries(Von Soden's description of the commentary, where known, follows themanuscript name). Uncials with commentary include:
Minuscules with commentary are too numerous to list, but in the Alands' listof manuscripts of Category III orhigher, the following are commentary manuscripts:
A single column of a Latin commentary manuscript, Scheyen MS. 258,folio 128r, second column, described as Peter Lombard's Great Gloss on the Psalms. TheBiblical text is in red, the commentary in black. Observe the marginal notation showing thesource of the commentary -- in this case, mostly Cassiodorus, with a few from Augustine.