Versions of the New Testament

Contents: Introduction *Anglo-Saxon *Arabic *Armenian *Coptic:Sahidic, Bohairic,Other Coptic versions *Ethiopic *Georgian *Gothic *Latin: Old Latin,Vulgate * Old ChurchSlavonic *Syriac: Diatessaron,Old Syriac, Peshitta,Philoxenian, Harklean,Palestinian, "Karkaphensian" *Udi (Alban, Alvan) *Other Early Versions


The New Testament was written in Greek. This was certainly the bestlanguage for it to be written in; it was flexible and widely understood.

But not universally understood. In the west, there were many who spokeonly Latin. In the east, some spoke only the Syriac/Aramaic dialects. InEgypt the native language was Coptic. And beyond the borders of the RomanEmpire there were peoples who spoke even stranger languages -- Armenian,Georgian, Ethiopic, Gothic, Slavonic.

In some areas it was the habit to read the scriptures in Greek whetherpeople understood it or not. But eventually someone had the idea of translatingthe scriptures into local dialects (we now call these translations "versions").This was more of an innovation than we realize today; translations of ancientliterature were rare. The Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible wasone of the very first. Despite the lack of translations in antiquity,it is effectively certain that first Latin versions were in existence by thelate second century, and that by the fourth there were also versions inSyriac and several of the Coptic dialects. Versions in Armenian andGeorgian followed, and eventually many other languages.

The role of the versions in textual criticism has been much debated.Since they are not in the original language, some people discount thembecause there are variants they simply cannot convey. But others note,correctly, that these versions convey texts from a very early date. Inmany instances the text-types they represent survive very poorly or not atall in Greek.

It is true that the versions often have suffered corruption of theirown in the centuries since their translation. But such variants usuallyare of a nature peculiar to the version, and so can be gotten around. Whenproperly used, the versions are one of the best and leading tools of textualcriticism.

This essay does not attempt to fully spell out the history and limitationsof the versions. These points will briefly be touched on, but the emphasisis on the textual nature of the versions. Those who wish to learn moreabout the history of the versions are advised to consult a reference suchas Bruce M. Metzger's The Early Versions of the New Testament: TheirOrigin, Transmission, and Limitations (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1977).

In the list which follows, the versions are listed in alphabetical order.

An additional note: Of all the articles in this Encyclopedia, apart fromthose which touch on science and theology, this hasbeen among the most controversial. I don't mean that people disagree withthe results particularly; that happens everywhere. But this one seems tomake people most upset. Please note that I am not setting out to belittleany particular version, and except in textual matters, I am not expert onthese versions. I will stand by the statements on the textual affinitiesof the more important versions (Latin, Syriac, Coptic; to a lesser extent,the Armenian, Georgian, and Gothic) insofar as they are correctly incorporatedinto the critical apparatus. For the history and such, I am dependentupon others. If you disagree with the information here, I will try toincorporate suggestions, but there is only so much I can do to makecompletely contradictory claims fit together....


A name used for several translations, made independently andof very different types, used in Britain mostlybefore the Norman Conquest and of interest moreto historians than textual scholars. But since theyare important for the understanding of early Englishliterature (they give us, among other things,important vocabulary references), it seems worthwhileto at least mention them here, while understandingthat what limited text-critical value they have ismostly for Vulgate criticism.

The Lindisfarne Gospels (Wordsworth's Y -- Latin vulgate text with interlinearglosses in the Northumbrian dialect (shown in red highlight). The Latinis from the seventh century; the interlinear is from the tenth. The decorated pagecontaining John 1:1 is shown.

Although Roman Britain was Christian, the Anglo-Saxon invasions ofthe late fifth century effectively wiped out Roman Christianity. And itwould be centuries before Christianity completely took control of the island,because the German invaders immediately split the island into dozens ofsmall states, of which seven survived to become the "Seven Kingdomsof Britain": Northumbria, Mercia, Wessex, Essex, Sussex, Kent, andEast Anglia. To make matters worse, all these kingdoms had slightly differentdialects.

It was in 563 that Saint Columba founded the religious center on Iona,bringing Celtic Christianity back to northern Britain. In 596 Pope Gregorythe Great sent Augustine to Canterbury to return southern Britain to Christ.The two Christian sects were formally reconciled at the Synod of Whitbyin 664. This did not make Britain Christian (and, ironically, it did notbring Ireland into line with Catholic Christianity; that island, now knownfor its Catholicism, was brought back into line with the Catholic churchby the Anglo-Norman invaders who arrived starting in the twelfth centuryduring the reign of Henry II), but the way was at last clear.

The earliest attempts at Anglo-Saxon versions probably date from thisearly period of conflict with paganism, but they have not survived. Norhas the translation of John madeby the Venerable Bede. Alfred the Greatworked at a translation, but itseems never to have been completed. All that is known to have existed isa portion of the psalms, including a detailed (though often fanciful) commentarysaid to have been by Alfred himself. (In this connection it may be worthnoting that Asser, Alfred's biographer, at several points quotes the Biblein Old Latin rather than Vulgate forms.)

Our earliest surviving Anglo-Saxon versions date from probably the tenth century.Several of these are continuous text versions; the most famous of these is probablythe Hatton Gospels, now in the Bodleian; this beautifully-written manuscript isthought to be from the eleventh century. The most common Old English translation,the so-called West Saxon version, is said to exist in half a dozen copies.Other Old English renderings areinterlinear glosses to Latin manuscripts. The interlinears are in several dialects;see the notes on the Lindisfarne Gospels andRushworth Gospels. The earliest glosses are earlier thanthe surviving versions; we see Anglo-Saxon glosses in an eighth century Britishpsalter. But, in that case, only a subset of the words are glossed.

Interlinears also seem to have been more common than continuous-text Old English versions -- e.g. Andrew C. Kimmens, The Stowe Psalter, lists fourteen different copies of the Latin Psalms with Anglo-Saxon interlinear texts (although some are only partially glossed); one of these, the "Vespasian Psalter," is one of the greatest and most beautiful of interlinear manuscripts. (Interestingly, while a dozen of these are in Britain and one ended up in the Morgan Library, one somehow found its way to Paris.) The Psalms, in fact, seem to have been popular for interlinears; Greek/Latin interlinear psalters (usually with the Greek glossing the Latin) are said to have been the most common of all Greek/Latin interlinears, being about as common as all others combined.

In many ways Anglo-Saxon was better suited to literal Bible translation than is modern English, since Anglo-Saxon is an inflected language with greater freedom of word order than modern English. Since, however, all Anglo-Saxon translations are taken from the Latin (unless Bede made some reference to the Greek), they are not generally cited for New Testament textual criticism. This is proper -- though they perhaps deserve more attention for Vulgate criticism; it should be recalled that the early English copies of the Vulgate were of very high value, so the translations could well derive from valuable originals.

We should note that the term "Anglo-Saxon" is now frowned upon by linguists, who much prefer the term "Old English." Unfortunately, I have yet to see this term applied to the early English translations. The name "Anglo-Saxon" seems to be used in the same sense that "Ethiopic" is used for a version that is in a language not properly called "Ethiopic": It's a geographic/historical description.

It should be remembered that Old English as a literary language effectively died with the Norman Conquest of 1066; Norman French became the language of commerce and law. Old English works, including Bibles, ceased to be copied.

Three centuries later, English again became the general language of England, and it once again became a literary language. But it had changed utterly, transformed from Old English into Middle English, with a vocabulary much influenced by French and a grammar dramatically simplified. Ordinary people of Chaucer's day could no more understand Old English than they could Greek. When John Wycliff and his followers set out to produce English vernacular Bibles, they seem to have made no reference at all to the Anglo-Saxon versions. They simply went back to the Vulgate and translated it again. (To their credit, they do seem to have tried to compare multiple Vulgate manuscripts. But there is no evidence that the manuscripts they used had any value.)


Arabic translations of the New Testament are numerous. They are alsovery diverse. They are believed to have been made from, among others, Greek,Syriac, and Coptic exemplars. Other sources may be possible.

Folio 1 recto of Sinai Arabic 71 (Xth century), Matthew 23:3-15.
Thanks to Jean Valentin

Although there are hints in the records of Arabic versions made beforethe Islamic conquests, the earliest manuscripts seem to date from the ninthcentury. (It has been argued forcefully that Mohammed did not have access toan Arabic translation of the New Testament, since he seems to have had onlyhints of its content, perhaps tainted by Docetism. This strikes me as likely,but the secondary conclusion that no Arabic translation existed in his timedoes not follow.) The oldest dated manuscript of the version (Sinai arab. 151) comesfrom 867 C.E. The translations probably are not morethan a century or two older.

Several of the translations are reported to be very free. In any case,Arabic is a Semitic language (which, like Hebrew, has a consonantal alphabet,leaving room for interpretation of vowels) and frequently cannot transmit the more subtlenuances of Greek grammar. In addition, written Arabic was largely frozenby the Quran, while the spoken language continued to evolve and developregional differences. This makes the Arabic versions somewhat lessvernacular than other translations. This would probably tend to preservethe original readings, but may result in some rather peculiar variants.

The texts of the Arabic versions have not, to this point, been adequatelystudied. Some seem to be purely or primarily Byzantine, but at least someare reported to contain "Cæsarean" readings. Others are saidto be Alexandrian. Still others, with something of an "Old Syriac"cast, may be "Western."

Several late manuscripts preserve an Arabic Diatessaron. The text existsin two forms, but both seem to have been influenced by the Peshitta. Theyare generally regarded as having little value for Diatessaric studies.

It will be obvious that the Arabic versions are overdue for a carefulstudy and classification.


The Armenian translation of the Bible has been called "The Queenof the Versions."

The title is deserved. The Armenian is unique in that its renderingof the New Testament is clear, accurate, and literal -- and at the sametime stylisticly excellent. It also has an interesting underlying text.

The origin of the Armenian version is mysterious. We have some historicaldocuments, but these may raise more questions than they solve.

The most recent summary on the subject, that of Joseph M. Alexanian, statesthat the initial Armenian translation (Arm 1) was made from the Old Syriacin 406-414 C.E. This was followed by a revised translation(Arm 2) made from the Greek after the Council of Ephesus in 431. He suggeststhat further revisions followed.

In assessing Alexanian's claims, one should keep in mind that there areno Armenian manuscripts of this era, and the patristic citations, whileabundant, have not been properly studied or catalogued.

Armenia is strongly linked with Syrian Christianity. The countryturned officially Christian before Constantine, in an era when theonly Christian states were a few Syriac principalities such asEdessa. One would therefore expect the earliest Armenian versions toshow strong signs of Syriac influence.

The signs of Syriac influence exist (among them, manuscripts with3 Corinthians and without Philemon) -- but so do signs of Greek influence.In addition, the text of the Armenian matches neither the extant Old Syriacnor the Peshitta. It appears to be much more closely linked with the "Cæsarean"text. In fact, the Armenian is arguably the best witness to that text.

The history of the Armenian version is closely tied in with the historyof the written Armenian language. After perhaps an unsuccessful attemptby a cleric named Daniel, the Armenian alphabet is reported to have beencreated by Mesrop, the friend and co-worker of the Armenian church leaderSahak. The year is reported to have been 406, and the impetus for the inventionis said to have been the need for a way to record the Armenian Bible. Saidtranslation was finished in the dozen or so years after Mesrop began hiswork.

Despite Alexanian, the basis of the version remains in dispute. Good scholars haveargued both for Syriac and for Greek. There are passages where the wordingseems to argue for a Syriac original -- but others that argue equally forceablyfor a Greek base.

A portion of one column of the famous Armenian MS. Matenadaran2374 (formerly Etchmiadzin 229), dated 989 C.E. Often called theĒjmiacin Gospels. Mark16:8-9 are shown. The famous reference to the presbyter Arist(i)on is highlightedin red.

 At least three explanations are possible for this. One is that the Armenianwas translated from the Greek, but that the translator was intimately familiarwith a Syriac rendering. An alternate proposal is that the Armenian wastranslated in several stages. The earliest stage was probably a translationfrom one or another Old Syriac versions, or perhaps from the Syriac Diatessaron.This was then revised toward the Greek, perhaps from a "Cæsarean"witness. Further revisions may have increased the number of Byzantine readings.Finally, there may have been two separate translations (Conybeare suggeststhat Mesrop translated from the Greek and Sahak from the Syriac) whichwere eventually combined.

The Armenian "Majority Text" has been credited to Nerses ofLambron, who revised the Apocalypse, and perhaps the entire version, onthe basis of the Greek in the twelfth century. This late text, however,has little value; it is noticeably more Byzantine than the early text. It isnoteworthy that the longer ending of Mark does not become common in Armenianmanuscripts until the thirteenth century.Fortunately, the earliest Armenian manuscripts are much older than this;a number date from the ninth century. The oldest dated manuscript comesfrom 887 C.E. (One manuscript claims a date of 602C.E., but this is believed to be a forgery.)

There are a few places where the Armenian renders the Greek rather freely(usually to bring out the sense more clearly); these have been comparedto the Targums, and might possibly be evidence of Syriac influence.

The link between the Armenian and the "Cæsarean" text wasnoticed early in the history of that type; Streeter commented on it, and even Blake (who thoughtthe Armenian to be predominantly Byzantine) believed that it derived froma "Cæsarean" form. The existence of the "Cæsarean"text is now considered questionable, but there is no doubt that the Armeniantestifies to a text which is far removed from the Byzantine, and that itcontains large numbers of Alexandrian readings as well as quite a numberassociated with the "Western" witnesses. The earliest witnessesgenerally either omit "Mark 16:9-20" or have some sort of indicationthat it is doubtful (the manuscript shown here may credit it to the presbyterArist(i)on, though this remark is possibly from a later hand). "John7:53-8:11" is also absent from most early copies.

In the Acts and Epistles, the Armenian continues to display a text whichis not Byzantine but not purely Alexandrian either. Yet -- in Paul at least-- it is not "Western." Nor does it agree with family 1739, norwith H, both of which have been labelled (probably falsely) "Cæsarean."If the Armenian has any affinity in Paul at all, it is with family 2127-- a late Alexandrian group with some degree of mixture. This is not really surprising,since one of the leading witnesses to the family is 256, a Greek/Armeniandiglot (in fact, the Armenian text of 256 is one of the earliest witnessesto the Armenian Epistles).

Lyonnet felt that the Armenian text of the Catholic Epistles fell closeto Vaticanus. In the Apocalypse, Conybeare saw an affinity to the Latin (infact, he argued that it had been translated from the Latin and then revised-- as many as five times! -- from the Greek. This is probably needlesslycomplex, but the Latin ties are interesting. Jean Valentin offers thespeculation that the Latin influence comes from the Crusades, when theArmenians and the Franks were in frequent contact and alliance.)

The primary edition of the Armenian, that of Zohrab, is based mostlyon relatively recent manuscripts and is not really a critical edition (althoughsome variant readings are found in the margin, their support is not listed).Until a better edition of the version becomes available -- an urgent need,given the quality of the translation -- the text of the version must beused with caution.


The language of Egypt endured for at least 3500 years before the Islamicconquest swept it aside in favour of Arabic. During that time it naturallyunderwent significant evolution.

There was at one time much debate over the origin of the Egyptian language;was it Semitic or not? It seemed to have Semitic influence, but not enough toreally be part of the family. This seems now to have been solved; Joseph H.Greenburg in the 1960s proposed to group most of the languages of northernAfrica and the Middle East in one great "Afroasiatic" superfamily.Egyptian and the Semitiic languages were two of the families within this greatergroup. Thus Egyptian is related to the Semitic languages, but at a rather largedistance.

Coptic is the final stage of the evolution of Egyptian (the words "Copt"and "Coptic" are much-distorted versions of the name "Aigypt[os]").Although there is no clear linguistic divide between Late Egyptian andCoptic, there is something of a literary one: Coptic is Egyptian writtenin an alphabet based on the Greek. It is widely stated that the Coptic alphabet(consisting of the twenty-four Greek letters plus seven letters -- giveor take a few -- adopted from the Demotic) was developed because the oldEgyptian Demotic alphabet was too strongly associated with paganism.This seems not to be true, however; the earliest surviving documents in theCoptic alphabet appear to have been magical texts.CopticLetters

It is at least reasonable to suppose that the Coptic alphabet was adoptedbecause it was an alphabet -- the hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demoticstyles of Egyptian are all syllabic systems with ideographic elements. And bothhieratic and demotic have other problems: Hieratic is difficult to write, anddemotic, while much easier to copy, is difficult to read. And neither representsvowels accurately. Somescribe, wanting a true alphabetic script, took over the Greek alphabet, addinga few demotic symbols to supply additional sounds.

Coptic finally settled down to use the 24 Greek letters plus six orseven demotic symbols. It was some time before this standard was achieved,however; early texts often use more than these few extra signs. This clearlyreveals a period of experimentation.

Coptic is not a unified language; many dialects (Akhmimic, Bohairic,Fayyumic, Middle Egyptian, Sahidic) are known. The fragmentation of Copticis probably the result of the policies of Egypt's rulers: The Romans imposedharsh controls on travel in and out of, and presumably within, Egypt; beforethem, the Ptolemies has rigidly regimented their subjects' lives and travels.After a few hundred years of that, it is hardly surprising that the Egyptianlanguage fragmented into regional forms.

New Testament translations have been found in all five of the dialectslisted; in several instances there seem to have been multiple translations.The two most important, however, are clearly Sahidic (the language of UpperEgypt) and Bohairic (used in the Lower Egyptian Delta). Where the otherversions exist only in a handful of manuscripts, the Sahidic endures indozens and the Bohairic in hundreds. The Bohairic remains the officialversion of the Coptic church to this day, although the language is essentiallyextinct in ordinary life.

The history of the Coptic versions has been separated into four stagesby Wisse (modifying Kasser). For convenience, these stages arelisted below, although I am not sure of their validity.

  1. The Pre-Classical Stage, 250-350 C.E. Firstattempts at translation, which had little influence on the later versions.
  2. The Classical Sahidic and Fayyumic Stage, 350-450 C.E.Preparation of versions for use by those who had no Greek. The Sahidic becomesthe dominant version. Other versions, notably the Fayyumic, circulate but arenot widespread.
  3. The Final Sahidic and Fayyumic Stage, 450-1000 C.E.The Arab conquest reduces the role and power of the Coptic church. The Sahidicbegins to decline.
  4. The Bohairic Stage, after 800 C.E. The Bohairicversion becomes standardized and gradually achieves dominance within theCoptic church.

A more detailed study of the various versions follows.

The Sahidic Coptic

The Sahidic is probably the earliest of the translations, and also hasthe greatest textual value. It came into existence no later than the thirdcentury, since a copy of 1 Peter exists in a manuscript from about theend of that century. Unlike the Bohairic version, there is little evidenceof progressive revision. The manuscripts do not always agree, but theydo not show the sort of process seen in the Bohairic Version.

Like all the Coptic versions, the Sahidic has an Egyptian sort of text.In the Gospels it is clearly Alexandrian, although it is sometimes considered tohave "Western" variants, especially in John. (There are, in fact,occasional "Western" readings in the manuscripts, but no patternof Western influence. Most of the so-called "Western" variantsalso have Alexandrian support.) As between B and Aleph, the Sahidic isclearly closer to the former -- and if anything even closer to P75. It isalso close to T (a close ally of P75/B) -- as indeed one would expect,since T is a Greek/Sahidic diglot.

In Acts, the Sahidic is again regarded as basically Alexandrian, thoughwith some minor readings associated with the "Western" text.In the "Apostolic Decree" (Acts 15:19f., etc.) it conflates theAlexandrian and "Western" forms. (One should note, however, theexistence of the codex known as Berlin P. 15926. Although its language issaid to be Sahidic, its text differs very strongly from the common Sahidicversion, and preserves a number of striking "Western" variantsfound also in the Middle Egyptian text G67.)

In Paul the situation is slightly different. Here again at first glancethe Sahidic might seem Alexandrian with a "Western" tinge. Onexamination, however, it proves to be very strongly associated with B,and also somewhat associated with B's ally P46. I have argued elsewherethat P46/B form their own text-type in Paul. The Sahidic clearly goes withthis type, although perhaps with some influence from the "mainstream"Alexandrian text.

In the Catholics, the Sahidic seems to have a rather generic Alexandriantext, being about equidistant from all the other witnesses. It is noteworthythat its more unusual readings are often shared with B.

The Bohairic Coptic

The Bohairic has perhaps the most complicated textual history of anyof the Coptic versions. The oldest known manuscript, Papyrus Bodmer III,contains a text of the Gospel of John copied in the fourth (or perhapsfifth) century. This version is distinctly different from the later Copticversions, however; the underlying text is distinct, the translation isdifferent -- and even the form of the language is not quite the same asin the later Bohairic version. For this reason it has become common torefer to this early Bohairic version as the "proto-Bohairic"(pbo).From the same era comes a fragment of Philippians which maybe a Sahidic text partly conformed to the idiom of Bohairic.

Other than these two minor manuscripts, our Bohairic texts all datefrom the ninth century or later. It is suspected that the common Bohairictranslation was made in the seventh or eighth century.

It is quite possible that this version was revised, however; there area number of places where the Bohairic manuscripts split into two groups.Where this happens, it is fairly common to find the older texts havinga reading typical of the earlier Alexandrian witnesses while the more recentmanuscripts often display a reading characteristic of more recent Alexandriandocuments or of the Byzantine text. One can only suspect that these latereadings were introduced by a systematic revision.

As already hinted, the text of the Bohairic Coptic is Alexandrian. Withinits text-type, however, it tends to go with Aleph rather than B. This ismost notable in Paul (where, of course, Aleph and B are most distinct).Zuntz thought that the Bohairic was a "proto-Alexandrian" witness(i.e. that it belonged with P46 B sa), but in fact it is one of Aleph'sclosest allies here -- despite hints of Sahidic influence, which are foundin the other sections of the New Testament as well. One might theorize thatthe Bohairic was translated from the Greek (based on a manuscript with a late Alexandriantext), but with at least some Sahidic fragments used as cribs.

The Lesser Coptic Versions

The Akhmimic (Achmimic). Possibly the most fragmentary of allthe versions. Fragments preserve portions of Matthew 9, Luke 12-13, 17-18,Gal. 5-6, James 5. All of these seem to be from the fourth or perhaps fifthcenturies. Given their small size, very little is known of the text ofthe Akhmimic. Aland cites it under the symbol ac.

Related to the Akhmimic, and regarded as falling between it and theMiddle Egyptian, is the Sub-Akhmimic. This exists primarily in amanuscript of John, containing portions of John 2:12-20:20 and believedto date from the fourth century. It seems to be Alexandrian, and is citedunder the symbol ac2 or ach2.

The Fayyumic. Spelled Fayumic by some. Many manuscripts exist for the Gospels, and overa dozen for Paul, but almost all are fragmentary. Manuscripts of Acts andthe Catholic Epistles are rare; the Apocalypse seems to be entirely lost(if, indeed, it was ever translated). Manuscripts date from about the fifthto the ninth centuries. There is also a fragment of John, from perhapsthe early fourth century, which Kahle called Middle Egyptian but Husselmancalled Fayyumic. This mixed text is now designated the "MiddleEgyptian Fayyumic (mf)" by Aland. (The Fayyumic is notcited in NA27; the abbreviation fay is used in UBS4.)

Given the fragmentary state of the Fayyumic, its text has not been givenmuch attention. In Acts it is reported to be dependent on the Bohairic,and hence to be Alexandrian. Kahle found that an early manuscript whichcontained both the long and short endings of Mark.

The Middle Egyptian. The Middle Egyptian Coptic is representedprimarily by three manuscripts -- one of Matthew (complete; fourth/fifthcentury), one of Acts (1:1-15:3; fourth century), and one of Paul (54 leavesof about 150 in the original; fifth century). The Acts manuscript, commonlycited as copG67, is perhaps the most notable, as it agrees frequentlywith the "Western" witnesses, including some of the more extravagantvariants of the type. The Middle Egyptian is cited by Aland under the symbolmae; UBS4 uses meg.


This is one of the more difficult sections in this article. My original sources on Ethiopic -- Metzger and older authors, plus the first edition of Ehrman & Holmes's The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research -- gave an account which, I suspect, was not based on sufficient information to be accurate. Tom Hennell has given me a good deal of additional information, much of which does not agree with the implications of the earlier sources. What follows is mostly his revision of what I originally wrote, but I am going to indent the portions which are almost entirely his work. Other than conforming his style to my style book and turning it to HTML, my only changes to his text are marked in [ ]. I am not saying his words are dubious; they are simply sections which I have not researched or verified, and which often disagree with the (not sufficiently researched) writings of Metzger et al.

Although the origins of many of the versions are obscure, few are asobscure as those of the Ethiopic. The legend that Christianity was carriedto the land south of Egypt by the eunuch of Acts 8:26f. can be easily dismissed.So can accounts that one of the apostles worked there. Even if one or moreof these stories were true, they would not explain the existence of theEthiopic version -- for the good and simple reason that the New Testamenthadn't even been written at the time of the Ethiopian's conversion in Acts.

Even the name of the version is questionable; "Ethiopia" was applied by Greeks, Jews and Romans without distinction to any part of sub-Saharan Africa. The correct name for the official language of midern Ethiopia is Amharic, and the manuscripts of the "Ethiopic" version are sometimes said to be in an old form of this language. (There are actually printed Bibles in Ethiopia which put an "old Ethiopic" text in parallel with a modern Amharic version.)

The Ethiopic version originated in the Kingdom of Axum, named after its capital city in the Abyssinian highlands; but which through its port of Adulis on the Red Sea (in modern Eritrea) had by the late 3rd century established control over the rich trade route in luxury goods between the late Roman Empire and India. Consequently (and confusingly) late Antique writers frequently refer to Axum as "India." The Axumite kingdom was multilingual, although only two of its languages were regularly written in this period. The trading community at Adulis spoke Greek, as did the royal court at Axum; but the literate populations of Axum and the highlands spoke and wrote in Ge'ez, a Semitic language related to South Arabian. The kings' gold and silver coinage was inscribed in Greek; which was also carved, alongside Ge'ez, on the lengthy monumental inscriptions with which they celebrated their deeds. When, in the mid 4th century, the Axumites converted to Christianity, they then adopted the term "Ethiopians" as a conscious biblical self-identification. Niccum suggests that they may have been prompted in this by a misreading of above the story in Acts; where the Greek text has the eunuch travelling to "Gaza," the Ethiopic version of Acts has him travelling to "the land of the Ge’ez."
Ge'ez then was to be the language of the Ethiopic New Testament, and in formal 4th century Axumite inscriptions this language is found in two scripts; Sabaean, the consonantal script commonly used for South Arabian inscriptions; and Ethiopic, also originally a consonantal script (like Hebrew and Arabic, but written from left to right), but which by this date was beginning to be "vocalised" such that the 7 vowel sounds were indicated by the addition of loops and tail-strokes to the 26 Ge'ez consonantal signs. Surviving informal written Ge'ez of this date -- generally as graffiti on rocks and pots -- always uses Ethiopic. Strictly therefore, "Ge'ez" denotes the language; while "Ethiopic" denotes the script. Ge'ez itself ceased to be an everyday vernacular by the tenth century C.E. but continued and continues as the liturgical language of the Ethiopian church. [Rather as Akkadian continued to be used as a diplomatic languagein the Middle East long after it ceased to be used in ordinary life. - RBW] From the 13th century onwards, large numbers of religious works in Coptic Arabic were translated into Ge'ez; in turn leading to the creation of a vigorous indigenous Ge'ez literary tradition (chiefly hagiographic) up till around 1900. Of modern languages, Tigrinya and Tigre (predominant in Eritrea and the north of Ethiopia) are descended from Ge’ez, while Amharic (predominant in the south and around Addis Ababa) derives from a separate stream of South Semitic. The Ethiopic script is still used to write the all Semitic languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Since vocalised Ethiopic, with over 200 symbols, is a great deal easier to write than print, Ethiopian churches and monasteries have continued to rely on manuscript book production to the present day. Consequently even small churches may house dozens of manuscript books; including biblical texts, translations from Coptic Arabic, and original compositions in Ge'ez. Valuable medieval and previously unknown texts continue to be recognised in these remote libraries.

A legend told by Rufinus has it that Christianity reached Ethiopia tostay in the fourth century. We now know this to be true:

Christianity was formally adopted as the religion of Axum by King Ezana around the year 340. That much is definite; as Ezana then changed the coinage to incorporate cross symbols around his portrait; and, in the Greek text of a multilingual inscription found in Axum, invoked the Trinity, declaring himself to be the "servant of Christ" and designating Christ as "the god in whom I have believed." Furthermore Ezana promptly acted to acquire a bishop for his new church; dispatching Frumentius, a Greek originally from Tyre, to Egypt to be consecrated as the first bishop of Axum by Athanasius, the patriarch of Alexandria. Phillipson points out, however, that the counterpart Ge'ez text for the multilingual inscription lacks the key phrases above; Ezana’s Christianity appears originally to have been observed only in Greek.
In 356 however, the Byzantine emperor Constantius II acted to remove Athanasius; replacing him as Patriarch by the Arian (or semi-Arian), George of Cappadocia. Constantius then wrote to Ezana denouncing Athanasius, and requesting that Frumentius be recalled to Alexandria to be re-instructed by George. Ezana appears not to have responded; indeed a diplomatic mission that Constantius sent to Axum in 357 kicked their heels in Egypt for over a year, unable to proceed south. More particularly, Ezana and his successors appear to have resolved to withdraw from participation in the ongoing bitter Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries; no Ethiopian cleric is recorded as attending any of the succession of councils and synods over the following hundred years. The policy of religious isolation may also have been the impetus for a decision to translate the Bible into Ge'ez. In the late 380s John Chrystostom claimed that the Gospel of John had recently been translated by the Ethiopians into their own language. Official isolation did not, it seems, impede individual Axumite Christians from continuing to travel within the Byzantine empire; Jerome in Bethlehem in the early 5th century reported encountering "crowds" of Ethiopian monks and pilgrims.
Negatively, the translators’ limited command of Greek severely detracted from their resulting version. Worst affected is the Acts of the Apostles, where substantial sections of chapters 27 and 28, with their nautical terminology, entirely defeated the translator, who simply omitted them. But generally, when faced with text they did not understand, the translators paraphrased, guessed or omitted; resulting in "wild" readings. [In addition, since they seem to have been] reading Greek texts written in "scriptio continua," words and sentences are frequently wrongly divided. Moreover, the translators show little appreciation of Greek particles, or of the case endings of Greek nouns; consequently proposing readings that are grammatically untenable in the original.
Much that is distinctive about the Ethiopic version can be understood in this context. It was not created by missionaries from outside, nor under the direction of the Alexandrian patriarchate; the translator "worked with absolutely nothing beyond the Greek manuscript that lay before him or her" (Niccum). From the perspective of modern scholarship, this had both positive and negative effects. Positively, Ethiopian translators seized eagerly on each and every Greek biblical text they could find in the Christian world of the mid 4th century; unconstrained by questions of canonicity. So not only did the Ethiopian version come to include all the books later to be accepted into the canons of Old and New Testaments (plus the works commonly recognised in the Biblical Apocrypha); the version also translated the first Book of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees, the Ascension of Isaiah and the Paralipomena of Jeremiah; together with (in the New Testament) the Shepherd of Hermas and the Acts of Mark. In respect of the Old Testament titles, these works now survive complete only in Ethiopic.
If the translation of the scriptures into Ethiopic started in the later 4th century, most likely with the Gospels and Psalms, there has been much debate in western scholarship as to when the programme may have been fully completed. In particular, a number of western scholars had seized on the Ethiopian tradition that the rural areas of Axum had been Christianised due to the labours of "Nine Saints," monks arriving from "Rome" [i.e. Byzantium? - RBW] in the fifth and sixth centuries who are celebrated as the founders of a series of great monasteries in this period. It was proposed that these monks might be monophysite clergy from Syria relocating to Ethiopia following the Council of Chalcedon of 451; and that the work of translating the majority of the Bible should therefore be credited to these missionaries and their successors; proceeding over an extended period in the sixth and seventh centuries and likely taking the Syriac Peshitta as its base.
Knibb has pointed out though, that this narrative is unsupported in the Ethiopian sources themselves. In these sources, none of the "Nine Saints" is proposed as being a translator, and only two are associated with a Syrian origin. Moreover, the distinctive pattern of translation errors (discussed above) demonstrates that all the books of the Old and New Testaments were translated primarily from the Greek. Why would Syrian monks choose to work from a Greek text, especially one they appear not to have fully understood?
Formal relations were restored between the church of Axum and the Alexandrian patriarchate some time in the late fifth century; and Niccum has expressed the more recent consensus, that the whole of the Bible had been translated into Ge'ez by this date. He puts forward three arguments; firstly, that there is no evidence for a continued indigenous Greek literacy capable of supporting a translation enterprise in Axum after the fifth century, neither around Adulis nor in the royal court; secondly, that monumental Ge'ez inscriptions celebrating the Axumite king Kaleb, dated around 525, contain numerous quotations from the Ethiopic version, taken from Exodus, Psalms, Isaiah and Matthew, and suggesting that a complete bible was then available; and thirdly that the "extra" books in the Axumite biblical canon could only have been translated in the period of religious isolation, as two of them (1 Enoch and the Ascension of Isaiah) had been condemned as heretical by Athanasius in his festal letter of 367. Niccum proposes it as most likely that the undisputed "canonical" books would have been translated before these "extra" books.
But it is one thing to date the earliest Ethiopic version; it is another to recognise it in the surviving manuscript record. Most of the Axumite territory fell to the Muslim armies of Ahmad Gragn in the period 1531-1543; churches and monasteries were looted and manuscripts systematically destroyed. Consequently very few medieval manuscripts survive. Moreover the two standard western printed editions of the Ethiopic version -- the Roman New Testament of 1548, and Thomas Pell Platt’s BFBS Bible of 1830 -- have little critical value; and consequently the siglum "Eth" for readings in former critical New Testament editions is often misapplied. But fortunately, over the last fifty years, almost the whole of the Ethiopic New Testament has been published, book by book, in critical editions; the Gospel of Luke still being outstanding. For almost all the books the characterisation of manuscript sources emerging in these editions is similar; A-texts, as the earliest recoverable text descended from the original Axumite version six or seven centuries earlier; medieval Ab-texts, essentially the A-text with its more egregious errors corrected with reference to Coptic Arabic manuscripts from the 13th century onwards; and B-texts of 15th/16th century date, representing a more systematic reworking of the Ab-texts to conform with Coptic Arabic models B-text readings are commonly closer to the Greek than A-text readings, even though most likely accessing the Greek indirectly through the medium of a literal Arabic version. There is no doubt that the B-texts consistently provide a far superior representation of scripture; but only the A-texts have independent critical value as a witness to the Greek. Fortunately, as Ethiopian scribes commonly preferred to correct by conflation rather than replacement, critical editors can often reckon to recover the A-text readings by identifying and removing the "B/b" corrections. One consistent finding in these critical editions is that most of the supposed "Syriac" or "Western" readings advanced by proponents of Syrian or Coptic influence on the Ethiopic text, turn out to be found in the B-text; and hence are likely to be disguised "Arabisms.".
Outside the Gospels, even identified A-text manuscripts are no older than the 14th century. But since the 1960s, it has been recognised that the oldest Gospel manuscripts -- the two complete Garima Gospels -- are very much older. Just how much older has only become clear in the last few years, as both have been carbon dated to the 6th century; Garima 2 having a date range of 390-570. So these manuscripts uniquely are contemporary with the Axumite kingdom at the height of its power. As they are not copied from one another, their combined witness allows us to access the Axumite archetype text of the Ethiopic Gospels with a degree of confidence. Moreover, by checking against medieval A-text manuscripts, we can confirm that the Axumite translations of the Gospels happened only once. Only in the first four verses of Luke do we find a variant ancient translation in the medieval tradition.
The Ethiopic A-texts display a number of common characteristics -- over and above the pattern of errors arising from poor command of biblical Greek.
Allowance must be made for these characteristics when seeking to establish the underlying text-form Ethiopic A-text. It can readily be determined that the translation base -- for both Old and New Testaments -- was always and exclusively Greek; although it is rarely possible to retrovert to an exact Greek text with confidence, purely from the Ethiopic A-text. The textual base of the B-text is not quite so certain, other in the specific case of the Book of Acts where Niccum has determined that B-text derives from a known literal Arabic version of the Syriac. (There survives in Milan a 14th century tetraglot manuscript -- Coptic, Syriac, Arabic and Ethiopic -- containing Acts and the Catholic Epistles. The Ethiopic column there is the primary witness to the Niccum's A-text, and it is straightforwardly demonstrable that the B-text manuscripts from the 15th/16th centuries derive from the version in the Arabic column which itself translates the Syriac; not the least because a marginal note at Chapter 28 of that Arabic version is appended to the B-text to create the Ethioipic "Longer Ending" of Acts.) It is not impossible that all the other B-texts have a similar origin; although critical knowledge of Arabic versions is not yet sufficient to confirm this. The only book where this may not be the case is the Gospel of Matthew, where a B-text was produced much earlier (11th/12th century); Zuurmond has speculated that an Egyptian Greek text, adjusted to conform with with a later Arabic version, could underlie this text.
It is, however, commonly possible to cross-reference the A-text against established lists of variant readings in the New Testament Greek, so as to establish whether the Ethiopic is more likely to support one or another text-type.
Outside the Gospels, cross-referencing always demonstrates a strong affinity between the A-text and the Alexandrian text. In the Book of Acts, Niccum finds the closest correspondence is with the surviving text in 𝔓45 rather than with Vaticanus or Sinaiticus. Hofmann found the text of Ethiopic Revelation as standing closest to Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Ephraemi. Uhlig has confirmed an Alexandrian text for the Pauline epistles, and (showing a greater degree of Byzantine influence) for the Catholic letters.
The position of the Gospels is different, and more varied. In the Gospel of Matthew, Zuurmond finds the A-text as more likely to support early Byzantine readings over Alexandrian readings by around 3:1. In the Gospel of John, the proportion of Byzantine readings is closer to even. In Mark, the pattern is similar to that in Matthew, except in the earliest chapters which tend to align with the Codex Washingtonensis (and hence, the Western text-type). Overall though, Zuurmond characterises the A-text in the Gospels as early Byzantine; "the A-text was based on a Greek text of mixed character, not yet completely dominated by the Byzantine type -- likely indicating this as the form of text that circulated in Egypt in the mid 4th century." This implies that, alongside the Gothic version and the Peshitta, the Ethiopic text of the Gospels provides the earliest witnesses to the form taken by the Byzantine text in the mid 4th century.
Of particular readings, the A-text always witnesses the Longer Ending to Mark (the Shorter Ending is sometimes found preceding the Longer Ending in the B-text). In Matthew, the A-text includes 16:2-3 (the red skies and the signs of the times); and also at 24:36, the A-text includes "nor the Son." The Pericope Adulterae is always absent from John 7:53-8:11. One unexpected reading in the A-text is at John 5:3-4; where Ethiopic might have been expected to have omitted the whole of the presumed secondary addition found in the Majority Text, but actually includes the verse sections 3b and 4a, "They were waiting for the disturbing of the water. For an angel of the Lord at the right time washed himself in the pool and the water was disturbed," while omitting the rest of verse 4.
A specific uncertain reading where the contribution of Ethiopic version may be of interest, is the Western non-interpolation at Matthew 27:49, where the best and earliest Alexandrian witnesses, the commentary of Chrysostom, and the early Coptic papyri all support the text "...and someone else, taking a spear, pierced his side and there came out water and blood"; words which are otherwise absent from the Western versions, from Bezae, Alexandrinus and Washingtonensis, and from the majority of later witnesses (though far from all of them; the longer reading is consistently found in Irish gospels). There is indeed considerable evidence for the longer reading being removed from the 6th century onwards; both in the form of manuscripts where it has been marked for deletion, and also in accounts of authoritative condemnations of the longer text.
A similar passage is familiar from John 19:34, but with the order reversed, "blood and water," and with other differences in wording; but most crucially, John reports the piercing as occurring after Jesus’s death, whereas in the Matthew reading it is apparently the spearthrust itself that kills. In the Ethiopic, Garima 2 (the older of the two Axumite manuscripts) supports the exact Alexandrian wording, while Garima 1 reads the same, but with the order "blood and water"; and is followed in this by the rest of the A-text tradition.
There is little doubt that the event as described is unhistorical; Roman guards did not dispatch crucified criminals with their spears (prolonging death was the whole point), and these words are clearly an intrusion into the narrative of the crucifixion found in the Gospel of Mark. But might that addition be from Matthew himself; and if so, why? And, if not Matthew, why would anyone later insert it in such a prominent position, in clear contradiction to the Gospel of John? The witness of the Ethiopic version does not resolve these questions; but it does support the proposition that the longer reading stood in the standard text of Matthew in Egypt in the mid 4th century. In the standard critical editions, the major Coptic versions -– Bohairic and Sahidic -- are generally cited against the longer reading; but their manuscript witnesses to Matthew 27 are all much later. It may be suggested that the 4th century Bohairic and Sahidic are more likely to have included the longer reading.


If any version is most notable for our ignorance about its origin,it is the Georgian. The language is difficult and not widely know (it is neither Indo-European norSemitic; the alphabet, known as Mkhedruli, is used only for this language. Georgianis the only language of the Kartvelian group to have a written form),the country small, and the history of the translation is obscure. Whatever itsorigins, however, the version is of great textual significance.

Please note that plain HTML and pure ASCII, in which this document is written, has nofacilities even for transliterated Georgian; I've done my best with thetechnical terms, but you really need to visit a specialized site to see thecorrect forms of the letters.

Legend has it that the evangelist of the Georgians, a woman named Nino,came to Georgia as a slave during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine.Another legend has it that the Georgian alphabet was invented by Saint Mesropsome time after he had created the written form of Armenian.

Sinai Georgian 31, dated 877, folio 54 verso,Acts 8:24-29.
Thanks to Jean Valentin

Both of these legends may be questioned -- the former on historical grounds,the latter on the basis of its simple improbability. It is by no means certainthat the Georgian alphabet was invented to receive a Biblical translation (if ithad been, why is it so different from other alphabets?); theGeorgian alphabet may well be older than the fifth century.

Given our ignorance of the history of Christianity in Georgia, we can onlyspeculate about the history of the version. The latest possible date would appearto be the sixth century, since our earliest manuscripts (the "han-met'ifragments") are dated linguistically to that era, or perhaps even tothe fifth century. The most likely date for the version is therefore the fifth century.This is supported by an account of the life of St. Shushanik, dated to thefifth century and containing many allusions to the Biblical text.

By its nature it is difficult for Georgian to express many features ofGreek syntax. This makes it difficult to determine the linguistic source of the version.(Nor does it help that the language itself has evolved; the translation startedin Old Georgian, but New Georgian came into existence from the twelfth century,and later manuscripts will have been influenced by the new dialect.)Greek, Armenian, and Syriac have all been proposed -- in some instances even bythe same scholar! It seems clear that the version was at some time in its historyrevised toward the Greek -- but since manuscripts of the unrevised text areat once rather few and divergent, we probably cannot reach a certain conclusionregarding the source at this time. The current opinion seems to be that, except in the Apocalypse(clearly taken from the Greek), the base text -- what we mightcall the "Old Georgian," and now found primarily in geo1and some of the fragments -- was Armenian, and that it was progressively modified by comparisonwith the Greek text.

The earliest Georgian manuscripts are the already alluded to han-met'ifragments of the sixth and seventh centuries, followed by the hae-met'i fragments of thenext century. (The names derive from linguistic features of the Georgian whichwere falling into disuetitude.) These fragments are, unfortunately, so slightthat (with the exception listed below) they are of little use in reconstructingthe text (some 45 manuscriptscontain, between them, fragments of the Gospels, Romans, and Galatians only).Recently a new han-met'i palimpsest was discovered and published,containing large portions of the Gospels, but the details of its text are notyet known; it appears broadly to go with the Adysh manuscript (geo1).

With the ninth century, fortunately, we begin to possess fuller manuscripts,of good textual quality, from which we may attempt to reconstruct the "Old Georgian" text. Many of these manuscripts, happily, are dated.

The earliest substantially complete Georgian text is the Adysh manuscript, a copyof the Gospels dating from 897 C.E. It appears to havethe most primitive of all Georgian translations, and is commonly designatedgeo1.

From the next century come the Opiza Gospels (913), the Dzruc Gospels(936), the Parhal Gospels (973), the Tbet' Gospels (995),the Athos Praxapostolos (between 959 and 969), and the Kranim Apocalypse (978),as well as assorted not-so-well-known texts. Several of these manuscriptscombine to represent a second stage of the Georgian version, designatedgeo2. When cited separately, the Opiza gospels are geoA, the Tbet' gospels are geoB.(The Parhal Gospels are sometimes cited as geoC, butthis is not as common.)

Starting in the tenth century, the Georgian version was revised, mostnotably by Saint Euthymius of Athos (died 1028). Unfortunately, theresulting version, while perhaps improved in form and literary merit,is less interesting textually; the changes are generally in conformity with theByzantine text.

The text of the Georgian version, in the Gospels, is clearly"Cæsarean" (assuming, of course, that text-type exists). Indeed,the Georgian appears to be, along with the Armenian, the purest surviving monument ofthat text-type. Both geo1 and geo2 preservemany readings of the type, though not always the same readings. Blake thoughtthat geo1 affiliated with Θ565 700 and geo2 with families 1 and 13.

In Acts, Birdsall links the Old Georgian to the later forms of the Alexandriantext found in minuscules such as 81 and 1175. In Paul, he notes a connection withP46, although this exists in scattered readings rather than as an overallaffinity. In the Apocalypse, the text is that of the Andreas commentary.


Of all the versions regularly cited in critical apparati, the Gothicis probably the least known. This is not because it is ignored. It is becauseit has almost ceased to exist.

The Gothic New Testament was apparently entirely the work of Ulfilas (Wulfilas),the Apostle to the Goths. Appointed Bishop to the Goths around 341, hespent the next forty years evangelizing and making the gospel availableto his people. In the process he created the Gothic alphabet. The pictureshows that it was based on Greek and Latin models, but also included somesymbols from the Gothic runic alphabets.

The Gothic version includes both Old and New Testaments. The tradition is thatUlfilas translated it all, from the Greek, reportedlyexcepting the book of Kings, because it was too militant for his flock.This seems to be based on legends perpetuated by Auxentius and Socrates, however;Wright declares that the part about Ulfilas not translating "the fourbooks of Kings" (i.e. 1 Samuel-2 Kings) because they are too warlikemakes no sense; Joshua and Judges are even more warlike. Wright's suggestion,following Bradley, isthat Ulfilas translated the books in the order he felt most important, and thatKings was last on his list. In any case, some of the Old Testament books seem tobe translated in a style distinct from the New Testament, so there were likelymultiple translators.

This may not matter much, especially for our purposes, sinceonly fragments of the New Testament survive. (At that, they are the almost onlyliterary remains of Gothic, a language which is long since dead.)

The gospels are preserved primarily in the Codex Argenteus of the sixthcentury. (A curious manuscript in many ways; it has been conjectured, e.g.,that the letters, rather than being written with a pen, were engraved orperhaps painted.) Even this manuscript has lost nearly half its pages (177survive, out of about 330 in the original), but enoughhave survived to tell us that the books are in the "Western"order (Matthew, John, Luke, Mark), and that the manuscript included Mark16:9-20 but omitted John 7:53-8:11. The image of the manuscriptat right demonstrates this; the page contains John 7:52, 8:12-17.

Other than the Argenteus,all that has come to light of the gospels are a small portion of Matthew(parts of chapters 25-27) from a palimpsest and a few fragmentary versesof the Luke on a Gothic/Latinleaf destroyed during the Second World War. There is also a scrap of acommentary on John, from which Wright manage to produce a text of most of John 12, all oaf 14-15, and 17. Among the interesting readings in those chapters, Wright credits it with reading "Judas son of Simon Iscariot" in 12:4. He includes 12:8 (omitted by D). It has the longer reading with "you know the way" in 14:4. And it includes 14:4.

According to Metzger, nothing has survived of the Acts, Catholic Epistles,and Apocalypse. Of Paul there are several manuscripts, all fragmentary and all palimpsest.The only book for which we can assemble a complete text is 2 Corinthians(though the fragments of Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, and 1 and 2 Timothyare very substantial), and Hebrews is entirely lacking. (It hasbeen speculated that Ulfilas, for theological or other reasons, did not translateHebrews, but Vincent Broman informs me that Gothic Hebrews has been quoted in a commentary.)Broman also tells me that the Old Testament is almost alllost, though there is a fragment of Nehemiah large enough to indicate aLucianic ancestor. We have a few other scraps as well, e.g. of Ezra.These are from a manuscript in the Ambrosian Library at the Vatican.

Ulfilas's version is considered literal (critics have called it "severely"literal, preserving Greek word order whether it fits Gothic or not). Itis very careful in translation, striving to always use the same Gothicword for each Greek word. Even so, Gothic is a Germanic language, and socannot distinguish many variations in the Greek (e.g. of verb tense; someword order variations are also impermissible). It is also possible, thoughby no means certain, that Ulfilas (who was an Arian preaching to Arians)allowed some slight theological bias to creep into his translation.

In the Gospels, the basic run of the text is very strongly Byzantine,although von Soden was not able to determine what subgroup it belongs with.Burkitt found a number of readings which the Gothic shared with the OldLatin f (10), though scholars are not agreed on the significance of this.Some believe that the Old Latin influenced the Gothic; others believe theinfluence went the other way. Our best hint may come from Paul.Here the Gothic is again Byzantine, but less so, and it hasa number of striking agreements with the "Western" witnesses.It has been theorized that Ulfilas worked with a Byzantine Greek text,but also made reference to an Old Latin version. Presumably this versionwas either more "Western" in the Epistles, or (perhaps more likely)Ulfilas made more reference to it there.

It is much to be regretted that the Gothic has not been better preserved.While the Gospels text is not particularly useful, a complete copy of theEpistles might prove most informative. And it is, along with the Peshitta,one of the earliest Byzantine witnesses; it might provide interestinginsights into the Byzantine text.

The handful of survivals are also of keen interest to linguists, as theGothic is the earliest known member of the Germanic family of languages,predating the earliest Old English texts by a couple of centuries; it isalso of significance as the only attested East Germanic language (theGermanic group is thought to have three families: The West Germanic,which includes all languages now called "German," plus English,Dutch, Frisian, and Yiddish; the North Germanic, which gave rise toIcelandic, Faroese, Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian, which are still mostlymutually intelligible and amount to hardly more than a single source; andthe East Germanic, which consists solely of Gothic). Thus the Gothic isvery important in reconstructing proto-Germanic -- and, indeed, Indo-European.

Personally, I am surprised there aren't more Gothic scholars among textualcritics. Based on the samples in Joseph Wright's Grammar of the Gothic Language(which contains a complete copy of Mark in Gothic, with a Greek parallel ofseveral chapters, plus 2 Timothy and some other selections), Gothic appears quiteeasy for a modern English speaker to learn, especially one who has some Greek.

The alphabet is a modified Greek alphabet with a runic sort of look; the tablebelow approximates it in unicode:

phoneticabgdeqzhþiklm njuprstwfχƕo

To demonstrate the point about the ease of understanding Gothic, once you canread the text, consider, e.g., the first two verses of Mark in phonetic form:

(1) Anastōdeins aíwaggēljōns Iēsuis Xristáus sunáus guþs. (2) Swē gamēliþs istin Ēsaïsin praúfētáu: sái, ik insandja aggilu mainana faúra þus, saei gamanweiþ wigþeinana faúra þus.


Bonifatius Fischer's Vetus Latina Institute, now more than a half acentury old, has done tremendous work on both the Old Latin and Vulgatetranslations of the Bible. Their publications have made a vast amount ofdata available. But, ironically, they have not produced a good generalintroduction to the Latin versions. What follows cannot substitute for that,especially since I do not have access to all the VLI publications. But itattempts to give a general overview.

Of all the versions, none has as complicated a history as the Latin.There are many reasons for this, the foremost being its widespread use.The Latin Vulgate was, for millennia, the Bible of the western church, andafter the fall of Constantinople it was the preeminent Bible ofChristendom. There are at least eight thousand Latin Bible manuscriptsknown -- or at least two thousand more Latin than Greek manuscripts.

Below: An Old Latin manuscript, Codex Sarzensis (j), onpurple parchment, much damaged by the gold ink used to write it. Shownin exaggerated color The first reference to what appears to be a Latin version dates from180 C.E. In the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs,one of the men on trial admits to having writings of Paul in his possession.Given the background, it is presumed that these were in a Latin version.
j of the Old Latin

But which Latin version? That is indeed the problem -- for, inthe period before the Vulgate, there were dozens, perhaps hundreds. Jerome,in his preface to the Vulgate gospels, commented that there were "asmany [translations] as there are manuscripts." Augustine complainedthat anyone who had the slightest hint of Greek and Latin might undertakea translation. They seem to have been right; of our dozens of non-VulgateLatin manuscripts, no two seem to represent exactly the same translation.

Modern scholars have christened these pre-Vulgate translations, whichgenerally originated in the second through fourth centuries, the "OldLatin." (These versions are sometimes called the "Itala,"but this term is quite properly going out of use. It arose from a statementof Augustine's that the Itala was the best of the Latin versions -- butwe no longer know what this statement means or which version(s) itrefers to.)

The Old Latin gospels generally, although by no means universally, havethe books in the "Western" order (Matthew, John, Luke, Mark)-- an order found also in D and W but otherwise very rare among Greek manuscripts.

The Old Latins translations are traditionallybroken up into three classes, the African, the European, and the Italian.Even these terms can be misleading, however, as there is no clear dividingline between the European and the Italian; the Italian generally refersto European texts of a more polished type -- and in any case these aregroups of translations, not individual translations.

It is widely stated that these are independent translations; certainlythis is what Augustine's comment about multiple translators implies. However,H. A. G. Houghton, The Latin New Testament: A Guide to its Early History,Texts, and Manuscripts, Oxford University Press, 2016, p. 12, declares"If we leave to one side the potentially unreliable comments of laterauthors and turn to the existing textual evidence, the balance of probabilityfavors" the idea that instead there is one single translation continuouslyrevised, starting from the earliest Old Latin type and culminating in the lateVulgate.

The oldest of the types is probably the African; at least, its renderingsare the crudest, and Africa was the part of the Roman Empire which hadthe smallest Greek population and so had the greatest difficulty with aGreek Bible. In the first century, Greek was as common in Rome as was Latin;it was not until several centuries later (as the Empire became more andmore divided and Greek-speaking slaves became rarer) that Italy and thewest felt the need for a Latin version. Eventually the demand became sogreat that Pope Damasus authorized the Vulgate.

Traditionally the Old Latin witnesses were designated by a single Romanletter (e.g. a, b, e, k). As Roman letters ran out, longer names(aur) or superscripts (g1) came into use. TheBeuron Latin Institute has now officially numbered the Old Latin witnesses(of which about ninety are now known), but the old letter designationsare still generally used to prevent confusion with the Greek minuscules.

Note that Beuron numbers are not continuous. Like LXX manuscripts,and unlike manuscripts of the New Testament, blocks of numbers have beenassigned, so the number tells you something about the contents. SoGospels manuscripts have numbers 1-49; Acts/Catholics/Revelation are 50-74;Paul are 75-99. In addition, the numbers 100-299 are allocated for OldTestament volumes not including Psalms; the Psalms are 300 and up. Notethat this can sometimes produce confusion, if a book is Old Latin inmultiple sections.

The tables below show, sectionby section, the Old Latin witnesses available to the modern scholar. Ingeneral only those witnesses found in the NA27 or UBS4editions are listed, although a handful of others (often Old Latin/Vulgatemixes) have been cataloged. Observant users will observe that this listomits some "Old Latin" witnesses cited in UBS4. Examplesinclude ar c dem in Acts. The reason is that theseare actually Vulgate witnesses with occasional Old Latin readings; theywill be discussed under the Vulgate.

For additional background information on these manuscripts, see nowH. A. G. Houghton, The Latin New Testament: A Guide to its EarlyHistory, Texts, and Manuscripts, Oxford University Press, 2016. Thishas the irritating habit of referring to Old Latin witnesses by theirBeuron numbers rather than the traditional letters, and I am not reallyimpressed by its understanding of textual affiliations, but it gives muchmore information about the manuscripts themselves than, say, Metzger'sbook on the versions.

Old Latin Witnesses -- Gospels

a3IVVercellensise#Seems to be an early formof the European Latin. Closest to b ff2,but perhaps with some slightly older readings. Deluxe manuscript (silverand gold ink on purple parchment), reputed to have been written by SaintEusebius, Bishop pf Vercelli (martyred 370/1). It has been sovenerated as a relic that certain passages have been rendered unreadableby worshippers' kisses. Contains Mark 16:9-20, but on interpolated leaves;C.H. Turner believes the original did not contain these verses. Text isregarded as similar to n in the Synoptic Gospels.
a216VCuriensisLk 11#, 13#cf. n, o (both also #16)
aur15VIIAureuse#Primarily Vulgate but with many Old Latin readings, with the highest density of the latter toward the end of Mark and beginnig of Luke.Hopkins-James thinks that the text he calls the "Celtic Gospels" consists of anOld Latin base corrected toward the Vulgate. If so, Aureus probably represents a stepalong the way.
Incidentally, combining references from several sources, it appearsthat this is the oldest surviving parchment manuscript with a separatetitle page (there seem to have been no others until shortly before theinvention of printing).
Textually, this manuscript is only moderately interesting (except, perhaps,for students of the Bible in the British Isles), but it is unfortunatethat there is no modern full-color edition; it must be seen to be believed (for agood photo, see Christopher de Hamel, A History of Illuminated Manuscripts,Phaedon, 1997, pp. 26-27; a not-quite-so-good photo is in Michelle P. Brown, Inthe Beginning: Bibles before the Year 1000, pp. 186-187). To say that it iswritten in gold is almost an understatement.There are other manuscripts with writing in gold ink, but in Aureus, the letters on thedecorated pages are done with gold leaf. These are enclosed in elaborate scrollsand swirls with obvious Celtic influence. The quality of the paintings is alsohigh. Alternate pages are on purple parchment.It must have been one of the most expensive gospel books ever written.
It certainly had a complicated history! It was probably written in the British Isles -- perhaps even at Canterbury. The date was probaby in the eighth century. In theninth century, it was captured during a raid by the Vikings. A long marginal note inOld English says that it was ransomed by Earl Alfred of Kent and his wife Werburghand presented to Canterbury some time inthe late ninth century. (It begins [doing the best I can to reproduce the script viaunicode] "In nomine dṅi nṙi iḣv xṙi,Ic Aelfred aldormon 7rēburɠ minɠɓfera beɠɓtan ðaſ bɓc"i.e. In nomine Domini nostri Ihesu Christi, [ond] Wērburgh min gefēra thas bēc....)It somehow managed to migrate from there to Spain, where it was bought in 1690 andtaken to Scandinavia by Johan Gabriel Sparwenfeldt; it is now in Stockholm.
The volume is very large -- original size estimated at 400x600 millimeters, or16x24 inches. The first ten pages are on purple parchment, with the rest plain.
Although textually distinct, its appearance makes it part of a group ofmanuscripts called the "Tiberius Group," because most attention has been paid to a manuscript of the group called the "Tiberius Bede" (British Library, MS. Cotton Tiberius C.ii). This group aso includes the "Vespasian Psalter" (Cotton Vespasian A.i), the three prayer books known as the Royal Prayerbook (MS. Royal 2.A.XX), the Book of Nunnaminster (MS. Harley 2965), and the Book of Cerne (Cambridge, University Library Ll.1.10), and others.
b4VVeronensise#Biblioteca Capitolare di Verona VI(30). Purple codex with silver and some gold ink. Originally contained 418 leaves; 393 remain, some of which have decayed to the point of illegibility. Said to have a text quite close to that found in Novatian, it is widely regarded as one of the very best European witnesses; almost all other witnesses of the type agree with b more than with each other. A few passages have been conformed to the Vulgate, in writing so like the original that the alterations were not noticed for many centuries. Scans (using Flash) are available at the Verona Library web site at
β26VIICarinthianusLk 1-2#
Colbertinuse(apcr)Late and vulgate influenced, but apparently with some African readings(although European readings dominate; it is much closer to b ff2than to k). The pre-vulgate readings are most common in Markand Luke; there are some, but fewer, in Matthew, John, and Acts. The rest of the NT, which comes from another source, is Vulgatewith scattered Old Latin readings. It has been suggested that the book was written underCathar influence (which fits, time-wise, but I know of no actual heretical readings). It formed the base text of Sabatier's Old Latin edition of the Gospels (published in the 1740s).
Bezaee#a#c#Latin side of Codex Bezae, and almost as controversial as the Greek.It is probably based on an independent Latin version, since D and ddisagree at some few points. However, they agree the vast majority of thetime, even in places where they have no other Latin support. It is effectivelycertain that the two texts have been modified to agree more closely. Thegreat question is, which has been modified, and to what extent?
δ27IXSangallensise#Latin interlinear of Δ, with no real value of its own. For anextensive discussion, see J. Rendel Harris, The Codex Sangallensis: A Studyin the Text of the Old Latin Gospels, 1891 (reprinted 2015). Harris thinksthat it is a genuinely independent text (in contrast to the opinion of his timethat it was basically Vulgate) -- but while I would agree that it isn't Vulgate,what I note about his collations is how often δ agrees with d against a, b, andvg. What this says, to me, is that what makes δ interesting to Harris is notits Old Latin element but the fact that it (like d) shows accommodations to theGreek. Others have claimed a link with the text of the Egerton Gospels (E of theVulgate).
e2VPalatinuse#After k, the most important witness to the African Latin. (Unfortunately,the two overlap only very slightly, so it is hard to compare their texts.)Purple codex.
f10VIBrixianuse#Purple codex, and surprisinglywell-preserved. The writing is said to have been originally done in ink andsilvered over; possibly this helped to keep the silver from tarnishing too badly.The letters B and V are frequently interchanged; we also see some interchangeof O and V (U), and of T and D. The text seems to fall somewhere between the (European)Old Latin and the vulgate, and it has been conjectured that it was thesort of manuscript Jerome made his revision from. However, it has linksto the Gothic (it has been conjectured that it was taken from the Latinside of a Gothic-Latin diglot; the preface compares the Greek, Latin, andGothic languages), which make it less likely that it was Jerome's source.It is distinctly more Byzantine and less "Western" than the averageOld Latin, which probably explains at least part of the link to Jerome's text.It is considered to be an Italian text.
It has an interesting comment, in the preface, that readers should followthe sense of the text and not the exact wording, as if the scribe expected tomake errors.
ff19VIIICorbiensisMtVulgate with some Old Latin readings.
ff28VCorbiensise#European Latin, probably the best text of the type after b.
SangermanensisMt(NT)Paris, National Library MS. Latin 11553. Old Latin in Matthew; rest is Vulgate (see Vulgate G for more details). The Old Latin text is said to resemble Hilary of Poitiers. Images available at
g229XSangermanensis (secundus)eNow in Paris;National Library Latin 13169. Although edited by Sabatier, it is very rarely cited today. The text of John incorporates lectionary incipits into the text. It is written in a Caroline minuscule but seems to have Celtic-type illustrations -- an unusual combination.
h12VClaromontanusMt#(e)Old Latin in Matthew; rest is Vulgate.
i17V/VIVindobonensisMk#Lk#Purple codex.
j22VISarzanensis(Lk#)Jo#Purple codex. Text is described as "peculiar and valuable."
BobiensisMt#Mk#Best codex of the African Latin, unfortunately only about half completeeven for the books it contains (it now consist of portions of Matt. 1:1-15:36 plusMark 8:8-end). Noteworthy for containing only the shortending of Mark (without the long ending); it is the only known manuscriptto have this form. Written in a good hand by a careless scribe -- quitepossibly a non-Christian. The text seems to resemble Cyprian.
l11VIIIRehdigeranuse#"Mixed text."
Lk 16-17#
μ35VIII?MulleAlthough Nestle/Aland uses μ for the Codex Monacensis (see below), the letter is more often used for the Book of Mulling (or Moling), Trinity College (Dublin) A.1.15 (codex 60). This is named after the scribe who copied the Gospel of John (and perhaps the rest of the book), whose name was Mulling. This may well be the saint who founded the monastery where it was copied. The text is vulgate-like but with many Old Latin readings; presumably it is the result of comparison between a Vulgate and Old Latin witness, although it is not clear which was the primary text. The Old Latin readings are perhaps most common in Luke 4-9. It is said to be the only Latin manuscript to agree with P3 ℵ(*) (B) C2 L 1 33 in Luke 10:42. Although written in Latin, there are a few Greek letters scattered in the text. Hopkins-James thinks it similar to Codex Lichfeldensis (L of the vulgate). It is in a small format, for portable use rather than reading in services. The handwriting is Irish, similar to Dublinensis (aPaul, Dvulgate), and it is illustrated in an Irish style. The codex has been mutilated -- there were presumably originally four portraits of the Evangelists, but only three survive, and they have been cut out and grouped together at the end. In addition, the text is much damaged by damp, and large parts are now illegible. Scrivener/Miller, p. 78, says that it is quite similar to the Mac Durnan Gospels When cited for the vulgate, it often goes under the symbol "mull," and is sometimes called Codex Mull. The binding contained a few scraps of another gospel codex, which does not seem to have been particularly interesting.
μ-VMonacensisMt 9-10#The symbol μ is used in Nestle/Aland for this fragment of Matthew, although many other editors use it for the Codex Mull (described above)
n16VSangallensisMt#Mk#Jo#Cf. a2, o (both also #16)
o16VIISangallensisMk#Mark 16:14-20. Cf. a2, n (both also #16).
p20VIIISangallensisJo 11#A double page from a Latin lectionary, with a text said to be similar to r1. The hand is Irish.
Monacensise#Considered to have an Italian text, thoughperhaps with a slightly different textual base. Written in a clumsyhand by a scribe named Valerianus.
r114late VI or VIIUsserianuse#Trinity College, Dublin, MN. A.4.15.Although named after Archbishop Ussher (Usserianus I),it is unlikely he ever owned it. Gospels in the "Western"order Matthew, John, Luke, Mark. The script isIrish (one of the earliest examples of Latin in an Irish hand; it is said to bethe oldest Irish gospel book), but very minimally illustrated;it has been suggested that the Irish style of illustration had not yet developed. In addition tothe lacunae, the remaining leaves are much discoloured and damaged; often all fourmargins have decayed. The first lines of the its numbered chapters were written incolored ink, now much faded. The text is said to be somewhat like that of Hilary ofPoitiers. It is also said to have sections reminiscent of b (first half of John)and h (in Matthew), and to have Irish readings and some readings reminiscent of q;it is either an incredibly mixed text or we know less than we think about Old Latinmanuscript groupings.
Usserianus IIeTrinity College, Dublin MS. 56, the Garland of Howth. Most ofthe Old Latin readings are in the second half of Matthew.It is not cited in NA28.
AmbrosianusJo 13#
AmbrosianusLk 17-21#
BernensiaMk 1-3#
v25VIIVindobonensisJo 19-20#
23VAberdonenseJo 7:27-8, 30-31This may be a Vulgate rather than an Old Latin text. Although it has a Beuron number as if it were an Old Latin manuscript, it is not cited in NA28.
33V/VIParisiensisJo#An extremely small codex, 5.6 cm. x 7.2 cm., perhaps intended as an amulet. Mostly Vulgate with Old Latin readings in chapters1-6. Two scribes were involved, the one who did the larger portion of the work beingmuch better. The inferior scribe did the first four pages and a few after that.Not cited in NA28.
36V/VILu 23:3-6, 24:5-9A Greek/Latin diglot of Luke, with the Gothic on the left. Only two leaves survived to modern times, and they were ruined inWorld War II. Not cited in NA28.
JoAt St. Gall. Said to be Old Latin mostly in the first three chapters of John. Not cited in NA28.
eAt St. Gall. A well-decorated manuscript. The early chapters of Matthew are Old Latin, the rest mostly Vulgate, of a British type. Not cited in NA28.

Old Latin Witnesses -- Acts

Bezaee#a#c#Latin side of Bezae (D). See comments in the section on the Gospels.
e50VILaudianusa#Latin side of Laudianus (E). The base text isconsidered to be European, but there is also assimilation to the parallel Greek.It formed the base text of Sabatier's Old Latin edition of the Gospels (published in the 1740s).
gSymbol used in some editions for gig.
gig51XIIIGigas(e)a(pc)rAn immense codex containing the Latin Bible (with the Old and New Testaments separated by other writings) and a number of other works -- Josephus's Antiquities and Jewish War translated into Latin, Isidore of Seville's Etymologies, medical works, Cosmas of Prague's Chronicle of Bohemia, and the Rule of St. Benedict, although that portion is now lost. The pages were originally about 1 meter tall by half a meter wide, and it is said that it took two people to carry it. (For other large bibles, see theentry on Atlantic Bibles.)Originally from Prague, it was taken to Stockholm in 1648.Its text in Acts is reminiscent of that of Lucifer of Cagliari, but expertscannot agree whether it belongs with the African or European Latin.
h55VFloriacensisa#c#r#Fleury palimpsest. The translation is loose and the copy careless,but the text is very close to that used by Cyprian (African), except in the CatholicEpistles, which are said to be more Vulgate-like. Only eighteen pages are stillextant, and even those are of course palimpsest.
l67VIILegionensisa#c#The León Palimpsest;text is vulgate with some sections of Old Latin readings(Acts 8:27-11:13, 15:6-12, 26-38 and perhaps some parts of the Catholic Epistles).Said to be close to the Liber Comicus (t).It is said to be the oldest Latin Pandect of which we have any surviving portion.
(m)-IV?(Speculum)eapcrSee Speculum under Fathers
p54XIIPerpinianusaOld Latin in 1:1-13:6, 28:16-end. The textis said to be similar to the fourth century writer Gregory of Elvira, and isthought to have been written in northern Spain or southern France. It has been suggestedthat the book was written under Cathar influence; this is perhaps possible based on the date, but I know of no direct evidence.
ph63XIIaActs with "other material."
Rodensis(e)a(pcr)Paris, National Library latin 6. Bible in four volumes, with illustrations. Houghton says it was copied in Santa Maria de Ripoli in mid-XI. Vulgate text with Old Latin readings in both text and margin in Acts, with the largest number in Acts 11-12. Rarely cited outside Acts. Wordsworth and White's RActs. Scans are available at (although they're in greyscale, so it's very hard to read much of the colored text). It appears that some of the illustrations were not completed. Matthew begins on page 12.
sa60XIIIBoverianusa#Contains Acts 1:15-26.
tVII+Liber Comicusa#p#c#r#Lectionary
Wernigerodensis(e)a(p)c(r)Vulgate with Old Latin readings in Acts & Catholics. Copied in Bohemia, probably in the second half of the fourteenth century. The text has glosses in Czech. The text, other than the handful of Old Latin readings, seems to resemble the text of the Paris Bibles of the thirteenth century.

Old Latin Witnesses -- Paul

Note: Scholars generally do not distinguish between African, European,and Italian texts in Paul (although I have seen r called both African and Italian).The reason seems to be that we have no unequivocally African texts.

(Book of Armagh)
(ea)p#(c)rDublin, Trinity College MS. 52. Perhaps the most important(although not the most famous) manuscript in that library.General run of the text is vulgate text with many OldLatin readings, but Paul (vac. 1 Cor. 14:36-39) and the Apocalypse are Old Latin with someVulgate influence. It includes the Epistleto the Laodiceans. The text seems to be similar to one used in the Balliol copy ofPelagius's commentary.See D of the Vulgate for full information on thehistory and style of this noteworthy manuscript.
pClose to d, and possibly the best Latin witness available in Paul.Most other "Western" witnesses are closer to b d thanto each other. Properly speaking, this is a (continuous) commentary rather than amanuscript, with the commentary having been compiled in 397 or 405, but because thetext is extensive, it is treated as a Biblical MS. It has been suggested that thecommentary is anti-Pelagian; the text is said to be similar to Lucifer of Cagliari's.
d75VIClaromontanusp#Latin side of D. Unlike most bilinguals,the Latin and the Greek do not appear to have been conformed to each other; dseems to fall closest to b. It formed the base text of Sabatier's Old Latin edition of the Gospels (published in the 1740s).
f78IXAugiensisp#Latin side of F. Mixed Vulgate and Old Latin (Hebrews is purely Vulgate),possibly with some assimilation to the Greek text.
g77IXBoernianusp#Latin interlinear of G. Rarely departs from the Greek text except whereit offers alternate renderings.
gue79VIGuelferbytanusRom#Palimpsest, from the samemanuscript as Pe Q. Contains Rom. 11:33-12:5, 12:17-13:1, 14:9-20. Merk's w.Latin/Gothic diglot, of which only four leaves survive; the Gothic is on the left.
(m)-IV?(Speculum)eapcrSee Speculum under Fathers.Not to be confused with m/mon (below)
m86Xp#The appendix of NA27 lists this as mon (the latter symbol is used in UBS), but cites it in the text as m; the inconsistency was corrected in NA28, where the catalog as well sa the text lists it as m. Not to be confused with the Codex Speculum, often cited as m. It is said to have been originally part of a two-volume (presumably) complete Bible, but all that survives is Paul and some parts of the Deuterocanonical/Apocryphal Old Testamentbooks (Tobit 9:10-end, Esther, Judith 1:1-8:31). The extant New Testament text includes most of Romans (but with defects starting with chapter 10), 1 Corinthians 1:1-5, Ephesians 4:18-end, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, and the first three chapters of 2 Timothy. The text is said to be similar to that of Ambrose; it is noteworthy for apparently placing the doxology (16:24-25) of Romans after chapter 14 (although I wouldn't bet my life on it; the text there consists of only a few letters. At the end, Romans concludes with 16:24. Another old latin MS., gue, also has the doxology after Romans 14, although that ms. does not exist for Romans 16). The table of contents says it included 3 Corinthians, although the text is lost. The full text, with discussion, is printed in Hermann Josef Frede, Altlateinische Paulus-Handscriften, Verlag Herder 1964.
monSymbol used for m in UBS4.
μ82IXMonacensisHeb 7, 10#Contains Heb. 7:8-26, 10:23-39
oXV(Pelagius)pNot properly a manuscript; this symbol is usedin the recent editions of UBS for the text of the Pauline lemmata in manuscript B ofPelagius's commentary.
p80VIIHeidelbergensiaRom 5-6#
Frisingensiap#Assorted small fragments (a total of 28 pages),sometimes denoted r1, r2,r3. They do not come from the same manuscript, but seemto have similar texts. They have a much more Alexandrian cast than theother Old Latins, and are said to agree with Augustine. It has been suggestedthat portions were corrected against a Greek text. Same as q/rof the Catholics.
s87VIIIp#Lectionary fragments.
tVII+Liber Comicusa#p#c#r#Lectionary
VeronensisHeb#The first three chapters of Hebrews, apparently taken from Pelagius's Commentary on Paul, which had an Old Latin text.
wSymbol used in some editions for gue.
z65VIIIHarleianus(Heb#)Vulgate Bible (same codex as Z/harl); only Heb. 10:1-end isOld Latin. See also z in the list of witnesses to the Catholics.

Old Latin Witnesses -- Catholics

Bezaee#a#c#Latin side of D (Bezae). Greek does not exist for the Catholics, andof the Latin we have only 3 John 11-15.
ff66IXCorbeiensisJamesSouter describes it having"some readings unique (almost freakish) in their character...." Overall,it seems to have a mixed text, not affiliated with anything in particular. Thescribe responsible for it may have had unusual opinions, since it contains severaldubious works -- one by Novatian and a Latin translation of the Epistle ofBarnabas. Its text is said to be similar to that of some late fourth centuryauthors. It formed the base text of Sabatier's Old Latin edition of the Gospels (published in the 1740s).
h55VFloriacensisa#c#r#Fleury palimpsest. Contains 1 Pet. 4:17-2 Pet 2:7, 1 John 1:8-3:20 (for the entire Bible, only eighteen pages remain).The translation is loose and the copy careless, but most of the text is very closeto that used by Cyprian (African). In the Catholic Epistles, however, it is thoughtto be closer to the Vulgate.
l67VIILegionensisa#c#Palimpsest; small sections exist of all books of the Catholics exceptJude. Said to be close to the Liber Comicus (t)
(m)-IV?(Speculum)eapcrSee Speculum under Fathers
qSymbol used for r in UBS4.
Monacensisc#Same as r of Paul. Denoted q in UBS4.
s53VIBobiensisc#Palimpsest. Old Latin in 1 Pet. 1:1-18, 2:4-10
tVII+Liber Comicusa#p#c#r#Lectionary
w32VIGuelferbitanusc#Palimpsest lectionary, Vulgate with sections in Old Latin.
z65VIIIHarleianus(c#)Vulgate Bible (same codex as Z/harl); only 1 Pet. 2:9-4:15,1 John 1:1-3:15 are Old Latin. The end of Hebrews is also Old Latin; see z of Paul.

Old Latin Witnesses -- Revelation

(Book of Armagh)
(ea)p#(c)rVulgate text with many Old Latin readings; Paul and the Apocalypseare Old Latin with some Vulgate influence. The text is said to be similar to thatquoted in two Durham copies of Bede's commentary on the Apocalypse.See D of the Vulgate for more information about thisnoteworthy manuscript.
gSymbol used in some editions for gig.
gig51XIIIGigas(e)a(pc)rAn immense codex containing the Bible and a number of other works.Its text in the Apocalypse is Old Latin but seems to be a late form ofthe European type, approaching the Vulgate. For more about it, see the entry on Gigas in the Acts list of Old Latin witnesses.
h55VFloriacensisa#c#r#Fleury palimpsest. The translation is loose and the copy careless, and only eighteen pages remain of the entire Bible,but the text is very close to that used by Cyprian (African).
sin74Xa#r#Contains Rev. 20:11-21:7.
tVII+Liber Comicusa#p#c#r#Lectionary

When discussing the Old Latin, of course, the great question regardsthe so-called "Western" text. The standard witnesses to thistype are the great bilingual uncials (D/05 D/06 F/010 G/012; E/07 is bilingualbut is not particularly "Western" and 629 has some "Western"readings but its Latin side is Vulgate). That there is kinship betweenthe Latins and the "Western" witnesses is undeniable -- but itis also noteworthy that many of the most extravagant readings of CodexBezae (e.g. its use of Matthew's genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3:23f.; itsinsertion of Mark 1:45f. after Luke 5:14) have no Latin support exceptd. Even the "Western Non-interpolations" at the end of Lukerarely command more than a bare majority of the Old Latins (usually ab e r1; occasionally ff2; rarely aurc f q).

It is the author's opinion that the Old Latins, not Codex Bezae, shouldbe treated as the basis of the "Western" text, as they are morenumerous and show fewer signs of editorial action. But this discussionproperly belongs in the article on text-types.

Some Latin witnesses

Three Latin versions. Left: The final page of k (Codex Bobiensis),showing the "shorter ending" of Mark. Middle: Portion of onecolumn of Codex Amiatinus (A or am). Shown are Luke 5:1-3. Right: The famousand fabulously decorated Book of Kells (Wordsworth's Q). The lower portion of the pageis shown, with the beginning of Luke's genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:23-26).

The Vulgate

As the tables above show, the number of Old Latin translations was verylarge. And the quality was very low. What is more, they were a diverselot not just in terms of translation style but also of implied Greek textand meaning; it must have been hard to preach when one didn't even know what theweek's scripture said!

It was in 382 that Pope Damasus (366-384) called uponJerome (SophroniusEusebius Hieronymus) to remedy the situation. Jerome was the greatest scholarof his generation, and the Pope asked him to make an official Latin version-- both to remedy the poor quality of the existing translations and togive one standard reference for future copies. Damasus also called uponJerome to use the best possible Greek texts -- even while giving him thecontradictory command to stay as close to the existing versions as possible.

Jerome agreed to take on the project, somewhat reluctantly, but henever truly finished his work. By about 384, he had prepared a revisionof the Gospels, which simultaneously improved their Latin and reduced thenumber of "Western" readings. But if he ever worked on the restof the New Testament, his revisions were very hasty. The Vulgate of theActs and Epistles is not far from the Old Latin. Jerome had become fascinatedwith Hebrew, and spent the rest of his translational life working on theLatin Old Testament.

Even so, the Vulgate eventually became the official Bible ofthe Catholic Church -- and, despite numerous errors in the process of transmission,it remained recognizably Jerome's work. Although many greeted the new versionwith horror, its clear superiority eventually swept the Old Latins fromthe field.

Vulgate criticism is a field in itself, and -- considering that it wasfor long the official version of the Catholic church -- a very largeone. Sadly, the official promulgation of the Sixtine Vulgate in 1590 (soonreplaced by the Clementine Vulgate of 1592) meant that attempts to reconstructthe original form of the version were hampered; there is still a greatdeal which must be done to use the version to full advantage. Even the recentNeo Vulgate, officially adopted by the Catholic Church in 1979 and revisedin 1986, cannot reallybe considered progress in this regard. It is not a critical edition ofJerome's original. Rather, it bears much the same relation to Jerome'stranslation that the New Revised Standard bears to the King James Bible:It is based on Jerome's language, but stylistically improved and broughtcloser to the United Bible Societies Greek text. For a textual critic,it has no value at all. (At least in the New Testament. In the Old, ofcourse, there is no standard Hebrew or Greek text to work from, so it couldbe argued that the Neo Vulgate implies a reconstruction of the Hebrew text. True --but reconstructing the Hebrew or Greek would be much more useful than aLatin translation!) It is understandable why the Catholic Church producedthe thing -- an ultra-hierarchical church needs a standard Bible, and given theirhistory, it had to be in Latin -- but to call it a "vulgate" issimply deceptive.

Scholars cannot even agree on the text-type of the original Vulgate.In the gospels, some have called it Alexandrian and some Byzantine. Infact it has readings of both types, as well as a number of "Western"readings which are probably holdovers from the Old Latin. The strongestsingle strand, however, seems to be Byzantine; in 870 test passages, Ifound it to agree with the Byzantine manuscripts 60-70% of the time andwith ℵand B only about 45% of the time.

The situation is somewhat clearer in the Epistles; the Byzantine elementis reduced and the "Western" is increased. Still, it should benoted that the Vulgate Epistles are much more Alexandrian than most of the OldLatin versions of the same books.

In the Apocalypse the Vulgate preserves a very good text, closer toA and C than to any of the other groups.

These comments apply, of course, to the old forms of the Vulgate,as found, e.g., in the Wordsworth-White edition. The later forms, suchas the Clementine Vulgate, were somewhat more Byzantine, and have morereadings which do not occur in any Greek manuscripts.

It is claimed, on the basis of the Vetus Latina Institute's Vulgatesample collations, that the early manuscripts of the Vulgate have an extremelyhigh rate of agreement; H. A. G. Houghton, The Latin New Testament, p. 125,reports "there is a remarkable stability in the Vulgate text of the gospels up tothe year 1000, with 294 of the 462 witnesses agreeing 95% or more with the StuttgartVulgate, and a further 99 in the bracket of 90-95 percent." This statistic, ofcourse, means nothing; until we know what fraction of the variants in the manuscriptsare (e.g.) singular variants caused by scribal inattention, we can't know what theexpected rate of agreement would be. And comparison against the Stuttgart Vulgatehas exactly the same defect as comparison against the Textus Receptus had for theGreek manuscripts: It doesn't tell you which manuscripts go together, just which onesagree with a standard. Still, it does seem that the Vulgate manuscripts cohere morethan the Greek manuscripts do -- which is not in the slightest degree surprising,since the Vulgate is three centuries newer than the Greek text and copies of theVulgate were not as subject to destruction during persecutions of the Church. Butthe fact that the Vulgate manuscript agree more than the Greek does not mean thatthey agree entirely!

With that firmly in mind, let us turn to the various types of Vulgatetext which evolved over the centuries. As with the Greek manuscripts, thevarious parts of Christendom developed their own "local" text.

The best "local" text is considered to be the Italian type, as represented e.g. by am and ful. This text also endured for a long time in England (indeed, Wordsworth and White call this group "Northumbrian"). It has formed the basis for most recent Vulgate revisions. (It should not be assumed, however, that all English manuscripts are good, or are of this type. There would eventually develop a &qout;Winchester" text, for instance, that was very well preserved in manuscripts from that bishopric but that is very full of corrupt readings.)

Believed to be as old as the Italian, but less reputable, is the Spanish text-type, represented by cav and tol. Jerome himself is said to have supervised the work of the first Spanish scribes to copy the Vulgate (398), but by the time of our earliest manuscripts the type had developed many peculiarities (some of them perhaps under the influence of the Priscillians, who for instance produced the "three heavenly witnesses" text of 1 John 5:7-8).

The Irish text is marked by beautiful manuscripts (the Book of Kells and the Lichfield Gospels, both beautiful illuminated manuscripts, are of this type, and even unilliminated manuscripts such as the Rushworth Gospels and the Book of Armagh are fine examples of calligraphy). Sadly, these manuscripts are often marred by conflations and inversions of word order. Some of the manuscripts are thought to have been corrected from the Greek -- though the number of Greek scholars in the Celtic church must have been few indeed. Lemuel J. Hopkins-James, editor of The Celtic Gospels (essentially a critical edition of codex Lichfeldensis) offers another theory: that this sort of text (which he calls "Celtic" rather than Irish) is descended not from a pure Vulgate manuscript but from an Old Latin source corrected against a Vulgate. (It should be noted, however, that Hopkins-James tries to use statistical comparisons to support this result, and the best word I can think of for his method is "ludicrous.")

The "French" text has been described as a mixture of Spanish and Irish readings. The text of Gaul (France) has been called "unquestionably" the worst of the local texts. Still, the "Paris" version of the French text was historic in several ways: Stephen Langton's division into chapters, which still largely endures, was based on the Paris text, and the very first printed book, the Gutenberg Bible (for which see the article on Books and Bookmaking), has a Paris text.

The wide variety of Vulgate readings in Charlemagne's time caused thatmonarch to order Alcuin to attempt to create a uniform version (the exactdate is unknown, but he was working on it in 800). Unfortunately, Alcuinhad no critical sense, and the result was not a particularly good text.It has been argued that what he produced was less a text than a format;Alcuin worked on the punctuation and (to a lesser extent) the Latinityand created a standard format -- usually a Pandect written in two columns.Still, his revision was issued in the form of many beautiful codices.According to Margaret T. Gibson, The Bible in the Latin West, being volume 1 of "The Medieval Book,"University of Notre Dame Press, 1993, p. 34, the Beuron Institute counts23 Alcuin Bibles and 15 more Alcuinic gospel books. H. A. G. Houghton,The Latin New Testament, p. 82, says there are 46 complete Vulgatesand 18 gospel books written at Alcuin's base in Tours in the early ninthcentury, although these are not all true Alcuin books. Alcuin manuscriptslisted below are B/ΦB, ΦC, E, K/ΦGT, and V/ΦV. Others are in Britain: British Library Additional 11849 (gospels, IX); Harley 2797 (gospels; gold ink; IX; text is mixed but mostly Alcuin's); British Library Additional 40000 (the "Thorney Gospels"; IX/X; original text is Alcuin's; corrected toward the text characteristic of Winchester); Oxford, St. John's College MS. 194 (gospels; c. 1000).

Another scholar who tried to improve the Vulgate was Theodulf, who alsoundertook his task near the beginning of the ninth century. Some haveaccused Theodulf of contaminating the French Vulgate with Spanish readings,but it appears that Theodulf really was a better scholar than Alcuin,and produced a better edition than Alcuin's whichalso included information about the sources of variant readings(e.g. ȧ is a reading from Alcuin and a reading from Spanishsources). Unfortunately,such a revision is hard to copy, and it seems to have degraded and disappearedquickly (though manuscripts such as theo, which are effectively contemporarywith the edition, preserve it fairly well).Gibson, p. 32, there are six surviving copiesof Theodulfite Bibles, and all have distinct texts although it is clear theywere compiled by similar methods.And Theodulf's work "illustratesvery well the strengths and limitations of textual criticism in his day. He hadgood Latin, a gut instinct for detecting error and an interest in variantreadings, but without Hebrew and Greek he had no linguistic security, nor hadhe any theory of emendation that we can discern" (Gibson p. 6).

Lanfranc, William the Conqueror's Archbishop of Canterbury, is also credited by Hans H. Glunz, History of the Vulgate in England, pp. 158-159, with trying to create a Vulgate edition "according to the Orthodox faith." There are a number of English manuscripts which have been associated with this revision (Glunz, p. 169, says that it was the standard text of English monasteries for a century), although it's not clear that it had much influence beyond that. A characteristic of this edition is that it adds material from Jerome's commentary on Matthew to Jerome's introductory letter to the gospels. Glunz, p. 181, claims that Lanfranc even encouraged a new script style which makes it easy to recognize Lanfranc's edition (one of the few examples I can think of where funny handwriting has some actual value...).

It does not appear to be associated with any particular name, but thereseems to have been a serious attempt, around the beginning of the thirteenthcentury, to prepare a true Vulgate edition for use in France. Thisinvolved putting the books in a single volume, in a standardized order, andattaching Jerome's prologues to his translations. Textually, the work doesn'tseem to have had any value, but it shaped later editions (indeed,Christopher de Hamel, A History of Illuminated Manuscripts, Phaedon, 1997,p. 120, says that so many good Bibles were produced in the thirteenth centurythat few more were made in the fourteenth and fifteenth).

Other revisions were undertaken over the years, but theyreally accomplished little; even if someone took notice of the revisors' efforts,the results were not particularly good. When it finally came time to producean official Vulgate (which the Council of Trent declared an urgent need),the number of texts in circulation was high, but few were of any quality.The result was that the "official" Vulgate editions (the Sixtineof 1590, and its replacement the Clementine of 1592) were very bad. Althoughgood manuscripts such as Amiatinus were consulted, they made little impressionon the editors. The Clementine edition shows an amazing ability to combineall the faults of the earlier texts. Unfortunately, it was to be nearlythree centuries before John Wordsworth undertook a truly critical editionof the Vulgate, and another century after that before the Catholic Churchfinally accepted the need for revised texts (and even then, what they adopted was the Neo Vulgate).

Despite all that has been said, the Vulgate remains an important versionfor criticism, and both its "true" text and the variants canhelp us understand the history of the text. We need merely keep in mindthe personalities of our witnesses. The table below is intended to helpwith that task as much as possible.

Note that there is no official list -- let alone set of symbols -- forVulgate manuscripts. Single letters are used by Merk, Weber, and Wordsworth/White;the symbols such as am and ful are typical of editions ofthe Greek text such as Tischendorf. If a manuscript is cited by one of theseeditions but not others, I have used a superscript to indicate the edition --e.g. DWe means that the symbol D is used by Weber for durmachensis,but not by Wordsworth/White. The quoted comments are primarily fromScrivener; the textual descriptions from Metzger, Glunz, Hopkins-James, Houghton, and others.

The superscript symbols are as follows:
HJ = Lemuel Hopkins-James, The Celtic Gospels (Gospels only)
Me = Merk
We = Weber
WW = Wordsworth/White
If no superscript is shown, then all sources use this abbreviation (e.g. A refers to Amiatinus in all of the four editions).

Catalog of Vulgate Manuscripts

AamAmiatinusc. 700OT+NTFirenze, LaurentianLibrary, Amiatino I. 1029 leaves (so Scrivener/Miller, p. 71, and Metzger, p. 336; Houghton, p. 254, says 1030; I read elsewhere a source that claimed it had 1209 leaves; the World Digital Library copy shows 2059 pages) of a large folio. Considered to be the best Vulgate manuscript in existence. Written in cola et commata, with two columns per page, in a beautiful calligraphic hand. Mostly in black ink but with some red highlights; there are a few illuminations in the non-Biblical material. Believed to be the oldest surviving complete Bible in Latin (or, perhaps, any language). Its history appears to be very interesting. The manuscript is currently in the Laurentian Library in Florence, but that is not where it originated, nor is that where it was intended to end up. The dedicatory page claims it is from "Petrus Langobardorum" -- but Peter's name was clearly written over an erasure. The original text claims it was sent by Ceolfrith the Angle -- that is, Ceolfrith of what is now England. Although almost certainly derived primarily from an Italian original (in fact, it contains a drawing showing a scribe with nine volumes; it has been speculated that this is a copy of artwork showing the nine volume Bible of Cassiodorus which was used to produce the exemplar of Amiatinus), it was written in England, one of a set of several high-quality Bibles produced at the time. It is believed one was for the monastery of Wearmouth, another for the nearby Jarrow monastery, and one for the Pope. The volume for the Pope was Amiatinus, which was suppoed to be carried to Rome by Ceolfrid, who left England in 716. But he died on the road, and the Bible never arrived.
Houghton, p. 255, thinks that the Gospels came from a Neapolitan exemplar, and that Paul is also based on an Italian source, but that the Acts and Catholic Letters are from a Spanish or Insular source.
Scans of the book are in the World Digital Library at or at the Laurentian Library site at
Over the years, several leaves have turned up which appear, from their date, text, and style, to be from the sister volumes. They are, however, mere fragments, and don't seem to get much attention (and aren't of immediate interest to us, as they both are Old Testament copies: British Library MSS. Add 37777 and 45025, from one of the two copies, contains 11 folios of 3-4 Kings; the "Bankes Leaf," British Library MS. Loan 81, a single leaf of Sirach. However, the Wearmouth-Jarrow exemplar, or its close relatives seems to have been the source for several other manuscripts in addition to Amiatinus. The two other survivors of this type are the Lindisfarne Gospels (Y/lind/Lindisfarnensis) and the Stonyhurst Gospels(St. Cuthbert's Codex, S/ston/Stoneyhurstensis).
--andSt. Andrew?eFormerly at St. Andrew's monastery at Avignon, but lost by Scrivener's time.
arsee under D
e#Paris, National Library Latin 281. "Probably written in France, but both the text and the calligraphy show traces of Irish influence" (Scrivener/Miller, p. 80). Houghton, however, thinks it was written in southern England in late VIII. Bigotianus proper contains the Synoptic Gospels; the related Codex Fiscannensis (Paris, National Library Latin 298) contains John. Written in sense lines. Scans are available at The illustrations (e.g. folio 7r, the opening of Matthew written in reverse on a multi-colored background) do not appear to be finished, but the text is beautifully written and extraordinarily easy to read. The final pages are rather badly stained, although the damage is not as bad as in Codex Fiscannensis (which see); it is clear that whatever happened to the manuscript happened before the two were separated (indeed, I wonder if it might not be one reason they were separated).
bamBambergensisIX(e)apc Bamberg, MS. Bibl. 1 (formerly A.I.5). "One of the finest examples of the Alcuinian recension, and a typical specimen of the second period of Caroline writing and ornamentation" (Scrivener/Miller, p. 70). It is said to have been written in Tours. Although it contains the entire Bible except for the Apocalypse (New Testament in the order eacp), Wordworth-White and Weber cite it only for Acts, Paul, and the Catholic Epistles -- where it is said to have an admixture of Old Latin readings (a curious trait for an Alcuin Bible).
eSaid to have been written at Beneventum, but now in the British Library, Additional MS. 5463. "[W]ritten in a fine revived uncial hand" (Scrivener/Miller, p. 77) in cola et commata. The scribe was named Lupus. Berger describes the text as having the sort of mix of Spanish and Irish readings which underlie the French text. Now available at the British Museum manuscripts site,
bodlsee under O
CcavCavensisIXOT+NTDella Badis archive (Cava), MS. 1(14). Along with tol, the leading representative of the Spanish text. It has been suggested that it is based on the edition compiled by John, Bishop of Saragossa, in 619. Among the earliest witnesses for the three witnesses in 1 John 5:7-8, which it possesses in modified form. The scribe, named Danila, wrote it with a Visigothic hand. It is thought to come from Castile or Leon. The books are in the order epcar. In the Old Testament, Baruch is Old Latin, and there are a few Old Latin readings in the New. It has been suggested that the exemplar is from the seventh century. The text of Paul is reportedly based on the edition of Peregrinus.
Apart from the value of its text, it is an extraordinarily beautiful book. The ordinary run of the text is in a very compact hand, mostly in brown but with a significant amount of vermillion. Books begin and end with calligraphic illustrations and illuminated letters in four or more colors. There are three purple and two blue pages -- one of the latter being Jerome's prologue to the New Testament, which is written in a cruciform format with white and red inks mixed, in an uncial hand. (Danila was able to write in at least three styles of script.) It is an extraordinary product; most Spanish manuscripts of the period have illuminations which I can only call ugly.
cMecolbColbertinusXII(e)apcrSame as the Old Latin c of the Gospels. Often cited as Old Latinelsewhere, but the text is vulgate. The two sections are separately boundand in different hands (with the gospels sometimes thought to be slightly earlier).The Vulgate portion of the text is considered to be French.
cantabsee under X
CoronensisXI???eBritish Library, Cotton MS Tiberius A.ii. The so-called "Coronation Gospels" or "Athelstan" gospels, although it is most unlikely that it was ever associated with that pre-conquest King. (The story is that it was given by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto to Athelstan, and it has been dated c. 900 on that basis, e.g. by Glunz, p. 55, but the letterforms argue otherwise.) It suffered minor damage in the Cotton Library fire of 1731. Textually it is not noteworthy -- Glunz, History of the Vulgate in England, p. xiv, classes it among the witnesses to the "Continental Conservative Tradition" (which includes a lot of Alcuin texts), adding that "the influence of the schools is noticeable" -- but it is beautiful enough to be worth examining. Now available at the British Museum manuscripts site,
DWW,HJ,Mear or
(Book of Armagh)
ea(p)c(r)Dublin, Trinity College MS. 52.Paul and Revelation are Old Latin (#61, cited as a or ar).Famous Irish codex -- the only (nearly) complete New Testament regarded as beingfrom an Irish source. Also unusual in that we know a good deal about the scribe:It was written by one Ferdomnach. The dating is somewhat uncertain. We know fromthe Annals of Ulster that Ferdomnach died in 845/6, after a long career.The book is not itself dated, but there are hints (somewhat confusing) in thecolophon. Ferdomnach is said to have worked under the direction of abbott Torbachof Armagh, who held that post from 807-808 -- but we also see a reference toFerdomnach as "the heir of Patrick," i.e. Abbot or Bishop of Armagh),which post he held from 812-813. Thus various scholars have dated the work to807 or to 812. If we must choose between the two dates, I would incline to 807,since the higher title might have been inserted later. But it is at least possible that thebook took four or so years to complete; it is a major production, consisting notjust of the New Testament but an introductory section, in Latin and Gaelic,of documents regarding Saint Patrick, followed by the New Testament, and thena life of Saint Martin of Tours. Brian Boru, the most famous early King of Ireland (died 1014),would later add his name to it.
The hand is a small cursive and has been described as "beautiful," thoughto me it looks rather crabbed. Like most Irish manuscripts, it is handsomelyillustrated with figures of animals and the like incorporated into theinitial letters, though the only separate drawings are of the four creatures whichrepresent the evangelists. As it currently stands, it consists of 442 pages,mostly in two columns.
The Vulgate portions (understandably) are said to have an Irish text. The Gospels aresaid to show signs of correction from Family 13. It includes the Epistleto the Laodiceans. Lacks Matthew chapters 14-19 (as well as a portion of 1 Corinthiansin the Old Latin section).
A curiosity about this manuscript is its use of Greek letters. At times the Latintext is transliterated into Greek (e.g. ΑΜΗΝ for Latin AMEN). The whole of the Lord'sPrayer in Matthew is written this way, and there are other instances. Actual Greekis not found, except in oddities like the Gospel titles, which read ΚΑΤΑ (whoever)rather than SECUNDUM (whoever).
DWedurmach or durDurmachensisVI/VIIeBook of Durrow. From the Monastery at Durrow, but now at Trinity College, Dublin (MS. 57 or A.4.5). Illuminated manuscript, although the illuminations use onlya limited gamut of colors (basically green, yellow, and red -- verdegris, orpiment, and red lead, a fairly toxic mix; there is a little ox-gall, which would have been originally yellow but now is mostly brown; the ink is iron-gall brown rather than a lampblack-based true black). It also seems to have more holes in the parchment than I would have expected from such an elaborate manuscript; the parchment is quite variable in texture and color, and the gatherings very irregular -- almost as if those who prepared it didn't really know how to make up a book. The writing is called semi-uncial. It has been speculated that it was made in the early days of Celtic illumination, before the style was fully developed. (Although some of it may be just the lack of ability of the illuminator; the symbols of the four evangelists have some resemblance to Pictish artwork but almost none to human, eagle, etc.) Colophon asks for prayers for the scribe Columba, and seems to say the volume was written in twelve days -- although this may refer only to a single book, or the whole thing may be mis-read; the colophon has been overwritten and fiddled with and is hard to readclearly. Some have thought that it refers to Saint Columba, who founded Durrow among other places, but of course the scribe might be another Columba, or (more likely) the colophon was copied from the exemplar. The actual saint would be more likely to use his actual name, Colum Cille, not Columba. Nonetheless the manuscript came to be esteemed as a relic of St. Columba/Colum Cille; according to Bernard Meehan, The Book of Durrow, the first clear reference to the book comes from the reign of King Flann Mac Mael Sechniall (877-916), when that king had a shrine built to hold the book -- because it was regarded as a relic of the saint. (This proved to be a less than wise decision; the shrine did not fit, and the book was somewhat damaged as it bounced around in its case.) The damage it suffered in its shrine, and as a result of rebindings, has caused the pages to separate; although most can be put in their proper order based on their contents, some, such as certain carpet pages, have been displaced and their proper location forgotten. A proper rebinding was done in 1954.
The text is reportedly close to Amiatinus, although there is dispute about where the manuscript originated; some argue for Ireland based on the fact that it is there now; some for Northumbria based on the text; some argue for Iona or somewhere else in Scotland based on the reference to Columba in the colophon. One hypothesis has it that it was copied at Iona and taken to Durrow in 807 when the community at Iona moved to Kells. The date is also disputed; the sixth century date is based on the reference to Columba, but those who have simplylooked at the book itself usually give a seventh or eighth century date.Hopkins-James, p. xlv, makes the curious comment that "It reads like a MS. which was Vulgate from the beginning" even though he says that it has a significant number of Old Latin readings.
The pictures in this book are an odd mix; the image of Matthew is said to have Anglo-Saxon and Syriac elements, the Markan lion is Germannic and Pictish; the calf symbolizing Luke is again Pictish. The images are not very clear, though they are surrounded by the beautiful swirls and figures of Celtic art.According to Christopher de Hamel, A History of Illuminated Manuscripts, Phaedon, 1997, p. 40, because it was a relic, as late as the seventeenth century, it was dipped in water (or, perhaps, had water poured over it)so that the water could be used to treat sick cattle. It was apparently because it was believed that water could not damage a relic. The belief was patently wrong; the early leaves in particular have been damaged by damp.
This is one of the few major Vulgate manuscripts not regularly cited in the Wordsworth-White Vulgate (odd for a British manuscript! -- but of course it's in Ireland, not Great Britain).
ΔWWdunelm DunelmensisVII/
e#Durham, Cathedral Library A.ii.16. Usually called Codex Dunelmensis, but sometimes referred to as the (other) "Durham Gospels" (the "regular" Durham Gospels being A.ii.17). Said, probably falsely, to have been written by Bede, although it may have come from the Jarrow monastery. It was long believed that the same scribe wrote the Echternach Gospels (Epternacensis); this writer is sometimes known as the "Durham-Echternach Calligrapher," but recent editors have denied the identification. There were in fact three scribes involved; section i (folios 1-23, 34-86, 102) contains Matt. 2:12-22:15, all of Mark, and Luke 1:57-16:25 in an uncial hand; section ii (folios 24-33, 87-101) has Matt. 23:3-28:14, Luke 16:15-end, in an insular majuscule; section iii (folios 103-34) has John 1:27-15:16, 16:35-21:8, also in an insular majuscule. One suspects some of the losses represent pictures that were cut out. Sections i and ii have a text similar to Echternach; iii is said to be closer to Amiatinus. This sounds suspiciously similar to descriptions of A.ii.17; one should probably be careful in dealing with the two Durham Gospels.
e#The Book of Deer. Now at Cambridge (University Library I.i.6.32), but thought to have come from the monastery of Deer in Aberdeenshire, making it probably the oldest Scottish Bible. Some would date it to the eighth century. Said to contain many "old and peculiar" readings. The first three gospels are much damaged (or, according to Houghton, abridged, who says that this is characteristic of Celtic gospel books); according to Scrivener/Miller, all that remains is Matthew 1:1-7:23, Mark 1:1-5.36, Luke 1:1-12; John is complete. Images of this volume have been made available at the Cambridge University Library; see
--dem or
OT+NTLost; our knowledge is based on Matthei's collation (which included only the Acts, Epistles, and Revelation) -- and even this had the orthography regularized, which might have hidden some significant variants. It appears to have been Vulgate with many Old Latin readings in the Acts and Epistles (although Houghton says that the Old Latin readings are few). It is said to have been copied in a very large format -- so large that the entire New Testament required only sixty pages. Scrivener/Miller, p. 74, suggest it was copied from a much earlier exemplar.
e#British Library, Egerton 609. Also called the Gospels of Marmoutier. Despite having been discovered in France (in Marmoutier/St. Martin's, near Tours), the text is considered Irish. Hopkins-James includes it in his Celtic Gospels group, although even by his figures it is a rather weak member. Many mutilations, especially in Mark (lacks Mark 6:56-Luke 7:24). Houghton believes it was written in the second quarter of the ninth century; Glunz, A History of the Vulgate in England, p. xvi, believes it was written around 860-870, at St. Martin or Marmountier, and that the Carolingian minuscules were not the natural script of the Irish scribe. He also concludes that the Wordsworth-White apparatus is not particularly accurate in describing this manuscript. Glunz, pp. 90-94, gives examples of what he calls "early scholastic readings derived from the Fathers through the hermeneutic method then in use at Tours." Scans are available on the British Library web site at
EWWearly VIIIp#British Library, MS. Cotton Vitellius C.viii. Five folios extracted from Cambridge, Trinity College MS. B.10.5 (Spaul) Folios 86-90 of a volume of various booklets bound together by Robert Cotton. Believed to have been copied in Northumbria in the first half of the eighth century. Glosses from the (British) heretic Pelagius. Damaged in the Cotton Library fire. Scans are available on the British Library web site at
--emSt. Emmeram's870e Munich, Bavarian state libaray, Cim. 14000 (55). "[W]ritten in golden uncials on fine white vellum, a good deal of purple being employed in the earlier pages; there are splendid illuminations before each gospel" (Scrivener/Miller, p. 82). Sometimes called the Codex Aureus of St. Emmeram because of the gold writing. Said to have belonged to Charles the Bald. There is another Munich manuscript which was copied from this at the order of the Emperor Henry II.
ept EpternacensisVIII/
e When it was first cataloged, it was in Echternach (Luxembourg), but now in Paris (National Library MS lat. 9389). It may have been copied in Echternach, but Northumbria is also a strong possibility. A colophon associates it with Saint Willibrord (or, perhaps, with a manuscript he owned). The basic run of the text is said by some to be Irish, but with corrections reported to be of another type (perhaps of the Amiatinus type). These corrections are dated by the colophon to 558 (which seems impossible; all experts would date the first hand at least two centuries later) from a manuscript which had belonged to Eugippius. The first hand, however, is clearly British or Irish, and it has illustrations in the Celtic style (though not very elaborate compared to, say, the Lindisfarne Gospels. There is a curious stylization to the artwork -- e.g. the portrait of Matthew is assembled from a series of ovoids). The same scribe probably wrote the Durham Gospels (Dunelmensis); this writer is sometimes known as the "Durham-Echternach Calligrapher." The illustrations are thought to be related to those in the Book of Durrow. Further investigation is probably warranted. Regarding the colophon's claimed date of 558 C.E., we should keep in mind that Willibord went to Frisia in 690 and founded Echternach around 698; he died in 739. It is of note that he came from Northumbria, and likely brought manuscripts of the Northumbrian type with him. Scans available at;0.
Ffu, ful
Fuldensis546eapcrFulda, MS. Bonifatianus I. Considered, after Amiatinus, the best Vulgate manuscript. It is also one of the oldest surviving manuscripts -- Houghton, The Latin New Testament, calles it "the earliest surviving Latin pandect of the New Testament," although that should probably be understood as "the earliest surviving dated Latin pandect." Copied for Victor of Capua, who himself corrected it in 546-547. Italian text. The Gospels are in the form of a harmony (probably based on an Old Latin original -- although that original may have been a list of readings rather than a continuous text -- and with scattered Old Latin readings, but the text was clearly copied from a Vulgate original0. Outside the Gospels, it is a "straight" Vulgate, although an early and very good copy. Includes the Epistle to the Laodiceans following Colossians. The format is unusual -- a very tall, narrow page, with only one column per page and a very wide outer margin. There are said to be four copies of its gospel harmony, one a Latin/Old High German bilingual.
Ernest Ranke published an edition of the book, Codex Fuldensis I, in 1868. A digitized version of this can be found on Google Books, or at Photographs of the manuscript itself are at
forsee under J
--fossSt. Maur des FossésIXeParis, MS. Lat 11,959.
ΦSymbol used collectively by Weber for Alcuin's recension. For individual manuscripts such as ΦB see the end of this list.
(sanger) Sangermanensis
(San Germanensis)
IXOT#+NTParis, National Library MS. Latin 11553. Originally in two volumes, with the first volume (presumably containing much of the Old Testament) now lost; what survives includes the Odes, Wisdom Literature, the Apocrypha, the New Testament, and a bit of the Shepherd of Hermas. Old Latin in Matthew (where it is usually designated g1), elsewhere the text is probably French text but with some Old Latin elements in the other gospels. Order of sections is eacrp. It is thought that the Gospels, Paul, and the rest of the New Testament come from three different sources. Houghton calls this "the best witness to the Vulgate" in the Acts and Epistles, although I have not found this statement in any other source. It has a number of unusual items in the margins -- glosses from Bede and other writers, plus a set of divination tools (hermeneiai) in John.
A digitized copy of the manuscript can be viewed at
--gatVII-IXeParise, Nouvelles acquisitions lat. 1587. Said to come from Saint Gatian of Tours. Said to resemble Egertonensis (E) in text, and to have many Old Latin readings. There are many variant readings in the text, usually vulgate and old Latin, written between the lines.
--gigGigas HolmiensisXIIIe(a)pc(r)Same as gig of theOld Latin. Rarely cited as a Vulgate witness, as the Vulgate text is late. For more about it, see the entry on Gigas in the Acts list of Old Latin witnesses.
gue lectsee gue among the Old Latin witnesses in Paul
OT+NT#British Library, Additional MS. 24142. Originally from the Monastery of St. Hubert in the Low Countries. Original text may have been Italian (close to Amiatinus); it has been corrected (often by erasure) toward Theodulf's revision. It has been suggested that some later corrections are the result of Theodulf's later work. Three columns per page. The text breaks off at 1 Pet. 4:3. The hand is said to "strongly resembl[e]" that of Θ -- Scrivener/Miller goes so far as to say that H has been "throughout assimilated to" Θ. Although quite elaborate, the volume is rather severe -- the only illustrations are in the Eusebian canon tables. These show hints of Islamic influence. Now available at the British Museum manuscripts site,
harlsee under Z
Note that this is the "Hereford Gospels" found in Hereford, which was collated by Hopkins-James (in a book so poorly written that he doesn't even seem to give the catalog number); it should not be confused with the Hereford Gospels (so called from their colophon) now at Cambridge, Pembroke College MS. 302 (see next item). Illuminated manuscript, although now so worn by age that it is very difficult to read -- recently, an artist was commissioned to make a duplicate of the artwork. It has been suggested that the manuscript was written in Wales or the Welsh Marches of England. Hopkins-James considers the text Celtic, and uses it to fill out his Celtic text where Lichfeldensis fails. This in his view makes it an Old Latin text heavily corrected toward the Vulgate. Glunz, A History of the Vulgate in England, p. xv, referring to what I think is the same manuscript, gives it the catalog number of P.1.ii, and says it is in an insular hand of the late ninth century. Merk -- the only edition to claim to cite it -- cites it only for Luke.
(her)e#XICambridge, Pembroke College MS. 302. Although both are called the "Hereford Gospels," this is not the same as the preceding; it was copied in Hereford during the eleventh century, but is obviously now at Cambridge. Glunz, A History of the Vulgate in England, p. xv (repeated on pp. 154-155 with examples), says that it was copied from a "continental" original, and that the text is mostly Irish but with "scholastic elements."
IWW,MeingIngolstadiensisVII? VIII?e#From Ingolstadt; later at in the Royal Library at Munich. Now State University Library 2o 29. Badly mutilated, especially in Matthew (only 22:39-24:19, 25:14-end remain of that book); Luke is also defective. Written in gold ink. Sometimes called of the so-called "Ada Group" of manuscripts from Charlemagne's era, although this can hardly be true if the seventh century date listed in Merk is correct! Houghton, however, dates it c. 800 and thinks it was copied in Aachen.
IWeVIII/IXacrRome, Villicelliana B.25II. Variously known as Codex Juventianus (after the scribe Juvenianus) or Codex Vallicellianus. Probably of Italian origin. Also includes Bede's commentary on the Apocalypse. It has a few Old Latin readings.
e#Matthew, Luke, and John are from Cividale (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, 138); Mark is divided between Venice (Biblioteca Nazionali Marciana, no MS. number) and Prague (National Library Cim. 1). Lacks parts of John 19-20. Italian text. A legend, obviously false, has it that the portion of this manuscript at Prague was part of the original the Gospel of Mark! The Markan portion is often illegible, and all but the Prague portion have at least some damage from damp. Portions of Mark (at Prague) cited by Tischendorf as prag. Copied in Aqueileia in North Italy, and so sometimes called Code Aquileiensis.
(JP) hamilton(ensis)VIIIeGold letters on purple parchment. The symbol derives from the fact that it was in the J. P. Morgan library. It is said (almost certainly falsely) to have been written by Wilfrid of York (died 709)).
IXOT+NT British Library, Additional MS. 10546. Property of the Library since 1836. Alcuin's revision. Called "Charlemagne's Bible." Complete Bible. Probably copied in Tours in the early ninth century. It is claimed that there were 24 scribes involved! There are also several full-page illustrations. The New Testament is in the order eacpr. The British Library has now digitized this entire manuscript and made the photographs available online; go to and search for "10546" or the "Moutier-Grandval Bible" or go to The New Testament begins on folio 349r.
KWe----IXp(c)Karlsruhe, Aug. CLXXXV. Text is described as Italian, close to A. A PDF can be downloaded at The parchment has a lot of holes and flaws -- possibly because non-gospel manuscripts were generally not as fancy as the Gospels. In addition, some pages have had their margins cut off so tightly that there has been loss of text. The text is so tightly compressed that some of the explicits and incipits are actually on the same line as the preceding and following text.
Lichfield, in the Chapter Library; no MS. number. Formerly designated Landavensis because it was kept by the altar of St. Teilo in Llandaff, Wales. Illuminated manuscript with an Irish text. (The writing is describes as "Irish half-uncial.") Contains Matt. 1:1-Luke 3:9. Legend attributes it to St. Chad, but this is extremely unlikely since he died in 672 and almost all estimates place it later (e.g. Houghton, p. 271, says it was written in the first half of the eighth century; others would date it to the late eighth century; the Lichfield Cathedral site says c. 730). Based on the photos I've seen, it is no longer especially legible, the larger uncials being filled with garish red paint while the rest has (I think) faded. In its original state, however, it must have been comparable to the Lindisfarne Gospels in beauty; there is much similarity in the style of the illustrations. It has been suggested that the creators of this manuscript must have seen the Lindisfarne manuscript and attempted to imitate it. Possibly it was written in Wales; it was certainly there by the late ninth century (there are some notes in the MS. in early Welsh). Sometimes called St. Teilo's gospels because a marginal note says that one Gellu son of Arihtuid had exchanged it for his best horse and then offered it to Teilo's altar in Wales. It apparently was taken to Litchfield in the tenth century, resulting in the link to St. Chad, the patron of the town. The manuscript, as far as extant, is the basis for the Latin text published by Lemuel J. Hopkins-James in The Celtic Gospels: Their Story and Their Text, but this book is depressingly difficult to use and is rather absurd methodologically. Scans of the manuscript are at; this also includes a transcription and, impressively, scans under thirteen individual colors from infrared to ultraviolet; this is one of the best online manuscript presentations I've ever seen.
LMe,WWVIIIpParis, National Library MS. Latin 335. Codex Langobardus. Written in a Beneventan minuscule hand, according to Houghton. Most of it comes from the eighth century, but the ending of Titus, plus Philemon and Hebrews, was added in the tenth century. A very plain manuscript, with very few reader aids. At least there are decorated initials at the start of books; otherwise, it might be hard to tell where one ends and the next begins! The ink is often faded, and frequently shows through the page; corrections, in much darker ink, are written on top of the original text, rather than between the lines or in the margin, often rendering the original reading illegible. (Some of these may just restore the original reading which had faded.) Black and white scans at
LMe,WWLemovicensisc. 800cParis, National Library MS. Latin 2328. "Mixed" text, containing a part of 1 John 5:7. Said to be from Limoges. The manuscript is mostly patristic texts (Isidore, Alcuin, Augustine, Cæsarius of Arles), with the text of the Catholics on folios 97-107 (of 125). The text is almost entirely without decorations or reader helps, although the opening letter of some books have a crude faces drawn in them. The entire volume can be viewed at The ink is brown, with a few faint readings in red; at least one leaf is the upper text of a palimpsest.
LWeVII/VIII(c)Paris, National Library Latin 9427. Lectionary, with 56 readings from the Old Testament and 131 of the New. Although the NT readings are all Vulgate, a few of the Old Testament are Old Latin, so it is #251 in the Beuron Old Latin catalog. Although it contains Gospel readings as well as the epistles, the Stuttgart Vulgate cites it only for the Catholics, and other editions generally do not cite. The main text is in brown ink, often badly scuffed and hard to read; there are headings in black, and various color ornaments, some of which do not appear to have been finished (sketched but not filled in). The entire volume can be viewed at
ΛWe960(e)apcrCodex Gothicus Legionensis (or Biblicus Legionensis), in the San Isidro library in León. Also contains most of the OT. Sections are in the order epcar. Weber does not cite the gospels. Sometimes known as "Codex Gothicus." The scribe was named Sancho, and probably worked in León or Valenánica. The script is Visigothic. Although the margins have many notations typical of the Spanish text of the Vulgate, the main text itself is somewhat more pure, and may have been influenced by texts in Gaul. Some of the marginal glosses are Old Latin, and are given the Beuron number 91; some of the Old Testament books are also Old Latin, and have Beuron numer 133.
--lamXe# The Mac Durnan Gospels, so-called because they were the property of, and perhaps written by or for, Maelbrigid Mac Durnan, the Bishop of Armagh, who died in 927. The text and ornamentation are Irish. It is now in the Lambeth Palace library. The writing is very small and full of contractions, making it difficult to read. There seems to be some confusion about its history, since Hopkins-James, p. xlix, says that it was given by the English King Athelstan to the city of Canterbury. Athelstan, however, reigned 924-940, and had little contact with Ireland; there is hardly time for the MS. to pass from Armagh to Athelstan to Canterbury, and in any case, the story of Athelstan's gift is also told of a gospel book in Caroline minuscules (British Library Reg. I.A.xviii). I wonder if the Athelstan mentioned in the Mac Durnan Gospels might not be a bishop of that name. It is noteworthy that Scrivener/Miller, p. 78, doesn't even mention this claim. It may be just the quality of the photographs, or perhaps shrinkage of the parchment, but the artwork in the Mac Durnan book seems to have been rather improperly ruled. It frankly looks rather sloppy.
--luxLuxeuilIX(e)Paris, Nouvelles acquisitions lat. 2196. Not a continuous-text manuscript but a lectionariy.
MmedMediolanensisVIe#Milan, Ambrosian library C.39.Italian text, considered by Wordsworth & White to rank with Amiatinus and Fuldensis. Assorted lacunae (Matt. 1:1-6, 1:25-3:12, 23:25-25:41; Mark 6:10-8:12) and a few small supplements (Mark 14:35-48; John 19:12-23). Has "interesting lectionary notes in the margins," according to Scrivener/Miller, p. 84. They also note the curiosity that the Eusebian section numbers are marked in Greek uncials!
a(cr)Munich, Bavarian State Library CLM 6230. Houghton says it was copied in Friesling in the tenth century. "Good text, but rather mixed, especially in the Acts, where there are strange conjunctions of good and bad readings." Written in "large rough Caroline minuscules." The last page of the Apocalypse is missing.
MWW,MeMonacensisVIIIpMunich, Bavarian State Library CLM 6229. Said to have been copied in Freising in the late eighth century. Includes Laodiceans (following Colossians). Also includes a concordance to Paul. The text seems to gradually change type, with more readings similar to A in the early books and more Old Latin readings in the late. Images at
mac-regolsee under R
martsee under MT (MT)
mmsee under E
mt or
eTours, City Library MS. 22. Formerly at Saint Martin. "[G]old letters, interesting text" (Scrivener/Miller, p. 81). The most likely date of copying is early in the ninth century; it may have been written at Fleury. It lacks the Eusebian apparatus. Sometimes used by the French royal family to take oaths. The beautiful canon tables and some of the prefatory matter (but not the New Testament text) can be seen at
(μ)mullBook of MullingVII/
eBook of Mulling. See under μ of the Old Latin gospels.
NWeVe#Palimpsest, believed to have been written in Italy. Now distributed among multiple libraries: Autun City Library MS. 21 (the larger part of the book) plus Paris, National Library MS. Latin 1628 (10 folios). 83 folios survive out of a total of about twice that. Text is regarded as very valuable, with some Old Latin readings. Probably originally written in Italy in the fifth century, it was reased and overwritten in Lyons in the eighth century.
NWWIXpColmar, City Library MS. 15. The handwriting is Anglo-Saxon, but the manuscript is believed to have been copied in mainland Europe. Lacks Hebrews 4:16-end. Bound with the Gospels, but this was originally a separate manuscript. Scans (of both the Gospel and Pauline portions) are at; the change in hands on folio 173 is extremely obvious.
OHJ,Me,WWbodl or
Bodleianus or
VIIe#Oxford, Bodleian MS. 857 (Auct. D.2.14). "British" (i.e. Italian?) text; it has been suggested it was written at Rome. Written in a firm hand, two columns per page, with paragraphs but no breaks between words; a later scribe (?) seems to have added slashes between certain words, perhaps to indicate a division into sense lines. The red ink used in the Eusebian tables, and occasionally elsewhere, is often very faded -- sometimes to the point of illegibility and even invisibility. It has lost Matthew 1:1-4:13 and John 21:16-end. Said to resemble X. Neumes were added to Luke's genealogy of Jesus, probably in the eleventh century. There was also a tenth century corrector who also added various glosses and pericope markings. (Most pericope markings come from the time of the original scribe although they are in a different hand.) Called the "Gospels of St. Augustine," because legend has it that this was given by Gregory the Great to Augustine of Canterbury. (It was in St. Augustine's library at Canterbury, but this proves very little.) Glunz, History of the Vulgate in England, p. 304, says that it seems to have been based on a manuscript written in cola et commata, but that the system seems to have broken down (perhaps misunderstood?); he is certain the book was written in Britain, not Italy. On p. 305 Glunz lists a half dozen corrections to the text printed by Wordsworth and White. Scans of certain pages are available on the Bodleian site at
a# Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Selden Supra 30 (Bodley 3418). Sometimes called Codex Oxoniensis after its location rather than Seldenianus after the donor. Described as "most valuable." Lacks Acts 14:27-15:32. Thought to have been copied in Kent. Written in a beautiful hand, with spaces between words and sentences, and hanging paragraphs; it appears that there must have been an earlier edition which already possessed these features. The book itself is less attractive; the parchment is often quite poor. Two scribes were involved in writing the book, and it appears they wrote simultaneously rather than sequentially, because the first scribe left a blank page at the end of his half; this was later filled by two prayers. The book was at Canterbury from the twelfth century until at least the time of Henry VIII. John Seldon bequeathed it to the Bodleian upon his death in 1654. There is an odd scratching, EADB, written by the text of Acts 11:5-6; it has been speculated that this is a reference to St. Eadburh of Thanet (died 751), and that the book therefore comes from Thanet, but the evidence is not sufficient to prove or disprove this.
OWW,MeBodleianusIXp#Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Laud lat. 108. "Irish hand," but Houghton, p. 274, says it was copied in the early ninth century, perhaps in Würzburg, since it is a copy of an eighth century Würzburg codex (Universitätsbibliothek Colossians follows Thessalonians. Hebrews breaks off at 11:34. Has been heavily corrected by three different hands. The text of the first hand may have been Old Latin (designated x).
OWWOxoniensisXIIcOxford, Bodleian Library MS. Laud lat. 103. Said to have been copied in Germany in the first half of the twelfth century.
(c)rOxford, Bodleian Library MS. Laud lat. 43. Contains the Catholic Epistles as well as the Apocalypse, but Wordsworth/White cite it only for the latter. Believed to have been copied in England in the twelfth or thirteenth century. It has glosses and prologues to the Catholic Epistles; the Apocalypse has glosses but no prologue.
PWW,HJ,Mepe or
PerusinusVILuke# Perugia, Biblioteca Capitolare MS. 1. Luke 1:1-12:7, mutilated. There may also be some fragments from a binding, but these seem to have been misplaced. Purple manuscript, said to have been copied in the second half of the sixth century in Umbria.
eSplit, Croatia. No catalog number. Codex Spalatensis. Four gospels, missing Matt. 1:1-14, 4:21-8:3, Mark 14:56-end, John 18:12-end. Contains some transliterated Greek. It appears John was copied from a different exemplar than the others. Probably written in Italy, although Salona has also been mentioned.
PWWVII(e)p Paris, National Library nouv. acq. latin 1063. Copied in Corbie in the second half of the seventh century. Contains the Gospels (lacking Matthew 1:1-26:4) as well as Paul, but these are usually not cited. Hebrews (which breaks off at 7:14) follows Laodiceans, which follows Philemon. Scans available at
ΠWWX?r Paris, National Library nouv. acq. latin 1132. From northern France. In addition to the text of the Apocalypse (with many illustrations, although I find them very unattractive), the last four folios contain a short collection of Fables by Avianus. Extensive glosses were added in the fourteenth century; these are now so worn and faded as to be very difficult to read. Scans available at
--petrocIX/XeGospels of St. Petroc, or Bodmin Gospels. Now in the British Library (Add. MS. 9381). The text seems to be of a French type (perhaps with readings derived from Alcuin), although it has been in the British Isles since the early tenth century (it was then in the monastery of Petrockstowe/Bodmin). Textually it seems to have no great interest (except in showing French influence in the Cornwall Peninsula even before the Norman Conquest). Glunz, A History of the Vulgate in England, p. xv, says that it was copied about 940, from an exemplar "from a monastic school such as Laon, Rheims, or Paris," although on p. 69 he declares it an Irish text mixed with Alcuinic readings. On p. 112 he says it is "possibly the earliest known example of the Carolingian minuscules used in England"; adding that there are some unusual readings shared with E. Of interest is the fact that it contains records of the manumission of slaves. The large majority of the slaves have Cornish names, which makes these marginalia the first clear records of what would become the Cornish language. They are not, of course, sufficient to compile a Cornish grammar, but they are important for the history of that extinct-but-revived language. Scans available from the British Library,
pragsee under J
eBook of Kells (Dublin, Trinity College MS. a.1.6 (58); Codex Kenanensis).Widely considered to be the most beautiful illuminated manuscript in existence (although a few of the pages are now rather worn and dirty); there is at least some colour on all but two of its surviving 680 pages (out of an original 700). It has been speculated that it was started at Iona and taken to Kells in 807 for completion and/or safekeeping from the Vikings, although all we can really say based on its appearance is that it is from what is now Ireland, Scotland, or just possibly Northumbria. There is a likely reference to it in the Annals of Ulster for 1007, which refers to it (or some volume) being stolen and recovered after being stripped of gold. Irish text, said by Metzger to have "a peculiar fondness for conflate readings." (An extreme example comes in Matt. 21:31, where, when asked which of the sons did the will of the father, some vulgate texts say "the first," others, "the last"; Kells reads "the first and the last"!) There have been numerous facsimile editions published; scans are available at
e#Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Auct. D.2.19 (S.C. 3946). Rushworth Gospels (so called for the seventeenth century owner who donated it to the Bodleian Library), or the Gospels of Mac Regol, written by a scribe named Mac Regol. Mac Regol also claimed to have illustrated the book, which is rather unusual -- scribes usually just copied the books.
There is much confusion about the Mac Regol. A man named Macriagoil nepos Magleni was bishop of Birr, and died in 800 (according to Hopkins/James, p. xlvii) or 821 (so most other sources). It is widely believed that this Mac Regol was the scribe, although it cannot be proved -- and Hopkins-James doubts it; it sounds as if he thinks Mac Regol the bishop was the grandson of Mac Regol the Scribe (or vice versa). If the two Mac Regols are the same, then this is one of the last of the great Irish codices.
The manuscript an interlinear Anglo-Saxon gloss (Matthew in Mercian, Mark-John in Northumbrian; they are listed as the work of scribes named Farman of Harewood and Owun). The Cambridge History of English Literature declares that Farman and Owun worked in the second half of the tenth century and suggests that Farman may have been in charge of the task, with Owun his assistant. The two translations have significantly different styles in addition to being in different dialects; Farman's is more of a translation, being independently understandable, while Owun's is a word-for-word gloss that cannot really stand on its own. It is not clear whether the glosses are derived from an extant external translation or were made up by the scribes.
Still later, someone added chapter and verse numbers in the margin using arabic numerals; these, it seems to me, detract from the appearance of the codex far more than the Old English glosses.
Skeat declared the main text to be close to the Lindisfarne Gospels, but Hopkins-James disagrees strongly and says it has a Celtic (Irish) text (agreeing in part with Bentley, who thought it might be from the same scribe as Lichfeldensis). The illustrations certainly appear to be Irish, but that doesn't mean much unless we accept that scribe and illustrator are the same. And it is unusually large for an Irish book. Plus, if it's Irish, how did it end up in England and glossed in Anglo-Saxon? If it had originated in Ireland and been carried over by the Anglo-Norman conquerors, the glosses would presumably have been in Middle English, not Old English. So it seems more likely that it is in fact Northumbrian. Reported to show many alterations in word order. It lacks Luke 4:29-8:38, 10:19-39, 15:16-16:26. There are said to be Old Latin readings in the second half of Matthew and the middle of Luke.
Scans are available on the Bodleian web site, There is also a recent print edition, Kenichi Tamoto, editor, The Macregol Gospels or The Rushworth Gospels: Edition of the Latin text with the Old English interlinear gloss transcribed from Oxford Bodleian Library, MS Auctarium D. 2. 19.
RWW,Mede RosasXNTParis, National Library latin 6. Cited only for Acts, although it contains the whole New Testament. See ro (#62) of the Old Latin.
RReginensis or
Reginae Sueciae
pVatican, Apostolic library, Regin. lat. 9. Italian text -- one of the best in Paul. Possibly from the Ravenna area. There are relatively few summaries of the text, which do not entirely match the text they summarize; there are also a few lections with an Old Latin text, hinting that the summaries might come from another source. Also a few pages of writings by Pelagius. The catalog record can be found on the Vatican site at
RWeVII/VIIIc Verona, Capitolare Library X(8). Copied in Verona. Contains the Catholic Epistles plus writings by Augustine, Ambrose, and Leo. Some readings may be Old Latin.
--regVIII?e#Paris, MS. Lat 11,955. 54 leaves of Matthew and Mark, containing less than half of the latter and about three fourths of the former (it lacks Matthew 1:1-6:2, 26:42-27:49), Mark 1:1-9:47, 11:13-12:23). Gold uncials, purple parchment. Many old readings.
SWW or StMestonStonyhurstensisVIIJohnBritish Library Add. 89000. Supposedly found in the coffin of Saint Cuthbert. "A minute but exquisitely written uncial MS. with a text closely resembling A[miatinus]" (Scrivener/Miller, p. 79). For more details, see the notes on the Lindisfarne Gospels. It still has its original binding, which is listed as the oldest extant decorated bookbinding (consisting of the sorts of loops and swirls often found in the illustrations of Celtic codices). Images available at the British Library site at
sanSangallensisVe#Mostly at St. Gall (Stiftsbibliothek MS. 1395), with scattered leaves elsewhere -- it has no fewer than seven catalog numbers, in St. Gall (State Library 1395, Canton Library Vadianische Sammlung 292a), Zürich (State Archive A.G. 19 No. 2, Central Library C.43, C.79b, Z.XIV.5), and St. Paul (Kärnten) State Library MS. St. Paul in Lavantatal 25.4.21a. Oldest surviving manuscript of the Vulgate Gospels (first half of the fifth century); only about half the leaves have been recovered from manuscript bindings, anad those often badly damaged or cut up -- it is believed that parts of certain pages are actually spread across different libraries. Italian text, belonging to the same general type as Amiatinus, of "remarkable" value, although it is said to have been copied rather casually. A few marginal notations have been suspected of deriving from Jerome's own Vulgate copies. Interestingly, the text not only has the Eusebian numbers but also notations in the text to point to the parallel readings in other gospels, making the canon tables unnecessary. This is probably the most important manuscript not regularly cited in the Wordsworth-White Vulgate.
SSangallensisVIIIarSt. Gall, Stifstbibliothek 2. According to Scrivener/Miller, it is Vulgate but with Old Latin readings. Written by a monk named Winithar c. 770 who also wrote Stifstbibliothek 70 and 907. Contains extra-biblical matters as well as the Bible text; Scrivener/Miller consider it merely a collection of extracts. Now bound with a copy of Numbers and Deuteronomy, but these were originally a separate volume. Cited by WW and Merk only for Acts; Weber cites it in the Apocalypse also. Photographs available at; the New Testament portion is reported to start on page 301.
pCambridge, Trinity College B.10.5. Begins at 1 Corinthians 7:32. Five folios were extracted from the book and are now British Library, MS. Cotton Vitellius C.viii (EWW). Copied in Northumria in early VIII. with glosses and some illustrations. Scans are available at
pSt. Gall, Stiftsbibliothek MS. 70. Apparently copied c. 770 by the same Winithar who wrote Stifstbibliothek 2 and 70. Hebrews follows 2 Thessalonians. The original text is said to have been similar to F but corrected toward Theodulf. Photographs available at
cSt. Gall, Stiftsbibliothek MS. 907. Apparently copied c. 770 by the same Winithar who wrote Stifstbibliothek 2 and 70. Also includes the Apocalypse (not cited in any edition, since it was copied from an extant manuscript) and a glossary, plus grammatical and historical works. Photographs are available at, with the Biblical portion beginning on p. 237 and running to the end.
ΣWW TriverensisVIII/
rTrier, State Library MS. 31. Probably copied in northern France c. 800. Many large illustrations, which are thought to have been inspired by older styles. The illustrations sometimes don't match the text very well, and an eleventh century hand has made corrections to the basic Vulgate text to match the illustrations. The illustrations, but not the text, can be seen at
--sanVIe#Matt. 6:21-John 17-18, parts of it fragmentary. The scribe claims to have compiled it from two Latin manuscripts with occasional reference to the Greek.
--sanVIp#Palimpsest (lower text Latin martyrology). Contains Eph. 6:2-1 Tim. 2:5
OT+NTMadrid, National Library Vitr. 13-1. Along with cav, the leading representative of the Spanish text. Again like cav, it is among the earliest witnesses for "1 John 5:7-8," which it possesses in modified form. Written in a Visigothic hand, it was not new when it was given to the see of Seville in 988; Houghton believes it was copied in southern Spain for Bishop Servandus around 950, although others place it much earlier. Illumination is minimal; there are some lines and markings in red ink, but that is about it. Almost complete Bible, although there are some stained and torn pages. Includes Laodiceans after Colossians. Scans are available at
theodTheodulfianusIXOT+NT Paris, National Library MS. Latin 9380. Sometimes called the "Mesmes Bible." Theodulf's revision, possibly prepared under the supervision of Theodulf himself. Thought to have been copied in Orléans or Fleury. The Gospels and Psalms are on purple parchment. Paul has the Priscillian canons. The paint used to decorate the Eusebian apparatus has bled off heavily onto the surrounding pages, but because these pages are prologues and such, this doesn't significantly affect the Bible text (and the drawings themselves are still quite attractive). Scans are available at
--taurTaurinensisVII?eAt Turin
--theo or
TheotiscaVIIIe#Matthew 8:33-end, mutilated. Old German text on facing pages.
(U)UltrarajectinaVIMt#Jo#Matt. 1:1-3:4 and John 1:1-21, bound witha Psalter and written in an "Anglian hand" resembling Amiatinus.
UWWVII/VIIIe#Utrecht, Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit 32. Wordsworth's U consists of a handful of leaves from the Utrecht Psalter (folios 94-104), containing Matthew 1:1-3:4, John 1:1-21. Scrivener/Miller, p. 83, dates them VII/VIII; Houghton thinks they were copied at Jarrow c. 720.
UMeClaromontanusVIe#Merk usually uses Wordsworthysigla, but for U he lists this manuscript which is not the same.
UWW,MeUlmensisIXapcrBritish Library MS. Additional 11852. Possibly from St. Gall. "Caroline minuscule" hand. Includes Laodiceans. Generally cited only for the Acts and Epistles. Although it is in the British Library, the scans are on a St. Gall web site: Warning: As of this writing, the scans are found in a Flash document; I cannot guarantee the safety of the site.
VWW,HJ,Meor ΦV WevalVallicellanusIXOT+NTVallicellian Library, Rome, MS. Alcuin's revision, written in Caroline minuscules. Thought to have been written around Rheims c. 850. Considered the best example of this type.
C](viv)IXOT+NTVivian's Elephant Paris, National Library MS. Latin 1 (previously 35612). Sometimes called the Vivian Bible. A very famous manuscript, although not often cited. The text is of Alcuin's recension, and it is neither the earliest nor the best of that type, so it has little critical value. It was given to Emperor Charles the Bald (grandson of Charlemagne) by Vivian, Abbot of St. Martin (Tours), and was kept in Metz for many centuries before being taken to Paris. It is elaborately illustrated, showing e.g. Jerome distributing copies of the Vulgate. Some of the illustrations are quite fanciful -- e.g. the odd creature shown at right is its rendering of an elephant!
WWW,HJ,MeWillelmi1254OT+NTBritish Library Royal 1.B.xii. Called William of Hales's Bible, and apparently written in Salisbury. Written by William of Hales for Thomas de la Wile: "Hunc librum scripsit Will[elmu]s de Hales magistro Thome de la Wile, quem vocavit magister Radulfus de Hehham tunc cancellarius Sar[isburiensis] ad regimen scola[rum] Sar[isburiensium], quibus deus in hoc seculo et in futuro propicietur. Amen. Factus fuit liber anno M.CC.L. quarto an incarnatione domine." This evidently dates it to 1254, although Hopkins-James says 1294 and Merk 1245! The so-called "Sarum Master" is responsible for some of the illuminations -- not all of which are in any way Biblical (e.g. there is one of a mermaid and one of a man with three noses). A few of these illuminations can be seen at, which also shows the colophon quoted above. There are many red and blue initials in the psalter and other places; the red has often bled through the leaves. Cited by Wordsworth as typical of the late mediaeval text; Glunz says it has Lanfranc's text. Glunz, History of the Vulgate in England, p. 184, says that it is a copy of Salisbury Cathedral MS. 148, but the Salisbury manuscript is damaged, so this later copy is cited instead. On pp. 185-186, Glunz lists readings which show the relationship between the two manuscripts. It has been suggested that Wordsworth picked this particular late manuscript as a sample because it was associated with his bishopric.
eCambridge, Corpus Christi College MS. 286. The original is said to resemble the text of Gregory the Great, and to have been corrected toward a text such as Amiatinus (Scrivener/Miller, p. 78; Glunz, A History of the Vulgate in England, p. xx). Like O, with which it "offers striking parallels in script-style, layout, and textual readings" ([Michelle P. Brown, editor], In the Beginning: Bibles before the Year 1000, p. 290), legend has it that Gregory the Great sent it to Augustine of Canterbury, and Glunz, p. xiii, accepts this although he lists no source. In the case of this particular manuscript, this is at least possible on paleographic grounds (although the seventh century date cited by most scholars is rather late; the Cambridge web site and Houghton think it is from the late sixth century). The manuscript has illustrations (not very good ones) -- but they are all collected together on certain pages, almost like a comic (and many appear to have been lost). It appears that the book is designed to allow a preacher to point to the scenes one at a time and explain the context of each one -- something far more typical of an evangelist than of a parish priest preaching to his flock, let alone a monk studying the Biblical text.
The main run of the text is in red, but there are a few lines in a different ink (red?) that have bled badly and damaged the parchment, although the text is usually readable.
There are corrections in a hand that is thought to be Northumbrian.
To this day, Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury take their oaths of office on this book.
As a British book, you would think that this would have been easily accessible to Wordsworth and White, but according to Glunz, p. 294, their collation is "very inaccurate." He prints a list of corrections on pp. 295-304 (in very dense type; there are a lot of corrections needed). Glunz, pp. 294-295, also discusses the various correctors of the codex. Those wishing to judge the matter for themselves can see scans of the manuscript at
YWW,HJ,MelindLindisfarnensisVIIIeIlluminated manuscript with interlinear Anglo-Saxon gloss (old Northumbrian dialect). Second only to the Book of Kells in the quality of its illuminations (some would esteem it higher, since it uses less garish colors). Italian text, very close to Amiatinus (A, am). Some have even suggested that the two are sisters copied from the same exemplar -- Fischer found that the two agreed in 98.5% of sample passages, which is too high a rate of divergence for me to accept them as sisters but which certainly makes them exceptionally similar. It is likely that the exemplar was borrowed from the great monasteries of Wearmouth-Jarrow, the probable site of Amiatinus as well, and the place where the Venerable Bede spent most of his life. Lindisfarne is only about 40 miles/65 km. from Wearmouth-Jarrow, and contacts between the two centers seem to have been frequent. The Stonyhurst Gospels (St. Cuthbert's Codex, S/ston/Stoneyhurstensis) is the third known member of this family.
Written primarily with two columns per page, though the initial pages of each gospel, which are highly decorated, are singles columns with enlarged letters. The portions of the parchment which can be identified appear to be calfskin. There are 258 leaves (516 pages), in gatherings of eight. There are no lacunae.
Moderns used to interlinears in which the English text is printed below the Greek or Latin may be interested to learn that, in this case, the gloss was written above the Latin text. This seems the standard at the time; the Vespasian Psalter, another Latin Bible with Old English gloss, also had the English above the Latin.
For such an early manuscript, we have an unusual amount of information about it, though some of this is based on tradition and may not be entirely reliable. The interlinear glosses were supplied by a monk named Aldred, who tells us that it was written by Eadfrith, bishop of Lindisfarne (fl. 698-721 C.E.) in honour of St. Cuthbert (died 687). Another Bishop of Lindisfarne, Ethelwald, apparently bound it, and the cover was ornamented in silver by the anchorite Billfrith.
Aldred himself contributed notes to at least two other surviving manuscripts, neither Biblical; one is Bede's commentary on Psalms (Bodleian Library Bodley 819), the other a liturgical miscellany known as the Durham Ritual (Durham, Cathedral Library, A.IV.19).
The date of the manuscript depends significantly on whether Eadfrith actually wrote it, or merely directed its writing. If the latter, then it probably dates from the period when he was bishop, i.e. after 698. But Janet Backhouse, The Lindisfarne Gospels (Phaidon, 1981), thinks it was written before Cuthbert's tomb was opened in 698 at the order of Bishop Eadbert (died May 698), which would make Eadfrith, not yet bishop, the actual scribe -- this based apparently on the statement of the twelfth century writer Symeon of Durham. As possible support for this statement, we observe that the entire book seems to have been executed (and even the art drawn) by the same scribe, which would be unlikely if it were a major project planned by a bishop.
In either case, since Paulinus, the apostle to Northumbria, first came to the north in 625, this means it was copied less than a century after Christianity arrived in the area. Northumbria had not officially accepted Roman (as opposed to Celtic) Christianity until the Synod of Whitby in 664, so the manuscript was written in living memory of the adoption of Catholicism in the area.
The manuscript certainly seems to have had an adventurous career. The Danish invasions of England caused Lindisfarne to be evacuated in the late ninth century; the manuscript (and the remains of Cuthbert) were taken away. At one point, supposedly, the manuscript fell into the sea -- but was recovered almost unharmed. (This is just barely possible, since manuscripts of this period were often enclosed in very strong cases, but I still find it hard to believe. That some manuscript fell into the sea and was recovered seems likely, but the story that it was this manuscript did not arise until a couple of centuries later.)
It was while the manuscript was at Chester-le-Street in Durham that Aldred added the Anglo-Saxon gloss. This probably was copied from an earlier manuscript, not his own work, since parts appear to be in Northumbrian dialect and parts in Mercian.
Although the manuscript was unquestionably made in Britian (both the decorations and the link with St. Cuthbert prove that), it is almost certain that the exemplar, or one of its very recent ancestors, came from Italy, as there is a list of Festivals in the volume which appears to be associated with the church of Naples (Backhouse, p. 17). Also, the illustrations of the Evangelists have classic Italian features but with modifications -- e.g. their feet display the thongs of sandals, but no soles; clearly the illustrator was not used to sandals. The Eusebian tables also show the typically Italian device of arches, but with Celtic illuminations (Backhouse, p. 44). It is claimed that the illustration preceding the Gospel of Matthew is based on the same model as an illustration of Ezra in the Amiatinus (Backhouse, p. 47).
One curious note about the manuscript is that several of the illustrations appear unfinished -- some part not fully painted in, e.g. Since this happened more than once, it appears that it is deliberate. No one knows why; it has been hypothesized that the artist, in a show of humility, did not wish to produce a perfect work (Backhouse, p. 55).
The manuscript is important for more than its Latin text. As an interlinear, it is helpful for the study of the Old English language. The earliest Anglo-Saxon dictionary, made by Nowell in 1567, made regular reference to it.
Although not formally venerated as a relic, few manuscripts have had so much influence on churches. The church at Chester-le-Street has a series of stained glass windows commemmorating its making, and the church at Holy Island has a carpet based on patterns in the manuscript; eighteen women were involved in sewing that carpet.
Full scans of the manuscript are now available from the British Library, at
eBritish Museum, Harley 1775. Italian text, "in [a] small but very beautiful uncial hand, and with an extremely valuable text" (Scrivener/Miller, p. 76). It is written in sense lines, often quite short, so that there is relatively little text on each page. It has a rather checkered history. It is thought to have been written in Italy. It is believed to have been in France by the ninth century, and once belonging to Cardinal Mazarin. It was stolen from Paris by Jean Aymon and then ended up in the Harleian library. The text has a handful of Old Latin readings. It has been suggested that its text is a deliberate recension based on comparing an Old Latin manuscript with a very early copy of the Vulgate and then cleaning up some of the stylistic imperfections. It was corrected in the sixth and ninth centuries. Said to be closer to Stonyhurstensis than to Amiatinus. The ink on many of the pages has burned through to the reverse side, but this doesn't affect the legibility much. Scans are available at
ZWW,MeharlHarleianusVIIIpcr#"Written in a French hand,but showing traces of Irish influence in its initials and ornamentation; the text is muchmixed with Old Latin readings; it has been corrected throughout, and the first hand socarefully erased in places as to be quite illegible." The base text is late Vulgate,but there are many early readings. The Old Latin portions (part of Hebrews and theCatholic Epistles) are designated z.Rev. 14:16-end have been lost. It has beautiful colored initials with an interlacepattern. One of the scribes was named Iuseus, and he wrote a note in runes.
Θ(see after T above)
Λ(see after L above)
Π(see after P above)
Σ(see after S above)
ΦBsee under B
p#Paris, National Library 8847. Alcuin's text. Probably written in Tours. Cited only for Philippians-2 Timothy (and part of the Old Testament), but the manuscript was originally a Pandect. Images at The introductory material to the New Testament begins on folio 88r; Matthew begins on folio 91v.
ΦGsee under K
ΦVsee under V
c. 800
eapcrSt. Gall, Stiftsbibliothek 75. Probably written in Tours -- the oldest pandect from that scriptorium. New Testament in the order eacpr. Alcuin's text. Known to have been in St. Gall by 883. Scans are available at The introductory matter to the New Testament is on page 689 (of 836); Matthew proper starts on page 695.

The following tables facilitate conversion between Wordsworth-White andTischendorf symbols.

Tischendorf to WW

WW to Tischendorf
BF-- L3--Ttol
Δ-- MTmtU2--
EP-- O2--W--

In their edition, Wordsworth-White established tentative groupings:

(Note that the Wordsworth-White Vulgate also prints a text of f of the Old Latin (from a print edition rather than fresh collations), because it was thought that f was similar to the Old Latin base that Jerome revised.)

The following table allows conversion between catalog numbers and the descriptions above. This list includes many more items than have been cited by any of the Vulgate editions. I am working on including every manuscript which is mentioned in any book in my library. If the manuscript has been used in a critical edition, the reader is referred to the entry there. If not, some additional information is given in the table itself. This is of course not a complete catalog of Vulgate manuscripts, but it is certainly fuller than in the ordinary manuals of criticism. It will be evident that it is biased toward manuscripts in Britain; they are easier for me to locate!

Books cited in the table:

City/   Catalog #
Symbolshort nameDescription
Autun [France]
City Library MS. 21 (S.24)NWe(part; see also under Paris). Houghton, p. 258.
Bamberg [Germany]
Bamberg State Library MS. Bibl. 1 (A.1.5)ΦB We
bamHoughton, p. 262.
Cambridge [England]
 Corpus Christi MS. 3+4The "Dover Bible" (so called because it came from Dover Priory); perhaps written at Canterbury. Late XII. Lanfranc's text. The New Testament is in the second volume (i.e. C.C.C.C. 4). Glunz, p. 180, has a list of noteworthy readings. Scans of the first volume (portions of the Old Testament) are at
Corpus Christi MS. 49; scans of the second, which begins with the Psalms and continue through the New Testament, are at Glunz #47
 Corpus Christi MS. 20Apocalypse, heavily illustrated, with commentary and additional material in Norman French. Written for Sir Henry Cobham (died. 1339), probably in the decade or so before is death. Scans are available at
 Corpus Christi MS. 33Gospels of Mark and John, with extensive gloss (in an extremely elaborate layout), plus a poem by William de Montibus. c. 1200. Scans are available at
 Corpus Christi MS. 48Portion of an Atlantic Bible, in three or even four columns. Late XII. Written at St. Alban's. Lanfranc's text. Glunz, p. 177, associates it with the family known as the Warins (two brothers who were abbot and prior, plus a nephew). Some readings are on p. 178 of Glunz. Scans available at Glunz #45
Corpus Christi MS. 49Bible, probably c. 1275. Illuminated in a style known from several other manuscripts, which has led to the suggestion that it was written in Canterbury. Scans are available at
 Corpus Christi MS. 52Paul, with the gloss of Peter the Lombard, plus some excerpts from Augustine and Hilary (as well as odds and ends in the flyleaves). The gloss is in red, as are parts of the text, with initials in red, blue, and green. XII. Scans are available at
 Corpus Christi MS. 72Gospels, late XI, from Canterbury. Lanfranc's text. Samples of its readings are on p. 174 of Glunz. Glunz #43.
Corpus Christi MS. 197BNorthumbrian Gospels. Fragment, with handful of illuminations and many colored letters typical of Irish style. Although the first page is an illustration of Mark the eagle, the text begins with the opening of John. Scans available at
Corpus Christi MS. 246Bible. XIII. Still in its initial binding, which is very fragile, so it is very hard to open, but a few pages scans are at
Corpus Christi MS. 286XcantabHoughton, pp. 278-279. Glunz #1
Corpus Christi MS. 384XVI. First John, in Latin and Arabic (separately; the complete Latin text preceded the complete Arabic text). The Arabic appears to have been heavily emended in a second color of ink (black; the original text is brownish, and matches the Greek text). Scans available at
Corpus Christi MS. 437Bible. XIII. Small; probably from northern France. Also includes an epitome of Peter of Poitiers. Scans available at
Corpus Christi MS. 463Late XIII. Possibly from St. Alban's (since it has a calendar for Sarum use), although Paris has also been suggested. Well written. Many glosses from a later hand. Parisian text. Scans are available at Glunz's #71.
Corpus Christi MS. 484Bible, c. 1275. Many initials and a few drawings, said to be related to Princeton, University Library, Garrett 28. Scans are available at
Corpus Christi MS. 485Bible. XIII. Long kept at Gloucester; it may have originated there. Scans available at
Pembroke College MS. 120New Testament. XII. Known to have been at Bury St. Edmunds since the fourteenth, and apparently with a text typical of that diocese although it may not be from there. Glunz, p. 188, mentions Irish "relics" in the text, and gives a list of noteworthy readings on pp. 187-188. Glunz #52
Pembroke College MS. 301Gospels. XI. Thought to be from Ely or perhaps Bury. The Preface to Luke is unusual, although the text is typical of the Winchester type. One of six MSS. (Cambridge, Trinity College B.10.4; Cambridge, St. John's College 73; Cambridge, Pembroke College 301; British Library Additional 34890; British Library Royal i.D.ix; British Library Harley 76) which Glunz, p. 140, says derive from a common Winchester original. Glunz #39
St. John's College MS. 73Early XIII. Lanfranc's text. Small format, from St Alban's. One of six MSS. (Cambridge, Trinity College B.10.4; Cambridge, St. John's College 73; Cambridge, Pembroke College 301; British Library Additional 34890; British Library Royal i.D.ix; British Library Harley 76) which Glunz, p. 140, says derive from a common Winchester original. Glunz #46
St. John's College MS. 183Gospels, XI. Glunz #36
Trinity College MS. B.5.3Gospels, glossed. A "scholastic" text. From St. Albans, which probably means it has a text close to Lanfranc's. Glunz, p. 177, associates it with the family known as the Warins (two brothers who were abbot and prior, plus a nephew). On pp. 178-179, he lists a number of peculiar readings; p. 178 also lists readings which it shares with Cambridge, Christ Church College 48. Glunz #59
Trinity College MS. B.5.1Atlantic Bible, late XII, from Christ Church, Canterbury. Lanfranc's text. Samples of its readings are on p. 174 of Glunz. Glunz #44
Trinity College MS. B.5.5Gospels, glossed. An early form of what became a common gloss system from Canterbury, where the book was written c. 1160, very possibly for Archbishop Thomas Becket; this book, like Trinity B.5.6, may well have been supervised by Herbert of Bosham. The glosses are so large that they often force a change in the format of the text. Close to Cambridge, Trinity College B.5.4 (psalter), B.5.6 (epistles), B.5.7 (epistles), and British Library Bodleian Auct. E. infra 6 (psalter)). Glunz #58
Trinity College MS. B.5.6Epistles, glossed. Close to Cambridge, Trinity College B.5.4 (psalter), B.5.5 (gospels), B.5.7 (epistles), and British Library Bodleian Auct. E. infra 6 (psalter)). Contains a note by Herbert of Bosham, Thomas Becket's secretary and friend. Bosham says he revised his set of glosses from the glosses of Peter the Lombard (which were considered to have some heretical elements; Herbert's main task was marking the problem points); he says he finished around 1170.
Trinity College MS. B.10.4Gospels, probably written 1008, at Winchester. One of six MSS. (Cambridge, Trinity College B.10.4; Cambridge, St. John's College 73; Cambridge, Pembroke College 301; British Library Additional 34890; British Library Royal i.D.ix; British Library Harley 76) which Glunz, p. 140, says derive from a common Winchester original. Glunz #34
Trinity College MS. B.10.5SWWHoughton, pp. 276-277.
Cava [Campania, Italy]
Della Badia archive 1 (14)CcavHoughton, p. 255.
Cheltenham [England]
Philipps Collection, Gundulph Bible: see under San Marino
Cividale del Friuli [Italy]
Museo Archeologico Nazionale, 138JWW,Mefor(part). Houghton, p. 270
Colmar [France]
City Library MS. 15NWWHoughton, p. 273
Dijon [France]
City Library MS. 15"Bible of Stephen Harding," in four volumes. Made in Dîteaux in 1109. Houghton, p. 281
Dublin [Ireland]
Trinity College MS. A.2.2.Glunz, p. 177, associates it with the family known as the Warins (two brothers who were abbot and prior, plus a nephew). Presumably has the Lanfranc/St. Albans text.
Trinity College MS. 52DWW,HJ,Mear or
Hopkins-James, p. xlii
Trinity College MS 57 (A.4.5)DWedurmach
or dur
Houghton, pp. 255-256.
Durham [England]
Cathedral MS. A.ii.iComplete Bible in four volumes; NT is volume 4. Copied for Hugh Pudsey, Bishop of Durham (1153-1194, who is said to have been unpopular with his monks but who gradually gained favor by acquiring lands for them). Probably copied c. 1190. Illuminated. Said to be a typical example of the art of illumination as practiced in the twelfth century. Takes many readings from Carilef's Bible (below). A list of noteworthy readings is on pp. 194-195 of Glunz, who lists it among the Lanfranc manuscripts. Glunz's #56
Cathedral MS. A.ii.2Second of two volumes, the first being lost. Second half of XII. Copy of A.ii.4 (Carilef's Bible) below, although there are a few corrections from another source. Glunz, pp. 193-194, lists some of these alterations. Glunz #55
Cathedral MS. A.ii.4"Carilef's Bible," written for William, Bishop of St. Carilef, around 1085. Second of two volumes, the first being lost. Also contains a commentary on the Apocalypse, which Glunz thinks is from Lanfranc or his school. A list of significant readings is on p. 192 of Glunz. Glunz #54
Cathedral MS. A.ii.16ΔWWdunelmHoughton, pp. 279-280.
Cathedral MS. A.ii.17
folios 1-102
Mark, Luke, John. mid VIII. "Roman/Early Anglo-Saxon" text, with a text close to O. Images available at Glunz's #5
Cathedral MS. A.ii.17
folios 103-111
Fragments of Luke 21-23. VII. Close to Amiatinus. C. H. Turner even suggested that this was the original of the Lindisfarne Gospels (Glunz, p. 32; cf. Houghton, p. 73 n. 10), although this doesn't seem to have gotten the manuscript much critical attention. Images available at Glunz's #5a
Eton [England]
Eton College MS. 26Glunz, p. 177, associates it with the family known as the Warins (two brothers who were abbot and prior, plus a nephew); Matthew Warin gaver it to the (St. Albans?) monastery.
Florence [Italy]
Medicea Laurenziana Library, Amiatino 1AamHoughton, pp. 254-255
Fulda [Italy]
National Library, Bonifatianus 1FfulHoughton, pp. 256-257
Hereford [England]
Cathedral MS. O.1.viiiGospels. Early XII. Originated in Hereford. Said not to resemble typical monastic Bibles of the time. Glunz, p. 189, has a list of noteworthy readings. Glunz #53
Cathedral MS. O.2.iiGlossed copy of John, c. 1150. he gloss seems to be a version of Peter the Lombard's gloss created before Peter had fully completed the work.
Cathedral MS. O.5.viiLate XII. Text is described by Glunz, p. 228 n. 2, as a copy of O.2.ii, but with the gloss perfected.
Cathedral MS. O.6.ivGlossed copy of Matthew. The gloss seems to be a version of Peter the Lombard's gloss created before Peter had fully completed the work.
Cathedral MS. P.i.iiHeherGospels, late IX. Illuminations are Irish. Glunz #24
Cathedral MS. P.2.ixTwo-leaf fragment inserted into another MS. (the main text being a gloss on Proverbs), containing Matthew 8:1-13 in a text similar to O and X. Glunz #3
Karlsruhe [Germany]
Baden State Library MS. Aug. CLXXXVKWeHoughton, p. 257.
København (Copenhagen) [Denmark]
Royal Library MS. Gl.kgl.S.Fragment of the gospels, c. 1000, from south England, with illuminations in the style of Winchester. Glunz, p. 135. Glunz #33
University Library Arnamagnaeaske Legat. AM. 795 4to Codex Hafnianus ("haf"). Apocalypse plus Apringius's commentary. XII. Made in Catalonia.
León [Spain]
San Isodoro, Codex Gothicus LegionensisΛWeHoughton, p. 249
Lichfield [England]
Cathedral library, no MS. #LMe,WWHoughton, pp. 270-271
London/British Library [England]
MS. Cotton Nero D.IVYlindHoughton, p. 279.
MS. Cotton Tiberius A.iiSee Coronensis above. Glunz #18
MS. Cotton Vitellius C.viiiEp WW
Ms. Douce 292Matthew and Mark, plus the introductory material to Luke, c. 1000. Possibly written at Laon. Text is mostly Alcuin's; p. 116 mentions some Irish or Old Latin readings. Glunz #16
MS. Egerton 608Gospels, late X, with fine illuminations and ornaments. Listed as late X by Glunz, mid-XI on the British Library site. The latter says it is from Echternach; Glunz says central France. Text described as Alcuin's but with scholastic readings, somewhat like its library-mate Egerton 609. Glunz, pp. 94-96, discusses some of the scholastic glosses and corrections; p. 117 mentions some Irish or Old Latin readings. Scans available on the British Library site at Glunz #15
MS. Egerton 609EmmHoughton, p. 268. Glunz's #31
MS. Harley 76Gospels; first leaf cut out. XI. From Bury St. Edmund's, and known as the "Bury Gospels." Also includes copies of charters for the abbey at Bury. One of six MSS. (Cambridge, Trinity College B.10.4; Cambridge, St. John's College 73; Cambridge, Pembroke College 301; British Library Additional 34890; British Library Royal i.D.ix; British Library Harley 76) which Glunz, p. 140, says derive from a common Winchester original. Scans available on the British Library site at Glunz #38
MS. Harley 1023Gospels, c. 1140. Written in Ireland. Glunz #22
MS. Harley 1775ZharlHoughton, pp 261-262.
MS. Harley 1802Gospels, 1138. Copied at Armagh, but with many marginal glosses associated with Paris. Glunz, p. 211, says that the marginal notes were taken down by an Irish scribe (called Maelbrigte hua Maeluánaig at the British Library site) in Paris (perhaps Notre Dame). Some of his comments are in Irish. Images of some of the portraits and other pages are at Glunz #23 (although Glunz's list mis-numbers it 1803; it is correctly numbered in the text on p. 211f.).
MS. Harley 2788Gospels. Golden manuscript, sometimes called the "Harley Golden Gospels." Written in France around Alcuin's time -- possibly even in Alcuin's scriptorium at Tours, although the British Library site suggests Aachen. Text in uncials, commentary in Caroline minuscules. Text is "primarily insular." In addition to golden text, there is a fascinating second color -- an orange (realgar?) that I haven't seen used as an ink elsewhere. Scans available on the British Library site at Glunz #7
MS. Harley 2797Gospels. Late IX. Gold MS., from Paris; written in northeastern or central France, perhaps Reims (Glunz says St. Geneviève, where it was later found). The first page of each gospel is heavily decorated, but otherwise it is surprisingly plain. Text is mixed but probably based on Alcuin's; Glunz (pp. 51-52) sees it as mixing B E X* readings with K V readings. Scans available on the British Library site at It is interesting that the Eusebian tables aren't in arches (∩) but in triangular roofs (⌂). Glunz #13
MS. Harley 2803-2804The "Worms Bible." Old and New Testaments in two volumes, with Harley 2803 containing Genesis-Job and 2804 Psalms to the New Testament (Gospels, Paul, and Acts 1:1-16:17). From Frankenthal near Worms, Germany. Mid-XII. An inscription hints that the illuminations were done c. 1148. Scans available on the British Library site at, with the New Testament beginning on folio 164v; Matthew proper begins on folio 172v. Black text with red letters marking sections; there are also some quite attractive illustrations which include some gold leaf.
MS. Harley 2823Gospels, c. 900. Text similar to K/Grandivallensis; it is said to have an almost pure Alcuin text, although Glunz, p. 116, says it has "a number of variants from an Irish or Old Latin source." It is also close to Additional 11849. Glunz #10
MS. Harley 2830Gospels. Early XI. Written at St. Martin's, Louvain. Illuminated, in a typical Flemish style. Glunz sees many readings typical of O X* Z* (a short list in on p. 117), but also of Alcuin's text. Glunz #12
MS. Harley 7474Gospels. First half of XIII. Written at Durham? Parisian text. Glunz #65
MS. Royal 1.A.xviiiGospels, c. 870. Supposedly written by an Irish scribe in France (perhaps Paris or Rhiems) and given by King Athelstan to St. Augustine's, Canterbury. Irish text with some unusual (Old Latin?) readings. Said to be particularly close to Egertonensis (EWW) and gat. A copy is MS. Royal 1.D.iii. Glunz, pp. 63-65, 111. Glunz #19
MS. Royal 1.B.viiGospels. VIII. Irish hand. Text similar to the Lindisfarne Gospels. Glunz #8
MS. Royal 1.B.xiGospels. Early XII. From Canterbury. Many interlinear notes. Illustrated, but the illustrations are unfinished. Said to have Lanfranc's text. Glunz, p. 159, believes it was copied in Canterbury from a northern French exemplar. A long list of corrections and glosses is in Glunz, pp. 160-162; pp 164-166 list exegetical readings. It is in many aspects of the text similar to Bodleian, Wadham College MS. ii (A.10.22). Glunz #41
MS. Royal 1.B.xiiWWW,HJ,MeWillelmiHoughton, p. 278. Glunz #51
MS. Royal 1.D.iiiGospels, early XI. Copy of MS. Royal 1.A.xviii (which see), made for Countess Goda of Boulogne (the full sister of King Edward the Confessor) and donated to Rochester Cathedral. Glunz #20
Ms. Royal 1.D.ixGospels. XI. From Canterbury. One of six MSS. (Cambridge, Trinity College B.10.4; Cambridge, St. John's College 73; Cambridge, Pembroke College 301; British Library Additional 34890; British Library Royal i.D.ix; British Library Harley 76) which Glunz, p. 140, says derive from a common Winchester original. Glunz #37
MS. Royal 1.E.viGospels. VIII. Written at Canterbury. Text said to be similar to O X* Z*, and to be based on a Northumbrian text. Glunz #6
MS. Additional 3981petrocGlunz #28
MS. Additional 5463BeMeBeneventanus. Houghton, p. 268.
MS. Additional 10546KWW,HJ,Me
karHoughton, p. 263.
MS. Additional 11849Gospels, Late IX. Written at Tours. Alcuin's text, similar to Harley 2823. Scans on the British Library site at Glunz #11
MS. Additional 11850Gospels. XI (so Glunz) or early XII (so the British Library site). "Préaux Gospels." Glunz believes it is from southern England, but the appearance seems to be influenced by northern French styles.The text is said to be quite similar to Coronensis (Cotton Tiberius A.ii). The illuminator is responsible for three other manuscripts associated with Préaux. Scans on the British Library site at Glunz, p. 70. Glunz #30
MS. Additional 11852UWW,MeHoughton, p. 278.
MS. Additional 14737-14738The Floreffe Bible, written in Floreffe in what is now Belgium c. 1170. Bible in two volumes. Not quite complete. Scans on the British Library site at The canon tables for the New Testament begin on folio 165v; Matthew starts on folio 168r.
MS. Additional 14788-14790The Parc Abbey Bible, copied at Parc Abbey in the Netherlands 1148. Heavily illuminated. Said to have been examined by the members of the Council of Trent that called for standardization of the Vulgate. Three volumes; the third (Add. 14790) contains the Prophets plus the New Testament (minus the Gospels -- the incipit for Acts is on the same page as the end of Malachi). Scans on the British Library site at The New Testament begins on folio 138v.
MS. Additional 17739Gospels. Mid-XI (so Glunz) or early XII (so the British Library site). Written in the north of France, with artwork in a Flemish style. Glunz, p. 154, says it has an Alcuinic text with some readings typical of scholastic interpretation. Scans on the British Library site at Glunz #40
MS. Additional 18720/1+18720/2Late XIII. A pocket-sized complete Bible, probably written in Bologna, in two volumes. The New Testament is in volume 2. The writing is extraordinarily fine, although the ink is somewhat faded and occasionally flaked; there are red accents to the letters. Scans on the British Library site at!2_fs001r; the New Testament begins on folio 410r, which also features several excellent illustrations with much gold. The Eusebian apparatus is lacking; the MS. goes directly from 2 Maccabees to the Prologue to Matthew.
MS. Additional 24142HWW,HJ,MehubHoughton, pp. 269-270
MS. Additional 28106-28107The Stavelot Bible, from Stavelot is what is now in the Netherlands, in two volumes. Copied in the mid-1090s by scribes Goderannus and Ernesto. The second volume (28107) contains the New Testament, plus the Old from Job onward. There are also a few commentaries and liturgical materials at the end. Scans of both volumes are on the British Library site; that of volume 2 is at The prefatory material to the New Testament begins with a very well-preserved illustration of Jesus and the evangelists on folio 136r; Matthew begins on folio 142v.
MS. Additional 34890Grimbald Gospels. From the New Minster at Winchester, and with the text typical of that diocese. The scribe is one Eadwig Basan, who was associated with Christ Church, Canterbury and who was active from about 1012 to 1023. It is called the "Grimbald Gospels" because a copy of a letter from Archbishop Fulk of Rhiems to King Alfred the Great commends Grimbald (who was later regarded as a saint) to Alfred. One of six MSS. (Cambridge, Trinity College B.10.4; Cambridge, St. John's College 73; Cambridge, Pembroke College 301; British Library Additional 34890; British Library Royal i.D.ix; British Library Harley 76) which Glunz, p. 140, says derive from a common Winchester original. Scans are on the British Library site at Glunz #35
MS. Additional 35167XII. Glossed copy of Luke (Anselm's Glossa Ordinaria). Probably written in Paris. Beautifully written but with much damage to the outer margins of the leaves at the beginning and end, as well as much evidence of mold. Scans available on the British Library site at
MS. Additional 40000thornThorney Gospels. IX or perhaps X. Written in central France, with a text typical of the area of Tours, but corrected toward the text of Winchester. Æthelwold, Abbot of Thorney and Bishop of Winchester, supplied it to Thorney. A list of abbots at Thorney was added in the fifteenth century; there are also some glosses of the Latin in (more modern) Latin. Glunz sees some pre-Alcuin readings; see his description on pp. 137-138. Glunz #14
MS. Additional 40618Gospels, VIII/IX. Lacks Matt. 1:1-21:31, 28:12-Mark 2:3; John 21:17-end is a supplement from the tenth century. Two Evangelist portraits and some golden initials were added at the same time, implying that the manuscript was not entirely finished at the time of writing. Writing is very small and Irish (it is called the "Irish Pocket Gospel-book"). Three scribes worked on the initial text; one Edward the Deacon, who wrote in Carolingian minuscule and was, obviously, English, was responsible for the supplements. Scans available on the British Library site at
MS. Additional 47672Pandect, believed to have been written in Naples c. 1330. It later belonged to the (anti)Pope Clement VII, whose arms are found more than two dozen times in the manuscript. In addition to the complete Vulgate text, it concludes with the Interpretation of Hebrew Names attributed to Bede. The Prologue to the New Testament begins on folio 377r; Matthew on folio 379r. Scans are on the British Library site at There are many elaborate illustrations (there is color throughout the manuscript, even in the appendix from Bede), most original but a few thought to have been added in the sixteenth century.
MS. Additional 89000SWW/
stonHoughton, p. 276
Madrid [Spain]
National Library MS. Vitr. 13-1TWW,HJ,MeHoughton, p. 277.
Milan [Italy]
Ambrosian Library MS. C.39 inf.MHoughton, pp. 257-258.
Munich [Germany]
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Clm 6229MWW,MeHoughton, p. 272.
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Clm 6230MWW,MeHoughton, p. 272.
Universitätsbibliothek 2o 29IWW,MeHoughton, p. 270.
New Haven [United States]
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, MS. 83Bible. Early XIV. With glosses. Damage to the early folios. Sample page at
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, MS. 210Fragments of Matthew: 20:14-22:10, 25:11-end, with glosses. XII. Sample page at
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, MS. 387The "Ruskin Bible." Early XIV. A few minor excisions. Includes Langton's interpretations of Hebrew names and chapter numbers. Scans at
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, MS. 481.62Fragments of Isaiah and Galatians, from bindings of other books. XII. Scans available at
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, MS. 481.63Fragments of Acts. Early XII. Pages cut in half and used in a binding. Scans available at
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, MS. 482.17Two leaves of Matthew, with marginal comments, XV. From a binding. Scans are available at
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, MS. 482.20Single leaf containing a fragment of Mark. c. 1000. From a binding. Might be from a lectionary or other service book; it has indications of speakers. Scans are available at
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, MS. 484.8Two leaves of Luke, from a manuscript wrapper. Early XII. Scans are available at
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, MS. 481.1Parts of Luke 12-13. Late VII. Scans are available at
New York [United States]
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. G.11XIII. Bible, with interpretation of Hebrew names. Probably from France. Many illuminated initials.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. G.12c. 1200. New Testament. Probably from Italy, but purchased from Austria.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. G.18Bible, plus interpretations of Hebrew names and list of lections for feasts. There is a calendar for Gloucester, hinting that it was written there. Probably written c. 1240, although the earliest record of it is in St. Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury. Had many illuminations, of high quality, some of which have been cut away. Images of many of the illustrated initials are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. G.20Paul, with glosses. Probably copied in northern Italy or France around 1200. A few illustrated initials.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. G.26A single leaf with Luke 23:29-24:8, believed to have been written in England in the eighth century.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. G.31Bible, XIII. Probably from Paris. Images of many of the decorated initials are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. G.38Bible, late XIII, with interpretations of Hebrew names. Many decorated initials.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. G.42Bible, c. 1265, perhaps from Oxford. Illustrations of the many illuminations are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. G.58Five leaves of the Gospels (Matt. 10:25-11:5, Mark 11:10-28, 13:33-14:15, John 6:13-34, 8:47-9:11). Late VII? Probably from Italy. Two other pages are at Yale.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. G.60Bible, written in Sicily (Palermo?) in the early fourteenth century. Many historiated initials. Illustrations of many of the illuminations are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.1Gospels. Late IX. The "Lindau Gospels." Multiple scribes (unnamed), with illuminations by one Folchart (who also produced the "Folchart Psalter"). Written at St. Gall. The Morgan catalog notes (which are themselves defective and have corrections) seem to connect it to KWW,HJ,Me/Grandivallencis. Scans are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.65Bible. XIII. Very elaborate; although the main text is black, most lines contain a capital in either blue or red (the two roughly alternate). Many scans, mostly of illuminations and initials, are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.66Bible. XIII. From France. Looks very much like the previous manuscript. Many scans, mostly of illuminations and initials, are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.112Bible. XIV. Rubricated, and probably written, in Italy. Formerly owned by the famous artist and professor John Ruskin.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.138Complete Bible, probably written and illuminated in England c. 1275, although a French origin has also been suggested. Scans of many of the illuminated letters are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.163Complete Bible, copied and illustrated in France in 1229. The scribe who wrote the colophon was named Brito; the Morgan Library notes that a Ranulph Brito who died in 1246 was canon of St. Paul's. Scans of many of the illuminated letters are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.177Complete Bible, copied and illustrated in France in late XIII. It is a very small book (just about 14 cm. by 9 cm.), written in a very small, compressed, hand, but with a few illuminated initials that can be seen at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.178Complete Bible. XIII, probably from Italy. The preface to Gilbert Porrée's commentary on the Apocalypse was added later. There are many illuminated initials (which strike me as much brighter than most illuminations; there is more red, and the blues are more cyan than in most medieval manuscripts); scans of these can be found at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.191Gospels, written at Tours. Believed to have been begun in the time of Alcuin and finished under his successor Fridugisus (abbot 807-834). Not surprisingly, it has Alcuin's text! Most of the text is on plain vellum, but parts bearing incipits are stained purple with gold ink.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.193Complete Bible, plus a short biography of Jesus and an interpretive dictionary. XIII. Images of many of the illuminated initials are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.215Bible, lacking Psalms but with the interpretation of Hebrew names. Written by Bartholomaeus of Pergamo in northern Italy (perhaps Siena) in 1320. There are many illustrations, mostly but not in initials, not all of Biblical themes; one is of St. Bernard Tolomei (died 1348). Images of many of the illustrations are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.269Illuminated Bible. XIII. Probably completed in France. The first few leaves are a supplement; this does not affect the New Testament. Scans of the various illuminated initials are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.295Bible, almost complete, plus a long set of Interpretations. Illuminated, and probably copied, in Flanders in the second half of XIII. Very small handwriting, with many corrections. Scans of the two main drawings, and many illustrated initials, are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.319Gospels. Unfinished. The Eusebian tables have been drawn but the text not filled in; the decorative introduction to Matthew is only partly colored. Has portraits of the Evangelists in an unusual style, with dark red-purple borders (which the Morgan notes say are similar to the Gospels of St. Aure, Paris Arsenal 1171). From France (perhaps Amiens), late X. About six folios have been lost. Seven leaves were inserted in the middle of the book in 1738, but they are a set of readings, not a supplement. The Morgan notes say that its text is similar to Lyons 357, Paris 324, Paris 17968, Vat. Pal. 833, Paris 11957, a group associated with Reims. These illustrations (but none of the text) can be seen at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.333Gospels, incomplete. Begins with Matt. 9:1 and ends with John 10:16. Since the quires are all of eight leaves, it would appear that one complete quire of Matthew (plus perhaps a quire or two of prefatory material) has been lost at the beginning, plus one or perhaps two at the end. Reportedly written at St. Bertin monastery, St. Omer, France in early XI. More than one scribe was involved in the writing. The Morgan notes on the manuscript are unusually long, but they are almost entirely about the artwork, several examples of which can be seen at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.391-393Bible in three volumes, with the New Testament constituting the third volume. Apocalypse follows Jude and precedes Paul; Hebrews is at the end, followed by a sermon on the dedication of a church attributed in the MS. to St. Augustine. Very large folio. There are reported to be six cancelled leaves in the seventy leaves of the New Testament. Probably copied in Italy (perhaps Bobbio) in early XII. It appears several scribes and several illuminators were involved. Quentin thought the text originated from Rome. A sampling of the illuminations can be found at, although only a few are from the New Testament.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.436Bible plus a short set of Interpretations. The first leaf of Matthew is missing (replaced by a blank leaf). Written in Padua by Grasulpho [I think; the curatorial note is a semi-legible scribble] of Modena for a canon of Padua around 1300. Very many historiated initials and illustrations; a substantial collection of them can be viewed at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.464-465Bible, in two volumes. The first volume contains parts of the Old Testament, beginning with Proverbs, then part of the new (Ephesians-Hebrews, plus a brief account of events in the time of Pope Innocent III). The second volume contains the Gospels, Acts, Catholic Epistles, Apocalypse, and Romans-Galatians. There were two scribes who had similar handwriting. Probably written in northern Italy, perhaps in Orvieto (where it was later found). Since it refers to Pope Innocent's activities in 1216, it was probably written around that time. Unlike most manuscripts in the Morgan, it is not heavily illuminated; almost the only art is found in the Eusebian tables.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.492Gospels, plus a short history of the monastery of San Benedetto Polirone, the probable site of its production in late XI. A selection of images from the manuscript can be found at; the opening of Matthew is particularly noteworthy for having a large decorated letter L wrapped around the text of "(L)iber generatonis Iesv XRI filii David..." in a style that I do not recall seeing elsewhere (the Morgan site calls it "foliage and interlace.").
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.564Fragment of the Gospels, 18 leaves with portions of Luke, chapters 5-10, and John, chapters 2, 6, 7, 10, and 12. Late VIII, perhaps from Salzburg. 28 other leaves are at Nuremberg, MS. 27932. Two other leaves of an eleventh century lectionary are also found in the package.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.565Gospels of Matthew and Mark. XII/XIII, probably from northern Germany (a later hand lists a monastery of origin, but this cannot be identified with certainty). The Morgan Library acquired it from the collection of Sir Thomas Phillips.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.631Apocalypse. The first forty folios are through to be from the eleventh century; the last six seem to be from the twelfth, followed by another supplement from XIII. There is a gloss on the first few chapters in a very fine hand from XI. Probably made in Venetia. From the library of Sir Thomas Philipps.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.640Gospels. Late IX. From northern France, very likely from the monastery of St. Lucien at Beauvais. Described as having a Celtic text, closest to Egertonensis. Many glosses and corrections; small portions are neumed. Illuminated by the same artist as produced the Loisel Gospels (Paris National Library 17968). Samples of the art, which is exceptionally well-executed but appears unfinished, are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.651Gospels. XI. Probably from Cologne. Slightly defective at the beginnings and ends of the gospels; it appears pages were removed and the current portraits of the Evangelists, which are slightly later, were added in their place. (To give them their due, the portraits are very fine.) Most unusually, the Morgan Library has photographed just about the whole codex; the scans can be seen at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.708Four Gospels (plus a minor addition at the end about some monastery relics, not by the same scribe as the rest of the document). "Gospels of Judith of Flanders" (see also the next item). Mid-XI. Two scribes, neither particularly careful. Probably copied in East Anglia, England, possibly at Thorney. Lacks Matt. 21:15-26:2, Luke 17:1-11, John 13:35-16:33. Text is regarded as Irish. A complete set of scans are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.709Four Gospels. Early XI. Although, like Morgan MS. M.709, it spent time the library of Judith of Flanders, it seems to have been written a few decades before her time. Thought to have been written in East Anglia, and illustrated by the same school that produced the Fulda Aa21 Gospels and Bodley Douce 296 Psalter. Two scribes were involved; the primary scribe also wrote Fulda Aa21. The text is described as mixed -- part Celtic, part Alcuin, part older, although it is also said to be similar to Egertonensis and other less-mixed manuscripts. Full scans of the manuscript can be found at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.728Gospels. Illuminated at Reims when Hincmar was Archbishop (i.e. 845-882). The text is said to agree most closely with Foro-Juliensis (J), although the other relatives listed aren't usually considered close to J, so that statement may be dubious. It is said to have a text typical of Tours. Two hands were involved. A set of lections were added on the flyleaves after the close of the manuscript era. Beautifully illuminated, with much gold (including the ink) and silver; scans of some of the artwork can be seen at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.755Gospels. X. Text is said to resemble that of Corbie. Said to be similar to KWW,HJ,Me=Karolinus/Grandivallensis. Two scribes. Has many decorations although no portraits. Many of the decorations, but little of the text, can be seen at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.777Gospels. Early XII, from England (possibly Canterbury). A late text, most similar to William of Hales's Bible (WWW,HJ,Me). Three scribes were involved, with the first scribe doing Matthew, the second responsible for Mark and Luke, and the last doing John. There are sundry corrections. Four illuminations (which have a very strong blue theme) can be seen at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.781Gospels. XI. Probably from Austria; a XIIth century hand has written a set of privileges for the monastery of St. Peter's, Salzburg, on the last leaf. Multiple scribes (using multiple types of ink.) Said to have a text close to Munich 8272; overall, the text seems poor. Many attractive illustrations can be seen at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.791Complete Bible, with unusual order both in the Old Testament books and the New (Apocalypse follows Jude and precedes Paul; Hebrews follows Philemon; Laodiceans follows Hebrews). Most of the books are glossed, although some glosses are fuller than others, and it appears the glossator quit after doing Galatians; the later Pauline epistles are free of glosses. The glosses seem to use a different ink but a very similar hand. Many illustrations, often pasted in. Believed to have been written in England in early XIII. The curatorial notes for this manuscript are unusually detailed by the Morgan Library's standards, although they don't pay much attention to the text. Photos of many of the illuminations are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.808Gospels. XIII. Probably from the monastery of Seitensteen, Austria, since its abbott Henricus I (1247-1250) is pictured twice in the manuscript. The Morgan library claims an Anglo-Saxon source. One scribe only. Images of many of the illustrations are at; the colors are beautiful but the illustrations are not very good as drawings.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.823Fragments of a Bible, now consisting of the Octateuch, the Jeremiah, Lamentations, part of 2 Maccabees, the Acts and Catholic Epistles, and the Apocalypse. Even these are mostly damaged, because the initial letters have been cut away. Written in England (Winchester?) in early XII by three scribes. A few surviving images can be seen at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.827Gospels. X. Ends at John 18:5. Said to have been written in a "Franco-Saxon" center but with illuminations of the type found in Winchester, England. The text is Theodulph's, so textually this is one of the more interesting Morgan manuscripts. There were two scribes with similar writing styles. Images of the illustrations are at, but there are only a few letters of the text. Some of the illustrations do not appear to have been completely colored in.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.833Complete Bible (with Laodiceans after Colossians) plus an interpretation of Hebrew names. The order of the books of the Old Testament is very unusual, and the Apocalypse follows John. Three scribes were involved, one of them named Andreas (a common name in Bohemia, where the book was copied). The colophon states that it was written in 1391. Scans of many of the illuminations are at They are beautifully done, with pastel hues rarely seen in earlier illustrations, but the text of the book is obviously late.
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.860Gospels, lacking Mark 11:11-33, John 5:19-43, 8:17-9:3 (four leaves in all). From St. Martin's, Tours, probably shortly after the monastery was re-founded in 1857 after the Norman raids. Multiple scribes, one of whom is believed to have taken part in writing Paris Lat. MS. 266, the Du Fay Gospels, and another wrote part of the Gospels of Lothaire, Paris Lat. MS. 9385. The manscript is one of the rare partially-purple manuscripts, as can be seen from the illustrations at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.862Gospels. IX. Said to have a Celtic text. There were two scribes. Although mostly written in normal ink, a few verses and illuminated pages are written in gold. Images of some of the illustrations are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.869Gospels. Latin. Alcuin's text. Late X. Said to be from England (possibly Glastonbury), although it was discovered at Cologne and contains nine folios of oaths taken by officials in that area plus other historical links to Cologne; it appears on this basis that it was there by the twelfth century. Two scribes, the second of whom also corrected the manuscript. Apparently known as the Arenberg Gospels after a later owner. Although most of the text is in ordinary ink, some pages (e.g. the opening of the gospels) are in an amazing collection of colors -- often one color per line; those pages frankly look much more artistic than the illustrations, at least to me. Samples can be seen at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.889Bible, much damaged; 277 leaves survive. It is apparently the second volume of what was once a two volume set, with this volume beginning with Job and proceeding through the New Testament. Copied in what is now Germany in century XI (probably toward the end of the century). Interestingly, a part of a Hebrew manuscript was found in the binding. Scans of a few images (including miniatures of all four evangelists) are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.969Bible. Written in northern France in late XIII. Hebrews follows Philemon; the Acts and Catholic Epistles follow Paul. Scans of many of the illuminations are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.970Bible with Interpretation of Names at the end. Probably from late XIII, perhaps from Paris. No lacunae are noted on the Morgan web site, but the codicology (quires of 22, 20, 22, 24, 22, 17, 24, 4) hints at some sort of peculiarity about the contents. Scans of many illuminated initials are at
Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.1152No description given on the Morgan site, but it includes Mark and at least some portions of the epistles. Late XII. Scans of a few illustrations are at
Nuremberg [Germany]
Germanisches Museum #2793228 leaves of the Gospels. Late VIII, perhaps from Salzburg. 18 other leaves are in New York, Pierpont Morgan Library MS. M.564.
Oxford [England]
Bodleian, 138Catholic Epistles and Apocalypse, with gloss by Augustinus de Ancona. c. 1430. From Utrecht. Samples of some of the artwork are at
Bodleian, 155Gospels, c. 1000, probably written for Barking Abbey but with a text derived from the north of France. Similar to the Leofric Gospels (Bodleian Auct. D.2.16). Glunz, pp. 68-69. Samples of some of the artwork (ink sketches, not colored), plus two text pages, are at Glunz #27
Bodleian, 857 (Auct. D.2.14)OHJ,MeBodl/ oxonHoughton, p. 273. Glunz #2
Bodleian D.3.3Late XIII, probably from England.
Bodleian D.4.8C. 1245. Scans of many of the illustrations are at
Bodleian D.5.17Bible, late XIII. Thought to be from Paris. Scans of a few of the illustrations are at
Bodleian, Additional C.153Gospels. Early X. Originated in France or Flanders. Two scans are available at
Bodleian Auct. D.1.13Epistles, with glosses (both interlinear and in the margin). Mid XII. Probably from England, perhaps Winchester. Seven scans are available at
Bodleian Auct. D.1.17c. 1265. Possibly written at Oxford. Scans of four of the illuminations are at
Bodleian Auct. D.2.15Gospels. C. 1130. Probably from Winchester or St. Alban's. Scans of four of the illuminations are at
Bodleian Auct. D.2.16The "Leofric Gospels," so called because Archbishop Leofric (died c. 1072) donated it to St. Peter's, Exeter. Late X, with illuminations added XI (although they are very crude; Matthew and Mark are drawn only in black, brown, and a watery red, with a watery yellow added for Luke; and frankly that of Matthew looks more like a sea slug than a human; that of Mark isn't much better, but, oddly, is followed by a fine multi-colored figure; John is fully illustrated in a style like the second Mark illustration. Some of the other illustrations appear to have been sketched out but the color never supplied). Written in Brittany. Text similar to the Barking Gospels (Bodleian 155). Scans are available at, with Old English additions at the end (not relevant to a student of the Vulgate) at Glunz #17
Bodleian Auct. D.2.19RWW,HJ,Memac-regolHoughton, pp. 275-276.
Bodleian Auct. D.3.2Bible. Late XIII. Scans of some of the illustrations (mostly Old Testament, and some not Biblical at all) are at
Bodleian Auct. D.3.4Bible. Mid-XIII. Scans of two of the illustrations are at
Bodleian Auct. D.3.5Bible. Mid XIII. From England (perhaps Oxford). Scans of many illustrations are at
Bodleian Auct. D.3.7Bible, incomplete, plus a harmony. Late XIII. From England. Sample scans showing the script are at
Bodleian Auct. D.3.8Bible. Late XIII.
Bodleian Auct. D.4.8Bible. Mid-XIII. From England (perhaps East Anglia). Many sample scans are available at, although they show illustrations more often than text; note in particular the Hebrew on the second scan!
Bodleian Auct. D.4.10Bible. Mid-XII, probably from England. Scans of a few illustrations are at
Bodleian Auct. D.4.14Apocalypse, heavily illustrated. From France, and includes Old French as well as Latin. XIV. Scans of the illustrations (although very little of the text) are available at
Bodleian Auct. D.4.20Paul, with extensive gloss, both interlinear and in the margin. XII. Probably from England; a fourteenth century inscription says it was given to St. Mary's, Leke (probably St. Mary's Abbey or someplace around Leake, in Yorkshire). Sample pages (showing the scale of the glossing) are at
Bodleian Auct. D.5.13Bible. Late XIII. Likely of English origin, although this is not certain.
Bodleian Auct. D.5.17Bible. Late XIII. Originally from Paris. A few samples of the artwork can be seen at
Bodleian Auct. D.5.19Bible. XIII. From Paris. A few sampes of the artwork can be seen at
Bodleian Auct. E.inf.1 and Auct. E.inf.2The "Auct. Bible" or "St. Hugh's Bible," in two volumes. The first volume (Auct. E.inf.1) is Old Testament only; the New Testament is included in Auct. E.inf.2. Late XII. From Winchester. Scans of many of the illustrations are at and, but most of these are from outside the New Testament.
Bodleian, Ms. Canon. Bibl. Lat. 3Dated 1254. Possibly from France.
Bodleian, Ms. Canon. Bibl. Lat. 11Bible. Late XIII. Probably from France. Scans of some of the illustrations are at
Bodleian, Ms. Canon. Bibl. Lat. 36Bible. Late XIII. Probably from Italy. Scans of some of the illustrations are at
Bodleian, Ms. Canon. Bibl. Lat. 47Bible. Mid-XIII. Thought to be from Paris. Scans of some of the illustrations are at
Bodleian, Ms. Canon. Bibl. Lat. 49Bible. c. 1300. Probably from northern Italy. Scans of some of the illustrations are at
Bodleian, Ms. Canon. Bibl. Lat. 52Bible. XIII. Probably from Paris. Scans of some of the illustrations are at
Bodleian Auct. D.5.17Bible. Late XIII. From Paris. Samples of the illuminations are
Bodleian, Ms. Canon. Bibl. Lat. 8Bible, early XIII Thought to be from Italy. Scans of some of the illuminations are at
Bodleian, Ms. Canon. Bibl. Lat. 47XII. Thought to be from Paris. Scans of some of the illuminated initials are at
Bodleian, Ms. Canon. Bibl. Lat. 56Bible (without Psalms). Copied in 1265 in Bologna, Italy. Thought to be from Paris. Scans of some of the elaborate and beautiful illuminations are at
Bodleian, Ms. Canon. Bibl. Lat. 77Bible, minus Psalms. Late XIII. Probably from Italy. Two of the illuminations are at
Bodleian, Ms. Canon. Bibl. Lat. 92XIII. Thought to be from Paris. Scans of some of the illuminations are at
Bodleian, Ms. E. D. Clarke 31XIII. Thought to be from France. Scans of two of the illuminations are at
Bodleian, Ms. D'Orville 212.Late XIII. From Paris.
Bodleian, Douce 292Liège Gospels. Matthew and Mark. c. 1000. Possibly from Laon. Mostly Carolingian text. Scans are available at Glunz #16
Bodleian, Laud lat. 27Gospels. Late X. Scans of some of the artworks are available at
Bodleian, Laud lat. 43OWW,MeHoughton p. 274.
Bodleian, Laud lat. 108OWW,MeHoughton pp. 273-274.
Bodleian, Laud lat. 103OWWHoughton p. 274.
Bodleian, Rawlinson G.169Matthew only, from c. 1165. In Worcester in 1279. It was originally simply a manuscript of Matthew, with a typical text of the time, but a later scribe, in an ugly cursive hand, corrected it toward the "scholastic" text and squeezed in the glosses of Peter the Lombard (so Glunz, p. 233; Glunz, pp. 234-235, gives a list of these corrections and changes). Glunz #57
Bodleian, Selden Supra 30 (Bodley 3418)OMe,WWHoughton, p. 273
Brasenose College MS. vEarly XIII. Written at Oxford by a professional but careless scribe. Parisian text. Glunz #66
Christ Church College MS. 95Paul, with extensive glosses, both interlinear and in the margin, although more toward the beginning of the volume than the end. There are elaborate letters at the start of each epistles, but either they were not intended to be colored or the colors were not supplied. Dated 1100-1170. Scans available at
Corpus Christi College MS. 122 (F.2.14)The "Corpus Irish Gospels." XI/XII. Written at Dublin. Irish text. Glunz, pp. 65-66. Scans available at Glunz #21
Queen's College MS. 52Early XIII. One of the earliest manuscripts to have Stephen Langton's chapter divisions marked. Parisian text. Glunz #67
Queen's College MS. 317Matthew and Mark. XIII. Glossed. A "scholastic" text. Originally from Reading? Glunz #61
St. John's College MS. 111Gospel of Matthew. Earlier version of the glosses used in Cambridge Trinity B.5.5. c. 1150. Glunz #60
St. John's College MS. 129John. Glossed. c. 1150. A "scholastic" text. Glunz #62
St. John's College MS. 194Gospels, c. 1000. Belonged to and probably written at Christ Church, Canterbury. Alcuin's text. Glunz, p. 68. Glunz #26
Trinity College MS. B.10.21XIII. From an English Dominican source. Parisian text. Glunz #72
Wadham College MS. i (A.5.2)1240? Probably written in Oxford for the local Black Friars. Parisian text. Glunz #71
Wadham College MS. ii (A.10.22)Gospels, c. 1075, from southern England. Said to be close to Lanfranc's text. Glunz, pp. 166-168, lists scholastic readings similar to those found in British Library Royal 1.B.xi, some of which are from the first hand and some from an earlier corrector. It however lacks the glosses found in the Royal MS. Glunz thinks the text prior to these modifications was close to Alcuin's. Glunz #42
Wadham College MS. ix (A.10.14)Miniature Bible, XIII. Parisian text. Glunz #69
Paris [France]
National Library MS. Arsenal 33Bible. XII. The Apocalypse precedes Paul, and the Psalms (which have more color than the rest of the manuscript) follow the New Testament. It appears the names of the books (or some such thing) were originally written in the upper margin, but most of these have now been cut off, making it very hard to find things. The lack of the Eusebian apparatus doesn't help either. There are many corrections in Jerome's opening letter to Paulinus, but far fewer in the main text. There is a dramatic difference in the appearance of the inks at the end of the Old Testament compared to the new, implying a different scribe (although the hands look similar at first glance) or different circumstances. Some color decorations. Scans are available at
National Library MS. Arsenal 590Bible. XIV. Said to have been written for Charles V "the wise" of France (reigned 1364-1380); it went to the Celestines of Paris a few decades after his death. Illuminated by the so-called Maître Honoré or one of his followers. There are red and blue decorations on every page, and some illustrated initials, also mostly in red and blue; there is very little use of other colors. Some of the decorations are cut off, in whole or in part, implying a rebinding (although this appears to affect primarily the Old Testament). There are chapter numbers, but the Gospels lack the Eusebian apparatus. Scans are available at
National Library MS. Arsenal 1170Bible. XIII. Many ornaments in blue and red, plus some illustrations, some with gold. The New Testament shows many words struck through in red (although in some cases this appears to be for ornamentation, not correction), with several hands writing in the margin. (Other corrections are simply scratched out; it is clear that several people made at least casual corrections.) Scans are available at
National Library MS. Latin 6RWW,MeAlso ro (#62) of the Old Latin; see that MS. in the list of Old Latin manuscripts. Houghton, pp. 237-238.
National Library MS. Latin 258Gospels. IX. Alcuin's text. Like bigot, it is from the library of Jean Bigot, but it is a different book. With illustrations, although they didn't look very attractive to me. The red ink of the rubrics and initials is often badly faded. Scans are available at;4.
National Library MS. Latin 259Gospels. IX. Formerly in Cardinal Mazarin's library. Black-and-white scans are at;2.
National Library MS. Latin 262Gospels. IX. Written in cola et commata; majuscule letters at the start of lines are often colored in with red or yellow. The canon tables do not appear to have been finished. Scans available at;0&lang=EN#
National Library MS. Latin 263Gospels. IX. Possibly from Tours; it is influenced by the Tour style. The book is disordered; it opens with Mark, then Luke and John, with the last few chapters of Matthew (25:37-end) following. (This was clearly not the original order, since the last page of John looks quite worn.) Some gold ink at the beginning of books. Scans available at;0.
National Library MS. Latin 264Gospels. IX. There is little decoration except for red letters at the start of sections of text, but the writing is attractive and clear. The only marginal material is the Eusebian apparatus. There are a very few corrections, but with the possible exception of the prefatory material, it does not appear to have been systematically corrected. Scans are available at;4.
National Library MS. Latin 267Gospels. IX. Probably from Tours; certainly influenced by that school. Title pages to the gospels in gold (although there is none for John; there is a blank page facing a page with notes in what appears to be a much later hand), but the text itself is rather plain. Scans are available at;4.
National Library MS. Latin 270Gospels. IX. Probably from Corbie, or influenced by that school. With illustrations, often including gold, and gold initials. The names of the books at the top of the page are also in gold. There are a few spots dyed purple, as well. Scans are available at;2.
National Library MS. Latin 271Gospels. IX. From Carcassone? The initial pages, in particular, are very badly decayed -- damp, rubbed, and faded. Curiously, there are two sets of Eusebian tables; those at the beginning, which are very badly damaged indeed, probably served as flyleaves. The second set of tables are followed by a neumed hymn (there are others in the book as well). Initial letters are in red, but the fading of the ink can make the red letters hard to distinguish from the brown primary ink. Parts also have green illuminations; I wonder if these were simply worn off at the beginning. There appear to be some sketched-out illustration that were not finished. There are a few corrections; based on the ink colors, I would guess two scribes (one of them possibly the original scribe) were involved. Scans are available at;4.
National Library MS. Latin 272Gospels. Late X. Probably English, perhaps from Winchester, but kept in Fécamp (it has been suggested it was a gift from the English monarchy). The original scribe is unknown, but an Antoninus of Fécamp improved it and perhaps used it as a model for a Rouen Gospels manuscript. The beginnings of all four gospels are missing; presumably evangelist portraits or other decorations have been cut out. There are blank pages before each gospel. Many pages appear to have been affected by water, although the text is generally readable. It eventually wound up in the library of Jean Bigot. Scans are available at;2.
National Library MS. Latin 274Meaux Gospels. IX (between 820 and 843). Possibly from, and certainly in the style of, Tours. Portions of some pages have been dyed purple. This and other colors (silver?) have discolored the reverse pages at several points. Scans are available at;0.
National Library MS. Latin 276Gospels. XII. Has (not very legible) notes at the end about French battles in 1592 and 1638, but these are obviously not contemporary. The Eusebian tables at the beginning were illustrated but the text never filled in, although the cross-references appear in the manuscript proper. (The tables aren't really needed, since the the margins of the main text actually list the references to the four gospels rather than referring to the tables -- a more convenient form of cross-reference.) There are many decorated initials, usually in green, red, and blue; also small portraits of Mark, Luke, and John in gold, although there is none for Matthew (there is a blank space before the gospel where it might have fit). Scans are available at;0.
National Library MS. Latin 277Gospels. XII. Beautifully written with enlarged initials in red, blue, and occasionally green, but the only marginal apparatus is a series of chapter numbers in red; there is no Eusebian apparatus or other material. A subscription at the end of Luke appears to have been erased. Scans are available at;0.
National Library MS. Latin 278Gospels. Late XI. Three scribes. Two evangelist portraits (Matthew and Mark; the other two seem to have been removed). Thought to be from Saint Bertin abbey. There is clear damage to the manuscript from the chemicals (silver?) in some of the illustrations, as well as significant mold on some of the pages, although most of it is a beautiful copy. Small portions written in gold; enlarged capitals are in red. Scans available at;4.
National Library MS. Latin 281BWWbigotHoughton, p. 267. See also MS. 298 below.
National Library MS. Latin 298Codex Fiscannensis. John. VIII/IX. This is the Johannine portion of MS. Latin 281, Codex Bigotianus (B/bigot). Several folios have been lost (including most of John 4-8 and some smaller defects), plus the first surviving page is badly torn, as are some interior pages, and the rest are heavily stained (it appears that more than half the pages have experienced some loss of text; my initial impression was that the book had been exposed to fire, then put out with water); it is sad to see such a beautiful piece of writing in such poor condition. Scans are available at
National Library MS. Latin 323Gospels of Noailles, believed to be from the court of Charles the Bald. Late IX. There is much use of gold in the illustrations (not surprising in a royal manuscript), although a lot of it is applied in rather unattractive ways; there are also gold letters in the text. Scans, including a very elaborate sculpted ivory cover, are at;2.
National Library MS. Latin 324Gospels. IX. Many illustrations, including Evangelist portraits (though these are not at all attractive to my eyes), often with gold; initials are also often in gold. Scans available at;4.
National Library MS. Latin 325Gospels. XII. There is much use of color (red, a faded yellow (?), and occasional green), though it doesn't strike me as very attractive. An illustration, presumably an Evangelist portrait, has been cut out before Matthew. Many corrections are found in what I would guess is a thirteenth century hand; in my spot checks, I found corrections on more than half the pages, although rarely more than two per page. Scans are available at;0.
National Library MS. Latin 328Gospels. Early XI. Thought to have been copied in France. The manuscript probably was not quite finished -- e.g. some of the arches that usually enclose the Eusebian tables have not been painted (which makes it somewhat surprising that there is an evangelist portrait of Matthew; the other gospels just have blank pages). Curiously, although there is some use of color ink at the beginning, the bulk of the manuscript uses two text inks: one brown for the main text, one black for enlarged initials (written in an extremely ugly hand). Scans are available at;4.
National Library MS. Latin 335LMe,WWHoughton, p. 271.
National Library MS. Latin 1587Gospels. VIII/IX. Thought to be from England or Brittany, although it looks very Celtic (Irish or Northumbrian) to me. Curiously, it contains several pages of modern notes in English. There is no prefatory material at all; after a carpet page, it goes straight into the Gospel of Matthew. I strongly suspect the text is Old Latin-influenced -- e.g. I observe that, in the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:11, it has "quotidianium" (compare Smarg "cotidianum"), corrected to the Vulgate reading "supersubstantialem." There are many other corrections, if perhaps not as striking as that. Scans are available at;2.
National Library MS. Latin 1628NWe(part; see also under Autun). Houghton, p. 258.
National Library nouv. acq. latin 1063PWWHoughton, pp. 274-275
National Library MS. Latin 2328LMe,WWHoughton, p. 271.
National Library MS. Latin 8847ΦE WeHoughton, pp. 262-263
National Library MS. Latin 8849Gospels. Dated 821-836. Has evangelist portraits, with many gold initials and some use of other colors, as well as a very elaborate (later) binding. Scans are available at;4.
National Library MS. Latin 8851Gospels. Late X. From Germany. A few pages wholly or partially in purple; there is also much use of gold, both leaf and ink; it is one of the fanciest manuscripts I have seen. The birds used to illuminate the Eusebian tables are splendid (if you ignore the fact that some of them are chickens, anyway). Illuminated by the "Registrum Master Gregory." Dated based on the medallion portraits of the Emperors and claimants Henry I, Henry II, Otto I, Otto II, and Henry, Duke of Bavaria, found on the page before Matthew. It has been suggested that Egbert of Trier commissioned the manuscript. It was in Echternact by 1039, and used as an example for later manuscripts. Scans are available at;0.
National Library MS. Latin 9380ΘWW,HJ/
Houghton, p. 280.
National Library MS. Latin 9385Du Fay Gospels. Copied between 843 and 851, probably in Tours. It has been suggested that it was written by the same scribe as the London Gospels Chester Beatty 8. Heavily illustrated, although the colors used have often reacted or soaked into the parchment, leaving many pages looking very messy (e.g. the text on the reverse of the portrait of Matthew has burned through, putting half a dozen lines of backward text into the picture). Where there are no illustrations, the text, in brown with red highlights, is very clearly written. Scans are available at;4.
National Library MS. Latin 9389EPWW,HJeptHoughton, p. 269
National Library MS. Latin 9391Gospels. Early X. Probably from Metz. The first few pages have serious rubbing, as does the last, but this does not affect the Bible text. Initials on many pages alternate gold and red (although others use only red); and there are portraits of the evangelists and elaborate frontispieces; it is clearly an expensive production. Scans are available at;4.
National Library MS. Latin 9394Gospels. Early XI. Almost certainly French (perhaps Lorraine?); materials in the manuscript show that it was in Metz in early XIII. It has only a few illustrations, but much color; the main ink is brown, but with enlarged letters in red with green-brown highlights; some pages have other colors as well. There are some corrections in the prefatory matter, but I noticed none in my brief look at the vulgate text. Scans are available at;2.
National Library MS. Latin 9427LWe(Lectionary). Houghton, p. 252
National Library MS. Latin 10422Bible. Dated XIII on the library web site, although an earlier examiner suggested XIV. It appears that, in some stage of a binding, it was trimmed significantly -- the text appears intact, but page headings and marginalia are damaged or missing. Major sections are marked with very large initials, which means that there are colors on almost every page. Scans are available at;4.
National Library MS. Latin 11553G [+g1](sanger)Houghton, pp. 213-214
National Library MS. Latin 11956Gospels. Late IX. Known as the "Gospels of Noyon." From northern France, perhaps Saint-Amand-en-Pévèle. The illustrations for the Eusebian tables are unusual -- although they use arches to separate columns, as is common, there is wide variety in the decoration of the arches; it would probably be quite impressive if there hadn't been so much pigment bleed-through. Gold ink is used at the beginnings of the Gospels. Scans are available at;4.
National Library MS. Latin 11961Matthew and Mark, with defects (a few folios lost, and the opening initial of Mark cut out, and the last few verses of Mark are in the next volume). The second volume is MS. Latin 11962. Late XI. From Metz. There are some illustrations (e.g. one at the beginning with the Virgin Mary seated among David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, Kings of Judah), but they are merely inked out, not colored, and some appear to have blank framers where people were supposed to be added, plus the Eusebian tables are un-colored; I wonder if the intended manuscript illumination was finished. (Interestingly, the opening illustration to Matthew is done, in gold and six or seven other colors; it is quite impressive.) Scans are available at
National Library MS. Latin 11962Luke and John (plus the last three verses of Mark), originally from the same volume as MS. Latin 11961 above. Late XI. From Metz. As with MS. 11961, there are impressive illustrations, including gold highlights. Scans are available at
National Library MS. Latin 13170Gospels. Late XI. Probably from Corbie. Defective at the beginning; the text opens in the middle of Matthew's genealogy of Jesus, following a sketched-in but un-colored evangelist portrait. It appears the manuscript was never finished; the first few lines of Mark, Luke, and John are also lacking, it appears they were to be illuminated but no one got around to it. There are some red highlights, but other than that, reader aids are very few -- e.g. no Eusebian apparatus or chapter numbers or even names of the books at the top of the page. Scans are available at;0.
National Library MS. Latin 13171Gospels. Late IX. Possibly from Saint-Denis. Flyleaves are from another manuscript which appears to me to be from about XII. Many pages have been damaged by mold and damp. Scans are available at;2.
National Library MS. Latin 14397Complete Bible. XIII. Reportedly contributed to the Abbey of St. Victor (Paris) by Blanche of Castille (died 1252), the wife of the French King Louis VIII and Regent of France after his death. Scans of a black-and-white microfilm are at;2; sadly, the small size of the reproduction makes it effectively illegible.
National Library MS. Latin 16260Bible. XIII. Many illustrations in the New Testament portion, plus colored inks. Black-and-white scans are at
National Library MS. Latin 16275Gospels. X. Probably from France, perhaps specifically Brittany. In two columns, with little decoration (some but not all the enlarged initials are in red); the only reader helps are the Eusebian numbers, and there are no illustrations. Many of the pages have minor scuffs and stains. Once belonged to Richelieu. Scans are available at;2.
National Library MS. Latin 16746New Testament (probably originally a complete Bible; it appears the Old Testament is bound as MSS. Latin 16744 and 16745). Late XII. All the volumes are decorated, but the Old Testament volumes have mostly red and blue ornaments; the New Testament has illustrations with more colors and some use of gold, by a very fine artist. A few leaves of Ezekiel are at the end of the book (flyleaves? they are in worse shape than the rest of the book). Laodiceans follows Philemon and precedes Hebrews. Acts follows Paul. There is, sadly, much damage to this beautiful manuscript. Scans available at
National Library MS. Latin 17226Gospels. VII. Thought to have been written in Italy, but to have been in northern France by around VIII, where additions were made in the margins. Some illustrations were added a few centuries later, possibly by an Anglo-Saxon artist. The hand is a beautiful uncial, although the state of the ink sometimes makes it hard to read. There is some damage to the text, in part because the margins are so small. Formerly from Notre Dame (Paris). Scans are available at;0.
National Library MS. Latin 17968Loisel Gospels. Early IX. Probably from Reims. The first four and a half chapters of Luke are missing, with blank pages inserted. The artwork is unusually good; the Eusebian tables feature a variety of birds; there are portraits of the evangelists; the gospels open with pages in gold ink. Matthew's genealogy of Jesus is written with red initials on every word, but this is not carried through the rest of the book, which uses red only to mark the first letter of paragraphs and to supply section heads. There are corrections, both by insertion and by erasure, but they appear to be few. Scans are available at;4.
Perugia [Italy]
Biblioteca Capitolare MS. 1PWW,HJ,MeHoughton, p. 274
Prague [Czech Republic]
National Library, Cim. 1JWW,Mefor(part). Houghton, p. 270
Princeton [United States]
Princeton University Library MS. Garrett 28XIII. Illuminations related to Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 484.
Rome [Italy] (see also the Vatican)
Biblioteca Vallicelliana B.6VWW ΦV WevalHoughton, p. 264.
Biblioteca Vallicelliana B.25IIIWeHoughton, p. 257.
Salisbury [England]
Cathedral MS. 41John, begins 2:12. Glossed. c. 1160. A "scholastic" text. Originally from Salisbury? Glunz #63
Cathedral MS. 77Gospels, late XI, but with an archaic text, said to mix "insular and continental readings." Lacks Luke 12:18-17:10, 19:39-John 2:22. Glunz, p. 70. Glunz #29
Cathedral MS. 148Fragment of a two-volume Atlantic Bible. Written at Salisbury, early XII. Lanfranc's text. WWW,HJ,Me, the bible of William of Hales, is a copy of this; see in addition the notes on that book. Glunz #50
San Marino, California [USA]
Huntington Library MS. 62.The "Gundulf Bible," written at Rochester when Gundulf was Bishop (appointed 1077; he made major improvements to the diocese, rebuilding the cathedral and founding the library. He may also have created a scriptorium, but this is the only Bible we can associate with him with high certainty; there appears to be a reference to it in 1202). Formerly in the Philipps Collection. Two volumes, 472 leaves. Lanfranc's text. Glunz #48
Split [Croatia]
Cathedral Library, no MS. numberPWe
St Gall(en) [Switzerland]
Stiftsbibliothek 2SActs Rev. Houghton, p. 260.
Stiftsbibliothek 70SPaul. Houghton, pp. 260-261.
Stiftsbibliothek 75ΦT WePaul. Houghton, p. 263.
Stiftsbibliothek 907SCatholic Epistles. Houghton, p. 261.
Stiftsbibliothek 1395SGospels. Other numbers include St. Gall, Kantonsbibliothek Vadianische Sammlung MS. 292a, four different numbers in Zürich, and one in Kärnten. Houghton, pp. 259-260.
Tours [France]
City Library MS. 22MTWW,HJ/
martHoughton, p. 272
Trier [Germany]
State Library MS. 31ΣWWHoughton, p. 281
Utrecht [Netherlands]
Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit 32UWWHoughton, p. 277
Vatican (see also Rome)
Apostolic library, Regin. lat. 9RRPaul. Houghton, p. 259
Venice [Italy]
National Library Marciana, no MS. #JWW,Mefor(part). Houghton, p. 270
Verona [Italy]
Capitolare Library X(8)RWeHoughton, p. 259.
Winchester [England]
Cathedral "Great Bible"Three volumes (although apparently bound as two when originally created). Written c. 1165 at St. Swithin's; Glunz, p. 183, says that "King Richard presented it to St Hugh of Lincoln" in 1186, but Richard I did not ascend until 1189, so there is an error in there somewhere.... It returned to Winchester not too many years later. Lanfranc's text; Glunz, p. 183, offers a list of noteworthy readings. Glunz #49.
York [England]
Minster MS. xvi.D.3Late XIII, probably produced around York. Parisian text. Glunz #68
Minster MS. xvi.N.6XIII, copied at York, with the gospels from an exemplar from VIII or IX. Glunz's #9
Minster MS. (un-numbered?)The "Anglo-Saxon Gospels," c. 965, written partly in England, partly in France (perhaps at Winchester and Fleury), and brought to York by Archbishop Oswald (972-992). Text is typical of Winchester. The prefatory material was added later. Glunz, pp. 132-134. Glunz #32
Zürich [Switzerland]
State Archive A.G. 19, No. II; Central Library C.43, C.79b, Z.XIV.5SWea few leaves; most are in St. Gall.

Old Church Slavonic

Some versions of the New Testament are all but lost. (The Gothic is an example.) Others,such as the Armenian, have survived very well. But few other than the Latin Vulgatehave achieved canonical status in their own right. The Old Church Slavonic is anexception.

In the case of the Vulgate, the canonization is perhaps understandable; it is fairlyold as versions go, and it was prepared by the greatest scholar of its generation.

A late text of the Slavonic version:
The Gospels of Tsar Ivan Alexander, Tsar of Bulgaria 1331-1371
British Library Add. 39627, comissioned 1355.
A copy of the Bulgarian recension.
Shown is folio 88, the beginning of the Gospel of Mark
Gospels of Tsar Ivan Alexander

The case of the Slavonic version is somewhat different from the Latin. It is much newer than the Vulgate,and its translators, while venerated, were not the tremendous scholars that Jerome was. Thishas meant that the Old Church Slavonic, although it is the Bible to most SlavicOrthodox churches, has received little critical attention -- though rather more attentionfrom linguists, since Old Church Slavonic (or Common Slavonic)is the earliest Slavic language with anyliterary remains.

The history of Christianity among the Slavs is uncertain. One report claims that theByzantine Emperor Heraclius made an attempt to evangelize the Slavs around the beginningof the seventh century. This account, however, is so littered with contradictions that itcannot be treated as history.

More solid are the accounts of a ninth century mission led by the brothers Methodiusand Constantine. Around 860 the two were sent among the Slavs. (There are reports thatthey found Christians there, and that they were possessed of a partial Bible translation,but we are simply unable to determine the truth, or the details, of this.) In 863 the two went toMoravia and began teaching the locals. From there on the story becomes complicated (ifit wasn't before), with local and church politics playing a large role. Leaving asidethese details, we are told that Constantine (who eventually took the name Cyril)devised a Slavic alphabet and prepared the Slavic translation.

Here again we run into trouble, because there are two Old Slavonic alphabets,the Glagolitic and the Cyrillic. The Glagolitic is a geometric alphabet, made up ofcircles and squares and other simple shapes and not evidently related to any otherform of writing. The Cyrillic is clearly derived from Greek letter forms.

Despite its name, most experts feel that the Cyrillic alphabet is not the workof Cyril/Constantine (some have credited it to Kliment, a pupil of Constantine andMethodius who worked in Bulgaria). Had the Cyrillic been older, it is hard to seehow the Glagolitic could have arisen. The oldest manuscripts of the Old Church Slavonic,which appear to date from the tenth century, are usually Glagolitic, butthe Cyrillic appears not long afterward. Even these early manuscripts show signsof dialectial variations (many of which later became separate languages), sothey are probably somewhat removed from the original translation. These also developedminor textual differences, so that we might speak of Bohemian, Bulgarian, Croatian,Russian, and Serbian "recensions" of the Slavonic.

The Old Church Slavonic was translated primarily for liturgical use, so it shouldnot be surprising that lectionary manuscripts are common, and that manuscripts of theApocalypse (which is not used in the lectionary) are rare.

Research on the Slavonic text has been limited, both because of the difficulty ofthe language (Old Church Slavonic is, of course, Indo-European, but of the Slavicbranch of the family, which is not well known to Western scholars) and because ofthe lateness of the translation. Slavonic generally renders Greek well (except inmatters of verb tense and specific vocabulary), but the text seems to be late.

Research on the textual base of the Slavonic version has been very confused and confusing. Reading the account in Bruce M. Metzger's Chapters in the History of New Testament Textual Criticism, we see a number of studies, all methodologically poor, which linked the Slavonic to almost anything you can name. For instance, Vajs, who did the most work on the type, considers the basic text in the Gospels to belong with Family Π, but with significant "Western" influence. There may be mixture of a sort: It has been suggested that the original translation was of a lectionary, which was later supplemented to produce continuous gospel texts; the text of the lectionary used in the original translation may have had a different textual complexion from the manuscript used to supplement it.

Based on the differences between some of the manuscripts, there appears to have been a revision toward the Byzantine text, but little is known about this. There may, oddly, also be some influence from the Vulgate, derived from Slavic branches of the Catholic church, where priests were expected to use the Vulgate as well as Slavonic translations, which would result in occasional changes to bring them closer together.

In Paul, the text is again largely Byzantine, though with some interesting and unusual readings. These do not appear to align with any known text-type.

My informal opinion, based simply on the readings of the apparatus in UBS4, is that the version is overwhelmingly Byzantine, although I have no idea as to the sub-type.

One can only hope that the future will bring more information to light aboutthis widely revered but little-studied version.

Incidentally, I am told that the OCS versions you can buy in many eastern countries are not really the same as the original translation, although the change is linguistic rather than textual. Stephen Reynolds, who works with the version regularly, gave me a discussion of its linguistic history which I am transcribing into HTML as best I can:

Even educated Orthodox Slavs often think that the Slavonic in use today is the same as that of Cyril and Methodius and their earlier epigones, but it ain't.

Probably the most obvious difference is that the two iers, or as the Old Believers say ier’ and ior, functioned as syllable-forming vowels in Common Slavic and hence in Old Slavonic. Associated with the transition from Common Slavic to the several different Slavic languages, the fall of the iers had major consequences everywhere. To take the best-known example, in Russian the iers of stressed syllables were assimilated to _e_ and _o_ respectively, while in unstressed syllables they lost their function as vowels entirely, serving as the "hard sign" and "soft sign" only -- that is, they indicated whether the preceding consonant was palatalized or not. The syllable count of a large percentage of words was reduced, and in Russian the result was the emergence of a symmetrical phonological system based on that distinction.

The fall of the iers affected Slavonic as well as the vernaculars, with the complication of khomoniia, a phenomenon that linguists have needlessly complicated because they are unfamiliar with the neumation of many liturgical manuscripts. Since these manuscripts had neumes over syllables the vowels of which were iers, they had to be sung as syllables. The only way to do this, once the original iers had vanished from the phonological system, was to treat them all as stressed, that is, to read all front iers as _e_ and all back iers as _o_. It took some time to revise the chant to fit the new, reduced syllable count, and khomoniia was the only way to deal with it until the revision was complete.

Other changes in the vernacular also were reflected in Slavonic, although of course not all (or Slavonic would have ceased to exist as a distinct language). Patriarch Euthymius of Bulgaria (ca 1325-1402) established standard rules for Church Slavonic after the fall of the iers, but on the Euthymian basis national recensions developed, so the Serbian, Bulgarian, Russian, and Ruthenian CS differed somewhat from one another. An updated standard was devised by Meletius Smotryts'kyi (c. 1577-1633), and this was adopted for the Nikonian revision of the liturgical books in Russia. These books were printed in large numbers. The south Slavs had an early printery at Cetinje in Montenegro, but it was too small to supply the volume of books necessary for the entire region, which was mostly still dependent on manuscripts. Consequently when the printed books from Russia became easily and fairly cheaply available, they were adopted and the former national recensions were replaced by the Nikonian text.

The cumulative effect is that the Slavonic currently in use differs quite a bit from that of the early sources for the Slavonic Bible.


Most versions of the New Testament exist in several recensions. Sometimes theserecensions can be very different textually. But usually each successive recensionis a revision of those which have gone before -- generally intended to bring theversion into closer conformity with the Greek original and the Byzantine Text.

Not so with the Syriac version. Here there was at least one "fresh start,"and possibly as many as three. (This is not to say that the newer versions were notinfluenced by the older; merely that they were not actual revisions of the older.)

The Diatessaron

The history of the Syriac versions probably begins with the Diatessaron, thegospel harmony which Tatian compiled (in Greekor Syriac) in the second half of the second century.

Although the Diatessaron was compiled by an editor who had been in Rome (Tatianwas expelled from that city in 172), and although it existed more or less from thestart in both Greek and Syriac, it was only in the Syriac church that it is believedto have been regarded as "official." Perhaps it was that Tatian's hereticalattitudes fit better with the mood of the church there.

The problems of the Diatessaron are deep and complex; they cannot be dealt withhere. No Syriac manuscripts of the version survive, and we have no more than a small fragmentof the Greek (in the Dura parchment 0212, a gospelharmony thought by some to be Diatessaric, though the most recent editors think otherwise). Butthe mass of quotations in Ephraem and others, as well as the number of Diatessaricharmonies in other languages, show its depth of influence.

Eventually, however, the Syriac church felt compelled to set the Diatessaron aside.We have reports of bishops ordering churches to replace their copies of Tatian'sdocument with copies of the Four Gospels. The effectiveness of their efforts is shownby the absence of Diatessaric manuscripts in Syriac. The change was not immediate(writers continued to use the Diatessaron for some centuries), but was eventuallycomplete.

We note incidentally that the Diatessaron, and its suppression, has much to tell usabout what can happen to a text. Certain scholars, especially Byzantineprioritists, make a great deal of noise about "normal" transmission --transmission without interference by external factors. Which is all well and good,but there is no reason to believe that transmission is "normal." If itwere, we would have many manuscripts of the Diatessaron, because it would havecontinued to be copied. Instead, we have no substantial copies of theDiatessaron. Its transmission was not "normal" -- and, given thegreat range of historical accidents that can happen, the onus is on those whowhich to claim that transmission is "normal."

The Old Syriac

Competing against the Diatessaron was the Old Syriac. This version (or more correctly,this series of versions) is of uncertain date (some have placed it as earlyas the second century, others as late as the fourth), and may even be earlier thanthe Diatessaron, but it was initially far less successful.

The Old Syriac survives in only two manuscripts: The Sinaitic Syriac palimpsestof the late fourth century and the Curetonian Syriac of the late fifthcentury.

The Sinaitic Syriac (sin or sys), which first came to lightin the 1890s, is in many ways themore interesting of the two. Despite the difficulty of reading the text (which wasoverwritten in the eight century), it is the more complete of the two manuscripts(142 of 166 leaves survive; including Matt. 1:1-6:10,7:3-12:4, 12:6-25,12:29-16:15, 18:11-20:24,21:20-25:15, 25:17-20,25:25-26, 25:32-28:7,Mark 1:12-44, 2:21-4:17,5:1-26, 6:5-16:8 (withouteither the long or the short ending), Luke 1:36-5:28,6:12-24:52, John 1:25-47,2:16-4:37, 5:6-25,5:46-18:31, 19:40-end).Its text is often regarded as more primitive thanthe Curetonian, with rougher renderings. The text is usuallyconsidered "Western," although it is considerably less wild thanthe text of D.

The Curetonian Syriac (cur or syc)shows most of the peculiarities of the Sinaitic, butperhaps to a lesser degree. Recovered in 1842 and published over the nextseveral decades, it contains about half the Gospels (in the order Matthew, Mark,John, Luke). Specifically, it contains Matt. 1:1-8:22,10:32-23:25; Mark 16:17-20;John 1:1-42, 3:6-7:37,14:10-29 (mutilated); Luke 2:48-3:16,7:33-15:21, 17:24-24:44.

It has been supposed that the Curetonian version is a revision of the Sinaitictranslation, probably in the direction of the developing Byzantine text. TheSinaitic, for instance, omits Mark 16:9-20, while the Curetonian contains theverses (16:17-20 being the only parts of Mark to survive in the Curetonian).This should not be considered absolutely certain, however (just as we shouldnot be entirely sure of the relative dates or relationships of the translations).The Sinaitic seemsto have stronger affinities to the Alexandrian text, and could conceivably be arevision of the Curetonian text (presumably more Antiochene in the geographicalsense, and perhaps with more "Tatianisms") toward the text of Egypt.

The Old Syriac is often regarded as "Western." Certainly the text isquite distinct from the Alexandrian text, and it has many of the hallmarks of the"Western" text -- e.g. paraphrases (in Matt. 1:16, for instance,the Sinaitic has the rather amazing reading "...Jacob fathered Joseph;Joseph, to whom Mary the virgin was engaged, fathered Jesus who is called theChrist") and free insertions and deletions. Certain of these are shared withD and the Old Latins, but many are not -- for instance, of the seven"Western Non-interpolations" in Luke 24,the Old Syriac agrees with D it in 24:40, 52 (cur is defective for 52).However, the manuscripts disagree with D etc. in 24:3, 6, 12, 36, 51(cur is defective for 51) and have a peculiar omission of their own in 24:32.

And we cannot avoid the fact that the two manuscripts --especially sin -- have a number ofclear agreements with the Alexandrian text. Notable among these isthe omission, already alluded to, of Mark 16:9-20 in sin. Bothsin and cur join AlephB X f13 in omitting Matt. 16:2-3. Both joinAleph* BΘ 33 579 892* inomitting Matt. 17:21. Sin omits Matt. 18:21along with Aleph B L*Θ f1 f13 33 892*.

Finally, we might note several agreements with the so-called "Cæsarean"witnesses. An obvious example is Matt. 27:16-17, where sin (hiat cur) reads"Jesus Barabbas" with Θf1 700* arm geo2.

The Old Syriac also has a large store of unique readings, some of whichmay come from local tradition. Thus in Matt. 10:3 sin (hiat cur) listsneither Thaddeus nor Lebbaeus as the apostle, but "Judas of James."

These examples could easily be multiplied. While a handful of examplescannot prove the text-type of the Old Syriac, it is clear that it is notidentical to that of D. Some have suggested that the Old Syriac deserves itown text-type (perhaps reasonable, but it would be nice to see a Greekexample first...). Streeter's geographical theory place it between the"Cæsarean" and "Western" texts. Others still viewthe type as "Western," though most would place it in a differentsubgroup from D.

There are no manuscripts of the Old Syriac outside the gospels. Theversion certainly existed, but it can only be reconstructed from quotationsand commentaries. Based on the materials available, the Old Syriac epistles(which may well be older than the Gospels, since the Diatessaron served as"the gospel" for so long) have a textual complexion similar tothe gospels.

The Peshitta

The Peshitta is the oldest Syriac version to survive in its entirety.On that there is general agreement. That is about all that can be statedwith certainty. Even the name is sometimes spelled "Peshitto";this is based on the Jacobite pronunciation (eastern and western Syriachad different pronunciations of the vowels, and this is reflected in thenames).

The date of the Peshitta is perhaps somewhat open to doubt. This question,as we shall see, is of some significance for the history of the text.

The Peshitta contains Old and New Testaments, with the Old Testamentgenerally regarded as older, although there is much dispute about justhow old. The New Testament (which will be what we discuss henceforth)can absolutely be dated to the fourth century or earlier.This is implied by the oldest manuscripts (since several are believed todate from the fifth century). Burkitt also points out that it isused by all branches of the Syriac church (which were well and truly sundered bythe fifth century -- eventually they even came to develop different versionsof the script, so that one can tell by the writing style which Syriac churchused a particular manuscript). This implies (though it does not quite prove) that theversion was in use before the date of the schism.

It is widely stated that the Peshitta was sponsored (perhaps even translated)by Rabbula, who became Bishop of Edessa in 411 and heldthe post until 435. This idea is most associated with F. C. Burkitt, and is basedon a statement in an early biography of Rabbula. But this hypothesis has beenlargely demolished by the work of Vööbus, and is now rarely met with.All indications are that the version is earlier than this.

Folio 154 verso of Sinai Syriac 2
(Peshittatranslation, V/VI century), John 17:7-17.
Thanks to Jean Valentin

But if the latest possible date for the version is the late fourth century, what isthe earliest? A very early date was once assumed; in the nineteenthcentury, many scholars would have dated it to the second century. Inthe twentieth century, this view has largely been abandoned -- not becauseof any specific evidence, but simply because the earliest Syriac authors(Ephraem in particular) do not quote the Peshitta. We note in addition thatthe translation includes James, which was not strongly canonical in the secondcentury. In addition, it isgenerally thought that the Peshitta is dependent on the Old Syriac, whichobviously makes it later than the earliest Syriac versions -- though, sincethe dates of those are disputed, it again fails to prove much.All in all, it's a combination of guesswork and an argument from silence(i.e. it's flatly not proof), but in the absence of anything better, thefourth century date seems to have swept the field.

Whatever its date, the Peshitta is well preserved. Manuscriptsfrom the sixth century are common, meaning that we have substantialearly witnesses. Moreover, the manuscripts are considered to agree very closely;with the exception of Vööbus, most scholars believe that we have theversion in very nearly the exact form in which it left the translators' hands.(It should be noted, however, that many Peshitta manuscripts, including someof the very oldest, have not been properly examined.)

The style of the Peshitta differs noticeably from the Old Syriac. Itis more fluent and more natural than the other Syriac versions. Most scholarstherefore believe that it was a substantially new translation rather thana revision. There are readings which remind us of the older Syriac versions,but these may be simple reminiscences rather than actual cases of dependency.

The text of the Peshitta is somewhat mixed. Various studies, mostly inthe gospels, have attempted to tie it to all three text-types, but onthe whole the Gospels text appears distinctly Byzantine (which is whythe date of the Peshitta is so important. Whatever its date, it isthe earliest Byzantine witness -- but if it is of the second century,that witness is of much greater significance than if it is of thefourth). This is not to say that the Peshitta is purely Byzantine,or shows the peculiarities of the Textus Receptus. It does not. Itomits John 7:53-8:11, for instance. But it includesMatt. 16:2-3, Mark 16:9-20, Luke 22:43-44,23:34, etc.(most of which are omitted by the Old Syriac). Such non-Byzantine readingsas it includes are probably survivals of an older Greek exemplar which has beenheavily corrected toward the Byzantine standard.

In the rest of the New Testament the situation is rather different.While the Byzantine text remains the strongest single element, in Actsand Paul the Peshitta includes significant elements of other types. Inmy estimation, these constitute about 30-40% of the whole. These readingsdo not, however, seem to belong to any particular text-type; they areneither overwhelmingly "Western" nor Alexandrian. I would guessthat the text of the Peshitta here retains hints of the same sort of textwe find in the Old Syriac, with some Byzantine overlay. It does not agreewith the later (Harklean) Syriac version.

The Peshitta does not contain the Apocalypse, and among the CatholicEpistles it has only James, 1 Peter, and 1 John. Little has been done onits text in the Catholics, except to establish that it is not purelyByzantine. Here again, kinship with the Harklean is slight.

The Philoxenian

The Philoxenian is perhaps the most mysterious of the Syriac versions,because what survives of it is so slight. The only thing we can positivelyidentify as the Philoxenian are certain translations of the books not foundin the Peshitta: 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and the Apocalypse. Suchshort fragments are not enough to tell us much textually.

Historically, the data are equally confusing, because it is difficulton the face of it to tell the Philoxenian from the Harklean. ThePhilosenian, we are told, was made in 507-508 C.E. at the instigationof Philoxenus of Mabbûg. It was probably prepared byPolycarp, chorepiscopos of Mabbûg, and was designed as a revisionof the Peshitta and intended to render the Greek more precisely as wellas supplying the missing five books (and, perhaps, John 7:53-8:11).

Given the uncertainty about this version, there is very little elseto be said about it. In the Epistles and the Apocalypse, it is clearlynot purely Byzantine -- but the work done on identifying its text beyondthat is so out-of-date that it is best ignored.

There is one other perhaps-significant footnote: Philoxenus of Mabbug(bishop from 485 to 519) was an active Monophysite who took a significantpart in the Christological controversies of his age, being associated withSeverus of Antioch. Whether his heretical views affected the nature of thePhiloxenian translation is unknown (at least to me), but students shoulddoubtless be aware of the possibility.

The Harklean

Of the history of the Harklean version we know little except that itwas intended to be a scholarly revision of the Philoxenian. It was undertakenby the Syriac scholar Thomas of Harkel (later Bishop of Mabbûg), andcompleted in 616.

Given the poor state of preservation of the Philoxenian version, it is hardto be sure to what extent the Harklean is a revision and to what extent it isa new translation. On the basis of the books preserved in both, however, itwould appear that the Harklean is substantially new. Whereas the Philoxenianstrives for good Syriac style, the Harklean is possibly the most literaltranslation ever attempted in any language. Even prepositions and particlesare translated with wooden consistency, and word order precisely (oftenslavishly) retained, whether the result is good Syriac or not. The Harkleanis completely unsuitable for public use. On the other hand, it is eminentlysuitable for text-critical work.

Perhaps even more interesting than the Harklean's very literal textis the fact that it is a critical edition. Throughout the New Testament,Thomas used several manuscripts (at least two and perhaps three in allareas), and regularly noted their differences. In the text we find manyreadings enclosed in obeli, and in the margin we find variant readings inboth Greek and Syriac.

This immensely complicated apparatus is one of the chief problems ofthe Harklean. It is difficult for scribes to copy, and so copies are oftenimperfect. Before we can reconstruct Thomas's exemplars, we must reconstructhis text, and even that is a major task. Fortunately we have a fair numberof manuscripts from the eighth century, and a handful from earlier, soat least we have good materials for reconstructing the version (thoughcritical editions are only now starting to appear).

Even so, we can reach some clear conclusions by studying the Harkleantext. In the Gospels, it would seem that all the manuscripts consultedwere Byzantine. At least, it has almost all of the longer Byzantine readings(Matt. 16:2-3, Mark 9:44, 46,Luke 22:43-44, 23:34, as well as the full form of theLord's Prayer in chapter 11, and it has all of the "Western Non-Interpolations"in Luke 24). We do find the shorter ending of Mark inthe margin (the long ending in the text); John 5:4 is in asterisks, and the best manuscripts omit John 7:53-8:11.

In the Acts and Epistles, the Harklean is much more interesting; here themanuscripts consulted in preparing the version came from several different families.

In Acts, the Harklean margin was long considered an ally of the"Western" text. It now appears more likely that the Harkleanwas derived from a Byzantine manuscript and a manuscript of family 2138.Some of the wilder marginal readings may come from a true "Western"source, but most of them are probably of the 2138-type.

This affiliation with family 2138 continues in Paul and the Catholics.In Paul, the Harklean is clearly affiliated with 1505 1611 2495; in theCatholics it goes with the large family 614 630 1505 1611 1799 2138 24121etc. Of course, it is dependent on a Byzantine source also.

With this information, we are at last in a position to begin reconstructingthe translation method of the Thomas of Harkel. Based on the data in the CatholicEpistles, it appears to me that Thomas wanted to preserve the full text of bothhis exemplars. So, wherever they were variants, he noted them. If the variantwas an addition/omission, he put the longer reading in the text but enclosed itin obeli. Where the variants involved substitution, one went in the text andone in the margin. There appears to be no pattern as to which one went in thetext; Byzantine and family 2138 readings are found in both text and margin.Presumably there was a critical principle involved, but it was not evidentto me.

Little research seems to have been done, to date, on the Harklean versionof the Apocalypse.

With the Harklean version, the history of the Bible in Edessene Syriac/Aramaiccomes to a close. The Arab Conquest seriously weakened the Christian church,and the demand for new translations probably declined. It also led to an evolutionof the Aramaic language. With the call for new renderings so muted, thePeshitta and the Harklean were able to hold the field until modern times.Other Syriac versions exist, but they are in different dialects and completelyunrelated. The one verified version in the alternate Palestinian dialect isknown, logically enough, as

The Palestinian Version

If the other Syriac versions are like a tree growing out of each other,the Palestinian Syriac (also known as the Jerusalem Syriac or theChristian-Palestinian-Aramaic) may be regarded as from anotherforest entirely. Dialect, text, and history are all entirely different --and generally less well-known.

The other Syriac versions are written in the dialect of Edessa, whichis properly called Syriac. The Palestinian Syriac is written in a similarscript, but the language is that of Palestine (it would be better if it weresimply called Aramaic rather than Syriac).

The history of the Palestinian Syriac is largely unknown. No account ofits origin has survived. All that can be said with certainty is that theearliest manuscripts appear to date from the sixth century. Most scholarswould assign it a date in the fifth or sixth centuries.

The Palestinian Syriac survives primarily in lectionaries. The mostimportant manuscripts of the version are three substantial lectionaries --one in the Vatican and dated to 1030 C.E. and two atSinai and dated to 1104 and 1118 C.E. (Ironically, bythis time Palestinian Aramaic was evolving into more modern forms, and the copyistshad some difficulty with the language.) In addition, thereare fragments of the Gospels, Acts, James, 2 Peter, and most of Paulin continuous text manuscripts.

The Palestinian Syriac was clearly made from the Greek. The basis ofthe version has been the subject of debate. It is clearly not Byzantine,but neither does it appear purely Alexandrian nor "Western."Many have seen it as "Cæsarean," and this seems reasonable onthe face of it. More we can hardly say at this time.

The "Karkaphensian" Version

This version will occasionally be referred to in the older manuals. Itis not, however, an actual version. Its name was given before the versionwas properly known, based on a comment of Gregory Bar-Hebraeus, wholisted a "Karkaphensian" Syriac version.

The version that passes by this name is not, however, a continuoustranslation. Rather, it is a collection of passages calling for somesort of scholarly annotation. Sometimes it explains odd words; sometimesit demonstrates the correct orthography of an unusual word. It hastherefore been compared to a Syriac "Massorah" such asaccompanies the Massoretic Text of the Hebrew Old Testament.

This apparatus seems to exist in two forms -- one Nestorian,one Jacobite. Almost all of the handful of copies are Jacobite,and date from the ninth to the twelfth centuries.Since it is based on the other Syriac versions (especially the Peshitta),it has no proper place in a critical apparatus.

Udi (Alban, Alvan)

This language is of no real interest to the textual critic,since the Udi version no longer exists, but it has some historicalsignificance.

Udi (commonly known as Alban, or more correctly Alvan) is anEast Caucasian language, sometimes (rather confusingly) called CaucasianAlbanian. It is not Indo-European, but is considered part of theNakh-Caucasian family, which also includes such tongues as Avar, Chechen,Lezgian, Tabassaran, Lak, and Dargwa. There are onlya few thousand speakers left today, most of whom speak at least oneother language; it has no literature except perhaps some oralpoetry, and that likely to fade soon. Most of the remainingspeakers live in Azerbaijan. But Azerbaijan, in the first milleniumof the Christian Era, was known as the Kingdom of Alba/Albania. This nationis reported to have been Christianized. Indeed, it is reported thatMesrop, who worked on the Armenian Version, also created an Albanalphabet and an Alban translation.

No traces of this version survive; indeed, no ancient Albanliterature is known. We have a few isolated samples of thealphabet on ostraca, just enough to show what it looks like. It cannot evenbe proved that modern Udi is descended from ancient Alban. But ifan Alban New Testament should emerge, it would be among theearliest versions still surviving.

Other Early Versions

Although the list above includes every version considered to be of valuefor textual critics (and some, like the Slavonic, which are really prettyworthless), there were other translations created before the era of printing.The list below very briefly describes a few of them.