Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Laud Misc. 509 (1042) "OE Heptateuch" With 248 London, British Library Cotton Vespasian D. xxi (Part 2)

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A. N. Doane


399. Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Laud Misc. 509 (1042)

"OE Heptateuch" With 248 London, British Library Cotton Vespasian D. xxi (Part 2)

[Ker 344, Gneuss 657]

HISTORY: Written in second half of 11 c. The manuscript contains the OE prose translations of the Pentateuch, Ælfric's abbreviated version of Joshua, Ælfric's homily on Judges, and Ælfric's letters to Aethelwærd, Wulfgeat, and Sigweard. Of the Pentateuch, only the first half of Genesis (= chaps. 1-24) and second half of Numbers (= chaps. 13-26) are likely to be by JElfric himself; the rest is by several anonymous translators 0ost 1927: 218-19; Raith 1952; Morrell 1965: 12-13; Marsden 2000); the translations follow the Vulgate text with a few Old Latin "interventions" (Marsden 1994). Text of Laud is Crawford's "L", Pope's "Z" (Pope 1967-68: 85). Laud once formed a single volume with Part 2 of BL Cotton Vespasian D. xxi [248] (OE prose Life of St. Guthlac), which was separated by Cotton between 1603 and December 1606 (Tite 1992: 136-37); there is a separate contents list for the Laud part (f. i verso) and Vespasian (second old flyleaf), both reflecting the post-separation situations. The unseparated volume was acquired by Cotton from the Old Royal Library; it is no. 129, ''Bookes written in tholde Saxon tonge two. thone of the Pentatuiuk and saincts Lyves, thother of medicine" in the pre-1542 catalogue (Public Record Office, Augmentation Office, Misc. Books 160 [E. 315/ 160]); "129" appears on f. 2r, top in Laud, partly cut off ( see Carley 1992: 64; Ker reads "159"; see also Ker 1938: 132-33). The ''Book of Medicine" is ''Bald's Leechbook," BL Royal 12 D. xvii [298], which shows "129" on f. 1r (it could not have been part of the same physical book since it is not only much earlier than Laud/ Vespasian but also of a much larger format). By the time of the 1621 Cottonian catalogue it is described as "Liber Genesis et pentateuchum Saxonice bound with my armes and claspes in 4to" (BL Harley 6018, f. 148v; Claudius is no. 81 and Vespasian is part of no. 80 on f. 53r). Cotton lent the part now Laud Misc. 509 to "Mr Lyll of Cambrig" [William Lisle] before 23 April 1621, when it had still not been returned. Ker ascribes to Lisle the responsibility for loss and transfer to Laud and thence to the Bodleian, but Richard James, who did not work for Cotton until 1624, copied extracts from Laud when it was still in the Cotton collection (Bodleian MS James 18 [3855], f. 66r). From correspondence between Lisle and Cotton preserved in BL Cotton Julius C. iii, it is apparent that Lisle returned the book before 1625 (Lisle's 1623 title page conspicuously proclaims that he had returned Laud ["The Originall remaining still to be seene in S' Robert Cottons Librarie, at the end of his lesser copie of the Saxon Pentatevch"; see Crawford 1922: 15], but he borrowed it again, still having it on 16 March 1630/ 1, two months before Cotton's death (details in Graham 2000: 285-92; see also Ker 1938: 133; Tite 1992: 110-11). Lisle had out in 1623 and returned about 1625 Cotton's illustrated Hexateuch (now BL Cotton Claudius B. iv [182]). Lisle collated Laud and Claudius and made numerous entries in both manuscripts, including an extensive addition of OE text from Claudius on f. 24r-v (Crawford 1922: 3; Graham 2000: 293-302). Lisle published from Laud his translation, A Saxon Treatise concerning the Old and New Testament[= the Letter to Sigweard1 item 10 below] (London: John Haviland for Henrie Seile, 1623 [STC 160]). Archbishop Laud obtained the Heptateuch from Lisle's library after his death in 163 7, along with three other books of his (Laud Misc. 201 [Lisle's transcription and translation of an OE psalter], 381 [ff. 2v-116r are Lisle's extensive transcriptions from Laud 509], and 636 [401]; on Lisle's unrealized plans for more extensive publication of OE biblical texts, see Graham 2000: 309-13). Laud's inscription of ownership is on f. lr, dated 1638, and the book retains its original Laudian binding; it was given by him to the Bodleian in 1639. Formerly Laud E. 19 (on pastedown, inside front cover).

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