Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 419 Homilies

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Jonathan Wilcox


58. Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 419


[Ker 68, Gneuss 108]

HISTORY: The whole of CCCC 419 is written by a single scribe, who carefully corrected his work, in a hand of the first half of the 11c. The same scribe wrote the companion volume, CCCC 421, part 2 [59], which shows the same features of size and layout. The place this scribe was working is unknown. Where the contents overlap with other manuscripts, they show textual affiliation with south-eastern manuscripts, most fully with Cambridge, Trinity College, B. 15. 34 [80], which was written at Christ Church, Canterbury (see Wilcox 1988: 232-39 and Clemoes 1997: 159). The language of the homilies, mostly standard late-West Saxon but with considerable tolerance for nonstandard forms, is most close to the language of south-eastern manuscripts, especially those from Canterbury (Wilcox 1988: 196-221 ). The idiosyncratic content of the two manuscripts, though, with their high number of unique anonymous homilies militates against a Canterbury origin, where the works of Ælfric were readily available and extensively copied at the time. Instead, the range of contents suggests that these manuscripts were compiled in a scriptorium less central to the mainstream of homiletic tradition than those of Canterbury, although one dominated by Canterbury influences. That scriptorium may be the unknown center to which Trinity B. 15. 34 traveled after it was written at Canterbury, since the two manuscripts share some corrections. The manuscript was used extensively while its language was comprehensible: Wilcox (1988: 21-37) identifies some twenty hands that make corrections and revisions in CCCC 419 and the original part of CCCC 421 [59], often confining their attention to a single homily, probably in preparation for delivery. While it was still in use, the manuscript probably traveled to Exeter along with CCCC 421, where i was altered toy sixteen times and other dialectal changes were made, and where CCCC 421 was augmented with Exeter additions (see Wilcox 1988: 35-36). CCCC 419 was in the possession of Archbishop Matthew Parker in the 16c. It was probably at this stage that the manuscript was rebound, the original opening folio transferred to CCCC 421, and the current opening folio added (see Graham, 1998: 194-95). This is a miniature of Christ enteringJerusalem, painted in bright colors: clothes are blue and red; a tree, the ground, and Christ's halo are green; and the ass and people's skin are white on a gold background. The miniature comes from a 13c psalter, illustrations from which now appear in two other 11 c manuscripts which passed through Parker's hands, Lambeth Palace 771 and CCCC 452. This association demonstrates that the addition is the work of Parker who, in the words of Ker, "liked frontispieces" (Cat., 76). Pagination of the manuscript in red pencil is probably the work of John Parker, Matthew Parker's son, who signs his name in this red pencil on a paste-down on the cover of Trinity B. 15. 34. CCCC 419 has a Parkerian table of contents on p. [viii], which lists the titles and page numbers of the fifteen homilies in the volume and has cross-references for two items to CCCC 198 [41]. The table is headed 'Septimus Liber' and '7' has been written on the foreedge of the pages. The first set of quire signatures, described below, may have been added at this stage as well. CCCC 419 was bequeathed by Archbishop Parker on his death in 1575 to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where it was given the shelf-mark S. 14 written on p. [v] in a blank space in the index. There are signs of early modern use throughout the manuscript. Passages are underlined or marked in the margin in pencil or fading dark ink, especially OE translations of neighboring biblical quotations which would serve for a Latin-OE dictionary. The parchment flyleaves at either end contain a doctrinal index to the contents in the hand of Abraham Whelock, Cambridge University's first lecturer in Anglo-Saxon (1593-1653) (identified by James 1912: 2.311). A-J are indexed on pp. [v-vii], K-Z on pp. [367-70], the latter now bound upside down. The manuscript was bound in the 18c (Ker, Cat., 117). The penciled quire signatures may have been made by James in preparing his catalogue, published in 1912. The manuscript was rebound again in November 1954 by 'John P. Gray of Green St. [Cambridge]' with the aid of a Pilgrim Trust Grant, as recorded on the first flyleaf. This was when the end flyleaves were inverted: the microfilm of the manuscript predates this binding and retains the right form.

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