Durham, Cathedral Library A.II.17 "The Durham Gospels"+ "The Uncial Leaves" [Ker 105, Gneuss 220/221, Lowe 2.149/150] (with 67. Cambridge, Magdalene College Pepys 2981 [19])

Main Article Content

Sarah Larratt Keefer


118. Durham, Cathedral Library A.11.17

"The Durham Gospels"+ "The Uncial Leaves"

[Ker 105, Gneuss 220/221, Lowe 2.149/150]

(with 67. Cambridge, Magdalene College Pepys 2981 [19])

HISTORY: Durham MS A.II.17 is made up of approximately half the complete text of one Gospel book, "Durham Gospels': and the fragment of another, "Uncial Leaves:' Both are from the late 7c or early 8c, and were written at Lindisfarne and Wearmouth-Jarrow, respectively.

"Leaves" is a single quire, of part of Luke, written in uncial and spaced per cola et commata as it was adopted for Biblical use in the 7c, and in layout and script closely resembling the Codex Amiatinus (Florence, Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana Amiatino I). The quire was written in Wearmouth- Jarrow; both Lowe (CLA 2, no. 150) and T.J. Brown (in Verey et al. 1980: 49) suggest it was done in the time of Abbot Ceolfrith (680-716). It is now bound after "Durham;' a book of similar date written in long lines of half-uncial, probably at Lindisfarne. "Durham" now begins with 18 chapters of John, contains approximately three chapters of Matthew, 14 chapters of Mark, and ends with Luke, from which substantial internal material is missing. The incompleteness of Luke seems to provide the rationale for the presence of "Leaves" - that both were incomplete at the time they were bound together. In the 10c the book migrated for a time to Chester-le-Street along with other mementos of the times of St. Cuthbert. Ill-formed and perhaps childish scribbles in Latin and OE from mid-10c Chester-le-Street (as shown by age of script and reference to Bishop Aldred [944-968]) appear in at least seven places in the two different texts, suggesting the mid-lOc as the earliest possible date by which we can locate "Leaves" and "Durham" in the same scriptorium. A poem on .tEthelstan in a late l0c/early 11c hand on f. 31 v was also added, most likely while the manuscript was at Chester-leStreet (Lapidge 1981: 84).

[Note: Verey (in Verey 1980: 63-64) suggests that "Durham" was relatively complete in the 10c, and that its mutilation - and the reduction of "Leaves" to one quiretook place later and over a gradual period of time. On f. 2r there is a 16c inscription by Thomas Swalwell (Chancellor of Durham, d. 1539), '.C. Ewa<n>gelia I<ohann>is | marci & luce no<n> glo. de la splendement' [i.e., "spendement;' book-room], indicating that John at that time stood first, so 1539 is the terminus ad quern for the reordering (on Swalwell's hand see Piper 1978: 228-30 and pis. 60, 62, 69).)

The four slightly cut-down leaves, ff. 38.-384 of"Durham;' contain the only remaining part of Matthew as well as part of the Capitula of Mark; they are the outer bifolia of a quire of 10, 38./384 38/383 and were for a considerable length of time bound into Durham A.II.22 (Alexander de Hales, "Postillae super Evangelia;' s. xiii) as front and back end-leaves, as the Durham librarian Thomas Rud (fl. 1717-1726) notes in his Durham catalogue (Rud 1825: 21). Rud mentions "folia sex (tria in initio, totidem in fine):' They remained a part of A.II.22 until well into the 19c and missed the foliation that now determines pagination in A.II.17, as is clear from the supplemental and recent (post 1961, cf. McGurk 1961) nature of their numbering.

The editors of the "Durham Gospels" facsimile painstakingly analyze the main text and corrections to it, and the prefatory and marginal material, concluding that the exemplar for "Durham" was an Italian type of gospelbook which was then corrected against the prevailing type of gospel-book in the North; thus the corrections that were made were in general a revision of the Italian original against an Italo-Northumbrian type but with no real attempt to create a clear comprehensive assimilation of the two. Verey (in Brown 1972: 244) sees work by the same correcting hand in both "Lindisfarne" (London BL, Cotton Nero D. iv [206] and "Durham:' [Note: According to Verey, "the most probable conclusion to be drawn from the evidence is that 'Durham' derives from a text-type close to O [Oxford, Bodleian Bodley Auct. D.2.14 (339)) (or possibly O itself), imported from Italy, that the same type was later followed in Q ["Book of Kells" (Dublin, Trinity College 58 (A.1.6)) John, and that the link between O(X) [Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 286 (47)) and Q John goes through, or very close by, "Durham" itself. With the exception of the Hebrew Names, nothing in the prefatory material appears to derive from the Irish in Northumbria" (Verey 1980: 73).)

Evidence for type and tradition can also be gleaned from material added to the gospel-texts by the main corrector. "Eusebian sections;' first introduced by Jerome, divide the gospel-texts into "episodes" to facilitate a comparison of parallels common to two or more gospels, and are a hallmark of the Vulgate tradition. The parallels themselves are numbered and set out in the so-called Canon Tables which were compiled by Eusebius of Caesarea (fl. 4c) and are frequently included in Hiberno-Saxon gospel-books. While "Durham" has lost all trace of any Tables it might have contained, it is also possible that the presence in its margins of not only the Eusebian section and table numbers, but also reference to the numbering of the parallels themselves, may have obviated the need for them, and hence may indicate a different tradition from that of the Hiberno-Saxon texts. A comparison of "Durham"'s liturgical marginalia, noting temporal pericopae against those of other books, shows that the main corrector was working from an ItaloNorthumbrian archetype of most probably a Neapolitan origin ( cf. Verey in Verey et al. 1980: 26-28).

Capitula divisions for the four gospels were not standard in the early Middle Ages but instead were differentiated into families; these divisions were often grouped and summarized as a table of contents before each gospel. "Durham" preserves only one such list, showing a Capitula division type that creates a "somewhat anomalous" situation (Verey in Verey et al. 1980: 19): its closest summary list family is identified with Sc Canterbury books which nevertheless differ considerably in style from the northern Lindisfarne type to which "Durham" itself belongs. Those two partial gospel Prologues (Mark and Luke) that remain in "Durham" belong to a somewhatheretical Prologue tradition of monarchianism which blurs the distinction among the Persons of the Trinity. That such Prologues were so inherently arcane and difficult to understand may explain why heretical material remained in canonical texts as late as the Sc. But while the Capitula and Prologue material suggest a more Italian orientation, a list of Hebrew Names in Mark relocates "Durham" back within the Hiberno-Saxon tradition. The inclusion of these Names that probably derive from Jerome is perhaps another example of the influence of early Irish scholarly preoccupation with eclectic learning (Verey in Verey 1980: 23). The order of all three items of the prefatory material, and their individual peculiarities of type ( Capitula family from southern England and probably the continent, the Irish tradition of the Hebrew Names, and the non-Hiberno-Saxon texts of the Prologues) renders "Durham" unique as a witness to this particular combination of elements (cf. Verey in Verey et al. 1980: 20-23, Chapman 1908).

The "Uncial Leaves" fragment at the back of "Durham" contains Luke 21.33 ('caelum et terra')-23.44 9'in nonam horam') on ff. 103-111, omitting Luke 22.26-33 through loss of the outer column off. 105. All of the codicological evidence that can be gleaned from this fragment points circumstantially to an Italian gospel-book as source, and yet careful study has shown that the complete book to which "Leaves" belonged was written not only in England but by an English scribe whose source was an Italo-Northumbrian exemplar, and that it is textually similar to the "Lindisfarne Gospels" in content. Turner {1909: 538-39) was convinced enough by similarities between the two to posit the original "Leaves" codex as the exemplar from which "Lindisfarne" was copied, while Mynors (1939: 15) rejected this Verey (in Verey et al. 1980: 32-34) has re-examined Turner's suggestion and noted that while the remnant of "Leaves" is too slight to prove Turner's contention, the textual agreements are indeed compelling and the relationship between "Leaves" and "Lindisfarne" remains at least plausible, given the degree of accord between them (see the discussion by Brown in Verey et al. 1980: 50-51).

In 1701, George Hickes procured three lines of text cut from f. 70 (probably already missing nine lines of text and colored capital) for Samuel Pepys' Calligraphical Collection, which now forms Cambridge, Magdalene College Pepys 2981 (19) [67]. Durham A.II.17 has left its Community of St. Cuthbert (either at Lindisfarne, Chester-le-Street, or Durham itself) for a lengthy spell at least twice since its creation in the late 7c. It was loaned to Richard Bentley, master of Trinity College, Cambridge, around 1716, and not returned until 1739, and it is said that he wrote the ownership inscription on f. 1 r. It was also lent to Humfrey Wanley in 1702 until at least 1704 (see Heyworth 1989:186-87 and 198), pace Verey, who thought its absence from Durham accounted for Rud's need to consult Wanley's Catalogus for a description, and thought also that Wanley's own diary (3 June 1723) showed that he relied in turn on yet another source for his catalogue entry, either George Wheler or George Hickes himself (Verey et al, 1980: 65-66). Gneuss identifies this codex as D2 in his listing of Liturgical Books (1995: 108). Listed (but not collated) by Wordsworth and White as ᶓ (1889: l.xxvii).

Article Details

Manuscript Descriptions