Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 340 (2404) and 3442 (2405) Homilies by Ælfric and others [Ker 309, Gneuss 569]

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Jonathan Wilcox


358. Oxford, Bodleian Library Bodley 340 (2404) and

342 (2405)

Homilies by Ælfric and others

[Ker 309, Gneuss 569]

HISTORY: A large, handsome pair of manuscripts containing Ælfric's two series of Catholic Homilies organized in a single sequence through the liturgical year, with some additional matter. This two-volume set is mostly written in a single hand dated by Ker to the beginning of the 11c (Cat., p. 361). They may have been produced at either Rochester or Canterbury, but were certainly in Rochester by the middle of the 11c, when item 69 was added to Bodley 342, in a hand that provides corrections throughout both manuscripts. This item describes Paulin us from a Rochester point of view (f. 202v/28-31): '7 he ... undorfeng þisne biscopstol | 7 her on þurhwunode oð his liues ende; wearð | þa her bebyrged 7 her gyt aligð' ("and he received this bishopric and remained here until the end of his life. He was then buried here and still lies here"). These two volumes are probably the "Sermonalia anglica in .ii. voluminibus" in a Rochester catalogue of 1122/23 (ed. Sharpe et al. 1996: 490, no. 83), now found in Rochester, Cathedral Library "Textus Roffensis" [ 441], and the "Omeliaria anglica. iio " of a Rochester catalogue of 1202 (ed. Sharpe et al. 1996: 511, no. 112).

Signs of use are considerable. There are extensive corrections, including numerous erasures. The Rochester corrector of the mid-llc provides alterations and additions both above the line and in the margin throughout both volumes. This also includes the extensive introduction of different kinds of accents throughout. The Rochester corrector added item 69, already mentioned, while another l lc user altered the end of Bodley 342 by taking over items 70 and 71 and adding item 73, which contains southeastern linguistic forms. These added items are themselves subject to some alterations, which may have continued into the 12c (according to Ker, Cat., 361). The originally blank f. 169v of Bodley 340 attracted a series of Latin pen trials and verses, presumably at different times, along with the line of Old Dutch (ed. Sisam 1953: 196-97, and dated to the second half the 11c by Ker, Cat., p. 363). An ultraviolet photo of this passage taken in November 1948 is preserved attached to the inside backboard and reveals about as much as the original. Ker observes: "One of the hands on this page does not look English'' ( Cat., p. 363).

The pair of manuscripts continued to be read into the 14c and beyond. There are interlinear Latin glosses to Bodley 340, f. lr and 1 v, and to the biblical passages in Bodley 342 at ff. 45v/19-46r/15, 64r/6-65r/15, 9lv/l-21, ll0v/17-lllr/5, 127v/7-25, 148v/3-15, lSlr/25-lSlv/13, 154v/25-155r/19, 160r/3-160v/4, 183r/23-183v/12, 195v/l-9, 197v/19- 198r/10 , 206v3-13, 212r/10-213r/5 in a hand of the beginning of the 14c (dated by Ker, Cat., p. 361). While the table of contents in Bodley 340 is original, that in Bodley 342 on a medieval flyleaf (f. iv verso) is added by a hand of the beginning of the 14c (dated by Ker, Cat., p. 361), and a scribe has practiced distinctive insular minuscule letter forms at the head of this table. The 14c hand added the homily numbers in the upper margins of rectos in Bodley 342, many of which have been cropped away, but which become clearly visible with '.vii: on f. 38r and '.viii: on f. 46r. Many words at the beginning off. 1 r of Bodley 342 were glossed in English in the 16c. A late hand has added a colophon at the foot of Bodley 342, f. 217v. There are also some more frivolous interventions in the manuscripts which are hard to date. A human head has been drawn - sideways on, with cartoonish features and a headband - in light ink on the lower left margin of Bodley 340, f. 73r, and a small animal head is inserted in light ink at the lower left margin of Bodley 340, f. 91r.

The pair of manuscripts was given to the Bodleian Library by Sir Walter Cope in 1602 (as reported by Madan et al., 352). Cope appears to have reversed the order of the pair, a confusion which is understandable in view of the rubric to JECH om |, 1 at the beginning of Bodley 342 and that is continued by some of the later notes in the two volumes. Cope's '90' is at the top of the flyleaf f. ii recto of Bodley 340 and his '89' is on f. ii recto of Bodley 342, while a modern pencilled note at the top of f. ii verso in Bodley 340 reports: '[The first part of this work is Bodi. 342. ]'. A pencilled note on the inside front cover of Bodley 342 begins to call it the second part, but this has been struck through and replaced with the note: 'This volume is part i | and Bodi. 340 part ii of the same work'. Earlier Bodleian classmarks are written in ink on f. iii recto of Bodley 340, namely 'TE | S 123' (written twice), and 'NE |F 4.10'. Bodley 342, f. iii recto has the equivalent 'S 124' and 'NE. F. 4. 11'. Madan S.C. numbers "2404" and "2405" on printed stickers on the front boards of the respective volumes. A modern hand has added the number of each item in faint ink next to the rubrics throughout Bodley 340.

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