Cambridge University Library Ii. 1.33 Ælfric, from "Catholic Homilies" I & II and "Lives of Saints:' with other homiletic material

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Rolf H. Bremmer
Kees Dekker


98. Cambridge University Library Ii. 1.33

Ælfric, from "Catholic Homilies" I & II and "Lives of

Saints:' with other homiletic material

[Ker 18, Gneuss -]

HISTORY: A collection including homilies, saints' lives, and devotional material written at intervals during the second half of the 12c (Ker, Cat., p. 23). The manuscript is known as MS 'T' in the /Elfrician textual tradition, and has been described by Pope (1967: 35-39), Godden (1979: xliiixlv), Clemoes (1997: 25-28), Traxel (2004), Da Rold (on-line), and Marsden (2008: li-liv). Most of the material consists of hagiographic texts taken from /Elfric's Lives of Saints and from his First and Second Series of Catholic Homilies, from which the expository material was left out. The manuscript is not an organic unity sequentially following the ecclesiastical calendar, but is built up of five sections, each of which seems to have its own rationale. This division, propounded by Godden and Clemoes, is based on Ker's distinction of two hands in the manuscript (but see the codicological description below). Section a (ff. 2-28), consisting of quires I-IV, contains Ælfric's preface to Genesis, followed by a translation of the first half of Genesis and an abbreviated version of the "Homily for Passion Sundaf' Crawford (1922: 4-5) refers to this particular text as C, and explains that, whereas most of this Genesis translation corresponds to that of the other manuscripts, chaps. 4, 5, 11, 23, and 24 differ to the extent that they are probably independent translations from the Vulgate. Marsden (2008: xcv-xcvi) disagrees with this conclusion, and suggest a deliberate attempt at revising the Genesis text. Section b (ff. 29-36), quire V, contains 'Ælfric's Homily on the Nativity" and the "Life of St. /Etheldreda:' Section c (ff. 37-52) consists of quires VI and VII, and contains an incomplete version of Ælfric's "Life of St. Benedict:' Section d (ff. 53-60), quire VIII, contains Ælfric's homilies "On the Throne of St. Peter" and "On the Conversion of St. Paul:' Section e (ff. 61-227), consisting of quires IX-XXVIII, contains first a series of homilies on the Apostles, followed by other narratives, mostly about saints. Each section starts with a new quire and ends either imperfect, suggesting lost material, or with blank space, indicating the end of a section; it is therefore a separable unit. The note at the top of f. 29, 'Hoc uolum<en> <con>tinet multam copiam sermonum in anglico. | n<on> appreciatu<m> p<ro>p<ter> ydioma incognitu<m>; suggests that this was once the beginning of a manuscript (cf. Traxel 2004: 39-41 for a different division). The plethora of distinct parts, coincident with quires, and several, but contemporary, hands of a similar type, added to the way that the parts seem to have been compiled and rearranged (cf. esp. f. 29r inscription), suggest that the quires may have been kept as a loosely associated, unbound bundle for a long time before they were finally bound together. The texts belonging to ..tElfric's First Series of Catholic Homilies fit in with Clemoes's y line of transmission (Clemoes 1997: 105-9), whereas the homilies from the Second Series originate from various sources (Godden 1979: xlv; Irvine 2000: 54-55). In its current form, the manuscript is by no means a complete rendering of ..Ælfric's saints' narratives. Pope (1967: 37) points out that women saints are conspicuous by their all but absence: only St. ..Ætheldreda is there - but not the Holy Virgin - and her position between St. Benedict and Christ has been seen by Pope as a clue to the origin of the manuscript. Schipper ( 1983) has suggested Ely, founded by St. ..Ætheldreda, to be the place of origin of the manuscript on account of the resemblance of his hand C to an Ely titulus of 1122, while Treharne (1998: 243-244), disputing this assumption, thought of the South-East, possibly Christ Church Canterbury or Rochester. On the basis of paleographical and dialectal evidence, Traxel (2004: 159-207) suggests that the manuscript was written by scribes from various places. Three of the scribes were possibly active at St. Augustine's, Canterbury (Traxel 2004: 221). The manuscript contains corrections, marginalia, and alterations dating from the 13c to the 14c, including running titles. In the 16c, the manuscript belonged to Archbishop Matthew Parker, who may have found it in Ely when he was a canon there from 1541 to 1554 or during his visitation in 1563 (Crankshaw and Gillespie 2004); in Parker's time a table of contents was added to f. 1. The manuscript was given to the University Library by Parker in 1574 (no. 10 in his list of donations to the University Library ), although it also occurs in a list of manuscripts bequeathed by Parker to Corpus Christi College (Ker, Cat., p. 27). Schipper (1983) has identified the 17c additions in ink or pencil as being by the Cambridge lecturer in ''Antiquitates Britannicae et Saxonicae" and professor of Arabic, Abraham Wheelock.

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