[an error occurred while processing this directive] Burgess collection illuminated letter

Burgess Collection

Burgess Collection MS 28

Vulgate Bible, trans. by St. Jerome, including a prologue (a letter from Jerome to Paulinus), a Book of Interpretation of Hebrew Names and a concordance

Latin, 127 elaborately illuminated initials, including 2 historiated initials

[Italy, mid-13th to mid-14th century]

Scanned Images of MS 28:
frontf. 1rf. 189v
f. 3rflyleaf
f. 189v

I. Material
II. Construction
III. Preparation of the Page 
IV. Text
VII. Binding


I. Material

The manuscript contains 348 leaves and one front flyleaf of very thin uterine vellum and four flyleaves of thick vellum (two in the front and two in the back). Uterine vellum was made from the skin of stillborn or very young calves. "It is characterized by its small size and particularly fine, white appearance; however, it was rarely used" in manuscript production. (Brown, Understanding Illuminated Manuscipts, p. 95) Folio 90 has been attached to folio 89 and folio 340 has been attached to folio 341. Thus, quires 8 and 30 have an uneven number of folios. There are holes and tears in various leaves. Many of the tears have been repaired. The edges of many leaves are soiled from use, especially toward the front and back of the manuscript. 16.6 x 12.4 cm.

II. Construction

112-7121-84Vulgate Bible, trans. by St. Jerome

III. Preparation of the Page

Pricking marks for the lines of a double vertical frame are ocassionally visible on certain pages. The writing space varies from an area of 12 x 7.9 cm. to an area of 12 x 8.2 cm.

Two vertical lines on each side of the writing space (0.2 cm. apart) form a double frame that extends the length of the page. The lines of the frame and the ruling were drawn by an instrument known as lead point, or plummet. This instrument was one of the writing tools known as metal point. The mark made by the instrument varied in appearance according to the type of metal used. A silver-gray mark was made by a type of lead alloy (often silver and lead). Sometimes the metal was contained in a holder. This was the precursor to the modern pencil. This type of instrument began to be widely used in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. (Brown, Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts, pp. 78, 86; E.M. Thompson, p. 43) The text is written in double columns of 57 lines. The column widths vary from 3.6 to 3.8 cm. The columns are 0.8 cm apart. However, the Book of Interpretation of Hebrew Names and the concordance are written in triple columns of 69 lines. These columns are 0.6 cm apart and their widths vary from 2.7 to 3.2 cm. The lines of the text are 0.2 cm. apart.

IV. Text

A. Contents
Vulgate Bible, trans. by St. Jerome

1. Prologue (Letter from Jerome to Paulinus), ff. 1r-2v
Inc. Frater Ambrosius tua michi munuscula perferens...
Ex. Facile contempnit omnia qui se semper cogitat esse moriturum.

2. Old Testament (including thirteen of the fifteen Apocrypha), ff. 3r-252v
Inc. Incipit alius prologus. Desiderii mei desideratas accepi epistolas qui quodam praesagio futurorum...
Ex. ...si semper exactus sit sermo non erit gratus. Noster autem praesens sermo hic erit consummatus. Explicit Machabeorum.

Genesis, ff. 2v-15v *Wisdom, ff. 164r-167v
Exodus, ff. 15v-25v *Ecclesiasticus, ff. 167v-177v
Leviticus, ff. 25v-32v Isaiah, ff. 177v-189v
Numbers, ff. 32v-42v Jeremiah, ff. 189v-204r
Deuteronomy, ff. 42v-51r Lamentations, ff. 204r-205r
Joshua, ff. 51r-57r *Baruch, ff. 205r-207r
Judges, ff. 57r-63r (including the *Letter to Jeremiah)
Ruth, ff. 63v-64r Ezekiel, ff. 207r-220v
1 Kings (1 Samuel), ff. 64r-73r Daniel, ff. 220v-226r
2 Kings (2 Samuel), ff. 73r-80r (including *The Prayer of Azariah and the
3 Kings (1 Kings), ff. 80r-88v Song of the Three Young Men, *Susanna and
4 Kings (2 Kings), ff. 88v-95v *Bel and the Dragon)
1 Chronicles, ff. 95v-103r Hosea, ff. 226r-228r
2 Chronicles, ff. 103r-112r Joel, ff. 228v-229r
1 Esdras (Ezra), ff. 112r-114v Amos, ff. 229r-230v
2 Esdras (Nehemiah), ff. 114v-118v Obadiah, ff. 230v-231r
*3 Esdras (1 Esdras), ff. 118v-122v Jonah, ff. 231r-231v
*Tobit, ff. 122v-125v Micah, ff. 231v-233r
*Judith, ff. 125v-128v Nahum, ff. 233r-233v
Esther, ff. 128v-132r Habakkuk, ff. 233v-234r
(including *chapters 10-16) Zephaniah, ff. 234r-235r
Job, ff. 132r-139r Haggai, ff. 235r-235v
Psalms, ff. 139r-155r Zechariah, ff. 235v-238r
Proverbs, ff. 156v Malachi, ff. 238r-238v
Ecclesiastes, ff. 161v-163r *1 Maccabees, ff. 238v-246v
Song of Solomon, ff. 163r-164r *2 Maccabees, ff. 246v-252v

[* denotes Apocrypha]

3. New Testament, ff. 252v-317r
Inc. Incipit prologus in Matheo. Mathens ex iudea sicut in ordine primus...
Ex. ...gratia domini nostri Iesu Christi cum omnibus uobis. Amen.

Matthew, ff. 252v-260v 2 Timothy, ff. 297r-298r
Mark, ff. 260v-266r Titus, ff. 298r-298v
Luke, ff. 266r-275r Philemon, ff. 298v
John, ff. 275r-282r Hebrews, ff. 298v-301r
Romans, ff. 282r-286r Acts, ff. 301r-309v
1 Corinthians, ff. 286r-289r James, ff. 309v-310v
2 Corinthians, ff. 289v-291v 1 Peter, ff. 310v-311v
Galatians, ff. 291v-292v 2 Peter, ff. 311v-312r
Ephesians, ff. 292v-293v 1 John, ff. 312r-312v
Philippians, ff. 293v-294v 2 John, ff. 312v-313r
Colossians, ff. 294v-295v 3 John, ff. 313r
1 Thessalonians, ff. 295v-296r Jude, ff. 313r
2 Thessalonians, ff. 296r-296v Revelation, ff. 313r-317r
1 Timothy, ff. 296v-297r

4. Book of Interpretation of Hebrew Names, ff. 318r-336r
Inc. Incipiunt interpretationes. Aaz. Apprehendens uel apprehensio...
Ex. ...Expliciunt Interpretationes.

5. Concordance, ff. 336r-348v
Inc. De ... gule...
Ex. [...]

Saint Jerome (Eusebius Hieronymous) was born to well-to-do Christian parents in the mid 340s at Stridon in Dalmatia (near present-day Ljubljana in Slovenia). He went to Rome at age twelve to study grammar and eventually enrolled in a school of rhetoric at age sixteen or seventeen. Despite his interest in the pagan classics, Jerome was becoming more and more interested in Christianity. He was baptized sometime before 366. After spending some time at Trier and Aquileia, he decided to travel to the East (c. 372). While at Antioch, he had his celebrated dream in which he was called before Christ who accused him of being a Ciceronian rather than a Christian. After having been flogged by angels, he swore never again to read pagan literature. He then decided to live as a hermit in the Syrian desert (near Chalcis). Here he spent his time praying, fasting, learning Hebrew and studying Greek. Following his two years in the desert, Jerome continued to study scripture and began translating various works into Latin. In the early 380s, he returned to Rome and worked as secretary to Pope Damasus. Here he continued to live an ascetic life, and, at the urging of Damasus, began various exegetical works. He also began to use certain Greek manuscripts to revise the old Latin version of the Gospels. However, various influences led to his departure from Rome in 385. He had come under intense criticism for his devotion to asceticism and the monastic life, his disapproval of the laxity of the Roman clergy and monks and his correction of the Gospels. Thus, he traveled to Palestine and Egypt with some of the widows and virgins he had been spiritually advising. In 386, he finally settled in Bethlehem. Except for brief journeys, he remained there until his death in 420. (Rice, pp. 1-22; Britannica, "Saint Jerome")

During his time in Palestine, Jerome focused mainly on certain controversies (e.g., with Jovinian, concerning the merits of marriage and virginity) and biblical exegesis and translation. Of interest here, Jerome produced the helpful introductory work, the Book of Interpretation of Hebrew Names. This is an alphabetical list of proper Hebrew names in the Bible and their etymologies. A copy of this work is included in MS 28. However, it is not divided according to the books of the Bible as is the version published in the Patrologia Latina. (Migne, vol. 23, pp. 815-904) The copy in MS 28 is simply a continuous alphabetical list of Hebrew names.

Between 391 and 406, at the request of Pope Damasus, Jerome completed a standard Latin translation of the Bible. He utilized both the Greek Septuagint version and the original Hebrew version. Jerome did not include the Apocrypha in the body of his translation. These are the fifteen books of the Bible that were not considered part of the Herbrew canon. However, he included the Apocrypha in an appendix so that people might utilize the books for their own edification, but "not for the corroboration of ecclesiastical doctrines." (Kelly, p. 161; Apocrypha, p. xii; Britannica, "Saint Jerome") Jerome's translation of the Old Testament, New Testament and thirteen of the fifteen books of the Apocrypha are included in MS 28. It is understandable why 4 Esdras (2 Esdras in the revised English version) might be left out of this copy of the Bible. 4 Esdras is an apocalypse that contains seven revelations "in which the seer is instructed by the angel Uriel concerning some of the great mysteries of the moral world." (Apocrypha, p. 23) However, it is not clear why the Prayer of Manasseh was left out of MS 28. It is true that both of these books, along with 3 Esdras, seem to have been considered more apocryphal (i.e., more likely spurious or heretical) than the other books of the Apocrypha. For example, even after the Council of Trent (1564) decreed that most books of the Apocrypha be included in the Old Testament canon, 3 and 4 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh were placed in an appendix and were denied canonical status. (Apocrypha, p. xii) Nonetheless, 3 Esdras has been included in MS 28, while 4 Esdras and Prayer of Manasseh were left out.

Jerome's prefaces to various sections of the Bible are also included in MS 28. In addition, a letter from Jerome to Paulinus, bishop of Nola, has been included in MS 28 as a prologue. In this letter, Jerome urged Paulinus "to make a diligent study of the Scriptures and to this end reminds him of the zeal for learning displayed not only by the wisest of the pagans but also by the apostle Paul." (Fremantle, p.96) Jerome then surveyed the books of the Old and New Testaments and discussed the lessons that should be learned from them. MS 28 also includes a concordance or subject index. However, the author of this piece of writing is unknown.

It should be noted that the combination of texts included in MS 28 became quite common in the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries. At this time, the format of the Bible was standardized. All of the books of the Old and New Testaments were put into a single volume and the their order and names were fixed. In addition, it became common to insert Jerome's prologue at the beginning of the Bible and his Book of Interpretation of Hebrew Names at the end. (De Hamel, p. 118)

B. Script

The text is written in the tradition of the Gothic System of scripts. This complex system of scripts was prevalent from the late twelfth to the sixteenth century. The complexity of the system resulted from "the formation of distinct categories of script suited for use in a well perceived hierarchy of books and texts." (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, p. 80) General features of the system are a more extreme lateral compression than that which developed in the Protogothic System of scripts and increasing elaboration of minims. (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, p. 80) MS 28 is written in Italian AS-Glossing Script. This is simply a smaller version of two types of Italian Gothic Book Script (regular and Bolognese). The Bolognese version of the script was "initially developed in the milieu of book production surrounding the University of Bologna" in the second half of the thirteenth century. This type differs from the regular version of the script mainly in its more noticeable lateral compression. In contrast to most Gothic scripts, the Italian scripts retained the rotundity of Caroline minuscule. Italian AS-Glossing Script is especially distinguished by its "use of a pointed, single compartment a and a trailing final s." (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, p. 124) Specifically, it appears that the version of Italian AS-Glossing Script used in MS 28 is a smaller version of Italian Bolognese Gothic Book Script because of the extreme lateral compression of the script. This is evidenced by the multitude of biting of bows. Also, there is a preference throughout the text for a "figure 2" or "Gothic" r. The ligature of s-t is common throughout. Joined letters are frequent throughout. The uncrossed tironian et sign is prevalent throughout.

V. Decoration

A. Initials
MS 28 contains a multitude of illuminated initials. Aside from a plethora of small, single-color initials (usually red or blue) that begin various sections (especially in the Psalms and in the Book of Interpretation of Hebrew Names), MS 28 contains 2 large historiated initials, 29 large illuminated initials (some spanning the length of the page), 58 medium-sized illuminated initials and 38 small illuminated initials. The prologue of MS 28 begins with a green and red/orange F on a dark blue background (spanning the length of the page). The green and red/orange parts of the stem are interlaced with gray vines. Various colored leaves emanate from the vinework and white penwork dots and lines are present on the blue background. The center of the F contains a picture of a man who appears to be St. Jerome. Genesis begins with a green, red/orange and gray I on a dark blue background (spanning the length of the page). The I is comprised of interlaced vinework that forms six oblong spaces in which six small miniatures have been painted on red/orange backgrounds. These miniatures represent the six days of creation. For example, the final miniature contains a depiction of God creating man and woman. A blue, gray and green dragon forms the foot of the I. Various white penwork dots and lines are present on the blue background.

The remaining illuminated initials are painted in a variety of colors, including red, blue, green, orange, yellow, gray and white. Nearly all of them contain interlaced vinework of various colors. In addition, leaves and flowers of various colors emanate from most of the vinework. Also, various penwork dots and lines are present on the background of many of these initials.

Several of the small, single-color initials contain various penwork flourishes that emanate into the margins of the page on which they have been painted.

B. Paragraph Signs

This manuscript contains no paragraph signs.

C. Line Endings

This manuscript contains no line endings.

D. Border Decorations

This manuscript contains no border decorations.

VI. Illustration

This manuscript contains no illustrations other than those noted in the section concerning initials.

VII. Binding

There are no remnants of the original binding. MS 28 was re-bound in black leather over wooden boards. Gold and blind tooling form a frame on the inside of both the upper and lower covers. Fleurons have been blind and gold stamped in each corner of the frames. Sheets of thick vellum have been attached to the center of the frames inside the upper and lower covers. The sheet attached to upper cover contains the following stamped signature: "BOUND BY J. CLARKE." It seems that this refers to John Clarke, who was "one of the best and most prolific of the London binders" of the first half of the nineteenth century. (Ramsden, p. 50; Howe, p. 22) However, the signature may be that of another John Clarke who was associated with the binding firm called Clarke and Weemys. This John Clarke was also working in the first half of the nineteenth century. (Ramsden, p. 50)

A crest has been gold stamped on the outside of the upper cover and an armorial design has been gold stamped on the outside of the lower cover. The crest contains the phrase "Deus alit me" in the border of an oval in the center of the crest. The oval contains the initials TW. A bird is located at the top of the crest. The armorial design on the lower cover contains four birds.

The spine of the binding is separated into six panels. The following phrases have been gold stamped on the second, third and fourth panels, respectively: S.S. BIBLIA LATINA, CODEX ANTIQUUS, SUPRA MEMBRANIS. The manuscript contains gilt and gauffered edges that were probably produced when it was originally bound.

VIII. Additions to Manuscript

A. Inside upper cover, upper left corner: a small rectangular piece of paper has been attached to the sheet of vellum; illegible pencil marks; writing covered up by pen marks.

B. Inside upper cover, upper left corner: "28" (circled, in pencil).

C. Inside upper cover, center: "This beautiful MS. is written in very minute characters upon the most delicate abortive vellum. The initials are illuminated and embellished with grotesque ornaments. It is a monument of the skill and patience of this writer." (in pencil).

D. First front flyleaf, upper right corner: "Burgess Ms. 28" (in pencil).

E. Recto of first front flyleaf, upper center: "I N Bagnall -" (in pencil).

F. Verso of first front flyleaf: "60" "220" "213" and other illegible writing (in pencil).

G. Recto of third front flyleaf: ten lines of writing in two different hands (in brown and red ink). The first line indicates that the owner paid 19 florins for the manuscript. The following nine lines note the rules for calculating the date of Easter from 1350 onward. It appears that two lines preceding these ten lines have been erased.

H. Verso of third front flyleaf: list of the books of the Bible (in brown ink).

I. Quire numbers have been written in pencil at the bottom left corner of the recto of the first leaf of every quire.

J. Folio 348v, center and right columns: the rules for calculating the date of Easter from 1350 onward are reiterated (in dark brown and red ink). However, they are more extensive than those presented on the third front flyleaf.

K. Occasional marginalia is located throughout the manuscript.

IX. Provenance

MS 28 contains several clues to ownership prior to that of Julia Burgess. It is likely that a former owner's name was written on the third front flyleaf. Two lines of writing have been erased, but a third remains. This line seems to indicate that the owner paid 19 florins for the manuscript. The script of this writing, and the other nine lines of writing concerning the date of Easter after 1350 (see section VIII above), seems to be Semigothic Cursive. This script is a combination of Gothic and Humanistic scripts and was prevalent from the mid-fourteenth to mid-fifteenth century.

In addition, the initials TW are contained in a crest that has been stamped on the outside of the upper cover. These may be the initials of the person for whom John Clarke bound the manuscript. [According to Stephen Massil of Sir John Soane's Museum, the monogram 'TW' refers to the Rev. Theodore Williams (d.1826) whose collection was sold by Stewart, Wheatley and Adlard in 1827.] The name of another probable owner appears on the first flyleaf. "I. N. Bagnall" is written in pencil on the upper center of the recto of this flyleaf.

MS 28 was purchased by Julia Burgess from Thomas Thorp, a London bookseller, in 1940. It was part of the collection of manuscripts given to (and partly purchased by) the University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon. (JB, Box 4, Folder 31; Box 5, Folder 9; Box 6, Folder 11; Faye and Bond, pp. 432)


Unpublished Source

Julia Burgess Papers.  Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries.  UO Coll. 209, 9 boxes and 9 separate volumes. [Referred to above as JB.]

Published Sources

Last revision: 10/30/06 by N. Helmer
Created by Ian Rush for Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries
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