In the Spring of 2015 Union Theological Seminary students from CH108: The History of Christianity Part 2: Introduction to Western European Church History (c.1000-c.2000) viewed manuscripts and early printed books from the rare books collections at Burke Library. Over the course of the semester they chose manuscripts or early printed books to study and wrote codicological descriptions. Excerpts from their work are recorded below – along with the opportunity to read their research in full.
Dr. Jane Huber and Russ Gasdia, Teaching Fellow
**Please note: For footnote citations and bibliography, see paper in full at the above author link.
Chanda Rule Bernroider – Processional
Processional: Manuscript, Flanders, 1351, Plimpton MS 34, Rare Books and Manuscripts Library.
This manuscript, considered a “lesser genre” of books for Mass was created to contain music for processions that came before Masses of feasts (McGatch 20). Its size, 175 x 135 mm and 36 pages, was perfect, frugal and portable for the Urbanist Poor Clares community it was intended for. This community of nuns, also known as “Rich Clares” because they followed a Rule by Pope Urban IV that allowed the sisters joint possessions unlike the Poor Clares, danced in the sacred footsteps of St. Clare of Assisi who was the first woman to denounce the wealth of her family and embrace a monastic life in the Franciscan tradition. Although the Rich Clares accepted possessions, mainly to avoid any type of economic dependence on outside communities (specifically of monks who did not appreciate the responsibility of supporting these groups of women), both communities adhered to a strict vow of poverty. Commitment to a life behind convent walls meant a life of seclusion and religious contemplation – they were not allowed to leave, and on the rare event that visitors were allowed, they could only speak to the sisters through an iron gate covered by a cloth panel. Visitors could not look upon the nuns and the nuns could not look into the eyes of their visitors. Saint Clare revered this life of absolute seclusion and almost complete silence. Urbanist Poor Clares of the 14th century continued to uphold these vows, adhering to absolute silence in the church, refectory, and dormitory and speaking as little as possible in other spaces within the convent (De Paermentier 53-63).
Els De Paermentier in a paper entitled, “Experiencing Space Through Women’s Convent Rules: The Rich Clares in Medieval Ghent (Thirteenth to Fourteenth centuries) stated that upon joining a convent, a nun denies her previous, secular individuality in order to assimilate into a collective identity. Space for private experiences dwindle as they “depersonalize” their identity. In a contemplative community such as this, liturgical songbooks and singing together becomes elevated in importance. In a recent study, the American Psychological Association touts the benefits of group singing calling it a “tool for social living” due to the hormone oxytocin that is released while singing. Perhaps this Processional became a symbol for these things – the therapeutic effects of singing together, the joy of a lovingly bonded community embedding its long term effects within the pages. Perhaps it also became a symbol for the hidden part of a sister’s heart that still relished her individuality. Upon opening the pages, her heart, her lips — her unique expression escaped unbounded. Her notes left to fly and dance with the distinctive voices of her sisters. Such is held between two aged pasteboard covers intended for a community of “depersonalized” women who denounced all things of the world: a small key to living together in harmony, pleasure, and individuality.
Theodore Kerry – Horae
[Horae]: [manuscript], ca. 1425, Burke Manuscripts, UTS Ms.50.
Within the Burke Library collection is a Book of Hours that belonged to the the Clyfford / Culpepper family of Wakehurt, Preston Hall and Kent England. Cataloged as MS 50, the book survives as a collection of more than 10 gatherings, unbound, in a plain orange box. It is a manuscript printed on parchment, measuring 190 x 150 mm, containing 80 pages. The script is formal gothic book hand, and the manuscript is in the style of Claes Brouwer, most likely produced in the Netherlands, intended for export to England. Many of the miniatures (illustrations) are cut away, with only two remaining, one of which is overpainted: there is an image of the Empty Tomb painted over to include “the holy spirit as a dove descending along rays of the tomb” (Digital Scriptorium).
We know the book belonged to the Clyfford / Culpepper family due to marginalia within the book that reads, “By me Edwarde Culpeper”, i.e.: Edward Culpeper of Preston Hall in Aylesforrd Kent (before 1471-1533) as listed on the Culpepper Family tree (Culpepper Connections). The provenance of the book can confirmed by further marginalia that reads, “This is Jhon Culpepers booke, who soo ever stealeth this booke shal be hnaged upon an hundred fute high.” John (born most likely around 1494) was Edward’s son. Father and son were part of the Kent branch of the family. Additionally, names hand written on the Calendar page of MS 50 list deceased family members providing a window into the book’s possible owner / whereabouts before Edward and John. While we know the book was created between 1425 and 1450, the Digital Scriptorium notation, “s. XV2/4” suggests that the marginalia is from a later time. Listed on the May page of the Calendar is an obituary note that mentions Edward’s relatives: “walteri culpeper” who may be the father and father-in-law respectively of those listed on the July calendar page “Ricardi Wakeherst” and “margarete Culpepyr” (see image: July) Looking at the family tree, it is possible the pair are Richard Culpeper of Wakehurst (say 1435 – circa Oct 1516) and Margaret (Culpepper) Wakehurst (1448 – 1504). Given these names are listed and not others it is possible to consider the book had been the dominion of the Wakhurst side of the family before it was received by those living in Kent. How the book would have travelled from branch to branch is unknown, although Richard’s Will does survive and in it he mentions a house he had in Kent. Is it possible, given that people carried their Book of Hours with them, that Richard gave the book to Edward sometime between Edward’s birth (1471) and Richard’s death (1516) and that in turn Edward gave the book to his son John.
Jamie Myers – Biblia Sacra Hebraica
[Biblia Sacra Hebraica]: [manuscript], ca. 1300, Burke Manuscripts, UTS Ms.74
Manuscript 74 is a Hebrew Bible, hand-written on vellum in Hebrew script. It was produced in Spain in the 14th century and was rebound on April 29, 1949 by Ronald MacDonald Specialists, which can be seen from an insert found at the back of the manuscript. It has 291 leaves, with text on both sides, and its dimensions are 12-1/2 x 9-5/8 inches.
The manuscript is missing the Pentateuch, as well as 2 Kings 10:12b-Isaiah 19:19a, and only contains up to 3:13 of Esther. The books in the Nevi’im (Prophets) portion of the manuscript adhere to the standard order. The ordering of the books in the Ketuvim (Writings) portion is as follows: Chronicles, Psalms, Proverbs, Ruth, Job, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Song of
Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther.
Manuscript 74 emerged out of the Jewish community in Catholic Spain at a time of rising anti-Semitism from both the general populace and the crown. During the massacres of Jews in 1366 and 1391, many Jewish texts and Torah scrolls were also destroyed. Though it is unverifiable, the missing pieces of this manuscript may be attributed to violence against the
Jewish communities in the region and time period of its creation. A other particularly fascinating feature that remains in this manuscript is the triangular text which concludes 2 Chronicles. The verses read:
In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, when the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah was fulfilled, the Lord roused the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia to issue a proclamation throughout his realm by the word of mouth and in writing as follows:
Thus said King Cyrus of Persia: The Lord God of Heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has charged me with building Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Anyone of you of all His people – may his God be with him, and let him go up.
By dedicating an entire page and unique design to these two verses, the scribe who wrote this manuscript seems to have wanted to highlight the Babylonian exile and the eventual return of the
Jews to Israel at the decree of Cyrus of Persia – but why? As noted before, vellum was expensive, and one can tell by how close-together the words are written throughout the manuscript, that space limitations were indeed a concern. As such, dedicating an entire page to two verses of script would not have been done haphazardly.
The reason may have been related to the original owner’s family background. The inscription in the front page of the manuscript mentions Rabbi Samuel Nehardea, from whom the owner Rabbi Abraham appears to have descended. Samuel of Nehardea (165-257 CE) was a famous Jewish Talmudist from the town Nehardea in Babylonia. The special reference to
Babylon in the manuscript may be related to the family’s personal history. Another more moving possibility is that the creators of this manuscript equated their experience of Jewish persecution, which led to mass Jewish emigration from Spain well before the official expulsion in the fifteenth century, with the Babylonian exile, recalling Cyrus’s words as a beacon of hope that perhaps they too, might one day be able to return home.
Nancy Rakoczy – Book of Miracles
Liber in quo habentur varia miracula patrata de patrocinio SS. Cornelii et Cypriani, item et varia testimonia, ca. 1100, Burke Manuscripts, UTS Ms.11
Click for PDF of complete paper (supplement)
The Liber un quo haben turvaria miracula patrata de patrocino SS Corenlii et Cypriani, item et varia testimonia is a compilation of history and miracle stories. It relates the history of the founding of the Premonstartensian monastery dedicated to Saints Cornelius and Cyprian at Ninove at Ghent (Gatch 150). It also lists the miracles and healings attributed to the monastery. The Liber is composed of thirty-one pages of parchment written in Latin, with Flemish marginalia (ArchiveGrid). It measures 9.25” x 6.25” and its present brown leather cover is reported to have been rebound in the sixteenth century, with no stiffener or backing. The brown leather cover is still supple, though discolored in places, and when laid open, the inside cover reveals a hem of the same leather glued top and bottom. The parchment pages are written in Latin in the littera minisculat protogothica textualis hand (Gatch 150).
Simplicity not complexity is in evidence in the binding: thick threads protrude through the spine used to sew the quires together, with no additional leather used to hide these threads. The casual construction of the Liber’s binding and decorations suggest it was used only within the monastery, and not prepared as a gift for nobility. “The higher the status of a manuscript and the richer the patron for whom it was made, the more complex would be the process of its production and the large number of techniques and pigments involved” (Clements and Graham 29). When the book is opened, more threads poke between the pages. The spine has the number eleven on it, suggesting it was one of a series. At least four different calligraphic hands created the Liber. Page twenty-three had a different calligrapher finish the page; the difference in hand is noticeable. There are smaller pages sewn between pages twenty-three and twenty-four: more evidence that the Liber was for the monks’ use and perhaps in service as a notebook.
Caelyn Randall – Diadema Monachorum
[Diadema monachorum] : [manuscript], ca. 1080, Burke Manuscripts, UTS Ms.6.
This codex was most likely produced in Germany in the 11th-12th century, but contains copies of texts from as early as the 6th century (Digital scriptorium). The following texts are included: De varietate liborum by Haymo of Halberstadt, Doctrina by Severinus, Historia ecclesiastica by Bede, Vita S. Fursei, Epistola XX by Boniface of Mainz, Expositio veteris ac novi testamenti by Paterius notaries Gregorii I, and Vita S. Bonifatii Moguntini by Willibaldus (Digital Scriptporium). Among these texts are various theological and exegetical pieces, as well as letters and hagiographies of British and Irish Saints. The presence of the latter suggests that while this codex was likely produced in Germany, it may have been used in a monastery in the region that would become England and/or reflects changing political allegiances in the region. The diversity of texts included in this codex may reflect diverse, everyday-needs expressed in a monastic community. This supposition is supported by the physical properties of the book, most notably the leather straps running from the back cover to the front cover as well as vastly different sized vellum pages and text size and font, among other properties.
The inclusion of the Diadema Monachorum points to a communal, monastic use of this codex. Smaragdus penned the Diadmema Monachorum at the Monastery of St. Mihiel in the early 9th century and was a popular monastic reformer in the Carolingian period. One of the hallmarks of educational reform in the Carolingian period was Latin literacy, which marked a distinction between sacred and everyday language (Poneese 62-63). Thus the Diadema, written entirely in Latin, is a testament to the monastic reform of the Carolingian period indicative of Charlemagne’s push to bring the land/people under his control into an “Ideal Christian Society” (Ponesse 64). Used as a community text within the monastery at St. Mihiel, the diadema was a compendium of “patristic spirituality and biblical exegesis intended to be read as a companion text to Rule of St. Benedict” (Ponesse 72) The inclusion of the Diadema in this codex suggests that this book was also used in a monastery concerned with the rules that governed monastic life.