DCL MS. B.IV.3Ps.-John Chrysotom, Opus imperfectum in Mattheum etc.
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t2m41687h63h.html

Physical description of manuscript
Extent: i+222+i f
Size: 280 mm x 190 mm


Modern pencil foliation. 18th century ink foliation 1-21 on f.2-22. Medieval foliation in (B): now partly erased.

Secundo folio: secreta est

Standard Tuckett binding, mid 19th century full brown calf over thick wooden boards (Charles Tuckett, binder to the British Museum, rebound many Durham manuscripts in the 19th century). Impression on f.1 from the turnovers of an earlier binding.

Manuscript history

Inscription: John Banister: “Tradatur iste liber domino Willelmo [-obliterated-] Thesaurario Calesij ex parte fratris Iohannis Banastre sacre pagine professoris.”, early 15th century, f.1v, top.
Inscription: “Liber ex dono Magistri Willelmi doncastre decani de Aukelande”, (not before 1435), f.1v; below which was added, 15th/16th century, “de libraria et non de claustro”. William of Doncaster B.C.L. probably of Oxford. Notary public by apostolic authority by 1433; held a variety of northern benefices; Dean of Auckland, collated 30 June 1435; retained for legal services by Durham Cathedral Priory from 1414. Died by May 1439.
Contents list, 15th/16th century, by Thomas Swalwell, monk of Durham, f.1v, below previous inscription: “cristomus de penitentia Item idem super psalmo 50o. Item de reparacione lapsi. Item super mattheum in opere imperfecto, cum tabula”.
Pressmark: 1a 3i.Z., later 15th century, f.2r, top right.

Manuscript contents

A composite volume of two parts: (A) f.2-21; (B) f.22-222; plus flyleaf (f.1), certainly brought together by 15th/16th century (content list of that date), probably by the later 15th century (when an inscription was added to f.1r, giving the scriptural incipits of homilies 1-4 in (B) item (a)).

Physical description of section of manuscript

Parchment: modest quality with noticeable contrast between H/F sides. Arranged FH, HF.

Extent: 20 f


Signatures: Contemporary quire letter (b-c) and leaf number in the first half of quires II-III, lower margins, centre; vestiges of an aii on f.3r and an aviij on f.9r suggest such labelling ran right through quire I.

Text-block: 210 x 130. Two columns (width, 58 mm). Lines: 47 (space, 4-5; height of minims, 2 mm). Pricking: awl, generally survives in all three margins. Ruling: ink. Single verticals flank both columns (two in total in the intercolumnar space). First two and last two horizontals extended.


Written in Secretaryby a single scribe


None. Plain red initials head each item

Corrections and annotation

Corrections and chapter numbering by a contemporary hand. Running headings in several hands including that of Thomas Swalwell.


Standard Tuckett binding, mid 19th century full brown calf over thick wooden boards (Charles Tuckett, binder to the British Museum, rebound many Durham manuscripts in the 19th century)

History of section of manuscript

Written in England, early 15th century.

Manuscript contents
(a)     f.2r-3v
Original title: De penitentia
Author: Pseudo-John Chrysostom
Incipit: Pura mente et profundo cogitatu cognoscere debes duo rerum distincta negocia
Explicit: et plena penitentia tua atque perfecta promerebitur indulgentiam.
Rubric: Incipit Crisostimus de penitentia
Language: Latin
(b)     f.3v-8v
Original title: Homelias in psalmo l.
Author: Pseudo-John Chrysostom
Incipit: Pictores imitantur arte naturam et colores coloribus permiscentes visibiles corporum depingunt ymagines
Explicit: Explicit omelia Iohannis Cris′ super sm quinquagesimum
Language: Latin

Part 1 only.

(c)     f.2-229
Original title: De reparatione lapsi
Author: John Chrysostom, Saint, -407
Incipit: Quis dabit capiti meo aquam et oculis meis fontem lacrimarum
Explicit: et tanto labore quesitum spiritalium gratiarum dep′ir′ censum
Language: Latin

Text divided into 22 chapters by an early corrector.

Physical description of section of manuscript

Parchment: low quality; glaring H/F contrast, prominent follicle marks, flaws, edgecuts; a few sheets (e.g. 32-35, 46-53) slightly smaller than the rest. Most commonly arranged FH, HF. Crude cropping of some lower margins (e.g. 46-53).

Extent: 201 f.

I-IV8, V8 (leaves 3 and 6 [f.56 and 59] singletons); VI-XXI8, ?XXII9 (f.190-198: f.197 a supply leaf); ?XXII11 (199-209: probably 5 bifolia with a supply leaf [f. 200] after leaf 1), XXIV8, ?XXV3 XXVI2

Catchwords: Original catchwords on quires I-XXI and XXIV; also (erased) on f.198v for quire XXII and on f.209v for quire XXIII. While quires I-IV are certainly regular quaternions, some subsequent quires may, like V, include pairs of singletons in place of certain bifolia.

Text-block: variable: 188-222 x 132-140 mm. Two columns (width, 62 mm). Lines: variable from 36-45 (space, 4-6 mm; height of minims, 2+ mm). 36: quire IV. 38: quire III. 39: quire V. 40: quires VI-VIII and XXI. 41: quires XII-XIII, XVI. 42: quires X, XIV-XV, XVII-XVIII, XX, XXII. 44: I-II, IX, XIX. 45: quire XI.
Pricking: knife. Prickings often survive in lower margin, sometimes in upper, occasionally in outer. Ruling: ink. Single verticals flank both columns (two in total in the intercolumnar space). Number of horizontals extended varies from none (f.159) to all (f.207), with a slight preponderance of the first and last.


Written in Anglicana, untidy, variable, upgrading to a larger Textualis semiquadrata for scriptural citations; number of hands uncertain, possibly one; also responsible for the foliation. Extensive corrections and annotations throughout, by a contemporary hand or hands, compressed but generally neater. Supply leaves and rewriting). Textualis semiquadrata, 14th/15th century Geometrically-shaped blank areas (two separate triangles and two abutting squares) were reserved within the text-block on f.197r-v.


The Preface and all homilies in are headed by plain red initials, 2+ lines high. f.54r-90r, biblical citations and sentence capitals are stroked in yellow.

History of section of manuscript

Written in England, mid 15th century.

Manuscript contents
(d)     f.22r-209r
Original title: Opus imperfectum in Mattheum
Author: Pseudo-John Chrysostom
Incipit: Sicut referunt matheum conscribere euangelium causa compulit talis
Explicit: Cum videritis abhominationem desolationis stantem in loco sancto
Language: Latin

Preface plus 57 homilies. Material missing from homilies 29 and 31 was made good on the supply leaves (f.197 and 200), some abutting text on f.196v, f.198r and f.199v being erased and replaced: f.196v, homily 31.391-420 was replaced by 31.271-314; f.197r-v, homily 31.315-420 was supplied; f.198r, homily 31.420-421 was replaced by a corrected version of the same; f.199v, homily 29.242-266 was replaced by 29.127-147; f.200r-v, homily 29.147-266 was supplied.

Cited: Stegmüller, 4350
(e)     f.209r-209v
Modern title: List of contents for (d)
Incipit: Omelia 1a liber generacionis
Explicit: Egrediente iesu de templo dixit ei magister aspice quales
Language: Latin

Initial listing of homily number plus biblical incipit was revised at an early date, biblical references being added, some of the biblical texts being expanded or redone, and many of the homily numbers rewritten.

(f)     f.209v-222v
Modern title: Tabula to (d)
Incipit: Abhominatio desolationis
Explicit: Zelus sapere nescit et ira non potest habere consilium
Language: Latin

Index of ‘reshaped type’, whose parent may be the version in Lincoln Cathedral MS 45 (given to Lincoln shortly after 1316). Numerous corrections throughout. The same version found in DCL MS B.II.3, f.35r-45v.

Microfilmed in 1985/86 by the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, St John's Abbey and University, Collegeville, Minnesota. Copies held by them and Durham Cathedral Library.

Digitised material for Durham Cathedral Library MS. B.IV.3 - John Chrysostom, Opus imperfectum in Matthaeum etc.
Digitised in July 2019 as part of the Durham Priory Library Recreated project


Catalogi veteres librorum Ecclesiae cathedralis dunelm. Catalogues of the library of Durham cathedral, at various periods, from the conquest to the dissolution, including catalogues of the library of the abbey of Hulne, and of the mss.   OCLC citation, Surtees Society 7, (London: J.B. Nichols and Son, [1838]).

Stegmüller, F., Repertorium biblicum medii aevi   OCLC citation, (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1950-1961)

Index terms