DCL MS. B.IV.2John Chrysostom, Homeliae in Epistolam ad Hebreos
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

John Chrysostom, Homeliae in Epistolam ad Hebreos, written in England in the mid 12th century.

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t2m3b591871q.html

Physical description of manuscript

Parchment: low quality with pronounced H/F contrast; prominent follicle marks, varying thickness, holes and flaws. Arranged: HF, FH. The parchment of quire XVI is of a similarly low quality; arranged FH, HF. A parchment tab was formerly glued to f.71.

Extent: ii+156+i f
Size: 280 mm x 200 mm


Modern pencil foliation

Secundo folio: demonstrasti. quia

I8, II-XIV10, XV7 (structure unclear: ?10 with leaves 8-10 [after f.146], cancelled), XVI13 (1[f.147] + 12; discordant follicle patterns demonstrate that 147 cannot have been the final leaf of quire XV, conjoint with f.140).

Catchwords: Late medieval catchwords added to quires II and V
Signatures: . Contemporary signature (‘.i.’) on quire I, final verso, lower margin, centre. Signatures (‘xij’-‘xiiij’) to quires XII-XIV, and leaf numbering to quires VII, XIII and XV - possibly done around the time quire XVI was appended.

Condition of manuscriptLower margins of f.63 and f.70, and part of that of f.69 sliced away (with cut damage to f.68). The extra wear visible on f.146v, including a large sewn-up tear, is compatible with this being the final page until the addition of quire XVI.

Written space: 214 x 145 mm. Two columns (width, 65-70 mm). Supplementary quire XVI: 210 x 175 mm; two columns (width, 64 mm).
Lines: 29 (space, 7 mm; height of minims, 3 mm). In the added quire XVI: 37 (f.147r-150r) then 51 (f.150v-157v).
Pricking: awl. Prickings generally preserved in the lower margin, occasionally (e.g. quire II) in outer one.
Ruling: lead or ink.

Late medieval running headings, stating the homily number (‘tractatus’ + Roman numeral) and designating each column thereof with a letter.


Written by three hands:
f.2r-100v/col. 1/line 3 (item (a) beginning)Transitional Romanesque Caroline minuscule - ProtoGothic; generally neat, rectilinear and relatively spacious, but gradually becomes more compressed, with more pronounced angularity.
f.100v/col. 2/line 4- f.146r (item (a) end). Transitional Romanesque Caroline Minuscule - ProtoGothic, varying in degree of compression and angularity.
f.147r-157v (item (b)) Textualis semi-quadrata, functional


Red initial ‘M’, 10 lines high, for the incipit of (a) (f.2r); the display lettering that should accompany it was supplied in sketch form only, at an uncertain date (the relevant words were eventually furnished in full both between the legs of the ‘M’ and in the upper margin by late medieval hands). Plain red initials, 4+ lines high, supplied for homilies III-XIX, XXI-XXVIII and XXXV. The spaces reserved for similar initials at homilies II, XX, and XXIX-XXXIV remained unfilled, though red rubric was duly supplied. Spaces were reserved in (b) for 2-line-high initials at the first entry for each letter of the alphabet, and for 1-line-high initials at some subsequent entries, but none was filled. The late medieval additions to (a) include sketches of foliage (e.g. f.7r), human faces (e.g. f.11r, f.33r, f.64r), and quadrupeds (f.33r, f.130v), qualitatively crude.


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). Traces of the turnovers from an earlier binding on f.2r.

Manuscript history

Written in England, mid 12th century.


Inscriptions: “Liber Sancti Cuthberti de Dunelmo.”, approximately 1200, f.2r, top, above column 2.
“Frater Iohannes -?- -?-//”, 13th century, f.146v, lower margin, heavily cropped.
Pressmark: “.B.”, late 14th century, f.2r, top, centre.
“.B. Crisostomus Super epistolam [changed to epistolas] Pauli monachorum dunelm′”, early 15th century, f.2r, top.
In 1392 Cloister catalogue.

Manuscript contents
(a)     f.2r-146r
Original title: Homeliae in epistolam ad Hebraeos
Author: John Chrysostom, Saint, -407
Mutianus Scholasticus
Incipit: modis olim deus locutus est patribus in prophetis
Explicit: Hoc itaque igne circumsepiamur exhortor gloriam offerentes domino nostro iesu christo, cum quo patri gloria una cum spiritu sancto, imperium honor, nunc et semper, et in secula seculorum. Amen
Rubric: Incipit tractatus primus beati Johannis crisostomi in episolam beati apostoli pauli ad hebraeos
Language: Latin

35 homilies, Homily 34 being divided at “Obsecro autem vos fratres ut sustineatis uerbum consolationis et enim pauca scripsi.” to make the 35th. Text ends f.146r/col. 1/line 7. The remainder of f.146r and all f.146v, blank. Nota mark copied as part of original transcirption: f.33r. Extensive late medieval annotation throughout, largely the work of two hands: one contributing Nota marks of various forms including pointing hands and faces that bracket text, and perhaps also responsible for the occasional notes in a large, poorly formed semi-cursive hand (e.g. f.10v, f.26r, f.109r) lower margin in both cases), the other writing numerous notes and references in a compact cursive, mainly in the top and side margins.

(b)     f.147r-157v
Modern title: Tabula for (a)
Date: [before 1392]
Language: Latin

Alphabetical, ending with Χρς etc. References by homily number and column letter - as added to (a)

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.2 - John Chrysostom, Homeliae in Epistolam ad Hebreos
Digitised June 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]).

Mynors, R.A.B., Durham Cathedral manuscripts to the end of the twelfth century. Ten plates in colour and forty-seven in monochrome. With an introduction [including a list of all known Durham manuscripts before 1200]   OCLC citation, (Durham: 1939)

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