DCL MS. B.I.17Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III and Scriptum super Sententiis (Liber IV).
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

Manuscript codex made up of two parts, containing Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III (f.1-194) and Thomas Aquinas, Scriptum super Sententiis, Liber IV (f.195-285), both probably written in Oxford at the turn of the 13th/14th century. The two parts had clearly been brought together by 1395 at the latest, indicated by the entry in the Cloister catalogue and the 14th century note of content on f.iiv. The note of contents, if accurate, also indicates that at that point Book III was also included (‘Summa fratris Thome de aquino et super 3m et 4m sentenciarum’); however, it had evidently gone by 1395.

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t1mt435gd27h.html

Physical description of manuscript

Parchment in both parts: modest to low quality, with prominent follicle marks, flaws, pronounced H/F contrast, tendency to curl, variable thickness (the former flyleaves, f.i, ii and 286, are thicker, stiffer and darker than the rest). The parchment of Part B differs from that of Part A in incorporating more sheets with edgecuts. Arranged FH, HF throughout. Glue stains on f.117 from a parchment tab (lost).

Extent: ii+286+ii f
Size: 335 mm x 225 mm


Modern pencil foliation.

Secundo folio: exemplum sunt

Bound in Durham by Waghorn, c.1720-40. Pasteboard boards; blind-tooled calf (rolls defining an inner panel with cornerpieces); 2 metal clasps. Glue stains on f.ir and 286v reflect service as pastedowns in a former binding. A band of adhered leather fragments running vertically down f.iv, 50-85 mm in from the fore-edge, and likewise down f.286r, 110-135 mm in from the fore-edge, are the residues of turnovers. Three small green-stained holes halfway down f.i, near the fore-edge, and a smaller green stain at the corresponding place in f.286 from fixtures for a clasp on an earlier binding.

Manuscript history

Inscriptions: “liber sancti Cuthberti de donelm'”, mid 14th century, f.iiv.
“Summa fratris Thome de aquino et super 3m et 4m sentenciarum”, 14th century, f.iiv, top.
Pressmark: “.L.”, later 14th century, f.1r, top centre.
“.L. Trecia pars Summe Thome cum Alijs De communi libraria monachorum dunelm′ \et non de claustro/”, start of 15th century. with 15th/16th century insertion, f.1r, top. Amplified 15th/16th century by Thomas Swalwell, monk of Durham c.1483-1539 to register Part B more explicitly: “et ultima pars iiijti scripti eiusdem a distinctione 43 ad distinctionem vltimam iiijti sententiarum”.
Pressmark: “1a vjti E”, 15th century, f.1r, top right.
Listed in Cloister catalogue and Misc.Charter 2475.

Physical description of section of manuscript
Extent: 194 f

f.i+ii (medieval flyleaves), a bifolium, I-IV12, V14, VI-XVI12

Catchwords: Contemporary catchwords on all quires except V, VII and XVI.
Signatures: Contemporary leaf marking in the first half of all quires, generally in lead (Roman numerals in quires I, II, V, VI, XII-XIV, XVI; letters in III, VII, XV; circles or circles plus numbers in IV, IX-XI; and a red ink “a” plus Roman numerals in VIII).

Text-block: 240 x 152. Two columns (width, 70 mm). Lines: 48 (space, 5 mm; height of minims, 2+ mm). Pricking: knife (preserved in all three outer margins). Ruling: ink. Single verticals flank both columns (two in total in the intercolumnar space); a further pair of verticals in the outer margin. No horizontals extended; all run across the intercolumnar space; a further pair of horizontals in the upper margin and the lower margin.


Written in Textualis libraria, highly abbreviated. Probably by one scribe. The writing in the second half of quire V is neater and more regular than elsewhere, but is probably still by the same hand (the discrepancy in script, allied to the facts that this quire is the unique 14 in a volume otherwise composed of 12s, and is one of only two without a catchword, raise the possibility that it may be an early replacement for a flawed or damaged original).


The proem of (a) is headed by a blue and leaf gold initial, 5+ lines high (plus 12 lines of tail), flourished in red and blue, amplified by red and blue penwork waterfalls extending the length of the upper and inner margins. Questions and articles in (a) are headed by blue initials flourished in red, those for the former generally 3 lines high, those for the latter 2 lines high. Further subdivisions are marked by paraphs, red then blue in alternation. In (b) all the questions are written in red; the first letter of most of the articles is stroked in red. No additional visual emphasis was given to the start.

History of section of manuscript

Probably written in England, Oxford, 13th/14th century.

Manuscript contents
(a)     f.1r-190r
Original title: Summa Theologiae III
Author: Thomas, Aquinas, Saint, 1225?-1274
Incipit: Quia saluator noster dominus iesus christus teste angelo populum suum saluum faciet
Explicit: quia ueniale sti′ mortali dimitti non potest ut supra dictum est, et ideo ante baptismum \non/ distinguitur poenitentia mortalium et uenialium
Language: Latin

The incipit of Qu. 1 is presented as a continuation of the Proem, while its second sentence is given the visual emphasis of a new line and a 2-line-high initial. Running heading gives question number. Contemporary corrections and emendations throughout

Dondaine and Shooner, p.256, no. 687
(b)     f.190r-194v
Modern title: Tituli of the Questions and Articles of (a).
Author: Thomas, Aquinas, Saint, 1225?-1274
Incipit: Utrum conueniens fuerit deum incarnari
Explicit: De diuisione eius in partes subiectiuas. Expliciunt tituli tercie partis fratris thome de aquino
Rubric: De conueniencia incarnationis christi
Language: Latin

Extensive and rather messy contemporary correction throughout, with insertions, deletions, and reassignments of existing elements. Numbering was added to each set of articles, immediately beside them. A further continuous sequence of article numbering (running from 1-549) was added in the outer margins, sometimes fitted around corrections, with lines to link the number to the relevant entry. f.194r-v, blank.

Physical description of section of manuscript
Extent: 91 f

I-III12, IV11 (leaves 2, 3, and 10 [f.232, 233, 240] are singletons), V-VI12, VIII8

Catchwords: Contemporary catchwords on all quires except the last.
Signatures: Leaf numbering in lead in the first six leaves of all quires (even in the smaller quire VIII): in quires I-III and V-VIII, this takes the form of a letter per quire (o, c, b, f, e, d, t respectively) plus Roman numerals; in quire IV, the sequence ‘a’, ‘aa’, ‘aaa’, ‘aaaa’, a+v conflation, a+vi conflation was used.

Text-block: 230 x 156 mm. Two columns (width, 72 mm). Lines: 60 (except for f.195r, where 61) (space, 5 mm; height of minims, 2+ mm). Pricking: awl (preserved in all three outer margins). Ruling: lead. Single verticals flank both columns (two in total in the intercolumnar space). No horizontals extended; all continue across the intercolumnar space. (On f.195 alone, there are extra pairs of verticals in the inner and outer margins, and an extra pair of horizontals in the upper margin.)


Written in Textualis semi-quadrata, neat; seemingly one hand.


Distinctions and questions in (c) are headed by blue initials, 3 lines high, flourished in red, sometimes amplified by red and blue waterfalls in the margin. The start of the distinction is preceded by its number in blue and red Roman numerals set within the text-block. The flourishing on f.247v and 226r includes a human head in profile, that on 202r and 260v feature beast heads. Further subdivision are marked by paraphs, alternately red then blue. In (d) the first entry is headed by a red capital, each subsequent one by a paraph, alternately blue then red.

History of section of manuscript

Probably written in England, Oxford, 13th/14th century.

Manuscript contents
(c)     f.195r-283r
Original title: Scriptum super Sententiis (Liber IV)
Author: Thomas, Aquinas, Saint, 1225?-1274
Incipit: postquam determinauit magister de sacramentis que pertinent ad ecclesie presentem statum
Explicit: qui est principium a quo omnia et finis ad quem omnia ordinatur, cui est honor et gloria in secula seculoru. Amen
Rubric: Postremo de conditione nominis etc
Language: Latin

Distinctiones 43-50 only. The text continues without interruption through the divergent quire IV. Running headings, casually added in brown ink, give distinctio numbers. Intermittent early annotation (f.198v, 205v-206r, 208r, 255v, 265v), attributed by A.J. Piper to Thomas of Westoe. Added section numbering and pointing hands.

Dondaine and Shooner, p.256, no. 687
(d)     f.283v-284r
Original title: Tituli of the articles in (c)
Incipit: Utrum corporum resurexio sit futura
Explicit: vtrum letentur de penis dampnatorum
Language: Latin

Corrections, plus distinction and article numbering, added untidily by a different hand.

(e)     f.284v-286v
Original title: Supplement and Notes
Date: Added in 14th century
Incipit: Propter illam questionem 4o scripti d.44, q.13 que est utrum corpora sanctorum post resureccionem erunt impassibilia, scribuntur hic due questiones que disputantur super 8 mete[physicorum]
Explicit: que differunt genere magis differunt quam que differunt specie
Language: Latin

46 line supplement, written in ink by one informal hand identified by A.J. Piper as Thomas of Westoe.
f.285r: groups of notes by one informal hand, written in faded ink, the first lines very faint. The first group comprises seven parallel clauses linked by lines to a common but illegible title; its sixth and seventh clauses begin: coaptat tollendo ...; obligat ligando. A second group of seven entries list main phases of Christ’s life (conceptione, natiuitate, passione, ?sepultura, resurrectione, ascensione, -?-) with moralistic notes and further references (e.g. passione, labor penitencie ...; resurrectione, noua uita; ascensione, pro teipso ...). 11 further lines of notes follow.
f. 285v: covered in notes, now faint and difficult to read.
f.286v: two short notes, added by different hands. f.286r blank.

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.I.17 - Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III and Scriptum super Sententiis (liber IV)
Digitised in March 2020 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]).

Dondaine, H-F. and Shooner, H. V., Codices manuscripti operum Thomae de Aquino   OCLC citation (Roma: Commissio Leonina, 1967-1982)

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