DCL MS. A.III.25Gospels of Matthew and John, glossed
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

Gospels of Matthew and John, glossed, written in France or England at the start of the 13th century. Made in two contemporary parts: Matthew (f.3-92) and John (f.93-144), which were made separately (contemporary quire signatures and catchwords in Matthew alone and the divergent structure of its final quire; also the scribal invocation on the first page of John) but to the same specifications. They were possibly brought together immediately (the lesser decorative emphasis given to the incipit of John, as opposed to that of Matthew, might indicate that it had always been envisaged for a secondary position), and they were certainly together by the 14th century (note of contents of that date on f.1r, and the added quire signatures that run from the end of (A) on through (B)).

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t2mwp988j94f.html

Physical description of manuscript

Parchment: low quality with pronounced H/F distinction, prominent follicle marks, imperfections and scars, the ambient quality slightly lower in (B) than (A). Arranged: HF, FH. Lower margin ?damp damaged and eroded, the worst affected areas sometimes trimmed off (quire VIII). Strip sliced from the outer margin of f.55. Parchment tab inscribed “7”(?) attached to f.71.

Extent: ii+142+iii f
Size: 315 mm x 210 mm
(except fly and endleaves (f.1-2, 145-146), which are: 298 x 206 mm)


Modern pencil foliation

Secundo folio: tactandi talis est

Flyleaves (f.1-2), bifolium; (A) I-X8, XI10; (B) XII-XVII8, XVIII4; endleaves (f.145-6), bifolium.

Signatures: Contemporary leaf lettering in the first half of the quires, throughout both (A) and (B). (A) alone has contemporary ink quire signatures .I.-.VII. on quires I-VII (final verso, lower margin, centre), and contemporary catchwords on quires VII, IX and X. Further signatures were added, probably in 14th century, in lead or faint ink, continuing (A)’s original series and running on through (B), starting with “ix” on IX, nothing on X, then continuously XI-XVII on those quires.

Written area: up to 205 x 140 mm for the text-block as a whole. Complex glossed book design with the scriptural text generally written every other line (occasionally, e.g. f.27, every tenth line), primarily in a central column but frequently spreading into one or both of the two flanking columns, the gloss written between, beside and around it, the layout changing from one page to the next, the number of columns varying from one to three.
Lines: 22 of biblical text (written every other line, starting below top line); up to 44 of gloss (written on every line, starting above top line). Space, 4.5; height of minims, 4 mm (biblical), 1.5 mm (gloss).
Pricking: awl and knife. Prickings, which survive in all three outer margins, were supplied for all verticals and horizontals.
Ruling: lead and ink. Complex glossed book design. Ruled for a text-block with a central column, flanked by two side columns (all three approximately 40 mm wide), plus further columns in the margins. Single verticals define the outer edge of the text-block as a whole, double verticals the columns within it; further pairs of verticals subdivide both side margins. 42 horizontals, all running across the text-block area, nos. 1, 2, 5, 6, 21, 22, 39, 40, 43 and 44 being extended across the margins. In (B) but not (A), a further pair of horizontals runs across the upper margin.


Written in Textualis semi-quadrata for both text and gloss in (b) and (c). The biblical text script hangs from the ruled line above; the gloss is placed midway between head and base lines. Number of scribes uncertain: stable in basic type yet with occasional variations in aspect, the script could be by one hand throughout both (A) and (B). The scribal invocation on f.93r, suggests that, even if it was by the same hand, (c) represented a new start.


Decorated initial, 10 lines high, for the start of the biblical text in (b), f.6v: a pink ‘L’ flanked by green and blue foliate scrolls against a gold leaf ground (Channel-style without any dogs). The general preface (f.3r) is headed by a red and blue ‘F’, 12+ lines high, flourished in both colours. The biblical text of (c) and the first preface of (b) are headed by a 5+-line-high red initial, flourished in blue. Other prefatory texts are headed by 3+ line-high initials, alternately red then blue, flourished in the other colour (that for the preface to John on f.93r received no flourishing). Some sentences within the biblical texts have red or blue initials, 1 to 2 lines high, flourished in the other colour. Each block of marginal gloss is marked by a paraph, alternately red then blue, flourished in the other colour. All the flourishing is elementary. Decoration: curled-scroll capitals in red and blue; on f.6v a small initial of tightly curled leafage on gold ground.


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). Stains from the turnovers of earlier bindings on the former pastedowns, f.1 and 146.

Manuscript history

Written in France or England, start of 13th century.


Pen-trial: “super omnia bona sua constituet eum sciant present[e]s et futuri. quod ego thomas monachus de dunelm”, early 14th century, f.145v, top.
Notes of content, early 14th century, f.1r, top: “Liber iste continet duos libros scilicet matheum et Iohannem”, seemingly followed by several erased words. Below that the note of content is repeated: “Iste liber continet ...” (then as before).

SECTION: (flyleaf)
Manuscript contents
(a)     f.1v
Modern title: Canon tables
Date: 12th century
Language: Latin

Ten columns of 70 lines, presenting continuous runs of numerals without any framework of uprights and cross-bars to subdivide them, the only visual break being a gap of three lines that was left between the end of Canon II and the start of Canon III . The first four columns contain the numbers of Canon I. The next three columns, plus the first 39 lines of the final three columns are Canon II. The bottom section of the final three columns contains the 22 lines of Canon III, followed without any gap by the first 6 lines of Canon IV, whereupon the entries stop – despite there being space for a further three columns of them. There are many errors. The text was evidently abandoned at this point and the sheet subsequently recycled for flyleaves.

Manuscript contents
(b)     f.3r-92v
Modern title: Matthew, glossed
Language: Latin

General preface, f.3r-4r; added to f.3r in early 13th century, 9 lines of verse defining names and relationships of family members; preface, glossed, f.4r-4v; prefaces, f.4v-6r; Matthew's Gospel with gloss, f.6v-92v.
Sigla are used to link the parts of glosses that extend from one page to the next. Some glosses in diagrammatic form were placed in the lower margins. Regular supplementary glosses in lead, in a 13th century hand. No original chapter numbering. Numeration (Roman numerals) for the 28 standard Parisian chapters was added to the margins, probably in the 15th century.

Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 589
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 590
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11827.1
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11827.2
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11827.5
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11827.6
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11827.7
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11827.18
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11827.19
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11827.20
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11827.21

Manuscript contents
(c)     f.93r-144v
Modern title: John, glossed
Language: Latin

Prologue, f.93r; prologue f.93r-93v; John's Gospel with gloss, f.93v-114v
Regular supplementary glosses in lead, plus some in ink on f.99v, f.101v, and f.113r (all by the same hand); f.107v (a second hand); and f.118r (a third hand), all 13th century. No original chapter numbering. Numeration (Roman numerals) for the 21 standard Parisian chapters was added to the margins, 15th century, by the same hand that numbered (b).

Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 624
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 628
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11830.5
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11830.10
Citation: Stegmüller RBMA 11830.19
(c)     f.139v
Modern title: Verses
Date: 13th century
Incipit: Sepe solet hudis ubi plus solet esse paludis
Explicit: vel bene nummatis uel eorum sanguine natis
Language: Latin

Verse satire on clerical appointments (cf. Cambridge, Gonville and Caius, MS 408, f.320v), prefaced by the proverbial Si quis habet quod habere decet sit letus habendo. Alterius non sit cum suus esse potest

(d)     f.146r
Modern title: Points of faith, doctrine and observance, etc.
Date: 13th century
Language: Latin

Numerous different points, informally jotted by several broadly contemporary hands, first across the top of the page, then in two or more rough columns.

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 A.III.25 - Gospels of Matthew and John, glossed
Digitised November 2018 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]).

de Hamel, Christopher, Glossed books of the Bible and the origins of the Paris book trade   OCLC citation, (Woodbridge, Suffolk, England: Boydell Press, 1984)

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)

Stegmüller, Friedrich, Repertorium biblicum medii aevi   OCLC citation, (Madrid: 1950-1980)

Index terms