Posted by Richard Higgins on 31st August 2016

Duns Scotus on the Sentences

Durham Cathedral Library Incunable 21b

The fourth but only surviving volume of this 1481 edition of John Duns Scotus’ Quaestiones in quattuor libros Sententiarum was printed in Venice. This is a heavily-used copy, with evidence of having been closely studied by several monks of Durham Priory, then passing out of the library into the collection of Sir Thomas Tempest before being re-acquired by Durham Cathedral in the 20th century.

A heavily annotated page from DCL Inc. 21b, Duns Scotus' Commentary on Peter Lombard's Sentences A heavily annotated page from DCL Inc. 21b, Duns Scotus’ Commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences
Posted by Richard Higgins on 21st August 2016

Commentary on the OT books of prophets by St Jerome

Durham Cathedral Library MS B.II.9

A post-Conquest manuscript, written in Normandy and amongst those presented to Durham Priory by William of St Calais. This work contains the commentary on the minor prophetic books of the Old Testament, written by St Jerome at the end of the 4th century.

© 2016 Durham Cathedral Library

As usual the most useful provenance information is to be found at the head of the first page of text. Here we have the early 15th century inscription “Explanacio Jeronimi xij prophetarum . de communi libraria monachorum dunelm’”, telling us that the book was kept in the cloister library at that time. The inscription is preceded by a letter G that appears to have been altered to a T – in the late 14th century catalogue of the Cloister Library the shelfmark is G, but the later and fainter shelfmark in the top right corner is “Pi T”. The earliest inscription is on the second line, “Liber Sancti Cuthbertj de Dunelmo”. The other two inscriptions were written after the dissolution.

Posted by Richard Higgins on 20th August 2016

Works by St Ambrose

Durham Cathedral Library MS B.II.6

A manuscript from the foundation gift of Bishop William of St Calais to his new priory at Durham, containing a group of works by St Ambrose and two by St Augustine. Like so many of these post-Conquest manuscripts, it seems to have been written in Normandy but also shows signs of additions before the end of the 11th century written by scribes based at Durham Priory.

Opening page of DCL MS B.II.6

This image of the top part of f.1r shows many of the typical annotations added to Durham Priory Library books. The top left “[L]iber Beati Cuthberti de Dunelmo” is in a near contemporary hand to the manuscript identifying the book as belonging to St Cuthbert (that is figuratively by virtue of belonging to the library of his church), whereas the inscription “Liber Ecclesiae Cathedral. Dunelm” is added after the dissolution of the Priory and is a sure sign that the book was in the Chapter Library. The inscription top right “Ambrosius de patriarcha Joseph de c0mmuni libraria monachorum dun…” tells us not just the content of the manuscript but where it was kept in the 15th century – the “2a 2i Q” below this inscription giving a late shelfmark, while the two capital Es (top left corner and below the “h” of “Joseph”) are the shelfmarks used in the 14th century catalogues.

Posted by Richard Higgins on 18th August 2016

Homilies of Paul the Deacon

Durham Cathedral Library MS A.III.29

An English manuscript produced just after the Norman Conquest (probably at Winchester), containing part of an annual cycle of sermons to be preached on the feast days of the church. The first homily would have marked the feast of St Praxedis (21 July), although here it is no more than a note referring you to the entry for St Potentianae before the text moves on to St James the Greater, whose feast was celebrated on 26 July.

Homily on the feast of St Praxedis
Homily on the feast of St Praxedis

Posted by Richard Higgins on 17th August 2016

St Augustine on St John’s Gospel

Durham Cathedral Library MS B.II.16

A copy of one of the major theologians of the Middle Ages writing on the most esoteric of the Gospels. Written in St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury at the end of the 11th century this is very similar to the books given to Durham by Bishop William of St Calais and is a fine example of British book production during the transition period between Anglo-Saxon and Norman England.

Initial, start of homily 22