PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION AND MATERIALITY
Parchment, a nearly complete leaf, c.400×280mm, the margins somewhat cropped but not affecting the text, ruled in drypoint for two widely-spaced columns of 48 lines, written above top line in a fine, regular, rounded late Caroline script, with late medieval foliation in the middle of the top margin: “Cxl[…]” and with an added chapter number “xx[v]” in the adjacent margin next to the beginning of Chapter 25 (19 lines from the bottom of the second column of the recto, at “Mortuus est Saul …”) which originally had no emphasis, but the first two words were re-written at a later date, in darker ink and with more angular script, with the “e[st]” projecting into the margin.
In the earlier Middle Ages, until the first half of the 12th century, it was normal for the ruling to be executed in drypoint on the hair side of each bifolium, and for the eight-leaf quires to be arranged with a hair-side outermost. In the present leaf, the hair follicles and deep, crisp, ruling are both clearly visible on the recto; we can therefore deduce that it was probably the first, third, fifth, or seventh leaf of its quire.
The cropping of the margins shows that the leaf was cut down to become a flyleaf in a slightly smaller volume; there are none of the typical signs that it was a pastedown (e.g. traces of paste, stains causes by turn-ins), but there are four brown marks, one near each corner, doubtless caused by the rusting of metal bosses in the host volume’s binding. Four regularly-spaced dark horizontal marks at the left edge of the verso indicate the sewing supports of the host volume, showing where the cords were laced into channels in the inner face of the board. A few wormholes corroborate this use: worms typically burrow through wood boards (attracted by the flour or other starch used in making the paste for pastedowns), and as such, wormholes most often occur only at the very beginning and end of parchment volumes, not in the middle.
This is the quintessential script of 12th-century Italian monastic books, and still close to its Carolingian minuscule parentage in its regularity, roundness, and generous spacing of words and lines, all of which result in great legibility. The ‘f’ and tall ‘s’ descend below the ruled line, round ‘s’ is used only at the beginning and end of words, ‘x’ sits on the line and does not descent below it, there are upright as well as sloping ascenders to ‘d’, ‘g’ has an open lower bowl, there is no fusing of adjacent letters except for the ‘st’ ligature, and letters with horizontal finishing-strokes (e, g, t, r) tend to touch the following letter.
I Samuel 24:3–25:28
recto: “etiam super abrutissimas petras … misit de-”
verso: “cem iuuenes et dixit eis … Aufer ini[quitatem]”
Overall this is an impressively large example of the sort of Bible that was used for biblical readings in monasteries, both in the choir of the church and in the refectory during meals. Such Bibles were typically bound in at least two, and often four, volumes, and it was not until the advent of the pocket-sized “Paris” Bible of the first half of the 13th century that it became common for the entire Bible to be contained in a single volume. Once the revised Paris text had superseded the heterogeneous texts in circulation before 1200, manuscripts such as the present one fell out of daily use, and their parchment could be repurposed for the bindings of other large folio volumes such as choirbooks.