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Prologue, in a Copy of the Pauline Epistles With Explanatory Notes

Prologue, in a Copy of the Pauline Epistles With Explanatory Notes

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1240

Shelfmark: Harley MS 3249

Item number: f.2r

Length: 36.2

Width: 23.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

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In the middle ages, the Bible was read aloud as part of church services and during daily prayers, and it was privately for theological study and personal devotion. A variety of aids were developed for these different kinds of reading. For theological study, surrounding the text from the Bible with explanatory notes and / or words written between its lines to help the reader understand obscure or difficult vocabulary and grammar. This is called 'glossing'. This manuscript contains St Paul's Epistles with commentary glosses. It belonged to the Franciscan convent at Oxford. One of the new orders of preaching friars, the Franciscans were part of the scene at medieval universities. The commentary begins with a prologue, as the title in alternating letters of blue and red at the top of the page informs the reader. The red scribbles to either side of the title are abbreviations of the names of earlier theological writers: Ambrose, Augustine, Haymo, Origen and Jerome. They are references to their commentaries, which the prologue excerpts. It resembles the commentary on the epistle to the Romans compiled by Peter Lombard in the 11th century.

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