A Glossed Gospels of Luke and John f.120r
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Medieval students studied the latin translation of the Bible edited by St Jerome in the late 4th or early 5th century (Vulgate). Aware that it was a translation from the greek but into another foreign language and following their belief that its words were signs of divine mysteries, they needed study aids. The gloss (explanations between or beside the lines of a text) became a sophisticated educational tool. Glosses were sometimes added long after the main text was copied, but this manuscript of the Gospels of Luke and John was planned to have an interlinear latin gloss and a series of standardised glosses (glossa ordinaria) in its wide margins. It belonged to the the Franciscan convent (Greyfriars) at Canterbury, although it probably was made elsewhere in Canterbury or southern England just before or around the time the first Franciscans arrived in England and settled at Canterbury, in 1224.
In many medieval manuscripts of the Vulgate gospels, each has a prologue. This page has the beginning of the prologue for John with its gloss. Written in large letters on the left side of the page, the prologue is accompanied by its gloss, in smaller letters in the centre. Blank, wide margins on the right and below were for the lecturers' or students' notes.