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A Concordance in a Bible

A Concordance in a Bible

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1350

Shelfmark: Royal MS 4 E.v

Item number: f.4r

Length: 42.8

Width: 27

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

A friar composing a sermon may want to locate verses of the bible on a particular topic. He would consult a concordance like this one: an alphabetical index of words (this first page has words beginning with 'A'), by looking up a word (similar to using keywords in computer search engines) in it. Beside the word he would find the abbreviated names of the books of the Bible in which it appeared, the relevant chapter numbered by the system devised by Stephen Langton (archbishop of Canterbury 1207-1228) and the section of the chapter as in Langton's seven-part divisions, labelled by letters 'a' through 'g'. The first verbal bible concordance was made about 1230 by Hugo of St Cher and a team of five-hundred Dominican friars. It was a response to the needs of the preaching orders such as the Dominicans and Franciscans, who were becoming increasing important.

This Bible manuscript with concordance belonged to the cathedral priory of St Andrew at Rochester, given by a monk of the priory, friar Thomas de Horstede, as the inscription in the lower margin reveals. A later 'poet'--probably a librarian--added an anathema, in verse, on those who steal books.

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