Genesis and Exodus With Glosses
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Once part of a complete Bible, this manuscript belonged in the middle ages to the Franciscan convent (Greyfriars) in Canterbury. It has the standard set of explanatory texts (glossa ordinaria) written in the specialized page design which allowed sections of explanation to be placed next the relevant part of the text. Another set of explanations by a different compiler is written between the lines (interlinear gloss). In this specialised graphic design, the Bible text is written with large letters, the gloss in small, to express a hierarchy of the most authoritative text and the commentary on it. The layout and the glosses were mainly for students of theology and theologians. It was a way of maintaining a correct or orthodox body of explanation.
This page, with the text from Exodus on the sons of Israel who left Egypt with Moses, shows the page layout, with the biblical text in the centre and the gloss surrounding it. The beginning of the biblical text is further highlighted by the scene of Moses (identifiable by his horns, a convention in medieval depictions of him) and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.