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Ownership Inscription and Beginning of the Gospel of John, in a 'Commentary on John' by Augustine

Ownership Inscription and Beginning of the Gospel of John, in a 'Commentary on John' by Augustine

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1100

Shelfmark: Royal MS 3 C.x

Item number: f.3r

Length: 38.6

Width: 26.1

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Copies of the gospels were made in many different sizes and presented in a variety of ways because of the multiple roles that this essential Christian text played. Besides being read aloud during services and meditated upon privately by clergymen and monks, the gospels were also studied as the basis of Christian theology. Commentaries, sermons and homilies were written on the individual gospels, such as the commentary by St Augustine of Hippo on the Gospel of John. A manuscript of Augustine's from Rochester has bound with it a portion of the Gospel of John so that the reader might consult it when studying the sermons and possibly writing a sermon for delivery in the cathedral. The first page has the beginning of the Gospel of John, its first letter decorated with the eagle which is the symbol of St John the Evangelist. Having been made relatively soon after the Norman invasion, it presents a style of handwriting which resembles that seen in 11th-century Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. Also, some bits of it are from the translations that were circulating before the standard Latin text by St Jerome became established, making it what is called a 'mixed-text'. In the lower margin, the inscription, which was added later, tells us that it belonged to Rochester Priory ("Liber de claustro Roffensi [Rochester] per Walterum episcopum" [Walter, Bishop of Rochester 1148-1182]. A second person wrote the last three words, as can be seen in the change of handwriting. Below that, the inscription gives the author and title of the sermons which follow: "Augustine on John."

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