Matthew of Ephesus (also known as Manuel Gabalas) was a cleric and scholar in the turbulent world of 14th-century Byzantium. Though a high-ranking cleric, he was not above working as a scribe, and these three volumes contain religious texts copied by him and another scribe, George Galesiotes.

The range of texts copied (including some of Matthew’s own works) suggests that these books were for Matthew’s own personal use.

It is probable that the manuscripts were copied in Constantinople, where Matthew remained for some years after being appointed to the see of Ephesus in 1329, since that city was occupied by the Turks.

The fate of the manuscripts in the following five centuries is unclear, but they were acquired by the bibliophile Charles Burney and formed part of the vast collection of manuscripts, theatrical ephemera, and newspapers acquired by the British Museum from Burney’s son after his death in 1818.