Commentary on the Apocalypse


This manuscript demonstrates unusually direct connections between early medieval English scholars and the Greek-speaking Mediterranean world. Primasius (fl. c. 550) was bishop of Hadrumetum (modern Sousse, Tunisia). His Commentary on the Apocalypse was a rare text, surviving in only seven manuscripts. This, the earliest manuscript, was apparently annotated by two famous English churchmen, Boniface, archbishop of Mainz (died 754), and Dunstan, archbishop of Canterbury (959–988). Boniface is believed to have added the notes in the margin and Dunstan the annotations between the lines of text.

This manuscript is believed to have been made in England. It has been associated with Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset, where Dunstan was abbot by c. 940; Boniface, too, was educated in the south-west of England. However, the script of the main text has no parallel in an Anglo-Saxon context. It has been explained as an English attempt to mimic Frankish script, but it might have been based on a Spanish or African model.

Quite how the work of Primasius reached early medieval England is uncertain, but texts of Greek origin were well known at the Canterbury school run by Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury (668–690) and Abbot Hadrian (died 709).

Full title:
Primasius, Commentarius in Apocalypsin
Before the mid-8th century
© Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Held by
Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 140

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