A Noteworthy Genesis in a Parisian Bible

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 48/52

Bible, Swarthmore College, McCabe Library, BS75 1200z, fols. 1r and 4v

Swarthmore College has only one Medieval manuscript in its collections, but it is a little gem: a (probably) Parisian pocket Bible of the 1250s, acquired by the College at auction in 1984 and subsequently rebound.1 Like many fine manuscripts in Philadelphia, it was featured in the Leaves of Gold: Treasures of Manuscript Illumination from Philadelphia Collections exhibition of 2001. In the accompanying catalogue, Kathryn Smith noted that the illuminations in the Bible resemble those of the prolific Mathurin and Soissons ateliers, as defined in Robert Branner’s landmark study of manuscript illumination during the age of Louis IX (reigned 1226–1270).2 Today, we will explore the hitherto undeciphered marginal annotations found on a few pages of the Bible, which give a hint as to its early use in a scholastic setting.

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