Coxe MS. 1 Bible, with prologues and the Interpretation of Hebrew Names, in Latin
illuminated manuscript on parchment

[France, Paris] 1244

A finely illuminated Bible, signed and dated by the scribe



 A finely illuminated Bible
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Before the rise of Oxford as a major university city, Paris was pre-eminent for the study of theology which was itself, of course, founded on the study of the Bible. The so-called 'Paris Bible' (a term used even for Bibles made in other places) was developed in Paris in the first half of the 13th century largely to meet the needs of such study: the selection of biblical books, their sequence, and the selection of prologues to each book were standardized; the system of division into chapters was standardized; the inclusion at the end of the Interpretation of the Hebrew names that occur in the biblical text was standardized; and the format was reduced from hefty tomes typical of the 12th century to something that is easily portable.

Many examples were purely functional, with minimal decoration in red and blue inks, but in this one each book of the Bible is introduced by a little scene painted in colours on a burnished gold background.

An unusual feature of the present example is that the scribe signed his work with his name and the date: 'Anno domini MoCCoXoL quarto perfecta est Biblia ista. Guillermus dictus Miles Parisiensis consummavit eam. Sit ipse particeps omnium bonorum quam in ea comprehenduntur', i.e. 'This Bible was finished in 1244; Guillaume, called Chevalier of Paris, completed it. May he be a partaker in all the good things it contains'.

The manuscript was given to the College in 1625 by William Boswell, scholar and Fellow, who also gave MS. 2.

Text kindly provided, especially for this exhibition, by Peter Kidd