A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

St John's College MS. 4

Vulgate Bible


Language(s): Latin

1. Fols. 1ra-485vb:
Incipit: Frater ambrosius tua michi munuscula preferens […] [fol. 4rb, the text] In principio creauit deus celum et terram […] [fol. 391ra] Matheus ex iudea sicut in ordine primus ponitur […] Liber generationis ihesu cristi filii dauid filii abraham
Explicit: Veni domine ihesu Gracia domini nostri ihesu cristi cum omnibus uobis amen
Vulgate Bible

In Ker’s ‘usual order’ (exemplified in Lambeth Palace MS 1364; see MMBL 1:96–7), with the following exceptions: 2/3 Ezra does not appear (fol. 179va), the Psalter presents the Vulgate and Hebrew versions in parallel (fols. 202ra–47ra), and Laodiceans appears after 2 Thes. (fol. 454vab).

Several standard prologues are absent: Stegmüller, RB 357 to Job (fol. 192vb); RB 462 to Eccles. (fol. 255va); RB 468 to Wisdom (fol. 259vb); RB 510 to Joel (fol. 357vb); RB 524 to Jonah (fol. 361rb); RB 547 and 553 to 1 Macc. (fol. 371ra); and RB 589 to Matthew (fol. 391ra).

Especially in the presentation of the Minor Prophets, prologues other than the standard ones occur: for Obadiah, RB 516 (fol. 361ra); for Micah, RB 525 (fol. 362ra); for Nahum, RB 527 (fol. 363vb); for Habakkuk, RB 529 (fol. 364ra); for Zeph., RB 532 (fol. 365rb); for Haggai, RB 535 (fol. 366ra); for Zach., RB 540 (fol. 366vb); for Malachi, RB 544 (fol. 370ra); for Luke, RB 615 (fol. 411va); for Acts, RB 631 (fol. 461va); for Apoc., RB 834 (fol. 480ra).

Job ends six lines into fol. 201rb, the eleventh leaf of quire 17; the remainder of the column and the verso are blank, and a leaf has probably been cancelled here. These are probably signs of a booklet boundary and a break in the production of the book.

The Psalter begins on fol. 202 and is quasi-independent and not finished like the rest of the book (no running titles, blanks for headings universally unfilled). The first leaf of quire 21 (fol. 238), near the end of Psalms, as part of the Rochester ex-libris, identifies some portion of this production as ‘Secunda Pars Biblie’.

Again, a production break, a booklet boundary, appears between the Old and New Testaments. A short quire, the 33rd, with an apparently cancelled final leaf, ends at fol. 390 with 2 Macc., and Matthew begins at the head of fol. 391. However, although there is a format change, the Hebrew Names follows straight on after Apoc., on the final leaf of quire 41.

2. Fols. 486ra-523vc:
Incipit: Aaz apprehendens uel apprehensio Aad testificans uel testimonium Aadhar deprecatio
Explicit: Zuzim consiliantes eos uel consiliatores eorum Expliciunt interpretationes
STEPHEN LANGTON, Interpretationes nominum hebraicorum (Stegmüller, RB no. 7709 [5:234–5]; cf. Sharpe no. 1669 [at 628]), ed. in Bedae Opera (Cologne, 1688), 3:371–480.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: uenit
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (HSOS/HFFH).
Extent: ii + 523 + ii (numbered iii–iv).
Dimensions (leaf): 400 × 260 mm.


1–1212 1310 14–1612 1712 (–12, probably blank) [fol. 201, the end of Job] 18–3212 3310 (–10) [fol. 390, the end of 2 Macc.] | 34–4412 442? (–2; a single leaf, its foot cut away, pasted to a stub). Regular catchwords in the gutter column, with tildes and dots at four corners, most later and many cut away. No signatures.


In double columns, each column 268 × 80 mm. , with 13 mm. between columns, in 51 lines to the column (Item 2 is in three columns, each 270 mm x 60 mm, 8–10 mm between columns). No prickings; bounded and ruled in brown ink.


Written in gothic textura prescissa. Punctuation by point and punctus elevatus.


Headings in red to identify texts, although many within individual books remain unfilled, especially in Psalms, sporadically in major prophets and in the New Testament.

Occasional marginal directions in anglicana.

At initia, 6-line red and blue lombards on red and blue flourishing with penwork extensions.

At the heads of chapters, 2-line blue lombards on red flourishing with red and blue bars along the column.

In Psalms, larger 7-line capitals at the heads of Nocturns.

Marginal blue chapter numbers with blue paraphs on red flourishing.

Running titles in blue lombards on red flourishing (both lacking in Psalms). In item 2, each entry preceded by a 1-line blue lombard on red flourishing, 2-line high examples at the alphabetical divisions.

In the intercolumnar space of fol. 4, a seven-compartment illustration, running the full length of the writing area: the works of the six days, with the Sabbath drawing defaced. A large square, presumably with an armorial device, has been cut out at the foot of the leaf and repaired with recent vellum. At the head and foot, gold, blue, and violet stylized borders; at the top a wyvern and centaur with bow, at the bottom a parrot and peacock, two monsters (human torsos, serpent middles, and legs and feet of lions) armed with swords and shields atop wyverns.

See AT no. 220 (24), dated s. xiii3/4, and plate xii (four of the Creation scenes from (fol. 4).


Wooden boards bevelled on the inner edges, re-covered in brown leather with ornate gold stamping, s. xvii in. The binding retouched at the Bodleian Library, 1981. Sewn on six thongs, taken straight into the board as in Pollard’s figures 3 and 4. Grooves in both boards for two straps and clasps (three of the four brass nails for the latter still present in the lower board). Gold ‘4’ at the head of the spine and gold floral stamps in each spine compartment. Black ink ‘4’ on the leading edges. Pastedowns are modern vellum, with the College bookplate on the front pastedown. At the front, a modern paper flyleaf and a medieval vellum one; at the rear, a medieval vellum flyleaf and a modern paper one (iii–iv). The two vellum flyleaves may have been pastedowns in an earlier binding. For discussion of the binding, see ‘Fine Bindings 1500–1700 from Oxford Libraries’ (Oxford: Bodleian Library, 1968), no. 126 (71) and plate 27. Here the binding is tentatively identified with John de Planche, a French binder working in London, and there are further references.


Origin: s. xiii ex. ; English

Provenance and Acquisition

‘III Secunda Pars Biblie Stephani De cranebroke de claustro Roffensis’ (s. xiv, written across the foot of fol. 238). A similar inscription at the foot of fol. 1 has been vigorously erased, ‘Biblia de cla [including a hole in the leaf due to erasure] nens’ Stephani de cranebrok’ Prima pars’. Ker, MLGB, 164, 297.

‘Liber Collegii Sancti Iohannis Baptistae Oxon’ Ex dono Reverendi in Christo Patris IOANNIS Episcopi Roffensis Anno Domini 1620’ (fol. 1). For John Buckeridge, former President of the college and bishop of Rochester, as a library benefactor, see Hunt 63, 66.

Record Sources

Ralph Hanna, A descriptive catalogue of the western medieval manuscripts of St. John's College, Oxford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)


For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact St John's College Library.

Funding of Cataloguing

Conversion of the printed catalogue to TEI funded by the Thompson Family Charitable Trust.

Last Substantive Revision

2020-11: First online publication

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