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

St John's College MS 7

Wycliffite Old Testament


Language(s): Middle English

Fols. 1ra–266vb
Rubric: Here bigynneþ playnly þe text of þe [later] of þe byble in english genesis Capitulum primum
Incipit: In þe begynnynge god made of nouȝt heuene & erth
Explicit: couenable eþer plesinge þerfor here it shal be endid
Final rubric: Here endiþ þe secunde book of machabeus; and ||
The Wycliffite Old Testament, later version (IPMEP 119), ed. Josiah Forshall and Frederic Madden, The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, 4 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1850), vols. 1–3, where our copy is partially collated as ‘N’ (and briefly described, 1: p. liii). The editors state (1: p. xxxv) that the text is closely related to that of BodL, MS Bodley 277; and Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 147. The books are in the usual order, but Psalms is omitted (at fol. 156vb). There are only two prologues: the general prologue to the prophets preceding Isaiah (fol. 183va, edn. 3:225–6) and that to Baruch (fol. 216vb, edn. 3:484). Occasional marginal gloss materials, boxed in red, appear, e.g. to 3 Reg. 4:22, ‘chorus conteyneþ þritti boishels’ (fol. 96va, edn. 2:172); or to Job 4:10, ‘a glos Bi þe lyoun he vndirstondiþ ioob bi þe lionesse & tigris he vndirstondiþ his wiif bi þe teeþ of lyouns he vndirstondiþ hise sones’ (fol. 150va, edn. 2:678).

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: -dride lamech
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (FSOS/FHHF).
Extent: Fols. i + 266 + i (numbered fol. ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 385 × 265 mm.


1–198 204 [fol. 156, a production break] | 21–338 346. Catchwords in the inner column at the edge of the gutter, many boxed in black or red ink (perhaps later). Originally all leaves in first half of each quire signed with a roman leaf number and an arabic quire number, most now cut away. Enough remain to indicate that the present first quire was originally ‘3’ and that between original quire ‘20’ (now 18) and original quire ‘28’ (now 23) three further quires are missing. The final four quires, with unusually complete signatures, are ‘36’–‘39’.

In quire 25 (fols. 189–96), the second sheet, the original leaves 2 + 7, has been misbound as the central bifolium (fols. 192 + 193). Elaborate signes de renvoi at the feet of versos direct the reader to the proper text order.

The book, as it now stands, was produced as two booklets, with the break at the short 20th quire ending at fol. 156. But the signatures imply that two additional booklets associated with the production are now lost: the first, two quires at the head, probably included the so-called ‘General Prologue’ (to Old Testament historical books); the second, three quires, which, in spite of a catchword in rubricator’s red joining the end of Job with the next text, Proverbs, would have provided the Psalter. In addition, the concluding rubric to Maccabees is incomplete (and may have an erasure at the end), and it is possible that a further booklet with New Testament materials followed.


The first and final leaves are very worn.


In double columns, each column 290 × 88 mm. , with 16 mm between columns, in 61 lines to the column. No prickings; bounded and ruled in pencil.


Written in gothic textura semiquadrata. Punctuation by point, punctus elevatus, and virgula. Occasional corrections in red and text ink.


Headings in red.

At book heads, 6-line red and blue lombards with flourishing of the same, including marginal extensions (for Genesis, the flourish and sprays are extended into a demivinet).

Less ornate 3-line blue lombards on red flourishing for chapters, their numbers within the column in red.

Some chapters broken by red and blue paraphs (following rubricated instructions for them in margin ‘/ /’).

Running titles in red preceded by a blue paraph give book title and chapter number.


A modern replacement. Sewn on six thongs. At the front and rear, single marbled paper flyleaves (the rear ii).


Origin: s. xv in. ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

‘Robert’ (fol. 47, lower margin); more fully, ‘Robert Huys’ (fol. 79, in the same position, s. xv/xvi).

‘The translation of the Bible in Englishe by Master Iohn Wicklife in the time of King Edward the third [a short further line erased]' (s. xvii, fol. 1).

‘Liber Collegij Sanctj Iohannis Baptistae Oxon’ ex dono Humphredi Haggat Convictoris Anno⟨ ⟩ MDCXXo Mal. VIo Idmem?’ (fol. 1, right margin).

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.


    Josiah Forshall and Frederic Madden (eds.), The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, in the earliest English versions, made from the Latin Vulgate by John Wycliffe and his followers, 4 vols. (Oxford, 1850).
    R. E. Lewis, N. F. Blake, and A. S. G. Edwards, Index of Printed Middle English Prose (New York, 1985).

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2021-06: First online publication

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