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

St John's College MS 35

Lactantius, Works


Language(s): Latin

1. Fol. 1rv:
Rubric: AUGUSTINUS De Lactancij Operibus
Incipit: De his libris dici potest aliquid eo habere eos non consonum
Explicit: qui postea a patre interfectus est

Discussions of reading erroneous texts and commendations (not all actually of Lactantius and, in some cases, stitched together from the cited authors with other materials), ascribed to AUGUSTINE and JEROME, in order versions of AUGUSTINE, Contra Faustum 11.5–6, (CPL 321), , ed. Joseph Zycha, CSEL 41 (1900), 320–2, ; epistola 142.2–3, (CPL 268), , ed. Al. Goldbacher, CSEL 44 (1904), 251–3;, JEROME, bits from epistolae 58.10, 62.2, (in fact, discussing Origen), and 70.5, (CPL 620), , ed. Isidore Hilberg, CSEL 54 (1910), 539, 583, 707, ; and De uiris inlustribus 80 (CPL 616), ed. Ernest Cushing Richardson, TU 14 (1896), 42–3.

2. Fols. 2–155:
Rubric: Firmiani LACTANCIJ Liber primus incipit
Incipit: Magno et excellenti ingenio Viri cum se doctrine penitus dedissent quotquid laboris
Explicit: premium virtutis quod ipse promisit a domino consequamur amen
Lactantius, Divinae institutiones

(CPL 85), ed. Samuel Brandt, CSEL 19 (1890), 1–672. The text originally lacked Brandt’s 23/13–29/4, 164/1–169/11, 283/13–291/3, 329/17–336/6, 622/21–628/1, 640/15–649/14, and 654/2–665/5, as a result of lost leaves; all of these have subsequently been supplied on modern vellum in a late seventeenth-century hand. The text is preceded (as is each book) by a list of chapters, fols. 1v–2.

Lactantius’ Greek quotations were apparently copied after the remainder of the text, into blank spaces left to accommodate them. For example, at fols. 40v–41, the scribe’s catchword to join the quires signals the head of the first Latin on the subsequent leaf and ignores the substantial Greek at the head of the page.

3. Fols. 156–70:
Rubric: [the running title] De Ira dei
Incipit: Animadverti saepe donate plurimos id existimare quod etiam nonnulla philosophorum
Explicit: propositum semper habeamus et nunquam vereamur iratum
Lactantius, De ira dei (CPL 88), ed. Samuel Brandt and Georg Laubmann, CSEL 27 (1893), 68–132, preceded (fol. 155v) by a list of chapters.
4. Fols. 171–84:
Rubric: [the running title] De Opificio dei
Incipit: Qvam minime Si inquietus eciam summis necessitatibus ex hoc libello poteris
Explicit: ab erroribus liberatos ad ute [sic for uite] celeste direxerit Dixi Finis est 1447
Lactantius, De opificio dei (CPL 87), ed. Brandt and Laubmann, 4–64, preceded (fol. 170v) by a list of chapters. On the basis of the colophon, the MS appears as Watson, DMO, no. 868 (146) and plate 453 (fol. 90v).
5. Fols. 184v–5:
Incipit: Que causa presentis operis et quod corpus est […]
A contents table (not to a text by Lactantius). Fol. 185 is a former pastedown, and the following stub has also been exposed to the leather of a binding.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: Nec propagacio (fol. 2)
Secundo Folio: decursus (fol. 3)
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (FSOS/FHHF).
Extent: Fols. iii + 185 + i (numbered fol. iv).
Dimensions (leaf): 320 × 235–40 mm.
Dimensions (written): 225 × 130 mm.


18(–8, a stub with catchword; +8, modern) 2–58 68(–2; +2, modern) 7–88 98(–7; +7, modern) 108(–6; +6, modern) 11–188 198(–2, –6, –8; +2, +6, +8, all modern) 208(–1; +1, modern) 21–228 2310(–10, a large stub). Catchwords in the gutters; eight of the quires have at least partial signatures. This system, in which all leaves in the first half of each quire were assigned a letter and a roman numeral, included the whole manuscript, and quires 5–22 = e–y. Exceptionally, quire 13 has two sets of signatures; in addition to N iij and N iiij fols. 99, 100), the first four leaves are signed a–d.


The entire leading edge of fol. 58 has been cut away.


In long lines, 39 lines to the page. No prickings; bounded and ruled in stylus.


Written in humanistic bookhand.


Headings in red.

Red and blue 7-line lombards at heads of texts and books (the guide letters on several occasions in anglicana).

Extensive marginal finding guides for subjects, in the hand of Robert Flemmyng (see Provenance), usually in a darker ink, in a hand similar to but more erect than that of the text (only sporadic examples, fols. 84–156).

Chapter numbers in the margins in this ink.

Running titles in text ink give book numbers or titles in the upper margin leading edge (none in fols. 76–156, 172–85).


Dark brown leather over millboards, s. xvi. Sewn on five thongs. Green ribbon ties in both boards (those in the upper board frayed and the top one almost gone) to close the book. A chain-staple impression in Watson’s position 6. ‘35’ inked on a paper lozenge at the head of the spine and in black ink on the leading edges, with the notation of contents ‘Lactantius manule’. Pastedowns modern paper. At the front, a modern paper flyleaf and two of medieval vellum; at the rear, a modern paper flyleaf (iv). Fol. ii has been a pastedown; both it and fol. iii are singles, their conjugate stubs visible following that of the original fol. 8. A College bookplate on fol. iiv.


Origin: 1447; with supply leaves, s. xvii ex. ; England? ; an English scribe in Italy?

Provenance and Acquisition

Perhaps copied, certainly annotated, by the Oxford scholar Robert Flemmyng, nephew of the founder of Lincoln College; for him, see BRUO 699–700 and A. C. de la Mare, Hunt Exhib, 22.5 (96–7), with further references and reproductions from our MS, figs. 67–9 (fols. 29, 95, 184). Although Flemmyng was certainly in Italy in 1447, the parchment and decoration are English.

The old shelfmark ‘Abac: ij. N. 61’ (fol. iiv).

‘Liber Collegij Sancti Ioannis Baptistæ Oxon’ ex dono D Doctoris Gwinne huius Collegii socij 1600’ (fol. 2, upper margin, faded).

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.


    Samuel Brandt and George Laubmann (eds.), L. Caeli Firmiani Lactanti Opera Omnia. Corpus Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 19 (1890).
    Samuel Brandt and George Laubmann (eds.), L. Caeli Firmiani Lactanti Opera Omnia. Corpus Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 27 (1893).
    Eligius Dekkers and Aemilius Gaar, Clavis patrum latinorum, 3rd edn. (Turnhout, 1995).
    A. B. Emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 vols. (Oxford. 1957–9).
    Al. Goldbacher (ed.), S. Aureli Augustini Operum Sectio II. S Augustini Epistulae. Corpus Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 44 (1904).
    Isidore Hilberg (ed.), Sancti Eusebii Hieronymi Epistulae Pars I: I–LXX. Corpus Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 54 (1910).
    A. C. de la Mare and B. C. Barker Benfield (eds.), Manuscripts at Oxford: An Exhibition in Memory of Richard William Hunt (1908–1979) (Oxford, 1980).
    Ernest C. Richardson (ed.), Hieronymus liber De viris inlustribus; Gennadius liber De viris inlustribus. Texte and Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 14, i (Leipzig, 1896).
    Andrew G. Watson, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval Manuscripts of All Souls College Oxford (Oxford, 1997).
    Andrew G. Watson, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts c.435–1600 in Oxford Libraries, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1984).
    Joseph Zycha(ed.), Sancti Aureli Augustini. Corpus Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 41 (1900).

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2022-04: First online publication

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