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

St John's College MS 123

Vulgate Bible


Language(s): Latin

1. Fols. 1ra–539va:
Rubric: Incipit epistola IERONIMI presbiteri ad paulinum presbiterum de omnibus diuine historie libris
Incipit: Frater ambrosi tua michi munuscula perferens […]
Rubric: [fol. 4ra, the text] Incipit liber bresith id est geneseos |
Incipit: [fol. 4rb] In principio creauit deus celum et terram […]
Rubric: [fol. 443ra] Incipit prologus in libro Mathei euaungeliste
Incipit: Matheus sicut in ordine primus ponitur […]
Rubric: [fol. 443va] Incpit matheus
Incipit: Liber generationis ihesu cristi filij da dauid filij Abraham
Explicit: Venio cito amen Veni domine ihesu Gratia domini nostri ihesu cristi cum omnibus uobis Amen
The Vulgate Bible,

in Ker’s ‘usual order’ (MMBL 1:96–7). At the heads of books, rubrics have been corrected to the taste of a later user (s. xv med., secretary), with Hebrew titles and liturgical occasions noted. The MS includes both the Prayer of Manasses and 2/3 Ezra. In the New Testament, John is followed by Acts, the Catholic epistles, the Pauline epistles, and Apocalypse. 1 Thess. precedes Col. (the s. xv hand notes the appropriate text order, fol. 523ra).

The prologues for the Pauline epistles are only fragmentarily represented. The MS lacks Stegmüller, RB 699, to 2 Cor. (fol. 515rb), RB 707 to Gal. (fol. 518va), RB 715 to Eph. (fol. 520rb), RB 747 to 1 Thess. (fol. 523rb), RB 736 to Col. (fol. 524rb), RB 752 to 2 Thes. (fol. 525rb), RB 780 to Titus (fol. 528rb), and RB 793 to Hebrews (fol. 529ra).

Two prologues include additional material: Obadiah has a third prologue, Stegmüller, RB 516 (fol. 408ra); and Jonah a third prologue, RB 522 (fol. 408vb). And two prologues do not represent the standard set: Stegmüller, RB 670 introduces Romans, instead of 677 (fol. 505ra); and RB 834 heads the Apocalypse, instead of 839 (fol. 533ra).

2. Fols. 540ra–84va:
Incipit: Aaz apprehendens uel apprehensio Aad testificans uel testimonium
Explicit: Zvzim consiliantes eos uel consiliatores eorum
Final rubric: 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.

Flyleaf texts

a. Fol. iii:
an index of various biblical topics, running to twenty-six items,

below it other additions, s. xiv in.

b. Fol. iiiv:
Seven lines of verse,

‘nota versus supra libros biblie Genuit ex leui num deuto Ios Iudic ruth […] ’ ; cf. Walther, no. 7141, as well as nos. 5673, 7146, 18824.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: nec studiosior
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (FSOS/FHHF).
Extent: Fols. ii + 584 + ii (numbered fols. iii–iv).
Dimensions (leaf): 226 × 145 mm.


1–1524 1616 17–2324 2414 [then tentatively] 2510 2614 2714 ( –3, –4, the first a stub, and the flyleaf fol. iii appears pasted to it). One later catchword, under the inner column on fol. 424v; some fragmentary signatures, which suggest that all leaves to the centre opening in each quire were assigned roman numerals, occasionally letters (full sets, roman numerals in red, with letter signatures a and b in quires 12 and 13).

The first quire may have been a separate booklet. At the end of Genesis, most of fol. 24va and all of 24vb are blank. At the head of the next quire, fol. 25ra–va has a table for Exodus.


In double columns, each column 160 × 46 mm. , with 10 mm between columns, in 46 lines to the column. No prickings; bounded and ruled in black ink, brown ink, and brown crayon.


Written in gothic textura semiquadrata with decorative topline ascenders (the first fifty or so folios perhaps by a different scribe). Punctuation by point and occasional punctus elevatus.


At the head of Genesis (fol. 4rb) a full-column I with vine and leaf and animal and bird forms in orange, brown, and white on a blue ground.

At the heads of prologues and books, 5- to 8-line blue and violet champes with bar extenders, vine interlace, and shapes similar to those in the large initial.

At chapter heads, alternating 2-line blue and red lombards on flourishing of the other colour.

Red chapter numbers or spelled-out numbers (in a few places, alternating red and blue roman numerals).

Red-slashed capitals to divide text.

Running titles for books in alternate red and blue lombards.

Ten historiated initials, generally 8 lines, except as indicated:

Fol. 1ra: Jerome visited by the Holy Spirit while writing (seven lines);

Fol. 56ra (Numbers): the horned Moses before the Jews (12 lines);

Fol. 146ra (3 Reg.): David in his bed with three watchers;

Fol. 188vb (2 Par.): Solomon enthroned with sceptre;

Fol. 210ra (Nehemiah): two men shaving the hair of an apostate Jew kneeling and bound to a pillar (?);

Fol. 223ra: the blinding of Tobit;

Fol. 227rb: Judith beheading Holofernes;

Fol. 239va: Job on the dunghill with the three comforters;

Fol. 250rb (Psalms): David harping;

Fol. 279ra (Proverbs): Solomon enthroned with his sceptre teaching a boy from a book.

See AT, no. 685 (68).


Brown leather over wood, s. xvi, with rolls and stamps; rebacked, probably s. xviii or xix. The rolls are of oldham’s type HM.g, although not apparently identical to any of the examples illustrated. Sewn on four thongs. Marks left from earlier straps and clasps (the clasp seatings in the lower board fairly recently repaired); inside the front cover, verdigris stains and holes from a chain-staple in Watson’s position 6. Pastedowns of modern paper over earlier cloth. On the front pastedown a paper declaration of gift (see Provenance). At the front, two paper flyleaves; at the rear, a medieval vellum flyleaf and a modern paper one (iii–iv).


Origin: s. xiii2 ; France

Provenance and Acquisition

A shield, azure, three birds or (two above, one beneath), on a bed of leaves in argent and gules, presumably the arms of the donor; below, a motto on golden ribbon ‘Vertu est la vray ⟨ho?⟩nevr’; below this the inscription: ‘This Manuscript of the old and New Testament is presented wth all Pleasure and Humility to be deposited in perpetuity in the Library of Saint Johns College Oxford by me Charles Margas London October 20th 1729’ (the front pastedown). Fol. ii records the MS as belonging to St John’s on 1 November 1729.

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.


    J. J. G. Alexander and Elźbieta Temple, Illuminated Manuscripts in Oxford College Libraries, the University Archives and the Taylor Institution (Oxford, 1985).
    N. R. Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries. 4 vols. (Oxford, 1969–92).
    J. Basil Oldham, English Blind-Stamped Bindings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952).
    Richard Sharpe, A Handlist of the Latin Writers of Great Britain and Ireland before 1540. Publications of the Journal of Medieval Latin 1 (Turnhout, 1997).
    Friederich Stegmüller, Repertorium Biblicum Medii Aevi, 11 vols. (Madrid, 1950–80).
    Hans Walther, Initia carminum ac versuum Medii Aevi posterioris Latinorum, 2nd edn (Göttingen, 1969).
    Andrew G. Watson, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Medieval Manuscripts of All Souls College Oxford (Oxford, 1997).

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2022-11: First online publication

See the Availability section of this record for information on viewing the item in a reading room.