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

MS. Lyell empt. 9

Ambrosiaster; Ambrose, letters, etc.


Language(s): Latin

Ambrosiaster, Commentaries on the Epistles of St. Paul
(fol. 1ra)
Rubric: Incipit tractatus sancti Ambrosii episcopi in epistolas beati Pauli apostoli
Incipit: Ut rerum noticia habeatur plenior
Explicit: (fol. 1 recto b) doceat sic incipit
(fol. 1 recto b)
Rubric: Incipit explanacio epistole ad Romanos
Incipit: ‘Paulus servus Ihesu Christi.’ Apud veteres nostros racione
Explicit: (fol. 30vb) ad consummacionem seculi. Amen.
Final rubric: Explicit tractatus sancti Ambrosii Episcopi in Epistolam beati Pauli apostoli ad Romanos deo gratias.

Ed. H. J. Vogels, C.S.E.L. lxxxi, 1, 1966. Our MS. belongs to a first type of the second recension of the commentary on Romans and is the only known surviving MS. of the second recension to contain the complete commentary on all the Pauline epistles (Vogels, ed. cit., p. xl. He describes our MS. on p. xlii).

b. (fols. 30vb–69ra)
Commentary on I and II Corinthians

Pr. PL 17 col. 183–338.

Vogels says that our MS. is unusual among MSS. of the second recension in having the genuine ending of I Cor. and beginning of II Cor. and the genuine preface to II Cor.

Incipit: (fol. 53r) Sciens sanctus apostolus Paulus profecisse epistolam
Explicit: sic scribit ad eos

Pr. A. Souter, Journal of Theol. Studies 4 (1902–3), 90).

It is also the only known MS. to have an interpolation to I Cor. vi. 18 taken from Eugippius, (fol. 38rb): ‘quia cetera peccata … concupiscende[sic] carnalis’, which is found in all the early editions. The text of the commentary is apparently a mixed version, based on recension ‘a’ but with lacunae supplied from ‘y’. (Vogels, ed. cit. pp. xliii, xlv, xlvi).

Commentaries on the remaining Epistles
(fol. 69r)
(fol. 78v)
(fol. 87r)
(fol. 91v)
I and II Thessalonians
(fol. 97r)
(fol. 102v)
I and II Timothy
(fol. 112v)
(fol. 114r)
Explicit: (fol. 114vb) confirmantis epistolam missam.
Final rubric: Explicit sancci Ambrosii episcopi tractatus in epistolas beati Pauli apostoli. Excepta ad hebreos.

Pr. PL 17 col. 337–508.

Vogels, ed. cit., p. xix, notes the dose textual connections of our MS. with the editio princeps of Ambrosiaster in vol. il of the works of Ambrose, ed. Amorbach, Basle, 1492.

2. (fol. 119r)
Ambrose, Letters

Pr. PL 16. 82 numbered items beginning with Ep. 7, and ending fol. 177rb with Ep. 22 (on Sts. Gervasius and Prothasius) written as two items (nos. 81–2). Ep. 37 (with letter of Calanus to Alexander), 56 (with De Bonoso episcopo) and 17 (with Relado Symmachi prefecti) are also written as two items each. The letters are followed (fol. 177rb–178ra) by an alphabetical index of correspondents. Nos. 1–80 are in the same order as the series in MS. Vat. Lat. 264, 11th–12th cent., fol. 231–95, including (no. 80) ‘De morte Theodosii imperatoris’ (PL 16 col. 1385–1406). Most of fol. 178 has been cut away.


Items added by the contemporary hand b filling leaves left blank in the last quire of Ambrosiaster:

a. (fol. 115r)
Ps.-Ambrose, De dignitate sacerdotali
Rubric: Sermo sancti Ambrosii Mediolanensis episcopi de pastorali dignitate
Incipit: Si quis fratres oraculi reminiscitur domini
Explicit: (fol. 116va) in regna seculorum dare promisisti. Amen.
Final rubric: Explicit sermo ^opusculum^ sancti Ambrosii episcopi qui pastoralis dicitur.

Pr. PL 17 col. 567–80; cf. ibid. 139 col. 169–78. Clavis Pat. Lat., no. 171a.

b. (fol. 116vb)
Rubric: Passio sanctorum martirum ab invencio Gervasii et Prothasii
Incipit: Ambrosius servus Christi fratribus per omnem Italiam … In divinis voluminibus reus subscribitur
Explicit: (fol. 117rb) sepelivi, credens me orationibus eorum consequi misericordiam d.n.J.C. qui …

B.H.L., 3514. Clavis Pat. Lat., no. 2195.

c. (fol. 117va)
Rubric: Altercacio sancti Ambrosii contra eos qui animam non confitentur esse facturam
Incipit: Sic enim dicit deus. A me exiit spiritus
Explicit: (fol. 117vb) corporibus figuratis.

Ed. C. P. Caspari, Kirchenhistorische Anecdota I, 1883, pp. 227–9; PL, Suppl. 1,1958, col. 611. See Clavis Pat. Lat., no. 170.

d. (fol. 118ra)
Pseudo Jerome, Epistulae 33
Rubric: Incipit Ambrosii epistola ad hominem qui se dicit penitentem et in seculo conversatur
Incipit: Ad te surgo hominem
Explicit: (fol. 118va) et peccatores in ignem eternum.

Pr. PL 30 col. 242–5. Ps.-Jerome Ep. 33. Probably by Pelagius: see Clavis Pat. Lat., no. 743. The rest of fol. 118v is blank.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: i + 180 leaves (fol. 159 is double, fol. i, 179 are flyleaves),
Dimensions (leaf): 345 × 240 mm.


1¹⁰ (1 canc. and replaced by original scribe in style of hand he used towards the end of Ambrosiaster), 2¹⁰–11¹⁰, 12⁸, 13¹⁰–18¹⁰, 1 leaf forming bifolium with pastedown; catchwords, the first scribe uses quire signatures a–m, a–c for quires 1–15;
Secundo Folio: adiecit gratiam


c. 249–53 × 177 mm. ): 2 cols., 54–5 lines ruled with a hard point


Written in Germany in the mid–15th cent, in skilful hybrid script apparently by three scribes:

fol. 1–114v and 119–148v;

fol. 115–118v;

fol. 149–78.


Decorated initials and border on fol. 1r. Decorated initials, initials with penwork, simple red and blue initials. (Pächt and Alexander i. 163, pl. XII)

On fol. 1 the first initial is in blue and gold infilled with flowers and foliage drawn in red and purple ink, with a background in green and blue. A gold bar border, ending in a blue floral spray and with purple pen decoration touched in green and blue, extends in the left-hand border. The second initial is in blue and red flourished in purple and red with a red bar border ending in an elaborate scrolling of flowers in red and blue. On fol. 87 is a painted initial in blue, scrolled in white and outlined in orange and red-brown, infilled with a spray of flowers in yellow and white on a divided orange and deep-red ground.

Other large initials are in red and blue, flourished in red and blue, or purple, sometimes with red bar borders. The initial on fol. 102v is infilled with flowers drawn in pen, partly washed in yellow and outlined in green. Smaller initials are in red and blue. Paragraph marks, also in red or blue, are often extended into the margins to form grotesques, etc.: e.g. fol. 28v, 39v, 40v, 74v, no, 113 and on fol. 59 and 56v flowers have been drawn independently. Pächt-Alexander i, no. 163 and Pl. xii (fol. 1, much reduced).


Original binding in wooden boards covered with white suede, squares projecting, original sewing, head and tail band sewn through the spine; coloured parchment knobs used as place-finders.


Origin: 15th century, middle ; German

Provenance and Acquisition

On the front pastedown is a 15th-cent. list of contents preceded by the number ‘A. 46’ and a line of text ex-libris which has been cut out. There is an erasure at the top of fol. 1, and three labels have been removed from the spine.

From the library of the Carthusians of St. Barbara, Cologne, identifiable as no. O.39 in the catalogue of 1748: see K. Löffler, Kölnische Bibliotheksgeschichte in Umriss, Cologne, 1923, pp. 7–8, 73 n. 265.

Later belonged to Leander van Ess of Darmstadt: no. 133 in his sale catalogue of 1823.

Bought 1824 by Sir Thomas Phillipps: MS. Phillipps 518 (erased from lower comer of fol. 1r): lot 16 in Phillipps sale, Sotheby’s 24–8 April 1911.

Bernard Quaritch, Cat. 321, December 1912, no. 144 with plate of fol. 1. Bought from them by Wilfred Merton (see accompanying letter).

Acquired by Lyell as an exchange in July 1944 from Davis and Orioli.

Record Sources

Description adapted from A. de la Mare, Catalogue of the Medieval Manuscripts Bequeathed to the Bodleian Library Oxford by James P. R. Lyell (1971); with additions by Andrew Dunning.

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)
Digital Bodleian (1 image from 35mm slides)


Last Substantive Revision

2020-12-16: Andrew Dunning Revised from description by Albinia de la Mare.