The Van Kampen Collection contains a number of thirteenth-century Latin manuscripts originating from Central and Western Europe. These have been chosen to provide examples of format and textual variants and to illustrate varieties of marginal annotations, rather than as examples of medieval art. Nevertheless, many of the manuscripts have art historical importance. These include the Morris/ Cockerell Vulgate, the Von Rosen and the Stephanus LeMans Bibles. Modern scholarship is demonstrating that there is greater variation to the Latin Vulgate text of the Middle Ages than has previously been recognized. Inevitably, these Latin manuscript families account for the variety of textual traditions present in the first Western European vernacular translations of the Bible. A primary motivation for collecting thirteenth-century Vulgate Bibles is to provide a textual foundation for the multiple vernacular versions of the fifteenth century. At the same time, Latin items from this period in the Collection exemplify issues pertaining to the rich textual tradition of the Latin Vulgate.

VK 643, Latin Glossed Epistolary, 12th century

The majority of the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Latin manuscripts in the Van Kampen Collection have their origins in France, the country pre-eminent in scribal production during this period. Three of the Collection's Vulgate manuscripts can be localized to England, on the basis of either script, early marginalia, provenance, or codicological detail. In addition to the witnesses to the Latin Vulgate proper, there is a representative of Peter Comester's Historia Scholastica and a miniature Psalter from the Norman Abbey of Jumiège. The Collection also includes a rare example of a Western vernacular biblical text from the fourteenth century-a German Psalter with a colophon dated 20 January, 1378.

VK 805, Latin Vulgate Bible, 13th century

A variety of Near Eastern and European books in Eastern languages date to this period as well. A fifteenth-century Hebrew Bible from Seville, Spain, exhibits the striking artistic arrangement of the Massorah in micrographic script. Other manuscripts in the collection from this period include medieval Aramaic Targum leaves, medieval portions of the Samaritan Pentateuch, Hebrew Torah and Haftorah scrolls, including a Pentateuch scroll from Kai-Feng-Fu, China, illuminated and non-illuminated Hebrew scrolls and codices, several Greek New Testaments and a Samaritan version of the Pentateuch.

NEXT: Fifteenth Century



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