The Work at Hand

The focus of this website is a handlist of manuscripts of the medieval Glossa Ordinaria on the Bible drawn from printed and digital resources. As it stands, the handlist contains well over 2500 manuscripts.

This  project had its beginnings in the 1990s with the  independent researches of Professor Karlfried Froehlich of Princeton Theological Seminary and Dr. Mark Zier (Mediaeval Studies License, PIMS; Ph.D., University of Toronto). The two scholars have returned to the project and combined their work for this website.  There are three major elements to this project: 1: A listing of the libraries consulted; 2: An inventory of manuscripts listed alphabetically by present location; and 3: An inventory of manuscripts listed by biblical book in the sequence outlined by Friedrich Stegmüller in his Repertorium Biblicum Medii Aevi, vol. IX (Madrid, 1977, pp. 465-567).

Our Handlist parallels the PDF file Codices Glossae in apparatibus allegati (GLOSSEM) which is a part of the Glossae Scripturae Sacrae electronicae (Gloss-e), a project of the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes/ Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, directed by Martin Morard. The GLOSSEM file contains not just manuscripts of the Glossa Ordinaria, but also manuscripts of similar works from the Carolingian period through the Late Middle Ages. In a way GLOSSEM serves as the first stage of the Gloss-e project that also includes an electronic (and ‘enriched’) edition of the first printed edition of the Glossa Ordinaria (Adolf Rusch of Strasbourg, 1480/81), a new electronic edition of the Catena Aurea of Thomas Aquinas, and a digitized copy of the eighteenth century edition of the Postilla of Hugh of St. Cher. While there is some overlap between the two inventories, it would be worth the time to consult both in pursuing research on the Glossa Ordinaria.

The present Handlist follows the convention used in the GLOSSEM of adding leading zeros in manuscript shelfmark numbers. These extra zeros allow for the total number of manuscripts in a particular collection to be presented easily in numerical sequence – a feature that will be useful in our modern electronic world. It is particularly helpful in dealing with large collections like those of Paris, Vienna, or the Vatican, where the shelfmark numbers can run to the tens of thousands.

The Gloss on the Psalms and on the Letters of Paul present special challenges. Both were expanded in the works first of Gilbert of Poitiers (media glossatura) and then of Peter the Lombard (magna glossatura). GLOSSEM includes extensive lists of the manuscripts of these two expanded glosses and provides labels as a quick way to understand the place of the manuscript in the development of the tradition. These labels include: ‘parva’ – the Gloss of Anselm of Laon or his school; ‘ordinaria’ – the Gloss begun in Laon and completed and standardized in the context of the schools at the end of the twelfth century; ‘media’ – the Gloss of Gilbert of Poitiers; and ‘magna’ – the Gloss of Peter the Lombard. In addition, GLOSSEM also uses ‘prisca’ (a ‘proto’ version of the gloss), and, with respect to the Psalms [Psalterium], ‘glossatum,’ refering to a text glossed with glosses other than those found in the ordinaria. For more on these labels click here. As an aid to the researcher, the manuscripts in the present Handlist that also appear in the GLOSSEM inventory with these designations have been given the same designation in the ‘Notes’ column. It goes without saying that neither GLOSSEM nor the present Handlist pretends to be exhaustive. Both continue to be works in progress.

We hope that those who use this website will be quick to notify us of any corrections or additions that need to be made. Email can be sent to:


We wish to thank the following for their assistance in this endeavor: Mrs. Chris Barker, Assistant Keeper (Old Library) and Deputy Librarian (Quincentenary Library), Jesus College Cambridge; Dr. Jenny Bonnevier, Specialsamlingar, Universitetsbiblioteket, Lund; Dr. Rosemary Firman, Librarian, Hereford Cathedral; Dr. Alfredo Rodríguez González, Technician, Capitular Archive and Cathedral Library, Toledo; Štěpán Kohout, Zemský archiv v Opavě, pobočka Olomouc; Dr. Kerstin Losert, Leiterin der Handschriftenabteilung, Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart; Dr. Thirza Mulder, Archivist, Armagh Robinson Library; Prof. William Schipper, Memorial University of Newfoundland; Dr. David Speranzi, Librarian, Head of the Manuscripts, Rare Books and Special Collections Department, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze.

Finally, Dr. Zier wishes to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for the financial support he received in the earliest stages of this work.

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