The Handlist by General Description

In the catalogues there are several manuscripts the contents of which are given simply a general description, such as ‘libri sapientales’ – a favorite in the old catalogues of several of the public libraries in France. (In the Handlist we have expanded this description to specify the five ‘books of wisdom’ as: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticum Canticorum, Sapientia and Ecclesiasticus.) But there are several other such general descriptions used in the catalogues that make it almost impossible to know the precise contents of the manuscripts. For example, in the catalogue entry for Olomouc, Vedecka Knihovna  MS 150, one finds the description: “New Testament with gloss.” In the sequence of manuscripts in the catalogue of the Sorbonne Collection of the Bibliothèque nationale de France there are four such general descriptions:

 MSS 15480-15487 are described as containing “various books of the Pentateuch with gloss”;

MSS 15488-15491, “various historical books with gloss”;

MSS 15509-15519: “various books of the Prophets with gloss”; and

MSS 15522-15545: “Gospels or parts of Gospels with gloss.”

Entries for these manuscripts in the Handlist by Location will include the shelfmark, an indication of contents (Pent/Hist/Proph/NT/Evv), and a note giving the general description in the catalogue. Entries in the Handlist by Book will provide the same information for each book included in the general description. So, e.g., entries for BnF MSS 15480-15487 will be found under Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This does not imply that the manuscripts contain the entire Pentateuch, but rather that they contain portions of the Pentateuch – likely one, two or three of the five books. A precise determination would only be possible with a physical examination of the manuscript.

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