Alcuin's Vulgate Bible


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Alcuin's Vulgate Bible - 9th century.

We have evidence of several copies having been made under Alcuin's own direction during the short remainder of his life, and, although none of these has actually come down to us, we yet possess several manuscripts which contain Alcuin's text more or less perfectly preserved. The best of these is the Codex Vallicellianus, containing the whole Bible, now in the library of the Oratory adjoining the Church of Sta. Maria in Vallicella, at Rome, but written at Tours in the ninth century, probably in or soon after the lifetime of Alcuin. Another fine copy (Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 10546, sometimes known as the Bible of Charlemagne), likewise containing the whole Bible, may be seen in one of the showcases in the British Museum, and of this a reproduction is given in Plate XXVII. It is an excellent specimen of the style of writing introduced in France during the reign of Charlemagne, the special headquarters of which was the school of Tours, over which Alcuin presided. It marked a new departure in the history of Latin writing, and it was this style of writing that indirectly formed the model from which our modern printed types are taken. The MS. in question is written in double columns on a page measuring 20 by 14.5 inches. Here only part of one column can be shown (and that much reduced in scale), containing 1 John iv.16-v.10, and it will be seen that the famous interpolation in verse 8 relating to the Three Witnesses is here absent. [This is folio 407r of the British Library Alcuin Bible. Verses 8-11 are the first paragraph on the page.] As stated in the Variorum Bible, this text is found in no Greek manuscript, with the exception of two, in which it is manifestly inserted from the Latin. It is a purely Latin interpolation, though one of early origin, and it finds no place in Alcuin's corrected Vulgate. There the text runs,

"For there are three that bear witness, the spirit, the water, and the blood; and the three are one."

Description from 'Our Bible & the Ancient Manuscripts' by Sir Frederick Kenyon (1895 - 4th Ed. 1939) Page 187.
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