Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > Theology & Religion > 121. Anthology of Church Dogma

121.  Anthology of Church Dogma. Southern France, second third of the 9th century. Manuscript on parchment, 113 leaves. RBML, Plimpton MS 58

This codex is composed of some twenty pieces of text, as if it were the casual compilation of an owner-scribe, copying out passages of beauty or interest. Scholars suggest, however, that the volume constitutes an intentionally formed sequence, since six other manuscripts, all of the 9th century, repeat the same series of texts. One text draws our attention: it is an extract of a letter written ca. 798 by Alcuin to the future emperor, Charlemagne. It ends, in the anthologies but in no other copies, with the wish that the recipient's power grow and prosper. Was the compiler of the anthology a member of Charlemagne's court circle? Following straight on after the pious closing of the letter is an astronomical observation on the movement of the planet Mars during the summer of 798. The wish and the astronomy were copied as a unit, in alternating lines of red and black.

Gift of George Arthur Plimpton, 1936

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