Core Curriculum : Literature Humanities

Bibles > Manuscript

Hebrew Bible. Numbers 27:2- 29:2

Torah. Numbers 27:2-29:2

Columbia RBML X893 B4796

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A fragment of the book of Numbers with vowelization, accent, Masorah Gedolah (Masorah Magna) and Masorah Ketanah (Masorah Parva). Manuscript written in the 14th century C.E. in Sefaradic square script. From the Cairo genizah.




Bible, UTS MS 047, opening page

Bible. Latin

Columbia University Burke Library (at Union Theological Seminary) UTS MS 047, f. 1

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The thirteenth century brought into being a bible that is essentially the one we read today: canonicity of books of the bible was established (and the non-canonical books removed); the order of the biblical books acquired the arrangement we're familiar with; the books were divided into the chapter divisions that we still use. In one significant aspect, these bibles differ from ours: they contain some 64 prologues usually by Church Fathers to the various textual divisions.

As a group, these bibles are physically significant as well:  small, thick, with tiny script, in order to compress the entire text of the bible into one volume.  This manuscript has 530 leaves (which is to say 1060 pages!), in a book measuring only 7 and ½ inches in height, and less than 5 inches in width; in that small space, the text is copied out in 2 columns of 49 lines per page.

The image doesn't show what we think of as the beginning of the bible, "In principio creavit Deus caelum et terram," "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).  Instead it begins with a prologue, Jerome's letter to Paulinus, "Frater Ambrosius . . . " with a large red, blue and green F stretching the length of the written space.


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