BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
Beinecke MS 125 England, s. XIV/XV
Wycliffite New Testament
ff. 1r-97v //locustis and hony of the wode thanne ierusalem
wente out to him and al Iude and al the cuntre aboute iordan...the
grace of oure lord ouer aboundid with feith and loue that is in crist
ihesu a trewe word//
Begins imperfectly in Matthew 3.4 and breaks off at 1 Timothy
1.15; also missing Romans 9.22 to 1 Corinthians 1.23 (2 bifolios lost
after f. 73). Contains the Gospels without prologues, and the Epistles
with prologues. The text has been altered in places by a nearly
contemporary hand that has written over erasures. Since the alterations
correspond to those adopted in the later edition of John Purvey, MS 125
may reflect an intermediate stage between the Wycliffite Bible and
Purvey's version. See J. Forshall and F. Madden, eds., The Holy
Bible...by John Wycliffe and His Followers (Oxford, 1850) v. 1: MS W,
no. 168, p. lxiv (the editors comment that "the scribe not infrequently
makes gross errors") and v. 3: text; C. Lindberg, "The Manuscripts and
Versions of the Wycliffite Bible," Studia neophilologica 42 (1970) p.
Parchment (thick, furry), ff. i (paper) + 97 + i (paper), 284 x
180 (222 x 132) mm. Written in 2 columns of 49 lines; double outer and
single inner vertical bounding lines; usually double or single upper
and lower horizontal bounding lines, full across; additional pair of
lines in upper (for running titles) and lower margins. All rulings in
ink; some have smeared.
I^^8 (-1), II-IX^^8, X^^8 (-3 through 6), XI^^8, XII^^6, XIII-XIV^^4.
Structure of final 14 leaves is uncertain due to binding repairs.
Catchwords between horizontal lines in lower margin, under inner
column. Remains of original leaf signatures on ff. 40r and 41r: the
letter f with i and ij below.
Written in a neat gothic bookhand by a single scribe who carefully
corrected his errors; changes by at least one nearly contemporary and one
Blue initials, 10- to 4-line, with extensive penwork designs in
red, introduce each chapter. Headings, running titles, and underlining
in red; paragraph marks in red or blue.
Bookblock chewed by rodent in upper right corner; margins of many
leaves trimmed resulting in some loss of text, marginalia, and
Binding: s. xviii. Red spattered edges. Brown leather, flesh side
out, blind-tooled. A black calf spine, gold-tooled, added.
Written in England ca. 1400, the codex bears evidence of much use.
Signature of William Massey (Quaker scholar born in 1691?) on f. 94v
and 7r (effaced). Notes of the typographical historian William Herbert
(1718-95) on front pastedown: "W. Herbert 17th March 1766" and "Besides
the above Testimony, I have examined it by W. Lewis's compleat History
of the several Translations of the Holy Bible and New Testament into
English, and find it agree [later addition: nearly] with his Quotations
against which I have put a [drawing of a hand] in the Margin." Belonged
to the antiquary Richard Gough (1735-1809) at whose sale (April 1810)
the codex was purchased by the Rev. H. H. Baber (1775-1869). Acquired
from Thorpe in 1836 by Sir Thomas Phillipps (nos. 7220 and 9302; tags
on spine, inscription on f. 1r and inside front cover); sold (London,
28 June 1938, no. 455) to Robinson's. Purchased by Henry Fletcher; his
gift to Yale in 1944.
Bibliography: Faye and Bond, p. 32, no. 125.
Exhibition Catalogue, pp. 216-17, no. 42.
R. J. Menner, "A Manuscript of the First Wycliffite Translation of
the Bible," Gazette 19 (1945) pp. 37-44, with pl. of f. 69r.
Barbara A. Shailor