(Perhaps France: mid-12th century). Each leaf measures approximately 370 x 240 mm. (14 1/2 x 9 1/2"). Double column, 32 lines in a fine proto-gothic hand.

See: Thompson, "An Introduction to Greek and Latin Paleography," p. 436. Recovered from a binding and thus with one side of each leaf somewhat browned, soiled and with a few creases, one leaf with several small blotches of red paint in the text (not affecting overall legibility), one corner of each leaf torn away, affecting running title and one to two lines of text, other trivial defects, but still very nice specimens with clear and legible script, and one side of each leaf quite clean and well preserved.

Once part of a large and elegant Romanesque Bible, these leaves are excellent examples of a high quality proto-gothic book hand. Sometimes referred to as "praegothica" or "late Caroline," the proto-gothic script is characterized by letterforms that are more or less unchanged from Caroline minuscule, but with a number of traits starting to show elements of gothic script--most notably the addition of feet (appearing here as an upward flick of the pen) on the bottom of minims, but also including the use of more abbreviations, the fusion of certain letter combinations, a more elongated "o," and a straight-backed "a." Whatever the level of its evolution, the script here has very pleasing rounded letterforms that are highly legible and generously spaced. Though the vellum is not unmarred by its former life as binding material, the script here has not lost any of its beauty, revealing a hand that is practiced, regular, and distinctly pleasing to the eye. As Thompson notes, "In the twelfth century the scribes seem to have vied with each other in producing the best types of book-writing of which they were capable, with the result that remarkable precision in the formation of the letter was attained, and that the century may be named as excelling all others for the beauty of its MSS." Our leaves come from Deuteronomy, the Old Testament book consisting primarily of three sermons made by Moses just before entering the Promised Land. One leaf contains brief summaries of chapters 2-18 (with some chapters numbered in the margins), while the other leaf contains part of the first of Moses' speeches, in which he recalls the Israelites' 40-year journey through the wilderness.

Keywords: Bible