Lupton, J.M., Q. Septimi Florentis Tertulliani : De Baptismo : edited with an introduction and notes, Cambridge University Press, 1908
An excerpt: pages xxxiv-xxxvii.


These notes on the Codex Masburensis seem to be the only portion of this edition which may still be of importance. The footnotes have been renumbered - the original ones were per page. Note that the discovery of the Codex Trecensis in 1916 provided us for the first time with a MS of the De Baptismo, and that this edition precedes that discovery.


§ 7. Text and Editions.

The de Baptismo is one of those treatises of Tertullian of which no MS is now known to exist. The text depends, therefore, upon the earliest printed editions and the labours of subsequent scholars. The de Baptismo rests primarily on the three following:

(1) Martin Mesnart, Paris, 1545.

‘Haec uero sequentia opuscula nunc primum edtintur in lucem beneficio Joannis Gangneii1 Parisini theologi et Christianissimi Galliarum Regis primi eleemosynarii, ex uetustissitno codice2 desumpta.’

(2) Sigismund Gelenius, Bāle, 1550.

In the preparation of this edition, Gelenius says that he had the advantage of a ‘liber longe incorruptissimus, ex coenobio ultimae Britanniae Masburensi petitus,’ which was lent to him by John Leland the antiquary (see below).

(3) Jacobus Pamelius, Paris, 1579.

Important from the use made of a MS belonging to John Clement, which has since disappeared. It. does not, however, seem to have contained the de Baptismo. In preparing this edition I have in the main followed the text of the Vienna Corpus Scriptorum Eccl. Latinorum, in which series Pt 1 of Tertullian appeared in 1880 under the editorship of A. Reifferscheid and G. Wissowa, and I have recorded in the commentary the suggestions of W. von Hartel, Klussmann, Kroymann, Gompertz, and J. van der Vliet, besides making a few suggestions of my own. Pt III of the Vienna edition appeared in 1906, with Kroymann as editor. His Introduction is valuable.

Oehler's work, of which I have used the edition in 3 vols. Leipzig, 1853, is indispensable to the student, and I gladly acknowledge my indebtedness to it. It is not entirely satisfactory. The Index is defective, and many of the references are wrong, and it not seldom happens that more information is found in a note upon which one has lit by accident, than by turning up all the examples referred to in the Index.

Dodgson's3 translation, published in the Library of the Fathers, Oxford, 1854, is deserving of praise. If I have mentioned it sometimes only to differ, I would here record my gratitude to it, and not least for its valuable notes.

If any reader of Tertullian can discover the MS which John Leland lent to Gelenius, he will render a service to students of our author. It is not certain to what ‘coenobium Masburense ex ultima Britannia’ refers. Prebendary Wordsworth has suggested to me that it might possibly be Mexborough4, near Rotherham, in Yorkshire (but there is not known to have been a coenobium there), or Meux Abbey, near Beverley (for which, however, the usual Latin is Melsa). I have long wondered whether it might not be our Wiltshire Malmesbury, which, however, Leland generally calls Meldunum, This had a large and ancient library, and such a book as Tertullian de Baptismo may well have been in it. Dr M. R. James, the Provost of King's, tells me that I may consider this conjecture practically certain. He has been kind enough to look into the matter, and his reasons for thinking so may be thus summarized :

( 1) Leland visited Malmesbury, and has left5 a list of the books which he saw there : the last but one is Tertullianus.

(2) Tertullian was an author rarely found in England.

(3) William of Malmesbury had read the Apology, and further research may show that he knew the de Baptismo also.

As regards the form of the name, Dr James thinks that Leland, when writing to a foreigner, may have substituted for the Meldunum of his elegant style a form nearer the English- coenobium Malmesburiense. Gelenius, not being familiar with our English place names6, may have got this into Mamsburiense and then Masbur(i)ense. Whether Leland had any business to lend such a treasure to the scholar at Bāle7, whether Gelenius ever returned it8, whether it may still be found among the collections of that pleasant town which has rendered so many services to the cause of learning, or whether it has suffered at the hands of the butterman the fate of so many other MSS, are questions on which at present I can throw no light.


1. Joh. Gagny, or Gainy, Almoner of Francis I and Chancellor of the University of Paris, died in 1549. The name of Martin Mesnart is contained in an acrostich.

2. ‘Wie die genaue Vergleichung lehrt, war wahrscheinlich eine der von dem Herausgeber benutzten HSten zwar mit dem Agobardus verwandt, aber nicht mit ihm identisch’ Harnack, Gesch. d. altchr. Litt. i p. 677. The Codex Agobardinus, the oldest and best MS of Tertullian, on vellum, of the ixth cent. at Paris (no. 1622), is so called from its first possessor, Agobard, Bp of Lyons.

3. He was Rector of Croft, and father of C. Lutwidge Dodgson, familiar to us under the pseudonym of ‘Lewis Carroll.’

4. al. Masbryhe, s. Merexbrugh, s. Masbrugh, s. Masbrough, s. Mexburgh.

5. Collectanea2, 1770, iv p. 157.

6. Dr Harnack says (G. d. altchr. Litt. i p. 653) this MS came from ‘Kloster Masburne’ but I think this must be an oversight.

7. Gelenius, the friend of Erasmus, though born at Prag, lived, married, and died at Bāle d. 1554/5). He supervised Froben's press there, and corrected proofs for him.

8. Leland died insane two years after the Bāle edition of Gelenius was first published. The editor in his preface laments the ill health of the English antiquary, so that it is not improbable that the MS of Tertullian never returned from Bāle to its native country.

J.M.LUPTON


This page has been accessed by ****** people since 11th December 1999.


Return to the Tertullian Home Page   About these pages