The Keppel Fragment

In 1951 G.I.Lieftinck announced1 that a Dutch archiviste, A-P. van Schilfgaarde, had found a leaf from a lost codex of Tertullian's De spectaculis reused as part of the binding of a notebook used to copy down the acts concerning the vicariates of the seigneurie of Keppel. The leaf had been trimmed down and cut into two, fortunately without damage to the text. 

The fragment was on loan to the Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden from 1950-1969. It was then returned to the Rijksarchief in Gelderland, Arnhem, and thus to the Gelders Archief in Arnhem which was formed by a merger of various archives including the Rijksarchief and Arnhem City Archives. Its present location and inventory no are: 

Gelders Archief (Arnhem, Netherlands), Huisarchief Keppel (bloknr 0409), 1784a. 3

This leaf constitutes the sole remaining portion of a collection of the works of Tertullian attested by a catalogue of the Abbey of Corbie - the Corpus Corbiensis, and to which belonged the manuscript lent to Jacob Pamelius by Johannes Clemens Anglus, the vetustissimus codex of Mesnart, and the Masburensis of Gelenius.2

The original size of the leaf was 336 x c. 255. The parchment is of high quality, probably from a monastic scriptorium. Other features of the text make it clear that it almost certainly came from the Cathedral at Cologne, whose catalogue for 833AD lists a now lost codex which contained this work.1

The fragment contains from chapter 27, 4 (gratissimis et acceptissimis) to chapter 30, 3 (insulantibus contra) with a lacuna of about a line and a half in ch. 29, 1 (tributas tibi ... iucundius quam). The readings are generally superior to those of the Codex Agobardinus, to say nothing of the number of omissions and mutilated words in this passage in that manuscript. Similarly the readings are generally better than those of the Codex Ottobonianus. Interestingly, the text as given in the Keppel fragment is very close to that given in the printed editions of Mesnart and Gelenius, which throws light on the work of these first editors. It also makes clear that the use of these editions is a necessity, as they may give a better text than the extant 9th century Agobardinus, because they are based on better (but lost) manuscripts, of unknown age.2



Shelfmark: Gelders Archief (Arnhem, Netherlands), Archief Huis Keppel (bloknr 0409) 1784a.  © Gelders Archief.  Used by permission.


1. G.I.LIEFTINCK, Un fragment de De Spectaculis de Tertullien provenant d'un manuscrit du neuvieme siecle, in Vigiliae Christianae 5 (1951), 193-203. (see bibliography).  Catalogue online here.

2. Marie TURCAN, Tertullien : Les Spectacles, Sources Chrétiennes 332 (1986) 11-12. Checked.

3. Private email from Maarten van Driel of the Gelders Archief, September 2007, who kindly made these digital images and gave permission for their use here, and also corrected the name of the archivist.  

This page has been online since 11th December 1999. 

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