Codex Masburensis 

Location : Lost
Date: Pre-1066
Corpus: Corbiense3

This manuscript contained:

De resurrectione carnis
De Trinitate
De spectaculis
De praescriptionibus haereticorum
De ieiunio
De monogamia
De pudicitia

This manuscript resided at Malmesbury, was acquired by the antiquary John Leland, lent by him to Beatus Rhenanus, devolved upon his assistant Gelenius, and ended up in the hands of John Clement who allowed Pamelius to use a collation of it.  The story has only recently been unravelled by the cooperation of Dr Pierre Petitmengin, who discovered a letter from Leland to Rhenanus, and two collations, one made by Rhenanus and one for Pamelius.  In 2003 the history was published in the Annuaire of the library at Selestat, and is online.1

The manuscript was used by Sigismund Ghelen (=Gelenius) for his edition in Basle in 1550.  In this he says that it was lent to him by the English antiquary John Leland, coenobium Masburense ex ultima Britannia. The codex came from Malmesbury. Tertullian was an author rarely found in England in the middle ages, but William of Malmesbury had read the Apologeticum at least. John Leland had visited Malmesbury, and lists Tertullianus among the works he found there2.

Rodney Thomson has shown that the manuscript was in Malmesbury at the Norman conquest, and suggests that it may have been acquired by William of Malmesbury, around the time that the Corbie manuscript disappears.3

Pamelius used a manuscript which he got from John Clement the Englishman, the 'Codex Johannis Clementis Angli' for his edition of 1583, and which has now disappeared. It is given the siglum of C, and had the contents listed above, according to Pamelius.

Recently Pierre Petitmengin has discovered among Rhenanus' papers in Selestat a letter from John Leland to Beatus Rhenanus indicating Leland was sending him the codex, confirming that it was from Malmesbury. He also found a collation made by Rhenanus of the 3 works in the codex which Rhenanus had already published.  It seems clear that the codex passed to Gelenius on the death of Rhenanus.4

Furthermore Petitmengin has discovered Pamelius' working edition (a 1562) which contains the collation of the 'Codex Johannes Clementis Angli' in the Bibliothèque St.Genevieve in Paris.  The actual volume is Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve, CC 8o 1097-98, Inv. 1046-47 Reserve.  Petitmengin says:

"The discovery of the collation which was used by Pamele allows us to add some readings of C to those which he had listed in his Adnotationes and to remove the various ambiguities of their witness. It is preserved in an edition of Tertullian (Paris, 1566) which belonged once to Charles-Maurice Le Tellier, Archbishop of Rheims16, and is found today preserved in the Reserve of the Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve. We will analyse elsewhere this exemplar of the work of one of the greatest Tertullianists."

(The footnote 16 : Bibliotheca Telleriana, Paris, 1693, p. 31-32 : "aliud exemplar euisdem editionis (Paris. Aud. Parvi 1566), manu notatum a Jacobo Pamelio. in 8o")

In the book, there are in fact four sets of annotations.  

By comparing the collation of the 3 texts of the Masburensis made by Rhenanus with the collation for by Pamelius, Petitmengin has shown that the Codex Johannis Clementis is in fact none other than the Masburensis.5  How it came into the hands of John Clement after Gelenius had finished with it is unknown.6


1. The story of how the manuscript from Malmesbury was acquired by John Leland, sent to Beatus Rhenanus, and then found its way to John Clement is detailed in two interlocking articles written by the researchers.  Pierre Petitmengin is the Tertullian specialist, while James Carley is an expert on John Leland who was working on a mysterious statement by Leland that mss from Britain had gone to the continent.

2. J.M. LUPTON, Q.S.F.Tertullian De Baptismo, 1908. Checked.  Note that both Lupton and Souter assume that Gelenius is telling the truth when he identifies the codex in his table of contents as containing De oratione and De baptismo.  However there is no other evidence that it did.

3. Rodney THOMSON, Identifiable books from the pre-Conquest library of Malmesbury Abbey, Anglo-Saxon England 10 (1982), 1-19, with 11-13 relating to a Tertullian. Online is excerpt, pp11-13.

4. Pierre PETITMENGIN, John Leland, Beatus Rhenanus et le Tertullien de Malmesbury, Studia Patristica 18,2 (1989), pp. 53-60. Checked.

5. Pierre PETITMENGIN, Une nouvelle edition et un ancient manuscrit de Novatien, Revue des etudes augustiniennes 21 (1975), p256-272

6. A.W.REED, John Clement and his books, The Library, Fourth Series, Volume VI (1926), pp.329-339. Online.

This page has been online since 11th December 1999.

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