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The Four Gospels

from the

Irish Codex Harleianus

NUMBERED HARL. 1023 IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM
LIBRARY

NOW FIRST EDITED WITH AN INTRODUCTION
DESCRIPTIVE OF THE MS. AND ITS CORRECTORS

BY

E. S. BUCHANAN, M.A., B.Sc.

EDITOR OF OLD-LATIN BIBLICAL TEXTS, Nos. V AND VI;
SACRED LATIN TEXTS: Nos. I AND II, ETC.

WITH TWO COLLOTYPE FACSIMILES

HEATH CRANTON & OUSELEY, LTD.

FLEET

LANE, LONDON, E. C.

BS

1967
S123
no.3

WE may never be able to recover the exact text of each document in the Canon as it left the hands of its writer. But we can make progress in detecting and eliminating errors, and we have been going the wrong way about it. We have been trying to reconstruct texts without knowing the history of transmission. We have (so to speak) been asking the cart to draw the horse. The result has been worse than useless. It has left us with a minus quantity on our hands; with a heap of faded worn-out Arian heresies. It has left us with resurrected ghosts of the past, which our forefathers had unceremoniously buried. It has encouraged novices with but a veneer of learning to play the Marcion, and censor out anything which displeases them. These pseudo-scientific folk attack our religion at its very roots, as did the old second century heretics. Better away with Christianity as such altogether, than accept the heavily adulterated milk of the Word offered for our consumption to-day.

H. C. HOSKIER

(ex litteris recentissime ad me scriptis).

Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & Co.

at the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh

gr.

12-27-1923

THE FOUR GOSPELS

FROM

THE IRISH CODEX HARLEIANUS 1023

Not the least of the treasures in the rich Harley Collection of 7639 MSS., now preserved in the British Museum, is the unpretending little quarto volume of eighty-eight leaves which is catalogued as Harl. 1023. It is an Irish work, and is included in the facsimiles of the National MSS. of Ireland, published by J. T. Gilbert in 1874, and exhibiting Folios 10b, 11a, 34a, and 65a. The MS. is remarkable for the fact that it employs no colour whatever (except on the initial letter of each gospel) and is written throughout with severe simplicity in the same black ink. It once contained portraits of the four evangelical figures, viz., the Man (S. Matthew), the Lion (S. Mark), the Ox (S. Luke), the Eagle (S. John). Of these the Man and the Ox have disappeared, but the Lion and the Eagle have come down to us. They are striking survivals of early Irish art. Although delineated with much sureness of hand, they have a quaint rudeness which bespeaks a locality with art traditions of a primitive order, and out of touch with the outside world.

It is difficult to assign the actual copying of the MS. to an earlier date than the tenth century; but it is certain from its art, as well as from its spelling and text, that it partially reproduces an Irish ancestor, not only older than the days of St. Patrick, but older even than the midfourth century, which is the earliest date to which our most ancient extant vellum MSS. of the Gospels can be assigned.

Humphry Wanley (1672-1726), the learned librarian of the first Earl of Oxford, whose portrait hangs in the MS. room of the British Museum, thus describes the Codex in his Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts:

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1023

Codex membranaceus in 4to, Latine sed Litteris Hybernicis exaratus ; in quo conspiciuntur :

1. Evangelia IV. Editionis Vulgatae haud tamen sine Lectionibus
variantibus. In initio desiderantur folia nonnulla quibus scriptae
fuere Prefatio S. Hieronymi, necnon pars prior Evangelii
secundum Matthaeum; ad Comma scilicet 25 Capitis XXIII.
2. Post Evangelium D. Matthaei, leguntur Versus quidam resonantes
de Christo, aliena manu sed Hybernica conscripti; sc. Sola
Divina saluandus sum Medicina, &c. Fol. 9b.

3. Imago, quâ etsi rudissima delineatione, ad Unguem (!) tamen
repraesentatur Leo de Marci. Fol. 10b.

4. Prologus Evangelii secundum Lucam notissimus: cuius Initium, Lucas Sirus Natione, &c. Fol. 33.

5. Evangelium D. Lucae excipiunt Quaestiones pauculae de Eva, &c., ex Alcuino forsan desumptae. Fol. 636.

6. Successio 42 Regum Ægyptiorum, qui Pharaones adpellabantur. Fol. 636.

7. Prologus in Evangelium sec. Johannem, qui ab his Verbis incipit, Hic est Johannis Evangelista. Fol. 64.

Fol. 88b.

8. Imago Aquilae, indocta manu delineata. Fol. 646.
9. De Libris utriusque Testamenti, Versibus.
10. Nomina Septem Dormientium. Fol. 88b.

No information is given us by Wanley as to how the MS. came into the Earl of Oxford's collection. There is reason to believe that the Codex left Ireland in the twelfth century and passed across the English Channel to France. Its history, from the time it left the hands of its last corrector, who wrote a Continental non-Irish hand, until it came into the possession of Robert Harley, is involved in complete obscurity. Nor have we any means to-day of discovering when or how it was so grievously mutilated as to lose 26 out of its original 114 leaves.

The birth-place of the MS. we can trace with a probability amounting to certainty. For our MS. bears a striking resemblance in handwriting and general composition to another MS. of the Harleian Collection. numbered 1802. The compatriot MS. Harl. 1802 was one of Jean Aymon's thefts from the Bibliothèque Royale, and was stolen at the

same time as Harl. 1772. Of Aymon's exploits we have already given an account in our Sacred Latin Texts: No. I.

With the two MSS. Harl. 1023 and Harl. 1802 before me as I write, and both open at the first page of S. Luke's Gospel, Harl. 1023 strikes the eye as being considerably the earlier of the two. It has a simplicity of execution and an absence of colour and ornament which are the distinguishing marks of the earliest MSS. From our knowledge that Harl. 1802 was written at Armagh in A.D. 1138, we conclude that Harl. 1023 was written in the same locality, not later than the eleventh, and possibly not earlier than the tenth century. Irish scripts vary so little in fundamentals between the tenth and thirteenth centuries that it is difficult to fix their date precisely where the evidence for dating is purely external.

That both Harl. 1023 and Harl. 1802 are from the same school of copying is apparent to the most casual observer. The lion before S. Mark's Gospel survives in both-each foot furnished with a single claw, though coloured in the one MS. and uncoloured in the other; but it is an Irish lion in both, and not a zoological one. The ornamental letters with which each MS. begins the Gospels are obviously derived from a common original. But in Harl. 1802 the interlacing work is much in advance of that in Harl. 1023. Again, the frequent capital letters in Harl. 1802 are beautifully tinted with bright yellow, red, green, and dark crimson pigments, while the colouring matter in Harl. 1023, which was only used for its four initial Gospel letters (one of them now lost), is of a dullness such as we find in eighth and ninth century Irish MSS., viz. in the Codex Laudianus of S. Paul's Epistles at Oxford, and in the Codex Boernerianus at Dresden. There is a total absence of red and crimson pigments in Harl. 1023.

There is another MS. with which Harl. 1023 has an even closer affinity-the celebrated Book of Armagh. This priceless treasure was written in the early years of the ninth century at Armagh, and is now preserved in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. It has been splendidly edited at the beginning of the present year for the Royal Irish Academy by the eminent scholar Dr. John Gwynn, paginatim, verbatim, litteratim. Every student of the Latin New Testament must rejoice at this publication, which for accuracy and fullness leaves nothing to be desired. When in Dublin in 1913 I had the MS. in my hands

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