These days I have been looking at a ninth-century manuscript - St. Florian, Augustiner-Chorherrenstift, Cod. III 222 A - containing texts from the Old Testament. The book is now kept in the library of the monastery of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine at St. Florian, but was probably a product of the Mondsee scriptorium.

The manuscript has attracted the attention of scholars because of its musical notation (adiastematic St. Gall neumes), which was believed to have been added by a contemporary hand, making it one of the earliest attestations of this system. Although this is not the focus of my research, it is an important confirmation of the use of the text in the liturgical service (which we will come to shortly).

The textual content, on the other hand, seems to have been of less interest to scholars. It is not a unique or rare text (the Twelve Minor Prophets, followed by Isaiah and Jeremiah), nor is it an early textual witness (it was copied in the ninth century). However, the manuscript can tell us a great deal about, firstly, the work processes in the Mondsee scriptorium and, secondly, about liturgical practice at the monastery.

The Manuscript

First, some basic information about the book. It is a parchment manuscript with 186 leaves (26 x 18 cm), bound in leather over wooden boards. Unlike the two Gospels (Nürnberg-New York fragments and the so-called Ingolstadt Gospel Book), it has a modest illumination in the form of 3 to 5-line initials in red, yellow and green. Similarly, the minuscule script, the relatively densely written layout and the use of a variety of ligatures suggest that the manuscript was not intended as a devotional object or a book to be displayed in the church. However, this does not mean that it was not used during Mass. On the contrary, numerous contemporary annotations to the main text suggest that certain passages were from the start meant to be read during the service.

It would be nice to compare these annotation with the liturgical practice in Mondsee documented in text such as consuetudines documenting the exact practices to be observed in Mondsee. Since, however, we do not have such text we must

Readings from the Bible according to the Rule of St. Benedict

It was important to be able to read the text (be it prayers or readings from the Scriptures) out loud without making mistakes. The Rule of Benedict Chapter 45 reads

When anyone has made a mistake while reciting a Psalm, a responsory, an antiphon or a lesson, if he does not humble himself there before all by making a satisfaction, let him undergo a greater punishment (si quis, dum pronuntiat psalmum, responsorium, antiphonam vel lectionem, fallitus fuerit … maiori vindictae subiaceat).

Monks were encouraged to read in several places in the Rule of Benedict. Chapter 9 regulates the winter vigils, when the monks had enough time not only to sing the psalms but also to read passages from the Bible or the works of the Fathers.

In winter time … let three lessons be read from the book on the lectern (in codice super analogium tres lectiones) by the brethren in their turns … The books to be read at the Night Office shall be those of divine authorship, of both the Old and the New Testament, and also the explanations of them which have been made by well known and orthodox Catholic Fathers.

In the summer shorter night there was only one lesson taken from the Old Testament which however should be said by heart (Chapter 10). to be continued…

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