Fragment Latin Bible

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In 1762 the Supreme Court of Paris suppressed the Society of Jesus within its territory. The goods of the society were seized and partly sold off. The books and manuscripts of the Collège de Clermont, the Jesuit College in Paris, were listed in auction catalogues which were distributed all over Europe.

Gerard Meerman (1722-1771), the wealthy book collector and lawyer, examined the catalogue of manuscripts with very great interest. Indeed, the collection was highly exceptional; it included, for instance, hundreds of medieval Greek and Latin manuscripts. The catalogue offered the opportunity to buy the entire collection in advance of the auction, which was to take place in 1764, and Meerman seized his chance. For 15,000 louis d’or – an enormous sum in those days – he became the owner of a unique collection of manuscripts.

When in 1765 the manuscripts arrived in Rotterdam, Meerman carefully scrutinised his new acquisitions. Manuscript 628 consisted of eight texts, which had been copied in the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. Even more exceptional was its endpaper. For this a bifolium had been used which had formed part of a Latin Bible written in the 6th century in Italy in the round majuscule uncial script, which was then prevalent. Meerman split up the manuscript into parts and added the remarkable double leaf to his collection of manuscript fragments.

These fragments passed later into the ownership of Baron van Westreenen, who had them bound separately. His regular bookbinder, Willem Carbentus, had difficulty distinguishing them and inadvertently transposed the labels, so that this fragment bears an incorrect title on the upper cover. Another seven pages from the same uncial Bible are preserved in the library of Orléans. The provenance of all the pages is Fleury Abbey, formerly one of the most important Benedictine abbeys in France.