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The Manuscripts of the Old English RSB: A Methodological Approach to the Study of English Benedictine Manuscripts

Francisco Jose Alvarez Lopez

University of London

The following pages present a study of the physical context in whichthe Old English translation of the Rule of St Benedict (RSB) was transmitted from its creation in the second half of the tenth century to the production of its final surviving copy in the early thirteenth. The time frame covered runs parallel with some crucial historical events which undoubtedly influenced the relevance and use of this vernacular text. The most relevant palaeographical and codicological information provided by the extant copies in which this text survives will be considered in an attempt to achieve a better understanding of these manuscripts and the use made of them by their monastic communities. The methodological approach used in the examination of this group of manuscripts has four main parameters: the format in which the OE RSB was circulated; the scripts used by the different scribes, particularly when the vernacular text was copied alongside the Latin; the nature of the other original items copied alongside the OE RSB by the same (or other contemporary) scribes; and, finally, the later annotations and emendations made to the RSB by late medieval readers. The structure of this study will, therefore, closely resemble this pattern.

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