If the Gloss is a commentary on the Bible, how to identify which version of the biblical text was used in the manuscript and printed in the editions of the Gloss?
- The medieval Bible is a library: it is a collection of books put together, of which the number, order, prefaces, annexs, decoration, divisions and even the text vary more or less from a witness to another.
- There is no such thing as an official text of the Latin Bible before the Council of Trent (16th Century).
- The text of the Bible, used in the glossed bibles ans medieval biblical commentaries, is not stable and may vary from a manuscript to the other depending:
* on erudite textual revisions: Alcuin, Théodulphe, the revised text of some religious orders (cistercians, dominicans), the Bible called "parisienne" (starting from the 13th c.), the Sixto-Clémentine edition.
* on habits connected to cultural or geographic areas: Iberian Peninsula, British Isles, Gaul, Germani worl, Italy...
* on chronological periods: Carolingian reform and its consequences in the 9th-10th centuries, establishment of the 'university text' in the 13th-14th Centuries, etc.
- In the manuscripts and printed editions of the glossed Bible, one must distinguish:
* the central biblical text integrally copied, around which the glosses are written, imputable to the copist of the manuscript or to a model, independent from the tradition of the Gloss text;
* the marginal biblical text, quoted in fragments by authors, imputable to the author of each quoted fragment.
The two versions can differ, depending on the origin of the texts used.
- The modern critical reference editions of the Latin Bible do not give the biblical text that was in use during the High Middle Ages, but a tentative reconstruction of the primitive text established bu St. Jerome in the 4th Century.
- For a scientific work on the medieval Bible, it is necessary
* to note down each and every variant of the biblical text
* to identify its origin, using the critical apparatus of the moden critical editions of the Latin Bible.