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Van der Weyden, Descent from the Cross
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Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 207

Described by: Ryan Perry from microfilm analysis.
Revision Date: June 1st, 2010


Mirror of the Blessed Life and the Gospel of Nicodemus, 3rd quarter C15?

Condition of the MS


Number of Items


Title(s) of Pseudo-Bonaventuran Text(s)

Mirror of the Blessed Life.


  • Item 1: "The fyrste parte mondaye

    here begynnythe the Chapytrys of the boke that ys ]
    clepyde the mirrovre of the lyfe of oure lorde cryste ihesu
    ", (heads Table of Contents), fol ir.

  • "HEre next sywynge begynnythe the Proheme of the boke that ys clepyde the mirrovre of the blessyde lyfe of oure lorde criste ihesu", fol. iiv.
  • Items 1 (a) and (b): 2 Middle English prayers that have been appended to the Eucharistic prayer which concludes the 'Treatise on the Sacrament'; the first prayer is Eucharistic and the second a devotional prayer on the Trinity.
    (a): "O thankynge be to the holy ffadir myghtfulle god that voucheste safe of youre mercyfulle pite to sende youre only sone from your high Trone . in to this valey of woo..."
    (b): O thou holy goste loue and holy communycacione of the ffadyr and the sone come nowe in to me gode lorde and enflavme me and myne herte withe youre brennynge bemes of love...", fol. 120r.
  • Item 2: "The Iewes the morowe vpon her sabot day they foryate not Ioseph of Aramathie the which they putte in the strong stonen hous", (the text begins with the line following the sentence that serves to link the pseudo-Bonaventuran text to the Gospel of Nicodemus in the Egerton MS), fol. 120v.



Secundo Folio

"Off the passion of our lorde criste Ihesu And of? criste his? prayer and
tatynge? of the houre of? matyne tyme Camvim"


  • Item 1 (a): "...haue me this day with that holy sacramente that ys youre owne porecious bodye be the whiche I hope to haue helthe of soule and euere lastynge lyfe withe yow in ioye whanne I shall be departyd from this worldeAmen", fol. 120r.
  • Item 1 (b): " O ye thre persones and oo god glorye and preysynge withe alle Reuerence be offrid to you of alle creatures with outene endeAmen", fol. 120r.
  • Item 1: The Explicit to the Mirror comes after the two added prayers and before the Memorandum, "Thus Endithe the lyfe of oure lorde Ihesu", fol. 120r.
  • Item 2: "Oure lord for thi greet grace and peynfull passione delyvre(?) vs of oure enemyes the fend the fleshe and the world and brynge vs where thou regneste with thy fader and holy goste Amen", fol. 126r.

Languages of the MS

English with Latin marginal apparatus.

Detailed Description of Contents

  • 1. Mirror of the Blessed Life, fols 1-120v (Table of Contents, fols i-ii).
  • 2. Gospel of Nicodemus, fols 120v-124r. This is the portion of the text found in BL Egerton MS 2658 and John Rylands MS 895 that comes after the Liber Aureus de Passione et Resurreccione in those MSS. As the Liber Aureus is adapted from the Meditationes de Passione this is unlikely to be an arbitrary pairing. Instead, it may be that the producer(s) of Bodley 207 have matched the Gospel of Nicodemus with the Mirror, and perhaps removed the pseudo-Bonaventuran text in the process.

Estimated Date of Production

Poss. 3rd quarter C15; Hulme's estimate of c. 1470, whilst too precise, is a fair estimate of the approximate period in which this book may have been produced.

Writing Support



i? (early flyleaf) + ii (these leaves are an integral part of the original MS; they contain the Table of Contents and the opening of the Mirror) + 126 fols + ii(?).

Dimensions of Page and Writing Space

  • Leaf size: 340 x 235 mm approx.
  • Writing Space, item 1: 235-240 x 145 mm approx.; item 2: 290 x 200 mm approx.




1 column throughout, 37 lines (item 1), 41-3 lines (item 2), frames and lines for item 1 but not for item 2.

Rubrication/ Ordinatio

  • Initials: In the Mirror, blue initials with red pen-work flourishes, generally 2-line, but are 3-line at the beginnings of chapters 3-16; the chapters within the Gospel of Nicodemus begin with 2-line initials (alternating red and blue?) without flourishing.
  • Titles, Headings, Rubrics: No running titles; the chapter headings in red ink, and are generally set apart from the body of text on a new line, slightly inset, and marked with a blue paraph, and with a blue paraph for the chapter number, which is usually penned within the text frame- scribe B's stint is slightly different, where a heading often begins on the same line as the sentence ending the previous chapter- another difference between the stints is that scribe B uses line-filling decoration; alternating red and blue paraph marks subdivide the text; sidenotes in red with blue paraph.
    The Gospel of Nicodemus has alternating blue and red paraphs, and has the names of saints underscored (in red?)
  • Other: Scribe A pens his catchwords between a dot or dots and a small 's'-shaped squiggle; scribe B places carchwords in a squarish scroll device.



Number of Scribal Hands

  • A: fols ir-103r l. 4 (stint ends 207: 15 'badde')
  • B: fols 103r l. 5-120v.
  • C: fols 120v-126r.

Style of Hands

  • A: a neat and even cursive bookhand, unlooped 'd', looped 'w', double compartment 'a', pronounced horns on 'g', only uses a short 'r' and only uses 'th' rather than þ.
  • B: A much less calligraphic hand, mixed looped and unlooped 'd' forms, unlooped 'w', with the first stem of the letter reaching higher than its other parts; single compartment 'a'; short 'r' and 2-shaped 'r'; only uses 'th' rather than þ.
  • C: an uneven script with size of letter and duct varying much more than scribes A and B; mixed looped and unlooped 'd' forms, unlooped 'w', with the first stem of the letter reaching higher than its other parts; single compartment 'a'; uses a long v-shaped 'r', a short 'r' and 2-shaped 'r'; prefers 'th' with occasional use of 'þ'

Estimated Date of Hands

All hands may date from 3rd quarter C15.

Scribal Annotation

  • Sargent records 387 marginal notes; as Sargent also records, the scribal annotation tails off towards the end of the Mirror, particularly during scribe B's stint.
  • There is one side-note in the Gospel of Nicodemus, drawing attention to the "Answere of hell", fol. 122v.

Notable Dialect Features

LALME I:146, III:494, LP 5641. Grid 504 157, in Western Buckinghamshire, near the Oxfordshire border.

Localisable on Google Earth
(click markers to view sample dialect forms)

Annotation and Marginalia




Names recorded, signatures, ex libris marks

  • The name "Thomas Wetherston" occurs twice on the rear flyleaf.
  • Ker has connected the production with Newark Priory in Suffolk, believing that the binding corresponded closely with that in Bodleian Library MS Auct. D. infra. 2. 10 (Ker, Medieval Libraries 133). There are 2 early pressmarks in the inner cover that do appear to indicate the book was held in an institutional library prior to it coming to the Bodleain. The Pressmarks read, "Th: B . 20. 9" and "NE . B. 5. 4".



References and Other Resources

W.H. Hulme, ed., The Middle English Harrowing of Hell and Gospel of Nicodemus, (London, 1907) xxxvi ff.

Sargent Groupings


Sargent Pages

Intro. 123-5, 150-1.

Sargent Number



Please note: Descriptions of Mirror MSS are indebted to: Nicholas Love, The Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ: A Full Critical Edition, ed. by Michael G. Sargent (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2005)