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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter of the book, which presents The Gloss or Ordinary Gloss on the Bible, is the ubiquitous text of the central middle Ages. In the twelfth century, numbers of manuscripts outpaced production of manuscripts of the plain Bible text. For more than a century, from about 1140, copies of the Gloss books of the Bible containing the entire biblical text along with a set of marginal and interlinear comments and explanations, drawn for the most part from patristic texts were made and distributed in large numbers in much of Europe. The Gloss comprises not merely the combined contents of the individual glosses, but the format in which the books were presented. Although the layout evolved over time, it was always distinctive. Gloss in histories of the middle Ages portrays a twelfth-century phenomenon which functioned as a sort of reference book for students.

Keywords: Gloss books; manuscripts outpaced production; page layout



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