From Manuscript to Print: the Evolution of the Medieval Book

The Sacred Word
horizontal rule
The veneration of sacred Scripture was a central feature of medieval culture. Scriptural reading was a staple of the medieval cleric’s literary diet, and cathedral art depicted scenes from the Bible for the benefit of illiterate parishioners. In order to clarify ambiguous passages in the Bible, Christian educators offered interpretations which, when approved as orthodox teaching, were handed down as a part of sacred Tradition. Within the first few centuries of the Christian era, an abundant literature of interpretation arose, and over the course of later centuries the doctrines of the early theologians were sifted to determine whether they qualified as orthodoxy. In the twelfth century, theologians compiled these orthodox interpretations into a collection known as the Glossa ordinaria, or "Standard Gloss," which a reader of Scripture could consult with confidence when in doubt over the meaning of a given passage.

continue to Churchbooks


the Sacred Word
Private Prayer
Leather and Chains
Medieval Music
How the Classics Survived
Manuscripts in the Age of Print
Evolution of the Book
Appetite for Destruction
Manuscript Facsimiles
Cornell's Medieval Books
Cornell University Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections Cornell University Library

Copyright 2002 Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections
2B Carl A. Kroch Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853
Phone Number: (607) 255-3530. Fax Number: (607) 255-9524

For reference questions, send mail to:
If you have questions or comments about the site, send mail to: webmaster.