Studies in the Sacred Page: Encounters with Medieval Manuscripts, Texts, and Exegesis; A Book of Essays in Honour of Lesley Smith

Edited by
Henrietta Leyser and Robert Sweetman

Papers in Mediaeval Studies 34 • x, 266 pp. plus 14 colour plates • ISBN 978-0-88844-834-7 • Cloth • $95

This volume of twelve essays aims to honour the career and scholarship of Lesley Smith. The first section begins with two witnesses to Lesley’s excellence as teacher and culminates with an appreciation of her as a scholar. The second section explores the scholarly terrain in which Lesley has made her most signal contributions: the material and cultural sites and artefacts within and by which the Christian Scriptures emerged as a field of theoretical inquiry in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The third and final section explores Latin Christian use of scriptural inquiry and understanding so as to engage scholarly and religious traditions outside those of the Latin Church.

Humanistic scholarship has always started on its journey to the sources, ad fontes, forearmed with the knowledge that on arrival it is essential to stop, to attend and to listen, before any analysis of the anticipated discovery can begin. Attentive letting-be, letting-go, and letting-say has marked Lesley Smith’s scholarship from beginning to end, and this capacity informs the essays that make up this volume in her honour.

Several of the essays gathered here take as their starting point questions Lesley Smith had prompted the reader to consider. What, for example, might the look and contents of extant Bible manuscripts have contributed to discerning the canon of Scripture as it was understood in the twelfth century? What can we learn about the “living” history or Wirkungsgeschichte of Bruno of Würzburg’s eleventh-century commentary on the Psalms by examining its surviving manuscript witnesses? What can we discover about the authorship of the earliest strata of the Glossa ordinaria if we attend to the presence of anti-Jewish polemic in them?

Other essays ask similarly fecund questions. What do we grasp of Abelard’s motive for writing a Romans commentary from careful analysis of his own interrogative modus operandi? What can we learn of cultural exchange between twelfth-century Christians and Jews from a study of the representations of the Temple and Holy Land included in Richard of St Victor’s In visionem Ezechielis?

Out of all this questioning there emerges a sense of the living character of scholastic scriptural interpretation, plural in its methods and intentions but able also to be modulated by later readers and scribes to take on new identities and meanings. Collectively, the essays demonstrate how attention to such questions informs a range of scholarly disciplines, reflecting and extending Lesley Smith’s own modes of knowing, and paying tribute to a friend and colleague much admired.


Henrietta Leyser is an Emeritus Fellow of St Peter’s College, Oxford. She shares with Lesley Smith the privilege of having been taught at Oxford by both Beryl Smalley and Richard Southern and many years later of having taught classes of undergraduates together with Lesley. Her main publications are Hermits and the New Monasticism: A Study of Religious Communities in Western Europe, 1000–1150 (1984) and Medieval Women: A Social History of Women in England, 450–1500 (1995).

Robert Sweetman holds the H. Evan Runner Chair in the History of Philosophy at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto. He is particularly interested in the interaction of philosophical, theological, pastoral, and mystical modulations of Dominican thought. Currently working to finish a book-length manuscript on the virtues of reason and religion in the thought of Thomas Aquinas, he is also planning out the shape of two further monographs exploring medieval conceptions of love.


List of Plates • vii
Abbreviations • ix

Robert Sweetman and Henrietta Leyser • Studying the Sacred Page as Encounter with Medieval Text, Exegesis, and Intercultural Exchange: An Introduction • 1

I  Lesley Smith, Scholar and Teacher
Kathryne Beebe • “There is Great Delight in Her Friendship”: A Tribute to Lesley Smith • 12
Gustav Zamore • Duc in altum! In Praise of Lesley Smith • 17
John Van Engen • Lesley Smith: A Scholarly Appreciation • 20

II  Medieval Text and Exegesis
Grover A. Zinn, Jr • Bruno of Würzburg in the Oberlin College Library Special Collections and in the Biblioteca comunale Teresiana, Mantua? • 27
Frans van Liere • The Victorines and the Canon of Scripture • 62
Linda Stone • “A Rich Vein”: Untangling the Twelfth-Century Glosses on the Psalms • 78
† Michael Clanchy • Abelard’s Commentary on St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: Its Political and Social Context • 101
E. Ann Matter • Aelred the Exegete: On Jesus at the Age of Twelve as an Interpretation of Luke 2:41–52 • 123
Theresa Gross-Diaz • Psalms and the City: John Halgrin of Abbeville and the Paris Context of a Scholastic Psalms Commentary • 140
Philip D. Krey • Nicholas of Lyra on the Gospel of Luke • 184

III  Medieval Text and Intercultural Exchange
Karl Kinsella • Visual Exegesis at St Victor and Its Jewish Parallels • 203
Brian Fitzgerald • “The Mother of Churches”: Historical Rupture and Renewal in Twelfth-Century Latin-Greek Relations • 223

Publications of Lesley Smith • 248

Contributors • 252
Index of Manuscripts • 257
Index of Medieval Names and Works • 260


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