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Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Quadruple Psalter


Psalterium quadruplex
Of Bishop Salomo III. (890-920), Bishop of Constance and Abbot of St Gallen
Second quarter of 10th century
Ink on Parchment
410 x 315 mm
Dombibliothek, Köln


This psalter was commissioned by Salomo III Bishop of Constance and Abbot of St. Gallen, Switzerland  from AD 890  to 920

St Jerome revised his translations of the Psalms three times

He revised the Old Latin version of the text (382-385), then translated a Greek text (386/387) and then the Hebrew text (392) into the Latin language

The three texts are then counterposed against each other as well as against  the Greek version in Latin translation

The psalter was therefore used for scholastic study: to compare the four versions of the text

This "Quadruplex" psalter was popular and all versions are apparently derived from a  manuscript (also from St Gallen), now in the State Library of Bamberg (Psalterium quadrupartitum. St. Gallen, 909 Msc.Bibl.44), for which see below:



Dr  Sally Dormer in her Gresham College, London lecture entitled Illuminated Psalter Manuscripts (29 May 2012) said:
"Numerous independent Psalters survive from the 9th to the 15th centuries, suggesting that the Psalms were cherished texts, and there are plentiful references to men and women knowing the entire Psalter off by heart, indicating that they were read frequently.  
Why were they so highly prized? A selection of Psalters, suggests the main reasons for their popularity and four categories of people who owned and used such books. 
Scholars, the majority of whom were churchmen, viewed the Psalms as texts that repaid fine-tooth combed study and analysis.  
Psalters made for scholarly study lack significant decoration and illustration and may include a number of different versions of the Psalms. This 10th-century example from Cologne [see above] is a quadruple Psalter.  
Each page carries four Latin versions of the Psalms, three of which were translated by St Jerome in the late 4th century.  
The Roman, on the left, is the earliest Jerome version, translated from an earlier Latin version in c. 384, and the most commonly used up to the 9th century.  
The second column is the Gallican version, so-named because of its early popularity in Gaul. 
This was translated from a Greek version, c. 390-405, and becomes most common in the 10th and 11th centuries. It also provided the basis of the Vulgate version of the Psalms used today. 
The Hebrew occupies the third column, translated from Hebrew in c. 390, a Latin version usually restricted to scholarly Psalters.  
The textual variants between these three Latin Jerome versions are slight, but significant  
The fourth column in this Psalter is occupied by a non-Jerome Latin version of the Psalms, and is easily distinguished textually from the other three.  
All four versions are kept in careful step with one another, in terms of layout, verse by verse, to facilitate easy cross referencing by an investigating scholar. 
Multi-version Psalters tend to be the exception rather than the rule ... 
Ecclesiastics of every kind knew the Psalms intimately.  
As early as the 5th century Gennade, the Patriarch of Constantinople, refused to ordain clerks who had not memorised the Psalter, and the late 6th-century Pope Gregory I refused to award one of his pupils with an episcopate for the sole reason that he did not know his Psalter.  
In 653 the Eighth Council of Toledo decreed that all ecclesiastics should know their Psalms.  
The Psalms were divided between the Canonical Hours over each seven-day period so that monks and nuns recited all the Psalms, at least once a week, as part of their celebration of the liturgy."

It has been said of Abbot Salomo:
"The abbacy of Salomo (890-920) was the golden age of the  monastery. An orphan of noble birth and the heir to a large  fortune, he was educated at St Gall by Notker Balbulus and others. 
Through the influence of Grimald he became Court Chaplain and Chancellor to Louis the German (843-876). It was  his duty to draw up the royal edicts and charters; as an adviser  of the King he had unbounded influence.  
Being handsome, intellectual, and of pleasant address, he was  a favourite at court. Four successive monarchs confided in him and valued his counsels. In 890 Arnulf (877-899), grandson of  Louis the German, elected him Abbot of St Gall, and in the same  year also appointed him to the see of Constance, as Salomo III.  
Like his friend Hatto, Bishop of Mainz, he became one of the  most trusty supporters of the Carlovingian dynasty. ... 
During the thirty years of Salomo's rule the Abbey had not  only acquired vast wealth, it had also reached its culminating  point as a centre of learning." 
(J M Clark, The Abbey of St. Gall as a Centre of Literature and Art, 1926, Cambridge University Press)