Glossa Ordinaria

The Glossa Ordinaria (plural Glossae Ordinariae), which is Latin for "ordinary gloss", was a collection of Biblical glosses, from the Church Fathers and thereafter, printed in the margins of the Vulgate; these were widely used in the education system of Christendom in Cathedral schools from the Carolingian period onward, and were only forgotten in the 14th century. For many generations, the Glossa ordinaria was the standard commentary on the Scriptures in Western Europe; it greatly influenced Western Christian theology and culture. As professors read and expounded upon the Bible they would refer to these glosses, or commentaries; they also referred to them in the ordinary lecture.

A very widely used version of the Glossa ordinaria was compiled by the school of Laon and originated in the early twelfth century, with Anselm of Laon often credited with involvement in the project;[1] it drew from earlier glosses and other sources. Before the 20th century, this Glossa ordinaria was credited to Walafrid Strabo.[2]

The Patrologia Latina, volumes 113 and 114, contain a version of the glossa which, as well as being misattributed to Strabo, represents a later manuscript tradition.[3] There is currently available a facsimile of the first printed edition of a glossa, which was published at Strasbourg in 1480/1.[4] There is currently increased interest in the 'glossa', and a few partial modern critical editions and translations have now been published.[5]

Other works

It is a parallel tradition to the Jewish Mikraot Gedolot.

Many important works would also have their own glossa ordinaria, such as that of Accursius for Justinian's Corpus or that of Johannes Teutonicus Zemeke and Bartholomew of Brescia of Gratian.[6]


  1. Lindberg, David. (1978) Science in the Middle Ages. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  2. The misattribution was first shown by Beryl Smalley, The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages (Oxford, 1941).
  3. Glossa ordinaria.
  4. Biblia latina cum glossa ordinaria: Facsimile reprint of the Editio Princeps, (Adolph Rusch of Strassburg 1480/81), 4 vols., with an intro. by Karlfried Froehlich and Margaret T. Gibson (Turnhout: Brepols, 1992).
  5. See references in 'Further Reading'.
  6. Baldwin, John W., The Scholastic Culture of the Middle Ages, 1000-1300, pp. 72-73 ISBN 0-88133-942-3

Further reading

External links

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