Middle English Manuscripts : Process of The Passion; The Gospel of Nicodemus

Middle English Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript contains the stories of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, based on Pseudo-Bonaventura's Passio et Resurrectio Christi, together with the Gospel of Nicodemus and the Harrowing of Hell.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>(1) Folios <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(3);return false;'>1r-110v</a>, A processe of the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension. Imperfect, beginning 'lete heme go þus a lyue, he wolle trane al þe peple to hym' (i.e. the Council of the Jews) and ends 'fro these fallyng thinges whiche but lyght and shorte, whiche woundeth and sleeþ oure hertes. And wiþ all', the last three words being catchwords (i.e. immediately after the sending down of the Holy Ghost). Apparently based predominantly on the Passio et Resurrectio Christi, although a number of other legends relating to the Passion occur, e.g. the story of the Devil and Pilate's wife, the death of Judas, the legend of the Cross. With numerous marginal additions to the story in a slightly later hand. Some of the prayers are in red.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>(2) Folios <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(223);return false;'>111r-125r</a>, A prose version of the Gospel of Nicodemus, much abbreviated in places. When complete this portion of the one manuscript apparently consisted of twenty-two folios, but two are now missing at the beginning and six lower down. Imperfect; begins 'ken hem abyde. We had no myght ne power þer to, sayde þese knyghtes, whate for drede and sorwe of the noyse and grysily sight þat we sawe' (this is the middle of chapter xiii of the Gesta Pilati as printed by Tischendorf, 1853; the manuscript originally began with chapter xii); ends (folio 125) 'And also Pylate lete wryte a þystle to þe Cite of Rome and to þe Emperour Tyberyas Cesar of all Cristes Passyon. Now god for hys much myght yeue vs grace such byleue to have, Wher þorowe We mowe come to endles blysse. Amen.'</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>According to Ker, the two parts probably formed a continuous narrative, as in British Library Egerton MS 2658 and Stonyhurst MS 43, but the transition between the Resurrection and the Gospel of Nicodemus occurred on a missing leaf.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>'A wanton wyfe and a backe dore Sonne will make a ryche man poore' is in the blank space after the text, folio <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(251);return false;'>125r</a>, 16th century: see Oxford dictionary of English proverbs, under 'Nice wife'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>There are several missing leaves:</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>(1) A leaf before folio 1r, which begins 'lete hym go thus': Stonyhurst MS 43 B. xliii begins, 'Passio domini nostri Ihesu cristi sit nostra salus et proteccio. That tyme y<sup>t</sup> oure lord Ihesu Cryst was xxx ȝere'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>(2) A leaf between folio 14v, which ends 'and comanded watyr', and folio 15r, which begins 'þinges he sayde hem'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>(3-4) Two leaves between folio 110v, which ends 'and sleeþ oure hertes', followed by the catchword 'And wiþ all', and folio 111r, which begins 'ken hem abyde. We had no myght'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>(5-6) Two leaves between folio 118v, which ends 'wende to hys dysciples', and folio 119r, which begins 'Furthe[...] þey wreten and sayden'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>(7-10) Four leaves between folio 122v, which ends 'and þow layst dede in', and folio 123r, which begins 'de a lytell'.</p>

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