Scriptural exegesis, that is, the critical exposition or interpretation of sacred Scripture and patristic writings, began early in the Christian era and continued throughout the Middle Ages. The simplest type of exegetical writing is the gloss, so that glossing texts (between the lines or in the margins of manuscripts), and later compiling single glosses into collections for teaching purposes, was an essential part of monastic life. A large number of biblical glossaries, many of which follow the order in which the lemmata occur in the original text, are still extant. An exception to this usual ordering practice is Part 3 of Reductorium, repertorium et dictionarium morale utriusque testamenti, written in the fourteenth century by Pierre Bersuire. Another exception, and one of the most important biblical glossaries, is the Summa or Expositiones vocabulorum biblie composed by the Franciscan William Brito between c.1250 and c.1270 (Daly/Daly 1975: xxiii).
The Summa Britonis is not merely a glossary; it is a dictionary of difficult biblical terms.  Most articles contain derivations, etymologies, and quotations, and the entries follow virtually absolute alphabetical order. By reason of its restricted nomenclature, it should probably be regarded as a member of the 'specialist' rather than the 'general language' category of dictionaries. However, its wide distribution - at least 130 copies still exist, spread across Western Europe (Daly/ Daly 1975: xxxvi), and its organization - full alphabetical order, morphological information, use of cross-references, etc., make it an important link in the succession of medieval lexica.
The Vulgate is the principal source for the Summa; of some 2500 articles Daly/Daly (1975: xxiii) identify only fifty whose headwords do not occur in the Vulgate. Citations are plentiful and authors cited include the Roman and early Christian traditions: Horatio, Juvenal, Lucan, Ovid, Priscian, Virgil, Augustine and Jerome, among others, as well as the chief lexicographers of the seventh to the eleventh centuries: Isidore, Papias and Hugutio. Brito takes an important step, however, by adding to his sources new grammarians whose teachings are replacing those of Donatus and Priscian: Alexander of Villedieu, Alexander Nequam, Bene of Florence, Eberhard of Bethune and Peter of Riga.
The Summa is believed to be the primary source of the Mammotrectus, a biblical glossary compiled about 1300 A.D. by Johannes Marchesinus of Reggio (Hessels 1910: 127; Sandys 1921: I, 667). The Mammotrectus contains difficult words of the Bible and the liturgical Hours, with etymological and grammatical explanations. Its arrangement follows the order of books of the Bible as well as the church year, but there is also a supplementary alphabetical index.
A fourteenth-century Latin-French glossary conserved in ms. Montpellier, Faculté de Médecine H236 (see 2.5.2.), also derives a large part of its nomenclature from the Summa Britonis (Grondeux 1994: 41; Merrilees 1994a: v).
Brito's Summa was printed once, in the fifteenth century, under the name of Henricus de Hassia. Lloyd Daly and Bernardine Daly prepared a critical edition of the Summa in 1975.
The Summa grammaticalis quae vocatur Catholicon, usually called simply Catholicon, was finished on March 7, 1286, and influenced European lexicography for more than two centuries until "the time when printing and the humanism of Laurentius Valla and of Erasmus of Rotterdam signalled the beginning of a new era" (Powitz 1996: 300). The huge work exemplifies the close relationship between grammar and lexicography which has been evident since Antiquity. It comprises five sections, four of which deal with grammatical topics: orthography, accent, etymology and syntax, and figures of speech. The fifth part is an alphabetically-arranged, encyclopaedic dictionary comprising more than 14,000 entries (Wallis 1981: ii).  (Powitz 1996: 314 tells us that the printed version contains nearly 670,000 words).
Balbi's intention to illustrate the close links between the grammar and the lexicon is evident throughout the work. Explanations of words appear in the grammar section; information on pronunciation and orthography is consistently provided in the dictionary, where references to the preceding sections also occur frequently, e.g. "sicut dixi supra in tercia parte...", etc. (Della Casa 1981: 42f.; Wallis 1981: 48).
Scholars agree that John Balbi was not an innovative thinker, but a careful, assiduous compiler of material drawn from works he judged to be important.  Rather, it is through his method of constructing his dictionary that he left a lasting mark on medieval lexicography. Wallis (1981: 59) observes that Balbi "fuses into one alphabetically-ordered, cross-referenced sequence a glossary, a grammar, a concordance, a florilegium, a repertory of distinctiones, a theological encyclopaedia, and a scientific encyclopaedia."
Priscian is Balbi's primary source for grammatical notes, followed by Donatus, but contemporary grammarians are also represented: Eberhard of Bethune, Bene of Florence, Alexander of Villedieu and Peter of Riga (Marinoni 1968: 140; Wallis 1981: 40). Papias and Hugutio are the main sources for the lexicon; others are classical authors, the Church Fathers, Isidore, and more contemporary religious authorities such as Thomas Aquinas and Bernard of Clairvaux. The dictionary also contains many biblical quotations, exempla, and numerous versus memoriales. Some of the latter are taken from Hugutio but many come from Eberhard of Bethune and Alexander of Villedieu (Weijers 1989: 144).
Exhibit 3 illustrates that Papias is one of Balbi's principal sources for the macrostructure of the Catholicon, although Balbi decreased the number of lemmata. Of the first twenty-four lemmata in the Catholicon, fifteen occur in the Elementarium:
|Exhibit 3: Elementarium doctrinae erudimentum as a source of the Catholicon|
In relation to his other principal source, Hugutio's Magnae derivationes, Balbi omitted many of the archaic words which had been drawn from glossaries, and added new information, especially of a theological or scientific nature. His most important decision was the separation of the word families in Hugutio's lengthy articles into individual entries (Wallis 1981: 34f.).
The Catholicon was relatively easy to consult and was immediately successful. Copies quickly found their way into churches and convents, and occasionally into private collections, across Europe. The large number of manuscripts still extant (approximately 190, according to Powitz 1996: 300) and the diversity of their locations testifies to its widespread distribution in the Middle Ages.
The Catholicon's sheer size and cost of production inevitably led to its frequent abridgement and adaptation. An example of an all-Latin abridgement is found in ms. Paris, BN lat. 7633, catalogued as Joann. Januensis Catholicon but comprising only 141 folios. (It is incomplete, extending just to the letter 'X'.) The articles are very short, as the following extract shows:
|Exhibit 4: Articles Aalma and Aaron in Catholicon and Catholicon abrégé|
|Aalma interpretatur virgo abscondita vel absconsio virginatis: sicut dicitur in interpretationibus Iero. vero dicit quod aalma significat absconditaque virginem et secretam. de hoc eciam dicam in virgo.||[A]alma Interpretatur virgo abscondita ut absconsio virginitatis.|
|Aaron interpretatur mons fortis. vel mons fortitudinis. sive montanus. ut dicitur in interpretationibus Hugucio vero dicit. aaron interpretatur mons fortitudinis quia thuribulum aureum accipiens inter vivos et mortuos stetit: et ruinam mortis quasi quidam mons fortis exclusit.||Aaron interpretatur fortis.|
|Mainz 1460; reprint Gregg: Westmead, 1971||Ms. Paris, BN lat. 7633|
The Catholicon became a major source for large adaptations such as the Comprehensorium of John the Grammarian (see 1.3.6.); however, it is probably best known for its contribution to bilingual lexica. It is the primary source for a number of Latin-French glossaries and dictionaries such as the manuscript Aalma series (see 2.5.3.), which was later printed as Catholicon abbreviatum (see 4.0.), the Catholicon latin-français contained in mss. Montpellier, Faculté de Médecine, H110 and Stockholm, KB N78 (see 2.5.4.), the French-Latin glossary in ms. Paris, BN lat. 7684 (see 2.5.5.), the Dictionarius of Firmin le Ver (see 2.5.6.), and the printed Vocabularius familiaris et compendiosus (see 5.0.).
The Catholicon is also the chief source of the first English-Latin dictionary, the manuscript Promptorium parvulorum, and of the first printed Latin-English dictionary, the Ortus vocabulorum. Latin-German lexica based on the Catholicon include the Gemma gemmarum and the Vocabularius brevilogus and its printed derivative, the Vocabularius Ex quo.
The first printed edition of the Catholicon was produced by the Gutenberg press at Mainz in 1460, and it was reprinted twenty-four times by 1500 (Powitz 1988: 125). Its final printing was at Lyons in 1520. A 'revised' edition was first published by Matthias Huss of Lyons in 1491, followed by Bonetus Locatellus of Venice in 1495, Hermann Liechtenstein in 1497 or 1498, Petrus Aegidius of Paris in 1499, and Jacques Maillet of Lyons in 1500. The 1506 edition of Parisian printer Josse Bade, which was later reprinted at Lyons and Rouen, represents the most extensive revision.
Littré concludes (1852: 24) that the compiler of the Comprehensorium was Provençal. He bases his assertion on his discovery of a vernacular term in ms. Paris, BN lat. 7678, which he identifies as a Provençal form:
Internal evidence to support our contention that John was a Spanish grammarian is found in: 1) the fact that his first choice as a source is Isidore, the Spanish cleric and scholar who was one of the foremost authorities of the Middle Ages, from whom he declared that he had taken much of the material for his dictionary (see note 20); and 2) entries which include Spanish terms or references, such as the following (the corresponding entry from the Catholicon is given for the purpose of comparison; italic emphasis is ours).
|Exhibit 5: Article Rumor in the Comprehensorium and the Catholicon|
Rumor. oris. m. murmur quod vulgo dicitur novallas a ruo qua celeriter ruat unde rumorculus. li.
Ms. Paris, BN lat. 7678
Rumor a ruo .is dicitur hic rumor .oris .i. murmur vel quod vulgo dicitur novum quia celeriter ruat unde hic rumorculus et hic rumurculus .li ambo diminutiva a rumor
Mainz 1460; reprint Westmead: Gregg, 1971
External evidence to support our theory lies in the fact that the Comprehensorium was the first book printed in Spain (Haebler 1903: 158, 339), finished at Valencia on February 23, 1475. We submit that the nation's first book produced in the new technology was printed from a text which had been compiled by a Spanish author. 
We speculate further that the unknown compiler may have been the thirteenth-century Spanish grammarian, Joannes Aegidius, a Franciscan who was appointed tutor to the son of the king of Castille in 1270 (Hauréau 1885: 586f.). According to Hauréau (1885: 586), before John's appointment he had written a treatise entitled De accentu, in which he cited William Brito as an authority. The author of the Comprehensorium does not include Brito in his list of sources, but the following entry demonstrates that he may have used Brito nonetheless:
|Exhibit 6: Article Abel in Elementarium doctrinae erudimentum, Catholicon, Summa Britonis and Comprehensorium|
Abel interpretatur luctus vel mirabilis, idem et vanitas quia cito subtractus est.
de Angelis 1977, I: 7
Abel interpretatur luctus vel pavor seu vanitas aut miserabilis.
Mainz 1460; reprint Gregg: Westmead 1971
ABEL proprium nomen est viri. Item Abel nomen est lapidis super quem posita fuit archa Domini, sicut habetur i Regum vi g (18)...
Abel filius Ade quae occidit Kaim interpretatur luctus et nomen lapidis super quem fuit reposita Archa dei.
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