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Reviewed by:
  • La Biblia Escorial I.I.6 by Enrique-Arias, Andrés
  • Steven N. Dworkin
Enrique-Arias, Andrés, ed. La Biblia Escorial I.I.6. Transcripción y estudios. Logroño: CiLengua Fundación San Millán de la Cogolla, 2010. 98 pp +1 CDROM. ISBN 978-84-937654-6-0.

A rich tradition of vernacular renderings (romanceamientos) of the Bible flourished in medieval Spain. At least a dozen different manuscripts have preserved Romance versions of the Bible, the largest number in any medieval European vernacular. All but two of these translations are based on the Hebrew Bible and thus exclude the New Testament. In some of the versions derived from the Hebrew text, the Deuterocanonical books follow the text of the Vulgate. These texts were prepared by Jews for the use of both their co-religionists, and for Christian patrons who commissioned and sponsored some of these translations. Although some may reflect earlier originals, the majority of these versions date from the fifteenth century, a time when the Church was not strictly enforcing its prohibition on private ownership of vernacular Bibles. The negative attitude of the Church in the Iberian Peninsula toward vernacular Bibles may explain in part the paucity of Romance Bibles based on the Latin Vulgate. The surviving manuscripts may be but the remnants of a much richer tradition of Romance Bibles in medieval Spain. In addition, vernacular Bible texts constitute lengthy sections of such works as the early thirteenth-century Fazienda de ultra Mar and the Alfonsine General estoria (the latter based on the Vulgate). Romance biblical fragments also turn up in several fifteenth-century texts. Three recent studies by Gemma Avenoza provide an informative description and analysis of the manuscripts that have preserved medieval Spanish Bibles.

The Biblical text contained in Escorial Manuscript I.I.6 (also known as I-J-6 and E6; hereafter E6) is one of the two medieval Spanish vernacular Bibles translated directly from the Vulgate (the other being Escorial MS I.I.8 or E8) and is the oldest Castilian vernacular Bible. This copy was executed ca. 1250 and, consequently, is the longest extant pre-Alfonsine Castilian prose text. It is a treasure trove of early Castilian linguistic forms. Its 358 double-columned [End Page 291] folios contain the Old Testament starting from Proverbs, and the entire New Testament. Escorial Manuscript I.I.8 (E8) contains most of the Old Testament material missing from E6, a situation which has led some experts to suspect that both go back to a common Vulgate-based original. The Gospel of St. Matthew as transcribed in E6 was edited by Thomas Montgomery, who subsequently joined forces with Spurgeon Baldwin to publish a well-received edition of the remainder of the New Testament. Over the years various scholars have edited individual Old Testament books from E6, often in journals of difficult access or as unpublished dissertations. Enrique-Arias identifies these editions at page 16 of his Introduction to the book under review, which offers its readers the first edition of the entire Biblical text preserved in E6.

Andrés Enrique-Arias is one of the leading specialists in the study of medieval vernacular Spanish Bibles. He is the creator of the website Biblia medieval (, which offers, among other features, a transcription of all extant medieval Spanish Bible manuscripts as well as those portions of Biblical books reproduced in other texts, accompanied by the text of the Vulgate and the Hebrew Bible (the latter both in Hebrew script and in transliteration). Enrique-Arias has designed a parallel corpus, which allows the researcher to compare at one glance how a given Biblical passage is rendered in all the relevant Romance versions. Such a tool is invaluable to the textual critic and to the historical linguist who wishes to compare the choice of, say, orthographical and morphological variants, syntactic constructions, or lexical items. Enrique-Arias himself has authored a number of studies of Spanish morphosyntax based on the data found in the Biblia medieval corpus (e.g., Biblias romanceadas, Lingua eorum).

In addition to a Prologue by Claudio García Turza and a brief Introduction by the editor, four studies accompany the transcription...


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