Peter's Compendium

So far this blog has not directed much attention to the Compendium historiae in genealogia Christi, a 12th-century work by Peter of Poitiers which presents a completely new stemmatic diagram. Peter was a believer in the Trinubium, the three marriages of St Anne, and his vast genealogical infographic went into wide circulation in medieval Europe. There is no evidence the Compendium is adapted from the Great Stemma, though it seems plausible that Peter would have known of the Great Stemma and would have been inspired by it to design his own diagram ab initio.

In his 1943 article in Estudios Biblicos on the Great Stemma, Teófilo Ayuso claims that one of the codices where it is reproduced is a 14th- or 15th-century bible at the University of Barcelona, which his 1943 article terms Barc1, though it later becomes Barc3 in his peculiar numbering. This is online: I found a digital version yesterday. Its call number is Sig. Ms. 762. (There is another fine Barcelona University bible online, Sig. Ms. 856, but this does not contain any stemmata.) Sig. Ms. 762 is described at volume 2, page 308 of Miquel Rosell's printed catalog as follows: Ff. 2-7. Genealogias. Inc.: De Cain. Cain agricola dolens ... Expl.: De Tiberio ..., sub quo Dominus est passus. It also contains an Interpretationes Hebraicorum Nominum.

It is clear from only superficial examination that including this bible in the Great Stemma camp is another of Ayuso's blunders. The Barcelona bible very clearly contains the Compendium diagram, not the Great Stemma.

This can be readily seen by comparing it to other codices. There are several good online presentations of the Compendium. An impressive one is Ms Typ 216 at the Houghton Library of Harvard University, a roll-manuscript (probably intended for use as a wall-chart). It can be viewed in sections here.

There is a finely drawn 12th-century (?) version in codex form in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, spread over 10 pages in an anonymous seven-folio document, Plut.20.56 (5v is the final page of the diagram). An early 13th-century manuscript from England now in Paris, Lat. 15254, contains the same chart. I expect there are many others, but this is what some searching today turned up. [An excellent starting point is Nathaniel Taylor's survey, and I see the Met Museum also has a damaged scroll which is online in low resolution.]

As far as I know, there has been no printed version since the rather inaccurate editio princeps of the Compendium published by Zwingli in 1592, which differs in signal ways from the manuscripts above. MDZ offers it digitized. I have not done a bibliography on the Compendium yet, but it is discussed at length by Christiane Klapisch-Zuber in chapter 6 of L'Ombre des Ancêtres and there are some articles mentioned in a footnote by Stork.


  1. http://archiv.twoday.net/stories/115270836/

  2. Peter of Poitiers Compendium shows up in English in 1568; it's the genealogy of Christ Archbishop Parker uses for the Bishops' Bible.

  3. Thanks a lot for this. I cannot find a full copy on the free internet (Princeton's copy at archive.org is lacking the pages of the first half of the diagram), but EEBO has a paywalled copy here. There is also a Text Creation Partnership transcript of it. But at first glance, the English does not seem an exact translation of Peter.

  4. The scholarship I've looked at indicates that the manuscripts differ widely in the information they include. The Bishops Bible version is clearly translated from the Latin--one can tell by the scrambled pronouns. Since Parker had multiple copies (which are still in his library at Cambridge), presumably he's using one of them as a base text. But do the versions you have, under King Ozee (Hoshea), the last king of Israel, say that he allowed his people to go to Jerusalem three times a year. That seems not to be in the Bible, and the only reference I could locate gave the source as Yer. Ta'an. iv. 7; Giṭ. 88a. I'm guessing that's a reference to the Targums, but that's just a guess.

  5. I might pass that question on to an expert greater than myself ...