Comestor (Petrus) Historia Scholastica, Liber Genesis, 6 leaves (one quire) from a decorated manuscript on parchment, remains of two columns, 57/58 lines, written in a small gothic hand, numerous penwork initials of different sizes alternating in red and blue, in a few cases with extension, fine small drawing in red ink showing the ark in the margin on fol. 3v., recto of first leaf rather scuffed, script erased in places, a few stains, one organic hole to last leaf, 4to, 207 x ca. 150 mm., ?Italy, late 13th century.
⁂ These highly significant leaves come from a decorated manuscript containing the famous Historia Scholastica, a basic textbook for students composed by the French mid-twelfth-century theologian Peter Comestor or Peter Manducator (literally 'Peter the Eater'). The work is a sacred history, from the Creation to the episodes narrated in the Acts of the Apostles; it enjoyed a wide diffusion in the Middle Ages, and was translated into several vernacular languages. The quire offered here contains part of the historical narrative of Genesis, the creation, the fall of Adam and Eve in Paradise, the flood and the ark, etc., until the arrival in the Land of Canaan.
The Historia Scholastica also represents a precious source for Christian iconography. Of the greatest significance is Comestor's description of the serpent which tempted Eve; the French theologian claimed it would have had the face of a young girl, greatly influencing subsequent iconography. This description is included within these six leaves.