THE SOURCES AND
OF THE GLOSSA ORDINARIA
ON GENESIS 22
The Glossa Ordinaria, like Rashi’s commentary, is a carefully constructed commentary in which every nearly comment has an earlier source. The Glossa Ordinaria on Genesis 22, like Rashi’s commentary, truncates, paraphrases, and rearranges it sources to give the impression of unified authorship. Both Rashi and the Glossa Ordinaria blur the lines between continuity and change, and between tradition and originality.
The nature of the source material and the unevenness of the resources available necessitate a different treatment of Rashi and the Gloss. Because many early and late manuscripts of the Gloss have been preserved it is possible to trace its development and to compare early and late versions. The two recensions of the Gloss and the differences between them allow us to see the results of half a century of scribal intervention.
This composite nature of the Gloss has always made its authorship difficult to locate. The dramatic changes in the Glossa Ordinaria on Genesis 22 from manuscript to manuscript further complicate the question of authorship. Gibson writes that “Jerome, Bede, and Rabanus [Maurus] wrote it—but inadvertently”1 because of the importance of both their commentaries and Jerome’s Vulgate translation to the Gloss. E. Ann Matter writes of the authorship of the Gloss that “one could say that Jerome, Bede, or Hrabanus are the ‘authors,’ even though the text came together centuries after their deaths.”2 Rabanus deserves special emphasis as one of the inadvertent authors of the Gloss on Genesis 22, since the earliest version of the marginal gloss seems to have been taken nearly word-for-word from his commentary. Gilbert of Auxerre most likely also had a formative role in the construction of the earliest recension of the Gloss,3 though he shared