The manuscript contains the stories of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, based on Pseudo-Bonaventura's Passio et Resurrectio Christi, together with the Gospel of Nicodemus and the Harrowing of Hell.
Contents: (1) ff. 1r-110v, A processe of the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension. Imperfect, beginning 'lete heme go þus a lyue, he wolle trane al þe peple to hym' (i.e. the Council of the Jews) and ends 'fro these fallyng thinges whiche but lyght and shorte, whiche woundeth and sleeþ oure hertes. And wiþ all', the last three words being catchwords (i.e. immediately after the sending down of the Holy Ghost). Apparently based predominantly on the Passio et Resurrectio Christi, although a number of other legends relating to the Passion occur, e.g. the story of the Devil and Pilate's wife, the death of Judas, the legend of the Cross. With numerous marginal additions to the story in a slightly later hand. Some of the prayers are in red.
(2) ff. 111r-125r, A prose version of the Gospel of Nicodemus, much abbreviated in places. When complete this portion of the one manuscript apparently consisted of twenty-two folios, but two are now missing at the beginning and six lower down. Imperfect; begins 'ken hem abyde. We had no myght ne power þer to, sayde þese knyghtes, whate for drede and sorwe of the noyse and grysily sight þat we sawe' (this is the middle of chapter xiii of the Gesta Pilati as printed by Tischendorf, 1853; the manuscript originally began with chapter xii); ends (f. 125) 'And also Pylate lete wryte a þystle to þe Cite of Rome and to þe Emperour Tyberyas Cesar of all Cristes Passyon. Now god for hys much myght yeue vs grace such byleue to have, Wher þorowe We mowe come to endles blysse. Amen.'
According to Ker, the two parts probably formed a continuous narrative, as in British Library Egerton MS 2658 and Stonyhurst MS 43, but the transition between the Resurrection and the Gospel of Nicodemus occurred on a missing leaf.
'A wanton wyfe and a backe dore Sonne will make a ryche man poore' is in the blank space after the text, f. 125r, 16th century: see Oxford dictionary of English proverbs, under 'Nice wife'.
There are several missing leaves:
- (1) a leaf before f. 1r, which begins 'lete hym go thus': Stonyhurst MS 43 B. xliii begins, 'Passio domini nostri Ihesu cristi sit nostra salus et proteccio. That tyme yt oure lord Ihesu Cryst was xxx ȝere'.
- (2) a leaf between f. 14v, which ends 'and comanded watyr', and f. 15r, which begins 'þinges he sayde hem'.
- (3-4) two leaves between f. 110v, which ends 'and sleeþ oure hertes', followed by the catchword 'And wiþ all', and f. 111r, which begins 'ken hem abyde. We had no myght'.
- (5-6) two leaves between f. 118v, which ends 'wende to hys dysciples', and f. 119r, which begins 'Furthe[...] þey wreten and sayden'.
- (7-10) four leaves between f. 122v, which ends 'and þow layst dede in', and f. 123r, which begins 'de a lytell'.
Script: Gothic cursive secretary with influence from anglicana (d, W), a in one compartment, one hand throughout. Dr Ian Doyle informed Ker that British Library, Egerton 2658, and Trinity College, Dublin, 71 (Rolle's English psalter) are probably in the same hand. Written space: 140 x 65 mm and (ff. 115-117) 140 x 55 mm. 21 long lines. Latin pieces on ff. 18-19v and 22v, Christ's prayers to the Father on ff. 23v-24v, St Michael's message to Christ, and 'Ecce rex noster... adoremus eum' on f. 90r, are in red ink.
Secundo folio: lete hym (f. 1r).
Decoration: There are 4- or 5-line initials in blue with red penwork infill and flourishes on ff. 2v, 12r, 14v, 24v, 33r, 40v, 46v, 58v, 62v, 66r, 69v, 73v, 80r, 100r and 109r; there are numerous 2-line initials in the same style. Blank spaces on ff. 14v, 58v, 62v, 69v and 100r may have been intended for pictures.
Other features: Manicules on ff. 34r, 38r and v, 45v, 60v, 68v, 72v, 75v, etc. Two stick figures (birds?) have been drawn in the margin of f. 64v. There is a sketch of a naval vessel with a sea-monster's head at the prow on f. 66v.
Description derived from N.R. Ker, Medieval manuscripts in British libraries, vol. III, Lampeter-Oxford (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), pp. 426-7. By permission of Oxford University Press.