The Sibyl and Her Scribes Manuscripts and Interpretation of the Latin Sibylla Tiburtina c. 1050–1500
The Sibylla Tiburtina is a Latin prophecy attributed to a prophetess from classical antiquity. It concludes with an account of the End of History, involving the coming of the Antichrist and his battle with a Last World Emperor. Approximately 100 manuscripts, written between the mid-11th and the 16th centuries, survive which testify to the Tiburtina's immense popularity in the medieval West; as such the Tiburtina is a key text for understanding medieval apocalypticism and occupies an important place in the intellectual history of the Middle Ages. However, studies of the manuscripts and the history of the text have been largely neglected, in comparison with other similar works, so little is currently known about who copied and read the prophecy. Dr Holdenried's research fills this gap. This study is based on an examination of all surviving manuscripts and includes an analysis of the textual material which accompanies the Tiburtina, a survey of titles and annotations, as well as research on variant texts (including several hitherto unknown). Modern historiography regards the Tiburtina solely as a vehicle for expressing contemporary political concerns triggered by crises thought to herald the End of the World. This book provides a much more varied picture and offers a new approach to the Tiburtina by placing it, for the first time, in the context of medieval traditions which saw Sibylline prophecy as independent, non-Christian evidence of Christ's life and as confirmation of His divinity. As is shown, these traditions had a major impact on the reception of the Tiburtina. The book concludes with a repertory of the manuscripts, together with brief outlines of individual textual traditions as represented in groups of manuscripts, which will constitute a valuable reference source for other scholars.
'The research that she has done on the manuscript tradition is outstanding and deserves to be made more widely available. In addition, she has made a significant contribution to broader understanding of the diffusion of the Sibyllina by demonstrating how the Christological sections of the Sibylla Tiburtina were much more important than had previously been known. In making this point, she corrects much previous scholarship on this family of texts (including my own).' Bernard McGinn, University of Chicago