|Cassiodorus (Gesta Theodorici: Leiden, University Library, Ms. vul. 46, fol. 2r)|
Cassiodorus is famous for the foundation of his monastery at Vivarium in southern Italy and the copying of books and manuscripts. These activities, however, occurred later in his life. He spent a large part of his earlier career as a Roman statesman serving the administration of Theodoric the Great. Many of his letters are preserved from this time, and in Book 12, letter 21 we find him writing to a certain Deusdedit, a Scribe of Ravenna, about the duties of a scribe. In one place Cassiodorus declares that;
"Banish, therefore, all thoughts of venality from your mind. The worst moth that gets into papers and destroys them is the gold of the dishonest litigant, who bribes the Scribes to make away with evidence which he knows to be hostile. Thus, then, be ready always to produce to suitors genuine old documents; and, on the other hand, transcribe only, do not compose ancient proceedings. Let the copy correspond to the original as the wax to the signet-ring, that as the face is the index of the emotions so your handwriting may not err from the authentic original in anything." (Ep. 12.21)The context appears to be that of a courtroom, where the scribe is admitting evidence of some kind (contracts, wills, deeds, and the like) and transcribing the minutes of the court proceedings. I find it particularly telling that Cassiodorus declares that the scribes task is to "transcribe only" and not to "compose." And in relation to the copying of texts, he states, "let the copy correspond to the original" and ensure that the "handwriting may not err from the authentic original in anything."
Though the topic of Cassiodorus's letter primarily concerns the scribes task in the courtroom (a primary task for an official city scribe), I cannot help but think that this gives a glimpse into his attitudes towards the copying of biblical texts later in his life.
Hodgkin, Thomas, trans. The Letters of Cassiodorus. London: Henry Frowde, 1886. (pg. 511-512)