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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Gospel book

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This Gospel book, much of which is missing, appears to be a product of the Hodegon monastery in Constantinople in the 14th century. It is written in a beautiful calligraphic script in the style which takes its name from the monastery and typifies its substantial output of manuscripts in this period. This style had a widespread influence, but the script of this manuscript conforms very precisely to products of the Hodegon scriptorium.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Other features also accord closely with Gospel books from the Hodegon from this period, such as <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>London, British Library Burney MS 18</a> and <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>London, British Library Add. MS 11837</a>. The particulars of the distinct style of script used for the rubric match, as well as that of the main text, and so do the textual features of this supporting apparatus. As is commonplace, the book was marked in the margins with the numbers of the standard sequence of chapters (κεφάλαια) and equipped from the outset for lectionary use, with marks in the main text for the beginning and end of lections and marginal notes identifying the position of the lections in the calendrical sequence. Much more unusually, it also features sequential numbering of lections (ἀναγνώσεις) in the margin, whereas the sequence of numbers for the standard subdivision sequence of Ammonian sections, a common feature of Gospel books, is absent. This distinctive combination of elements corresponds with other Hodegon manuscripts. The book was also provided with running headers identifying the current Gospel, another feature found in the British Library Hodegon manuscripts as well. The arrangement of ruling lines is the same as that found in MS Burney 18.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript is a less costly production than the other Hodegon Gospel books noted above, since its rubric has not been gilded and the ornament is inked in a single colour, although it is not entirely clear whether the present ornament is that which was originally intended. The loss of much of the manuscript has removed the whole of the Gospel of John, the end of each Gospel except Matthew, and the beginning of each one except Mark. Consequently, only Mark features its chapter list and opening ornament (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(127);return false;'>f. 89r</a>). The rubricator responsible for headings and apparatus and for the minor initials to the text has marked out the space to be occupied by the rectangular headpiece in red ink, for an artist who was then to add the headpiece itself and the major initial opening the Gospel text. However, while the boundary rectangle is incorporated within the design of the headpiece, the headpiece occupies a larger space, and its extended ornament overlaps with the title of the text. This suggests either that there was a failure of coordination in a single process of production, or that the ornament originally intended for inclusion was never added, and that the present decoration was added at some later date. In this case, it could be that the original plan was for this manuscript to be as opulently decorated as the other cited products of the Hodegon.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript was once the property of the monastery of Hagia Paraskeve in the village of Vrangiana, in the eastern Pindos Mountains in Central Greece. This is attested by a number of notes written by an inhabitant of the village, a teacher named Chrestos Athanasiou, in the neighbouring village of Trovaton, which appear to record his donation of the manuscript to the monastery in 1868 (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(219);return false;'>155r</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(226);return false;'>158v</a>). However, within only a few years it had entered the stock of a London bookseller, from whom the University Library bought it in 1874.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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