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Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Leitourgikon

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, completed in 1654, is a <i>Leitourgikon</i>, which contains those portions of the text for the main eucharistic liturgy that are read by the priest. It includes the three versions of the liturgy in general Greek Orthodox use: the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, the Liturgy of St Basil, and the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. The latter is used during Lent, in which period the bread and wine of Communion are consecrated before the service; consequently, the consecration is not included in the text. Each of the three liturgies here is preceded by a <i>diataxis</i>, a prefatory text giving further instructions to the priest. The manuscript also contains the Office of the Lesser Purification, the standard rite for the blessing of holy water. It is richly ornamented with headpieces preceding the texts and many large and elaborate initial letters.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The text is written in a number of different styles of script, but appears to be the work of a single scribe, switching between styles in order to distinguish the different portions of the text. The first and last items of text, the <i>diataxis</i> to the liturgy of St John Chrysostom and the Office of the Lesser Purification (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(7);return false;'>i recto-i verso</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(175);return false;'>ii recto-iv verso</a>) are written in particularly small script, unparalleled elsewhere in the manuscript, and it has been suggested that they were the work of a later hand. In this case, these texts would have to have been added on originally blank endleaves, since these folios belong to the main quire structure and are not distinct additions. This question is particularly significant as the copyist of these portions included a colophon (on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(180);return false;'>f. iv verso</a>), giving his name as Dionysios and the year in which he completed his work as 1654. The dating of the bulk of the manuscript and identification of its copyist therefore depends on whether this was the same person responsible for the first and last items.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>However, the style of the hand and ornament of the small script seems consistent with those appearing elsewhere in the manuscript, while the watermarks of the papers used in the manuscript suggest a date for its production of around 1650, very close to the date given in the colophon. It would also be peculiar if the <i>diataxis</i> of the liturgy appearing first had not been included by the original scribe, as those given for the other two liturgies refer back to it. It remains possible that the former was included as an afterthought, after the copying of the manuscript had begun but before the copying of the Liturgy of St Basil began, but it seems very likely that the full content of the manuscript belongs to the same programme of work by Dionysios.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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