Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Gospel lectionary (Saturdays and Sundays)

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This richly ornamented Gospel lectionary manuscript was probably copied in the last years of the 10th century, and is written in an unusual hybrid form of majuscule script.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>During the 9th century Greek majuscule script was supplanted by the more compact minuscule form for most purposes, being retained largely for headings and annotations, but for centuries some manuscripts continued to be produced in majuscule. This was most common in lectionaries, perhaps partly because the larger, more distinct and initially more familiar letter-forms were easier to read at a glance for those chanting the text in church, and partly because the use of a more ancient and traditional form had connotations of greater dignity which were appropriate to the most revered of scriptural texts, and to a type of manuscript whose ceremonial purpose meant that they were often particularly ornate and costly productions.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The earliest clearly defined style of Greek majuscule bookhand is known as biblical majuscule, with letters of broad and even width, originally without serifs. The second widespread style, flourishing later but in simultaneous use, is known as ogival majuscule, which features prominent serifs and narrower proportions, especially in the case of the rounded letters <i>epsilon</i>, <i>theta</i>, <i>omicron</i> and <i>sigma</i>. During the early minuscule era biblical majuscule largely dropped out of use, and such majuscule production as continued generally employed either an ogival style or a new hybrid style known as liturgical or Constantinopolitan majuscule, crystallising in the 10th century, which followed the broad forms of the round letters from the biblical style and its smooth, oval <i>omega</i>, while other letters accorded with the ogival type. In this manuscript a different and less consistent synthesis is found, with regular use of both the wide and narrow forms of the round letters. Forms of <i>upsilon</i> and <i>chi</i> as well as <i>omega</i> follow the biblical style, other letters the ogival.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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