Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Gospel book

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This Gospel book, probably copied in the 11th century, contains two surviving Gospels, those of Luke and John, each preceded by a chapter list and a portait miniature of the author. The miniatures, now considerably damaged, were rendered in paint only, without the use of gold. An unusual feature in that of St John is that the evangelist's symbolic creature, the eagle, is holding a rectangular object of uncertain identification in its beak.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The two main texts were copied by two different hands, and it is conceivable that they belong to two different original manuscripts bound together. While the style of the miniatures appears consistent, the folio bearing that of Luke (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(12);return false;'>f. 2v</a>) could have been an insertion into its quire (a common enough feature even when miniatures formed part of the original production), so it could have been added after the two were combined. However, a bifolio (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(227);return false;'>ff. 110-111</a>) has been inserted into the text of John, whose ruling pattern differs from those found elsewhere in the manuscript but which appears to have been copied by the hand responsible for copying Luke. The text proceeds continuously, and this insertion presumably replaces an original bifolio either lost or removed due to damage or some defect in its production. This indicates that the scribe who copied Luke was working on the manuscript after the copyist of John, and since the features of the former's script would, if anything, tend to suggest an earlier date than the latter, it is unlikely that the replacement leaves were inserted a long time after the rest of the text of John was copied. It is therefore probable that the two scribes worked contemporaneously on a single project.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>There are nonetheless some differences in approach between the two portions. The headings, section numbers and original annotations added to the Gospel of Luke in red ink appear to have been the work of a distinct rubricator, whereas those of John seem to have been the work of the same scribe as the main text. The copyist of Luke appears to have been responsible for the chapter list to that Gospel, whereas the list of chapters for John was added by a later hand on blank folios. The presence of this blank space suggests that this content was always intended to be included, but was never actually completed during the original project.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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