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Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Gospel book

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This <i>Gospel book</i>, probably copied in the second half of the 12th century, is equipped in an unusual fashion for liturgical use. It is common to find marginal notes, whether included as part of the book's production or added by later users, identifying the day or days of the liturgical calendar on which a particular passage would be read, and the words ἀρχή and τέλος marked in the text to identify the beginning and end of these lections. In this manuscript, however, the liturgical notes are included as headings in the main sequence of text, marked out by the use of red ink. These rubrics also include the prefatory phrases which would be spoken at the beginning of a lection, either giving specific contextual information or merely a generic introduction such as "At that time" or "Christ said to his disciples". In lectionary manuscripts these phrases are routinely included in the text, but they do not usually feature in books where the Biblical text is written in sequence.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The Gospels are also accompanied by a variety of supporting texts, including chapter lists, poetic epigrams, introductory hypotheses regarding their authors and context of composition, and closing subscriptions giving more basic information of this kind or counts of their subdivisions under different systems. The combination of such texts present here varies between the different Gospels, and includes hypotheses not commonly found. The system of κεφάλαια (chapters) used here also does not correspond to that usually found, dividing Matthew into 69 sections rather than the typical 68, Mark into 51 rather than 48, and most notably Luke into 27 rather than 83. At some point a later hand added further supplementary texts, some of which duplicate those already included by the original scribe. This may be because the red ink originally used for these purposes has faded considerably and become hard to read, although in this case the process must have been swift, as the style of the later hand suggests that only decades had passed.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript now begins with a summary lectionary listing the readings of the liturgical calendar. The quires containing this material, and also the chapter list to the Gospel of Matthew and a hypothesis to that text, are not included in the sequence of quire signatures, which begins with the first quire of the Gospel itself. This indicates that this content was added after the production of the manuscript had begun. However, these quires appear to be the work of the same scribe, while similar supporting texts for the other Gospels were part of the original production process. It can be concluded that the inclusion of the additional material was a revision of the original plan of production rather than a later event.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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