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Bound illuminated manuscript in Latin; brown morocco binding; ink, tempera and gold on vellum; 533 leaves
Sheet: 152.5 x 56 cm (60 1/16 x 22 1/16 in.); Image: 152.5 x 56 cm (60 1/16 x 22 1/16 in.); Overall: 35.6 x 24.2 cm (14 x 9 1/2 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 2008.2.iii.b
Original texts of the Old and New Testaments were written in Greek and Hebrew.
Biblical manuscripts were highly prized and important possessions of churches, monasteries, cathedral schools, and universities throughout medieval Europe. The biblical texts were known as the vulgate, the translations made by Saint Jerome in the fourth century from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, which became the definitive and official Latin version of the Roman Church. In the 13th century, the bible was, for the first time, produced as a single volume with an officially sanctioned sequence to its books and chapters as illustrated by this example. The very extensive decoration of this bible is arranged hierarchically to indicate the relative importance of the various texts so that full or almost full-page initials mark the openings of the first prologue, Genesis, and the first Gospel; historiated initials mark the beginning of each book and illuminated initials mark the Prologues.
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