Medieval British Vulgate Bible Leaf with Gospel According to John (1:1 to 3:2)


A finely decorated page from the New Testament of the Medieval Vulgate Bible, arranged according to the chapter division attributed to Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury (1207-28). The leaf features two columns of 44 lines of texts, heightened with opulent gold, black, blue and red pigments. The text is a fine example of the popular Medieval and Renaissance gothic book-hand script, known as ‘letter bâtarde’. The front of this leaf has one capitalised and enlarged initial, a large ‘I’ that extends down the left column, highlighting the word ‘in’ which marks the beginning of the Gospel according to Saint John. The reverse of the page presents two enlarged ‘E’, highlighting the words ‘et’ and ‘erant’ at the beginning of the second and third chapter of the Gospel respectively. The first ten lines of the leaf read the last paragraph of the Prologue of Saint Jerome.

Date: Circa 13th century AD
Condition: Fine condition, a cut to the right edge of the page and lower section of the right column.


SKU: MG-162 Category: Tags: , ,

The Middle Ages in Europe saw a rise in the creation of the codex, as especially dedicated monks, known as amanuensis, devoted their lives to the recording of documents into manuscripts. The preciousness of these books translated into a proper art form, as decoration was introduced to the text and illuminated manuscripts became an artistic exercise that combined beauty with daily life objects. Bibles and special prayerbooks, called Book of Hours, were enriched with incredibly intricate designs with floral and animal motifs; gold leaf was often employed and calligraphy was used in an artistic fashion. Religious texts were of great importance, though many classical Greek and Latin literary works have survived to this day thanks to the patient work of the amanuensis, who recorded the ancient versions of the texts discovered in libraries across all of Europe, and circulated them spreading culture and leading to the establishment of universities.

The Vulgate Bible is a late 4th century Latin translation of the Bible, commissioned by Pope Damasus I in AD 382 and affirmed as the official Bible of the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent (1545-1563). The translation was predominantly the work of St. Jerome, who revised the Vetus Latina text of the four Gospels using the original Greek writings as reference. Often portrayed in his study or accompanied by a lion, famous among the many is the painting by Antonello da Messina exhibited at the National Gallery in London, St. Jerome was the leading biblical scholar of his time. He was known for his numerous biblical and theological work, as well as his teachings on Christian moral life, which profoundly influenced the early Middle Ages. Pocket bibles produced in England during this period, such as this example, are recognisable by the script and the style of illumination, and, in contrast to those most commonly produced in France, they omitted the Book of Psalms.

To find out more about Medieval manuscripts please see our relevant blog post: Illuminated Manuscripts and Vellum Pages.

Weight 1.95 g
Dimensions L 19.5 x W 14.2 cm



You may also like…