It has been estimated that in order to produce the three copies of this codex, up to calves were slaughtered. The next stage of production was the writing and decoration of the manuscript. By studying the text, scholars have established that at least seven different scribes were involved in this monumental work. Two of the Bibles produced were placed, one each, in the twin churches in Wearmouth and Jarrow. One of them is now completely lost, whilst only fragments of the other are left, and are kept in the British Library today.
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The book is the work of several scribes writing in Roman uncial and at least one illuminator. It is a product of perhaps the most influential scriptorium in the pre-Carolingian world and is a stunning example of the late Antique style produced in what was at the time the farthest reaches of Christendom.
Named for the Abbey of San Salvatore on Monte Amiata, the book was thought to have been made in Italy until the late s. Among the over folios are two full-page illuminations and a prologue of golden script on a purple ground. Its preservation of the complete text of the early Christian Latin bible and the influence of late Antique style on Insular and Carolingian art make the Codex Amiatinus one of the most important books produced in early medieval England.
Oldest Surviving Complete Vulgate Bible The Codex Amiatinus preserves the oldest complete version of the text of the pre-Carolingian Latin Vulgate bible and is an essential record for scholars of biblical history. The book also contains two full-page illuminations. The first precedes the Old Testament and is a portrait of Ezra writing in his study. The composition is similar to the seated author portraits more commonly used to depict the Evangelists in gospel books. The second is an image of Maiestas Domini.
Christ sits enthroned flanked by two angels in a framed roundel surrounded by the Evangelists, who are accompanied by their symbols. The pink and blue gradients in the background are reminiscent of miniatures in late Antique books.
Like those works, there is little textual decoration and the arcades embellishing the canon tables and prologue are minimal and refined. Innovation and Classicism in Northumbria That it was once mistaken for Italian demonstrates the skill with which the remote monastic community of Wearmouth-Jarrow duplicated the late Antique style of the numerous books brought back from Rome by the abbots Benedict Biscop and Ceolfrith in the latter seventh century. The use of Roman uncial and per cola et commata, beginning a new line for each phrase or sentence, was combined with the Insular practice of adding spacing between words making a text that preserved the appearance of earlier Roman manuscripts while improving the functionality.
This practice continued into the Carolingian period and became standard in Western manuscripts. By the ninth century it was kept at the Abbey of San Salvatore on Monte Amiata and is recorded in the library there in In it moved to the Laurentian library in Florence.
The Codex Amiatinus: The Skins of 500 Calves Were Used to Create this Monumental Manuscript
The symbol for it is written am or A Wordsworth. Some consider it, with White, as perhaps "the finest book in the world"; still there are several manuscripts which are as beautifully written and have besides, like the Book of Kells or Lindisfarne Gospels, those exquisite ornaments of which Amiatinus is devoid. It qualifies as an illuminated manuscript as it has some decoration including two full-page miniatures, but these show little sign of the usual insular style of Northumbrian art and are clearly copied from Late Antique originals. It contains leaves of strong, smooth vellum, fresh-looking today despite their great antiquity, arranged in quires of four sheets, or quaternions. It is written in uncial characters, large, clear, regular, and beautiful, two columns to a page, and 43 or 44 lines to a column.
Naturally, the codex was supposed to be a gift to this house, but nothing was known of the donor. Bandini, the librarian of the Laurentiana, into whose hands the codex came, noticed that the names of neither the donor nor the recipient belonged to the original dedication. They were written in a different hand over parts of the original inscription, as betrayed by evident signs of erasure. The letters italicized above were by the second hand, while the initial letter C of the first line and the E in the fifth were original. Bandini noticed, also, that cenobium replaced a shorter word and that the last five letters of salvatoris were written on parchment that had not been erased, and so that the ten letters of this word replaced five of the original word.
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