Monday, January 28, 2013

The Four Evangelists in Gospel Manuscripts

I need every bit of comfort I can get during these January days, so I tried to brighten the mood by looking at some manuscript pictures. I came along the following ones. The way in which Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are depicted is certainly not unique at all, but striking once you think about it:


Rather than as genuine authors listening to the divine whisper, why is each of them depicted as a copiist? I wonder where that comes from. It might be a precursor of some form of the 4 source hypothesis.

A nice detail is that Mark seems to have been caught sharpening his pen.

Anyone venture a guess from which Gospels manuscript these come?

Correction As Elijah pointed out correctly, Mark is the one at the bottom left, and Luke is sharpening his pen.

15 comments:

  1. Cf. this secular fifth century author portrait
    of Virgil with lectern (adjustable in size!) and capsa box:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:RomanVirgilFolio014rVergilPortrait.jpg

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  2. It doesn't look like they are copying the texts on their reading stands. Also can't see 'Son of God' in Mark 1.1 there.

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  3. Ha, ha. In fact that would be a very good illustration of how Mark 1:1 and other Gospel incipits were abbreviated (by Irenaeus just to "αρχη του ευαγγελιου"). This circumstance speaks in favor of the long reading!

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  4. Is that Luke sharpening his pen, and Mark on the bottom left? If this is the case, I clearly see IC XY, but the second line on the left page--what did he write that his pen is partially covering up? Could that be 'Son of God' somehow?

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  5. I was shown a manuscript in Athens recently that had Luke copying a majuscule text, but writing his text in minuscule script just like the scribe of the MS was doing. A very interesting way of picturing Luke.

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  6. The style reminds me of a Byzantine manuscript from the 12th century. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O125622/illuminated-manuscript-unknown/

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  7. Thanks Elijah, you are right, I got the two mixed up. Mark is clearly hesitating about υυ θυ.

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  8. These are the Lindusfarne gospels.

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  9. I wonder if the riddle has anything to do with the oneness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Mark 1:1). There is one Gospel, and yet four.

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  10. The four images were taken from minuscule 932 (ah, that one), a 14th c. manuscript kept in the Dionysiu on Athos. That an these images sum up everything I know about this artefact.

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  11. I thought maybe it was 21st Century, but then I notice Matthew and Luke were only copying from one manuscript rather than 2. (If it was just look with 2 manuscripts, then I would have assumed it was 21st Century from Duke).

    bob

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  12. Hmm 'look' is an interesting spelling for 'Luke', probably just an Itacism.

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  13. A strikingly similar depiction can be found in the mosaics on the north and south walls of the Byzantine Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna. Chapter 3 (I believe) of Derek Kreuger's monograph "Writing and Holiness" has a fascinating (and compelling) discussion of the phenomenon of visually depicting the evangelists in the physical act of writing.

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  14. My apologies for the misspelling, that is Derek Krueger.

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  15. Thanks for that Mark, I hadn't registered that book. Writing and Holiness: The Practice of Authorship in the Early Christian East (details here: http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/14082.html). It sounds somewhat related to Mitchell's book on Chrysostom as interpreter of Paul. There could be interesting intersections with manuscript studies.

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