Monday, September 19, 2011



The making of Biblical manuscripts (4th-15th centuries):

Appraisals and perspectives
International conference
University of Namur (FUNDP), Belgium
Research centre « Pratiques médiévales de l’écrit »
24-25 May 2012
Throughout the Middle Ages, the Bible was one of the most copied texts in the Christian world. As a sacred text, it was widely commented, rewritten and put to various uses in different contexts and with different purposes. It reflects the various changes that writing systems and technologies underwent; not surprisingly, it was the first book to be printed. Wherever one looks, the Bible gave rise to the most sophisticated expressions of the medieval craft of book-making.

Biblical texts and manuscripts have for a long time attracted the attention of philologists, exegetes and historians; however, things are different when it comes to the artefacts that gave the Bible its material existence. Although the production of biblical books in certain periods and a few exceptional manuscripts have already been studied in detail, we are still very far from being able to build a historical typology of biblical books. To achieve this aim, it seems necessary to adopt a global and a comparative perspective. Therefore, a particular effort needs to be made to highlight the manner in which the difficulties involved in the material process of making the sacred book have been resolved at different points in time and in different countries.

This conference intends to establish the state of the art with respect to Bible making from late Antiquity to the fifteenth century, while also opening up new perspectives for future research. In order to promote a comparative and comprehensive approach to these issues without losing focus, the conference will concentrate on Bible making in the West (both in Latin and in the vernaculars) as well as in the Byzantine and Hebraic parts of the Mediterranean world.

The conference organizers look forward to receiving proposals that centre on the material aspects of Bible books and especially those that adopt a wide-ranging approach; reports on finished or ongoing research are both welcome. Case-studies on isolated textual witnesses will only be considered if they shed new light on production modes and technical aspects that can be shown to have a wider currency. Similarly, paper proposals addressing cultural aspects (e.g. contexts of production and reception), philological aspects (e.g. issues of text transmission, the set-up of books and prologues, paratextual features) or iconographic ones (e.g. the decorative apparatus) should preferably address their interaction with the books’ material aspects (structure of the volumes, lay-out, readability...).

Seeking to clearly define the thematic scope of the conference, we propose a pragmatic definition of the concept of “Bible book” as follows:
* the entire Bible text, or a part of it, organized on a book-after-book basis, with or without marginal comments, handwritten or printed (incunabula);
* the entire Bible text, or a part of it, prepared for liturgical uses (evangelical books, psalters), with the exception, however, of liturgical books which include non-biblical materials (missals, breviaries, books of hours).
Abstracts (maximum 500 words) are to be sent before 30 September 2011 to Confirmation of acceptance will be given as soon as possible.

A small number of grants are available for junior scholars and PhD students who have no access to institutional funding. Please send your application (including a short CV) to

Xavier Hermand:
Chiara Ruzzier:
Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix
rue de Bruxelles 61
B-5000 Namur

Invitation and call for papers (PDF)

1 comment

  1. Jim Raymond, Ft. Worth, TX9/27/2011 7:14 pm

    Let's see...can we suppose that "issues of text transmission" will be a hot topic?