Early Christian Illuminated Manuscripts

Authored by: Dorothy Verkerk

The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138857223
eBook ISBN: 9781315718835
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315718835-16

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Abstract

Early Christian illuminated manuscripts show a remarkable range of formats in the relationship between text and image, indicating that this was a period of vigorous experimentation before standardization. The surviving books with illustrations also show that early Christians read, enjoyed and commissioned a diverse choice of literature from sacred texts to medicinal herbals and classical writings. An illustrated full Bible (called a Pandect) with both Old and New Testaments does not survive from the early Christian period, so the chapter is arranged to show the variety of books read and illustrated by early Christians. The tendency was to choose a selection of Biblical books, such as the Pentateuch and the Gospels, to illustrate, perhaps since these were books of history and the life and teachings of Christ. The extant illuminated manuscripts represent an elite group of codices created for a privileged audience.

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