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:

Tommy Wasserman said...

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

Peter M. Head said...

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.

Tommy Wasserman said...

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!

Elijah said...

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?

Bill Warren said...

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.

Scott (Sanjay) Hayes said...

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

Dirk Jongkind said...

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

Ron Bailey said...

These are the Lindusfarne gospels.

Tommy Wasserman said...

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.

Dirk Jongkind said...

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.

Bob Relyea said...

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

Bob Relyea said...

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

Mark D Letteney said...

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.

Mark D Letteney said...

My apologies for the misspelling, that is Derek Krueger.

Peter M. Head said...

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.