Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Devil’s bible – Codex Gigas

Codex Gigas
Codex Gigas known as the Devil’s Bible is the largest and the strangest manuscripts in the world.

 It is so huge that it is said to have taken more than 160 animal skins to make it, needing at least two people to lift it and measures around one metre in length. Gigas in Latin means giant and Codex Gigas when translated mean `giant book’.

It is an appropriate name since the codex is the largest single volume surviving from the 13th century monks.

The medieval manuscript according to legend was created out of a pact with the devil and this is the reason why it is sometimes referred to as the Devil’s bible.

 It is said to be written during the 13th century in Latin in the Benedictine monastery of Podlazice in Bohemia which is modern Czech Republic and though the origin of the manuscript is not known, a mention in the manuscript states that it was pawned at Sedlec in 1295 in a monastery.

Entire Collection Plundered by Swedish Army - 1648

Codex Gigas
Codex Gigas has a complete vulgate Latin translation of the Bible and five other major texts and begins with the Old Testament continuing with Antiquities of the Jews, by Flavius Josephus, Encyclopedia Etymologiae by Isidore of Seville, a collection of medical works of Hippocrates, Theophilus and others, the New Testament and the Chronicle of Bohemia by Cosmas of Prague.

Smaller text have also been included in the manuscript like magic formula, exorcism, images of the Heavenly city together with illustration of the devil which was why the legend was said that the codex had been written with the devil’s help.

 It was during the 30 years’ war in 1648, that the entire collection was plundered by the Swedish army but is now preserved at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm, though not on display. Many have been debating that one man could not have written the complete text alone but a recent investigation team of scholars who had been sponsored by National Geographic, support this claim that the Codex has been the work of one man.

Inked Used from Crushed Insect Nest

Codex Gigas
On research done of the manuscript’s text, investigators discovered that the book used only one kind of ink which was made from crushed insect nest and the style and font of the calligraphy was consistent throughout, leading the investigators to believe that the manuscript was the work of a single scribe instead of many.

The team were also of the opinion that the manuscript could have taken a minimum of twenty five to thirty year to get it completed.

The lettering of the text is believed to be self, due to the lack of sophistication and the pages made from the skins of donkeys. Codex legend indicates that the text sprang from a pact which was made between a doomed monk and the devil.

The manuscript consists of illuminations in blue, green, gold, red and yellow, with capital letters elaborately illuminated, frequently across the whole page.

It has a unified look with no change in the writing, without any signs of age, disease or mood on the part of the scribe which may have led to believe the that entire book could have been written in a short time though scientists are of the belief and researching the theory that it could have taken over years for completion.

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