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Codex Amiatinus

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Title: Codex Amiatinus  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Vulgate, St Cuthbert Gospel, Aldfrith of Northumbria, Novem Codices, Ceolfrith
Collection: 8Th-Century Biblical Manuscripts, Hiberno-Saxon Manuscripts, Illuminated Biblical Manuscripts, Vulgate Manuscripts
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Codex Amiatinus

Portrait, of Ezra, from folio 5r at the start of Old Testament.

The Codex Amiatinus, designated by siglum A, is the earliest surviving manuscript of the nearly complete Bible in the Latin Vulgate version,[1] and is considered to be the most accurate copy of St. Jerome's text. It is missing the Book of Baruch. It was produced in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria as a gift for the Pope, and dates to the start of the 8th century. The Codex is also a fine specimen of medieval calligraphy, and is now kept at Florence in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Cat. Sala Studio 6).

It is named after the location in which it was found in modern times, Mount Amiata in Tuscany, at the Abbazia di San Salvatore.


  • Description 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • Further reading 4
  • External links 5


Maiestas Domini (Christ in Majesty) with the Four Evangelists and their symbols, at the start of the New Testament; page from Codex Amiatinus (fol. 796v), Firenze, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana.

The symbol for it is written am or A (Wordsworth). It is preserved in an immense tome, measuring 1914 inches high, 1338 inches in breadth, and 7 inches thick, and weighs over 75 pounds — so impressive, as Hort says, as to fill the beholder with a feeling akin to awe.[2][3]

It contains Epistula Hieronymi ad Damasum, Prolegomena to the four Gospels.

The Codex Amiatinus qualifies as an illuminated manuscript as it has some decoration including two full-page miniatures, but these show little sign of the usual insular style of Northumbrian art and are clearly copied from Late Antique originals. It contains 1040 leaves of strong, smooth vellum, fresh-looking today despite their great antiquity, arranged in quires of four sheets, or quaternions. It is written in uncial characters, large, clear, regular, and beautiful, two columns to a page, and 43 or 44 lines to a column. A little space is often left between words, but the writing is in general continuous. The text is divided into sections, which in the Gospels correspond closely to the Ammonian Sections. There are no marks of punctuation, but the skilled reader was guided into the sense by stichometric, or verse-like, arrangement into cola and commata, which correspond roughly to the principal and dependent clauses of a sentence. From this manner of writing the script is believed to have been modeled upon the Codex Grandior of Cassiodorus,[4] but it may go back, perhaps, even to St. Jerome.

Page with dedication; "Ceolfrith of the English" was altered into "Peter of the Lombards"

Originally three copies of the Bible were commissioned by Ceolfrid in 692.[1] This date has been established as the double monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow secured a grant of additional land to raise the 2000 head of cattle needed to produce the vellum. Bede was most likely involved in the compilation. Ceolfrid accompanied one copy intended as a gift to Pope Gregory II, but he died en route to Rome.[1] The book later appears in the 9th century in Abbey of the Saviour, Monte Amiata in Tuscany (hence the description "Amiatinus"), where it remained until 1786 when it passed to the Laurentian Library in Florence. The dedication page had been altered and the librarian Angelo Maria Bandini suggested that the author was Servandus, a follower of St. Benedict, and was produced at Monte Cassino around the 540s. This claim was accepted for the next hundred years, establishing it as the oldest copy of the Vulgate, but scholars in Germany noted the similarity to 9th-century texts. In 1888 Giovanni Battista de Rossi established that the Codex was related to the Bibles mentioned by Bede. This also established that Amiatinus was related to the Greenleaf Bible fragment in the British Library. Although de Rossi's attribution removed 150 years from the age of the Codex, it remained the oldest version of the Vulgate.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament (Oxford University Press 2005), p. 106.
  2. ^ H. J. White, The Codex Amiatinus and its Birthplace, in: Studia Biblica et Ecclesiasctica (Oxford 1890), Vol. II, p. 273.
  3. ^ Richard Marsden, Amiatinus, Codex, in: Blackwell encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England, ed. Michael Lapidge,John Blair,Simon Keynes, Wiley-Blackwell, 2001, s. 31.
  4. ^ Dom John Chapman, The Codex Amiatinus and the Codex grandior in: Notes on the early history of the Vulgate Gospels, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1908, pp. 2–8.

Further reading

  • Ferdinand Florens Fleck, Novum Testamentum Vulgatae editionis juxta textum Clementis VIII. Romanum ex Typogr. Apost. Vatic. A 1592 accurate expressum (Lipsiae 1840).
  • Constantinus Tischendorf (1854). Codex Amiatinus. Novum Testamentum Latine interprete Hieronymo. Lipsiae: Avenarius and Mendelssohn. 
  • D. J. Chapman, Notes on the Early History of the Vulgate Gospels, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1908.
  • The City and the Book: International Conference Proceedings, Florence, 2001.
  • Alphabet and Bible: From the Margins to the Centre. Paper at Monte Amiata, 2009.
  • Makepeace, Maria. "The 1,300 year pilgrimage of the Codex Amiatinus". Umilta Website. Retrieved 2006-06-07.  Contains link to facsimile project, as well.
  • H. J. White, Studia Biblica et Ecclesiasctica, in: The Codex Amiatinus and its Birthplace (Oxford 1890), Vol. II, pp. 273–308. reprint from 2007

External links

  • Image of the codex, folio 950
  • David Dimbleby. "Age of Conquest".  
  • The Cambridge History of the Bible, Cambridge University Press 2008, pp. 117–119, 130.


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