The Codex Amiatinus and its “Sister” Bibles: Scripture, Liturgy, and Art in the Milieu of the Venerable Bede


The Codex Amiatinus and its “Sister” Bibles examines the full Bibles (Bibles containing every scriptural text that producers deemed canonical) made at the northern English monastery of Wearmouth–Jarrow under Abbot Ceolfrith (d. 716) and the Venerable Bede (d. 735), and the religious, cultural, and intellectual circumstances of their production. The key manuscript witness of this monastery’s Bible-making enterprise is the Codex Amiatinus, a massive illustrated volume sent toward Rome in June 716, as a gift to St. Peter. Amiatinus is the oldest extant, largely intact Latin full Bible. Its survival is the critical reason that Ceolfrith’s Wearmouth–Jarrow has long been recognized as a pivotal center in the evolution of the design, structure, and contents of medieval biblical codices.
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Biographical Note

Celia Chazelle teaches at The College of New Jersey. She is author of The Crucified God in the Carolingian Era (Cambridge, 2001) and has edited and co-edited multiple volumes on medieval topics, including Why the Middle Ages Matter (New York, 2011). She was elected Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America in 2019.

Table of contents

List of Color Plates
List of Figures
List of Maps and Tables
List of Abbreviations
1 Wearmouth–Jarrow and the Context of the Codex Amiatinus
 Part 1. The Wearmouth–Jarrow Bibles
 1 Wearmouth, Jarrow, and Ceolfrith’s Last Journey
 2 The Codex Amiatinus
 3 Other Wearmouth–Jarrow Biblical Manuscripts
 4 Full Bibles Made for Wearmouth–Jarrow
 5 The Codex Amiatinus as Bible Witness
 6 Aims and Approach in this Book
 7 A Case of Mistaken Identity
 8 Art Historians and Amiatinus
 Part 2. Bibles and Their Contexts
 1 The Narrative Evidence
 2 Wearmouth–Jarrow and its Environs
 3 The Easter Controversy
 4 Wilfrid, Theodore, Biscop, and Ceolfrith
 5 The Archcantor John, Liturgy, and Monotheletism
 6 Wearmouth–Jarrow, Kings, and Bishops
 7 The Years 710–c.716
 8 Wearmouth–Jarrow and its Bibles
2 Bede, Monasticism, and Scripture
 Part 1. The Monastic Life and Scripture’s Moral Teachings
 1 Introduction
 2 Hermits and Coenobites
 3 Preaching and Teaching
 4 Approaches to Scripture
 5 Biblical History
 6 Exploring Scripture’s Figurative Senses
 7 Moralizing Exegesis
 8 Contexts
 Part 2. Misinterpreting Scripture
 1 Correcting the Errant
 2 Eschatology, Easter Reckoning, and Free Will and Grace
 3 Easter Reckoning
 4 Grace, Free Will, and the Possibility of Innocence
 5 Perspectives
3 The Wearmouth–Jarrow Full Bible Manuscripts
 Part 1. The Manuscripts
 1 Introduction
 2 The Codex Amiatinus Biblical Manuscript
 3 Amiatinus’ Biblical Prefaces
 4 Amiatinus’ Capitula
 5 The Biblical Recension
 6 Writing and Text Layout in Amiatinus
 7 Heterogeneity
 8 Biblical Text Subdivisions and Their Articulation
 9 Liturgical Texts
 10 The Biblical Manuscript and Its Exemplars
 11 The Canon Tables
 12 The British Library Folios
 Part 2. Assessing the Manuscript Evidence
 1 Amiatinus, the British Library Folios, and Possible Production Sites
 2 Chronology of Production
 3 The Implications of the Bankes Leaf
 4 The Possible Priority of the Codex Amiatinus
 5 Dating Amiatinus’ Biblical Manuscript
 6 Dating the British Library Folios
 7 The Possible Scope of Wearmouth–Jarrow Bible Production
 8 A Bible for York?
 9 Pandectes
4 Bibles and Reading at Wearmouth-Jarrow
 Part 1. Architecture, Art, and Liturgy at Wearmouth–Jarrow
 1 Introduction
 2 Settings of Worship
 3 Artistic Elements
 4 Extra-Liturgical Reading and Meditation
 5 Rome and Christology
 6 The Liturgy
 7 Scriptural Manuscripts at Wearmouth and Jarrow
 8 Scripture in Rome’s Liturgy
 Part 2. Amiatinus, Liturgy, and the Sister Bibles
 1 Jarrow’s Foundation and Biscop’s Death
 2 Bibles for Reading
 3 Amiatinus and Grandior
 4 Writing a Sister Bible
 5 Dynamic Processes of Production
 6 Oriented Reading: The Roles of the Capitula
 7 Amiatinus’ Sister Bibles at Wearmouth and Jarrow
 8 A Gift to Rome
5 The Preliminary Gathering and Painting of the Glorified Christ
 1 Introduction
 2 Grandior and the Christian Topography
 3 Amiatinus’ Preliminary Gathering by June
 4 Folios 1/I Verso–4/V Recto: The Dedication and Ezra Portrait
 5 Folio 3/IV: The Purple Leaf
 6 Folios 2/II Verso–7/III Recto: The Wilderness Tabernacle
 7 Folios 5/VI Recto, 8/VIII Recto, and 6/VII Recto: The Three Biblical Diagrams
 8 Folio 6/VII Verso: The Pentateuch Cross
 9 Folio 796 Verso: The Glorified Christ (Maiestas Christi)
 10 The Preliminary Gathering, the Glorified Christ, Grandior, and Rome
6 A Gift for St. Peter
 1 Introduction
 2 Sacred Space, Sacred Unity
 3 The Prophet Ezra
 4 The Wilderness Tabernacle
 5 The Pentateuch Cross
 6 The Glorified Christ
 7 Amiatinus and the Wider World
7 Connecting Past to Present
 1 Introduction
 2 The Wearmouth–Jarrow Bible-Making Enterprise
 3 The Gift Bible
 4 The Manuscripts after
 5.   Afterword: Commemorating the Gift to Rome Today

Appendix: Codicological Summary of the Codex Amiatinus Biblical
Select Bibliography
Plates and Figures following page


Students and specialists of early medieval and Anglo-Saxon religion, culture, manuscripts, and art; historians of the Bible; academic libraries and institutions; the educated public interested in the early Middle Ages.