Bible Heritage Collection
Manuscript Leaf from a Vulgate Bible
Bible, portable Bible
[1 original leaf scribed in France] This leaf from the 14th century is from a Latin manuscript “portable” Bible. The text includes the prologue to the book of Matthew and then chapter 1 through the first part of chapter 4. The text is handwritten and both sides of the leaf are hand illuminated.
Unlike the large, multi-volume manuscript Bibles of the preceding centuries, the 13th century saw the development of smaller "portable" manuscript Bibles, sometimes called "Paris Bibles." These Bibles now had the complete text of the Scriptures in a single volume. As well, the content of these hand-written volumes and the order of the books of the Bible were becoming standardized and for the first time chapter headings were becoming more consistent from Bible to Bible. This development of smaller single-volume Bibles was driven by the growing use of the Bible as a personal reference and study book by priests and bishops. As well, unlike the large multi-volume folio Bibles, these portable Bibles could more easily be taken by bishops and priests on their journeys, because copies could be carried in saddle bags. Compared to a modern printed Bible, the 13th century portable Bibles look very similar. The weight, size, shape, thin paper, chapter numbers, two columns of text, and the order of the books of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, are virtually unchanged today. This leaf is from a 14th century Latin manuscript “portable” Bible scribed in France. The text includes the prologue to the book of Matthew and then chapter 1 through the first part of chapter 4. The text is handwritten and both sides of the leaf are hand-illuminated.
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