The Rebirth of the Vienna Genesis

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The Vienna Genesis is one of the most ancient purple manuscripts surviving today, dating back to the early 6th century. In 2019 we will see its rebirth thanks to a one-of-a-kind facsimile edition by Quaternio Verlag Luzern.

Vienna Genesis

With its original 96 folios (192 illustrations), the Vienna Genesis (Codex Theol. Gr. 31) is a unique illustrated biblical codex representing episodes from the book of Genesis.

This manuscript is a gem in itself, displaying opulence in each of its elements: the material, the writings, the illustrations.

The rich purple-dyed calfskin vellum gives the manuscript a royal look, as the same shade of purple was used to dye imperial cloth.

The text occupies the top half of the page and is written in uncials with golden and silver ink, which has caused the parchment to undergo localized corrosion.

The bottom half of the page displays lavish miniatures painted in water colors, each depicting two or more episodes. 

Die Wiener Genesis: a new facsimile edition by Quaternio Verlag Luzern

The Vienna Genesis was published as facsimile edition back in 1980 by Insel Verlag in Frankfurt. The existing facsimile, while fascinating, is lacking several features of a modern edition. For example, the manuscript holes caused by the corrosion of parchment are replaced by fill-in background colored in grey (see photo below).  A new facsimile edition by Quaternio Verlag Luzern, currently in production and available in 2019, will give researchers the chance of a more realistic experience when perusing the manuscript facsimile.

Book lovers will relive the magic of the original manuscript thanks to this new release, which will be fundamentally different in terms of accuracy and care for detail. The physical defects of the original, such as instances of corrosion and holes, will be replicated with a lot more precision, allowing the user to experience the actual feel of the manuscript.

The paper employed by Quaternio Verlag Luzern will replicate the feel of the original thin parchment, and will prove to be a lot more effective than the thicker paper used in the previous facsimile edition of the Vienna Genesis.

The facsimile will be accompanied by a commentary, specifically written for this edition. An additional scientific commentary by the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek will be released at a later date and all manuscript lovers who will have bought the facsimile edition will get hold of the commentary for free.

Giovanni and Gunter at Frankfurt Book Fair, holding one of the most recent Quaternio publication, the Breslau Psalter

I have to admit that the Vienna Genesis is one of my favorite manuscripts and the Insel facsimile gave me hours of pleasure while flicking through its sumptuous pages. I am thrilled to know that Quaternio is planning this new edition and I can’t wait to hold it in my hands: Gunter, the publisher, never disappoints with his work so I’m sure this new edition will be up to the expectations.

If you, like me, can’t wait to hold the Wiener Genesis in your hands, you can pre-order your copy. Just visit this link and Request Info after reading the exciting story of the manuscript.