St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, MS gr. 21 and MS 21a

Gospel Lectionary of Trebizond Facsimile Edition

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The Gospel Lectionary of Trebizond, which dates from the second half of the tenth century, is an important example of Byzantine manuscript illumination. It may have been made in the Eastern Roman imperial capital of Constantinople, but there is no scholarly consensus. Also known as the Golden Gospels due to the generous use of gold, the book is an early example of an illuminated lectionary featuring an extensive cycle of miniatures.

The Greek text, unfortunately fragmented, is a collection of passages from the biblical accounts of the life of Christ arranged for use as readings in the liturgy of the Mass. The book's miniatures include portraits of the authors of the Gospels and illustrations of the episodes described in the Gospel readings or of events in the life of the Church.

Monumental Miniatures

Nestled in foliate and geometric frames, the miniatures of the lectionary—six of which occupy a full page—are crucial witnesses to early lectionary pictorial cycles. Sixteen miniatures have survived, and there were at least twelve more in the original codex.

The Harrowing of Hell

Among the full-page miniatures, the representation of the Harrowing of Hell—known as the Anastasis in Greek—provides a fine example of the manuscript's aesthetic (fol. 1v). The scene is dominated by the blue mandorla—an oval aureole—that surrounds the resurrected Christ, which works together with the gold background to emphasize the spiritual dimension of the depicted event. The figure of Christ appears almost weightless as he treads lightly on the personification of Hell below.

Written in Constantinople?

While the decidedly anti-classical style of the miniatures has led some scholars to postulate a "provincial" origin, the fine liturgical majuscule script suggests an origin in Constantinople. The manuscript's scribe, or someone whose writing is very similar, wrote another manuscript made in Constantinople (Moscow, State Historical Museum of Russia, MS Syn. gr. 226).

Piecing the Fragments Together

It is unknown who commissioned the manuscript. The presence of gold and the quality of the painting suggest that it was produced for a high-ranking person. Only a fragment of the manuscript's original splendor survives. Fourteen leaves of the opulent lectionary were bound into an eleventh-century lectionary sometime in the thirteenth century.

In 1858, the composite manuscript was presented to Tsar Alexander II (1818-1881) by the Metropolitan Constantios of Trebizond. When the book entered the Imperial Public Library in the same year, the tenth-century leaves were extracted and rebound. Another leaf from the original lectionary was purchased by the library in 1902 from Athanasius Papadopoulos-Kerameus (1856-1912). In 1918 the Imperial Public Library was renamed the Russian Public Library, known from 1932 to 1937 as the Saltykov-Shchedrin State Public Library, and now the National Library of Russia.

We have 2 facsimiles of the manuscript "Gospel Lectionary of Trebizond":

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Manuscript book description compiled by Erene Rafik Morcos.
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#1 Das Lektionar von St. Petersburg

Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA), 1994

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA

+ 18

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA
  • Commentary (English, German) by Schwarz, Elena M.
  • Limited Edition: 700 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Gospel Lectionary of Trebizond: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

Commentary volume (42 pp.) and facsimile in a slip case. The commentary comprises contributions on the environment of the manuscript, a codicological analysis, and a transcription of the Greek text.

Binding

Leather with blind embossing, true copy of the original binding.

Used and new from

€ 2,100

approx US$ 2,297


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#2 Das Lektionar von St. Petersburg

Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA), 1994

Lectionary of St Petersburg, St. Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Codex gr. 21, 21a, Facsimile edition by ADEVA
Facsimile edition by ADEVA
  • Commentary (English, German) by Schwarz, Elena M.
  • This is a partial facsimile of the original document, Gospel Lectionary of Trebizond: the facsimile might represent only a part, or doesn't attempt to replicate the format, or doesn't imitate the look-and-feel of the original document.

Special edition distributed by Fröelich & Kaufmann: both facsimile and commentary are bound together in the same volume, covered by a fine faux-leather binding. The cover design is inspired on the binding of the standard facsimile edition.

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