Friday, February 21, 2014

The Lindisfarne Gospels

The Lindisfarne Gospels  are an illuminated manuscript produced around the year 700 in a monastery off the coast of Northumberland at Lindsfarne.  It is now on display in the British Library  in London. The manuscript is one of the finest works in the unique style of Insular art. Combining Mediterranean, Angelo Saxon and Celtic traditions

The Lindisfarne Gospels are presumed to be the work of a monk named Edafrith who became Bishop of Lindisfarne  in 698 and died in 721. It is believed they were produced to honour of St cuthbert. to commemorate the elevation of Cuthbert's relics. The Gospels are richly illustrated in the insular style and were originally encased in a fine leather binding covered with jewels and metals made by Billfirth the Anchorite in the 8th century. During the Viking raids on Lindisfarne this jewelled cover was lost and a replacement was made in 1852. The text is written in insular script, and is the best documented and most complete insular manuscript of the period.

In the 10th century an Old English translation of the Gospels was made: a word-for-word gloss inserted between the lines of the Latin text by Aldred.. This is the oldest extant translation of the Gospels into the English. Due to Viking raids the monastic community left Lindisfarne around 875, bringing with them Cuthbert’s body, relics, and books including the Lindisfarne Gospels. The Gospels may have been taken from Durham Cathedrall during the Dissolution of the monestaries ordered by Henry the 8th .The Lindisfarne Gospels are in remarkable condition and the text is complete and undamaged. However, the original binding of the manuscript was destroyed. In March 1852 a new binding was commissioned for the Lindisfarne Gospels.

 graphic: Three pages from the Lindisfarne Gospels


Tim Shey said...

I never knew about the Old English translation of the Gospels. I wonder if John Wycliffe had ever heard about that translation.

I met this Catholic priest years ago in Nebraska. He told me about Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. Cuthbert was a great man of God.

The Life and Miracles of Cuthbert of Lindisfarne

Brad Culver said...
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Brad Culver said...

Tim that's an interesting thought. I have no idea whether Wycliffe was aware of these translations. thanx for the Cuthbert link. Always interested in broadening my awareness. deep peace Tim