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Manuscripts

books contain containing office

Manuscripts are books written by hand (from Latin: manu scriptus ). The book (or codex) form, with groups (gatherings) of folded sheets sewn along one edge, supplanted the ancient roll (or scroll) form in the early Christian period. Animal skin (parchment, vellum) was the material used for the pages (folios). During the Middle Ages, a variety of different types of manuscripts were required and developed for ecclesiastical, monastic, lay, and university use. Illustrations and pictorial programs vary per the context, cost, and patronage. Before the thirteenth century, most manuscripts were produced in monastic scriptoria. In the later Middle Ages, manuscripts were also often produced in lay workshops located in larger cities.


For churches and monasteries, the BIBLE (in the early fifth-century Vulgate translation by Saint *Jerome) was the fundamental text, although infrequently (because of length) found in complete form. More commonly, several books of the Bible were grouped into volumes: such as make the Pentateuch, Hexateuch, and Octateuch (containing, respectively, the first five, six, and eight books of the Old Testament), the PSALTER (containing the Psalms), or the GOSPELS (containing the works of the *Four Evangelists). CANON TABLES often preface Gospel books; these indicate corresponding passages in the Gospels following the system of concordance created by Eusebius of Caesarea in the fourth century. The Pauline Epistles, Acts, and other sections of the New Testament may also be found bound together.


Gospel LECTIONARIES (or PERICOPES ) are manuscripts which contain passages from the Gospels rearranged for reading during Mass through the liturgical year. Other manuscripts required for the liturgy include: BENEDICTIONALS (containing blessings recited by bishops), SACRAMENTARIES (containing the prayers recited by priests during Mass), MISSALS (which supplant Sacramentaries by the thirteenth century and contain chants, prayers, and readings for Mass), and GRADUALS (choir books which contain the sung parts of the Mass, with musical Page 163  notation; sometimes also included in Missals). The BREVIARY contains the texts required for daily recitation (the Divine Office) originally only in monasteries and adapted by the Dominicans, Franciscans, and other orders in the thirteenth century. ANTIPHONARIES (or ANTIPHONALS ) are large choir books containing the sung portions of the Divine Office, used especially in monasteries. TROPERS are also music books containing additions to the chants regularly sung in the Divine Office or Mass. PONTIFICALS contain the texts necessary for special sacramental services (e.g., church dedications, blessing of altars and liturgical equipment, clerical ordination) and were used only by bishops and popes. HOMILIARIES contain discourses on biblical passages by various authors and were used for sermons.


Texts concerning the lives of *saints are found in western PASSIONARIES and LEGENDARIES and in Byzantine MENOLOGIA . Shorter notices on saints’ death dates, arranged according to the liturgical calendar, are found in western MARTYROLOGY and Byzantine SYNAXARY manuscripts. Books devoted to the biography of a single saint are termed LIBELLI .


BOOKS OF HOURS (or HORAE ) develop in the later Middle Ages for lay use and contain, fundamentally, the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin *Mary. Modelled after the prayers and readings for the Divine Office in monasteries, Books of Hours were designed for private devotions and may be extremely elaborately illustrated, depending upon the wealth of the patron.


Other popular medieval manuscripts include: HERBALS , which contain texts and illustrations concerning the identification and medicinal values of plants; and BESTIARIES , which contain descriptions of animals, birds, and fanciful beasts discussed as Christian symbols and moral exemplars


Commentaries on biblical passages and various other writings by Church *Fathers and medieval theologians are frequently found in manuscript form in monastic and university libraries (see individual authors).


 

Marable, Manning(1950–) - Historian, lecturer, Chronology [next] [back] Manton, Sidnie Milana

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