(Central Italy, first half of the 12th century). 483 x 349 mm. (19 x 13 3/4"). Double column, 49 lines of text in a transitional hand between Caroline minuscule and early gothic rotunda.
Two small initials in red (one very blurred), one very large initial "P" opening the Epistle. Apparently used as a book cover and consequently with the recto soiled, rubbed, and perhaps 25 percent obliterated, the opening decorative initial with some gilt and blue paint visible, but mostly abraded, the usual creasing (one crease with a six-inch split affecting a few words), other minor defects, but still an imposing specimen, with the text on verso almost completely legible.
Even with its faults, this is a striking leaf from a so-called Atlantic Bible, a distinctive category of massive manuscript produced in the 11th and 12th century that takes its name from the way it resembles an oversized, bulky atlas. These Bibles were issued as part of the Gregorian Reform, a movement during the pontificate of Greory VII (1073-85), with their characteristic features (script, dimensions, etc.) carefully determined by papal supervision. As the University of Geneva website says, these Bibles (about 100 of which are still intact) "were produced in a very uniform Carolingian minuscule and present a specific iconographic ensemble, characterized by initials in geometric style placed at the beginning of each book of the Bible. . . . The giant format, physical execution and textual recension are all elements which have been conceived for a specific purpose: to make the Atlantic Bibles both the physical and the ideological symbol of the [Church's] movement of religious renewal." (ST12778-0085)
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PJP Catalog: 70.049