[Paris, ca. 1250].
Illuminated manuscript on vellum.
This thirteenth-century manuscript is a fine example of the “Paris Vulgate” tradition, established in the late twelfth century when theologians at the University of Paris compiled a highly authoritative recension of St. Jerome’s Latin Bible. Whereas earlier Bibles almost invariably had appeared in multiple volumes, with the books in no canonical sequence, thirteenth-century Parisian scriptoria began producing single-volume manuscripts of the new Paris Vulgate in unprecedented quantities. Intended for individual rather than institutional use, these portable Bibles were often richly illuminated. In the volume on display, eighty illuminated initials containing biblical scenes introduce the various books of the Bible, including the exhibited image of the Six Days of Creation in the initial “I” beginning Genesis 1:1. This illustrated sequence ends at the bottom with the New Testament scene of the Crucifixion, thus introducing not only the book of Genesis but the entire Bible.
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Bible Collection