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Illuminated Manuscripts
5.16 Octateuch
13th c.
Vatopedi Cod. 602
Parchment, 34 x 21.5 cm, ff. 469


The Original New Testament

The Vatopedi Octateuch is one of the most important manuscripts in Byzantine art, due to its wealth of illumination and high artistic quality of its miniatures. The single-column text is very neatly written in black ink in minuscule script, with red-gold titles and many initials. It contains six books from the Octateuch of the Old Testament, beginning with Leviticus, as the first two books, Genesis and Exodus, are missing. At the end are short Greek commentaries on the Hebrew texts, and information on Israel's periods of enslavement. The text is interrupted at folio 468v, and the manuscripts has a later cardboard binding.

The manuscript has 162 miniatures depicting scenes and subjects from the book they illustrate. Some of the miniatures from Leviticus and Numbers have been removed, together with the text on the following page. The scenes, enclosed within a red border, are placed in or next to the text, in areas purposed for illumination. They comprise selections from the text rendered in a narrative manner, and alternate between daily life, warfare and religious life, providing a wealth of information and variety of handling artistic problems.

Some of the miniatures are restrained in composition, while others, and particularly those showing martial scenes, have a dynamism very similar to works of the last quarter of the thirteenth century. The variations in palette and composition indicate that several painters worked on this manuscript which is considered to be the product of an imperial workshop in Constantinople.

Bibliography: Brockhaus 1981, p. 172 and passim. Eustratiadis - Arkadios 1924, p. 118. Muρoz 1924, pp. 475-6, 480-1. Weitzmann 1935, 1, p. 103. Weitzmann 1948, pp. 7, 12, 16 and passim. Weitzmann 1963, pp. 21-7. Huber 1969, p. 70. Weitzmann 1970², pp. 190-1. Huber 1973, pp. 33-40, figs. 1-164. Hahn 1979, p. 32 n. 14. Anderson 1982, p. 85 and passim. Thesauroi 1991, pp. 253-86 (with a more complete bibliography), figs. 47-187. Lowden 1992, pp. 2ff, 29ff. with 18 figs. Galavaris 1995 (2), pp. 29, 245-56, figs. 191-8..Weitzmann 1996, 2, p. 47.

Index of exhibits of Monastery of Vatopedi
13th century

The Authentic Greek New Testament Bilingual New Testament I

Icon of the Mother of God and New Testament Reader Promote Greek Learning
Three Millennia of Greek Literature

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