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Athos Holy Mount

Illuminated Manuscripts
5.17 Four Gospels
13th c., 2nd half
Iviron Cod. 5
Parchment, 22.5 x 17 cm, ff. 459



The Original New Testament

A fine manuscript of four Gospels, which is particularly significant for the subject-matter of its illuminations and the style of its miniatures, and is considered to be one of the most important manuscripts on Mount Athos. It is adorned primarily with the full-page portraits of the four Evangelists: Mark (fol. 136v), Luke (fol. 218v), John (fol. 357v) and Matthew (fol. 458v), who possess faces of monumental character, bulky bodies with rich disturbed draperies and uncertain, unsteady attitudes and movements. In addition, there are thirty-three headpieces, most of which depict scenes from the Gospels. Some of these are well-known compositions from the Dedekaorton and the Passion of Christ, while the last three - Christ with hierarchs (fol. 456v), the Virgin and Ioannis (perhaps the donor; fol. 457r), and the Hospitality of Abraham (fol. 457v) - have no connection with the manuscript text.

The miniatures are in very good condition, except for that of the Evangelist Matthew, which in fact appears at the end of the manuscript instead of at the beginning where it normally lies, and the representations of the Nativity and Baptism of Christ, and the Raising of Lazarus, which are damaged.

In addition to these illuminations, the codex is adorned with three incomplete ornaments in the canon tables of Eusebios at the beginning and four rectangular headpieces before the Gospels embellished with geometric and flora designs. It contains the four Gospels written in a carefully executed miniscule script and two passages from the Epistles at the end (fols. 459r-460r) in another, later script. The binding is of wood covered with brown leather which is very worn, especially on the spine. The general condition of the codex is good.

Bibliography: Brockhaus 1891, pp. 170, 186-8, 217-22, 289, pls. 22-4. Lambros 1900, p. 1. Xyngopoulos 1932, p. 7, pls. 12-57. Der Nersessian 1937, p. 126. Doelger - Weigand 1943, pp. 198, 200, pls. 118-21. Villette 1957, pp. 102, 106, 108. Weitzmann 1961, pp. 227-8, 231, figs. 4, 16. Xyngopoulos 1962, pp. 68, 82, 88. Hamann-MacLean 1967, pp. 231, 233. Lazarev 1967, pp. 279-82, pls. 375-82. Papadopoulos 1968, p. 133 n. 63, fig. 6. Huber 1969, pp. 74, 224-8, 243-54, pls. 137-52. Belting 1970, pp. 35ff., 37, 40, 49, 60ff., 72, 83, pl. XVI, fig. 23. Belting 1971, pp. 154, 165, 166. Weitzmann 1971, pp. 322-3, figs. 312-13. Illuminated Manuscripts 1973, ch. 5, pp. 41, 177, no. 50. Thesauroi 1975, pp. 296-303, figs. 11-40. Papadaki-Oekland 1975-6, pp. 30, 37ff., figs. 20, 24, 30. Spatharakis 1976, pp. 84-7, 243-4, 246, figs. 53-4. Galavaris 1995 (2), pp. 28-9, 250-1, figs. 175-9.

Index of exhibits of Monastery of Iviron
13th century

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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

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