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The Book of Kells

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Author Topic: The Book of Kells  (Read 441 times)
Jennifer Murdoch
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« Reply #30 on: March 29, 2010, 01:28:09 pm »

Book of Kells should have been found at Kildare. It is perfectly obvious, too, from intrinsic evidence that the Kells Manuscript was produced at a period when Celtic illuminative art had reached its very highest development; and it is therefore plain that it was not produced in the lifetime of St. Brigit (A.D. 453–523), whatever the volume may have been which Giraldus has described. Besides, it is hardly credible that Cambrensis, if referring to the Book of Kells, should have omitted all mention of the remarkable loss and recovery of the Manuscript, the details of which had in his time been well-known for at least two hundred years.
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Jennifer Murdoch
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« Reply #31 on: March 29, 2010, 01:28:17 pm »

One can only conclude that the book which the historian did see was one of the many beautiful illuminated manuscripts that have since disappeared, though not the Kells volume; and that commentators have been somewhat too ready to adopt without much investigation a theory for which there seems to be but very little evidential support.

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Jennifer Murdoch
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« Reply #32 on: March 29, 2010, 01:28:33 pm »



At the time of the dissolution of the monasteries the establishmentThe Abbey surrendered to the Crown. at Kells was surrendered to the Crown by its last Abbot, Richard Plunket. The instrument under which this surrender was effected, dated 18th November 1539, is entered on the Rolls of the Chancery of

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Jennifer Murdoch
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« Reply #33 on: March 29, 2010, 01:28:47 pm »

p. 6

Ireland, 31 Henry VIII. The famous Manuscript of the Gospels itself, which seems to have survived in an almost miraculous fashion the unending incursions and pillage of many centuries, found its way shortly after the surrender of the monastery into the hands of one Gerald Plunket of Dublin, a kinsman possibly of the last Abbot. During the time the volume was in his possession be inscribed some notes which are still legible on its pages, showing that portions were lacking at the end of the book even in his day. On an early leaf he
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Jennifer Murdoch
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« Reply #34 on: March 29, 2010, 01:28:58 pm »

writes: "This worke doth passe all men's conyng that now doth live in any place. I doubt not there . . . anything but that ye writer hatte obtained God's grace. G.P." Another of his notes, dated 27th August, 1568, purports to give the number of the leaves then in the volume; but under these words Bishop Usher has written: "August 24, 1621. I reckoned the leaves of this booke and found them to be in number 344. He who reckoned before me counted six score to the hundred. Ja Ussher, Midensis elect." *
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Jennifer Murdoch
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« Reply #35 on: March 29, 2010, 01:29:09 pm »



The MS. comes to Dublin UniversityUssher, who was commissioned by James I. to collect antiquities relating to the British Church, acquired, amongst other rare possessions, the Book of Kells. It was included in the portion of his collection which was transferred to Trinity College, Dublin, five years after his death, in the year 1661; since which time it has been the chief treasure of the University Library. Housed as it then was one might have expected that a volume of so notorious, not to say sacred, a character would have enjoyed inviolable sanctuary.
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Jennifer Murdoch
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« Reply #36 on: March 29, 2010, 01:29:18 pm »

Unhappily, what Norseman and Dane had failed to effect in early and wilder centuries was accomplished by an ignorant and mischievous bookbinder, some hundred years ago; and under the barbarous hands of this craftsman many of the outer margins of its priceless illuminations have been "trimmed" out of existence, as may be seen by looking at the Plates in this volume.

 

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Jennifer Murdoch
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« Reply #37 on: March 29, 2010, 01:29:28 pm »

The MS. described.The Manuscript in its present state consists of 339 leaves of thick, finely glazed vellum, measuring, in their now cropped condition, 13 by 9½ inches. The number of lines of text to a page of the Gospels is in general not more than 19 nor lest than 17, the space occupied by the


p. 7

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Jennifer Murdoch
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« Reply #38 on: March 29, 2010, 01:29:36 pm »

writing being 10 by 7 inches. On a few of the pages the writing is in a peculiar semi-cursive hand, but as a rule it is of the fine, clear character shown in Plates III. and X.

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Jennifer Murdoch
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« Reply #39 on: March 29, 2010, 01:29:50 pm »

The first leaf—too rubbed to furnish a reproduction of a satisfactoryThe Evangelical Symbols. kind—is surrounded by an ornamental border, and is divided vertically into two divisions, one containing a number of Hebrew words with their Latin equivalents, and the other occupied by the Evangelical Symbols. These symbols, which were adopted at an early period in the history of Christianity, are as follows: The Man, or Angel, stands for St. Matthew, figurative of his emphasising the human side of Christ; the Lion for St. Mark, as he
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Jennifer Murdoch
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« Reply #40 on: March 29, 2010, 01:30:00 pm »

has set forth the power and royal dignity of Christ; the Calf, or sacrificial victim, for St. Luke, as his Gospel illustrates the priesthood of the Saviour; and the Eagle for St. John, the Evangelist who soars to heaven, as St. Augustine puts it, and gazes on the light of immutable truth with keen and undazzled eyes. In the present instance these are all unhappily much worn by attrition, but enough is visible to show that books are held by each of the symbolical figures.
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Jennifer Murdoch
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« Reply #41 on: March 29, 2010, 01:30:18 pm »

The next eight pages are filled with what are known as the EusebianThe Eusebian Canons. Canons. They take their name from Eusebius, Bishop of Cæsarea, a well-known Church historian. Before his time a Harmony of the Gospels had been constructed by Ammonius of Alexandria, about A.D. 220, in which St. Matthew's Gospel was taken as the standard, and parallel passages from the other Gospels were set out side by side with it. Eusebius improved on his predecessor's plan; his object being to set forth the mutual relation of the four
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Jennifer Murdoch
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« Reply #42 on: March 29, 2010, 01:30:25 pm »

evangelical narratives, and not merely to furnish illustrations to certain passages from other sources, as in the marginal references in modem Bibles. The method of interpreting the lettering in these Canons, dependent as it is on certain sectional divisions of the Gospels specially devised by the author, is too intricate to go into here.
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Jennifer Murdoch
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« Reply #43 on: March 29, 2010, 01:30:38 pm »

As will be seen in Plate I., the Eusebian Canons are written in narrow columns, framed as it were by decorative pillars on which a considerable amount of characteristic ornament has been lavished. The open spaces above the pillars contain the Evangelical Symbols, agreeing in number with the number of the Evangelists in the several Canons. The decorative surroundings of these eight pages are different in each page. In two cases the ornamentation is of .quite a simple nature, and

p. 8

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