Rabbula Gospels online!   Leave a comment

I learned earlier this week from a tweet by Matthew Crawford (@mattrcrawford) that the Rabbula Gospels are freely available to view online in fairly high-quality images. This sixth-century manuscript (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 1.56) is famous especially for its artwork at the beginning of the codex before, surrounding, and following the Eusebian canon tables, including both figures from biblical history and animals: prophets, Mary, Jesus, scenes from the Gospels (Judas is hanging from a tree on f. 12r), the evangelists, birds, deer, rabbits, &c. Beginning on f. 13r, the folios are strictly pictures, the canon tables having been completed. These paintings are very pleasing, but lovers of Syriac script have plenty to feast on, too. The main text itself is written in large Estrangela, with the colophon (f. 291v-292v) also in Estrangela but mostly of a much smaller size. Small notes about particular lections are often in small Serto. The manuscript also has several notes in Syriac, Arabic, and Garšūnī in various hands (see articles by Borbone and Mengozzi in the bibliography below). From f. 15v to f. 19r is an index lectionum in East Syriac script. The Gospel text itself begins on f. 20r with Mt 1:23 (that is, the very beginning of the Gospel is missing).

The images are found here. (The viewer is identical to the one that archive.org uses.)

Rabbula Gospels, f. 231r, from the story of Jesus' turning the water into wine, Jn 2.

Rabbula Gospels, f. 231r, from the story of Jesus’ turning the water into wine, Jn 2.

Rabbula Gospels, f. 5r. The servants filling the jugs with the water that will become wine.

Rabbula Gospels, f. 5r. The servants filling the jugs with the water that will become wine.

For those interested in studying this important manuscript beyond examining these now accessible images, here are a few resources:

Bernabò, Massimò, ed. Il Tetravangelo di Rabbula: Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 1.56. L’illustrazione del Nuovo Testamento nella Siria del VI secolo. Folia picta 1. Rome, 2008. A review here.

Bernabò, Massimò, “Miniature e decorazione,” pp. 79-112 in Il Tetravangelo di Rabbula.

Bernabò, Massimò, “The Miniatures in the Rabbula Gospels: Postscripta to a Recent Book,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 68 (2014): 343-358. Available here.

Borbone, Pier Giorgio, “Codicologia, paleografia, aspetti storici,” pp. 23-58 in Il Tetravangelo di Rabbula. Available here.

Borbone, Pier Giorgio, “Il Codice di Rabbula e i suoi compagni. Su alcuni manoscritti siriaci della Biblioteca medicea laurenziana (Mss. Pluteo 1.12; Pluteo 1.40; Pluteo 1.58),” Egitto e Vicino Oriente 32 (2009): 245-253. Available here.

Borbone, Pier Giorgio, “L’itinéraire du “Codex de Rabbula” selon ses notes marginales,” pp. 169-180 in F. Briquel-Chatonnet and M. Debié, eds., Sur les pas des Araméens chrétiens. Mélanges offerts à Alain Desreumaux. Paris, 2010. Available here.

Botte, Bernard, “Note sur l’Évangéliaire de Rabbula,” Revue des sciences religieuses 36 (1962): 13-26.

Cecchelli, Carlo, Giuseppe Furlani, and Mario Salmi, eds. The Rabbula Gospels: Facsimile Edition of the Miniatures of the Syriac Manuscript Plut. I, 56 in the Medicaean-Laurentian Library. Monumenta occidentis 1. Olten and Lausanne, 1959.

Leroy, Jules, “L’auteur des miniatures du manuscrit syriaque de Florence, Plut. I, 56, Codex Rabulensis,” Comptes-rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Paris 98 (1954): 278-283.

Leroy, Jules, Les manuscrits syriaques à peintures, conservés dans les bibliothèques d’Europe et d’Orient. Contribution à l’étude de l’iconographie des églises de langue syriaque. Paris, 1964.

Macchiarella, Gianclaudio, “Ricerche sulla miniatura siriaca del VI sec. 1. Il codice. c.d. di Rabula,” Commentari NS 22 (1971): 107-123.

Mango, Marlia Mundell, “Where Was Beth Zagba?,” Harvard Ukrainian Studies 7 (1983): 405-430.

Mango, Marlia Mundell, “The Rabbula Gospels and Other Manuscripts Produced in the Late Antique Levant,” pp. 113-126 in Il Tetravangelo di Rabbula.

Mengozzi, Alessandro, “Le annotazioni in lingua araba sul codice di Rabbula,” pp. 59-66 in Il Tetravangelo di Rabbula.

Mengozzi, Alessandro, “The History of Garshuni as a Writing System: Evidence from the Rabbula Codex,” pp. 297-304 in F. M. Fales & G. F. Grassi, eds., CAMSEMUD 2007. Proceedings of the 13th Italian Meeting of Afro-Asiatic Linguistics, held in Udine, May 21st-24th, 2007. Padua, 2010.Available here.

Paykova, Aza Vladimirovna, “Четвероевангелие Раввулы (VI в.) как источник по истории раннехристианского искусства,” (The Rabbula Gospels (6th cent.) as a Source for the History of Early Christian Art) Палестинский сборник 29 [92] (1987): 118-127.

Rouwhorst, Gerard A.M., “The Liturgical Background of the Crucifixion and Resurrection Scene of the Syriac Gospel Codex of Rabbula: An Example of the Relatedness between Liturgy and Iconography,” pp. 225-238 in Steven Hawkes-Teeples, Bert Groen, and Stefanos Alexopoulos, eds., Studies on the Liturgies of the Christian East: Selected Papers of the Third International Congress of the Society of Oriental Liturgy Volos, May 26-30, 2010. Eastern Christian Studies 18. Leuven / Paris / Walpole, MA, 2013.

Sörries, Reiner, Christlich-antike Buchmalerei im Überblick. Wiesbaden, 1993.

van Rompay, Lucas, “‘Une faucille volante’: la représentation du prophète Zacharie dans le codex de Rabbula et la tradition syriaque,” pp. 343-354 in Kristoffel Demoen and Jeannine Vereecken, eds., La spiritualité de l’univers byzantin dans le verbe et l’image. Hommages offerts à Edmond Voordeckers à l’occasion de son éméritat. Instrumenta Patristica 30. Steenbrugis and Turnhout, 1997.

Wright, David H., “The Date and Arrangement of the Illustrations in the Rabbula Gospels,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 27 (1973): 199-208.

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