The sacred, canonical collection of texts of Christianity and Judaism.

The sacred, canonical collection of texts of Christianity and Judaism. Different traditions (Jewish vis-à-vis Christian, Roman Catholic vis-à-vis Protestant) will often have different sets of books in their canonical collections.

[Continued from Brown:] A number of Latin versions of books of the Bible, translated from Greek and Hebrew, were used in the early Christian Church; these are known as Old Latin versions. To establish a measure of uniformity among these various translations, Saint Jerome, encouraged by Pope Damasus I, undertook a new translation of the whole Bible, working from the Greek and the Hebrew for the Old Testament. The translation he produced, begun about 382 and completed in 404 is known as the Vulgate. The work went through several stages, including three versions of the Psalms (Roman, Gallican, and Hebrew). Throughout the Middle Ages it was common for books of the Bible to be contained in separate volumes (such as the Pentateuch, Hexateuch, Octateuch, or the Gospels). For liturgical purposes, scriptural texts (or readings from them) were often incorporated into service books (such as evangelaries, epistolaries, and psalters).

Beginning in the fourth century, when Christianity gradually became the official religion of the Roman Empire, luxurious codices were produced, among them the Codex Sinaiticus and the Cotton Genesis. During the early Middle Ages, corruptions of the Vulgate and intrusions from Old Latin versions led several scholars to attempt to standardize the biblical texts; Cassiodorus in the sixth century and, in the Carolingian period, Alcuin of York, Theodulf of Orléans, and Hartmut of St. Gall are the best known of these. As a result of their endeavors, a group of large, luxuriously written and illuminated editions of the complete Bible were produced. Cassiodorus' nine-volume edition influenced Bible manuscripts in Anglo-Saxon England, such as the Codex Amiatinus, and in the ninth century Alcuin's Scriptorium at Tours went on to produce a whole series of Bibles for circulation. During the Romanesque period, many of the Bibles produced were large in format. In the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries, a practice arose, stimulated by the universities, of producing small-format Bibles (or parts thereof) with condensed script and historiated initials, often accompanied by glosses. Many of these were made quite cheaply.

Scriptural texts were translated into the vernacular as early as the eighth century (in Anglo-Saxon England), generally as glosses, but many of the major developments in vernacular translation took place from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, beginning with John Wycliffe, who made the first complete translation of the Bible into English; the German translation made by Martin Luther in the 1520s is still in use today.

  • Armenian:
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  • German:
    Bible; Heilige Schrift
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Michelle Brown, Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts. (Malibu, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum in association with the British Library, c1994).