John wrote the last of the four gospels. Scholars think he had not seen the other three. In the Lindisfarne Gospels portrait John's symbol is the eagle. This is a bird of great power. It could fly straight to the throne of God for inspiration. John is not writing at all. It is as if the words come directly from God and appear straight onto the page in front of John. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God..."
Words people cannot read
When the Lindisfarne Gospels book was made ordinary people spoke Anglo-Saxon languages in every day life. The Gospels were written in Latin. This was the language used by priests, monks and nuns in the Christian Church, because the Church was connected with the old Roman Empire. Many ordinary people did not understand Latin, and so they needed priests to read out and explain the gospels to them. The Lindisfarne Gospels book includes pictures and decorations to give people clues about the meaning and importance of the Gospels.
Reading between the lines
Around the year 950 - 960, about 230 years after the Lindisfarne Gospels were first made, more text was added. It was set out in between the lines and in some of the margins. Have a close look at images of pages from the gospels to see this smaller handwriting. Today this writing is known as 'Aldred's gloss', after the man who added it. It translates the Latin, word by word, into Old English so that more people could understand it.
Aldred's gloss is the oldest surviving translation of the gospels into English. Many years later these words between the lines were used to make the first ever Latin - Old English dictionary.
Key Words John, Eagle, Story, Language, Imagination, 24 hour news, Testament, Translation, Calligraphic, Label, Brand, Text, Lyric
Try these links:
www.hamish-fulton.com (Hamish Fulton)
www.imagesonline.bl.uk Images online at the British Librry