Hebrew Names and Preface of the Gospel of Mark, in the Burnt Fragments of a Gospelbook
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Badly damaged in the 1731 Cotton library fire, this gospel book, which survives only in fragments, is now divided between the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and the British Library. It was once magnificent, with close relationships in its script and decoration to the Lindisfarne Gospels, the fragments of the gospel book at Durham Cathedral, and the Book of Kells. Thought by some scholars to have been made before the Lindisfarne Gospels, no one is certain where it was made. Its similarities to the above-mentioned manuscripts suggest that its origins lie in the network of monasteries founded by St Columba and his successors at Iona, which includes Lindisfarne as well as foundations in Ireland and Scotland.
This page has three types of texts which usually preface each gospel in early gospel manuscripts from Ireland and Britain, the ones here for Mark. At the top, the large yellow letters outlined with red begin the list of Hebrew names in Mark, which gave mystical synonyms of the names in Latin--reflecting the Irish concern with the three sacred languages (Hebrew, Greek, Latin). A bit farther down, the 'argumentum' of Mark begins in red, followed by the preface in large letters, "Marcus evangeliste". The capital letters of the titles are slightly modified--like those of the Lindisfarne Gospels--to make them reminiscent of Greek and runic letters.