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Decorated Initial, In Jerome's 'Commentary On Daniel' f.70r

Decorated Initial, In Jerome's 'Commentary On Daniel' f.70r

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1175

Shelfmark: Additional MS 62122

Item number: f.70r

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Study of the Bible was an essential part of the lives of monks throughout the middle ages. For this reason the libraries of monasteries contained writings on it that connect it with daily life and religious belief in post-biblical times. Some of the most important of these writings were centuries old, even when this manuscript was written in the 12th century. It has a copy of a commentary on the Book of Daniel by the late 4th to early 5th century author, St Jerome, who also produced the Latin edition of the Bible which became standard in the middle ages and whose writings were known all over the Christian world. A partially erased inscription on the manuscript's flyleaf suggests that it was probably made at the Benedictine abbey of the Virgin Mary and St Rumonus, in Tavistock, Devon, which since its founding in the 10th century had been one of the richest monasteries in the West Country. Books like this usually were decorated only with ornamented letters at the beginnings of sections or chapters because they were made for study not for display in church services. This manuscript was updated for use, as can be seen by its dotted letter 'i'. Until the end of the twelfth century it was not common for scribes to dot the letter 'i'. It is apparent from his differently coloured ink that a later owner has gone through the text, systematically dotting the 'i's and extending the vertical stroke of 't's upward, to make it easier to read.

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