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Christ or Moses, in Gregory the Great's 'Moralia in Job'

Christ or Moses, in Gregory the Great's 'Moralia in Job'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1110

Shelfmark: Royal MS 6

Item number: f.128r

Length: 33.2

Width: 24

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Pope Gregory the Great (590 to 604) transformed church administration, refined the practices of monasteries and wrote some of the most important Biblical commentaries of the middle ages, notably his 'Moralia in Job'. This manuscript is Volume 2 of a two-volume copy of the 'Moralia'. Made early in the 12th century, it belonged to the Cathedral of St Andrew at Rochester. The cathedral, named for the monastery in Rome where Gregory had begun his career, was founded in the early 7th century by Augustine, the missionary--also a monk from St Andrew's, Rome--whom Gregory had sent to Britain to convert the Angles. The medieval popularity of the 'Moralia' was due to its theme of personal, interior spirituality: how does one forge within oneself a Christian soul? The Book of Job, too, tells a great story. In this manuscript, each section of the 'Moralia' begins with a large historiated initial (first letter bearing a picture). The initial Q of Book (section) 27 has a haloed male bust that was probably intended to represent Christ. He holds a tablet in his covered hand, which could represent the book held by the Lamb in the Book of Revelation or perhaps the gospels, as Christ was often seen as their ultimate author. Possibly the portrait could have been meant as Moses, who was sometimes thought to have been the author of the Book of Job, and the tablet could represent the tablet of the law.

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