Origen of Alexandria (d. c. 253) is considered the father of biblical exegesis (the interpretation of the Bible). Origen’s goal was to increase his understanding of Scripture by analysing its different layers of meaning. He examined its literal, moral and spiritual senses, and related each to different aspects of man – the body, the soul and the spirit. This method of interpretation was hugely influential and re-affirmed the relationship of the Old and New Testaments. In his sermons on the Old Testament, Origen explained how both Testaments are critical to divine revelation. The many surviving manuscripts containing this work testify to the enduring influence of Origen’s thought.
In this large copy made at the Benedictine abbey of St-Germain-des-Prés in Paris, Origen’s text is preceded by a full-page illustration of the two patron saints of the Abbey, St Germain (d. 576) and St Vincent of Saragossa (d. 304). To the left, St Germain is represented as a bishop, while St Vincent is dressed as a monk, with a book in his left hand. St Germain holds a long scroll where the manuscript’s scribe, Edmundus, identifies himself, and recommends his soul to the prayers of the monks. The other scroll held by St Vincent includes a condemnation of any who would seek to remove the book from the Abbey.
This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.
- Article by:
- Charlotte Denoël
- Medieval manuscript collections today
Charlotte Denoël provides insight into the historic collections of illuminated manuscripts now in the national library of France.
- Article by:
- Tuija Ainonen
- Art and illumination, Christian religion and belief
The veneration of saints was an integral part of medieval culture. Tuija Ainonen examines a collection of manuscripts that contain saints’ lives and portraits.