Codex Amiatinus

“…it is one of the world’s most important manuscripts.” – Library of Congress’ World Digital Library [1]

The Codex Amiatinus is currently being held in the Laurentian Library in Florence, Italy. Its shelfmark is “Florence Italy Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana Amiatino I” [2]. Alternatively, its shelfmark is “
Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, MS Amiatino 1″ [3].

It is written on 1030 leaves which were made from a minimum of 515 skins [3]. It is believed to be “the oldest surviving, complete Latin Bible in the world” [6]. It is also believed to have been copied from Cassiodorus’ Codex Grandior [9, p3]. However, according to Corsano, the Amiatinus is not completely dependent on the Grandior, and that the Grandior might not have ever been in Northumbria [11, p5]. The testimony of Bede claiming to have seen “Cassiodorus’ picture of the Tabernacle and Temple is the only hint that” the Grandior had ever been in Northumbria [11, p33]. Meyvaert further asserts that there is no evidence Bede had ever seen Cassiodorus’ Institutiones [12, p829], but that there is evidence Bede had seen Cassiodorus’ Expositio Psalmorum [12, p831].

“The work of the Wearmouth-Jarrow scribes was so good that it was not until modern times that Codex Amiatinus was recognised as an 8th-century English book rather than a 6th-century Italian one.” [3]. When exactly in modern times did this happen?

M. de Rossi is considered to be the person who discovered the Amiatinus’ true age [13, p533].

An important source of information for Ceolfrid is the Life of Ceolfrid, which was first published in 1841 [13, p534].

Dates of creation attributed to it:

[13, p533] – 6th century, according to C. Tischendorf.
[13, p534] – 690-716
[1] – 688-713
[2] – 680-715
[3] – “Before 716”
[9] – 7th-8th cc.
[10] – 690-716

“For much of its history its making and identity were subject to intense debate, with both a continental and Northumbrian provenance being argued for in the early scholarship.” – Dr Meg Boulton and Dr Jane Hawkes [4]

History of the Amiatinus:

c.716 – Brought to Rome from Monkwearmouth–Jarrow Abbey in Northumbria by Ceolfrid’s followers after his death (716) [2]. What is this based on?

9th century? – “Reached Monte Amiata probably in the abbacy of Peter the Lombard (saec. IX–X), whose name now stands over ‘Ceolfrid’ erased” [2]. [6] says Peter flourished in the late 9th century. Check the end of this article for notes on who Peter the Lombard is.
It wasn’t noticed that the name had been erased and replaced until 1888 [3]. Who noticed this? G. B. de Rossi (Rome, 1888)?

Early 11th century – It was at the Abbey of San Salvatore, Monte Amiata, Tuscany [5, p228]. “This inscription is the earliest evidence we have for the presence of the Codex Amiatinus at Monte Amiata” [5, p254-255].

1462 – It was examined by Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini [5, p228]. “After Bonizo’s citation of the modified version of Ceolfrid’s dedication, this is the next oldest specific reference to the Codex Amiatinus.” [5, p231].

1587-1590 – It was taken to Rome for the Sixtine revision of the Vulgate by Pope Sixtus V [1], [2]. What is this based on?

1782 – It was brought from the Abbey of the Holy Savior at Monte Amiata in Tuscany to the Laurentian Library in Florence [1].

1890-1894 – “Tischendorf published the text of the New Testament of the Codex Amiatinus, C. Tischendorf, Novem Testamentum ex Codice Amiatino, Liepzig, 1890-1894.” [13, p535]

To summarize the supposed travels of this codex:
It originated in the UK. It was brought to Mount Amiata. It was taken to Rome and then brought back to Mount Amiata. Then it was taken to Florence where it is currently being kept.

How early can the provenance be traced with certainty? As of right now I’d say the 15th century when it was examined by Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini. The only other reference to it (excluding the note about probably arriving during Peter’s abbacy) is the early 11th century evidence attached to Bonizo. I don’t count this yet because I haven’t been able to review the history of the manuscript which the evidence is in, namely Vatican Barb. lat. 573 (olim XII.16).

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The Crypt of the Abbey of San Salvatore, Monte Amiata.

Notes on the Abbey of San Salvatore, Monte Amiata, Tuscany.
Also known as the Badia Amiatina.

“No other rich, royal, and then imperial abbey in Tuscany has a similarly long and distinguished history.” – Michael M. Gordon [7, p203]

It seems Ughelli was the only person in the 17th century that studied the manuscripts in that library. Jean Mabillon and Bernard de Montfaucon both appear to have not examined the Codex Amiatinus [5, p235], which in my opinion indicates that it had not yet become famous or notable during their times.

“The history of the first centuries of the abbey was described in detail first by Ferdinando Ughelli (1595-1670) and more recently by Wilhelm Kurze (1933-2002), but until now its library has been overlooked.” [5, p225].

The foundation of the abbey is surrounded in legend.

“According to the legend current, certainly as early as the eleventh century, Rachis had vowed to build a convent in Tuscany, and while seeking a spot suitable for his purpose, heard rumours of a miracle which had befallen in Mont’ Amiata. Certain shepherds (so it was said) had seen in the night, high among the branches of a great pine, a strange light which now burned in one sole flame, and again broke starwise into three rays—obvious Symbol of the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity. At this time it seems Rachis had already assumed the cowl, and, coming in person to behold the wonder, founded there a cloister and a church, building the altar upon the spot where the mysterious tree had stood, as indeed one may see to this day. This happened (for the legend is very definite) in May 742.
Others tell a different story, and you may hear both from the peasants any July night as they gather in the corn, to wit, that Rachis beheld the divine manifestation while he was besieging Perugia ; the Saviour appearing to him between two burning torches. It is perhaps worthy of note that Francesco di San
Casino, the seventeenth-century painter of the fresco in the eastern chapel of the south transept in the Abbey church, appears to have known and to have remembered both versions of the legend, since he has painted the king and the queen, with their courtiers, gazing upward at a clump of seven trees—or is it one tree with seven trunks?—in the midst of which Christ appears surrounded by a pale starlike radiance.” [8, pp26-28]

The abbey also reportedly use to have an incredibly important collection of relics which are now all lost. Whether these relics were legitimate or fakes, we can not know due to them now being lost. However, I will note that there are countless more fakes of these exact items than real ones, if the real ones ever did indeed exist at one point.

“In his Italia Sacra, Ughelli gives a long list of the relics which in his day were treasured in the Abbey church. Among the rest were—a piece of the True Cross, part of the Sudario which covered the face of our Lord, part of the sheet in which His Body was wrapped, part of the stone which stood before His Sepulchre, part of the sponge which the soldiers offered Him filled with vinegar when He said “I thirst,” part of His Presepio, part of the rock on which He stood at the time of His Transfiguration, part of the rock whereon He sat when He fed the five thousand in the wilderness, part of the stone on which He stood when He preached the Sermon on the Mount ; the marvellous Bible which S. Gregory wished to see, and which is said to have contained a plan of the Temple of Solomon. Thus the treasures of the monastery were in keeping with its name, St. Saviour ; but of these I think not one remains. Among countless Relics given to the Abbey in 1036, on the occasion of its consecration, the most venerated, and perhaps the most curious, seems to be the head of Pope Marcus.” [8, p48]

In relation to the sanctuary under the abbey, Hutton (1909) stated “No one visits this forgotten sanctuary now, yet it is far better worth seeing than most subterranean churches, nor can I find any account of it in any book. The people of Abbadia know nothing of it, and the parish priest, with the best will in the world, knows nothing either.” [8, p50]

Timeline of the Abbey:

May 742? – The abbey was founded [8, p27].

February, 1228 – The Benedictines were expelled and the Cistercians took over [8, p30].

1782 – The abbey was suppressed by Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo [8, p30].

1887-1889 – The codex becomes famous in The Academy‘s weekly publications.

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The Mystery of the Amiatinus’ Petrus Lombard

Ceolfrid’s dedication with modified letters in bold reads:
“Cenobium ad eximii merito
uenerabile Saluatoris,
quem caput ecclesiae
dedicat alta fides,
Petrus, Langobardorum
extremis de finibus abbas,
deuoti affectus
pignora mitto mei,
meque meosque optans
tanti inter gaudia patris,
in caelis memorum
semper habere locum.”

“From the farthest ends of the earth, I, Peter, abbot of the Lombards, send pledges of my devoted affection to the venerable monastery of the chosen Saviour, whom great faith deservedly makes head of the church, in the hope that I and my brethren are always remembered in heaven among the joys of such a father.” – [5, p255]

My reference [2] mentions Peter the Lombard and is a website that is a project created by the Department of Classics and the Moore Institute of the National University of Ireland Galway. The project directors are/were Mark Stansbury and David Kelly.

The link to Stansbury is broken on the same website [2], but I found him working on another project and he has quite the academic background.. “Mark Stansbury was born in Texas and studied for an A.B. at Harvard College and a Ph.D. at Boston College. He also studied for two years at the Seminar für Mittellateinische Philologie in Münster, Germany, thanks to a Fulbright grant, and worked as a postdoctoral researcher on the early manuscript culture of Ireland for the Foundations of Irish Culture Project at the Moore Institute, NUI Galway.” David Kelly “is Digital Humanities Manager for the Moore Institute at NUI Galway. He works with individual researchers and research teams engaged in DH projects.”

My reference [2] is part of the project they directed. When talking about the Codex Amiatina’s history, it states, it “Reached Monte Amiata probably in the abbacy of Peter the Lombard (saec. IX–X), whose name now stands over ‘Ceolfrid’ erased.” The abbreviation saec. means century, which means that the reference says Peter the Lombard was alive in the 9th-10th centuries.

My reference [3] is from the British Library, which claims that Peter of the Lombards (Petrus Langobardorum) was an abbot of San Salvatore. The British Library’s Medieval manuscripts blog [6] claims “Peter the Lombard (fl. late 9th century) partially erased an inscription in the front the book, recording how it was a gift from Ceolfrith to St Peter’s, and replaced Ceolfrith’s name with his own.”

My reference [10] reported that Angelo Maria Bandini (1726-1803) said the abbey had an abbot named Peter at the beginning of the 9th century, and also that this abbot might have bought the codex and then introduced his revision to the first quire. Where does Bandini communicate this exactly?

I have been looking to find any information on who this Peter is. Supposedly he was around in the 9th-10th centuries, was an abbot of San Salvatore, and put his name in place of Ceolfrith’s name in the Codex Amiatinus. The earliest source I have says Peter was an abbot at the beginning of the 9th century, but the other sources conflict with this by saying late 9th and 9th-10th centuries. When did this Peter live? Aside from the sources above, the only person I have located with this name is a different Peter Lombard who lived in the 11th-12th centuries.

Why is this abbot believed to have lived in the 9th or 9th-10th centuries?

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[1] – Accessed 12 July 2020.

[2] – Accessed 12 July 2020.

[3] – Accessed 12 July 2020.

[4] – Accessed 12 July 2020.

[5] – Accessed 13 July 2020.

[6] – Accessed 13 July 2020.

[7] – Accessed 15 July 2020.

[8] – Edward Hutton’s In Unknown Tuscany (1909). Accessed 16 July 2020.

[9] – Accessed 16 July 2020.

[10] – Accessed 16 July 2020.

[11] – Accessed 16 July 2020.

[12] – Meyvaert, Paul. “Bede, Cassiodorus, and the Codex Amiatinus.” Speculum, vol. 71, no. 4, 1996, pp. 827–883. JSTOR, Accessed 17 July 2020.

[13] – Andrew Edward Breen’s “A General and Critical Introduction to the Study of Holy Scripture” (1897). Accessed 17 July 2020.

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