The Giant Bible of San Daniele

  • ante 1078; parchment; mm 530 × 350; ff. I + 239 + I’
  • San Daniele del Friuli, ‘Biblioteca Civica Guarneriana’, 1
  • ante 1078; parchment; mm 530 × 345; ff. II + 204 + I’
  • San Daniele del Friuli, ‘Biblioteca Civica Guarneriana’, 2

The giant bible that in the half of the fifteenth century appears among the books of the parish church of San Daniele del Friuli had been in Friuli at least since the years of Pellegrinus’ I patriarchy (1131-1161), after belonging to St. Pontianus’ church of Spoleto in 1078.

These two volumes make up the two parts of a same complete giant ‘Bibliotheca’ (this term was used to define a complete one-volume Bible); the first of the two contains the initial part of the Old Testament, from Pentateuch to the book of Job, while the second volume contains the remaining books of the Old and the whole set of the New Testament. This large-format complete Bible is characterised by stylistic peculiarities of the oldest components of that family, in which the large initials opening the individual biblical books are drawn out in the style that is called as «early geometric» according to Edward B. Garrison’s definition. Some marks left on the codex pages along the centuries allow to backwardly reconstruct the history of this book, starting from the place where it is presently kept, the Biblioteca Guarneriana. On the first flyleaf recto of the first volume it is possible to read the owner’s notice («Hic liber est sacristie ecclesie Sancti Michaelis castri Sancti Danielis») which finds its evidence in the inventory of the goods of that church compiled in 1466. These were the years when Guarnerio d’Artegna, the former vicar of the patriarch of Aquileia, had definitely moved to San Daniele del Friuli as a parish priest. Two older notices on f. 204 of the first volume remind of Pellegrinus of Povo-Beseno as new elected patriarch of Aquileia (1131-1161), and therefore they suggest that the two codices had come to Friuli before that event. What about before the year 1131? On folium 145r, in the blank space after the copy of the last part of the Gospel according to John, a wide notice, full of information, leads to the church of San Ponziano, near Spoleto, on the day of its consecration occurred in May 10th, 1078. It certifies that on that date the codex was held by the coenobium of San Ponziano: moreover, this precious notice suggests that the Bible, most likely produced in Rome, had to be completed just a little earlier than 1078.

 1, f. 1v, initial of the dedicatory epistle

1, f. 1v, initial of the dedicatory epistle

1, f. 5r, initial I of the Genesis

1, f. 5r, initial I of the Genesis

2, ff. 113v-114r, Eusebian Canon Tables

2, ff. 113v-114r, Eusebian Canon Tables

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