Gospel Book (“Evanis” Gospels / GA 2929)

Collection ID





ca. AD 1050–1100






Ink on Parchment


228 folios; 4.6 × 3.8 × 3.6 in. (11.8 × 9.7 × 9.2 cm)

Exhibit Location

Not on View

This manuscript contains the four Gospels written in a small hand known to scholars as Perlschrift (“pearl script”) minuscule. The scribe wrote most of the text in a light brown ink, in a single column of 22 lines. The scribe wrote the canon tables (an early concordance of parallel passages) at the beginning of the manuscript and the chapter headings (kephalaia) at the beginning of each Gospel in red ink. Section headings often appear at the top of the page in red ink, but some have been cut off when the manuscript was trimmed for rebinding at some point in the early twentieth century. Miniatures of Mark and John appear at the beginning of their Gospels. The manuscript ends in the middle of John 17:22.

Created between AD 1050 and 1100, possibly at the monastery known as the Great Lavra of St. Sabas in Palestine.[1] Acquired before 1957 by the architect Michel Roux-Spitz, France (1888–1957);[2] By descent in 1957 to his daughter Francine Drevon, France (1910–2008).[3] Acquired by Les Enluminures before 2010; Acquired in 2010 by Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;[4] Donated in 2014 to Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.

Notes: [1] This dating is based on the detailed study of the manuscript by Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann and Yury Pyanitsky, “An Unknown Eleventh-Century Illuminated Gospel Manuscript Executed in Palestine,” Segno e Testo: International Journal of Manuscripts and Text Transmission, v. 7 (Università degli Studi di Cassino e del Lazio Meridionale: Cassino, 2009) 75–89, 8 tables. Their tables include close comparisons of this manuscript to Jerusalem codex Taphou 56, GA 1322, (that manuscript can be accessed here: https://www.loc.gov/resource/amedmonastery.00279390015-jo/?sp=15). The scribe’s hand and the style of the miniatures in the two manuscripts closely resemble each other. Kavrus-Hoffmann’s and Pyanitsky’s study contradicts the Les Enluminures 2010 catalog, which suggest the manuscript was half a century earlier and was the product of two scribes—one for the canon tables and another for the text. Their study also shows the miniatures are contemporary with the text rather than being later additions as the 2010 catalog suggests. [2] Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann and Yury Pyanitsky gave no provenance for the manuscript. They apparently had the opportunity to study it around the time it entered the market in 2008. They mention that there is a 20th-century French customs export stamp on the front pastedown, which was “used by French customs for objects of art older than a century to be taken legally out of the country,” and credit “Dr. Jannic Durand, curator of medieval art at the Louvre, for this information.” (Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann and Yury Pyanitsky, p. 75 and especially note 2.) The 2010 catalog mentions the acquisition by Michel Roux-Spitz but gives no date or circumstances. Michel Roux-Spitz designed the annex to the Bibliothèque nationale in 1932 and spearheaded the rebuilding of sections of the city of Nantes after World War II. According to the 2010 catalog, the manuscript is mentioned in his will (this information could not be independently verified). [3] A scholar at the University of Chicago, Harold Willoughby (1890–1962), examined pictures of the manuscript in the 1950s or early 1960s and gave it the name “Evanis” Gospels. The pictures are kept in the university archives in a folder labeled “New York City, Stora, Inc.” The French customs export stamp inside the front cover may date from this time. While this may suggest that Francine Drevon sold the manuscript through Stora, it is not certain. Drevon’s date of death, February 25, 2008, is shortly before it appeared on the market in the spring of 2008. (For Drevon’s date of death, see Politologue.com, Décès & Espérance de vie https://deces.politologue.com/drevon-francine-marie.uOL0hp70AOLn9p7jgOLxKOLjROv0hGvXhGLYAGvY; for the date of the manuscript’s appearance on the market, see Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann and Yury Pyanitsky, p. 75). [4] Kavrus-Hoffmann and Pyanitsky note the manuscript had no Gregory-Aland number at the time they studied it (p. 75, especially fn. 1). In the summer of 2015, Dr. Tommy Wasserman, a professor of biblical studies at Ansgar Teologiske Høgskole, Kristiansand, Norway, examined this and other New Testament manuscripts while sponsored by the museum’s Scholars Initiative program. With the help of Maurice Robinson, emeritus senior professor of New Testament studies at Southeastern Baptist Seminary, Dr. Wasserman confirmed that the manuscript did not yet have a Gregory-Aland number. He contacted the Institut für Neutestamentliche Forschung at the University of Münster, which assigned the number GA 2929.

Published References

Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann and Yury Pyanitsky, “An Unknown Eleventh-Century Illuminated Gospel Manuscript Executed in Palestine,” Segno e Testo: International Journal of Manuscripts and Text Transmission, v. 7 (Cassino: Università degli Studi di Cassino e del Lazio Meridionale, 2009) 75–89, 8 tables.

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