Lambeth Bible

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Detail of a leaf from the second volume of the Lambeth Bible

The Lambeth Bible is a 12th-century illuminated manuscript (perhaps produced circa 1150-1170), among the finest surviving giant Bibles from Romanesque England. It exists in two volumes; the first is in Lambeth Palace Library (MS 3) and covers Genesis to Job on 328 leaves of vellum measuring circa 520 x 355 mm.; the second incomplete volume (covering Psalms to Revelation) is in the Maidstone Museum & Art Gallery (MS P.5).

The style of the illuminator is found in a Gospel Book made for Abbot Wedric of Liessies Abbey (Hainault) in 1146, of which only two leaves survive (the rest having been destroyed at Metz in World War II), now in Avesnes-sur-Helpe. By 1538 the Bible was apparently in Lenham, Kent (family events were recorded at the end). Dorothy Shepard repeats the traditional view that the Bible came from St Augustine's Abbey, but in the abbey's library catalogue there is no Bible divided at the right point. Christopher de Hamel instead links the Bible to Faversham Abbey (also close to Lenham) and claims that it was being produced for King Stephen. He supports his claim by drawing attention to the frequent royal imagery in the Bible, and the short period between 1146 (when the illuminiator was in France) and 1154 (King Stephen's death) as an explanation for why the Bible remains incomplete.

For many years the first volume in the Lambeth Palace Library was paired with another volume (MS4) in the library but in 1924 it was realised that the correct pairing was with the Maidstone volume.

References[edit]

  • Dorothy Shepard: Introducing the Lambeth Bible: A Study of Text and Imagery. 2007 ISBN 2-503-51511-8
  • Richard Palmer, Michelle P. Brown (eds): Lambeth Palace Library: Treasures from the Collections of the Archbishops of Canterbury. 2010. ISBN 1-85759-627-7
  • Christopher de Hamel: Lecture at Lambeth Palace. 19 June 2010.