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A pericope (/pəˈrɪkəp/; Greek περικοπή, "a cutting-out") in rhetoric is a set of verses that forms one coherent unit or thought, suitable for public reading from a text, now usually of sacred scripture. Also can be used as a way to identify certain themes in a chapter of sacred text. Its importance is mainly felt in, but not limited to, narrative portions of Sacred Scripture (as well as poetic sections).

Manuscripts—often illuminated—called pericopes, are normally evangeliaries, that is, abbreviated Gospel Books only containing the sections of the Gospels required for the Masses of the liturgical year. Notable examples, both Ottonian, are the Pericopes of Henry II and the Salzburg Pericopes.

Lectionaries are normally made up of pericopes containing the Epistle and Gospel readings for the liturgical year. A pericope consisting of passages from different parts of a single book, or from different books of the Bible, and linked together into a single reading is called a concatenation or composite reading.

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  • Meinolf Schumacher: "Perikope" in Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturwissenschaft. Vol. 3, edited by Jan-Dirk Müller, 43-45, Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2003 PDF.

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