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Walters Ms. W.523, Gospel Book

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Shelf mark



Gospel Book

Text title
Gospel Book


Authority name: Eusebius, of Caesarea, Bishop of Caesarea, ca. 260-ca. 340.


This manuscript is of interest for the history of Greek handwriting because it presents a remarkably early example of a less formal, cursive script used for copying books (rather than just documents). The miniature at the beginning of the volume dates from ca. 1150 and must have been added as late as 1920-1930 in order to raise the book's selling price. It is rather damaged but reveals the preliminary drawing which guided the painter at the final stages of his work.


10th century CE


Byzantine Empire






The primary language in this manuscript is Greek, Ancient (to 1453).

Support material


High quality parchment, light, smooth, and remarkably thin


Foliation: 335

Pencil foliation begins in upper right corners of rectos through fol. 4; foliation then continues from fol. 5 through the end in lower right corners of rectos; foliation omits leaves after fols. 213, 220, and 262


Formula: 1(4), 2-12(8), 13(8,-7), 14-20(8), 21(6), 22-33(8), 34(10), 35-40(8), 41(2), 42(4), 43(8), 44(6)

Catchwords: None

Signatures: None

Comments: Quires begin on fols. 1(1), 5(2), 13(3), 21(4), 29(5), 37(6), 45(7), 53(8), 61(9), 69(10), 77(11), 85(12), 93(13), 100(14), 108(15), 116(16), 124(17), 132(18), 140(19), 148(20), 156(21), 162(22), 170(23), 178(24), 186(25), 194(26), 202(27), 210(28), 217(29), 224(30), 232(31), 240(32), 248(33), 256(34), 265(35), 273(36), 281(37), 289(38), 297(39), 305(40), 313(41), 315(42), 319(43), 327(44); the first four leaves of quire 1 are all tipped


15.5 cm wide by 21.8 cm high

Written surface

7.6 cm wide by 13.5 cm high

  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 19

fols. 1r - 332r:
  1. Title: Gospel Book
  2. Contents: Fols. 1r-v: letter from Eusebius to Carpianus; fols. 2r-3v: readings for the feast days from September 1 to January 21; fol. 5r, lower margin: readings for the feast days from January 22 to January 30; fols. 5r-98r: Gospel of Matthew; fols. 99r-158r: Gospel of Mark; fols. 159r-257v: Gospel of Luke; fols. 257v-258v: readings for the feast days from February 1 to June 29; fols. 260r-332r: Gospel of John; fols. 262bis r-v: readings for the feast days from July 1 to August 31
  3. Hand note: Main hand written in sloping cursive minuscule, medium brown ink; fols. 2-3, 258, 262bis copied in thirteenth- or fourteenth-century hand


fol. 4v:

  1. W.523, fol. 4v
  2. Title: The Evangelist John
  3. Form: Full-page miniature
  4. Comment:

    This miniature was certainly painted for a somewhat larger volume: it has been noticeably trimmed to fit its present position. Even though it now faces the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, it portrays the Evangelist John; the text of John 1:1 is written in the book in front of the Evangelist.


The binding is not original.

Early twentieth-century (probably Leon Gruel); tooled leather over squared wooden board; five brass bosses on each cover; slightly raised endbands; pastedowns are fragments from Chicago, University of Chicago Library MS 138, fourteenth century


Henry Walters, Baltimore, by purchase from Leon Gruel


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


K. W. Clark, A Descriptive Catalogue of Greek New Testament Manuscripts in America (Chicago, 1937), 350–351 with pl. lv

K. Weitzmann, Die byzantinische Buchmalerei des 9. und 10. Jahrhunderts. Addenda und Appendix. (Vienna, 1996), 80 with fig. 631

G. R. Parpulov, “A Catalogue of the Greek Manuscripts of the Walters Art Museum”, Journal of the Walters Art Museum 62 (2004), 71-189, esp. 91-93

N. F. Kavrus-Hoffmann, "Tenth-Century Greek Gospels at the Walters Art Museum: Writing Styles and Ornamental Motifs", Journal of the Walters Art Museum 62 (2004), 21-34, eps. 27-34


Principal cataloger: Parpulov, Georgi R.

Editors: Herbert, Lynley; Noel, William

Copy editor: Joyal, Stephanie

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Bockrath, Diane; Emery, Doug; Izer, Emily; Noel, William; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.