The Illustrated Old English Hexateuch, Cotton Ms. Claudius B.iv: The Frontier of Seeing and Reading in Anglo-Saxon England
Published: August 2007© 2007
464 Pages, 6.35 x 9.30 x 1.33 in
The Old English Hexateuch is a manuscript of the earliest vernacular translation of the Old Testament books of Genesis through Joshua. The texts belong, in part, to the Anglo-Saxon monk Aelfric (950?-1010?) and to several anonymous translators and at least one artist who compiled these translations and illustrated them with nearly four hundred narrative images, which are carefully integrated into the manuscript.
The Hexateuch testifies to the creativity and innovation of Anglo-Saxon bookmakers and stands as an important, if little known, witness to the relationship between early book-making technology and the history of literacy. Benjamin C. Withers examines codicological features of the manuscript, focusing on the working processes of the artist and scribes and seeking to understand how they integrated newly translated text with newly developed imagery so deftly. Grounded in art history and literary theory, this work considers the narrative relationships created by the careful design and seeks to place the Hexateuch within the broader social and cultural development of vernacular literacy in the eleventh century.
‘An informative and stimulating monograph extending the bounds of interdisciplinary approach… Withers study is meticulously presented and argued, and represents a valuable contribution to the study of not only of this manuscript, but the Anglo-Saxon book in general.’ Daniel Anlezarck, Medium Aevum; vol 80(1) (8)