In this overview, we will begin with twelfth-century Bibles, before turning to the thirteenth century, exploring selected case studies of Bibles used for the Mass and the Divine Office. The evidence is abundant, but does pose puzzles, including the central one of format. How were very small Bibles used for the Mass and Office? Historians of the thirteenth-century Bible have always presented it as a new phenomenon, and anyone who has held a very small one-volume Bible from the thirteenth century knows that this is true. But that is not the end of the story. These “new” Bibles were also used and understood in very traditional ways, especially within the context of the public liturgy of the medieval church. Continuity and innovation, I would argue, are both important.
Laura Light it as director and senior specialist at Les Enluminures. She has published widely on the Paris Bible and its precursors, including an exhibition catalogue on the Bible for Harvard University, where she worked as cataloguer of medieval manuscripts at the Houghton Library. She has edited “Form and Function in the Late Medieval Bible” – a collection on the manuscript evidence and the historical significance of late medieval Bibles.
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