The oldest surviving illustrated Bible: a 5th century masterpiece of unparalleled historical value

Ashburnham Pentateuch

North Africa, Rome (Italy) or Spain — 5th or 7th century

Ashburnham Pentateuch

Ashburnham Pentateuch

North Africa, Rome (Italy) or Spain — 5th or 7th century

  1. The oldest Latin translation of the Bible is also the oldest surviving illuminated Bible

  2. The manuscript possibly originated as a gift for the Emperor Valentinian III (419-455)

  3. The mysterious provenance has helped make it a valued collector’s item over the centuries

Ashburnham Pentateuch

Alternative Titles:
  • Biblia de Tours
  • Tours Pentateuch
  • Bible de Tours
  • Bibbia di Tours
  • Bíblia de Tours
  • Bibel von Tours
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The importance of the manuscript, which is known today under the titles of Ashburnham Pentateuch or the Bible of Tours, as the oldest Latin translation of the Bible cannot be over stressed. Its standing as an important early medieval manuscript from the Occident is highlighted through its spectacular miniatures. Allegedly, the manuscript was made under the patronage of Princess Galla Placidia as a gift for her son, the later Emperor Valentinian III. It was finished during the 5th to 7th centuries.

Ashburnham Pentateuch – The Bible of Tours

The importance of the manuscript, which is known today under the titles of Ashburnham Pentateuch or the Bible of Tours, as the oldest Latin translation of the Bible cannot be over stressed. Its standing as an important early medieval manuscript from the Occident is highlighted through its spectacular miniatures. Allegedly, the manuscript was made under the patronage of Princess Galla Placidia as a gift for her son, the later Emperor Valentinian III. It was finished during the 5th to 7th centuries.

A Biblical Textbook for the Future Emperor

In 284 pages, the manuscript unfurls the story of the so-called Book of Deuteronomy out of the Old Testament. In total, 19 whole-page miniatures and 11 canonized boards are evidence of the grandness of book decoration, which originally could have had even more extensive art. Through research, many have assumed that the Ashburnham Pentateuch originated in North Africa or Spain, while others have alleged that it originated from an imperial Scriptorium in Rome. The Patron for this important manuscript was almost certainly Galla Placidia (around 390-450), who was the West Roman Princess and mother to the future Emperor Valentinian. She served as her son’s representative as Regent of the Western Roman Empire for a few years. The script with biblical content was utilized for the education of the future Emperor and served as an entertaining and educationally rich way to instruct him in the basics of religion.

Distinguished Miniatures

The convincing illustrations of biblical stories are a special feature of the Bible of Tours. Wonderful whole-page miniatures show parts of consecutive scenes. In a subtle way, the fratricidal story of Cain and Abel is told on one side of the pages. More frames—whether in an architectural or natural area—are artfully interwoven. True dream landscapes with masses of people and animal figures in the most beautiful colors—like light purple, orange, or deep blue—stand before your eyes. The miniature of the deluge is especially impressive, which appears very modern in its simplicity and colorfulness. Be it water or desert, city or palace, palm trees or green hills, one simply cannot get enough of the inspiring creativity of the miniatures. The picture frames are populated with herds of camels, lions, and many other animals and people in uncountable poses and costumes.

Eventful History and Important Names

An exciting history of ownership is inextricably linked with the manuscript. It appeared first in the possession of the Cloisters of St. Martin in Tours, which was kept more specifically in the Cathedral of St. Gatianus. In the 19th century, the so-named Bible of Tours was suddenly stolen from its longtime home, and reappeared when it was sold to the Duke of Ashburnham, at which point it was renamed after its new owner. In 1888, the Bible of Tours ended up in the National Library of France, where it is still retained today. Its importance to both History and Art History as the first Latin translation and the first illustrated Bible in the history of manuscript art makes the Ashburnham Pentateuch a desirable collector’s piece and an artifact of huge significance.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Biblia de Tours
Tours Pentateuch
Bible de Tours
Bibbia di Tours
Bíblia de Tours
Bibel von Tours
Size / Format
284 pages / 37.1 x 32.1 cm
Date
5th or 7th century
Language
Illustrations
19 full-page miniatures, 11 splendid canon tables and initials
Previous Owners

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Ashburnham Pentateuch“

Biblia de Tours
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
Ashburnham Pentateuch – Ms. Nouv. acq. lat. 2334 – Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France)
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Biblia de Tours

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2003
Limited Edition
999 copies
Binding
Wood with goatskin and fire-engraved in gold
Commentary
1 volume (306 pages) by Bezalel Narkiss
Languages: Spanish, English, German
Regular price without login (like new)6,450 €
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