Codex Etchmiadzin

Codex Etchmiadzin Facsimile Edition

Monastery of Noravank (Armenia) — Ca. 989

The "Queen of Bible Texts", adorned with a series of early medieval miniatures and an impressive ivory binding: an extremely accurate and early 5th century Old Armenian translation of the Bible

  1. One of the most important testimonies of early (Armenian) Christianity

  2. Contains monumental miniatures from the 6th century

  3. Geschmückt mit einem einmalig schönen Elfenbein-Einband aus dem 6. oder 7. Jahrhundert

Codex Etchmiadzin

  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Codex Etchmiadzin

The Codex Etchmiadzin represents one of the most important artifacts of Armenian Christianity. Its outstanding importance in religious life, art, and science is owed to the uniqueness of its written and pictorial records that bring us closer to the beginnings of Christian literature than other comparable manuscripts. It is believed to be the most faithful copy of the Old Armenian bible translation that dates back to the early 5th century. The great importance of this manuscript is also underlined by the splendid ivory cover dating from the 6th or 7th century which has protected the codex since its restoration in the 12th century. The manuscript enjoys relic-like status in Armenia today and is one of its greatest national treasures.

Codex Etchmiadzin

Since 1920, the Matenadaran Archives in Yerevan have housed, on permanent loan from the Catholicos of All Armenians, what is one of the most precious manuscripts in the world - the Codex Etchmiadzin, named after the place where it was formerly kept. Its outstanding importance in religious life, art, and science is owed to the uniqueness of its written and pictorial records that bring us closer to the beginnings of Christian literature than other comparable manuscripts.

The Queen of Biblical Translations

The text of this tetra-evangelary, written at the monastery of Noravank in the province of Blen (south east of Yerevan) in 989, is held to be the most faithful copy of the Old Armenian bible translation that dates back to the early 5th century and which is called the "Queen of Biblical Translations" by merit of its great accuracy, its beauty of language, and its purity of style.

A Buffet of Illumination

The 15 full-page illustrations preceding the biblical report date further still. They are the most faithful reflection of the system of decoration developed by Eusebius of Caesarea in the first half of the 4th century for his rendition of an evangelary and which was subsequently to remain the binding form for all manuscripts of this kind. However, the two pages which, sewn into strips of parchment, are bound into the last layer of the manuscript are the real artistic and spiritual culmination of the Codex Etchmiadzin. These two folios are from a 7th-century evangelary and display four full-page feast-day illuminations, the Annunciation, the Annunciation to Zacharias, the Adoration of the Magi, and the Baptism of Christ. The hieratic, monumental miniatures represent the oldest instance of Armenian book illumination. Thanks to the inclusion of these fragments of a 300 year older manuscript, the "new" Codex has always been of particular significance.

The Roots of Christianity, in Ivory

The great importance of this manuscript is also underlined by the splendid ivory cover dating from the 6th or 7th century which has protected the codex since its restoration in the 12th century. Like many other manuscripts in Armenian culture, the Codex Etchmiadzin is also held in great esteem. Even today, it is revered like a holy relic and mostly hidden away from prying eyes. It is one of the very few manuscripts that may never leave Armenia.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Codex Etschmiadzin
Etschmiadsin-Evangeliar
Size / Format
464 pages / 34.5 × 26.0 cm
Origin
Armenia
Date
Ca. 989
Style
Illustrations
19 full-page miniatures, numerous smaller miniatures in the margins, canon tables with classical architectures
Content
"The Queen of Biblical Translations"

Available facsimile editions:
Codex Etchmiadzin – Cod. 237 – Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts - Matenadaran (Eriwan, Armenia) Facsimile Edition
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 2001
Limited Edition: 150 copies

Codex Etchmiadzin – Cod. 237 – Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts - Matenadaran (Eriwan, Armenia) Facsimile Edition
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 2001
Limited Edition: 100 copies
Detail Picture

Codex Etchmiadzin

Baptism of Jesus

One of the most important events in the life of Jesus and one of the most historically reliable is his baptism, which is depicted literally here by the Armenian artist. “It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’.” (Mark 1:9-11)

Codex Etschmiadzin (Luxury Edition)
Single Page

Codex Etchmiadzin

The Annunciation

This 7th century Annunciation miniature has several unique features for such the archetypal image. Mary appears to have dropped her basket of yarn at her feet, she holds her hand against her face in a gesture of surprise at the appearance of the archangel Gabriel. This was also a sign of deep insecurity in ancient art, a natural reaction to such incredible news from such a strange messenger.

The Virgin Mary is dressed in a dark chiton with a belt and a white scarf and is framed by classical architecture, with particular attention paid to the Corinthian-style column capitals. Gabriel’s white robes are also detailed, he bears a staff and has wings resembling those of a peacock. Both have large inquisitive eyes with soft features and rosy cheeks.

Codex Etschmiadzin (Luxury Edition)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Codex Etschmiadzin (Luxury Edition)

Limited Edition: 150 copies
Binding: Faithful reproduction of the ivory binding (five-piece ivory diptych from the 6th century) Facsimile and commentary in a box
Commentary: 1 volume by Heide and Helmut Buschhausen
Language: German

Heide und Helmut Buschhausen, Vienna. Detailed scholarly commentary on contents, structure, history of origin and the significance of the codex with respect to history of art and liturgy and the ivory cover.
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding. All folios are cut according to the original.

#2 Codex Etschmiadzin (Normal Edition)

Limited Edition: 100 copies
Binding: Handbound leather over wooden boards. All leaves are trimmed to the original edges Facsimile and commentary in a slip case
Commentary: 1 volume by Heide and Helmut Buschhausen
Language: German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) without reproduction of the original ivory cover. Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding. All folios are cut according to the original.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
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