The Codex Gigas or the Devil’s Bible at the National Library in Stockholm is famous for two features. First, it is reputed to be the biggest surviving European manuscript. (Codex Gigas means ‘giant book’.) Secondly, it contains a large, full page portrait of the Devil.
This site contains a digitised version of every page of the manuscript as well as commentaries on its history, texts, script, initials and decoration.
The Highlights contain a selection of images from the manuscript. About the Codex Gigaspresents a short introduction to the manuscript; Read more includes a commentary, augmented by a number of transcribed and translated shorter texts. The glossary and biographical addenda can be used as study aids.
Starting in May 2013, the original manuscript is on display for the general public in a new exhibit, "Treasures".
The Codex Gigas (English: Giant Book) is the largest extant medieval manuscript in the world. It is also known as the Devil's Bible because of a large illustration of the devil on the inside and the legend surrounding its creation. It is thought to have been created in the early 13th century in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice in Bohemia (modern Czech Republic). It contains the Vulgate Bible as well as many historical documents all written in Latin. During the Thirty Years' War in 1648, the entire collection was taken as war booty by the Swedish, and now it is preserved at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm, on display for the general public.
The codex is richly illuminated throughout.
The codex is bound in a wooden folder covered with leather and ornate metal. At 92 cm (36 in) tall, 50 cm
Legend has it, that it was written by one scribe.Acts 12:25 reads απο Ιερουσαλημ ("from Jerusalem") along with manuscripts: D, Ψ, 181, 436, 614, 2412, ℓ 147, ℓ 809, ℓ 1021, ℓ 1141, ℓ 1364, ℓ 1439, ar, d, vg, Chrysostom; majority reads εις Ιερουσαλημ (to Jerusalem). Acts 18:26 supports reading την οδον of Codex Bezae.
The codex is believed to have been created by Herman the Recluse in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice near Chrudim in the Czech Republic. The monastery was destroyed during the 15th century during the Hussite Revolution. Records in the codex end in the year 1229. The codex was later pledged to the Cistercians Sedlec Monastery and then bought by the Benedictine monastery in Břevnov. From 1477 to 1593, it was kept in the library of a monastery in Broumov until it was taken to Prague in 1594 to form a part of the collections of the Emperor Rudolf II.
On Friday, 7 May 1697, a fierce fire broke out at the royal castle in Stockholm, and the Royal Library suffered very badly. The codex was rescued from the flames by being thrown out of a window. The codex apparently injured a bystander and some of its leaves fluttered away and they are still missing today.In September 2007, after 359 years, the Codex Gigas returned to Prague on loan from Sweden until January 2008, and was on display at the Czech National Library.
A National Geographic documentary included interviews with manuscript experts who pointed towards evidence (handwriting analysis and a credit to hermann inclusus – "herman the recluse") that indicates the manuscript was indeed the work of just one scribe.
Illustration of the devil, Folio 290 recto. Legend has it the codex was created by a monk who sold his soul to the devil.
According to one version of a legend that was already recorded in the Middle Ages, the scribe was a monk who broke his monastic vows and was sentenced to be walled up alive. In order to forbear this harsh penalty he promised to create in one single night a book to glorify the monastery forever, including all human knowledge. Near midnight he became sure that he could not complete this task alone, so he made a special prayer, not addressed to God but to the fallen angel Lucifer, asking him to help him finish the book in exchange for his soul. The devil completed the manuscript and the monk added the devil's picture out of gratitude for his aid. In tests to recreate the work, it is estimated that reproducing only the calligraphy, without the illustrations or embellishments, would have taken 5 years of non-stop writing.
List of New Testament Latin manuscripts
National Geographic documentary covering the story of the Codex Gigas
Complete high-resolution gallery of pages (only covering the New Testament section of the codex)