Lindisfarne Gospels

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The Gospels of Lindisfarne (English Lindisfarne Gospels ) is an illustrated manuscript from the late 7th or early 8th century. It was created in Lindisfarne Monastery before 721 "for the glory of God and St. Cuthbert ". The writer and illustrator was Eadfrith , Bishop of Lindisfarne from 698 to 721. The work is unfinished, which is why it is assumed that it was interrupted by his episcopal ordination in 698 or his death in 721.


Folium 27r: Incipit of the Gospel of Matthew

The manuscript contains the full text of the four Gospels of the New Testament in Latin on 259 folia on calf parchment in the format of 34 cm × 24.5 cm . Full-page colored miniatures of the evangelists and decorations in the text have been preserved. The design impresses with the complexity and accuracy of the braided ribbon ornamentation (which technical drawings suggest), with its drastic colors compared to Mediterranean models, and with the design of the depictions of animals and people, which despite their pronounced linearity are committed to a realistic conception thereby clearly distinguish it from the highly abstract style of Irish book illumination .

In the 10th century, the oldest surviving Old English translation of the Gospels was inserted as an interlinear gloss between the lines of the Latin text .


As early as 793, the Lindisfarne monastery was attacked by Vikings . Around 875, because of the threat of the manuscript and other relics, the monks left Lindisfarne Monastery and went first to Chester-le-Street and then to Durham . Around 1539, after the abolition of the monastery, the gospel came into private ownership and finally into the hands of the collector Robert Bruce Cotton . In 1753 his descendants donated his library to the English nation. Since then, the manuscript has been in the British Library in London, with the signature Cotton MS Nero D IV. In 1852 the Gospel Book was given a new cover in the historicizing taste of the time. In 2013 the Lindisfarne Gospels was shown at the Palace Green Library in Durham.

In 2003 the Facsimile Verlag Luzern published a facsimile edition of the manuscript.


  • Jonathan JG Alexander (Ed.): A survey of manuscripts illuminated in the British Isles . Volume 1: JJG Alexander: Insular manuscripts. 6th to the 9th century . Miller, London 1978, ISBN 0-905203-01-1 , pp. 35-40.
  • Janet Backhouse: The Lindisfarne Gospels . Phaidon 1981, ISBN 0-7148-2461-5 .
  • Janet Backhouse: The Lindisfarne Gospels. A Masterpiece of Book Painting. The British Library, London 1995, ISBN 0-7123-0400-2 .
  • Michelle P. Brown: The Lindisfarne Gospels and the Early Medieval World . The British Library, London 2011, ISBN 978-0-7123-5801-9 .
  • Michelle P. Brown (Ed.): The Lindisfarne Gospels. Codex Lindisfarnensis Cotton MS Nero D.iv from the British Library, London. The book by Lindisfarne , Vol. 1–4, Facsimile Verlag Luzern, Luzern 2001–2003, ISBN 3-85672-084-7 , ISBN 3-85672-085-5 , ISBN 3-85672-086-3
  • Michelle P. Brown: The Lindisfarne Gospels: Society, Spirituality and the Scribe . (The British Library Studies in Medieval Culture), University of Toronto Press, Toronto 2003, ISBN 0-8020-8825-2 .
  • Christoph Eggenberger: Book of Lindisfarne . In: Severin Corsten u. a. (Ed.): Lexicon of the entire book industry . Volume: 1: A - book . 2nd completely revised edition. Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1987, ISBN 3-7772-8721-0 , pp. 505-506.
  • Thomas D. Kendrick: Evangeliorum quattuor Codex Lindisfarnensis. Musei Britannici Codex Cottonianus nero D.IV permissione Musei Britannici totius codicis similitudo expressa . (Fac. Edition). Urs Graf, Olten a. a. 1956-1960.
  • Nancy Netzer: The working methods of the insular scriptoria. Two case studies: Lindisfarne and Echternach . German translation by Annette Schroeder. In: Michele Camillo Ferrari (ed.): The Echternach Abbey. 698-1998 . Publ. Du CLUDEM, Luxembourg 1999, ISBN 2-919979-12-4 , ( Publications du Center Luxembourgeois de Documentation et d'Études Médiévales CLUDEM 15), pp. 65-103.
  • Carl Nordenfalk: Insular book illumination. Illuminated manuscripts of the British Isles 600–800. Prestel, Munich 1977, ISBN 3-7913-0402-X , ( The great manuscripts of the world ), pp. 60–75.

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