Dating new testament manuscripts
Syria and Mesopotamia The existence of Persian manuscripts on parchment very rich in miniatures, is proved by allusions of St. The masterpiece of this school is the Syriac Evangeliary written in 586 at the Monastery of Zagba (Mesopotamia) by the monk Rabula (since the fifteenth century in the Laurentian Library, Florence).The miniatures are real pictures with a decorative frame formed of zigzags, curves, rainbows, etc.It is represented by the evangeliary of Etschmiadzin (tenth century), the miniatures of which are derived from a sixth-century model; the evangeliary of Queen Mlke (Venice, Monastery of the Mechitarists, dated 902), and the evangeliary of Tübingen, dated 1113.In all these works the richness of the framework and the hieratic character of the human face are noteworthy.It seems more and more evident that Byzantine art, far from being an original creation, is no more than a prolonged survival of the Hellenic-oriental art of the fourth to the sixth centuries.The Greek monks charged with the illumination of manuscripts never ceased to copy models, following the fashion and the occupation of the time, these models sometimes varies; hence Byzantine art has undergone a development more apparent than real.
The author was a native monk and a complete stranger to Hellenic art. As early as the fifth century schools of miniaturists were formed in the Christian convents of Syria and Mesopotamia which drew some of their inspiration from Greek art (draped figures), but relied mainly on the ornamental traditions of the ancient Orient.The most ancient examples are found on Egyptian papyri, where in the midst of the texts, and not separated from it, portraits are painted, most frequently in profile, according to the Egyptian method. Martial (XIV, 1865) mentions a portrait of Virgil painted on a parchment manuscript, and Varro collected seven hundred such portraits of illustrious men.After having drawn the outline in black in the artist filled in the drawing in colours. D.) displays a text broken by groups of miniatures: men and women in bluish-gray or pink costumes stand out in relief from the background of the papyrus itself. (The portraits of the Evangelists in medieval manuscripts result from this tradition.) None of these works remains and the only traces of the illuminations of antiquity are found in the following manuscripts of the fourth and fifth centuries: Egypt The tradition of miniatures on papyrus was preserved till the Christian era.Despite its limitations, the art of illumination is one of the most charming ever invented; it exacts the same qualifications and produced almost as powerful effects as painting ; it even calls for a delicacy of touch all its own.And whereas most of the paintings of the Middle Ages have perished, these little works form an almost uninterrupted series which afford us a clear idea of the chief schools of painting of each epoch and each region.