The untold story of  CODEX GIGAS or Devil’s Bible

The untold story of CODEX GIGAS or Devil’s Bible

It’s a mysterious book that in its day was believed to contain all human knowledge. In July 1648, during the final clashes of the Thirty Years’ War, the Swedish army looted the city of Prague. Among the treasures, they stole and brought with them when they returned home was a book called Codex Gigas. Not only is Codex Gigas famous for being the largest medieval book in the world, but because of its contents, it is also known as The Devil’s Bible.

Medieval people believe that a Monk sold his soul to the devil to be able to write it. We all know that in this world nothing is free and the Devil didn’t give anything without any cost. Devil believes in trading, in order to get anything from him, you must give your precious to him.

Now the biggest question is why do we call it the Devil’s Bible ?

The Devil’s Bible has been given its name because of a full-size portrait of the Devil.It came from the illustration of the devil on page 290.It is believed to be the only bible of its era that depicts Satan. 

The Devil is shown alone, in an empty landscape, the Library of Sweden says on its website. “He is crouching with his arms held up (he has only four fingers and toes) and wears an ermine loin cloth. Ermine is usually associated with royalty, and its use here is to emphasize the position of the Devil as the prince of darkness.” The portrait was intended to remind the viewer of sin and evil, the Library website continues. “It is opposite a page with a representation of Heavenly City and the two pages were deliberately planned to show the advantages of a good life and the disadvantages of a bad one.”

According to legend, a monk who broke his vows was sentenced to be walled up alive. He begged for clemency and promised to write a book that included all human knowledge — in just one night. At midnight, he realized he would never succeed in his task, so he prayed to the fallen angel Lucifer to help him. The devil delivered, so the monk drew the devil’s portrait on page 577 of his manuscript in gratitude.

The manuscript was definitely produced by one person, according to analysis of the ink and penmanship.

In reality, it would take one person working continuously, day and night, five years to recreate the contents of Codex Gigas by hand (excluding the illustrations).When the illustrations are included, it would have taken at least 25 to 30 years.

Codex Gigas is Latin for Giant Book. At nearly 3 feet long, almost 1 foot thick, and almost 2 feet wide, it weighs 165 pounds (nearly 75 kilograms). It is almost as if it were designed by or made for something much larger than a human. It requires two people to transport. More than this, the codex has survived wars, plundering raids, a raging fire, and eight centuries of curiosity.The 310 parchment leaves (620 pages) of the Devil’s Bible are made of vellum, from the processed skins of 160 animals, most probably donkeys. Some pages(10 – 12 pages)  of the Devil’s Bible are thought to have been removed, and no one knows what happened to them.

National Library of Sweden

The contents of the book include the complete text of the Old and New Testaments in Latin, as well as incantations, exorcism spells, the Ars medicinae (a 12th-century medical textbook), the Chronicle of the Bohemians, a calendar, and Hebrew, Greek, and Slavic alphabets. Toward the end of the book, there’s a drawing of the kingdom of Heaven with the infamous illustration of the devil on the facing page. The red, comma-shaped dashes on the devil’s loincloth are thought to be the tails of ermine furs, which were a common symbol of sovereignty at the time. The two long, red tongues poking out of his mouth evoke serpents, i.e., forked tongues, representing dishonesty.

Some researchers point to a mysterious monk named “Herman the Recluse” as the author, but since no other work by Herman exists, the theory is impossible to verify. Written on ruled guide-lines, the pages filled with two columns of 106 lines each, the script maintains a remarkable uniformity from start to finish. Researchers estimate that it would take one person 25 to 30 years to complete it.

Now the book is housed at the National Library of Sweden. The white leather volume adorned with fancy gewgaws is about three feet tall and weighs a staggering 165 pounds. To protect this 800-year-old book from the damages of air and light, it’s kept in a climate-controlled case. The entire manuscript is now digitized and available for examination at the library’s website. Commentaries and historical analysis assist in understanding this massive and bedeviling book. 

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