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date: 16 October 2019

Book of Dimmalocked

  • Ben C. Tilghman


Irish illuminated Gospel book (Dublin, Trinity College Library, MS A. 4. 23. (59)), with a short Missa pro infirmis inserted between the gospels of Luke and John, made in the 8th century. It consists of 74 folios and measures 175×142 mm, and is one of the distinctively Irish manuscripts known as ‘pocket gospels’, due to their small format. The traditional association of the manuscript with Dimma, a scribe and later bishop who miraculously wrote a copy of the gospels in 40 days for the 7th-century saint Cronan, cannot be sustained. The inscriptions in which his name appears include evident signs of erasure, indicating that the name of the original scribe was replaced with ‘Dimma’ in perhaps the 10th or 11th century, possibly at the same time that the Missa pro infirmis was added. The manuscript is in fact the work of several scribes. The synoptic gospels are written in an insular miniscule script alternating between bookhand and cursive forms, highly abbreviated and cramped in some places. The script for John is bolder, more regular, and refined. As with most other pocket gospels, each gospel is written on a separate quire, and each gospel begins with an evangelist portrait facing a page with display lettering. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are each represented as men holding books, while John is again differentiated by being represented as his symbol, the eagle. The book was enshrined in a ...

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