Thursday, July 4, 2013

World’s Largest Book 'The Devil's Bible'

            At the beginning of 13th century a remarkable literary work was created in Bohemia, known as ‘Codex Gigas (giant book), or the Devil's Bible. The book is thought to be one of the world's largest illuminated manuscripts,which is three feet long and weighs a hundred and sixty-five pounds. It has 600 pages which, contrary to legend, are made from calf skins. The Codex Gigas includes a combination of texts found nowhere else. In addition to the full text of the Latin bible, the book contains herbals, history books, cures for dangerous illnesses, texts caring for the soul, medical formulas for treating illnesses and diseases, conjurations, and even solutions to problems such as finding a thief.

It got its name "Devil's Bible" from the illustration of the devil on page 290. It is believed to be the only bible of its era that depicts Satan. Half-clothed in royal ermine; half man, half beast; with claws, cloven hooves, and a huge serpentine red tongue, the drawing shows Satan walled up in a cell alone rather than loosed in Hell. Immediately across from the devil is a portrait of the Kingdom of Heaven, creating an interesting contrast.

The first mention of the Devil’s Bible comes from the year 1295, but it is supposed that the manuscript was much older. The book was owned by a small Benedictine monastery of Podlazice near Chrudim, most likely around 1229. No records about its origin, author or reason for writing it have been preserved.

According to the legend the book was written by a monk condemned to be walled up alive. To spare his life, he promised his bishop that he would create the most wonderful book the world had ever seen, including the text of the Bible and the sum of all human knowledge up to that point in time – and he would do it in one night. Yet already at midnight he realized that he could not finish it in time. There­fore, to accomplish this impossible task, he sold his soul to the devil. The legend has it that the monk drew the ima­ge of the devil into the book out of his gratitude. However, even though he escaped the punis­hment, his life turned to hell. But the experts estimate that the Devil's Bible was written by one person, but it was not written in a single night, the book would have taken a minimum of 25-30 years to complete, including the time taken to rule the pages, write the text, and complete the illuminations and drawings.
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