Texts

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Apocalypse

Apocalypse

The text is from the New Testament book of Revelation, recounting St. John's vision of the Second Coming, and showing in stark woodcut images (often hand-coloured) the beast with seven heads, the resurrection of the dead, and the false prophet cast into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. The earliest blockbooks of the Apocalypse were based on manuscript models.

 

Biblia Pauperum

Biblia Pauperum

A bible in pictures, the Biblia Pauperum originally appeared in the form of illuminated manuscripts in the late 13th century. The blockbook versions compressed the bible into 40 pages of pictures with small boxes or ribbons of text, either in Latin (as in the Bodleian copies) or in the vernacular.

Canticum Canticorum

Canticum Canticorum

The Song of Songs, from the Old Testament, is a poem in the form of a dialogue between two lovers. In Jewish theology it could be taken as an allegory of the love between God and the Jewish people. A medieval Christian interpretation stressed the roles of male and female, and used the lover's words of praise for his beloved as a model for devotion of the Virgin Mary. This was the context of the poem's printing as a blockbook in the later 1400s, when celebration of Mary was a strong feature of Christian devotion.

Donatus

Donatus

Aside from devotional texts, another bestselling genre was the schoolbook. The Ars minor, or Lesser art [of grammar], first written in the 4th century by Aelius Donatus, was a popular textbook of Latin grammar, essential for all 15th-century schoolboys. For a description of the origins and printing of this text, see here.


Available transcriptions

Apocalypse (Auct. M 3.15)

Transcriptions from Apocalypse (Auct. M 3.15)

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Apocalypse (Douce 249)

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Biblia pauperum (Arch. G c.14)

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Canticum Canticorum (Auct. M 3.12)

Transcriptions from Canticum Canticorum (Auct. M 3.12)

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