#maintext #pericope #prayer #inscription
AM 344 fol. is a large manuscript from the late fourteenth century. It contains secular and ecclesiastical law together with a couple of additions – and a gospel pericope with prayer up front. AM 344 fol. measures 28 x 20 cm, which is a bit smaller than A4 size. It is only 79 leaves thick. Although the last page is only fragmental, it seems that this was the ultimate page. The manuscript originally had a woodboard binding with a leather spine, which both are preserved after restauration. The manuscript has been dated to the late fourteenth century, and it was written in Iceland. The text is set in two columns with wide margins on the outside and the bottom. There are red rubrics throughout and coloured initials with contrasting ornament to mark new sections or chapters. The book has clearly been produced with accessibility and legibility in mind. While looking nice and neat, one would not perceive of this manuscript as a representational exemplar. Árni Magnússon obtained AM 344 fol. in 1686. Today, it is kept at the Stofnun Árna Magnússonar á Íslandi. You can browse the digitisation here. The manuscript contains a copy of the secular law codex Jónsbók (2r–58r), additions and emendations to Jónsbók (58r–63v), the ecclesiastical law of Bishop Árni (63r–74v), and ecclesiastical decrees until the middle of the fourteenth century (74v–79r). Around ca. 1400, a gospel pericope and a prayer were added on the originally empty fol. 1r. While all other texts are in Old Norse, these additions are in Latin. On fol. 1v, there is an large illumination showing the crucified Christ accompanied by the Virgin Mary and John the Evangelist. Inscriptions reveal who is depicted. The Latin parts are fairly standard. There are no errors to the text or obvious misspellings. It must be noted, however, that both texts are fairly easy regarding their grammar and lexis, and one would expect especially the gospel text to be correct. What I find striking is the high number of abbreviations, which is significantly different from what we find in liturgical books. The gospel pericope is the beginning of the Gospel of John, John 1:1–14. It stresses the importance of the word that comes from God and is God through Christ. Placed in the beginning of a codex of law, it stresses the importance of the words to follow as given by God. The law text represents the rules for the good life on earth mentioned in the prayer, which is a common closing prayer for Mass according to some uses. The prayer calls upon God, the ruler of our life, for guidance through life in this world. At the same time, it shows the ultimate goal of abiding by the rules: eternal life.