February 4, 2016

St. Nicholas the Studite and the Uspensky Gospel Book

Text of John 17:2-12 from the Uspensky Gospels

St. Nicholas the Studite and Confessor (Feb. 4) was an accomplished scribe, copying several manuscripts, the most famous being what is today known as the Uspensky Gospel Book. The Uspensky Gospels are a New Testament minuscule manuscript written in Greek, dated at 835 AD. They are the oldest known dated manuscript of the New Testament; it was not customary for Greek scribes to date their work at the time.

It is the oldest dated minuscule Greek manuscript known today. Before discovering this codex, the earliest dated cursive was Minuscule 14 (AD 964), and it was commonly believed that minuscule writing was not used in the 9th century. The manuscript was probably written in Constantinople, but later it belonged to the Monastery of Mar Saba in Palestine. In 1844, Porphyrius Uspensky took it and brought it to Russia.

The Uspensky Gospels is preserved in the National Library of Russia in Saint Petersburg (Gr. 219. 213. 101).