The Tabernacle of Moses from the Codex Amiatinus by Unknown English artist

Unknown English artist

The Tabernacle of Moses, from the Codex Amiatinus , Before 716, Illumination on parchment, 500 x 335 mm, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence, MS Amiatino 1, fol. 2v–3r, By permission of the Ministry of Culture

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‘That I may dwell among them’

Commentary by

The Tabernacle of Moses signified God’s presence amongst His chosen people, sensed through the smell of burning incense. The striking visual images and guiding inscriptions in the early-eighth-century Codex Amiatinus, made in Northumbria, would have enabled the Anglo-Saxon monks then (as they allow us now) to make a virtual pilgrimage to experience worship at that biblical place of God’s presence.

But in making their imaginative journey to Moses’s Tabernacle, the monks could at the same time recognize that the Tabernacle had come to them. Now God’s Word was to be found dwelling within their magnificent Codex, crafted as laboriously and carefully as the Israelites did the Tent of Meeting.

It too would soon be ‘wandering’: it was destined for Rome, as a pledge of the unity of the universal catholic and apostolic Church (O’Reilly 2009). But while it was in their midst, we may imagine them giving thanks for the providential unfolding of salvation that had allowed Christianity to spread to their shores—in the words of the Codex’s dedication, to ‘the furthest boundaries of the Angli’.

 

References

O’Reilly, Jennifer. 2009. ‘‘All that Peter Stands For’: The Romanitas of the Codex Amiatinus Reconsidered’, in Anglo-Saxon/Irish Relations Before the Vikings, ed. by James Graham-Campbell and Michael Ryan (Oxford: Oxford University Press)


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