Monday, March 7, 2022

The Gangster's Bible: Lectionary 1599

           At the University of Chicago, among the manuscripts that form the Goodspeed Manuscript Collection,  is a medieval lectionary called the Argos Lectionary – named after the ancient city of Argos, in Greece.  Its is also known as Lectionary 1599, or, in the catalog of the collection, MS 128.  But another name is often given to it:  “The Gangster’s Bible.”

Vincenzo Colosimo
         The story of this moniker begins, as Michael Hirsley reported in the Chicago Tribune in 1993, when, following Edgar Goodspeed’s acquisition of  GA 2400 (an extensively illustrated New Testament made around the 1100s), a student of Goodspeed showed him the Argos Lectionary.  Goodspeed wanted to find out more about it, and this led to a meeting between Goodspeed and one of the owners of Colosimo’s restaurant in Chicago – named after Vincenzo “Diamond Jim” Colosimo, who had been killed – some reports said the killer was John Torrio; others say it was Al Capone – on May 11, 1920. 

          Apparently some of the mobsters in Chicago had a special use for the Argos Lectionary:  it was used as the book on which gang-members took oaths (possibly similar to the oaths described by Michael Franzese).   

          Eventually, with the involvement of Harold R. Willoughby, the University of Chicago purchased the Argos Lectionary from its owner on very agreeable terms, and it took its place in the Goodspeed Manuscript Collection, where it is to this day. 


         Lectionary 1599 was made in the 800s or 900s, and its text is written in two columns per page measuring approximately 29 x 22 cm.   It has endured significant damage, but plenty of pages have survived which contain text from the Gospels.  Its text, like most lectionaries, is essentially Byzantine.  A few textual features may be mentioned:

Image 122:  Luke 22:4 includes και γραμματευσιν, similar to the reading in C, N, P, 157, 700.  

Image 190:  Mark 15:28 is not in the text.

Image 228:  In Matthew 27:55, εκει appears after γυναικες.

Images 134, 135, & 136:  John 13:3-17 follows the end of Matthew 28, and is followed by text from Matthew 26:21.  (This liturgical arrangement for Maundy Thursday explains why, in GA 225, John 13:3-17 is found after after Matthew 26:20.)

Images 235, 236, & 237 – Mark 16:9-20 is the third of the eleven Heothina readings.

Image 242 – In John 21:1, the incipit-phrase (used to begin the reading, in the lower right-hand column 0f text) includes αὐτοῦ ἐγέρθεις ἐκ νεκρῶν, a reading also found in Γ (036)  f13 1241 and 1424.

Image 248 – In Luke 10:8-10, near the end of the first column of text, the scribe made a parableptic error when his line of sight drifted from εἰσέρχησθε καὶ in 10:8 to καὶ μὴ δέχωνται in 10:10.  Also, in Luke 10:11, the text of l1599 includes  (“from your feet”).

Image 261 – In a list of feast-days in October, the saints honored on Oct. 7 are listed as Sergius and Bacchus.  The saint honored on October 8 is listed as Saint Pelagia.  This implies that John 8:3-11 was initially included in the lectionary, before it was damaged.   This arrangement also explains why the story of the adulteress is found in family 13 in Luke 21, shortly after where the reading for Saints Sergius and Bacchus (Luke 21:12-19) is located.  This kind of textual transplant was simply for the convenience of the lector.



         

6 comments:

Richard Fellows said...

Thanks for this, James. I am interested in your comments about texts that were displaced in continuous manuscripts to conform to the order in lectionaries. You write, "This kind of textual transplant was simply for the convenience of the lector". Are we to imagine that the text in question was inserted in the novel location in a single step by a copyist (to help lectors), or was the text added first to a margin (e.g. by a lector) and then subsequently incorporated into the main text by a copyist? If the displaced texts were added by a copyist (not via a margin) to help lectors, why were some texts added and not others? Should we assume that such displacements generally happened via margins? We can note that the duplication of John 13:3-17 in 225 was to the end of Matthew, where there may well have been plenty of space for a lector to add it to a manuscript. We can also note the displacement of Rom 16:20b to the end of the letter.

Van Lopik discussed the influence of the lectionary on the displacement of texts. Has anyone else published on this? Is there a list of such cases?

James Snapp Jr said...

Richard Fellows,
<< Are we to imagine that the text in question was inserted in the novel location in a single step by a copyist (to help lectors), or was the text added first to a margin (e.g. by a lector) and then subsequently incorporated into the main text by a copyist? >>

In the case of the PA following Luke 21:38 in f13, the text was taken out of John so that the Pentecost lection (Jn. 7:37-52 + 8:12) would be one continuous uninterrupted segment of text, and put into Luke after 21:38 (as the reading for Oct. 8)

<< If the displaced texts were added by a copyist (not via a margin) to help lectors, why were some texts added and not others? >>

I might need more details to know to which text(s) you refer, but the general answer is that some lections were mixtures of different passages from different Gospels. Luke 22:43-44 is usually not transplanted into the text of Matthew - but it is in f13 - but there is a lectionary-related note about it in the margin of Matthew in quite a few MSS.

Richard Fellows said...

You mentioned both the PA and a Luke 22:43-44. Does the displacement of these texts have anything to do with the fact that they are both absent from many ancient manuscripts? Did someone find Luke 22:43-44 in a lectionary manuscript and, being unable to find it in his/her continuous manuscript, did he add it to the margin of his continuous manuscript? That is to say, did Luke 22:43-44 jump from a Lectionary manuscript to the margin of a gospels manuscript that lacked these verses? Are transpositions of large chunks of text evidence of earlier absence?

James Snapp Jr said...

Richard,
<< Does the displacement of these texts have anything to do with the fact that they are both absent from many ancient manuscripts? >>

Yes, I would say so - though I wouldn't say "many."

<< Did someone find Luke 22:43-44 in a lectionary manuscript and, being unable to find it in his/her continuous manuscript, did he add it to the margin of his continuous manuscript? >>

No; I don't think that's quite how it happened. But this sort of question is better addressed when investigating specific passages, rather than a general description of one MS.

Richard Fellows said...

I'm still confused about what your understanding is. By what sequence of events did Luke 22:43-44 move to Matthew's gospel in F13? How is this related to the absence of the verses from several manuscripts?

James Snapp Jr said...

Richard Fellows,
Well, leaving the Argos Lectionary to one side, I would point to my analysis of Luke 22:43-44, elsewhere here at the blog:
https://www.thetextofthegospels.com/2020/12/video-lecture-20-luke-2243-44-jesus-in.html .