Ashburnham Pentateuch

Ashburnham Pentateuch

The Ashburnham Pentateuch (Paris, Bibl. Nat. MS nouv. acq. lat. 2334, also known as the Tours Pentateuch) is a late 6th or early 7th century illuminated manuscript of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament). Although it originally contained all five books of the Pentateuch, it is now missing the whole of Deuteronomy as well as sections of the other five books.

It has 142 folios and 19 miniatures, and measures 372mm by 321mm. It is thought to have originally included as many as 68 full page miniatures. A full page table containing the Latin names of the books and Latin transliterations of the Hebrew names serves as a front piece to Genesis. The table is enclosed within a curtained arch. Some of the full page miniatures, such as that containing the miniature of Noah's Ark (folio 9r), contain a single scene. Other of the full page miniatures, such as that telling the story of Cain and Abel (see illustration), contain many scenes which are placed in a register, with each scene having a different color background.

The origin of this manuscript is uncertain. Although it has been described by some scholars as Spanish, it may have come from North Africa, Syria or Italy.

The manuscript was at the National Library at Tours before being stolen in 1842 and sold to Bertram Ashburnham, 4th Earl of Ashburnham in 1847. Since 1888, it has been housed at the National Library of France in Paris.


*Calkins, Robert G. "Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages". Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1983.
*Walther, Ingo F. and Norbert Wolf. "Codices Illustres: The world's most famous illuminated manuscripts, 400 to 1600". Köln, TASCHEN, 2005.
*Weitzmann, Kurt. "Late Antique and Early Christin Book Illumination". New York: George Braziller, 1977.

Further reading

*Verkerk, Dorothy. "Early Medieval Bible Illumination and the Ashburnham Pentateuch". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
*Verkerk, Dorothy. "Exodus and Easter Vigil in the Ashburnham Pentateuch," "Art Bulletin" LXXVII/1 (1995): 94-105.

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