Printed Initial O with winged dragon. Photograph © Mildred Budny

Private Collection. Printed Bifolium with Woodcut Initial O enclosing winged dragon.

[Posted on 1 November 2014, with updates]

Here we offer reviews and views of publications, exhibitions, displays, commentaries, discussions, and questions concerning the written word in its transmission across time and place — manuscripts included.


The reviews began with the first issue of our illustrated Bulletin ShelfLife (see its Bulletin Description), moved to include some brief notices in our first website (on Drupal).

Front Cover of ShelfLife, The Bulletin of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, Number 1 (Winter 2006), including a photograph of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MS 197B, folio 1 recto. Photograph joint copyright of the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College and Mildred Budny.


Our reviews took on new shape with the first issue of our illustrated Newsletter ShelfMarks, circulated via printed form, its representation in pdf, and in portions (or teasers) as email and blog posts.

Masthead for ShelfMarks, the newsletter of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, laid out in RGME Bembino

An e-version of the first issue, with ShelfTags for ShelfMarks and some extra images, appears here.

Its review “The Bouquet List” appears in full as a Blog Post here.

Floral border on the detached leaf from a 15th-century Book of Hours

Photography © Mildred Budny

The full issue appears here: ShelfMarks, Volume 1, Number 1 (PDF).
You might Subscribe here.

The RGME Webpage:  Reviews

(You are Here)

Now we dedicate a page on our official website for notices, remarks, and reviews of publications of interest.  Here, for example, we highlight or showcase publications by Officers, Associates, Volunteers, Trustees, and Others in the Research Group on Manuscript [and Other] Evidence.

Michael A. Conrad
Ludische Praxis und Kontingenzbewältigung (2022)

We applaud the publication of the book by our Associate, Michael Allman Conrad, building upon his Ph.D. Dissertation for Humboldt University, Berlin (2021).   See Michael A. Conrad, Ludische Praxis und Kontingenzbewältigung.

The detailed examination, years in the making, centers upon the remarkable Libro de los Juegos, or Book of Games commissioned by King Alfonso X of Castile:

Ludische Praxis und Kontingenzbewältigung im Spielebuch Alfonsʼ X.
und anderen Quellen des 13. Jahrhunderts: 

Spiel als Modell guten Entscheidens
(De Gruyter, 2022)

(“Ludic Practice and Dealing with Contingency in the Book of Games of Alfonso X
and Other Sources from the Thirteenth Century:
Games as Models of Good Decision-Making”)

The publisher’s summary describes the scope and strategy of the volume:

Taking [Alfonso’s] book as a starting point, this volume reflects on how games were viewed by Alfons and other contemporary authors as a practice that allowed them to come to terms with contingency and as a model of good decision-making, in particular in the fields of strategy, economics, ethics, and metaphysics.

Already in conversations and with presentations for Research Group events, we have had the opportunity to learn about Michael’s approach to these and other materials of study.

Poster for our Sponsored Session on the " 'Libro de los juegos': Big Results from Small Data", organized by Linde M. Brocato and sponsored by the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence at the 2018 International Congress on Medieval Studies. Poster set in RGME Bembino.

2018 Poster for ‘Libro de los juegos’ Session

We thank him for these presentations (among others on other subjects):

1) “In Plain Sight:  The Promotion of Astrology and Magic at Royal Courts
in the 13th Century in Transcultural Perspective (A Response)”
Presented at the 54th International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo, 2018)

2) “Prudence in Play: Alfonso X’s Libro de acedrex e tablas as a Theory of Decision-Making”
Presented at the 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo, 2018)

We eagerly look forward to holding a copy of this book and learning from its observations and experiences.

Perhaps sometime, when in-person meetings can be contemplated safely, we could invite Michael for a book-signing reception.  Best wishes for the voyage of this new book!


Celia Chazelle
The Codex Amiatinus and its ‘Sister’ Bibles:
Scripture, liturgy, and art in the milieu of the Venerable Bede

Sacred Texts and Their Commentaries: Jewish, Christian and Islamic

Volume 10 (Leiden: Brill, 2019)

E-Book (PDF) ISBN: 978-90-04-39132-1
Hardback ISBN: 978-90-04-39013-3

According to the publisher (see The Codex Amiatinus and its ‘Sister’ Bibles), this book

 examines the full Bibles (Bibles containing every scriptural text that producers deemed canonical) made at the northern English monastery of Wearmouth[–]Jarrow under Abbot Ceolfrith (d. 716) and the Venerable Bede (d. 735), and the religious, cultural, and intellectual circumstances of their production.  The key manuscript witness of this monastery[‘]s Bible-making enterprise is the Codex Amiatinus, a massive illustrated volume sent toward Rome in June 716, as a gift to St. Peter.  Amiatinus is the oldest extant, largely intact Latin full Bible.  Its survival is the critical reason that Ceolfrith[‘]s WearmouthJarrow has long been recognized as a pivotal center in the evolution of the design, structure, and contents of medieval biblical codices.

Warmly we congratulate Celia for the achievement of this publication, which now stands within her stream of articles and books on a variety of subjects concerned with education, art, religion, and culture. See, for example, Celia Chazelle, Celia Chazelle, and Celia Chazelle.

The voyage toward the volume is described movingly in the Acknowledgments.

For years, as Celia engaged with the subject, we have had the opportunity of hearing her papers about various aspects of its complex range, taken earnestly in turn. Some were featured in Research Group Symposia:

Folio 5r from the Codex Amiatinus (Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, MS Amiatinus 1). Image via Creative Commons.

As the research rounded into the book, in several drafts, our Director had the pleasure and privilege of reading the versions and talking with Celia about her discoveries, reflections, and research results.  There was much to learn from Celia’s careful observations about the manuscript, its fragmentary Sister Bibles, and their significance!

Years before, Mildred Budny was able to examine the Codex Amiatinus directly, in two different years on visits to Florence for the purpose. These visits formed part of her cumulative research on another early medieval Vulgate Bible made in England, the Royal Bible of Saint Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, subject of her Ph.D. dissertation.  Examining the fragments of the Sister Bibles, many other related monuments, and the landscapes of Wearmouth–Jarrow themselves over the course of some years gave insights into Celia’s descriptions and revelations as her work continued to unfold and to refine.   Witnessing the process of ‘gestation’ and creation of her book adds to the joy of discovery in the published work.

Many scholars, students, and others have answered a “call” from the Codex Amiatinus, whether before, during, or after its momentous appearance — or, rather, reappearance — in England for an exhibition at the British Library in 2018, centuries after its departure for Italy as a gift.  Few have responded to that “call” so fully and resonantly as Celia in her conversations and in her book.  The combinations of expertise, with years of dedicated study and teaching about the arts of early medieval books and other materials, about the culture of Latinity, Biblical commentary, liturgical practice, and religious immersion through the medieval period and beyond, and about their legacy, bring much to illuminate this special monument and its siblings, and to enrich understanding.