Saturday, February 16, 2013

Judas the Trógán

Book of Armagh f. 38a.
Trógán is added to the second column half way
down the page in the center margin.
In the Book of Armagh at Matthew 10:4, next to Judas Iscariot's name the Irish scribe wrote trógán in the margin (i.e. miserable wretch). Irish commentators like Cummian regarded Judas as one the chief heretics of the world, along with Simon Magus and Arius, "whose memory is deadly." 

A far more elaborate scribal attack on the enemies of Christ can be seen in a 14th century Greek-Latin diglot manuscript of the Gospels (Greg. & Aland no. 54). In that particular manuscript, possibly written by an Armenian scribe, four different ink colours are used for the gospel content.

For the general narrative he used vermillion, for the words of Jesus he used red, (some bible's still employ this tradition today), for OT quotes of the followers of Jesus (e.g. Mary, John the Baptist, the disciples) he used blue. But for Judas, the Pharisees, the devil and (strangely) for the shepherds in the nativity account, he used black ink.

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