A book cover encloses the manuscript inside. If it is elaborate, it distinguishes the manuscript as a precious and valuable object (as a frame does for a painting), all the more so when an old manuscript is clothed in a new and costly cover. In conjunction with added texts and other traces of use, one can grasp from this ‘reframing’ a shift of a text’s meaning. This is especially true of Gospel Books, which were handled as symbols of God in liturgical contexts. From the High Middle Ages on, treasure inventories and oath formulae were added to Gospel Books. They indicate the importance of an old Gospel Book for the religious community as a material proof of the age and rank of their church. Gospel Book covers from the High and Late Middle Ages demonstrate this by using spolia, old-fashioned forms and material, or invoking venerated founders. Often shaped as pendants, they seem to be arranged for display.
© 2017 Stefanie Seeberg und Susanne Wittekind, published by De Gruyter