devil displayed in Codex Gigas (devil's bible)

Devil’s Bible- Codex Gigas

Introduction to the Devil’s Bible or Codex Gigas

A 36 inches tall, 20 inches wide, and 8.7 inches thick manuscript, weighing about 165 pounds – The Devil’s Bible. It is also called Codex Gigas, which in Latin means “Giant Book”. It is made of Vellum, a material made from animal hives. Statistically, it would take about 160 donkey skin to create that much material. Codex Gigas is believed to have 320 pages but presently only 310 remain. Some even say that the lost 10 pages were intentionally removed because they contained knowledge that humans shouldn’t learn. It is currently stored for display in the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm.

devil's bible

This book contains the entire Latin Bible, along with historical events, medical knowledge, exorcism details, ways to contact the other world, and more. It is mostly written in Latin mixed with some Hebrew, Greek, and Slavic languages, and is the largest illustrated medieval manuscript.

The legend about the Devil’s Bible

The story of the origin of the Devil’s Bible begins in the early 13th century, in the city of Bohemia (in modern Czechia). A monk, Herman the Recluse (Latin: Hermannus Heremitus), committed a crime for which he was punished to be buried behind a wall, alive. To escape this punishment, he pleaded to the king. He put up a condition that if given one last chance, he would write a book consisting of all the knowledge a human can have. Moreover, he agreed to do that task in one day. Everyone knew that this was an impossible task, so the punishment was postponed for one day.

Herman began writing the book. He wrote and wrote non-stop but by midnight, realized that he couldn’t complete it within the given time. Therefore he started praying, not to any God but the fallen angel Lucifer. The monk offered his soul if Lucifer would write the book for him. Lucifer appeared and agreed to this. In a few hours, the book was there in front of Herman. However, Herman was found dead by the soldiers and only the massive book remained.

What do the scientific researches say?

The scientific research done on the Codex Gigas reveals some astonishing facts. First, to write such a long book along with all the pictures drawn would take around 30 years to complete. Sceptically, it could have been written over a long period of time and even by multiple authors.

So why don’t we believe that the famous legend of the monk and Lucifer is a mythical story like any other?

As per researchers, it is natural for anyone to have a slight change in their handwriting in 5 years or so. But the Devil’s Bible is hand-written in exactly the same handwriting from beginning to the end. Moreover, according to psychological researches, there is a change in the pattern of speaking or writing when a person is going through different moods. However, the researches claim the Devil’s Bible to be written in a single mood.

devil's bible text

Discovery of the manuscript

After the devil’s bible was found in the chamber of monk Herman in Bohemia, it was sold to a monastery in Sedlec. Later, in the year 1594, the book was presented as a gift to King Rudolf2. It stayed with him till the year 1648, which was the last year of the “Thirty years war”. The Swedish won the war and confiscated lots of stuff, one of which was the Devil’s Bible. It was given as a gift to Queen Christina. When the queen lost her throne, she left the kingdom and the book was safely kept in the Stockholm castle in Sweden.

In the year 1697, the castle caught fire and most of the things were burnt to ashes. It is said that one of the workers threw the Codex Gigas out of the window due to which it was prevented from burning. In 1878, Codex Gigas was placed in Sweden’s New National Library in Stockholm, and it is still there since then.

Why is this manuscript called the Devil’s Bible?

devil displayed in Codex Gigas

Codex Gigas is more popularly known as the Devil’s Bible. There is a huge picture of a devil that covers an entire page. The devil is wearing royal ermine loincloth. This signifies that the devil is none other than the Prince of Darkness – Lucifer. He is depicted as having four fingers with long nails. He has two mouths indicating that the devil can change his words anytime for his own benefit. It is believed that Herman, the monk, drew this as an appreciation after Lucifer completed this manuscript for him.