Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Devil's Bible Darkest Secrets Explained

It's a mysterious book that in its day was believed to contain all human knowledge. But why did medieval people believe that the author sold his soul to the devil to be able to write it?


Devil's Bible Photo open on the page of the picture showing Satan © MHP

The "Devil's Bible," a behemoth volume weighing in at 165 pounds, believed to have been produced by a single monk over the course of decades in the 13th Century, is the focus of a documentary that was featured on the National Geographic Channel .(Watch video clips below.)

A complete Old Testament and New Testament, and a collection of a number of secular works besides, the Devil's Bible is an encyclopedia of medieval knowledge. But it has also been haunted by dark speculation, including that its writing was guided by the devil's hand.

It got its name "Devil's Bible" from the illustration of the devil on page 290 (in the photo above). It is believed to be the only bible of its era that depicts Satan. There the devil is, looking more like a cartoon character in an ermine diaper, rather than evil incarnate.


Devil's Bible (Codex Gigas) manuscript © MHP

What makes the Devil's Bible such an object of fascination is the back story associated with it. According to the TV show, which I watched when it premiered, the legend about the Devil's Bible was that it was written by a monk in a single night.

Compact with the devil

The story goes that such a feat was possible only because the monk had made a compact with the devil. The implication is that the devil himself wrote this bible, which is why his portrait adorns it.

Devils-Bible_3.jpgHowever, if the devil inspired the book then there is nothing in it that appears to cast Satan in a good light, at least not that I can find by searching for information on the Web about the Devil's Bible. (It is more properly known as Codex Gigas, or "Giant Book.")

Codex Gigas manuscript ©

The television show combined the story and the extraordinary history of this giant book with modern forensic science to see what can be established about the Devil's Bible. The manuscript was definitely produced by one person, according to analysis of the ink and penmanship.

Most likely the producer of the Devil's Bible was a monk whose name is mentioned in the index and who probably devoted many, many years to the task, perhaps as a form of penance. The Devil's Bible was written by one person, but it was not written in a single night.


Devil's Bible (Codex Gigas) manuscript © MHP

The provenance of this extraordinary book and its unlikely story as well as its journey across centuries, passing through a succession of monasteries and royal palaces to its current destination, the National Library of Sweden, is a legitimate story for National Geographic to cover. And it makes good television too.

Watch this video clip from "Devil's Bible, " which aired on the National Geographic Channel:

Exorcism and Magic Spells in the Devil's Bible

Also included in the Devil's Bible, on pages that follow the picture of the devil, (the picture below), are detailed instructions for the exorcism of demons or evil from people and objects.

Devil-Bible-Picture-3.jpgThere are also two magic spells, both with specific instructions on how to identify and catch a thief.

Possession by demons was commonly thought during medieval times to be the cause of many illnesses.

The church had specific rituals to exorcise evil by casting demons out of an afflicted person's body.

In the name of Jesus

According to the Christian New Testament, Jesus gave his disciples the power to cast out evil spirits, which is why scholars believe the medieval exorcists commanded demons to leave an afflicted person's body "in the name of Jesus Christ."

The incantations for exorcism would not be out of place in the Devil's Bible, appearing after this picture of the devil.

Watch this video clip from the National Geographic documentary "Devil's Bible," featuring the conjuration spells in Codex Gigas used by 13th-Century preists to drive out demons and "dangerous illnesses":

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