Professor Dives Deep Into History of Rare Manuscript

by Rachel Watson (Excerpt from an article on October 12, 2015 on Calvin’s News & Stories.)
This manuscript is the calendar section of a prayer book that dates back to circa 1200 AD. It was given to Calvin College by a local business man in 1912. (Photo by Frans van Liere.)

Tucked safely away in a climate-controlled space in Calvin College’s Meeter Center is a medieval devotional manuscript the college has owned since 1912.

It recently became an object of deeper interest to Frans van Liere, professor of history and a medieval studies specialist, when he needed an image to use as the cover art for his 2014 book, “An Introduction to the Medieval Bible.”

The cover art Van Liere selected from the medieval manuscript was a miniature of the angel Gabriel visiting the Virgin Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, which is the only full-page picture in the manuscript.

“It led me to say maybe I should know a little more about this manuscript,” Van Liere said. “So I started looking into the manuscript, doing an analysis of the handwriting and the dating, and I discovered it’s a much greater treasure than Calvin probably thought they had.”

>> Read the rest of the article on Calvin News & Stories.

Want to know more and learn how to read manuscripts like this one? Calvin students have the opportunity to enroll in Professor Frans van Liere’s course IDIS 198 Classical and Medieval Palaeography. This 1-credit course offers a practical introduction to reading Late Antique, Medieval, and Humanist Latin and vernacular script. Students in the course will master reading these scripts, while learning about their historical development and the production of written texts before the invention of the printing press. The course has no pre-requisites and is open to all students. It will be offered Mondays 3:30-4:20 pm in Spring 2016.

Rachel Watson writes for Calvin’s Communications and Marketing team. This article first appeared in News & Stories on October 12, 2015.

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