Jaharis Byzantine Lectionary

Date: ca. 1100

Geography: Made in Constantinople

Culture: Byzantine

Medium: Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment; leather binding

Dimensions: Overall: 14 1/2 x 11 5/8 x 4 7/8 in. (36.8 x 29.6 x 12.4 cm)
folio: 13 3/4 x 10 5/16 in. (35 x 26.2 cm)

Classification: Manuscripts and Illuminations

Credit Line: Purchase, Mary and Michael Jaharis Gift and Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2007

Accession Number: 2007.286


The Jaharis Lectionary, one of the greatest manuscripts from the height of the Byzantine empire, exemplifies the Byzantine interest in the literary arts. Lectionaries in which the gospels are arranged in order of their reading during the liturgical year were especially popular during the Middle Byzantine era. Written in handsome "perlschrift" Greek, the Jaharis Lectionary's 313 folios include the gospel lections (readings), the Easter liturgy, the church calendar, and a menologion (lives of the saints). The calendar has been identified as being for use in Hagia Sophia, the greatest church of Constantinople, or one of its dependencies. The four evangelist portraits that decorate the lectionary represent the apogee of late eleventh- to early twelfth-century Constantinopolitan art. The delicately detailed portraits are framed by elaborate borders reminiscent of cloisonné enamel. Exquisitely detailed historiated initials in the text include images of Christ and John the Forerunner (John the Baptist). Colophons, or inscriptions in the text, show that in the first years of the eighteenth century the work belonged to Chrysanthos Notaras, patriarch of Jerusalem and one of the important early members of the "Greek Enlightenment."