Early Medieval Text and Image Volume 2: The Codex Amiatinus, the Book of Kells and Anglo-Saxon Art, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Early Medieval Text and Image Volume 2

The Codex Amiatinus, the Book of Kells and Anglo-Saxon Art, 1st Edition

By Jennifer O'Reilly

Edited by Carol A Farr, Elizabeth Mullins


384 pages

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When she died in 2016, Dr Jennifer O’Reilly left behind a body of published and unpublished work in three areas of medieval studies: the iconography of the Gospel Books produced in early medieval Ireland and Anglo-Saxon England; the writings of Bede and his older Irish contemporary, Adomnán of Iona; and the early lives of Thomas Becket. In these three areas she explored the connections between historical texts, artistic images and biblical exegesis.

This volume brings together seventeen essays, published between 1984 and 2013, on the interplay of texts and images in medieval art. Most focus on the manuscript art of early medieval Ireland and England. The first section includes four studies of the Codex Amiatinus, produced in Northumbria in the monastic community of Bede. The second section contains seven essays on the iconography and text of the Book of Kells. In the third section there are five studies of Anglo-Saxon Art, examined in the context of the Benedictine Reform. A concluding essay, on the medieval iconography of the two trees in Eden, traces the development of a motif from Late Antiquity to the end of the Middle Ages.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations



The Codex Amiatinus

1. The library of Scripture: views from Vivarium and Wearmouth-Jarrow

(New offerings, ancient treasures. Studies in medieval art for George Henderson, ed. P. Binski and W. Noel (Alan Sutton, Stroud 2001) 3–39)

2. Celtic art and the Gospel

(Search 24 (2001) 34–42)

3. The art of authority

(After Rome, ed. T. Charles-Edwards (Oxford University Press, 2003) 141–189)

4. "All that Peter stands for": the romanitas of the Codex Amiatinus reconsidered

(Anglo-Saxon/Irish relations before the Vikings, ed. J. Graham-Campbell and M. Ryan, Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. 157 (Oxford, 2009) 367–95. © British Academy 2009)

5. The Book of Kells, folio 114: a mystery revealed yet concealed

(The age of migrating ideas: early medieval art in Britain and Ireland, ed. J. Higgitt and R.M. Spearman (Alan Sutton and National Museums of Scotland, Stroud 1993) 106–114)

The Book of Kells

6. The Book of Kells and two Breton gospel books

(Irlande et Bretagne. Actes du colloque de Rennes 1993, ed. C. Laurent and H. Davis (Terre de Brume Editions, Rennes 1994)

7. Exegesis and the Book of Kells: the Lucan genealogy

(The Book of Kells, ed. F. O’Mahony (Scolar Press; Aldershot 1994) 344–97. Reprinted in Scriptural interpretation in the Fathers, ed. T. Finn and V. Twomey (Four Courts Press, Dublin 1995) 315–55)

8. Entry on the Book of Kells, folios 29 and 34

(Histoire de l’écriture, ed. A.M. Christin (Flammarion, Paris 1997; English version 2002. © Flammarion, S.A., Paris, 2001, 2002 and 2012)

9. Two pages from the Book of Kells

(Visual practices across the University, ed. J. Elkins, (Munich 2007) 164–69)

10. The Book of Kells, folio 114

(Treasures of Irish Christianity: people and places, images and texts, ed. S. Ryan and B. Leahy (Dublin: Veritas, 2012) 49–52)

11. The body of Christ in the Book of Kells

(Proceedings of the International Symposium of Theology: The Ecclesiology of Communion (Dublin: Veritas, 2013), 52–62)

The Anglo-Saxon and Later English Traditions

12. An Anglo-Saxon portable altar: inscription and iconography

((with Elisabeth Okasha), Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 47 (1984) 32–51)

13. St John as a figure of the contemplative life: text and image in the art of the Anglo-Saxon Benedictine reform

(St Dunstan: his life, times and cult, ed. N.L. Ramsay, M.J. Sparks and T. Tatton-Brown (Boydell and Brewer, Woodbridge 1992) 165–85)

14. The rough-hewn cross in Anglo-Saxon art

(Ireland and insular art A.D. 500–1200, Conference Proceedings, ed. M. Ryan (Royal Irish Academy, Dublin 1987; reprinted 2002) 153–58)

15. Text and Image in the Anglo-Saxon Benedictine Reform

(Benedetto l’Eredità Artistica, ed. R. Casanelli and E. López-Tello García (Jaca Books, Milan 2007) 95–110)

16. Signs of the Cross

(The History of British Art 600–1600, ed. T. Ayers, (Tate Britain and the Yale Center for British Art 2008) 176–99. © Tate 2008, reproduced by permission of the Tate Trustees)

17. The medieval iconography of the two trees in Eden

(A walk in the garden: biblical, iconographical and literary images of Eden, ed. P. Morris and D. Sawyer, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, supplement series 136, (Sheffield Academic Press 1992) 167–204, used by permission of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.)


About the Author/Editors

Jennifer O’Reilly received her B.A. Honours degree in History in 1964, and her Ph.D. in Art History in 1972, both in the University of Nottingham. Her monograph, Studies in the Iconography of the Virtues and Vices in the Middle Ages was published in 1988. A book of essays in her honour was published in 2011: Listen, o isles, unto me: studies in medieval word and image.

Dr Carol A. Farr is an art historian specialising in the early medieval art of Ireland and Britain. She teaches courses on early medieval manuscripts for the Institute of English Studies, University of London.

Dr Elizabeth Mullins lectures in the School of History, University College Dublin. Her research interests include the exegesis of early medieval gospel books and the record-keeping traditions of Irish religious congregations.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at Michael.Greenwood@informa.com

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General