Codex Gigas or The Devil’s Bible: The Extraordinary Work Of A Hermit

On March 4, 2015 by Louis Falasha
Codex Gigas - Devils Bible Picture
Devil codex Gigas” by Kungl. biblioteket. Licensed under Attribution via Wikimedia Commons.

I went through a phase of collecting antiquated books when I was younger. The binding, text and smell added to the mystery of the words inside. Then I got a Kindle and have most of them on there now, which is bizarre because I rarely read them anyway, just liked the look. The Codex Giga, or Devil’s Bible certainly wasn’t in my collection though. It is massive!

It’s known as The Devil’s Bible because of the demonic illustrations and legend that surrounds its early 13th century creation. Evidence suggests that only one scribe wrote the book. It weighs 75kg (the same as three small bails of hay), is composed of 310 leaves of vellum allegedly made from the skins of 160 donkeys and inked with crushed insects. The book consists of the entire Vulgate Bible as well as a multitude of historic texts all written in Latin.

Codex Gigas - Devils Bible Size
By Michal Maňas (User:snek01) (Own work) [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

In cases like this, I wish legend were fact because it’s much more fun to imagine this really happened: in the Middle Ages, a monk called Herman The Recluse broke his monastic vows and was sentenced to be walled up alive. In order to wriggle his way out of this sticky predicament, Herman promised to create a book containing all human knowledge, glorifying the monastery forever – all in one night!

As midnight approached he realized that he probably wouldn’t get it all finished in time so he made a special prayer to Lucifer, the fallen angel, asking for help to complete the book in exchange for his eternal soul. Personally, I would’ve asked Rumpelstiltskin for the favour then had a vasectomy the very next morning. Anyway, the devil got busy and finished the manuscript for Herman and even added a nice drawing of himself because he is a vein bugger.

Codex Gigas - Devils Bible Inside Image

Legend also has it that the Codex Giga has brought disaster and pain to all who have possessed it, including plague, mental illness, fire and destruction. Although the National Library in Stockholm, where it is now housed appears to be immune to the books curse. That library is clearly own by the Illuminati, if you ask me.

Codex Gigas - Devils Bible Inside Page

By Benedictine monastery of Podlažice ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Researchers involved in a National Geographic documentary about the Codex Giga confirmed that it was penned over a thirty-year period but can’t explain how the extensive 12 point calligraphy show such uniformity and absolutely no signs of tiredness, illness or aging as would be inevitable from its creator.

History Collection on LAZERHORSE.ORG

However long it took the guy, writing this must’ve been hard graft. The Codex Giga contains the whole Vulgate Bible, Isidore of Seville’s etymological encyclopedia, Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Cosmas of Prague’s Chronicle of Bohemia, a list of his (supposed) pals from the Podlazice monastery, a calendar with necrologium (a death list of when his mates died), magic formulae, medicine and local folk tales.

Codex Gigas - Devils Bible Inside Monk Devil

Hardly contains all of human knowledge though, does it? Where’s the Book of Mormon, teachings of ‘Xanu the alien’ or some stuff those plums Charles Darwin or Stephen Harking said?

In any case, the Codex Giga is an impressive piece of history. I love hermits but if I were one, hiding 160 donkeys, crushing millions of insects and copying out of the dictionary for 30 years would be a bit too much like detention for me. I’d just sit around drinking… Oh, hang on.






@media all and (max-width: 228px) { div#darkbackground, div.visiblebox { display: none; } }