Quickie: A Medieval Allegory of the Scribe’s Tools

by connal on September 28, 2009


I came across this, translated from another old text in the Book of Kells exhibit at Trinity College in Dublin. It’s simple but I thought it was interesting. Because there was no photography allowed in the exhibit, it was only fitting that I had to copy it down by hand into my own journal.

A Medieval Allegory of the Scribe’s Tools: A mediaval monastic sermon from Durhaks interprets the tools of a scribe as spiritual aids for a Christian life:

The parchment on which we write is pure conscience; the knife that scrapes it is the fear of God; the pumice that smooths the skin is the discipline of heavenly desire; the chalk that whitens it signifies an unbroken meditation of holy thoughts; the ruler is the will of God; the straightedge is devotion to the holy task; the quill, its end split in two for writing, is the love of God and of our neighbor; the ink is humility itself; the illuminator’s colors represent the multiform grace of heavenly wisdom; the writing desk is tranquility of heart; the exemplar from which a copy is made is the life of Christ; the writing place is contempt of worldly things lifing us to a desire for heaven.

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