The Book of Kells
page 2 recto [front, or right]: a page of the "Eusebian Canon Tables"
Dublin, Ireland: Library of Trinity College
illuminated vellum [calfskin] manuscript
the four New Testament Gospels, Vulgate [Latin translation]
created by Columban monks who lived in a monastery on the island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland
monastery founded late in the sixth century by an Irish monk, St Colm Cille
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|This page was last updated May 22, 2006.|
The Eusebian canon tables normally require twelve pages in a manuscript. In the Book of Kells the makers of the manuscript planned for twelve pages (folios 1v through 7r), but for unknown reasons condensed them into ten pages, leaving folios 6v and 7r blank. This condensation caused the canon tables to be unusable because they are confused. In addition, the corresponding chapter numbers were never inserted into the margins of the text, making it impossible to find the sections to which the canon tables refer.
The decoration of the first eight pages of the canon tables is heavily influenced by early Gospel Books from the Mediterranean. It was traditional to enclose the tables in an arcade. (Compare, for example the London Canon Tables). Kells does this, but with an Insular spirit. The arcades are not seen as architectural elements, but are rather stylised into geometric patterns which are then decorated with Insular motifs. The four evangelist symbols occupy the spaces under and above the arches. The last two canon tables are presented within a grid. This presentation is limited to Insular manuscripts and was first seen in the Book of Durrow.
"Book of Kells." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Kells.