Washington Manuscript I - Deuteronomy and Joshua (Codex Washingtonensis)
early 5th century
Ink on parchment
H: 30.6 W: 25.8 cm
Gift of Charles Lang Freer F1906.272
This parchment codex comprises one hundred two leaves divided into quires (booklets). Each quire is numbered on the first page. Because the numbers begin with 37 and continue through 60, it is clear that the first thirty-six quires are missing-likely the books of Genesis through Numbers.
Chapter divisions of irregular length are signaled by an enlarged initial letter outside the left margin. The manuscript also offers an early example of rubrication (from the Latin rubricare, “to color red”), writing in red ink to give visual emphasis to the divisions of a text. Rubrication became a common practice in European manuscripts beginning in the seventh century.
Various scribes worked on this manuscript, but only two hold much interest. One, probably contemporary with the original scribe, made some corrections. A century or two later, another scribe noted in a cursive script where a reading was to begin and end, and when the reading was to be done.