Codex Gigas (the Devil’s Bible) – the largest manuscript in the world

Red Ice Creations- by John Black, Ancient Origins

Codex Gigas, otherwise known as ‘the Devil’s Bible’ is the largest and probably one of the strangest manuscripts in the world. It is so large that it is said to have taken more than 160 animal skins to make it and takes at least two people to lift it. It measures approximately 1 metre in length.

According to legend, the medieval manuscript was made out of a pact with the ‘devil’, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the Devil’s Bible. It was written in Latin during the 13th century AD, and although the origin of the manuscript is unknown, a note in the manuscript states that it was pawned in the monastery at Sedlec in 1295.  

The story behind the making of Codex Gigas (“the giant codex”) is that it was the work of one monk who was sentenced to death by being walled up alive. Indeed, an analysis on the text does suggest that it was written by just one scribe due to the level of uniformity throughout. The legend says that the monk produced the manuscript in just one night… with the devil’s help. However, it is not known where this legend started and it is suspected that it was religiously propagated.

Stories and legends say that the Codex Gigas brought disaster or illness on whoever possessed it during its history. Fortunately, the National Library in Stockholm, where it is currently housed, appears immune to the curse of the codex!

Codex Gigas contains a complete vulgate Latin translation of the Bible as well as five other major texts. It begins with the Old Testament and continues with ‘Antiquities of the Jews’ by Flavius Josephus (1st century AD; ‘Encyclopedia Etymologiae’ by Isidore of Seville (6th century AD); a collection of medical works of Hippocrates, Theophilus and others; the New Testament; and ‘The Chronicle of Bohemia’ by Cosmas of Prague (1050 AD).

Smaller texts are also included in the manuscript with the most famous ones including: text on exorcism, magic formulas, a picture of the Heavenly City, and a full page illustration of the Devil. The illustration is the reason why legend says the codex was written with the devil’s help.


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8 thoughts on “Codex Gigas (the Devil’s Bible) – the largest manuscript in the world

  1. This is a bunch of crap. For one thing, the bible clearly states Satan is one of the most beautiful of all the angels. He is not a beast, he just acts that way.

    1. I think they portray him as a beast to warn us about the true nature of the Jews, and he’s described as “beautiful” to tell us how they’ll try to deceive us into thinking otherwise.

    1. The story is that it was possible for one Monk to produce this thing because he made a pact with Satan… hence the name “The Devil’s Bible”

      I see the whole thing as an attempt to warn us about the Jews.

  2. Crazy book, whoever wrote it, but what I find most interesting is that “it was pawned in the monastery at Sedlec in 1295.”

    No telling what’s going to wind up in a pawn shop when someone has a hot tip on a horse.

  3. Aha! another scenario to make a movie about…for instance, “The Ninth Gate” (which I think has Nicolas Cage in it) is one of the more recent “Satanic” themed movies…anyway, getting sick and tired of the same shop-worn predictive programming themes such as zombies and vampires…

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