During this week at the London Rare Books School I have felt privileged to be taught by Professor Michelle Brown, second from the left here. What an awesome fund of knowledge she has, seemingly knowing absolutely everything that happened to everyone before about 1500 AD. Like being taught physics by Richard Fenynman, and the sort of experience that you just ain’t gonna get through Zoom, sorry.
The page of text you see here was enscribed some 1,150 years ago, in the later part of the 9th century AD. This is a page from the MacDurnan Gospels, created in Ireland and now held in the library of Lambeth Palace in London. What you see here are the originators of the idea of a cross-reference: this must be a passage from the gospel of John, because here, the scribe has noted that the same events are also recounted in Matthew, Mark and Luke (listed from the top down).
It’s to look at, and be taught about, beautiful things like this that I am in London this week and this was certainly a good place to start the day. Michelle Brown, whose fingers you see here, is such an expert on this time and subject that listening to her is like being immersed in a river of learning: we’re coming up every so often for breath but it’s no hardship to get back in afterwards, and I was actually disappointed when the day ended at 5pm. And it’s been a while since I could say that about certain other aspects of my job.