The “Devil’s Bible,” a behemoth volume weighing in at 165 pounds, believed to have been produced by a single monk over the course of decades in the 13th Century, is the focus of a documentary that was featured on the National Geographic Channel.
The Devil’s Bible – YouTube.
The codex is believed to have been created by Herman the Recluse in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice near Chrudim in Czech Republic. The monastery was destroyed during the 15th century. Records in the codex end in the year 1229. The codex was later pledged to the Cistercians Sedlec monastery and then bought by the Benedictine monastery in Břevnov. From 1477–1593 it was kept in the library of a monastery in Broumov until it was taken to Prague in 1594 to form a part of the collections of Rudolf II.
At the end of the Thirty Years’ War in the year 1648, the entire collection was taken by the Swedish army as plunder. From 1649 to 2007 the manuscript was kept in the Swedish Royal Library in Stockholm. The site of its creation is marked by a maquette in the town museum of Chrast.
On Friday 7th May 1697, a fierce fire broke out at the royal castle in Stockholm, and the Royal Library suffered very badly. The codex was rescued from the flames by throwing it out of a window. The codex apparently injured a bystander and some of its leaves fluttered away and they are still missing today. In September, 2007, after 359 years, Codex Gigas returned to Prague on loan from Sweden until January 2008, and was on display at the Czech National Library.
A National Geographic documentary included interviews with manuscript experts who pointed towards evidence (handwriting analysis and a credit to hermann inclusus – “herman the recluse”) that indicates the manuscript was the work of just one scribe.
About half of the Codex consists of the entire Latin Bible in the Vulgate version, except for the books of Acts and Revelation, which are from a pre-Vulgate version. They are in the order Genesis-Ruth; Isaiah-Daniel; Hosea-Malachi; Job; Samuel and Kings; Psalms-Song of Solomon; Wisdom of Solomon; Wisdom of Jesus; Esdras; Tobit; Judith; Esther; and Maccabees. Between the Testaments are Josephus‘ Antiquities of the Jews and De bello iudaico, as well as Isidore of Seville‘s encyclopedia Etymologiae and medical works of Hippocrates, Theophilus, Philaretus, and Constantinus. Following a blank page, the New Testament commences with Matthew-Acts, James-Revelation, and Romans-Hebrews. Following the picture of the devil, Cosmas of Prague‘s Chronicle of Bohemia, a list of brothers in the Podlažice monastery, and a calendar with necrologium, magic formulae and other local records round out the codex. The entire document is written in Latin, in addition, it contains Hebrew, Greek, and Slavic alphabets (Cyrillic and Glagolitic).
… In tests to recreate the work, it is estimated that reproducing only the calligraphy, without the illustrations or embellishments, would have taken 5 years of non-stop writing.