Codex Gigas, The Devil’s Bible

At the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm, there is on display a gigantic bible, 36 inches long, 20 inches wide and nearly 9 inches thick. Called Codex Gigas, or the “Giant Book”, this elaborately decorated and impressively leather bound book weighs an astounding 75 kilograms, and is the largest extant medieval illuminated manuscript in the world.

The manuscript is illuminated with colorful illustrations, including a portrait of Josephus, images representing Heaven and Earth, and various geometrical or plant-based forms. But the most striking and out-of-place of them all is that of the Devil. The devil occupies a full page of the manuscript, opposite a page the carries a depiction of the kingdom of heaven, thus juxtaposing contrasting images of Good and Evil. The devil is shown frontally, wearing a white loincloth, crouching with arms over his head. His hands and feet end with only four fingers and toes each, terminating in large red claws. Two big red horns adorn his head. Like a serpent, his tongue is forked. His head is full of dark green curly hair.

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Photo: Michal Maňas/Wikimedia Commons


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