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Glossary of Manuscript Types

The following is a list of general Western manuscripts, codices, and book types where illumination can most often be seen. * notes a religious text.

Apocalypse Manuscripts*

Manuscripts that contain the text of Revelation or a commentary on Revelation which coincide with illustrations. 



A Benedictional is a book containing a collection of benedictions or blessings in use in the Roman Catholic Church.



A bestiary, or bestiarum, is an illustrated list of animals both existing and mythological.



The Christian scriptures, consisting of the Old and New Testaments.


Biblia Pauperum*

The Biblia Pauperum ("Paupers' Bible") is a picture Bible used to visualize the typological correspondences between the Old and New Testaments. Unlike a simple "illustrated Bible", where the pictures are subordinated to the text, these Bibles placed the illustration in the center, with only a brief text or sometimes no text at all. To this extent one might see parallels with modern cartoon strips.


Book of Hours*

The book of hours is a Christian devotional book. Each book of hours is unique in one way or another, but most contain a similar collection of texts, prayers and psalms.



A choirbook is a large format manuscript containing music used by choirs in churches or cathedrals.



Collection of concise but detailed information about a particular subject.



A liturgical book, also called the Gospel book, from which are read the portions of the Gospels used in Mass and other services, arranged according to the order of the liturgical calendar.



An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters, although diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used.


Funerary Text*

A collection of religious documents that were used in ancient Egypt, usually to help the spirit of the concerned person to be preserved in the afterlife.


Gospel Book*

Containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament – normally all four – centering on the life of Jesus of Nazareth and the roots of the Christian faith. The term is also used for a liturgical book, called the Evangeliary.



A grimoire also known as a "book of spells" is a textbook of magic, typically including instructions on how to create magical objects like talismans and amulets, how to perform magical spells, charms and divination, and how to summon or invoke supernatural entities such as angels, spirits, deities and demons.



A hymnal or hymnary is a collection of hymns, used in congregational singing.



A lapidary is a text, often a whole book, giving information about the properties and virtues of precious and semi-precious stones. A book on gemology.



A martyrology is a catalogue or list of martyrs and other saints and beati arranged in the calendar order of their anniversaries or feasts.



A miscellany is a collection of various pieces of writing by different authors. A mixture, medley, or assortment, a miscellany can include pieces on many subjects and in a variety of different forms.



A missal is a liturgical book containing all instructions and texts necessary for the celebration of Mass throughout the year.

Ordinary of Arms

An ordinary of arms (or simply an ordinary) is a roll or register of coats of arms arranged systematically by design, with coats featuring the same principal elements grouped together. The purpose of an ordinary is to facilitate the identification of the bearer of a coat of arms from visual evidence alone.



A pericope in rhetoric is a set of verses that forms one coherent unit or thought, suitable for public reading from a text, now usually of sacred scripture. Also can be used as a way to identify certain themes in a chapter of sacred text. Its importance is mainly felt in, but not limited to, narrative portions of Sacred Scripture (as well as poetic sections).


Prayer Book*

A prayer book is a book containing prayers and perhaps devotional readings, for private or communal use, or in some cases, outlining the liturgy of religious services. 



A psalter is a volume containing the Book of Psalms, often with other devotional material bound in as well, such as a liturgical calendar and litany of the Saints. 


Roman Pontifical*

The Roman Pontifical, is the Roman Catholic liturgical book which contains the rites and ceremonies usually performed by Bishops.



A sacramentary was a book used for liturgical services and Mass by a priest, containing all and only the words spoken or sung by him. Compared to a missal, which carries all texts and readings read by the priest and others during Mass, a sacramentary omits the texts and readings said by everyone other than the priest, but also includes texts for services other than Mass.


Sacred Texts

Religious texts, also known as scripture, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred, or of central importance to their religious tradition. Many religions and spiritual movements believe that their sacred texts are divinely or supernaturally inspired. Examples of these are the Bible, the Quran, and The Tanahh. 



Scripture is the portion of literature deemed authoritative for establishing instructions within any of a number of specific religious traditions. These are often considered sacred texts.



A treatise is a formal and systematic written discourse on some subject, generally longer and treating it in greater depth than an essay, and more concerned with investigating or exposing the principles of the subject and its conclusions.

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