The Tetraevangelion of Nicosia


Utopia, armarium codicum bibliophilorum, Nicosia, Constantinides III

Athina Almpani, MIET 2018 (Not Printed)

General Information

Title: The Tetraevangelion of Nicosia (Codex Nicosiensis)

Material: Parchment

Place of Origin: Cyprus

Date of Origin: ca. 1180-90

Script, Hands:

The MS was copied by a single unnamed scribe and is easily ascribed to the “decorative style” group, finding its closest relatives among the large cluster of books associated with Chicago, University Library 965 (Gregory 2400). The script is a diminutive calligraphic minuscule with all the characteristic features of this group of MSS, the deep blank ink, the small initial, etc. On f. 3v we observe the bulging beta, the emphatic diagonal deltas and rhos, the enlarged opened upsilon, and the epsilon-xi ligature.

General Remarks:

As usual for Gospel Books, abbreviations are limited to the nomina sacra and, in rare cases, words at the end of the lines.

Original Condition

Page Height: 195 mm

Page Width: 150 mm

Height of Written Area: 140 mm

Width of Written Area: 95 mm

Number of Columns: 1

Number of Lines: 32

Current Condition

Dimensions: Folios 48, 195 x 150 mm

More about the Current Condition:

No quire signatures have been preserved. The MS in its present condition has lost the Gospels of Matthew and Mark; more than half of Luke is missing at the beginning, as are chapters 18:38-21 of John at the end. On folio 4 the last seven lines have been damaged at the inner margin; the same happened on certain lines of the inner margin of folio 44. A small hole at the bottom of folios 47 and 48 caused losses to three or four lines of the text.

Book Decoration


The MS preserves on f. 21r a miniature of the symbol of the Evangelist John. An eagle is shown in profile holding the Gospel of John in its claws. The eagle is framed in a rectangle 100 x 105 mm and has a gold nimbus. Its body is brown darkened with black, while the background is deep blue. Above its head we read ἰῶ [i.e. ἰω(άννης)]. An outer rectangular frame of 110 x 120 mm in magenta has blue ornamentation round the inside. While the eagle itself may well be of later date, the space it occupies is clearly original and intended for illumination. Beneath the image is the tile in majuscule:  ”† ΤῸ ΚΑΤᾺ ἾΩ(ΆΝΝΗΝ) ἍΓΙΟΝ Ε'ΥΑ(ΓΓΈΛΙΟΝ) Κ(ΕΦΆΛΑΙΟΝ) ᾶ

Both the title and the following four lines of text with the opening of John's Gospel are in red, as it the ornate initial epsilon that projects into the margin. Headpieces and small initial letters in red. Folio 20r containing the lessons from John is written in red and preceded by a square ornament.


  • Content Item
    • Text Language: Ancient Greek
    • Title: Codex Nicosiensis
    • Content Description:

      1. Beginning and end missing. Folios 1r-20r contain the surviving part of the Gospel of Luke.

      Inc. (f. 1r) (Luke 12:24) : τῶν πετεινῶν· τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν μεριμνῶν· δύναται | προσθῆναι ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ πήχυν ἕνα.

      2. (f. 20v) Τοῦ κ(α)τ(ὰ) ἰω(άννην) εὐα(γγελίου) τὰ κεφά(λαια):-

      3. (ff. 21r-48v) The Gospel of John [John 1:1] : Inc. Ἐν ἀρχῆ ἦν ὁ λόγοc

      Des. (f. 48v) (John 18:37) : σὺ λέγεις ὅτι βασїλεὺσ εἰμὶ ἐγώ. | ἐγὼ εἰσ τοῦτο γεγέν[ν]ημαι· καὶ εἰς τοῦτο ἐλήλυθα | εἰς τὸν κόσμον· ἵνα μαρτυρήσω τῇ ἀληθείᾳ.

    •  Cod. Nicosiensis_f. 1r
    • Remarks:

      Modern binding in black leather. The MS seems to have been restored and rebound in the nineteenth century.



Though it is quite possible that this MS was actually copied in the island, since a number of MSS from the “decorative style” originated in Cyprus (see below the 1st remark), one must remain sceptical on the question of its provenance, unless the rest of the MS is found and examined within its subgroup (see below the 2nd remark). 


The provenance of this MS remains uncertain. It was preserved in Cyprus and was acquired by its present owner from a local peasant who had this codex as an heirloom.


1st : The following MSS belonging to this family have connection with or originated in Cyprus : Vat. Barber. Gr. 449 (A.D. 1153) (Dated MSS, p. 81); New York, H. P. Kraus (olim Andros Hagias 32) (A.D. 1156) (Dated MSS, p. 84); Berlin, Staatsbibliothek 287, Fol. 51 (A.D. 1193) (Dated MSS, p. 94); Machairas Monastery no. 17 (A.D. 1201-10) (Dated MSS, p. 111); Edinburgh, University Library 224 (A.D. 1214) (Dated MSS, p. 115); Benaki Museum, Vitr. 34, 3 (Dated MSS, p. 87); Paris. Coislin 287 (Dated MSS, p. 99); Paris. Supp. Gr. 1317 (Dated MSS, p. 96); Paris. Gr. 1189 (Dated MSS, p. 106); British Library, Add. 11836 (Dated MSS, p. 363); Vat. Gr. 1231 (Dated MSS, p. 68); Paris Gr. 301 (Dated MSS, p. 103); St. Neophytos Monastery no. 11; Athens, Istorike Ethnologike Etaireia, no. 256; Athos Laura A 9; Paris. Gr. 97.

2nd : This MS belongs to a group of MSS dated shortly after the Chicago subgroup, which has been dated ca. 1150-80.


  • Dated MSS = C.N. Constantinides & R. Browning, Dated Greek Manuscripts from Cyprus to the Year 1570 (Dumbarton Oaks Studies XXX & Cyprus Research Centre, Texts and Studies XVIII), Washington D.C.-Nicosia, 1993, pp. 366-368 (No. 109, Codex Nicosiensis).

    Δελτίο τοῦ Ἱστορικού καὶ Παλαιογραφικοῦ Άρχείου. Δ'. 1984-1987 — Μορφωτικό Ἵδρυμα Ἐθνικῆς Τραπέζης, Athens 1988, ρ. 218.

    C. Constantinides, «An unknown Manuscript of the "Family 2400" from Cyprus», Ἐπετηρὶς τοῦ Κέντρου Ἐπιστημονικῶν Ἐρευνῶν, XVII, Nicosia 1988-89, pp. 169-86 (pp. 171-172, fn. 10, bibliography for further information) (pp. 179-186 photos of MSS that belong to the "Family 2400").