University of Chicago Library, Goodspeed Manuscript Collection Ms. 125, Talismanic Scroll (D’Hendecourt Scroll). Greg. T7. Constantinople or Trabzon, Turkey (Trebizond), 14th century.


Talismanic Scroll fragment in Greek and Arabic. Formerly Goodspeed Ms. Grk. 16.

One of two extant sections of a single scroll. The other portion is held in the Pierpont Morgan Library of New York, as Ms. M. 499.

  1. obverse 1. Mark 1:1-8. Miniature: Evangelist Mark. 2. Luke 1:1-7. Miniature: Evangelist Luke. 3. John 1:1-17. Miniature: Christ in Majesty; Miniature: Evangelist John. 4. Matthew 6:9-13. Miniature: The Trinity. 5. Nicene Creed. Miniature: Virgin and Christ Child. 6. Psalm 68. Miniature: David, king of Israel.
  2. reverseA sequence of prayers which includes the petition, "O our Lord, protect us from Iblis (Satan)…" (ln. 31). The scroll's one-time owner Suleyman ibn Sara is named in an invocation, several lines of which refer to the biblical account of Moses leading the Children of Israel through the desert. Accordingly it reads " …the rock [of which] water was brought forth that they drank [the Israelites] …likewise oh Lord bring forth your hand filled with mercy upon you servant Suleyman b. Sara" (lns. 34-36). Drawing of a filigree cross precedes the prayers.


7 miniatures enframed in blue, gold, and red (obverse).


  1. obverse1. Evangelist, Mark: Portrait. Mark writing, seated on a bench. 2. Evangelist, Luke: Portrait. Luke seated at writing table. 3. Christ: in Majesty. Christ seated on cushioned bench, his feet on footstool; angels stand at either side. 4. Evangelist, John: Portrait. John stands at right; he dictates to the deacon Prochorus, seated on bench writing, at left. 5. Trinity: represented as Three Angels. Angels seated at table. 6. Virgin Mary and Christ Child: Portrait. Virgin Mary holds Christ Child in arms. 7. David: writing Psalms. King David seated on cushioned bench, holds scroll and quill pen.


It is believed a miniature of the Evangelist Matthew and a textual portion of Matthew's gospel were initially at the head of the scroll. A faded and torn miniature whose content has not been identified is at the scroll's base.

Physical Description


Parchment. 1744 x 92 mm.


Written space 55 to 58 mm (width, obverse); 65 mm (width, reverse).


1 column, 114 lines (obverse); approximately 157 lines (reverse).


Greek text written in minuscule script in dark brown ink (some fading). Arabic text written in cursive script in ash brown ink (some fading and flaking).

Text Divisions

Titles and initials in red, or red and gold (obverse).


Three sections glued together. Edges worn and uneven. Marginal notes in red marred by a trimming of the scroll's sides. Extant miniatures repainted.

In 1966, an earlier repair to the scroll was removed from the verso, thus exposing three lines of text. A section of parchment was added to fill the resultant void. Four parchment support tabs were attached to the head and base.

Binding Description

Framed by R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company in walnut with a cover of Plexiglas.



The scroll was written and illuminated in the 14th century, in either Constantinople, or in Trebizond, respectively the present-day Turkish cities of Istanbul and Trabzon. A colophon on the Morgan fragment (reverse) identifies the scribe who wrote the Arabic text as the monk al-Bashūnī, and the date of completion as 1383 (1694 of the Seleucid era).


Belonged to Suleyman ibn Sara, whose name appears in a prayer (reverse). In the early 20th century, belonged to Vicomte Bernard d'Hendecourt, (his sale, Sotheby's, May 8-10, 1929).

In 1912, John Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), purchased the fragment now held in New York, possibly from the dealer Léon Gruel. It is not known when the scroll was divided, but the Chicago portion fits at the head of the Morgan piece. The correspondence between the two was first noted by Robert Allison, Professor Emeritus of Religion, Bates College, when he was a member of staff in the Department of Special Collections at the University of Chicago.


Acquired by the University of Chicago from Maurice Stora (Paris), March 1930.


  1. Sotheby & Co. (London, England), Catalogue of the very choice and valuable collections of the Vicomte Bernard D'Hendecourt. May 8th, 9th and 10th, 1929. (London: Sotheby, 1929), p. 11 (no. 91).
  2. Kenneth W. Clark, A Descriptive Catalogue of Greek New Testament Manuscripts in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1937), pp. 226-227.
  3. Gary Vikan, ed., Illuminated Greek manuscripts from American Collections: an Exhibition in Honor of Kurt Weitzmann (Princeton, N.J:. Art Museum, Princeton University; distributed by Princeton University Press, [1973]), p. 194, no. 56.
  4. New Testament manuscript traditions. An exhibition based on the Edgar J. Goodspeed Collection of the University of Chicago Library, the Joseph Regenstein Library, January-March, 1973. University of Chicago. Library. Dept. of Special Collections. Exhibition catalogs ([Chicago: s.n., 1973]), 36, no. 81.
  5. Lucy-Anne Hunt, "Manuscript production by Christians in 13th-14th century Greater Syria and Mesopotamia and related areas," Aram 9 and 10 (1997-1998), pp. 289-336.
  6. Byzantium: faith and power (1261-1557). Catalog of an exhibition held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, March 23-July 4, 2004, edited by Helen C. Evans (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art; New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press, c2004), p. 438 (cat. 265 a,b).
  7. Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann, "Catalogue of Greek Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts," Manuscripta 52:1 (2008), pp. 125-140.
  8. Glenn Peers, "Art and Identity in an Amulet Roll from Fourteenth-Century Trebizond," Church History and Religious Culture 89 (2009), pp. 153-178.