University of Chicago Library, Goodspeed Manuscript Collection Ms. 138, New Testament. Gospels (Circle Gospels). Greg. 2222. 14th century.


Four gospels in Greek. Ammonian and Eusebian canon numbers, and lection notes in the margins. Formerly Goodspeed Ms. Grk. 19.

The manuscript is commonly known as the Circle Gospels because of the distinct circular forms in which its scribe rendered the letters Epsilon (ε) and Theta (θ).

  1. fols. 1r-40v Pastedown (back, recto) Pastedown (back, verso) fols. 41r-45v Matthew (begins at 6:20 with [θησαυ]ριζετε to 25:34 with ευλογημενοι). The text continues on the back pastedown (r-v) at 25:34 to 26:6; and, resumes at fol. 41r, 26:6 with [δ]ε Ιυ.
    Note: The recto of the leaf serving as the back pastedown was previously glued to the board.
  2. fols. 54r-59v fols. 46r-53v Mark (begins at 1:17 with αυτοισ to 4:29 with θερισμοσ). Mark 4:30-15:34 bound out of order (fols. 46r-53v).
  3. fols. 60r-93v Luke (begins at 1:35 with [αγ]γελοσ and ends at 23:7 with προσ η[ρωδην]).
  4. fols. 94r-110v Pastedown (front, recto) Pastedown (front, verso) fols. 111r-117v John (begins at 2:3 with λεγει to 10:18 with εμαντου εξουσιαν). The text continues on the front pastedown (r-v) at 10:39 to 11:18. It resumes on fol. 111r, at 11:18 with ως απο, and ends at 16:3 with προσ[φερειν].
    Note: The front pastedown is composed of partial sections of two leaves. The upper portion is leaf 3 of quire 26, the second of two leaves missing after fol. 110. The lower portion is leaf 3 of quire 24, the fourth folio after fol. 99, and contains the text of John 5:38-39, 43-44 (recto), and John 6:1-2, 6:5-7 (verso). The versos of the two leaves serving as the front pastedown were previously glued to the board.
  5. fols. 118r-122v Lectionary tables: John (weekdays and weekends); Matthew and Luke (weekend); Passion lections (Canonical Hours, Good Friday); Good Friday to Easter; Menologion tables (October 18-January 24).


Marginal miniatures of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Additional embellishments include foliate designs (fols. 2r, 14v), a band of crosses with a large bird (fol. 11v), floral designs (fols. 12r, 21v), a bird (fol. 12v), geometric bands (fols. 20r, 25r), a hand blessing (fol. 46v), and an initial A (fol. 73v).


  1. fol. 16vEvangelist, Mark, Portrait: Mark writing, seated in high-backed chair before desk. Cherubs in square tablets frame the scene.
  2. fol. 17rEvangelist, Matthew, Portrait: Matthew writing, seated in high-backed chair before desk; buildings in background. Cherubs and a portrait bust of Christ in square tablets frame the scene.
  3. fol. 112vEvangelist, John, Portrait: John writing, seated in high-backed chair.
  4. fol. 113rEvangelist, Luke, Portrait: Luke writing, seated in high-backed chair before desk


Minor initials set off from the text in red.

Physical Description


Parchment. 245-250 x 186-200 mm.

Number of Leaves

125 leaves, of which 3 now function as pastedowns.


2 (unfoliated parchment pastedown, composite) + 122 + 1 (unfoliated parchment pastedown). Modern foliation in Arabic numerals in pencil 1-122. Traces of earlier numbering, lower right margin.


Originally 28 quires of 8 leaves. Estimate of content lost: Leaves 1-8 of quire 1, and leaves 1-2 of quire 2 (before fol. 1, Matthew 1:1-6:20); leaf 6 of quire 2 (after fol. 3, Matthew 8:8-24); leaves 7 and 8 of quire 4 (after fol. 19, Matthew 15:5-16:2); leaf 6 of quire 6 (after fol. 32, Matthew 22:4-23); leaves 3-6 of quire 8 (after fol. 43, Matthew 26:57-27:56). Mark, 4:30-15:34 (fols. 46-53) bound out of order, before Mark 1:17-4:29 (fols. 54-59). Leaves 1 and 7 of quire 9 (before fol. 54, Mark 1:1-17, after fol. 58, Mark 3:28-4:11); leaves 2, 3, and 7 of quire 10 (after fol. 46, Mark 5:6-42, after fol. 49, Mark 6:48-7:8); leaves 2-8 of quire 11, leaves 1-8 of quire 12, and leaves 1-2 of quire 13 (after fol. 51, Mark 8:7-14:31); leaves 4-5 of quire 13 (after fol. 52, Mark 14:49-15:13); leaves 7-8 of quire 13, and leaves 1-2 of quire 14 (after fol. 53, Mark 15:34-end, Luke 1:1-35); leaves 6-8 of quire 14, and leaves 1-3 of quire 15 (after fol. 62, Luke 2:15-4:25); leaves 5-7 of quire 15 (after fol. 63, Luke 4:41-6:1); leaves 2-8 of quire 16, and leaves 1-2 of quire 17 (after fol. 65, Luke 6:32-9:4); leaves 8-9 of quire 17 (after fol. 70, Luke 10:16-11:2); leaves 2-3 of quire 18 (after fol. 72, Luke 11:31-12:7); leaf 7 of quire 18 (after fol. 75, Luke 12:54-13:11); leaves 2 and 5 of quire 19 (after fol. 77, Luke 14:7-22, after fol. 79, Luke 15:20-16:4); leaves 1 and 8 of quire 20 (after fol. 82, Luke 17:22-18:5, after fol. 88, Luke 20:19-36); leaves 2-3 of quire 21 (after fol. 89, Luke 21:8-22:8 ); leaf 8 of quire 21, leaves 1-8 of quire 22, and leaf 1 of quire 23 (after fol. 93, Luke 23:7-end; John 1:1-2:3); leaf 8 of quire 23, and leaves 1-5 of quire 24 (after fol. 99, John 4:42-6:38); leaf 3 of quire 25 (after fol. 104, John 8:2-18); leaves 2-3, and 5 of quire 26 (after fol. 110, John 10:18-11:18, after fol. 111, John 11:39-56); leaves 1 and 3 of quire 27 (after fol. 114, John 13:2-21, after fol. 115, John 14:3-22); leaves 6-8 of quire 27, and leaves 1-8 of quire 28 (after fol. 117, John 16:2-17:6). Lectionary tables, 3 leaves (after fol. 120, September-October, after fol. 122, end of January-August).

Quire numbers recorded on the first (recto) and last (verso) leaves of each quire (lower margin).


Written space 175 x 130 mm (fol. 8r). Each column is 175 x 60 mm with a space of 10 mm between.


2 columns, 25 lines (variants of 26-27). Ruling with hard point. Pricking in outer margin (random).


Written in minuscule script in dark brown ink.

Punctuation includes high point, comma, double point (:) before archē and telos indications, and marks of elision and interrogation. Quotation marks in left margin next to each line of quoted text.

Corrections to the text written in the margins in red or brown ink, and are marked with several types of reference signs.

Text Divisions

Titles in red.


Water and dirt stains. Leaves cut out of the manuscript and glued to the inside front and back boards as pastedowns.

Binding Description

Bound in medium brown leather over boards. Nail holes of strap closures and corner bosses once attached.

Front cover: Blind-tooled cross within border frame, both infilled with heart and foliate motifs. Back cover: Pattern of diagonal lines enclosed in same framing.



The manuscript is dated to the 14th century, its place of origin is unknown. Marginal miniatures and embellishment are the work of Demetrios Pelekasis (born 1881). A painter of icons in the early 20th century, Pelekasis headed a workshop in Greece wherein he forged illuminations in authentic Byzantine manuscripts. See Gary Vikan, "A group of forged Byzantine miniatures," Aachener Kunstblätter 48 (1978-1979).


The manuscript was in Paris by 1929, in the shop of the bookseller Léon Gruel where it was seen by Donald W. Riddle, a faculty member of the University of Chicago.

Five of the manuscript's missing leaves are held in public and private collections. A Gospels, W. 523 of the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, contains as its front and back pastedowns, leaf 6 of quire 16 (Luke 7:38-45, exposed side), and leaf 3 of quire 18 (Luke 11:54-12:6, exposed side). In 1906, two leaves (John 16:3-17:6) were at the Metropolis of Derkoi in Constantinople, the present-day Istanbul, seen there by Caspar René Gregory (1846-1917), author and New Testament text critic. A fifth leaf (Luke 1:18-35) was purchased ca. 1971 by Dr. Merrill M. Parvis at a bookshop in Paris. The current state of the last three leaves is not known.

University of Chicago Libraries bookplate (inside front cover); notation (fol. 76v); prayer (fol. 86v).


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


  1. Caspar René Gregory, Textkritik des Neuen Testamentes (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1900-1909), vol. 3, pp. 1200, 1475. no. 2222.
  2. Seymour de Ricci, Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada (New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935), vol. 1, p. 570; vol. 2, p. 2281.
  3. Kenneth W. Clark, A Descriptive Catalogue of Greek New Testament Manuscripts in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1937), pp. 251-255.
  4. Merrill Mead Parvis, The Story of the Goodspeed Collection ([Chicago]: s.n., 1952), pp. 16-17.
  5. Kurt Aland, Kurzgefassten Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments, Arbeiten zur neutestamentlichen Textforschung 1 (1963), pp. 177, 392, 395, 427 (2222).
  6. 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. 40.
  7. Walters Art Museum. "Walters Art Museum Ms W523." Accessed October 22, 2012.