University of Chicago Library, Goodspeed Manuscript Collection Ms. 139, New Testament. Gospels (Gospels of the Fluting Shepherd). 15th or 16th century.


Four gospels in Armenian. Section numbers in the margins against the text. Pentecostal lection numbers and concordances recorded in the lower margins. Words and passages omitted in the main text have been added in the left or lower margins. Formerly Goodspeed Ms. Arm. 6.

The manuscript is commonly known as Gospels of the Fluting Shepherd because of its marginal miniature of a shepherd making music (fol. 150v).

  1. Pastedown (front) Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 260-ca. 340), letter to Carpianus, on the gospel canons.
    Additions: Seal (illegible), lower left margin.
  2. fols. 1v-6v Canon tables have been bound out of order. For the correct sequence: II (fol. 3r); III (fol. 2r); IV (fol. 4v); V (fol. 5r); VI (fol. 6v); IX and X (fol. 1v). Tables lost, I, VII, and VIII.
    Note: Blank (fols. 2v, 3v, 4r, 5v, 6r).
  3. fols. 7r-91r Matthew.
    Note: Blank (fols. 91v-92v).
  4. fols. 93r-143r Mark.
    Note: Blank (fols. 143v-144v).
  5. fols. 145r-229r Luke.
    Note: Blank (fols. 229v-230v).
  6. fols. 231r-290v John.
  7. fol. 290v Pericope: The Woman taken in Adultery (incomplete).


Marginal vignettes of portraits and arabesques.


  1. Pastedown (front)Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, Palestine, Portrait: Eusebius, dressed in liturgical vestments, holds an open scroll.
  2. fol. 89vEvangelist, Matthew, Portrait: Matthew, seated in left margin, his hand rests on adjacent bird initial.
  3. fol. 141rEvangelist, Mark, Portrait: Mark, seated in right margin, his hand extended to indicate adjacent text.
  4. fol. 150vShepherd, Making music: Shepherd plays a pipe in left margin, a wineskin hanging over his shoulder.
  5. fol. 225rEvangelist, Luke, Portrait (damaged): Luke, seated in right margin, his hand extended to indicate adjacent text and bird initial.

Canon Tables

Citations of concordant gospel sections are framed by architectural columns. These support headpieces of multi-colored floral, foliate, and geometric designs upon which large birds stand.


Headpieces of multi-colored floral, foliate, and geometric motifs at each gospel's opening (fols. 7r, 93r, 145r, and 231r), and with the copy of Eusebius's letter to Carpianus (front pastedown).


The major initial of each gospel's opening line is formed by an Evangelist symbol: Matthew (angel, 110 mm), Mark (lion, 38 mm), Luke (ox, 92 mm), and John (eagle, 120 mm). Minor initials are formed by figures of birds or flowers.

Physical Description


Paper. 228 x 159 mm.


Watermarked blank leaves (16th century) inserted before the gospels of Mark, Luke, and John.

Number of Leaves

291 leaves, of which 1 leaf, once part of the first quire, now functions as the front pastedown.


1 (unfoliated paper pastedown) + 290. Modern foliation in Arabic numerals in pencil 1-290.


Written space 180 x 125 mm (fol. 9r). Each column is 180 x 55 mm with a space of 15 mm between.


2 columns, 21 lines. Ruling with hard point.


Written chiefly in bolorgir script in black ink. Each gospel's first line is inscribed in capitals of multi-colored birds, beads, and leaves. Second and third lines are written in erkat’agir script.

Text Divisions

Titles in red.


Margins trimmed presumably during rebinding, thus marring marginal miniatures and decoration. Several leaves are lost. Inner margins of many leaves are reinforced with strips of tape or paper inscribed with unidentified text. Occasional creases. Dirt and grease stains.

Binding Description

Bound in blind tooled red morocco over pasteboard. Nail holes are present and the outline of a cross once attached. Remnants of index tabs.



The manuscript is thought to have been written in either the 15th or 16th century. A place of origin is unknown.


Medieval to 20th century provenance unknown. University of Chicago bookplate (fol. 1r).


Acquired by the University of Chicago from Luzac and Company (London), January 1929.


  1. 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.
  2. Merrill Mead Parvis, The Story of the Goodspeed Collection ([Chicago:] s.n., 1952), p. 7.
  3. Erroll F. Rhodes, An Annotated List of Armenian New Testament Manuscripts, Annual Report of Theology 1 (1959), p. 133 (1034).
  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. 12.
  5. Avedis K. Sanjian, A catalogue of medieval Armenian manuscripts in the United States (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), pp. 187-188.