University of Chicago Library, Goodspeed Manuscript Collection Ms. 715, Lectionary (Serpent Lectionary). Greg. l 1642. Constantinople, 13th century.


Gospel lectionary in Greek. Includes both Synaxarion and Menologion. Formerly Goodspeed Ms. Grk. 27.

  1. fols. 1r-23r Synaxarion. John, Weekday, Saturday, and Sunday Lections: Sunday, Resurrection Day, John 1:1-17. Sunday, Pentecost (Liturgy), John 8:12.
  2. fols. 23r-67v Synaxarion. Matthew, Weekday, Saturday, and Sunday Lections: Monday, Week 1 after Pentecost, Matthew 18:10-20. Sunday, Week 17 after Pentecost (Liturgy), Matthew 15:21-28.
  3. fols. 68r-119r Synaxarion. Luke, Weekday, Saturday, and Sunday Lections: Monday, Week 18 after Pentecost, Luke 3:19-22. Thursday, Tyrophagou or Cheesefare Week, Luke 23:2-34, 44-56.
  4. fols. 119r-120r Synaxarion. Tyrophagou or Cheesefare Week Lections: Saturday, Matthew 6:1-13. Sunday, Matthew 6:14-21.
  5. fols. 120r-127r Synaxarion. Great Lent, Saturday and Sunday Lections: Saturday, Week 1 of Great Lent, Mark 2:23-3:5. Sunday, Week 6 of Great Lent (Liturgy), John 12:1-18.
  6. fols. 127r-141r Synaxarion. Holy Week, Monday through Thursday Lections: Monday, Holy Week, (Matins), Matthew 21:18-43. Thursday, Foot-washing (Liturgy), Matthew 26:40-27:2.
  7. fols. 141v-154r Synaxarion. Twelve Lections of the Holy Passions: Friday, Holy Week, 1st Passion Gospel, John 13:31-18:1. Friday, Holy Week, 12th Passion Gospel, Matthew 27:62-66.
  8. fols. 154r-158v Synaxarion. Good Friday and Holy Saturday Lections, Canonical Hours, and Liturgy: Friday, Holy Week, 3rd Hour, Mark 15:16-41. Saturday, Holy Week, (Liturgy), Matthew 28:1-20.
  9. fols. 159r-165r Synaxarion. Eleven Resurrection Lections (Heothina): 1st Lection, Matthew 28:16-20. 11th Lection, John 21:15-25.
  10. fols. 165r-170r Menologion. September through October.
  11. fols. 170r-175v Menologion. November (references only) through December.
  12. fols. 176r-180v Menologion. January through February.
  13. fols. 180v-181v Menologion. March through April (references only).
  14. fols. 181v-184v Menologion. May through June.
  15. fols. 184v-188r Menologion. July through August.
  16. fols. 188r-188v Lections, various occasions.
  17. fol. 188v Lections, vigils (references only).



Headpieces of floral, foliate, interlace motifs, and scrollwork in red and blue (fols. 1r, 68r, 165r). Horizontal bars composed of knots and beads also occur at divisions of the text. Most notable of these is a serpent wound around a rod (fol. 171r), a vignette from which the manuscript derives its common name. Rosettes mark the beginning of particular lections.


Major initials (35-75 mm) set off from text and embellished with floral, foliate, bead, and knot motifs in blue and red. Minor initials set off from the text in red.

Physical Description


Parchment. 255 x 185 mm.

Number of Leaves

192 leaves, of which 4 are flyleaves of paper.


2 (unfoliated paper flyleaves) + 188 + 2 (unfoliated paper flyleaves). Modern foliation in Arabic numerals in pencil 1-188. Additional system of numbering identified as Ottoman Turkish (recto, lower margin).


24 quires of 8 leaves, with the exception of quires 1, 9, and 14, each of 7 leaves, and quire 24 of 9 leaves. Estimate of content lost: leaves 4 and 5 of quire 10 (after fol. 73, Luke, Weekday lections. Ends on Wednesday, Week 3, with 7:1 at, αυτου εις τας, and begins on fol. 74r, Monday, Week 4, with 7:48 at, δε αυτη αφεωνται).

Instances of quire numbers extant on the first leaf of each quire (recto, upper right).


Written space 205 x 145 mm (fol. 7r). Each column is 205 x 65 mm with a space of 15 mm between.


2 columns, 28 lines. Ruling with hard point.


Written in minuscule script in black ink.

Punctuation includes high point, double point, comma, marks of interrogation and elision. Cross for full stop.

Text Divisions

Titles in red.


Numerous holes in the parchment. Corners of several leaves broken. Some marginal notation lost owing to trimming during rebinding. Water stains, and minor dirt and rust stains.

Binding Description

Bound in parchment over boards. Pastedowns and single side of flyleaves (front and back) of marbled paper. Edge decoration of red.



The manuscript is dated to the 13th century, and is judged to have been written in Constantinople, the present-day Istanbul, Turkey.


Medieval to early 20th century provenance unknown.

Custom stamp, Douane Centrale Exportation Paris (front flyleaf). University of Chicago Libraries bookplate (front pastedown).


Acquired by the University of Chicago from Maggs Bros. (London), November 1931, with funds provided by Shailer Matthews, dean of the Divinity School.


  1. Prolegomena to the Study of the Lectionary Text of the Gospels. Studies in the Lectionary Text of the Greek New Testament. Edited by Ernest C. Colwell and Donald W. Riddle (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, c1933), 1 pp. 81, 85-156.
  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. 598.
  3. Kenneth W. Clark, A Descriptive Catalogue of Greek New Testament Manuscripts in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1937), pp. 261-263.
  4. Merrill Mead Parvis, The Story of the Goodspeed Collection ([Chicago]: s.n., 1952), p. 19.
  5. Walter F. Specht, "The Saturday and Sunday Lections from Matthew in the Greek Lectionary" (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1955).
  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. 2.