University of Chicago Library, Goodspeed Manuscript Collection Ms. 951, New Testament. Gospels (Vardan Gospels or Silver Gospels). 1661.


Four gospels in Armenian. Eusebian section numbers in the margins against the text. Concordance numbers in the lower margins. Pentecostal lection numbers in the gospel of Matthew. Formerly Goodspeed Ms. Arm. 48.

  1. fols. 4r-6v Index and preface of Matthew.
    Note: Blank (fols. 1r-3v, 7r-9r).
  2. fols. 10r-81v Matthew.
  3. fols. 82r-83v Index and preface of Mark.
    Note: Blank (fol. 84r).
  4. fols. 85r-129v Mark.
    Note: Notation of Mark 16:9-20 stating that the verses should be read on the feast of the Ascension of Christ (fols. 130r-130v).
  5. fols. 131r-133v Index and preface of Luke.
    Note: Blank (fol. 134r).
  6. fols. 135r-211r Luke.
    Note: Blank (fol. 211v).
  7. fols. 212r-212v Index and preface of John.
    Note: Blank (fols. 213r-215r).
  8. fols. 216r-280v John.Pericope: The Woman taken in Adultery.
  9. fol. 280v
    Colophon: The scribe Vardan (dated 1661).
    Note: Blank (fols. 281r-282v).


Full-page portraits of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Marginal vignettes of birds, arabesques, and flowers.


  1. fol. 9vEvangelist, Matthew, Portrait: Matthew writing book, seated on cushioned bench under archway.
  2. fol. 84vEvangelist, Mark, Portrait: Mark writing book, seated at desk; domed buildings in background.
  3. fol. 134vEvangelist, Luke, Portrait: Luke, writing book, seated at desk; arched passageway in background.
  4. fol. 215vEvangelist, John, Portrait: John writing book, seated in high-backed chair. Prochorus, at right, with tablet; buildings in background.


Headpieces of multi-colored floral, geometric, and foliate design at gospel openings (fols. 10r, 85r, 135r, 216r). The headpiece of Matthew's gospel contains small portraits of Christ's ancestors in circular frames.


The major initial of each gospel's opening line is formed by an Evangelist symbol: Matthew (angel, 43 mm), Mark (lion, 26 mm), Luke (ox, 62 mm), and John (eagle, 51 mm). Minor initials are formed by figures of birds.

Physical Description


Parchment and paper. 126 x 95 mm.

Number of Leaves

284 leaves, of which 2 are flyleaves formed from a leaf of an older manuscript whose text was written in erkat’agir script.


1 (unfoliated parchment flyleaf) + 282 + 1 (unfoliated parchment flyleaf). Modern foliation in Arabic numerals in pencil 1-282.


23 numbered quires. The first seven leaves containing the index and preface of Matthew are paper replacements.


Written space 85 x 60 mm (fol. 23r). Each column is 85 x 25 mm with a space of 10 mm between.


2 columns, 22 lines.


Written in bolorgir script in black ink. The first line of each gospel is written in bird letters; the second line is rendered in erkat’agir script.

Text Divisions

Titles in red and gold.


The first seven leaves are detached from the binding.

Binding Description

Leather over boards, covered with hammered silver. Spine and fore-edge flap of linen studded with rosettes of silver. Leather strap closures (one remaining). Doublures of floral-patterned linen. Remains of thread tabs.

Front cover: Crucifixion of Christ with the Virgin Mary and John the Apostle on either side. Skull at base of cross; a seraph at each corner of the scene. Floral border and background. Back cover: Image of enthroned Virgin and Christ-child, within border engraved with prayer and date, O blessed Virgin Mother of the only-begotten. Intercede for me with the immortal king. In the year 1108 (1659).



The manuscript was completed in 1661 (Armenian Era 1110) by the scribe Vardan, its place of origin unknown (his colophon, fol. 280v).


Late 17th to early 20th century provenance unknown. Belonged to book collector the Reverend Roderick Terry (1849-1933), of Newport, Rhode Island (his bookplate, front pastedown). The manuscript was sold at his estate sale in February 1935 by American Art Association-Anderson Galleries.


Acquired by the University of Chicago from Mihran Costikyan of New York, September 1941.


  1. American Art Association-Anderson Galleries (Firm), The library of the late Rev. Dr. Roderick Terry of Newport, Rhode Island. Part Three. To be dispersed at public sale by order of his son Roderick Terry, Jr. February 14 at 8:15 p.m., February 15 at 2:15 and 8:15 p.m. (New York: American Art Association-Anderson Galleries, 1934-1935), p. 9 (no. 17).
  2. Merrill Mead Parvis, The Story of the Goodspeed Collection ([Chicago:] s.n., 1952), p. 26.
  3. Erroll F. Rhodes, An Annotated List of Armenian New Testament Manuscripts, Annual Report of Theology 1 (1959), p. 134 (1039).
  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. 46.
  5. Avedis K. Sanjian, A catalogue of medieval Armenian manuscripts in the United States (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), pp. 237-239.