Jeremiah Traditions (Fall 1996 and 2001; RelSt 735)

Explanatory texts accompany the relevant color illustrations in the "Theodore Psalter" (Lond Add 19352, dated 1066) on page 36a containing Psalm 32.9-16a, presumably associated with Psalm 32.10, which has a long but somewhat irregular horizontal red mark between the last line of 32.9 and the opening line of 32.10 ("The LORD frustrates the counsels of the nations") -- the expected corresponding red horizontal mark is in the margin between the eagle illustration and the "enthroned Christ" image immediately to the right of Psalm 32.12:
"Blessed is the populace of whom the LORD is its God,
a people whom he selected for his own inheritance."\1/

(1) top right corner: eagle with 15 figs on necklace, rolled up letter.

ὁ ἀετὸς ἀποστελλόμ(ενος) εἰς Βαβυλῶνα παρὰ

o( a)eto\s a)postello/m{enos} ei)s Babulw=na para\
τοῦ Βαροῦχ· κομίζων τ{ὸν} Ἱερεμίαν σύκα

tou= Barou=x: komi/zwn t{o\n} I(eremi/an su/ka
ἐκ τ{ὸν} ἀγρὸν τοῦ Ἀγρίπα μετὰ κ{αὶ} γράμματο[ς]

e)k t{o\n} a)gro\n tou= A)gri/pa meta\ k{ai\} gra/mmato{s}
ἀπὸ τὰ Ἱε

a)po\ ta\ I(e

ὀντα εἰς Βα

o)/nta ei)s Ba

μετὰ τὸν αἰ

meta\ to\n ai)




"The eagle being sent to Babylon from Baruch,
carrying to Ieremiah figs from the garden of Agrippa
along with a letter from those in Jerusalem to Babylon,
[to Jeremiah] along with the captive people."

(2) middle right, a haloed figure sitting on a throne among the stars,
presumably to accompany Psalm 32.13:
"The LORD looks out from heaven,
he sees all the sons of men."

(3) lower margin and right corner, with large landscape picture
in which a booth is identified as h( I(lh/m (Jerusalem)
and two workers on the left are titled gewrgoi= (gardeners).
(The lower right corner margin is badly damaged and faded.)

ὀ Β[α

o( B[a


μ{ενος} \ε/[

m{enos} \e/[

nea[ -- the final letter could be "l"

su/k[ -- the "k" is not clear

παρὰ τοῦ Ἱ[

para\ tou= I([ -- probably Jerusalem, or else Jeremiah
διὰ τοὺς ἀρ\ρ/άμ[{εν}ους ?

dia\ tou\s a)r\r/a/m[{en}ous{??} -- or arrab...
π.εν α[?]...

p.en a{?}...

"Baruch sleeping ... figs in the field beside Jerusalem (?),
on account of those having been taken {??} ...."\2/
(In the story it is Abimelech who sleeps with the figs; there may be a reference to him at the damaged end of the text.)

\1/See Sirarpie Der Nersessian, L'Illustration des Psautiers Grecs du Moyen Age II: Londres, Add. 19.352 (Bibliothéque des Cahiers Archéologiques 5, Paris: Éditions Klincksieck 1970) 26-27 and plate 21
(she states that the images are meant to accompany Psalm 32.10, without further discussion; so also Barber [see below]).

See also the review of that volume by Rainer Stichel (who brought this fascinating material to my attention), "Zu Fragen der Publikation byzantinischer illustrierter Psalterhandschriften," Zeitschrift für Balkanologie 12.2 (1976) 78-85 (esp. 80).

An Electronic Facsimile of the Theodore Psalter is available, edited by Charles Barber and published by the University of Illinois Press in association with the British Library (2000). Barber comments: "The image is a rare apocryphal illustration drawn from the text known as the Paraleipomena Jeremiou. The inscriptions provide a necessary explanation of the iconography, which is focused upon the period of the Babylonian exile (personified in the sleep of Abimelech) and specifically the moment when Baruch sends a message to the Israelites in exile that promises them Jerusalem, but only if they accept the implications of crossing the waters of the Jordan and abandoning everything associated with Babylon. In the context of this Psalter this might be read as a promise to those that abandon earthly things."

\2/DerNersessian (and Barber) read the fragmented final lines differently:



παρὰ τοῦ Ἰερ{εμίου}

para\ tou= I)er{emi/ou} [[Der Neressian gives a smooth breathing here!]]
διὰ τοὺς ἀρράβυ...

dia\ tou\s a)rra/bu...


Additional Bibliography (from Barber)

  • Johan Tikkanen, Die Psalterillustration im Mittelalter 1 (Helsingfors 1895) 21 [reprinted in Acta Societatis Scientarum Fennicae 31.5 (Helsingfors 1903) and again by itself in 1975 (Soest)]
  • Andrè Grabar, "L'Art religieux et l'empire byzantin á l'èpoque des Macedoniens," in L'Art de la fin de l'antiquité et du moyen a^ge 1 (Paris 1968) 166f [reprinted from the Annuaire de l'École pratique des hautes études, section des sciences religieuses (1939-40) 5-37.

    [Robert A. Kraft, updated 22 October 2001 (21mr2006)]