About the Gospel of Thomas

Opening cross carpet page and incipit page

Contemporary illuminated manuscript in the Early Medieval style for sale

Written on calfskin manuscript vellum, using iron gall ink, hand cut quills and handmade egg tempera paint using 'early' pigments, as identified by the British Library Raman Microscopy project.

This manuscript was made for my Masters Degree studies, 2002-2004, at the Princes Foundation, School of Traditional Arts. The translation I used was the Lambdin translation in the Nag Hammadi Library. I am aware that many prefer one of the alternative translations, but this manuscript was never meant to be about which is the superior translation. The purpose was to explore the entire process, not to mention physical experience, of making an entire illuminated manuscript in the early 'insular' style, using traditional materials, tools and techniques. I did consider one of the four canonical gospels, but they are all simply too long. I only had just over a year to research, plan, design, prepare, draw, write, paint, gild and bind the manuscript. Rummaging around the various Christian texts, those included in the Bible as well as the Apocryphal and Gnostic texts, I decided on the Gospel of Thomas because it is fairly short and fairly complete. It also reads well, whereas some of the other texts are very difficult to read and some even leave you wondering what they were on!

The manuscript is on calfskin manuscript vellum, written with a quill in iron gall ink and painted with handmade egg tempera. The pigments used are genuine verdigris, minium, orpiment, indigo, lamp black, rose madder and ochre. The pages measure 360mm x 270mm. The manuscript is hand bound in goatskin leather, dyed "English Red", over quarter sawn oak boards. There is a raised and embossed design on the front of the binding, with four raised bands on the spine. The rear of the binding is plain.


There are six illuminated pages and 19 pages of calligraphic text, in two columns per page with 32 lines of text per column. There are two blank vellum leaves at the front of the manuscript and three at the back. Two of the illuminations are carpet pages in the style of early, insular manuscripts such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Lichfield Gospels. The other four illuminated pages are a portrait page of St Thomas, a title page (featuring a gilded cross), a page featuring a design based upon a simple shield and an incipit page. The incipit page has a large illuminated initial 'W', followed by six lines of display capitals. The text is bordered on three sides with borders containing tiny birds. The display capitals are surrounded by a rubricated design comprising hundreds of tiny dots of genuine minium.

The text is in half uncial, in iron gall ink. There are 92 decorated capital "J"'s in the manuscript in addition to many other, more simple, painted letters. The pages are all pricked and double blind ruled.


The designs are all my own, worked up from first principles, and have a geometric subframe, based upon sacred geometry. I have all of my studies, drawings, plans and preparatory work for this manuscript. As no previous exemplar existed, I had to meticulously plan out where each letter and space would go and made several mock ups before embarking upon the vellum. The manuscript took me about 15 months in all to make. 

It comes with a very simple oak box, with hinged lid. The hinges were made by a blacksmith we know (Phil Rayner of Somerset) and the oak lid and sides are covered with worked copper, with a central glass cabochon. The box measures 435mm x 330mm x 75mm. more

This manuscript is believed to be the first illuminated manuscript of the Gospel of Thomas made. It has previously been on loan to Hereford Cathedral and St Davids Cathedral.

If you are interested in purchasing this illuminated Gospel, please contact me to discuss further 07854 306569. 

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© Diane George 2018 illuminatedpages@btinternet.com

39 Stepney Road, Burry Port,SA16 0BE