Codex Gigas, also known as ‘the Devil’s Bible,’ is the largest and probably one of the strangest medieval manuscripts in the world. Dark legends surround the tome and its origins and the full page portrait of the Devil increases its air of mystery. But what is the manuscript really about?
The Devil’s Bible is famous for two features – its size and the unique representation of the Devil. The codex became known as the Codex Gigas, ‘giant book,’ due to its immensity. It is so large that it took more than 160 animal skins to make it and it is so heavy that two people are needed to lift it. It measures 36 inches (91 cm) tall, 20 inches (50.5 cm) wide, and almost nine inches (22.86 cm) thick. It weighs 165 lbs. (74.8 kg).
The Codex Gigas in 1906. (National Library of Sweden)
Legendary Origins of the Codex Gigas
According to legend, the medieval manuscript was made out of a pact with the Devil, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the Devil’s Bible. The uniformity of the writing suggests that it was written by one scribe and stories say he was under immense pressure when he created the book.