Monday, December 15, 2008

The Codex Gigas

Literally meaning, “Giant Book,” this is the largest extant manuscript of mediaeval illuminated text that we have. Also called the Devil’s Bible, it has been getting some interest lately because it’s appearing on National Geographic.

The book itself is amazing, take a look at the Wikipedia article on the subject.

Writer Stephen Rose has some things to say about its presentation on National Geographic, which decided to trod into superstition and Christian themes when presenting the Gigas Codex.

According to legend. Right. This is pure hoodwink territory. As described the Codex itself is religious subterfuge, right down to its popular name. As far as I can gather, the entire deception is based on the presence of a prominent illustration of Satan, a figment of human imagination which, according to the New Testament, Jesus managed to defeat by pointing out that a house divided cannot stand. No small insight in a world still wracked by false dualisms.

Well before this illustration was drawn, Cro-Magnon painting in the caves of Lascaux offered an incredible sense of the inherent creativity of human beings who respond to the spark or force within themselves. I make bold to say that this spark is closer to what Jesus had in mind when he challenged the imperial values of Rome and promulgated a Beatitudinal way than the hoary superstitions that are the staple of mass media exploitation of the religious impulse.

Every time hype production values are applied to superstitious elements of sacred texts, we are in humbug territory. For the National Geographic to play this game is a serious shame.

It isn't uncommon for the most powerful meme in a particular society to attempt to insinuate itself over ancient documents to forward its own goals. It is a bit shameful and stupid that people tried to plaster them over this particular document.

Link, the Huffington Post.

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