codex gigas
Legend has it that an ancient Benedictine monk named Herman The Recluse was condemned to the punishment of being walled up alive for breaking his vows. To erase his punishment, he promised to write a book that glorified his monastery and his faith in one night. Upon realizing he couldn't finish the book in a single night, he summoned Lucifer in a prayer, asking the fallen dark angel for help in exchange for his soul. What Herman The Recluse allegedly produced is known today as the Codex Gigas, or the Devil's Bible. It is an 8 inch thick, 36 inch tall and 20 inch wide book bound in a wooden folder and covered by leather and metal on display at the National Library Of Sweden. It is over 900 years old.

Scientists have estimated that the Devil's Bible would have taken a minimum of five straight years of writing to complete. The consensus is that it couldn't have possibly been written in a single night as legends claim. What gives the legend some credence, though, is that from beginning to end, the book's writing is completely consistent and unchanged throughout. Handwriting analysts have confirmed that the book is the work of one scribe whose mood and health remained unchanged throughout the entire process.

Some scientists and scholars have insisted that the book couldn't have taken less than 20 years to complete. If this is true, the consistency of the scribe is even more remarkable.

Along with the remarkable consistency in writing, the book contains vivid colourings and drawings, one of which appears to be Lucifer himself. Legend states that Lucifer's image was drawn into the manuscript to give him credit.

The content of the Devil's Bible, however, is anything but demonic or evil. The book is a compilation of the Vulgate bible, pre-Vulgate passages, historical records, magic formulae, monastery members and local events, all written in Latin. Aside from theories suggesting that some missing passages could have been apocalyptic prophesies, the book contains nothing sinister, out of the ordinary or truly Satanic. Many of the non-Biblical passages contain ordinary and customary monk magic and content from the 12th Century. Nothing inside of the Devil's Bible offers anything that would compel modern Satanists or devil worshippers to seek it out as a meaningful artifact. Although it's interesting, the book doesn't live up to the expectations created by its unofficial name. Instead, the book offers a perplexing insight into the life and discipline of a reclusive monk.

The most fascinating aspect of the Devil's Bible is the consensus that confirms the scribe's unbelievable discipline and ability to remain consistent during the estimated 20 years the book took to complete.

Every capital letter starting a new paragraph in the book is coloured and enlarged. Other drawings besides the one of Lucifer are strewn about and every drawing is highly detailed and richly coloured with blue, red, green and gold. The entire book is inscribed on donkey and calf skin and contains no errors or misspellings. The book in its entirety is a remarkable piece of art and literature.

The image of Lucifer is 50 cm in height and the page beside him depicts the kingdom of heaven. Because animal hide becomes slightly darker every time it is exposed to UV light, many of the pages are darkened and give the manuscript a gloomy vibe. Scientists have used this natural tanning effect to determine which pages have been read the most, or left open for the longest period of time.

Today, there are twelve unaccounted missing pages. Some pages went missing during a fire in 1697 at the Swedish Library when the book was thrown out of a window in an effort to save it. The missing pages have produced all kinds of speculation from apocalyptic warnings to nothing more than the rules of the Podlazice monastery from where the book originated. It is the scientific consensus, that the book was the work of only one scribe over twenty years, that is the most fascinating fact of all.

The astounding amount of discipline and sheer perfection of the scribe is enough to cast doubt on the scientific consensus that the Devil's Bible took 20 years to complete. Or is it? Science has also observed the meditation techniques of modern Buddhist monks and documented the significant changes in body temperature and heart rates during controlled meditations. Many of these changes have been shown to be fully controlled and manipulated by the human mind. Although Buddhist and Catholic monks don't practice the same religion, let alone the same meditations, science has observed that devout and pious individuals can in fact accomplish astonishing feats.

Any monk or person, whether Herman The Recluse or another, that is devout enough to prove loyalty to a higher being or power could have produced the Devil's Bible with the level of consistency and dedication that it contains. When put in solitary confinement and given nothing but time to ponder their sins, a devout Catholic or Buddhist could believably produce something with the same astonishing level of consistency as the Devil's Bible over the course of 20 years. Such a combination of discipline, faith, dedication and remorse has been exhibited by modern felons and inmates serving life sentences. Many of the world's greatest wonders, including the pyramids of Giza and temples of ancient Greece, were built in devotion to a higher power.

At the end of the day, the Devil's Bible is a valuable historical artifact with the same caliber as any religious structure or artifact. It's not a testament to the existence of mythical gods and supreme beings as much as it is to the power of the human consciousness when under the spell of such mythology.
           June 2016 | Tiberius