Washington Manuscript I – Deuteronomy and Joshua (Codex Washingtonensis)

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Historical period(s)
early 5th century
Ink on parchment
H x W: 30.6 x 25.8 cm (12 1/16 x 10 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


Christianity, Egypt, Old Testament

To 1906
Ali Arabi, Giza, Egypt, to 1906 [1]

From 1906 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Ali Arabi in Giza, Egypt, on December 19, 1906 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Miscellaneous List, Biblical Mss. Section, S.I. 1456, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Ali Arabi (C.L. Freer source)


This parchment codex comprises one hundred two leaves divided into quires (booklets). Each quire is numbered on the first page. Because the numbers begin with 37 and continue through 60, it is clear that the first thirty-six quires are missing-likely the books of Genesis through Numbers.
Chapter divisions of irregular length are signaled by an enlarged initial letter outside the left margin. The manuscript also offers an early example of rubrication (from the Latin rubricare<, "to color red"), writing in red ink to give visual emphasis to the divisions of a text. Rubrication became a common practice in European manuscripts beginning in the seventh century. Various scribes worked on this manuscript, but only two hold much interest. One, probably contemporary with the original scribe, made some corrections. A century or two later, another scribe noted in a cursive script where a reading was to begin and end, and when the reading was to be done.

Published References
  • Dr. Michelle Brown. In The Beginning: Bibles Before the Year 1000. Exh. cat. Washington, 2006. cat. 27, p.135,148-9, 267.
  • introduction by Henry A. Sanders. Facsimile of the Washington Manuscript of Deuteronomy and Joshua in the Freer Collection. Ann Arbor, 1910. pp. 1-201.
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 52-53.
  • Frederic G. Kenyon. Recent Development in the Textual Criticism of the Greek Bible. London. pp. 26, 92, 107-8.
  • Wilhelm Schubart. Palaeographie: Erster teil, Griechische Palaeographie. Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft, 1 Munich. p. 144, fig. 102.
  • Alan E. Brooke Norman McLean. The Old Testament in Greek: According to the Text of Codex Vaticanus, supplemented from other Uncial Manuscripts, with a Critical Apparatus Containing the Variants of the Chief Authorities for the Text of the Septuagint. 3 vols., Cambridge, 1917-1940. .
  • Seymour de Ricci W. J. Wilson. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. 3 vols., New York, 1935-1940. cat. 1, pp. 464-5.
  • Septuaginta: id est Vetus Testamentum graece iuxta LXX interpretes. 2 vols., Stuttgart. .
  • Facsimiles of Ancient Manuscripts: First Series. 2 vols., London, 1903 - 1912. pl. 202.
  • Harry M. Orlinsky. On the Present State of Proto-Septuagint Studies. vol. 61, no. 2 Baltimore, June 1941. pp. 81-91.
  • Max L. Margolis. The Washington MS. of Joshua. vol. 31, no. 4 New Haven, October 1911. pp. 365-367, pl. 4.
  • Freer Gallery of Art. Gallery Book I: Exhibition of July 19, 1933. Washington, July 19, 1933. .
  • Edwards Park. Treasures from the Smithsonian Institution., 1st ed. Washington and New York. p. 329.
  • Henry A. Sanders. New Manuscripts of the Bible from Egypt. 2nd series, vol. 12, no. 1 Boston, January - March, 1908. pp. 49-55, pl. 2.
  • The Manuscripts of the Gospel in the Freer Collection. vol. 29 Ann Arbor, March 1913. frontispiece.
  • Caspar Rene Gregory. Das Freer Logion. Gregory, C.R. Versuche und entwurfe. 1 Leipzig. pls. 1, 2.
Collection Area(s)
Biblical Manuscripts
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum