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The Mission Handbook of Bishop Abraham

The Mission Handbook of Bishop Abraham The Mission Handbook, fol. 158'

zur deutschen Fassung

The so-called "Missionshandbuch" (mission handbook) of Bishop Abraham of Freising ranks among the most venerable and, in regard of content, most complex manuscripts held by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. It represents a unique relic of the clerical and spiritual culture in Bavaria in the late 10th century. Simultaneously, it is of an immense cultural and national importance for Slovenia.



Contents and significance

The austere parchment manuscript was probably crafted during the term in office of Bishop Abraham (957 to 994) in Freising. It contains a complex corpus consisting mostly of Latin homiletic and liturgical texts, as well as some pieces pertaining to secular and church law. Furthermore, several authentic homilies by Rather of Verona should be stressed, which bear witness to the cultural connections between Bavaria and Northern Italy, a Jewish oath of which only this one specimen has survived, and the single surviving copy of the "Beschlüsse des Landtags zu Ranshofen" (enactments of the parliament of Ranshofen), which are regarded as the first territorial law in the German legal and constitutional history. The Slavic texts of the manuscript, the so-called "Freisinger Denkmäler" are particularly well-known and have been researched in depth. The two formulas for confession (manuscripts I and III) as well as the confession homily (manuscript II) do not only represent the by far earliest evidence of the Slovenian, but actually of any Slavic language written in Latin script.

All texts contained form part of the scope of tasks and interests of a bishop, who was responsible for pastoral care, the adherence to canonical rules and, as a member of the Reichskirche (church of the empire), also proper administration within his diocese. The Freising bishopric also owned property in the regions of Carniola and Carinthia, with Slovenian settlements. Consequently, the codex does not only represent a mission handbook, but rather has to be regarded as a pontifical guidebook.

Description and Origin of the Manuscript Clm 6426

The parchment manuscript was crafted in the second half of the 10th century. It consists of 1 + 170 sheets and its dimensions are 25.5 x 20.5 cm. The sheets were counted in the 19th century. There are four interrelated parts (I: f. 1-49, II: f. 50-86, III: f. 87-147 and IV: f. 148-169). The script space and the number of lines are very uniform; numerous writers in quick succession used the Carolingian minuscule script. The manuscript is bound in a late gothic leather binding of a light colour, which is decorated with fillet lines. The clasp and the chain eye were torn off.

The greatest part of the manuscript was compiled in Freising upon request of Bishop Abraham (957 to 994). The vernacular texts indicate that the manuscript was used in the territory of the Slavic Carantanians. It was recently suggested to look for the originals in the monastery of Molzbichl in Upper Carinthia. Another clue could be the names of locations in Carniola to be spared by the demon Mermeunt, which were added after the weather blessing (60v). Apart from the centre of the Freising bishopric's governance, Laca (Škofja Loka), these locations have obviously not yet been determined.


A detailed description of the manuscript will be published in:

  • Katalog der lateinischen Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München. Die Pergamenthandschriften aus dem Domkapitel Freising. vol. 2 Clm 6317-6437.

This catalogue is compiled by Günter Glauche, who has kindly made his catalogue entry available for cataloguing the digital version.


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