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370-371: Washington Manuscript III -  The Four Gospels (Codex Washingtonensis)

see also: 3194 see also: 3195

Washington Manuscript III - The Four Gospels (Codex Washingtonensis)

Historical period(s)
late 4th-early 5th century
Ink on parchment
H x W (overall): 20.8 x 14.3 cm (8 3/16 x 5 5/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
The Four Gospels, in one volume, bound in painted board covers (F1906.297-298). Small, sloping uncial writing in dark brown ink; one column; 30 lines to the page; 372 written pages on 187 leaves.

For a full description, see Sanders, Henry A.: Washington Manuscript of the Gospels; University of Michigan Humanistic Series, Vol. IX, Part l.
Variously known as Codex Washingtonensis or the Freer Gospels, this codex originally contained the complete text of the four canonical gospels in the Western order (Matthew, John, Luke, Mark). Its careful layout suggests it was for public, liturgical reading. But it was apparently compiled from a number of different and probably fragmentary sources, perhaps caused by the Great Persecution when Diocletian ordered the destruction of Christian books. At the end of Mark (after 16:14) is a statement attributed to Jesus that occurs in no other manuscript. Called the Freer logion, it reads, in part:

And Christ replied to them, "The term of years for Satan's power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near. And for those who have sinned I was delivered over to death so that they may return to the truth and no longer sin, so that they may inherit the spiritual and incorruptible glory of righteousness that is in heaven."

Possibly once in the possession of the Monastery of the Vinedresser, near Giza, Egypt [1]

To 1906
Ali Arabi, Giza, Egypt, to 1906 [2]

From 1906 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Ali Arabi in Giza, Egypt, on December 19, 1906 [3]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]


[1] See Curatorial Remark 7, citation of Fr. Theodore Peterson, St. Paul's College, Catholic University, 1957, in the object record. See also, Curatorial Remark 6, undated folder sheet note, in the object record.

[2] See Original Miscellaneous List, Biblical Mss. Section, S.I. 1467, L. 3, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[3] See note 2.

[4] 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.

Former owner
Ali Arabi (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919)
On View Location
Currently not on view
Christianity, Egypt, New Testament
Collection(s) Area
Biblical Manuscripts
Web Resource(s)
The Story of the Beautiful, Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

The Freer|Sackler is closed for renovation and reinstallation. The popular exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan is still on view in the International Gallery. (Enter through the Ripley Center.) Join us for our reopening celebration on October 14–15, 2017.