Culture

The Devil's Bible…The Codex Gigas

In the few months before my first child’s birth, every time I got off the highway near my house I was subjected to a giant billboard declaring the end of the world. It warned me that May 21st, 2011, less than a month before my daughter’s birth, was the “official” Judgement Day. Luckily for my family, that didn’t happen…or maybe unluckily, I don’t know – it would have been really nice to clear out the Jehovah’s Witness temple down the street, along with the people who made those billboards in the first place. In honor of their failed attempt at Rapture, I got my history-documentary nerd on with this National Geographic special on the Codex Gigas. I hadn’t really ever done my research about this so-called Devil’s Bible, so it is pretty amazing to see what was accomplished by apparently one guy in the Middle Ages. Whether or not it was inspired by the Devil or a product of a pact with him, it is a massive and beautiful undertaking, made of skins and insect inks, and it has a hugely creepy energy about it. The Codex Gigas’ world travels over the past 800 years are pretty amazing, as well as the superstition and tragedy that traveled alongside it. Plus there is a Devil expert in this show – how exactly does one become a Devil expert?? It seems like a pretty rad job. I think the main idea that I came away with is that for centuries, people have been obsessed with depicting images of the Devil and of evil in various forms. While the Devil portrait in the Codex Gigas is hardly scary compared to what some black metal artists come up with these days, it was enough to scare the shit out of people in the Middle Ages.

The Devil's Bible…The Codex Gigas
The Devil's Bible…The Codex Gigas
The Devil's Bible…The Codex Gigas
The Devil's Bible…The Codex Gigas
The Devil's Bible…The Codex Gigas