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Image © Hildesheim, St Godehard

John 13:21-27

The last supper takes place in an arched space, supported by four turrets. The disciples sit on a raised semicircular table, with Christ on a seat of honour on the far left. As Judas receives the sop, a minute devil enters his mouth at the same time. John rests his head on Christ’s bosom while the other disciples, in an animated but formulaic manner, either listen to Christ or talk to each other. The meal is, once again, fish and bread, served on the smart tablecloth (see p36)

Jesus is saying ‘Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. . The disciples looked one to another, doubting of whom he spake. He lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot. And after the sop, Satan entered into him’ (John 13:21-27). At the same time, he looks directly at Peter, about to explain Peter’s denial to him.

The scene is about betrayal and denial, not the institution of the eucharist: there is not even any wine on the table. In the Bohemian Coronation Gospels (Prague, University Library, MS. XIV.A 13, f38v) bowls with stems like those in the St Albans Psalter are used for both fish and wine, but in other depictions cups or chalices are generally part of the meal.

Byzantine sources generally show a rounded table, Christ and Judas on opposite sides, with Judas reaching out to share a dish with Christ (Matthew 26:23). The St Albans artist clearly knew this formula because of the rounded table, and the disciple on the right is the only one dipping into a bowl. However, in western scenes, Judas steps forward to receive the sop, and in several of them a black bird enters Judas’ mouth. A depiction of the devil himself in this scene is rarer, found in manuscripts from Salzburg (New York, Pierpont Morgan, MS. 780, f27v) (AP, 59-60, pl 111).

Quire 3.
Thread or stitch holes for protective curtain

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