The Codex Argenteus – the Silver Bible in Uppsala University Library is the most comprehensive still existing text in the Gothic language.
It contains what is left of a deluxe book of the four Gospels, an evangeliarium, written in the early 6th century in Northern Italy, probably in Ravenna, and probably for the Ostrogothic King Theoderic the Great. The text is part of Wulfila’s translation of the Bible from Greek into Gothic, made in the 4th century.
The Codex Argenteus is written in silver- and gold-ink on very thin purple parchment of extremely high quality. For a long time it was alleged that the parchment was made from the skin of new-born or even unborn calves, but modern research shows that it was more likely made from the skin of kids. The purple colour does not come from the purple snail but from vegetable dyes. The silver text is predominant, which explains why the book is called “the Silver Book”, or the Codex Argenteus. Originally, it probably had a deluxe binding, decorated with pearls and jewels. The writing surface on the leaves of the manuscript has been filled according to the principle of the Golden Section, i.e. the height is related to the width as the sum of the height and width is related to the height. The four arches at the bottom of each page are canon tables, one for each evangelist. They contain a system of cross references to passages of the gospels.