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The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God … The evangelist Mark, having set down the first line of his gospel, considers what to write next in this illuminated leaf from a late-tenth-century gospel book from Constantinople. Deep in reflection—or does he have writer’s block?—Mark seems fully aware of the monumental task he is about to undertake: to chronicle Jesus’ life and death.
The masterful illuminator of this page has portrayed Mark in classical attire and with classical proportions—basing the work on ancient portraits of philosophers. But the artist has depicted the setting of Mark’s labor as a tenth-century scribe’s study, with a book on a lectern, and an inkwell and compass resting on a sloping wooden desk.

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