Book of Prophecies

Alternate Titles:

Libro de las Profecías, Buch der Prophezeiungen

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Libro de las Profecías
Buch der Prophezeiungen

Type
Extent / Format

140 pages / 30.0 x 22.0 cm

Date
Between 1502 and 1504
Style
Genre
Language
Artist / School

Christopher Columbus

Short description

The libro de las profecías, the Book of Prophecies, is one of the most exciting documents concerning Christopher Columbus, that great discoverer of America and important figure of world history. Recorded during his last seven years of life in Valldolid with the help of his son and brother, the Book of Prophecies represents Columbus’ “political-religious testament”. The incomplete work collects passages of text and quotations from the Bible, the Apocrypha, and from additional ancient and significant sources concerning the theme of the New World and the revelation of something significant that is coming. In this manner, Columbus sought to bring his life’s work of discovery in connection with a divine mission!

Facsimile editions available

Description

Book of Prophecies

The libro de las profecías, the Book of Prophecies, is one of the most exciting documents concerning Christopher Columbus, that great discoverer of America and important figure of world history. Recorded during his last seven years of life in Valldolid with the help of his son and brother, the Book of Prophecies represents Columbus’ “political-religious testament”. The incomplete work collects passages of text and quotations from the Bible, the Apocrypha, and from additional ancient and significant sources concerning the theme of the New World and the revelation of something significant that is coming. In this manner, Columbus sought to bring his life’s work of discovery in connection with a divine mission!

A Retrospective of His Life’s Work

In the Book of Revelation, there is a discourse concerning the downfall of the old world and the rise of the New Jerusalem. The prophet Isaiah spoke of islands in the sea. The coming of the New World is referred to time and again. How could one not draw connections between the significant discoveries of Christopher Columbus and this divine plan? Columbus appears to have thought so as he compiled the so-called Book of Prophecies between the years 1502 and 1504. Afflicted by Reiter’s Syndrome, Columbus (ca. 1451-1506) lived out his remaining years in Valladolid. There he completed his “political-religious testament” with the help of priests – for instance one Fray Gaspar Gorricio, a monk from Seville –, his son Hernando and his brother Bartolomeo.

The Coming of a New World

Originally the Book of Prophecies consisted of 84 sheets, 14 of which were probably removed already in the 16th century. Of the 140 surviving pages, there can be found Psalms, biblical passages from the Apocrypha, and other texts, among others. These were meant to present the voyages of discovery by Columbus as a revelation. Thus, for example, numerous passages of text concerning islands and the sea were chosen from the Prophecy of Isaiah. The “new heaven” and “new world” are also a continuous theme of the quotations. Columbus also refers to the Book of Revelation.

The Bible as Legitimation

These biblical and prophetic tales were brought into connection with the discoveries of Columbus in the Book of Prophecies. Thus the discovery of the mouth of the Orinoco during his third expedition was interpreted as the earthly paradise. Columbus presents himself moreover as a man strongly shaped by his religiosity, who undertook his discoveries and journeys not for his own glory, but for the glory of God. Columbus saw himself as God’s chosen servant, to discover this New World was his mission. Thus it becomes clear, that Columbus was convinced of the great importance of his discoveries, as is evidenced by world history to this day.

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