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codex (s), codices (pl)
A manuscript volume, especially of a classic work or of the Scriptures.

Etymology: Latin codex, codic, "tree trunk, wooden tablet, book", a variant of caudex, "tree trunk".

Codex is a variant of caudex, a wooden stump to which petty criminals were tied in ancient Rome, rather like our stocks. This was also the word for a book made of thin wooden strips coated with wax upon which one wrote.

The usual modern sense of codex, “book formed of bound leaves of paper or parchment,” is due to Christianity. By the first century B.C., there existed at Rome notebooks made of leaves of parchment, used for rough copy, first drafts, and notes. By the first century A.D., such manuals were used for commercial copies of classical literature. The Christians adopted this parchment manual format for the Scriptures used in their liturgy because a codex was easier to handle than a scroll and because one could write on both sides of a parchment but on only one side of a papyrus scroll.

By the early second century all Scripture was reproduced in codex form. In traditional Christian iconography, therefore, the Hebrew prophets are represented holding scrolls and the Evangelists holding codices.

This entry is located in the following unit: codex-, codi-, cod- (page 1)
(Latin: a code of laws, a writing tablet; an account book; secret writing; originally, "the trunk of a tree")