When was the Miroslav Gospel written?
The exact time when the Miroslav Gospel was written is unknown. It is possible that Miroslav’s commissioning the Evangelistary to be written was connected with the construction of his endowment, the Church of St. Peter on the Lim – around which the present-day town of Bijelo Polje was built. Judging by the Lim Charter of Uroš I, Uroš’s father Stefan, subsequently named the First-Crowned, issued a gold seal charter (chrysobull) to Prince Miroslav, his uncle, granting him ownership of the holding of the Church of St. Peter. That would mean that the church was completed in the period between Nemanja’s abdication and Miroslav’s death, that is, after March 25, 1196, and before the letter of Nemanja’s son, Vukan, to the Pope, in 1199, in which he mentioned that Miroslav was no longer alive. An inscription from that time remains carved in a semicircular stone field:
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HO-
LY SPIRIT, I, SON OF ZAVIDA,
THE SERVANT OF GOD BY THE NAME OF STEFAN
MIROSLAV, THE PRINCE OF HUM, BU-
ILT THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY APOSTLE PETER OX
It seems that some sort of decoration was broken off from the very apex, presumably – a cross. The entire inscription was covered with mortar in Turkish times. During the restoration in 1961-1962, the portal was transferred to the western side from the northern wall of the Turkish mafilet (loggia), which is where it had probably been in the first place.
It is unclear what the last two letters – OX – mean. Vladimir Ćorović reads them as FOR CHRIST. Professor Miodrag Marković recently came forward with a completely new idea. Since this is a ktetor’s inscription, it would be logical that it represents the year. Serbs in the Middle Ages did not use Arabic numerals, but wrote numbers as letters with diacritics (superscript signs, diacritics, are absent from the ktetor’s entire inscription), and they counted the years from the biblical creation of the world (5508/5509 BC). It is possible that OX is an indication that the ktetor’s inscription was put in place in 6670, that is, in the year 1161/1162 AD.
Marković’s assumption does not comply with official historiography, but he supports it with exceptionally sound arguments.
Thus, if the reason for the creation of the Miroslav Evangelistary was the construction of the Church of St. Peter the Apostle, and since dating by modern scientific methods has not been performed, we are obliged to attribute the creation of the manuscript to a rather broad time frame, the second half of the 12th century.