EVANGELIARIUM (i.e., evangeliarium volumen. "Gospel book"; evangeliarius, with liber or codex understood, is found more rarely): A book containing the appointed Gospel lections for church service. The collecting of the Gospel writings under the name euangelion dates back to the earliest age of the Church (cf. Zahn, Kanon, i. 161 sqq.). At first separate rolls (volumina) were united; then codices (manuscripts in which the leaves lay consecutively like a modern book) were made. This form coincides with the traditional history of the New Testament and sacred Scriptures generally, during the first centuries (cf. Victor Schultze, Rolle und Codex, in Greifswalder Studien, Gütersloh, 1895, pp. 149 sqq.). The subsequent rise of the Pericopes (q.v.) from the fourth century on led either to the attachment of an appendix to the Gospel book, in which the canonical lections were tabulated (lectionarium, euangelistarion, in the narrower sense), or to the formation of a new book, whose contents were exclusively the prescribed Gospel lections. The usual designation for such a book in the West came to be evangeliarium, in the East, euangelistarion (in the wider sense). Combined with the epistolare (i.e., epistolare volumen, "the Epistle [book]," Gk. apostolos, praxapostolos, "the Apostle"), which grew out of a similar process, and contained the remaining portion of the New Testament, the evangeliarium constituted the lectionarium or lectionarius (in the wider sense; Gk. anagnōstikon [biblion], biblion apostolikon).

Even as early as in the fourth century, the religious and ecclesiastical appreciation of the evangeliarium rose to such a degree that people regarded the same as typifying Scripture generally. Thus it was used in the administration of oaths, and it gained an established place in the ceremony of ordination, being either solemnly delivered to the candidate for orders, or held over his head during the act of blessing. Copies written in small script were worn by women and boys as a charm about the neck. It was applied to the relief of the sick, and ecclesiastical ordinances insured for it the same veneration as was accorded to sacred images. In public worship, in processions and other ecclesiastical observances, reverence was shown toward it in various ways.

This being the popular state of mind, the zealous cooperation of art is a matter of course. Beginning even in the fourth century, covers ornamented with costly stones and ivory carvings (cf. Victor Schultze, Archäologie der altchristlichen Kunst, Munich, 1895, pp. 258 sqq.), purple parchment, gilt and silver script, and miniature painting, come into vogue on a scale of lavish luxury. The Carolingian era continued the practise, and it was tenaciously conserved by the medieval era proper. Ivory carving, enameling, and other fine arts were more and more extensively brought into requisition; and along with descriptive illustration, there is developed the art of initial painting, while marginal decoration reaches its highest perfection during the later Middle Ages and the Renaissance (cf. H. Otte, Kunstarchäologie des deutschen Mittelalters, i., Leipsic, 1883, pp. 171 sqq.; F. X. Kraus, Geschichte der christlichen Kunst, 2 vols., Freiburg, 1896-1900). Embroidered cloths (camisiœ evangeliorum), or artistic cases (capsæ), served as protection against wear. Thus the history of the Gospel text is closely connected with religious and ecclesiastical customs and with the history of art.