The manuscript is dated to approximately 1300

Credit: The British Library

Medieval manuscripts don’t get a lot of play in viral culture, but last week, Damien Kempf, Julian Harrison and Maria L. Gilbert, historians who run the British Library’s Medieval Manuscripts blog, changed that.

The trio turned up a 14th-century manuscript (above) that seemingly shows an illustration of Yoda, the implacable, backwards-talking Jedi master of Star Wars fame.

“The Yoda image comes from a 14th-century manuscript known as the Smithfield Decretals,” Harrison told NPR.

“I’d love to say that it really was Yoda, or was drawn by a medieval time traveler,” Harrison said, before adding (crushingly), “It’s actually an illustration to the biblical story of Samson.” (While we’re admittedly far from being biblical scholars, we can’t remember large ears or webbed hands figuring into Samson’s story.)

If you’re interested – and how could you not be? – the volume that Yoda appears in is called The Decretals of Gregory IX with gloss of Bernard of Parma, and it dates to between 1300 and 1340. (“Decretals” are papal letters that compiled decisions regarding church law, NPR helpfully explains.)

In other words, it comes from a long, long time ago. Coincidence? We think not.

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