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Treatise of the World's Creation
This manuscript, which contains a Tractatus de creatione mundi (Treatise on the World's Creation) from the Book of Genesis followed by a narration of the Passion of Christ (folios 99r–128v), is one of the most significant examples of late-13th-century Sienese illumination. The pictures, partly watercolor drawings and partly proper illuminations, were made by an extremely sophisticated Sienese artist who was heavily influenced by Transalpine miniaturists and active from around 1290 through the next decade. The illustrations, sketched by a fast, concise hand, stand out for their strikingly smooth ...
The Seville Bible
Biblia hispalense (The Seville Bible), also known as the Toletanus Codex, is a manuscript from the first half of the tenth century, in Latin written in lower-case Visigothic script by at least four copyists. The titles also appear in Hebrew, and there are notes in Arabic in the margins. The manuscript consists of booklets of eight sheets each, on parchment, with the text in three columns of 63–65 lines. Included are the texts of the Old and New Testaments, with a preface, prologues, and commentaries by Saint Jerome, Saint ...
The Lincoln Bible
On March 4, 1861, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney administered the oath of office to Abraham Lincoln using a Bible provided by William Thomas Carroll, clerk of the Supreme Court, because Lincoln’s family Bible was packed with other belongings that still were en route to Washington from Springfield, Illinois. In the back of the velvet-covered Bible, along with the seal of the Supreme Court, the volume is annotated: "I, William Thos. Carroll, clerk of the said court do hereby certify that the preceding copy of the Holy Bible is ...
Epistles, Gospels, and Popular Readings in the Tuscan Language
This devotional book in Italian (“the language of Tuscany’), published in 1495 by Piero Pacini da Pescia (active, circa 1495-1514), is considered the greatest Florentine illustrated book of the 15th century. It contains 144 large woodcuts, all but eight original to this text, 24 small images of saints and prophets, and a series of 14 different border styles. The large number of images, along with the quality of the designs and execution, make this work a treasure of Florentine design and one of the truly important sources for the study ...
This manuscript Hebrew Bible with full vocalization, accentuation, and Masorah annotation was created in Spain in around 1300. The Bible is illustrated and decorated in color, silver, and gold. The books of the Bible are arranged in the conventional order later adopted in Hebrew printed editions, with the exception that Ecclesiastes precedes Lamentations. Written on parchment in Sephardi square script, the manuscript has three columns per page, with 35 lines per column. The Masorah Magna notes are written in micrography. Masorah refers to the collection of critical notes, compiled in ...
The Damascus Pentateuch, from around the year 1000, is one of the oldest extant Hebrew biblical manuscripts. It includes full vocalization, accentuation, and Masoretic annotation. The manuscript is defective in its beginning, as it starts with Genesis 9:26; Exodus 18:1–23 is also missing. Written on parchment in oriental square script, the text is in three columns per page, 20 lines per column. The manuscript belonged to the Jewish community of Damascus (hence its name) until 1915, when it was acquired by the collector and bibliophile D.S ...
Torah with Haftarah Selections
This Hebrew Pentateuch with Haftarot (portions from the Prophets section of the Hebrew Bible, read in synagogue on Sabbaths and holidays following the Torah portion) added at the end was created in Sana'a, Yemen, in 1485. The manuscript includes full vocalization, accentuation, and Masorah annotation. The Haftarot include the Targum, or Aramaic translation, following each verse. Preceding the Torah text itself are two grammatical treatises (comprising 15 leaves in total) common in Yemen. The manuscript is written on paper in Yemenite square script, in two columns per page, with ...
Partial Hebrew Bible
This manuscript, possibly a remnant of a complete Hebrew Bible, includes books from the Nevi’im (Prophets) as well as the books of Chronicles and Psalms from the Ketuvim (Hagiographa or writings) section of the Bible. (The tripartite division of the Hebrew Bible includes the Torah, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa.) It includes full vocalization and accentuation, as well as some Masorah Parva notes. The latter are very brief notes on the side margins or between columns, which are part of the Masorah, the collection of critical notes, compiled in ...
Miroslav’s Gospel is a liturgical work that is considered the most important and the most beautiful of Serbian manuscript books. It was created around 1180 by two student monks for Duke Miroslav, the brother of Stefan Nemanja, grand prince of the medieval Serbian state of Rascia. Written on parchment in Cyrillic uncial (the Cyrillic script that developed from Greek in the 9th century), it is a monument to early Serbian literacy. The work is decorated with approximately 300 stylized miniatures of outstanding beauty, and is representative of a group ...
The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre: Whereunto is Prefixed a Discourse Declaring not Only the Lawfullness, but Also the Necessity of the Heavenly Ordinance of Singing Scripture Psalmes in the Churches of God
The Bay Psalm Book, as this work is commonly known, is the first book printed in British North America. The Reverend Jesse Glover imported the first printing press to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638, some 18 years after the first English settlers landed at Plymouth Rock. A London printer, Stephen Daye, came with the press and established a printing office in Cambridge. The following year, the residents of the colony asked John Eliot, Thomas Welde, and Richard Mather to undertake a new translation from the Hebrew of the Book ...
Jean Fouquet (141?-80?) was the greatest French painter of the 15th century. His genius is reflected in his illustrations of Jewish Antiquities, which Fouquet created for Jacques d’Armagnac, the Duke of Nemours. Fouquet traveled to Italy as a young man, where he learned to paint with great precision of detail and to use aerial perspective, but he continued to draw upon his native Touraine for many aspects of his art, especially forms and color. In these illustrations, his depiction of the siege of Jericho evokes a city on ...
The Codex Gigas (or Devil´s Bible) is a large 13th-century manuscript from Bohemia, one of the historical Czech lands. Renowned for its size and its striking full-page rendition of the devil (found on page 577), it contains a number of parts: the Old and New testaments, two works of Josephus Flavius, Isidore of Seville´s Etymologies, the standard textbook for teaching medicine in the Middle Ages known as Ars medicinae (The art of medicine), the 12th-century Chronica Boëmorum (Chronicle of the Bohemians) of Cosmas of Prague, and a calendar ...
Verin Noravank Gospels
This beautifully illuminated gospel book was copied in 1487 AD at the Monastery of Verin Noravank in Armenia. The exact location of the monastery is unknown, although, since the late 1980s, it has been associated with the ruins of the Monastery of Arates (Aratesivank) of Siwnik. Verin Noravank was in close contact with the better-known Noravank of Amaghu, with which it has often been confused. Fewer than 15 manuscripts are known to have been copied at Verin Noravank. As was customary with most Armenian manuscripts, the Verin Noravank gospel contains ...
Apocalypse of Saint John
This work, printed in Germany in 1470, includes part of the text of the Apocalypse of Saint John, the last book of the Christian Bible, also known as the Book of Revelation. The book is based on letters written to church members in Asia Minor that describe Saint John’s heavenly visions and revelations. It tells the story of the great heavenly warfare between good and evil, Christ’s return to earth, the punishment of the wicked, and the reward of righteousness. This edition of the Apocalypse is a superb ...
The Marvelous Address: The Revelation of the Beloved (Disciple)
This 18th-century manuscript is a copy of a commentary on the Book of Revelation (also known as the Apocalypse of Saint John), a work by the 18th century writer Yūsuf al-Bānī entitled The Marvelous Address: The Revelation of the Beloved (Disciple). The text is Garshuni (Arabic in Syriac script), and very clearly written, but the title is also written in Arabic script at the beginning of the book. There are also notes in Arabic script, for example, at the bottom of page 3 and in the margin of page 4 ...
Gospel Book from the Bamberg Cathedral (Reichenau Gospel)
The gospel from the cathedral of Bamberg is one of the most important masterpieces of book painting from the Benedictine abbey on the island of Reichenau in Lake Constance in southern Germany. In the 10th and 11th centuries, this abbey was the site of what was probably Europe’s largest and most influential school of book illumination. Book production reached its artistic peak between around 970 and 1010–1020, a period known as the Ottonian Renaissance (after Otto I, Otto II, and Otto III, German kings and Holy Roman Emperors ...
Johann Gutenberg was born in Mainz, Germany, around 1400, the son of an aristocratic family with ties to the local metalworking industry. He lived in Strasbourg (in present-day France) for a time, where he carried out experiments with moveable metallic type made from a mold. By the mid-1450s, he had perfected a system of printing with moveable type that he used to create what became the world’s most famous book, the Latin translation of the Bible (Vulgate), generally known as the Gutenberg Bible. Scholars have thoroughly researched all aspects ...
The Ottheinrich Bible is the earliest surviving illustrated manuscript of the New Testament in the German language. The work was commissioned around 1430 by Ludwig VII, the Bearded, Duke of Bavaria-Ingolstadt. The text was written, presumably in Ingolstadt, in a monumental script consistent with the highest calligraphic standards. The text was then sent to Regensburg for illumination. Only about one-fifth of the miniatures were completed, however, before work was stopped. Sometime before 1530, the Count Palatine Ottheinrich acquired the Bible and commissioned the artist Mathis Gerung to complete the sequence ...
Letter to Philocrates
Under the influence of Italian humanism and of his book-collector tutor János Vitéz, the Archbishop of Esztergom, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–1490), developed a passion for books and learning. Elected king of Hungary in 1458 at the age of 14, Matthias won great acclaim for his battles against the Ottoman Turks and his patronage of learning and science. He created the Bibliotheca Corviniana, in its day one of Europe’s finest libraries. After his death, and especially after the conquest of Buda by the Turks in 1541, the library ...
New Testament of Our Lord Jesus Christ
The noted educational reformer, grammarian, and priest Neofit Rilski (1793–1881) was the first to translate the New Testament into modern Bulgarian. Rilski’s translation was critical to religious education, as most Bulgarians could not understand the existing translations of the Bible into Church Slavic. Financed by the Protestant British and Foreign Bible Society and sanctioned by the head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Ilarion, Metropolitan of Tŭrnovo, the translation was a milestone in the Bulgarian National Revival and in the efforts of Bulgarians to achieve religious autonomy from the ...
Commentary on Song of Songs; Letter on the Soul; Letter on Ascesis and the Monastic Life
This 14th-century manuscript is a collection of translations into Arabic. At the beginning is the Commentary on the Song of Songs, originally in Greek, by Gregory of Nyssa (died 394), brother of Basil the Great and, with him and Gregory of Nazianzus, one of the three so-called Cappadocian Fathers. Next comes one of the many pieces of philosophy in Arabic attributed to Hermes the Sage, A Letter on the Soul. The manuscript concludes with a letter of Isaac of Nineveh (active, end of the seventh century) on asceticism and monasticism ...