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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 ...
Psalter of Frederick II
This remarkable illuminated psalter decorated in the Byzantine style was commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Sicily (1194–1250) for his third wife, Isabella of England (1214–41). Frederick married Isabella in 1235. By design and execution, the manuscript illuminations combine the color palette of Byzantium with the stylistic rendering of the plasticity of the human body common to the Italian school of the period. Probably executed at the scriptorium in Acri, a hill town in Calabria, the manuscript is decorated with a full-page initial letter encompassing ...
Trevelyon Miscellany, 1608
Thomas Trevilian, or Trevelyon, a London craftsman of whom little is known, created his miscellany in 1608 when he was about the age of 60. The bulky manuscript of 290 double-sided folios contains texts and images appropriated from books, woodcuts, and engravings of his day. Part one of the manuscript (leaves 3–36) consists of historical and practical information: a time line; an illustrated calendar; moralizing proverbs; a series of computational tables and astronomical diagrams; lists of families linked to William the Conqueror; distances between London and cities around the ...
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 ...
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 ...
Arabia: Comprising Its Geography, History, and Topography
Josiah Conder (1789–1855) was a British publisher and author who wrote or compiled 33 volumes of travel literature about nearly every region of the world, including the Middle East. Conder himself never traveled abroad and composed his works by drawing upon the writings of earlier scholars and explorers. As indicated in the subtitle, Conder organized his book on Arabia into sections. He begins by describing the topography of the different regions of Arabia and such climatic phenomena as the semoum (poison) winds that blow across the Syrian Desert in ...
’Ventures among the Arabs in Desert, Tent, and Town: Thirteen Years of Pioneer Missionary Life with the Ishmaelites of Moab, Edom, and Arabia
Archibald Forder was an American missionary, born in 1863, who worked for 13 years in the Middle East, primarily in Al-Karak in Palestine, at that time part of the Ottoman Empire. ’Ventures among the Arabs is Forder’s account of his work and travels in the region. Chapter 12 contains a summary overview of Arabia, with brief treatments of the geography, principal cities, government structures, economy, population and language, religion, animals, and modes of transportation. Several chapters recount Forder’s largely unsuccessful attempts to enter Arabia for missionary work. Their ...
Palestine, Tribes, and Jerusalem
Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville (1697-1782) was one of the most important French geographers of the 18th century. He worked during the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI. D’Anville’s approach to geography was geometric; he believed that man’s presence was worthy of acknowledgement only insofar as it helped the cartographer to establish the boundaries of a place. He focused on fidelity to what was documented about the territory in question using knowledge gleaned from travel journals, historical accounts, old maps, poems, and more. D’Anville was ...
This Flemish Psalter from the library of the Irish College in Paris was made in Bruges (present-day Belgium) around 1500. The manuscript is written in Latin on vellum, and it has a 19th-century binding. Psalters are religious books, especially popular in the Middle Ages, containing the psalms (poems that are sung) from the Bible, often with other devotional texts. Richly decorated, the Psalter includes a fully illuminated page depicting the Tree of Jesse and a miniature of King David, the main author of the psalms. Twelve illuminations, each composed of ...
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 ...
The Nuremberg Chronicle
The Liber chronicarum, a universal history compiled from older and contemporary sources by the Nuremberg doctor, humanist, and bibliophile Hartmann Schedel (1440–1514), is one of the most densely illustrated and technically advanced works of early printing. It contains 1809 woodcuts produced from 645 blocks. The Nuremberg entrepreneur Sebald Schreyer and his brother-in-law, Sebastian Kammermeister, financed the production of the book. Michael Wolgemut and his son-in-law Wilhelm Pleydenwurff executed the illustrations in around 1490, a time when their workshop was at its artistic peak and the young Albrecht Dürer was ...
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 ...
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 ...
The Song of Solomon
This work is a modern artist’s edition of the biblical Song of Songs, traditionally attributed to King Solomon. The Song of Songs has been interpreted in different ways, ranging from literal interpretations that focus on human love between a man and a woman to those that see it as a divine allegory of God’s love for the Jewish people. This edition, by Israeli artist Tamar Messer, emphasizes the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. The text is in Hebrew and English. The original silk ...
A Book of Religious Precepts and Stories
Risālah-yi ‘Azīzah (A book of religious precepts and stories) discusses the establishment and spread of Islam. The literal meaning of the title is “Tales of the Almighty.” The book covers the sources of the ideas contained in hadith (the collective body of traditions relating to the Prophet Muhammad) and compares them with the text of the Qur’an. It also explores the commandments in the sacred books of other religions and relates them to the Qur’an. The works considered include the Injil (the New Testament of the Bible, or ...
The Haftarah of Jonah
This work is an artist’s edition of the Book of Jonah, one of the twelve later or minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible. In the Jewish tradition, a haftarah is a reading from the prophets, which takes place on the Sabbath, festivals, and holy days. With its emphasis on the theme of repentance, the Book of Jonah has become a traditional part of the synagogue service on the holiest day in the Hebrew calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This haftarah was created with original etchings and a ...
Bible (Old Testament) of the Ratisbon Dominican Order
This manuscript forms the first volume of a Latin Bible formerly in the possession of the Dominican Order at Ratisbon (now Regensburg). It comprises several books of the Old Testament as well as interpretations of biblical terms. The manuscript contains unusual miniatures by the noted German Renaissance painter Berthold Furtmeyr (active 1460–1501). Furtmeyr and his followers were important contributors to the ancient Ratisbon School of Illumination. An artist of great renown, Furtmeyr illuminated many impressive works, including this manuscript, the Furtmeyr Bible, the Salzburg feast missal in five volumes ...
German Old Testament
This two-volume manuscript of a Southern German translation of the Old Testament was written by the professional scribe Georg Rorer from Ratisbon (Regensburg) around 1463, perhaps for the monastery of Rottenbuch in Bavaria. The first volume contains all the books of the Old Testament from the Book of Genesis (with the first part of the Book of Genesis up to 24:19 missing) to the Second Book of Kings, as well as the psalter. The first chapters of the Gospel of Matthew (1:1–5:44) were accidentally bound into ...
Effigies of the Twelve Prophets, According to Raffaello Schiaminossi
This small volume from the Bavarian State Library contains depictions of 12 prophets of the Old Testament: Jeremiah, Moses, Zechariah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Isaiah, David, Amos, Jonah, Micah, Daniel, and Joel. Monumental, with commanding demeanor fitting their functions as seers and admonitors, the prophets appear in wide cloaks flowing amply around them in the drawings, which are crafted in ink with great verve. With spiritual expressions on their faces, they seem to stare at the spectator. Each leaf is signed RAF by the artist Raffaello Schiaminossi (1572–1622), a master of ...