Jewish Book Art Between Islam and Christianity

The Decoration of Hebrew Bibles in Medieval Spain


This book discusses the decoration types of Sephardic illuminated Bibles. Unlike illuminated Passover manuscripts from the same period with their rich figurative and narrative picture cycles, Bibles are almost exclusively aniconic. Whereas the former borrow heavily from Christian art, the Bibles are entirely indebted to Islamic culture. The volume elaborates in particular on the cultural history of the decorative motifs and types of ornamentation in an era of cultural transition in Iberia and culture struggle within Spanish Jewry. The first two chapters describe the cultural, social and artistic background in which the Bibles were produced, whereas the other chapters describe the works of the different schools and discuss them within different cultural, historical and social contexts.
The text is accompanied by 10 color plates and 141 black-and-white figures.

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Katrin Kogman-Appel, Ph.D. (1994) in Art History, Hebrew University, Jerusalem teaches Medieval Jewish and Christian Art at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev at Beer Sheva. She has published on various aspects of Hebrew illuminated mansucripts in Spain and Central Europe.
Preface .. ix
List of Illustrations .. xiii
List of Maps and Diagrams .. xxv
Introduction .. 1

Chapter One Acculturation, Assimilation, and Convivencia:
The Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages .. 10
Islam and Christianity .. 10
The Population of Al-Andalus .. 15
Minorities in the Christian Lands .. 16
The Mudéjar Communities .. 17
The Jewish Communities .. 19
Cultural Exchange .. 20

Chapter Two The Artistic Environment of Illuminated Sephardic Bibles .. 34
Manuscripts of the Qur"an .. 34
Hebrew Manuscripts from the Middle East .. 38
Christian Art in Spain .. 50
The Art of the Mudéjares .. 54

Chapter Three The Castilian Workshops of the Thirteenth Century .. 57
The Earliest Illuminated Bible .. 57
From the Marseilles Bible to the Damascus Keter .. 61
The Parma Bible .. 68
Joseph ben Judah ibn Merwas .. 88
Echoes of Christian Art .. 92

Chapter Four Joshua ibn Gaon and Joseph Hatsarfati .. 98

Chapter Five The Catalan Workshops of the Fourteenth Century .. 131
The Perpignan Bible and its Relatives .. 131
Bibles from Barcelona and its Environs .. 141
The Foa and Farhi Bibles and the Renewal of Islamic Motifs .. 150
The King’s Bible .. 154
The Saragossa Bible .. 155
A Closer Look at the Temple Depictions .. 156
Decoration of the Masorah Magna .. 168

Chapter Six Cultural Transition and the Art of the Hebrew Book .. 171
Islamic Culture, Aniconism, and the Sephardic Bibles .. 173
Christian Art, Pictorial Narrative, and the Sephardic Haggadot .. 181
The Cultural Climate within Late Medieval Sephardic Jewry .. 185
Joshua ibn Gaon and Joseph Hatsarfati .. 199
Maimonides’ Texts Decorated .. 200

Chapter Seven Castilian Schools of the Fifteenth Century .. 203
Micrographic Decoration in New Castile .. 204
The First Kennicott Bible .. 212
French and Italian Influences .. 215

Conclusion .. 220
Bibliography .. 225
General Index .. 235
Index of Manuscripts .. 242

Jewish Book Art Between Islam and Christianity addresses all those who are interested in the cultural history of Spanish Jewry, medieval illuminated manuscripts, the history of the book, and Jewish art.
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