The Medieval Haggadah Art, Narrative, and Religious Imagination Marc Michael Epstein
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- Publication date:
- 08 Apr 2011
- 336 pages: 279 x 216 x 28mm
- 2 black-&-white illustrations + 88 colour images
In this beautifully illustrated book, historian Marc Michael Epstein explores four magnificent and enigmatic illuminated haggadot manuscripts created for use at home services on Passover. They include the earliest known surviving illuminated haggadah: the Birds' Head Haggadah, made in Mainz around 1300, in which many of the faces on the human figures depicted throughout are replaced with those of birds. Also presented is the Golden Haggadah from Barcelona, c. 1320-30, along with two Spanish 'siblings', the Rylands Haggadah and its purported Brother, made between 1330 and 1340, which share similar iconography and style. Though the importance of these manuscripts is universally acknowledged, Epstein examines them with fresh and creative eyes, offering insightful solutions to long-unresolved questions concerning the meaning of the art contained within them. In addition, he uses these treasured volumes as a springboard to address broader issues in the study of Jewish thought and culture.
Marc Michael Epstein is professor of religion at Vassar College.
"Marc Michael Epstein's The Medieval Haggadah shows with remarkable sophistication and an acute visual sense how those who commissioned, produced the blueprint for, and illuminated four medieval haggadot or books for use at the Passover ceremony, did much more than illustrate the story of the Exodus, creating, rather, complex statements about the role and place of Jews in the society of the time, as well as producing remarkable works of art."—Gabriel Josipovici, Times Literary Supplement
"A sumptuously produced, scholarly book."—Simon Rocker, Jewish Chronicle
"An impressive amount of background knowledge and interpretation free of ideological prejudice that sheds light on old problems. [It makes] an outstanding contribution to the study of Hebrew manuscripts and Jewish-Christian relationships in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries." Karl-Georg Pfandtner, Burlington Magazine