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Imaging the Early Medieval Bible (Penn State Series in the History of the Book)
Traditionally, historians of biblical illustration have maintained that the subjects and format of Bible illustration were largely determined by archetypes of the earliest years of Christian artistic culture. In this book, John Williams and four other prominent mediaeval scholars challenge this conventional wisdom and find the illustration and decoration...
Traditionally, historians of biblical illustration have maintained that the subjects and format of Bible illustration were largely determined by archetypes of the earliest years of Christian artistic culture. In this book, John Williams and four other prominent mediaeval scholars challenge this conventional wisdom and find the illustration and decoration of the Bible to be an enterprise essentially guided in its genesis by the dynamics of a new culture. First, John Lowden asserts that biblical manuscript illumination is more likely to have derived from, than to have inspired, biblical monumental painting. Katrin Kogman-Appel provides a thorough survey of the debate over how Jewish motifs entered Christian art. In her discussion of Roman manuscript art, Dorothy Verkerk proposes that the celebrated Ashburnham Pentateuch, rather than the hypothetical Leo Bible proffered by Koehler, should be taken as a witness to the capital's approach to Bible illustration and the kind of model sent to the monastic sciptoria north of the Alps. Lawrence Nees presents the northern Bibles, Insular and Carolingian, as individual commissions for specific donors made at certain specific moments in time. Finally, John Williams studies the Bible of 960 in Leon, an ideal vehicle to examine the premises underlying reigning theories of the evolution of Bible illustration. Although its format and extensive imagery have been taken as a sign that it reflected early stages of Bible illustration, it stands revealed as owing little to pictorial traditions. Taken together, these essays present the argument that illustrated and decorated Bibles were shaped by ad hoc decisions that resulted in a creative variety of approaches.
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