The love of books in the Jewish tradition extends back over many centuries, and the ways of interpreting those books are as myriad as the traditions themselves. Skies of Parchment, Seas of Ink offers the first full survey of Jewish illuminated manuscripts, ranging from their origins in the Middle Ages to the present day. Featuring some of the most beautiful examples of Jewish art of all time--including hand-illustrated versions of the Bible, the Haggadah, the prayer book, marriage documents, and other beloved Jewish texts--the book introduces readers to the history of these manuscripts and their interpretation. Edited by Marc Michael Epstein with contributions from leading experts, this sumptuous volume features a lively and informative text, showing how Jewish aesthetic tastes and iconography overlapped with and diverged from those of Christianity, Islam, and other traditions. Featured manuscripts were commissioned by Jews and produced by Jews and non-Jews over many centuries, and represent Eastern and Western perspectives and the views of both pietistic and liberal communities across the Diaspora, including Europe, Israel, the Middle East, and Africa.
Magnificently illustrated with pages from hundreds of manuscripts, many previously unpublished or rarely seen, Skies of Parchment, Seas of Ink offers surprising new perspectives on Jewish life, presenting the books of the People of the Book as never before.
Marc Michael Epstein is the Mattie M. Paschall (1899) and Norman Davis Chair of Religion and Visual Culture at Vassar College. His most recent book, The Medieval Haggadah: Art, Narrative, and Religious Imagination, was named one of the best books of 2011 by the Times Literary Supplement. Eva Frojmovic is lecturer in the history of art at the University of Leeds. Jenna Siman Jacobs is curatorial manager at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Hartley Lachter is the Berman Chair in Jewish Studies at Lehigh University. Shalom Sabar is professor of folklore and the arts at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Raymond P. Scheindlin is professor of medieval Hebrew literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Agnes Vet? teaches religion at Vassar College. Susan Vick is curator of Judaica at Goldsmith Museum of Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore and associate professor of art history at the University of Maryland. Barbara Wolff is a New York-based illuminator of manuscripts using medieval methods. Diane Wolfthal is the David and Caroline Minter Chair in the Humanities at Rice University.
Acknowledgments vii 1Introduction: For the Love of Books 1 Marc Michael Epstein 2People of the Book/Books of the People: Illuminating the Canon 19 Hartley Lachter with Marc Michael Epstein 3Parchments and Palimpsests: Scribe, Illuminator, Patron, Audience 29 Marc Michael Epstein Focus: The Illuminated Page: Materials, Methods, and Techniques Barbara Wolff 40 4Mapping the Territory: ?Arb?ah Kanfot Ha?are?--The Four Corners of the Medieval Jewish World 47 Ere? Yisrael/The Land of Israel: Homeland and Center Marc Michael Epstein 47 Italia/Italy: The First Western Diaspora Marc Michael Epstein 55 Ashkenaz: Franco-Germany, England, Central and East Europe Eva Frojmovic with Marc Michael Epstein 63 Sepharad and ?Arav: Spain and the Middle East Raymond P. Scheindlin with Marc Michael Epstein 72 The Problem of "National Style" Eva Frojmovic with Marc Michael Epstein 77 5No Graven Image: Permitted Depictions, Forbidden Depictions, and Creative Solutions 89 Eva Frojmovic and Marc Michael Epstein Focus: Exploring the Mystery of the Birds' Head Haggadah Marc Michael Epstein 97 6Iconography: Telling the Story 105 Marc Michael Epstein Geographical Distinctions 105 Approaches to the Biblical Narrative 122 7Dialogue and Disputation: Cultural Negotiation 145 Marc Michael Epstein Under Edom 145 Under Ishmael 153 8This World: Centered on the Home--Women, Marriage, and the Family 159 Shalom Sabar Focus: "Glimpses of Jewish Life": Reality or Illusion? Marc Michael Epstein 175 Focus: "Incidental Details": Margins and Meaning Marc Michael Epstein 182 Focus: "Sacred and Profane": Naked Ladies in the Haggadah? Agnes Vet? 188 9Other Worlds: Fantastic Horizons and Unseen Universes 193 Hartley Lachter with Marc Michael Epstein 10Zion and Jerusalem: "The Sum of All Beauty, the Joy of All the Earth" 205 Shalom Sabar 11In the Royal Court: Jewish Illumination in an Age of Printing 215 Marc Michael Epstein Focus: A Yiddish Minhagim Manuscript 225 Diane Wolfthal 12Illuminating the Present: Contemporary Jewish Illumination 229 Susan Vick with Marc Michael Epstein 13Continuing the Journey: Annotated Bibliography and Manuscript Descriptions 255 Jenna Siman Jacobs with Marc Michael Epstein Manuscripts and Facsimiles 255 Surveys 261 Collection Surveys and Exhibition Catalogues 263 Studies 265 Contributor Biographies 267 Index 269 Photo Credits 276