JTS Library Loans Medieval Hebrew Bible to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Press Contact: Eve Glasberg
Office: (212) 678-8089
Email: evglasberg@jtsa.edu

April 6, 2011, New York, NY

A monumental 14th-century German Bible from the collection of The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) will go on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on April 14, 2011. Known as the Micrographic Bible, it will alternate with other significant loans in the museum’s medieval gallery until April 2014.

The Bible, circa 1300, is a splendid example of the Jewish art of micrography, in which scribes employed minute Hebrew script to create elaborate ornamentation. The technique was first practiced in Egypt and Israel in the 10th century CE and later appeared in manuscripts produced in Europe and Yemen. In the earliest period of micrographic art, Bibles were the texts most favored for embellishment. In Germany and France, the masorah (the system of marginal notations that ensures the correct transmission of the writing and the reading of the Hebrew Bible) was frequently transformed into fantastic animals, flowers, and intricate geometric designs. In the Micrographic Bible, the initial word of the book of Job is framed by a micrographic border in which the masorah forms a hunting scene with a stag followed by two hounds. Other books in the Micrographic Bible open with ornamental panels featuring ornate floral and geometric designs. The text comprises the books of the Prophets and Writings, handwritten on 349 folios of parchment in a square Ashkenazic script.

The Library’s Bible shows how a culture that has long emphasized the significance of the Hebrew word fostered a distinctive transformation of script into a unique decorative art. To this day, the art of Hebrew micrography is still practiced and the metamorphosis of text into image remains an unbroken Jewish artistic tradition across the centuries.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located at 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street) in New York City, and is open Tuesday to Thursday, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., on Friday and Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and on Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.metmuseum.org. For more information on The Library, please contact Hector Guzman at (212) 678-8075 or heguzman@jtsa.edu.

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