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Jews among Christians Jews among Christians Jews among Christians Hebrew Book Illumination from Lake Constance Hebrew fromi Lake Constance HebrewBook BookIllumination Illumination Constance sarit sha l e vfrom - e y nLake lev-eyni s sarit a r i t ssha h alev-eyni

harvey mille r p u b l i s h e r s harvey mille r p u b l i s h e r s

h a r v e y m i l l er publishers

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s a r i t s h a l e v-e y n i

Jews among Christians: Hebrew Book Illumination from Lake Constance

h a rv e y m i l l e r p u b l i s h e r s

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Harvey Mi ller Publi sh er s An Imprint of Brepols Publishers London . Turnhout

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978-1-905375-09-7 D/2010/0095/45

Š 2010, Brepols Publishers n.v., Turnhout, Belgium

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior permission of ­ Harvey Miller Publishers.

Printing and binding by Grafikon, Oostkamp, Belgium

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Contents A ckn o wled gemen ts   ix Transliteration s & Abbrevi ati o n s  x Introd u c ti o n  xi


Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts of the Lake Constance Region The Biblical Codex  2  · Ashkenazi and Latin Bibles  7 The Pentateuch  9  ·  The Ma•zor and Books for the Divine Office  10 Formation and Variation of the Ma•zor and the Pentateuch  13 The Ma•zor, the Siddur and the Sefer Mi•vot Qatan  14


Structure, Liturgy, Interpretation: The Decoration Programmes Structure  19  · Liturgy  21  · Actual and Symbolic Liturgical Calendars  27  · Illustration as Interpretation  29


A Jewish-Christian Visual Dialogue

1.  Pesa• / Easter, Shavuot / Pentecost: A Dual Realm The Exodus from Egypt and the Entry into Jerusalem  34 The Crossing of the Red Sea: Jewish Components and the Question of an Additional Pictorial Tradition  40  ·  The Revelation at Sinai and the Pentecost: Polemics and Apologetics  43  · Aaron as a Christian Bishop: Between Midrash and Typology  48

2.  Solomon, the Song of Songs and the Song of the Hybrids The Divine Throne: A Focus for Theological Debate  53 The Song of Songs and the Song of the Hybrids: Aspects of Parody  59


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7.  Full page initial word panel to Genesis, Schocken Bible. Lake Constance region, c. 1312. Formerly, Jerusalem, Schocken Institute Library, Ms 14840, f. 1v

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II Structure, Liturgy, Interpretation: the Decoration Programmes

S t ru c t u r e


he dec oration pro gramme of a manuscript is dependent, first and foremost, on the structure of the text to which it relates. The visual elements emphasize the structure of the book and enable users to find their way more easily through the text. In the Latin world, the initial held a central position in this programme: the first letter of a section of the text was written in a larger script, and highlighted by the addition of colour, ornamentation, and in some cases, historiated illustrations. The size and elaboration of the initial were generally determined according to a hierarchical system based on the divisions, units and sub-units of the text. In Latin Bibles the most impressive initials, usually framed by coloured panels, were those reserved for the opening letter of each book.

Sin ce Hebrew has no capital letters, all the letters of each word were originally of equal size. In the decoration programme of the early illuminated Hebrew biblical codex, as it developed in the region of Egypt and the land of Israel, the structure of the Bible was emphasized by special ornamental markings that were not part of the main text. These were usually placed in the margin, between the written columns or sections, adjacent to the textual unit being introduced. Such marks indicated the beginning of each book of the Bible and, in the case of the Pentateuch, of the fifty-four portions, the parashot, into which the ritual reading of the Torah was divided.1 In the Muslim cultural environment where the Bible codex was first compiled, similar decorative markings were used in the Qu’ran codex that was developing at the same time and that influenced the layout of the Hebrew Bible.2 In the Iberian Peninsula where Islam formed part of the local culture, locally made Hebrew Bibles continued to use ornamental markings to signal the books of the Bible and the parashot.3 In France and Ger19

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Chap ter Ii

many, however, exclusively Latin cultural environments, Jewish scribes tended not to include these signs, especially those indicating the different books of the Bible. Basing themselves on a Hebrew system that had developed gradually from the end of the eleventh century in non-­biblical codices,4 twelfth-century Ashkenazi scribes replaced the book signs with initial words. Later, influenced by the Latin illuminated initial panel, they bestowed special treatment on the entire first word of each book, writing it in a display script and surrounding it with decorative motifs enclosed in a panel (see fig. 3). This method, found in early German illuminated ­Hebrew Bibles dating back to the fourth decade of the thirteenth century, became typical of all Ashkenazi schools of illumination, including the Lake Constance group.5 Some of the initial word panels in the Lake Constance manuscripts were enlarged to occupy an entire page. Such full-page initial words introduce each of the five books in the Sussex 8.  Full page initial word panel to Leviticus, Duke of Sussex Pentateuch. Lake Constance region, c. 1312–1322. London, BL, Ms Add. 15282, f. 137


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Chapts ter Hebrew Illuminated Manus crip ofI the Lake C onstan ce Region


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Chap ter Ii

teuch (fig.51). Other panels were designed as continuous narratives. In the Tripartite Ma•zor, for example, the stories of the Exodus from Egypt and the Giving of Law illustrate the piyyutim for the Festivals of Pesa• and Shavuot which commemorate these events. This manner of illustration is also typical of Christian liturgical books, in which the feasts of the Temporale include images celebrating the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ. In both Christian and Jewish liturgical manuscripts, the biblical scenes not only illustrate the occasion but also the content of the liturgical poem or chant, assigned to it. The Israelites wandering in the desert led by the pillar of fire are depicted in the initial word panel to the yo•er piyyut for the eighth day of Pesa•: ‘You provided light’ (‫( )אתה הארת‬fig. 14).45 The pillar of fire on the left is suggested in the opening words of the yo•er: ‘You provided light day and night before the camp’,46 based on the description: ‘And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, to go by day and night’ (Exodus 13:21–2).47 The following scene, the Crossing of the Red Sea, illustrates the preceding yo•er for the seventh day of Pesa•, ‘And He freed the flowering lily’ (‫ויושע שושני‬ ‫)פרח‬48 (fig. 19). The upper part of the panel shows the Israelites crossing the sea; the lower part depicts the pursuing Egyptians, who are overwhelmed by the waters and drown. The redemption of Israel and the destruction of the Egyptians are described in the verses of the piyyut: ‘And He freed the flowering lily [= a symbol of Israel] . . . / He protected them as the apple of His eye, as they [the Egyptians] chased after them / When Israel went forth from Egypt . . . the waters stood like a wall gathered together / The sea saw them and fled / The chariots of the betrayer were swallowed in the Red Sea. . . . ’49 The Song of the Sea, evoked by the musical instruments in the hands of the women in the upper part of the panel is also alluded to in the piyyut: ‘Then the humble man [Moses] and his people [the Israelites] sang to consecrate Him.’50 In the same way, the episode of the Giving of the Law, presented in many ma•zorim51 in the opening panel of the yo•er piyyut ‘The Lord nurtured me’ (‫ )אדון אימנני‬for the first day of Shavuot, is suggested in its text (fig. 23).52 The text of the piyyut, based on a Jewish legend, is spoken by the Torah as it is being delivered to Moses, after two thousand years of safe-keeping with God since its creation: ‘The Lord nurtured me / He made me to dwell with Him / To man I was given / [It was] God who gave me.’53 Along with this method of adapting the illustrations to the liturgical event and to the accompanying text, the Ashkenazi scribes developed another method whereby the illustration interpreted the initial word to which it was attached, often in a rather literal way. This method was first adopted in ma•zorim but, later, was also used in other texts, such as the SeMaQ of the Lake Constance group. Here, in the initial word panel for the seventh day, a figure holding a Qiddush cup54 appears in the window of the central tower, giving a visual image to the opening words ‘to make the blessing on the wine’ (‫( )לעשות קידוש‬fig. 65). While this illustration was most likely invented ad hoc by the artist of the Siddur / SeMaQ , other initial word illuminations were developed to form iconographic traditions going back to the mid thirteenth-century. One example is the illustration for the piyyut ‘A rose of the valley was threatened’ (‫שושן עמק‬ ‫ )אוימה‬for Yom Kippur. The piyyut, inspired by the Song of Songs (2:1), begins by comparing the people of Israel to a rose. The illustrations to this piyyut usually depict large open flowers, directly referring to the literal meaning of the opening word, ‘rose’ (shoshan).55 The illumina30

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Hebrew Illuminated Manus crip ts of the Lake C onstan ce Region

tor of the Tripartite Ma•zor used the same iconography, but replaced the large flowers with a bush bearing small blossoms (fig. 13).56 The literal illustration of the initial word was sometimes expanded to include a symbolic meaning. Such is the hunting scene for the piyyut ‘A loving hind, gift of Sinai’ (‫אילת אהבים מתנת‬ ‫ )סיני‬for the second day of Shavuot (figs. 43, 44),57 whose opening verses compare the Torah to a hind. In this case the artist used the same literal method, giving a visual image to the initial word, ‘ayelet’ (lit. hind). Yet in contrast to the piyyut describing the Torah as it is being given to the people of Israel on Mount Sinai, the hind in the illustration is fleeing from a pursuing hunter and his dogs. Through this hunting association the opening word takes on a new and symbolic meaning, based on exegetical ideas which are not mentioned in the text of the piyyut: the pursued hind comes to represent the people of Israel and their persecution in the Diaspora.58 In this case, the illustration relates literally to the initial word of the piyyut, but its new meaning stands as an independent interpretation, bearing its own content and message. Many a spects of the decoration programme of the manuscripts discussed, such as the systematic organization of its formulation and the various levels on which it functions, have their parallels in Latin manuscripts, indicating a shared world of logical, functional and aesthetic values in the medieval West. The decoration programme of a book was viewed first and foremost as a system of coloured marks highlighting the structure of the texts and its sections. In liturgical manuscripts, this system of symbols clarified not only the structure of the text but also the structure of the liturgical year. Combining both functionalism and aesthetics, the design both facilitated the use of the codex and, at the same time, increased its value as a prized possession. Illustrative panels provided a visual expression of the relevant texts or events they commemorated, acting as an additional means of identifying the liturgical context. Apart from providing an interpretation of the text they accompany, literal illustrations of initial words59 – a typical method employed by Ashkenazi scribes – were sometimes expanded to give independent interpretations, inspired by other texts and visual sources. Over time, some of these illustrations became Ashkenazi iconographic traditions that may have originated in the middle of the thirteenth century and were later taken up by the artists of the Lake Constance group. Other illustrations were produced ad hoc by the artists of the school; it was not rare for such illustrative elements to be inserted within the decorative patterns of animals and hybrids that filled the panel, thereby offering the reader a sophisticated game of hide-andseek between illustration and decoration. It is on the different aspects of the illustrations and their implications that the following chapter will focus.


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Jews Among Christians: Hebrew Book Illumination From Lake Constance  

Jews among Christians explores a corpus of illuminated Hebrew manuscripts of the Lake Constance region produced in the first decades of th...