Art, Narrative & Religious Imagination
by Marc Michael Epstein
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.