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Early Medieval Bible Illumination and the Ashburnham Pentateuch


  • 36 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 272 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.629 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 745.6/7
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: ND3358.P5 V47 2004
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Ashburnham Pentateuch
    • Bible.--O.T.--Pentateuch--Illustrations
    • Illumination of books and manuscripts, Italian
    • Illumination of books and manuscripts, Medieval--Italy

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521829175 | ISBN-10: 0521829178)

This book focuses on the Ashburnham Pentateuch, an early medieval illuminated manuscript of the Old Testament whose pictures are among the earliest surviving and most extensive biblical illustrations. Dorothy Verkerk shows how the lively and complex illustrations of Genesis and Exodus, which incorporate references to contemporary life, were used to explain important church teachings. She provides a key to understanding the relationship between the text and pictures. Verkerk also argues that the manuscript was created in Italy, thereby solving a mystery that has baffled scholars for the last century and demonstrating that early medieval Italian artists were capable of complex innovations in the field of the visual arts.

• Lively and accessible text • Methodologically innovative • Settles the question of origin


1. A painted primer; 2. Script, text, illuminations, provenance; 3. Principal narratives; 4. The right order of life; 5. The Italian origin considered; 6. An Italian manuscript; 7. A Roman clergy.


'This is a valuable study for the emergence of a dominant medieval Christian approach to biblical interpretation.' Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

'… narrated in great detail …' Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte

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