Curator of the Austrian / German Collection and Cataloger for Rare Books at HMML will present a lecture on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at Saint John's University. His talk is entitled, "Cutting Your Prophets in Half: The Passion of Jesus and its Violent Parallels in Late Medieval Manuscript Illustration"
4:00 pm–4:30 pm: Reception, Lower Alcuin Library
4:30 pm–5:30 pm: Lecture, Alcuin Library, AV2
Typological reading has long been a part of the Christian reception of Jewish scriptures. One only need recall such stories as Abraham and Isaac as a parallel version of a father (God) sacrificing a son (Jesus), or Jonah being captive in the whale for three days before re-emerging as Jesus emerges after three days in the depths of death. In the later Middle Ages, this type of reading was taken to new extremes in a variety of book cycles that were copied across Europe. From the Bible Moralisee (Moralized Bible) to the Biblia Pauperum (Poor person’s Bible), from the Concordantia caritatis (Concordance of Love, by Ulrich of Lilienfeld) to the Speculum Humanae Salvationis (Mirror of Human Salvation), picture cycles showing the parallels with and the fulfillment of scenes from the Old Testament provided a rich visual interpretation showing the interrelatedness of the story (and stories) of Salvation.
Drawing on images from both the HMML collections and from elsewhere, I will focus on those moments when the level of violence at the Crucifixion and death of Jesus is heightened through the comparison with violent stories gathered from the Old Testament and the Pseudepigrapha. Among the more potent images are those of the martyrdom of Isaiah, Absalom in the tree or the apocryphal King Evil-Merodach (Amel-Marduk) killing and dismembering his father. I will primarily show 14th- and 15th-century examples from both manuscript and early printed versions from the Speculum Humanae Salvationis, a work that reached the climax of its popularity on the eve of the Protestant Reformation, only to disappear largely from popular discourse very suddenly.
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