Manuscript

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The First Day; The Second Day; The Third Day; The Fourth Day

Old Testament miniatures with Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian inscriptions

France, Paris
1240s
390 x 300 mm

Purchased by J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1916

MS M.638 (fol. 1r)
Item description: 

The Crusader Bible, also known as the Morgan Picture Bible, the Maciejowski Bible, and the Shah ‘Abbas Bible, is not only one of greatest medieval manuscripts in the Morgan, it also ranks as one of the incomparable achievements of French Gothic illumination.

The miniatures represent one of the greatest visualizations of Old Testament events ever made. Some of the stories and their heroes are well known, but there are also accounts of other Israelites who fought for the Promised Land—stories that resonate to this day. There are incredibly violent battle scenes where the implements of war are so accurately depicted they could be replicated. And there are scenes not only of murder, everyday life, and love, but also of hate, envy, adultery, and rape—all set in the scenery and customs of thirteenth-century France.

Page description: 

The First Day
It is the first day. Light is divided from the darkness. As a chorus of angels praises the Lord, Lucifer and the rebel angels are cast from Heaven. Immediately, the traitors assume the forms of hideous beasts. (Genesis 1:1–5)

The Second Day
On the second day, the Lord separates the sky from the water. Angels look down from heaven, praising the work. (Genesis 1:6–8)

The Third Day
On the third day, the Lord makes dry land appear. At His command, trees and vines spring forth. To the right, a corn crop grows. (Genesis 1:9–13)

The Fourth Day
On the fourth day, the Lord sets the stars, sun, and moon in the heavens to govern day and night, the seasons, and the years. (Genesis 1:14–19)

Translation: 

Folio 1r (Latin)

Upper left: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth and the light and the angels. One part of these was devoted to its creator and stays happy with its attachment to him. But the other was haughtily averse and sunk into eternal miseries. (Genesis 1: 1-5; Isaiah 14: 12-19; Luke 10:18; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Revelation 12: 7-9)

Upper right: On the second day God made a firmament between the upper and lower waters, dividing them from one another. (Genesis 1: 6-8)

Lower left: On the third day God gathered onto one place the waters, which were under the heaven and separated them from the dry land, giving names to the dry land and the seas as well as to green plants and fruit-bearing trees. (Genesis 1: 9-13)

Lower right: On the fourth day God made the lights in the firmament of the heaven: the sun and the moon and the stars, by which the day, the night and the seasons are divided. (Genesis 1: 14-19)

Folio 1r (Persian)

Upper left margin: This is the theme of the angels who submitted to God except for the Devil who did not prostrate himself and was cursed.

Upper right: This is the image of the second heaven separating [from] the sphere of water.

Lower left: This is the third image where, according to God’s command waters have gathered to one side so that the sphere of the earth is revealed; vegetation appears and the habitable quarter is prepared.

Lower right: And on the fourth day heaven was created and the sun, moon, and stars appeared.

Folio 1r (Judeo-Persian)

Upper left margin: The tale of Satan, who did not bow down before Adam.

Upper right margin: The tale of the second day; calling forth the waters.

Lower left margin: The tale of the third day. The third day: The waters were gathered so that the sphere of the earth became visible; plants appeared.

Lower right margin, between Persian and Latin: The fourth day. The heavens, the sun, and the moon appeared.

Credits: 

Content consultant: Richard Leson

Persian translated by Sussan Babaie

Judeo-Persian translated by Vera Basch Moreen

Latin translation by Eran Lupu

After the commentary volume accompanying the Fine Art Facsimile edition by Faksimile Verlag Luzern / www.faksimile.ch