Biblia pauperum (Paupers’ Bible)


Pointing out the links between the Old and New Testaments constituted a staple of Christian commentary on the Bible. Despite its name (a misnomer), the Paupers’ Bible circulated primarily in Benedictine and Augustinian monasteries in Austria and Bavaria. Configurations varied, but in this unfinished copy, each page features four Old Testament prophets surrounding a New Testament subject, with a pair of Old Testament scenes below. At left, for example, the Crowning with Thorns is paired with the Shaming of Noah and the Mocking of Elijah. At right, Christ Carrying the Cross is related to Abraham and Isaac as well as Elijah’s Encounter with the Widow of Zarephath. Added much later, the inscriptions represent an attempt to finish the manuscript.

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Biblia pauperum (Paupers’ Bible), in German
Germany, Regensburg, ca. 1435
The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.230, fols. 14v–15r
Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan, 1906