About the Book

The Crusader Bible does not illustrate the entire Bible, but only portions of Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and Samuel. The picture book’s forty-six folios depict some 346 episodes, and about forty percent of the pages are devoted to David’s life. The stories focus on important heroes in the history of Israel—Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samson, Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, and David, offering models of kingship to be avoided or followed. The stories are not set in the Holy Land, but in the milieu of thirteenth-century France. The miniatures are unprecedented in their naturalism, monumentality, breadth of execution, and narrative detail. The story-telling skills of the artists surpass those in contemporary manuscripts, and the dynamic depictions of battles and meticulously portrayed armor betray first-hand experience. Originally there were no captions, so narrative clarity was achieved by cleverly designed architectural settings, costumes, and gestures. Originally there were forty-eight leaves: forty-three are in the Morgan (MS M.638), two (fols. 43, 44) are in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris (MS. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 2294), one (fol. 45) is in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (83.MA.55), and two are missing.