The Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian Inscriptions

The Crusader Bible was originally a picture book. Subsequent owners, however, felt a need to have the subjects identified. After the death of Louis IX (1270), the manuscript went to Italy, where the Latin inscriptions were added in the fourteenth century. Fourteen of the scenes were incorrectly identified. After Shah ‘Abbas received the book in Isfahan as a diplomatic gift in 1608, he had the Persian inscriptions added. After Afghans sacked Isfahan and its Royal Library in 1722, the book fell into the hands of a Persian-speaking Jew, who added the Judeo-Persian inscriptions. These inscriptions did not depend upon each other, and only the Judeo-Persian inscription correctly identified the episode in which Jephthah agreed to sacrifice the first person who met him on his victorious return to Maspha, who was his only daughter (fol. 13). The Latin inscription connected the episode with Gideon, and the Persian inscription mistakenly said it was Gideon’s daughter. English translations of all the inscriptions can be found in this online exhibition.