Marc Michael Epstein's Medieval Haggadah

In his new work, The Medieval Haggadah: Art, Narrative and Religious Imagination, (Yale University Press 2011), Marc Michael Epstein explores four enigmatic, quirky, and interesting illuminated haggadot—manuscripts created for Jewish use at the home service of Passover Eve. These stunningly beautiful books include the earliest-known surviving illuminated haggadah, the Birds’ Head Haggadah, made in Mainz around 1300, in which many of the faces on the human figures depicted throughout the work are replaced with those of birds; the Golden Haggadah, from Barcelona, circa 1320-30,  the iconography of which seems so indisputably “formed in the image and likeness” of contemporary manuscripts made for Christians; and two Spanish “siblings,” the Rylands Haggadah and its so-called Brother, made between 1330 and 1340, which have historically been paired because of the similarity of their iconography and style.

The Medieval Haggadah is a groundbreaking work of great innovation, which affords readers a glimpse into the minds behind the conception of some of the most mysterious and beautiful Jewish manuscripts ever created, and which allow them to view these breathtaking works through the eyes of the audiences for which they were originally intended.

Augustus 3rd 2011, 8 - 9.30 PM Marc will speak about his book. At Jerusalem's Yakar: Center for Tradition and Creativity. Click here for more info.


Marc  Michael Epstein has been teaching at Vassar since 1992, and has written on various topics in visual and material culture produced by, for, and about Jews. He is the author of Dreams of Subversion in Medieval Jewish Art and Literature (Penn State Press, 1997).

Epstein's website:

Available now  from Yale University Press

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