A Hebrew Bible Wears Christian Finery
The Holkham Hebrew Bible, in a show of Jewish books and documents from the Bodleian Library in Oxford, now on view at the Jewish Museum in New York. The book was printed in Naples in 1491/2, by one Joshua Solomon Soncino. Not only is it gorgeous, but it’s poignant as well. The hand-colored decoration shows how fully its maker was immersed in, and appreciative of, the Christian culture of the Italian Renaissance. (Identical decoration was used on a chivalric romance.) Yet at this same time, Jews were being expelled in vast numbers from Spain and were confined to ghettos in Italy. The persecution and segregation made no cultural sense, but that didn’t stop it from happening.
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