Marc Michael Epstein is professor of religion and visual culture and director of Jewish studies at Vassar College. He is the author of, among other books, The Medieval Haggadah: Art, Narrative, and Religious Imagination (2011) and Skies of Parchment, Seas of Ink: Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts (2015).
Christian Renaissance paintings of the Temple are the visual record of a theology that had devastating consequences in the lives of Jews from antiquity to the Middle Ages and beyond.
Why do Christian depictions of the Jewish Temple look like the Dome of the Rock, the 7th-century Muslim structure built on that site?
It’s not that they were exceptionally sophisticated or tolerant, as one popular recent article would have it—it’s that they lived surrounded by people who raised pigs.
Why, in all of Jewish art, is there no image depicting the moment of Moses’ death?
How the 14th-century creators of an illustrated Pentateuch managed to reflect both the Jewish and the Christian worlds they lived in.
A few months ago, I was approached with a request to become involved in a then-secret mission: to examine one of the very few high-medieval Haggadahs still in private hands.
The mystery of Zipporah’s pout.
A sumptuous new book collects 100 examples of decorated and illuminated haggadahs from across Europe, Israel, America, and beyond.