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Curated by Pablo Alvarez and Evyn Kropf
It seems appropriate to use the term "sacred" to describe the hands that copied the manuscripts containing the texts of the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. However, the meaning of this word transcends the conventional limits of the religious sphere. "Sacred" can also designate what is unique, exclusive, and venerable. For centuries scribes and artists turned well-known texts, such as the Jewish Scriptures, the Gospels, and the Qurʼān, into unique artistic objects that can even now inspire feelings of respect and reverence among all sort of people, regardless of their beliefs. In the Jewish tradition it took 1,000 years to obtain the canonical version of the Scriptures, whereas for the Christian and Muslim traditions it took 400 and 20 years respectively. Indeed, the manuscripts on display are the textual and artistic evidence of a long journey that started with oral stories and continued with their written transmission in various languages, including Hebrew, Greek, Coptic, Armenian, Latin, and Arabic.
The Hebrew Bible
It is likely that historians began to put into writing the sacred stories of the people of Israel during the..
The Greek Bible
Jewish disciples and followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified by the Romans around 30 CE, dramatically reinterpreted the..
The Bible in Coptic
Christianity reached Egypt in the times of the Apostles and, according to tradition, St. Mark himself brought Christianity to the..
The Byzantine Bible
Constantine the Great declared Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 324 CE. In the following year,..
The Bible in Armenian
Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity officially when at the beginning of the fourth century St. Gregory the..
The Latin Vulgate
St. Jerome translated the Old and New Testaments from Hebrew and Greek into Latin at the end on the fourth..
The Qur'an: Early transcription
The Qur'an is the Islamic scripture. Muslims regard the Qur'an as the revealed word of God, received and transmitted by..
The Qur'an: Functional formats
By the year 1000, paper had been accepted as a suitable medium for the Qur'an. A shift back to vertical..
The Qur'an: Diversity in artistry
Approaches to the calligraphy and illumination of the Qur'an developed in rich and distinctive ways across historical periods and geographies...
The Qur'an: Explore further
In this silent video, explore a selection of manuscripts from the early Abbasid period (cf The Qur'an : Early transcription)