The word “miracle” is derived from the old Latin miraculum, meaning “something wonderful.” For the initial witnesses of the magnificent images denoted by the word, miracles did indeed provide a wealth of wonders that evidenced not only God’s concern but also his willingness to intervene in the daily lives of believers. Though many associate miracles and their illustration with the heart of the Christian religion, fewer realize that the scope of their imagery extended to Jewish and Islamic texts as well—and that throughout the medieval period, the same miracles were featured in the illuminated holy books of each of the three religions.
The lavishly illustrated Marvellous to Behold earns its breathtaking title by focusing on the illustrations of miracles in illuminated manuscripts as well as the retelling of the miracle tales themselves. Deirdre Jackson selects 117 of these miraculous images, which are fully reproduced here in brilliant color, and provides detailed text retelling their miracle stories and explaining the significance of their inclusion. Marvellous to Behold explores a wide variety of illuminated sources in its accounting of these fascinating images such as legal texts, song books, devotional works, historical chronicles, the lives of the saints, and of course, biblical manuscripts. Chronicling the medieval artists who took inspiration from everyday life in their illustrations of universal tales such as Jonah and the Whale, this volume suggests that the works of these artists have just as much to tell us about the societies in which they lived—and their relation to wonder—as about the supernatural. Truly “something wonderful” for anyone interested in miracles, the history of religions, or medieval life and art, this attractive and eye-catching volume is not to be missed.
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