Below is text from one section of Douglas Galbi’s work, “Sense in Communication.”  This work includes text and images.  Some images may be missing (due to use restrictions) or improperly formatted below.  The full work in pdf format, as well as other text sections, are available at


III. A Masterpiece of Sensuous Communication: The Morgan Bible of Louis IX


Even just a little knowledge can make a book into a physically impressive object.  The Morgan Bible of Louis IX is a book about 750 years old.[1]  Louis IX, the king of France from 1226 to 1270, probably gazed at its pages, which were probably made for him.[2]  The book originally contained at least forty-eight parchment folios and had dimensions larger than books normally used then and now for private study.[3]  All the pages present large paintings, done in brilliant colors, including lustrous gold backgrounds.  The painting on a page is usually organized into four connected rectangular scenes featuring recurring standing figures and chaotic battles.  Around the paintings are texts in three scripts that have much different visual qualities.  The book creates sensuous fascination like a lavish comic book containing stories that today neither children nor most adults can easily understand.[4]   

      The Morgan Bible of Louis IX evokes a specific sense of presence that could not be confined to a particular sensory mode.  Hebrew scripture, although recognized by Jews and Christians as the written word of God, has from the beginning been understood with the full sense of the human body.  Louis IX’s personal sense greatly emphasized action.  The Morgan Bible, as originally produced for Louis IX, pushed the word out of the book and directed attention to paintings of human actions that composed God’s law as Louis IX sensed it.  Yet the painting themselves drew significantly on visual conventions associated with text.  Subsequent owners of the Morgan Bible sensed immediately a need to add text to it, which they did.  Most significantly, the paintings in the Morgan Bible show remarkable tension concerning how God communicates with persons – whether with a book, a scroll, a hand or head in the sky, or in the full figure of a person standing on the ground.  Despite Louis IX’s distinctive choices in ordering its production, the Morgan Bible evokes a sense of presence similar to that of Hebrew scripture.  


A. Sense of Scripture


Hebrew scripture makes sense through the whole living body.  Hebrew scripture is elliptical and fraught with important word choices and verbal relationships.  A best-selling literary scholar described one of the sources of Hebrew scripture thus:

Notoriously not a visual author, J [a textual component of Hebrew scripture] makes dynamism and movement count for more than the external world as we see it.  No other great writer cares less than J does to tell us how persons, places, and things look. …J’s art, and not the Hebrew language, invented the most characteristic element in the Hebrew Bible, which is a preference for time over space, hearing over seeing, the word over the visual image.[5]

Yet the dynamism and movement in Hebrew scripture occurs in bodily language:

One of the most salient characteristics of biblical Hebrew is its extraordinary concreteness, manifested especially in a fondness for images rooted in the human body. … A good deal of this concrete biblical language based on the body is what a linguist would call lexicalized metaphor – imagery, here taken from body parts and bodily functions, that is made to stand for some general concept as a fixed item in the vocabulary of the language (as “eye” in English can be used to mean “perceptiveness” or “connoisseur’s understanding”).[6]

Jewish and Christian liturgies involve public readings, communally spoken prayers, characteristic physical artifacts, and specific bodily movements.  Jewish and Christian art has long presented images from scripture.[7]  While the visual presentation of the Morgan Bible might seem superficially inconsistent with the formal qualities of Hebrew scripture, from the beginning a bodily sense of Hebrew scripture has been central to its meaning. 

      The sense of Hebrew scripture has not depended predominately on the belief that God wrote it.  A useful model for a sacred text is that God wrote each word of it.  But like any scientific model, the model itself is not reality.  One can easily find, in secular communities of meaning and living, texts that are in effect held to be sacred, but not thought to be written by God.[8]  While parts of Hebrew scripture were probably written more than 3000 years ago, the importance of Hebrew scripture increased dramatically about 2500 years ago when the Persian king Cyrus defeated the Babylonians and gave the Jews the right to return to their homeland after a half-century exile.  For rebuilding Jewish life, certain Hebrew texts were assumed to be relevant, without mistakes and perfectly consistent with each other, but also cryptic and in need of interpretation.[9]  Being subject to continual interpretative attention, driven by these assumptions, has been central to the historical sense of a sacred text.[10]

      Making sense of scripture has long involved more than just reading words.   Levites, judges, teachers, sages, and scribes have discussed and interpreted Hebrew scripture for as long as it has existed.[11]  They have done this not as minds reading but as living human bodies.  To see how this works, look at what Eve said to the serpent in the garden:

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but God said, ‘You may not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”[12]

God did not speak directly to Eve this command that she recounts to the serpent.  Before Eve was created, God said to ‘adam:

“You may freely eat of every tree in the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall die.”[13]

To make sense of what Eve said to the serpent, one might imagine that ‘adam pointed out to Eve “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” that “tree which is in the midst of the garden,” and told her what God said.  But why then does Eve report that God spoke of the effects of just touching? 

      Jewish scholars recognized this question and found ways to answer it.  A Greek-speaking Egyptian Jew about 2000 years ago understood in Eve’s additional clause two different, and perhaps somewhat inconsistent, relationships among senses:

Why, when the command was given not to eat of one particular tree, did the woman include even approaching it closely…? First because taste – and every sense – functions by means of contact.  Second, [because] if even touching [the tree] was forbidden, how much greater a crime would those have done who, in addition to touching it, then ate of it and enjoyed it?[14] 

About 800 years later, working within a highly developed Jewish culture, a rabbi found in Eve’s additional clause evidence of ‘adam’s failure to honor God’s word and the effect of this failure on Eve’s sense of truth:

Adam did not choose to tell God’s words to Eve exactly as they had been spoken. … Whereupon the wicked serpent said to himself, “Since I seem to be unable to trip up Adam, let me go and try to trip up Eve.”  He went and sat down next to her and started talking to her.  He said: “Now you say that God has forbidden us to touch the tree.  Well, I can touch the tree and not die, and so can you.”  What did the wicked serpent then do? He touched the tree with his hands and feet and shook it so hard that some of its fruit fell to the ground…What did Eve think to herself?  “All the things my husband has told me are lies”…Whereupon she took the fruit and ate it….[15]

This interpretation is full of sensuous awareness:  the bodily intimacy of sitting down next to Eve, the serpent touching the tree with his hands and feet, and the fruit falling to the ground.  The explanation moves forward with commonplace dialogue, ordinary diction, and natural emotional responses.[16]  This interpretation shows the importance of bodily sense in making sense of scripture.

      From the beginning, the sense of scripture challenges mere words.  In the first chapter of Genesis, the first word that the Hebrew text uses for man is ‘adam, a word which sounds like the Hebrew word for soil, ‘dama.  This creates a problem.  Within Genesis, how does one interpret the difference between a generic human and a particular male named Adam?[17]  A literary scholar recently translated Genesis into English with considerable sensitivity to diction.  Regarding the issue of ‘adam, he noted:

The term ‘adam…is a generic term for human beings, not a proper noun.  It also does not automatically suggest maleness, especially not without the prefix ben, “son of,” and so the traditional rendering “man” is misleading…[18]

Thus he translated Genesis 2:7 as the creation of the human:

the Lord God fashioned the human, humus from the soil, and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the human became a living creature.

God later took a rib from ‘adam (“the human,” in this translation) and made it into a woman.  When God brought the woman to ‘adam (“the human”), ‘adam (“the human”) said “bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.”  In Gen. 4:1, ‘adam (“the human”) has sex with Eve: “And the human knew Eve his woman and she conceived and bore Cain….”  However, in Gen. 4:25, ‘adam (“Adam”) has sex with Eve: “And Adam again knew his wife and she bore a son….”  Gen. 5:1-5 exemplifies well the challenging sense of ‘adam:

This is the book of the lineage of Adam: On the day God created the human, in the image of God He created him.  Male and female He created them, and He blessed them and called their name humankind on the day they were created.  And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years and begot in his likeness by his image and called his name Seth [genealogy continues]

In this passage, the same Hebrew word ‘adam has been translated as “Adam,” “the human,” and “humankind.”  This outcome does not show lack of linguistic or literary sensitivity in translation.[19]  It shows a space in the sense that ‘adam makes.

    Genesis stimulates a complex sense that males and females are equal and complementary parts of God’s creation of humanity.  The motivation for the creation of woman is this:

And the Lord God said: ‘It is not good for the human to be alone.  I shall make him a sustainer beside him.’[20]

The phrase “sustainer beside him” comes from the Hebrew ‘ezer kenegdo.[21]  A more historically sensitive, but clumsier, translation of this phrase might be “a power like oneself beside one.”[22]  This sense of the relationship of male and female, in a text first written about 2900 years ago, may have been an inspired transformation of the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu.  The relation between these male characters became increasingly central to a Babylonian epic whose literary evolution can be perceived in remains of written literature about 4075 years old.  Starting from a lord-servant relationship in the oldest texts, Gilgamesh and Enkidu underwent a literary evolution made them nearly powers like each other, albeit different in appearances and habits.[23]  This latter relation, evident from about 3700 years ago, is developed significantly through Gilgamesh’s desolating grief at the death of Enkidu.  The literary precedent of Gilgamesh and Enkidu may have helped to inspire the sense in Genesis that male and female are equal and closely related, though not the same.

      Additional literary qualities of Genesis re-enforce the unity of woman and man from the beginning.  Upon the presentation of the woman, ‘adam  responded to her at least in part with speech, the first direct speech recorded from ‘adam:

The speech takes the form of verse, a naming poem, in which each of the two lines begins with the feminine indicative pronoun, z’ot, ‘this one’, which is also the last Hebrew word of the poem, cinching it in a tight envelope structure.[24]

 A slight, conforming alteration of the translation produces:

This one at last, bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh,

This one shall be called Woman, for from man was taken this one.[25]

The Hebrew word here for woman is ish-shaw.  That word takes sound and linguistic root from eesh, the Hebrew word for man, different from ‘adam, that is used subsequently in this verse.

      The above analysis has at least three weaknesses.  First, late twentieth-century European academic thought clearly animates it.  A Jew living in Jerusalem about 2500 years ago, although a human being essentially like us, may not have thought in this way.  Second, Genesis is not just an old text; it is a text that many persons have regarded as sacred for a long time.  Any analysis that does not fully recognize this fact about the text seems rather narrow-minded.[26]  Third, the analysis should recognize that different parts of Genesis seem to have been written at different times.  The above account of the creation of woman probably was written about 2900 years ago.  Some time later was written Gen. 1:27:

And God created the human [‘adam] in his image,

In the image of God He created him,

male and female He created them.[27]

This verse seems to retard for a moment the expanding movement of physical creation in the surrounding text.  How might one make sense of its inclusion?[28] 

      A visual sense of scripture may have helped to inspire that verse.  At least since returning from their Babylonian exile, Jews have studied their sacred texts in exquisite detail, with loving care, and using highly developed reasoning.  Surely this question arose: when God drove ‘adam out of Eden, where was Eve?  Did she remain in Eden for awhile, leaving only when overcome with longing to be with ‘adam?[29]  Expulsion from a homeland was an actual experience and a relevant concern for Jews.  The sacred text stated that Eve was with ‘adam in Eden, then ‘adam was expelled, and then Eve was with ‘adam outside Eden.   Sacred texts are cryptic, but they contain no mistakes.  Jews’ sense of scripture may have included a sense of Eve and Adam together being expelled from Eden.[30]  Gen. 1:27, words that indicate that male and female are equal and complementary parts of God’s creation, may have been included in scripture to commemorate with additional inspiration this important sense of scripture.[31] 

      Depictions of the Genesis account of creation show this sense.  About 1650 years ago, on the walls of a catacomb under Rome, some Christians painted Eve and Adam together being expelled from Eden.[32]  An illuminated manuscript created about 1550 years ago probably showed Eve and Adam together being expelled, while one created with an independent iconographic style about 1450 years ago unquestionably shows Eve and Adam together being expelled.[33]  A variety of subsequent works of art over the next 1500 years, including the Morgan Bible of Louis IX, similarly show Eve and Adam together being driven out from Eden.  The phrase “Eve and Adam” (in older and less sophisticated discourse, “Adam and Eve”[34]) does not come from the text of the Genesis account of creation.  There the existence of a distinctively male person is questionable.  “Eve and Adam” indicates the visual sense of male and female together seen in the ‘adam that was expelled from Eden.

      Another aspect of the sensuous scope of Hebrew scripture is detailed verbal law that brings a sense of God to a wide range of daily activities.  Hebrew scripture includes precepts covering many aspects of eating, clothing, work, and personal relationships.  Many of these rules are difficult to understanding as important messages from God or significant elements of some narrative.  But these teachings make sense as communication of God's presence.  Understanding the precepts in Hebrew scripture is associated with priority for verbal sense:

·         How much do I love Your teaching! I mull over it all day long.

·         How soothing are Your Words to me, sweeter than honey to my mouth.

·         Your word lights my steps, and illuminates my nighttime path.

·         My eyes greet the night watches to study Your words.[35]

But the point is not just to understand these rules, but to incorporate them in the many relevant activities of daily life:

Show me, Lord, the path of your laws so that I may execute them accordingly.

Educate me to keep Your teaching so that I may observe it with my whole heart.

Lead me in the road of Your commandments, for it is my enjoyment.

Make me earnest for Your statutes and not for worldly gain.[36]

The laws of Hebrew scripture thus connect words to activities with a broad scope of bodily senses.  Such integration of sense is a general mechanism that supports sense of presence.


B. Louis and his Acts


Louis IX is an important figure in French history.  When he was crowned King of France in 1226, he was only twelve years old.  France then was about one-third of its present size.  Powerful French barons threatened the new king, as did foreign powers to the north, south, and east.  The financial, judicial, and administrative institutions of the state were weak.  Relations with the Roman church and churches in southern France were uncertain and often tense.  Blanche of Castile, Louis IX’s mother and a shrewd, courageous leader, served as his regent.[37]  Through her efforts and those of Louis IX, the French kingship, French territory, and the Church in France became central, closely related components of a strong state.[38]  By the time Louis IX died in 1270, he was hailed across Europe as a great king.   Louis IX was canonized as a Christian saint in 1297.  At least until recent decades, he has been commonly presented in French historical literature as a hero of France. 

      Understanding Louis’s sensuous choices in communications requires empathy for his sense.  Purported physical relics of Christianity, which to most persons today are senseless, Louis valued to an extraordinary extent.  In 1238, he paid about 50% of his annual royal budget to purchase from the emperor of Constantinople the Crown of Thorns, thought to have been worn by Jesus during his crucifixion.[39]  By 1241 Louis had brought to Paris, at great cost, this astonishing array of relics:

·         The towel with which Christ had dried the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper

·         The iron chain with which he had been constrained at his trial

·         The cloak which had been placed on his shoulders

·         The reed scepter put into his hands

·         The Crown of Thorns

·         A towel with Christ’s image upon it; the image of Edessa, later known as Veronica’s Towel

·         Two pieces of the True Cross

·         A triumphal cross carried by the Byzantine emperors into battle, which must have contained another fragment of the True Cross

·         The Precious Blood [of Christ]

·         The sponge with which Christ had been offered vinegar while on the cross

·         Iron from the Holy Lance that had pierced his side at the crucifixion

·         Part of the shroud with which he had been buried

·         A large stone from the Holy Sepulchre

·         Moses’ rod

·         Christ’s swaddling clothes

·         Blood shed from an icon of Christ when insulted by infidels

·         The milk of the Blessed Virgin Mary

·         Part of a veil that had belonged to her

·         The upper part of the head of Saint John the Baptist

·         The heads of Saints Blaise, Clement, and Symeon[40]

While these relics served as instruments for enhancing Louis’s royal authority, they also are evidence of Louis’s sense.  He personally, bare-footed, carried the Crown of Thorns into Paris.  He kept relics in lavish, jewel-encrusted cases, frequently attended their public display, and sought to be near to them in difficult situations.  Most significantly, he gave fragments of relics as great gifts to a wide range of persons and institutions.[41]

      Louis violated contemporary conventions in the way he communicated.  According to a generally reliable memoir, Louis reproached his son, a King, and a steward thus: 

My Lord the King called my Lord Philip, his son and father of our present King, and King Thibaut; he down by the door of his oratory, and placing his hand on the ground he said, “Sit down here, close by me, so that we may not be overhead.”  “Indeed, sir,” they answered, “we should not be so bold as to sit so close to you.”  He said to me also, “Come, Seneschal, sit down here.”  I did so, and I sat so close to him that my gown was touching his.  Then he made them sit down, too, after me, and said to them, “Indeed, you have been very wrong; for you are my sons, and yet you have not immediately done all that I asked you.  You must see to it that such a thing never happens again with you.”[42]

The formality of “My Lord the King” contrasts sharply with the King’s gesture and invitation, “Sit down here, close by me,” especially in the context of a reprimand.  The physical closeness clearly disturbed the other parties.  Yet that closeness seems to have been part of the way that Louis communicated.  

      Other evidence indicates that Louis enjoyed dispensing with mediators and directly encountering his subjects.  Consider a contemporary account of the celebrated story of the King administering justice under the oak of Vincennes:

Often in the summer he went after Mass to the woods of Vincennes and sat down with his back against an oak tree, and made us sit all around him.  Everyone who had an affair to settle could come and speak to him without the interference of any usher or other official.  The King would speak himself and ask, “Is there any one here who has a case to settle?”[43] 

As an insightful scholar has pointed out, “ushers had good honest work to do.”  Ushers prevented “silly people from presenting sillier petitions to the king.”[44]  More generally, screening, processing, and prioritizing requests is important bureaucratic work.[45]  In sitting down informally with his back against the oak and dispensing with bureaucracy, Louis was not efficiently administering justice.  He was enjoying a much less refined sense of being king.

      Louis preferred the company of monks and mendicants to the company of officials from the leading hierarchical churches.  Louis and his mother founded the large abbey at Royaumont in 1228.  While earlier French rules endowed masses at the Cathedral of Notre Dame and had family members buried in the Cathedral, Louis did not.[46]  He supported masses at the abbey of Royaumont, enjoyed attending dinners at the abbey, and had children buried there.  Louis founded several new mendicant houses about 1248, even though mendicant orders in France had already expanded rapidly in the 1230s.[47]  A friar who encountered Louis during Louis’s tour of his realm in 1248 observed:

he turned aside from his way frequently to visit hermitages of the Friars Minor and other religious orders here and there, on the right and on the left, in order to seek their prayers.  …        

            [one day in Vezelay] the king left his entire retinue at the castle which was only a short distance from the convent, bringing with him only his three brothers and servants who took care of the horses.  After he had genuflected  and worshipped before the alter, the Brothers set out benches for them all to sit on, but the king sat on the ground in the dust (for the church was not paved), as I saw with my own eyes.  And he called to us, saying, “Come to me, my dearest brothers, and hear my words.”  So we made a circle around him on the ground, and his brothers did likewise.  And the king besought the prayers and spiritual support of the Brothers, as I have described above.[48]

That the king “sat on the ground in the dust” clearly amazed the friar.  This action shows Louis identifying with the brothers in a full, physical sense.

      Several vignettes from Louis’s life show him choosing, instead of words, dramatic physical expression.  When a gale drove his ship hard aground off the island of Cyprus, Louis “leapt out of bed barefoot” and “dressed only in his tunic, nothing more, stretched himself out on the deck in the form of a cross before the body of Our Lord….”[49]  When captured in Egypt, he would lay down in front of his lodgings in the position of Jesus on the cross.[50]  These actions are more than a ritual acting out of the Christian story.  They show Louis making sense of that story through his own physical experience. 

      Louis was deeply anti-Semitic.  One of the knights who accompanied Louis on his first crusade later recounted a story about a debate with Jews.  According to the story, after the clergy had debated the Jews, a poor knight, “leaning on his crutch, got up and asked “but one question”: does the leading Jewish teacher believe that the Virgin Mary is the Mother of God?  When the Jew answered that he did not, the knight with his crutch struck the Jew “on the side of his head, felling him to ground.”   Then:

The Jews all fled, taking with them their wounded master; and that was the end of the debate.[51]

Vicious anti-Semiticism, tragically mis-lived Christianity, and a pathetic, demeaning, and self-destructive concept of masculinity have unfortunately been major features of European history.  This story, probably recounted among knights on Louis’s crusade, is a stunningly realistic romancing of these sad problems.  Louis is reported to have reacted to the story thus:

“I agree myself,” said the King, “that no one who is not a very learned clerk should argue with them.  A layman, as soon as he hears the Christian faith maligned, should defend it only by the sword, with a good thrust to the belly, as far as the sword will go.”[52]

This note of mindless masculinity is consistent with the tone of the story as a whole.  In addition to being anti-Semitic, Louis also seems to have suffered from male anxiety about thinking and thinkers.[53]  Even if this story is essentially a report of male banter, which it seems to be, it accurately represents Louis’s sense of the world and the way he acted.

            Louis’s decision to mount a crusade to Jerusalem indicates how highly he valued action. Louis “took the cross,” i.e. decided to go on crusade, when he was seriously ill:

so near to dying that one of the two ladies who were tending him wanted to draw the sheet over his face, maintaining that he was dead. …although up till then he had not been able to utter a word he now recovered his speech.  As soon as he was able to speak he asked for the cross to be given him; and this was promptly done.[54]

Later Louis’s mother and court officials urge him not to go on crusade, an activity that by then many regarded to be foolish.  They offered him the excuse that he had made his vow when he was very sick and not in good sense.  Meeting his Bishop, Louis ripped the cross from his shoulder, gave it to the Bishop, and then said:

I am not now deprived of my reason or senses, nor am I powerless or infirm.  Now I demand back my cross.[55]

When Louis first recovered the power of speech, he might have called out his presence to his mother or thanks to God.  He might have asked for something to eat or drink, particularly since intravenous feeding had not yet been invented.  Asking for the cross when he first covered the power of speech, and then his dramatic gesture of asking for it again, suggests that, for Louis, action was the most significant communication.[56]

      The written exchange between Louis and al-Malik as-Salih, the sultan of Egypt, indicates well Louis’s sense of his actions.  Louis, on crusade, landed his army in 1249 on the coast of Egypt and confronted the sultan’s army.  Louis wrote to the sultan:

the Moslem community of Andalusia pays tribute to us and gives us gifts, and we drive them before us like a herd of cattle, killing the men, widowing the women, capturing their daughters and infants, emptying their houses. … If this country falls into my hands, it will be mine as a gift.  If you keep it by victory over me, you may do as you will with me.  I have told you about the armies obedient to me, filling the mountains and the plains, numerous as the stones of the earth and poised against you like the sword of destiny.[57]

 The sultan wrote back to Louis:

Fool! If your eyes had seen the points of our swords and the enormity of our devastations, the forts and shores that we have taken and the lands that we have sacked in the past and the present, you would gnaw your fingers in repentance!  The outcome of the events you are precipitating is inevitable: the day will dawn to our advantage and end in your destruction.  Then you will curse yourself: ‘and the wicked shall know the fate that awaits them.’ [58]

Both leaders boasted of the violence that they had done.  Both used passive constructions in anticipating their own success in the upcoming battle.  The sultan’s construction indicates the over-all order of the world, while Louis’s passive voice suggests a personal relationship in the reception of a gift.  In the event of Louis’s loss, the sultan foresaw Louis cursing himself.  Louis, in contrast, referred to what the Sultan might do to him.[59]  Brightly shining points of swords, gnawing of fingers, and the dawning of the day are rhetorical figures from Islamic romances.[60]  Louis, in contrast, wrote himself into a mash of figures from Hebrew scripture.[61] 

      Louis eventually lost.  Many of his knights were killed, and he himself was captured.  But his captors treated him relatively humanely, and he was ransomed for a large sum.  Louis sought penance in the way he lived the rest of his life:

Penance implies both punishment and absolution.  The punishments came in several forms.  The acceptance of flagellation, in the tradition of the martyrs, and in remembrance of the failure of 1250 [his first crusade], was one of these.  There was also the touching – the insistent touching – of the ugly, the diseased, the filthy, which revolted his friends.  It started in Palestine when he insisted on burying with his own hands the corpses of fallen crusaders and refused to hold his nose when he had to touch their putrid bodies. … After the crusade he laid it down as an ordinance that wherever he sojourned the right of the lepers to share his table would be observed.[62]

Other popular means of penance were saying prayers, receiving sacraments, founding religious institutions, and giving money to existing ones.  Louis also sought penance in these ways.  Yet his insistent quest for penance in unconventionally sensuous ways, which greatly displeased his court, his wife, and his friends, is consistent with the unusual sense that he showed throughout his life.[63]  Louis’s unusual sense helps to explain the extraordinary form of the Morgan Bible.


C. Sensuous Choices in the Morgan Bible


The sensuous choices in the Morgan Bible encompass the viewer in continuous action.  As first created, the Morgan Bible consisted of large paintings on least forty-eight folios bound together to form a book containing no written words.[64]  Unlike most thirteenth century manuscripts, the Morgan Bible has paintings on both the front and back of each folio.[65]  The sizes of the pages and painted areas are much larger than those in most thirteenth-century manuscripts.[66]  The Morgan Bible typically divides the painted area into four rectangular sub-areas.  Action often involves motion across the whole upper or lower register, and forms occasionally push beyond the over-all rectangular boundaries of the painted area.[67]  Event relationships sometimes flow across page turns.  The paintings in the Morgan Bible do not illustrate words, nor are they organized to aid discussion of scripture.  They immerse the viewer in action.

      Bibles Moralisées produced in Paris in the 1230s have important material links with the Morgan Bible.  Commonly known as Toledo and Oxford-Paris-London, these bibles, along with two earlier ones, have nearly the same original page and painted area dimensions as the Morgan Bible.[68]  Moreover, most of the illustrations in Toledo and Oxford-Paris-London correspond exactly.[69]  A workshop template seems to have been pressure-traced to create underdrawings for these works.[70]  The Morgan Bible also includes nearly exact copies of figures incorporated within larger and varied compositions.[71]  A labor-saving production technology used for the Bibles Moralisées seems to have been applied with more artistic license and sophistication in producing the Morgan Bible. 

      The Bibles Moralisées, however, evoke a much different sense than the Morgan Bible.  The Bibles Moralisées include on each page eight small illustrations with circular boundaries, each with a corresponding text or gloss covering an area about one-third the size of the illustration.[72]  The illustrations and text boxes on each page are grouped in pairs, where the second provides an interpretation or contemporary application (“moralization”) of the first.   Action does not flow visually from one illustration to another.  Moreover, the Bibles Moralisées intersperse blank openings between openings to painted pages.  In turning pages, a viewer thus encounters alternations of paintings and blanks, which might have provided a pattern for viewing and discussion.[73]  The pages as a whole have a standardized, discrete pattern that makes them like a more lavish form of text.

      Louis IX surely would have preferred the sense of the Morgan Bible to that of a Bible Moralisée.  A plausible creation account for the Toledo and the Oxford-Paris-London Bibles Moralisées is that Blanche of Castile, Louis IX’s mother, directed them to be produced as wedding gifts for Louis IX and Margaret of Provence, who were married in 1234.[74]  Like many gifts, the gift of a Bible Moralisée to Louis IX may have been closer to the sensibility of the giver than to that of the recipient.[75]  Louis IX, with his sense of physical expression and lived meaning, would not relish a book that structured meaning as texts and images in representational correspondence.  The Morgan Bible is what Louis IX would have commanded for himself.  The Morgan Bible does not encode scripture’s meaning into standard, discrete visual forms.  The Morgan Bible presents scripture as a flow of action.

      The Morgan Bible makes sense as a means for Louis IX to re-enforce his sense of Hebrew scripture in preparation for his first crusade.  From his first decision in 1244 to go on crusade, to his sailing from France in 1248, Louis prepared extensively.[76]   Part of this preparation was spiritual.  As in most medieval manuscripts, including the Bibles Moralisées, paintings in the Morgan Bible depicts objects, clothing, and actions not as in biblical Israel, but as in thirteenth century France.[77]  More distinctively, the Morgan Bible emphasizes the life of kings, particularly Saul and David.  The Morgan Bible uniquely includes twenty-one large battle scenes of detailed, brutal action.  Louis IX could have easily seen himself on his crusade within these scenes.

      Scenes in the Morgan Bible are generally arranged so as to emphasize cause and effect of righteous and unrighteous action.  A lower register pairs Cain killing Abel and Lamech killing Cain, then a page turn leads to Noah building an ark and saving his family from the flood.[78]   Abraham preparing to put Isaac to the sword is depicted before Abraham defeats the Elamites to rescue Lot’s family.[79]  This deviation from the scriptural order strengthens a sense of God redirecting Abraham’s sword to carry out just action.   The inhospitality of the Sodomites on the bottom right of one page leads to the destruction of Sodom on the top left of the facing page.[80]  There is no image of Abraham pleading with God for mercy for Sodom.  The lower register of another page has Abimelech slaying his brethren placed to the right of Jephthah sacrificing his daughter.   This pictorial re-arrangement of the scriptural order establishes a visual contrast between righteous and unrighteous killing.[81]  The top of the facing page then shows Abimelech dying in battle.  Thus the Morgan Bible links the story of Jepththah with the story of Abimelech through a visual rhythm of cause and effect of righteous and unrighteous action.[82]

      The paintings in the Morgan Bible, both in their selection and composition, tend to simplify the psychological complexity of Hebrew scripture.  There are no paintings of the story of Hagar, Sarai, and Abram, the story of Dinah and Shechem, or the story of Tamar and Judah.[83]   The story of Balaam and his ass is omitted, along with all of Israel’s forty years of grumbling and wandering in the desert.  The story of the Levite and his concubine has been simplified into a romance of retribution for evil.  That the men of Gibeah, or “certain sons of Belial,” sought the Levite, who to save himself pushed his concubine out into a gang rape that resulted in her death, is not captured in the corresponding painting.[84]  The great difficulties in bringing to justice the perpetrators, whom their own tribe vigorously defended, are replaced by just one battle scene showing the defeat of a city.[85]  In contrast, paintings with an area equivalent to four pages depict a sequence beginning with a large, jeering Goliath challenging the Israeli army and ending with David parading Goliath’s head before singing and dancing women of Israeli.[86]  Other battle scenes include warriors wielding swords labeled with names from romantic legends and one man smiling while bleeding from the wound of a dagger embedded between his eyes.[87]   

      While the Morgan Bible shows a narrower range of psychological concerns and a simpler, more regular logic of action than Hebrew scripture, its paintings concerning Hannah, Penninah, and Elkanah illustrate how artfully and subtly it evokes its particular sense.[88]  In the upper left sub-block of folio 19v, Elkanah, sitting in an iconographic position of God, simultaneously hands a small portion to Hannah and a larger portion to Penninah.  On the upper right Hannah prays in the temple before a priest.  Observers have struggled to make sense of the scene on the lower left for centuries.  A scribe in the first half of the fourteenth century wrote under this sub-block, “How Elkanah returns home with his wives and children.”[89]  Early in the twentieth century a scholar associated this scene with the text from 1 Samuel 1:19: “And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house at Ramah….”[90] Recently another scholar questioned:

Why then is there no morning, no worshipping, and no house?  Why does Elkanah have his hand raised in speech?  Why are Penninah’s children eating on route?  And why does Hannah look so sad, when after her blessing from Eli “her countenance was no longer sad?”[91]

An answer, consistent with the intended sense of the Morgan Bible, is that this scene shows Elkanah preaching the beatitudes to his wives – blessed are the poor, blessed are they that morn, blessed are the hungry, blessed are those who are hated.[92]  In this scene Hannah looks to the right into the next scene that shows her lovingly cradling her new-born son.[93]  The movement from Hannah’s humble position on the upper left to her joy with a son on the lower right shows God acting on behalf of the righteous, where the sense of Hannah here is as a figure of Mary, the mother of Jesus.[94] 

      Not including text in the Morgan Bible was a significant decision.  Painted images in Christian religious books were common from at least the fifth century.[95]  In these illustrated or illuminated manuscripts, images almost always function as supplements to text.[96]  No material Christian art from the first two centuries of Christianity exists, while there is much textual evidence from that period of Christian polemics against non-Christians’ religious art.[97]   In the second half of the eighth century, the use of images and figurative artifacts in Christian worship were matters of intense controversy.[98]  Substituting study of a book of paintings for study of Hebrew scripture might have created some unease among pious Christians, at least through the first millennium of Christianity.  Paintings in biblical manuscripts increased sharply in size and number in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and at least ten Bible picture books were produced in this period.[99]  Nonetheless, medieval Bible picture books are relatively rare.  Bible picture books that, like the Morgan Bible, originally included no words whatsoever, are even rarer.[100]

      Interpreting Hebrew scripture has long been a source of concern and controversy.  Although oral aspects of God’s revelation are important to Christianity and Islam, throughout their history some Christian and Muslim figures have attacked rabbinic interpretations of the Torah as not faithful to the text of Hebrew scripture.[101]  Communities of Jews known as Karaites, who flourished in Spain between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries, also strongly attacked the oral traditions of rabbis.[102]  Such criticism is endemic to all scriptural religions.  In vital, peaceful societies, controversies over interpretation usually create beneficial interpretive tension that flourishes within the bounds of dialogue, a search for truth, and respect for personal freedom.[103]  

      Louis IX, however, sanctioned the burning of the Talmud in Paris in 1242.  In circumstances of increasing controversy over the literal sense of Hebrew scripture and increasing hostility of the Christian Church toward Jews,  Pope Gregory IX in 1239 instructed the King of Portugal and archbishops throughout France to confiscate all the Jews’ books and give them to the Dominican and Franciscan friars.[104]  Another letter from the Pope instructed Paris church officials to have Jews living west of the Holy Roman empire give up their books, which were to be burned if they were found to contain errors.[105]  Only in France were Jewish books confiscated.  Church and royal officials confiscated the Talmud, treasured rabbinic writings on law and Hebrew scripture.  The Talmud was put on trial in Paris before royal and church officials, and condemned.  In Paris in 1242, many volumes of the Talmud – perhaps twenty-four cart-loads of manuscripts, ten or twelve thousand volumes – were burned.[106]  This vicious action might be taken to mean that Louis IX’s anti-Semitism included an extraordinary desire to destroy, among senses of Hebrew scripture, those that were “not included among the sacred books…unwritten prattle derived from the outside.”[107]

      The Morgan Bible, and to a lesser extent the Bibles Moralisées, show that Louis IX cared little about literal fidelity to Hebrew scripture.  By presenting Hebrew scripture without any text, the Morgan Bible swept away tension between verbal interpretation and literal scripture.  Instead, images of action in the Morgan Bible background the word of scripture and emphasize showing what will be done.  The Bibles Moralisées produced earlier in Paris also indicate non-literal interpretive authority by providing corresponding visual and textual moralizations for every scene of scripture.  Moreover, the texts in the Bibles Moralisées show little regard for literal fidelity to scripture or to learned traditions of interpretation.[108]  If the church and royal court of Louis IX had cared about limiting the sense of scripture solely to the text of the written law, the Bibles Moralisées and the Morgan Bible might have burned along with the Talmud. 

      The Morgan Bible was designed to serve Louis IX’s personal sense of Hebrew scripture.  Burning the Talmud was in part Louis IX’s attempt to dispose of a rival sense of scripture, one with a preeminent claim to authority among the very people to whom God had revealed it.  Neither oral discussion nor written words were central to Louis IX’s sense of scripture.  He understood scripture through immersion in action in the world.  He sought as a central aspect of his life to find himself in Hebrew scripture.  The production of the Morgan Bible was an extraordinary effort to make a scriptural artifact that evoked this sense for him.


D.  Reception of Texts


While originally the Morgan Bible included no text, its design drew significantly on the visual conventions of European text and the order of Hebrew scripture.  In contrast to texts in many languages, European text is read from left to right, and pages in European codices are turned from right to left.  Hebrew scripture itself has a canonical verbal order within books as well as a canonical order among books.[109]  The painted area on a page of the Morgan Bible is rectangular and organized as four (or less frequently, two or three) rectangular sub-areas.  The rectangular sub-areas generally follow the order of Hebrew scripture from left to right across the top register, followed by left to right across the bottom register.  The sequence continues with the sub-area on the upper-left corner of the next page.  With pages turned from right to left, the paintings concern text in order from Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, and 2 Samuel.  Paintings in the Morgan Bible are thus organized in accordance with the visual conventions of European text and the order of Hebrew scripture. 

      The paintings themselves code meaning in the order of European text.  The repetition of a figure moved rightward in a painting corresponds to temporal sequence.[110]  Figures generally enter a scene from the left, and exit to the right.   Bringing Benjamin back and the repulsion of the Israelites are painted with predominate right-to-left directions of action.[111]  In these and other instances, the reversal of the visual convention of European text signals a spatial or conceptual reversal.  Comparing the paintings in the Morgan Bible with those in the Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp clearly indicates the significance of these textual conventions.  The Shahnameh came out of a Persian culture in which text is written from right to left, and pages of books are turned from left to right.  The visual coding in paintings in the Morgan Bible is opposite that in paintings in the Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp.[112]

      Paintings in the Morgan Bible and Latin scripts share aspects of visual composition.  An architectural frame occupies the upper quarter of both the upper and lower registers in paintings in the Morgan Bible.[113]  This frame establishes a regular visual rhythm similar to the visual rhythm of a Latin script.  Moreover, human figures dominate many compositions in the Morgan Bible.  These figures are generally similar in size and posture and arranged on a common ground line at the bottom of the scene.[114]  The visual effect of these figures is thus like letters.  In addition, the backgrounds in most of the paintings are a plain, single color, alternated in a regular rhythm among rectangular sub-areas.[115]  This choice of background lacks realism and makes no attempt to create an illusion of three dimensions.  More elaborate and decorative backgrounds were surely possible.  The intent, however, seems to have been to create visual aesthetics of contemporary Latin scripts – a regular, predominately vertical pattern of lines standing out against a plain background.

      The Morgan Bible also evoked text in a more complex sense.  The visual conventions described above probably do not draw upon phylogenetically late capabilities of the human brain.  Properly trained monkeys probably could sense these visual conventions, while most humans would not consciously notice them without a reason for doing so.   However, about the mid-fourteenth century, the owner of the Morgan Bible sensed the need to add text.[116]  Latin text was added above and below the pages’ painted areas.  In the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Bishop of Krakow had the Morgan Bible delivered as a gift to Shah Abbas of Persia.  Shah Abbas immediately ordered Persian text to be added to the pages.   Subsequently, an Iranian Jew apparently acquired the manuscript.  This owner added Hebrew text.  Thus the blank margins of what had been a book with only paintings became filled with words in three scripts and five languages.[117] 

      The mid-fourteenth century Latin inscriptions are intentionally decorative.  These inscriptions are regularly placed above and below the painted area.  They are organized, independently above and below the painted area, into one or two text areas (separate inscriptions).  Whether the text is segmented horizontally depends on whether the corresponding painted register has a sense of one or two scenes.[118]  Each text area begins with a decorated initial with height equal to about four lines of text.  The decorated initial, which is almost always Q, is decorated with a variety of abstract designs that relate in color and pattern to the paintings.[119]  The bottom cross-marks of the Q's are greatly extended to form decorative flourishes.  The flourishes are particularly elaborate on the first page, extend in a variety of directions on other pages, and on a few pages combine closely to form a coherent visual design.[120]

      While the Latin inscriptions have a decorative sense, they also fix the painted scenes' relation to scripture.  That the painted scenes represent Hebrew scripture would be obvious to most viewers at all familiar with Hebrew scripture.  Yet figuring out what part of what story a particular scene presents is often a challenging task.  Many viewers might be anxious about whether they have correctly perceived the presentation of scripture.   The inscriptions name the persons, groups, and places in the painted scene, describe in words the actions depicted, and provide additional context for interpreting the actions.  The inscriptions thus anchor the images to (written) scripture.[121]  Scripture is of course itself cryptic and requires interpretation.  The inscriptions allow a viewer to make sense of the images by referring them to well-known words within a well-established interpretative tradition.  The inscriptions thus free the viewer from the burden of personally making sense of the images.

      The Latin inscriptions add verbal sense not derived from the paintings.  The inscriptions include rubrics that divide the scenes by biblical books.  They thus provide additional parsing of the paintings.[122]  The inscription above the first scene begins with the same words as the Vulgate: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth....”[123]    Another inscription quotes a famous, non-semantic verbal expression:

How, upon hearing about the victory, David asked about Absalom, when he was told how he had died, he started going and weeping and saying these words in tears: “My son Absalom, Absalom my son, who would grant me to die for you?  My son Absalom, Absalom my son.”[124]

The inscriptions also include details from scripture not depicted in the corresponding painting.  Below the painting of Jesse speaking to David, the inscription states not only that Jesse told David to go to Saul’s camp, but also that Jesse told David to bring grain, bread, and cheese.[125]  These details of David’s provisions are nowhere shown.



      The inscriptions sometimes adapt scripture to avoid a contrast with the corresponding painting.  For example, in scripture Saul requested David to bring one hundred Philistine foreskins as Michal’s dowry.  David brought two hundred foreskins.[126]   The painting of Saul’s request to David does not indicate the nature of the request, while the corresponding inscription states that Saul asked David for one hundred Philistine foreskins.[127]  A subsequent painting shows David presenting human heads to Saul.  The corresponding inscription is this:

How David came back to the king and, although he had asked for only one hundred foreskins, offered him two hundred enemy heads.[128]

A simpler descriptive response would have been to eliminate altogether mention of foreskins.  The effort made to include that detail indicates the importance of the words of scripture to the Latin inscriptions.

      The Latin inscriptions occasionally ignore or contradict their corresponding paintings.  A painting of a meeting has an inscription about a flight and pursuit.[129]  A painting of a battle and subsequent rescue of two women has an inscription describing David “killing men and women and sparing none.”[130]  These inscriptions seem to have come from the order of scripture, not from sense of the paintings.  Paintings of the story of Noah show the only humans saved to be Noah, his wife, and two small children.  The inscriptions, following scripture, state that Noah, his wife, their three sons and their son’s wives were saved.[131]  The words of scripture clearly were capable of dominating the sense of the paintings.

      The sizes of the Latin inscriptions provide further evidence about the importance of verbal concerns.  The median number of words of Latin inscription per page (measured in English translation) is 144.[132]  The Hamzanama of Akbar, constructed with one page of text for each page of painting, has about 350 words per text page (again measured in English translation).  Comparing words per square centimeter of painting, the Morgan Bible has word/painting density about 2.5 times higher than does the Hamzanama.[133]  The sizes of the Latin inscriptions on the pages of the Morgan Bible vary considerably.  Out of 96 pages, fifteen pages have word counts 50% or more different from the median page.  The organization of the painting on the pages of the Morgan Bible – whether in two, three or four scene areas – does not significantly relate to the total words on the page.[134]  Given its lavish visual design and original absence of text, the Latin inscriptions had remarkably important sense relative to the Morgan Bible’s paintings.

      Shah Abbas’ reaction to the Morgan Bible further indicates the importance, even across large religious and cultural differences, that words had for making sense of the Morgan Bible.  A Christian missionary’s eye-witness account of the presentation of the Morgan Bible to Shah Abbas in 1608 states that Shah Abbas “turned over the sacred pages with care and admiration” and then:

he gave orders that he [an official in Abbas’s court] should take an expert Mullah to where our missionaries were staying and get from them the meaning of the pictures and insert it in the Persian tongue below each of them.[135]

Abbas did not look at the Morgan Bible for long before he ordered Persian text added.   He may have been interested in the meaning of the Latin inscriptions that he saw, as well as the meaning of the pictures.  Because Muslims believe that God’s revelation ultimately came through the words of the Qur’an, Shah Abbas may have felt that the best way to understand a religious artifact is through words.  In any case, an astonishing aspect of the added Persian inscriptions is that they look like graffiti defacing a sumptuous gift.  The Persian inscriptions were added unartfully and irregularly above and below the Latin inscriptions and in the margins on the sides of the paintings.  That Persian inscriptions were added in this way suggests that Shah Abbas and those who directed the inscriptions were primarily concerned with the verbal sense of the Morgan Bible.

      The Persian inscriptions largely follow the sense of the Latin inscriptions.  The blocking into one or two text segments per painted register is almost always the same for the Latin and Persian inscriptions.  The Persian text generally follows the actions described in the corresponding Latin text, but trims down the verbal context and replaces names of minor characters and places with generic references.  This transformation seems to indicate words that the Persian scribe would remember while looking at a section of painting and hearing a Persian translation of the corresponding Latin inscription. 

      In transforming the Latin text, the Persian scribe added a stronger sense of God’s will.  Islam emphasizes the world’s dependence on the will of God.  The Persian scribe brought this sense to the Latin text with small additions.  For example, the Latin text states that Abraham “snatched away” Lot from Lot’s captors.  The Persian scribe notes that Abraham fought to rescue his relative, and “Abraham’s relative was recaptured by the assistance of God the exalted.”[136]  The change is most dramatic with respect to the painting of Jacob, with hands crossed, blessing Joseph’s sons.  This image's Latin inscription mainly describes action closely related to the image:

How Joseph led to his father his two sons whom he had begotten in Egypt, placing the elder to the right of his father and the younger to his left.  The old man, his hands crossed, placed his right hand upon the younger’s head but upon the elder’s head he place the left, blessing them both and setting the younger before the elder.[137]

The Persian inscription includes an explanation concerning the will of God:

And this is the image of Jacob who blesses the sons of Joseph and holds the hand of the elder son in his right hand and the younger in his left; and after that he changed hands so the older remained in [his] left hand.  And Joseph asked, “Why did you change hands?” Jacob said, “God the Exalted has so commanded.”[138]

The words the Persian scribe heard, the images before him, and his fundamental beliefs all combined to shape his sense of the Morgan Bible.[139]

      The Morgan Bible includes inscriptions in Judeo-Persian in addition to those in Latin and Persian.  The presence of Judeo-Persian inscriptions suggest that an Iranian Jew once owned the Morgan Bible.[140]  The Afghans sacked the Persian capital of Isfahan in 1722.  The royal library in Isfahan, which was looted, probably contained the Morgan Bible.  An Iranian Jew might then have had an opportunity to buy the book at a price that a person with meager resources could pay.[141]  Surely this owner did not know who made the Morgan Bible.  Perhaps this owner recognized that the book had been made in Europe, and had been in Shah Abbas' library.[142]  In any case, at this time the book already had the graffiti-like Persian inscriptions.  Judeo-Persian inscriptions were added in a similar way.  This decision may be further evidence of concern about verbal sense.  On the other hand, by the time the Iranian Jew acquired the Morgan Bible, concern about verbal sense had become, with the two styles of inscriptions already present, a strong visual sense.  The Judeo-Persian inscriptions may indicate in part a desire to see one's own script present on the page.

      The Judeo-Persian inscriptions generally follow the Persian inscriptions, but with some characteristic formal changes.  The Judeo-Persian scribe knew at least some Persian: the scribe included among the Judeo-Persian text the comments “The Persian text as it is found [here] is wrong,” and, at one point, “I do not know what is written in Persian.”[143] Some of the Judeo-Persian inscriptions are nearly verbatim translations of the Persian inscriptions.[144]  Other Judeo-Persian inscriptions follow significant differences in the Persian inscriptions compared to the Latin ones and Hebrew scripture.[145]  The Judeo-Persian scribe restored some of the minor character names and places names that the Persian scribe made generic, and eliminated most of the Persian scribe's additions referring to the power of God.[146]  Despite evident lack of biblical learning, the Judeo-Persian scribe often summarized with implicit or explicit references to Hebrew scripture.  Thus a relatively lengthy description of the Passover in the Persian text became in the Judeo-Persian: “The miracle of the death of the firstborn which occurred at night.”[147]  Other references are explicit: “This is the tale of Gideon as it is written in Judges [chapter] 7....”[148]  The Judeo-Persian inscriptions indicate little independent sense of the images.  The Judeo-Persian text mainly translates and abbreviates the Persian text, while strengthening its reference to Hebrew scripture.

      The inscriptions concerning the Pharaoh ordering the Israelites to leave Egypt document the process of making sense of the corresponding image.  The image shows the Pharaoh gesturing to Moses and Aaron, a God-head learning down from above, and, among other details, three Israelites carrying large sacks away from the Pharaoh.  The Latin inscription states that the Israelites left “with all of their possessions, the Egyptians having been despoiled….”[149]  The Persian scribe might well have pressed his Christian sources for a more explicit account of this action.  The Persian inscription includes a clarification drawn from Hebrew scripture:

Moses told his tribe to go and borrow all that was valuable from the Egyptians; and they did so.  And Moses took his people with the possessions and departed….[150]

Jewish interpreters have long pondered the justification for the Israelites leaving with possessions borrowed from the Egyptians.  They found scriptural evidence that God had given the Egyptians possessions to the Israelites as compensation for their long years of toil in slavery in Egypt.[151]  The Judeo-Persian scribe wrote:

They [the Israelites] asked to borrow their [the Egyptians’] property but they did not give it.[152]

That is the end of this Judeo-Persian inscription.  The rest of the story might well have been the midrashic understanding that God then gave these possessions to the Israelites.[153] The variations across the Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian inscriptions do not seem to be deliberate tactics in a representational struggle.  They seem to be similar sensuous responses of persons with different cultural histories.

      Words, working through all levels of sense, were an important part of the response to the Morgan Bible.  Developing scientific knowledge indicates that such a response is consistent with the reality of the human body: the whole living body makes sense.[154]  The creators of the Morgan Bible chose only the design of the Morgan Bible, not the design of the human body.  The lavish visual design of the Morgan Bible did not push words far from persons’ sense of it.


E. Making Sense of Presence


The survival of the Morgan Bible across 750 years should not be taken for granted.  Over that period many other lavishly illustrated books undoubtedly have been destroyed.  Someone might have burned the Morgan Bible as heretical.  Someone might have cut it up and sold the individual paintings.  It could have been destroyed in the sacking of the Persian royal library, or in some other war.  Or it might have been stored out of view in some later forgotten place, eventually to rot with other insignificant rubbish.  Perhaps the survival of the Morgan Bible was just a matter of luck.  But a thoughtful, modern analysis should ask: what aspects of the artifact and its environment, in addition to lavish paintings and humans’ visual delight in seeing such paintings, helped it to survive?

      Being associated with communication with God would help.  This, too, should not be taken for granted.  Jews, Christians, and Muslims – people of the book – all recognize in scripture communication in words from one, common, Abrahamic God.  The Morgan Bible did not reproduce any of the words of Hebrew scripture.  The full text of Hebrew scripture is readily available in many other books.  A person who valued Hebrew scripture as communication from God might not value the Morgan Bible.[155]  Yet a fundamental purpose of Hebrew scripture is to present God to human beings.  God in Hebrew scripture often becomes present to humans through sensuous confusions, irregularities, and shifts in sense.[156]  Exactly this sense of God’s presence is extraordiarily incorporated in the Morgan Bible.

      The shift from the sensuous choices made in its design to its subsequent reception of text indicates, in a direct, objective, and significant way, that the Morgan Bible did not originally have a stable sense.  Louis IX’s effort to push words out of the book failed.  Through its subsequent history, at least three different persons or groups decided to change its sense by inscribing words in the margins of its pages.  The sense of living bodies comes through time.  What Louis IX might consider to be a design failure can also be interpreted as a design feature:  the Morgan Bible caused persons to work out, with this artifact, a confusion of sense about communication with God.

      More subtle sensuous confusion incorporated in the Morgan Bible could not be so easily worked out.  The iconography of God in the Morgan Bible is disturbingly varied.  The first scene presents God as a large human figure, centered in the composition, looking straight out at the viewer.[157]  Choirs of angels – smaller human-like figures, but with wings attached to their backs – are on both sides of God.  Their hands are raised in a gesture of applause, and they float like persons standing in mid-air.  Similarly depicted angels (or God?) appear on the ground in other scenes.[158]  God (or an angel?) also appears as a gesturing torso leaning down from a small cloud attached to the upper architectural margin.  In some scenes this half-figure just gestures, elsewhere it also holds a scroll, and once, a codex.[159]  Many appearances of God are just a head looking down from a small cloud attached to the upper architectural margin.[160]  Occasionally God shrinks down to a hand extended down from a similar position.[161]  Sometimes God is depicted according to the literal words of scripture: a pillar with flames coming from its ends floats in front of the Israelis in the painting of the departure from Egypt.[162]  Elsewhere the action of God in inducing prophecy is depicted as a descending dove, or a flying dove with a light line connecting the dove to the inspired person.[163] 

      The painting concerning Jacob’s vision brings together three representations of God.[164]  On the left side of the painting, three angels, human-like figures but with wings on their backs, climb upward on a ladder in human-like fashion (three others descending have the same form and gesture, but are upside down).  Above the ladder, leaning downward from the fringe of a cloud attached to the architectural margin, is a figure’s torso, with one hand gesturing and the other holding a scroll.  The corresponding scripture refers to “angels of God ascending and descending on [a ladder]” and states that “the Lord stood above it, and said….”[165]  Perhaps the torso leaning down is speaking in addition to holding a scroll, but the implied figure does not seem to be standing relative to the ground.  In scripture, when the Lord, standing above the ladder, finishes speaking to Jacob, Jacob wakes up, erects and dedicates a stone pillar, and makes a vow to God.  On the right side of the painting Jacob empties a vessel onto an altar. Above the altar appears again a leaning torso, but in this instance one arm of the half-figure holds a closed codex.  This God-figure seems to be blessing Jacob, but in scripture the Lord standing above the ladder blessed Jacob while he slept.  Overall, the visual sense of God in this scene seems as confused as Jacob’s sense when, just earlier, he was wrestling with a man, or an angel, or perhaps God.

      Scrolls and codices have entirely confusing iconographic significance in the Morgan Bible’s paintings.  In the painting of the expulsion of Eve and Adam from Eden, God appears as a standing figure holding a codex by the cloth of his cloak.[166]  The painting of God calling Moses shows just the torso of God within a bush, but again God holds a codex by his cloak.[167] However, the torso of a figure leaning down over the sacrifice of Abel and Cain holds a scroll with his cloak, while the priest in the temple hearing Hannah’s petition holds in his hand an unrolled scroll.[168]  Although in scripture David often consults God before making a major decision, God appears seldom in the paintings concerning David and never with a scroll or a codex.  But God might have appeared differently to David; for example, a full figure of a standing angel, holding an unrolled scroll, is painted in front of a kneeling Manaoh.[169]  In depicting the offering of Isaac, a half-figure reaches down from above, grabs with one hand Abraham’s sword and with the other points to a ram.[170]  This action-oriented iconography of God harmonizes with the Morgan Bible’s over-all design of actions without words.  In contrast, once noticed, scrolls and codices placed desultorily undermine the sensuous unity of the Morgan Bible.

The Morgan Bible also has a peculiar physical irregularity.  This book was usually constructed with groups of three parchment sheets laid one on top of another and folded together to form page groups (gatherings) of six folios each.[171]  One folio from the second gathering most likely has been lost.[172]  If this gathering were like the rest of the gatherings in the Morgan Bible, then the lost folio would be the twelfth in the original book.  But the text of the Latin inscriptions for the last scene on (presently numbered) folio 11v and the first scene on the next folio implies that this is impossible.[173]  The gap in the text occurs between (presently numbered) folios 9 and 10.[174]  These folios, however, are conjoint: they are part of the same piece of parchment.  Thus the second gathering in the Morgan Bible, in contrast to all the other existing gatherings in the book, must have had an irregular structure.  Folio 7 must have been a single folio, not conjoint with folio 12.  A single, now lost folio must have existed between folios 9 and 10.[175]

      This physical irregularity is consistent with ambiguity and tension concerning the iconography of communication with God.  The textual space between folios 9 and 10 covers God giving the law to Moses, one of Hebrew scripture’s most important events. In contemplating the depiction of this event, the Morgan Bible’s creators confronted some questions.  Should a painting show God giving Moses a codex, a scroll, or just tablets?  Should Moses be shown writing tablets, a scroll, or perhaps a codex?[176]  How should Moses be shown communicating the law to the Israelites – by passing to them an artifact containing words, by speaking to them while holding such an artifact, or just by speaking to them? 

      The Morgan Bible’s creators did not necessarily have to answer these questions.  The Morgan Bible as a whole emphasizes worldly events revealing the logic of God's law.  It does not include paintings of God calling Abram or of God's covenant with him.  No paintings in it correspond to text from Leviticus, Deuteronomy, or other legal passages of the Torah.  Louis IX commissioned the Morgan Bible as a monumental Old Testament picture book to be filled with vigorous paintings and no text.  He approved the burning of the Talmud.  Painting the communication of the verbal law meant venturing into contentious issues and potentially undermining the intended sense of the Morgan Bible.  Instead, the Morgan Bible’s designers could have filled the single, missing folio with other, plausible scenes from the textual gap: Moses’s raised hands beside the battle against Amalek, the return of Moses’s wife, Moses’s appointment of judges, the crossing of the Jordan, and Joshua’s meeting with the captain of the Lord’s army.[177]  The irregularity in the second gathering suggests that the Morgan Bible’s designers pondered to an unusual extent the problem of God’s communication of the law.

      The sensuous uncertainty and confusion that the Morgan Bible evokes is closely related to the sense of God’s presence in Hebrew scripture.  Hebrew scripture includes characterizations of God as a great, cosmic deity who orders and permeates the universe.  But Hebrew scripture also records a God that shows up, unexpectedly and unsought, in forms that persons often do not recognize at first.  This one God communicates in mundane scenes with ambiguous, shifting sense.[178]  One sense of the Morgan Bible is that of an epic romance, a chanson de geste.[179]   But the words that the Morgan Bible attracted were not connected to epic romances, but to Hebrew scripture.  Moreover, despite the Morgan Bible’s large investment in visual sense, that sensory mode does not dominate.  Both the created form of the Morgan Bible and its subsequent evolution evoke sense like the sense of God's presence in Hebrew scripture.[180]


[1] Most scholars attribute the Morgan Bible to artists in Paris under Louis IX.  Weiss (2002) pp. 15-8.  Branner (1977) p. ix suggests an English origin.  The evidence in this section provides further support for Louis IX as patron.  The name “Morgan Bible of Louis IX” is used here as a conventional description reflecting the weight of scholarly evidence.  

[2] A exhibit of the (unbound) book at the Walters Art Museum in the fall of 2002 alerted visitors to these points.  I had the good fortune to be able to visit the exhibit, which I enjoyed immensely.  My visit promoted me to think about the Morgan Bible in relation to communications policy and thus led to the work in this section.

[3] Each folio presents two pages, a verso and a recto page.  The folios, which were trimmed slightly (perhaps in the sixteenth century) may have originally measured about 432 mm by 330 mm.  See infra., Section III.C. 

[4] Cockerell and Plummer (1969) contains color plates of all the Morgan Bible paintings.  In 1999 Faksimile Verlag Luzern produced a magnificent facsimile of the Morgan Bible.  Weiss (1999) is a supplementary commentary volume to that printing.

[5] Bloom in Rosenberg and Bloom (1990) p. 287.  Economists consider “best-selling” to be a complimentary term, but they also recognize that meeting demand is key to making sales.

[6] Alter (1996), p. xii.  Id. notes: 

The general predispositions of modern translators is to convert most of this concrete language into more abstract terms that have the purported advantage of clarity but turn the pungency of the original into stale paraphrase.

While for thousands of years many Jews have read Hebrew, most Christians, Muslims, and secularists have read Hebrew scripture in the sort of translation that Alter describes.  This is almost certainly the case for those who encountered the Morgan Bible. 

[7] The discovery in 1932 of numerous figurative wall paintings in the Dura-Europos synagogue, dated c. 245 G.C., dramatically changed understanding of Jewish art history.  While the literary style of the Christian Gospels differs dramatically from that of Hebrew scripture, no figurative Christian art from the first two centuries of Christianity has been found.  Christian art started to develop rapidly about 400 G.C.

[8] Fletcher (2001) explores ways in which the United States Constitution of 1789, the French Civil Code of 1804, and the German Civil Code of 1900 have been treated as sacred texts.  Bloom (1998) declares, “Bardology, the worship of Shakespeare, ought to be even more a secular religion than it already is….After Jesus, Hamlet is the most cited figure in Western consciousness; no one prays to him, but no one evades him for long either….Overfamiliar yet always unknown, the enigma of Hamlet is emblematic of the greater enigma of Shakespeare himself: a vision that is everything and nothing, a person who was (according to Borges) everyone and no one, an art so infinite that it contains us, and will go on enclosing those likely to come after us.”  Bloom seems here to transfers the Christian concept of the “body of Christ” to Shakespeare or Hamlet (according to Bloom, either one might have created the other).  This gives Shakespearean texts a sense of sacred mysticism.

[9] Kugel (1997), Chap. 1.

[10] Id.  Scientific inquiry tends to treat reality as a sacred text in these ways.

[11] Neusner (1998) provides an inspiring guide to the Talmud.  Some of my work at the FCC is rather similar to Talmudic study. 

[12] Gen. 3:2-2.  The biblical translations in this paragraph are from Kugel (1997) pp. 76-7, which also provides the general analysis and sources for this and the subsequent paragraph. 

[13] Gen. 2:16-17.

[14] Philo of Alexandria, Questions and Answers in Genesis 1:35, from Kugel (1997) p. 77. 

[15] Abot de. Rabbi Nathan, as excerpted and trans. in Kugel (1997) p. 77.  On Abot de. Rabbi Nathan, see

[16] Alter (1996), pp. xxi-xxvi, is one of the few works that have considered the stylistic level of Biblical Hebrew.   Alter finds (p. xxv): “the language of biblical narrative in its own time was stylized, decorous, and readily identified by its audiences as a language of literature, in certain ways distinct from the language of quotidian reality.  The tricky complication, however, is that in most respects it also was not a lofty style, and was certainly neither ornate nor euphemistic.”  As infra. shows, the style of response can differ from the style of the text, and response may not  be just a matter of literary style.

[17] To see the extent of this problem, consider the various translations (within and across translations) of different instances of  'adam in Gen. 2-3.  Different, historically important translations, as well as the original Hebrew, are readily available on  

[18] Alter (1996), comment on Gen. 1:26.  All subsequent quotations of Genesis in this paragraph are from Alter (1996).  Paul, a zealous Jew born about 30 years after Jesus and suddenly convinced in mid-life that Jesus was the Christ, associated Adam with a generic (Greek) term for human being.  See 1 Cr 15:45.

[19] Masculinists have pointed out that the submersion of maleness into generic human being has been a dominant aspect of the social construction of public life. 

[20] Gen. 2:18, as translated in Alter (1996).

[21] Masculinists have sharply criticized the division, in culture and law, between sustaining (foregrounding female love) and supporting (foregrounding male provision of money).  Masculinists consider this construction to de-humanize and commodify males.  They would thus object strongly to “sustainer beside him,” because it connotes an oppressive division between sustaining and supporting.  Perhaps this is just an example of male resentment.

[22] Id. p. 9 n. 18 states “’ezer elsewhere connotes active intervention on behalf of someone, especially in military contexts, as often in Psalms.”  Moreover, kenegdo “means alongside him, opposite him, a counterpart to him.”  (id.)  

[23] In “Gilgamesh and Hawawa A”, a Sumerian epic poem that scholars think may have been written about 4075 years ago (Foster (2001) p. 99), Gilgamesh refers to “his servant Enkidu,” while Enkidu refers to Gilgamesh as “my lord.”  Many other aspects of the text support a lord-servant status relation between these two characters.  See Douglas Frayne’s translation in Foster (2001) pp. 104-15.  The Epic of Gilgamesh, written about 3700 years ago (Foster (2001) p. xiii), shows a much different relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu.  In this text, they are presented as nearly equal in strength, counterpoints in culture, and complements in intimate friendship.   

[24] Alter (1996), comment on Gen. 2:23.

[25] Id., Gen 2:23, where I have changed the last clause from “for from man was this one taken.”

[26] Rosenberg and Bloom (1990) consciously wipes out about 2500 years of readers’ sacred senses.  This approach provides some insights but also generates many narrow, irrelevant, and lifeless moralisms:  “the best and most profound writing” (p. 16), “the greatest and most ironic writer” (p. 26), “one of the handful of truly sublime styles” (p. 27), “the most memorable character” (p. 220), “comparable in imagination and rhetoric only to the greatest Western authors” (p. 274), “one of J’s most delicious episodes” (p. 230), “Rachel’s finest moment” (p. 215), “one of the most sublime of J’s puns”, and, to those who feel multiple thrills, “There is only one proper climax.” (p. 237).  Bloom’s popular epithet, “America’s greatest literary critic” might be called one of the finest examples of literary justice.

[27] Gen 1:27, as trans. in Alter (1996).

[28] Alter (1981), p 146 considers Genesis to include “an approximate narrative equivalent to the technique of post-Cubist painting which gives us, for example, juxtaposed or superimposed, a profile and frontal perspective of the same face.”  Historical paintings of creation present a more natural view.  The Morgan Bible’s creation cycle integrates a single male into its sixth sub-painting, which corresponds to the sixth day of creation.  The seventh sub-painting shows the creation of Eve from this male’s rib.  See Cockerell and Plummer (1969), Morgan Bible, folio 1.  The Morgan Bible’s depiction of creation draws on the Cotton Genesis family of creation iconography, a popular pictorial narrative that dates back about 1550 years.  On the Cotton Genesis family of iconography, see Weitzmann and Kessler (1986).

[29] Alternatively, perhaps she had been happily living there, listening to records of the Lillith Fair rock concert and acting out parts in the Vagina Monologues.  But then, getting hungry and realizing that Adam had stolen all the fruit in Eden, she left Eden to bring Adam to justice.  

[30] Later non-canonical Jewish religious writings (specifically, versions of the Life of Adam and Eve) explicitly indicate that both Adam and Eve were expelled.  See Anderson and Stone (1999) p. 2E.  The Qur’an, Sura 2:36, 7:24-25, describes the expulsion from the garden using a plural reference that includes a particular person named Adam, and his wife.  In contrast, the Septuagent, a translation of Hebrew scripture into Greek about 2200 years ago, and the Vulgate, a translation of Hebrew scripture in Latin about 1600 years ago, both specify a particular male named Adam as the subject of expulsion.  The King James Bible, a translation into English finished about 400 years ago, specifies the expulsion of “the man.”  The recent literary translation presented above expels “the human.”    

[31] The Qur’an,, in Al Nisā’ 1, expresses the same understanding: “O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate….”

[32] Ferrua (1990) Fig. 53.

[33] Weitzmann and Kessler (1986) [Cotton Genesis, created about 1550 years ago] and Mazal (1980) [Vienna Genesis, created about 1450 years ago].   Additional early depictions of the expulsion and discussion of its iconography can been found in Bergman (1980) p. 21; figs. 6, 59, 60, and Kessler (1977) pp. 20-2; 29-31.  None of the paintings presented or discussed show the expulsion of a single human.  That two humans are shown being expelled has generated no art historical discussion, as far as I can tell.

[34] For examples of this scholarly development, see Trible (1992), Jolly (1997), Goldingay (1998), Kvam, Schearing, and Ziegler (1999).

[35] Excerpts from Psalm 119, as translated in Kugel (1999) pp. 245, 248.

[36] Passage from Psalm 119, id. p. 241.

[37] She remained a major force in Louis IX’s government through to her death in 1252.  So well did she and Louis IX work together that history has not clearly recorded the date at which her regency ended.

[38] In the long term, this melding of the institutions of religion and the state led to persons attaching relatively little importance to religion.  A survey conducted in 2002 found that only 11% of adults in France consider religion to be very important personally.  In contrast, the U.S. has a political history that, for the most part, has emphasized religious freedom and government action that supports diverse religious institutions with a common commitment to peaceful public life.  In the U.S., 59% of persons currently consider religion to be very important personally.  In Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Nigeria, the percent of persons who consider religion to be very important personally are 77%, 92%, 95%, and 92%, respectively.  Persons in the U.S. stand distinctively with poor persons around the world in considering religion to be very important personally.  The data cited here are from a recent Pew survey, described at

[39] Riley-Smith (2002) p. 76.

[40] Id.

[41] Id. pp. 76-78, Jordan (1979) pp. 193-5, Figs. 4-5.

[42] Hague (1955) p. 31, translation of John of Joinville’s  account.  Joinville went on Louis’s first crusade, stayed with him in the difficult times in Acre, and became his close friend.   Jordan (1988), p. 210, ft. 3, prefers this translation as “most literal,” and warns that Margaret Shaw’s translation, in Joinville and Villehardouin, is more fluid but profoundly distorts the meaning.

[43] Hague (1955) pp. 37-8.

[44] Jordan (1988) p. 214.  Jordan adds:

One is reminded of G.O. Sayles’s description of the enormous number of petitions that Englishmen and women wanted to bring their king, ill-written and in Sayles’s words so odd “that they must have come from the mentally disordered.” [internal footnotes omitted].

FCC staff members process a large number of petitions, complaints, waiver requests, etc.  Many of these are publicly accessible at   In recent years, parties have been making an increasing number of appeals directly to FCC commissioners.

[45] Such work, done by hard-working, public-spirited bureaucrats, has often been greatly under-appreciated.

[46] Gaposchkin (2000) pp. 65-6.  Gaposchkin analyzes the iconography of the Porte Rouge of Notre-Dame in terms of Louis’s preference for monks and mendicants over church officials.  She emphasizes the political significance of this preference, which undoubtedly was one important aspect of it.

[47] Id. and Jordan (1979) pp. 54-5.  See also Jordan (1979) pp. 129, 184-89.

[48] Baird et. at. (1986) pp. 215-16 [trans. of the chronicle of Salimbene de Adam].

[49] Hague (1955) p. 32.

[50] Id. p. 116.

[51] Id. p. 35-6.

[52] Id.  This seems to have been a recognized rhetorical figure.  Dante, intellectually sparring in writing with a generic "adversary," wrote: "To an opinion so grossly stupid,…the reply should be given not verbally but with a knife!"  See Dante, Convivio (c. 1297), Bk. IV, Ch. XIV, para. 11, trans in Ryan (1989) p. 159.

[53] On Louis’s anti-Semiticsm, see also Jordan (1989) pp. 128-41 and Jordan (1979) pp. 84-6, 155-7.

[54] Hague (1955) p. 51.

[55] Vaughan (1993) p. 51 [chronicle of Matthew Paris], quoted in Weiss (1998) p. 2. 

[56] This sense is further emphasized in the sentence that follows Louis’s demand to be given back his cross. Louis said, “He who ignores nothing knows that nothing edible will enter my mouth until I have again signed myself with it.”  Id.

[57] Gabrieli (1969) [Maqrizi’s history] p. 300-1, quoted in Weiss (1998) p. 81.  Id. p. 300 ft. 3 notes the view that Maqrizi inserted the second sentence into Louis’s original letter.  The stylistic unity discussed  infra. supports the alternative view, also discussed id., that the sentence is original.

[58] Id. p. 301.  The quotation at the end of the passage is from the Qur’an 26: 228.

[59] These differences correspond to differences in emphasis in Islam and Christianity.  Nonetheless, Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same one Abrahamic God.

[60] See the text of the Hamzanama of Akbar (Thackston (2002)) and Hanaway (1970).

[61] Cf. Deut. 20:10-14, Gen 13: 14-17, Num. 31: 7-11, Josh. 11:14-17, Hos. 1:10.

[62] Jordan (1979) p. 127-8.

[63] Id. p. 129, Jordan (1988) pp. 214-16.  While Louis was in Palestine after the Muslims in Egypt had utterly defeated Louis’s army, he heard about a Muslim sultan who had compiled a great library.  When Louis returned, he built a library and began collecting books.  Riley-Smith (2002) pp. 79-80.  Louis was not hostile to learning from books, especially after being defeated in his first crusade.   But, as described infra., he greatly favored richer sensory stimuli.

[64] Traces of a Persian foliation with numbers 46, 47, and 48 remain on folios 3v, 2v, and 1v.  Voelkle (1999) p. 251.  The manuscript may have originally contained an additional gathering (6 folios) to conclude the story more normally.  Weiss (1999) p. 225.  Most scholars believe that the Morgan Bible was designed as a picture book (id. p. 226).  The style of the Latin inscriptions, and numerous mistakes in describing pictured biblical episodes, provides strong support for this view.  Noel (2002) pp. 109-113.

[65] Often manuscripts with consecutive sequences of paintings had paintings only on one side of a folio, arranged to create alternating openings of paintings and blank pages.  This is the case for important picture bibles of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries: the Manchester Picture Bible (Rylands MS French 5), the Huth Bible (Art Institute of Chicago, MS 1915.533); and the Hague Bible Picture Book (S 76 F.5).  Hull (1995) pp. 4, 8-10 cites several other instances.  It’s also true for the Leiden Psalter (Bibl. Rijksuniversiteit MS last. 76A); the St. Louis Psalter (BN MS. Lat. 10525); the Psalter of Blanche de Castile, and the Bibles Moralisées.  Maekawa (2000) p. 39 calls this pattern typical of Parisian manuscripts from the first half of the thirteenth century.

[66] Mann (2002) p. 41.  The pages of the Morgan Bible currently measure about 390 x 300 mm, with a painted rectangle of about 270 x 230 mm.  Fleck and Leson (2002) p. 144.  Missing portions of Latin inscriptions and illuminations indicate that the folios have been trimmed along the top and outer edge.  Mann (2002) p. 58, n. 14 uses the size of the bottom margin to estimate an original page size of 432 x 305 mm.  However, the folios were trimmed in their horizontal dimension at least 12mm (see 21v, 41v).   Horizontal trimming proportional to the Mann (2002) estimate of vertical trimming implies an original folio size of 432 x 332 mm.   Such a page dimension gives an outer side white space about equal to the top and bottom white spaces.  While the aspect ratio of such a folio (1.30) is slightly less than what is considered the standard for medieval book production (√2 or approx. 1.41), other contemporary manuscripts have nearly this size or smaller aspect ratios.  See, e.g. Fleck and Leson (2002) cat. 10, 25, 8, 4, 26, and 9.  Two other manuscripts considered to have been made for Louis IX after his return from his first crusade, the St. Louis Psalter (Latin 10525) and the Arsenal Old Testament (Bib. Arsenal MS 5211), have dimensions 210 x 150 mm and 285 x 202 mm, respectively.  The Morgan Bible has a page area much larger than both these manuscripts.  The Morgan Bible is larger than 16 out of the 18 11’th-13’th century manuscripts displayed for comparison in Fleck and Leson (2002).  A typical book today has dimensions about 205 x 130 mm (Esposito (2003) p. 1).  The Morgan Bible is more than twice as large as a typical book today.

[67] E.g. folio 24v, 28v.

[68] Lowden (2000) argues that four Bibles Moralisées were produced in Paris in the 1220s and 1230s (Vienna 2554 and then Vienna 1179 in 1220s, and Toledo together with Oxford-London-Paris in the 1230s).  He estimates the original page dimensions of these books to have been about 430 x 310 mm (id. vol I. pp. 12-13, 100-1, 143, 146, 147).  The Morgan Bible’s original page dimensions may have been about 430 x 330 mm (see note above).  The text/picture area in these four Bibles Moralisées is about 290 x 210 mm, with variations of about 5mm around these dimensions in the latter two Bibles Moralisées (id. pp. 118, 152).  The picture areas in the Morgan Bible measure about 270 x 230 mm.  The picture layout in the Bibles Moralisées, compared to that in the Morgan Bible, favors a greater aspect ratio for the painted area.  

[69] Id. p. 180.

[70] Id. pp. 167-80.

[71] Mann (2002) pp. 53-5.

[72] The texts/illustrations are stacked in two columns of four. 

[73] Lowden (2000) vol. I p 13.  Id. p. 209 suggests that the Bibles Moralisées were designed to stimulate discussion.

[74] Id. p. 201.

[75] Blanche of Castile may have earlier ordered a Bible Moralisée, Vienna, ÖNB Codex 1179, for her husband, Louis VIII.  See Lowden (2000) vol. I p. 201.  Perhaps that was a cherished gift. 

[76] Jordan (2002) p. 101, Jordan (1979) pp. 51-63, 105-10.

[77] Holbert (2002).

[78] Folio 2r.  Lamech killing Cain is an extra-scriptural interpretive tradition.  Cf. Gen. 4: 23-4.

[79] Folio 3.

[80] Folios 3v, 4r.

[81] Folio 13v.  Weiss (2002) p. 31.  Cf. Maekawa (2000) pp. 45-6. 

[82] In depicting this as a master logic, the Morgan Bible shows a more assertive sense of Hebrew scripture than does the St. Louis Psalter.  The St. Louis Psalter, which was produced after Louis IX’s first crusade, presents episodes more separated in space and meaning.  Maekawa (2000) pp. 42-50.

[83] For these stories, see Gen. 16, 34, and 38, respectively.  The second story has been called for centuries “the rape of Dinah.”  Alter (1996) translates Gen. 34:2 as “[Shechem] took her [Dinah] and lay with her and debased her.”  Id. p. 189, ft. 2 notes that the form of the Hebrew here “may denote rape.”  Then comes an oddly conclusive statement (id. p. 190, ft. 3): “The psychology of this rapist is precisely the opposite of Ammon’s in 2 Samuel 13, who, after having consummated his lust for his sister by raping her, despises her.”  Kugel (1997) pp. 233-44 repeatedly refers to the story of Dinah and Shechem as rape and notes that the language used in Gen. 34:2 is the same as that used in Deut. 22:28-29.  Most scholars today understand rape in terms of violence done to a person and lack of freely given consent to sex.  Deut. 22:28-29, particularly in the punishment described, does not seem to relate to rape as currently understood.  A striking aspect of Gen. 34 is the total absence of Dinah’s perspective.  This contrasts sharply with the presentation of Tamar in the story of Tamar and Judah (Gen. 38).  The story of Tamar and Judah teaches about a woman who is intelligent, resourceful, and not afraid to challenge conventions.  Given the importance of the issue of rape to men and women today (see Bal (1988) chap. 2), readers might ponder what the silence of Dinah in Gen. 34 implies about her perspective on what happened.

[84] Judges 19:22-8; folio 16r, upper register, right side.

[85] Judges 20; folio 16v, lower register.

[86] Folio 27r, upper register, to folio 29r, upper register.

[87] Mann (2002) p. 55-6 discusses the relationship to French romances, including the Song of Roland.  For paintings included named swords, see e.g. folio 34v.  A smiling, stabbed figure appears in folio 34v, top register.

[88] Another indication of Morgan Bible’s artistic sophistication is its paintings of the nature and effects of tension between a King and powerful intimates – King Saul and his son-in-law David, and King David and his son Absalom.  See Weiss (2002) p. 31.

[89] Latin inscription, trans. from Lupu (1999) p. 311.  As Noel (2002) p. 119 notes, there is no Persian or Judeo-Persian inscription for this sub-area.  This absence may indicate the difficulty that others have had in making sense of it.

[90] Sydney Cockerell made this association in his descriptions of the miniatures in a book published in 1927.  These descriptions have been republished in Cockerell and Plummer (1969) and Weiss (1999). 

[91] Noel (2002) p. 119.

[92] Matthew 5:3-12, Luke 6:20-38.  The painting places about Penninah four children, while Hannah is alone, disconnected from them.

[93] Maekawa (2000) p. 92 calls this lower register a “rare depiction of a psychological relationship between scenes separated by frames….”

[94] Hannah refers to herself as a handmaiden of the Lord (1 Samuel 1:11, 16, 19; cf. Luke 1:38) and sings a song similar to that of Mary (1 Samuel 2:1-10; cf. Luke 1:46-55).  On the other hand, the Lord has shut up Hannah’s womb (1 Samuel 1:5), and she seemed not to have appreciated Elkanah’s love for her as a person, rather than as a bearer of children (1 Samuel 1:8).  Moreover, the priest seems to suggest that Hannah has a drinking problem (1 Samuel 1:13-14).  The upper right and lower left scenes in the Morgan Bible are important in asserting the righteousness  of Hannah and thus the logic of the depicted action.

[95] The Cotton Genesis is a fifth-century illuminated manuscript.  For a reconstruction and study of that manuscript, see Weitzmann and Kessler (1986).

[96] Hull (1995) pp. 11, 13, 20. 

[97] Finney (1994).

[98] While the conflict over the proper role of icons occurred in Byzantium, Charlemagne’s theologians forcefully expressed their views in arguments set out in length in the Libri Carolini.  For a brief review, see Aston (1988) pp. 47-50.

[99] Hull (1995) p. 3 defines a Bible picture book as a “manuscript in which scriptural and hagiographical stories are relayed primarily by means of pictures rather by text.”  Maekawa (2000) pp. 205-7 lists ten picture books produced in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. 

[100] Many of  the picture books, id., include short captions or textual descriptions.  Hull (1995) pp. 12-14, 18 provides evidence that paintings often preceded text in the production of picture books, as they did in Bibles Moralisées.  Whether particular picture books were originally presented as finished without containing any text is not clear.       

[101] Rosenthal (1956) pp. 62-4.  Cf. Cohen (1999) p. 328.

[102] Rosenthal (1956) pp. 64-7 calls the Karaite literature “[t]he greatest source of anti-tulmudic charges and attacks.”

[103] Jewish scholars have long and fruitfully discussed how God gave the law to the Israelites.  See Kugel (1997) pp. 400-7.  Despite past tragedies, Catholic and Protestants recently seem to be able to discuss in a mutually enriching way points of tension over fidelity to written scripture.  Muslims’ discussions of the interpretation of the Qur’an, and the status of the Sunnah and other hadith might develop likewise.  On the other hand, discussions in academic literary criticism and related fields have become increasingly violent.  A fundamentalist zeal for the original written text permeates Rosenberg and Bloom (1990).  Nonetheless, physical violence seems unlikely to emerge among chair-bound academics.

[104] Grayzel (1966) doc. 96, p. 241 ["to the archbishops throughout the Kingdom of France," dated June 9, 1239]; doc. 97 p. 243 ["to the King of Portugal," dated June 20, 1939].

[105] Id. doc. 98 p. 243 ["to the Bishop, and to the Prior of the Dominicans, and the Minister of the Franciscan Friars, in Paris," dated June 20 1239].  Of docs. 96-8, this is the only one that gives instructions to burn books.

[106] Cohen (1982) p. 63-4, ft. 23. This hateful action was unfortunately repeated subsequently in Paris and in other places.   Jordan (1989) p. 139 notes, "Partly as a result of this and later burnings, only one full copy of the Talmud has survived from the Middle Ages." 

[107] Cohen (1999) argues that the Christian Church's attacks on Jews for deviating from Hebrew scripture was a largely new development in the thirteenth century.   The quoted phrase is an excerpt from Justinian I's decree (Novella 146, issued in 553 G.C.)  forbidding the Mishnah, a compilation of rabbinic commentary on the Torah.  Trans. and quoted in Kugel (1997) p. 402.

[108] Lowden (2000), vol. II, analyzing the text used for the Book of Ruth, finds much material not included in Hebrew scripture and not showing faithful interpretation of it:  “two gross errors...strikingly ignorant” (pp. 72-3); “a ‘biblical’ text so bizarre as to be (unintentionally) amusing” (id.); “there is no event in the biblical Ruth that remotely resembles what is narrated here” (p. 129); “The priest of the law who gives Ruth to Boaz is an invention of the author without any basis in biblical narrative.” (p. 171); “it is striking that the author is ignorant of the sex of the child and of his name, since a major element of the importance of the Book of Ruth (in terms of medieval Christianity) lies in the role of Ruth and of Boaz's son Obed as the progenitors of David.” (pp. 185-6).

[109] The canonical verbal order within books is the same as that of traditional text, i.e. there is one, given order of the sentences understood as part of the definition of the text.  Other collections of words, such as the Talmud or hypertexts, have different understandings of order.  An order of books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus,…) is also part of the definition of the Bible.    

[110] E.g. folio 24v, lower register.

[111] Folio 6r, lower register; folio 10r, upper register.

[112] Section II.D, infra.,  provides more details on the visual conventions in the Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp.

[113] Similar architectural forms appear in some of the circular illustrations in the Oxford-Paris-London Bible Moralisée, produced in Paris in the 1230s.  They are relatively more frequent in the third (London/Harley) volume.  See De Laborde (1911-27), e.g. vol. 1, pl. 87, row 4; vol. 1, pl. 89, row 3; vol. 3, pl. 556, 557.  A similar frame appears in the St. Louis Psalter (probably produced in Paris about 1260), but it has a more somber and less creative form.

[114] Simpson (2002) p. 133 notes this aspect of the paintings and points out that this compositional style characterizes Persian paintings from 1300-1350.  Other early Christian paintings did not have this style.  For example, illuminations from the Vienna Genesis, a sixth century Christian manuscript, are much more loosely organized in the painted area.  A painting of Moses receiving the Law, from fifth or sixth century Byzantium and reproduced in a tenth-century manuscript, shows a rich spatial organization of figures and landscapes.  This painting is reproduced in Mango (2002) p. 222.

[115] Colors of frame components also change with the same rhythm as changes in the sub-areas’ background colors.

[116] Dating of the script varies somewhat.  Cockerell states that the Latin inscriptions are “about fifty years later in date than the illustrations,” and, a paragraph later, describes them as added “c. 1300.” Cockerell and Plummer (1969) p. 6.  Cockerell was probably drawing on the evidence of Millar (1927-30), cat. #66 and #67, both dated c. 1300.  Stahl describes the script as “an Italian script of Bolognese type, and can be no earlier than the first quarter of the fourteenth century.”  He cites for comparison Thomson (1969) no. 75, dated 1379.  In addition, Stahl observes, “The square proportion of the letters and the roundness of the looped forms suggest a mid-fourteenth-century date.”  Stahl (1974) p. 5.  Noel describes the inscriptions as dating to the first half of the fourteenth century, while also noting the wide range of possible dates.  Noel (2002) pp. 109-10.  The script style does not itself provide good indication of where the Morgan Bible was when the Latin inscriptions were added.  Id. notes that this style of script and decoration was “widely imitated throughout southern Europe in the first half of the fourteenth century.”   A clue to the location of the Morgan Bible might be its possible influence on the Bibbia Istoriata Padovana.  This latter book is a large Bible Picture Book with four scenes per page and short, Italian-language inscriptions done in a script similar to the Morgan Bible’s Latin script.   It was made in Padua late in the fourteenth century.  For relatively accessible images from it, see Folena (1962).

[117] Babaie (1999) and Moreen (1999) provide German, English, and French translations of the Persian and Judeo-Persian texts. Both translations note words from different languages.  The Persian scribe wrote mainly in Persian but included some distinctively Arabic words and expressions.  The Jewish scribes (two different hands are apparent) wrote mainly in Judeo-Persian, but included some distinctively Hebrew words. 

[118] Among the extent 92 page views (46 folios), the number of pages with 2, 3, and 4 text areas are 28, 29, and 35, respectively.  Consistent with these figures, there are a total of 283 text areas, 85 of which span the full upper or lower edge of the painted area.

[119] All but the first nine Latin inscriptions begin with “Qualiter” (how).

[120] For visual design of the decorated initials, see especially folios 8v, 16r, and 35r.

[121] On anchorage, see Barthes (1977) p. 41.

[122] The rubrics are in red ink, which contrasts with the black ink used for the rest of the Latin inscriptions.  Privileging a verbal marker in this way contributes to the book’s visual sense.

[123] In Latin, “In principio creavit deus celum et terram….”  Folio 1r, upper left.  These are the exact Latin words that begin Jerome’s Vulgate, the primary medieval Christian bible. 

[124] Folio 46r, upper left, as trans. in Lupu (1999) p. 326 (#278).

[125] Folio 27r, lower left, trans. in Lupu (1999) p. 315 (#167).

[126] 1 Samuel 18:25-7.

[127] Folio 29v, trans. id. p. 316 (#179).

[128] Folio 30r, upper left; inscrip. trans. id. p. 317 (#181).

[129] Folio 4v, upper right; inscrip. trans. id. p. 301 (#29).

[130] Folio 34v, upper; inscrip. trans. id. p. 319 (#209).

[131] Folio 2v; inscrip. trans. id. p. 300 (#14, #15).

[132] This and subsequent statistics for the Latin inscriptions have been tabulated from the translations in id.

[133] The Morgan Bible has 0.23 words/cm2  of painting per page (considering only Latin inscriptions).  The Hamzanama of Akbar has 0.093 words/cm2  of painting per text page-painted page pair.  Both figures measure words in English translation.   On the Hamzanama of Akbar, see Section II, infra.

[134] Pages with 2, 3, and 3 text areas have on average 135, 141, and 146 words of Latin inscription per page, respectively.  The data does not reject, even at a 10% level of significance, the hypothesis that average words per page is not related to the number of text areas per page.   However, the number of text areas seems to be based on the visual organization of the corresponding painted register.  In most cases, obvious visual characteristics of the paintings distinguish between a one-text-area register and a two-text-area register.

[135] Cockerell and Plummer (1969) p. 13, which quotes the chronicle of a missionary who presented the Morgan Bible to Shah Abbas. 

[136] The last phrase “by the assistance of God the exalted” is rendered in a standard Arabic form.  Folio 3v; Latin trans. Lupu (1999) p. 300 (#21), Persian trans. Babaie (1999) p. 329 (#21), which notes the Arabic form.

[137] Folio 7r, upper left; inscrip. trans. Lupu (1999) p. 303 (#48).

[138] Trans. Babaie (1999) p. 332 (#48).

[139] The Persian inscription for the image of manna from heaven added to the Latin text an additional fact about the manna: “for each it turned into what they desired, be it honey or bread” (folio 9v, trans. Babaie (1999) p. 334 (#68))  The Qur’an describes God sending manna and quails to the children of Israel (Surah 20:80-81), but it does not describe this property of manna.  Jewish midrash, however, states this (see Kugel (1997) pp. 360-1).   Apparently the Persian scribe benefited from broad religious study.

[140] Jews have lived in Iran since at least the destruction of the First Temple about 2600 years ago.

[141] Moreen (1999) intro., pp. 353-4.

[142] Shah Abbas’ seal was placed on one of the first pages of the Morgan Bible, when opened in Persian order.  See Simpson (2002) p. 132 ft. 26.  The seal is no longer visible on the manuscript.

[143] Folio 7r, lower right; trans. in Moreen (1999) p. 360 (#51).  Folio 11v, lower; trans id. p. 363 (#82).

[144] Folio 28r, trans. id. p. 369 (#171-173). Cf. Persian trans. Babaie (1999) p. 343 (#171-173).

[145] Folio 6v, lower left: the Latin inscription (Lupu (1999) p. 303 (#46)) identifies the return to Jacob of his sons.  The Persian (Babaie (1999) p. 332) describes this scene (incorrectly) as Joseph sending off his brothers.  The Judeo-Persian (Moreen (1999) p. 360) follows the Persian mistake.  The Latin inscription describes what is happening in the upper left part of folio 12v (Lupu (1999) p. 306-7 (#84)), while the Persian and Judeo-Persian inscriptions omit any mention of this whole section of the painting.  Folio 13r, upper right, depicts Gideon wringing from fleece dew into a bowl.  The Latin inscription describes this narratively important action (Lupu (1999) p. 307 (#86)), while the Persian and Judeo-Persian texts omit any mention of it.  On folio 17r, the upper register depicts the surviving men of Benjamin seizing the dancing daughters of Shiloh.  The lower register depicts Ruth and her daughters.  The Latin inscriptions recognizes that these paintings are not part of one story, but the Persian inscription describes Naomi as one of the women depicted above (a daughter of Shiloh).  The Judeo-Persian inscription follows this mistake.  See #115, trans. in Lupu (1999) p. 309, Babaie (1999) p. 338, and Moreen (1999) p. 365.

[146] In one inscription the Judeo-Persian scribe added, after Moses' name, "peace be upon him," written in Hebrew.  Folio 7v, upper left, trans. Babaie (1999) p. 361 (#52).  This is a strange translation of a customary Muslim epithet for the Prophet Muhummad.  It has nothing to do with the corresponding image.

[147] Folio 8v, lower left, trans. Babaie (1999) p. 361 (#62).

[148] Folio 13r, lower, trans. Babaie (1999) p. 363 (#87).

[149] Folio 8v, lower right, trans Lupu (1999) p. 304 (#63).

[150] Trans. Babaie (1999) p. 333 (#63).

[151] Kugel (1997) pp. 324-6.

[152] Trans. Moreen (1999) p. 361 (#63).

[153] On early examples of such midrash, see Kugel (1997) pp. 322-6.  Another folio provides evidence that the Judeo-Persian scribe was aware of at least some midrash.  He described the scene of the building of the tower of Babel (folio 3r) thus: “The tale about the building of the palace in the days of Nimrod.”  Babaie (1999) p. 358 (#18).  The Bible does not mention Nimrod in conjunction with the story of the tower; the connection comes from midrash (see Kugel (1997) pp. 125-7).

[154] See infra., Section I, and references therein.

[155] As suggested infra., one extreme reaction might have been to destroy it as a corruption of (textual) scripture.

[156] Kugel (2003) eloquently teaches about these aspects of Hebrew scripture.

[157] Folio 1r, upper left.

[158] An angel brandishing a sword expels Eve and Adam from Eden (folio 2r, upper right); two angels visit Lot (folio 3v, lower right); an angel wrestles with Jacob (folio 4v, lower left); an angel visits Manoah (folio 14r, upper right).  On confusions in the appearances of men, angels, and gods, see Kugel (2003) Ch. 2.

[159] The second through sixth scenes (days of creation) each include four applauding half-figures leaning down from the top margin.  Folio 2v, lower right, includes two smaller, applauding, heavenly half-figures.  Out of 12 additional instances of heavenly half-figures, 5 hold scrolls and 1 holds a codex.

[160] There are 20 instances of such god-heads.

[161] Folio 39r, lower right and lower left; folio 40r, upper right.

[162] Folio 8v, lower right.

[163] Dove descending from small cloud attached to upper architectural margin: folio 31r, lower right; folio 31v, upper left.  Dove flying just below a cloud attached to upper arch. margin, with a line (in a slightly darker shade of the background color) connecting the dove's beak to the top of the head of a figure: folio 22v, lower left.  Folio 26r, lower left, depicts the spirit of the Lord departing from Saul as a dove flying away from him.  The evil spirit is depicted as a small, horned and hoofed devil that lands on Saul's shoulder.

[164] Folio 4r, lower right.  For an insightful discussion of this passage, see Kugel (2003) pp. 27-35.

[165] Gen. 28:12-13 (KJV).

[166] Folio 2r, upper left.

[167] Folio 7v, lower left.

[168] The painting of God speaking to Samuel about Eli also includes a torso leaning down with an unrolled scroll, as does the call of Gideon.

[169] Folio 14r, upper right.

[170] Folio 3r, lower left.

[171] Voekle (1999) and Cockerell and Plummer (1969) pp. 17-18.

[172] Voekle (1999) p.  251 notes vestiges of Persian foliation showing numbers 46, 47, and 48 on folios 3v, 2v, and 1v, respectively.  This indicates that the Morgan Bible had 48 folios when given to Shah Abbas.  Of these 48, 46 are currently known.  Folio 45, which was detached from the book before the Judeo-Persian inscriptions were added, lacks a conjoint folio, which would fall between folios 42 and 43 if the last gathering were regular.   The text of folio 42v ends with 2 Sam. 12:7-14 and starts on 43r with 2 Sam. 13:7-14.   This is a significant gap, particularly since the scenes on folio 42v include the beginning of story of David and Bethsheba, but not key latter parts of it (the death of their first infant; the birth of their second).  Thus one missing folio almost certainly fell between folios 42 and 43.  All the other gatherings, except the second, are regular. 

[173] The last textual reference on folio 11v is Joshua 24:29-31 (death of Joshua), while the first on folio 12r is the rubic “Ex libro iudicum.” There is thus no textual gap for corresponding paintings to fill.

[174] The last textual reference on folio 9v is Exodus 17:8-13, while the first on folio 10r is Jos. 7:1-5.  The latter is the first reference to the book of Joshua, but there is no rubric indicating the beginning of this book.  The beginning of a new book is indicated with a rubric in all other such instances in the Morgan Bible.  Cockerell and Plummer (1969) p. 17 observes, “From section 2 the last leaf has been removed, but there is no gap at that point in the text.  A gap occurs however after the third leaf of this section (f. 9) and something is there missing."  Fleck and Leson (2002) p. 144 mentions this, and cites Harvey Stahl as also having made this observation. 

[175] Fleck and Leson (2002) p. 144, suggests: “It is possible therefore that a bifolium at the center of quire 2, between the present folios 9 and 10, might be missing.”  While the St. Louis Psalter provides examples of such inserted bifolia (see Branner (1977) pp. 134, 176), this scenario seems to me unlikely.  The Morgan Bible had 48 folios when it was given to Shah Abbas.  Subsequently two folios were lost, one of which is almost certainly from the last known gathering.  An inserted bifolium would be inconsistent with the known page total and the loss of a single folio elsewhere.  Moreover, an inserted bifolium would leave a single (non-conjoint) folio in the second gathering.  Thus this scenario presumes the existence of a single (non-conjoint) folio in a gathering.  It is more plausible that there existed two such folios, rather than one singleton and a bifolium.

[176] The scroll is an artifact more associated with Jewish life (teaching the Torah) than Christianity, while the rise of Christianity is closely associated with the development of the codex.  Jewish scholars have long discussed scriptural aspects of God’s communication of the law.  See Kugel (1997) pp. 376-87, 400-7.

[177] The first Latin inscription on the subsequent page (folio 10r) includes after the description of the defeat at Ai a report on what happened earlier at Jericho and why.   This suggests that the conquest of Jericho got squeezed out of the paintings on the previous single folio.

[178] Kugel (2003) Ch. 2. 

[179] Mann (2002) pp. 55-6.

[180] In addition to sensuous confusion about communication with God, the Morgan Bible’s paintings contrast sharply good and evil, depict inevitable redress for the wronged, and show persons and events moving against a monochrome background.  Kugel (2003) Ch. 6 identifies starkness, which includes these characteristics, also to be an important sense of Hebrew scripture.