Kennicott Bible

Kennicott Bible

La Coruña (Spain) — 1476

One of Spain’s most significant manuscripts: the Hebrew Bible by Moses Ibn Zabara

  1. A Hebrew Bible in its original binding with breathtaking illumination named after the Hebraist Benjamin Kenicott

  2. The famous Moses Ibn Zabara completed the work in 1476 in La Coruna in Northwestern Spain

  3. Zabara was supported by the painter Joseph Ibn Hayyim and together they created one of Spain’s most beautiful illuminated manuscripts

Kennicott Bible

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Kennicott Bible

The Kennicott Bible counts among the most significant medieval manuscripts from Spain. It is a noble, exceptional work containing a Hebrew Bible, which contains the text Sefer Michlol by Rabbi David Kihmhi alongside the Tanakh. As a special feature in the colophon at the end of the Kennicott Bible, the scribe immortalized himself: the famous Moses Ibn Zabara, who completed the work in 1476 in La Coruna in Northwestern Spain. This Hebrew Bible, preserved in its original, gorgeous binding unites gloriously ornamental and figurative book decoration on 922 pages. It gained its name from the Hebraist Benjamin Kennicot, who researched the manuscript in the 18th century. A truly noble treasure!

Kennicott Bible

The Kennicott Biblecounts among the most significant medieval manuscripts from Spain. It is a noble, exceptional work containing a Hebrew Bible, which contains the text Sefer Michlol by Rabbi David Kihmhi alongside the Tanakh. As a special feature in the colophon at the end of the Kennicott Bible, the scribe immortalized himself: the famous Moses Ibn Zabara, who completed the work in 1476 in La Coruna in Northwestern Spain. This Hebrew Bible, preserved in its original, gorgeous binding unites gloriously ornamental and figurative book decoration on 922 pages. It gained its name from the Hebraist Benjamin Kennicot, who researched the manuscript in the 18th century. A truly noble treasure!

Noble Ornamentation in Consummate Execution

The adornment of the Kennicott Bible makes it something exceptional. 24 canonical book titles and 49 parashah titles are embellished with ornamental depictions. The ornamentation of this title is made up of zoomorphic figures, designed with glorious colors and splendidly gilded. An extremely noble appearance and very accurate execution characterize the style of the Kennicott Bible. This is particularly clear on the 27 pages of the Sefer Michlol, which is splendidly adorned all over with arcade architecture. The carpet pages, which additionally decorate the manuscript, round out this accomplished picture!

A Spanish Treasure

The Kennicott Bible was made in La Coruna, Spain in 1475 as a commission for Isaac, son of Don Salomon de Braga. A colophon at the end of the manuscript indicates the 24th of June, 1476 as the bible’s date of completion. This unusual detail for a Hebrew Bible is the work of the scribe Moses Ibn Zabara, who wanted to immortalize himself in this manner. Zabara was supported in his work on the bible by the painter Joseph Ibn Hayyim. Together they created a true masterpiece of medieval Spanish illumination in the Kennicott Bible!

Tanakh and Sefer Michlol

Alongside the Tanakh, the Kennicott Bible contains the text Sefer Michlol, a grammatical treatise by Rabbi David Kihmhi. This composition is appropriately dignified through the employment of fine, fantastical ornamentation and precious gold leaf, which shines on all the pages. Benjamin Kennicott (1718–1783), an English Hebraist, made the bible famous through his study of it. Kennicot, who was employed as the canon of Christ Church in Oxford, pursued an intense study of Hebrew Bible texts and published these in a few standard references. As an acknowledgement of this, one of the most exceptional manuscripts of medieval Spain bears his name!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Kennicott-Bibel
Size / Format
922 pages / 32.0 × 26.2 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
1476
Style
Language
Script
Sephardi script
Illustrations
24 canonical book headings, 49 parashah headings structured with gold in different motifs featuring zoomorphic figures in many colors, 27 lavishly-illuminated arcaded pages framing the text of the Sefer Mikhlol, 9 fully illuminated carpet pages, 150 Psalm headings, numbered and illuminated with gold and silver
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Radcliffe Library
Benjamin Kennicott (1718–83)

Available facsimile editions:
Kennicott Bible – MS. Kennicott 1 – Bodleian Library (Oxford, United Kingdom)
Facsimile Editions Ltd. – London, 1985
Limited Edition: 550 copies
Detail Picture

Kennicott Bible

Zoomorphic Marginalia

Aside from their truly excellent calligraphy, Jewish manuscripts are renowned for their zoomorphic decoration. The four creatures that appear in this elaborately patterned red-blue border above the text in golden frames include two long-necked birds resembling swans, but brightly colored, as well as two mythical creatures. A winged dragon on the left faces off against what appears to be a horned lion and the tails of the battling beasts have become intertwined.

The Kennicott Bible
Single Page

Kennicott Bible

Temple Menorah

Although the fate of the original menorah set up by Moses in the tabernacle in the wilderness, which later resided in the Temple of Solomon, is not recorded, the menorah from the Second Temple was taken back to Rome after the conquest of Jerusalem in AD 70. It was then carried off by the Vandals after they sacked Rome in 455 to their new capital of Carthage.

The menorah was recovered by the Byzantine general Belisarius after he defeated the Vandals in 533 and brought back to Constantinople. The Emperor Justinian I, prompted by superstitious fear that it had been unlucky for Rome and Carthage, sent it back to Jerusalem, at which point it disappears from the historical record. It is depicted here with the Lion of Judah sleeping at tits base.

The Kennicott Bible
Facsimile Editions

#1 The Kennicott Bible

Facsimile Editions Ltd. – London, 1985

Publisher: Facsimile Editions Ltd. – London, 1985
Limited Edition: 550 copies
Binding: It was not easy to find a bookbinder capable of making an exact copy of the original binding. The binding, embossed in minute detail on all six surfaces, is extremely rare - only six such box bindings still exist. But just such a binding was able to preserve the manuscript for more than half a millennium. To reproduce the handmade metal stamps used to emboss the soft morocco leather, master bookbinders in the Milan studio of the famous Angelo Recalcati painstakingly traced the detailed design of the box in a time-consuming and costly process. Page edges are gilt with 23 carat gold.
Commentary: 1 volume (97 pages) by Bezalel Narkiss and Aliza Cohen-Mushlin
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€€ (7,000€ - 10,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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