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Sacred Texts: The Literature and Art of Faith

Evening Seminar

Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1H0838

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Followers of the three great monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—are guided by foundational writings that are considered sacred. In this illustrated lecture, Louisa Woodville, an adjunct faculty member in George Mason University’s Department of Art History, focuses on the range of early, medieval, and Renaissance texts that Jews and Christians produced as their religions developed. The first half will cover the earliest te biblia, or “little books” that include canonical and non-canonical gospels, some discovered in the rich compendium of poems, chants, myths, gospels, and spiritual instruction unearthed in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945.

Over time, these te biblia coalesced into a cohesive whole, evident in such magnificent manuscripts such as the 8th-century Lindisfarne Gospels, the 14th-century Golden Haggadah, and the late-15th-century Kennicott Bible, a medieval Hebrew manuscript illuminated 20 years before the final Spanish expulsion of Jews in 1492. Johann Gutenberg’s mid-15th-century printed Bible opened the door to a dissemination of this Christian text unimaginable before the use of moveable type. The session concludes with a look at American bibles, including the Eliot Indian Bible and the 2008 St John's Bible, both housed at the Library of Congress. 

Smithsonian Connections

Explore In the Beginning: Bibles Before the Year 1000 from the Freer Sackler Galleries.

Learn more about music of the Renaissance, listen to clips from Smithsonian Folkways recordings>> 

Voyage of Ancient Empires

Take an Egyptian Odyssey and learn more about this intriguing country and its people.

Visit the Smithsonian Journeys page to see more
trips to Europe.


S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Drive, SW
Metro: Smithsonian Mall Exit (Blue/Orange)