Skies of Parchment, Seas of Ink
Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts
Edited by Marc Michael Epstein


The love of books in the Jewish tradition extends back over many centuries, and the ways of interpreting those books are as myriad as the traditions themselves. Skies of Parchment, Seas of Ink offers the first full survey of Jewish illuminated manuscripts, ranging from their origins in the Middle Ages to the present day. Featuring some of the most beautiful examples of Jewish art of all time—including hand-illustrated versions of the Bible, the Haggadah, the prayer book, marriage documents, and other beloved Jewish texts—the book introduces readers to the history of these manuscripts and their interpretation.

Edited by Marc Michael Epstein with contributions from leading experts, this sumptuous volume features a lively and informative text, showing how Jewish aesthetic tastes and iconography overlapped with and diverged from those of Christianity, Islam, and other traditions. Featured manuscripts were commissioned by Jews and produced by Jews and non-Jews over many centuries, and represent Eastern and Western perspectives and the views of both pietistic and liberal communities across the Diaspora, including Europe, Israel, the Middle East, and Africa.

Magnificently illustrated with pages from hundreds of manuscripts, many previously unpublished or rarely seen, Skies of Parchment, Seas of Ink offers surprising new perspectives on Jewish life, presenting the books of the People of the Book as never before.

Marc Michael Epstein is the Mattie M. Paschall (1899) and Norman Davis Chair of Religion and Visual Culture at Vassar College. His most recent book, The Medieval Haggadah: Art, Narrative, and Religious Imagination, was named one of the best books of 2011 by the Times Literary Supplement. Eva Frojmovic is lecturer in the history of art at the University of Leeds. Jenna Siman Jacobs is curatorial manager at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Hartley Lachter is the Berman Chair in Jewish Studies at Lehigh University. Shalom Sabar is professor of folklore and the arts at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Raymond P. Scheindlin is professor of medieval Hebrew literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Ágnes Vető teaches religion at Vassar College. Susan Vick is curator of Judaica at Goldsmith Museum of Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore and associate professor of art history at the University of Maryland. Barbara Wolff is a New York-based illuminator of manuscripts using medieval methods. Diane Wolfthal is the David and Caroline Minter Chair in the Humanities at Rice University.