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Historiated Initial With A Jew Circumcising Boys, In 'The Bible Of Robert De Bello'

Historiated Initial With A Jew Circumcising Boys, In 'The Bible Of Robert De Bello'

Medium: Ink, pigments and gold on vellum

Date: 1235

Shelfmark: Burney MS 3

Item number: f.90r

Length: 272

Width: 193

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

This Bible belonged to, and was presumably made for, Robert de Bello (i.e. 'of Battle', near Hastings), who was abbot of the Benedictine abbey of St. Augustine, Canterbury, from 1224-53. He was clearly concerned to have an accurate text--it has been corrected carefully throughout--and his influence may be responsible for some of the very unusual imagery included among the initials. The subject-matter of this initial 'E' to the book of Josua is extremely unusual. It was probably inspired by the opening verse of Joshua 5:3, in which Joshua circumcises the Israelites who had been born after the Israelites fled from Egypt. The medieval artist represents this not simply as a historical event, but caricatures Josua as an ugly hook-nosed Jew.

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